Author: alice

Birth Story II

Today is Hamish’s second birthday so I am finally posting this recount of his birth I wrote ages ago.


From 37 weeks onward I was certain I had reached full capacity. Every day that crawled by without any ‘signs of labour’, the more convinced I was that this baby was never coming out. I was so done with everything, exercise felt near impossible, rolling over in bed was a mammoth effort, picking up toys off the floor took its toll, and everyone who encountered me had some comment like ‘oh the baby hasn’t come yet?’, ‘why are you walking around? You should be resting!’, and my personal favourite – ‘ARE YOU SURE THERE’S ONLY ONE IN THERE?’.

I could feel my smile wearing thin as I grew tired of my body being fair game for discussion and as my weight continued to creep towards 100 kilos. Apparently 15 kilos is ‘healthy’ weight gain during pregnancy and I had put on 25. I found this disheartening, I had exercised so consistently throughout this pregnancy and maintained a healthy iron rich diet.

If you know me well, you know I’m a pimple popping little freak. If I have any kind of build up under my skin it makes me crazy until I can meddle with it (usually with poor results, eg: huge wound on face). Being this pregnant I felt like a giant pimple that I couldn’t pop.

As the due date drew closer I started to lose hope and could only visualise myself being induced at the latest possible moment. Each day I felt like there was just no way labour was going to start naturally and I was still just getting heavier and slower and grumpier. My belly button DISAPPEARED. I normally have a deep bell button but look at this, just look at it!

And then it happened.

So fast.

I woke up around 3.30am on the morning of the baby’s due date. I’d been dreaming about having contractions. As I lay in bed I noticed a dull ache that felt a bit like period pain and wondered if that meant I might go into labour sometime over the next few days. After experiencing 3 bouts of this type of cramping I roused Lochie and optimistically alerted him to the development. He suggested that I try to sleep more and save my energy. I agreed that this was a good idea except I couldn’t stop thinking about how I had a massage booked for the next day and Lochie was meant to be playing golf. Also I really needed to poo which was making me annoyed because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I got up, did my business and went back to bed. I had a sinking feeling of dread/anticipation/excitement, this sure seemed like labour but I didn’t want to get too optimistic yet.

Over the next hour or so the cramps got stronger and quickly went from being 10 minutes apart to 8 minutes. I also did an impressive number of poos which I took to mean that the baby was moving down and putting pressure on my bowels. I thought my waters may have broken while I was on the toilet but I wasn’t sure, it felt like a sudden gush of wee. I kept trying to go back to bed to ‘relax’ but it was getting a bit unbearable.

Lochie was also struggling, he had developed a fever from his COVID booster the day before. Terrible timing, we thought we were so smart getting that out of the way nice and early. Things sort of felt like they were ramping up pretty quickly but I couldn’t quite let myself believe that it was possible for things to be moving so fast, that seemed way too good to be true. I had to mentally book in at least 10 hours, maybe more, of labour endurance. Around 5.30 Lochie called his aunt Trina, our support person who technically wasn’t allowed at the birth because of COVID restrictions but who would ride out the labour with us and take us to the hospital. Around this time I started timing my contractions, they were 3-5 minutes apart already. I used an app on my watch to time them and noticed they were oscillating between 40 seconds long and 20 seconds long. Trina and Lochie didn’t seem too concerned but I was starting to develop a suspicion that maybe I was blasting through the stages of labour a lot faster than any of us could have imagined.

Trina often mentioned that during labour women tend to get a bit lost on a different plain of consciousness but I didn’t find that at all. I was very aware and conscious of my sensations and surroundings and found it fairly easy to articulate myself. I was surprised at how annoying I was finding it to labour at home. I couldn’t stop thinking about logistics and had an underlying feeling that the baby might be coming soon, though I was scared to be too optimistic in case it ended up being 10 hours later. I would always prefer to be pleasantly surprised than to expect something to be fast/easy/simple only for it to turn out to be the opposite.

I could suddenly feel the pressure of the baby’s head pushing down and was overcome with a desire to get out of the house. I told Trina I was feeling agitated to be at home and thought we should go to the hospital, this was probably around 6.30am, around when I recorded my last contraction because it seemed redundant at that point to keep taking note. Everyone sprung into action very quickly, Lochie’s parents arrived to look after our daughter Sam and we hustled out to the car.

The drive to the hospital felt HECTIC. About 5 minutes in I started feeling the urge to push and knew that the baby was coming. When we went to our first appointment at Mount Barker hospital, everyone was talking about how a baby had been born in the car park that morning and at the time I had vaguely considered that it was possible that we would follow the same path, but now it seemed very probable! It felt like Trina was driving like a maniac, at one point I snuck a look at the speedometer and saw we were going 100 on what I considered to be a windy road and decided I didn’t have it in me to be thinking about safety, when I should be focussing on not pooing all over the car seat. I really felt like I was going to poo and after the absolute poo fest that morning I was annoyed that there could possibly be anything left to expel. Pretty quickly I decided 1. It didn’t matter, I could poo anywhere I wanted, and 2. It was actually the baby, not poo, so I should still focus on not letting it out just yet. All this baby coming out of you stuff is so much more closely linked to doing poos than I ever imagined.

We turned onto the freeway, blasting along with window open and I decided I might just put my seatbelt on, just in case. I really don’t like driving fast. At least Lochie didn’t have to keep propping me up as we barrelled around corners. I started chanting a little mantra to myself which was surprisingly effective, ‘you’re OK, it’s ok, you’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK’ which is something I often say to Sam. I must have been muttering, or getting lost in the roar of the open windows, Lochie leaned over and said ‘pardon?’, it took a monumental effort to explain that I was ‘just talking to myself’.

It was a huge relief to pull up outside the hospital. As I walked up the ramp to the door I had to stop because my body was trying so hard to push I felt like the baby was going to go splat on the ground. I grabbed at my butt like a little kid who needed to go to the toilet. As we were ushered in I joked to Lochie – ‘well, the big poo is coming I reckon!’ and caught the eye of a couple sitting in the waiting room immediately after I said it.

I remember saying something to the effect of ‘get me on the floor’ and ten minutes later our son was born. The actual pushing part, where I had to consciously help push the baby out was a little bit more ‘stingy’ than I remembered it feeling with Sam, but a lot more swift. The baby came out with a big plop of gross amniotic gunk. I was a bit stunned and someone told me to move back a bit so I could pick up my baby. I looked down and was surprised to see a gunky baby on the floor underneath me. He had such a cone head. We had opted to not find out the gender and we had two names planned, Hamish and Chloe. Deep down we were both expecting Chloe so it was pretty wild to see Hamish down there looking so shell shocked. Hard to know who was more shell shocked, Hamish or Lochie in the throes of COVID booster fever. Here’s Lochie conked out on my bed a few hours after I gave birth.

As the dust settled, Trina and Lochie revealed that our car was still running out the front of the hospital with the keys in the ignition.

I was inspected for tearing and just had one first degree tear which I elected not to have stitched because last time the stitches were more irritating and painful than the actual tear. This proved to be a good choice because after a day or so my vagina didn’t even hurt whereas last time it felt endlessly painful and uncomfortable. Somehow from one shower and one trip to the toilet, the ward bathroom seemed to be covered in blood. It looked so wild in there. It felt weird for all that blood to just be there looking hectic while we hung out in the ward with the bathroom door open.

Hamish was 4.7 kilos which was the biggest our midwife had delivered, looking back at photos of newborn Hamish I’m a bit amazed at what a whopper he was. He was a wacky little baby who completely rumbled us but he has grown into the most charming, loving little maniac and we love him to the bloody moon and back.

Pictured below, a dad who thought that a second child would be 1.5 the amount of work of one (if that) and then discovered that sometimes you get a baby who doesn’t follow the rules because he is a baby and you can’t do anything about it and its more like triple the work of what you already had going on. Also your wife is still trying to recover from birth so you carry everyone everywhere and your shoulders hurt and you just want to watch the Australian Open in peace.



Tiger Murals on Hindley Street

I was commissioned by the City of Adelaide to paint a couple of murals on Hindley Street during November 2021.

The first one is outside Gang Gang and Red Robin – down near the Woolshed.

My trusty painting assistant Liz.

It’s hard to capture the full length of it!


The second mural is near the corner of King William and Hindley, outside Harry’s Burger Bar.

Jacqui from the City of Adelaide came down to help us out.

My Birth Story

When we first started planning to have a baby I was completely disgusted by the idea of being pregnant, giving birth and a post birth body. I just wanted the sweet little baby without all the ugly stuff. It was very unfair that I had to compromise my whole rig while Loki could just keep being his normal self, working on his fitness goals, eating and drinking anything he liked.

My plan was to somehow ignore the birthing part until it was upon me and then just demand all the drugs immediately and hope that it wouldn’t ruin my body too much.

My friend Chloe recommended I read a book by Ina May, a midwife who famously challenged over-medicalised birthing approaches in the 70s by starting a farm where natural birthers could roam free, blasting out little bubbas in the backs of Kombi vans and under trees. I bought it on the Kindle but was going to avoid reading it,  preferring my previously mentioned plan of conscious evasion. Then Loki started reading it. It starts off with lots and lots of birth stories, stories of the wonders of natural births. He kept telling me about them and gently suggesting that I should read some of them, that it might help me understand the process rather than fearfully rejecting it. He was right of course, and as soon as I started reading I was 100% convinced that my body was this wonderful, powerful machine designed to create life and that if I didn’t have a homebirth my experience would be tarnished. My fears did a full 180 flip and I became terrified that I wouldn’t be able to arrange a homebirth.

One problem with this Ina May book was that the system the natural birthers were railing against in 1970s America was a very different system to what we have in place in Australia today. I managed to build up a lot of fear about having a birth in a hospital.


Cut to about a year later, I was half-heartedly engaging with a few of the classic old wives tales to bring on labour, drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating dates. Lots of baths and hikes, watching birth videos to make my body realise that’s what needed to happen. The closer my booked induction at 41 weeks 3 day loomed, the more I had to let go of the idea that naturally going into labour was a likelihood. In retrospect I don’t really care at all, but at the time it seemed really important to go into labour naturally, I really felt like I needed to experience that.

We had two sports bags backed full of supplies, a big floor cushion and a huge tub of pasta bake that everyone convinced us to leave behind (regretfully – we later asked that it be brought in for us because it was actually EXTREMELY ESSENTIAL).

The first part of the induction involved inserting a balloon catheter which wasn’t amazing but not as bad as I expected. The next few hours I gradually started getting intermittent bouts of backpain that felt like bad period cramps. We got excited and started trying out the TENS machine (provides pain relief/distraction through little pads that transmit electricity). The midwife came in and made some comment about us getting the TENS out pretty early. I was pretty convinced I must be in labour but apparently I was just being optimistic. Turns out the balloon catheter just makes you super crampy. I had a really strong, deep feeling of anticipation, excitement and anxiety – it felt like I had just taken some acid and it hadn’t kicked in yet. I was locked into this journey no matter what.

We went for little walks and I kept trying to refuse pain killers but eventually gave in and had some Panadol. We tried to sleep while a woman bellowed all night in the room next door.

First thing the next morning I had my waters broken with a crude looking little stick with a hook on the end and waited patiently for a baby to burst out. Lochie’s aunt Trina arrived, she was our support person throughout the pregnancy and helped us with decision making along the way. The next 6-7 hours went by surprisingly fast. I was given oxytocin (hormones that get stuff going) through an IV. I had been pretty anxious and apprehensive about this part and had been holding out hope that I would go into labour before this was necessary. In my memory, which is definitely not reliable given that I was in labour, one minute I was sitting happily on the floor chatting to Lochie and Trina and the next minute I was trying not to appear rude as I started to experience contractions that disrupted the conversation. I quickly realised social niceties weren’t that important at this point in time and just tried to focus on breathing. Again, I don’t really have much concept of how time passed but I guess the contractions just got worse and worse and eventually I decided to have a little moment when everyone had left the room except Lochie.

I made my most pained face and put on my most pathetic voice and told him “I don’t think I can do it!” even though I knew I could, would and had no choice regardless. This was a good way to get some extra attention even though I was already getting a lot of attention.

Contractions felt more familiar than I expected, they were literally just really bad period cramps. As they got really bad I started thinking of them as orgasms that accidentally did pain not pleasure because I guess it was sort of activating the same muscles. I got into the nitrous gas but no one seemed to realise it was barely releasing any gas so it mostly served as a way of focussing my breathing and attention during contractions.

After a while I felt really restless and wanted to rat around and get into water but I was feeling a bit trapped because I was tethered to my IV. I managed to get to the shower and had to most torturous shower of my life. I started to hatch a secret plan to demand pain killers after the shower. I also needed to poo which was annoying. I was in so much pain everywhere and everything felt so shit and the world was spinning and I made my pain killer plan less secret and started to freak out a bit and sat on the toilet doing a poo with everyone watching. The midwife said something about letting her know if I feel a sudden urge to push and straight after she said it my whole body shuddered like when you have food poisoning and I was like, ‘I think now?’.

They had a looksie and told me I was fully dilated and as soon as I  learnt that all my pain disappeared. In my mind I had been expected another 10 hours of this getting worse and worse and to hear that the end was in sight was THE BEST NEWS. Here is a photo of around the time I was at the height of pain, doing a poo in front of everyone and about to get the first push. It’s weird because it looks very serene but it felt like the PEAK OF HECTIC.

I really wanted a little rest before I had to do all the pushing stuff but I couldn’t find any position comfortable. I kind of knew that I would give birth on all fours but for some reason felt like I had to try a bunch of different poses just in case one magically didn’t hurt.

The contractions at this stage weren’t super painful anymore but they felt so strong that I assumed I didn’t actually have to do anything and that they would make the baby come out. It was so much like food poisoning when you need to vomit or poo and you get those hectic waves of terrible pain pushing the bad stuff out of your body but you’re also glad that it’s coming out. Now I reflect on those waves with fondness but I’m sure at the time it wasn’t so great.

Anyway, after quite a while of enduring the waves of pushing, Trina knelt down next to me and advised that I probably should start doing some pushing sometime soon. I was so surprised that more force would be needed, it already felt like SO MUCH. Her next advice was also really surprising, she said I really need to bear down into my butt, pretty much like doing a giant poo. It made me think of in pop culture how women are always like ‘giving birth is like shitting a melon!’ and I always thought that was a crude metaphor. Now it feels…relevant.

Before birth I was really panicked about missing out on skin to skin bonding time immediately after the birth. During the 20ish week scan it was discovered that our daughter had a moderate heart defect which resulted in the pregnancy being a lot more ‘medical’ than I would have expected/preferred. It also meant that there was a high chance that we wouldn’t get to have skin to skin time or that it would be extremely fleeting. I read so much about how crucial this moment was for bonding and it felt really soul crushing that it could be taken away from me. In the end, we had our skin to skin moment but it was in no way the transformative experience I had expected. I mostly felt relief that I had done the hard work, and felt a big rush of emotion and hooted a bit – that could also have been a bit because I had seen people do that in birth videos. The umbilical cord was really short so holding her was kind of awkward and I could feel the medical staff itching to get her to examine her so it was kind of a relief to just be able to chill for while with Lochie when they took her off my hands.

They took our daughter to SCBU and I lay down, ate a croissant and got insanely high on the nitrous gas because somehow had FINALLY turned it up and had some surface tears on my vagina stitched up. Everyone told me how much I was going to love my post birth shower but it SUCKED, I had a stupid (but useful!) pee bag hooked up to me and was sore and waddling and felt so delicate it was just annoying trying to navigate myself around the place. Trina went down with Sam to SCBU and sent us photos to keep us updated. When we eventually got down to see her it was super sweet and exciting I didn’t feel at all as if anything had been taken away from me, I was just so happy that she was ok and was also clearly the most cute baby in the whole world.

So, yeah, birth is just shitting a melon I guess, so basic.

Almond Quench

Every whole almond that makes this milk great is grown in Australia.”

Sarah scanned the carton looking for further reassurance that she was buying the most ethical and healthy product available.


So far so good, and on sale for two dollars. She rearranged the nut butters and fair trade coffee in her green bag and started loading it with cartons. As she stood contemplating whether or not the fifth was overkill an annoying little info nugget slid into its way to the forefront of her mind. Some article she had read recently about the impact of almond farming and the Murray Darling. Left hip cocked out to the side she laid down her green bag and whipped out her phone hastily typing “almons milk ethivak” into google.

Ugh. Almond milk is ruining the world. Bad for bees too. Thinking of the bees, Sarah quickly returned the almond milks to the shelf and squatted down next to the woolies brand pleb milks to continue researching an honourable alternative. Her second favourite milk, coconut was described by the Guardian as ‘an absolute tragedy’. Dairy was obviously cancelled and had been for years, who would even? Her eyes shifted toward the fluorescent lights overhead as she imagined the chronically un-woke chugging down their stolen milk, fuelling the meaty cancers forming in their thick bodies. So gross. Without thinking her finger flicked across her phone screen and she was looking at her Instagram story from that morning. Only 82 people had watched the boomerang of her tugging her underwear up over her hips and into her butt crack. Only 74 had bothered to stay tuned for her second photo. She’d spent ages artfully composing the image, laying facedown on the bed, different underwear yanked right up her butt, shadows dancing across her tanned skin and one sultry eye looking back at the camera. Awkwardly pressing the button with her toe, she raised her bum slightly in the air and arched her back. Caption plastered underneath, ‘Thinking about all those affected by the bushfires.’ Only the diehards made it to the third image, an obligatory post with stats about the Australian fires compared to the Amazon.

Disappointed she returned her consciousness to the long life milk aisle and gazed at the wall of rectangular cartons. Hazelnut, hemp and flax were on the up, but so expensive. Rice milk was super gross, she imagined the starchy water and involuntarily poked her tongue out in disgust.  She scrolled to the end of the Guardian article, shifting the page up and down trying to skim read and compare the benefits of soy and oat. She’d always imagined oat to be a gluten disaster milk. Bored of not reading she was back on Instagram in an instant. Eyes immediately drawn to the little red icon that made the corner of her screen feel plump, three new messages. One from a woman she’d met in a fitness class over a year ago (user name marybutterfly7), “your such a babe!” Followed by three different heart emojis. Sarah felt briefly validated despite the incorrect use of your. The second message was from some random dude (username josephwot) demanding nudes, so basic and offensive. She screen shotted his filthy comments to use in a future post demonstrating how desirable she was and the fuckedness of the patriarchy. The third message was from Fuckthenorm, a guy from work. All it said was ‘Hot.’ She didn’t find him particularly attractive but his message excited her, she was hot, thank god someone had recognised it.

With a sigh she grabbed a single carton of the cheapest soy milk, not sanitarium obviously, and wandered toward the refrigerated aisle idly flicking over Fuckthenorm’s  page filled with bikes and caption-less black coffees arranged next to open books.

Strolling past the freezer a yellow square caught her eye, fifty percent off snickers ice cream! She grabbed a box and hightailed for the checkout so she could eat one on her way to the car.

Chao Anouvong Park

As the sun crept towards the line where the sky became the Mekong, the dengue mosquitos rose from their crypts and set out hunting for suckers. They were too relentless to bother trying to swat and besides, Bigcola had already done his dash with the virus last year, no big deal.

Gulping the last of his BeerLao he cruised idly through Chao Anouvong park on his Honda Dream. As he let the empty can fall to the ground without a second thought he caught the icy blue eye of a blonde woman whose pale, dripping brow had sunken into her nose in pointed disapproval. Her hands gripped the straps of her Crumpler backpack tightly as he chugged past, dirty thongs dragging along the ground.

Speakers turned up to maximum capacity unleashed electro remixes of Thai pop songs as hordes of women in silver sweat jackets zumba’d their hearts out. Bigcola trundled dangerously close to the teetering trestle table where the instructor bounced up and down squawking into her microphone.

Pulling up to his spot near where they were setting up the night market, Bigcola donned his disguise, an oversized polyester bomber jacket, a dirty white cap and a surgical mask decorated with Hello Kitties. He sat forward on his moto and pretended to squeeze blackheads in his rear vision mirror while he scanned the lumbering tourists in their linen shirts and fanny packs strolling through the park.

Through the smoke curling off the barbeques and trash fires Bigcola spotted his target. She was petite and wore billowy pants with elephants printed all over them. He tailed her through the park knowing she’d follow the same pattern they all do, emerge at the main road and stand in dumb awe before trying to cross the street to photograph the temple. He had done it so many times, his timing was impeccable.

Bigcola accelerated towards her feeling the familiar rush of anticipation. As she turned slowly to compose her temple selfie he struck. He felt no guilt as he blasted off down Lang Xang Avenue with her handbag.

Meanwhile in the park, a young woman with a broken arm was comforted by a self-righteous expat from the states who posted about the whole incident on the Vientiane Social expat Facebook group.



Code Red

I wrote a 500 word story for Furious Fiction. It’s loosely based on something that happened at my primary school.


Code red. Jack was kneeling in the thick scrub, his blunt machete concealed between his worn out Kmart sneakers and his head between his knees. Heart pounding in his chest he chanced a sneaky look to assess the extent of his detection.

Not good. The tennis match had been completely abandoned and the girls in their navy blue wide-brimmed hats were pressed up against the wire fence staring in his direction.


“We can see you, Jack!”


Laughter. “Oh my god what is he even doing in there? He definitely didn’t get permission. ”


“Jack, you’re out of bounds!”




Consumed with panic Jack crouched even lower behind some golden wattle. He contemplated the threat he had wrought upon their secret operation. This had been his first guard mission, he hadn’t expected to actually come across any adversaries, as a result he had neglected his patrol duties to focus on slashing wildly at a stringy bark with the machete.


“We’re dobbing!”


Overwhelmed, Jack abandoned all hope of concealment and blasted off along the narrow bush path clutching his legionnaire’s hat to his grown out bowl cut. Unable to stifle his panic, he started hooting and hollering cries of warning as he struggled his way up the hill. He could hear the girls laughing as they ran off to find the teacher on duty.

Traditionally, Jack wasn’t the fastest runner, in fact, due to his severe asthma he was possibly the slowest in the school and it was obvious that his shortcomings as an athlete had a negative effect on his social standing. Mercifully it never occurred to Jack that diminished popularity might have played a part in his selection for sentry duty.


As he approached the club house he felt the familiar stabs of tightness in his chest, feeling like an absolute maverick, he whipped his trusty puffer out of his pocket and huffed Ventolin without missing a step.


Hearing the commotion, riled up boys spilled out of the disused sports shed wielding broken wickets and wooden tennis racquets with old leathery grips.

“Code red! Code red!” Jack wheezed, hands on knees in a big show of how hard he had pushed himself for the cause.


In a flurry of chaos, eleven year old arms bundled with contraband scurried around the sports shed not knowing what to do. Some of the more seasoned trouble makers pulled the old ‘ditch and wander’ in an effort to distance themselves from the impending disaster.


Mr Barnes arrived at the scene in the midst of the big cover up and caught them all red-handed. As he inspected the collection of glossy porn magazines, kitchen knives and garden tools he grew larger and redder. The girls looked on with glee as he entered the clubhouse to discover Jack calmly having one of his signature asthma attacks.


Whilst tending to Jack Mr Barnes bellowed in his angriest teacher voice, “PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE! NOW!” In their quietest student voices, the boys shuffled past the sniggering girls murmuring.


“Girls suck.”




Loki The Mercy Killer

Loki the Mercy Killer

My best mate Loki has taught me many things in life, do things properly, cleanliness is kinda important, sport is fun, its ok to eat a whole block of chocolate in the supermarket… Recently he even showed me how to tie my shoes using the loop method, a knot that has evaded me ever since primary school. But arguably the most important lesson he has bestowed upon me is that sometimes you have to execute animals.

The First Kill

The first time I saw Loki administer a mercy kill I was visiting him at his house in Hectorville. He had been banging on about this garden he had been working on. I followed him outside to feign interest in his seedlings, vaguely hoping he might have already grown something I could eat. Amongst the rows of green veggies sprouting from the beautifully turned soil lay an injured rainbow lorikeet. Loki’s garden pride dissipated as he started muttering about what pieces of shit cats are. Without looking me in the eye he calmly strode over to the shed and picked up the large garden fork leaning by the door. I stood by watching curiously, I wasn’t used to people doing difficult things without making a big hullabaloo. He bashed the bird in the head with the fork and we were both surprised when it bounced up into the air like a rubber chicken. Loki went for a couple more bashes, up and down it went, lying on the ground slowly moving its beak in between beatings. Not wanting to continue needlessly clobbering a dying animal he lifted the fork up above the badly damaged bird, lining up its heaving chest in the firing line of the central prong. Down came the fork, perfectly aimed it plunged through the breast and into the soil beneath. We looked at each other with relief, the deed was done. Loki lifted the fork and we were both surprised to see that the lorikeet remained impaled upon the prong, the calm was broken and Loki broke into a series of breathy swearwords as he roughly jiggled the fork trying to dislodge the bird. After a big plunge into the soil and a nudge from a Dunlop sneaker the bird was free. It was at this moment that River the cat decided to show herself, she stalked across the lawn towards us. She was doing that weird cat walk where they lift their paws up really high as if they are really disgusted by accidentally touching the grass. Suddenly the garden fork was held high in the air and Loki rushed at her with a big hiss and angry sumo foot stamps.

“Fucken cats!”

River was up the fig tree in a flash and glared angrily down at us. I rushed to her defence in an attempt to diffuse the situation but Loki wasn’t having it. He went inside and I stood by the tree with River idly eating figs and contemplating what had just gone down.

The Most Serious Kill

It was a savagely hot Australian summer and we were driving home from visiting Loki’s sister in Coober Pedy. On the radio people were talking about frying eggs on shovels. We stopped for a quick sandwich in the shade and in the time it took for us to slap some cheese and bread together, the slices of bread had already started to toast. Luckily Loki’s dad had leant us his Colorado ute so we had a substantial vehicle to combat our outback conditions. Unluckily, Loki wanted me to learn how to drive a manual and it was my turn to take the wheel. It was ok when we were tearing along the long straight roads, but stopping and starting made me break out in a wild sweat, especially passing through towns where I’d have to reduce speed or god forbid give way to something. As we cruised along I quizzed Loki about what we would do if we hit an animal and needed to mercy kill it. I suggested parking the ute on top or repeatedly running it over. Loki was unimpressed and assured me that we would cut the throat of any suffering animals that crossed our path. Satisfied that we had a game plan and Loki seemed prepared to carry it out I stopped pushing the park the car on top of animals idea.

I could see a train approaching on the railway tracks parallel to the road, excitedly I pointed it out to Loki and we eagerly anticipated looking at the train as it zoomed past. Not a lot of stuff going on in the desert. And that’s when it happened. I felt a tiny bump and glimpsed a grey flash in my rear vision mirror.

“Shit shit shit I hit something.” It took me about 500 metres to figure out how to stop the car.

I felt a big knot of nausea in my belly, as Loki and I traded places

“I don’t think you hit anything, I didn’t see anything.” Loki slowly steer the car back towards the spot.

“I’m certain I did.”

In the distance we could see a small kangaroo trying to drag itself across the road. One of its legs was completely mangled. We pulled over and started walking towards the scene. It was a joey and it was screaming. Another kangaroo, presumably its mother, appeared from the scrub by the road and watched in horror.

“Stay here.”

I stood frozen by the Colorado, tears streaming down my face as Loki approached the joey. I looked at the ute and started wondering if it would be a good time to remind him about how we could park the ute on top of the joey for a nice hands-free mercy kill. Meanwhile, without hesitation, Loki dove head first into the most hands on mercy kill imaginable, the strangle. He knelt down next to the teenage kangaroo and firmly gripped its neck in his hands, the older kangaroo kept its distance but maintained eyes on the situation.

It turns out strangling takes ages, every time Loki thought he had finally finished the job and released his hands the joey would take a slow deep breath and resume living. He knelt into its chest to try and push the air out of its lungs. I went from desperately sad and guilty to kinda impatient and bored. I can only imagine the kangaroo spectator shared a similar emotional journey. Satisfied that his efforts had put the kangaroo out of its misery Loki returned. He had some tears on his face and a stoic expression. We shared a long hug and I cried a bit more but I was curious and started peppering him with questions.

“What about the knife plan? How did it feel? Why did it take so long? How old was it do you think? Have you ever strangled something before? Should we have just parked the car on it? Are you going to tell your parents? Do you think that was its mum watching?”

He struggled through my question fire and it occurred to me that what he had just done might not have been an easy act to commit to.

We got back in the car, Loki driving now and sat in silence for a few kilometres. I decided to cheer up my friend and tried to make a joke about mercy killing. It was way, way, way, way, way, WAY too soon.

A few days later we were jumping around on rocks at Alligator Gorge pretending to be ninjas. I did a series of cool moves along a trail of rocks and turned around proudly to see how impressed Loki was. He was crouched down with a medium sized rock raised above his head. We made eye contact briefly before he smashed the rock down onto the ground. I had trodden on a small frog crushing the lower half of its body and rendering it completely fucked but still completely alive. He probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it if I hadn’t caught him out. I was touched by how willing he was minimise suffering, both mine and that of critically injured animals and I vowed that if a situation presented itself, I would step up and execute a mercy killing.

My moment

We were living in Laos, a developing country wedged in between Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. I had actually just completed my first ever mercy kill, our housemate’s dog had caught a mouse and messed it up enough to render it past the point of recovery. I went stone cold mercy killer hero on the situation and drowned it in a plastic bag. This proved to me that I had what it took to take on any future mercy killings. A week or two before we were due to leave Laos and embark on our next adventure (Portugal) I was faced with a very difficult situation.

After my last shift at work I was riding into town to meet some friends for drinks when I was confronted by a bit of scene at a busy intersection. A tiny kitten had been hit by a car and was writhing on the road and screaming in agony. I pulled over in the hope that I could witness it getting killed by a car so that I wouldn’t feel bad about not mercy killing it when suddenly things got a lot more complicated. All too quickly, one of the Dutch ladies from my work came tearing into the middle of the intersection on her bike in a wild panic. She held up hands towards oncoming traffic, optimistically hoping that Lao drivers might look up from their phones to notice her on the road. She grabbed the kitten and awkwardly manoeuvred her bike and the tiny cat to safety on the side of the road. I wheeled my bike over to join her and to survey the scene. She was bleeding everywhere, the kitten had savagely scratched and bitten her in its frenzied terror. Its back two legs were completely fucked and it was a real mangey little fella. The cat had to die. The Dutch woman was pretty rattled and implored me to dig around in her bag for tissues, meanwhile I thought only of our mercy killing predicament. One of the Brits from our workplace suddenly appeared on his bike, for a moment I was relieved, thinking to myself, “now someone else can take the lead”, but he doddered around looking like he deeply regretted stopping by. A Lao tuktuk driver wandered over to see what the fuss was about and seemed confused about why we were bothering with the cat at all.

I tried to convey what I was thinking to our bung little crew. We needed to kill the cat, it was definitely going to die no matter what so the most humane thing to do would be to kill it. The foreigners agreed, the tuktuk driver smiled serenely. There was a fountain nearby, I thought we should drown the cat. I was pretty confident that I could do it but then it occurred to me that we were in the land of potentially rabid animals and if I got bitten or scratched by the cat then I would need to get a series of rabies injections. I was leaving the country in two weeks and was not keen on trying to organise the subsequent immunisations in a new country. I explained my reluctance, and gently tried to urge the Dutch woman to do it since she was already scratched and bitten and would have to get the rabies shots anyway. She wasn’t keen. I felt frustrated because had she not “rescued” the cat from the road it would have just gotten run over and properly killed soon enough. We stood dumbly around the screaming, crippled kitten.

“Can’t you smash it with a big rock?” asked the Brit.

I contemplated this idea and the Tuktuk driver wandered around aimlessly, apparently hunting for a rock, but also possibly just bored and taking the opportunity to execute a meandering escape.

I was ready to drown an animal wrapped in a cardigan, I was ready to put a large vehicle on top of an animal but I could tell that I wasn’t ready to straight bludgeon an animal with a rock.

“I just don’t think I can.”

We were winding down, our ideas became less and less likely to be carried out. As we were revisiting the drowning idea for the tenth time, the kitten, seeking refuge dragged itself under a nearby hedge. It was sufficiently obscured from view for us to adopt an out of sight, out of mind approach and get out of there. As we got on our bikes I said with ashamed optimism “Cats are pretty tough, that guy will probably adapt to its new life with only two functioning legs”.

No one agreed, the focus was definitely on the Dutch woman’s injuries by this point. I think I carried the burden of the mercy kill fail shame.

In retrospect, I wish I had just bashed the damn cat. I’m ready for the next one.

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse Part III

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse

Part III – Laos and Lisboa

 After Melbourne, things definitely got better and less rodent ridden. I also upgraded my life partner from one who made my life into chaos to one who encouraged me to be a better me, so that was great. I lived in a few share houses before Loki got brave enough to allow me to share his space. He had seen my talent for creating instant piles of things everywhere and my concerning lack of interest in doing dishes and laundry and other very boring things like that. He trained me with the classic ‘lead by example’ method. Sometimes I find myself choosing to ignore an obvious chore that needs to be done but a little voice in my head pipes up and asks ‘What would Loki do?’ and I sigh to myself because every time Loki would just do the chore, and do it properly. Dumb Loki.

Loki was offered a law job in Vientiane, the capital of The People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, so off we went on a new adventure to a new land of new pests. All the pests in Laos seemed a bit more sinister because I suspected everything would carry some kind of debilitating disease. Mosquitos were definitely an enemy, our housemate Tom assured us that we would definitely get dengue sometime during our stint in Vientiane, however our house and garden had been fumigated fairly recently because he himself had had a dengue dalliance. Any dog in the street was to be viewed as potential rabies threat, the cats were just gross and mangey, the geckos were generally nice guys but the big ones frequently delivered huge and surprisingly stinky shits in the house. Whilst I’m listing pests I might as well mention the drunk road users, the sober road users, the corrupt police that will fine you for made up traffic infringements, eternally delicate stomach situations, inadequate water management, ticks and of course, mice. Before I get into my Lao mouse story I need first tell you about the light of my adult life, Subi the Lab cross Rottie (check out #subithelabxrottie if you want an injection of joy in your day).

Subi, otherwise known as ‘Sniffer’, ‘Mr Sniff’, ‘Soobs’, ‘Sniffington’, ‘The Water Buffalo’ and ‘Bonehead’ is a big black dog weighing in at 50 kilos, probably because he has a heart of the purest gold. His interests include eating and sniffing trash, pretending not to eat trash but actually eating trash really fast, getting on the couch, walks, Tom getting home, swimming, birthday meals prepared by Prae (our other housemate), playing hide and seek and lying on the floor. He doesn’t like getting brushed, kong biscuits, really loud noises, not getting a treat at bedtime, losing sight of his mates when walking, not being allowed on the couch, trying to go down steep stairs and mice trying to take over his homestead. An unlucky part of dog life in Laos is dealing with ticks. Poor Subi would get so many ticks and we would try to pull them all off but they just kept on coming and coming. Luckily they didn’t seem to care about humans but they would appear all over the house and we would need to get the place tick sprayed. Tick spraying was so rough, everything thing in the house would be covered with toxic residue that would make your skin burn for weeks. Despite the poisoning, we really loved living in this house, Tom and Prae were great housemates and we are all so obsessed with Subi that we have a group chat called the Subi Appreciation Society.

Subi contemplating his birthday meal.

Part of life in Laos as an expat was having a ‘Maeban’ (house cleaner). Our first one hated it when I suddenly appeared. Her name was Peng and she worked five days a week, until my arrival she had the whole place to herself all day and could trundle around doing whatever she liked. When there was a jobless Australian lying around the house all day she was understandably put out and kept asking me optimistically when I was going to go back to Australia. Upon my arrival she stopped making Loki’s bed, I guess she thought I should do it (I mean, I know I should but when you are paying someone to do it, they gotta do it right?). She also took to turning a portrait of me that my mum had painted around so that it faced the wall. I felt weird being at home lazily watching Netflix and pole dancing with a silent enemy pretending to dust around me and she was dropping the ball in many aspects of her job requirements so we decided to cut her back to 3 days a week, it was my job to tell her. She straight didn’t believe me and just said no. It was amazing how quickly complaining about the help became a commonplace part of my life. I remember the first time I whinged about Peng to friends in Adelaide and they were like ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mr Tom came home, fired Peng (I won this round), Prae designed a comprehensive plan to find a replacement and we ended up with Bua. I quite liked Bua but she wasn’t a great Maeban either. I certainly don’t have a natural flair for housework but she was so un-intuitive that I was constantly astonished. She managed to bash three identical holes in the fly screen with the iron.

Even in a house with paid cleaner, and three adults who were responsible and tidy, and one adult who was trying to ‘do what Loki would do’ WE STILL HAD MICE! I was scared of these mice because I was certain they would be carrying some kind of tropical mouse malaria. They were getting into everything, eating through Tupperware to get at rice, shitting on the countertops, wandering all over the pots and pans. Luckily, we had a secret weapon, Subi the Mouse Hunter. Subi would get so jacked if he spotted a mouse and would spend the following few hours greedily huffing mousey scents off every surface imaginable. He did the biggest, longest sniffs; Tom would encourage him ‘ Get it Subi!’ and he would a big surge of mouse hunting energy and do another lap of the kitchen. (click here to see Subi having a good ole mouse sniff hunt) He was so big and the mice were so small, it was such a good joke, that big, beautiful Bonebrain would never manage to catch a mouse.

Then he caught a mouse.

Unfortunately, only Prae and I were home when it happened. Subi was behind the kitchen counter and we could hear weird slurping sounds and faint squeaking. Worried that the mouse might escape Subi’s clutches and run at us so we stood on chairs and surveyed the situation. We looked at each other in a panic and Prae whipped out her phone to document Subi’s big victory. Eventually we dismounted our chairs and peeked over the bench to see what Subi was up to. There we saw a cute little mouse lying in a big puddle of dog slobber, eyes wide, tiny chest beating hard. Subi was so proud of himself, he couldn’t believe it and we showered him with praise and Bok Doks (Subi snacks). But that left us with the problem of the mouse. It didn’t really feel right to let Subi keep mashing it into various different nooks and crannies until he eventually crushed it do death. I wished Loki was there because he is great dealing with inconveniences for me. I took a deep breath because  I knew what Loki would do.

Mercy Kill.

‘Prae we gotta kill this mouse.’ Prae’s little face went from full of dog pride to clouded with business mode. I didn’t fuck around, I got a plastic bag and put the mouse in it. Prae distracted the mouse hunter with Bok Doks and praise. I took the mouse outside and filled the bag with water and then held it submerged in a big pond for good measure. Satisfied with my mercy kill, I tossed the mouse in the compost and went back inside to join the Bok Dok party.


This brings me to my current living arrangement. I live in Lisbon with Loki, Shanelle from Canada and Vasco from Porto. Probably the weirdest things that go on in my house are Vasco related antics. He’s a self-described ‘relax guy do Porto’ who works insanely long hours as a tour guide. He’s always bringing home regional specialties or fruit and veg procured from relatives up north. He is no good at Ikea furniture, he doesn’t like tap water, he hates greed and capitalist mindsets but he loves gambling online, he loves smoking weed and snoozing so he always falls asleep and loses his winnings. He invented a soup that I call ‘broccoli island’, it’s just pumpkin soup with massive broccolis thrown in, he likes the broccoli to have a crunch. He also has a collection of about 300 lanyards. Shanelle also doesn’t excel when it comes to Ikea furniture but she makes up for it by being even tidier than Loki and should be commended for her seemingly endless energy for nightlife activities. All good stuff.

Shockingly, even on the fourth floor of a central Lisbon apartment, we were confronted with a mouse problem. They were the cutest mice you ever did see, we named them all Ferguson. These guys were too brave, one even ran across a chopping block as I was cutting up mushrooms. It only took about 15 minutes to catch one using the box and string method. Being big hearted vegetarians we didn’t want to kill little Ferguson so we took him outside and left him in an abandoned lot with a big hunk of ‘sorry for catching you’ cheese. We returned a few hours later to see if Ferguson had eaten his cheese, he hadn’t. Either he was in too deep a state of shock to bother with it or, he had lost his trust in humans and crawled away to die. Either way, we realised that this seemingly humane way of dealing with mice really just made them suffer for a lot longer before they eventually died slowly, somewhere weird and different with tainted sorry cheese. Loki went out and bought a traditional snap trap and we murdered the rest of the Fergusons in cold blood. They died doing what they loved, mouse stuff.







The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse Part II

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse

Part II – Melbourne


My next rodent infested house was luckily so messy no one really noticed that we had rats. Once we all moved out, the house was renovated and they found an entire rat civilisation just below the surface of all the trash. Apparently it was quite a well organised society, they put us to shame.

Following that was the mouse saga of my dilapidated, possibly haunted Melbourne sharehouse in Coburg. I was living with my precariously drug addicted boyfriend who I will call Barry for the sake of this story, and our bong-smoking, grocery-stealing, hippy queen Kat. Kat was definitely the boss, but she also had a lot of really tough shit going on in her life and it was easy to forget that she was just as bung as everyone else and that she couldn’t fix everything. Barry was useless in most situations except for spending all his money on drugs and needing to be fed. I’m writing this with the bitterness of getting older and knowing better, but at the time I was very sympathetic and just wanted to help him and have an interesting life. We found our house on Gumtree, our landlords were semi-affectionally nicknamed ‘MickMark’ because we had no idea who we were dealing with, their contact was so sporadic and confusing. No one showed up to the viewing to meet us so we called ‘Mark’ from the listing on Gumtree, he just told us to break in round the back and see if we liked the place.

$400 a week, four bedroom, no bond, paint the walls? Smash the windows? No problem, the whole place is coming down as soon as all the paperwork is in order.

Dream house.


When we moved in we discovered that someone had ripped all the copper pipes out and none of the plumbing was working. We bathed in an ice cold spray from a broken pipe out the side of the house. We went to the local pub, the Moorland Hotel if we thought we might like to do a poo that didn’t have to be flushed with a bucket of water. We spent days trying to contact Mark, to no avail. In the meantime, Kat called upon the hordes of hippies lining up to do her bidding and along came Marty the Feng Shui plumber. I didn’t like him at all, there was just something about him that put me off, but of course the other two were seemingly wild about the guy. With Kat I could never tell if she genuinely liked someone or if she had detected the value that a good relationship with them would award to her team. She was always looking out for good eggs and good opportunities. Barry was just an atrociously bad judge of character. He was just so taken with the concept of ‘Feng Shui Plumbing’ that he was instantly irritatingly keen on old mate Marty. It turned out that Feng Shui plumbing was garden hose and cheap metal clampy things in place of copper piping. We were invoiced $400. I was unimpressed, scratch a hippie, smell a capitalist.

Then a guy called Mick texted us about the plumbing. Turns out our landlords didn’t really understand a lot of stuff about landlording and straight out refused to reimburse us the $400. The plumbing situation later deteriorated into an electrical hazard. Every time we showered we had to make sure to stand on a rubber flip flop on the floor when we touched the tap. Failing to do so would result in an electric shock strong enough to make it momentarily difficult to remove your hand from the metal tap.

The house was basically a swamp, it was definitely housing some weird juju and French people tried to squat in it. One morning I was lying in bed watching gossip girl when I heard a little ‘yooo hooooooo?’ at the door. Begrudgingly I dragged myself out of my nest and went to the door wrapped in my doona. ‘Hello! This is a squat yes?’ As I opened the door the French were immediately within the doorway, heads eagerly surveying the interior of the house. ‘Our squat is down the street but we just got kicked out today’, eye contact is made and they silently wait for me to invite them to join our squat. ‘Uh we actually pay money to live here’. The French faces are cast with disbelief and I close the door and crawl back to the bed to write a Facebook post about what just happened.

Here is the front porch, possibly what led the French to believe our palace was a squat. We later got in trouble for this because apparently it was a hazard for people driving past, they were too impressed by how cool and edgy our house was that they forgot to drive properly.

And here is a snapshot of the ‘Black and White Room’. MickMark were so taken with our wall painting efforts that they brought their families around unannounced on Christmas Eve for an ‘art viewing’.

This house ended up becoming very He Died With A Felafel In His Hand-esque after Barry and I moved out. Kat and the new tenants hatched a plan to get out of paying the rent. They created a very unreliable, very irresponsible and very unreachable housemate called Dylan. Dylan was always stealing all the rent money or skipping town when the rent was due. Knowing that MickMark were incompetent and that we had already made such a huge mark on the house, there was no way they’d ever find new tenants. Dylan’s fictional betrayals escalated and many a dollar was saved by the savvy Kat.

I realise I have digressed from the all-important mouse theme, but it’s crucial to set the scene. This house was different from my other sharehouses, it was a bit gross and it was a pretty messy but there was no chook bucket and Kat was pretty good at reigning in complete chaos when she wanted to. There was something deeply rotten in the house and I think that gave the incoming mice population some kind of dark power I had never experienced before. Upon reflection, I am not even sure that I won this war, I guess I made it out alive, that’s something.

One of my best mates, Staz came to live with us for a while. This was very good for me because even though we were both a bit munt and scummy, we were also just way less bogged down by ourselves than the others. We could find fun in any situation, playing the recorder through a nostril, cheesecake, photos of Jennifer Aniston, spying and most importantly, mouse hunting. Of course I boasted about the tried and tested box and stick method but when put into practice, we couldn’t catch anything. These Melbourne mice were way too wily. We experimented a lot, most notably we tried out a bucket placed under a cardboard tube, balanced artfully so that when a mouse went into the tube to get at the peanut butter bait inside they would tumble down into the bucket and be trapped (see diagram).

We actually caught quite a few mice using this method, however there was an unexpected complication, the mice KEPT JUMPING OUT OF THE BUCKET. We saw it happen! We toyed with adding water to the bucket but, alas, we just weren’t ready to kill, despite my having thrown a mouse off a bridge. Eventually we got one mouse before it jumped out of the bucket and proudly traipsed off down the street to release it in someone else’s garden. Then things went a bit dark.

Staz moved out and Barry and I kept having terrible fights that were largely me getting upset because he kept taking shit loads of drugs with reckless abandon and then complaining about his terrible mental health but also refusing to accept that the drugs were making the situation infinitely worse. After discovering he cared so little about what I thought that he had he used my phone to try to buy heroin I decided to leave for a few days. I went to stay with Staz in a nice mouse free zone. There was a chlamydia ridden galah at her house but that’s a can of worms I ain’t opening right now. After a few days hanging out with semi-sane people Barry eventually started sending me nice texts and seemed to be in better spirits so I deemed it safe to return home. I was working fulltime at a shoe store and it was definitely better for my routine to live at my own house. When I walked in the front door and wandered into the lounge room I was surprised by how much darker and danker the house seemed. Something weird had gone down and I didn’t much care for the vibes I was picking up on. There was a tent in the middle of the lounge, entrance pointed towards Barry’s ‘office’. His office was a damp little room tacked onto the side of the house where he kept his computer, hid his drugs, picked old bits of weed out of the carpet and sometimes pissed in buckets to avoid interacting with the outside world. Barry heard me enter the room and his head suddenly appeared at the office door at a horizontal angle, blonde hair blasting off in all directions and brown eyes glinting with religious fervour.

His long body followed his head in one big long, clumsy slither and his story was in full swing before I even knew what it was about.

There had been a serious mouse offensive, otherworldly in fact. The humans no longer control the space, hence the tent of course, it’s the only safe haven, we’re sleeping in the tent tonight it’s the only safe option. It all started when he was squatted in front of his computer, no doubt contemplating some kind of complex and unproductive programming endeavour when he felt a presence in the room. He turned around and discovered a gang of mice staring at him. There was a moment of silent acknowledgement before the mice struck. They had formed an arrow head formation and charged the unsuspecting Barry. Outnumbered and terrified Barry kicked out wildly and ran for his life. Realising that he could never win this round, he set up his trusty tent and bunkered down for the next few days waiting for his treacherous girlfriend to return and listen to his wonderfully dramatic tale and maybe cook him a nice hot meal.

Not sure what to believe about the humans vs mice situation, I spent that night in the tent not wanting to become a victim of the arrowhead formation. I quizzed Kat the next day about the war that waged within our walls and she seemed largely unconcerned. I made Barry pack up the tent.


Part III coming soon!