Thursday 30 April 2009

I dragged him kicking and screaming

to the computer. I typed in a few search words. I found the site. We looked at the catalogue. I checked to see it was fairly up-to-date (2008 in this case) since this is a one man business. There was the e-mail.
"Now, what do you want to say?"
"But, if I talk to him I'll get an answer straight away!"
"No you won't. He will have to do some checking. He will have to weigh the parcel to tell you how much the postage is going to be."
"Oh, well...." dictates to me. I type it up. He watches it go into cyber space and (presumably) land in the in-box of the man who supplies environmentally friendly packs of exotic timber for box making (i.e. fallen timber only)
There is a reply two hours later. One sort of timber is not in stock. He needs to 'go bush' to find some. Will another sort do? We look at the website again? Yes. I send the message off.
He goes off shaking his head. "I don't know how you do that? Where is all that information? How did you know where to find it?"
He's only 86. There's time yet....and he does make beautiful boxes!

Wednesday 29 April 2009

I took the afternoon off and went to the bookshop

yesterday afternoon. It was the monthly knitting group. I am not sure whether I feel like an animal in a zoo or some even rarer alien species.
It is good for the bookshop. People wander in. They want to know what we are doing. Those who know me (and there are always a few) wonder how I have ever managed to learn to knit. I wonder that myself and continue to wonder at the endless patience of my paternal grandmother who never suggested I could not do anything.
I know I look awkward and I do wonder what Jackie (owner-manager) had in mind when she thought I should be the one to lead the group. Perhaps it is all those knitting books I used to rescue at 'sale price'? These days people buy knitting books so they do not languish on the shelves in the shop.
Book buying habits change during a recession. Craft books seem to walk out the door. People want to make things. This has to be because they stay at home more and there are more repeats on television to drive them crazy. If I was so minded I could actually catch up on some of the programmes I have missed that others keep telling me I 'should' watch. I would still rather read a book.
I want to read Nicholas Ostler's 'Ad Infinitum' but the shop's hardback copy was $60 so I will wait for the paperback version.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

I actually managed to get a good slice of work

done yesterday. This was despite Dad's mate coming for lunch. (Neville's wife is away until Wednesday. He is perfectly able to cook for himself but, as he said, it would not be "roast chicken and all that veg". )
The doctoral thesis was returned to the university. I recommended a fail. The other external examiner agreed. The supervisor is, I think, relieved.
I finished proof reading two pieces, made sure the Tamil communication boards had been sent to the right people for updates and checking - and went to the library.
The library is a safe haven for many people, especially on a wet day. The two mentally ill young people who usually frequent the park were sitting on the seat under the eaves outside. They were at opposite ends. The boy was rocking backwards and forwards and, as usual, talking to himself like a rap artist. The girl was shredding more toilet paper into the tiniest shreds. Neither of them has anything to do and inclement weather makes their predicament worse. The girl never talks. She does buy chocolate in the supermarket and flavoured milk at the Patisserie. The woman there is very patient with her. I have tried to say hello but I get no reaction. So much for care in the community, integration and government programmes. Advocacy seems to worsen the problem, not improve it.

Monday 27 April 2009

I spent part of yesterday

clearing out some items in the shed at the back of the house. There is a 'garage' sale on Saturday. If anyone else is actually reading this (I doubt it but I do wish someone would pop up and tell me how dreadful it is) then read 'jumble' sale. For some reason Australians have gone with 'garage' - no doubt because they tend to hold them for their own benefit in their own garages or - more likely - carports.
For 'jumble' read 'junk' or 'things I would like to be rid of that might be useful to someone else and for which they might be foolish enough to pay good money for in the hope that they are getting a bargain'. We have too many things like that. I will desist listing them. If I do someone might realise how anxious I am to be rid of them and offer to take them for nothing. I would rather the communication group benefitted.
There are some things that just need to be quietly removed and laid to rest in the rubbish. My father tells me, "They might be useful one day!" They might. We have not used them for the entire 25 years he has lived in this house and, sometimes for years before that.
Whatever we do with these things it is strange to be standing there in the shed. It is raining and the shed has a galvanised iron roof. Rain music is different in the shed.

Sunday 26 April 2009

One of my nephews

turned up yesterday to go on working on the chopping board he is making for his friend's birthday. (His friend Girish cooks as a hobby. It calms him down after wrestling with the joys of being a student of economics.)
Yiani arrived about 11 am - early for him. My father finds it hard to understand. He assures me he never slept in late when he was a young adult. I refuse to believe him. He says he could not live with teenagers in the house. I pointed out that Yiani and Ilya are no longer teenagers and he said, rather grumpily, that he could not live in chaos.
I rather think we do live in chaos. Around his chair there are two different weekend newspapers, Choice magazine, the Linking Ring, a book on why people do not go to church, a book on energy saving house designs and Elizabeth George's "Careless in Red" which he has just found time to catch up with. If I am reading that variety at 86 I will be doing well.
I flipped through The Scots in Australia. It should have been interesting but there was too much emphasis on sport for my taste. Jane has added a useful list of book review sites to her How Publishing Really Works blog. I might explore those but I cannot afford to buy the books and the library seems to be depending more and more on remainders. The Council would do well to spend more on the library and less on temporary 'art'.

Saturday 25 April 2009

I could just hear the local Dawn Service

for Anzac Day this morning. Ours is held at the Memorial on Broadway in Colonel Light Gardens. It is a quiet suburb in memory of Colonel Light, the surveyor who laid out the centre of Adelaide. Anzac morning has been quiet too. The rain has held off until after the Dawn Services were over but it will rain for the Assembly and March.
As always, I remember standing in the rain at the Dawn Service in one of the country towns we lived in. There were a great many returned servicemen there because it was a 'solider settlement'. Unlike other areas everyone who could was expected to turn out for the service. The entire school was there each year. We did not participate, except in the hymns and prayers. It was not our service. We were merely there to pay respect and for many of students to support their fathers. It was a day on which grown men cried. Nobody misbehaved at the Anzac Day Service.
I wonder if they still have it? The district has changed. Most of the soldier settlers have gone. The scheme did not work. The men did not know about farming. Their wives were city girls. It was lonely. The land was unsuitable. Most of all though the men were physically and mentally unfit to farm. They had injuries none of us could see - until they cried.

Friday 24 April 2009

I think I am a coward

because I have not endeavoured to discover whether Vanessa has actually read my ms. If she has then she probably thought it was dreadful and is too kind to tell me. If she has not then I do not wish to irritate her further. I like what she is doing (saving older books from extinction) too much to want to detract her attention from her main task. Roger seems to think I should follow it up but I am in the curl up, paws over nose mode.
Perhaps it is because I have a doctoral thesis to read. It has three spelling errors on the first page. I am trying to be fair and will read it through before commenting but I have to admit that the spelling errors are off-putting. Of course this student has grown up in the era where correct spelling was not taught and not expected. I wonder how they get through university.
My nephew received his BMedTech yesterday. It will be useful for his eventual medical career but, despite the work involved now, he still believes he will be happier as a doctor and dealing with people. He is probably right.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Our local bookshop

puts out a blackboard with a "Quote for the Day" on it. I have been remiss lately in not adding to the quotes they use. Tamra was on to me to supply some more. We both like the conciseness of a good quotation.
Conciseness could be practised in other areas as well - perhaps this blog? In prowling the library shelves yesterday I was struck by how many "fat" books there are. Do they really need all those words? Perhaps they do but some of it might be poor editing as well.
I have less sympathy than I should for the plight of some Australian writers. My belief is that, if they are really good, they will make it anyway. If people do not understand the Australian landscape they write about then they have failed as writers. If they lack sales it has nothing to do with our small population. It has much more to do with accessibility, universality and marketing. They can still be Australian and have Australian settings. People who do not live in Australia will undoubtedly find such setting romantic or exotic. If people wish to write from an Australian perspective however they have to find words that others will understand. They can still challenge the reader but the reader needs to be able to comprehend the writing. So, I must read more quotations - a good quotation says a great deal in few words. I say too much.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Iwas minding my own business

in the Post Office yesterday when it became clear that the elderly Greek couple at the counter did not understand what the assistant was trying to tell them - namely, when filling out the form put one letter in each square.
Being the sort of person who cannot leave such situations alone I stepped out of my place in the queue and offered to help. I do not speak Greek. I do however know the Greek word for "one" and the first few letters of the alphabet so I told them "enna" and "alpha, beta..." - and yes, suddenly they understood and we all felt better about it.
I went to re-enter my place in the queue with the approval of those behind me only to be told by another assistant in the PO to "Get to the back of the queue!" So much for help being appreciated by the staff.
I was still so annoyed that when I went into the doctor to get my 'flu vaccination a little later my BP was still up. At least Tony was not annoyed by the article about cholesterol I handed over to him. Unlike so many doctors of my acquaintance he does not presume prior knowledge or assume that you know nothing. He asks. He listens and, so far, we have managed to rub along very well.
When I arrived home I discovered that Sam had not turned up to see Dad as he was supposed to. Last week he slept in. I reminded him of the visit on Saturday. I think his mother is embarrassed. I am wondering if we will hear from Sam.
Talking to my literary knitter friend Margaret on the 'phone last night we exchanged some ideas for reading matter - always good. I have to try and find a copy of "The Zookeeper's War". As a good many other people will be queuing up for the sequel to the DaVinci code instead the library should have it.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Jane drives a lorry....

or does she? If Maxine McKew has her way the picture books of the future will be full of alternative careers and politically correct education. I think I prefer Beatrix Potter and AAMilne. There is nothing wrong with Jane driving anything - if that is what Jane wants to do. I just do not think that it should be put to small children at the exclusion of everything else. It would need to be at the exclusion of something. The pre-school curriculum is becoming crowded. There is no time for free play any more. Children have to be guided into politically correct ways of thinking. They need to know the alphabet. They need to be able to recognise their name and count. It would be good if they could actually read Booker Prize winners and were ready to study higher mathematics.
It was therefore good to find that Elinor Lyon's son Roger is willing to give up time to answer questions about his mother and her writing. My young friend Ciaranne has shown considerable initiative in what she has chosen to read for her school project and the way she has researched behind the writing. It will be interesting to see what her teacher makes of the results. I trust she will be pleased with a child who is reading something other than Paul Jennings and Lemony Snickert.

Monday 20 April 2009

Alexander Downer has had

a little shot at the Prime Minister in the 'Tiser today. Now this is hardly surprising. They are on opposite sides of the political fence. What astounds me is how restrained AD is being. I do not think diplomacy has anything to do with it. I think AD is trying to make a very legitimate point.
Our beloved PM was trying to tell us that people smugglers are the vilest scum on earth. I disagree. They are criminals but they rank below paedophiles, rapists, murderers and other terrorists in my book too.
Those who use their services also need investigation. Why are they seeking asylum? Where are they getting the money from? Those who make another sort of high profile living out of supporting refugees will say that all these people are in genuine fear of their lives. Yes, they may be but why? Is it because they have been supporting democracy, women's rights, the poor and oppressed? Or is it because they have broken the law and now fear they will be incarcerated or, worse, executed? I do not support the death penalty or people who traffic in death. As for where these people are getting the money from, is it really the life savings of their desperate families - or is it the proceeds from criminal activities?
Whatever way we look at it these people are not technically refugees and we should be doing all we can to discourage them from setting out. It is just too dangerous.
I have no doubt however that Kevin Rudd will be praised for his stance and Alexander Downer will be reviled for his. After all, like that well known QC we all 'know' that all asylum seekers are good people we should feel sorry for. Why do I feel more sympathy for those other genuine applicants who, trying to get here through legal channels, have been waiting for years?

Sunday 19 April 2009

I was wrong

about the noise level of the party. I could hear it but it was not excessive. The immediate neighbours would have found it a good deal louder but four houses away it was tolerable. I hope they had a good time.
I went to bed with a book by Simon Beckett - a crime yarn, "Whispers of the Dead". His protagonist, David Hunter, is a more complex individual than many series characters. There would have been a good deal of research done before this book was even started. I doubt many people realise how much research can go into a novel. What day of the week was it on such and such a date? What was the weather like? Who was the Prime Minister? I know that Cynthia Harmett spent at least two years researching before she wrote "The Woolpack." That still has to be one of the finest examples of historical literature for children - and the book is probably out of print. I know that our local bookshop owner believes Australian children would not read it. I disagree - it depends on how you introduce the book.
On my way home yesterday a car stopped and pulled back slightly so I could pedal past. I did not recognise the car or the driver but it turned out to be non-reader Sam in his mother's car. He was wearing dark glasses - that never helps me recognise people. I wonder what it is like to be someone like Sam, someone who does not read.

Saturday 18 April 2009

I have not done

too badly this morning...changed the sheets, put on two loads of washing and hung it out to dry, washed my hair, put the ingredients in the bread machine, had some breakfast - all before the newspapers arrived. Sounds good doesn't it? I have to confess the papers were a little late in arriving.
The young man who delivers them at weekends is rather erratic. It is as well that the 21st party in the next street is tonight or he might have to negotiate party-goers leaving. We have had a notice about the party in our letter box. "Maddie" is having a 21st. I am not sure why. Perhaps she did not have an 18th. I feel sorry for her as she lost her mother when she was 13 and her brothers went a bit wild. She moved out to live with one of her grandmothers for a time.
I suspect that the party is going to be noisy and the surrounding streets will be packed with cars. This is normally why notice is given. The party givers seem to be under the misapprehension that informing people absolves them of the responsibility to keep noise levels reasonable and leave sufficient parking space for others. Oh well, Maddie I hope the party is fun and that the noise level is reasonable after about 1am tomorrow.
A book on knitting socks arrived for the Guild Library yesterday. I took some time out last night to read it. As a child I was never allowed to have handknitted socks. My mother claimed it was because my feet got too hot in them. I do not know whether this was true or not. My paternal grandmother would have knitted them. She knitted socks for my siblings - and other items as well. I have handknitted socks now - and I especially treasure the elegant, exquisitely knitted and finished works of art made by my friend Imperia. My feet like her socks -and they do not get too hot in them.
I come to the conclusion that some of the fancier sock patterns are intended for people who wear clogs (so you can see the heels) or socks with sandals or....I don't know. I like the idea of playing with patterns on socks - but what is the point if nobody sees you wearing them? I always wear lace-ups and long pants....who sees my socks?

Friday 17 April 2009

I do not like banks

or the days that I have to go to the bank. I go to the bank once a fortnight - which is too often but cannot be avoided. Going to the bank means a bike ride - 6km there and 6km back. All this is because the bank closed the local branch, even though it had the council's banking and many of the local businesses instead. I do not understand banks.
Anyway I dutifully pedalled off and went via the wool-shop (not for wool). I was endeavouring to make it rain on the way - no wet weather gear and the occasional rain drop. The sun was shining again by the time I reached the bank.
I forgot to go across the road to the Medical Centre and make an appointment to have my 'flu vaccination - Freudian slip? Probably - who likes being injected? I will have to 'phone them instead. Now that should have reminded me but it did not - Dad was supposed to go and see the shoulder surgeon yesterday. We both forgot. He is going to be reminded when he rises this morning and it will worry him even though he can do nothing about it.
As I could not do all the shopping at once I had to go to the supermarket in the afternoon. It reminded me of why I shop early. The place was crowded and, being school holidays, there were the usual children being shepherded around by grandparents who looked as if they wished the little darlings were back at school. I felt tempted to round the children up and dump them at the playground under the eye of an army officer with a loud voice and plenty of disciplinary skills.

We need some discipline in respect of asylum seekers as well. The Indonesian government claims it can do nothing. It could do a great deal more but, naturally, does not want the asylum seekers in Indonesia any longer than it takes them to pass people on to Australia. Australia is a destination of choice. It is not the first destination and it is only possible to acquire refugee status in the first destination.
We should of course take some refugees. It is our responsibility to do so. There are far too many refugees who have languished in refugee camps for years with nowhere to go. Nobody wants them. Australia is no better than anywhere else in this respect. I would be much more sympathetic if those coming on boats had escaped from such places. They have not. The government prefers well educated economic refugees even if their wealth is obtained through criminal enterprise.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Jane's blog

on How Publishing Really Works is full of those tantalising little titbits of information and links to unlikely places.
Perhaps I should read more blogs - but that would mean less time for other things. It seems there are people who review books on their blogs. I could add a paragraph or two now and then but not on a regular basis. I do not set out to read the latest literature. My idea of a good read in bed last thing at night is a decently written crime yarn. I do not want to clutter my brain with award winning literature at that hour. I often fail to understand award winning literature. Perhaps this is because I am not very intelligent or it might, just might, be that the award winning literature is not always worthy of the award. If you are 'known name' then you are more likely to get the award than an unknown but, like Shakespeare and Dickens, it does not mean that every single word you wrote is outstandingly good.
Enough ranting....the government is denying (and thereby confirming) that they would like a double dissolution over the issue of the alcopops tax. This is, pure and simple, a tax. It has nothing at all to do with reducing alcohol consumption among the young. It simple collects money from the young - if they choose to drink pre-mixed, already over-priced too sweet drinks. Ugh!
I would support the alcopops tax if it included measures to ban alcohol advertising and severely restrict alcohol at all sporting events. Pink pigs will turn to purple elephants and fly before this happens.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

They are off today...

and I know my father will miss my brother even more than I will. It has been an extraordinary Easter this year. We added a day yesterday and went up to the Barossa Valley as some of them wanted to go to a winery or two. This is not Dad's thing at all and he was appalled by the price that his grandson's wife's father is prepared to pay for a bottle or two. It makes me glad I am allergic - saves money for books. Books do not put on weight - except on the shelves - and they last.
We stopped at Maggie Beer's as well...interesting enough but very commercial. I think most of us can cook every bit as well as Maggie Beer anyway. Certainly Linda and I decided we could make fruit paste for less than was being charged.
Going on to another winery however we did get a couple of cheese platters for lunch - with rainwater to drink - lovely! The winery staff are conscious of the drink-driving problem. Their outdoor area was lovely. There were several very simple picnic tables on the grass as well as some wonderful trees and a garden that somebody obviously cares for. It was also gloriously quiet, cool and restful - after all the tearing around it was almost overwhelming.
Despite that and the pleasant light meal in the Italian restaurant in the local shopping centre last night I am looking forward to more fruit and vegetables today - both have been in short supply with the sort of eating out we have done over the last few days.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

The cat is growling....

indeed I am ready to scratch and snarl. This morning's paper did it. There is a (front page) proposal to teach pre-school children political correctness. This is not the 'care for each other' type but the 'two mummies and fly the indigenous flag' type.
That makes me sound a homophobic racist. I hope I am not homophobic or racist. My cousin is gay - and I think his partner is one of the most loving, caring men I know. I am perfectly comfortable in his company and he is sort of related to me. My friends have a variety of skin colours and I am perfectly comfortable with that as well. But, and it is a big but, I have objections to overtly teaching small children about homosexuality or racism. They do not have the vocabulary or the experience to understand these things. It will merely cause confusion. It may even cause alarm.
If we go along with Piaget (undoubtedly cast by the way side by these politically correct left wing activists) then we must still acknowledge that small children see the world from their point of view. They do not have the capacity to see it from the point of view of other people. We can and should teach them about the necessity for caring for others and thinking about others. We do not need to teach them about differences they can do nothing about . We do not need to raise their awareness of problems that, as adults, we have not solved for as long as human beings have existed.
I suspect the proposals are more about left wing politics than they are about genuinely caring that kids learn to care.
Having had my little rant - yesterday was marvellous fun. We left later than planned. (Why am I not surprised?) We made it to a very crowded Victor Harbor and went out to Granite Island on the horse drawn tram. It would not set the word speed record but the Clydesdale which pulls it is a gentle beast who puts up with a great deal...I hope he understood our thanks! We had a very late snack in a crowded pizza place and toured back through the wineries....the others thought they were lost. I was relieved when my predictions about needing to turn right a little further on were correct. Dad is not interested in wineries. He fell asleep in the car. I kept him company, knitted and watched a fascinating array of often grossly overweight individuals returning to their cars. If I drank alcohol I would be even larger than I am now.

Monday 13 April 2009

I have never seen so much rubbish

in one place - except perhaps for an actual rubbish dump. I would have much preferred to head for the Maritime Museum with the rest of the crew but did the right thing and headed off to the Fisherman's Market shed at the Port instead. The reason for the side excursion was to find Melissa who runs a stall there. Having walked the length of the wharf shed twice I found her upstairs. She seemed pleased to see me but, having done my duty, I headed out into the sunshine to see if I could find any more 'mosaic' seats.
Ruth and I had discovered one outside the museum while waiting for the others to finish photographing our grandfather's shop (now a Chinese restaurant rather than a tailoring business). The seat has a mosaic of a (you guessed it) mermaid and little quotes from the museum scratched in around the edge. From my era there is this "in the 50's the Port was dust, cement and corrugated iron".
It was also a lot of other things. It was the fishing boats where Grandpa picked up the fish for lunch. He knew most of the men and they treated him with deference. I realise now that some of them would have been living in houses his mother had owned and rented out at minimal rates for struggling families. The church has gone and the Jervois Swivel Bridge is no longer there. The causeway is not nearly as interesting to look at. The 'new' Birkenhead Bridge is now the 'old bridge'. We went past our old home and my grandparent's old home - both in excellent repair. My brother's old place has been modernised and the church next door to that is up for sale...a sign of the times.
We headed on down to the Marina as my neice-in-law's father is intensely interested in boats - the expensive sort. Our taste might run to a rowing boat on the inlet!
The Sydneysiders wanted a ride on the tram so we headed back and Dad gamely tried the tram and we went to Glenelg. Entertainment! There was a magician! Dad and Ben had to be prised away. We headed past the camel and pony rides and the mini-bungy jumps and went out to the end of jetty. There were quite a few people in the water along the beach but we did not even go paddling.
Today we head down south - Victor Harbor - and back through a couple of wineries. This will not be Dad's thing at all. I will knit, mindless knitting. It is the advantage of not being a driver, especially on Easter Monday.

Sunday 12 April 2009

We were very late

returning home last night...well, it was almost this morning.
The travellers had spent the night in Balranald. Nothing was open except a pizza/fish and chips parlour. There was no pizza. They had run out of pizza. The fish and chips were apparently inedible. They did not stay for breakfast. Breakfast was in Mildura much later in the morning. My brother informs me that they ate bacon and eggs - except for my nephew. At 29 he has not grown up in the food department. He had two pies. He is still thin.
They did not have lunch so consumed prodigious quantities of my BIL's BBQ efforts in the evening. I do not much care for BBQ's - even his excellent BBQ's. I do not much care for eating late into the evenings, especially when I have been up since 5 am.
Today we are taking my neice-in-law's parents to Port Adelaide. It will be interesting to see whether her father stops talking long enough to take anything in. The Maritime Museum has a new display - should be good - and they want to look at the Railway Museum. They think they are doing this before lunch. They will not.
My lovely SIL has spun some wool and passed it on to me - 'do something with it - or toss it out if it is not any good'. It is good, good enough to use. What can I make her?

Saturday 11 April 2009

It has been revealed

that the Prime Minister is owned by a cat called Jasper. Apparently this is not the Lodge cat but the Prime Minister's cat. There is a difference. Jasper is not one of the succession of cats who have owned No 10. There have been cats who owned the Lodge but apparently Jasper owns the PM. If so, he is not doing a particularly good job of keeping the PM in his right and proper place.
Pluto went in the door ahead of me and the laundry basket this morning. He stayed for some time. I think the humans he owns must have gone away for Easter. He spent quite a lot of time with us yesterday as well. I waste time when he is around - but he is fun to play with.
There should be more fun later today. My father does not know it yet but the invitation to my sister's place for the evening meal is more than that. My brother should be arriving from Sydney for a very quick visit later today. He talks with Dad each week - often for more than an hour and generally about woodwork and the ongoing saga of the kitchen he is renovating for his wonderful Ruth - but they do not see one another very often. It is more than twelve months since they last saw one another. I sometimes wonder if we should get Skype so they can see one another but Dad is not fond of computers.

Friday 10 April 2009

Chocolate? Rabbits!

There is a warning in the 'Tiser this morning. We are all going to put on 2kg over Easter by eating chocolate!
There would not be 2kg of chocolate in the house. There are two of us in the house. We do have a box shaped like a rabbit with twelve small chocolates inside it. My guess is that the chocolate weighs around about 120-150gms. Perhaps it is the nut in the middle of the chocolate that will put on the weight?
Ah no, wait a moment, my father still has some chocolates left over from the box Belinda across the road gave him for his birthday. It was another little box - square this time - with another twelve chocolates. His birthday was a while back now and there are still four chocolates. He insists on sharing them with me - I definitely do not need them - but it is still taking a while.
That makes sixteen chocolates in the house. We are definitely in the danger zone here. He could afford to put on 2kg. I woud happily give him 2kg of my weight.
I do try to feed him properly. It is fish today - no 'chips' this time. I never deep fry 'chips' anyway. They get a brush over with olive oil and get stuck under the griller. We will have salad - and fresh fruit to follow. So, why is it that this minimal amount of chocolate will put on 2kgs?

Thursday 9 April 2009

Paddington Bear disappeared

off my shelves yesterday. The 8yr old decided he could now read these by himself and wanted to know why I did not have 'all' of them. I am not sure how many there are but I know there are far more than I own.
The shelves have gaps in places. Trying to provide a library service of out-of-print books to voracious readers is growing increasingly difficult. They want 'good' books. According to them I have 'good' books and it is 'better than the library'. That is nice to know but it also worries me.
Vanessa at Fidra Books is producing the sort of thing they want to read but not many others are. The local library shelves are in Meyer mode at the moment. The Meyer books do not flow. The characterisation is flat. The story lines are weak. All of that pales into insignificance when the subject matter is considered....vampires and vulnerable, socially isolated teenagers are not healthy. Perhaps that is why they are so popular?

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Before the invasion

it is quiet, very quiet. I was joined at the clothesline by Pluto.
We have grapevines at the back which form a cool canopy in the summer. By this time of the year the leaves are dropping and sticky dead grapes fall to the ground and get tracked inside by all two footed animals. The four footed one decided to 'help'. He spent some time patting these to the ground and looking at me as if wanting my approval. I told him it was fine with me and that someone would sweep up the mess. After all, he was just hurrying the inevitable on a little.
He stayed long enough to bat a few leaves into the garden and demand payment from me.
The children should be here about ten. I have given Pluto due warning.
Andrew Bolt had a shot at the 2020 Summit this morning. It might well have been a shot at any government inquiry. I have lost count of the number of submissions I have made, been required to make, been asked to make or wanted to make. Is it too cynical of me to believe that they are always a waste of time? The government wants to ditch Royal Commissions and just have inquiries. I have no doubt that this would suit all flavours of government. Inquiries can never have the same powers as Royal Commissions. Orders cannot be issued, individuals cannot be sent to prison from an inquiry. Those things have to come separately and rarely do. If governments had to follow the recommendations of inquiries they would never be able to implement policy. Some would say that might be a good thing.
Bolt is right. Rudd has ignored all the recommendations of the 2020 Summit. It was always going to be about adulation for Rudd. It was not about ideas. The 2020 bash had to be one of the most expensive standing ovations in history - and it needed a captive audience. Rudd is still high in the opinion polls but handing out monetary gifts is a sure fire way of ensuring popularity. He is still new enough to be able to blame the previous government and the global economic downturn for any financial and unemployment issues. It will only be after the damage is done that people will realise just how much harm he is causing.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Why do tradesmen

need to work with their radios blaring? I cannot work against the mindless chatter of commercial radio, especially the 'talk back' chat shows of mind numbing inanity. I do not like most modern, popular music. My nephews, the duo Red Ice, have long since given up on my modern musical education.
Yesterday someone came to replace a lengthy piece of guttering. He worked to the rhythm of his radio. I imagine that everyone around us was trying to do the same. He appeared to be a perfectly nice and otherwise polite person. I don't think it would even occur to him that others may not share his musical tastes. It was a relief when the job was finished and he left.
Tomorrow the six home-schooled children of one of my more distant cousins are coming for a day of woodwork. They now range in age from 16 down to 3. They are nice children, very nice children indeed but they will be noisy - although in a different way. The second eldest once said to my father, "Isn't it quiet around here?" Yes, it is. We like it like that with the rare exception of a visit by them.
I am comfortable with quiet. If I am writing something other people's compositions tend to intrude unless there is quiet.

Monday 6 April 2009

Pluto wandered in and

made himself at home on the sofa yesterday. Like all cats he behaves as if this is his right, perhaps even his responsibility.
He did a circuit of inspection first. As a cat he can into places I don't like to think about. I was watching for cobwebs on his ears but perhaps he rubbed them off on his way out of a couple of tight spots.
The nap took place over the time we were eating lunch. If he had been either of our old cats he would have been sitting by Dad's feet waiting for a small piece of chicken cooked in soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Our cats were also fond of lamb and rosemary. Calypso did not care for yoghurt but Mishka liked plain or passionfruit flavour. He did not care for strawberry or raspberry.
I miss our cats even now. It has been nine years since we had a cat. I do not miss the responsibility but I miss the companionship and so does Dad. So, we make the most of Pluto. If he wants to sleep on the sofa he can.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Daylight saving

has ended. I can now officially think about autumn, perhaps a little winter and knitting something other than lightweight lace. Socks are mindless so I have some of those on the go for 'in-between' and 'out and about'. They are small and can be stuffed into unlikely places.
We had a Guild meeting yesterday and there was a long discussion about the judging at last year's Royal Show. It made me realise how little most people know about knitting - and how much some older members of the Guild have managed to learn over the years.
The same is true of other areas of craft. Dad spent most of the weekly 'phone call from my brother in Sydney talking about woodwork and how to solve a problem with the kitchen cupboards my brother is making.
There is a generation coming up which will not have too many of those opportunities. There is no Working with Wood show in Adelaide this year. It is too expensive and there are too few people. There will be a Quilting and Craft Fair but I wonder if it will be the last. There were fewer stalls last year.
At the same time interest in knitting still appears to be high. It should have been on the wane by now according to the natural cycle of such things. The Guild has eleven new members. More knitting is being taught in schools. There are still new knitting books being published and some older ones have been reprinted.
But, looking at what was in the knitting section at the Royal Show, there is still very little creativity. The garments were, with rare exceptions, knitted from commercially available patterns. They were often well executed but only part of the work has been done by the entrant. We should be able to produce something more unique. Perhaps now that daylight saving has ended people will do more?
Kevin Rudd has had yet another meeting with the Chinese leadership. There is also more evidence emerging of large donations to the Labor Party from the Liu family. People do not give donations to political parties without the hope of something in return. I think we have the right to be concerned. To date there has not been a referendum asking whether we wish to become Chinese.

Saturday 4 April 2009

There was a funeral yesterday

for Colin. Colin had Alzheimer's and it was several years since I had seen him. He would not have known me if I had visited. I doubt he ever really knew my name. I was probably never more than a face he recognised and the rider of a tricycle.
We know his wife, a marvellous, competent and loving woman who stayed by him after an accident that also left him mentally impaired. Listening to her talk about him I wondered again about the capacity of people to truly love one another, no matter what. Her relationship with Colin was deep and complex and caring. I admire her for it.
Colin and I had a much simpler relationship. Earlier on he would wander down to the shops for a packet of cigarettes. In those days he was a little odd but functioned fairly normally. I found him crouched down by my tricycle one day, trying to work out how it worked. We had a little chat. In the way of such things, more little chats followed.
As Colin became more impaired he wandered further afield. People in the district knew him and would point him in the direction of home. Colin loved his garden and other people's gardens and thus the garden centre a couple of kilometres away. He liked to wander down there but would sometimes lose his way, especially on the way home. More than once I found him and he would say, "I was waiting for you." In reality he was lost. Whatever I was doing I would ride next to him and see him home as he chattered about gardens and trees and even single leaves. He would repeat himself over and over. As long as I listened he seemed happy.
I had to deliver something for his wife one day. She was not home but Colin was. He was supposed to be doing some tasks around the house but I was a good excuse to stop work for a while. He kept eyeing the tricycle and patting it so I finally said, " Colin, you don't need a helmet up and down the driveway do you want to try riding it as far as the gate?"
He took some time to consider this. I thought he was going to ignore the idea altogether and then, with a grin like a schoolboy up to mischief, he hopped on and took off. He zipped up and back several times. I held my breath hoping he would not head out into the street and, helmetless, into traffic. He did not. When he had done the circuit several times he stopped, climbed off still grinning. "I always wanted to do that!"
Not long afterwards he spent a night out in the bush. The police and rescue services had to search for him. It was a frantic time for everyone but Colin. He was confused but quite unfazed. He had been 'walking home'. It was time for him to leave home too. I am glad he had that ride.

Friday 3 April 2009

I was passing

the child care centre early yesterday morning and still feel disturbed by the sight and sound of a small boy clinging to the fence and screaming hysterically for his mother. One of the staff tried to take him inside and he screamed, "Don't touch me!"
I wonder if his mother really needs to work? What is it doing to him if this is what happens each day?
Putting your child into day care at six weeks and going back to work seems strange to me. Very few people would earn enough to make it financially worth while to return to work - yet they claim they need to go back to work. An accountant I know has sat down with any number of parents and showed them that they are losing money by having children in day care, running the extra car etc. They still insist they 'need to work' for financial reasons.
If the Rudd government removes the childcare subsidy what will happen then? Some will continue with professional day care. More will demand that their parents or stay-at-home siblings take on the care. There will be more private paid care - with the potential for abuse.
We will however continue to perpetuate the myth that both parents need to work for financial reasons and because they have over-committed themselves.
There is now a culture which says, "I have a right to (paid) work." Bringing up children is not considered to be 'work'. If you are a stay at home mother you are somehow a lesser being than those who go to (paid) work. Helping out at the local school or volunteering in some other capacity is not an alternative.
So, we have small children screaming hysterically for their parents. We will have yet another generation of children who will grow to expect lavish gifts in lieu of parenting. No doubt someone will tell me this is good for the economy. Perhaps it is fortunate that readers of these ramblings are few and far between.
Of course there are parents who work and manage to spend time with their children - which is probably why Vanessa has never told me how awful my attempts to write really are. Jane is probably tearing her hair out and thinking I learn nothing from her blog either. True - cats are terribly independent and do not care to be told how to wash themselves.

Thursday 2 April 2009

We had lunch

in a tiny, tiny French 'kitchen' yesterday. The owner says it is not a restaurant - and it is more like walking into someone's house.
We were taken there by people who once owned the shop next door. The 'kitchen' is tiny and the menu is strictly limited - but the cooking is excellent and you could actually see the salad next to my piece of quiche.
I used my very limited French -Josephine deserves compliments in her native language - and was given a hug by this delightful woman. How often do you eat out and get hugged by the management? She works alone and the business is gradually dying along with the district. It is sad but Josephine is too old to start somewhere else even if it was not financially risky.
Adelaide seems unable to cope with doing business anyway. The Business Council seems to think we need not only extended daylight saving but we need to put the clocks forward half an hour on a permanent basis to come into line with the eastern states. It seems South Australia really does only do business with this tiny part of the world. We are quite unable to cope with time changes in the rest of the world. No wonder we are falling so far behind.
Add to that our continuing refusal to recognise overseas qualifications in many areas and we are telling people we do not want them to come as well as the fact that we do not want them to do business here.
My own view? It is time some of these wimps grew up.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Paying debts

can take anyone with a mortgage will know.
I spend the last Tuesday afternoon of the month leading a knitting group in the local bookshop. This was not my idea. It often means a bit of juggling and very early rising to get the real work out of the way. It is an interesting group and one of the women mentioned a story she had heard on radio in the morning of a French village which has just repaid a debt of sorts.
Apparently during the war they were protected, at great cost, by Australian soldiers. Although they lost a great deal, including their school, they survived as a village. On their return home the Australians raised enough to rebuild the French school. The French put in the words 'never forget Australia' over the doorway.
Sixty-four years later the French village raised $795,000 to rebuild a school ravaged by bushfires in Victoria.
It is a wonderful story and should be the subject of a book for children but it apparently barely rated a mention on the news.
One reason for this has to be the 'doom and gloom' of the G20 Summit and the Chinese Affair. Neither will go away quickly. If General Motors should go under then Adelaide will catch the 'flu as well. We have been dependent on the car industry for far too long. We failed to diversify when we could. The union movement has always been anxious to preserve jobs in the car industry (after all they paid well) rather than see diversification. The Mitsubishi plant could have been transformed into a plant producing more environmentally friendly items - solar panels, bicycles, mass transport come to mind without thought - but Adelaide has a love affair with the car. We lost the Grand Prix but retained the Clipsal 500 street race. It encourages hoons but the government refuses to acknowledge this even while saying they will refuse to spend money on a drag racing strip. That is probably correct, after all half the thrill of drag racing is to do it on a suburban street where there is a much greater risk - it is, after all, about risk taking. Part of the answer may be to raise the driving age - to a minimum of 18 for a learner and 21 for a P-plater. Perhaps we could even institute a system of Part-P for those under 26 and bring in an 0.01 limit for alcohol for everyone?