Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, December 31, 2010


Suddenly the end of the year is here.

It seemed to take so long while it was happening, yet surely it was just yesterday that Mr Three as he was then, told me about the fireworks "last night".   It's a happy accident I think, that as we began the year with the youngest of the clan, we close it with the oldest staying with us, if not on the mattress on our bedroom floor.

She will be eighty-five next year, all being well and by then, the great-grandmother of six.  For her, it seems like yesterday that I was Mr Three.

None of us will be up at midnight, we'd rather see the new year in properly, in the daylight, without being tired and hung over, and in any case we've wrung all we can out of the old one without having to worry about wasting the last few hours of it.

It's been a wonderful ride really, this year and I've been grateful for having the opportunity to document it in a medium that my mother can't hope to understand and that my grandchildren will take for granted.

A few days ago I wasn't sure if I would continue into the next, after a year amid all our other distractions it had become too hard, but I've caught up now, and there are things that will happen in the future that we'll need to remember I'm sure.

The fireworks in the photo are not from tonight, but from July, Bastille Day in Lagarde, posted as a reminder of all of the places we've been this year, and that we do indeed live on both sides of the world now.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


When we woke this morning there was something strangely unfamiliar about the place, we couldn't put our finger on it at first and then we realised that it was sunlight shining through the windows for the first time this month.

It wasn't the bright, yellow burning light that we are accustomed to, just a warm sort of glow. Strong enough to cast a shadow, although not to illuminate the house, but sunlight none the less.

It didn't last long either, but with most of the state flooded, every major highway impassable and many towns completely inundated we are glad to have seen it.

The rain will apparently remain for a week or so, but in more moderate amounts at last, perhaps just enough to keep the grass wet enough so that it can't be mowed till next year at the earliest.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The cloud lifted briefly this evening and we saw the sun set for the second time this month. Half an hour later the rain returned, but we had seen enough to know that the sky is still there, right where it is supposed to be, and it doesn't appear to be quite as full of water as it has been of late.

Just as the sun has been struggling to make its presence felt in the time that we have been "back" and while much has happened in those two months, we have been struggling in our efforts to stumble across the merest hint of a germ of an idea as to just where it is we might want to live when we are between our bouts of peregrination.

"Struggling", because we are too comfortable right here in the Home of the Biting Midge to apply ourselves to the problem, and we use our busyness of recent days as an excuse for having failed thus far to address it.   I suspect we were both deliberately denying that there is a need to do so.

Today on the drive home we made some progress.

We have been asked on many occasions on our travels if we are retired, and to that our response is succinctly negative. We reason that since we do not technically qualify for any sort of retirement income, we must actually be doing what we do for a living. With that thought in mind, it logically follows that when we are not doing that, that is, when we are at "home", we must be on holiday.

So we have decided that we need to find a holiday house.

One that is near the beach, and from which we can see sunsets, and mountains, and pine trees, and will make us want to come back to it from time to time. That's it.  It took a hundred kilometres to work out that we need a house just like the one we live in now.  Perhaps in another hundred we'll have figured our where it should be.

As we looked down from Anne and Jaap's holiday digs we saw a dozen houses that could suit. They were not for sale of course, or if they were it would be for a figure far in excess of our budget, but it is a beginning.

Perhaps it would be fair to ask just why it has taken a year to arrive at this rather simple conclusion, and while the answer is not entirely clear, I suspect it has a little to do with some sunlight shining through a break in the clouds.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It's nice to be staying with Sam the long suffering wonder dog even if he does bear more than a passing resemblance to the mythical chupacabra in his current closely cropped livery.

He has the most even tempered demeanour of any small animal we've every met, and is tolerating the new round of lack of attention somewhat manfully, just as he did when his first "sibling" arrived. After a particularly tortuous time involving Mr Four and a one-sided wrestling match, we were surprised to see him somewhat manfully lifted onto the hip of his master, and "disappeared" into the depths of the other side of the house. There was the sound of a door closing, shortly followed by the return of just one of them.

After a round of enquiry which in a short flurry of questions escalated to the heights of a mini inquisition, Mr Four admitted that yes indeed, Sam was locked in Mummy's bedroom, and after initially refusing to rectify the matter, when pressed he offered that it might not be a good idea, because he explained unable to keep his face straight, "He's afraid of Papa and Jojo."

Look at that face, and ask yourself whether that is the face of an animal that is afraid of anything. In a week or two when the fluff grows back, perhaps, but for now, I don't think so.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Big Wet

As the rain increased in direct proportion to our lack of desire to drive anywhere, we dragged ourselves into the car and headed south for the day. Roger had travelled a few thousand kilometres so it was the least we could do, although every inch of the way we wished we were in a submarine, or perhaps curled up somewhere with a book.

Being there was fantastic of course, looking across the ocean or where we knew it used to be before the sky fell on us, but we had to repeat the journey at the end of the day, tip toeing up the highway, studiously avoiding trouble, while listening to the endless flood reports on the radio.

Amazingly in the ninety minutes we were on the road, the only time the announcer drew breath between reading flood conditions on rivers various and evacuation notices for towns across the state, was to apologise for not reading the lists of road closures as they comprised some twenty-five pages and it would be, she thought, impossible to do anything meaningful with them.

Then came the hysterical calls from listeners for the Premier to return from her holiday to do something about the floods. Exactly what she could do, no one was prepared to explain, but I did wonder if thought perhaps they'd carry her to the water's edge in a gilded chair so she could simply tell the water to go back.

Perhaps it will, if we wait long enough.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Herding Cats

Anyone who has been asleep under a rock, or has not read anything of these pages of late, may have escaped the news that it's been raining for a while.

Boxing Day is typically the busiest day of the year on our highways, and sadly for us there is nothing but highway for the hundred kilometres between where we live and where we wanted to be. Even more sadly the rain in buckets combined with a few other factors to cause an accident which was sufficiently serious to stop sixty kilometres of traffic.

Serious and sobering enough to have caused the loss of a life.

Perhaps the thousands who were delayed in the course of the day will, like us, reflect on their mortality and drive just a little more cautiously in the conditions.

When we did arrive, the sobriety of the journey was forgotten in a flash (although tucked away for future reference), we ate pizzas and gathered round the Christmas tree and gave each other presents and refused steadfastly to sit still for photographs. A dog, three grandchildren and their parents in one place, surely that can't be too much to ask.


It was like herding cats.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

But it didn't feel like Christmas!

Let me hasten to point out that my harsh headline is not a reflection on Mic and Mat's prowess has hostess and host, not at all, indeed the company, the food, and the event itself were indeed sublime, even from all reports the bits of it from which I were absent didn't appear to suffer. It's just that my personal take on the event involved a sudden-onset illness of strange and ridiculously discomforting effect before I could partake of much of the food or any of the drink.

Between the hours of lunch and well after dinner my view of the world was mostly through closed and unconscious eyes. When they opened at all it was to view the Christmas tree, apparently on it's side, from my recumbent position on the couch.

I did wake once, late afternoon, in a lather of sweat and shivers, and made my way unsteadily and cautiously to a discreet corner of the garden intent on emptying the contents of my stomach as quietly as I could. Unaccustomed as I am to this sort of malady, I was until that time unaware that my definition of "quiet" does not correspond with another more popular view, nor that doing so over a plant with large and springy grass like leaves would not provide the discrete outcome I had been seeking.

Alas, what I now know that I did not then, was that large and springy grass like leaves when loaded with a syrup of yesterday's breakfast, actually fight to overcome their load by springing it in a fine mist in all directions bar the one from which it had arrived.

Fortunately when facing circumstances like this, the "we'll probably laugh about this later gene" kicks in, and so it was that I was able to return to my repose, leaving the rain to tidy up.

On our arrival at home that night, after finally waking in time to see the dinner plates being cleared and feeling well enough for nothing but a sliver of Christmas Pud with a trickle of custard, to pack and drive home into the night (because I was the one who hadn't had a drink after all), it was difficult to believe I hadn't just made it all up.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holding Back the Tide

No matter about my protest of yesterday, two things seem certain in my life at the moment: rain and Christmas.

In a few hours we'll be off to help Mat and Mic celebrate their first Christmas as Australians, and there aren't too many creatures stirring round our house at the moment I have to say, except the occasional frog or jumping fish.

Everything seems inordinately calm and quiet.

It's not the calm before the storm though, that's been going on long enough for the river to be rather higher than we'd prefer! It took eight years for it to reach these heights just once, and now it's been there half a dozen times this year. I suspect with a dam that's at 120% capacity a little bit of water coming down the river is to be expected.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


After yet another fortnight of continuous company, we took advantage of the foreboding weather forecast to cancel our dinner out, and took an early mark under eerie but none the less somewhat decorative skies. 'Tis the season to be constantly busy it would seem, busy for the sake of it, busy in the name of fun.

It's the first year that I can remember that I've been truly "unemployed" in this time, and it's the first year that some unexpected pressure from work has not bobbed up to put a little bit of extra icing on the busyness but I still feel busy, perhaps mildly stressed about a few things that need doing sooner rather than later yet not at all related to the season.

A few weeks ago Michele asked me what I wanted to do for Christmas, and I truthfully answered that I am happy just watching in while everyone else does their respective things. There are usually too many ambitions in that regard to accommodate one more, and I am mostly truly content not to have to worry about me in all of that.

But today I feel differently. The stresses of watching are I think, worse than the stresses of doing.

One year, just once, not this one nor the next, but some time in the future, I'd like no one to be busy in at least that last week. I want the week before to be relaxed, so that the day itself can be the pinnacle of the celebration rather than the tipping point. I don't want any shopping, or endless cleaning, or endless cooking or endless everything else.

But that's just me, and alas I am alone in that thought!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Hiatus Continues

As does the rain.

The ducks that used to live across near Margaret and Roger think it's splendid, and have moved camp to our beach.  They seem to like the munching on the fresh tips on the pigweed, not to mention feasting on the drowning lawn grubs.

It may well be a poor year for chemical sales I think with lawn grubs nearing extinction as the water table rises to what seems like a few metres above the ground level.  Even our sandy soil turns to the sort of mush we haven't seen in a decade as we walk over it.  We almost got the wheelie bin bogged the other day and more rain, a lot more rain, is on the radar screen for the days ahead.

They say it's been a while since we've seen a summer this wet, and of course it has, but do they really need to look for reasons?  How quickly they forget about the drought that spanned the last decade!

We are only three or four weeks short of the anniversary of the Brisbane floods of 1974, so it's fair to say that inordinate precipitation at this time is not unprecedented.

Neither is inordinate procrastination, so I will try to catch up on the backlog on the morrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well may he hide.

I'd be hiding too.

Using the miracle of modern technology, combined with slackness in writing, I have been able to reproduce this photograph of Matt four days before it was taken!

It came about because of those lovely pre-Christmas smells from the kitchen. The culmination of a day of buzzing and clanging and washing up.

There, on the bench, on the cooling rack was the Christmas Cake.

"I can't wait for it to cool", I recall saying, or words to that effect. They were hollow words though, for if I'd had the slightest hint of approbation the knife would have been despatched in an instant, as indeed would the first portion of cake.

Instead of the reply that I was expecting, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to touch it lest I should surely suffer an unimaginable fate.

"It's for Matthew" she intoned, and to emphasise the impact of this unwelcome news, added "he likes Christmas Cake."

And that is how it came to be, that we didn't need a Christmas Cake this year, apparently, and Matthew (bless him) declined to be photographed whilst eating that first wonderful slice.

I hope it gives him the runs!

Monday, December 20, 2010

You'd better not Pout

The week before Christmas always seems to be a hugely productive time at our place. One of us picks up things, and looks at them wistfully running away to plan a new project or twelve and steadfastly failing to complete anything, while the other just plugs away, finishing all sorts of tasks and projects.

Perhaps it was the pressure of other things, or the hour of the night, or maybe at this time of year Santa himself gets a bit testy after posing for all those photographs, but whatever the reason it was initially a very grumpy Santa whose visage appeared on a bag marked "Elliott" this year.

The Big E is not yet too secure with his place in life. As seven week olds go, he is a happy chap although quite prone to wearing a perpetually startled expression which may or may not be due to the fact that his nearest and dearest continue to surprise him by picking him up, or putting him down, or patting him, or not patting him as the case may be.

One can only imagine the horror that could have been wreaked by this image, had the furrowed brows not been surgically restored to a more sympathetic angle before delivery.

Mister Four meanwhile is amazed at just how, despite his lack of maturity, the Big E seems quite confident that the bearded one will deliver all he desires in a few days time.

Baby Wipes, Disposable Nappies, Baby Oil…..

How does he know?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Driving Rain

Unsurprisingly the sound on our roof when we woke was a familiar one.

While neither of us really mind the odd drop of rain, nor do we mind driving several hundred kilometres to catch up with a group of friends we hadn't seen together in twenty years, it has to be said that the combination of the two is not one of our preferred methods of spending a morning.

Never the less, we gave the "stupid" gene a bit of a polish, and set off doggedly into the gloom in direction Coolangatta. Lights on, mid morning, wipers on fast.

Summer, and the wet season doesn't begin for another month or two.

Lunch was OK, the company splendid, but neither did enough to lift the gloom of the return journey. 

That was up to Lily.

It's amazing how ten minutes reading a good story can make one forget all else.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Big E goes to the Beach

We went to the beach today, Elliott and I. The rest of them came too, his brother and mother and father and grandmother, but they left us to our own devices and disappeared into the surf.

It's summer after all.

The rain stopped for barely long enough for them to squeak in a swim among the flood stained waves, but we didn't care the Big E and I. We had our tent and our hats and pillows, and somewhere to lie insulated from the grit of the beach and the glare of the cloud.

We thought about going for a walk for a time, but with the UV index hovering at an improbable sixteen on a scale of one to ten it was not the sort of day that inclined one to test the durability of five week old skin, so we stayed snugged in the shade, talking blokey stuff.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting things done.

Why is it, I wonder, that when we are on our boat doing nothing, we seem to have no difficulty in completing many things, yet here at the place we call home, we attempt to do many things yet complete nothing?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


As if to remind us that we've been praying for rain for ten years so we'd better jolly well enjoy it, the storms arrived today.

Not grey skies and intermittent showers interspersed with big rain dumps that we've been seeing for weeks. Genuine good old fashioned summer storm fronts.

Thunder, lightning, and hail the size of mothballs, golfballs and pinballs or chupa chups or match heads. Why can we not just use dimensions to measure the size of hail?

Darkness as though the night had come. The Ashes are playing in Western Australia and we wish they had the same storms.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Some have noticed that a few days have elapsed for which there is no report. Well some have noticed that it's been more than a week actually.

For my part it's been a strange mix of guilt and helplessness as one day goes by and then another without the urge to combine photographs and words. Some days there are the words but as yet no photograph, on others there are photographs but no words.  It is perhaps a measure of just how quickly time seems to be travelling that when I uploaded this photo, I dated it November.

I have come to within two weeks almost of completing a daily report for the year, and a small corner of my brain seems to have run out of inclination, although I suspect it is more to do with that small corner being needed for other things.

The missing days aren't actually missing though. They actually happened and the reporting of them will slowly return over the next few days or perhaps even hours, filling in below, just as surely as the ladies from the gym filled our house last night, while I discretely retreated to the contemplative silence of the river bank, and the stinging repostes of the midges.

It's the better part of valour they say, discretion.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Galahs before Breakfast.

Strange Days Indeed!

Sue called from the breakfast table.

"There are galahs on the beach" she said. Not believing her for a second, I grabbed the camera and quietly slid open the door. There were indeed galahs on the beach, two of them, a long way from home. The strangest thing of all though, was the shadows that fell. We have had fewer sunless skies thus far this summer it seems, than a typical London winter, and if it weren't for the family and perhaps the temperature we'd almost be asking ourselves why we came back to this.

But then if we hadn't, we'd have missed the galahs, and we'd be really, really cold and lonely about now, so there's not really any reason to ask the question!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Test Pattern

In days of old, when there wasn't much to show us on the tele, they'd show a test pattern and play endless loops of Richard Clayderman music which made one feel for all the world as though one's living room had somehow become an elevator.

Summer radio on the ABC is a bit like that, endless repeats of interviews held during the year, music that was never quite in vogue but repeated for good measure anyway yet I dare not find another station for fear that I would be deserting an old friend very much in need of company. Occasionally something interesting and new and fresh arrives for my listening pleasure, but it always coincides with the exact point in time when some massively noisy machine needs using or I am called away beyond listening range and therefore the good bits always go unheard.

The projects are something of a test pattern themselves, perpetually comprising little sticks that never actually move or multiply.  No matter how much work goes on, they never seem to form any completed or useful object.

Even the frangipani outside the workshop seems to run in sort of half-cycles, never quite deciduous in our presence, always flowering, yet never in full bloom.   

Perhaps we are part of a test pattern called life.

Or maybe the Matrix is real!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Street

Each year for at least a decade, there's been a Christmas party right there in the cul-de-sac and everyone's turned up with steaks and snags for the barbecue and eskys and chairs to sit on. The party starts in the dark and finishes before morning and everyone spends their time catching up with the news of the year as if somehow they weren't aware of it as it happened.

This year things have changed.  Some of the old crew have gone, their houses vacant and like ours, owned by the people of Queensland or tenanted by people who have thus far managed to remain invisible.

It wasn't going to be the same without them and we wondered if, like the community that once we shared, the annual gathering would pass into history.

The end of the street sits in the rain, silent and empty.  At the other end, where once there had been bush there is now a friendly three metre high barrier, kindly erected by the developers of the new estate.

Someone suggested we take the mountain to Mohammad, or in this case to Don and Shirley. Don has always been in our eyes at least, the mayor of our street, or at least was the one who owned the mower and assumed responsibility for all our lawns.  As the dark cloud hovered over us all through the resumption process, they were the last to be contracted and eventually resettled seventy kilometres away, closer to family but leaving our yards to go to ruin.

It may not have been the same cloud, but it was certainly an indifferent if not ominous sky that hung above all day as we joined the convoy heading south in the drizzle, to spend the afternoon revelling in their joy as they showed us the ins and outs of their new surrounds.

We took our places around the monster table which they'd bought "just in case we all turned up at once". They had suffered more trauma than most during the resumption process, losing a son, two dogs and waging a war against Shirley's illness, yet we'd never seen them happier.

The cloud under which we had lived was after all, lined with silver.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weather Report

Rain, rain go away come again another day.

I've got places to go, things to do and a new shirt that seems to get wet every time I wear it.

It would be wise to leave the shirt at home I thought as in the late afternoon snuck down to Beerwah to do a repair job in what appeared to be without doubt, clearing weather.  I managed nearly an hour's work too, and the sun came out briefly and quite fiercely for a time, but when it did the steam rising from the ground was so great that I ended up just as wet as if I'd been in the rain anyway.

If the rain hadn't returned I may have finished the job too.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

John O'Brien

I think I'm tending to agree with Hanrahan.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bonjour Mr Four

"Bonjour Mr Four" I heard in the background as the grandmother spoke to her eldest grandson on the telephone.

"Bonjour Jojo" came the not-unexpected reply.

"Ça va?"

"Ça va" came the reply, whereupon, having plumbed the absolute depths of their respective foreign vocabularies, the conversation switched to news of the day.

"Are you going to kindy today?"

"Yes, but I'm not going to play with Bradley.

Bradley doesn't speak French."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


It's a continuing theme I know, but the list continues to grow as if by magic.

It would be good to get the seal coat on the painting I thought, so I proceeded to pull down the framing/layout table, except that I remembered one of the boys had borrowed it, and it would be a lot easier to make a new one than to retrieve it. Well I could do that at the same time as making a frame for it which reminded me that I'd promised the router table to Steve and it's going in the next few weeks, so there'd be no time like now to build a new one, which reminded me that we really won't want to take all that timber when we move, which prompted me to start laminating a couple of bench tops, which reminded me that I can't finish those unless I rejig the table saw enclosure.

After all this reminding going on, I started to tire so it seemed entirely appropriate to mow the lawn while there was a break in the weather, which reminded me we don't actually own a mower.

So I borrowed the mower, and cut the grass, and their grass, and the footpaths, and our neighbours footpaths, and got all sweaty and itchy and raced to finish before dark or the next storm's arrival and it was touch and go which would come first.

All of which reminded me why I don't actually like mowing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


I got him finished today, except for the frame, (the bits at the top and the bottom of the photo are wall or a photoshop facsimile thereof, not painting).

Our resident pelican seems to be on vacation at the moment, in central Australia with lots of girl pelicans and Oprah I'm guessing.

Late last year, as the impact of having to sell the house and having bought a boat in France was starting to have a bit of an emotional impact, I was sitting on our back steps, perhaps my favourite place in the whole house, and having a coffee and a think.

The old pelican walked up the beach and had a bit of a stretch.

He seemed to be trying to tell me, that if one wants to keep one's life in balance, sometimes it's best if one doesn't have two feet planted firmly on the ground.

I thought I'd paint that picture one day.

And now I have.

(and he'll fit on any wall longer than two metres.)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

I should be full of beans.

I should be just wanting to get stuck in and do things and I am on the one hand, on the other I just want to lie in bed and doze.

When the rain keeps coming at better than an inch per hour, hour after hour, it's not even conducive to being awake. It almost makes me yearn for the airconditioned, hermetically sealed office with no windows I lived in for all those years. We couldn't tell what was happening outside from within, and our mood never changed accordingly.

There's not enough light in the shed to work on a painting, it seems to be darker than night even with the lights on, and with a half finished painting on the easel, working with the wood machines is out of the question.

I can't even hear the cricket on the radio above the constant din of the rain, wonderful though that sound may be when a more sensible number of drops are hitting the roof. Ahh cricket! There can be no better excuse than sitting in front of a television set than when there is a risk of drowning whilst doing anything else.

I don't like whinging about the weather, and I won't start now other to note that to date, after six days, we have actually already received our average monthly quota of precipitation, and I'm not sure if it's climate change to blame.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Parting is such sweet Sorrow

I know it was Shakespeare who wrote about the sweetness of the sorrow of parting, but if he hadn't I'd have to have stolen it from somewhere else.

Often when we visit friends, or vice versa after an all too long an absence, it is as though the intervening time has stood still, as though some great TV controller has put the scene on hold while attending to a a telephone call, yet when we are reunited it all gets fast-forwarded so that a weekend passes in the blink of an eye.

We try our best to prolong the magic, but there comes a time invariably when we are all standing in a driveway, one party unwilling to get into the car, the other unwilling to stop the conversation lest the former do. New topics appear as if by magic, ones that need days of further discussion and should have been raised two days before, but eventually there is a stop for breath and a shower of rain to ensure the conversation doesn't start again. The car starts, the visit is over, and the journey down the mountain begins, to a place where the climate is exactly different.

"Until the next time", we say, and we mean it!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Three Dimensions

We know a couple of people who will have spent this weekend tucked up in front of their 3D televisions, watching endless shoot 'm ups, oblivious to the world outside. If ever there was a need to draw a line on a piece of consumer technology, surely now is the time, before holography gets here and the virtual worlds that it will bring will truly blur the transition between real and imagined.

The default 3D settings for our life placed us five hundred metres above the place we call home today, where the weather at the top of the Range, from the perspective of one seeking clear sunny days and the temperate warmth of summer, was not up to scratch. Animals with a thick coating of down and a propensity to breed in times of precipitation, would however have a completely different view, albeit because of the cloud cover, not a very long one.

Viewing life in three dimensions on days like today as opposed to watching a digitised facsimile of it, provides, a significantly colder, damper and infinitely more satisfying way of passing an overly humid Saturday. This is particularly so when that Saturday involves a shed crawl. In addition to the well known assertions about messing about in boats, there is much satisfaction to be gained wandering among other people's tools and half completed boats, and bio fuel stills (and alcohol stills for that matter), picking up pistons and having discussions on the finer points of a paint job, or methods of sharpening a chisel. It's probably OK to have the cricket running in the background while this is happening providing it is on an old radio or a CRT screen scrounged from a tip and the whereabouts of the controls long lost under a pile of stuff, if indeed they ever existed.

With real life in 3D, adverse weather gives time to reflect on projects old, and those not started, to run hands over timber freshly milled, and to sort nuts and bolts into old ice cream containers. It allows us to plan things for when the sun comes out, to work out where to put the drain, and to think about fixing the mower after Christmas.

Best of all, with life in 3D no two replays of any given day are the same.


Friday, December 03, 2010


I've often defended our major banks against the barrage of criticism that pervades our media and public opinion.

They are each after all unashamedly in business, and by most measures they remain moderately successful. The very fact that four of our major banks ranked in the top ten world wide at the peak of the global financial crisis was enough for our government to sing their praises, and introduce temporary protection measures which would strengthen them even further.

However the tide of political popularity is driven by a fickle wind, and within two years, the very same government began to view those saviours of the Australian economy, the banks that actually made a profit, as a greedy enemy. Perhaps, I thought, it stems from jealousy. Most other countries after all were forced to take controlling positions in their major banks to ensure they survived the crisis, but here the government share in profit is limited to the tax it can extract.

Today though, my sympathies lie not with the bank. Today, we received a letter dated the 22nd November advising that our "investment" funds (the ones that we have aside from the proceeds of our house sale to rehouse ourselves in due course) had been invested on the 20th November for a further six months at almost 25% less interest than we had been earning, and if we didn't like that we could kindly contact them within seven days of that date and kindly let them know. Since the interest from those funds is what actually pays our rent, it didn't take a lot of calculation on our part to determine that indeed we didn't like this arrangement one bit.

We let them know, and while in doing so we didn't feel like being as kind as they would have hoped, everything was sorted in a prompt and cheery manner.

For a time the metaphoric mist in which the bank obviously thinks we live turned pink and then red before returning to it's normal fuggy grey, and when it did, we loaded the car and popped up to Toowoomba, for a weekend of clarity.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Satisfaction guaranteed.

I suspect if there's anything more satisfying that making something for a grandchild, it's repairing something that one's father had made for his own grandchild, so that her daughter in turn may experience the possibility of another thirty years of pleasure from it.

I more than suspect.

I know.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

When all else fails, take a snap of a frangipani.

When we woke this morning we were at Lily's place. Her mum was asleep and her dad was at work, so we had an hour of precious morning giggle time all to ourselves.

We pinched ourselves and wondered just how that had come to be, but it doesn't matter, we had a whole morning with her and the boys and their mum's, then home when we'd had our fill. Home in the rain visiting a few friends on the way, and suddenly a day had gone with the camera firmly in its bag, and my writing head with it. Was it the weather? Or perhaps it was the headiness that the children impart.

Just maybe the first day of summer brings with it (along with 100 mm of rain), a certain holiday attitude.

I don't know, but I'm sure the world is none the worse for it.
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