Another Country Diary
After about a week of these diary entries,
they go to the
Saturday 1 January '05
Year's Eve isn't a big deal at our place. You know that it's an
'end' and you can use it for fresh starts and reviewing your blessings and
misfortunes, but we've often had the night at home together, with a glass
of champagne in hand (er, always with a glass of champagne in hand) and
watching the celebrations on TV for the last few minutes before the
fireworks, when they're over we head to
bed. Fun huh? Jan and I having been together for 16 or so of them so there have been
variations. With kids in the early days, friends, street parties and last year at the Zoo.
the spaceship hasn't landed. This year we went into Canberra to see the
fireworks and the bands in Civic. We caught the last half hour of Joe
Camilleri (who was great) and here's Annie and the Armadillos who started
and finished the night. The staging was good and the Playhouse beside the
stage looked like a hovering UFO.
kids could stay the distance ok, other's collapsed in dad's arms.
fireworks at first seemed a bit flat because they were not reflected in
the lake and contained by the buildings around, then as they came higher
over head and you were standing under them as the showered down, the
effect was great. Big pulsing explosions, pulling you visually into the
Jackie came up from Melbourne with her friend Lauren who had cancelled her
holiday in Sri Lanka because of the tsunami. She would have been heading
right into one of the main areas of devastation and was due to fly there
the day after it happened. I think she felt a bit flat about fireworks in
Civic but we were glad she was here, not there.
of the plusses of fireworks in the city was the reflections in the
have to be New Year's Eve lover's kisses, and there were plenty around.
Here they were with glowing Mickey Mouse ears.
Sunday 2 December '04
back in the trees, the lone koel has called in what looks like three
fluffy chicks. I had heard an answering response call early in the morning
and thought it could have been a female. There were overlapping
calls/response for a while.
When I saw the male bird in our trees later I went for the binoculars and
was surprised to see this group.
look like immature cuckoos and I'm betting that they're now grouping
together after some poor local bird has fed them up nice and fat. I don't
know at what age they start to call but it could get pretty noisy around
here soon. At 4.00am I toyed with idea of chasing it off from the tree
outside our window, but as they move on every half hour or so, instead I
wished they'd hurry up and head back to New Guinea.
Wednesday 5 January '05
around I'm sure you've seen a few locusts. We haven't had a swarm here,
but they've made a mess on the front of the car. Kate showed a city kid's
knowledge when we passed through a small swarm of of them shattering on
the windscreen. I said to one on the bonnet, "get off grasshopper". "Grass
hopper?" she asked. She had obviously thought locusts were some other kind
of insect and if you only see them as they hit the windscreen, you
wouldn't know. This one is a grass hopper.
Friday 7 January '05
can't remember the last time I grew a tomato in a pot. It was probably
back in my first days in a terrace house in Melbourne just after leaving
home. Everywhere else I've lived, had a small patch of soil in the yard at
least. I've just eaten the first ripe tomato from this bush, with some
olive oil and chopped basil from the garden, and it was very tasty. All
you need to do is keep the water to it, give it a bit of feed (I've used
Phostrogen) and I move the pot so that it gets sun all day. I started this
one early so I could move it and protect it from our perennially late
frosts, but we haven't had one. (I did feel a bit anxious when it got down
to 4 deg. overnight a few days ago.)
Saturday 8 January '05
mentioned that I don't like the rash of metal fences being erected around
Bungendore. I've been continuing to photograph examples of metal and
wooden ones and I'll share them with you over time. I don't think that it
would ever be possible to bring in a by-law that would prohibit metal, say
for heritage reasons, but from the examples I've documented something needs
to be said in the defence of wood.
If there was one single thing that would change how Bungendore's suburban
sprawl could develop in a more visually pleasing manner, it could be to
ban fences of sheet metal I reckon. I know the arguments, I appreciate
they last a long time, but they really don't look any neater (as in the
above wobbly example, compare with the ones below) and they make the town
look like a mining camp. Wood feel's organic, it weathers to an attractive
neutral grey if unpainted, it cracks and warps, but if constructed
properly they as straight and neat as you'd wish for. Someone has to have
the railings side (which can be metal, with metal uprights set in concrete
and palings fixed, but people seem to choose to display a flat front to
people want to surround their backyards with metal, where they can only be
seen by themselves and neighbours that's ok, but any public display should
be banned. You would have to have some clause that relegates them to areas
between consenting adult neighbours. Maybe we could make it so that if one
neighbour didn't want a metal fence they could object and the resulting
construction would have to be wood. (You're forced to pay half of a
dividing fence and I reckon that gives you a right to choose the
materials. What happens when you sell and a new owner wants wood, I don't
got a lot of neighbours because of the way our long block is beside a
corner, with six blocks that back onto us on one side. All of them are
wooden (in one case there's a wire mesh fence that lets them look into our
trees and pond in winter but get screened in summer. We can just wave to
each other through the gaps.
Thinking about that a little bit more, it's usually the older homes that
replace their fences with metal. It's probably driven by money or lack of
it, ("I can't afford to replace this fence every twenty years"), and
sometimes it's because they need more secure 'storage' for their dogs.
although one neighbour, a few doors down, just after they'd completed
fencing the entire half acre perimeter, found that their dog could easily
dig under the fence and escape. She now has to put concrete all around the
edges. Saving money?
I'll come back to this I'm sure, I'm not done yet.
Tuesday 11 January '05
daughter Kate has left today for Costa Rica. She's doing a Student
Volunteers Abroad trip (which seems to be two weeks of dubious value
community work and two weeks of an adventure holiday).
It's the first time that she's been overseas by herself and she sent a
text SMS from LA to say she was "there safe, it was great and she's
exhausted". They fly on to Costa Rica at midnight after a few hours rest
in a hotel in LA. One of her friends did the month long trip before
Christmas and said it rained so they didn't do any community work but the
holiday bit was the best fun she'd ever had so I'm sure we'll hear more.
The students stay with a host family in a small village, eat a lot of rice
and beans and I'm sure it will be an eye-opener to the world.
We had a last minute rush making up a couple of calendars of my Bungendore
photos with Spanish titles to give to her host family. Kangaroos (that's
Cangarou in Spanish) on the Mac's Reef road, cockatoos eating the pears,
Bungendore show and rodeo etc. It was her idea and it's a nice one.
Wednesday 12 January '05
the Market deli I bought a small wedge of truffle infused parmesan cheese
and now I don't know what to do with it. Eat it perhaps you suggest? Well,
I cut of a small slice to taste and wow, it was so strong that I had
'truffle mouth' for hours. Maybe it's for grating I thought, over some
pasta but as we're giving the pasta a miss for a while, I grated some to
put on a morning soft boiled egg. Mmmm it imparted a warm woody taste, hid
the egg flavour and I've still got truffle mouth. I'll do a web search and
maybe there are some suggestions there. (Truffle oil I suspect)