Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sexy celery

I noticed the corner shop here has got celery, set out in the box it came from the wholesalers in. The box features a clumsy pulp-style illustration of a bikini-clad raven-haired beauty, seductively munching a stick of celery. I think she's winking. Photo soon I promise.

Clueless 15 d Shanes 9

The Bowling Shanes are an enigma. The Bowling Shanes are to lawn bowls what cold pizza is to breakfast. The Bowling Shanes are a lucky dip. You can never step into the same Bowling Shanes twice.

We went out hard and eked out an early lead with some loose but adequate bowling. Then the underrated Clueless combo started to click. Their slow-talking no 1 was outpointing Dave. Paul was bowling a fine line and length but Margaret (age 67) was just shading him every time. She was like Glenn McGrath, a bowling metronome. Often her two bowls ended up cheek-by-jowl. Their 3rd man was giving me a lawn bowls lesson, and when they occasionally strayed into trouble, their silently sinister skip would eerily pilot his bowl to just where it was needed, leaving our valiant leader no space to work his magic.

I got my bias wrong twice and watched helplessly as my 4 and 15/16ths went sailing across neighbouring greens. I'm proposing we introduce a fine [like perhaps five star jumps] for this, but since I'm the only one who ever does I'm not proposing it very hard.

In compensation I did deliver the bowl of the evening, getting into an impossible spot to steal an end that looked sewn up for Clueless. Over the next hour Margaret said "gosh, that was a nice bowl" maybe six times. I let the cat out of the bag when I admitted that the jack was nowhere near where I had thought it was, so it was entirely accidental.

Clueless ran away with the fixture and were comprehensively the better team on the day. Hats off, but as our skip always says, bowling was the real winner.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I got dirty in the garden for a while on Sunday, grubbing out blackberries and nailing up a trellis for the roses. I'm finding I really need to find something, anything, physical to do on the weekend to really relax. TV and books aren't doing it for me at the moment. I am really enjoying tackling a mundane, measurable job, even if i can't do the whole thing. Pulling out weeds, washing dishes, whatever. My work life is so sedentary, I think my body is crying out for activity to make it tired. My head is tired pretty well all the time but that's different.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Poor moon

Yesterday was Adrian-from-next-door's 4th birthday, down at the South Hobart Community Centre. It went well, everyone played nice and there was a nice bunch of parents. We all conform to the modern parenting style, everything is very moderated and calm, all the children have to speak nicely to each other. I heard "Liam, if you disagree with Alexander you say 'That's your opinion, and I respect that, but I have a different opinion.' YOU DON'T SHOVE HIM".

The peaceful mood was shattered with the arrival of the piñata. Hit it! Smash it! Poke it! Break it! I can see a weak spot - SMACK IT THERE! It was a proper craftsman-made piñata, in the shape of a man-in-the-moon. Michael, who was too small to take part, said to me "Poor Moon." I had to explain that he had been a very, very bad moon, as the larger children smote it like South Korean riot policemen.

After the moon succumbed and gave up the lollies, it was back to standard middle-class niceness all round.

I still like you Giz

Gizmo likes to flop onto Marcus' doona at bedtime. Marcus usually asks me to remove him. I had to scoop him off one-handed last night, as I was holding Michael who still sometimes needs to be squeezed off to sleep. As Giz left the room in a huff, Marcus called after him "I still like you Giz!"

Nick and Anna and Lily and Katherine came by on Saturday for lunch. The kids largely did their own thing and it was very pleasant to sip the Shiraz Cabernet Merlot Pinot Gris and talk to grown-ups. We took photos of each other's families (this is one of Nick and Anna's annual duties, for our Christmas newsletter).

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Carlton Beach Evening News

I have omitted to mention a family visit to Carlton Beach in October. We invited ourselves out to Jeff and Anita's place. They tried to put us off with deliberately obscure directions. They live down a gravel lane that branches off a sandy track that is an unsigned continuation of unsealed right-of-way that appears at first glance to be a private goat-path. Gazanias were flourishing everywhere - extremely bright and cheerful flowers that the local Coastcare group are exterminating one by one.

Once we found them Jeff and Anita were extremely hospitable. They live in a very interesting bits & pieces house that used to be Anita's dad's carport. They have a widescreen TV sitting on the sink as there is nowhere else to put it. In about five minutes Anita tossed together a superb mediterranean al fresco lunch. It was an unseasonably hot steamy day. Jeff has several threequarters-finished gazebos so we pulled a tarp over one and ate lunch in the shade of it.

My work colleagues Melinda and Paul were there too and Melinda's daughter and a friend of Jeff's and her little girl. Marcus buttonholed the little girl and followed her everywhere giving her detailed instructions to play various games he invented [which she disregarded].

J and A have dogs. The boys love dogs, so much so that they (the dogs) were eventually fenced away for their own protection.

As we were "at the beach", obviously we had to pop down and put a toe in the water and play a bit of beach cricket. Again, Jeff's sense of the curvature of time and space came into play. When he said the beach is just through there he left out the various hills and dales of burning sand that had to be traversed in between.

After a brief innings or two I spat the dummy and refused to carry an increasingly heavy and tired nearly-two year old back over the scorching dunes. To his undying credit, an impressively fit Jeff Blake ran home and drove our car to the surf club carpark, a short stroll away. We drove home in that mullet-brained mood of too much sun, sand, food, beer, immoderate exertion, patting of dogs and admiring of chickens.

Class Clown

We started calling Michael the class clown when he was only about 12 months old. He seemed to delight in making people laugh. He still does, sometimes intentionally but sometimes not.

At his daycare they crack up at the things he says, particularly when he doesnt want to do something. He says "No, I can't do it". He says it with such feeling, like a bad actor on Days of Our Lives in a moral quandary. If you say "Yes, you can." he replies "No! I can't" and may empahsise this by falling to the floor like someone who has just come second in a marathon.

Anna, one of his carers, is a dab hand on the camera and has taken many fetching pics of him, such as this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sisters of Sincerity 11 d Bowling Shanes 8

My first outing with my new bowls didnt go well. Maybe the four and fifteen-sixteenths are a tad small. Might need fives. But a poor craftsman blames his tools - I just didnt have the magic that I had last week. It was 8 all when the bell rang, we had just started our last end. The girls held up under the post-bell pressure and we cracked.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pineapple headache

Look at this pineapple! Marcus drew it last night on some scrap paper from Elf's work, a cover sheet titled "Childhood Headache". If you didnt know it was a pineapple, it would make a pretty good illustration of a headache.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Comedy Junk Mail

We get online pharmaceuticals junk mail addressed to our "staff@" email address, which means we all get it. Lately they have come from some very amusing senders. Last week Snowflake L. Spermicide dropped us a line. Today we had a note from Curse H. Recuperation, and his colleague Selection R. Uninspired also got in touch.

All staff received correspondence on the subject "Penis Launcher" this morning from Legation R. Olympiad. I think we'll leave it at that.

Green Letters of Evil Intent

Marcus arrived in our bed at about 4.30am. It was already full as Michael had woken up laughing and wouldnt stop chatting loudly so Elf had brought him in.

When Marcus comes to see us now it is usually because of a bad dream. This morning he said "I don't like the green O. Its going to kill me". His nappy was pretty wet so I changed it (he still wears nappies at night). As he snuggled down I said reassuringly "Don't you worry about that green O, I'll look after you". He said "There's also a green E".

He did wake up to go the toilet earlier in the evening, a very welcome first step to abandoning the nappies altogether. It feels strange to put a nappy on someone who can set up a chessboard correctly.

10kgs of tiny tot whooshing to certain doom

Today we went to the Parliament Street park where there is a long, long slide. I went down with Michael on my lap. Its a long hike back up to the top - for some reason instead of steps you have to pigeon-walk up the hill on sunken koppers' logs. Attention council landscape designers - this is very very hard on the old ankles. Next time Michael decided to go down on his own which he did with some style. Onlookers gasped as our 10kgs of tiny tot whooshed to his certain doom, only to skilfullly brake with his shoes and glide to a madly grinning halt. Elf and I had to endure the log torture about eight times each until finally Michael was seduced away by lunch.

This afternoon I finished pulling down the frame of the shed. Now we have just a concrete slab, where we are planning to erect a new cubby house for the kids. Unlike the old shed there will be no spiders and I will be able to stand up without copping a beam to the head and a rusty six-inch nail in the ear. I had to evict a few interesting looking spiders who I think had been in there since the late eighties.

Santa and Peter Garrett

We took the boys to the Christmas Pageant in town. We met up with Nick and Lily through the magic of SMS. We had a pretty good position (people were sitting in folding chairs an HOUR before it started, just to get a close up look at some trucks covered in tinsel). Anyway it was excellent. A nice balance of the incongruous, the Christian, the tatty, lots of dogs, a couple of donkeys, many, many miniature big rigs and finally, Santa. Marcus loved every minute of it, jigged about to the music and really popped his cork when The Man went past.

The miniature trucks were wierd. They take a ride-on-lawnmower, and skilfully encase it in sheetmetal until it looks like a truck, about 1 metre high and three long. They are so realisticaly finished that the brain does backflips at the sight of a man walking alongside towering over it.

There were giant puppets of Peter Garrett and I think Cathy Freeman, although it looked a bit more like Nova Peris-Kneebone. Later two more came bobbing past, a balding man in an akubra and a lady with red hair. Perhaps they were supposed to be the Eurogliders - remember them?

Later we went to Northgate and they had a Santa too. Marcus was enthralled that this Santa gave him a wave - the Pageant Santa had just looked over our heads majestically.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shanes 9 d Hijack 7

Forgot to mention I was on the winning side for the first time on Tuesday night. The Shanes applied tons of scoreboard pressure and left the well-credentialled Hijack outfit (one of whom was wearing a Tas Institute of Sport fleecy top) playing catch-up lawn bowls. Personal stats are meaningless of course, but I think I notched maybe 5 of our points. I'm hooked.

Which reminds me...

Listening to the old 92FM (before Triple J came to town) - sometimes the clock radio would go off on Saturday morning, and I would find myself listening to the Chinese Show or the Hmong News Hour or somesuch. You would hear this sort of thing:(apologies to anyone who can actually read the Chinese below)

香港荫权上任以后 Moonah Community Centre. 推行的政制改革措断5 o'clock 受到港 Number 101 bus. 民主派的批评。随着十二月二 mah jongg 十一日立法会投票审议 table tennis 政改方案的日期越来越近,香港泛民主派也将在十二月四日举行民主大游行,加强争取普选的斗争努力。对于这一切,最后一任香港总督、现英国牛津大学校长彭定康在接受澳Tuesday, 广记者兰侬采访时称. Ladies Bring a Plate.

Nius Blong Nau (Latest News)

Sometimes I like to view current world events through Papua New Guinean eyes. Radio Australia has a radio service in Tok Pisin and a website that reports the news in this language. Reading serious news from the "real world" via this warm and very casual means of expression is very, very odd.

Strongpela askim long ol Komowelt Kantri gad agensim terorism [16/11/2005 8:36:53 PM]

New Zealand Praim Minista, Helen Clark, i mkeim strongpela askim igo long ol Commonwealth kantri i gad agensim terorisam long taim bilong Head of Gorvernment miting long Malta long wik bihain.

Malta bai rereim na hostim ol lida bilong 53 Commonwealth kantri long taim bilong Summit, namel long ol Miss Clark, British Praim Minister tony Blair, Australian Prime Minister John Howard na General Pervez Musharraf, President bilong Pakistan.

I gat ol ripot i wok long go raun olsem, al-Qaeda i plen long kamapim birua, na oli bilip olsem Btitish M15 nau i wok long painim wanpela Sudanese Refugees husat oli tok i wok bung wantaim al Qaeda antap long dispela Meditgerranean Island.

Sunday Telegraph newspaper bilong Britain i ripot olsem, Maltese polis i bin reidim haus bilong dispela Refugee long mun igo pinis na painim military training videos na maps.

Phone courtesy

Michael loves talking on the phone, as long as its a) not really a phone or b) switched off.

Michael: "blah blah blah, rhubarb rhubarb, OK, Thank you!"
Elf (talking into TV remote):"Thank you!"
Michael: "Thank you very very much."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

if it glows, throw it

Are your pork chops glowing in the dark? Don't panic, but its probably time to pop them in the bin. See the linked news story.


I watched Australia beat Uruguay in the World Cup play-off last night. It was a terrific game, and Australia dominated it. It went to penalties. Our keeper Mark Schwarzer made a wonderful save, which put us ahead. Then our captain Mark Viduka fluffed his penalty, throwing away the advantage. Schwarzer dug deep and saved again. John Aloisi nervelessly put his penalty away and that was it. The relief!

I've watched us fail in home and away sudden-death ties like this against Scotland (1985), Israel (1989) Argentina (1993), Iran (1997) and Uruguay once before (2001). Thank God we've finally done it.

On SBS the commentators left it until near the end to invoke the name of Johnny Warren (recently deceased Father of Australian Soccer). After the winning spot kick all Craig Foster could say was "Johnny Warren". Beautiful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nyctophilus geoffroyi

Seems to me we might be enjoying the company of lesser long-eared bats which "occur in towns and suburbs". Do bats occur? Are bats an event?

Pidge and Bretty

I took the boys to the pool this morning. Allison was sick so they couldn't go to family day care, which sank Elf's plans for a big no-kids day. So I took a few hours off and whisked the boys away to let her do a few things at least.

First we scamped about in the Aberdeen Street playground where the green parrots browse in the grass. Then we went to the pool. The lads went very well. Marcus attached himself to a learn-to-swim class.

As we were leaving some tall men in yellow and green caps were coming through the turnstiles. We waved to Aussie fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee and they waved back quite happily. I thought "Pidge" was looking a bit tired though. The Windies are quoted at about 14-1 for the next test match - I say get on board those odds before word gets out.

Zombie ninja state government

Hobart is a lovely place. Quiet, serene, sunny. Birds tweet. However on my way to work, I walk past the sites of two murders from recent years.

In 1998 a martial arts instructor was smote with a sword in his driveway, by one of his students. It came out in court that he was trying to brainwash his hangers-on into a zombie ninja army, who would kidnap the Premier and take over Tasmania. I think the state government stuffed up buying the third big ferry, and waiting lists at the hospital are out of hand, but think what a zombie ninja army would have done.

A few doors down from my work is the house where Rory Jack Thompson killed his wife (early 90s?). It doesn't seem like a particularly evil neighbourhood. Outside the shop on the corner there is a bucket of water for dogs.

Murders do happen, and they have to happen somewhere I suppose.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Proxy Dadness

This report from one of my Brothers in Dadness across the strait. Thanks for your contribution Michael - your hair is beautiful.

"Kenzie has taken to naming most of her drawings. She recently composed a lovely looking "landscape" that without prompting she decided to call "Challenge on the Land"!! (far too grown up for a young artiste). There was also a very interesting animal and some orange "rain" that she titled "Baby Dinosaur with Fire Mice" - I'm not sure what goes on in her head?!"

The Bowling Shanes

I have taken up lawn bowls. I am 2nd man for the Bowling Shanes. I scoffed when this idea was put to me, but here I am, three weeks into the season and really looking forward to hitting the greens tonight. Dad is a bowler, and has at his diposal three sets of bowls, one of which he is sending down to me on the bus today.

When we first rolled up to the Derwent City Bowls Club we were directed to the kit room where a character named Len gave us each a high-five by way of measuring our hands. I was a 5, so were most of the blokes, a few ladies were 4s. So when Dad asked me what size I was, I confidently said "I'm a 5 Dad". Dad said he could offer me 5-and-a-quarter, a 5-and-five-eights or a four-and-fifteen-sixteenths.

Our first game was on a lovely warm evening. As we were playing in fours, often there wasnt much to do except watch the sun set behind Mt Wellington, sip the cheap beer, munch the free sausages and think fondly of Elf at home wrangling the two boys through dinner and into bed. Ahhh. I could easily get used to having a night off each week.

Go Shanes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Cricket Commentary of the Week

As Australian batsman Matthew Hayden spanked the West Indies around the ground last week, on the radio Michael Slater observed "Matt Hayden is literally on fire." Thankfully, he wasnt.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Here be bats

We have bats. Bats in the trees on the reserve behind our place. I didn't actually know there were bats in Tasmania. My natural history knowledge is pretty thin. They flap about battily in the twilight. More news as it comes to hand.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Yesterday morning I was listening to Radio National as I walked to work. Fran Kelly said there had been "simultaneous terror raids" in Sydney and Melbourne. I freaked - imagining bombs, death and mayhem in two places I know and love. But her tone of voice just didnt quite reflect that scenario. Later it transpired they were counter terror raids. The story is alarming of course but I was annoyed at wasting a surge of adrenalin and panic that I might need another time.

I was annoyed enough to send a feedback message on the RN site (also chiding them for their general sloppiness in research). And surprised and pleased to get a personal emailed apology from Ms Kelly this morning promising to try harder to get things right.

The police involved in the raids, especially the officers in the shootout in Sydney, must be pretty dark on the Prime Minister for announcing raids were imminent. If you thought you were going to be raided, had expressed interest in jihad generally and martyrdom in particular, you'd probably approach your domestic arrangements a bit differently after hearing those comments on the 7.00 news. Like sleep with a gun.

Another aspect of this is the coverage. says the footage we have seen was shot by various Police Media Units. And in their opinion these units are actually the most powerful players in the Australian media. This is a story with a lot of angles and I hope a lot more light gets shed on them over time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lost notes from a week ago

28 Oct

Spinal fluid is leaking out George Clooney's nose. I heard it on the radio.

I have started a drawing of Vincent and Andy's house in Carlton, my first drawing in a long time. I made some sketches when I stayed there 12 months ago. Unfortunately, you need sketches AND memory working together, and my memory let me down. It was not until after I had finished drawing a nice rounded VW-shaped shrub out in front of the house, that I realised it actually was meant to be a VW.

Marcus and I went on what he still likes to call a "baby walk" this evening. We often go down to the old Female Factory and play ball on the big concrete slab there. On the way home we talked about daddies. He said I'm mummy's daddy, and I corrected him and said Baba Bill is mum's daddy. Then he wanted to know who was Baba Bill's daddy. I told him a bit about Elf's grandfather, who was actually Chief Justice of Victoria. Marcus asked lots of questions and stuck with it through an explanation of what judges do and why it is a very important job.

3 Nov

On Saturday - we went swimming. Elf has promised to buy a new swimsuit so I don't have to mind both boys at once. They always paddle off in opposite directions. Previously Marcus has then bellowed to me from a distance to COME HERE, while I'm trying to keep Michael upright and above the waterline. On Saturday he scamped alone quite happily, and got into deeper water than before without any histrionics.

After the pool we visited the top of the big concrete water tanks on the Domain, and the boys rode bikes around, and through the puddles. There are nearly always puddles. Its one of my favourite spots. Most of the actual city centre is out of sight from there, but you can watch the freighters on the river, clouds drift over the mountain, and traffic on the big bridge. The spot also overlooks Government House (home of Anna's Uncle Bill) with its 26-or-so variously carved chimneys. On weekends there is usually a C grade cricket match on down below.

On Sunday we went down to South Arm, to visit Monica and Jonathan and their girls. Nick and Anna and their girls came too. Its quite a crowd these days when the families get together. We had a lovely time, ate a lovely cake and scamped down to the beach. Marcus stripped off and jumped about in the cold water. The girls were skeptical but eventually joined him.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Casting vote required

Every night when its my turn to run bedtime, I ask the lads if they want to hear me recite The Owl and the Pussycat. EVERY time I get the same answer.
Marcus (excitedly): YES!
Michael (plaintively): No.

I always ignore Michael.

Marcus with his "gun". Groan.

Katherine Rose christening

Nick and Anna's little girl was christened at St Mary's yesterday. It went off very well. For some reason while all the other kids there were sitting demurely in pews ours were bouncing, running, laughing maniacally and generally lowering the tone.

Afterwards we had a lovely garden party in their lovely garden - Nick has done a backyard blitz over the last few weeks. He has been inspired to make little windmills out of tin cans, that spun around with a unsettling CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK when the wind blew.

Marcus disorganised a cricket game that was shambolic but fun. At one stage 4 or 5 girls with dolls wandered in like Brown's cows, then stood at short midwicket and just sort of mooned about. Play ended when i bowled a fizzing leg break that buried itself in a bush densely populated with bees.

Cricket tuition

Marcus is very keen to learn about cricket. We had a bit of a game with a tennis racket in the back yard. I don't think I've pushed him into being interested - although the cricket is always on the radio at our place, its rarely on the TV. He seems very good at perceiving the things we are interested in and being interested too.

This is something I was told before I had kids. Just stick to doing what you love, the kids will automatically love it too because they relate it to you. However it happens, I will enjoy it while it lasts. It will be great when Michael is a bit bigger and the boys can play cricket, soccer, or whatever together without too much refereeing from me.


Awards nights are so similar, in any age, in any discipline, at any level. The Burnie Municipal Band end of year trophy night in 1985 resembled the Nobel Peace Prize in many ways. These two august events resonated also with the Tasmanian ICT Awards I attended on Friday night. Roar Film were nominated in two quite nebulous categories and won both. We now have a couple of very heavy jagged glass mementos. I think the jaggedness is meant to suggest the "cutting edge". Oh, ICT stands for, er, damn, I keep forgetting. Computers and stuff.

Sally, (our house manga specialist and illustrator) had a buddy working at the venue who kept up a conveyor belt of free bottles of frosty chardonnay. I usually drink pretty moderately but I am a sucker for extremely cold white wine. I woke feeling mildly bad on Saturday morning but by mid afternoon I was in a bad way. My children were charmingly oblivious and delightfully loud, and comically interested in jumping on my tummy when I lay down to try and stop the hammering in my head.

Michael vocab update2

Michael is one and three quarters now. His speech is really gathering momentum. This weekend we heard the following;

"Come on everybody, lets go!"
"Its Christmastime."
"I need dummy very very soon."
"No hitting!" -to Marcus during rowdy session in the car
"Miaow! Miaow!" Are you a cat Michael? "No, I'm a squiggle"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Email me

I am very keen to know who is reading this thing. Click on "email me" to send me a short note. Please?

Or try one of these handy click 'n' send shortcuts.

Sorry, too busy
My anonymity is precious to me
I am actively antagonistic towards your blog
Your blog is my primary news source