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Ernie goes to university

Ernie in his LENA gear

Ernie in his LENA gear

Wednesday evening and I’m boarding a bus carrying a child sized Ernie doll. I get surprisingly few weird looks. I did try to stuff him in my bag but he didn’t fit. I’m not sure what’s a worse look… openly carrying around an orange limpy doll or a head emerging from a bag looking like he’s close to suffocation.

I’m doing part of a university lecture tomorrow. I approached my colleague who who will be doing most of the lecture, carrying Ernie under my arm.

‘Is it ok, if I bring him?’ She of course said yes but gave me that strange look.

It’s all a bit crazy really. I’m going to lecture a bunch of Speech Pathology Masters Students with a woman who has over 35 years of experience and a PhD and I have no qualification relevant to my working life and a stuffed toy.

For the doll I must give credit to a former colleague. She gifted him to me when she left. ‘Use him for training’ she said. It’s all her fault.

Of course staring at the back of his head on the way home I realised that Ernie has an issue. He doesn’t have a hearing aid or a Cochlear Implant. Unlike some of the other ‘props’ at work, Ernie is unaided. The bus turns the corner into Marrickville and I’m silently cursing my former colleague for Ernie’s poor device compliance. Maybe I can craft one up? Someone at work made a Baha (a type of hearing aid if you like), using an egg carton and some velcro. Then again… maybe not.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about what I know about LENA devices (the thing in Ernie’s lap). This device I once heard described as a language pedometer. They can be used with children to capture a ‘language sample’ over the period of a day or so and then, once plugged in to some whizz bang software, have that language sample analysed to give indications of how much meaningful speech the child may have heard (speech that was loud enough and without significant background noise); how much distant speech, how much noise and how much electronic sound (such as TV). It tells you how many adult words were said and how many times there were conversations between Ernie and his carer. The technology still does my head in. It’s a tool which has the capacity to show parents of children who have a hearing loss that their child how many words each day their child is hearing and saying and how they – the parents – have the capacity to grow their child’s listening, language and speech by increasing how much they speak to their child during everyday activities and how much of that is in close proximity so the child can access the sound.

It got me thinking about my childhood. The device counts ‘adult words’. I’m not sure how it does it – some mathmatical algorithm I expect. I wonder what it would have made of some of the books my mum and dad liked to read me. Books with words such as ‘scroobious pip’, ‘moppisikin floppsikin bears’, ‘pobbles’ and ‘jabberwockies’. No wonder as a grown up I do slightly offbeat presentations inclusive of ridiculous props. Let’s hope the uni students have a sense of humour. Wish me luck.

42 word challenge: a twist

Screen shot 2012-01-24 at 12.06.56 PMEzekial it seems is dead. I was hoping 42 readers would submit 3 words a piece for me to use in a blog post challenge. If I didn’t get 42 people, I gave myself permission to duck out of this, as using 126 reader selected words in one post and have it make sense was going to be a challenge!

As I am well short of the 42 people I was after, then I offer this instead as an alternative. Here are the 42 words from the original Ezekial the budgie story – once again, all from readers.

I’ve put those words, together with the few I did get recently as ‘supplementaries’ below and I challenge you, to write a story which includes these 42 words. How to participate:

  1. Use 42 of the words below – you may use as many of the supplementaries as you see fit!
  2. Bold each word in the story
  3. Post a link to your story below!

My story became about a transger budgerigar who eloped with a moose. What will yours be?

 The 42 words:

  1. Cranky
  2. Meatballs
  3. Grandmother
  4. Oozy
  5. Rain
  6. Frustrated
  7. Mother-in-law from hell
  8. Affinity
  9. Skulk
  10. Glisten
  11. Ubiquitous
  12. Combobulate
  13. Chuffed
  14. Blimey
  15. Macaroni
  16. Salty
  17. Rank
  18. Meatless
  19. Rudely
  20. Fishing-rod
  21. Moose
  22. Lasagne
  23. Budgie
  24. Giggles
  25. Searching
  26. Doorstep
  27. Ginger
  28. Fluffy
  29. Compact
  30. Slathered
  31. Blinkered
  32. Orange
  33. Anthropomorphosis
  34. Tennessee
  35. Pirouette
  36. Rootbeer
  37. Harbour
  38. Suicide
  39. Booth
  40. Kitsch
  41. Lascivious
  42. Babaghanoush

Supplementaries:

transgender, infantile, squiggly, defenestration, acrylic, brain, orange, slender, true, fancy, revelation, creeping, forming.

Rhino on a tightrope


Rhino on a tightrope (unfinished)
Forgive the dodgy photography, for some reason I have trouble keeping my iphone steady at times. It’s been a LONG day, so maybe I’m just very tired.

Here’s the piece I started working on these last few days. I was having great fun with it too until I added the dodo bird. Unfortunately at that point I started to think too hard – what colour is a dodo bird?  Given it’s Tenniel’s drawing of the bird and it is in wonderland, perhaps it could be purple? In wonderland do things really have to be their true ‘local colour?’

I know what you’re thinking – how can a girl who put a rhino on a tightrope be worried whether she is painting a bird the appropriate colour? Well, perhaps my left brain kicked in at that point.

So, I’m having a vote…

42 follower submitted words in one post: meet Ezekial the budgie

This week, I reached 42 followers. Given 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything, I felt it was only fitting that I celebrated this milestone. I challenged my readers to submit up to 3 words each. The words could be related or random, it didn’t matter. I would then take those words and use 42 of them in a post. (If I got more than 42 submitted, I’d use the extras as supplementaries, like in the lotto balls!)

So here goes. The 42 words are in bold.

——

Ezekial the budgie, was a cranky little critter who lived with his grandmother. He was deeply unhappy, indeed, he skulked his way through life. You see his grandmother was a very traditional woman. She loved all things kitsch and had no affinity for the modern world. If it were 1902, Granny Ezekial would fit right in. She imposed her will on the household. The only odd thing about granny was her insistence that the household remain a meatless one.

His grandmother’s old-fashioned ways caused Ezekial to keep secrets. Some of his secrets were so offbeat and unlikely that it was probably a good thing he didn’t share them with the world. If he had, perhaps a padded cell would be his to call home. ‘Like what?’ I hear you ask. Well, he liked his toast slathered in orange marmalade with baba ghanoush. He also had an intense fear of cats on the tops of sheds following a bad childhood experience watching Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Yet he had a bigger secret which he kept from his grandmother: Ezekial loved to cross-dress. When his grandmother was asleep, this transgender budgerigar donned flowing gowns, performed a pirouette, flew out the window and danced his little heart out ‘Ginger Rogers’ style. After a night out on the town, he would arrive home chuffed with himself and quickly de-robe on the doorstep so his grandmother was none the wiser.

The only problem with all this was that Ezekial didn’t exactly have the figure to fill our those dresses. All that skulking and moping had led him to become a quite bedraggled budgie. There were times when it was difficult to slip past his grandmother. He became deeply frustrated. Sometimes, weeks would go by without a night on the town; there were no giggles or lascivious ways; just one long drudge through life.

As his grandmother grew older, she became more demanding and escaping became nigh impossible. Ezekial’s thoughts turned to suicide. His appearance worsened. His feather’s didn’t glisten in the morning rain; he wasn’t fluffy, his beak didn’t shine; he became, quite frankly, a pitiful excuse for a budgerigar. So he started searching for a way out of his misery. But how? An overdose, carbon dioxide poisoning, hanging… these were all ubiquitous. So he started researching. Wikipedia told him that autodefenestration was only used by 2% of the population. Perhaps this was it? Then he realised that hurling himself out a window would do little good. He could fly.

Ezekial had become so self-absorbed, so blinkered in his thinking, that his grandmother’s latest habit of staying in bed had gone unnoticed. It took four days before Ezekial realised something was amiss. His grandmother was dead. (Oh, I forgot to mention, he had a lousy sense of smell).

After the funeral, the budgie was almost embarrassed that he didn’t feel forlorn. In fact, he had a new zest for life. No more making up stories about going fishing down the harbour – he threw the rod out when she was not even hours in the ground. So delighted was he, that his appetite returned. Along with his baba ghanoush and marmalade breakfast, he downed salty macaroni, dined on meatballs and almost hoovered up oozy lasagna.

Life was peachy. All this transgender budgie needed now was a partner. Ezekial took to online dating. His first dates weren’t a great success. He dated a dwarf who worked in a toll booth. Unfortunately he had a habit of rudely heckling anyone at the taxi rank.

Finally, he met an orphaned rootbeer drinking moose.

Blimey!’ cried Ezekial. I’ve hit the jackpot. No mother-in-law from hell and to top it off, the moose regularly worked out and sported a compact six-pack.

So, as it is so often the way, the transgendered budgie and the moose eloped to Las Vegas, were married by an Elvis impersonator and lived happily ever after.

—-

42 words and the whole thing is an example of anthropomorphism. I is one happy flip.

42: the list to date

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far. I’m well on my way to 42 words to use in one blog post this weekend.

Here’s the list (I’ll update as people add). If I get over 42, I’m using those words as ‘supplements’.

  1. Cranky
  2. Meatballs
  3. Grandmother
  4. Oozy
  5. Rain
  6. Frustrated
  7. Mother-in-law from hell
  8. Affinity
  9. Skulk
  10. Glisten
  11. Ubiquitous
  12. Combobulate
  13. Chuffed
  14. Blimey
  15. Macaroni
  16. Salty
  17. Rank
  18. Meatless
  19. Rudely
  20. Fishing-rod
  21. Moose
  22. Lasagne
  23. Budgie
  24. Giggles
  25. Searching
  26. Doorstep
  27. Ginger
  28. Fluffy
  29. Compact
  30. Slathered
  31. Blinkered
  32. Orange
  33. Anthropomorphosis
  34. Tennessee
  35. Pirouette
  36. Rootbeer
  37. Harbour
  38. Suicide
  39. Booth
  40. Kitsch
  41. Lascivious
  42. Babaghanoush

Supplementaries: transgender, infantile, squiggly, defenestration

PPM Scientific Fact or Fiction?

I caught a snippet of Yes Minister the other night at its best. For Hacker and Humphrey fans it was the episode which sees Hacker describe Buranda as a TPLAC (Tin-pot little African Country). While it’s clear that as far as back as the 1980s, TLAs and FLAs were commonplace among people (Three lettered acronyms and Four lettered acronyms), I wonder when they hit the pet, and in particular, the cat world.

I give you 3 examples.

The first came from my vet. Saffron has FIC. For a second, I wondered why Saffron looked terrified. Then I realised, oh, she must be having a instance of SAC (severe acronym confusion). She was greatly relieved when I told her that FIC stood for Feline Idiopathic Cystitis not the Fur Industry of Canada.

The second instance of PRA (Pet Related Acronyms) came via my mother’s neurologist (where else?). He noted a cat hair on my mother’s clothes and struck up a conversation about the culprit. I asked, do you have a cat Professor?

Oh she died. She was senile. Unlike dogs, she didn’t have CCD. Have you heard about that? Yes, they’re calling it Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Have you heard such a thing? Does your dog look at you strangely? Does he stare like he cannot remember who you are? Then he may have CCD.

I kid you not. That was the speech the professor came out with. Thanks to a neurologist, I became aware that CCD was the new senility for dogs.

The third PRA to make it into the venacular (at least in my family) is PPM. Are you wondering what Parts per Million has to do with the cats? The ratio of flea dirt to cat fur perhaps. Or if my kitties are addicted to Peter, Paul and Mary? No, only one of them is deaf. That can’t be it.

For those shrewd people who have used an Acronym Finder to decode PPM, I assure you that Licorice has not got a permanent pacemaker; though with her magnificent belly I do wonder whether her arteries may be bearing a little more fat than the slimline Gesso.

No, PPM, stands for Pre-Poo Madness. I want to know whether this is scientific fact or fiction? I’m convinced it’s a genuine condition.

How is it that I have had numerous cats, living in different households, who, as if possessed by a banshee desperate for its evening cocoa, howls around the house at full speed.

PPM is marked by a distinctive pattern of running wildly; furiously; without care about what you will smack into and then freezing for a full second before turning 180 degrees and hurtling back the other way. Please, someone out there tell me that your cat has PPM. I will feel so relieved to know that it is not just my girls and boys who are subject to this terrible state, from which they can only escape after using their litter tray to poo. I know that I have a few dozen followers and right around the globe as well; most of us blessed to spend our lives as cat servants. So write to me and let me know if your moggy has Pre-Poo Madness. It could be simply an Australian disease, kept safe within this continent by our island borders. Or maybe it is global; I so want to know.

I fear in writing this post that AA has reared its ugly head. I refer not to Alcoholics Anonymous but Acronym Addiction. I wonder if there is an AAA for that?

Bob-splotch the disabled dragon

It seems that people search the world wide web for very strange things. Recently comments on my post The Secret to Increasing Blog Traffic got me wondering about disabled dragons.

I pulled out my copy of The Discovery of Dragons by Graeme Base. There was Olaf the Grim, Olaf the disagreeable, Olaf the Extremely Bad tempered but not Olaf the disabled. Asiatic dragons, tropical ones are plentiful however there’s not a white cane, a hearing aid or a pair of spinergy rims in sight.

I turned instead to Dragons: Truth, Myth and Legend by David Passes with Illustrations by the insanely talented (and patient – for her does it all with coloured pencils) Wayne Anderson. I found a dragon with the cool name of Marduck but no wheelie walkers here. There was the hydra who had multiple heads but each head was quite ‘typical’ – no microcephaly here.

Not ready to give up yet, I scoured my bookshelves further. I tried The Dragons are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis. I got all excited for a moment when I spied a poem called ‘My Dragon Wasn’t Feeling Good.’ Could I at last have located a disabled dragon? Nope. She took him to the doctor:

She took his pulse and temperature,

Then fed him turpentine

And phosphorus and gasoline -

My dragon’s doing fine.

Damn those meddling doctor’s who can cure everything.

I had two final books to search. (I know, I really don’t have enough books on Dragons). Dragon Poems by John Foster and Korky Paul yielded nothing. One last shot – The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger. Surely if anyone has a disabled dragon it would be Ogden Nash. Yet Custards only impairment, if you could call it that, was an extreme dose of cowardice.

So I ask you, where are the all inclusive stories for our kids? Who has written about the dragon with cerebral palsy; the one with schizophrenia or a broken wing? I ask you now, where is Bob-splotch the disabled dragon?

Then, it came to me. Of course. The Alice master himself, Lewis Carroll included a character with a disability. Well, actually maybe he included 2 because I’m sure that you’d have a reasonable case in claiming Mrs ‘Off With Her Head’ was showing some symptoms of psychosis. But it is not the dear Queen of Hearts to which I refer. And it is not the Jabberwocky either; the most dragon-like of Lewis’ creations.

It’s the one character who doesn’t have legs. The character who at times has a distinct separation between his head and his spinal column (a mark of disability if ever I saw one). I refer of course to The Cheshire Cat. For this creation I take my hat (not my head) off to Lewis Carroll. He created a character with a disability however we’ve been oblivious to it for what qualifies as a disability in our world is simply magic in Wonderland. If only the world were a little more wonderland.

Post-script

I was just about to click the Publish button when I received a text from Andrew. In response to my message saying I was writing a blog post about disabled dragons, he asks ‘with prosthetic wings? Or prosthetic flame throwers?’ Hmm… flame throwers? I like it.

Flying down the rabbit hole

Ok Dad. Since you were underwhelmed by my collection of Alice in Wonderland Rabbits, let’s try the more colourful offering on the right.

I feel like Lela dowling’s Alice this week. Yes. That’s me with the pigtails flying through the air. Only my legs aren’t that skinny! With DIY wheelchair construction, followed by car accident, followed by more wheelchair construction and then 2 days in a research forum in Melbourne my brain is as wobbly as poached eggs!

If I’m that Alice, please do not worry mum. The family likenesses end there. Unless you can think of a family member as fat as the duchess, as mean as the queen of hearts of as wirey as those playing cards? Nope. See. No family likenesses!

Pictures references: top left – Lela Dowling’s Alice, Bottom Left – Rodney Matthew’s Card People; Bottom Right – Robert Sabuda’s Pop Up Duchess and Baby, Top Right – Frances Bloomfield’s Queen of Hearts, Rodney Matthew’s Jabberwocky and Robert Sabuda’s Pop Up Rabbit and Playing Cards.

Charmed with smiles and soap

No disabled person was harmed in the taking of this picture (I'm not that heavy)

I don’t want to be woken up tomorrow morning by the alarm clock. Instead, I want to be roused with muffins like the Baker in Hunting of the Snark. Hmmm… how nice would that be? To be awoken by warm muffins. The baker can keep all the other things he was roused with… I don’t want the ice, the mustard, cress, jam or judicious advice. I certainly don’t want the conundrums to guess. No, the muffins are quite sufficient!

Yes I’m in one of those moods. Too cold to paint; too tired to sew; too lazy to clean. When in this state – and confined in movement by cat in lap (not in hat) – nonsense is just the only option leave open.

Speaking of nonsense, did I ever publish that Tony Abbott won the Mad Hatter’s tea party invitation poll? Well, he did by a nose. Or probably an ear in tony’s case. If he was to run sideways that is. (I’m imagining Tony in a race running sideways against a podgy Winston Churchill and a ear deficient Van Gogh. Yup… Tony’s ear’s would get him over the line first I think). Ok, it’s clear that there’s is not going to be a smidgen of sanity to this post. I blame Saffron. She’s sitting on my foot and I now have pins and needles in it. Move her and the foot I must. Tally ho, there are muffins to be roused!

The twinings owls

It’s unanimous. Readers of the scroobious pip are in one mind; united they stand – nonsense be it! I am of course referring to my straw poll regarding what you would like to see more of on this blog. That there was only 1 vote is irrelevant. (I feel I should point out that although I’m the one wearing the ‘looking glass’ backwards watch and sitting next to a bookshelf peppered with nonsense, that it wasn’t I who voted for nonsense. I’m not sure I can vote in my own poll. So, whoever you are mystery pollster – this post is in your honor! Tiger eats his chop!
I’m sure that the world would be a better place if there were more nonsense about; a canyon of jibber jabber; a mountain range of wibble and a valley of turkey giblets. More people would go to sea in sieves, swim the English channel without a flannel, and catch the pigs and noodles which are raining from the sky. Can you imagine if Twinings ditched Nigella Lawson and went instead with Edward Lear’s Old Man of Dumbree:
who taught little owls to drink tea;
For he said, ‘To eat mice,
Is not proper or nice,’
That amiable Man of Dumbree’

And if the world were a little more splattered with nonsense then people would say what they mean and mean what they say, they would eat what they see and see what they eat, oh the places they’d go, the things that they’d do… herding cats and eating a shoe.

And to conclude, a little nonsensical poll:

Before anyone asks, no, I’ve not been eating any magic mushrooms.

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