TEN VERY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS (and a very good egg)

Q: How late is too late to throw an item of clothing in the washing machine?

A: I’d say after the rinse cycle. Unless things are horribly soiled, sandy or stinky, nothing to lose from a rinse cycle. It might do the trick and if it doesn’t, consider it a pre-wash for the next cycle. There is always a next cycle.

If your item of clothing happens to be a sock, then it’s never too late. Throw those little fuckers in even after the cycle is complete I say. That way, at least you know where the bloody thing is. If you walk through my house in the dead of night, you are likely to hear the faint wailing of a hundred uncoupled socks. They live together, those sad single socks, in a basket in the laundry and every week without fail, their number grows. It is an enduring, puzzling mystery, the fate of those lost socks. Actually, that’s probably the next question…


Q: Where do all the fucking socks go?

A: In my experience, you will find some of them in the linen cupboard, particularly caught up in the elasticised lips of fitted sheets, those unfoldable bastards that you just bundle up without shaking out properly. I don’t go out of my way to sort out the linen cupboard though, I think I’d rather sacrifice the socks for the monumental task that is sorting the linen cupboard. I’m sure there are knickers in there, possibly portugese millipedes, a dead nit, some family secrets and a skeleton. Also, I once had a doily fetish so yeah. Actually I still do. Must dig those frilly little darlings out, I could make a skirt or something.

Behind the washing machine is another single sock hotspot. Also, under beds. But the single most successful sock haul I’ve had is when I did a thorough search of everyone’s sock drawers. What? Why the members of my family feel the need to wear one sock and leave the other one in the drawer beats me, but it stinks of fucking with Mum’s head and sabotage. Stinky single sock sabotage.

Interesting fact: UK scientsists estimate that 84 million socks go missing in the UK every month!

Q: If you see an orphaned lamb on your trip through the countryside, should you rescue it?

A: NO. Lambs often wander off to play with their friends and then can’t find their way back to their mum. Very often their mum is bleating away somewhere and eventually the two will find one another. Just because a lamb is alone does not mean it’s orphaned. Also, if you go running through a mob of lambing ewes to be a hero you are very likely to separate other mothers and babies and cause undue distress to everybody.

If you’re really worried, or if the lamb has decided that you’re its mum (they’re not very bright), check to see if it’s tummy is full and whether its navel is clean and dry before you abduct it. You don’t necessarily need to handle it to do this, just have a look. Don’t go cuddling it and putting your perfume all over it. If the lamb looks sick, empty-bellied and truly alone (as in no mob in sight), leave it be and go and talk to the farmer. He or she will appreciate your help. They might even give you the lamb if it’s properly orphaned and you really want it; they’re probably sick of having the bleating little bastards all over the house.


Hanging with my mates

Q: Why do my clean pillow cases smell funny if I don’t use them for a while?

A: Yes what is that? Why don’t the sheets get that weird aroma? If I’m to hazard a guess, I would say that it’s stale keratin from our hair. That or the repeated disappointment of my husband when I get out my book. Could it be remnant dribble? Wait, I think I’ll have to visit Dr Google. Hmmm, there are a few questions are about strange smelling pillowcases but I’m not convinced by any of the answers. Most of them say that I’m not drying my linen well enough, or that even if it is dry, cotton can absorb damp from the air, resulting in a musty smell. But that doesn’t explain why it’s just pillowcases. And this is not a damp musty smell though, it’s a, well a stored pillowcase smell. This is distinct from the smell of stored tea-towels, which is likely to have a far germier origin, so let’s leave that one shall we? As for the pillowcases, I’m going back to the disappointment/dribble theory, unless anyone can do better?


Q: Why does everyone tell me I should wash stuff in vinegar? I fucking hate the smell of vinegar. Frankly I’d rather the smell of dirt.

A: The good things about vinegar as a cleaner is that it’s natural, no chemicals, doesn’t harm, the environment or your children or your lovely Italian tiles. The negative for me is that you’re left with a house smelling of a chip butty with extra vinegar. Some people even put in in their dishwasher’s rinse aid hole for goodness sake? Vinegary wine glass anyone? In the interests of accurate reportage, I swabbed one of my bench tops and a window with vinegar just to see whether it truly is miraculous, and it’s not. My theory is that you get a better clean because you have to use a lot of elbow grease and also double clean to get rid of the smell. I’m much more in favour of using those all natural plant based cleaners packaged in recycled plastic and produced by an enterprising person with a conscience who probably needs consumer support.


Q: What is the cause of that weird lunch-box smell?

A: Now this surely is the smell of disappointment and dashed hopes, from when my children open up their lunchboxes to find a paltry sandwich, a slightly overdone mandarin and a packet of beetroot crisps. It could also be combined with the aroma of germy school hands (been into a school toilet lately?) and a base note of jaded mother.

But it could also be the smell of slightly warmed, cooped up sandwiches. Much like the process that changes the taste of vegemite after you’ve put it on a sandwich, popped it in a bag, carried it to school and shoved it in a locker for the hours before lunch. Bananas add an extra layer of scent, as do hard boiled eggs, but it always comes back to that same old lunchbox smell. I can’t describe it but go and sniff your lunchbox cupboard – it’s probably in there too. I cleaned everything out and put the lunch boxes (soft coolie bag ones) through the washing machine and the smell’s still there so don’t tell me it’s rotten food. The website I consulted suggests washing the lunchboxes in vinegar, to which I say, fuck off.

I haven’t answered that question very well have I? No.


Q: Why can’t I make café style poached eggs at home?

A: We’ve tried vinegar in the water, the whirlpool method, those little hoops you crack your egg into etc etc, but why don’t my poached eggs ever come out like those perfect little balled-up Caspar the Ghost eggs in the cafés?

Well, I’m very happy to report that I think I’ve discovered the secret. You need to PREP YOUR EGGS. And I don’t mean just cracking them. Here’s what I do mean:

  • Get an embroidery needle or other pointy tool and poke it a wee distance into the wider end of the egg. There will be a tiny air pocket in there, you just want to just poke into that air pocket, not puncture the egg inside. Just make a small hole in the shell. I’m going to stop saying poke now. And hole.
  • Put the egg on a slotted spoon and lower it (with shell on) into a simmering pot of water (about two litres with a third of a cup of vinegar – vinegar in this case is my friend). Make sure the water’s not boiling too hard. Leave it there for no more than 15 seconds. This will help hold the egg together inside.
  • Pull the egg out and crack it into the water, as close to the surface as you can get (I burnt my fingers at this point so not too close). You just don’t want to hear a plop. Let the egg sit for 3 to 4 minutes depending on its size. If it looks like it’s sticking on the bottom, use your spoon to gently nudge it, but otherwise leave the egg the hell alone.
  • When time is up (I toasted the bread for three minutes so the pop of the toaster was my cue and yes I think I do deserve to feel smug about this because I’m not generally renowned for kitchen prowess), lift the little ghostie egg out with the slotted spoon and pop it immediately into a bowl of cold water for a brief moment (while you fumble about getting the butter on the toast etc). This keeps the yolk runny. Handy hint – you can leave the eggs in the cold water in the fridge for a day or two. Just reheat briefly in boiling water.

AND, here’s the thing – this actually works! I actually poached a dear little PERFECT EGG. It is right this minute sitting in my tummy. But here it is in it’s divine pre-tummy state:

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It’s a bit of fiddling about and I can’t tell the children because they’ll want to do the egg needling and that will end in disaster, but I am completely full of myself over this. As full as a goog.


Q: What does ‘miasmas’ mean?

I ask because I wasn’t yet a page into reading Ethel Turner’s ‘Seven Little Australians’ to my children when I stumbled on the phrase, “the miasmas of naughtiness” and was brought to a screeching halt by the children wanting to know what it means. I didn’t know. And I’m ashamed to say that I made something up. I mean I’m the one always going on about the importance of vocabulary and mothers are meant to know everything, especially writerly mothers. So I said, “I think it’s a sort of mess, like chaos.” I was wrong. A miasma is ‘an unpleasant or unhealthy smell of vapour’. Which I now vaguely remember being associated with mists and ghosts. I imagine you could walk into a school room containing seven children and there would indeed be a miasma of naughtiness, as though the naughtiness has just that instant made a quick exit out the window.

This has turned into a very smelly post. Much like fence post out my kitchen window that has become the focus of a wee-off between our dog and my sister-in-law’s. Anyway…


Q: Are kookaburras native to Tasmania?

A: This question was raised a few days ago when I was admiring our family of kookaburras on the fence and my brother-in-law said he’d like to be rid of them. “We can’t get rid of them,” I said incredulously. “Why not?” He replied, “They’re not native. And they’re nasty to all the little birds.”

What? How can this be? I have spent many a self-satisfied moment under my hills hoist in my blunnies, hanging out flannies, listening to the laugh of the kookaburras and feeling wholeheartedly lucky to be born under the southern, kookaburra dotted skies of the lucky country. How can they 1) not be native and 2) nasty? Is that, I thought with a pang, where all those dear little red wrens go?

Well the truth is, the laughing kookaburra is a kingfisher bird that is native to Eastern mainland Australia but has been introduced to Tasmania, New Zealand and the west. So while it’s not a native Tasmanian, I have a welcoming attitude to immigrants and it is a native Australian; I can go on feeling patriotic when I hear them call. They do prey on small birds though. Waaaaaaaaaaa. The good news is, they eat snakes. I am fucking terrified of snakes. The kookies get to stay.


Q: Should I vote yes in the same sex marriage survey?

A:  That is the most ridiculous question ever Meg. You know the answer to that already now be off with you and do something useful. Go on, off you fuck.

Oh look there’s a rainbow out the window.


Categories: Quick Q&A

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