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Showing posts from October, 2021

Caspar: same black coat; slightly taller than Edward.

Coincidentally, the last five foster greyhounds have been black (in order, Barney, Pete, Bruce, Edward and Caspar, shown above). And six of the last seven ( Lou ). They get to go on long walks. I'm a keen rambler. People - neighbours, locals - nod, acquaintance-like. Now, these black dogs might have had variations; white toe-tips, or a slightly larger or smaller chest patch, or floppier ears; but these details are generally not significant enough for the average dog-spotter to notice. So they think they are all the same dog. But the five black greyhounds were different sizes. Some greyhounds can be confused with whippets, while some are the Clydesdales of the greyhound world. One chatty passer-by insisted one of my greyhounds - I think it was Bruce - had grown a couple of inches in a month.

Fahrenheit 451: mere fiction.

Fahrenheit 451 is a 1950s science fiction novel of the type often described as 'dystopian', a previously little-known word that now regularly peppers letters to the editors of Australian newspapers. George Orwell is the generic default author for big-brother scenarios, but Ray Bradbury comes close. Fahrenheit 451's firemen, public servants, burn books - and their owners if they refuse to get out of the way. Books are a hindrance to authoritarian governments. The firemen have turned to book- and people-burning because houses no longer burn in the year 2145: there are no fires to put out. Equally, Australia is the healthiest country in the world. We are so fit, the health bureaucrats will do anything to stop people from getting sick: including locking them up. That is the long and short of it. No ifs, no buts. As one letter writer, Elizabeth Filby of Bacchus Marsh (eschewing the word 'dystopian' for once), quipped: 'Perhaps we should all stay home until no-one ev

Endless road to nowhere.

In a lead item in Saturday's Herald Sun on the never-ending home imprisonment of Victorians, Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg warns of its effect on young people, quoting Melbourne University paediatrician and adolescent health expert Professor Fiona Russell: "We cannot ... keep ... locking them down all the time. ... children are not resilient. The most disadvantaged children and families ... are worst affected." Meanwhile Small Business Australia's Bill Lang despairs of the devastation the ongoing nightmare has wrought: " ... we are talking sbout the livelihoods of tens of thousands of small business owners and the hundreds of thousands of people they employ ... There is a point when the the health bureaucrats who have financially crippled this state and paid no heed to the mental health of their policy of continuous ... lockdown ... need to be moved to the back of the room - and the interests of those who have been asked to carry incredible financial and emot


That sapling mentioned in the previous post had grown and grown and ended up decades later as a jasmine-encrusted mature, and then dead, tree. The 'tree people' arrived that afternoon with their tree-munching machine, a thing I cannot look at without thinking of that scene from a movie, can't remember the title, in which they feed the bad guy into it. Of course, the director or scriptwriter or art director or whoever decides these things had it situated in snow, to accentuate the bloody mess that came out the other end. They shored up the trunk, slashed the jasmine cables, and got the chainsaw to work. It had plenty of kickback on the flint-like dead trunk but after an hour or so they had the job done. The garden already looked lighter, sunnier. And the clothesline was still standing. I went inside the house and told her it was safe to go outside. She was reliving history again. You could go in there with a dictaphone and come out with a book. 1942. She is an Intermediate s

Before the Jungle.

Let's just back track a few decades on that garden scene. The jungle was an ordered garden then; something out of Brunnings Australian Garden Guide: garden beds along the fencelines, shrubs at the rear, and annuals in front nodding their flowerheads at their cousins across squares and arcs of lawn separated by prim neat pathways. Also, three fruit trees in the lawn, and two outbuildings painted in glistening Taubman's Ship Grey gloss. We worked bucolic Saturday afternoons edging, pruning, raking by autumn, and watering by summer, while the sun dragged deep-etched shadows across the flat geometric lawns from west to east, angling farther south in winter, a mere sliver in the roiling height of summer when the heat slammed down from straight above. One year my mother planted a sapling at the west end of the garden. It will have purple flowers, she said. I lived in one of the small outbuildings just about all of two summers. Oppressive heat was relieved by a sliding air-hatch in th

The Old Tree Part Two: Forty-five degrees and falling.

I returned the next morning. She'd been up early. She had not listened to my advice. She was not in the house. Surely not. I pushed open the back door, stepped down the ramp and passed the old vine-covered garage and the long-abandoned art studio. There was something moving in the deeply shadowed patch under the spread of the downed canopy that now hung dangerously. The moving thing was her, under the clothesline, pegging out smalls in the darkness of a virtual jungle, a sixty-foot trunk looming over the top like the fuselage of a crashed airliner. I drew her out gingerly, like a soldier carrying an injured buddy out of a minefield. When we were back in clear sunlight I asked her if she'd forgotten what I'd told her last night. Oh, no , she said. But it's perfectly safe , she added. It would have come down by now. Anyway, it's a good drying morning. I trundled her and her walker inside and told her not to come out again. The tree had been some African type; purple

The ‘undercurrent’ now a potent political force.

Front page story, The Australian, 5/10/21: ‘... the undercurrent is that Perrotet is such a conservative Catholic - witness his six children - that he should not lead the State ...’. The ‘undercurrent’ is the Twitter sewer from which the journalist, Stephen Rice, has aggregated a pot of swirling leftist hatred; a witches’ brew of bile.  One can only imagine what the New South Wales premier’s children would think of being co-opted as evidence that disqualifies their father.

The Old Tree, Part One.

It was a late winter's evening, cold and dry with the faint smell of spring in the air. That would be the trees exuding some kind of pre-flower woodiness from their buds, waxing in the night air. The smell I had loved as a child, and was still here to welcome me at the old ancestral home. I had given my mother her evening pill cocktail; one of everything. I had warmed her milk and spooned honey into it and stirred it, and we had sat for a while and she swallowed her pills with the milk. No trouble there. Ninety-three and doesn't look a day over a hundred. Long grey hair (she never cut it), a sculptured face vaguely suggesting the beauty she once was, and old pale skin as smooth as paper. I left her snoozing on her old chair made more comfortable by about twenty cushions and pillows and a couple of old tartan rugs. Sheer luxury. Locking the back door, I noticed it was darker than it should have been at that time. I stared into the distance, down towards the end of the garden, pa

Easy paella with chicken and chorizo.

I've made various countdown lists over the years on this weblog. About a decade ago, I counted down my top ten vegetables. Must have been a slow week at work. Number one was the onion . An unusual choice perhaps. But when regarding the question as 'what vegetable could you least do without' the onion moves into the box seat. The following recipe is an example, built on a foundation of four members of the onion family, and crowned by a fifth. This 'assembly' version of paella is good if you don't have one of those tractor-wheel size vessels large enough to house the whole thing while cooking, or a stove big enough to handle it. I started by frying a generous cup and a half of combined chopped leek, white onion, red ('Spanish') onion and garlic in peanut oil for about five minutes, placing this mixture into a second large pan when just translucent. Then I fried a large cubed chicken breast and a sliced chorizo sausage in the same pan, so that the meat took

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will jump at every shadow....

Don’t think this panic-stricken hysteria came out of the blue. The warning signs go back a long way. Many sage thinkers have written about a sudden decline in mass religious belief leading to a risk-averse society that believes that faith is blind. Au contraire, mes amis. Only hysteria is blind. Faith buys time. Hysteria buys nothing. Now it stalks the land turning otherwise intelligent people into zombie-like order-followers. Police throw innocent citizens to the ground; arrest pregnant women in their homes and wearing pyjamas on charges of incitement; fire rubber bullets at retreating mobs. Public health bureaucrats use hours-long press conferences fronted by obeisant media ingenues to announce in clipped tones through forests of microphones the daily infection numbers, a kind of numerology incantation with only the sacred smoke missing to complete the medieval picture. They may as well announce how many people have sneezed that day. This era will be seen in the future as the great