Friday, March 12, 2010

The Paper Chase

Sometimes I think there is a god of blogs who makes things happen to me because he is bored with my posts and wants to liven this thing up a bit. I will tell you why in a second, but first I am falling hopelessly behind in posting about our trip so I want to do a little catch up of the week.

On Monday we had our last laugh with Robert and Jaki at an early lunch, followed of course by a Magnum bar for Jaki. Then we drove them to the airport to begin their long flight home to California.

That night we finally had a chance to catch up with Lily when she and Rachael and Matt met us at Montezuma's for dinner. Rach had to work so we dropped Shirley home and then drove Lily to her other grandmother's, where she and Rach are staying. Thank God Honor the GPS decided to work one last time because there is no way we would have worked our way through the maze of twists and turns that is Earlwood. At one point I had visions of paying a taxi to lead us there, but in her final act Honor popped on and got Lily home.

Tuesday I started my day out with a haircut. You may recall that last September I had a particularly close cut while in Norwood. That is it on the left. Not that it traumatized me, but I haven't let a pair of scissors near my head since then and by Tuesday morning, that picture on the right is what I looked like.

Anyhow, off to Andrea's for a tidy-up, and now that I am short again I figure it should last me to September.

After the haircut, we had some errands to run so we said good-bye to Shirley, picked up some stuff in the storage bin, ran to a few banks and headed to Canberra to see Jason and Lora. (If you are confused by the spelling of her name, so am I. Some times she's Laura, as in Bush, and some times she's Lora as in Keet. Either way, she's a great person.)

We got to see their new home and peek through the windows of the place where Lora works, then had dinner at a good pasta and pizza place in Manuka. (Which is pronounced like Monica, as in Lewinsky, although you would have to be a genius to guess that.)

On Wednesday we headed back to the Hume Highway to continue on towards Melbourne. This was the first time I had driven on this road, and I had not realized Australia actually had some excellent highways like this. It was easy driving, very little traffic and cruise control at the limit - 110 (that would be 68 mph in the US).

We had lunch at a pub in Holbrook, which has a full-sized submarine in its town square despite being more than 100 miles from the ocean. We didn't ask.

Then on to Wodonga. I had told Andrea we were going there while she was cutting my hair. She hails from twin city Albury just north in New South Wales, and she told me there wasn't much to see in Wodonga. I told her we were looking forward to seeing the world's biggest bowling pin, as verified by the Guinness Book of Records. And at that Andrea said I knew more about Wodonga than she did.

Since Jason and Lora had been married in a bowling alley, they were eager for us to get a picture. But as we pulled into town there was a bowling alley, and we saw a pretty unimpressive bowling pin - maybe 6-feet high. It certainly was not enough reason to pull over and take a picture. We drove around town looking for, perhaps, a slightly more majestic bowling pin but none was to be found.

I expressed my surprise that such a paltry bowling pin could make the Guinness Book of Records, but LK reasoned, "They probably just don't make really big bowling pins."

I don't know if she was right or not. But I re-checked Wikipedia while writing this post and I did read a little more carefully this time. Apparently Wodonga holds the Guinness record for world's biggest rolling pin, not bowling pin. Since the kids weren't married in a bakery, I don't think they would care about that picture anyhow.

From Wodonga, we drove to Seymour for lunch. We pulled into Somerset Winery and Restaurant around noon. It was a lovely looking place, but before we got our table we both made a pit stop in the rest rooms. It was only after we came out that it occurred to us that the place seemed a bit quiet - as in everything was closed. "Well, that would explain why we're the only ones in the parking lot," LK said. "I had assumed it was just because we were so early."

Anyhow, we had to backtrack into town, and ended up at the pub where we had an old-fashioned roast beef dinner for lunch. Bear with me, this will become relevant quite soon.

From Seymour, it was only about an hour to the Melbourne city limits. We had four or five hours to kill before we could put the car onto the ferry, but in Melbourne that is never a problem. There are beautiful parks, wonderful museums, lovely neighborhoods where you can sit and people-watch over a coffee or wine. Or go to the casino, which is what we did.

When we were going in, the pub lunches had caught up with me and I told LK to go in ahead and I would catch up. And this is where the God of Blogs decided my life was too humdrum.

After a stay in the stall in which I could have finished my novel had I remembered to bring it, I was ready to go. There was one small problem. While there was plenty of toilet paper in the dispenser, I couldn't get any of it to come out. I reached in, jiggled it, pinched it, pulled it, pounded the dispenser, tried to pry it open - well, trust me, I tried everything I could. And trust me, also, when I say that I reallllllly needed that paper.

Finally I was reduced to pulling litte shreds from the part of the roll that I could reach. Having vowed to work on improving my patience, I resigned myself to taking minutes to get a sheet's worth of paper in my hand. And then I had about the equivalent of a spitball rather than the wad that this situation required.

Anyhow, even my little scraps of paper stopped coming soon enough. I had no choice. I took out my handkerchief. Now, given what that hankie was going to be used for, it probably says heaps about me that I was really glad I hadn't used it yet.

Anyhow, that did the trick. I was ready to leave the stall. But it did occur to me that, while there was a corner of the hankie I could hold that would be safe, I didn't particularly relish the idea of walking out of the stall waving it in front of me for all to see.

So I stood in the stall waiting for the men's room to sound empty. Except it wasn't. Some guy had his mobile phone on speaker and was doing his banking with the automated voice system. And he kept being told he had isufficient funds to transfer.

Didn't stop him. He punched in new codes and started again. By now I had been in the loo so long I was worried that LK could have lost our nest egg in the casino, and I really did want to get out. Which was when it occurred to me that if this guy was in the toilet of the casino doing his mobile banking, he probably didn't want his wife to know he lost their nest egg. So I opened the door, walked quickly to the wastebin and said farewell to my hankie. Turns out the banking guy was also in a stall.

I then washed my hands with antibacterial soap for about five minutes. And still the guy was trying to find an account that had some dough in it.

Since this is only slightly shorter than War and Peace, I will leave the post about the ferry until next time. But we are back in Tassie now and having fun.

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