Monday, March 28, 2022

Michael's 'descriptive writing' 2013

We are trying to cut down on some clutter by throwing out some of our many stacks of old school exercise books. This is very difficult, because every one is full of gems.

Michael, aged 9, was asked to write descriptive sentences. Here are three, which all got a simple red tick.

The speedy orange racecar races quickly and noisily. 
The hungry Tassie devil stalks steathily and silently.   
The cowardly peanut-butter-clad knight dies slowly and painfully.   

Friday, January 28, 2022

Mt Direction

I have always been fond of Mount Direction – this very recognisable double-humped hill that rises sharply from the eastern shore of the Derwent. It’s a way upriver from the city, but you can see it from a lot of vantage points. These first two pics are from paddling excursions in Cornelian Bay and off Taroona High School, respectively.

I've also drawn it many times; its one of those shapes I have in my head and I can knock out an inaccurate but recognisable Selfs Point Fuel Terminal and Mt Direction scribble in five minutes.

Anyway – now I have climbed it finally. Michael and I set off mid-morning on Australia Day holiday, 26 January (by the time you read this maybe the day will have been changed). It was a great day for strenuous climbing. 

You park at Risdon Brook Dam, stroll around the left side of the dam and then its gets confusing for a bit but before long you turn a corner and there is a slope like this: / that just goes right to the top. It is hellishly steep. The official page for the walk with map etc is here, and it rates it as four Difficulty Units out of a possible five.

But fortunately it was a cool overcast morning and we both enjoyed it a lot. We took a LOT of water and I would recommend that (you can fill bottles at the car park). But it's only 4km to the top, it doesn't take that long. 

We saw heaps of wallabies on the lower slopes, quite used to people. We didn’t know they were there in a lot of cases until we got almost within touching distance and suddenly one would launch itself out of the grass then watch us from five metres away. We saw one very brown echidna. And we were often mobbed by butterflies, common orange ones that might have been Australian Painted Ladies.

That peak over there is Gunners Quoin, which is a 17km return walk from the same start point. One to think about for the future.

At the top is a cairn and a ‘Communications Station’ ie a shed with aerials. The track just vaguely peters out just below it. 

This is the view from the top, looking north/upriver. I recognised Claremont Golf Club and the Bridgewater Bridge but I was really struggling for other landmarks. These are Hobart’s far northern suburbs and it’s not my patch, man.

The only time I feel like taking a selfie is when I have just climbed something. That's why we look smug.

I assumed that there'd be a clear track from the cairn at the top to a good view of the city; but not so. We picked our way over broken wood and tussocks to get this view to the south. A lot of the city is obscured by the Queens Domain, and of course the misty conditions don't help. But I wanted to at least see the white tanks on Self's Point which always go hand in hand with Mt Direction in my mind.

We climbed back down carefully, with no slips or trips. We did get slightly lost but Michael sorted us out. I got the feeling that the tracks were mostly used for going elsewhere and not many people bothered climbing to the top; possibly because the city view is not all that clear. Anyway – we both loved it and I am keen to go again on a clearer day.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Deleted Tweets

 So I set up a thing to delete my old tweets. Just wipe everything up to about a month ago. And to regularly check in and delete as required.

Something has gone wrong and a bunch of tweets from 2019 have bobbed up.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Soothing / beeping

My psychologist’s practice is in a light industrial area. Earlier, I was in the waiting room and scribbling in my diary as the usual soothing ambient vibes wafted from the stereo. I was only there five minutes or so. Every 30 seconds a reversing forklift next door would enter the audio mix.

W h o o shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Plink. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...

Ooooooooooooohhh. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh -ah. Plink. Shhhh BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...

Ssssshhhhh BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...BEEP...

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tuesday pterodactyl bits

After a sweaty run and no breakfast this morning, I am now the lightest I have been since about 2010-ish. 97.4kg is still overweight but I am hopeful I can get lighter and also get my cholesterol down by my next check in January. I don't have a target weight but under 95 would be amazing. I am too slack to measure my waistline but I must, as that's more important for blokes than your weight by fair.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Michael's school journey ends

Michael has finished his Grade 12 exams* and had his school formal last week. His last event like this was the Grade 10 leavers dinner, which wasn’t a huge success. But he’s a more outgoing and confident person now, and he was looking forward to this one with just a touch of nerves.

I took him to Les Lees to hire a suit. They are always really lovely in there, and they made everything very easy. Michael went straight for a tux without seriously considering any other options. 

We both really enjoyed the experience, which was quick and painless. Elf was in charge of the next step: Michael was keen to get some colour in his hair for the big night. Just a few centimetres of the ends of his long hair. He ended up with a bit more than that!

Everyone met in St David’s Park before the dinner for posing and promenading. Dinner was on the Elizabeth St Pier, and Michael said it went really well, he had fun, and repaired to his mates’ house after for pizza and movies. We were just so happy for him, having a fun night, looking great and feeling good.

A few days later we went to the University of Tasmania open day, and Michael sorted out his enrolment in a Bachelor of Arts. His results will come out on December 15. He feels quietly confident, and we are all quite buoyed by the ATAR expert Marcus telling us Michael has nothing to worry about.

*Michael has an extra 'exam' on Sunday, but it's more of an aptitude test to gain a certificate of proficiency in Chinese.

Mum on the drums

On Saturday Michael and Elf and I went along to see Mum's ukelele band play. We sat with Sally and Marcus's girlfriend Miranda … we’re keen to keep her close to the family while he's away for three months.

The band is called the Fuschia House players. I didn’t know why but the leader explained it started with a small group who would meet at the Fuschia House in the Botanical Gardens to play. There were about 25 regular ukeleles with a ukelele banjo in there somewhere; accompanied by a pianist, a bass ukelele and our dear mum on the drums. Mum also played ukelele and sang a solo!

The program hummed along. It included Down Along The Dixie Line by Gillian Welch, a beautifully sad song which they sped up and made quite jolly. Mum introduced herself singing and playing Whispering Grass. I think this might be mum's first time ever singing solo for a crowd. She was a little wavery while speaking, but from her first note she sang loud and clear as a bell. Sally and I were so proud.

On the drums she was in her element! Mum has always had great rhythm – she bought herself some bongos way back in the sixties during the international bongo craze, which are still in the family. During her years as a potter she also made her own ceramic drums. She is always drumming around the house, as long as I can remember. In the last year she bought herself a 2nd hand snare drum and some other gear. On Saturday she presented a very Charlie Watts figure as she held down the beat with the brushes, beaming, low key but faultless.

These are stills from Sally’s short video of the encore, Blue Suede Shoes. We love ya mum!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

An afternoon in the study with dad

I tried to help Dad recover some passwords this afternoon. We didn't make much progress but it was nice to spend some time in his study/computer cave with him.

At one point he was poking at his phone and it was making announcements. 
I asked - What is your memory full with Dad?
Dad - Advertisements for memory cleaners.

In this photo behind Dad he is playing the son of Macduff in Macbeth, aged 12. He looks a lot like Marcus, although Marcus says he looks like Michael. I think this character has one line. Assassins arrive to kill Macduff who has fled. They call Macduff a traitor. 

Macduff junior says “Thou liest, thou shag-eared villain!” 
The assassin says: “What, you egg!” before stabbing the unfortunate youth. Dad vaguely remembers being asked to yell "O mother!"

Sydney 1970s and 80s recollections

  • Three cheeseburgers at McDonalds. Was my defiition of a perfect meal, for years.
  • Auntie Lottie at Ashfield?
  • Auntie Eve at Chatswood and 2nd/3rd cousins. Jeremy?
  • Boat ramps, mussels. Fishing off Drummoyne jetty - caught leatherjacket and tiny bream.
  • Ferry commuting, looking down at jellyfish. Hydrofoil to Manly.
  • Ferry race.
  • Crates of soft drink from Franklins. Had to pop two holes on top to drink.
  • Wheat Chex.
  • Buying pranks at Paddy's Market. Lost my leather Washington DC souvenir wallet Poppa gave me - someone returned it??
  • Driving to Wendy's or Pete & Chris's. Delhi Road, Channel 10, Mars Field.
  • Waratah Park - where Skippy was filmed. We saw ‘Skippy’, bounced on trampolines for the first time.
  • Walk from Iron Cove Bridge to middle of Gladesville Bridge. Footpath unbearably hot.
  • Wiseman’s Ferry Road, Cattai - dinosaurs?
  • Phil Thaux Chemist
  • RSL with Poppa. Birkenhead Point with Poppa. I bought a rubik's cube in the gist shop and went back the next day for a book on how to do it.
  • Learning to swim in Drummoyne pool. Mrs Gill – flowery rubber headgear.
  • John and Isla Konrads one lane pool next door.
  • Early morning cartoons and Gene Autry.
  • 1985 watching simulcast Midnight Oil concert Oils On The Water and recording it on my Akai deck; Poppa was worried it would damage his TV.
  • Balmain market, I bought t-shirts.
  • Festival of Sydney
  • Boat trip with friend of Poppa's.
  • Catching a bus in Victoria Road, riding to the city standing up and slipping around in sweaty thongs.

I remember driving past this place with the weirdest name: Peak Freans.
It looked like this below, but once It looked like these above.

Now it's a Bunnings.

Hobbyco shop George Street.

“Westfield Burwood was built on a slope which meant that it was the first centre that facilitated an incline mall design. This meant that the centre was a gently-ascending grade and that the levels were connected via a system of ramps, stairs and escalators. The centre also featured a circular stage and an ornate air fountain which shoots controlled compressed air with metallic coloured balls in the air.” - Wikipedia