Monday, 22 October 2018

Quick Meal Ideas #LifeThisWeek


The other day Mr (almost) 10 woke up bleary eyed and immediately asked me that dreaded question: What are we having for dinner?

Before breakfast.

Seriously?

In fact, it's common for him to not only ask what's for dinner, but what's for dinner TOMORROW.  Didn't I just feed them yesterday?



Needless to say, I am constantly thinking about what to feed people. Of course. the obvious solution would be to set up a meal plan. I haven't done that as yet, so maybe I will at some point. I kinda just go with whatever I have on hand in the fridge and pantry, and buy whatever's on special.

Since I'm at home (mostly), it makes more sense to do a small to medium shop a couple times a week instead of one big shop. I waste less this way as well.

When it comes to cooking, sometimes I like it, and other times I'd rather poke my eyeballs out. Therefore it's good to have a few quick and easy meal ideas. Because I'd really rather keep my eyeballs. They come in handy for seeing stuff, and also crossing them for good luck. Why just rely on your fingers?

I digress. As usual. Moving on.

One of my favourite go to recipes lately is a quick red chicken curry I got out of a Coles magazine. So I can't take the credit for it. It's this:

You brown chopped chicken breast or thigh fillets (whatever's on special- see above) in a little olive oil. Then remove and cook roughly chopped red capsicum with a third of a cup of red curry paste. Add the chicken again and a tin of coconut milk or cream. Chuck in some baby spinach and serve with rice. I vary the veggies depending what I have on hand.

Another current favourite is a noodle stir fry. We've progressed to two out three boys eating these things now. I'll call that a win. Mr (almost) 10 is a plain meat, potatoes and corn kinda guy, like his dad was when I met him. That's OK. I definitely would never have eaten anything remotely curry like at age ten. He'll get there.

Of course you wouldn't be Australian if you didn't resort to a good old BBQ chook with rolls and salad. Laziest easiest meal ever!

Then there's always lazy shove-it-in-the-oven dinners. Pies, pizzas etc. Certainly not the healthiest option, but sometimes necessary for your mental health. We try to compensate by having a juice or green smoothie. Admittedly, not as good as eating your greens, but better than nothing.

We're also breakfast or lunch for dinner kinda people, so we might have toasted sandwiches, bacon and eggs or pancakes for dinner. Not all of them at once, you understand, just one or the other.

By now I'm sure you're getting the district impression that we're health fanatics and living our best lives. Correct.

Pancakes for dinner = Best life.

I serve them with fresh berries so it's healthy!!

HMPH. You're just jealous.

That's a wrap.

Boys will be home soon asking that question...

What's for dinner?

What are your quick meal ideas?

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Flowers Of Truth: A Story #FridayReflections




Stella stood at the window staring. Waiting. Always, waiting. It was barely past dawn and a dismal wet day. She couldn't sleep. As soon as she'd gotten the text, she'd left the cocoon of her bed. No doubt they'd be back in there very soon anyway. He was on his way.

Finally, irrevocably, he was leaving Sarah. He'd promised to tell her last night. At last, they could be together. No more furtive five am trysts, late night emails, secret texts and stolen afternoons at motels. She'd never planned to become 'the other woman'. It wasn't something you aspired to. And it wasn't in Stella's determined nature to be a pushover.

"It's just that you deserve so much more," her best friend Donna would frequently remind her. Of course she did. She knew that. That's why she'd given Dale an ultimatum. Leave his wife or it's over.

Besides, people like Donna didn't get it. She'd married Gary soon after university. One of those dependable decent guys, and they seemed happy enough. But Stella wanted more. She wanted to be swept off her feet and dazzled. To not settle.

As soon as she'd seen Dale Kingsley it was like a juggernaut to her heart. Every inch of his six foot frame exuded charisma. With his movie star looks, and take charge confidence, he was the quintessential alpha male. In fact, his only flaw as far as she could see, was his wife.

Stella sighed, glancing at her phone. Where was he? It was drizzling after a downpour overnight. The street was grey and sodden, lined with bins waiting to be collected. The lid had tipped off one directly opposite her flat, and an empty milk carton sailed along the water logged gutter. Someone had drawn a crude penis on the lid. She certainly wouldn't miss this neighborhood.

They planned to move to their dream home near the beach. Stella thought about everything as she peered anxiously outside, hoping to see Dale's sleek sports car glide into the street.

Technically, Dale had been separated when they met. He was her boss at the major insurance company she worked for as a team leader. Falling for the boss was such a cliche. Even more so was her belief that it must have been fate. They'd bonded over being the only two tea drinkers in an office full of coffee addicts. Then came the emails. First they were professional, then friendly, before becoming flirtatious. Soon, they were seeing each other outside of work. It was the most romantic, whirlwind, joyous thing.

He hadn't hid the fact that he was married, but assured her they were separated. The strain of years of infertility had proved too much for the marriage.

"I think she wanted a baby more than she wanted us," Dale explained sadly. Dale had been ambivalent about parenthood from the start. Stella felt the same way. She valued other things besides babies. They must be meant for each other.

Then came the devastating news. Dale decided to go back to Sarah, at least for now. His mother in law had been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and Sarah wasn't coping well emotionally. It wasn't the right time.

Stella had been beside herself, but in the end realized Dale was trying to do the right thing. They tried to stay apart, but it was no use. The fire between them was too intense. She agreed to see him on the side.

To her surprise, part of her enjoyed the thrill of secrecy. They had all the fun and excitement without all the tedious parts of a relationship. Sure, she hated the idea of hurting another woman, but Sarah Kingsley didn't have it so bad. She had a beautiful home in the leafy northern side of Sydney, while Stella was stuck out in the dreary western suburbs in a ground floor flat.

Stella frowned and looked at her phone again. There were no frantic messages. No promises to be here ASAP. This was the bad side, the stark reality of the relationship. The lying, the waiting, guessing, always being second best in Dale's life. No more. His mother in law had passed away a few months ago. It was time to move on with their lives.

Stella thumbed in the words:

Where r u? I'm waiting!!!

She thought of adding something sexy but she was too irritated. Her phone pinged a few minutes later.

Sorry, babe. Can't make it. Will make it up to you. Talk later.

WHAT?! She typed again.

Did you tell her???

Not yet. But I will. Promise.

Stella threw her phone down and stomped to her tiny kitchen. The table was set with tea cups and a plate of pastries. She dumped them in the trash, then slumped at the table sobbing.

The door buzzer sounded startling her. Maybe Dale was here after all! She flew to the door.

"Delivery! Sign here!"

Stella signed, then took in the box. It was the most glorious box of pink blooms with a love heart nestled amongst them.

The message was simple:

Two hearts that beat as one. Soon we'll be together. Love you forever, Dale.

The smarmy bastard, Stella thought. But she felt herself melting. Begrudgingly, she breathed in the roses. Everything would be alright.

The next day she strode into the office, replenished. She'd dressed to impress in a fitted sheath and killer heels. Move over Meghan Markle. People were always telling Stella she looked like the princess. Stella thought it was more of an attitude. She hated being a victim, preferring to take charge. She'd sort things out with Dale. After all, there was sure to be a reasonable explanation. Not to mention, the roses. Stella glowed as remembered them in pride of place in her living room.

Reaching her work station, she averted her eyes from her colleagues. They'd transformed from cubicle hell into an open plan office. An even worse hell when you wanted privacy. She needed to email Dale.

Marita Britton was not to be deterred. She was the obligatory office gossip and chatterbox. Stella wasn't in the mood for her now, but it was good to keep her on side.

They exchanged cursory greetings. "Love your dress!" Marita's eyes flickered enviously over Stella's svelte frame.

"Thanks," she replied, distracted.

"Great news about Dale, isn't it?

"What news?" Stella concentrated on sounding unconcerned.

"He's gonna be a dad! His wife's expecting!"

Shell shocked, Stella stumbled on her heels. Gingerly she sunk into her swivel chair. There must be some sort of mistake!

"Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost!" Marita squinted at her.

"I'm fine!" Stella snapped herself out of it.

Marita shrugged. "Okay, seeya." She sauntered off, leaving a shaken Stella groping for her laptop.

Deftly, she logged on and did the unthinkable. The thing she'd vowed never to do. Within seconds she'd typed the name Sarah Kingsley into Facebook. There she was. A winsome blonde with oceanic blue eyes. She was really real. And more than that. She was BEAUTIFUL.  Stella felt ill, but kept scrolling. Then she nearly fainted.

Sarah had typed a long status:

So this happened! Dale and I are thrilled to announce we're now 18 weeks pregnant!!! This has been an incredibly long journey, therefore we couldn't wait to find out if the nursery should be pink or blue! IT'S PINK!!!!

The final insult was in the images posted alongside the status. Sarah and Dale beaming and a glorious arrangement of pink flowers. The exact same type of arrangement he'd sent Stella.

The same fucking flowers!

Stella read the comments, all of them gushing and congratulatory. Then she gasped audibly at one:

So proud of you, my daughter. Cannot wait to be a Grandma!

Was this the same mother in law who was meant to be deceased?!

Suddenly, Stella began typing as if she were possessed. It was surreal, as if she was outside of herself spectating. She was incandescent with rage, only wanting to lash out, wound, the way she was wounded. Before she knew it, she'd hit send. Sarah Kingsley's perfect pink world was about to be annihilated. Along with her philandering husband.

Stella stood and propelled herself to Dale's office. She didn't bother knocking, storming past his bewildered PA. He was deep in conversation with several other suits. She ignored them, seething at her lover.

"Stella!" Dale looked stricken.

"YOU LYING SON OF A BITCH!" She thundered.

"FUCK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING FLOWERS!"

The entire office was agog. The normally contained Stella Conway was unraveling. So it was TRUE, they all whispered.

"I KNEW it!" Marita gloated.

SIX MONTHS LATER...

Stella signed the contract with a satisfied flourish.

"Congratulations," Kevin Bannister, the head of HR shook her hand. "You show great leadership."

"I won't let you down." She'd done it. A promotion! And not just any promotion. She was replacing Dale, who'd left shortly after all the brouhaha.

Later, she'd be signing yet another contract. She could finally afford her own place! No man needed. There had been a couple of changes for Dale, she'd heard. His newborn daughter, and a bitter divorce.

She felt a twinge of guilt knowing her own part in the latter, but in the end she was glad Sarah had had enough gumption to choose single parenthood over a farcical marriage. Maybe she'd thank Stella one day. Well, that was probably going too far, but good luck to her.

Stella reached her new office and sighed with satisfaction. She spun her swivel chair and let out a long squeeee. There was a tap on the door. It was Marita. Her new PA. Like she always said, it was a good idea to keep the queen of office gossip as her ally.

" Your latte!" Marita handed her a coffee. Stella could never drink tea again.

THE END.

Linking up for Friday Reflections.








Monday, 1 October 2018

Something Anything #LifeThisWeek


Greetings earthlings. It is I, the one and only Ness of Nessville, back to thrill you with the monumental happenings of my grand existence.

For instance, today's highlight involved cleaning out the fridge. This is a phenomenon known as 'living the dream'.

In other news, I also made some beds, folded laundry, patted my dog and cooked fried rice. (Auto correct wanted me to say I cooked friends, but I can assure you I've never done that).

Anyway, as you can imagine, I certainly needed a lie down after all this, to recover from all the excitement. Especially considering that for much of the past week I have resembled what can only be described as a human slug.

A snotty, sniffling, sneezing, snivelling, sooky human slug. This is what happens when your offspring decide to generously share their germs. Rude.

I endured unimaginable suffering for DAYS. Gallons of water were consumed. Copious piles of tissues were disposed of as plaintive piano music moped piteously in the background. Well, it should have been anyway. Sniff.

I mean, I was most certainly DYING from this hideous Man Cold. If I got it from my boys that makes it a Man Cold and therefore dire and tragic. In desperation I turned to my faithful husband, the marvellous Mickey Blue Eyes.

"Can you please get me some Sudafed or Cold Eze tablets?" I implored. Dutifully he set off, traipsing to the chemist on foot. He's one of these people who walk a lot, not a sloth creature like yours truly. Ahem.

He left me languishing in my sluggish state. Some time later I heard a loud clap of thunder. Oh dear, I thought, hoping he wasn't caught in a downpour. Or worse still, struck by lighting. The sky lit up at that precise minute and I shuddered fearfully.

I am prone to catastrophising. Oops. Minutes later I heard the gate clatter and a breathless Mickey Blue Eyes arrived, wet but triumphant. I had my drugs. I fell upon them as if they were cake, my preferred drug.

I am now slightly less slug like. And let me just add that this is what true love looks like, people. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Things have been a tiny bit gloomy to be honest. In a sad turn of events, a friend of Mickey Blue Eyes passed away unexpectedly, two weeks ago, leaving him despondent and adding to a general malaise.

Meanwhile, school holidays arrived in all their glory. This means that three ravenous boys demand food incessantly from the minute they awake until they again succumb to slumber. On the plus side, Mr 17 is keen to cook pancakes quite frequently. Winning.

In the midst of my man cold, I made myself some restorative soup, and I think we can all agree this is fascinating information.

Unfortunately, I missed a planned excursion to the city with my TAFE class. ( TAFE stands for Technical And Further Education for any non Australians playing along). Can't remember if I have mentioned the course, but yes I am doing this for two days a week until December. Then if all goes to plan I will proceed to study for a Library Diploma thingy via TAFE digital.

Meanwhile, I've applied for several jobs, getting a politely worded rejection email from one and crickets chirping from the rest. Is that a thing now? You don't hear anything unless you progress to interview? Oh well. It's all a learning process. I'll get there.

What does this week hold? Some boring appointments and shopping. Then next week I am catching up with some girlfriends for lunch. Looking forward to it! With the added bonus that I should be completely germ free by then. Yippee!





And that is all I have to report. We are perpetual plodders. So until next time I'll be over here plodding along. 

As Mickey Blue Eyes would say, take it easy and I'll catch up with you later. Adios.

What's happening in your world? 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Taking Stock: September 2018 Edition #LifeThisWeek




Making: Beds. I've gotten into a habit of doing so most mornings. Gives me the illusion that I've got my shit together.

Cooking: I made a shepherd's pie recently that was a hit. What else? Hmmm. Toast. Does that count?

Drinking: Green smoothies made with zucchini, kale, banana, coconut milk and a dash of honey. Gives me the illusion that I'm healthy.

Reading: Currently reading Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall. I'm enjoying it even though it kinda jumps all over the place with the characters and years. Prior to this I read an old Paullina Simons called Road To Paradise. It dragged a bit for me in the middle but I liked it in the end.

Also read a non-fiction title: You're Not That Great. It wasn't that great.

Trawling: I wonder why I leave this one in here. I never trawl.

Wanting: A holiday would be lovely.

Looking: For a part-time job. Wait. What? Yes, you read right. I'm doing it.  Trying, anyway.

Deciding: On some sort of further studies to go along with the job stuff. Library related stuff, because that's what I've done before and it suits me.

Wishing: Someone would just jump over the fence and offer me a job. No, I'm not drunk. That's a scenario I once read in a novel. Can't remember the name of the novel, but the heroine decided she wanted a job and BOOM her neighbour became her bestie and offered her a job. Totally happens in real life, right? Any librarians out there who wanna be my bestie?

Enjoying: A bit of RAIN. You know, that wet stuff that comes from the sky? That.

Waiting: For a lottery win. Will be waiting a LONG time. We never take a ticket.

Liking: The roast dinner we had was pretty good.

Wondering: Why washing up can't do itself.




Loving: My family. I think I'm gonna keep 'em.

Listening: To not much of anything. It's quite peaceful at the moment. As soon as I type this bedlam will ensue in ten, nine, eight, seven...

Considering: Shoving the dishes outside in the rain and hoping for the best.

Buying: Groceries. Just for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Watching: I watched an old movie from the 70s yesterday. The Last Married Couple In America starring George Segal and Natalie Wood. It was really bad. The hairstyles and some of the so-called humour from those times haven't worn well.

Marvelling: At many things.

Hoping: I won't blink my eyes and it's Christmas. *tries not to blink* 😵

Needing: A washing up fairy. Or, you know, one of those new-fangled contraption things people have that wash dishes? Whatever they are. I wouldn't know.

Questioning: How September came around so quickly. *blinks* OOPS. Merry Christmas everyone!

Smelling: There is a bit of a rainy day aroma with a hint of Krispy Kreme donuts happening here. We smashed a dozen of those babies between the five of us. We picked them up on the way back from my brother's 50th birthday lunch the other day. We'd already had a meal, plus cake, but that didn't stop us, because we're living our best lives obviously.

Wearing: Navy track suit pants, a purple jumper and green cardigan. Classy.

Noticing: My feet are cold. I really should put on ugs on to complete my alluring look.

Knowing: The dishes will NOT do themselves. A washing up fairy will NOT arrive. So rude.

Thinking: I need to exercise. And do dishes. Sigh.

Admiring: Mr 9, until he tells me it's creepy that I stare at him.

Getting: Tired. Until I actually get into bed... BOOM! I'll be wide awake.

Opening: Books. Always

Closing: Dunno.

Feeling: Pretty groovy right now. Also, kinda lazy. Groovy lazy is totally a thing. It's like the regular kind of lazy but you have shades on. Or something.

Celebrating: Three years cancer free!!!! Had my girls crushed last week and the results were GOOD. WHEEEEE!




Pretending: To exercise by typing the word exercise. Exercise exercise exercise. Done.

Embracing: Uncertainty. Hmmm. Think I said that last time but it still applies.

End Of Stock Take. 

Later dudes!

Linking up for Life This Week and Open Slather.

What are you celebrating in September?

Monday, 27 August 2018

How I Cope With Stress And Anxiety


Good evening, groovers and shakers! I trust you are feeling fabulous and full of joie de vivre. If you're not that's okay too. I'm here to help.

Life can tend to have a way of cruising along in a satisfactory manner for a period. Until it doesn't. Instead it's suddenly sucky and stressful. Fortunately I've managed to develop a few coping strategies to assist in these testing times.

So I figured I may as well as share them in the ubiquitous random list form. If nothing else, writing lists gives me the illusion that I've got my shit together.

So here goes:

HOW I COPE WITH STRESS & ANXIETY: A RANDOM LIST





  • Exercise. Sadly I dislike gyms and running. On the other hand I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't mind working out at home alone. YouTube videos and a bit of strength training are my go to choice. It hasn't exactly translated to peak physical fitness, but that's not really my goal here. It's my mental state I wish to improve. Worrying about what I look like in active wear won't help me at all. So I don't. That's just me. Next...
  •  Calming activities such as word fill-ins or word searches and colouring in. Preferably with pretty glitter pens. Nice. 
  • Writing everything down. Either like this in list form, or spewing forth a hideous word vomit of everything that is bothering me. Privately. No one needs to read that. 
  • Having a schedule or routine. This takes a certain element of decision making away. Instead of thinking about what I need to do, how to prioritise things and consequently becoming more stressed and overwhelmed, I know what's next. Admittedly sticking with routines is still a bit of a work in progress for me, but a flexible routine does help. 
  • Down time. It's important for me to schedule down time in my flexible routine. 
  • Green smoothies. Typically I would just eat all the cakies, but in the past week I began having a green smoothie everyday. Of course I still have a sneaky cupcake here and there when my mum is kind enough to bring some. It's about balance, people.
  • Therapy. I see a good psychologist on a regular basis. It's hard, but really helps in the long run. 
  • Waiting it out. Sucky feelings pass just like a thunderstorm. And sometimes there's even a rainbow at the end. I know. First I'm mentioning green smoothies now I'm getting all inspirational on you. I don't even know who I am anymore...
  • Recognising the difference between good stress and bad stress. This is something my psychologist reminded me of recently. Some stress is necessary in life, and even beneficial. I'm currently trying to make some changes and it's challenging but will be worth it in the end. So it's good stress. I think. I hope. 😲
  • Recognising that avoidance of sucky feelings will make it worse in the long term. Unfortunately I have had to learn this lesson the incredibly hard way, then learn it again the even harder way. And again, the incredibly, extremely hardest of hard ways. Sigh.
  • Taking things one day at a time.
  • Using mindfulness and techniques from ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), such as diffusion, thanking your mind etc.
  • Naming my anxiety Agnes and giving her the middle finger when applicable. She deserves it. The b$!&h. 
  • Listening to music.
  • Reading. I really don't know why I didn't put this at the top of my list. Reading is THE BEST. 
  • Practising self-compassion. Another work in progress. But I'm getting better at this. 
End of random list.

And if all of the above fails an occasional bottle of wine and a funnel can be helpful too. Hmmmm. Shame I don't have either! HMPH. 


How do you cope with stress and anxiety?

Monday, 20 August 2018

My Hairstyle History #LifeThisWeek


Brace yourselves for a trip into the worst of 80s and 90s hair. I've shared my hairstyle history before, particularly my infamous mullet-perm. But it's so hilarious it's worth sharing again.

This is one instance when I should definitely let the pictures tell the story. They're very old photos that I scanned and cropped any old how, so apologies in advance.

Long Hair

When I was cute circa 1981 


Perms

Infamous mullet-perm. I was about 16
and it was 1987. That's my only excuse.
Shut up. 

At my 21st. Bad perm. Bad earrings.
Bad make-up. But I did have a good
figure in those days. Sigh.

Poodle perm and weird expression.
Perhaps I was busting for the loo?




Short Hair

This was around my 30th birthday circa 2001.
I was up the duff but didn't know.


The lobster and wine look pretty good.
Not sure about the bowl hair cut.

Bobs


I looked pretty good then.
Is that me? 

Helmet hair. Noice. And my awesome parents.

Bad selfie. The hair was good because
I'd been to the hairdresser.


Long Hair Again 


Ten years ago. I was pregnant
with Mr 9. 


Who cares about my hair LOOK
HOW CUTE MY BOYS WERE 😍


No Hair


2015/16 when I had tit cancer became
a hare krishna. Fortunately I have
a lovely shaped head. So I'm told.


Chemo Curls


Move over Kath Day-Knight

This was the day I went to a club
buffet for a seniors price. Winning!


Silver Fox


Present day.
I let my hair go grey and I DGAF. 


And that completes the cringe.

Linking up for Life This Week and Open Slather.

Which hairstyles have you had?

Sunday, 19 August 2018

A Cautionary Tale #FridayReflections

Good morning, dear people. Or good afternoon or evening, depending on where you are in the world. Today I would like to present to you a (fictional) cautionary tale. Also known as 'Ness Is Very Bad At Titles' (Because I Don't Think It Really Is A Cautionary Tale).

Yeah, that.

Anyway, here it is:

A Cautionary Tale




She cautiously set her cup on the table. Her eyes flicked from the screen to the door. It was time. The guilt twisted inside, taunting her. She jumped when the door opened even though she'd been expecting him.

Panicked, she closed the laptop. He mustn't know.

"Hey babe," Grant was sweaty and distracted, checking his fit bit.

"Good run?" She managed to sound normal.

"Smashed it." He grinned and headed for the kitchen. Too late she remembered her phone charging on the counter. Had she deleted the incriminating texts? Jarred had a habit of sending effusive messages. Especially when she'd just ended their Skype session so abruptly.

Grant drained a glass of water, while she hovered behind him. Then he turned and drew her towards him, oblivious to her distress.

"You're all sweaty," she protested.
"So let's get more sweaty..." he raised an eyebrow then frowned as her phone whistled to indicate a message.

She snapped it up urgently.

"Boyfriend number four?" Grant's lips twitched.

"Very funny!"

She turned her back to read the message. "I need you to go pick up Piper."

Their daughter was safely at her parents place. She could never be privy to such a thing. At five years old, she was far too inquisitive. Not to mention a certified chatterbox. Plus it was a convenient ruse to make Grant leave.

"I need to take a shower first. You said so yourself." He traced his steps back through the living room to the stairs.

The cup. Oh, no.

"On the heavy stuff already?"

"Ha ha." He thinks it's water. Phew. 

Grant knew something was up. She was sure of it. She never left cups around. He was always teasing her about being so meticulous.

Yet here she was, drinking vodka during the day, in a dishevelled house, while ensconced in illicit Skyping. This couldn't go on. She'd have to tell him.

But as soon as Grant left to pick up Piper, she texted furiously.

The coast is clear.

The reply was instant.

I'll be right there. Can't wait!

She was really doing this. All her planning had paid off. She'd fooled him. Later, she would always remember the shock on Grant's face. She couldn't believe he'd never guessed.

"You sneaky bitch," he said. "I can't believe this!"

The stunned expression turned tender.

"God, I love you." He reached to hug her, elated.

Abby embraced her husband. "Happy birthday," she whispered.

"Happy birthday, bro!" Jarred, her brother-in-law, thumped him on the back as all their gathered family and friends laughed and joined in the salutations.

Abby and Jarred exchanged relieved smiles. They'd pulled it off. A surprise 40th birthday party for Grant. They'd been planning it for months via messages and Skype.

"How did you not know?" She asked Grant later. Everyone had finally left and Piper had given in to slumber, exhausted from all the excitement.

"I figured you'd never have anyone over when the place was such a 'mess'." He said, tweaking his fingers to indicate inverted commas. "Well, your version of a mess."

She threw a cushion at him from the artfully arranged nest on their bed. He detested those cushions as much as she loved them. He threw it back, then they were kissing. For the first time ever she decided that all the mess and dishes could wait.


The End.


Yes. Well. Wasn't that cute? For some reason I have the same feeling I have when I eat something too sweet. It's good at the time but then I'm queasy afterwards. Bleurrghh.

I was going to say that the only 'cautionary' thing about it should have been to warn you to have a barf bag ready for afterwards, but I'm over all that self-deprecating crap. Oh wait... DOH.

Old habits and all that... Anyway that's my story. Thank you kindly for reading.

Written for Friday Reflections using the prompt:

  1. Start with ‘She cautiously set her cup on the table.......’ Set timer and write for 5 mins.
Do you have a cautionary tale?

Can you think of a better title? 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Famous People I Have Met #LifeThisWeek 13/8



It should come as quite a surprise when I reveal that I've never met any famous people! Shocking, really. I mean, I live such a glamorous existence. Jet setting to far flung destinations. Mingling with the glitterati. Whatever that means.

I have glitter pens. Same thing, right?

Not really? HMPH.

I guess you could say I've brushed with fame. Or famous people. Depending on your definition of famous.

There was the time I met former Balmain Tigers footballer Wayne Pearce. At least, I think I did. I'm a bit hazy on the finer details. It was decades ago.



I was about twelve or thirteen. We were at some sort of function to do with my dad's work (I think). For some reason Wayne Pearce was there. We were introduced briefly and he shook my hand. At the time I had a bit of a crush on him and was crazy shy, so I blushed as red as my hair.

My brother knew a cousin or something of his because we went to the same school as her. So he happily mentioned this, possessing none of my shyness. My brother and Mr Pearce chatted away for a few minutes while I stood there embarrassed.  And that was that.

Fast forward a decade or so later. I was working for a time in a call centre for NRMA. I took a call from musical theatre singer/actor Anthony Warlow. I was quite starstruck but resisted the urge to go all fan girl. Luckily I am not the stalker type because I knew EXACTLY where he lived. I organised a home insurance policy for him. See? Told you I'm glamorous!

Several years later, we were holidaying in Cairns. With a toddler and a baby. Why let tiny humans stop us? That was our motto.

At one point we were strolling through the airport and a bald  bespectacled dude walked by, smiled at my little one in the stroller, then smiled at me and walked on.

Immediately I thought: "I know that guy!"

A minute or so later it hit me. It was Carrie's gay friend from Sex And The City.  Stanford or something? Him.


Image credit: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0308606/


I can't recall the actor's name*. All I can say is, if it wasn't him, it was his absolute doppelganger walking through Cairns airport smiling at random babies. Is that weird? Whatever. I'm pretty sure it was him.

Another airport celeb sighting happened at Sydney airport (on a different trip - told you we're jet setters!) when we spotted Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes at the luggage carousel. A casual "G'day how ya going?" was exchanged between him and Mickey Blue Eyes.

Thus endeth my underwhelming exciting brushes with fame.

I still maintain that I'm glamorous however. You can't stop me.

After all, I recall reading or hearing an observation from comedian Judith Lucy. Something to the effect of how many of the celebrities she interviewed during her time working in commercial radio had nothing more interesting to say than good old Tracy from Penrith. So ner.

Now I'm off to mingle with the glitterati again. Or Tracy from Penrith. Same thing.

What about you?

Have you met anyone famous?

*Turns out his name is Willie Garson. But wikipedia doesn't say if he smiles at random babies in airports... *shrugs*

Monday, 6 August 2018

Countries I Have Visited #LifeThisWeek


Hello there, lovely people! It's time to reveal the extensive list of countries I have visited. Here it is...

Countries I Have Visited:


  • Holland.


The End.

That was a quick post.

Byyyye!

Just kidding. I'm the queen of rambling. Can't get rid of me that easily. So ner!

It's true, though. The only country I've visited is Holland. Technically I should change the title of this post, but why nitpick?

I was certain I had already blogged about visiting Holland before, but when I went looking for the post I couldn't find it. Weird.

I went there as a ten year old with my parents and brother. It was 1981. I can still remember it. Well, bits of it.

We stayed with some friends of ours in Rotterdam. We ended up riding bikes everywhere. My parents have all the snapshots because obviously 1981 was a very long time ago. They also have footage which they had made into a DVD and gave me a copy, but I don't know how to upload it here.

In the footage I can be seen as a ten year old, skipping amongst the tulips.

Not the actual tulips I skipped amongst.


Other random memories of Holland:


  • When we arrived I allegedly slept for a solid 17 hours due to jet lag. If I ever travel overseas again as a middle-aged/old lady I'll likely fall into a coma, never to wake up again.  



  • I lived on bowls of custard and those round Dutch crisp bread thingys for a month. It was awesome.



  • Dutch liquorice called Drop (I think), is the most vile thing I've ever tasted. A million times more salty than vegemite. Yuck!



  • They served hot chips with peanut sauce, which struck me as revolting at the time. Now I realise it was probably some sort of satay type sauce and I'd probably love it.



  • Yep, we did visit a windmill. I think that was day my mum was filming away merrily only to discover later there was no film in the video recorder!



  • We visited some sort of touristy place where the bins would speak when you passed them saying "Papier here!" Or something. My memory of this is a little vague.



  • There was a lot of punk and new wave types about and I definitely gawked stupidly at them.



  • We went on a boat ride on the canal but as soon as it rocked I freaked and wanted to get off. So my dad got off with me. He doesn't like boats either and I provided him with a convenient smokescreen. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone! 😉



  • I remember some of the music that was popular at the time. Such as Double Dutch Bus and Grace Jones's Strange (I've Seen That Face Before). My parents bought a single of the latter, my brother the former. This was in the prehistoric days of vinyl records!




  • We almost missed the plane coming home! I'm not sure exactly how my parents got mixed up, but we were meandering around the airport thinking we had aaaages. Suddenly we heard our names being paged and had to bolt to the departure gate. We embarked red as beetroots, as all the other passengers gave us filthy looks. OOPS!


Those are snippets of memories from a very long time ago.

Sadly I've never visited any other countries, but if I could I'd visit the US, Canada and Prince Edward Island. Also; the UK. Not very likely at present, but you never know. Fingers crossed!

What about you?

Which countries have you visited?

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Question Of Why #FridayReflections


As a girl I would sit in the back seat of the car watching the world whizz by. I'd catch my reflection in the window and gaze at it intently. As I stared at myself suddenly I would be struck with a strange feeling I couldn't articulate. LOOK at that girl with green eyes and red hair. She's me. I'm her. How funny. How fabulous. How interesting. How very curious.  I wondered why I was ME.


Me as a girl. I was cute. 


WHY was I Vanessa, sitting in my parents car, weaving along suburban streets in Sydney? There's millions of people in the world.  Why aren't I one of them? I'm me. Not someone else. Inside this body. Experiencing this life.

The question came and went swiftly. It was too complex for my young psyche. After all, I was the kind of kid who never questioned the fanciful plots of Enid Blyton novels. Sometimes the thought was so odd I would begin to giggle. I couldn't really process or define what I was thinking and feeling.

I still can't exactly.

Mark Twain says this:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”Mark Twain

I am reminded of how when my mother was weary from my brother and I's constant "why's" she'd sigh and say: "Because Y's a crooked letter and Z's no better!"

It's as good an answer as any.

The thing is, I still don't know why I'm me. I'm glad I am (mostly), but I don't know if there was one specific purpose I was put on earth for.

It sometimes seems that trying to pinpoint certain whys in life isn't always beneficial. At least it isn't for me. I've never figured out exactly what it is I want to do or be when I grow up. And yes, I know. I AM grown up. That's my point. My life is more than half over (unless I live to be well over a hundred), and I still don't have the answers to a million whys. Or one important why.



I could say that I was born to be a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm grateful to be those things. Definitely. But I'm also just me. I'm not even the best at being those things, I just bumble along and hope for the best.

Maybe that other most important day of my life is yet to come. Maybe I will understand why one of these days. More likely I will just keep on stumbling along trying to be a better me than I was yesterday. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

And when I catch my reflection and see the middle aged woman who has replaced the little girl I will smile instead of sighing in dismay. I don't always have to know why. I just need to get on with it and be grateful.

What about you?

 Do you find it helpful to question why? 

Monday, 30 July 2018

If I Could #LifeThisWeek


If I could talk to the animals! Just imagine it! Or something...

Well actually, I DO talk to my dog. And she just looks at me like I'm nuts for some inexplicable reason.

Anyway, that was the first thing that popped into my head for this prompt. Because that's the way my brain works. Then I'll jump to the next random thing.

Which is THIS:

If I could, I would register for The Carpenters 50th Anniversary celebration thing happening in California next April. Then I would go, combining it with a family holiday. Sounds awesome, right?  Unfortunately, I would have to rob a bank first. So if I could please  borrow someone's balaclava?

Just kidding.

I could never rob a bank. Sigh.

First of all, I'd have to use a toy gun. Just like an old episode of The Golden Girls when they get held up by a dude in a Santa suit. (Random brain thing again. Bare with me...) Oh wait.


Random cute bears for no reason. 

Now my random brain is pondering if the expression is bare with me, or bear with me. The latter seems to imply there's an actual bear with me. But the former implies nakedness, and I really don't wanna go there. My random brain has backed me into a very awkward corner.

Moving on.

So where was I? Oh yes, the robbing a bank thing. Silly. I can't do that. Can I?

I'll have to win the lottery instead. Easy peasy. The odds are only astronomical, but meh. Why worry about inconsequential things like logic?

What I'm actually getting at is, if I could, I would go on a holiday. I'm sure it will happen soon. Except it'll be somewhere like Coonabarabran instead of California. Which is fine. I'll go anywhere at this point. Sniff.

Meanwhile, I am in the process of trying to make some changes but I don't want to talk about them at this point because then I'll talk myself out of it, or it won't happen, since I have a habit of announcing things and failing and this is a terrible run on sentence and I don't even know what I'm saying anymore.

And now for some more random 'if I coulds':

If I could, I would skip summer. Or go somewhere cooler. Or better still, make it perfect spring weather all year round, with some rain as well.

Yes, I would definitely make it rain, if I could. Maybe I should try a rain dance, but I don't dance. So magical thinking it is. Make it rain! Pretty please? Pretty please, with sugar on top? Does anyone say that anymore? I just did, so there's that.

If I could, I would lie in the sun all day like Cookie. But I have some stuff I wanna get done. Stuff that actually involves moving. Shame about that.

If I could, I would reinvent the human body so you could get exercise while sleeping. That would be SO much more efficient.

If I could, I would become a speed reader. Then I could read ALL THE BOOKS.

Presently I desire a cup of coffee, but it won't make itself. I find that frightfully rude. If I could, I would WILL the coffee to make itself. Furthermore, the housework should really do itself as well.

If I could, I'd create a magical land called Nessville (just came up with that name off the top of my head...) where cakies are good for you, cancer doesn't exit, everyone is kind and has a pet unicorn. Did I mention that logic is overrated?

Can't do any of those things.

But there is one thing I CAN do.

Bring this bewildering, babbling post crashing to its end.

DONE.

The End.

What would you do if you could?


Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Then And Now #FridayReflections


It often occurs to me that I essentially haven't matured much beyond the age of about twelve. Sure, I've gotten older. I've added a husband and some ankle biters.

Except they're not ankle biters anymore. Details. Hold it. Does anyone actually say ankle biters anymore? Oh right, I just did. So there's that.

Back to the maturity thing. In a lot of ways I've remained childlike. In the sense that I still love all the same things I did when I was twelve.

As a child I was known for make believin'. All alone I created fantasies. As I grew people called it self deceiving, but my heart helped me hold the memories...

Okay, that last paragraph is actually the words to a Carpenters song (Those Good Old Dreams). But that's my point. (I think I have one).




At age of twelve I loved:

  • Carpenters music.
  • Anne Of Green Gables.
  • Reading and books in general.
  • Dogs. 
  • Daggy movies and TV shows like The Golden Girls. 
  • Chocolate and cakie things. 
  • Barbie dolls. 

I still love all of them, except the Barbie dolls. I did manage to move on from those. 

Additionally, I was:

  • Shy.
  • Quiet.
  • Introverted.
  • A homebody. 
  • A daydreamer.

Some might say I've also suffered from a chronic case of the terrible affliction known as Resting Bitch Face since childhood. Especially considering my reluctance to smile in photos. Nice.

All of the above still applies at age 47. Sigh. Well, I guess I can summon up a smile for a snap these days. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. Mostly. Okay, sometimes. Shut up.

It can be disconcerting to realise that you've never really grown up. But then again, adulthood is overrated.






And what is so wrong with all of those things anyway? It's not like I enjoyed setting things on fire as a child and haven't grown out of it! That would definitely be a problem. 

After all, even Resting Bitch Face has its advantages.




Winning!

What about you?

What were you like as a child?

Are you still the same now?

Linking up for Friday Reflections.

Monday, 9 July 2018

My Home Country #LifeThisWeek



I consider myself to be one very lucky chickadee to be born here in the Land of Oz. (Wait. What? Did I just call myself a chickadee? Get a grip, Ness). Not the same Oz that Dorothy visited. There are no wizards hereabouts. (Um. Did I just say hereabouts? Oh dear).

I mean the Land down under. Australia. Although maybe we are just a bunch of wizards and witches over here. A figment of your imagination. Australia doesn't exist, according to some conspiracy theorists. Could explain why my life feels surreal at times. Hmmmm. Interesting.

Alternatively, Australia DOES exist, but isn't actually a country. This nugget of wisdom came from a former Southern New Hampshire University Professor. I could be tempted to scoff and howl with derisive laughter at such a notion. But considering my own woeful ignorance of geography perhaps I shouldn't. I'm sure there's entire countries I'm unaware of. Oops.


I would defnitely forget the VB (beer). 


According to this comprehensive Buzzfeed listicle, there are some definitive ways to know you're a quintessential Aussie.  We call McDonald's Maccas. And apparently it's Straya, not Australia. However, I have to admit that I wonder if I'm somewhat UnAustralian. Which is not really a word, but neither is 'Maccas' so I'm going with it.

Here's why I feel UnAustralian:


  • I don't like sport. Participating in it, or watching it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's all bats, balls, BORING to me! 
  • I'm not really interested in the outback. I live in suburban Sydney and I have no interest in climbing Ayers Rock. Much to Mickey Blue Eye's disgust. He'd love to get one of those camper vans and trek around Oz. Not me. Sure, I'd love to travel more. But with decent accommodation that includes a private bathroom. None of this communal stuff for me. 
  • To be perfectly honest I can take or leave the beach. GASP! I know! Shocking, really. But THE SAND! And I don't like going in the surf because I'm scared of the waves. Plus, I'm very fair skinned, so it only takes ten minutes for me to end up red raw. No thanks. 
  • Also; I can't swim. I have a phobia of putting my head under water so I never learnt. And I don't really care anymore. My almost 80 year old father has never learnt either and he's OK. 
  • I'm ambivalent about meat pies. I like them if they're made with actual meat. But the sloppy grisly goop in most of them...Yuck! 
  • I don't really get into some of the classic  Aussie rock such as ACDC (or Acca Dacca as they're known). Sure, I don't mind hearing the odd Midnight Oil song because it reminds me of my brother (he listened to them all the time when we growing up), but I'm not a hardcore fan. 
  • I've never thrown any shrimp on the barbie. First of all, we don't say shrimp, we say prawns. Second of all, I've never known this to be a thing anyway. We have steaks and sausages on the barbie. 
  • Australia has a beer drinking culture. I hate the taste of beer.
  • I DO like vegemite, but only a very small scratching of it on buttered toast. 
  • I don't say things like "G'day mate" or "Bloody oath". Or call Australia "Straya". OK maybe I do use the odd mate here and there with my boys. But only because I get their names mixed up. Tell me I'm not the only one who gets their own children's names mixed up. Please?
I'm sure there's many other things that make me "UnAustralian", but that's a brief summary.  In spite of all this, I'm staying in my home country.

After all, we have Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits), Lamingtons (cakie things) and Caramello Koalas (koala shaped chocolates with caramel inside them) here. That's good enough for me! 

Straya. 

Love it. 

What about you?

Do you feel like you gel with your home country?

How do you know you're Australian (or not)?

Saturday, 7 July 2018

10 Things That Make Me Happy #FridayReflections


Hello again!  It's time for another groovy list type post! YAY! Well, I'm certainly excited. Because I'm listing ten things that make me happy. And that makes me...happy!

Because let's face it, there are many times in this gig called life when you feel flat, despondent, dejected, forlorn and just plain old blah. Shut up. Blah is totally a word.

Well, it's definitely a feeling anyway. I guess that's why I call it the blahs. Elton John can call it the blues. I can't stop him. But I'm sticking with the blahs. YOU can't stop ME. So ner.

It's important to have strategies in place to lift those blahs and hopefully feel better.

Here's ten things that make me happy whenever I have the blahs. I am challenging myself to not mention cakies whatsoever. Sure, they make me happy. Temporarily. Until I come down from my sugar high. And realise how frightfully fat I am. Sigh.

Plus I need to remind myself that there are plenty of other things out there that can help. And just back the hell away from the comfort eating. Seriously, Nesski.

Side note: my current Facebook profile picture is a photo of cakes with a 'So in love' frame. Told you. I need help.

Back to my list.

TEN THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY




  1. Exercise. Unfortunately the feeling better bit comes after the actual exercise itself. So rude. However, it's always worth it. With this in mind, I made myself move this morning by doing some brisk aerobics. Then I ate a cupcake. DOH. See? Seriously. Need. Help. 
  2. Writing/blogging. It's quite therapeutic. With the added benefit that when I'm tapping or scribbling away I can't shovel food into my gob. That's something.
  3. Getting out of the house. Even a trip to the library counts. I hope. Because I rarely go anywhere else. Oops. Note to self: get out more. 
  4. Patting my dog. This is usually done in conjunction with singing ridiculous made-up-as-I-go ditties to her. Such as this: "Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! She's an amazing dog!" Meanwhile, Cookie looks at me like a I'm a lunatic. But so long as the lunatic keeps patting her she'll tolerate it.
  5. Cuddles/playing Uno with Mr 9. Despite his issues with losing, we still have fun. Always. 
  6. Watching something funny. My current favourite is DVDS of The Golden Girls. Admittedly some of the jokes haven't worn well, but overall I still love it. And I can always laugh at the 1980s fashion. That hasn't worn well either. Tee hee.
  7. Sing. Badly. See above. Lately (besides made up ditties to my dog) it's the soundtrack of Hello Dolly on rotation in my head. Who cares how bad you sound if makes you feel better? Well, perhaps my family. But I put up with their noise, so we're even.
  8. Reading. Books and reading have always been my happy place. Hence my many trips to the library. It's fortunate that such a simple thing can give me contentment. I'm happier with a bargain book from an op shop than extravagant designer shoes or handbags. Winning! 😁
  9. Dressing up a bit and putting some lipstick on. I'm fairly low maintenance these days in regards to grooming. But sometimes it's fun to pretend you're one of the Golden Girls and get your shoulder pads/earrings and a bit of lippy on. I now have the required silver hair without even trying. Just call me Dorothy/Rose/Blanche/Sophia. 
  10. All of the above things work really well for a passing case of the blahs, but sometimes things get a bit more grim and I require professional help. Talking to a good counselor or psychologist really helps. Even though it's HARD. Well, it is for me. I don't talk. But sometimes I have to force myself. Just like exercise. 

Bonus things that make me happy: Notebooks and pens, listening to music, cups of tea, or a glass of wine. It's the simple things, really. Don't you think?

Anyway, that concludes my list.

Now I'm off to watch The Golden Girls. Which begins by singing the theme song. Badly. 

"Thank you for being a frieeend..."




Linking up for Friday Reflections. 

Do you call it the blahs or blues?

What makes you happy?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Taking Stock: July 2018 #LifeThisWeek




Making: I don't really make much besides mess. It's a gift of mine. Winning. 

Cooking: Lots of roast dinners and soups because winter. 

Drinking: The occasional glass of plonk. And approximately 12 billionty cups of tea. Just for something COMPLETELY out of the ordinary.

Reading:  Various library books, including:

The Lucky One by Caroline Overington.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a tendency for authors to go too overboard with twisty endings these days? I don't know if it's a post Gone Girl thing or something? Anyway that was the feeling I was left with after reading the above title. Draw your own conclusions, I guess.

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington. 

I enjoyed this one. Highly recommended.


Trawling: Still haven't taken up trawling. Unless it's the library shelves. 

Wanting:  To watch Hello Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand again because I'm a dag.

Looking: For a Hello Dolly DVD at op shops. Didn't find it but did find the movie Shirley Valentine and season two of The Golden Girls. I like to live in the past. 

Deciding: Which daggy film and or TV shows to watch next. 

Wishing: Lots of things. 

Enjoying: Watching old daggy movies and TV shows. See above.

Waiting: Waiting, waiting, waiting... For what, I don't know. But if I keep waiting, surely it will come to me?

Liking: Electric blankets and hot showers. Although not together because that wouldn't end well. 

Wondering: What delectable delights we can have for lunch. It's only 11am, but details.

Loving: Hot soup and sleep ins. Although not together because who sleeps with soup? Well, I guess you never know. Have you ever watched an episode of My Strange Addiction? 

Listening: Songs from Hello Dolly which are on a permanent loop in my head. 

"We got elegance. If you ain't got elegance, you can never ever carry...

IT. OFF!"




Considering: Folding the pile of washing on the bed, but then I might be too overcome with the sheer and utter thrill of such a thing, rendering it impossible to return to normal life forevermore. Can't take that chance. 

Buying: A couple of DVDs and A Women's Weekly Basic Cookbook from a Salvos op shop. 

Watching: I think we've already covered this. 

Hoping: That my upcoming yearly mammogram will be all clear. I won't have it until August but that's coming all too quickly. Ugh. 

Marvelling: At how quickly the years fly by. Cliche, but true. See above.

Needing: To lose weight, de-clutter, exercise, fold the washing, cook dinner, hug a child. Well, at least I've done the latter. That's something. 

Questioning: Why I can't think of anything here but tonight when I want to sleep my brain will explode with ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Smelling:  Mandarins.

Wearing: Layers of clothing. Because c..c...c...cold. 

Noticing: That there's socks for cold feet and gloves for cold hands, but what about cold noses? Well, okay there's balaclavas, but I don't want to look like a bank robber. 

Knowing: I'd wear a god damn balaclava and walk around looking like a robber if I lived where it snowed. 

Thinking: I'm thinking that thinking is overrated.

Admiring: My dog. She's cute. 🐕

Getting: Ready for school holidays. 

Disliking: Cold noses. Well, I only have one. You know what I mean. 

Opening: Books, the fridge, my phone. Such a classy person.

Closing: Um. Books when I finish reading them. 

Feeling: Peckish. It's lunch time here, you see. Plus I'm always peckish. Shut up. 

Celebrating: My eldest son is turning 17 next week. Wait. What? Yep. My 'miracle baby' is 17! See? I wasn't wrong about the whole time flying cliche thing. 


Pretending:  To be a writer by participating in this Festival Of Words thing over at Write Tribe. It was fun!

Embracing: Writing more. And, I dunno, uncertainty about different things. What else can you do?

And that completes my June stock take.

Linking up for #LifeThisWeek. 

What are you loving in the month of June?

Image credit: http://hotbuysbazaar.blogspot.com/2017/07/july.html

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Open 24 Hours #WriteBravely #Day7




The car park was almost deserted under the welcoming glow of the neon sign. It was mostly a truck stop at this time of night. nondescript sedan swung into a car space. A woman got out and walked purposefully toward the door of the 24 hour diner. A place to rest along the highway.

She pushed the door open. The smell of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the icy air. Her glance swept over the near empty restaurant. A few truckers sat hunched over Phones or newspapers, sipping coffee. The woman paused before heading to the counter.

"What'll it be?" A spotty gum chewing young woman who was barely out of her teens asked.

"I'll take some coffee," the woman replied. "And the waffles with bacon and cream."

It figures, Spotty Girl thought, as she tapped in the order. The woman was tall and svelte. The kind of woman who still looked willowy even in a long grey coat. It looked expensive.

Probably Burberry or some other brand Spotty could never afford. Besides,  she would look a lumbering elephant in such a thing.

The woman had an equally expensive looking red scarf wound around her swan like neck and straight long blonde hair. She obviously spent a fortune on that hair. It was impeccable, even at this ungodly hour. She was almost a dead ringer for that Gwyneth Paltrow. Spotty couldn't stand her.

Blondie tapped her card briskly to pay, then slipped into a booth near the entrance. She bent over her phone. Every so often her eyes flicked towards the entrance,  then peered out into the dark car park. She must be expecting someone.

Spotty, whose real name, Frances, was emblazoned on the badge pinned to her smock type uniform, saw this kind of thing reasonably often during these graveyard shifts. Clandestine meetings. A secret rendezvous. Suburban soccer mums, middle aged dads. Meeting their lover in the dead of the night. Injecting some excitement in their otherwise stagnant lives.

Frances/Spotty poured endless cup after cup of coffee night after night and nobody ever noticed her. Nobody flirted or asked for her number. She was free to people watch.

"Order's up!" Nick, the short order cook snapped. She'd be scolded for daydreaming again. She shuffled over and placed the food in front of Blondie. There was no thank you. No acknowledgement. No common courtesy, as Trudie often lamented.

Her older sister had taken on a parental role since Mum had passed away a few years ago. Dad had taken off when they were little. She could barely remember him. Spotty set about polishing tables.

Minutes later, a man in a blue hoodie entered the diner and casually slid into the booth opposite Blondie. Her expression changed. Soon they were talking, their voices urgent. Blondie became more and more animated in between bites of bacon and waffles.

Spotty began polishing the tables behind them. Not that they needed polishing. But she had to keep busy, she reasoned.

"Are you sure?" Hoodie was saying. They huddled in closer.

"I just want her GONE!"

Spotty was all ears now. Perhaps Blondie was ordering a hit on her lover's wife? Or her husband's girlfriend?

Nah, she'd been watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds.

That's what Trudie would say. "You need to get out more! Meet people."

"I'm around people all the time at work."

That was just another bone of contention. "How can you date when you work night shift?" Trudie wailed. As if there was a line of men vying to date her.

Blondie was smiling now. Positively jubilant. "Can't wait till that bitch is dead!"

Spotty placidly kept polishing even as her heart skipped a beat
. She'd become skilled at eavesdropping if nothing else.

"Five thousand," Hoodie named his price.

Blondie pouted then smiled coquettishly "I can give you three... and...sex..." she laughed.

Spotty went back to the counter reluctantly as another trucker ambled into the diner.

Dawn was beginning to creep in through the darkness. The neon sign a beacon in the fog. Soon the breakfast rush would begin in earnest. Spotty's shift would end.

She noticed Blondie get up to use the rest room as she finished serving the trucker. Presumably to rid herself of all those calories. Women like her never digested such food.

Spotty was grateful it was knock off time. She didn't want the odious task of cleaning any resultant mess in the ladies room. Wouldn't be the first time she was roped into it, despite janitor not being her job title.

Outside, Spotty adjusted her backpack and lit a cigarette. A quick one before she got the bus back to the burbs. It was light now, with clearing fog. It was going to be a sunny winter's day.

Blondie was strutting back to her car. Spotty glanced back inside. Hoodie was nowhere to be seen.

Spotty watched the men approach Blondie. She didn't flinch when the plain clothed detectives flashed their badges.

"You're under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder."

Spotty stared. Holy shit! This was AWESOME. A real life criminal minds in the car park at work!

Blondie denied any wrongdoing as they continued reading her rights. But Spotty knew what she'd heard. Besides, it would all be on the diner's CCTV cameras. Blondie wasn't a very smart criminal for all her surface elegance.

The neon sign flickered off as Blondie was taken away.

Spotty headed to the bus stop, phone to ear.

"Trudie? You'll never guess what just happened..."

The End.

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 7 using the above photo prompt. (And unlike Spotty, I've clearly been watching/listening to too much true crime stuff...😃)

Aaaaaand that's a wrap.  It's been fun!

Thanks for reading.

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.