Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Happy Birthday, Mischa!

And a happy birthday cat as well!
Well, maybe not so much a happy cat as a startled one, and maybe it's got a more christmassy vibe than a birthday one but I'm sure it's the celebratory nature that counts, and it's definitely got that.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Stray Photo For The Day

This is apparently the Swiss Corner at my parents' house.

The calendar was a christmas present from Reto and I, the cuckoo clock was apparently my father's long-held dream, realised about 15 years ago when we went on a European Adventure, including a brief whiz around Switz. I think the clock might be broken now (not such a disaster after my parents having to listen to it cuckooing every quarter of an hour every day for more than a decade) but that certianly doesn't mean it's going to be thrown out.


I got home at 10pm or so last night after a looooong day of sitting around and chatting with friends (not that I am implying the day dragged by. It was lovely, but it did involve getting up at the crack of dawn and sitting in trains for 4 hours). About 2 metres before the door to the house I ran into a spider web. This wasn't really very surprising because there are always foolhardy spiders making their webs in that particular spot (and everyone always walks there whenever they come and go from the house, so spider webs are being destroyed pretty constantly), but it was dark and rainy and it felt like quite a lot of spider web had got tangled up in my hair so I had a bit of a panic and then yelled at my sister to come and see if there was a spider on my head. She came outside and we stood under a light and she stared at the top of my head for a while. For quite a long while, really, so that I was starting to think "well there must be nothing there if she hasn't done anything yet, hurray for me, I'm spider free" when she totally took me by surprise and clobbered me across the head with remarkable force.

I started to get cranky ("what the hell did she do that for? There wasn't even a spider there!") until I saw the ABSOLUTELY GIGANTIC spider that she had clouted off my head. Really, it was ridiculously big* and it was terrifying and the worst part was that I didn't see where it went next. What if it was still somehow attached to me by it's nasty spidery web and it has been valiantly watching me for the last 15 hours working out what my habits are and when is the best time to crawl up my leg and take it's terrible mean-spirited spidery revenge? Every time I feel anything strange brush against me I have a small moment of panic and I swipe furiously to get the damn thing off me.

This is one time when a tiny army of tamarins would come in extremely useful. I bet they could save me from my spidery nemesis. Sigh.

* Well, not compared to the actual big spiders you see around (usually on your bedroom wall when it's late at night and you're extremely tired, grr), but it was bigger than any other spider I have seen in the garden for years. It was much bigger than I was mentally prepared for.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Happy Birthday Damien and Bronwyn!

Happy birthday Damien and Bronwyn! Neither of whom read my blog (I suspect)!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

RSWB's Creche - Places Available!

Yelling at other people's children - is it okay? As an avid movie-goer and a non child-owner, I say yes.

Reto and I went to the movies this arvo. We saw I Am Legend, which is rated M (15 years and over) and was really quite grisly in a postapocalyptic/mutant killing machines/every man for himself kinda way. What's more, you really didn't have to see the movie to know that that was what it was going to be like (I believe the subtitle for the movie is something about the last man on earth not being alone, which is undeniably portentously creepy).

You would think it would be clear - don't take your gaggle of tiny wee under-10s to see this movie. I don't care how bored you are sitting around with them on a rainy summer holiday, this is not a movie for little girls in yellow dresses and their tiny little siblings.

Anyway, we got to the cinema and some huge man with enormous hair sat down in front of me (grr) and then a few adults with about 800 (well, maybe 5) little kids sat in the row behind us. I slouched and scrunched and sat up straight and twisted to see past the curly-headed tall-y, and the kiddies crinkled and crunched and slurped their way through their chips and icecream and popcorn and (most likely) vast quantities of red cordial*. Then the previews ended and almost instantly the movie theatre was ringing out with kiddy voices saying "where are all the people?", "what's happened?", "why is that hideous monster attacking the nice doggy?", "I don't want to watch any more!", "mummy, can we go home now?" etc.

Sigh. Once their attention was gone, the kiddies spent all their time either hiding their faces in the backs of their seats and whimpering in fear, or crawling on the ground under the pretext of allegedly looking for lollies that they had dropped on the ground. Actually, that's not true, sometimes they climbed over the backs of other chairs rather than going under them.

None of that was actually so bad (the movie really wasn't that good. We went to see it because it was on rather than because we really wanted to see it) but cumulatively it was kind of annoying and so the final straw for me was one little boy who spent a ridiculously long time crawling around on the floor under my seat, and who then sat on the floor a few seats down from me but in the same row and started stomping his heels onto the ground. He was wearing these shoes that lit up whenever he thumped them, so the effect was kind of like being in some sort of bizarro nightclub with a mini strobe and extremely bass-heavy music (plus of course very little dancing and images of post-apocalyptic hideousness being projected on the wall which would certainly make for a point of difference for a nightclub). I looked at the kid, who was engrossed in his shoe-based fun and I whispered "hey!" and him to get his attention. Mid-stomp he looked over at me with his big, wide, already pre-terrified eyes and I hissed at him "stop it!" in what I now look back on as a rather threatening manner (at the time I just thought I was being quite quiet) and suddenly his stomp turned into a gentle placing of his foot on the ground, and he sort of cringed a bit and his eyes got a little bit wider, and he crawled back under the seat and over to his mother.

The mother (or whoever she was) had been yelling at these kids all through the movie to absolutely no avail. I am not scary at all, and what I said was hardly controversial or mean, but this kiddy was terrified of me and the effect on his behaviour was instantaneous. I'm sure when I was a youngster myself I would have been much more effected by total strangers having a go at me than by my own parents doing it.

And so - I say that it's up to everyone to control the wayward kiddies of other people. Obviously this is a completely insane idea that would no doubt be appalling in reality and is probably overstepping all sorts of boundaries of common decency and what have you and no doubt if I had children and someone else told them what to do I would be outraged, but all that stuff aside I say go for it. There's nothing like the brisk and efficient disapproval of a total stranger to make someone who is too young to realise that they don't have to stand for it behave better.

* Red cordial being strongly associated with hyperactive kiddies. I doubt they actually sell it at the movies, but if they do I bet it costs about $5.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Queen For A Day

As it turns out, just as my mother used to be Queen Of The Meerkats (not any more judging by their total indifference today, but last time we were at this particular zoo the meerkats were all obsessed with watching her every move every time she was anywhere near them), I am now the Queen Of The Tamarins.

We went to Mogo zoo today, and as I may have mentioned, I hate the sun. As I am certain I have never mentioned before, tamarins (which are these wee little things that look like a monkey crossed with a gremlin. Depending on how good my memory for gremlins is. Here's a picture in case those intervening 20-something years have made me vague/wrong:

(a tamarin. He is actually entranced by my umbrella, which is visible only via the blue glow in the top left corner of the pic)

) seem to be obsessed either with the colour blue (unlikely, because my mother was wearing a blue hat and she wasn't Queen Of The Tamarins. Or maybe they had heard of her dalliance with the meerkats and held it against her) or by umbrellas (perhaps) or by me (well why not?). There were flocks of the furry little things and they were all mysteriously drawn to me. I caught their attention with my blue umbrella, and they stared at me, awed and apparently besotted, for as long as I hung around and let them. They turned their furry little heads as I turned my umbrella. They all leapt (either respectfully or possibly in a terrified fashion) whenever I made any sudden moves. Passers-by stopped to goggle at my powers of tamarin mind-control.

If I give it a little bit more time and patience and perhaps also some thought as to what secret desires I have that could be realised by having a furry army of scary miniature monkey-alikes who would do my bidding the sky could really be the limit. I mean, how could it possibly go wrong?

Mwahahahahahahah, etc.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Life's A Beach

I went swimming at the beach this morning (for the second time since we have been back in Aus, which is more times than I have been to the beach in the last five years or so) and apart from the weather being ridiculously hot and the water ridiculously cold, it was really super. It was quite striking last week when I was at the beach how much I enjoyed it, actually. Usually all the heat and sand and sunscreen and crowds and threat of skin cancer and having to get changed in horrible beachy toilets and stuff drives me bonkers. I think my new non-hating of the beach comes mainly from my enthusiastic embrace of using a parasol every time the sun even threatens to shine (and my lack of concern at being laughed at by sunburnt morons. Let's see how much they're laughing in 20 years when they look like old leather handbags and they spend their holidays at the doctor's office having their melanomas removed. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Actually, the sad truth is that me with my hopeless skin that burns in an instant is far more likely to turn cancerous even though I've spent my entire life putting on sunscreen and hiding under trees. I suspect it might be my dermatological destiny to be a european).

Now I just need to find a way to be able to surgically attach my sunglasses to my face (so I can wear them in the ocean and they don't fall off at the first sign of waves) and I will be all set.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Not Hating It!

I think I might be excited about my imminent(ish) wedding! Well, maybe not excited, but at least optimistic. Or not pessimistic. I don't dread my imminent(ish) wedding!

Reto and I saw the celebrant today (who seems really lovely and has rather excellent red glasses) and we saw the place where we are having the reception (the food all sounds really yummy) and we found a place to probably have the ceremony (apologies to my dodderier relatives, but I'm sure you'll be fine and there will be a few seats at the end). We're both set with clothes, we have successfully abandoned heaps of boring details that neither of us are interested in. All we have left is arguing about music and tiny dull decorative details and we can forget all about it! Hurrah!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


Well, the name thing. As I may have mentioned, Reto and I are getting married. I have never really given the idea of getting married much thought at all, but I have always assumed that if I did get married I wouldn't change my surname. I like my name, I disapprove of the patriarchal ramifications of changing my name, it all seems like a lot of effort to go to for something that would probably just annoy me anyway.

Anyway, Reto and I got engaged and talk turned to surnames. The Swiss system [patriarchy!] forces Switzies who get married to both adopt a common surname, and they way it works is heavily slanted towards making it easier to take the man's surname. Because I am not Swiss, Reto and I can opt to embrace the Australian rules and we could just keep our surnames as they are, but we decided to at least consider the options.

Option number one (me taking Reto's surname) was not actually an option, as far as I was concerned. For the reasons above, as well as the fact that I don't really like his surname and that I also apparently pronounce it all wrong like some gauche foreigner.

Option number two (him taking my surname) was apparently also not an option, because my surname is apparently also unlovable and also a bit unpronounceable [in Switzerland].

Option number three (hyphenation of some sort) was too annoying to even contemplate.

Option number four (neither of us changing our surnames) was okay, but I object to the idea of us potentially having kids in the future, and then either Reto or me being the odd one out in terms of surnames. I particularly objected to the idea that everyone would have Reto's surname and so I would be the odd one out in both the family and the country (assuming we are living in Switzerland). At some point I manhandled Reto into promising that all our children could have my surname (although frankly I didn't really believe him, promises made under duress and all) but even that wasn't very satisfactory. I don't want anyone to be the odd one out. Plus I also secretly have no faith in [patriarchal-orama!] Switzerland and the opportunity to give children my surname. Although I also suspect that might be just my paranoia/xenophobia speaking.

Option number 5 (inventing a new surname and both of us going with it) was therefore ideal. Apart of course from the drama of coming up with a name (plucking anything at all out of our imaginations!), agreeing on one that we both liked, making sure it was pronounced the same in both german and english, making sure that it wasn't stupid (/offensive/unintentionally amusing/sounding too much like something else) in either language, making sure it was relatively spellable, it was all a breeze. The only dramas were the psychological trauma of actually changing my name and having a new birth certificate with someone else's name on it (!), the vast financial and temporal costs involved (not to mention the exhaustion of all the running around), and the fact that we have yet to lodge the application in Switzerland for permission for Reto to take my surname after the wedding. Switzerland being the patriarchal wonderland that it is, one has to actually ask permission and give a decent reason as to why you would want to [make the OBVIOUSLY ABNORMAL AND POSSIBLY INSANE decision to] take the woman's surname after wedding.

Best case scenario - everything is straightforward and we will both have the same surname in a few short weeks (or so). Worst case, permission is denied and I will either have to live with my slightly bonkers new surname or go through all the hoo-haa of changing my name back again and Reto will forever be who he currently is. Fingers crossed.

Who, Me?

I went to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to collect my new birth certificate today. The woman who was looking for it for me was searching through a big stack of papers and she said to me "what's your surname?" and I said "ummm...". I really wasn't too sure what the right answer was.

Monday, 7 January 2008

It's Not Me, It's .. The New Me

Since I got back to Australia I have read my horoscope in about 4 different newspapers/magazines, and although I don't believe in these things at all it seems that now is apparently a super time for me to have a frenzy of organisation and planning. And judging by what I have achieved over the last few days, that is right righty right right.

I successfully drove all over the place (really, this is the first time in about a year and a half that I have driven anywhere, and all this Switzerland/Australia business really is making me confused about which side of the road I belong on). I found a nice dress to wear to my wedding (not yet bought because I am waiting for someone to order in my size, but it is super and just what I am after). I nagged Reto into liking a suit he found (he already mostly liked it but needed a bit of a nudge in the right direction). I largely avoided jet lag (although that being said it is currently 9.30pm and I am hopelessly tired and Reto is already asleep and hogging all the bed space). I saw some of my friends (quite the achievement given that I am a bit on the tired side by about 8pm). I sorted out all this moronic confusion with my flight back to Switzy in March (no small feat given that I have absolutely no faith in the desire of airlines to facilitate anything). The pièce de résistance, though, is the fact that today I went to the registry of births, deaths and marriages and I officially changed my name. Yes, I am no longer Robyn X, now I am Robyn Y (picking up my new birth certificate tomorrow, so maybe that's when I officially become Ms Y. Who knows). I'm sure there's a whole lot of psychological trauma attached to this but happily I feel like I am a bit too busy/tired at the moment to really notice. No doubt it will warrant a bit of a rant at some point in the near future.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Grammar Poll!

Is "caucus" a verb? I would be inclined to say no, but consulting with assorted dictionaries around the place does sadly not back me up 100%. About 2 weeks ago I read a quote from someone in an English newspaper saying "I don't even know who I'm going to caucus for yet" (about the US presidential nominees) and I thought that was odd. Then yesterday I read in another paper (Australian) a similar use of the word and I still thought it was odd.

Whaddayathink? Have you ever used it as a verb? Or would you?

Highlights Of Today

First there was the bit when I drove to the airport to collect my sister, and then lost the parking ticket thingie that I got when I went into the carpark. Of all the places to lose such a ticket the international terminal at the airport in Sydney would have to be the worst place ever (their parking rates are so extortionate and I'm sure that if you lose the ticket they charge you for a full day) but after a brief period of panic and being cruelly mocked by Reto, we found a ticket on the floor near where I had recently got my wallet out of my bag (and no doubt inadvertently let the parking ticket fall out of it) . Closer inspection revealed that it was very likely our actual ticket (the time of entry to the carpark was about right), but then a moment later we saw another parking ticket on the ground a few metres away! We checked it too, but that person had come into the car park about 2 hours before us, and so the ticket went back to the ground. I did wonder if that was offensive/messy/rude (to throw it back on the ground like that), but then I decided that if someone had tidied up our lost ticket we would never have found it again. I'm such a good samaritan/litterer.

And then later in the day was the bit where we were attacked by tiny tiny birds in a park. They seemed to go mainly for Reto's head, but they were really sort of terrifying so we had to move to another patch of shade, and then the birds switched their swoopy attention to a wee dog instead. Aww.

Not So Bad

I assumed I would have a bit of a rant about how appalling my flights were, but as it turns out, compared to everyone else's, they were a breeze (excessive turbulence and horrible, horrible food aside). Reto (who flew at the same time but with different airlines and who arrived in Sydney a few hours after me) was put in a seat with a non-functioning entertainment system thing (ie. a TV screen. On a 10 hour flight!) and was later moved from that seat to an even crappier one (with no entertainment system at all) when someone thoughtlessly had some sort of non-heart attack and needed to use all the floor space near Reto to lie down. My sister, who has been skiing in America for the last 2 weeks, got back to Sydney today and her flight's departure was mysteriously delayed for 2 hours and then at the very end of the flight the woman sitting next to her had a stroke or something and (it seems likely) died. Apparently the paramedic people came onto the plane (it had already landed in Sydney) and they CPRed the woman and they defibrillated her and nothing seemed to help. My sister seems sort of traumatised.

In other news, it's odd to be back. Yesterday when I was all sleep addled and cranky Reto and I went on a bit of a shopping adventure to stop us from falling asleep. I kept being surprised when shop assistants spoke to me in english, and I was also briefly confused about whether I was driving on the right (correct) side of the road or not (admittedly only when I was in a car park and the road was extremely wide and one way, so we could have driven on either side anyway). I think I'm better today (after a good 12 hours of sleep) but I still don't trust me 100% behind the wheel. It's also been raining a lot here lately so everything is kind of green and unrecognisable. Oh, and I might have found a completely excellent dress that I want to wear at my wedding. I have to go to another shop today and see if they have it in my size. If it's a goer though it will save me weeks of running around and panicking. Hurrah!

Thursday, 3 January 2008


We're all packed, we've done our laundry, we have all our remaining junk piled into a tiny space (in case the HOT has other visitors while we're away), we're ready to leave. And we just had some late lunch, which, having given no thought to the potential ramifications for whoever we sit next to over the next 24 hours or so, was packed full of freshly crushed raw garlic (not to mention the raw onions. It was salade nicoise and it was delicious).

Personally I would much rather sit next to someone who smelt like garlic than who smelt like stinky breath or sweat or other smelly bodily odours, but I am also willing to admit that this still might not be ideal. If I happen to be sitting next to you on a flight from Zurich this evening, I apologise in advance. Although secretly I am not really that sorry and I really think you should just get over it and stop being so sensitive.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

The World According To Mary Poppins

As it turns out, the kiddie movies I watched when I was little were useful, or would have been had I paid proper attention.

My imminent sister-in-law has been giving people these pots of four leaf clovers as new year presents. Each pot plant had a wee scarecrow type in it, made of a black pipecleaner and holding something I could never be bothered looking at. I thought this was extremely odd of her until the other day, when I noticed a florist hocking very similar items, and then I thought it was odd of the entire nation.

Today, after much discussion I discovered that the pipecleaner man is actually a chimney sweep, that the thing he is holding that I never bothered looking at is a ladder (which I suppose makes it easier to tell he is a chimney sweep) and that the other thing he is holding that I never even saw until it was pointed out by my imminent-mother-in-law, is a pig. And apparently all these things are lucky (not the ladder, but the rest of them).

I then harked back to last time I watched Mary Poppins (which was last night. Otherwise I doubt it would have entered my mind) and the previously loopy lyrics

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off
when I shake 'ands with you

which now seem like a beam of shining good sense in the murk of confusion. If only there was also a song in there about pigs.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Blog Nerdery

Because I apparently have too much time an not enough imagination, I decided to do this blog year in review thingie that I read about elsewhere, where the idea is that you take the first sentence that you wrote in each month and bung 'em all together to make something ridiculously disjointed and unreadable. I was actually only doing it for my own entertainment, but the fact that the first sentence from January was so prescient about the entire year to follow makes me want to share it with all of y'all so that you can marvel at my unchanging nature and solid reliability. Or something like that.
I have been meaning to start a blog for some time now, so
that I can complain about things but not have to complain in
group email form, nor type out the same complainy rant over
and over and over again, and so here I am.

Things often attack me.

Being the dedicated girlfriend that I have apparently become, I went to watch Reto compete in a
curling match last night.

I was reading one of those crappy free newspapers that you get on trains yesterday and there was a small article about Australia's abysmal stance on climate change.

A rough and heavily abridged guide to what I did yesterday:
I read my friend Evil Heather's blog.

I thought of something else annoying that happened when we
were in Berlin: we got to the first place we were staying at.

It's good to see that
Our Thorpey, now that he has
given up on swimming, has something else to occupy his time.

Well, it's
Switzerland Day (which is not what they call it here, but it's what I have decided to call it), which apparently means it's fireworks time.

Something funny was going on in Aarau yesterday.

Today when I was at the supermarket (lots of my stories seem to involve those words. How depressing) I got a free sample sachet of sweet chilli sauce.

Looking at wedding rings and brochures, grr ..

Aah Aarau, how I will (do) miss thee.
Looks like I might be a bit of a whiner after all.

Silvester The Cat

Last night at the NYE party that I went to we were all thinking of what our highlight of 2007 was. Possibly because I didn't give enough thought to it, mine was getting engaged. I have decided that this year's highlight will be more to do with me and less with other people. Hmm.

In other new year's eve news, apparently the Zurich fireworks don't start until 12.20am, not on the dot of midnight like absolutely everywhere else. This is without a doubt the weirdest thing I have come across so far this year. And nowhere near as charmingly mis-timed as when, at 2pm yesterday afternoon, I got all sorts of lovely drunken texts from friends in Australia saying "happy new year!".