Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of Grapes and Figs

We are enjoying an early taste of Autumn. La Nina has brought us worthwhile rain this summer and lower than normal maximum temperatures. There is a theory that interest rates are always lower under a Liberal government and rainfall higher under a Labor government!

There is feeling of abundance around, not evident in the past 6 years of drought. Purple (black genoa) figs are all but finished in the commercial orchards north of Canberra but just starting to ripen in cooler Canberra backyards. I have spotted the best overhanging fence trees on our walks to the Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. I reckon the first figs will be just about ready tomorrow morning.

Grapes have been sugar sweet and amply available for weeks. Miss E is a joy to watch as she demolishes a bowl of her favourite seedless green grapes.

She loves being on her feet, walking with support, almost as much as eating a bowl of grapes.
Nellie's kennel is just the right height for walking around.
Plants are to be sniffed (by blowing out through the nose).

Her tiny feet are ready for making giant steps in this world.

Back to Fluffy Monkeys

While all we could talk about was every detail of our momentous Sorry Day Ollie discovered a fluffy (as opposed to a stinky) monkey hiding in Rodney's leafy golden ash tree. He told me all about it.

And afterwards he was sufficiently mellow to be photographed with A.

A discarded his shirt. It's hard to stay dry on the slippery slide on an early morning ride.

Miss E knows what yay means.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We're Sorry

Today at 9.00am our Prime Minister, Saint Kevin Rudd, fulfilled one of his key election promises and apologised, on behalf of the National Parliament, to the "Stolen Generations", an apology offered as a first step to a future that embraces all Australians (St Kevin's words).

Crowds gathered in front of Parliament House early for this historic and long overdue (over 11 years since the "Bringing Them Home" report) apology to our indigenous people for their past mistreatment.

Of course there was a big media contingent (I even saw the ubiquitous and soon to retire Ray Martin).

I arrived early and happened to meet up with the Jo, the principal of Ainslie PS, who was attempting to keep a sit down space for her 54 students in front of the big screens.

A large crowd gathered before 9 o'clock, an extraordinary mix of people including many indigenous communities who had bussed in from country NSW and even further afield, young and older Australians, lots of suits as well as the dreadlock crowd.

St Kevin was sublime. His reading of the actual apology was heartfelt..but we already knew the was released to the media previously. It was his supporting speech that took us through all the emotions: regret, sorrow, hope, excitement. There were cheers and tears but, overwhelmingly, hope...for a better future. We could all believe a new page in the history of our great continent can now be written........

Alinta W. is a young indigenous teacher at Ainslie PS and a good friend of our Jody. Alinta attended the historic Welcome to Country at the opening of Parliament yesterday and had the chance to wear Aunty Matilda's (Ngambri elder) ceremonial possum fur coat. Alinta's face today expessed it all!

Brendan Nelson's speech in reply was extremely disappointing. He misread the moment and chose to defend and rationalise the failures of the Howard years while riding on St Kevin's coat tails in supporting the apology.

These two fierce looking nuns led our part of the crowd in turning our backs to the screen while Brendan's speech was broadcast.

We got up close to the cleansing smoking ceremony.

Ainslie PS children sang the Sorry song for the crowd at the end of the broadcast.

I walked down to the Aboriginal tent embassy afterwards. There has been a huge gathering of people there, building all week. There were demonstrations yesterday calling for the end of Howard's NT Intervention and there was strident speechmaking today about black deaths in custody. However the crowd today was very mellow..... it was a very special day.

I think this picture sums it up..the older gentleman was one of the original leaders in establishing the first tent embassy in 1972 in the last few months of the McMahon government. I got a shot of him today cuddling his gorgeous grand daughter and looking very happy, and proud.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From Paris to Istanbul

Rod and I have spent many hours researching ideas for our trip to France and Istanbul in September-October, with R & M providing support and quality control. We've got most of it booked now; our big cheque to the Flight Centre tomorrow will tie up the all important flights (Singapore Airlines), insurance and car hire for our five week trip.

My specific tasks were to book an apartment in Paris for our 2 week stay and a village house for our week in the Vaucluse region of Provence. This proved much more difficult than finding the right Paris apartment. Remodelled medieval houses in country France have many pitfalls for the unwary especially if you inadvertantly pick a village frequented by hordes of English people on summer holiday.

Check out my choice at in the village of Dauphin, roughly level with and about 70km east of Avignon. It doesn't appear to have too many overhead oak beams to duck under or precipitous stairways, nor is it in the direct path of the Peter Mayle A Year in Provence experience seekers. We are all very excited about it.

We've had a week of showers and cool weather in Canberra and we are all hopeful our dams will get to 50% capacity. We had to rely on the dense canopy of the gleditzia and the golden ash in Rodney's play area to keep us dry on our play date last Thursday. The big O seemed so much older and more mature after a really successful week starting play school and resuming some of his other extension activities.

Little A and Miss E took things more quietly. Ella had just taken delivery of new shoes, her first leather early walkers, a green pair and a cherry red pair with a white star. She loves to stand up and go walking with her mummy.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Raining in Sydney

We were relieved to find a more familiar Coogee this weekend, much more sweet and mellow than the desperate partying throughout January. There was Shakespeare's As You Like It at twilight on the grassy Grant Reserve (near the Ladies Baths) on Saturday evening, gentle family picnics in the breezy twilight and then hundreds of little Coogee Minnows and their mums and dads filling the beach and the surf early Sunday morning (with a matching crowd of Nippers at Clovelly Beach).

It rained (hard) all Sunday so our plans to chill out at the Rozelle Markets and then Elkington Park, Balmain didn't work out. This is a picture of our car parked behind a Porsche Boxer and a silver Audi in Short St, Balmain. we still enjoyed a few hours strolling around Darling St, at Bertoni's Cafe and buying more goodies at Adriano Zumbo.

It was a great afternoon to go to the Randwick Ritz - this time to see the Kite Runner, especially enthralling for me because of my experience with Afghan refugee families at school.

A lot of Canberra kids started school today - with the remainder all starting tomorrow. I felt especially carefree waking up at Coogee and making a late start back to Canberra on a school Monday morning (after our scheduled 7.10am fire door inspection). It was still a work day (although a shortened one) for R.

Playing cricket with manners

We took Kevin 07's and the G-G's urging about having better manners when we play cricket to heart. Little A spiked his hair and looked really friendly on the field (especially after doing his bit to add a bit of fertilizer!)

Miss E wore her brightest cricket whites which looked really fetching with her new Eeniee Meeni Minee Mo top from Bambini, Balmain. We all thought the bright green field made her hair look especially auburn that day (last Thursday).

Miss C and Miss J were there to umpire all outs, ins, hits, misses and appeals.

Miss E's one finger salute was not considered offensive on this occasion on account of its cuteness factor.

The big O's googlie with the lemon was well aimed, but missed the imaginary wicket and hit the batter in the eye instead. Because we were playing with manners no one swore or appealed the decision to replace the lemon with a ball of newspaper instead.

All players enjoyed the well earned tea break.