What goes around...

Posted August 10th, 2006 by Penny Wise

I can hardly believe it! Here we are, Thursday already and do you know what? I haven't spent a cent! I haven't set foot in a single shop or bought ANYTHING. My weekly housekeeping budget has remained untouched and I haven't even been trying to stay out of the shops! The vegetable garden is saving us a fair bit at the moment, with broccoli and cauliflower all over the place, cabbages in all varieties, spinach and silverbeet, spring onions and leeks. Mind you, we've been pretty lucky this week too. Some of Noel's clients from work have been really generous and we ended up with two huge pots of fresh manuka honey from the beehives on their farm. Ali loves it on his toast every morning for breakfast, which has saved us quite a bit on buying cereal (Ali by the way is back to his usual noisy self and toast is very much back on the menu!) A couple of days later, another farming client asked Noel if he would like a piece of 'home grown' pork to take home. Noel said 'thank you very much, that would be lovely' and the farmer returned from his freezer with an enormous sack of pork roasts, chops and other cuts which must have easily amounted to half a pig. Noel was rather embarrassed but the man was insistent he take the whole lot, as a gift for 'being a nice bloke'. I didn't do so badly myself either! Yesterday Noel returned home carrying a gift box containing six bottles of top label wines. 'Where did you get those?' I asked in amazement. 'They're for you actually', he grinned. 'Remember all those Tonka toys you gave to the people who bought our old farm and you wouldn't let them give you any money for them? They were insistent on giving you these as a thank you!' I was gobsmacked – and dead chuffed too! Just goes to show, it costs nothing to be nice to people. What goes around comes around and all that!

Not that I'm always so nice to everyone of course – I can certainly throw a tantrum with the best of them if it means I get things done. Fiona and Matt's visit was the perfect opportunity to start throwing my weight around with a few of the locals. After leaving messages with the mechanic for several weeks to get my car booked in for it's Warrant of Fitness and getting no reply, I went to see him in person. 'My car is over a month overdue for its Warrant and I have heard nothing from you. I have important overseas visitors arriving in two days; do you really think I want to be driving them around in a car with no Warrant or rego?' The mechanic apologised profusely and performed the check first thing the following morning. Similarly, after waiting more than three years for the local sparky to install my security lights (1,129 days to be exact) and enduring his sheepish grins every time I saw him, I accosted him in the street the same day. 'I have an elderly lady coming to stay for the week', I told him brusquely 'and I have been waiting for you to fix three of my light fittings since last November. Do you really expect the poor woman to be permanently in the dark? What if she has to get up in the night? It could be hazardous!' Of course, I didn't mention that the elderly lady I referred to was my Mum as he knows perfectly well who she is and I'm sure he wouldn't exactly describe her that way – sorry Mum! However it did the trick. 'No worries, I can do that, when is she coming to stay?' 'TOMORROW!' I barked. I never thought he would do it, but true to his word he arrived at 8.00 the next morning and I just about fell over when he offered to install the security lights as well. So, it appears I have discovered the key to getting things done in our small town – don't bother booking in advance, just berate their slack attitude in a public place and they're on your doorstep in no time! Of course the only downside is that I now have to pay the bills...

Unfortunately it won't be long until I have to call that sparky out again either, as my dishwasher has decided to pack up. To be honest, it's never worked particularly well since we bought it three years ago and it's so 'hit and miss' I would rather get rid of the blasted thing and wash the dishes by hand. Noel doesn't think it's a good idea – not sure why he's bothered, as I don't think he's ever done the dishes in the 15 years I have known him! At least I haven't had to call the plumber out – yet. Mum and I watched in horror two nights ago as water from upstairs was somehow dripping steadily down the doorframe and making a large puddle on the kitchen floor. 'What the...?' we both wondered, until we heard the sound of noisy laughter from the upstairs bathroom. We ran up to find the entire bathroom awash; the floor resembled a paddling pool, walls, towels, shelves – everything was completely saturated; and there in the bath were Liam and Ali, who had decided that it wasn't enough to splash around in the already overflowing bath, but they were also going to turn on the shower attachment usually used for bathing Dudley and squirt it at each other. They were completely oblivious to the fact that while they were squirting each other, they were also soaking everything else in sight! I had visions of the downstairs ceiling caving in under a huge expanse of water and was about to call the plumber, but mercifully once we mopped up the mess, the dripping also stopped and hasn't returned. What possessed them I don't know!

Which reminds me, I must head to the Vault for some inspiration on 'boy stuff' activities on a budget. Liam is 10 tomorrow and his Dad said 'no parties' to both the boys this year. He's a really good kid (when he's not flooding the bathroom) and doesn't ask for much these days – not like in our Sad Sally days! There are some great ideas in the Vault for kids' entertainment and it would be great to do something fun together with his friends without having an actual party – and without breaking the bank!

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