five things I never thought I’d learn from a man

Occasionally the male of the species still has the capacity to surprise.  In a good way.

Here are five things I’ve learned from a man:

picture perfect

picture perfect

How to fold towels

Yes I know – it kills me to admit it.  It killed me even more to ask how he did his folding.  When he folds them they look like five star hotel room towels.  They look great, they stack well in a cupboard. In a word – schmick.  So he showed me his technique and made me do it three times before he was satisfied he could ‘pass’ me on the towel-folding exercise.  Who would have thought?

it's all in the technique

it’s all in the technique

How to make great scrambled eggs

When I make scrambled egg I always beat the eggs before I add them to the pan.  When he makes scrambled eggs, he throws them straight in whole and they break up as he stirs them.  He also adds a little cream right at the end.  His technique is quicker and seems to work out better but how am I finding out all this stuff from a man?

How to build a house on YouTube

The same man is addicted to watching Bill the builder construct his own home on YouTube, step by step. The videos run to music with sub-titles and are regularly punctuated with tips from Bill who not only shows you what he is doing and why but also reminds viewers of the importance of having all the right equipment and safety gear.  Even though I have no intention of ever building a house from scratch I now know more about home construction than I ever would have thought possible.  Is there something wrong with me?

it helps if you're over six foot

it helps if you’re over six foot

How to put on a doona cover

I can’t deal with the regular struggle of trying to get the king size doona cover on the king sized doona.  I’m five foot four with normal length arms and every few weeks it feels like I’m trying out for an Olympic sport.  Here’s what he does.  He climbs into the doona by putting it on over his head. Then he grabs the corners of the cover and the doona itself.  Then he stands on the bed (isn’t that cheating?) and with a single flick has the thing falling perfectly into place.  The whole exercise takes no more than five seconds.

pancakes 0269762

How to make pan-crepes

It’s not a crepe and it’s not a pancake – it’s somewhere in-between.  He guards his ingredients and techniques like they’re a matter of national security.  I havn’t got all the details out of him yet but I know they are crispy at the edges and light and fluffy in the centre.  Let’s just say when it’s my turn to make pancakes we prefer to eat out.

And who is this man I’ve learned so much from?  Well he’s my husband of course.  But it’s taken me almost a decade to realise how domestically evolved he is…..because like all men, he pretends he hasn’t got a clue so he doesn’t get too bogged down in ‘domestic labour’.

What about you?  What have you learned from the men in your life – and can they still surprise you?

Comments (1) »

the Australian Greens – the new black?

There has never been a greater opportunity for The Australian Greens than right now.



Polling shows Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten are equally repugnent to Australian voters with their satisfaction rating falling to all-time lows.  The Greens are uniquely placed to reach for the middle ground and to scoop up the tens of thousands of disaffected voters who have lost faith in both of our major political parties.  If a week is a long time in politics, then the last eighteen months have felt like a lifetime.  A nation who voted for the Abbott government in the belief that a vote for the Liberals was a vote for ‘a better Australia’ have proven to be false.

abbott onion

The fact remains, both the Abbott government and the Shorten opposition have failed to inspire, yet alone lead, this nation or to communicate with voters outside of their tedious three word slogans. The Greens however, with their new leader in Richard Di Natale and co-leaders, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam are starting to look like a genuine alternative.  Between them they have made some kick-arse speeches and asked some serious questions of our current political leaders.

Richard Di Natale’s speech in the Senate earlier this year painted a very clear picture of the current government’s failings.  And particularly when he said ‘that style of adversarial, negative, oppositional politics – people hate it, I hate it, we’re sick of it” will have resonated with many.

The planets are aligning.  If they hate it and we hate it then let’s change it.  If The Greens want to grab a larger slice of the mainstream vote then they need to start now, to galvanize voters and demonstrate they offer a credible alternative.  Then maybe, just maybe, this great nation can be steered toward a different and steady course and move away from the destructive pattern of see-saw politics we have seen for far too long.

Presently the Green’s power lies mostly in the Senate with one Federal MP and a sprinkling of state MPs.  This needs to significantly change in order to increase their representation in the lower house and to get to a point where they can offer themselves as an alternative government.  Stranger things have happened but the electorate is primed for a change.  They need to be convinced, if they vote Green at the next election, their vote will really count.  And therein lies the challenge.

On some policies, there is now no discernible difference between Labor and Liberal policy – for example regarding refugees.  The Greens however are committed to ending offshore detention, treating refugees with compassion and also to ‘Standing Up for What Matters‘ with policies that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.  The major parties are too ideologically entrenched it seems, to negotiate, give ground and to work with others to deliver outcomes in the national interest.

Politics has always been a jousting contest but over the last decade it has become a blood sport with political foes determined to keep jabbing away in the hope of landing a death-blow to those opposite. Instead, the real casualties piled up on the sidelines, are the Australian people, watching on in despair and wishing there were some grown-ups around to stop the fighting and to start the talking.  The Australian Greens now represent that sensible presence which has for too long, been missing in action.

I am a typical swinging voter.  I’ve voted both Labor and Liberal over the course of the last fifteen years.  I’ve also voted Green twice.  When I go to the ballot box, the reason I have not voted Green more often (despite supporting most of their policies) is because I feel like it would be a wasted vote.  The Greens have always have a core following of about 8-9% which hit an all-time high of 13% in the 2010 election.  They will need to do much better than that and I hope they can.

But before they do, they should consider changing the party name.  And putting the word ‘new’ in front of The Greens is not enough.   The name ‘The Greens’ portrays them as a niche party with a niche view of the world and nothing will change that perception.    Move away from Green and think about some new adjectives – progressive, sustainable, visionary – anything other than green. The party with its new leadership team, must now rebrand, re-establish themselves and tell voters who they are and what they stand for.  And that starts with changing their name.  It matters.  So when voters go to the polls in 2016, they can be confident and proud because this time, they know their vote will really count and this nation can finally take a step forward.

Leave a comment »

Dementia – keeping hold of the person within

My gorgeous beautiful dad has dementia.  He was diagnosed about five years ago.  When we look back at some of the incidents which occurred in the lead up to his diagnosis, there were obvious signs.  But they were signs we only looked at differently in retrospect.


Alzheimers Australia reports somebody is diagnosed with Dementia approximately every six minutes or at the rate of around 1,800 every week.  That’s a lot of people.  The impact of the diagnosis ripples through families to spouses, children, friends, carers and the community.  And although dementia is more commonly diagnosed over the age of 65, it is not a normal part of ageing.  We can probably all bring to mind senior citizens, whether in our own families or people we see on tv who are as sharp as a tack, despite being in their eighth or ninth decade.  Others may experience early-onset dementia and find themselves being diagnosed in their thirties or forties, a burden which must be even heavier to carry given their relative youth.

There are different types of dementia but essentially dementia causes a progressive decline in how a person functions.  It most commonly affects memory, rationality, social skills, intellect and physical functioning.  Our family has seen most of these in my father over the last few years.  Despite that and despite whatever might happen in the future, it’s important not to lose sight of the person within and to create a world and communities that are dementia-friendly.


I recall alarm bells ringing when my dad had a falling out with his sister and brother-in-law, to whom he was very close.  He accused them of spying on him and got upset and angry, ceasing all contact. We couldn’t fathom what he was talking about and it was totally out of character.  There were a couple of occasions where he tumbled over but we assumed he’d simply missed his footing and didn’t think too much of it.  Another time when I was visiting, he was really quite horrible to my mother, shouted at her for no real reason. She dealt with it by not responding or challenging him.  My dad’s always been a fiery Italian so I just thought he was getting a little cantankerous with age.  But the paranoia and irrationality were not characteristic of him but can be a part of the progression of dementia.


The reality about a diagnosis of dementia, as in the case of my dad, is that the person they know, and you know they’ve always been, starts to slip away.  Dad’s always been a chatterbox. One of my favourite expressions when we’re chewing the fat is “dad, there’s always a story”. Because he’s always had a story to tell about someone or something – he’s never been the shy one in the corner. He’s the one who waves his arms around as he talks – one of life’s squwarkers and squealers with the big personality.  Sometimes people with dementia have difficulty word finding and of expressing themselves verbally.  Dad’s had a rich full life, full of funny sagas and yarns we enjoyed hearing about. But a few years down the track, dad is quieter.  There are fewer stories now.

But he still knows how to enjoy himself.  Here is is tucking into a huge plate of pancakes.


oh dad – what would your cardiologist say?

I don’t get to see my dad often because my parents live interstate but I notice some of the changes when I visit.  My sister pointed out that he no longer initiates conversation which I realised is true.   If engaged in conversation he can still be quite chatty but he doesn’t start as many conversations anymore – perhaps it’s harder for him to organise his thoughts.  I’ve noticed sometimes though that his conversations or replies don’t quite make sense.  Not all the time and not on every occasion, but enough to notice his thoughts are a little more muddled.  They live on the mid-NSW coast and his perception and understanding of distances has gone.  He thinks he can get a bus to Adelaide and be there in ten minutes.

I will always adore my dad and it doesn’t matter to me that he’s a little bit muddled.  There are other things which he enjoys and which have really helped dad and my mother to cope.  Dad has always loved music.  Throughout his life would often sing along to the radio or whistle while he was getting dressed or I would hear him humming around the house.  He still loves music.  My sister put together an ipod with a range of tunes we knew he’d enjoy, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Frank Miller and big band jazz.  He loves it and will sit happily for hours listening and humming along. It’s made a huge difference because it means instead of the television being on 24 hours a day, my mother can put on some music which they can both enjoy and which seems to have a soothing effect.


I realised as well, the last time I was up there, that dad enjoys just going for a drive.  It’s a great way to spend some time, in the warmth of the car, enjoying the scenery with me pointing out points of interest in the landscape and him chattering along beside me.  He is much less active that he used to be and whereas he used to go up to the local cafe he doesn’t do that anymore although he says that he does in passing conversation.  The last time I visited we looked through old photographs and he surprised me by recalling both first names and surnames of old friends.  The pictures triggered long term memories and we both enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.

My dad is still in the family home and my mother is his primary carer but she used to be his wife – it is different when a wife becomes a carer first and a wife second.  It’s hard for her.  I know she feels she can’t leave him alone anymore, when previously she would do.  For carers it can become something of a prison sentence because a large part of their lives revolves around the one they have to care for.  And the majority of the time they do it on their own.  But we can help if we understand more about the disease, have compassion and to offer support.

Carers have to deal with the confusion.  My mother found my dad fully dressed at 3am in the morning one time.  He did not realise it was the middle of the night and told her he was going out.  Another time he asked what the people were doing in his room, looking through all his stuff.  There was no one there.  We realised he was having visual hallucinations.  I was told that re-directing attention in these instances is a good strategy to use, rather than to disagree with them or challenge them which can upset them.  My strategy with dad is “how about a nice cup of tea?”.  Tea fixes everything right?  My gorgeous dad.  I don’t need to remind myself not to lose sight of the person within.


My dad used to love to cook – he was always the chef in the family and was never happier than when in the kitchen.  Dementia has meant that he stopped cooking several years ago.  My mother found him in the kitchen and he’d obviously forgotten what he started to do.  She helped him by saying – “it looks like you are cutting an onion Jim, would you like me to help you?”.  And by doing so, it reminded him of what he was doing and they continued to do it together.


I don’t know how it will turn out.   The struggle with dementia for those affected and those who support them, will continue.  But we must also continue to remember that the people we care for, those with dementia, are still who they always were and who we know them to be. We can still reach them, perhaps in slightly different ways by reminding them through photographs, music and story-telling.  And by helping them to reach back and find themselves again – the person within.

Leave a comment »

Frackman the movie – saying ‘no’ to coal seam gas

Dayne Pratzky aka The Frackman

Dayne Pratzky in his alter-ego as the Frackman says he is ‘the worst environmental activist the world has ever seen’. The thousands who have flocked to see the documentary ‘Frackman’ suggests otherwise.  Directed by Richard Todd and produced by Trish Lake (Freshwater Pictures), Simon Nasht and Kate Hodges (Smith & Nasht) the film documents Dayne’s five year battle to prevent coal seam gas conglomerates from drilling their way through Queensland’s pristine landscapes and the community of Tara in which Dayne lives.  Pratzky in his white Frackman overalls, turns out to be a real-life super hero with powers he didn’t know he had.  Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Destination Relaxation. THE best holiday house in Sussex Inlet


I’ll cut to the chase.  I’ve just spent a long weekend in Sussex Inlet on the south coast of New South Wales.  I went there with my other half and two lots of friends, six adults in all.  My friend made a booking online and I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting anything too swish to be honest.  However from the moment we stepped into the house we were blown away by the accommodation.  It turned out to be the most gorgeous holiday home I’ve ever stayed in.  And here’s why.  Take 90 seconds to see for yourself and then read on:

The property is owned by the two Terrys – Terry and Terry, a husband and wife team. The warmth of the welcome is evident the moment we step into the house.  The two Terrys showed us around and told us where we could find everything we needed, what restaurants were worth a visit and all the activities we could enjoy over the weekend.  The property, Terry’s Waterfront Retreat, is a five bedroom house which includes three Queen sized bedrooms all with ensuites.  As well as the formal dining room, there is a spacious kitchen diner, enclosed sunroom with dining table and outside patio dining in the bbq area next to the pool.


I got the impression one of the Terrys might have come from an Interior Design background because every room in the house was simply a pleasure to relax in and had a beautiful creative thread running throughout the house.


Leave your stresses at the door and chillax.  Board games supplied – we enjoyed the game Mid-Life Crisis which is very apt given the name of this blog!  There is also an ample supply of DVDs for visitors to enjoy.


We slept so soundly in this bed – no early starts for us on this weekend away.


Did I mention the pool which is surrounded by lush vegetation?


Once you’ve had a dip, there is a little nook where you can enjoy a coffee or drink nestled in the surrounding vegetation.

path to pool

The property is situated right on the Inlet with the back garden leading down to a private jetty.  We found a mother and baby Roo there relaxing in the sunshine.


Once the roos had moved on I managed to get a piccie of the jetty and the crystal clear waters of the inlet.


 You can swim, fish, hire a boat or use the canoe which is free for visitors to use during their stay.

IMG_20150309_103117The dining area in the enclosed sunroom – lovely for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  We spent a lot of time chowing down at this table – and why wouldn’t you?!

How often do holiday lets get a big thumbs up and a five star rating and I’ve only just seen this.  If you need to unwind and get away from the frenetic pace of city life.  I couldn’t think of a nicer place to stay.

But finally before you do that, I almost don’t want to tell you this.  Terry and Terry are looking to sell this property as we found out this weekend.  The property includes all furniture and bookings up until the end of the year.  I really hope the new owners keep it as holiday accommodation so we can go there again and again.  It’s only 3 hours from Sydney or Melbourne.  So if you or anyone you know is in the market for an investment property, or holiday retreat, then this property is what dreams are made of. It comes fully furnished so all you have to do is walk in and put your feet up or dive into that refreshing pool.

Go on – treat yourself.

Leave a comment »

Aspergers Syndrome – putting together the pieces


A little while back, I found the message below scrawled on the wall inside a toilet cubicle in the womens’ bathrooms.

“I found out I probably have Aspergers.

Now I’m going through all the existential crap I went through in my teens, including writing on bathroom walls.

And the real kicker is, I’m not even that brilliant at anything.

 All of the broken bits and none of the good bits”

None of the good bits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

the problem with Tony Abbott (according to my mum)

Trust me image:

Trust me

My mum doesn’t think Tony Abbott should lose his job in next week’s leadership spill. She thinks it’s wrong for a leader to be jetissoned the way we’ve seen in the past.   Having said that she’s not his biggest fan and along with the voting public rolls her eyes and reaches for the remote whenever he appears on tv.  She tells me “he says every single thing twice and I havn’t got all day for him to get to the point”.

Tony Abbott has, and has always had, a communication problem.  In Tony’s case, it is the messenger as much as the message which has rapidly turned the electorate against him.  So when Luke Simpkins said voters had ‘stopped listening’, he was right.  And my mum agrees.

For Abbott’s staff, there are simply not enough cupboards to bundle the Prime Minister into every time he says or does something un-prime ministerial, to get him out of the path of an electorate ready to lynch him.

In the relentless frenzy of the 24 hour media cycle and with voters chipping in on social media, it’s a challenge for any politician to be heard.  TV media only allows for a four second grab on the news so what hope have they got?  Thus the adoption across politics of the ‘three word slogan’. Three word slogans work in Opposition because they’re not the main event. All you they need to do is keep up the pot-shots at those opposite.  Tony Abbott was very effective at this.  The perception is he’s been less effective at being Prime Minister.

Voters are familiar with Tony’s tried and tested mantras ‘stopping the boats’ …’debt and deficit’ of ‘no new taxes’ (remember that one).  But the devil is in the detail and the detail  was missing in action prior to the election.  Voters are mature enough to understand that paying down debt will require revenue raising either through tax increases or by cutting funding elsewhere.  If you explain the why and the how, particularly to low income earners, you should be able to sell the message but that process has to start years out and there’s the rub.  Short-term politics i.e. getting elected, hamstrings long-term policy planning.

When the Liberals sprung the Medicare co-payment onto voters and got a two fingered salute in return, they then imposed it on doctors via the back door. Has this government heard of stakeholder engagement? Cutting the medical profession out of the picture from the get-go was amateurish in the extreme.  Perhaps they want to silence dissent by preventing there being any in the first place.  Abbott’s proclamation that ‘Australia is open for business‘ on election night did not mention that it would be ‘closed to negotiation or collaboration’ as we have since learned.  The electorate does not like strong-arm tactics and they don’t like being treated like idiots.

And any commitments the government has delivered on become irrelevant to voters when they’ve stopped listening to you because you have a credibility problem.  The government has ticked both boxes of late.

Tony Abbott has spoken lately about his status as Captain and more importantly of being a ‘good captain‘.  Captains, in whatever realm, are not infallible. However when they’re in the top job, they should have a clear line of sight out to the horizon to prevent the ship from disappearing into the abyss.  In Abbott’s case he has persistently steered them towards it.

Abbott was relentless in his pursuit of Julia Gillard and in calling her a liar. But Abbott has lied repeatedly to the Australian people.  Gillard’s only ‘lie’ was solely due to having to compromise as the result of a hung-parliament and by contrast to Abbott, she proved early on, her capacity to negotiate and find common ground in order to find a solution.   Abbott however, deliberately withheld his government’s true intentions prior to the election and has broken promises on many others.  His latest Captain’s Pick has been the final nail in the coffin of his credibility with the electorate. His decision to award Prince Philip a knighthood has exposed Abbott for who he really is – an ultra conservative, backward looking, boot-licking royalist.  His choice was completely unfathomable to ordinary Australians.

The Liberals are now in permanent damage control and require a full-time pooper scooper running around after him. Peta Credlin must be a saint.

His own party are now calling time on his prime-ministership with a leadership spill imminent. The time for pretending is over.  If they don’t get rid of him now, Abbott will be the albatross around their necks all the way to the next election.   And they know it.  Death by a thousand cuts.  But their hope of installing an alternative candidate, one who is more palatable to the electorate, may well put them back in business and back in office at the next election.  And ultimately that’s the end game.

The last word goes to my mum who says “he’s not all bad but the trouble with these bloody politicians is that they say one thing then do another and somehow think that people won’t notice”.

Leave a comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 433 other followers