An exceedingly long entry about electrickery and one class I can't drop out of

For the last few weeks our lights have been flickering a little which initially we put down to the weather (high winds, heavy rain) and then to power surges as the heating went on and off. Then we started having little blackouts. I would put a light on in the kitchen and it would immediately go out but then come back on again, we get up in the morning and the microwave time display would be flashing 00:00 meaning the power had cut out during the night and so on. Occasionally it occurred to me that we might be experiencing something serious enough to start an electrical fire – one of those scary fires that starts in the ceiling so that you don’t even know about it until it’s way too late.
So Wednesday I decided to do the responsible thing and email the land agent to report it as a fault. And then around 11am I went to make a cup of tea – switched on the kettle and all the power through out the whole house zapped out. I waited fifteen minutes and still no power.

I went to call the landlord to say “emergency! please help!” but the phone was dead when I picked up the receiver — ahh yes — you need power to work these fancy-pants phones we have. No phone, no electricity, no car, legs that don’t work very well… I almost dissolved right there and then in a pool of self-indulgent misery.

So I put on my walkin’ shoes and hobbled up to our local shops in search of a phone box. I couldn’t find one anywhere and I was beginning to worry that my legs would give up altogether so I staggered into the local butcher to ask him if he knew where the nearest public phone could be found. Brett (“The Incomparable” according to his window blind) who knows me and knows my mum even better cleaned the meat globules off his phone and I got to tiptoe around behind the counter and out the back through the hanging carcasses to call my Mum. Whaaa!

To cut a long story shorter… back at home, after having gone to my parents to call all relevant parties (land agents, electricians etc) I sat around in the cold and dark doing a little cross stitch until I couldn’t make the stitches out as the sun set while various electricians came and went examining switches and metres. Finally we discovered that the cable to the house had melted through and burnt out completely at the point where it meets the house at the meter and it had started to burn away at the wood. No wonder I could smell wood smoke just outside our front door every now and then. The electrician who discovered this told me the “big trucks” would have to come to fix this and that might take another few hours… Big-P arrived home from work and we got take-away pasta for dinner while we huddled around a couple of pathetic little ornamental candles, stomping our feet to keep warm and having a conversation rather than watching TV as we ate. We had to leave for our first parenting and childbirth class at 7pm so Mum and Dad very kindly came and sat in the dark to wait for the big trucks for us.

When we got home all power was back on and apparently the men in the big trucks said that it is a very lucky thing that we don’t live in a timber home, and Mum said she was sure she overheard them saying how “lethal” it was. Scary stuff.

The parenting and childbirth class at our hospital was pretty good – lots and lots of people there all due at the same time as me so I hope I get a birthing suite and don’t have to deliver in a corridor. Big-P and I had to introduce ourselves, tell everyone what our occupations are and what are hobbies are. While everyone around us had hobbies like football, stafordshire bull terrier breeding, water skiing, racing cars, hunting, carpentry and so on, we realised that we didn’t have any hobbies that we could just announce to the room like that. “Ummm, browsing the internet and ummm, writing about my life on my website” would sound a little freaky to this footballing, dog breeding crowd, I’m sure. So apart from looking like the lamest couple in the room it was an informative and even entertaining evening. We discussed how to tell when you really go into labour and saw lots of demonstrations of weird, filthy dolls being pushed through plastic pelvises. There was even a knitted pink womb and couple of purple placentas as props just like in Kaz Cooke’s pregnancy book “Up The Duff”.

oh my god - that baby is too big for that pelvis!

We have five more of these classes to go and by then we will be experts. Apparently I should have already packed my bag for hospital incase of early labour. I better go out and get some decent pajamas.

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31 Responses

  1. Speaking of trucks.
    Recently we had a number of mysterious tennis shoes appearing, hanging over the powerlines on our street. For those who aren’t aware, this is a good old kiwi tradition, indicating a ‘tinny’ house (weed dealer) is nearby. I don’t think this is the case. I think it’s probably got more to do with the guy next door owning a skatewear company and having too many tennis shoes.

    Anyway. We ended up with 7 pairs of shoes hanging on the powerline this week, and then yesterday, the ‘shoes gnomes’ came to take them away.

    The power company sent TWO cherry picker trucks, with TWO crews of men, to go up and get 7 pairs of shoes down. They all stodd around afterwards and had a nice long break, until it rained, and then they went away again.


  2. I was told that different kinds of shoes hanging from electric and phone lines represented the different drugs sold in the area. Granted I never tested this theory. Hmmm, I think I need to do some online research and see what I find.
    As for the knitted uteruses….I wonder if they sell them on Imagine giving them as Xmas gifts….too weird.

  3. oh my dear lordy! plastic birthing dolls, purple placentas and knitted wombs! it sounds like a wonderful way to spend an eve. heehee!
    regarding stylish pyjamas for giving birth in the corridor – in the city on elizabeth street (near collins street) there is a little store called ‘silk moronto’ (or something similar). they specialise in (mostly) daggy silk goods, but have the MOST divine genuine chinese pyjamas. oooh, i specifically want some magenta ones for my birthday, and emerald green ones for christmas. they are luscious, claire! and well worth checking out.

  4. says:

    Scary stuff!!

  5. Ah, those Big Trucks, they really do get around.

  6. says:

    Thank goodness you found out before something worse happened. 🙂

  7. I never think of “good” hobbies until after… always resort to something like “cooking” or “gardening.” Works, and no one questions it, even if you’re flubbing! 😉

  8. katie — that’s pretty funny because that’s exactly what I said!

  9. People offline never understand things like blogs and journals. And my pregnancy class had a knitted uterus too, heheh.

  10. Ok, you think it’s uncomfortable having to tell your hobbies. Imagine the person who makes those knitted uteruses when they are asked their occupation.

  11. says:

    knitted uteruses!! I think I’ll keep my legs crossed just so I don’t have to see them!! Dare I ask the colour? Pink? Great laugh.

  12. says:

    Funny I should follow mention of leg crossing, ‘cuz I was posting to tell you that Big-P, sitting there with his leg thrown oh-so casually over his knee there in in your lovely illo of birthing class and the now infamous knitted uterus, looks just like my husband. Only J. doesn’t have a goatee.

  13. says:

    That sounds like a scary experience – as does the birthing/parenting class!

  14. Is *that* what the shoes over the powerline are for?? They used to do that in Philadelphia (US) too, when I was little, but I always thought people just liked tha way it looked.

  15. says:

    So let’s see…if you want to let others know that there is a weed dealer nearby, you have to sit there, throwing shoes in the air, hoping upon hope that on one of those atempts they catch onto the power line? hmm, I should think that by then, (unless one is terrifically lucky!) after hours of this activity, that someone would get wise and either ask the individual what he or she is doing, or call the police to let them know of potheads in the neighborhood, heehee…I’ve seen those shoes in the air myself around these parts (Virginia, USA) but have never known what they mean…good grief, what next? undies in bushes to alert people to prostitutes? eeks!

  16. Oh my goodness, I had absolutely no idea you were pregnant! Congrats!
    My (younger, although I don’t know why I feel I should mention that) sister had a baby last year, and she went to all the classes and read all the books. She said they just made her scared. Having babies scares me too, which is probably why I’ll never have them.

  17. oh,scary..electricuty scares me..darkness eeven more..aww,your illustrations are sooo cute!Claire you rock all my socks!I can’t wait to see the piccie of your baby!!!!Hope the whole act of giving birth won’t be painful for you!I’m keeping my fingers crossed!And do take care of yourself!!!!!Luff you!!!*mwah*

  18. Hey there! 🙂 I find it so thrilling to find other pregnant mom’s on the internet. I happen to be a week behind you (will be 32 weeks tomorrow- tuesday) so I completely and totally understand your rants, lol. I can’t tie my shoes either, let alone see my feet. Thank god for sandals (even though my feet end up hurting afterwards). I wasn’t told that I had to pack a bag for a possible early labor.. guess I should do that just in case. I will keep checking back to see how you and your little one are doing 🙂

  19. says:

    hey again. how exciting, i wish all that fun juicy stuff happened to me 😀 think of it as an experience to look out for later in life hun. and dont worry about “the babys too big!” thing, you will be amazed at what doctors can do these days! lots of luck and luv!!

  20. “electrickery”… that was so clever and sweet 🙂

  21. That birthing class sounds like it would give me nightmares.

  22. Do they at least serve yummy snacks in class?

  23. says:

    there are no decent pyjamas in Melbourne’s department stores. not unless you “wuv” fluffy little teddy bears and/or things made of brushed nylon.I recommend the knickers stall at the Preston Market. really.
    and the tennis shoes? maybe all those stoners just like the challenge of aiming at the wires: “wow man, look at ’em swinging there.”

  24. says:

    Claire,So much for thinking I was one of your dozen or so loyal readers…I’m amazed at the number of people who leave comments. Good for you!!

    Loved your electricity story as I actually work for the power company (Seattle, USA). I’ve never heard the weed explanation for the mystery shoes (we have them here,too).

    Try to enjoy your baby class. We actually made friends with several of the couples in our class (8 years ago for our first born) and we still regularly meet up with them.

    Good luck! Jim

    PS…My herb garden was a disaster…better luck to you in the southern hemisphere!

  25. Way scary, Girl!
    I am currently enjoying the sight of my sister-in-law weaving through her first pregnancy and, surprisingly, feeling broody about it, and I am a guy! Our kids are all growing up fast and I am a bit chicken-hearted, anyway, as my Gran used to tell me! (Means soft-hearted – a weepy film has me in pieces! hee) I am half Scottish and half Spanish – too emtional a combination!

    Anyway, enough! basta! What I wanted to say was: BE CAREFUL OF PEOPLE YOU MEET AN ANTE_NATAL CLASSES!!! hee-hee

    We were religious about the classes and we kept in touch after the births, scary! Suddenly people were inviting themselves on holiday with us and telling us how they had already booked their children into Boarding school when the kids were only 6 months old!!! My gawd! Scarcely had them 10 minutes and they wanted rid of them! So, trust me, you need to be careful. Ante-natal is full of Insurance salesmen and Double-Glazing reps who artificially inseminate strangers to increase their potential market place! Keep yourself safe and remember your pre-natal friends – they are altogether a safer bet!

    Excuse my nonsense, I just love typing at y PC. have a great time!


  26. I’d always heard that the shoes over the phonelines were in remembrance of someone who’d died in the neighborhood. I just asked my boyfriend, and that was his impression, too. I’d heard it in the context of kids getting shot, but I think it applies to anyone who has passed… but I have no real knowledge of what it is!

  27. WOW, you’re much braver than I to take a 4-6 leave of absence from working. I think it would kill me. And I know exactly what you mean about identifying yourself as an artist. When I tell people I am writing fantasy novels, the typical reaction is that their eyes glaze over and they nod and say “Ah …”.And then when I tell them that I am working on self-publishing and marketing my own books then they really get patronizing. I love your illustrations and good luck to you and Big-P with the baby!

  28. wow – good thing you found out what was happening, good luck with the pregnancy and congratulations!

  29. and, if that wasn’t long enough for you ms. claire – it certainly pays to be worried when you smell ‘something burning’. i am always on the sniff. very lucky. Brett, the incomparable, sounds a gem. i’m sorry to hear you had to hobble so far, though.

  30. I always thought it was just a Kiwi thing, the tennis shoes on the phoneline. I think mostly these days people probably just do it for laughs, rather than actually to advertise their tinny house.
    Claire – I made pyjama pants this week, using a very easy pattern (Simplicity 9871). Cheap, easy and cute. I made the first pair out of cutesy pink fleece. They have an elasticated waistband, and a drawstring. I used pink ribbon for mine. So cute. I’m going to make a pair out of some nice silky stuff now that I know that I can do it!

    You’re creative, grab a pattern and some fabric 🙂