Thoughts on horses

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

P.S I drove through THE VILLAGE [being where I live] yesterday.

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

I know. I followed you.

Well, at least I saw your facebook status indicating you were up the mountain and presumed you went through THE VILLAGE as you put it. I can’t believe you didn’t come and visit me.

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

Well, I didn’t know THE VILLAGE was basically at the foot of The Mountain. It really is a village! I was expecting something a touch more suburban, along the lines of Rochedale. I can’t believe you travel so far to work every day.

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

Yeah, it’s really not suburban at all. Once I saw a man just having a piss on the outside of the IGA. Although I suppose that happens in suburbia as well.

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

So is the IGA the ‘centre’ of THE VILLAGE? I didn’t see much else except for the ‘hotel’.

I think you should have a horse. Why would you live there and not have a horse?

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

Yeah, pretty much. There’s the IGA, the pub and the fish & chip shop. At least those are the things I frequent.

I don’t like horses. What would I do with a horse? They are not useful.

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

Horses are an excellent method of transportation. And they are cute. How can you not like horses?!

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

I got bitten by a horse once, on the stomach. I have held a grudge against the entire species ever since.

If I was going to have livestock I would have a goat or a pig. At least you can eat them. And they are cute. Horses are just biding their time, waiting to bite your tummy.

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

On the stomach?! How is that even possible?? This could only happen to you…

Goats are cute. Mum had one when she was little. I think you should get a goat. And magnum baby [being my unborn child] can pretend it’s a pony.

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

Well, it was my friend’s horse. I already disliked horses, mostly because every other small girl of my acquaintance adored them. And I was glaring suspiciously at this horse, called Rusty, waiting for it to do something objectionable. My friend told me not to be ridiculous, and that Rusty was perfectly friendly. And at that, Rusty’s eyes began to gleam, he dribbled a bit, made an evil screeching sound, and then leaned down and bit my stomach. It bruised me. I said something to effect of “friendly my fucking arse” and my friend then claimed it was my fault for being afraid of him. I personally don’t see what good an animal is if the moment it senses fear it attacks. That’s not my idea of a nice domesticated pet.

From: Alice
To: Celia; Alex

That is so awesome that you presented your belly for the biting. Keep magnum baby well clear of any equines from now on though. Don’t want him/her coming out missing an ear or a nose.

I love horses. Except for Shetland ponies. Not that they count. They are the dregs of the horse community.

From: Alex
To: Celia; Alice

What a strange place for a horse to bite. You’d think he’d go for your hair/face/arms but no, it was the tummy. Were you wearing a midriff-bearing top by any chance Ms Powell?

I love Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Missouri Foxtrotters. Clydesdales also hold a certain charm for me.

From: Celia
To: Alex; Alice

I have no idea why that devilish animal went for my belly, I suppose it was temptingly plump. Although actually I was a slender child, so that doesn’t really explain it. And I was in primary school, I very much doubt I was baring my midriff.

How dismissive Alice is of Shetland ponies – there are many miniature horses around THE VILLAGE Alice, and sometimes they have foals which I find rather endearing because they are so tiny. And incapable of reaching my stomach. Once I was riding my bike and stopped to say hello to a miniature horse next to a fence. “Hello little horsey!” I squeaked in falsetto tones. “Who’s a little horsey? Is you a little horsey? Yes you is!” It gazed at me blankly and proceeded to do a huge steaming piss, which was really quite an eloquent response considering its mental capacity.

Solutions

– After listening to this interview with Alain de Botton, I am definitely going to check out a copy of his book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. I have avoided his books in the past because I have always thought they looked like too much hard work, so I think I’m going to seek it out in audio book form – I’m much better at reading ‘difficult’ books in audio form, because I can’t skim.

– The husband is taking a serious approach to planning our trip to New Zealand in August, and is creating the most elaborate Excel spreadsheet known to man. I am contributing things like, “I must go to Dunedin and visit this bookstore.” Because visiting bookstores is a sensible thing to do on an overseas trip.

– I was also listening to the Marketplace of Ideas interview with Mark Frauenfelder about, among other things, the value of making things yourself (value in the sense of personal satisfaction, I mean). Which is a sentiment I understand and agree with; I was listening to the interview while tying together chickenwire in the gradual process of constructing Chickendome, which I am finding a very satisfying project. The slow process of putting the chickenwire together is quite meditative. I do tend to romanticise professions that involve the creation of something – for example, I feel at heart that my brother’s carpentry is of much greater value than my own job (although this feeling doesn’t go to the extent of longing to get out and on the tools myself). But really, the idea that we need to handmake things in order to find meaning in life is such a privileged Western preoccupation that it makes me wince a little. I’m fairly certain that those who must make things by hand because there is no alternative would not agree that it enriches their lives.

Me, referring suddenly to an email received several days ago: “But what did you mean when you wrote ‘donk’? Was that a typo?”
The husband, incredulously: “What?”
Me: “You said ‘donk’. What does that mean? Did you make it up? Who uses that word?”
H: “It means an engine.”
Me: “Is that a common term? If I googled it would something come up? And why would you use it to refer to a computer? It’s very confusing.”
H: “You are turning into your father.”

– I have been gritting my teeth with frustration trying to figure out the erratic problems we’ve been having with our broadband, reading with irritation on online forums that my particular modem is not known for dealing well with crappy connections. Today I have updated its firmware, reset it to its default factory settings, played it some relaxing Mozart symphonies and given it a gentle shoulder massage. And thus far it has rewarded me with fairly steady access the entire day. Writing this down ensures that within the next 5 minutes it will all go to hell, but I don’t care – it is always so pleasing when you go painfully slowly through a trouble shooting process and it actually produces some sort of result.

Not my forte

Last weekend, the husband painted the door to Chickendome (our new chicken pen, still under construction) a rather nice blue colour. Today, we finished the wire – while it still needs more wiring together by way of snake proofing, the basic structure is now finished. Chickendome lives!

“You know, I still have some glittery gold letters left over from when I decorated my ukulele case – don’t you think “Chickendome” in gold letters would look great above the door?”
“No.”

The husband then handed me a spray can of black paint, a metal sheet to block spray, gave me a little lecture about spraying in careful small strokes, and took one of the cars out for a drive. When he returned, I presented him with the above, and said, “Well, I used the sheet, and then I thought I didn’t need it, and then a fair bit of black paint got on the blue, and I discovered I actually did need it after all, and then I thought I’d fix it by painting that bit black. But it does look a bit weird.”

I think it’s clear that I don’t have a career ahead of me in painting. But I don’t suppose the chooks will mind.

Heading south

We have been relatively unaffected here by the flooding in Brisbane – we live on a different river system, and while it did experience flooding (and we had to take rather convoluted routes home at times due to roads being closed), it did not approach the severity of the flooding in the Brisbane river system. My CBD workplace has been shut for the past few days due to the power being shut off (and potentially the building being flooded, I suppose – I’m not sure how high the river got there). My brother and sister-in-law were stuck for several days in their apartment without power, although they have a kayak and were able to venture out that way.

Me, driving somewhat randomly through the Gold Coast, peering at road signs: “Hmm, I wonder if that suburb is north or south. Do you think we’re heading north?”
Dad: “No, I don’t.”
Me: “Oh, how do you know?”
Dad, sarcastically: “Because we’re on the east coast of Australia, and that’s the sea there on our left. If we keep going this way, we’ll end up in Melbourne.”
Me: “I guess I’d better turn around then.”

It’s raining on and off again today, which I’m sure is adding an extra element of unpleasantness to the flood clean up process. It also means further delay to the construction of Chickendome, my chicken pen. Unless I feel like sitting out in the rain cutting chicken wire, which strangely is not an activity that particularly appeals.

My Lonely Planet book for our planned trip to New Zealand’s south island arrived in the mail yesterday, and I have been happily browsing through it, occasionally coming out with outbursts like, “Glaciers!” and “Seals!”. I enjoy the planning process for holidays. Although I think with this trip it will be a difficult narrowing down what we’re going to do during our 10 days. Maybe we need a little longer.

Lady pigs

Me: “Those little horses look like they’re dead when they lie down like that. But I don’t think they can be, because there’s always a couple of them lying down whenever we go past.”
Husband: “Would you like a little horse?”
Me: “No – I would like a pig.”
H: “We could get a pig.”
Me: “What would we do with it? Would we eat it? I like bacon.”
H: “No.”
Me: “Well, I don’t know what the point is. You can’t really cuddle a pig, or take it for walks.”
H: “You can cuddle a pig.”
Me: “I’ll leave the pig cuddling to you. I guess you could get a stud pig. And hire it out to people with lady pigs.”
H: “Lady pigs? I don’t think they’re called lady pigs.”1
Me (ignoring the interruption): “And you could advertise – ‘Stud pig – handsome, non-smoker, likes walks on the beach – for impregnating lady pigs. Please call.’ Do you think a stud pig would get frustrated with no lady pigs around?”
H: “I think I would like to end this conversation now.”

1. Sow! Not lady pig. But I think I prefer lady pig.

Conversational misunderstandings

Law offices:
Me: [on the phone to someone three offices away waffling on about my communal farm idea] – “Waffle, waffle, waffle, basically a commune.”
Workmate: [frantic rustling and clunking] – “God, I just had to pick up the phone, I had you on speaker.”
Me: “Ahhh – was that little panic attack because I said the word commune where other people might hear me?”
WM: [entirely seriously] “Yes.”

What happens when you spend too much time playing cricket:
Me: “Oh, that’s my phone buzzing. Do you like my new Tardis message tone?”
Cricket-Playing Workmate: “What’s a Tart-us?”
Me: “The Tardis. You know, from Doctor Who.”
WM: “Is that a band?”
Me: [stares in disbelief]
WM: “Oh no, I’m thinking of Dr Hook.”
Me: [waves hands around in speechless gestures of distress]
WM: [backs away] “Erm… well, I’ll see you later.”

Conversations

After watching the husband crunch across the driveway in bare feet.
“Ah – good morning. I may have stolen your thongs.”
“You may have?”
“Well, yes. You know how, um, the potential of every action creates, um, another potential… universe?”
“Isn’t it ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’?”
“Well, yes, but that’s not the one about universes. Anyway, all I’m saying is that I think we’re living in the universe where I may have stolen your thongs. Sorry.”


Workmate: “Ben’s tie makes me want to vomit.”
Me: “It’s blue. What on earth about that tie could make you want to vomit?”
W: “It’s just disgusting.”
Me: “I don’t understand you. Honestly, if that tie makes you want to vomit, you must look at me coming into work every day and wince.”
W, in a gentle and kindly tone: “No, I don’t anymore.”

(Inspired by Circulating Library’s Strange Conversations.)