Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Most of his might

We were getting ready to go swimming, and Marcus was describing his technique for putting on shoes.

Marcus: I put my toe in there and then I push this bit down with most of my might.
Dad: [Snort] Did you say most of your might?
Marcus: Well, no, ALL of my might... Dad, how do you know how much might you've got?

Its a good question. If you can bench press 100kg, is that a numerical value for your "might"?

When we did get to the pool, Marcus surprised himself and me by paddling along with his flotation ring without touching the bottom - the first time he's done it. I've been trying to get him interested in swimming lessons, and I think he now understands that you don't have to be able to swim already to go to lessons. I have used the prospect of going fishing with me when he can swim as a carrot. I hope no-one tells him how hopeless I am at fishing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Watching soccer with an American

I watched the game last night at my workmate Nathan's place. His partner Rachel is Texan. At one stage when Vince Grella attempted a tackle and an Italian was waltzing away from him, she was moved to scream: "Totallytotallygetup duuuuuude!!"

Italy 1 d Australia 0

Our glorious cup run is over. I am very very tired, I have a meeting in eighteen minutes and I don't have any shoes on. I just proposed that we (workmates) go up to the Landsdowne Cafe for a lunchtime wake. But then I thought - can you have a wake when you are three-quarters asleep?

Enough nonsense about a "controversial" penalty. About 95% of penalties are controversial. Italy found a way to win, as I kind of knew they would. Good luck to them - they held on very well with 10 men.

Now - I am going to find an A-league team to barrack for and try to maintain my interest for the next 4 years. I just have to find one with a not-too-silly name (Queensland Roar are out of the running).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Waiting for a mattress

We are waiting for Michael's new mattress to be delivered. While we wait - why not eat a few pears?

Michael is moving out of his cot, a very exciting development. We are giving it to Sharon and Andrew next door who are having a baby in September. Marcus has asked if we can put Michael's bed next to his so they can climb across. We think not.

(PS - Marcus has the patch on his eye for a while each day to correct a weak muscle).

Blog v World Cup

You may have noticed the World Cup has the blog in a sleeper hold and it is down for the count. But I am determined not to let this event [which runs a close second to having a baby in life-disrupting drop-everythingness] sink the blog for good.

Here is a breathless rundown of family events.

I went to see Cars with Marcus, having already seen it with Elf. It was his first outing to the cinema. The audience totalled eight - I have been to bigger video nights. Marcus loved it, didn't fall asleep (it went past his bedtime) and as the predictable happy ending - with a little lesson for us all - materialised during the final car race, he was on his feet, standing on his seat, fists pumping and shouting "YEAH!!" I would say he gave it an A+, and from me, an A.

Marcus and I have been playing A LOT of soccer. He insists on it being him versus me, and is not interested in any kick-to-kick. Soccer is all about personal glory for him, which is probably pretty standard among 4 year old boys. I know you can watch an entire under-8 game and not see one intentional pass.

I have been watching a few of the 5am kickoff games, usually levering myself out of bed about 5.30 to watch the last two thirds. Inevitably one or both boys is up and sitting with me for the last half hour. Yesterday I watched an enthralling game between Mexico and Argentina, decided by a sublime goal from Rodriguez of Argentina. I had Marcus with me from about 5.40 onwards. He came stumbling out rubbing his eyes, looked at the scoreboard Mexico 1 - Argentina 1 and said "Hmm - its Mongolia 1 and Angola 1 I suppose is it?" He is "supposing" a lot lately.

Michael said to Elf at breakfast this morning - "Are you sitting across from me mum?" Elf said yes, she was. Michael said "And I am sitting across from you aren't I?"

We still await building quotes. Apparently they have to dig a big hole for the quote, then pour concrete foundations for the quote so it doesn't wobble - then obviously frame the quote up before moving onto laying the first few courses of bricks, before they put up walls etc to get the quote to "lock-up" stage. I'm not sure when the quotes will be finished but I am sure they will be very confortable to live in while we wait another 10 years for an actual house.

Lily's 4th birthday was yesterday, and fine event it was too. Nick and Anna rolled it in with Katherine's first and Nick's 40th (which was very much bottom of the bill in very small writing). Lily is my god-daughter. Which reminds me Elf was reading a picture book about Noah's Ark to Michael last night when he said "What does this say?" - pointing to the word GOD. "That says God" said his Mum, warily. "What's that?" "Er..." Elf summed The Almighty up in a few sentences and Michael continued the book, quite happy with his new knowledge.

I can warn you that it's just going to be Cup, Cup, Cup for a little while now. I haven't written my thoughts on the draw with Croatia - you might have seen a little bit about it in the papers. Over the moon, tickled pink etc. Tonight we play Italy. We are in with a slim chance. With Lucky Guus in our corner we just might do it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Twenty two!

I sat up with Michael for a while at 3am this morning. He's having trouble sleeping, due to a bad cold and wheeziness. I thought well, I'm sure a bit of World Cup Soccer is just what he needs to get him off to sleep. (Actually, I was sure it would do no such thing, but I was too weak to NOT turn on the telly when I knew it was all happening.) Sure enough, instead of being lulled off to sleep by the soothing green pitch and the repetitive passing of the well-drilled but not very creative Saudi Arabians, Michael yelled every time he saw some numbers, like the score, or the back of a player's shirt.

Off to sleep little bundle.
I saw two twos there! Twenty two!!
Shhhh. Shhhhhhhhhh.

Etcetera. We watched another twenty minutes, until the end of the match, under a gentleman's agreement that he would then go back to the cot with Doggie and give it another try.

Mental health first aid

On my way down Petty St this morning I could see a lady standing at her gate, rocking from one foot to the other. She had the sun behind her so I couldnt tell if she was looking back at her house or up the road towards me - I guess she was trying to look around me to see iuf her friend was coming diown to walk to work with her or something.

When I got closer I could see she was looking down the side of her house (probably checking the dog that lives there was safely locked away) and then rattling the gate, maybe to check the catch was on. She rocked from side to side for about two minutes as I walked down. Dog, gate, dog, gate, dog, dog, dog again, gate, dog, gate, dog, etc etc.

I guess she is obsessive compulsive and does this every morning,but I hadn't see it before. I wonder if a well intentioned bystander should try to help an obsessive compulsive, or if you should just let them be, like a sleepwalker.

I know there is a such a thing as a mental health first aid kit - I am interested to know more about it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Latest From Brazilian newspapers

From Gazeta

Brazil came back the field in the beginning of the afternoon of this sunday to face the Australian truculent ones, with Ronaldo sanctioned in the attack to the side of Adriano. The player detached the sovereignty of the defensive sector ahead canarinho of the Australian giants, that they had abused the aerial balls in the duel of this sunday. "We knew that it would be difficult and that we would not gain all, but lead best in the majority and we do not pass great scares" pondered shirt three.

Juan was didactic: "As they were marking our stockings individually, these exits finish being important to open spaces".

Brazil did not enchant, error passes in surplus and showed an inexplicable desentrosamento. Beyond Ronaldo not having obtained to produce what of it if it waited, its homonym gaucho found difficulties in leaving the marking, arriving, also, to step on inside in the ball of the area in play for the right.

You launch them of bigger danger of the initial stage had finished happening in favor of Australia. Exactly abusing the violent game and the maldosas entrances, the teams of the Oceania obtained to emplacar some dangerous counterattacks, in kicks of long distance and balls raised for the area. In the final minute, Bresciano, that substituted Popovic, took off ink of the travessão of the Brazilian goleiro, at the best moment of the first time.

That's exactly how I saw it.

Lovely day out in Launceston

Jeff Blake and I went up to see the Tigers play Hawthorn in Launceston. They were overwhelming favourites, not something we have been able to boast very often in the last 20 years. It was a "danger game" - a phrase I have personally never used about a Richmond fixture before. But we were pretty sure we'd be singing the club song all the way back down the Midland Highway.

We were wrong. The Tiges didn't turn up to play. Even the warm-up was woeful. They trailed all day and went down by about six goals. We had fun all the same. We hooked up with my mate Joe and his wife Jill, it was a perfect day and Joe even had a beer tab he shared with us. (Lights Elf, all lights).

The only downer was Jeff decided the Hawks club song was kind of catchy, and kept breaking into it all the way home to Hobart.

Brazil 2 d Australia 0

I really enjoyed the game this morning. Australia were combative, creative and dangerous. We had many more shots on goal but the Brazilians were the only ones to find the net. Apart from a terrible bit of butchery by Vince Grella on Ronaldo, we were also pretty clean. He probably should have been off for an early spa.

I had a busy weekend and I didn't realise until our game was over that Japan and Croatia had drawn 0-0. This means we are still in 2nd place in our group and only need a draw to proceed. It also means that after we were a goal down this morning, conceding any more goals didn't matter that much.

I'm working on a series of maps for the London Grid for Learning at the moment, and with the Cup on at night and this occupying me during the day, I am feeling very much the Citizen of the World. (The London Grid is the education body overseeing schools in the 33 boroughs of London, including 1.3 million kids. In just one borough they hail from 120 different nationalities).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Johnny Warren doco

I loved the biography of Johnny Warren on SBS last night. I have been aware of him as a soccer pundit but I knew nothing about his playing career. He was a bit of a ladies man as well. If this had been an Aussie Rules doco you can bet this would have been pushed to the fore, but here it was only evident because many of the people speaking warmly but honestly about him were captioned "ex de-facto wife" "ex-wife" and "girlfriend".

He was captain of the national soccer team in 1970, when we missed out on the World Cup by losing to North Korea. Before the 1974 cup he suffered a knee injury, and wasn't expected ever to come back. He was replaced as captain. He fought his way back from the injury to be selected again, and went to West Germany for the 1974 cup. He broke a bone in his foot in the first game and that was it.

He dedicated himself to spreading the word about soccer throughout Australia. I started playing in 1977. Without knowing it I probably benefited a lot from his efforts to improve standards of skills, fitness and coaching, and also to spread the game beyond its immigrant base in this country.

Johnny contracted lung cancer in 2002 and died in late 2004, six months too soon to see us qualify for this World Cup. It was very emotional to see the footage again of that match against Uruguay in Sydney the tribute to Johnny that preceded it, and see his family and friends there so overwhelmed by it all.

Good on you Johnny Warren.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bee Crossings

From Elf: Marcus was crossing the 'roads' in the carpark with me and said... 'mum, these are really BEE crossings, not zebra crossings - see? they have yellow stripes instead of white ones'. This was said in his slow reflective way - more thought than spoken i think.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Australia 3 - Japan 1

Bloody amazing. A watershed day in Australian sport. We have one foot in the second round of the World Cup! I was amazed that the 3rd goal was treated by all analysts as a cherry on top of the cake. It is very likely we will need goal difference to go through to the next round, so this spare goal in extra time could be the most important one ever scored for Australia.

Someone else had this idea and I am going to nick it because I thought it was quite touching - here are all the old socceroos I can think of. Thank you to all of them for flying the flag in the tough times.

| Johnny Warren | Peter Wilson | Oscar Crino | Gabe Mendez | Jeff Olver | Alan Davidson | Robbie Zabica | Milan Blageovic | John Kosmina | Paul Wade | Aurelio Vidmar | Tony Vidmar | Damian Mori | Craig Foster | Ned Zelic | Charlie Yankos | Milan Ivanovic |

The blog has been off the air partly due to the World Cup and busy times at work. I'm afraid it will get worse before it gets better.

Playtpus sighting

We had a big outing to Mt Field National Park yesterday for the Queen's Birthday holiday. Its a beautiful drive way up into the Derwent Valley. When we got there we trotted off to have a look at beautiful Russell Falls, and everyone was very impressed (including Doggie).

Marcus with his chin stuck out, characteristic of one of his trying moods.

We had lunch there and pottered around a bit. There is a big clearing near the park office, and Marcus and I went for a stroll across and back. While we were coming back Elf was waving her arms and pointing up in the sky. There were two wedge-tail eagles circling above us, but some distance away. We kept a close eye on Michael for a while in case they took a fancy to him as a tidbit.

We drove back up the road to Something WIld, a new-ish wildlife sanctuary with big pictures of a platypus, tassie devil, wombat and wallaby out the front - Marcus called this the "menu". It might be coincidence but Marcus is starting to let his vegetarian thing slip a bit now.

Michael was generally disgraceful at Something WIld which detracted from the experience somewhat. But we did see a platypus in the wild - floating on the surface of the Tyenna River, taking his time and doing what platypi do. The sanctuary have made a lookout which unobtrusively overlooks a bend in the river, and the guide said that there is an 85% chance you will see a platypus there. We were thrilled, particularly Elf. They also have spotted quolls, forester kangas, pattable wombats and golden possums.

The drive home was lovely, there is something very beautiful about the Wellington Range when seen from up the Derwent Valley. The boys were fairly hyper from start to finish, and so it certainly wasn't a relaxing day, but it was good to get out and about and see something new.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

International irritated by hard Australia

From Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf (translated badly by computer)

ROTTERDAM - international of the Dutch elftal had no well word after the oefeninterland against Australia (1-1) for the manner of game of the australiërs. "I found it too far go”, thus Phillip Cocu, which left the duel injured. "I am really a proponent of male football. But you do not have enter a game with the intention to kick players.”

Beside Phillip Cocu also Giovanni of Bronckhorst and Wesley Sneijder the duel - the last before the world championship starts football - concluded rather than planned. Van Bronckhorst hard was touched by wild a tackle of Luke Wilkshire. Sneijder injured themselves at a attempt a ball on the aim of Australia shoot.

Van Bronckhorst found the way on which Wilkshire did not continue on him normal. "If I do not ventilate half in had hung the moment he touched me, I had now been already on gone to house. I do not get why he did it. He got rid of the ball knullig, perhaps it was for this reason. But if how they contracted today the duels, then it seemed exactly or the WK for them see you already started were. I weet really not what their intention was.”

Cocu touched themselves injured by a hard tackle of mark Viduka. "I had the feeling which he touched me wilful. The ball was already. I bundle of it also real that I am injured now. I was exactly fit and had no more charge of my hamstring and was in fact entirely free of complaints. I want play a sharp game, but this went me really too far. I have also said after result against Hiddink that it beat nowhere on.”

Also ears Robben, which escaped some hard summary offences cunning, were not speak after the duel a lot concerning the hardness of Australia. "If you see how those Wilkshire continue on Van Bronckhorst... that is really a schande. Then have you no respect for each other. If you do something like that, then that stores nowhere.”

Bondscoach Marco van Basten were it nothing once with its international. He did not find that the australiërs exceeded against oranje a border: "Players who cannot against that, have a large problem in my eyes. We had in some cases much improve ourselves must arm.”

Friday, June 02, 2006

A distinct lack of respect

Michael has picked up a wide vocabulary of disrespectful sniping from his brother.

Michael: "I'm going to put you in the bin Mummy. And I'm going to put Daddy in the bin. And I'm going to put Marcus in the bin."
Elf: "What if I put you in the bin too?
Michael: "No, I'm going to stay in the big white car."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A large Betty Woods thanks

When you develop a new variety of plant, it appears you can name it whatever you want. I have here a Dazzling Daylilies catalogue. Choose from Honky Tonk Dream (large, cardinal red), Canadian Border Patrol (large, cream ivory with ruffled purple), Irving Schulman)large, deep lavender) or Betty Woods (large, double yellow).

Elf has a Better Homes and Gardens mag, with a special on screening plants. There is a new type of hedge called Goodbye Neighbours.