66 shades of grey

66 shades of grey
66 shades of grey ... this pic of me was shot by Kim, of Kim Thomsen's Photography at Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. Kim just wandered over and asked whether it was OK to get some character shots.


The cross is in front of the church in Karumba and it seems TV antennas have a greater reach for the sky.


I went fishing out of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpentaria. We anchored in a bay about 10 hours from Nhulunbuy and went ashore. This poor fella had been snared in the locals' overnight net and then had a run-in with the resident 14-foot saltwater croc - named Nike by the local indigenous fellas - and came off second best.

the rock

the rock

oodnadatta track

oodnadatta track
What a tough place to live ... this is out on the Oodnadatta Track


My photo
G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Like son, like father

I spent a recent weekend down the coast at Blairgowrie at my friend Julia's house. It was a typical wine and food affair ... she's a sensational cook ... with a few other people.
The real bugger of the weekend was the I was out of phone range for the duration.
The 3 company has a fair bit to answer for before I'd recommend it to anyone.
When I finally hit the freeway on the way home, my phone turned into a riot of messages.
It went on and on.
I pulled over to check whether there was anything important to address. There was and I called her.
But I also laughed out aloud when I read one from my eldest son, Liam, who lives in Vanuatu.
"I went to a dress-up party with no particular theme last night. I went as you. How cool is that?"
Now that's cool.
I had visions of jeans, a black T-shirt and cowboy boots ... yeah, he's pinched a couple of pairs of mine.
Not too sure what he did about the hair.

When words fail ...

Well, there was a shite-load (should that be a load of shite?) of this blog post written on ... about 2500 words ... and I reckon there was probably that much again to write to get to the end of what was a version of one of, without doubt, the great weekends.
I was feeling pretty kosher with what I'd done and was talking to a friend on the phone, having a glass of chardy and I decided to close the file and finish it the next night.
I hit the wrong button ... dunno what I hit (it should have been the roof), but I deleted the whole folder ... and no, I hadn't been saving as I went. I normally use Microsoft Word, which saves automatically (I think), and was doing it in Notepad. Big mistake. The whole thing went to God.
My friend said to hang up and work on the file, but I said I'd rather talk to her ... it's only words, and words are all I have to keep ...
The weekend really kicked off at lunchtime on a Thursday after finishing work at Crikey ... OK, a longish weekend, given that I also had Friday afternoon off after Crikey in the morning ... The Weekly Review on which I was acting-editor, had to be finished a day early (it's normally Thursday night) due to printing and wrapping requirements.
Thursday arvo was an opportunity to get fixed the toolboxes on the back of my Land Cruiser ute, which had been taken to with bolt cutters by some bastard/s who were no doubt interrupted before they finished the job. Consensus is, from the local cops, that they were after tradies' tools ... and there was nothing missing. All the tools were in the box that they didn't quite manage to open. And they weren't interested in the six or so fishing reels that were in the opened box.
I wandered around the neighbourhood, checking out welders who gave me a no-go, so I decided to do it myself and went to see my mate, Tony, at the local hardware shop. I bought the necessary bits and then had a brainwave ... there's heaps of business cards in the window of the shop. I figured I'd just get a local maintenance bloke to come and do it.
"What about Adrian, who's sitting there?" Tony said. I'd seen him around the neighbourhood, so I fronted him, put it to him and he said "let's look at the ute", which was around the corner.
He said that he'd do it there and then on the street, so he got his mate Lou, drove their fully equipped van next to the ute and did it. About 35 minutes later I was secure again.
"What do I owe you?" I asked. Twenty bucks came the strong reply. I said that was bullshit, no one does anything for 20 bucks, what about 50?
"If you want," he said.
Done deal.
Later that night it was off to Lina's wine bar to satisfy some craving for red meat, shared by a mate who has been a house guest for a couple of weeks while he does a job in the city (he lives down the coast and it's too far to commute). A few buckets of fine Chateau de Sours Bordeaux Rose (we swapped to cab sav after dinner) to wash down some eye fillet (two good sized medallions each) with olive tapenade, some greens and some pommes frites. The beef was sensational. Wine wasn't half bad either (I'm having a glass of the rose ... OK, maybe four ... as I write this).
Roll on Friday afternoon, when I was heading for a weekend away at Blairgowrie.


I went to the local bottleshop, Vintage Cellars (formerly Randall's) to get some wine to help through the weekend. I bought some Chateau de Secries Tavel Rose ... I had some French bubbles and some Passion Has Red Lips Cabernet Sauvignon at home ... and Cameron, the manager, said that I should try some Vin de Petanque de Librian, a cab sav.
"There are just 18 cases in the country ... I know what you like and you'll like this," he said.
OK, I grabbed a bottle and then thought, bugger it, if there's not much about, I should order a case. (I'm glad I did).
I raced home, threw some clothes into a bag (always I pack too much ... why the three pairs of socks and jocks, a second pair of jeans ... it went on and on?), securely packed the grog and pointed the car at Blairgowrie.
It was an easy run.
Pretty soon I was shooting the breeze with Julia, planning what to eat and drink the next day when she was to put her kitchen magic (she has it in spades) to the test.
I wrote the following account for Crikey.
The other night, I sat and stared at the Southern Cross. Beautiful it was too ... and no, not the Southern Cross tattooed on my left arm, which, despite my protestations in Crikey, has taken on something of a racist connotation.
No, this Cross was the real deal, directly overhead ... and I was in a bath.
Yep, a bath.
I was at the Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula and it was about 8-8.30 on a Friday night. And it rates as the best (or close to it) 20 bucks I've spent in many a day ... OK, night.
I'd headed to this beautiful part of Victoria for a weekend of good food and wine and, after a great meal and a couple of glasses of red, my friend and I headed to the springs.
Twenty bucks each later, we were bound for the changing rooms ... a cautionary note here if you are shy and retiring. As far as I could see, there are men's, women's and family change rooms and I ended up in the family room (well I do have a family, although not with me, and anyway, the locker was there) and I was the only bloke getting his kit off while a collection of women and men
wandered through. No matter.
We hit the first pool (one of about 20) where the temperature was 36 degrees or so, an experience made all the more pleasant by the sound of what seemed like a million frogs engaged in choir practice (maybe it was a mating chant ... the atmosphere of the pools directs thoughts in that direction).
There was something ethereal about it.
The cold night air on warm, wet skin was exhilarating as we walked to the next pool where it was 40 degrees. There was steam rising, stars twinkling (although not me), the frogs were still in fine voice and there was a waterfall burbling in the distance.
The pools are filled with thermal mineral waters and, if you believe the blurb, are chock full of health-giving stuff that you normally see in jars in a chemist's shop. I'm a believer.
After an hour-and-a-half of pool hopping ... warmer, hotter, cooler, warmer, hotter ... OK you get the drift), we again headed to the change rooms where again I was the only bloke getting naked. In fact I was the only person getting changed. No matter.
By the time we again hit the car, I was aches-and-pain free big time.
The place also offers all sorts of healthy spa treatments, private baths, even accommodation. See www.peninsulahotsprings.com for all the details.
The Peninsula Hot Springs are open daily 7.30am until 10pm.
Post-bath it was some more welcoming reds with my friends (both women) and suddenly it was dessert time. It was 11.30 and time to tuck in to some fabulous lemon cake with cream and ice-cream (there goes the waist line), a couple more reds and then it was sleep time ... thank God that Julia's couch was long enough to cope with my long frame.
Sleep came easily ... and lasted until 7.30, which seemed like the ideal time for a drover's breakfast ... a piss, smoke, cup of tea and a quick look around (in that order).
I sat on the porch making mental notes about what to blog and how I could cope every morning in such a setting. The garden is really peaceful and conducive to good thoughts ... jonquils in bloom (there are also heaps of yellow and blue irises out there somewhere) Julia appeared as I started my second cuppa and suggested that it was time to take the dog for his morning constitutional at Merricks beach.
The sun was shining but it was freezing ... in fact cold enough to take up the offer of a spare beanie.
We needn't have bothered because the wind dropped at it was magnificent ... we were even chastised by some locals on the beach for compensating a tad (how much is a tad?) too much.
The beach was beautiful and it kinda cleared the cobwebs.
What really did the trick was a bacon, egg and cheese muffin and another cup of tea with some locals at a Blairgowrie cafe.
What shone through was a sense of community.
I heard one woman greet a chil: "Hello, how are you" It's so good to see you." It was heartfelt and uplifting.
A quick shopping trip, which included buying more wine, and we were ready for lunch ... bouillabaisse was the order of the day, with plenty of extras.
Julia pumped out a great fish stock (schnapper and flathead bones and heads) and piled in loads of flavourings. Mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), fennel, some vermouth, saffron and plenty of other flavourings. I told her I'd publish her recipe, but some things are better left unsaid.
I could have just had the stock. It was a stunner.
While we (by this time there were four women and me) were waiting for the bouillabaisse, we made do with some runny brie, salmon rillet and olives ... oh, and the amazingly complementary French rose.
By the time she had added the flathead fillets, squid, prawns and mussels (I became a great mussel scrubber) to the pot (I also scrubbed lots of pots), the smell was amazing.
She served it with sourdough (with caraway) croutons that she'd baked in the oven ... she'd also made a spread of good quality mayo (I can't spell mayonnaise) with garlic and chilli. Spread it on the crouton and dip it into the soup. Jesus really did weep. The woman is a genius in the kitchen.
We ambled through the afternoon making do with Chateau de Secries Tavel Rose, French bubbles, Passion Has Red Lips Cabernet Sauvignon, Pepperjack shiraz, Chateau Tahbilk chardonnay, Pinocchio Sangiovese (easy to drink ... a cracker), Balnarring Vineyard Pinot Noir and Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot.
The winelist didn't make doing the dishes an easy task but I coped admirably.
I was hard at it for quite a while ... OK, hard at it? I did what had to be done ... and the female conversation turned to rough, dishwasher's hands.
What's a single bloke to do. Head to my bag, grab some hand cream (a tube of L'Occitane) and give them all a sample, which went over well.
"You're a real contradiction," was the consensus. "A cowboy-booted rough nut who's full of surprises."
I took it as a compliment.
The rest of the afternoon and evening involved drinking wine and making sure there was plenty of wood for the fire.
Sleep eventually won the day ... OK, night ... and it was more comfy than the couch as I snaffled the spare bed (Julia's daughter Lauren is away on study duty in Japan).
I don't reckon I moved (not sure if I could have even if I'd wanted to) until another drover's breakfast beckoned.
Then it was time for the real breakfast ... bacon, a garlic mushroom omelet, some locally grown organic spinach and sourdough toast with marmalade. Oh, and a cuppa.
All too soon, it was time to hit the road and head home to do the domestics that I would normally have done. But not before I emptied Julia's fridge of a bunch of cavolo nero (black kale), assorted other greens, pumpkin, salmon rillet (I must remember to return the china bowl) and enough left-over bouillabaisse (hard to believe but it was better the second time around) to do dinner that night. Julia had emptied the fridge because she was off for a well-earned break with her boyfriend, Mark, in Queensland (he was already there) the next morning.
Weekends don't get much better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A byte to drink

It has certainly been a while between drinks ... OK, not really, that's been a bit of a constant and I'm having one as I write this ... but in terms of posting anything, it has certainly been a while between drinks. Not, mind, for any reason other than I haven't had a computer. That'll do it every time.
OK, that's not entirely true. Sure, I've had a computer, a laptop that has been my faithful servant for 3-4 years now, but unlike its owner, it wasn't too keen on a drink.
And it's not that it had a drink problem ... all it took was jut a splash, maybe a mouthful or so, that's all. Straight into the keyboard. I had just finished dinner (a bowl of homemade chicken laksa and opened a bottle of most excellent chardonnay ... Santa Carolina Chardonnay from Chile (22 bucks odd at Vintage Cellars, aka Randall's in Albert Park). What a wonderful drink it was, OK it is. (More of that later ... plenty more if you please.)
But just the one splash onto the keyboard and I stared in disbelief at the screen. It suddenly turned itself off, never to start again.
What a waste. Wine that is.
Oh well, I'd been planning for a while to get another laptop and networking the things so that I could pretend to know just what this computing caper is all about.
Just one splash and that got short shrift. I now have a network of one.
And just to prove that I'm not as technically inept as I like to sound, all the stuff that was on the old laptop is safely ensconced on my remote hard drive ... photos, videos, documents ... a task I managed a few weeks ago. Smart move that. The laptop had become a bit like its owner, you know, slowing a bit with age.
Luddite? Me? Not entirely apparently.
Oh well, it was the end of the financial year and there had to be some bargains out there. There were bargains ... at least that's what I reckon.
It was a task that was going to be helped because of a little naughtiness, OK, stupidity according to some. I had just finished work at lunchtime on a Friday and was heading home to do the domestics. I had no cash on me, so I popped into the casino food court area to hit the ATM, got out a couple of hundred to see me through the weekend and I thought, bugger it, I'll have a flutter on the pokies (that is where the stupidity normally comes in). It's not something that I do regularly.
I sat at a machine (apparently that's the best way to play them) and I pounded away until I had a collect of $110 (I put $50 in to start). That'll do me on this machine, I thought, and I headed to one against a wall. I slipped in another $50 and bang, bang and bang. Two $200+ collects, another of $100 and plenty and the collect was at $600. You couldn't print money this quickly.
It was time to pull stumps. I did.
Computer shopping time and after a quick look around at what was on offer, I headed to JB Hi-Fi, had a quick squiz at what was there ... surprise, surprise, there were people who wanted to help me, unlike some places I've been ... and decided to go with another Toshiba, a Satellite something or other with all the bells and whistles ... OK more than I'll probably ever use ... and it was listed at $998.
"What's the best you can do?" I asked the ever-helpful girl, who punched some stuff into the device (it could have been a GPS for all I know) she carried around. $900, she offered. OK, done.
"Now what about a printer?"
She showed me a few, suggesting something that was, believe it or not, a bit too cheap by my reckoning. To replace the cartridges in the one I had at home would cost more than the printer is worth.
"Nah, let's go with something that scans, faxes, prints, makes coffee, rolls a smoke and doesn't mind being around wine." OK, I made up the coffee, smoke and wine bits, but you get the drift.
She came up with a decent price on that, chucked in some extra, half-price ink cartridges, a cheap (OK, half price again) USB port hub (God I love sounding technically adequate) and with GST, plus a wine drinker's discount and the fact that she reckoned I was halfway decent and had saved plenty by not having haircuts, the whole kit came to not a heap more than the original computer price.
She was happy, I was happy ... the hardest part was carrying it all to the car.
So, I'm back in the game.
I have already set up my wireless thingo so I can use it anywhere in the house ... yeah, like that's gonna happen ... and the whole thing with my new internet set-up is, frankly, faster than shit off a shovel.
Gotta like that. I do.
I still haven't, almost two weeks on, plugged in the printer yet, but small steps is what it's all about.
I do, however, have to buy another stick USB thing. I bought one a couple of weeks ago and I found it on the weekend ... in the clothes dryer. Yep, it had been washed, rinsed and dried. I've now added fucked to that list.
What is it about me and computer-related things ... and liquid? Sheesh.
I've at least got the new printer in the room that is laughingly called my office. It would actually look like an office were it not for the stuff that almost prevents me from getting through the door.
There's my old printer, an old TV (it works perfectly but weighs more than I do ... my youngest son, Joel, gave me a flat-screen telly cos he bought a bigger one), various camping items, a telescope, a set of drawers into which I shall store some other stuff, an artist's stool and paints storage thing, a rebounder, a home gym (like that gets as much use as it should ... not), an exercise ball (ditto on the usage), a UHF radio and antenna that I was gonna install in my Landcruiser ute (which I'm now gonna sell), a camera case, 10 litres of water (anyone know anyone who drinks that stuff?), a large, wheel-around home cooling unit, a VCR, 107 remote controls, a set-top box, a secretaire that I'm part way through restoring, a filing cabinet, assorted framed things and, I assume, a partridge in a pear tree. For all I can tell, they may even be a small family living in there. And it may be 109 remotes.
Just as soon as I have a spare month or so, I'm gonna clean it up and actually work in there at the desk, which I assume is still there along with the five or six bookshelves. Oh, and there's an office chair. It has turned into an antique, given the length of time since I've seen it or sat on it for that matter. I will take before and after pictures of the room and post them just to prove that I'm not telling porkies.
Still, it's nice to have instant interweb stuff happening (shit off a shovel, remember), albeit at the dining room table.
And vale the old laptop from which, I'm assured, any of the stuff on the drive can be retrieved ... it gave me something to wine and whine about.

Inflation on the streets

I've got a decent policy when it comes to people down on their luck ... and there are plenty in my neighbourhood, good characters one and all. They all live in a very large halfway house around the corner from the main shopping drag and ply their trade with the shoppers.
The going rate for as long as I can remember comes with the line: "Have you got a dollar or two to spare." If I have, which is most times, I hand it over.
The one exception I've had to my rule is a bloke called Shane, with whom I became mates. Quite often I'd sit with him, shout him a coffee and a couple of smokes and give him whatever change I had in my pocket. There were times when I had no change but would go into a shop and buy for him whatever he needed ... smokes, a bottle of soft drink ... whatever.
He has since got himself organised and is living in a flat a few suburbs away and seems to have his life back on track. He's even taking guitar lessons when he can scrape together the necessary from his pension. I haven't seen him for a couple of months.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I was wandering up the street this morning and one of the regulars walked up to me and said: "Got a spare $5 note, mate?" I had to refuse, not because I wouldn't have given it to him, but I simply had no dosh on me.
But five bucks? Inflation, it seems, is alive and kicking on the streets.

On the move

The office at which I work in the afternoons has changed from Port Melbourne to South Melbourne, right near the market, which is a huge bonus.
It's a big, roomy place (and I've just got a new super-duper Mac on which to ply my trade. Bloody good it is too.
Typically, our editor (she's a love) delivered the edict: finish the magazine early tomorrow at 4pm because happy hour is starting then.
Like we'd need more incentive. And so it came to pass. The Weekly Review, by 4pm looked its usual beautiful self and was locked away in time to unleash the party pies, sausage rolls, olives, dips and whatever else (there was plenty) and a goodly representation of the fruit of the vine ... in fermented form.
Given that winter is what it is, I opted for shiraz by the small bucket ... and it worked a treat.
It set me up for the walk home (yep, the car was left at home), which is just two kilometres, although it seemed longer courtesy of the said buckets of shiraz.
It's an easy walk with the only real danger being that I have to pass my favourite watering hole ... Lina's in Albert Park. OK, I didn't have to pass it. OK, I didn't.
The shiraz bug had bitten so I opted for a few cracks at Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz, which, at 10 bucks a glass, is sensational value. It was the start of a love affair.
The affair kicked on the folowing night when I caught up with an old Age mate (OK, he's not afflicted by it, he worked there with me) at Lina's for a bite and a glass or two, err 10 or so.
Again it was Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz and bar nibbles including an excellent piadina, some salmon gravlax and other bits.
It's always good to see old mates and share some memories and some good extras.
We both had to make a move before it turned into a huge session (he was riding his bike), so nearing the end of the third bottle, we hit the road ... and just to show that I'm a toff, not, I necked the remainder of the shiraz as I wandered back to the home chateau.
The locals who saw me have seen it all before.

Doing it by the bottle

I've been having more than the odd gargle lately and they all seem to have been good.
The Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz is still right up there, but there are new contenders.
Santa Carolina Chardonnay Barrica Reserva 2008, for me, is right, right up there. At 22 odd bucks a bottle it's great value. It's a pleasant gold colour, but has plenty of soft fruit and some vanilla on the nose and in the mouth it's a really buttery, maybe full-bodied sensation. It sat in French oak for eight months after coming from a cool, coastal area of Chile.
Chardonnay seems to rule the roost. I've had a crack at Ashbrook Chardonnay from Margaret River (has there ever been a lousy wine to come out of the area?) and it doesn't let the side down.
It's a robust 14.5% alcohol, is hand-harvested and majors in plenty of fruit. Good colour too. I drank it over two sittings (OK the next day) and it seemed even a tad better on the second day.
I also had a crack at another Margaret River chardonnay called Big Softy. It was a present from the friend with whom I had dinner at the weekend. She said that she saw it and the name immediately reminded her of me. "You're such a big softy," she said when she gave it to me.
Nice thought. So too was the Neil Perry Rockpool book present. Nice wine, nice woman.
Apart from sundry other drops that have gone beyond my lips lately ... Killkenny ale among them ... I try not to drink too much beer these days. It's a weight thing, something that at the moment is under control. Does 88 kilograms sound under control, I ask myself. Too bloody right it does, I answer. That's eight kilos down on this time last year, a small price to pay for staying away from the ale.
One of the best wine moments for me lately was a Friday night when there was nothing in the house that I felt like drinking. I was sitting at the dining room table doing something and I looked across to the recently cleaned up and tidied dresser that is my spice rack along with sundry other jars of stuff. There, under the dresser, is a pine display box that I bought about 18 months ago. It had four Italian wines in it, along with a decanter and a waiter's friend. It was on special at the local bottleshop and I snaffled it.
The time was right to trot out one of the wines ... a 2006 Toscolo Chianti from Tuscany. It was ballsy, dark, had a good nose and after the first glass (that's probably to do with smoking and how it ruins the taste buds) it drank beautifully.
One down, three to go, two of which are pinot grigio, the other being more chianti.
It was a good feeling, you know, buying something quite a while ago and forgetting all about it. Great surprise.
At dinner with my friend (she of the presents) on the weekend just past, we went to Eis (pronounced Ace as close as I could get it, courtesy the hugely polite, efficient and smiling Japanese waiter. He was just great.
So too the food. Again we had the degustation menu ... eight courses of contemporary Japanese food and five matching wines, including French bubbles to kick off, a shiraz, a pinot, a chardonnay and a sweet plum wine with dessert.
Don't reckon we've had a bad course there, let alone a bad meal. The oyster shot in mint vodka with chilli and corriander and beef tartare starters were just what the doctor ordered. The eel was great (unctuous, with steamed rice soaked in green tea), so too the miso-marinated lamb cutlets, the salmon, the aged beef, the sushi and sashimi ... it was a cracker meal although the crepe for dessert just about did me in. The highlight of the menu again was the rick, thick pumpkin soup with three fat prawns in it and truffle on the top.
$110 a head for eight courses and five wines. It doesn't get a lot better or if it does, I'm yet to find it.
A glass each of Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz at Lina's rounded out a fine night ... well, we had a few chards when we got back to my place.
After snaffling the Italian wine under the dresser, I also thought about the huge cane basket that is overflowing with corks. The collection started out as keepsakes ... on every cork I wrote what food went with it and with whom I shared it. It was always good to wander through the corks and try to remember what the time/meal/occasion was about. A great memory lane thing.
These days I just throw the corks in the basket. Perhaps it's time to start recording the details again on the corks. I just know though that I'm gonna need a much bigger basket.
Finally on wine, Ben Thomas, The Weekly Review's excellent wine writer gave me a bottle (after he'd had a taste) of Seppetsfield 21-year-old para port. I haven't tasted it yet, but it's high on the agenda when the occasion is right. (I cheated after I wrote that and tried it. It's a wonderful drink.)

Steal resolve

I'm pretty pissed off right now. My youngest son rang me today to ask whether he can stay the night ... he finishes work at midnight ... no problem other than the spare bed is taken for a few days by a mate who's is working this week and next in town (he lives way down the coast).
"I'' grab a sleeping bag out of one of the toolboxes on the back of the ute. You can have the couch," I said. I grabbed the keys and went out the front of the house to the ute. Seems I didn't need the keys. Some bastard/s had wrenched the locks off and decided to help themselves to whatever was in there. In this case, a sleeping bag, a swag, a couple of blow-up mattresses and a few other camping bits and pieces. Not sure whether my bag of fishing reels is still there. The toolbox on the other side had one lock ripped open and the other had been started on ... perhaps they were interrupted. That's got tool of all kinds, a compressor, a beautiful axe and all the shit you need when you hit the bush in a four-wheel-drive. At least I reported it to the local cop shop ... they're great blokes there (I know cos I've had a bit to do with them over the years). I know there's bugger all they can do, but at least I'm on the record. And it is my second time. I also have a Subaru Forrester, which left me $1400 in the red after another ... maybe the same .. bastard broke into it and ripped off some stuff. I still don't understand ... and probably never will ... the need to steal someone else's stuff.
I keep a rather large hockey stick (my eldest used to play roller hockey) behind the front door and although I'm as much a pacifist as I can be, I rather fancy beating the puck out of these bastards if I ever find them hanging around my stuff.

Sleep-in is a welcome thing

By and large, it has just been a week of solid working. I'm acting editor of The Weekly Review this week while the editor does some well-earned R&R in Bali. Spose it's a good thing at least to get a sleep-in in the mornings ... I don't start until 10 (I'm usually at Crikey at 8.30).
No tram to and from the city, although I'm glad that I was on the tram one day last week, just to watch two youngies (early 20s maybe) enjoying their time together. He had his arm around her and they just stared at each other in a loving way. What made it special to see was when the tram approached their stop, he stood up, took the girl's coat and held out his hand to help his girlfriend up. For me it was a beautiful display of manners, of caring, of being a real gentleman. All power to
them. I hope their love lasts forever.

Kids in the kitchen

It's good to see that my kids have taken to the kitchen,
My eldest, Liam, sent me a message on Saturday morning (he lives in Vanuatu) asking for my laksa recipe. He was cooking a dinner party for 20. He'd already worked out that the starter would be grilled salmon on wasabi mash, then the laksa. From what he told me, he nailed it and finally managed to get to sleep at about 8.30 (alone and that's a rarity from what he tells me) on Sunday morning and slept until his alarm went off at six on Monday morning. He plays hard, the boy. Some might even say he's a chip off the old bloke.

For the record, it's Andrew McUtchen

I'm pleased that after a night of merriment at my place on the weekend that my CD collection is still in alphabetical order, no mean feat given my inability to keep them tidy. I've just added two discs to the collection, both by my mate Andrew McUtchen ... Down With Wanderlust and Songs To Get Us True. Do a Google search on him, find his website and have a listen. He's a major talent and a decent bloke.