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Showing posts from March, 2008
The first St Paul's church was built here in 1850, right on the bend in Sydney Road. The current building shown above dates from about 1897. I first visited twenty years ago when my oldest son - William and Thomas' Much Older Brother - sang there as a member of the visiting St Patrick's Cathedral Choir. Later we moved into the parish. William was baptised here in 2005; Thomas in 2006. Just last Sunday morning, after the service, I carried William up to the bell tower for the first time (small window beneath the shuttered arch windows in the picture) and he watched a bellringer heave the massive rope to ring out Easter Day. The bell will not ring again soon. Three nights ago, someone set two fires in the church. One succeeded .

Saving the earth one PR release at a time.

In between dodging charges of running a 'ruthless' and 'grubby' government, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma must welcome diversions such as this week's Earth Hour. In fact, Mr Iemma earlier this month used the event to retreat to the moral high ground: "It's utter rubbish to say that symbolism can't lead to change. Yes it's about symbolism but it's a very powerful one - it's about saving the planet." Without any evidence of tongue-in-cheek, Mr Iemma revealed his entire bureaucracy would take part: Mr Iemma announced that all government departments would take part in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29. March 29 is a Saturday. But surely he was bluffing when he compared his speech with those of the following three gentlemen: Mr Iemma invoked Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King as speakers who used symbolism to inspire lasting change. Nice company, Morris. Shame they're all dead or they'd h

Coffee on a bend in the Merri Creek.

The coffee was surprisingly good, given that the machine is set up in a makeshift shed and chickens peck in a pen just beyond the post, rail and wire fence. Not that sheds and chickens are a bar to good coffee; but if the coffee is this good here, then there is no excuse for bad coffee in an actual coffee shop. We were at CERES - the Brunswick farm on a bend in the Merri Creek - for its Wednesday morning produce market. CERES stands for something but I prefer its original meaning as the goddess of agriculture. The Wednesday morning produce sale is like a farmer’s market but without the novelty stalls and the jostling, poking weekend crowds. If you're shopping mid-week for fruit and vegetables, this is as good as it gets. You wouldn't go to a supermarket. It was one of those mornings you dream about. Brilliant autumn sunshine, warm but never uncomfortable, a faint whisper of a breeze and cotton bud clouds drifting about in the blue sky. We walked in from the north, across fro

Non sequitur.

A sign appeared on Friday in a Sydney Road, Coburg cafe exclaiming in large letters: OPEN ALL EASTER WEEKEND!!! Two words below read: EXCLUDING SUNDAY.

Rooster rendered irrelevant; Parliament told heatwave is evidence of warmth.

It came from the south west. It was grey and it grew and it stretched itself across the sky like a giant steel door over the roof of a stadium. I even thought it creaked like a stadium roof, but that was just the whistling of the breeze that blew the heat back into the land where it came from. * The night before last was the hottest I can remember. There was no breeze then, just a fierce northerly that roared all night like a lion with a large splinter in its paw. I should complain. Adelaide, the city of churches, made it fifteen straight days with temperatures over 35 degrees. Note well: that is in autumn. Is there another city in the world that has ever completed an autumn stretch of fifteen consecutive 35 degree-plus days? I'm sure there is, but you wouldn't want to live there. (Weatherzone reports: "Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has told Federal Parliament the 15 consecutive days above 35 degrees are evidence of the warming trend." I look forward to Parliam

Green olives.

I have at last fixed the dateline. It was set on Pacific time for the last four and a half years, so that my posts were dated the previous day. Now it's set to Eastern time. I feared that changing the date would wipe out the blog but it appears to be there still. Real time is early afternoon on a hot 17 March. 39 degrees on St Patrick's Day? Unheard of. I just missed the St Patrick's Day schoolchildren's march era that petered out in the early '60s, but were it still to be a fixture it might have been cancelled for the heat. I remember my oldest sister going off with her class to march from the Fitzroy Gardens to St Patrick's Cathedral and then on to Spring Street. Archbishop Mannix liked to parade the sea of green - literally thousands of baby-boom era Catholic schoolchildren - in front of Parliament. He liked to think the centre of power was two blocks back from Treasury Place. These days St Patrick's Day is a little more than a novelty event. Green bee

Tasmanian mussels.

It just got hotter. The link in the previous post updates automatically and will show that today's top is 40 degrees with a demon northerly. We escaped to the peninsula the day before yesterday. The theory is that the northerly that heats Melbourne should get colder, like an evaporative cooler, on its trip south over the bay, making the peninsula up to 15 degrees cooler than Melbourne. It's a fine theory when it works. It worked this morning. But around midday, the wind stopped in its tracks. The temperature shot up. Now it's a hazy, intense afternoon, the sun is burning a hole in the sky and even the trees are creaking in the heat. It's strangely quiet down here. The summer crowds have gone. I walked down a baking street that was almost empty. The beach was practically deserted. And no jet-ski noise. The only sound was the distant hum of traffic on Point Nepean Road. A pelican flew slowly over the waves, beak outstretched, and some other seabirds were plucking smal

Hot weather, prawns and cold beer.

Summer was relatively mild. Autumn is shaping up as a scorcher: six days out of the next seven we are looking at 30 degrees-plus celsius . Today was 36. Nights are relatively cool. Last night, barbecued prawns: marinated in tamari, ginger, garlic and some flecks of chili for a few hours, then seared on the grill after being greased with a little sesame oil and served on spinach soba noodles. Cold beer goes perfectly with this. I even put ice in it, sacrilege I know. (I first drank beer on ice at a Japanese restaurant to accompany the lightest tempura I had ever eaten. It was superb. Of course, if the tempura is not great, it will make any drink taste flabby and oily.)

Basil gnocchi with tomato sauce.

It seems no time since I wrote about making gnocchi with a child and the tactile pleasure they get from making food and throwing flour around the room. The child was Canisha; and now William is old enough to help with rudimentary cooking tasks, such as plugging the holes in lego blocks with cake dough. But today we made gnocchi. First I set four medium peeled and chopped potatoes to boil, well back on the stove, until just soft. While they were boiling, William and I went into the garden to fetch a bunch of basil, which is still growing madly. (I noticed an abundance of eggplants, the longer Lebanese ones, as well. What to do with those?) Then we came back inside and I chopped the basil finely, mashed the potatoes thoroughly, made a volcano top with them on a large breadboard, poured an egg, three-quarters of a cup of flour and some of the chopped basil into the crater and made a dough with them. I rolled out the dough on the floured board to make sausages a centimetre in diamete

The last aunt.

One week passes, then two; and with it summer - even if there was one extra day this year. Already the sun has swivelled north, and turns the room beyond the kitchen to early morning gold, rather than blasting straight through the kitchen window slats into my eyes when I'm trying to read the paper at six-thirty. Read the paper? I haven't read a newspaper from cover to cover for two years. (Maybe not such a bad thing. At least the computer is back. But then the mobile phone ceased to function - hello, telecommunications company call centre, how's your voice recognition technology today? Would I mind holding? Yes, I would. Why do you ask? Do I have a choice? And no, I don't have my twenty digit account number in front of me.) I've barely had time to do anything. Of course, using the death of an aunt as an excuse for not posting was entirely outrageous, if partially true nevertheless. Aunts are fascinating creatures. Fiction is full of them. All the great writers wr