Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dan Murphy's

If you're wanting a bottle of bubbly for your New Year's Eve celebration, it's easy to find something here. Wine and liquor stores are everywhere, often situated next to (although separate from) grocery stores. Drive-throughs are popular and seem to do a brisk business, too. It's much like what you'd see in the US - but with one exception: Dan Murphy's.

I remember my first experience with Dan Murphy's. We were having dinner at my mother-in-law's home during my first visit to Australia and Stephen wanted to take some wine, so naturally we went visited the closest outlet. I was absolutely flabbergasted by what I saw.

The average Dan Murphy's is the size of a grocery store - and all they sell is alcohol. Imagine a "Kroger" or "Safeway" where aisle after aisle is strictly wine and beer (with stronger spirits along the back wall and sides). I'd never even dreamed of an alcoholic beverage shop of this magnitude. And they are EVERYWHERE! I know of 3 Dan Murphy's outlets within less than 30-minutes' drive from our house.

The selection is astounding - a little dizzying, really. In the movie "Moscow on the Hudson", Robin Williams plays a Russian immigrant who has a breakdown when he encounters the huge assortment of breakfast cereals in an American supermarket. I think about that scene when I wander the aisles of a Dan Murphy's - laughing internally at my own sense of disorientation when confronted with the huge range on display.

The stores are expertly arranged to provide a satisfying shopping experience for both wine snobs and the casual shopper.

The more "elite" wines (generally $30 and up) are arranged in hip-high timber cases, with the bottles lovingly placed at a slight tilt, with their labels turned upward for easy reading. Prices are printed on neat white cards positioned near each type, with the winery name, vintage year, and cost per bottle. This is the only place in the store where a given winery's offerings are together (elsewhere the wines are grouped by variety, not label). The elite section takes up roughly one fifth of the floor space. On the wall next to it are locked cabinets containing the most expensive bottles.

At the edge of the "elite" section and between the more standard wines are wooden half-barrels filled with "end of the bin" bottles at clearance-sale prices. Generally costing between $6.99 and $12.99, the displays lure you with the possibility of a good wine or two at bargain prices. I've sampled a couple different ones with mixed results. Occasionally there's a real gem, but you're just as likely to end up with undrinkable plonk and I've learned to steer away from labels I'm not familiar with.

The middle of the store has row after row of wines. No fancy wooden display racks here; it's very spartan, almost like a warehouse. Sparkling wine, red, rose and white wines each have their own section. Within the sections, each type is grouped together. All the merlots are together, all the shiraz are together and so on. There are no special displays set aside for specific wineries - the arrangement is purely by type. Bottles of fairly expensive chardonnay sit right next to the cheap stuff. The variety and price range is dizzying.

And then there are the "clean skin" wines - sold in cartons of 6 bottles. Cleanskin labels show only the grape variety, year, alcohol content, volume and so on. The labels don't show the name of the winemaker. What you're buying could be a good quality wine that's been re-labelled, or something that has been specifically made to be sold as a cleanskin. The quality can vary quite a bit, but the low price is always tempting. It's a bit of a gamble, but is usually worth it. I remember getting a truly "poor" cleanskin wine only once.

Hard liquor and "box wine" occupy the back wall, and refrigerated displays line the side wall, with chilled wine and beer ready for those who want something cold and ready to drink (for a slightly higher price).

About half the customers I've observed come in, select one or two bottles, and leave. The other half wander the aisles with grocery carts. You get the feeling that there's some heavy partying going on somewhere.

I've just checked our stash and realized we don't have any bubbly for NYE. Hm.. going to have to fix that! Dan Murphy's, here I come!

Come Saturday night we'll probably dine on the last of the Christmas turkey (which is presently in the freezer) and we'll lift our glasses to toast the outgoing year and welcome the new.

And a very Happy New Year to you!


WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Pub With No Beer" by Slim Dusty
  • What’s for tea: Garlic Prawns with Fettucini (a break from all the turkey leftovers)
  • What I’m reading: Year of Wonders - A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
  • Wine recommendation: a cleanskin white - probably chardonnay
  • What's the season?: summer in Oz, winter in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aussie Christmas

My father never had any trouble getting in touch with his "inner child"; it happened regularly every December. Dad adored Christmas and each year as the temperatures dropped and the nights grew longer, he'd drag the boxes of decorations and lights from the attic and the fun would begin. Miles of outdoor lights were strung along the roof-line and tacked around the windows. Fresh-cut trees were installed in the living room and decked out with cheap glass ornaments and tiny strips of silver "tinsel" (which in retrospect looked more like silver spider webs than the icicles it was supposed to represent). Christmas, for him, was a time to indulge, a time when restraints were tossed aside and "excess" was the rule of the day. And I am his daughter in every way.

I adore Christmas trees, decorations, nativity scenes, and Nat King Cole on the stereo crooning about chestnuts and "folks dressed up like eskimos."

We don't dress like eskimos in Australia at this time of year, but even so, many decorations and traditions (including what to serve on the day) are connected to and reflect the holidays as experienced in colder climates. I thought that I'd miss chilly December and the possibility of "white Christmases", but I don't . Maybe that's because growing up in central Ohio, my Christmases tended to be cold and muddy, not snowy. Had my childhood been full of Norman Rockwell holidays I might have more trouble adjusting. As it is, I adore Christmas as a summer holiday. The idea of Santa in shorts and flip flops doesn't bother me a bit - and that his sleigh is pulled by eight white boomers (kangaroos) and not reindeer, well... of COURSE!

Here's my top ten favorite things about Australian Christmas (not necessarily in order):
  • The weather is, normally, reliably nice. Yes, it might get hot on Christmas Day, but that's OK. Sunshine and flowers - ahh... the first month of summer. You can have your Christmas tree and still sit out on warm evenings to enjoy the stars and the scent of roses in bloom.
  • People here actually LIKE fruit cake (it's called "Christmas Cake" here), and when they receive one as a gift they show enthusiasm. Of course, fruit cakes you get here were actually baked in the current century and that probably has something to do with it.
  • In the grocery store y'day, the kid ringing up my purchases wished me a Merry Christmas. He looked me straight in the eye, paused a second, and said it in a way that made me understand that he really meant it. When I returned the sentiment, he grinned broadly and lit up. "Thank you!" he beamed. It's the same everywhere. Australians at Christmas never miss a chance to wish their fellow men and women "the very best". And they mean it.
  • The TV channels have a certain amount of "holiday programming", but they aren't clogged with annual re-runs of so-called Christmas classics. Today is Dec. 21, and I just checked the local free-to-air channels for this evening. There isn't a single Christmas-themed program on tonight. How refreshing. Yes - I understand the real meaning of Christmas, yes I grew up loving (and still love) "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and it's like. But it sure is nice NOT to be bombarded with an overload of secular (and often sappy) holiday reruns. Does that mean there are no Christmas specials at ALL? NO! Of course not. Australian TV serves up some goodies every year - but not in a suffocating avalanche.
  • Along the same lines as the TV, I have to say that Christ is more evident in Christmas here. Without so much focus on "Frostie the Snowman" and such, there are fewer competing themes.
  • No Christmas music piped in at the grocery, or in most stores. Yes, there are the performers in the malls - but the retailers here don't drown you in holiday hits as you shop.
  • Australians just don't seem freaked out over Christmas. I don't hear anybody complaining about the "stress of the holidays" - my friends are having too much fun to worry about stress. Didn't get the cards out on time? No worries. Still haven't found the perfect prezzie for that special someone? No worries.
  • Christmas pudding - which I think of as an extra-moist fruitcake. Everybody likes "pud" and I've got a great recipe which yields one that I've been told (by two elderly Australian gentlemen who would never lie or flatter me unduly) is pretty authentic. I adore steaming the "pud" - esp. after a friend told me about putting a coin in the bottom of the pot so that I'd know if the water is boiling off too soon.
  • This year I'm seeing a LOT of cars with those wacky antler-horns that you put in the car windows - and the little "Rudolph red-nose" that is affixed to the front grill. Actually - loved this so much that I got a set for Stephen's car (next year I'll get a set for mine).
  • At parties and functions, private or public, "bonbons" (Christmas "crackers") are very popular. These mini-poppers are paper rolls with a little gunpowder wrapped inside. You and a friend grab an end and pull... and POP! Inside is a tissue paper crown, a trinket of some kind, and a slip of paper with a horrible, tacky joke written on it. No matter where you are - in someone's home or in a 5-star restaurant - most people will put on the crown and then take turns reading the horrible jokes. It's so silly, so fun, and so wonderful - like stepping back in time to a place and day when you were still innocent. I know this isn't something invented here, but I adore watching and participating in the silliness.
Christmas is definitely "felt" and noticed here, but it's relaxed, joyous, and optimistic. It's not about how big or fancy your tree is, it's not about whether or not you have lights hanging outside (very few do), and it's not about the prezzies. It's very warm, very real, and very, very Aussie.


WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Christmas in Australia" - not sure who the performers are
  • What’s for tea: leftovers from last night's homemade pizza
  • What I’m reading: Year of Wonders - A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
  • Wine recommendation: leftover chardonnay (a clean skin) from last night
  • What's the season?: summer in Oz, winter in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laka Speaks

It never fails. Laka and George will be down in the lounge room just chattering away. I grab the video camera and run down to catch them - but the moment I turn the corner they both clam up!

In desperation, I put the camera on a tripod and left it next to Laka's cage, pointed at the area that she seems to sit in most of the time. I turned it on and let it run for 2 solid hours. For about the first fifty minutes, she just sat there and stared at the lense. Eventually, though, she relaxed a little and seemed to forget about the lense and microphone, and she started talking.

Most of what she said was "practice English" - just yammering and so on. But at least I've finally got a recording of her vocalizing. I clipped out some sample segments and put the short video out in YouTube:



I have never understood the fascination she has for her "potty command", but she repeats it over and over. She's never said "potty" (just "pot"), but there's no mistaking the phrase. "Laka pot" is her own creation, as is "pot-pot-pot" and so on.

I've been asked if she swears. Yes, unfortunately, she does. She's picked up a specific bad word which I almost NEVER use - but which Stephen does (the "f-bomb"). She doesn't repeat it often, thank heavens, but when she does, she says it with MY VOICE!

Parrots love drama and swear words, when uttered, are usually said with a certain amount of drama (and often volume as well). So any talking parrot that is exposed to foul ("fowl"?) language will eventually press "record", and there you are. Once they've got the word or phrase, it's there forever. But I know that the thing to do when they repeat that little special "something" is to refrain from any reaction. Don't laugh, don't scold, don't react at all. Wait for the next (non-profane) utterance and respond to THAT in spades - but never EVER react to a bird's potty-mouthing. If you do, they'll only swear all the more because they'll have learned they can do something that gets a reaction.

OH - and one more note about parrots who swear... Laka and George are going to outlive both Stephen and me. At some point we're going to have to find new homes for them and when that happens, it will be important that they don't have any bad language habits. Parrots who swear like a sailor may amuse some people, but it's cruel to encourage it. A bird who cusses will be welcome in fewer homes - and we want our birds to get the best deal possible when the day comes that we can't care for them anymore. So, please, don't teach your parrot unsavoury language.


WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "We No Speak Americano" by Yolanda Be Cool & D Cup
  • What’s for tea: Thai Steak Salad
  • What I’m reading: Justinian's Flea by William Rosen
  • Wine recommendation: Hmm.... don't know... haven't decided....
  • What's the season?: summer in Oz, winter in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Welcome Back, Wolfie-the-Spodder!

I have to admit that I was beginning to be a bit concerned. I've seen several huntsmen outside - even a really large one hanging on the outside of the front door. But we got all the way to the end of November, and Wolfgang hadn't shown up. I'd caught several White-Tails and was starting to wonder if they were killing the huntsmen (White-Tails hunt other spiders).

But just this past week, there he was! It was a very rainy day - with temps in the upper 50's (F). I'd been out shopping and started to put away the groceries. I turned and there he was - hanging on the wall next to the refrigerator.



Well, good. With warmer weather (summer has begun here), we'll need him to help clean up the bugs that invariably find a way into the house at night.

Here's a closeup - hairy legs and all:



He didn't much care for the flashing of the camera - and scrambled between the refrigerator and wall after the photo was taken:



Poor Wolfie... no privacy!


WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "This is Australia" by GANGgajang
  • What’s for tea: Chicken Enchilada's, refried beans
  • What I’m reading: Justinian's Flea by William Rosen
  • Wine recommendation: Victoria Bitters (beer - really GOOD beer...)
  • What's the season?: summer in Oz, winter in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garden Sculpture

One of my favorite quilt-supply shops is attached to a local tile shop (both stores are apparently owned and run by the same family). The area around the door that joins the two stores has little garden knick-knacks and giftware. Among them were metal flamingo sculptures with metal legs, wings, necks and head - but brightly-coloured ceramic bodies. The flamingo's feet weren't terribly large, and so the sculptures were a little unsteady. Two had fallen over and their ceramic bodies shattered.

The tile shop owner wouldn't have been pleased with this, of course, but wasn't about to send those birds back to the manufacturer/artist. Instead, he reduced the price and hung a little paper sign on one. The sculptures, honestly, looked a little sad - but when I saw the sign that clever shopkeeper put on them, well, I had to have them.

Here they are, standing in the Secret Garden:


And here's the sign that sold them:





WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "You Have to Be There" by Susan Boyle
  • What’s for tea: Lean Cuisine (poor Stephen....)
  • What I’m reading: "What Einstein Told His Cook" by Robert L. Wolke (ironic, isn't it?)
  • Wine recommendation: uh... if we're eating Lean Cuisine.. seems a bit indulgent to have wine...
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spodder (Spider) Watch

Now that the weather is warming up here, we've had a few evenings when the windows have been open at night. Naturally, the light from the loungeroom (after dark) attracts loads of bugs, and the other night, we had an eight-legged visitor, as well.

Stephen spotted her just about the door in the loungeroom - a Delena Cancerides. I'd seen only one before, the one I mentioned in the book, but I recognized the species immediately because of the reddish-brown legs. I don't have a photograph of one, but you can get a look at photos here, on my favorite "spider identification" website. The website describes the species as light brown, but the photos look reddish to me, and the spider in the loungeroom had a definite reddish tone on her legs (very much like the one in the photo on the website marked "with spiderlings").

She wasn't all that big - maybe 3 1/2" (leg span), but still - that's a good sized "spodder".

Well, Ms. Delena was a girl on the move. She quickly walked along the top of the wall, just below the ceiling, moving from the door over to the adjoining wall, then moving downward behind the chimney of our woodburner, and finally dropping down onto the small stack of firewood next to it. I didn't think much of it, figuring there was probably something on the wood that attracted her.

A few minutes later, I saw her wander over under the TV, and then turn and start walking at a steady pace straight for me! This is unusual, in my experience. Only once before have I seen a huntsman walking toward me (an incident I mentioned in the book). I'm no longer terrified by these creatures, but I'm not terribly tolerant of the idea of one of them coming at me - so I jumped off the couch and while Stephen ran for the flyswatter, I stomped my foot a few inches ahead of her to stop her. She froze and stood still, then obligingly climbed up on the end of the flyswatter when I put it in front of her.

I scolded her mightily for her "bad manners" and took her outside, gently tapping her onto the deck just outside the door. She quickly squeezed between the decking slats, moving safely out of sight.

It's a shame we had to eject her. I haven't seen any huntsmen in the house for quite some time, and I depend on them to keep the house bug-free, esp. in the warmer months.



WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Deadly Animals (Come to Australia)" by The Scared Weird Little Guys (it's HILAROUS!)
  • What’s for tea: Curry Pumpkin Soup (homemade) and dill-feta rolls (also homemade)
  • What I’m reading: "What Einstein Told His Cook" by Robert L. Wolke
  • Wine recommendation: shiraz - a cleanskin from Dan Murphy's
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blue

I've been struggling with how (and when) to announce some very sad news.

About ten weeks ago, when I was working to finish the book, Blue (our canary, who is mentioned in the book) fell ill with what we thought was a respiratory infection. We took him to the vet right away and the doctor put him on medication. As part of her examination, the vet noticed a mass in his abdomen. It turned out to be a tumor, and although little Blue did perk up once on the antibiotics she prescribed, it was clear that he wasn't going to be with us long.

His appetite was good and, although there were days when it was clear he wasn't feeling well, for the most part he was perky and enjoyed playing with his toys and bossing me in the kitchen.

It came to an end on Oct. 21, when he left us. He was quite young, only five years old.

It's been three weeks now, and we still miss him dreadfully. The house has seemed too quiet, even with an eclectus and a large macaw bellowing in the lounge room. He was our smallest avian family member, but was certainly a significant part of the household. There will never be another "Blue". He was one of a kind, and we loved him dearly.

Although we are still mourning for Blue, this past weekend we decided it was time to look at canaries. As I type this, I'm listening to a familiar twitter coming from downstairs and the sound of a pair of canaries bounding from their perch to the bottom of the cage, throwing their weight onto the grate and making it clang (something Blue loved to do, too). Over time these two will assert their personalities, they'll figure out the family routine and they'll have me and Stephen trained to fetch fruit, egg, and fresh greens for them. I know they will be beloved members of the family, just as I know we will never forget our dear Blue.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

...and THAT, my friends, is Australia

It's Saturday, November 12 and although my next post isn't actually due until next Wednesday, there's something I have to share. Today is the 5th anniversary of the day I arrived as an immigrant to Australia. It's a very happy day for me, a day of great significance.

With that introduction... here's the story:

Stephen and I decided to have a quiet little celebration here at home this evening. We bought steaks (and a fresh tank of gas for the BBQ), and this afternoon headed to Dan Murphy's (a chain store that sells beer, wine, and liquor) to find something special to drink with dinner. Coming out of the store, Stephen realized that the left rear tire had gone flat - VERY flat.

He managed to get the spare out, and get the rear jacked up, but the bolts on the tire were so tight that he couldn't budge them. I was thinking we'd be stuck and have to ring the RACV for roadside assistance.

Just then, two men walked by and stopped. One said "Oh, now THAT is interesting..." and commented on the design of the jack. They saw Stephen was struggling with the lugs, and asked if they might help.

The elder of the two men (possibly mid-fifties?) knelt down and picked up the wrench, tried it and said "ah, yeah, these have been put on with one of those air-gun things. I hate 'em!" Then he leaned in on the wrench and gave it a powerful crank to loosen the lug. The two men chatted with Stephen about the jack and the car - talking as if they were great old friends who'd known each other for ages. Their remarks made it clear that they work with cars a lot (possibly professional mechanics), AND that they were clearly pleased to be able to assist us.

"Thank you," Stephen said, and I added, "This was very nice of you!"

"Nah," the younger man replied, "we didn't have anything better to do".

Stephen is perfectly capable at changing a tire - and I'm sure would completed the task unassisted. But it would have been very hard and probably taken quite a while to get those four lugs loosened. We weren't in any distress, and certainly not in any danger there in the car park outside Dan Murphy's. But the kind, neighborly offer of assistance from strangers, well, it's very, very "Australian" - esp. since it was carried out in a way that would not embarrass the person being helped. In less than 15 minutes the tire was changed, our two helpers were strolling into the store, we were on our way.

It's a lesson for me, a reminder of the spirit that makes Australia a great nation.

So if, some dark and stormy night, you are stranded on a dark highway with car trouble, when you see headlights coming in the distance, pray to God that it's an Australian at the wheel. If it is, "she'll be right, mate! No worries. No dramas."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gus & Company (Kookaburras)

We hear the kookaburras every morning at dawn. They don't always visit us in large numbers, but on the day this video was taken, we had a family of 6 show up. In the video you can hear cockatoos screeching in the background, but also the low growly purr of the kookaburras, with some magpie carolling thrown in for good measure.

Notice how close I am to them!



My neighbor Ian tells me that he's managed to pet one! I don't think I'm brave enough to try that; those beaks could do a lot of damage if the bird wants to bite (and Ian confessed he's been nipped a couple of times).



WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Choose You" by Stan Walker
  • What’s for tea: Chicken breast strips marinated in Char Sui (chinese BBQ sauce) and cooked on the BBQ; steamed basmati rice, bok choy lightly stir-fried.
  • What I’m reading: "Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore" by Alison Weir
  • Wine recommendation: chardonnay - Hardy's (a very nice Aussie wine available in the US)
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Battle With Elvis over the Hanging Basket

(FIRST - an update on last week's Melbourne Cup posting: Dunaden - my horse - was the winner. It was a fantastic race, loads of drama and a photo finish at the end, so close it took the judges something like four minutes to decide who'd won! The 2011 race will be on Facebook at some point, I'm sure, and it will DEFINITELY be worth watching. George wasn't phased by it all but Laka was mesmerized. She stared at the TV from the moment we turned it on and was clearly excited by the voice of the announcer.)

The hanging planter just outside my office window is one of Elvis's favorite hangouts. He likes to pounce on it and make it spin, and sitting there gives him an excellent view of my office.

When it was new, I planted some petunias in it, but didn't get to enjoy them long. Elvis and his pals had a ball pulling the flowers off as soon as they opened. They didn't actually eat the flowers, just pulled them off and flung them to the ground.



The day after the video was taken, Elvis returned, pulled off the remaining flowers and started ripping the plants out, as well. I put the plants back in only to find them ripped out again a day or so later.

I gave up on the petunias and replaced them with spider plants. Those fared well, for a while, but one afternoon I found a female King Parrot perched on the pot happily gnawing on one! She pulled the plant right out of the pot, chewed away and discarded the leaves, and was munching away on the white root. I chased her off and replanted what she'd ripped out. Of course she returned and we went through it all again, but eventually I won out. The spider plant recovered and although the King Parrots attack any "babies" it sprouts, they leave the plants themselves alone, at least for now.



WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Black and Gold" by Sam Sparro
  • What’s for tea: Tassie smoked salmon steaks (cooked on the BBQ) topped with yogurt/dill sauce, spinach/feta/walnut salad
  • What I’m reading: "Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore" by Alison Weir
  • Wine recommendation: Diet Lemon Lift (a soft drink - it's fabulous)
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Ready for the Melbourne Cup

The first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup Day!

It's the highlight of Melbourne's Spring Carnival, and the day they run 'The race that stops a nation™' at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. It starts at 3 p.m., and I can tell you where I'm going to be: in front of the TV in the loungeroom!

The morning of the race, Stephen will prepare a "sweep" (a betting pool), assigning each of the horses in the race to a member of the household. There's no betting, of course, just the honor of holding the name of the winning horse, but who cares? It'll be SUCH FUN!

In Flying Over the Rainbow, I described the first Melbourne Cup race I ever saw, and how exciting it was. Well, seeing is believing, and here's a YouTube video of that fantastic race:



And here's last year's race (not quite as heart-poundingly dramatic, but heaps of fun to watch, all the same):



Part of the fun of race day is getting all dressed up and strutting your stuff around the racecourse. If you're going to the race, you've gotta dress for it, and the official "New Racegoer's Guide" advises attendees to "dress to impress!" My budget just doesn't include funds for haute couture, but the hat I put together last year (using Laka's tail feathers) will work just fine for the fashion parade in our loungeroom.




WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: (what else?) "You Can Leave Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker
  • What’s for tea: homemade chicken-fried rice
  • What I’m reading: "Ali Abdul v The King" by Hanifa Deen
  • Wine recommendation: Pinot Gris - from any of the wineries on the Mornington Penninsula
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ready, Fire, Aim!

It's official: Flying Over the Rainbow is available on Amazon.com!

Time to launch this blog - a companion to the book (and the new book I'm working on now). You can stay up-to-date on the doings of Wolfgang (the giant spider), the wallabies, the inside and outside birds, and so on. There are lots of little stories which didn't make it into the book - just the kind of thing that blogs are great for. And, of course, links will be easy to share here.

Best of all, it doesn't have to be a one-way conversation. Let's experiment with anonymous comments for a while and see what develops.



WASSUP?
  • What I’m listening to: "Heaven (Must Be There)" by the Eurogliders
  • What’s for tea: chicken roasted with lemon/herbs, steamed rice, roasted pumpkin with madras curry
  • What I’m reading: "Ali Abdul v The King" by Hanifa Deen
  • Wine recommendation: shiraz - a cleanskin from Dan Murphy's
  • What's the season?: spring in Oz, fall in the U.S.