Friday, December 29, 2006

Get Milk On Way Home from Cave

Today we convoyed with my Mum and Dad down to Hastings Caves. It always amazes me that you can drive for 2 hours south of Hobart, but you can. We stopped at Geeveston on the way down and again on the way back. It is trying hard to shrug off its redneck image. There are really lovely lifesize wooden figures of notable townsfolk, rough-hewn but really expressive. One was an Olympic rower - his limbs were the limbs of trees. An extremely stout doctor has also been immortalised. He was not a tall man - even the kids can reach up and tweak his nose. Its great we have the opportunity now as he hated people to do that when he was alive.

A downside is the town is suffering from an abundance of carved bush poetry. A plague of plaques. One was about smiles, and how great Geeveston was generally at smiling, and ended with a line about the "dimples of encouragement that lend a helping hand". The Wood Centre there is the feel-good face of Forestry Tasmania propaganda. A talking log truck acknowledges that the environmental movement's pressure has been good for the industry. The general setup emphasises the "jobs v conservation" paradigm that I think is out of date.

Michael had fun driving the talking truck anyway.

We had a splash in the thermal pool at Hastings. It's come a long way from the extremely dodgy concrete basin it once was. Marcus took another leap forward - letting Grandma tow him around at speed while he kicked furiously, splashing everyone. The shop now does lattes. Last time we were there the cafe strip lifestyle had just arrived, but without adequate manpower. One poor guide was selling tickets for the pool, postcards and hats, clueing people up on the caves and trying to make the perfect skinny soy latte in between.

The boys were great in the cave. The tour is one hour, and I had misgivings about Michael getting through it, but he was fine. They were both very interested and oohed and aaahed. The cave was fab, but if you've ever been in a cave, well, it was just like that.

I had planned to take some photos of Glendevie on the way back as it is very beautiful and I want to do drawings of it. The road winds sinuously through a tiny village on the side of a steep hill, and every house, shed and barn seems to be tucked into a fold in the earth. I think I'll have to go there on a sketching mission - we just couldn't stop today. Perhaps I should just draw from my impressions of whizzing through. I might find that if I stood still there, it wouldn't have the magic that it has seen from the car.

We had a lovely outing, after going no further than the beach for about a week. I meant to write myself a note, "Get Milk On Way Home from Cave", that I could deliberately lose at Coles where someone would read it. Forgot.

Sydney to Hobart

We were able to stand on our "deck" - (concrete landing at the top of the back steps) and watch the Sydney to Hobart line honours winner come upriver last night. There was a fairly small flotilla of spectators, considering it was not even 10pm. Elf said "look - there's Wild Oats", but I thought the modest line of lights was just a freighter. The sails of the maxi in question were unhelpfully black and it seemed to have just one tiny light winking atop the mast. Maybe lights are considered dead weight. Mum rang her yachtie brother Peter in Sydney, to tell him what we were seeing. "How many knots is she doing?" Err... "Is she on just fores'l and mains'l or is she belaying a genoa to windward (or something)?" Um....

I turned on the local ABC radio thinking they would be broadcasting the action live from Constitution Dock. Instead someone was talking to James Valentine about their favourite songs. Patsy Cline belted out Crazy as the little entourage slipped out of sight around the headland. Patsy is so blue-water racing.

Seasonal visitations

Matt K (old buddy, and stalwart reader of the blog), and his daughter Edie visited us on Tae Kwon Do Day (after Boxing Day). We hadn't seen them for over two years, but the kids were soon scamping about very happily together. In their younger days Marcus and Edie saw quite a bit of each other, and it was heart-warming to see them working things out together. Matt and his family are living in Sydney but hopeful of a move back to Hobart soon, if things work out with a job at Tas Uni.

The kids bounced on the tramp, made monsters, we had the obligatory ham sandwiches, then walked down to the beach. It was blustery and cold and we felt like fools when we got there. Marcus swam all the same, making friends with a boy his own age as they leaped about in the breakers. After a while being frozen and sandblasted we went to Citrus Moon for coffee and shelter.

Here are the three daredevils on a stationary racing car (we have a policy of never putting money in the rides at the Moon - we just go there too often.) It was wonderful to see good friends after so long, and hopefully we will see them again, along with mum Mem and baby sister Callie who were indisposed on Wednesday.

Yesterday (um, Kung Fu Day?)... we were visited by the households of sisters Wendy and Jill. This consists of Wendy's 10 month old twins Samuel and Isabella, Jill's non-twins Alec (4) and Lucy (1), and Wendy's husband Jon holding it all together in a support and logistics role. (I imagine Jill's husband Steven was swordfighting with evil dwarves in a role-playing session somewhere). We hadn't seen Wendy and Jon since their wedding, as they are living in the most isolated large city in the world, Perth, WA. They have coped with twins admirably, as they seem to be basically the same people they were pre-kids. Bravo.

I looked out the window at one stage and Marcus had an avuncular arm around Alec's shoulders, sketching some sort of plan in the air with his hand. Alec looked on eagerly. It was something to do with a tennis ball, some concrete steps, a window and a bucket. Inside Michael was quite happy with his role as King of the Babies. "NO - DON'T EAT THAT!!" he advised them as they gummed tinsel, books and toys.

We have an invitation to train across the Nullabor and visit. We just might take them up on it, but probably not this year when the mortgage will be biting hardest.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas photographs

2006 winds down

This year we are delighted to be at home for Christmas. My Mum and Dad arrived on the 21st, so the boys clicked into Christmas mode immediately. Marcus had his kinder breakup on Wednesday. We were hoping to find out who would be in his prep class for 2007 - perhaps a class list. All we found out was that he's in Red, so now we will need to do a bit of tentative networking over the holidays to see who else is.

I've already dealt with Roar's end of year party. I kept myself nice, so Elf could pick me up and take me to neighbourhood drinks at 124 Cascade Rd without scaring the children. There we sampled fine food and bevs laid on by Mark and Caron. I borrowed Mark's mower and gumboots and tamed the jungle of our remaining backyard. Guests arrived, wondering at the large hole and the strange man mowing around it. I clomped back over to Mark and Caron's and we explained the whole thing as best we could. One guest said she thought we might have a nice view from the new house, despite that stupid bloody big gum tree out the front.

Sharyn and Lana from No 120 were there. Lana will also be in Red, thank goodness. Lana, Marcus and Michael tagged along with the older boys who had decided to explore the "tunnels" (space under the house) for "treasure" (any old crap). It was getting quite late and dim outside, and was as dark as the deepest night under the house, but the kids were all cheerfully bumping into pillars, boxes and each other down there. Mark is with the Tas Fire Service and so there were hard hats aplenty. I hovered waiting for one of my kids to have a sudden panic attack/minor head injury deep down Shaft 11B but it never happened. Cameron, 8 year old son of wine-aficionado parents, emerged with a bottle of white wine, said matter-of-factly "Shiraz", and went back inside leaving it propped against the other treasure. I suggested we get a list of names and have the children tag on and tag off, but no-one heard me.

Christmas report

The temperature crashed from 31° on Friday to freezing fog and hailstorms on Saturday evening. I can confirm that on Christmas morning I saw significant snow with my own eyes on Mt Wellington before the clouds lowered for the day at about 7.00am. Since Elf moved to Hobart in 2000 it has snowed here every Christmas Day we have been at home.

Saturday and Sunday passed in a bit of a blur. There was some beach action. We did a big shop-up for Christmas lunch and I wrapped, at last. I have had an uninspired year for gifts, I'm afraid to say. Sorry everyone. After the boys had crashed on Christmas Eve, we put up in their room a dozen big folded-paper stars that Elf had made. They looked great. Then we went outside and assembled the Big Present.

Michael had a disturbed night. I think he is a bit young for genuine anticipatory excitement, but something has been giving him worrisome dreams lately. He slept in. Marcus was first awake, and came in to report that there was "a big sock full of stuff" on his bed! Had he opened anything? "No!" We opened stuff and waited for Michael. After a bit of noisiness from us, he finally woke in a bad mood.

"Open your stocking Michael? "NO!"
"Come on, let's see what Father Christmas has brought you!" "QUAAAAAAAAACK!"

It didn't take all that long for him to get the idea. Elf, who has organised Christmas completely off her own bat, had bought the boys a small trampoline. We put a wrapped box under the tree with a note in it saying "This thing is too big to fit under the tree, so look outside". The loved it straight away. Michael didn't want to bounce on it at first, but was very happy to drive the Big Red Car around on the bright blue spring-covers. He is now a dedicated tramp scamp.

The tramp was a great distraction until Auntie Sal and Uncle Matt appeared at 10.00. They gave Marcus a tub of Monster Bones, to put together however you like. He has knocked off about two dozen masterpieces in this medium since, and each time insists on having it photographed immediately so he can cannibalise it for the next one.

Elf specified exactly what she wanted from the boys and I, but was no less pleased when she unwrapped them (Pictionary and a small tank of Sunflowers perfume). I received a good swag of books. I have to finish Captain Corelli's Mandolin first - I should have read it years ago.

We had a big cold meat and salad lunch. We had eggnog. We had champagne. We had a very nice time just noodling around in a family way. What a nice Christmas.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Breaking up isn't hard to do if it involves scallops in butter sauce

Ah, its been a busy week or so since the last blog. I hammered away at our rather overdue CD-ROM project to get it as far advanced as I could before the break-up. Work will be very intense when we resume on Jan 2. We have not received from the client a great deal of the source archival stuff that is to go into the CD, so we are not entirely to blame.

We knocked off at midday on Friday for the Roar Christmas party. This year we did lunch, at Prossers On The Beach in Sandy Bay. We made a TV pilot for the owner and chef, Stuart Prosser this year. He has intentions of becoming a cross between pukka Jamie and khaki Steve - ooh, look at this lovely crayfish, isnt he a little beauty, you stick the knife in him here, slice him in two, stuff him with porcini mushrooms and panfry him with just a sprinkle of lime juice and balsamic.

Anyway, his food is fantastic and his restaurant was very enjoyable. It is on the beach, and with all the windows slid wide open, it felt like we were on a very steady boat, as all you could see beyond the window frame was the Derwent River. It was 31°, very muggy, absolutely no breeze.

It was while sluicing my 17th scallop from its shell that the dolphins appeared around the point, closely followed by bikini girls futilely wading after them. Futile but decorative. If Girl from Ipanema by Astrid Gilberto had been on the stereo it might have been a 5/5 on the sense-ometer. The dolphins headed upriver, as though on their way to town for some last minute shopping. Maybe for i-pods. (Ha!)

Friday was also my colleague and friend Raef Sawford's last day at Roar. He's a great bloke, and I have enjoyed his company every weekday for the last five or so years. I'll miss him a lot, but I am glad he is finally out of his dark sweaty editing suite, free to see the sky, and smell the flowers. Sure, he's made mistakes, but now he's paid his dues, its someone else's turn to sit in front of the hissing and bleeping monitors joining up bits of tape to make coherent stories. Be free, gay pirate!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Marcus learns about Christmas

These are the three things you have to do for Christmas- you have to decorate the tree, you have to look after Jesus, and Santa has to put presents on your bed.

Is there a Mrs God?

[After a pep talk at school about the ABC Giving Tree] Can we buy something we don't really need?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The solitary beach

When we drive anywhere from the Beach House, we get a lovely view of the beach on our way down the hill. We look along a great sweep of it, with the waves rolling in from the right. Its amazing how often there is no-one on it, or perhaps a few specks in the distance down the dog-walking end. This is a fairly densely populated area, with houses and a few shops right along the Esplanade facing the beach, and all the surrounding hills pretty closely settled. There is no shortage of people about. If I didn't know better I would imagine the waters were infested with sharks or stinging jellyfish or something.

We are really loving our ready access to the surf and sand, and have probably been at least every second or third day in the last few weeks. We will definitely be trying to keep up our beach hours after we move back to the hinterland in June. The boys love it, and even "no getting wet" visits, they are endlessly fascinated (for now) by shells, sticks and seaweed. And, er, ciggy butts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sydney Harbours

My Mum is from Sydney, and even if no-one else enjoys this list of place names, I'm sure she will. Hi Mum. These are from Port Jackson, Middle Harbour, Botany Bay, Port Hacking and Broken Bay, and they are all close enough to the city to fit in a Sydney street directory.

Balls Head
Bongin Bongin Bay
Bottle and Glass Head
Box Head
Little Box Head
Breakfast Point
Butchers Block
Caravan Head
Dead Horse Bay
Dolls Point
Harness Cask Point
Hen & Chicken Bay
Jew Fish Bay
Kissing Point
Long Nose Point (2 of these)
Looking Glass Bay
Neverfail Bay
Onions Point
Parsley Bay (2 of these)
Powder Hulk Bay
Quibray Bay
Salmon Haul Bay
Shag Bay
Shark Beach (in Shark Bay - it has a swimming enclosure)
Snails Bay
Soilybottom Point
Tambourine Bay
The Spit
Tom Uglys Point
Yowie Bay

Elf's workshop

I knocked off my Christmas shopping on Saturday. We dropped in on the Dog and Spanner (Nick and Anna) and their girl-children. They have a very nice and user-friendly deck. It doesn't have glorious vistas, isn't doesn't loom over their garden. It is just very pleasant to sit and listen to the distant crashing and squealing of the children.

Our Christmas tree is looking great. Every time I come home Michael gives a little flourish with his hand and says "look at our treeeeeee!" Its a bona fide pine, and Marcus has really thrown himself into making decorations this year. Elf is taking little craft workshops and teaching the boys to do this and that. [I should avoid using "Elf" and workshop" in a sentence together at this time of year, but that just slipped out and my Delete key is broken].

On Sunday Rob, Mel and Ollie came by, with armloads of food as usual. They even brought gifts for the boys, to get the pile under the tree started. We ate until we were stuffed then staggered downhill for a very pleasant couple of hours sitting in the shade doing not much at all while the kids amused themselves. Rob and I were idly poking sticks into the sand while we chatted, and before we knew it we had erected miniature palisades opposite one another and slipped into a bit of a cold war. When he wasn't looking I built a Peace And Co-Prosperity Highway connecting our two nations of sand. Little did Rob know I built it with my armoured divisions in mind.

The cricket

Appalling Shameful Horrific England Shambles - yesterday's headline in The News of the World. I think they're taking it all pretty well really.

Meanwhile on ABC Radio their advice yesterday was "you've got to keep your powder dry, or it can come back to haunt you."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Enough with the Tasmania, already.

I am Tasmanian. I love Tasmania. I even like reading about Tasmania. But I am feeling a bit queasy after reading the Fullers Bookshop special Tasmaniana Findings catalogue. There are so many damn books about Tasmania.

One in particular just pushed me over the edge. Call me a grump, but the promise of another search for the "mysterious thylacine" in "an exhilarating frolic" that can be read as "a love poem to... our heart shaped island" made me want to put a special tax on anyone who intends to "celebrate Tasmania" in some form.

As Ramona Koval wisely said, "Think you've got a book in you? Well, leave it there..."

Marcus Rees, game designer

Marcus often draws up complicated game boards. Here are three recent examples. His explanations were convoluted and funny, but I couldn't do justice to them now.

Miscellaneous Wednesday thoughts

On Radio National this evening, another earnest discussion on cell research: " would then not be a sheep liver, it would be a human liver, grown in a sheep environment". One man's sheep environment is another man's sheep.

How do new cells know what's going on? Skin cells are always sloughing off and being replaced. How can tattoos be permanent? Why do I have a scar on my hand from something that happened when I was ten? Is there some sort of orientation session for new cells? "OK, listen up, I'm sure you're all excited about being part of a new layer of Barry's skin, but the bad news is, you are stained blue, and you are part of the elbow of a wonky mermaid tattoo Baz got when he was 17".

I like the town of Rosebud, on the Mornington peninsula south of Melbourne. You know the famous scene in Citizen Kane, where the hero's last word is "Rosebud"? I like to think that he died while trying to say "Rosebud Tyre and Exhaust Centre" or "Rosebud West Fish and Chips".

Hijacks 12 d The Bowling Shanes Prem Def 7

Last night was the Grand Final for this roster. As usual the Mervs were a few pages behind everyone else, and didn't tell us it was the final until I was already into my 2nd sausage.

We shot out of the blocks to lead 6-0 after 2 ends. Then we put our feet up and watched as the Hijacks eked out a comeback. We only won one more end I think. They picked up one point, end after end after end. We looked to be rallying at one stage, holding four shots. Their skip is a bit of a little master, and he nearly tipped us out all together. As it was he cut our gains down from 4 points to 1. It was to be our last hurrah.

The attractive trophy has passed into the hands of Hijacks. The defence was unsuccesful. It was a good season however, and we all bowled pretty well.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A weekend of UVA and UVB

It's been hot. Very hot yesterday but just very warm today. Yesterday was Candle Day for Amnesty International. I collected outside Centrepoint for a bit over an hour. I didn't do very well. For a Saturday just before Christmas I was surprised how light the crowds were. The sun crept up on me - my intially shady spot was in full sun after a while and was too slow to get the sunblock on. After that I was rostered on the Amnesty stall at Salamanca Market.

Standing in one spot for two hours in a great opportunity for people-watching and I started musing about consumer fashion. Who decided blokes' t-shirts now have to be illegible? They have to look as though they are trying to say something, but some kind of technical error at the t-shirt factory has occurred. The one legible word will be "Volcom" or "Stüssy" or whatever the brand is, but it will be printed so it is under the armpit, or over the collar, or something.

Girls' t-shirts have to a) be two sizes too small and b) pretend to be old. They will have something like "Pelican Bay Canoe Club '76" on them, with pretend cracks in the printing, in pretend faded colours. Who decides on these idiotic trends?

Copped more sun at the market, but the stall behind us had a big awning I was able to duck under from time to time. A family I know stopped to chat - their 14 year old is six foot two. Last time I saw him he was a normal sized 11-year-old. It was quite a shock.

When I got home we all had a snooze, then went down to the beach. It was 33° at one stage, and the beach was still well populated at 5.30. The water just seems not to warm up though. The surf was flat, so it was a lot like sitting in an ice bath, ie no fun at all.

Today our new Kingston Buddies, Greg and his boys Mason and Dylan came over. Elf pumped up and filled the pool, plugged the leaks and erected the shadehouse over it. What did I do? Hmm, I think I cut up a watermelon. Everyone had fun, we all caught a bit too much sun again, and Marcus and Mason got along very well.

This afternoon I sat in the shade and read an Alexander McCall Smith book while everyone snoozed. I have read about six of his books and this is the first one that's been a bit of a let-down. Pleasant enough, but that's all.

Boys awake

The boys have been in bed since 8. Its now 9.15 and they have been yakking flat out the whole time. I just heard Marcus saying "Michael - it's just like an ostrich, except smaller"..."Now Michael - what's three threes?"..."Now Michael - do you know what's past a billion?... A zillion!"

It's a regular Socratic Dialogue in there.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I was trying to get Michael inside for dinner. He was floop-de-flooping about with his wooden numbers and letters and some old number plates in the back yard. "Come on Michael, dinners ready. Time to come in." I headed up the steps and waved my arm to say 'follow me'. He stayed where he was and said "Suit yourself, Dad."

Little fella

Coming out of kinder yesterday, Ebony and her little brother were yelling goodbye to Marcus. The little boy ran on ahead, and was getting a bit close to the road. I asked Ebony what her brother's name was, so I could call to him. Marcus was a bit closer to him, and said "What's your name, little fella?"

The Bowling Shanes Prem Def 16 d Hijacks 10

The boys came to bowls with me on Tuesday. All around the greens is a gutter filled with sand. There was less sand in the gutter and plenty on the green when Michael had finished. The boys were generally very good.

We were behind most of the night then came good in a big way. I have never paid less attanetion to the bowls - the boys were popping up all over the place. I delivered my two bowls, then I was on duty, and the outcome of each end was a complete surprise to me.

They had fun and there was no permanent damage to the venue.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A strangely familiar weatherboard

We dropped in on Judy and Terry at Carlton River, to look at how our old place fitted on their block. The bathroom is already fully functional, and is the only part of the interior that looks familiar still. Standing in our bathroom, looking out the window at the river, was very odd.

More pics here

Friday, December 01, 2006

Not sleepy

Going to sleep is hard when its summer, its still sunny, you've got a slip-slidey aluminium window and flip-flappy vertical blinds. He was leaning (dangerously) out the window and talking his head off to the fence.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I am sleeping badly at the moment, coughing and semi-drowning in head-cold bilge. I had one quite pleasant delusion when I rolled over and glimpsed my collection of useless nasal sprays lined up - with my glasses off they looked like the minarets of the Blue Mosque.

I was battling to keep all this fluid out of my lungs all last night, and at the same time dreaming of work. I was convinced the choking and coughing was happening because I was editing a particular graphic symbol in Flash MX. There was some problem with that one symbol, something to do with a pointy bit at the top that was irritating my throat. [Flash is notoriously buggy software, and it's not that much of a stretch to think that a corrupted symbol could actually make you choke.]

After a while I decide it was Sally McAteer's fault - she had done some illustrations for the thing I am working on, and one of the symbols she emailed me was corrupt. That scheming minx! [This is in bed at about 3am].

Around 4am I realised I had been a fool. I wasn't even using Flash! It must have been something else on the computer making me drown in bilgey mucus. Maybe a font problem?

Around 4.45am I finally got to grips with the real issue. I am sick. It's nothing to do with work. At all. I am in bed. The computer is off.

Michael woke up at 4.55am and that was the end of my night.

More bowls with another Marcus

I went back yesterday for another bowl, with Marcus William Rees this time. He had a little try last season and loved it. All winter he was asking when he could go again. He applied himself very well, and his two best bowls came one after the other (seen here). He got within about 3 inches, and was very excited, My best bowl for the afternoon (over a bit longerdistance) was pretty much 3 inches off too, and he was very happy to announce that it was a draw.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The schoolboy's first school photo

Look at this beautiful boy! We are so proud of him.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hijacks 13 d The Bowling Shanes Prem. Def. 10

We lost our first end, (as usual). We romped back into it, taking a 7-1 lead (as usual). We had a little wobble (as usual) and gave them a sniff at 7-5. What wasn't usual was that they took the game right away from us, and we failed to reel them in.

We were one shot down going into the last end. Even Marcus William Murphy [filling in for Dean], the most relaxed man in Southern Tasmania, felt a little tense. Hunter [who has settled in as regular skip] was sending contradictory smoke signals from the far end.

Hijacks' lead sent down a long, long jack, and followed it with a great shot that just touched it and moved on a little. My shot was pretty good but not good enough. His second was almost as good as his first, and they held two shots. I decided I needed to use force to wedge us back into it, and proceeded to completely duff my second shot. It thumped into the back wall way off beam. Dave and Marcus sent down four well-aimed but unsuccessful shots. We were three down by then. Hunter drove and cut it back to two. His second drive was close, but no banana.

Hijacks bowled well all night, and as soon as their luck turned they proved too consistent for us. It was the loss we had to have. Perhaps it was complacency, perhaps it was the absence [at the Gabba] of our gritty No 3 Dean. Marcus gave his all in the Shanes cause, and cannot be faulted. His second shot for the night was his best - see the blue/yellow bowl below. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and get back on the bucking bronco that is Twilight Lawn Bowls. If we don't master its awesome power, it could destroy us.

Lazlo Steigenberger

Will this video link bizzo work? Let's see shall we?

Mr Sunshine

Hello all, I'm feeling bright, perky and gald to be alive! That's better isn't it? Thanks to everyone who gave me a slap around the head and cheered me up.

We finally had a weekend of fair to good weather, so we went to the beach three times. Nick and Anna, Lily and Katherine came by on Saturday morning and we took them for a walk down to Boronia Beach. Well, we drove to the top of the track, then we walked. Everyone agreed it's a beaut little beach, not least because there are shady trees along the back of it.

Later Marcus and I went for a long walk down to the main beach, right along to the rocks at the Browns River end, and home again. Elf and Michael came down to find us when Michael woke up from his nap. Elf was so confident she would find us she didnt take her house keys. They did not find us, Michael refused to walk, they struggled home and amused themselves in the backyard until Marcus and I returned. We took an extra long time as we had found some excellent rock pools and couldn't tear ourselves away from the crabs, seastars, anemones and sea snails. Also we had a swim, and Marcus's first encounter with reasonable size waves at a reasonable depth went very well. He was very brave (for him). I have 99% convinced him to have swimming lessons.

On Sunday we had a party in the Botanical Gardens for Marcus's mate Ruben (no E). That went off very well. Ruben is a big fan of the Cactus House, so that's where they had his party. Marcus is a big fan of the Antarctic House (actually sub-antarctic, as the mural painted around the wall includes a rabbit). It was realistically cold and windy in there.

In the afternoon we drove to the rock-pooly end of the beach (everyone was very tired) and showed our rockpools off to Elf and Michael. Marcus ran up and down the beach like a loon and had to swim again. I was feeling poorly and couldn't bring myself to. Whatever the weather, any way you slice it, the water here is very cold.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Truck carrying house flops over going around a corner

Oh, and apparently the truck carrying half of our old house flopped over going around a corner a little too fast down near Carlton somewhere. Had to get a crane to get it back on its wheels again. House a bit squashed here and there, but no harm done eh? She'll be right. A few broken windows? Lets in the lovely breeze on these muggy evenings.

Sick as a parrot

No blogs. Sick as a dog and/or parrot, whichever whinges more. Deafened by silence in response to house moving photos that I (myself [personally]) thought were staggering. Having a little sulk. Hmm. Time for another nasal congestion tablet.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Now we're getting somewhere

xxx Cascade Rd is now a vacant block. We took the boys up for a look after work last night. They were very interested and not at all alarmed. Elf is extremely excited and just wants to spend all day sitting around in the dust, dreaming. The block does look quite small now. The outlook from the backyard is so lovely - it will be great if we will be able to see through the new house from front to back as planned. We have a similar elevated outlook from inside upstairs and especially from the front deck.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Its gone!

It was the wierdest feeling. There were a few scary moments, but it seemed to go well. Poor Judy was so anxious she threw up a few times in our back yard. No-one involved had a hard hat except the stop & go man on the road.

Unfortunately we had to head back to work before the 2nd half of the house was moved. More photos at

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Evil santa shreds with ukelele at the lawn bowls

I hope I haven't used that title before.

The Bowling Shanes Prem Def 21 d (Insert Name Here) 7

This was fancy dress round. We mustered two Santas, a formal black tie with novelty moustache, and a "70s pimp" - purple polyester pants, basically.

And, that's all I can think of to say about bowls this week. We won again, which makes seven out of seven. We actually won the carton this week too. I found it hard to keep my concentration on the game last night - I kept thinking it would have been a lovely evening for a walk. I can't even remember the name of the opposing team. I think we need a loss to inject a dose of reality.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oh my God!!!

This is the excavation for the crane to remove the house - the big stuff is underway. We had palpitations when we saw it.We didn't think they would be digging out quite this much. Our whole front yard is now someone else's "clean fill".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chonk pops the question

Elf's brother Chonk (Edwin) has finally proposed to Irma, the Swiss-Texan, and she has accepted! We may be on our way to a wedding in Switzerland! Or Texas. Next year! Or the one after. When the fog in the crystal ball clears we will be able to plan something. Hopefully the boys will be pulling in $$ as child models or chess prodigies or something by then.

In further news, the house that was our home will be rent asunder and trucked away on Thursday morning, 23rd November. We are going to be in position to watch some of it I hope. Will it scar the boys mentally? I really hope not.

And my mum and dad and my niece Pip will be arriving tomorrow to stay the weekend with us, which should be fantastic. As long as the snow stays away.

Boring Blunnies

Elf reports: I told the Marcus that I'd bought a Christmas present for him and Michael [a little trampoline - shhhh.] He looked quite pleased and didn't ask anything. Later, when we were leaving Tradewear - having bought the boys' new Blundstones, Marcus quietly asked on the way back to the car...'Um, mum... are these boots our new Christmas present?' (sounding worried) - 'cos if they are - well, they're a bit boring' (he said boring in a very apologetic way).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boronia Beach

It's been a strange day. Repeated showers of hail all over town, and snow on the mountain in mid November. Its was 5° when Marcus and I drove past The Mercury on our way to swim (indoor, heated) at about 3.30. It's tentatively fined up this evening but still cold like the frozen-pizza-and-icecream aisle.

I've just been for a light post-dinner walk to the beach - Boronia Beach. Its beautiful! Very very small, hemmed in between rocky headlands. It is not far at all (I was there and back in 20 minutes) but there are a lot of steps down and, regrettably, back up. It takes some finding too, as you need to go down what seems to be a driveway for a ways before the gate and a sign appear on your right.

It is reputed to be a nude beach. I can honestly say I saw no clothes at all, but then I was the only one there. Hopefully if I continue taking walks on my own there I won't be arrested for lurking. I'll try to take a photo next visit.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I am feeling like a small endangered rat kangaroo today, and so I say (if you bend down to listen) - "eep".

The boys have been generally pretty excellent lately. They are having in-depth conversations. Marcus is always trying to teach Michael things. He has also had a massive creative outburst of drawings lately.

We have New Kingston Friends. Elf and I actually met Mel on a plane some weeks back. We went to visit her and met her Canadian husband Greg and her boys Mason and Dylan, who are about a year younger than Marcus and Michael respectively. They live about 10 minutes walk from us in Kingston Heights (ooh la la) - which although lower than our place, has a better view of the beach. The boys all played very happily, except poor Dylan was ejected from the room several times so I played witrh him instead.

They are top folks and we really liked their chocolate brownies. Incredibly, at their wedding their parents recognised each other. Mel's uncle had worked in the same office as Greg's dad in Colombo in 1955.

At large in St Kilda

The flu has given me a hangover without the fun drinking part. I have drunk litres and litres of water over the last three days. My body is trying very hard to flush out something or other. The glands in my neck are swollen and my throat feels like I have been eating large triangular things.

I woke up feeling not too bad, considering. I set off at 8 am to walk to my old place in Elwood for a look. I didn't take long to change my plan. It was, in all objectivity, a dull part of Elwood, and why the hell should I walk that far? So i just schlepped through St Kilda, enjoying the eclectic architecture, as far as the Elwood canal. Phew, the canal is still better in photos than in real life.

I skipped back to the hotel in time to meet Alex and Suparna for brunch. Fruity porridge on account of my throat. They are very keen to have kids, and we talked a lot about that stuff. I was showing off the award to them when I somehow poked myself in the face with it and drew blood. Then Roz and Mike and their kids Cooper and Kenzie arrived. Mass rearranging of chairs and dragging together of tables. I was carpeted by a staff member who said "Did you do this off your own bat or did you organise this with a host?". It's their way around the waiter/waitress thing I guess.

A man ran through a busy and complicated intersection diagonally, flat out, fists pumping, mullet trailing behind, carrying two litres of milk. He looked a lot like the guy in the 4 Corners doco on ice, the new scary drug. A little later a plodding, nodding, shuffling guy went past, in the same direction, with two litres of milk, with just a little bit missing out of it. He was less exciting and I suppose no-one is making documentaries about him.

Fitting right in so well I nearly missed him, Brown walked past gingerly. I hailed him. He gave me a few of the details of what I had missed, then went off to do Christmas shopping. Christmas day might be interesting at his place. Pink had already gone past looking credibly human, with his sister who lives in Melbourne.

The trip home was ragged but pretty uneventful. Beige had bought some fancy speakers with "signature yellow woofers" and everyone had to take turns carrying them. He cannot make any serious purchase on Tasmanian soil. I shared a bus home to Kingston from the city with a large contingent of facially pierced yoof who had been to a beer festival, and had cartons of Beers of the World to prove it.

Painting the town red with Mr Brown

How did the ATOM Awards go? Well, we left with one of the sharp little perspex fellas, but we were hoping for 2 or 3. We won Best Multimedia, for the Uluru - Kata Tjuta DVD. We had two of the other four nominations in this category, so that in itself was a pretty good effort.

Mr Brown commenced sinking beers before we even left the office. We reached Melbourne in fair to good condition. (Note, if you can detect a smug tone of detachment here its because I was on water all night on account of flu thing.) On board the plane I copped a brisk elbow to the head from a hostie during the safety mime show. Avoid 10C on the Jetstar Hobart flights.

When we got out of the cab in front of our hotel, Mr Beige looked up and down Fitzroy Street muttering to himself "where can I buy some underpants?" When we assembled at the George Hotel across the road for a few more nerve-settlers, Mr Beige had gone off to apparently "meet a friend". Sharpest dressed was certainly Mr Pink. Mr Brown says he looked up "lounge suit" in Wikipedia but still appeared in jeans.

We whizzed off to the glittering function, Mr Tan leaving the company Amex card behind the bar at the George. Inside the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square we met up with our Melbourne-based designer Ms Cerise, our former editor Mr Purple, and our receptionist Ms Magenta. We hadn't seen Cerise for ages so we filed past and kissed her on the cheek. I was told I was "slobbery".

We entered the cinema, raked at an alarming angle. The compere, Denise Scott, looked like she was at the bottom of a well. She amused herself making the artsy filmo types uncomfortable with some arse jokes then finally got on with it.

It was too stuffy and a bit boring for me, in my intolerant fluey state. Elf called to tell me Michael had used the word "magnificent" to describe a piece of LEGO armour, so I used that as my pretext to hang around Fed Square for a while, find a bottle of water and enjoy the warm evening. Mr Beige (looking very comfortable downstairs) was doing the same. Eventually we slouched back in again. Just in time to see us miss out on a couple of awards.

Thingo Media, with whom we are collaborating currently, won two awards in a row. Mr Tan seethed. Our smokers left en masse to seethe while smoking. We missed another one. I was busting. Finally came the Best Multimedia, and... fffffffah, we got one. If we'd dudded that one with three of the five nominations there might have been a scene. I thought that was it for our nominations, and rushed out.

Emerging from the stylish ACMI toilets (the only place without lively plasma screens), I met Messrs Brown, Beige, Purple and Tan, muttering and ordering drinks. I had missed our last chance, and so had we. There were only two nominations for Best Website, and we didn't get it.

Ours was Dust On My Shoes, a big budget whopper with ABC, TECC and Australian Film Commission money. It was my entire working output for about nine months, not to mention the masses of work contributed by others at Roar, original music written and recorded, travel undertaken across Europe, the Middle East and Asia... yadda yadda.. Very wide in scope anyway.

The winner was, by Jasmin Tarasin. Its a lovely site for a film production company, (much like ourselves). She has done very well to beat our site that simply dwarfed her project in scale and funding. We were glum about it last night but there you go.

Crumpler Bags sponsored the awards, and each winner was given a Crumpler with their pointy trophy. I decided we might as well make a statement, so I got the bright red backpack out of its polythene bag and put it (the pack) on over my suit. I wanted to say - "make no mistake, I am a WINNER".

We wobbled out into the night like the lost patrol at about 11 in search of dinner. We were a leaderless rabble by this stage, with Brown and Tan focussing on more drinks and only Beige lending me any real support in getting the tooth into some food. If I recounted the places we went you would not believe it plus it would be boring.

I aggressively charged into a Greek place that looked OK and had no queue. I had decided to cut myself loose from the pack. Everyone ended up sheepishly coming in and having Greek too. Then I caught a cab home. You can only drink so much water, and I was saving some energy for the morrow.

Unsurprisingly, Brown and Tan continued to go in hard, and flew home the next day without bothering with sleep. They were spurred on by Purple (who seems to have friends with "stuff" and "gear" in every club in the country), and accompanied until dawn by Pink. Apparently "sleeping and eating's cheating".

I had my best night's sleep in ages.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lounge suits mandatory

I am off to Melbourne with my workmates shortly, to attend the ATOM Awards. I think it stands for Australian Teachers of Multimedia. We have seven nominations so I hope we will bring home a number of awards. I am suffering some kind of fluey thing, and plan to have a quiet and early night.

I had a terrible night's sleep, waking every 40 minutes. I was terribly cold all day yesterday, then terribly hot all night. The wierdest things is that a lot of old bumps, bruises and knocks from years ago returned to haunt me last night. I am alarmed to think these things don't go away, just subside and wait for the right virus or bacteria to thrust them into the limelight again.

My brain is working at about 3/4 pace, so I hope I am not required to make any sparkling conversation tonight.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The old house is looking amazing

Click on the title of this post to see a small photo album of Terry and Judy's progress. Lots of Lath and not much Plaster.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Bowling Shanes Prem. Def. 12 d Ride-on Bowlers (?) 10

Our scheduled opposition didn't show, possibly fearing they would be crushed by the Shanes juggernaut. Some likely lads who were just hanging around the place were welded into a fighting unit by Merv and took us on. They actually played very well, and we were in trouble at 0-4. We got back into the game, details elude me now.

We were one shot up with one end left. Their lead sent down a corker that stopped dead centre about a metre short. My first was a backhand that snuck in around him and carried the kitty away beautifully. His 2nd was a bit long and wide. My second was a forehand that nudged the kitty back towards my first into a beautiful ménage à trois. Probably my finest ever pair of bowls.

As usual, my work was given scant respect by those who followed. The lead is like a conceptual artist, and unless someone takes the trouble to document his ephemeral work, no trace of it remains at the end of the performance. My sensitive bowlcraft was blown away by a bloke called Nathan with full-blooded drive (at his 2nd attempt), but we hung on to take a point and the match.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

OId diary notes

In the moving process I found a diary from 1995/96. Here are a few entries.

22/4/95 [Christchurch NZ] OK Flight. Spectacular Mt Cook and glaciers. Sharing room with old japanese man. Went up gondola - dark, not great. Excellent silver tussock grass. Odd cars. Say "hooray" for goodbye. Bit worried about VISA. Choc and pumpkin muffin.

24/4/95 [Kaikoura NZ] Out of bed at 5.45. Must get alarm, I was waking up on the hour. Fought to stay awake on the bus here. Amazing countryside - very green. Double road tunnels. Surf pounding - gray day. [Later] Not a great day. Seal swim cancelled due to weather. Hired wetsuit - swim best forgotten. Cadbury chocolate fish. Dog in a paper bag. Late swim, saved the day. Long chat with 2 girls from Sheffield and 1 tall dutch girl. Bodysurfed in the dark - moonless, black sand.

25/4 [Kaikoura NZ]
Anzac Day
Kaikoura Bay
Happy Hours as Usual
blowing a gale
of rain and hail
but dress strictly neat casual

WHALE WATCH CANCELLED. To Picton - amazing clouds around hills. Paua patties $1. Most of town seems to be made of Hardiplank.

15/8/95 Picnic? Walk on the domain. Saw a goose on the roof. Very foggy - drizzling. AMP Building. Man blowing nose + shining (?) combi van.

3/?/96 First group meeting Nick, Anna, Rob, Manuel, Chris. Agreed to stage show in Oct/Nov. Venue undecided. Gen. theme - whimsy. R wanted Tasmanian Whimsy but was shouted down. Sally to join if she wants - and 'approved' as suitably whimsical. All agreed we hate the word 'whimsical'.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Marcus dressing up!

We recently had a breakthrough, with Marcus getting his face-painted. He used to object to it as he was worried no-one would know that it was him inside. He also let me dress him up for a grand final day at Friends - he wanted number 10. He's a bit small to be Greg Strafford, so he might need to be the previous No. 10, Nick Daffy.


On Saturday we walked with the boys the length of the beach to Browns River, and back again. I found a forked stick and dragged it behind me, making a "road" of two parallel lines. The boys followed it wherever it went, so I did loop-de-loops and wiggles and big curves. I exhausted myself first, of course.

There were lots and lots of yachts. The little sabots were flibbiting about with eight-year-olds at the helm. There were some bigger yachts with red sails, I think they are Lasers. It was very scenic. The Esplanade was lined with cars, but apart from the yachtsfolk there was scarcely anyone on the beach. Strange. People seem to drive to the beach, sit and eat chips and drive away again.

Mum reminded me on the phone last night that there is another little beach, that is actually a bit closer to our house. We will have to extend our explorations in that direction.

Drought and rock n roll profanity at South Arm

On Sunday we drove in a big circle to get to South Arm. We had not visited Jonathan, Monica, Lena and Elise and for a long time. Their place is very dry. The girls have a bath together in a baby bath, then they use the water on the garden. Jonathan's tractor has broken down, and is now parked just outside the picture window in the bathroom, providing an interesting rural view when seated on the toilet.

NIck and Anna and their girls had taken a drive to the country too. Nick and Jonathan and I usually go for a blokey walk around the property. I am hopelessly urban, and always score very badly on this part of the visit, but N and J continue to take me along with them. They are probably hoping I will learn to stand on the clover and not the vegetables. Past experience suggests they are wrong. Jonathan said that a neighbour of his commented that the soil is so poor there that growing anything is essentially an exercise in hydroponics. Hence the clover, which is green manure, just grown to be dug in to enrich the soil. Also - garlic needs to be in the ground earlier in winter than onions. I will read back over this blog before my next trip to South Arm, and perhaps also borrow a ute and dog.

After elevenses we all went along to the South Arm Primary School Fair. We had a pretty good time, but there was a teen rock band playing Metallica as we arrived. They were good, but that's not what I want to hear at a primary school fair on Sunday morning. A bit later they had moved onto Killing In The Name Of by Rage Against The Machine. I thought, surely they aren't going to do the part where they sing "F@&% off I won't do what you tell me", about eight times in a row. I was wrong, they did it loud and clear. Ahem.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I can't believe its not paint!

We got a big graphics tablet at work a few months ago, for a freelance film editor to use. Better for his bad back than a mouse, or something. Anyway, he's finished up now, and it has just been sitting around neglected. I am very slow at taking up new methods, so I have been looking askance at it. Just occasionally I have plugged it in and had a tiny play with it, but not for long enough to really see if I like it.

So I brought it home for the weekend and I have just broken through and got some results that make me feel like its worth persisting. This is a pretty terrible painting in terms of colour and composition, because I am way out of practise, but the painty effects I feel are really nice. It looks like it would take a while to clean up after.

This painting has a scan from a Russian dictionary in the background, and a scan of a coin print in the top corner, but is otherwise all digitally created.

Some art school stuff

I just found a folder full of graphic design exercises from Art School, c 1988. I was doing rough layouts with photocopies and watercolour. Them was the days.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Bowling Shanes Prem. Def. 13 d The Bowling Shanes A 6

Difficult mizzling conditions. Derby game against juniors. In the absence of Dave (buttock strain, 1 week) young Andy made step up playing against old team-mates, acquitted himself well in the big league. I applied some physical pressure to young Richie, skip of the A, with a shoulder charge at change of ends. Put him off his game for the duration - he is contemplating stepping down from the top job.

Hunter skipped the undefeated Shanes Prem. Def. as we established a 9-1 lead that was unassailable in the conditions. I bowled pretty consistently and was happy with my contribution, except that I stepped in and started removing bowls at what I thought was the close of an end, when there was one bowl left. I had moved one and was reaching for the second. I was on my way to the clubhouse to tender my resignation when I was called back and persuaded to continue playing.

So, the A have been tempered in the flames of a complete baking from the seniors. They will be a better side, and individually better people for it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Attack sock

I am illustrating flat out these days. I am drawing every little thing an Australian infantryman in the Vietnam War might need on patrol, even including fripperies like a portable radio and a camera. This is an interactive exercise for schoolkids, which will be part of a CD-ROM distributed by the Dept of Veterans Affairs.

Each item has three appearances - how it looks on the shelf waiting be chosen, how it looks when it is first put on the infantryman or in his pack, then how it looks (if still visible) once he picks up his rifle and strikes an action pose.

It was while illustrating the offensive posture of the sock that I have finally succumbed to the ridiculousness of it all. I need a cup of tea.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A formal farewell to the Old House

We had our neighbours from xxw and xxy over in the backyard at xxx yesterday afternoon. The five kids got over their shyness and performed mass gymnastics on the swing set. At one stage Adrian set the double swing swinging hard, with no-one aboard, then crawled towards it. Five grown-ups turned as one and snarled "GET DOWN! KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!" It was just like 'Nam. We had a champagnes and nibbles and agreed to do it again at Christmastime. What nice neighbours we have/had/will have again.

Today I went back for the "last" (ie almost certainly not the last) time, walked into my house, signed an agreement with Terry and Judy and walked out of their house. As I left Judy was tearing the ivy off the wall outside the bathroom and Terry was laying bare the laths above the fireplace with a hammer. So, too late to reconsider then.

Snowy Friday

Its snowed here late on Friday. I was expecting it to fall pretty far down the mountain, but not to fall and settle in our backyard here at the Beach House. We would only be about 50 - 70m above sea level. Marcus had fallen asleep on the way home from town. We woke him up and he was excited, but cold. Michael took it all in his stride. Sun? OK! Snow? OK! Sun again? OK!

Nick and Anna and the girls were our first guests, on Saturday. It was too blowy and cold to take them to the beach, but they agreed it was a fine billet for the summer, and Anna was nice enough to mention that we had done well to have it tidy so soon after moving in.

I took the boys for a Sunday morning walk to the beach while Elf winkled out the very last bits and pieces from the Old House. It was sunny and fine, but the water was c-c-cold. As the waves lapped about our feet I looked up at the snow on the mountain and thought what a funny place this is. And I hope the weather hasn't gone crazy for good.

Beachy Thursday

Thursday was Show Day. We decided the boys are not old enough for us all to get our moneys worth before tiredness overcomes them. We will go along next year, as Elf and I are both big fans of the whole heifers-and-and-fancy-poultry side of it. Spare me the giant inflatable squeaking hammers, though.

I went to the Old House to do some packing. It was a nice day so Elf took the boys for their first walk to the beach. I came home later and we all enjoyed the sunshine in the relatively vast backyard. Marcus and I have adapted our backyard soccer to the wide one spaces. The previous tenant left four of those bamboo-pole kero fueled lamps. We have co-opted two as the goalposts that I defend, while my target at the other end for Marcus to defend is a fairly small yellow beach-style bucket. I also go uphill and have to get over a six-inch concrete step that runs most of the way across the yard.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More scenes from Kingston Beach 7050

Marcus teaching Michael to read. By the end Michael was reading it all unaided.

Diagonal pine, vertical pine, horizontal pine.

A couple of locals working on their tans.

We walked down to the beach yesterday. Boys afrolic in the foam.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

News from Penguin says "A new deputy premier for Tasmania will be chosen later this week after the former deputy, Bryan Green, appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning on criminal charges [...] One of the TCC's directors, former Tasmanian Labor health minister John White, and a Penguin-based ministerial adviser, Guy Nicholson, have also been charged with conspiracy."

Guy Nicholson taught at Hellyer College with my dad. It's amusing to imagine the mental images conjured in non-Tasmanian readers' brains by the description of him as "Penguin-based".

Tiny Army Hats

For some reason, I find these pictures really, really funny. Possibly because they come from a website where grown-ups take all this stuff very, very seriously.