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.