Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Our dependants


The moon setting behind Mt Wellington one morning a few weeks back. As I ate my breakfast the planet spun towards the east, and our only natural satellite appeared to slide behind this mountain to the west. Note: people have been there in rockets.


We used to have a cat named Claude, who was usually called the Softy Soft. Compared to our other, older and spikier cat he was like a purry cloud. He was also quite flat and floppy like a bean bag with legs. During the Claude era we once convinced my sister Sally that it was the International Year of Softness.

I'm sure when Marcus was little we also went on about how soft he was. Little kids are extremely soft and then you tend to wrap them in layers of other soft things.

The designation "soft" has also attached to Michael. We will have to make a big effort to shake it some time before he becomes a Test opening batsman, Minister for Defence or drill sergeant.

Anyway, I was making up a song as you do, about how soft he was. He did not agree and his dismissal was pithy and memorable.

Me: He's got soft arms and he's got soft legs / he eats soft bacon and soft boiled eggs.

Michael: I haven't and I dont.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On footballers names, with particular emphasis on "Alan".

My vow to put less about football on the blog is failing miserably. My only excuse is that this is probably the finest season of footy in living memory and its hard not to be excited about it. I hope everyone in Qatar will bear with me - blogs coming soon on oil, dates, camels and your 2016 Olympic bid.

First: Alans. I have long had an interest in historical Alans. "The written sources suggest that from the end of the 1st century to the second half of the 4th century the Alans had supremacy over the tribal union and created a powerful confederation of Sarmatian tribes."

Then at some point in the 1930s they began playing football. I have nutted out a team, in position, of all the greatest Alans.
Many were called Alan, but few were chosen. Sorry Alan Mangels. I did find room for promising young Alan Obst on the bench. Alans have excelled over the decades particularly as rovers and goalkickers - I had to fill the key defensive positions with ruck rovers and the like. I don't want anyone to think this was easy, or that there is some AFL database on the net of Alans. THIS is the database of Alans.

Next subject - trends in footballers names. When I was a kid they were all Shanes and Waynes. Like me, you may have noticed that now they are all Danes and Kanes, with a few Zanes thrown in. In addition I am concerned about Brady, Brody, Cody, Cale, Cade, Jaiden and Chance. Where are the Ians? Where are the Steves? Every club should have a mandated minimum of one Colin, one Barry and two Kevins. I must stress I am welcoming of Setanta, Jarrhan, Andrejs and Alipate who have come on board in recent seasons. Diversity. But I am really concerned about Sharrod, Jamason and Ayce.

And Ayce brings me to my third point - footballer's sons. Footballers seem to give their sons shocking names. Ayce Cordy, Steele Sidebottom and Jaxson Barham come to mind. Jobe Watson. Dustin Fletcher. Gary Ablett got around it by naming his son Gary Ablett.

Finally - while searching for Alans I came across a very early Greg. Greg Stockdale of Essendon, carbon-dated to 1929. How hard would it have been to be a Greg in the 20s? All the basic Greg accoutrements (bodyshirt, suntan, flappy jeans, medallion) weren't invented until the seventies. Can anyone find an earlier example, or have I stumbled upon the Invention of Greg?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Michael writes a song on the way to soccer

Beautiful Magpie by Michael Rees
Beautiful magpie
In the hot sun
Beautiful magpie
Wipe the sweat off with your wing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Buzz Aldrin

We have to be very careful talking about the Moon landings here at work. We have a hard-core denier, who will happily stop working and start shouting for ten to twenty when the subject comes up. I have proposed the ladies toilet (which has fairly light traffic) as the venue for any such discussions, at which time it will be referred to as the Moon Room.

Now - I was just checking on Buzz (2nd person to walk on the moon) on Wikipedia. I can't say any of this out loud without going to the Moon Room so I will share it with you instead, internet. Here are some discussion points.

His mother's maiden name was Marion Moon

The other astronauts nicknamed him Dr Rendezvous

He actually gave himself communion on the moon. He was a Presbyterian church elder, and took a Home Communion Kit with him, given to him by Reverend Woodruff.

He played the role of Reverend Woodruff in the 1996 TV movie Apollo 11 - he himself was played by Xander Berkeley.

He made a rap single with Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Talib Kweli, and Soulja Boy called "Rocket Experience".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Finished at last

This is part of a big drawing commissioned by my mother-in-law Felicity. I finished it earlier this month - started in January. What a grind! It's drawn on a large map of Flinders Island. After I had already started I found out that Bill and Felicity went there for their honeymoon.

I really enjoyed bits of it. I wish I was better at likenesses, the two boys are the right size but otherwise don't look much like ours. If only they were bookcases, I feel like I've mastered those. Some detail pics are here.

This is an earlier stage.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On a pirate ship with a chicken

Michael is still crook. He had a quiet day yesterday with lots of snoozing but he had a high temperature overnight and didn't sleep well. Elf is coming down with something too, and couldn't sleep, so she bore the brunt of the nursing.

We visited Michael's classmate Mungo and his family up the road today. Since we were last there they have finished their fort and added a pirate ship. It began as a deck and grew. It now has a mast, a helm, a bowsprit, and a few things I don't know the names of. Mungo has a nine-year-old hen called Hetty who he carries around under his arm. She digs it.

As we walked down the hill toward the ship, Marcus was yelling "take the chicken on the pirate ship! Take the chicken on the pirate ship!" We did and she was fine with that too. I never knew how much I would love being on a pirate ship with a chicken.

Mungo's parents Menna and Leon are biologists. They have set up their garden to encourage wildlife as much as possible. They have a pond for frogs, and this is encouraging copperhead snakes to come by. Which is great and all, except for their extreme poisonosity. The Don Burkes and Peter Cundalls who are encouraging everyone to make a snuggly spot for frogs usually don't mention the snakes.
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Did 12km on the exercise bike in 23:55. Felt all wobbly (but victorious) afterwards.
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Richmond played North Melbourne this afternoon. Marcus has had it lined up for a week at least as a must-see. Both clubs' coaches resigned mid-season and they are playing under caretakers, and hoping to land recently retired champion player Natahn Buckley as next year's coach. As the game started Dennis Cometti said "This game is a Nathan Buckley mating dance". In the top 5 all-time Comettis I think.

1. If loving Fraser Gehrig is wrong, then I don't want to be right
2. Brent (Guerra) hates losing and that extends to his hair.
3. And the umpire says "Hey, you, get off of McLeod"
4. When it comes to hard nuts, he's right up there with Macadamias and Courtney Love.

Cometti trivia: He is still the youngest Test cricket commentator in ABC history, (debut in 1973 aged 23). Apart from a year in Melbourne during his playing career, he has lived in the same house in Perth all his life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Eucalyptus dreams

Michael acquired a heavy cold last night. He was chirpy enough going off to school this morning, but at lunchtime I got the call to take him home. We walked home and now he is dozing.

To try to help clear his nose I have put a tissue soaked in eucalyptus oil where he will breathe in the fumes. Having done that, I now wonder if he is dreaming that he's a koala.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eddie Izzard v Lego

This is, in my humble opinion, superfunny. Old recordings of British stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard, added to stop motion lego animations. Does get a little sweary.

(There were several attached here but they were playing havoc with the dial-up at home, so, if you want more, just search for izzard+lego).

Mashed Potatoes

Years ago Matt K lent me James Brown's autobiography The Godfather of Soul. It was pretty hilarious. No-one has ever given himself more self-important nicknames since perhaps Mussolini. Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk, The Original Disco Man, Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. According to himself he invented soul, disco, funk and rap. My favourite line is from a story about bandits making off with the box office takings at one of his shows. From the stage James saw someone with a gun menacing the front-of-house guy. Without stopping the show, he danced over to his bandleader Bobby Byrd to tell him to play something slow, and then saved the day in some way I can't recall. The dance was called the "mashed potatoes".
"So I mashed potatoes over to Bobby..."
According to Wikipedia:
The dance begins by stepping backward with one foot with that heel tilted inward. The foot is positioned slightly behind the other (stationary) foot. With the weight on the ball of the starting foot, the heel is then swiveled outward. The same process is repeated with the other foot: step back and behind with heel inward, pivot heel out, and so on. The pattern is continued for as many repetitions as desired. The step may be incorporated in various dances either as a separate routine or as a styling of standard steps.
Try it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lets look at - Western Australia!

Sorry, this might sound boring, but it just occurred to me, looking at a world map, that Western Australia is bloody big. We all know it takes up a third of Australia, but in world terms, it's a major chunk of land.

I have just checked the numbers, and if it seceded* and became independent, it would be the tenth largest country in the world. Smaller than Kazakhstan but bigger than Sudan. It's bigger than any country in Africa. Fact buffs will be thrilled to learn that Australia (6th) has such a big lead over India (7th) in area that if WA left, it wouldn't make any difference to their rankings.

*In 1933 68% of Western Australians did vote to secede. This failed to go through when everyone else pretty much just ignored them.

National Public Radio snippet

Brian said Tony would be a minute, because its a bit of a walk from the Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder Unit. I looked at Brian. "Is Tony in the part of Broadmoor that houses the most dangerous people?" I asked. "Crazy, isn't it?" laughed Brian.
- from This American Life, ep. 385

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Today's subjects: "the kookaburra", and "uncontrollable bleeding"

Michael drew this beautiful kookaburra this morning. They are members of the kingfisher family, with a very long and powerful beak.

These are pages from a first aid booklet for staff at GP clinics, which came home from Elf's work as scrap paper. Michael has interpreted the contents in interesting ways. There is a speech balloon with "greeked" text in each drawing. I'm not sure how the glamorous woman relates to "post op problems". I probably need to debrief Michael more fully before I blog these things.

Misc. diary notes

Rode 12 km on the exercise bike in 26:10, previous best was 27:30.

Last week I did roast chicken stuffed with an orange - didn't twig that I was supposed to cut orange into quarters. Poor chicken. Very tasty but. I haven't roasted anythingfor a couple of years.

Michael has been coming out with "I wish you were dead!" etc when he doesn't get his way. It doesn't bother me although no-one has ever wished me dead before. Nice change at the market yesterday - boys and Elf were returning home leaving me on the Amnesty stall. Michael grumbling "why isn't Dad coming? It's no fun without you Dad". So I'll treasure that for when he is next calling for my termination.

For the first time I have seen footage of myself playing soccer. Am now on a diet.

Little family reunion

My big sister Jacki and Mum and Dad stayed with us this weekend. Jacki lives in northern NSW, and gave herself the week off from work and kids to visit Mum and Dad, then drive down with them to visit us.

We hadn't seen Jacki for over two years - she paid us a flying visit while this house was being built, when we were down at Kingston Beach. We are planning to return the visit later this year, and see for ourselves the semi-tropical wonderland where they live. Jacki, Tim, Malachy and Brinley live in Smiths Lake, but the town up the road where Jacki's little boy Malachy goes to school is called Pacific Palms - which for me has "concrete flamingo" written all over it. But I have now seen the home movie DVD - Pacific Palms Public School is so crowded with palms there is hardly room for the kids.

All three visitors and Marcus came along to the indoor soccer semi final on Friday night, rugged up to the maximum. The indoor centre is basically a draughty shed. For a while it looked like we might oblige them with a win, but we went down 4-3.

Yesterday we continued the theme, with Mum and Dad coming along to Marcus's soccer match, while Jacki explored South Hobart on foot (rugged up to the maximum). South Hobart under 7 also had a titanic struggle, coming back from three goals down for a 4-4 draw. Marcus was magnificent and a true sportsman - it warmed the cockles. Robert the coach spent a solid five to ten minutes just with Marcus after the game, going over all the good things he did. He took the praise graciously.

Last night my little sister Sally and husband Matt came over for dinner, and Mum and Dad and all their children were in the same spot for the first time since Michael was tiny. Of course it turned into a photofest. I think everyone had a good time - it was hard to stop laughing long enough for the photos. They were all taken by the others, so I will have to wait until I am sent some to post them here.

The boys don't see much of Sal and Matt and virtually nothing of Jacki, so it was terrific to see them going around giving everyone warm hugs at bedtime.

Today Mum, Dad and Jacki headed back north - Mum to spend the day looking at galleries and Dad and Jacki to go to the Hawthorn v North Melbourne game at York Park (rugged up to the maximum).

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I have to keep remembering to lead

Lead my followers that is. As the traditional means of welcoming Kittibee and AvigailsMommy to the blog, I have slaughtered an apple crumble slice from the bakery and divined the following from its entrails.

Kittibee: your lucky soil type is Myakka fine sand (the state soil of Florida) and your lucky spoon is the tablespoon.

AvigailsMommy: your lucky language is Flemish and your lucky grain is maize.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The sunflower oil lady

Whenever I see her I think of Hunky Dory.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I am trying SO hard to keep up

Today, Prep Blue did "teeth". Michael came home after school and executed this fact-filled A4 sheet of wonderment. Also a fab diagram of a single tooth that we can't find just at the minute. I haven't interviewed him about this at length but I think "M. I. B." might be Molar. Incisor. Biter.

Yesterday Michael asked me "how do I open my mouth?" I said his brain told his jaw muscles to move and that opened his mouth. That might explain the drawing of the man holding possibly an apple, whose brain has just told his mouth to open. He is looking askance at his brain as if to say "WHAT???"

I think I possibly love this drawing most of all.

Michael gallery

Some of Michael's recent output.
Map of the school and a list of the streets around it. Note fish in the rivulet.

A game Michael made up called Mrs Cat's Mieouw Money™. I asked him what the ™ means and he said he had seen it on logos and things.

Crazy Frog Hops. When he writes little letters in among the capitals that is a guide to pronouncing it the way people do on TV (ie an American accent).
Plenty going on here: Spy Killer Rader, only kills badies.
Some more Scorpion Island inspired bizzo. Total Drama Island is a terrible more-grown-up kids show than came on after it.

Michael must have heard about Michael Jackson at school. Oh! He wouldn't tell me what the crossed out bit meant.
Alien juice recipe - the green splash on the right is some prepared alien juice.
Another potion recipe. Two lizard / tails, one oc/topus eye. a dr/op of chili / sauce. boil all together. / cool in the moonlight.

No robbers aloud. Money is aloud.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Michael is a cockatoo

Keeping up is impossible but I do my best

When I started this blog Michael had just turned 1 and Marcus wasn't even 3 yet. It was quite easy to find snippets of life that were easily bloggable. I'm finding it a lot harder now, I have to say. Perhaps its simply that parenting is all-consuming at that stage - I certainly don't think I was reading a lot of books, for instance. You almost have nothing else to write about.

If I spent all my time now writing down what Michael said and did, it would make a very entertaining blog. But there is just too much of it. He never stops generating ideas, drawings, new games, dances, songs - (except when he is watching TV, when he is as creative and outgoing as a barnacle). He loves to entertain an audience, and I feel like when he grows up entertaining will be a big part of his life.

My memory is failing me a lot lately, and although I want the blog to be interesting, I can't quite bring myself to carry around a notebook and record juicy bits in shorthand. And I am not really a Twitter type, packing the right technology 24/7 to comment LIVE.

Marcus is a more serious kid, like I was. He is extremely focused and intense when he is involved in something. He kicked four goals at the soccer match yesterday, and the look on his face after each one was kind of frightening. He is going to be a very fine soccer player, and his intensity could be the thing that separates him from equally talented ball players. But on display in the under sevens it's pretty unnerving.

He was getting grabbed and roughed up by a couple of the other team, and retaliated with his elbows. When he was subbed off for a break I spoke to him about it, and he was very emotional but buckled down and was in control again by the time he had to go back on. At one stage he kicked the ball accidentally straight into the face of one of the culprits. I was highly impressed that he straight away went over and checked he was alright, and hung around concerned until the kid got his composure back. He played really, really well, and despite losing it on the sidelines on balance he had a good day.

The iPod is a huge hit. It has three games on it (we did NOT know that when we bought it as a relaxation tool), and Marcus has spent most of his time playing with those so far. I am sure he'll get sick of them pretty soon. He has about thirty songs on it, and I have used it to introduce him to some old faves of mine like The Muttonbirds and Crowded House.

Scrolling through my iTunes at work trying to find calming music is an interesting experience. I've got 3 or 4 thousand songs and podcasts, but picking something for the seven-year-old audience is tricky. I will try to get some audiobooks perhaps. Any suggestions?