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Showing posts from December, 2010

A nativity story.

A hot afternoon close to Christmas. I was in the car heading north on the Sydney Road hill in heavy traffic, so I wasn’t so much driving as sitting behind the wheel and punching the radio to try to make it play something good. It wouldn’t, so I turned it off instead. The boys were in the back seat finishing off their most recent riot. We were behind a tram and it was inching forward and we were inching forward with it, along with about a million other cars whose drivers were probably all punching their radios. Or texting. The tram lurched forward with an electric whine and we made a whole hundred metres before it braked at Bell Street and I stopped behind it again. Passengers hunched over with shopping bags got down from the tram and laboured across the road to the footpath. Then the tram clanged and rocked across Bell Street through the red, and we stayed right there. The boys, suddenly silent, gazed out the window. I looked at them in the rear vision mirror and followed their gaze

Trifling with Christmas: a Greek odyssey.

It’s Christmas week, so the old traditional turkey-and-ham versus seafood debate is on again. They have to sell newspapers. Without doubt, roasted turkey and ham are unsuitable fare for the middle of an Australian summer day. This is why we drink so much alcohol. You have to stimulate the appetite. Only after three or four gin and tonics or sparkling reds is it possible to stomach the prospect of sitting down at midday in 28 degree heat to what is essentially a cold climate meal of roast turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing, baked ham with a sweet, sticky glaze, hot roasted potatoes, carrots and minted peas followed by plum pudding with brandy butter sauce, Christmas cake with Scotch whisky, or trifle made from custard and red jelly on a bed of sponge cake soaked in port and topped with two inches of whipped cream, grated chocolate and nuts. Yes, nuts. The official antidote to this Edwardian stodge is seafood, but given interest rates and utility prices, cold lobster salad with m


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It's Been a Long, Long Time.

That noise you hear is man fighting nature and man losing. They’re out there early in the morning and late into the evening cutting, hacking, chopping, slashing, line-trimming, power-edging and leaf-blowing. I cut the lawn twice in a week just to restore the horizon. Fourteen years of drought, and then enough rain to kick-start things into life that haven’t grown for over a decade. I've seen weed and grass species that haven't been sighted in years, their evil little seeds lurking patiently and potently under the ground. The rain has put the 'nature' back into 'strip'. Some are three and four feet high. Take a walk down the street and you'll see gardens disappearing under greenery, even those geometric ‘drought-tolerant gardens’ made of concrete squares and cordyline. They might be good in a drought but you still have to weed them, especially if the geometry has river pebbles in it. And then where do you put the weeds? I have two compost bins and both are fu