I'm starting to wonder who the Sad Sally in our house really is these days! Ah yes, things have changed around here – I wouldn't quite describe Noel as a 'Sad Stanley' yet, but some of the things he comes out with really have me shaking my head! For example, nine years ago – when I was the Sad Sally of the two of us, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Liam and I flew to England to spend eight precious weeks with him. When we returned two months later, Noel was proudly regaling to me how he was able to 'live off the smell of an oily rag' and hardly ever had to go food shopping as he could always find something in the freezer or pantry to make a meal out of. These days, it's the other way round! I'll often find him impatiently rifling through the kitchen cupboards, bemoaning the fact that 'there's nothing to eat' and this time it's me pointing out all kinds of things he could have if he wanted.
The 'problem' is, there is hardly any convenience food in the house any more. Where I see meals when I look in the contents of our pantry, he sees 'no munchies'. I ask him what's wrong with making a sandwich, but nooo, that's not right! It's not the same as grabbing a bar of this or a packet of that and eating it then and there. Good thing too if you ask me! When we were away at the beach recently, Noel had bought a pot of green onion dip and to use up the remainder on our last night I suggested adding it to the mashed potato he was making for dinner. The kids loved it so much they asked if we could make it like that every time, so the next day I bought another pot to keep in the fridge for 'mashed potato purposes (they won't usually touch mashed potato, so whatever works!) Just three days later, I went to make the 'yummy mashed potato' again and reached for the new pot of dip. Which had about enough left in it to coat your tongue with if you managed to lick the bottom of the pot hard enough. Turns out Noelie had been unable to resist tucking into the dip, along with half a packet of crackers the last few nights when I had toddled off to bed to read my 'Tightwad Gazette!' I don't begrudge him having a snack but nothing is sacred around here. Growing up with his two brothers and a hard working Mum, he had always been told to help himself to whatever was in the fridge if he wanted something to eat and even after 15 years living with me he still does. I've lost count of how many times I've gone to recycle leftover something-or-other for dinner, only to discover he already helped himself to it for lunch. I guess the boys and I will have to come up with a cunning hiding place for our magic mashed potato ingredient!
I couldn't believe it when we were sitting together on the deck for a chat just a couple of nights ago and he came out with 'tut – we must make more of an effort, we've been spending money like water lately'. 'I beg your pardon!' I retorted, 'I haven't spent a blooming thing!' Honestly, I hadn't even bought so much as a bag of sugar or set foot in a shop for over a week! Goodness only knows what he's been spending it on then, but it just goes to show which one of us is more careful with our finances these days. Of course, I could just put it down to fuzzy male logic I suppose – after all, that's how we ended up with Tui. This time last year Ali was pleading with his Dad to let him have a kitten which had been dumped at the vet's and was about to be put down unless he found a home. He was so confident Noel would say yes, he had even named it Rascal and was absolutely inconsolable when his Dad told him 'No way. Perhaps if your mother didn't already have six cats I might consider it, but we're not having any more!' Ali ran outside in floods of tears. 'What's one more?' I reasoned. He had desperately wanted a pet of his own for so long and the kitten was free! 'Leave it with me', instructed Noel sternly, 'I'll sort him out'.
He did that alright! Ten minutes later Ali came running inside, a huge smile on his face. 'Mummy – Daddy says I can have a puppy for my birthday!' 'You've got to be joking!' I turned to Noel, flabbergasted. 'I know we've got six cats, but we've also got three dogs already!' I was told not to worry – it was just delay tactics, Ali's birthday was still eight months away and he would forget about it in no time. 'Yeah, right!' I replied, still appalled at the thought of having another dog. Cats are easier to house train, they don't take up so much space and they don't need training or daily walks. Why couldn't he have stuck with the kitten? Of course he had it all worked out – this wouldn't be any old dog – it would be a hunting dog, therefore very useful and would earn its keep – 'unlike your mop' he said pointedly, referring to Dudley. Ali did not forget his Dad's promise and that is how we came to end up paying moonbeams for a 'useful' pedigree Cocker Spaniel instead of letting him have a free kitten. So far the only thing Tui has proved useful at is chewing up any belongings Ali leaves lying around, so at least she has taught him to tidy up after himself if he wants to keep any of his toys in one piece, but as for hunting, the only thing she wants to catch so far is moths – and we won't go into how much extra she has cost us in wrecking things. Since the last report, she has also chewed through a school library book, another telephone cable and the cat flap now has no flap, because she insisted on using it as her own personal door until one day she found it a bit of a tight squeeze and took the whole door with her, shrieking like a banshee as she dashed around with it still firmly ensconced around her middle. The 'flap' part broke off completely and we now have a permanent square shaped hole in the back door.
Even so, I wouldn't be without her and I do have hopes for turning Noel back to a Happy Harry. He picked up my Linda Cockburn book a few days ago and hasn't been able to put it down since. 'It's fascinating stuff isn't it!' he enthuses and we've been having lots of serious discussions on the sorry state of the planet and what we can do around the place to reduce our own 'ecological footprint'. His vegetable garden is flourishing, we have leeks leaping out of the ground, cabbages, lettuces and snow peas and all the watermelon seeds we planted have sprouted, so the kids will have a ball tucking into those this summer. As long as the current gale force winds and hailstorms don't blow them out of the ground first, that is. Have made another $45 on eBay sales so far this week and I still have some more auctions 'on the go' which should be very productive should they sell. My current 'goal account' balance is now at $591 – just from a few weeks of trading! Such an easy way to make some extra money – if I could only decide which goal I am actually saving for!