Friday, December 29, 2006

Worse than an alarm clock.

Here it is, my Christmas break, three weeks off work, and I still get up at an ungodly hour. Seems once I'm awake, I'm awake, and the brain goes into overdrive. All these creative ideas clamouring for attention all at once, won't let a bloke sleep.

I wonder if, as time goes on, evolution will provide us with a soundproof brain.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Random activity.

Just putting down some random thoughts, clearing out the cobwebs.

  • Went to see the animated movie Happy Feet, yesterday. A lot of cliches, and heavy on the pathos, but still a good movie. The music makes it, with excellent rearrangements of some classics. And the choreography is great. Top animated effects as well. Worth going to have a look.
  • Got two jigsaws for Christmas. Which one do I do first?
  • If we had the opportunity to see the people in our life from another person's point of view, would we want to?
  • A baby bird was killed by a dog in the park the other day. Do its parents miss it?
  • Am I ever going to finish this damn book?
  • While on the subject of writing, my goal for the New Year is to get a short story published. Wonder how I'll feel when it happens. Be like winning the lottery, wouldn't it?
  • I seem to have cut back a bit on my reading this year. Need to try and make up for it next year.
  • Has anybody answered the musical question "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Subjective Dictionary - A.

The idea of the Subjective Dictionary is to fill it with words and phrases/terms that are of special significance to you at this point in time, followed by why they mean so much.

Naturally, you begin with the letter A.

A is for ...
  • APOLOGY - Alphabetically speaking, this is out of place, but it's an appropriate word to kick off with because I think I owe one to the people who come to this blog. I know there are people who visit on a regular basis, and I can imagine their annoyance at nothing being written here for the last couple of months or so. Kind of like visiting your favourite pub, only to find it's always closed for stocktake.
    So, without making excuses for my slack attitude - I have none - my apologies and a promise to make more of an effort to keep the Retreat vibrant. Now, on with the dictionary proper
  • ABLAZE - Three States across Australia currently on fire. In Victoria alone, over 600,000 hectares (1,482,633 acres) have been incinerated. Many properties have been lost. Unfortunately, so has a life. As I write this, the township of Mansfield is bracing for an ember attack.
    Summer has always marked the bushfire season, but with Australia suffering the worst drought in 100 years, the problem has been compounded. Surprisingly, South Australia hasn't ignited yet, but I feel it's only a matter of time. Our prayers and thoughts are with those brave souls who are valiantly battling the fires.
  • ABSOLUTE - A word that means finality, without variance; black and white, without grey. More and more, lately, I seem to be encountering people with this attitude. Everything runs in cycles. Could it be we are returning to an era of intolerance and close-mindedness?
  • ABUSE - We hear and see so much of this in our daily lives; racial abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, civil rights abuse. It's getting to the stage where the word itself is practically being abused. Any right-minded member of society naturally cringes at evidence of any kind of mistreatment, and for those who have suffered, the pain runs deep. Sometimes, far deeper than they realise. As I discovered a few months back.
    My childhood was not a nice place. Details aren't necessary; that's just the way it was. Needless to say, by the time I left my teens behind, I was a mess. Over the years, I have had to face my reflection and deal with who I am, gradually coming to terms. That I still have a way to go was brought home to me by a radio show one morning.
    The announcers of a breakfast show on one of the local radio stations were lightheartedly discussing a news item about the proposed reintroduction of corporal punishment in our schools. The discussion went off on a tangent about the different forms of punishment doled out by our parents, and they invited listeners to ring in and describe how they had been chastised. I appreciate that it was all in a bit of fun, and they weren't being analytical by any means, but I was surprised to realise that their comments were stinging some areas which I had thought calloused. By the end of the segment, I was emotionally responding exactly as if I had actually been abused.
    I suppose the bruises may fade, and the scars are less livid, but inside ...well.
  • ACCIDENT, The - September 23, 1993 - 4:30pm. It was bad, it was horrific. I died. They brought me back. Apparently I wasn't happy with their first effort, so made them repeat the process.
    Many things changed that day.
  • AGGRO - Bloke I work with. Constantly ranting and raving, non-stop whingeing; a headache on legs. Brags about only having about four hours sleep a night, so I'm not surprised he's got such a lousy temperament.
  • ANCHOR - This would be my partner, S. Since meeting this wonderful woman, my life has had substance and foundation. I no longer feel like I'm adrift.
  • ANTS - With the advent of the warmer weather, they're on the move. Why the feel they need to move inside, though...
  • AUSTRALIA - A great country with extraordinary potential. The problem is, we seem to be losing our identity. Political correctness, combined with saturation levels of other cultures, is eroding that essence which is Australian.
    It's time to stop bending over backwards, trying to please all-comers. It's time to stand up and say; "No! This is our country. We made it ours, and it made us. We are kangaroos, koalas, emus, the duck-billed platypus. We are football, cricket, meat pies. We are sun-blistered, rain-soaked, cyclone Tracy. We are the Outback, the Nullabor Plain, the mountains blue with the haze of eucalyptus. We are Australia, and it's not for sale at any price!"

Well, that's it for the A's of the subjective dictionary. There are probably more that could be added, but these are the most immediate to hand, thus the most significant at this point in time. I'll start thinking about the B's now

Once again, apologies for the lack of input over the last few months.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Crusin' with my girl.

Last September, we celebrated S's birthday with an evening dinner cruise on the Spirit Of Melbourne, a floating restaurant that cruises up the Yarra River. The dinner was a prize I had won earlier in the year, and it just so happened that S's birthday fell on one of the cruising nights, so it was a natural progression. It also seemed natural to book a hotel room for the evening. I managed to get one on Collins Street, right in the heart of the city and only a ten minute walk from where we were to embark.

It turned out to be one of those glorious Spring days; bright sunshine, mild temperature, a cool evening to follow. One of those days when it's impossible to believe that anything has ever been wrong with the world.

We set off from the hotel a little earlier than we really needed to - mainly because I'm a relative newcomer to Melbourne and was somewhat anxious that we might miss the boat - even though S, who has lived here all her life, assured me we would have plenty of time. So, dressed in our finery, S and I walked through the centre of town and across the river to the pier on Southbank.

Of course, we got to the pier with time to spare. In fact, we got there before the Spirit Of Melbourne did, and there were some anxious moments when I thought I had maybe got the times wrong and it had sailed without us. This fear was further compound by the presence of a rather dilapidated looking houseboat on the next mooring. It had obviously been converted as a restaurant, but it didn't looking exactly inviting. S apparently didn't think so either; I could tell by the tone of her voice when she asked me if that was the boat. I bravely said that it wasn't - it had the wrong name - but I was secretly worried. Shortly, however, other people began showing up and milling about, and I took comfort from that, although I did notice some of them throwing glances at the houseboat. I think there may been a collective sense of relief when a beautiful low cut craft with large expanses of glass smoothly slinked up to the jetty.

We were greeted by the skipper of the boat who asked our names as we embarked. These he passed on to a waitress who was waiting to show us to our tables. S and I were the first to board and we were led to a table right next to one of the windows on the starboard side. Almost as soon as everyone was seated, the boat eased away from the dock, and our dinner cruise began.

It was one of the best nights S and I have shared. We moved along the river at a leisurely pace. Spotlights on top of the boat lit up the riverbank. In between courses, we watched the bank slide by, marvelling at some of the houses overlooking the water. Every now and then we would spot roosting waterfowl, or possums moving through the branches of the trees. Most of the time, the trees and shrubs beside the water were simply varying shades of grey, their tortured shadows crawling across the ground as the spotlights went past. Occasionally though, we would go past a tree whose leaves would shine in the light. Quite eerie looking, and somewhat awe inspiring. It's easy to see why the ancients would revere such a tree as spiritual when first seen in moonlight.

About three quarters-of-an-hour into the cruise we swung around Herring Island. Looking at its reed covered waterfront and bushy embankments, I suddenly knew I had found the dumping ground for the killer in my book. Now that Summer is here, you can take a boat across to the island. With a bit of luck, I might be able to do that and have a look around during the Christmas break.

The cruise took three hours and seven courses. The food was luxurious, and so much of it! I pride myself on being able to empty a plate that's set before me but, by the time the dessert arrived, I was stuffed. My plate went back with food still on it. And I couldn't even face the cheese platter that followed. A couple of times, S and I went up top and stood on the observation deck, just to try and let dinner settle a bit. It seemed so quiet and tranquil, and it was quite cold. At one stage, on the return leg, we had to duck our heads as we passed underneath one of the bridges that span the Yarra. We eventually arrived back at Southbank and disembarked. S and I took a leisurely stroll along the river, down to the casino, where we spent an hour or so before returning to our hotel room.

If ever you are in Melbourne. and looking for something to do, I highly recommend the dinner cruise on the Yarra.