Saturday, 26 July 2014

Words

A word is more than air with meanings;
having power and possessing such strength that it can camouflage its prowess
as the meekest of suggestions,
and an assurance so confident it willingly waits aeons for the truth of its assertions
to be proven.

Weightless as air oozing through conversation,
untouchable syllables lodging without contest in our pores,
mining deep into our souls,
changing our perceptions and defences,
without effort,  without resistance,
without cognition.



MDC 23/03/2012

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Arriving

Travel is so easy to us these days that we reach destinations too quickly and so we under-appreciate them as rewards for our efforts, and as places in their own right. They’re merely “on the way” somewhere. We have lost the ability to arrive. When we deliberately spend time in these unexpected or unplanned destinations we often are surprised at what we find, see or experience.


My father has never done this. Some how, some time, he learnt to give equal weight to every place he found himself in. On holidays as kids, we knew that we would stop at every city, town, village, watering hole and tourist stop along the way. Initially the excuse was that someone in the car would need a toilet stop (and he was always right), but that does not explain the need to read every sign, memorial, plague and tribute in all parks, gardens and civic buildings within line of sight of where the car was parked.

I remember only a few years ago on a road trip back from Melbourne, my father waxed lyrical about a particular small town on the way. While cruising along a multi-lane freeway, all other occupants of the car fast asleep, I flashed past a sign and realised I had missed the turn to this town. Screeching to a stop and reversing brought everyone out of their dreams and the car was filled with questions about what was happening. Once I was headed down the turn-off I explained that I had missed the sign but there was nothing to worry about as we would be arriving at our next stop in a few minutes. "Oh, we don't need to go through there", my father explained, "That's quite a bit out of our way."  My mistake. I had forgotten that places that do not lie on our chosen path of travel did not reduce their importance or meaningfulness to my father.

While I do not give attention to places outside my current itinerary, I do think we miss a richness in our lives that comes from paying attention to the small things, the seemingly insignificant things that fill our day. I'm not expecting to ever re-gain the wonderment of childhood experience, but I am hopeful that occasional attention to the small and the tiny may bring a greater insight into those things that loom large in my life.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Walk a mile in my shoes

I'm showing my age, but "Walk a kilometre in my shoes" does not have the right ring to it. It also runs the risk of making the exercise pointless as a kilometre is much shorter than a mile, and maybe that is not enough time or distance for you to see and learn what it is I am making my point about.

But I digress. What am I talking about?

I have a close friend who used to be a bank manager. He was good at his job; he had been regularly promoted because of his dedication and excellent customer service. He left the banking industry and became a used-car salesman. "Oh, good", his wife said, "You have stepped up a rung on the social ladder!" Having spent many years as a car salesman we were discussing whether or not he would make a move to the real estate industry. I warned him that it would only be a single step up on the social ladder again.

All jokes aside, I have been pondering over what it is that makes one job more acceptable, or more honoured, in our society than another. I understand that jobs that require long and dedicated study, like medicine, take a place of pride and honour, as I think they should. Perhaps also that is why, when someone who is a doctor or surgeon stumbles in their professional capacity, we are all the more shocked and concerned, fearful even; and when we respond in fear we are all the more likely to over react. I sometimes find myself wondering that if we allow ourselves to over react, do we diminish our capacity to fully understand the motivations and causes that led to a particular outcome or circumstance; and do we weaken our ability to properly manage the rehabilitative process that is required to bring things back into order?

The only reason I can think of for why used car salesmen and real estate agents may be held in less esteem than clerks, teachers and check-out chicks is because we have had a bad experience buying or selling a car, purchasing a house, or even missing out on buying the house we wanted.

I too, had a fairly low opinion of real estate agents before becoming one myself. Now that I understand the constraints imposed by legislation, and now that I have experienced the long hours, the mountains of paperwork, the flurries of phone calls, the dubious intentions of some buyers, the vague instructions of some sellers, the general attitude by both those parties that the real estate agent is at their beck and call at all hours of the day and night, I now have a much higher opinion of my trade.

Don't get me wrong, some real estate agents are rogues; but so are some doctors, lawyers, teachers, bank managers and check-out chicks. Roguery is not confined to just the lower orders of social employment. Rascals and rapscallions have existed in every endeavour mankind has ever put his hand to. Being a scoundrel speaks to a person's upbringing, education and moral sensibilities, not their chosen employment. 

So next time you're at a social gathering and you are introduced to a car salesman, a bank manager or a real estate agent, observe their behaviour and listen to their words before you cast judgement on the social acceptance of their profession.


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Winter


The wind’s blowin’ leaves across the street
It’s sure getting cold down ‘round here.
Westerlies start blowin’; rain turns to sleet
I could easily hate this place this time of year.

Water from the fountains fall across the paths,
Everywhere the grass is turning yellow.
Wood fires, and pine-cones crackling in hearths
Fashion styles for women are more mellow.

Tree-tops toss and writhe in the windy gusts,
All of Nature’s starting to look bleak.
Hot-food shops cater for people’s hunger-lusts,
And the colour of the gardens become weak.

The sky is grey-blue ashen, rather overcast
Sparrows cry and wheel upon the wing
Sunshine wanes; its time of reign is past
And people’s hearts are yearning for the spring.


MDC 14/05/81

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Is this the ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie?

You may recall my personal foible of judging the quality of any lemon meringue pie (LMP) I am fortunate enough to taste. I published a couple of judgements here and here.

The child-bride and I visited The Colours of San Cris the other day. It's a small cafe-come-tourist-come knick-knack spot at Cabarlah. We have been before and enjoyed the food and the atmosphere and I think their black spiced chai tea is excellent.

Well, now there is another very good reason for checking them out. An absolutely fabulous, all-genuine, baked-on-the-premises lemon meringue that's close to the best I have ever tasted.

Here is how it scored.

Where: Colours on San Cris (Cabarlah)
When:  Saturday, 28th June 2014

Filling
A lovely tasting, smooth filling with good tartness. Not too sweet, not too tart.
36 points

Meringue
The meringue was crisp and crunchy on the top, with a soft gooey centre. Although lacking a little in height its sweetness level was superb without being over-powering.
24 points

Pastry
The pastry was light, not flakey, no heavy butter or flour taste. It broke easily with a fork. A generally sweet taste without contributing to the overall sweetness of the pie. It had become a little damp, presumably because the pie may have been baked a day or two before, but that did not detract from the pastry's over-all taste.
20 points

Presentation
Excellent presentation. I'm happy just to see a good looking piece of lemon meringue on my plate, but this was presented with whipped cream garnished with a slice of orange artfully poised over the cream, and a delicate pink flower on the opposite side that almost begged to be eaten.
10 points

Total: 90 points

The only reason this LMP did not score higher is because I do not want to make the assumption that I have tasted perfection. I feel I need to taste many more lemon meringue pies before I can make that big a call about a single slice. Having said that, this particular slice of pie is clearly the best I can recall ever tasting.

Monday, 30 June 2014

The sad, sad truth

I had a good week-end; a very good week-end. Well, most of it was great. A house I really wanted to sell, sold; and it sold for a good price. Both the buyer and the seller were very happy. I also had the chance to have some 'coffee and cake' time with the child bride.

Although this is where the week-end took a turn for the worse.

Apparently I have been operating under a misunderstanding for a long time. I thought the definition of a week-end was that time in the week when sleeping-in was considered de rigueur, shaving was not necessary, watching a movie was allowed regardless of the time of day, and tangible concessions were given in the wardrobe department.

It turns out I was dead wrong about that last one.

Ask any man over the age of 40 about what he considers is important about the clothes he wears and I'll bet one answer you will never get is "fashionable". I will also bet that the most common, if not the only answer you will receive is "comfortable". The fact that the jeans may be a little worn, the shirt a little faded, the shoes a little misshapen, are not entered into the equation. The issue of a belt will be, at best, an after-thought, just like whether or not a comb is required to be run through my hair. Over 40, wearing clothes that are sartorially-lacking should not be considered a crime upon humanity, nor grounds for casting aspersions upon one's character or intelligence, and it's certainly not acceptable to throw them all away and go on a shopping spree.

This raises a serious dilemma.

For clothes to be truly comfortable, they must be soft. They must either fit the contours of your body or they must loosely ignore it. For clothes to acquire this essential attribute, it takes the determined passage of time and many, many washings. In my experience, one to two years at a minimum. Hanging in the back of a closet for a few years is also known to add the desired level of softness. 

There are many of us males who endure the grief and discomfort of hard, harsh clothing for many days and months, in the hope that our wretched clothes will one day be soft and pliable. We look long into the future, willingly delaying wardrobe gratification, so we can one week-end enjoy the comfort of "good" clothes. Imagine then our utter dismay when our respective partners turn around and say, "You're not wearing that old thing are you? That shirt's faded. It's time you threw it out." Just when it's reached its peak!

Oh, the horror of it, and most of all the sadness of it. I am not sure why I felt a little ashamed. I truly did not intend to offend the clothing gods. What this means for any future week-ends, I'm not sure. One thing is certain, some elements of my wardrobe are clearly unwelcome on any out-of-the-house activities.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Still Life


Chilly night; moon bright;
Intermittent star light.
Dark ground; street light round;
Shooting star earthward bound.
Thin cloud; spreading shroud;
Silhouette trees standing proud.
Shadows cast; dawn at last;
Winters night is finally past.


MDC 19/6/81