Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary


For some time I've been storing up whatever the digital equivalent is of scraps of paper, with observations about the pleasures (and pains) of living outside of the city. I've decided to 'go public' with this for the discipline involved (just shut up, sit down and write!), and the creative pressure in getting at least one reasonable descriptive photograph to accompany it each day. Any record keeping diary is like fighting a rear-guard action. After all, the event is done, unchangeably over before you write. If you're lucky you might have caught some significant moment or image that you can take into the rest of your week. It doesn't always work but I figure it's a task worth trying.

Links to images and other pages are in blue, mouse-over pop-up comments are burgundy. After about a week of diary entries, they go to an archive.
8 July
L plates againThe last daughter is learning to drive. This process seems to have been going on for years. The three of them are each two years apart, so it has I guess. 

Aurore, here for the holidays went for her learner's permit a week ago. Her mum is terrified of driving with her and welcomed the advice at the student / parent driving evening when they said 'get five lessons with a professional first'. She's had two lessons in Melbourne now, and I tried to give her as much of a chance when she was here as I could. We've had a few starting the car, clutch and gear sessions in the paddock nearby in past holidays and she seemed good at it. This time she was uncoordinated and flustered and ended in tears when I kept correcting her.

The next day she didn't want to go out, running herself down, saying she couldn't do it right etc. But I persevered and by the time she left she was more confident. 'There's so much to think about at once' she complained. I assured her that it all becomes easier and automatic but it's hard to think back to that time when you were learning yourself. Growing up in the country we started to drive when we could turn the steering wheel of a tractor. Visiting school friends on farms, you'd  sit up in the bucket seat, feet dangling, with the tractor in low gear. You had to drive a straight line while someone threw out the hay from the trailer to feed the sheep or the cows. 

Raleigh 3 wheelerWe also had this old Raleigh three wheeled car that my father had repaired, and we used to drive it around the paddocks, and up and down the roads leading to the Butter Factory where we lived. As soon as we could crank start it, we were allowed to drive by ourselves. I guess I was driving for eight years before I went for my licence that was in Melbourne, (in Box Hill, in my father's Holden station wagon), and I can't remember being anxious. I recall the policeman who tested me saying that it was ok not to give hand signals and use the indicator. (Yeah it was a long time ago.) I still remember being scared in city traffic though, especially when the old Fiats I had would burn out clutches going up hills like on, shudder, Punt Road.

I want my children to have the freedom that a car brings, especially as they're girls (so they can miss that dependence on larrikin boys and feel pressured to ride with them. That's the Dad bit I guess.) But of course then they need a car. Sigh.
10 July '02 
Metroplois anime posterI had meetings in Sydney so Aurore came with me, sleeping in the car and waiting patiently until I finished. 

We'd noticed a 2.15pm screening of the anime Metropolis but by the time we got there we'd missed the start so we decided to go to the next session. It meant we were going to be later home but we both enjoy the Japanese manga style so we waited. The movie was visually amazing, so much so that the subtitles were a real distraction. It would be great in the dubbed version realised in the US (why not here?) and on DVD where you could watch the amount of work that went into the backgrounds.
 
Tezuka's Metropolis manga charactersThe animation is based on Osamu Tezuka's manga drawn in 1948-1950 which was only loosly drawn from Fritz Lang's original. There is a very strangely translated page and a sample preview on the Tezuka Museum website. (The movie website is a ridiculous Flash site with all the reasons people hate Flash interfaces. Trivial content puffed up with Flash and badly presented.) The movie had character animation like the originals at left, against a fantastic mix of 2D computer animation and illustration of the city. It was directed by Rintaro who did Akira and the money Sony spent on it was evident. I loved it and didn't mind the lack of emotional involvement or character development (maybe because it had robots). It was still better than the American kids stuff that seems to be all that's available in feature length animation. If you're an animation fan you'll appreciate it despite the flaws. We are and we did. 
11 July '02
Cypress cones and seedsAll week I've been raking the fallen cypress tree cones? nuts? from the drive way.  The cockatoos have been busy and when I'm working in my front room, I hear the clunk as they drop whole bunches onto the tin roof. The seeds inside are so tiny and they sometimes seem to get them all leaving only a tattered shell. Most times they bite off a bit, or pick a whole clump and then drop them on the ground. Unless I rake them, they get crushed into the red granite gravel and if it's wet they stay there. The birds must have amazing claw and beak control to get the seeds out. And the seeds must be very tasty and attractive to make it worth it, because it's serious work for the cockatoos, not just their usual bored tree pruning.
12 July '02
Cardoon leaves in frost Hard frosts. Minus 6. The garden looks battered, blackened edges and leaves that looked set to stay all winter, have been stripped from the stems.

The plants that look most attractive when covered in frost crystals seem to be the tough ones. The cardoons, (they're the ones that look like they're going to be artichokes and then sneakily become thistles) have been photographed every year. They're so tough they survive to look pretty. Their stems are so thick and fibrous that I have to I dig the old ones out with the axe.

It's getting harder to find any mint to go with the cucumber and yogurt raita for accompanying the curries (and they're a winter staple here). The pineapple and lemon mint seem to last longer, but they're not the same with a curry.

It was probably the cold that killed this tiny mouse. It wasn't where the cat usually leaves it's kill and it wasn't damaged. Lots of things are finding it tough outside these nights.
Frost edged mint
Dead mouse. Cold.

 

13 July '02
Corned beef slicesThe placement of food after dead mice is a little edgy, but we've become addicted to a recipe that cooks corn beef in red wine, red wine vinegar and juniper berries. Cooked slowly, it melts in the mouth when warm and tastes great cold. The other plus is the cooking smell that wafts through the hose, and that has all those odours. Serve with some mashed potato and greens (Jan cooked some Chinese cabbage with caraway seeds that went nicely with it this time). I've put the recipe up in the archive here.
Fred Harden  
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