Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lawn Bowls' Night of Nights

The season ended with a predictable shemozzle. On the night of the "finals" all teams played two short games. We rapidly ran into trouble in our first game, against Walkers Coaches, and lost something like 11-4. So that was it, as far as we were concerned. The team we were supposed to play our second game against seemed to have forfeited, so we drifted to the bar. Bemoaning our performance and berating the stupid finals system, we all felt very sorry for ourselves.

To lighten the mood I announced that this was my last game. Dean was aghast. I had already had a quiet word to erstwhile Bowling Shane, Richie Angus, who was spectating. He said he would be happy to slot into the lead role next season.

As I revealed in a blog exclusive some weeks ago, I am giving up bowls to concentrate my meagre spare time on soccer. Bowls is fun but is not doing anything for my fitness. I have many happy years of bowls ahead when I am in the 65-115 age bracket. My brittle feet and creaky legs might only keep me going for one or two more years of soccer, however, and for now that is going to be my sole sport.

After a bit of mooching we were called out to play against three characters who were floating about like flotsam. Richie was quick off the mark to make up four. Dean was reluctant to rise from his seat, and on arriving last was told he had to play for the other side. The flotsam claimed to be a real team who also had drawn a forfeit, but we never really believed them. We beat them comfortably.

When all games were complete it was obvious Wrong Bias were the champs - having won both their matches handily. Master of Ceremonies Merv drew the lucky scoresheet for the carton of stubbies. Then he blithely announced that the winner of the blue roster, and the best team all season, was The Bowling Shanes. We were stunned, and appeared ungracious as we shambled out onto the green, held up our as-yet-un-etched medallions, handed them back and shambled off again.

Wrong Bias were cross. We were confused. What about all that stuff about "finals"? Why play tonight at all? Merv came past and confided, "The Wrong Bias boys are pretty pissed off, but aaah - stuff 'em eh?" I shook their hands on the way out and there were no hard feelings.

So. I will hand the size 4-and-fifteen-sixteenths Cross of Lorraines over to Dave and hopefully he will have many happy seasons, and perhaps will hand them back in 2033 when I turn 65.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Suddenly Uncle Laurie

We gave Bill a bag of bourbon-filled chocolates for Christmas. I tried one yesterday, and suddenly travelled through time back to my great uncle Laurie's groovy pad in Sydney, in the 1980s. I don't consciously remember there being a lot of liqueur choc around, but the synapses dialled it up immediately, so there must have been. And it would certainly be consistent with his world.

Laurie was Poppa's younger brother, a tailor, and a jazz musician. I wish I could say I heard him play, but I never did. Poppa himself was an extremely dapper looking jazzman in his younger days - we have an photo of him playing a tenor sax that could be an ad for Brylcreem. I have just called Sally to co-opt her memories of Laurie, and she has got the impression from Mum that while Poppa was away at the war, Laurie borrowed his saxophone and ended up being the family musician.

Uncle Laurie was a bachelor for much of his life, then suddenly there was an Auntie Faye. She was a glamorous Mae West-ish lounge singer, who is famous in our family for her appearances on the Mike Walsh show. Poppa and Grandma were living in a 5th floor unit by the harbour at this stage, in an affluent street of similar residential blocks. Their block was called Wolsely, and Faye and Laurie were just up the street in Edgewater. Their unit was very stylish. I remember an exercise bike and a special fridge full of small bottles of strangely unsweet fizzy drink, which we assumed were laid on for us kids. We were not familiar with the term "mixers". Sally remembers much more, including a room full of stuffed animals, a chihuahua named Xavier Cugat, and a marble and brass old-timey style telephone with a little music box beside it, upon which you were supposed to rest the phone to provide 'hold music' while you fetched someone. Xavier Cugat was a popular fixture at Laurie's tailoring shop. He once appeared in aWomens Weekly article about Sydney's little-known tourist attractions.

Laurie and Faye later built a house at Elenora Heights, looking over the northern beaches. This place was even more swanky, all done in a very pervasive black and red theme, with a lot of allusions to bullfighting and haughty señoritas. There was a massive black coffee table like a low dining table for six, supporting a black marble sculpted bull, a vividly glazed red ceramic ashtray the size and weight of an olympic discus, and a black tabletop lighter like a housebrick. He had a bar of course - every male relative in Sydney seemed to have a bar, apart from Poppa, who was a man of the straight and narrow road.

So Mike Walsh's people stopped calling at some stage, and Faye started singing on cruise ships. She had an affair with someone she met aboard, and left Laurie, who was terribly heartbroken. That ended badly for her, and she reappeared basically destitute, so Laurie gave her a job in the shop. When he died he left everything to Faye.

I wish I knew exactly what to bite into to call up all the rest of the dear departed relations from my youth.

Use method A or B to repeatedly switch pieces (1) and (2)

We gave Marcus a Rubik's Cube for Christmas. Elf had passed on to him a little logo-bedecked giveaway version a few weeks back, and he has spent many happy hours swivelling it about. He is pretty close to getting one layer all in the right places. The new one comes with instructions, which although clearer than those for the Teased Pearl Marble game, do not fill you with confidence. I jumped to the end to see how to deliver the coup de grace to the cube, and found this advice.

If the third layer's center pieces are not in their proper positions and facing properly, use first pattern A8 and then pattern B from step 5, except that sub-steps A8 and B8 should be changed to 90%.

Untouchables 18 d Knackered 4

This was our third game in a row against teams from the superior division. So far we had managed a draw and a creditable narrow loss. This time we really got creamed. It seemed like only about 90 seconds in that we were down 4-0, and it didn't get much better. They were fit, fast, skilful and merciless. We had a good patch where we clawed back to 8-4, then they knocked in ten unanswered goals. We had plenty of players, so fatigue is not an excuse. Andy, our keeper, had a bit of knee trouble and tended not to get down to anything below waist height. I scored two goals that I would describe as long range corkers, and that was some solace.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More ham, anyone?

Christmas sailed by in usual irresistible style. I am not the most Christmassy person, to be honest. I will make an effort to be more so next year, as a lot more organisation and energy is required of Elf when I am such a slug.

Elf's parents Bill and Felicity arrived a few days prior from Canberra, having brought their car on the ferry. They brought a delicious organic ham with them all the way from the inland. My mum and dad are down this way too, staying at the caravan park at Snug. They came up for Christmas Day, and joined us for lunch and dinner. Sally and Matt came for lunch and brought their pals Brita and Martin, visiting from Norwich, UK. As we weren't sure of numbers for lunch we did a bit of a cold smorgasbord on-your-lap arrangement. For dinner we had a roast with not quite enough chicken, but plenty more ham padding it out.

At lunchtime we forgot to make the cubed parboiled potato chunks into potato salad, so Elf roasted them in the evening. We forgot to put them on the table, so we took them with us to visit Mum and Dad for a Boxing Day picnic at Snug. At the caravan park I put them in the fridge, and there they stayed. I don't think get these Dutch Creams again - we will choose a more memorable variety of potato next time.

The boys had a lovely time, and they have been very well behaved despite some sleep deprivation. Marcus received a bag of marbles and a totem tennis set (among other things) and has been enjoying himself in age-old fashion with these. Sally gave Michael a huge bag of foam letters - now he has enough to make A PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS FILM.

More on Christmas when time allows.

Skeleton staffing

Hi there. I've been off the air for some time due to work overload and Christmas. Work is still very intense, but I find myself in a lull, waiting for content from other people.

I am working on a big educational site called DIY Documentary. It's about teaching upper secondary kids what documentaries are, the different styles and elements of documentaries, and how they are made. It's looking pretty good but really needs a lot of content quickly. Text needs to written and film clips need to be edited and compressed for the web, and voice overs need to be written, and recorded. Once the VOs are done I need to make matching animations. It has to at least look complete on January 3rd. On January 4th it will be presented at an education software show in London.

We've been asked to keep plugging away at DIY Documentary (and the other two projects that are bound for the same trade show) through the Christmas/New Year break.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Front yard progress

We now have a front path, of sorts. Elf has been labouring hard on the weekend, carting bark mulch to make it less slippery. It's still a bit steep, considering there is no handrail or steps. We have no time or money to do much else for now, so it will gradually evolve as time passes. Elf has also planted a new flowering gum where there used to be several. The parking space is complete, and the front retaining wall just needs a bit of capping off and backfilling across the old temporary access.

People's Patriotic Honeydew Collective

I am always interested in jargon, and this includes the names of varieties of livestock, fruit and vegetables. Fruit and veg often have names like Summer Sweetie, Golden Pearl, Super Crunch or Nisbett's Excelsior. I found an interesting exception in the local heritage seed company's stand at K &D on Saturday. Its a honeydew melon, sourced from the Ukraine, and its evocative soviet-era name is Collective Farm Woman.

Queen of Shovels

Playing cards with Marcus yesterday, he mentioned the above card. Of course: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Shovels.

Teased Pearls

Marcus and Michael were given some little plastic pinball games at a party last week. The spiel on the back is sensational. If the game actually lived up to the promises, it would outsell Halo 3 and be unputdownable.

Intelligent Marble
Intelligence and Lucky

Marble is a kind of game that is very mordern
now. It collects exciment fasciration. It's a ve-
ry interesting game. It can not only trains lover's
skill and intelligence but also is the best way for
lover to make friends. It's an intelligent game
for a family to be a happy field. Spring your
miracle, competite your level.

You'll surpass yourself intelligence and skill thr-
ough a sernies of intelligent competition actions,
competite your intelligence and your skill, partic-
ipate in together plagways. 1. The two parties will
judge winning or losing, according to the highest
grand total. The one who get the highest grade is
a big winner. 2. Before a game begins, players may
also engage to shoot the five provided plastic teas-
ed pearl early or late, getting the grand total. We
winner according to how many points it can reach.
Where there is a will, there is a way. The training
of will, intellivgence, skill will be your best ladder
of success, it is your best training way of defeating

Friday, December 07, 2007

Michael announces...

]In cafe, loudly] You ruined my life Mum!

[Moments later] You didn't ruin my life... SHE DID!!
[Points to innocent woman making him a milkshake]

[To a mum at childcare] God made me!
[The mum says that's nice and turns away to avoid rabid christians,
as she assumes we are.]

[Michael follows up with]
I'm made of meat!

Carol practice

Marcus and Lana working on a few tunes after dinner last night, rehearsing for the school Carols on the Lawn this evening.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bowling Shanes 20 d ABC Allstars 8

We took a little while to sort this mob out, but ended up with a comfortable win. Their skip was a precision driving demon, and saved them seven or eight points with a couple of crackers. There is one roster round to go, and we sit atop the wobbly ladder.

Sadly, this counts for nothing, as once again the clowns at Derwent City Bowls Club have screwed up running the comp. Last season we had our finals on Sunday morning, as no-one at DCBC had noticed daylight savings was coming to an end. This time they have somehow scrambled their spreadsheet, and lost a few wins here and there. So Tuesday-week will be a winner-takes-all, one night lucky dip final. Whoever wins their match by the biggest margin will be crowned champions, and the preceding ten weeks have been essentially practice matches. I am slightly miffed.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Leaning towards 40

Michael Lean has turned 40. Well done sir. Who would have guessed as we giggled through Algebra and Geometry in 1985 that today, you would have two children and your own aeroplane, and STILL the most beautiful hair in the business. As for your prostate... well, we'll see won't we?

I attended Michael's shindig in Melbourne on Friday night. A bit of an extravagance, but well worth it I think. He booked a suite at the Sofitel and did it all properly. I dashed to the airport after work. Its quite convenient that you can check yourself in over the www now - as long as you are traveling light of course. Had quite the worst landing I can remember in Melbourne - actually hurt my neck. Hostie followed this up on the PA with "It is 7.55 local time, and the temperature outside is... is...I don't know what the temperature outside is". Virgin Blue - its all comedy.

The hotel was next to Southern Cross Station, where the Skybus pulls up. Its quite grand, and in fact calls itself Grand Hotel Melbourne - I mooned about for a while looking for the word "Sofitel" somewhere on it, but thanks to mobile phones I could call the birthday boy and he talked me in.

The gang was all there - lots of fly-ins from Tasmania like myself, and many more with Tasmanian roots who have resided in the Garden State for 15 years or more. The food was delish, and I was famished, so I wolfed down about a pint of sashimi. Among folks I have not seen for years were; Clifford Plumpton (recent successful Millionaire contestant), Chris Lynch (bald, living in Burnie & working with disengaged kids), Michael's wife Roz, and Yolande Love (mother of three and looking about 25), and David Jones, who I met once 20 years ago, he now does solar cell research and plays the stock market. John and Carmen were there, Alex turned up in usual tardy fashion, I had a good chat to Stu who I remember from Burnie in the eighties - it was that kind of night.

I was staying with Alex - we said our goodbyes at about 2am. Taxi were thin on the ground - we found one somehow. The next day it dawned on me we were roaming around King St, in the tiny hours of Saturday - not a smart place to be really. Come to think of it some of the girls standing by the kerb wearing micro skirts and thigh boots might not have actually been after taxis.

The next day Alex and Suparna took me down the street (past Deb Conway's house, and then Deb Conway walking her dog) for coffee at the Windsor Deli - a nice little place with one (1) table. They dropped me in Carlton on their way to a picnic with Alex's parents in the Yarra Valley. I strolled over to Vincent and Andy's house to see them and their newish twins.

Everyone there was looking frighteningly healthy, especially Alistair and Isabelle, who must be about 5 months old now. I held Isabelle and she regarded me levelly - she may never have seen such a ludicrous moustache before. It was terrific to see the kids looking so well. They were about 6 weeks premature, and I remember that even Marcus who was 3 weeks premature took a good while to start to fill out properly.

I had neglected to plan how to get from Carlton back to Southern Cross. Vincent stepped in and got me there about 30 seconds before a bus departed for Tullamarine. I walked into the airport as my flight started boarding. I found a "check yourself" terminal and checked myself. People were still dribbling out of the boarding gate when I got there, so I had time to repack my hefty bag. Flight was uneventful. Elf and the boys met me and I got back into the swing of things rapidly by dropping Elf at home and taking the boys to the pool.

That was my third flit to Melbourne this year. I'll be staying put for a good while now.

The Shortest Highway

The Chandler Highway in Melbourne is 2km long. It is extremely silly. From one end you can see the other end. Most of it is an overpass. I am proposing that it was named after Herbert Chandler, Minister for Main Roads in the Bolte administration, in 1966. I am also proposing that he was a midget. These may or may not be facts, I am just putting them out there to see what happens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bowling Shanes 14 d Team Unknown 12

I was absent from bowls for Switzerland-related reasons, but one of Southern Tasmania's leading No 2s, Mr David Woodward, has supplied this match report.

We won on the night. Richo took the No. 1 spot but had wild opening bowls – leaving the kitty exposed on many ends. I found the feel of Hunter’s hippos by about end 6 and settled into some tight placings, Deano struggled to fulfill his third man duty and often left Hunter to do the proverbial rabbit out of the hat – which he managed more timed than not. There was a debate over final bowl proximity to the kitty early in the game which unfortunately Ian came to give his expert opinion, which resulted in on of the bowls being kicked away by the moustachioed master, and when we registered our good humoured objections, promptly awarded us the dummy spit award for the night. Our final score of 14 to 12 didn’t recognise the luck of a 7 bowl end in the middle of the game and a 5 bowl end towards the end. The other team had two good bowlers that constantly chipped away at out score. However, in the end, the best team won! Unfortunately no beer was won at the 13th end!

That's right. We only took 3 or 4 ends out of 12 and still managed to win. The other team must have been livid.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Election thoughts

John Winston has been booted out in the most emphatic fashion. I would say that by staying on to contest the election, he has poured sugar in the petrol tank of his party. Not that I care too much really, watching conservative parties self-destruct is fine entertainment, EXCEPT that a weak opposition lets the government get smug and stop listening, which is not good for anyone.

Howard has been a safe pair of hands with the economy, but at the same time made Australia a less tolerant, more nervous place. He has used fear to manipulate his people. Not knock-on-the-door-at-midnight fear, just a subtle Australian suburban fear of people who are different, of interest rate rises, of job security, of maintaining property values. I hope it is time for this to turn around and for Australia to confidently open its heart to the world again, without carping, hectoring or threatening the people who look to us for protection and refuge.

Monday, November 26, 2007

General News

Elf is away in Switzerland for Chonk & Irma's wedding. She left last Wednesday and will be back this Wednesday - four days travel and only three days actually yodelling, buying cuckoo clocks and generally Swiss-ing it up. Mum and Dad are staying with us for the duration and the boys have been really enjoying it I think.

Knackered played a grading game against a higher division side at indoor soccer on Friday - we put up a very good show and went down 10-9. Quite encouraging.

I am flat to the boards at work, so blogging will be scarce between now and Christmas. I am off to melbourne on Friday night for Michael Lean's 40th birthday. He has asked us all to dress as pirates, but in a fairly restrained way, so that he will obviously stand out as King of the Pirates. Statistical analysts are all the same - just show ponies.

Michael John Rees is also a bit of a show pony, and as his proud father I am happy to aid and abet this. Here is one of his recent typographic creations, and a bit of round-the-house action from the weekend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bowlings Shanes A 12 d Bowling Shanes 10

The big derby crept up on us unannounced. Completely oblivious of the opportunity for pre-match hype and sizzle, the DCBC as usual pinned up the roster list for the night for people to see as they got their first sausage. The unbeaten Shanes combinations were pitted in a classic duel.

Our regular lineup of self, Dave, Hunter and Dean were matched against respectively Robbo, Allan, Tracy and Scotty. I was quietly confident I could beat my man. Paul "Robbo" Roberts is the wrong side of 40, the typical journeyman who has tried it all: boxing, computer programming, folk music, rhythmic gymnastics, and now lawn bowls.

Unfortunately, in boxing terms, Robbo sat me on my arse in round one, and I took a long time to get up. He bowled an immaculate line and a generous length, and wore down several sticks of chalk with his accuracy. I bowled like a dog all night, with my bowls often bracketing the head, the shortest and longest of 16 attempts. It was a tricky night for bowling, with a slow green and gusty winds, but better bowlers adapt to the conditions.

Scoring was tight for a few ends, then As snuck out to 5-2. We reeled them in with 3 shots on the next end. They cheekily answered with 3 of their own. Tracy was bowling very well, Scotty was a safe pair of hands at the finish of each end. Allan was a bit wayward but we just couldn't make any inroads on the scoreboard.

With three ends to go we were down 12-5. We picked up one, then two, leaving us needing five off the last to win. I trotted down to the head to give Hunter advice. After Hunters first bowl gave the first and second shots a bit of a bingle about, I told him we were one down. I was actually wrong. After he had sent down a wayward drive, I realised were holding one shot and that his last bowl had been completely wasted. Had a shovel been to hand I would have made a mess of Rink 1 digging myself a hole.

We pulled back 2 shots there for a final score of 12-10, but that flattered us. Too little too late. Well done As - still unbeaten after 5 rounds I think. Whereas for the losers, it's a 5am rollup at the greens tomorrow to practice, practice, practice.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ibey Rees 1909 - 2007

Our grandmother Ibey died last Monday, at 98. She had been in an aged care home for about four years, steadily declining in body and particularly mind. The last time I saw her was more than 3 years ago, when I took Michael at 6 weeks old to Launceston to meet her. At the time she was quite alert, knew who I was and enjoyed our company. Two years later she rarely recognised my Dad when he went to visit. He asked me not to do the same, as it would only upset me and Ibey as well. I never saw her again, but Dad and Mum always filled me in on their visits.

Ivy Enid Rees ("Ibey") was my father's mother. She was born in Queenstown in 1909. I remember a story that her father wrapped her in an oilskin, put her in a boat and rowed her across the river. Her family moved to the Huon Valley when she was young. She married my grandfather, Elliot Elwick Rees ("Didds") and they lived in New Town, Hobart for some years. They moved to Launceston, maybe in the thirties? During WW2 he was head accountant at Coats Patons woollen mills in Launceston.

Didds died of a stroke in December 1969. He lived long enough to hear that my little sister Sally was on the way. Sadly I don't remember him at all. We have photos, and he features in one reel of super 8 that my dad made, looking quite fit and dashing. Didds gave his old boxy Fiat 124 to Mum before he died, and that is the car I have strongest memories of from growing up. It stayed in the family at least until I had my Ls - I remember driving it but not whether I was solo or not. (It had a prominent squishy black rubber eruption on the dashboard shaped like a trilby hat, that squirted water on the windscreen when poked with the finger. Mum would often come back to the car after leaving us in it for a few minutes, to find the windscreen awash.)

After Didds died, Ibey lived alone for about 33 years. She had always had a very impressive grip on everything. As kids we found her a little forbidding, as she was quite straightforward and spoke her mind, while our other Grandma was purely love and cuddles with us, and we could do no wrong. Ibey was an insomniac, and read to fill the long dark hours. Books were always being passed around in our family. She had a big desk, with serious looking papers and a magnifying glass/lamp. She handled all her own finances well into her eighties. She didn't drive, and although she sometimes came to stay with us, mostly it was at her house that we spent time with her. I find all my memories of her are saturated in images of the house.

We saw a lot of Ibey through our childhood although she lived 150km away. Of her two children only Dad was in Tasmania, so we made frequent trips down to mow the lawn, pick the fruit, paint the fence, etc etc. On our visits there Dad would disappear with his pruning saw or his vinyl roll-up kit of spanners and screwdrivers. The rest of us would perch on the floral lounge suite and sip tea. I was a total pig about biscuits and fruitcake (much like Marcus is now), and Ibey would never let this pass without comment.

She had a remote control TV long before there was one at our house. It had huge silver buttons. She loved to watch the cricket, at ear-splitting volume. When Greg Chappell had his famous run of ducks, she felt he was being unfairly hounded. I loudly agreed with her then, although now she has passed away I can reveal I was secretly eager for him to be sacked so my hero Kim Hughes could be captain.

In recent years all the neighbours she knew had moved away or predeceased her. Her last sibling, Claude, died in 2005. As deafness, frailness and forgetfulness encroached on her, she had no other option but to move out of her home of nearly 70 years. She would forget her medication, and once fell to the floor and lay there, freezing cold, for about eight hours before a visiting nurse found her.

Even after going to live at the aged care home, she broke a leg in a serious fall. After that she spent most of her time reclining in and dwarfed by a huge wheelchair. Sally's theory is that as her responsibilities and relationships diminished to very few, she acquiesced to the unravelling already underway in her mind. If we can choose such things, I might well make the same choice in her position. If I had to either live in the present that Ibey found herself in at the end, or take myself back to a happy golden past, I would do the latter.

Two weeks before she died, Mum and Dad went to see as her as they did regularly. Ibey was very frail, but had a gleam of recognition in her eye. Mum is sure she knew who Dad was. Perhaps she knew her body was finally going to release her, and so this was her last chance to see her child, my Dad. She never knew it, but she became a great great grandmother five days before the end. And her eldest grandchild, Jacki, became a grandmother herself.

Jacki and Dad's sister Wendy are both in NSW, and weren't able to be at the funeral on Thursday. The four of us who were there - Mum, Dad, Sally and I - were all united in the feeling that Ibey deserved a peaceful end long before it finally came. It is painful to grieve for someone who is still alive.

I explained to Marcus that lately for Ibey, her life had been a burden for her to carry, and we are actually happy for her that she can now go onward without that burden. I am especially happy for Dad and Mum, as a long hard task is now over for Dad, and the energy Mum has put into supporting him can now go into other things.

Knackered 9 d Old School Muscle 4 - Division 1 Red final

The big game finally arrived. Elf and the boys came to watch, along with Andy's two boys, Paul's son Bowen and Cam's daughter Jasmine. Unfortunately, as the only non-combatant adult, Elf saw almost nothing of the game as she tried to keep the brood out of trouble.

I was really nervous at the start. We had enough players to have three subs. Paul had worked out a plan that we would pair off, so he and I rotated through the game, as did Cam and Adrian and Brett and Mel.

I was hassling the OSM defence deep in their half when I somehow got a boot to the ball and it went in for the opener. If it had been ruled a tackle from behind I would not have been surprised, as I was speculatively reaching my foot through a defenders legs when it happened. Soon Brett added a proper goal, and then I got a free kick not far out. I tried to toe it into a corner as hard as I could, and skied it instead. After a bit of a melee Mel whipped it back across to me and I put it away for 3-0. They got one back, and at half time we led 3-1.

It was a very even half, and as OSM had missed a penalty and also seen the ball roll along our goal line once, so we felt that we were lucky to have the slim lead.

In the second half our luck continued. Twice more OSM's shots hit the post and rolled along the line. Andy was stopping shots all over the place. We made a few fast breaks and finished accurately. Brett scored an amazing Stephen Milne-style solo goal, where he ran, fell, stumbled and swerved from our backline to theirs, then miskicked it just exactly right.

I was very pleased with a couple of tackles I made on our forward line, when I had jockeyed and boxed-in a defender with the ball for long enough that he impatiently tried to pass me. Neither resulted in goals, but it was the kind of thing that tired the OSM guys out and screwed with their morale.

When I subbed off with about six minutes to go we had it just about sealed, at 8-2. OSMs got a couple of late consolation goals, including a penalty after the bell. It was a great game, with no real contentious decisions, played in good spirit, although very hard at the ball. Mel deservedly received the best afield medal, but Andy was fantastic in goals. He improved out of sight over the last six weeks.

At the end we were Knackered, they were still Muscular, but we took home the big ugly trophies. I might suggest to the Centre that they invest in one nice one instead - the ones we got really are stomach turning. And not very well made - Bowen had already broken Paul's by the time I had towelled off and shepherded the family out to the car.

And now - only seven days until it all starts again.

It's official - he's as sharp as a tack

Caroline from the Centre for Extended Learning Opportunities assessed Michael for early entry to Kinder two weeks ago. As his 4th birthday is next January, he would normally start kinder in 2009. We have always thought he is very bright and outgoing. He has really taken responsibility for going to the toilet extremely well over the last two months. His reading is phenomenal, and he speaks very well.

Elf was worried Michael would have a bad day and refuse to co-operate, but he was his usual chatty self, and answered all the questions pretty well on the day.

Yesterday Caroline called Elf with the results of the test. She is recommending to the school that he is ready to start kinder. It is now up to the school to offer him a place, subject to the demand for places from kids who are actually four this year. We should find out next month.

Caroline was calm and professional in delivering the news, but she confirmed that he is extremely bright, and that while he did well in the literacy measurements, his strongest area was spatial awareness. She even gave his IQ test score, which was very high, such that he is eligible for Mensa! Wow.

Marcus was assessed and accepted for early entry two years ago. I don't recall being given a score for Marcus (I actually thought IQ tests were out of fashion) but we are chasing that up with CELO now. We are very keen to always be even-handed with the boys, and we certainly know Marcus is a bright spark. He stoically bears the gasps of wonder we bestow on Michael, although he himself is a chess-playing book-reading fact-retaining phenomenon.

We are very proud of both the kids, and I really hope we'll see them together at school next year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bowling Shanes 24 d Tardy & Snarky 4

Dean was at a ballet workshop in Melbourne, so former star Richie made an appearance, and Hunter skipped.

Once again, details of our opponent's team name elude me. They arrived in dribs and drabs long after we had got sick of practising among ourselves. The game started with T & S represented by 2 players. We scored heavily on the first end. We had a good look, decided there was 4 points there not five, and started to kick the bowls away for the 2nd end, while the Tardies were still wandering down the green. I just hadn't thought about it, usually there is at someone from the other team down at the head looking at the score. When they arrived they cut up a little rough about our lack of etiquette.

One of them got on with the game, and played in a gentlemanly way for the rest of the evening. The other had a chip on his shoulder, called us a very rude anatomical name, and spent the rest of the night wasting most of his bowls to express his anger at the world.

Eventually two more turned up. They all seemed to be ranking public servants from the chatter. They bowled with some skill but no luck, and were hampered by Mr Snarky who was quite prepared to drive while bowling lead. At one stage when he was bowling 3rd, he drove at the head when his team actually held one shot.

He was in a hurry to finish the whole thing off, and when he was leading he didn't wait for my bowl to get even halfway down the green before jumping onto the mat and flinging his bowl pointlessly.

We beat them thoroughly but it wasn't a very enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Misc weekend pics

The boys on an after-breakfast dink around the deck.

Michael with his "bow" and "arrow". Since watching the Disney version of Robin Hood there has been a surge in archery related activity and swordfights around our place.

Eating delicious weetbix in a floppy hat...

...on account of the low angle of the sun at breakfast time in early November.

My first grand-nephew

My neice Pip has had a baby! A little boy named Alexander William, 7lb 6oz (I hope babies are never metricised), and both doing very well. I will post a pic of the little feller when I get one. Pip and Kev and Alex live in Coffs Harbour, NSW, so I don't know when I will get to see him, but hopefully before too long.

In totally cutting-edge 2007 fashion I am styling myself as a "grunkle" (i-pod, folding scooter, double skinny mocha latte) rather than a "great uncle" (slippers, Saturday Evening Mercury, ear trumpet). Fat chance of me pulling that off, as many people would say I have been behaving like a real great uncle since I was about 14.

Boys in green

Some recent pics of the boys on the scamp in their room. The blurry pic is Marcus trying to dress Michael.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bowling Shanes 19 d Ls and Ms 3

This was one of those matches where we bowled well consistently all night, well enough to take the points on ten out of 12 ends. Alli filled in for Hunter who was absent, possibly for Melbourne Cup related reasons. Let's say he picked up the quadrella. Alli's girls were along for the night as well, helpfully squealing "Muummmm!!" each time she was about to release a bowl.

We all bowled pretty well and kept the pressure on all night. Our leader Dean was looking stunning in a watermelon crepe de chine sheath dress, with a very fetching Guy Sebastian wig and just a touch of lippy and rouge. Out of consideration for the turf he left the stilettos at the gate. He skipped with authority, panache and a little bit of flair, such as his handstand when he pulled out a perfect drive to save 3 points on one end. It's a shame he was going commando, but then, when doesn't he?

The Shanes / Shanes A franchise has won 8 from 8 so far. We are actually in the same roster this season, so at some point an Evening of Reckoning will occur. There can only be one winner, although if we get the same number of points there will either be 2 winners or no winner, depending on how you look at it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Movember, Day 6

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Swimming through the bouncy castle

Matilda is a classmate of Marcus'. We were all invited to her birthday party, as her family live up in the misty wilds of Neika, on the flank of Mt Wellington, so dropping off and picking up is not really an option. Having said that, it is only 20 minutes drive from here. Matilda's family have 60 acres of bush, with about an acre of cleared sloping land around the house. They have lovely views over the trees to the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island. Its very quiet and the air is very clean. We sat on the deck and watched the kids range across the green paddock, treasure hunting.

Matilda's parents Charlie and Helga organised it all very well. The kids had a great time and the grown-ups were very well catered for with grown-up food. The first game was a dancing game. Our boys were conscientious objectors - I think they take after me. Charlie very kindly gave the last prizes to the people who were best at sitting down - "Marcus and Michael!"

It rained on and off. There was a hired bouncy castle, which gradually filled with rain. By the scheduled finish time children were being bundled off to their cars absolutely wringing wet. Marcus was also saturated, and told us in thrilled tones of how he swum from one side of the castle to the other (fully dressed).

Knackered 14 d PPEFC 4

PPEFC are a team who I thought might match up well against us. Older beardy types who know what to do and how to avoid running. We had everyone but Cam available for this game, so we had 2 subs. I think I prefer having no subs to having 2, because you just don't get quite enough time on court.

Brett tapped in a couple of goals in the first couple of minutes. One of the beardies disputed a decision a little too long and loud, and got the first red card I have seen. He was allowed to be replaced, but not for five minutes. That was pretty much the game. We were in front 10-1 at half time.

PPEFC were much tighter in the second half. They scored twice before we did. I actually thought we were a bit lax all night, and I had been surprised to be so far in front. We eventually steadied and tidied up for a handy win.

Andy was very good in goals, his best game yet. I scored three, Brett four, Paul four, Mel two, Adrian one.

Andy's two boys joined Paul's son Bowen and Marcus at courtside. They spent most of the game running up and down raucously but harmlessly. They all seemed to have a good time. We are playing a lot of 6.30pm games now - its quite odd to be there in daylight.

Next week is the semi-final. We are quietly confident.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bowling Shanes 11 d Bowling Boys Jack High Boys 9

This game swung around a bit. Boys up 0-1. Shanes up 5-1. Boys up 5-9. Shanes crept back to 8-9 down. Getting dark. Boys arrived late and their skip took longer to line up a shot than Matthew Lloyd. Bell rang just before I threw out the kitty with us one behind. Technically should have been game over, I believe. However we picked up three shots and bloused them on the line, 11-9. Shanes A were big 22-6 winners, and took home carton of stubs. Go Shanes. Thanks D'Eane for suppying the name of our opponents here.

World Festival of Magic

Marcus's friend Huon and his dad Tom asked us to go to a magic show with them, as they had free tickets. We met them down at Wrest Point Casino on Saturday afternoon. I don't go there very often; I was delighted to see they still have the large neon sign running along the building depicting dolphins gambolling happily with dollar signs. We all know how cash-focused dolphins tend to be.

Before we left Marcus said warily "I hope it's real magic. I hope he doesn't just ask us to close our eyes and then make a jail out of bones or something."

It was called the World Festival, but in fact featured only one American and one Australian magician. There magic was pretty good, but there wasn't a whole lot of variety. The main man, Tony, had a lovely assistant as well two lovely dancers (the Magic Movers). He boxed and then impaled his lovely assistant in about four different ways. Just when you were trying to concentrate very hard on the spot where the mirror/black thread/collapsible dagger probably was, the Magic Movers would start writhing in a sensual and eye-catching way. Suddenly all the dads in the audience would be clapping and agreeing it was amazing, no idea how he did that etc.

Tony and the ladies all did a lot of pointing with twirling fingers and snappy double-takes. Must have very strong neck muscles. There was a bit of S & M vamping it up going on, as the MMs would chain up Lovely Assistant, who thrashed briefly as though resisting, before going all "grrrr I'm a caged man-eater", Toto Coelo style. Tony had about eight costume changes, mostly sleeveless and caped.

It was all pretty loud. Wicked beats thumped throughout. "Saying the magic words" seems to be a thing of the past. One problem was that at the natural "wow" point for applause, the music was still at deafening volume. The MC had emphasised how crucial it was that Tony felt our love, so we tended to;
a) clap when we were impressed at the culmination of a trick, then
b) stop clapping while Tony and Lovely Assistant did some unneccesary dirty dancing unworthy of applause then
c) wait for music to die down and for Tony to give it the big "clap me" bow, then
d) finally give him an audible clap.

The scary music accompanying the grand finale was just slightly too much for Huon. We met outside afterwards and agreed that it was all pretty amazing, that Tony was a bit of a show pony and the girls were distracting but certainly decorative.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peter Roebuck Watch

It's cricket season, and Peter Roebuck is back in action. As a cricket broadcaster he is fearless, forthright and amusing. As a writer he is verbose, tortured and exasperating. Today's offence against comprehesion:
Symonds also bowled his off breaks [...] and he made the batsmen work hard for runs. The Queenslander also prowled the cover region in the manner of a leopard informed that the Nutrigrain had run out.

Roebuck is also famous for caning three young cricketers who he was coaching, some years ago. He is a little bit old school.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Snib and Palp

Do you like short obscure words? Of course you do! I like them so much I have just launched a blog devoted to them. So far I have weighed in on jute, bing, flod, sept, ween, sile, bast, snig and sneb. Have a look, why don't ya? Drop me a line if you would like to subscribe in the low-tech way - I will manually forward the entries to you!

Untouchables 10 d Knackered 4 practice match

On Friday I was looking forward to a bruising physical soccer match with old foes Guidos, but they forfeited the game. Instead the guys running the competition had lined us up for a practice match against a new team, the Untouchables. By the obscure rules of the league, we were awarded bonus points for Guidos forfeiting to us - more than we would have got for beating them in a real match.

We only had three players ourselves, so I press-ganged a stranger who had just played a match to keep goal for us. Untouchables are going to go a long way, they were certainly a class above us, and we are easily on top of the ladder in our league.

Brett scored first, against the run of play. They soon hit back and pretty quickly we went about 5-1 down. We got back to 6-2 by half time - I had pounced on a defensive mistake and toed it under the keeper.

The second half was scoreless for about 8 or 9 minutes, and I thought we had a vague chance of getting close to them. I was in goal and made about five good saves in that time, probably my best goalkeeping effort yet.

Eventually the floodgates opened, and they rattled on four more. They were slicing us up with diagonal passes and we were too tired and flat-footed to reach them. We got a couple of consolation goals, one to Ben the guest star, and one more to me. I had my back to goal and surprised a defender by turning onto my left foot and finding the corner of the net. It was very satisfying and I have re-enacted that one a few times in quiet moments when I think no-one is watching.

We were reasonably pleased with our night's work, against a class side. It was enjoyable as they were very fair and actually complimentary about our efforts considering age and fitness level.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Show Day Picnic

After our late night Anna and I and our respective spouses and children got together for a picnic lunch today, Royal Hobart Show Day. I have only been to the RHS once, and maintain a solid abstract commitment to supporting it, while at the same time wanting to do anything with my free day but go to it.

We filled a washing hamper with food and led the kids up the hill behind our house to Wellesley Park, where I was pretty confident we would find a nice bit of dappled shade. We did, plonked there and and ate, and flopped about like seals for a couple of hours afterward. The kids clubbed together and worked out their pecking order, it was great to see. A tree was stripped of berries which were then used for decoration, sports and counting.

After a while we decamped back to the house for coffee. Today was the first day it has been hot enough to enjoy the broad shade that the wide eaves cast on our deck. We had the double doors wide open, and we really felt that we were laughing with friends and dining al fresco, like the people in real estate ads do.

Anna and Nick and Lily and Katherine actually passed Susan, Cameron, Saffy and Immy on their way out. The next shift of visitors was upon us. Susan et al have a standing invitation to drop in as they planted our beautiful apple tree, and need to check on it periodically. We are delighted that people love to visit the house and love to stay once they are here.

This afternoon, I overheard Michael say to three flies he was menacing with a clothespeg: "Straighten up, you bees!"

Stephen Cummings @ Republic

I went along with Anna to see Stephen Cummings play at the Republic Bar last night. Neal Haslem and his mate Philip were there too, so we gathered together to enjoy the show. Anna and I paid $15 to get in, whereas Neal and Philip had just come along to have the Special Lambshanks and lurked around when they heard SC was on the bill.

He was very good, very enjoyable. His offsider, who wasn't ever introduced but seems to be called Billy, is a Keith Richards style skull-with-hair, shimmery purple silk shirt and a very wide range of axeman facial expressions. He has left it too late in life to ditch his Guitarist hairdo I fear. Stephen was looking pretty well, silver hair erect, big mouth full of pointy teeth. The show was all acoustic, and came across kind of country-rockish although there are good pop hooks aplenty in there. He is a good lyricist, and he gave the songs plenty of time to unfold last night.

The last time I saw him live was at the laundromat in Elwood where we both lived, in about 1991. He was just doing some washing. I imagine him writing a song about it.. "Doin' some washing at the laundromat / nondescript guy walks in / he got brown hair / and glasses too / and I lost a black sock again"

Stephen talks and sings with a kind of mid-Pacific accent, which is a very Countdown-era Oz Rock thing to do. James Reyne and Richard Clapton spring to mind. Love is "lav" and thing is "thang" and baby is "bear beh". Stephen told a story that went on and on about living in Alaska in an igloo, with a baby polar bear, who went missing. Then he found him, and was dragging him back to the igloo, and the bear didnt want to go. Just when I thought it was going to end as a really dumb joke he said "as we got over the hill, I saw there on the verandah of the igloo waiting was my little polar bear. I had got the wrong one. I had made another mistake, in my life". And that was it - I loved it.

The crowd were pretty agéd, probably on average about 45. I was thinking about this, and how far from the supercool edge of contemporary sounds I am, when I noticed the guy leading the handclaps along to Who Listens To The Radio? was ABC newsreader Peter Gee.

The Bowling Shanes 12 d Late Boomers 5

Last week's match was rained out, so the Shanes convened on Tuesday night ready to blow away the cobwebs with some intense, focused lawn bowls. The Boomers are a middle aged two-blokes two-sheilas side. Both the girls tended to bowl flippers, released from 10-20cm above the turf and liable to do anything. There were a few bowled with the wrong bias, with even Hunter getting into the act.

We went out hard early and led about 6-0 before the Boomers sneaked a point back. Dave and I were in good form and had set up a nice head with 2 shots to us, which Dean blundered into, handing the Boomers their first points.

I was very happy with my form, carrying the kitty with my bowl about four times and being thereabouts about 80% of the time. I am told that pennant standard is when you can get the majority of your bowls within a mat's length of the kitty. I am not there yet.

We finished off the evening by picking up the lucky slab of Pale Ale. The Shanes are unbeaten after two and looking like serious contenders again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Io, Ganymede, Europa and Shane

On Saturday night Elf and I and the boys went out to the Mt Canopus observatory at Cambridge for a public access astronomy evening. Marcus is very big on space, and Michael was very very keen indeed. As we were driving out along the highway through Warrane, he asked "Is this Space?" When he realised that we would be just looking at the moon and planets, not driving to them, he calmed down a little.

It was a lovely evening to be out in the dark on a hilltop in the country. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy, so the only things we had a chance to see were close-ups of the craters of the Moon, and Jupiter, with its four main moons. I remembered the name of three of them from a National Geographic article I read long ago. I asked the fairly severe astronomer, who was sharing his telescope with the public, what the fourth moon was called. "Er... I don't know". I should think if you are going to bark at children "DON'T TOUCH THE SCOPE!, DON'T TOUCH THE SCOPE!" you should at least have some facts at your fingertips.

The boys had fun and enjoyed having a late night, even though we didn't actually get to leave Earth.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday in St Kilda

The next day it was time for the now-traditional post-ATOMS St Kilda brunch with some Melbourne-based buddies.

I had a terrible nights sleep at the Hotel Victoria in Little Collins Street. It's a friendly but slightly shabby place, with mis-spelled signs and strangely random lifts. The swearing in the street below my window punctuated the night, and slightly overlapped with the roadworks which started at 6.00am. The swearing was pretty much over by seven.

In any case, I got myself to Fitzroy St and had a lovely long chinwag with Michael, John, Carmen, Suparna and Alex, over a good greasy breakfast, at a friendly place called Banff.

I haven't seen John and Carmen since their wedding, so I had commanded that they take me home and show me their world (, and take me to the airport after). Carmen has three daughters aged 16, 14 and 11, from her first marriage - Alana, Elise, and Carla. The girls are John and Carmen's life to a large extent - driving them here, driving them there, arranging and encouraging and cajoling. A logistical challenge, at the very least. I admire John for the way he has parachuted straight into the emotional minefield of a houseful of strong-willed women, and has just unpicked his parachute and turned it into a set of curtains and a very serviceable pair of pants. Well done sir! He has a shed which I suspect he would defend to the death if it came to that.

The girls are all lovely - the two older sisters talk a mile a minute. When I said I always remembered their names as "Uh-something", "Uh-something else" and "Not-uh", they didn't throw me out, which was nice.

John drove me to the airport via his workplace, which is in the Tullamarine area. He has a surprisingly nice drive through the country (featuring cows) to get to work. Now I can picture where he is when he gets these confusing and inappropriate emails at work.

I caught up on some sleep on the flight home, but even now 48 hours after the awards I am feeling fuzzy, blurry and ... tired.

Pointy prizes aplenty

Roar Film sent me over to Melbourne on Friday for the ATOM Awards for Australian multimedia. We won four awards from a possible four, so a very heartwarming result for us. Last year we went over in force (about eleven of us), in expectation of picking up a number of awards, as we had seven nominations. We only collected one, and later turned into a surly drunken rabble roaming the streets.

This year only three of us went; Amanda the production manager, Will the creative director, and myself. We had five nominations across four categories, and Will also had been nominated for a student piece he did before he joined us.

Three of our nominations were for Australia and the Vietnam War, a CD-ROM we made for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. This was my baby to some extent - we produced it at a time when our then creative director was overseas and we had no production manager, so I handled a lot of aspects that would normally not be my job. We worked in a fairly clunky collaboration with **** Media of Melbourne, who did not follow our directions as closely or graciously as I would have liked. We were nominated jointly, so I was expecting to run into them on the night.

Although public speaking gives me the hab-dabs, I could see that it was a waste of time having me over there if I wasn't prepared to accept an award and say a few words. We'd only just arrived (late) when I suddenly found myself walking up in the spotlight to accept an award for Vietnam. I was expecting to share the stage and extend some hearty backslaps to the **** guys but they hadn't turned up. I thanked all the right people, apparently didn't come across as nervous as I felt, and got out of there in about 30 seconds. I think I said of **** Media that the project "would not be what it is without their input" which may have been my subconscious protecting me from an telling an outright lie.

I was nearly back to my seat when I recognised Peter Tapp from ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) who I assumed had jumped up to congratulate me. He looked surprised when I held out my hand and pumped his up and down - he was actually intercepting me to send me over to the other side of the theatre, where the fellow who presented the award to me was waiting forlornly to have his photo taken with me.

While I was being photographed from numerous angles I heard that we had won the very next category as well. By the time I was sitting down we had won another! Then we won the next!! The compere, Alan Brough, commented, "Roar Film are obviously the Titanic of this year's ATOM Awards." Vietnam won Best Secondary Education Resource, and Best Multimodal Production (the CD was packaged with a book and DVD). Celebrating Us won Best Primary Education Resource and Best Multimedia Learning Reference.

The awards were sponsored by Crumpler bags, and all winners were given one (worth about $50- $200) They have a fantastic website by the way. I scored one of these:

The final excitement of the night was when I won us a box of software we thought was worth about $4000. I have just checked it out and it's more like $500, but still a handy bonus. There were ten numbered stickers under random seats - I found number 4 under the vacant seat to my left. Nºs 2 and 3 didn't show up, so I got second pick of the table of goodies.

At the end of the night, Amanda, Will, Will's girlfriend Sarah and I mooched about looking for cake and coffee for a while lugging our armfuls of Crumpler bags, and our pointy trophies. We all had seperate plans for the next day, so it wasn't a particularly late night, but it was very enjoyable to have started the night with such a bang and spent all the rest of it with a lovely glow of victory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

1st Surrealist Expedition to the South Pole, 1912

My Perth correspondent Phillip Vaughan sent this to me. It is from Antarctica, A Different Adventureby Jason Kimberley. I am honoured and delighted that when people read a caption like this they think of me.

Phillip adds that the book is highly recommended. But remember to wrap up warm before reading. And - they are serious scientists, not surrealists. I made that up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Bowling Shanes 14 d Wrong Bias 6

Lawn bowls season kicked off with a grand final rematch, on quite a frosty evening. I ate about six sausages to stave off the cold. While applying a bit of Grippo©, it occured to me that a drop of Deep Heat mixed in would have been a good thing. Off the back of this I am thinking of bringing out a range of scented Grippos.

Although, now I look at the tube, it appears Grippo is to put on your bowls, while Wilgrip is the one for your hands. Now I feel like a sham - all those old timers watching me putting it on my hands must have been laughing into their 6oz beers.

Anyway - after a tight beginning, we got four on one end and three on the next to blow away last year's champs. I bowled OK but will be better for the run. The rest of the team clicked like the seasoned unit they are. We have a few years together under our belts now, and our tilt at national representation at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Mozambique are right on track.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Group

Marcus has been telling us about his new Group. They get together at school at lunchtime and recess, and forage. They make tools from sticks (mostly pliers apparently). They find fossils. They make music by bonking rocks together. They make clothes from leaves (mostly hats apparently). Marcus, Matilda, Lana, Alex and Ebony make up the group. Initially Marcus did the fossils, then we heard Lana was on fossils and Marcus was on music. He said "some days we change our activities".

It took us a while to get the idea that this wasn't a teacher's initiative, this was something the kids just started. I aksed Marcus who thought of it, and was there a Leader. "Well, it was my idea, and I am the leader, but a grade 6 is joining the group soon so then he'll be the leader. He won't want a little kid telling him what to do".

I haven't seen any of the products of the Group's work yet but I'll report full details when I do.


I borrowed a jackhammer today, and did my first jackhammering. It was quite enjoyable in a wierd kind of way, to slice through concrete. Not as noisy as I was expecting either, but then I had ear protection which the neighbours did not. Tomorrow I will resume the battle and hopefully the old concrete slab (where the shed used to be) will be history by sundown.

I did a bit of manual sledgehammer and pick work as well, and felt very much that I was in Cool Hand Luke or some other old Deep South prison movie. Me and Jimmy Ray never shoulda done robbed all them darn liquor stores.

Knackered 22 d Zidane Headbutts 3

I didn't think ZDs were terrible, but they just didn't get many shots on goal. Whereas we had a shot every forty seconds and half of them went in. One of their goals was a penalty, and one came with about 2 seconds to go when we may have gone a bit soft.
This equals the highest score in any match I have played in, I think. (Burnie High d Penguin High 22-0 in 1982). Not much else to say about this really. Brett and Paul kicked most of the goals, and Cam was excellent in defence.

Wash, wipe and quarter 2 squirrels...

Mum unearthed this excellent book at a jumble sale - Food from the Wild by Jenny Urquhart. It is brutally honest about the tasty treats awaiting you in the English countryside, or possibly found dead on the road. It's amazing how many things are quite tasty as long as you wrap them in bacon before you cook them.

Common Mallow Malva sylvestris
... The young furry leaves if picked and boiled make a wholesome though not particularly delicious vegetable...

Hedgehogs are found in most open country but, as they are a valuable animal, eating slugs and snails and other destructive insects, they should not be taken for food unless absolutely necessary or unless found dead, killed by a passing car.
Grey Squirrel ... casseroled in a good, tasty sauce, even the rankest squirrel is made quite palatable and they are an abundant source of free food.

Rat ... If you ever have the need to eat rat, it is best wrapped in bacon fat and slow roasted.

Monday, October 08, 2007

School Fair

We mostly ignored the accelerating demands in recent weeks to devote ourselves to the annual South Hobart School Fair. We have a long range plan to get more involved in future years - we are going to have kids at the school for at least seven more years after all.

In this spirit we went along on Sunday merely as punters, spending money fairly freely. The highlight was Marcus going on a sort of bungy/trampoline ride. I didn't take my camera unfortunately, but I will always remember the look on his face as he soared in the air. The contraption was set up near the footy goals, and he went about as high as the top of the point post.

Many of the stalls were selling donated pre-loved things. My other highlight for the day was overhearing a mum say "No - we can NOT buy back all your toys".

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Michael tells our fortunes

I came inside from mowing the lawn, and Elf said to Michael, "read that for Dad like you did for me". He led me downstairs to a junk pile he had been rooting through. He had found and read aloud unprompted a note from a fortune cookie. He read it again for me -

"You will live to a rip [ripe] age, happy in the love and ress... respect of many children. This in... insert has a pro... protec... protective coating!"

Our gobs are getting sore from repeated gobsmackings.

Knackered 10 d Red Devils 7

Our star striker Brett returned from his extended holiday in Bali, sporting an impressive scar. He had the traditional Bali motorbike accident, and screwed up his ankle for three months.

We had the same lazy referee as last week. He gave about three free kicks for the whole game. Once you realise your game is essentially unsupervised, you can incorporate that into your playing style, but this suits some people more than others.

Red Devils tried a bit of rough stuff. It really gets my goat when you are simply marking someone closely, and they think a fair response to that is a whack in the chops.

They scored first, but we hit back with two beautifully finished goals from Mel. I am coming down with something viral, I felt very heavy in the legs, and I made a a lot of mistakes. We got away to a handy lead of about 6-2 but they pegged us back to about 6-5 at halftime. Again their passing wasn't so hot, but our goalkeeping was average. On the other hand their keeper is the best we have played against. The best teamwork I saw from them was when I was tracking a guy with the ball about to take a shot, and the biggest bloke on their team just stepped into my path as the other guy got a free shot into the corner. The ref plucked a bit of fluff from his navel and it was halftime.

The second half was quite tight but we stayed in front with goals when it mattered. I gave away a penalty when goalkeeping, by throwing the ball over halfway on the full, trying to find Brett. I used to do this all the time, but I had cured myself of it while Brett was away. He had been on court about five minutes and I did it again. Fortunately I saved the penalty (taken by the goose who hit me in the jaw).

We are on top of the ladder now with a percentage of 177. Cam is off to England for 3 weeks after the next match, and I will miss one of our next 3 as well, but we have got the depth to cover now. We are on a 6 match winning streak, with 4 matches left before the finals.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Health check

Very sore right jaw.
Arthritis in left middle finger top joint.
Arthritis in right big toe.
Pain diagonally through right foot.
Bruises on shins taking time to go away.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

India was scratchy

I just found this photo of me, the day after falling off a cliff in India. Quite apart from the major bruising all over my back, I was one big abrasion from fighting my way through thick scrub.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Colour Lovers

Old Newspapers
Kelvedon Beach
After Baling
Deloraine Dougals
Bike Under Water

Knackered 16 d Sohos 6

It's getting monotonous now - a younger, fitter team with reasonable individual soccer skills meet a grey-haired team who know how to pass to each other, and get a flogging. There were only three of us this week, and to be fair to Mel I don't think she has any grey hairs yet. Sohos lent us a player, who was handy but not outstanding. It was about 6-4 to us at half time. Pretty soon in the 2nd half they threw in the towel. One guy was trying to score the most incredible solo goal in history, and one was just trying to break my leg. The other two were not that good. I put away about ten goals.

Geelong 24.19.163 d. Port Adelaide 6.8.44

Although this was the most one-sided Grand Final ever, I really enjoyed it. Geelong had been so good all year, it was very satisfying to see them take it all the way to the last minute of the season, and totally bury Port. They played attractive confident footy right from the the first bounce, after looking a bit nervy last week against Collingwood. Although Port beat Geelong only a few weeks ago, and sailed through their preliminary final almost unopposed, they were outclassed yesterday.

I had tipped Paul Chapman of Geelong to take the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground, and I think he was robbed. He took a memorable mark, kicked 3 goals and pumped the ball inside 50 on countless occasions. Port Adelaide get up peoples' noses, and will be popular losers right across the country. Its a curious phenomenon that despite the club rivalries, there is a certain amount of fellow-feeling among Victorians when one of their own is up against interstate raiders in the Grand Final. Whereas Adelaide Crows fans would be pleased at punch at seeing Port pounded to a pulp.


It's been Old Testament weather this weekend. Starting on Friday night, with the strongest wind I can remember battering the house. In the old place it would have been whistling right through us, but the new place is pretty "tight". Elf was very worried all night that our solar panel would take flight or at the very least a pipe would rip loose and gush water through the roof. Although I was also awake for hours and feeling pretty nervous, the panel never occurred to me at all, thank God.

Saturday night started to go down the same road as soon as it got dark. It wasn't frightening, but unpleasant. No-one was surprised when the power cut out at about 9pm. During the night I woke a few times to the sound of the 2-way radio on high volume, coming from an Aurora truck somewhere out in the street, where they must have been trying to fix the power. I hope those guys get triple time and half, they certainly deserved it being out there in those conditions at 3am. After a while the lights all came on and the truck drove away.

At times like this I wish I still had a little turntable, so when the power comes on the record slowly winds itself up to speed - that always happens in movies. Ideally it would be something like King of the Road by Roger Miller.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Last week of september

I have not blogged for a week, that's one of my longest gaps ever I think.

As I write I'm listening to a recording of Marcus playing the piano. My $20 MP3 recorder has worked out very well - we sent the first CD of boys' chatter over to Elf's grandparents this week. The recording quality is about the same as an old fashioned tape recorder.

My teaching stint is complete - massive sigh of relief. It took me until the 3rd week to work out the parking arrangements. I did ask, but I got a bum steer from someone who should know, and got a ticket for my trouble. I have been asked to come back at some future stage, so I must have gone OK. The kids' work ranged from semi-competent to truly inspired, and it was kind of fun in a terrifying way... I guess.

The front of our house is still a bombsite. When building the parking space, Greg shortened it by 700mm for reasons not clear to us. He was quite deliberate about it, but we never did get a straight answer as to why. The council have now asked for it to be 700mm longer. Greg is put out, as it means taking down a brick wall with steel reo rods through it. Anyway- it has to happen, hopefully it will happen SOON.

My soccer team is humming along in very good form. We won a tough tussle 16-14 last week. Lawn bowls starts up again soon - I'm intending this to be my last season. At least until I have bi-focals and, lets say, grandchildren.

I will try to get back to frequent short blogs next week. Marcus has just finished his 12 minute opus - at the end he says it is titled "Half a Song".

Friday, September 21, 2007

A bit of Leo

Never mind all that rubbish about a code, just have a look at thedrawings of Leonardo da Vinci.They are amazing enough on their own without introducing albino monk assassins and Tommy Hanks.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Possibly velvet pants

Sally sent me this. I look a bit like Michael here. I think that's a not-Lego© aeroplane at my feet. We had lego-sized blocks that were not as highly engineered as Lego©, and soft enough to be chewed by the dogs, further eroding possibilities for precision constructions. I am vaguely recalling an aircraft building phase. Thanks Sal!

More quotes

The boys and I were talking about the various names of Santa. Marcus started by asking why he is called Santa Claws when he doesn't actually have any claws. I explained the history as best I can recall: Saint Nicholas -> Sinter Klaus -> Santa Claus. Elf calls him Father Christmas, I call him Santa, and I told the boys I didn't really care which name they called him.

Marcus: I call him Present-giving Nice Dead Person.
Me: He's not dead!
Marcus: How can he not be dead if he lived all those years ago?
Me: Hmm....
Michael: I call him... I call him... I call him Starry Balls.

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We were all thinking of words that start with the letter I. Coinidentally the boys have two aunts, Imogen and Irma. I mentioned Iceland, then the boys staggered me with the number of countries they knew starting with I. Michael said "Italy!!" then while I was boggling at him, followed this up with a two handed "sharing the love" gesture and the statement "Italy is full of history. The world is full of history."

He is fully ready to host Eurovision.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worldwide foam

I was discussing Michael J. Fox with Marcus - he is best known in the under-sixes as the voice of Stuart Little the animatronic mouse. We told Marcus about MJF's Parkinson's disease. I said that MJF was a top person, who appreciated that he was better off than a lot of people, with all his money and fame. A lot of people wish they had money and fame, etc.

Marcus asked "but why do people want foam?"

Chalk and talk

Last week I finally joined the family business - teaching. My dad is a retired economics and legal studies teacher. My mum is a retired art teacher. My sisters have both taught, Jacki in dance and Sally in I think "image making" at Art School.

Now I too have answered the call to go back to Art School and try to impart something to a room full of young art students. My first lesson went fairly well I think, although I didn't really address the course outline, and I babbled slightly. I am teaching them about Flash, which is software I use every day now, and have been using since 2001.

Tomorrow I am going back for the second of three lessons. I was worried about what to talk about, when I suddenly remembered there was a course I was supposed to teach, so I can use that! Phew. Last week I pretty much just reeled off everything I know in the sequence that I knowed it.

It's quite odd being back there. I enjoyed my 3 years studying there very much, but just haven't felt much need to go back in the ensuing 19 years. It went through a Fort Knox period in the nineties when it was just too hard to even get in, and I think that's probably when I gave up on it.

I haven't worked out yet how much I am going to be paid, but the main reason I am down there is that my brother-in-law Matt (who is on staff) assured me the pay was good. I can see how one could be seduced into a life of art school academé, although I was pretty scathing about them when I was an undergrad.

Knackered 14 d Wilkins 3

Marcus came along to watch as we had an early 6.30 game. Adrian the economist filled in for Adrian the IT guy, and Paul was also away. Luckily Ben the erstwhile goalkeeper was in town, so he guest-starred in goal for us. Cam, Mel and myself made five.

It started pretty tightly, like last time we played them. After about five minutes we broke it open. I kicked 7 goals by Marcus's count. Wilkins had no subs, so for once we had the edge in the fresh legs department.

Particularly in the second half we scored some awesome goals, with sharp passing movements and crisp finishing. We seem to be able to play well, whoever pulls on the green guernsey on the night.

I've got a calf strain that is getting worse each week, and my right foot has chronic artrhitis in the big toe and a persistent pain diagonally through the middle of it. At some point I have to get to my old doctor down in Lower Sandy Bay to get it checked out, but its quite hard to organise.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Large vehicles sound horn

When I am needing a quiet moment of contemplation, I like to check out what is happening around this hairpin bend in Slovenia.

Foorty finals fire up

The Crows v Hawthorn game on Saturday was magnificent. I was going for the Crows by the end, as they had led all day and made the running, playing attacking football which is not always their style. Buddy Franklin kicked a goal just before the bell to win it for the Hawks. He accumulated seven goals with even seeming to dominate - an amazing player.

Whether to play injured champions is always a hot topic in finals. Recent evidence would show that it's a mistake. Mark Ricciuto wasn't able to contribute anything for Adelaide, and took the place of a fit youngster.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Scamps on the weekend

The weather was superb on the weekend. We had a noodling at home day on Saturday, featuring some painting in the backyard. I just couldn't find the kids' paints, so they had a go with my acrylics, but they dry too fast in the sun. Continuing the paint theme, Elf and the boys started painting the timber balustrades with the left over "Tree of Heaven" green.

Sunday was extremely social with visits from Lana, Sharyn and Millie; Mary, Simon and Miranda; and Sally, Mum and Dad. After that we went up to Nick and Anna's. Then exhaustion set in.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Knackered 16 d Old School Muscle 11

We went into this game against an unbeaten side without Cam (gastro), but with the addition of a new keeper, Andy. We started well, getting out to 2-0. After about ten minutes the score as up to 6-6. It was a bit of a shootout after last week's tight 4-goal game. Paul was on fire after being goalless the previous week. He would have finished with about 8 goals this week.

We were down by a goal at half-time, and I thought we were going to be blown away. They were (as usual) younger and fitter than us, so I expected we would tire. Andy was having his first game after a couple of years out with knee injuries, and anything that wasn't aimed right at him was going in.

We managed to stay with them early in the second half. We put away nearly every chance we had, and with about 6 minutes to go we had a 2 goal lead. Suddenly Paul went beserk and we were five goals up. OSM pretty much went to water and we were able to ease through the last three minutes, knocking the ball around and playing it safe for a fantastic win.

Melinda played her second game for us and again was solid as a rock. Her fitness really told in the second half, when her second and third efforts regained lost possession several times. It was a great win and the team is building very nicely.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Wolf Song

I mentioned finishing this back in May or June, but never embedded it here. Now with properly mastered audio. Find out all about the band here

The Wolf Song.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Wherever Song

Finished at long last! : The Wherever Song by The Leonard Cohen Brothers

MJR Typography chapter 6

"Bowling Champions" in fact refers to The Bowling Shanes, I am proud to say. We once were champions, and perhaps may be again. The smell of new-mown grass, sausages and Wilgrip© is starting to waft once more.

"Graet Piglet" is inspired by a memory of Charlotte's Web. Michael said if he was a pig he wouldn't want a spider to be his friend as it might bite him.

Michael asked me how to spell "fields", then went away and produced "Cikamy Fields". No idea what/where they are. A bit like Elysian Fields perhaps.

Knackered 4 d Wilkins 0

Knackered welcomed another new player on Friday night: Melinda, a friend of Cam's. It was very satisfying to win a low scoring game for once - it was 1-0 at half time. We had a sub for the first time in ages, and were able to work harder on court with the promise of a short break when we needed it. Melinda is a very fit and capable defender, and she also scored one of the goals, as did Cam, who was best-on-court. Our defence was fantastic all night, and Wilkins had very few chances to shoot from close up.

Stonehenge technology

I dug out three fence posts embedded in concrete on the weekend. One had been sheared off just below ground level, and was starting to protrude in a nasty way. The others had just been deeemd to hard by the fencing guy, and left cut off at shin height. I felt a twinge of kinship with the builders of Stonehenge as I tried to get these massively heavy things up out of their holes, using leverage, ramps and basic physics. Thanks to our slope, once I had dug around the downhill side a bit I could work them out of the ground and roll them away to await eventual disposal. Or we might just bury them in the fill around our parking bay, when that ever gets finished.

Jogging through the brewery

The warm weather last week spurred me to go for a run in the morning. I have now done it seven weekday mornings in a row, so I am calling it a habit. It is a short gradual climb up Cascade Rd, between the brewery and the fruit juice factory, as far as the skinny paddock with two sheep and a truck full of firewood. I pant hello to the sheep then turn around and coast back down. I run through the smell of apples and malt and barley and the sounds of dozens of crows sitting on the apple pallets and swooping from the water tanks and whooshing steam and enormous muffled explosions. On the way up the hill I am looking at Mt Wellington, which has had a few overnight snowfalls this week. If I leave a little late I get to see the sun light up the mountain. It's a great way to wake up.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Way Out

I was in the bathroom drying off after a shower when the door started opening, very slowly. Michael's nose appeared.

Me: Hello.
Michael: I'm looking for the way out.
Me: The way out of where?
Michael: The way out of Tasmania, to Australia.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mum and Dad

I forgot to mention my Mum and Dad stayed with us over the weekend, and had their first look at the inside of the house. Dad is looking very bonny and is obviously recovering very well from his major surgery. Sally came up for lunch, and while she was there made this little movie of one of Michael's stranger talents. Sal took these photos of Mum and Dad a few months ago. Aren't they just the cuddliest most photogenic OAP's you've ever seen?