Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The best advice I never took

My mother is a very wise woman. Over the years, she has given me a lot of advice, some of which I’ve even taken. The only independence is financial independence, comes to mind. Learn to say no to your children. Don’t trust a man in white shoes – oh wait, that was Grandma.

Unfortunately, there has been other advice I’ve, er, disregarded. Like the time she told me not to wear the pink stockings with the pink boots and the Daisy Duke shorts. All I can say is that it was the 1980s. But perhaps it is the reason behind my penchant for basics.

The latest piece of advice that has fallen by the wayside happened quite by accident. “Don’t buy appliances that beep at you,” she said to me one morning last year when I was enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen of the family homestead. I laughed. Sure I’d do that. Who would?

She would. That’s who. Her microwave emits an annoying (and regular) beeping noise if you don’t open the door as soon as it has finished cooking. It’s incredibly irritating. But I smiled to myself, thinking it was a parental aberration. After all, this is the lady who has a very glamorous clock that plays showtunes on the hour, complete with visual effects. Also the woman who has a collection of elves/gnomes/Christmas trees that sing various rock’n’roll tunes. Loudly. If anyone’s going to attract things that beep, it’s my mother.

Then I went home and realised that my fridge is one such appliance. Leave the door open too long, fail to close it up tight, and it beeps long and loud to let you know. Oh well, I thought, it’s only one, putting the whole conversation out of my mind.

A few weeks ago, I bought a new microwave. Guess what? It beeps. I checked the box – nowhere does it advertise beeping. I read the instruction book – not so much as a pip, a chirp or a ping. How’s a girl to know? It should be writ large somewhere that the electrical item you’re buying will give you an electronic ‘hurry up’ if you don’t do your job right.

It’s just what every mum needs. Another demanding little voice in her ear.

It’s not just the audible beeping either. My computer is on 24/7, offering non-stop access to all the fun of the internet. I lose hours when I just ‘pop on’ to check emails or visit Facebook or Twitter. Somehow I feel that if I walk past without looking I’ll miss something. If that’s not an inaudible beep, I don’t know what is.

So yesterday, I decided to pull the plug. Literally. I turned it off, went outside (away from the beeping microwave and fridge) and watered the garden. The roses are enjoying one last flush of flowers thanks to the Indian summer. Purple spikes of salvia, pale grey lavender leaves, sunset-coloured grevillea… Without the buzz of technology to distract me, I was able to soak up the colours, sights and sounds of my little patch. Especially the sounds. It was so quiet out there that I could almost hear the rustle of the huge huntsman spider that’s creeping across the front of the Fibro v-e-e-ry slowly (been there for days).

And I remembered another piece of Mum’s advice: Don’t project, Allison. Get on with now. Or words to that effect.

Good advice. I really should listen to my mother more often.


  1. My washing machine smiles and tells me to have a nice day - that I can cope with - but beeps, not so much. I turn down the sound on my computer and rarely use the microwave. That said, I am loving the sound of your mum's showtunes clock - marvelous!

  2. Yes, marvelous is certainly one way to describe it. You have a McWashing machine - next it will be asking you if you want fries with that!

  3. I think sometimes beeping appliances are incredibly helpful. Our washing machine beeps. Infact it keeps beeping, on and off, until the lid is lifted or it is switched off. Annoying perhaps, but the truth is without such an audible reminder I'd be quite happy to ignore it completely. And sadly the washing hasn't yet figured out how to put itself out on the clothes line. One day, one day...

  4. I don't mind the putting out - it's the bringing in that I'd like automated. But I take your point with the beeping. It's true that I'd forget my head if it wasn't screwed on these days, so whatever's heating in the microwave would have little chance of survival without the beep. I still think they could let you know in advance though...

  5. The beeps are definitely annoying. Pity you can't programme appliances to say, 'Mum, Mum, Muuuuummmmm!'. Then you'd be able to ignore them quite effectively because you've had so much practise!

  6. "Somehow I feel that if I walk past without looking I’ll miss something." Yes! Maybe, like you, I need to unplug and literally get out and smell the roses for a few hours. I think I've managed to silence or break (on accident, naturally) all the other "beeps" in our house, but the inaudible beep of the Internet calls all day long.

  7. As of this weekend I'm unplugging all beeping objects including my mobile for ten days. (Oh sweet Lord how will I survive?) I'll let you and your mother know how it goes.....

  8. "Like the time she told me not to wear the pink stockings with the pink boots and the Daisy Duke shorts. All I can say is that it was the 1980s. But perhaps it is the reason behind my penchant for basics."

    Further to your other post about not having photos of your youth.......I do. Be afraid, be very afraid [evil giggle]. Bribery with chocolate may yield the prints though!

  9. Dear God. Sending large shipments immediately.

  10. When my son was little, if he heard the fridge beeping because the door had been left ajar, he would yell out "Watch out Mum, the fridge is about to reverse"!

  11. Can this be so retro that it was before I found you? I cannot really imagine my blogging world without popping into the Fibro, beeps and all.

    (I told our microwave to "shut the fuck up" once. It was when Lexie was just learning to become verbose. Not a great move Mum. Lexie is best off NOT taking this mother's advice...)

  12. Oh yes our Microwave beeps like that and our fridge if you leave the door open too long. The washing machine and dishwasher too.

    Is life that busy that we need to be beeped at all the time? It would seem so.

    Good on you Allison for taking a few moments to enjoy the sounds of life as we should appreciate it. :)


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