Friday, April 28, 2006

Guitar duet

This evening Michael was parading around with his ukelele. "I've got the music! [this is his name for the Wiggles Tape Recorder that doesn't work] I've got my guitar! Come on!" I rallied to his cause, and found the other ukelele, and we stomped up and down a while playing random power chords. After a while we were both stuffed, so I said let's sit down. We sat next to each other and I picked out a few lame notes with a bread-tie plectrum. Michael wanted this, so I found a real plectrum. He was holding his guitar properly, strumming it properly, and now and then doing the heroic strum-up-into-the-air thing like a folkie at the end of a long banjo breakdown. I plunked along beside him. He looked very happy and said "We are playing guitar together!" It was one of those golden moments.

Kites and Flags

On Wednesday I picked Marcus up after kinder. He was very keen to fly kites, even though the wind was very light. The best kite-flying place is in fact next to the Cenotaph, so I found myself back there again. After a bit of not-very-successful kite flying, and a kick of the soccer ball, we went over to look at the flowers and the flags. I didn't really want to force Marcus to think about wars and death, but he does ask questions about such big topics all the time, so there is no running and hiding from it. He asked intelligent questions, and recognised the flag of Tasmania hanging limply in among the others. Quite a few people came to the Cenotaph while we were flying the kites. One middle-aged lady and her mother asked me if I wanted their help getting the bigger kite up in the air. We tried but then all agreed with no wind it just wasn't going to happen.

Anzac Day

This is a catch up dadness for Tuesday and Wednesday, typed at home in the sunroom on the old iMac in the dark after a mammoth washing up session while listening to Don McLaren's POW diaries from the fall of Singapore in February 1942 to the liberation of Japan in Spetember 1945. That's a very, very long time.

It was Anzac Day on Tuesday. I went to the dawn service for the second year - I will try to make it every year now. It is very moving and observed with great solemnity by all ages who attend. I think the mere fact it's so early on a cold April morning concentrates the mind, and discourages those who have no taste for dignified silences. A brass band played quietly in the dark, with tiny LED lights on their music stands.

The address was read by a primary school girl. Like last year it was very mature, and read very confidently. I am impressed but also unsettled by this. I would probably prefer something more genuinely child-like, with less evidence of grown-up coaching, if it is thought desirable to rope in the littlies for these things. I can imagine if that was one of my sons reading I would be both proud of him, and disgusted with our species. Sometimes the things we have to teach children about life seem like a series of telegrams bearing bad news.

Later we all went along to the Anzac march. On our way up Victoria Street we walked past the marshalling point. Old diggers struggled out of cabs, or sat quietly in buses waiting for their cues. One snowy-haired gent was trying to get a recalcitrant sword into a scabbard - he must have been a major at least, or he's putting on airs.

Who should march is an interesting debate, but in the end it is for the veterans to tell us who they will accept beside them. In twenty years time, if I want to march because I was in the Army Reserve for six months and my grandfather fought in New Guinea, someone will have to draw a line including or excluding me. I would hope by that time we have stopped adding new categories to the back of the parade, because there will be no more wars.

Perhaps they should put up a little obelisk somewhere for people who manage to stop wars getting going in the first place. I'd go there at dawn too.

We bumped into Rob and Mel and Olivia, and shared the parade. It seemed shorter than last year to me. Rob's favourite was the Field Hygiene Unit.

Rob and I topped off the 25th by going to see Kokoda, a new Australian film about the experience of a small group of Australian soldiers, in the battle to push back the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea, in WW2. My Poppa Frank Jackson fought in New Guinea. The movie was well made, and quite moving. The final address to the battered survivors by an officer (played by William McInnes) is very emotional. At the end though I felt like I had been through a pretty standard war movie, that happened to be about an Australian experience.

I am always suspicious of Australian claims to special status as warriors. I am sure everyone from the Italians to the Iraqis say the same of themselves. I suppose the one special thing that can be said about the Australian effort at Kokoda is that it was the first time in the war the Japanese had been turned back.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sheep hugging cheese-eating Sunday

Mum and Dad have been down campervanning around the district, and we spent Sunday all together. We headed off down the beautiful D'Entrecasteaux Channel, to have a look at the GrandVewe sheep dairy. All their products' names are groan-inducing sheep puns.

They have terrific sheep cheeses, not just the chevre kind either. They have a sheepy blue vein and a sheepy havarti, among others. I had a nice goatmilk flat white. We bought sheep-milk ice creams for the boys. I had a taste, and it was pretty good, but at $4.50 for about a 50ml tub they aren't going to sell much when they get it into shops I don't think.

We went out to feed the sheep and one got a bit carried away and burrowed under the fence into the car park. Elf suggested I rescue it. I was a little worried about my back, but more about damaging a valuable ice-cream producing animal. I lifted it over the fence reasonably easily - it was very soft and cuddly. I hope I don't fall victim to that syndrome where fire-fighters go out lighting fires to give themselves an opportunity to be a hero. I might accidentally nudge a few sheep out into carparks so I can pick them up and give them a squish.

We continued on down the Channel to Gordon where the road does a big U and heads back up north, and found ourselves in Cygnet for lunch at the Red Velvet Lounge. The RVL is a hippyish kind of place in a great old building. It was a general store for a while but may have originally been a picture theatre. Although it's in the main street of Cygnet (bank and PO across the road) the view out the window from the toilets at the back is just cows in paddocks.

Shanes hold their own

The jaunt to Launceston went well in all respects except the actual lawn bowls results. The format was two one-hour matches. We were drawn against the two eventual grand finalists.

Breakfast was pies at Ross. Dean holds that they are the best pies, in the World. As he has been a roving Pie Ambassador for the UN (Nicole Kidman style) I don't think we can doubt his word. We got to the Trevallyn Bowls Club on time with no incidents. No repeatable jokes were told on the way.

We bowled reasonably well. Dean kept us in the first match against Trevallyn Cricket Club with three inexplicable drives delivered in non-driving situations. He didn't really intend any of them, he just was having trouble coming to grips with the parched and sandy surface at Trevallyn. However they came about, the three shots were worth 10 points saved and 3 points on the board. We still lost, deservedly.

Our next match I would say we bowled near our peak, but only won two ends. We lost 12-5 to Latrobe Hardware. The heads were all incredibly tight, you could cover six or eight bowls with a doormat. Our opponents had the edge in class. The late mail around was that their number 2 was an A grade ring-in who had played for Tasmania.

So, we found ourselves well out of the running, and challenged some local old-timers to a match because we weren't that interested in just sitting and watching the final. We finally put it all together, and the Shanes d Derek, Ronnie, Gordon and Vic 14-8, to salvage some southern pride. It was a very even performance from the team all day, with perhaps newcomer Dan taking the honours as best afield.

One of the old gents watching us play told me he played Tuesday Turkey Triples. "You bowl in threes, that's the triples. The winning team gets a turkey. Each. The losing teams put their cards on the table. One gets drawn, they win chickens. The rest stay on the table and there is another draw..." I was hoping he would say they win quail or pigeons. ..." and they, er, also win chickens".

So - if you are ever in Launceston with a couple of buddies at a loose end, remember Trevallyn Tuesday Turkey Triples.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bowling Shanes Reform for Tour

The Bowling Shanes have been asked to saddle up again to play in an intrastate carnival. We are driving up to Launceston at dawn to take the green against the might of the Northwest and North. Due to work and holiday commitments we have had to draft in a couple of keen youngsters, Dan Stonehouse and Richard Angus, who've been impressing in the twos. The new-look combo has no weak links except perhaps myself - but I am an automatic selection because I offered to drive.

Stand tuned for news of our results. There is money up for grabs I believe. This will ensure all teams will be fielding ring-ins from A-grade bowls wearing home-made disguises.

More brewery drawings

A new drawing from memory with the chimneys left out to emphasise the poplars.

An old drawing from life.

Be sure not to mention this to the penguins

Some more ANARE code. Sometimes complicated emotional situations could develop in the isolation of Antarctica.

WYTEV I love you darling
WYVZO I can hardly wait for you to come back

YACET Owing to a misunderstanding
WUYGD Sea Elephants are breeding
WYSUX I think about you both all the time

YANUL I have put on a lot of weight
YOMWO Be sure not to mention this to
WUYVY Gentoo Penguins

YAPUL Have had minor frostbite
YANFA Staying in bed
YACIV Telegram mutilated

WYSWO Love and kisses

Practical joke idea #65b

I went to the toilet at the restaurant the other day. When you go through the door marked TOILET you find three further doors marked with a little man, a little woman, and CLEANER. I am tempted to smuggle in some signs in the same size and font as CLEANER that say CLEAN and CLEANEST, and stick them over the man and the woman.


Backseat banter

Marcus: You're a smelly baby. You're Smelly Guy.
Michael: No I am not. I am Poo Guy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I have grown a beard which is generally admired

Below are some example of ANARE code - developed to save space on telegrams sent home by Australians working in Antarctica. There are many categories, such as Weather, Health, Affectionate Phrases and Miscellaneous, which includes the following:

YIHPY Hello and how are you
YIGIK All your friends ask me to send their regards and best wishes
YIGJE Best wishes from all here
YIJNO I have grown a beard
YIGUM I have grown a beard which is awful
YIGYN I am not sure whether (to)
YIHEK Think I (we) ought
YIKOP Looking forward to seeing you (in)
YIKPO This place gives you a pain at times
YIKYR This place gives you a pain at times but its worth it
YIHKE I have grown a beard which is generally admired
YIHMO I have grown a beard but think I'll shave it off before I get back to Australia

Mild Peril

I found this on the site for the first Ice Age movie.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wooden Anniversary celebrated with Meat

On Friday it was five years to the day since we were married! The traditional gift is wood. The blokey thing to say would be that I bought Elf a couple of tonnes of dry East Coast peppermint. But, the truth is we decided we have too much stuff, so we are making a small donation to the Bush Heritage Fund to help them buy a parcel of threatened bush somewhere.

On Saturday we had lunch to celebrate, at The Boathouse where we had our reception five years ago. In honour of the anniversary we sat on chairs made of cane (technically a kind of wood), at a table also made of some kind of wood. The menu was printed on pulped, bleached and flattened wood and we were warmed by the merry crackle of the burning of further pieces of wood.

The food, I am happy to say, was entirely wood-free. I had a yearling beef entree that was divine. Marcus has become a vegetarian, so we are not eating much meat at home at the moment. Elf had porterhouse. We dug in like a couple of lions at the zoo after a zookeeper strike.

Marcus has rationalised his vegetarianism very well, and we have decided to just let him have his way, as long as he is prepared to eat what we serve up to him instead. He says animals are our friends and we shouldn't eat them. Its a fine sentiment and one I find challenging to debate. But that yearling beef certainly was good.

Afloat on Easter Monday

The Aurora Australis Antarctic supply vessel at its home berth.

Michael and another moppet entranced by the waves. You can see from some of the details here that this ferry is slightly decrepit.

Easter Dadness

On Thursday Bill and Felicity arrived, from Canberra by car and ferry. They stayed with Mum and Dad at Turners Beach en route and had a nice walk along the beach. Boys were excited to see them, and leapt about like puppies showing off their various tricks.

Friday is a bit of a blank. Err... I remember a game of scrabble. And making about a thousand teas and coffees. We had atlantic salmon for lunch, that was pretty fabulous.

On Saturday we went to the Museum AGAIN. For Marcus and I it was our fourth visit inside a week. Bill loved the film of stormy sub-antarctic seas. The presentation of old stereographic photos from the Mawson expedition is still stunning, even on the fourth viewing. You pop on some special 3D glasses and the icebergs loom, the penguins are very round and fat, the ropes on the ship interweave in space, its quite amazing. The soundtrack is wonderfully clean and evocative. The makers avoided the temptation of adding a plonking voice-over.

On Saturday evening Elf and Felicity went to a very long and involved service at All Saints. Bill and I were actually on our way out to the car to go in search of them when they appeared. All Saints is the Anglican church down the road, where we were married and the boys were christened. It is very "high church" and they like to extend every little part of a service with latin, incense, lots of processions and people bowing to each other. They have a cast of about a dozen be-robed personages, who all have to bow to one another in turn. It all takes forever.

On Sunday we all (B and F included) visited the Moonah Farm (Saffy's house). We had an easter egg hunt, threw the ball for the dog, examined the chickens, collected a bucket of quinces.

On Monday we went on a ferry trip up and down the river, on the MV Emmalisa. I once lived at Bellerive and went to work in the morning and home in the evening on this little boat. They were patchy days at home, but I always felt happy with my place in the world when I was sitting out in the sun on the open deck with a coffee in the morning or a beer on the way home. The fare was only $1.50!

Bill particularly enjoyed the outing, old salt that he is. As we went under the bridge the recorded tourist info recounted the story of the disaster in 1974 when the Lake Illawarra crashed into one of the pylons, two sections of bridge fell and the ship sank into very deep water where it is today. Seven sailors died, and five more people died when a handful of cars sailed over the edge in the dark. Marcus asked a few questions about this, and said that he hopes when people die they come back to life again later. I reminded him that when you die, you are gone for good, so you always have to be very careful and do what mum and dad say. "What about Jesus, he died and then he came back didn't he?" Ah, Easter. It's not just chocolate eggs.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

American podcasts starting to pall

"I like the new green tea and melon latte at Starbucks...and I also like the chai donuts."
Oh God - please don't let Hobart become any more like Portland, Oregon than it is already.

Rupert Bunny

At this time of year I always like to ponder the contribution to Australian art made by Bunny. Bunny formed an important tie between Australian painting and French Impressionism. His landscapes are full of light and subtle colour harmonies. He was very fond of carrots and crunchy apples, and often wore a little yellow tartan waistcoat.

The Orchard c.1925
Oil on board
63 x 48cm

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cascade Brewery

This is my first new drawing in quite a while. I looked back through sketchbooks, and I was drawing scenes around the brewery quite a lot about two years ago. This is a remembered night view, looking down onto the main facade with Knocklofty behind it, from Hillsborough Road.

Podcast free day

I am getting into podcasts in a big way. All day at work I am listening to people talk. I've noticed that I am missing work banter now. When you listen to music, voices from outside the headphones are able to cut through, you take them off and banter ensues. Banter is essential to a happy office.

Now I am getting to know crazy radio-twosomes in Cleveland and Oregon better than my own workmates. They are so funny, have excellent timing, and lots of little sound effects and stings to drop into the mix. If there are any dead bits where not much happens they chop them out. I can press stop and play when they get a bit wearing. They leave my work colleagues for dead.

But - my colleagues are all basically nice people and as I said, without the oxygen of banter the office will slowly die. So tomorrow I am having a podcast-free day.

How about those Tigers?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two guitars

We bowed to the inevitable and bought Marcus a guitar like Michael's, except blue. We thought this might stop some of the unseemly guitar-grabbing and tuning-peg-twisting that has been going on. Boy were we wrong. Because the blue one is new, Michael isn't satisfied with his slightly used-looking red one. I think things are settling down a bit now.

In this picture they look like a couple of Ben Harpers about to burst into a searing slide duet.


When you have a schedule and stick to it pretty well then one day you run quite early, you notice a lot of different things. When you run late, you don't notice anything because you have your head down and you are red in the face and swearing. I was early on my walk this morning. I didnt see the old man with the dog whose head is in a lampshade-thing, but I did see a woman wearing shades and a peaked cap and carrying a huge silver open umbrella (and also walking a dog). It was not raining or overly sunny. She might have had an eye operation or maybe just conjuctivitis.

Also lots of families were sitting in cars with the doors open yelling "come on" to family members who were struggling out the door of their houses and yelling back "keep your hair on" etc. This business must be all over by 8.45 when I usually come through this area.

I saw black cockatoos and also a robin redbreast! Which perhaps is a native bird that just looks like that. Our robins are yellow aren't they? Completely tangential note: Ulverstone footy team (Essendon style jumper) are/were the Robins. Also North Launceston (same jumper) used to be the Robins before they went mainstream and became the Northern Bombers. Is this just a Tasmanian tendency? The fierce snarling robin mascot looks ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shanes Crazy Ride Ends

Ocean Child 14 d The Bowling Shanes 6

The slick Ocean Child combo wiped the floor with the Shanes earlier this evening. In light rain with occasional bursts of drizzle, the OCs calmly snudged out to a 5-0 lead, then before we knew it we were about 10-2 down and the small crowd knew it was all over. This week there was no barbie, no salad, no Shanettes waving the red-and-white floggers, and sadly no yelp from the Shanes.

We got a thorough bowls lesson from Mick, Mick, Mick and Daniel, who I believe are policemen. [The Ocean Child is a pub, for those unfamiliar with the Hobart scene]. They have been playing a year longer than us, and certainly seemed to be playing within themselves.

Still - we are proud of having come so far in one season. Stand by for a DVD of season highlights, available soon.

Shanes Progress to Ultra Grand Final

This afternoon The Bowling Shanes (Tuesday Night Champions) will be meeting Ocean Child (Wednesday Night Champions) in the ultra big, mega large Southern region lawn bowls final. We actually practised in the rain last night, so I guess any pretence that its just a bit of fun is out the window now.

Merv #2 drilled us in the various finer points of our roles. As "lead", I roll out the kitty when we win the previous end. One of the subtleties of lawn bowls is that sometimes the kitty is way out, sometimes quite short. If you find your opponents have a weakness on long or short ends, then when you have the opportunity to choose the length, you choose that which makes them uncomfortable.

Last night although it was pretty dark and raining moderately hard, I was hitting the mark uncannily well for short ends. (If it is shorter than a certain point or too long and goes into the ditch, it's out of bounds, and your opponent gets to throw it out instead). We'll see how I go under pressure tonight. All the rain has made the greens very slow. It could be an old fashioned low-scoring war-of-attrition mudbath. The greens are actually being pulled up and relaid in four days so even turf damage may not be beyond the pale of gamesmanship.

Go Shanes one more.

Lets Read About Parasites!

Marcus has got a very big book about insects and spiders from the library and he idolises it. Its that DK kind of information overload design with incredibly detailed illustrations and tons of little info boxes and captions and pointers and explanatory wangdoodles.

Marcus Read this page!
Dad Parasitic insects lay their eggs in the bodies of other insects or mammals. When the eggs hatch there is a ready made food for the larvae. When they grow the larvae burst out through the skin of...
Michael There's a K!
Dad OK, lets read another page now.
Marcus Its sad that that bug is killing that bee. Read that!
Dad The assassin beetle stabs the bee with its long proboscis and sucks out the...
Michael That's a W!
Etc etc.

We have all learnt a lot. I won't even mention what the book calls thehuman head louse.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Footy season is back

So, new hope is crushed so quickly. Richmond had their first game of the season on Friday night. About five minutes in Richo took a mark and lined up to kick for goal as though he had never done it before in his life, and the ball was a big cake of soap. The ball sconned a man sitting a few rows back in the forward pocket. "Ooooh" said the experts on TV "see how his left shoulder is dipping there..."

I think the real sadness of Richo is considering the other careers he has been denied by being a footballer. He could have been an Olympic high jumper or a brain surgeon. Instead he is still running around on the Richmond forward line and dipping his left shoulder when he kicks for goal. What a waste. And Richmond lost by 115 points.

The weekly wave

Every Monday a baby waves to me as I walk down Petty Street. His/her dad is labouring up the hill getting his/her three older siblings to primary school. They are all engaged in earnest walking and talking, and never give me the time of day (which is what one expects walking in suburban streets nowadays). But the baby always looks me in the eye and gives me a wave. I wave to the baby. And the week continues from there.


We had a decent snowfall on Friday night. When you drive up the mountain to see the snow it depends a lot on timing and luck whether you will actually get to throw any snowballs. There are five or six gates that are closed or opened depending on how much snow there is and how safe it is to drive on the road. We have several times arrived at a gate still closed long after the snow and the driving hazard has gone. So it was yesterday. But we did scamp around for a few minutes as new snow was falling.