Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Week of Lilyfixes

On the ride to school
We just returned from (mostly) sunny Queensland, and it was a great week. But then any week that includes Lily every day is bound to be great.

The World's Most Wonderful Girl is such a delight. And now that she is almost 10-years-old, she has moved into that super nice combination where she will have a real adult-level conversation, but still cuddle up to you and play a game on her iPad. Which, by the way, she uses so fast and fluidly and easily that it takes away any excuse an older person has for not figuring the stuff out.

I could, of course, write several thousand words about how fantastic our granddaughter is, but I somehow get the sense that this would be as much fun for you as, say, spending an hour locked in a room with Donald Trump.

So let it just be noted that this was an outstanding way to spend seven days. We picked Lily up from her school every day and even had a sleep-over one night when her mother, Rachael, was on call from the hospital. That night LK taught Lily how to make meatballs and sauce, and for some reason they were the best meatballs I have ever eaten. Oh, I'm sorry - have I slipped back into telling you how great Lily is? Didn't mean to.

Probably the only downside was that we had hoped to see our friend Jon who lives about an hour north in Brisbane, but because we were spending time with Lily every day we never had a chance to get up there. 

We had a nice enough place to stay - another one of LK's online treasures where she scouts out bargains. Whenever I do that, we seem to end up in places that charge extra if you want access to a bathroom. But this place was quite nice for a week.

Sure, it was a bit dated. I knew that because the speed dial on the phone listed the number for Ansett Airlines, which went bankrupt in 2001. And of course the bed was neither very high nor very soft. And the shower didn't feature a rainforest effect.

So, beyond a doubt a week with Lily was great but it was also great to be back home again. We missed the Very Very High Bed and the World's Best Shower. In fact, we like them so much that I think we will stay around here for another three weeks before heading off on another trip.

And finally, Happy Birthday, Mama. Bubba loves ya.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Elizabeth Harrower is one of Australia's most celebrated writers,  or perhaps I should say "was" one of our top writers. Until this week I had never heard of her. That is because, after writing some highly praised and successful books 40 years ago, she just stopped writing.

There's an interesting interview with her in the Sydney Morning Herald here. The interviewer, Gay Alcorn, presses for an explanation of why Harrower stopped writing after such a successful start to her career, and the 84-year-old cannot or will not explain.

It's not as if she wasn't pushed to resume. She happily talks about people like Nobel Literature Prize winner Patrick White being quite insistent that she should put words on paper. She even shows Alcorn an inscription White wrote in one of his books reading,  ''To Elizabeth, luncher and diner extraordinaire. Sad you don't also WRITE.''

OK, everyone knows where this is going and everyone is thinking, "No, Don, you can't compare your not writing a blog post to a great novelist not writing anything for more than 40 years." True - unless you count that luncher and diner extraordinaire bit.

But it does seem to me that Harrower shows that even wonderfully talented people can go 200 miles-an-hour putting their thoughts and words on paper (or now on screens) and then simply stop. And if it happens to those with great talent, how much easier for the rest of us?

It's almost cold comfort to take a look at my RSL feed and see the blogs to which I have subscribed and how few of them are posting much any more. Chubby Hubby's great food blog is on hiatus; Daniel Negreanu's poker musings have dwindled to a few a year as he substitutes Twitter feeds for the long-form; our almost-neighbor Matthew Evans who does the TV show Gourmet Farmer has reduced his output to a once-a-month trickle. Hey, even cousin Joanne hardly ever bothers telling anyone what's for dinner any more.

I am quite sure all of them have been urged by fans and family and friends to get back to that keyboard and post some more. But none of my favorites seems to have checked out completely, like Elizabeth Harrower who, Alcorn reports, was asked to send some stories to a publication. She declined saying, ''[I] realised I just can't be bothered any more.''

But I think the days of my Dickens-like volumes of posts will only come sporadically and the occasional post is much more likely to be the norm. Still, it's nice to get encouraging comments like the one from Wally and Judy on the last post. It's even nice to have my bride get testy that I am not posting.

Even Sandy is making noises about how I need to do more. But then, she's in no position to talk. After being my favorite Words with Friends friend nearly every day for over a year, she hasn't made a play in more than a week. Maybe she's teaching me how disappointing it is to doubleclick on something you like and find there's not a single new thing there.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Yesterday turned out to be not quite as I had hoped.

On a beautiful sunny autumn day, we drove about half an hour to a market that we had learned about from a roadside placard. While it was not a terrible market, it was certainly not a great one, either. There were very few stalls, undoubtedly reflecting their bravery (or foolishness) in going up against the huge Salamanca Market only ten minutes down the road and across the bridge.

And the stalls that were there featured pretty much nothing we were in the mood to buy - most were the sort of arts+crafts things we don't buy anyway; LK isn't shopping for inexpensive jewelry; we have no toddlers to buy cute, overpriced clothes for; and this eternal South Beach diet cannot quite find room to include toffee apples and macarons.

But choosing your Saturday activity from a roadside placard was always going to be a gamble, so it wasn't the market that made the day turn out to be not quite as I had hoped. Nope, it was the bright sunshine.

For when I got out of the car at the market, I looked down and saw that my standard-uniform hoodie was speckled with dots of tomato sauce. And that is when I made the strategic misstep of saying to my bride that I was surprised she didn't tell me I looked a mess before we left the house. Let's make that a major strategic misstep.

For at the point LK proceeded to review my look and decided I did indeed look like one of those clueless retirees who wander around with food stains on their sweat clothes. It was hard not to agree, of course, since I was precisely that.

She acknowledged that these spots were not the result of sloppy eating but sloppy cleaning up after eating. "I know where the stains would be if it was from eating," she said.  She then proceeded to expand the review by telling me that my beard was seriously lopsided, looking as if I hadn't shaved or trimmed the right side for weeks. I couldn't really argue since I had noticed the same thing yesterday but hoped it wouldn't be all that obvious. I was wrong.

By the end of our trip, she declared with full solemnity that henceforth she is reviewing my look before I leave the house. She noted that I change out of my house sweatpants and into chinos when I go out, and wondered how I could care enough to do that and not bother to see if I was stained, smeared, or otherwise disheveled.

Grasping for an answer, I told her there weren't enough mirrors in the house. She looked at me with an expression roughly translated as "Is that the best you can do?" and proceeded to list the large  number of mirrors in the house. I had to admit that what I really meant was that there weren't enough mirrors in the house that I used to see how I looked. In other words, I lost.

And so, strengthened even further by my strategic misstep LK later that day told me in no uncertain terms that it was just plain wrong that I haven't posted on this blog in more than a month. And that's why you are now reading this and I am wearing a clean hoodie and have trimmed my beard.

And somewhere in the distance I hear a whispery voice saying something about how my life has just changed significantly.

But at least I will look better.