Friday, October 28, 2005

House progress

We just got a quote for $300,000 to build our new house, which is beyond us. We await more quotes.

There was a spot of good news this morning- the surveyor has finally done the survey, so now we can get drawings for the foundations. This was followed immediately by a correction - no, the surveyor has done a detailed and painstaking analysis of  xxx Strickland Avenue, instead of our block at xxx Cascade Road (it is one long road with a few name changes).

Easy mistake to make, IF YOU'RE AN IDIOT.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Silly Streets

Do you live in a Street or a Road? An Avenue? Something fancy like a Court or a something nouveau riche like a Chase? I just registered with an Australian site that offered (among many many others) the following:

Fire Track
Right of Way

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The way they taught in 1912

Races of Mankind
The economic importance of race, as of religion, is very great, For instance, in the case of the Negro, climatic influences – acting direct and through the typical food – lead to the early closing of the 'seams' between the bones of the skull; and thus the development of the brain is arrested, and the adult is essentially unintellectual. On the other hand he is naturally 'acclimatized' against numerous diseases and other conditions of life and work which are very adverse to the White man. He is, therefore, of great use as a manual labourer in a 'steamy' climate e.g. on a cane-sugar plantation.
School Economic Atlas by J.G.Bartholomew, pub. Clarendon Press 1912

Its pretty handy when you have a colony to run and you can comfortably assign the native population to do the spadework as they are "essentially unintellectual". If young Brits were digesting this stuff at school, it is no wonder when they grew up and fanned out to do the work of the Empire they took a sense of innate superiority with them.

I'M the allies, YOU have to be the Germans.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Patch therapy

Marcus will be wearing a patch for an hour each day for the next eight weeks. We might have to get him a cutlass, a parrot and some sort of corsair or perhaps a small barque. I guess Michael, Giz and Hattie and Dog will be his crew. Elf can be the British Admiralty and I shall be the unpredictable Spanish fleet, carrying golden treasure (Snack Right biscuits) from the New World (kitchen) back to Old Spain (our bedroom).

Double cheese entendre (with fries)

Mum and Dad stayed with us Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday evening Sally and Matt came up for a big family dinner. Elf made fantastic lasagne. Marcus was objecting to it, so Sally decided to emphasise the positives. He likes cheese, he likes peas, so her approach was obvious. "Come on, its chock full of cheesy peaness!" The assembled family spluttered, squawked and snickered, while Sally went back over what she'd said in her head to work out why it was so funny.

What's the matter darling?

Marcus had his knickers in a twist about something yesterday and was sitting on the floor blubbing. Michael has observed and listened and knows what to do in this situation. He patted Marcus's hair and said "What's the matter darling? Its OK. Its OK."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Walking to work

I've walked three days in a row, all lovely mornings too. Its like climbing over a W - lots of steep ups and downs. Here is a picture of one bit (no photoshop work at all).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stuff they say

This is becoming a straight "kids say the darndest things" page. Its not the intention, honestly. Anyway - yesterday Marcus was carrying on about one of his recent interests - boxing.

Marcus - "People can get hurt doing boxing can't they?"
Elf (driving) - "yes"
Marcus - "They can get cut and fall down can't they?"
Elf - "yes"
Marcus - "We don't like boxers"
Elf (thinking it is unfair to blame the participants)- "well.."
(long pause)
Marcus - "But we like cardboard boxes".

Monday, October 17, 2005

Vocab update 2

Michael: "Door!" "Window!" "Capsicum!"

Michael comes in holding a video cover and grizzlingg.
Elf: "Did you snap your fingers in the cover? Or are your teeth hurting?"
Michael: "Ummmmm.... not sure."

Marcus: "Michael is inconsiderating. Inconsiderating is when you do something and someone else doesnt want you to".

We bought a digital camera finally on Saturday, then took it for a stroll along Marieville Esplanade in the daylight-savings twilight.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Jigsaw Queen

Elf was tidying up, putting jigsaw pieces in place prior to putting it all away. Michael was awestruck by her jigsawing abilities. He stared fixedly at her magic hands, saying "Clever mummy. Very very clever mummy".

Dadness at the Beach

I had a day of full-time Dadness on Wednesday. Allison was on holiday and we forgot about it. It was Elf's Wednesday on (she works a 5 day fortnight) so I looked after the boys. It was warmish so we hit the beach with the two giant earth movers from the toy library. They turned out to be duds in the sand - couldnt get any of my slurry out of the toy cement mixer, and couldnt dig any decent holes with the backhoe/bulldozer. We did what we could manually but the beach looked pretty much the same when we left as when we arrived. The boys were good, Michael didnt even consider scamping down to the water.

Later that day I took Marcus to the opthamologist. He said Marcus won't need glasses after all which is great. But he has a very slight turn which might need to be corrected with some patch therapy. Pirate time.

Monday, October 10, 2005


We came across some cannibals in a silly rhyme book. They met someone called Hannibal, but they said they were going to call him Stew. Having explained this to Marcus, we are now fielding questions daily about cannibals and cannibalism. Why did people eat people?

I have stressed that this doesnt happen any more, [although someone just told me that its a social problem in the Congo still.] I dodged the general question of why. Marcus answered his own question thus: "I suppose they didnt have any carrots or anything".

He returned to the subject yesterday. "Why didn't they just go to the shop?"

Miscellaneous weekend verbiage

Marcus at breakfast "You're my friend dad. You're my big toasted friend. You're my toast puddle friend".
Marcus at 5am "Wouldnt it be funny if greens turned into beans?" - He has no memory of saying this
Marcus looking at photo of young Cam and Adrian from next door: "They are good men arent they?"

Friday, October 07, 2005


Lots of chat from Marcus about skiing this morning. First water skiing - how do you do it? I told him what I know, but I have never done it. He chipped in with a few details that made me think they've been reading a book on it at school. Then onto snow skiing. How do you do that? I've actually never snow-skied either (am I sounding like a bit of a stick-in-the-mud?) but I told him what I know. I mentioned that Grandma Ruth had done water skiing. She grew up in Sydney where they go in for all that hedonistic stuff. Has Grandad John done water skiing? No, I don't think so. he grew up here in Tasmania where its cold.

Marcus said that he would ask Grandma Ruth, next time he was visiting, to let Grandad John have a turn at water skiing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Wyllie-Watsons

We dropped in on Lynn and Scott and their kids Tom and Isobel in Launceston on our way south on Sunday. Marcus and Tom are similar ages and seem to have heaps in common. Isobel is 5 I think, but all of them (Michael too) played nicely out of sight while mums and dads yakked. It was great. They are exceptionally nice people, both primary school teachers. I have known Lynn since we were about 14.

Tom is a collector, and very fond of flowers. Marcus also loves to pick flowers, often pulls them apart but seems generally interested in them and excited by them. He did a really A grade drawing yesterday of some geranium blossoms. We TRY to praise the method and not the result (as advised by our parenting seminar) but when the result is really quite surprising its hard to just brush it aside.

Anyway. It was a lovely short visit and we need to get the boys together some more. I have a crazy half-scheme involving a picnic at Campbell Town.

Getting a handle on "dead"

A conversation can last years. I have been having the same conversation with Joe about the haplessness of the Tigers, since 1983. We used to chat in person, sometimes on the phone, for a while wrote letters, and got into email while he was living in Germany. Paradoxically, now he is only 250km away, we exchange terse SMSs every couple of months.

I have a feeling that the conversation I have with Marcus about the meaning of "dead" will go on until the hereafter. His latest contribution was delivered in that singsong way you might recite a long list. Except that it was a list of just one thing.

"...Food is dead when it comes out as poo..."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Effective Parenting

We resisted temptation to go to bed at nine last night, and instead went out to hear Michael Grose talk about Raising Happy and Confident Kids. I started skeptical, but ended up scribbling copious notes. After an evening with the boys I'm back to mildly skeptical. He made some very good points. One was that the role of dad and the role of parent are different and can clash. Dad is a caring role while parenting is essentially administrative.

He thought kids were raised today in a risk-free environment. I can see that people like me are scared to have more kids than they can monitor minutely, feed lavishly and educate to doctorate level. So the one or two kids we have get micro-managed by their folks and aren't allowed to make mistakes or solve problems themselves. it all rang true.

Paradoxically, it sounds like the people who read the least Good Parenting bumpf, but just get on with yelling at their kids, grounding them and occasionally cuffing them over the ear will end up with better adjusted and more resilient children.

Big plans

Elf: "When we build the new house, you might have your own desk!"
Marcus (excitedly): "When I've got a desk, I'll get a paper and I'll animate.. do you know what I'll animate?"
All: "What?"
Marcus: "Animations!"

Catching up with grey power

We stayed with Mum and Dad either side of our night in Melbourne. They enjoyed seeing the boys, the boys had a lot of fun and didnt miss us too much. We have brought back about 10 varieties of sea sponge and some not-terribly-interesting rocks.


As I typed the title above, the browser remembered I have used this title before. Trip to Melbourne for wedding - tiring. Daily life with boys - draining. Software problems at work - confounding. All accompanied by a strange bug in head and tummy that won't go away.