Saturday, 1 November 2014


One of the enduring memories I have as a youngster is working with my father and brothers in the vegie garden on week-ends.Our vegie patch was as large as our family. It had to be to feed two adults, five boys, two girls and any number of visitors. 

In order to produce enough vegetables to feed our family, constant work was required to keep the garden free from weeds and keep the produce in a healthy condition. I have many fond memories of my father's long arms scooping up weeds in a single swipe. My brothers and I would endeavour to emulate this practice but all our attempts seemed puny compared with his.

I also remember one particular Saturday morning when my mother called us for morning tea on the front verandah. My father's instructions were to finish the area we were working in, wash our hands and come once we were finished. Of course, no sooner had my father disappeared around the corner of the house and the competition was on to see who could pull the most weeds in the shortest period of time. Once done, we proceeded to wash our hands at the water tap at the back of the house.

Something else we admired was the way our father could make the garden fork stand upright by simply throwing it into the ground. For boys who had not yet reached puberty, this was a feat that was oft-attempted but as yet, success had escaped us.

While washing my hands, one of my brothers was pursuing this elusive goal; throwing the fork into the Kikuyu hoping it would stick. As luck would have it, the fork went straight through my foot in the webbing between my big and second toes. Once the fork was extracted, there was a square, neat hole through the skin. My brother's immediate consternation relaxed when he realised I was not in pain and when I  said, "Hey look, I can see straight through my foot!". "Cool", he said. "I wish I had one too."

"You can", I said.

Well, it doesn't take much imagination to wonder what happened next. Suffice to say, in a very short space of time we both sported the latest in see-though foot accessories. To say that we were pleased with ourselves would be an understatement.

We went around to the front of the house, beaming with pride, and exclaimed, "Look what we've got!"

I only remember two other things about this little event.

The first is my mother's scream. It was not the reaction we were expecting.

The second is the bewildering pain that came when she poured Mercurochrome on the "wound". Once that yellow solution touched our skin the pain was far worse than we expected, and importantly, unnecessarily so. Up until that point we had a fantastic talking point with our mates that had cost us nothing - no money, no shame, and no pain. Now we were subjected to baths (we had just washed), more pain (the original portion of Mercurochrome having been washed off by the unnecessary bath), bandages (inhibiting for any physically-active young boy), and once we recovered, two weeks of full kitchen duty (the most despised of all family chores) to help us consider our foolishness.

Over-reaction on my parents part? While I long considered this to be the case, I have noted that since that day I have never gardened bare-foot.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A rose by any other name

Can you correctly name this plant?

Yes, that's right. It is a Murraya, commonly known as Mock Orange. You will need to take a close look because this particular bush does not normally look like this.

This is an example of someone ignoring the commonly accepted way of doing things and exercising their artistic desires. When you realise what this plant is you will be surprised.

Firstly, you may think that you would never expect to see a Mock Orange look like this. Most people simply either trim it into a neat shrub, or hedge it to form a border.

Secondly, you may wonder how did they do that? I can tell you that it took foresight, effort and patience. This did not take shape over night. Nor did it happen on a whim. The gardener had to prune and care for this bush over a number of seasons in order to shape it the way he saw it in his vision.

Personally, I like Murrayas. I like their softness when trimmed often. I like their fragrance and the way they often foretell of rain by blooming in little spurts of flowering activity. I like the way you can grow them low or high, and they maintain their natural demeanour.

But this example has made me see that they are so much more versatile than just a simple shrub or hedge. Now, where is my hedge trimmer?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Oh, the disappointment!

Life can be a hard slog sometimes. So it's important to take the little victories and small joys as often as they come along. 

I have made no secret of the fact that one small joy for me is lemon meringue pie. That lemony, tart filling that makes your lips pucker (if it's done right) topped with that crisp sweet meringue; all encapsulated in a light, thin pastry shell. What's not to like?

As I say, a small joy.

So you can imagine my expectations when this arrived at my table earlier this month.

The ratio of filling to pie shell is perfect, and even though it sits alone on the plate with no other dressing, I was willing to award almost top marks for presentation. I mean, look at the height of that meringue! 

My usual method of tasting a new slice of pie is to take the whole of the very tip of the pie segment so I can taste the pastry, the filling and the meringue all in one mouthful. Not quite possible with pie that has such substantial proportions, but I gamely continued in my quest.

Just one such mouthful later I knew I was going to be disappointed. 

The meringue was raw. 

Seriously. Not just under-cooked. Completely raw. 

Closer inspection revealed that the meringue had received the briefest possible introduction to a flame. This pie had not gone into an oven.

I tried, I really did. I sampled the filling alone; not bad, but the tartness was fairly low. I tasted the pastry by itself; light, sweet, but in need of more oven time.  Each displayed a reasonable level of taste, but without a decent partner in the meringue department they were never going to arise to much individually.  I gamely braved more meringue, but in its raw state it was never going to be a winner.

I usually score my lemon meringue pies but this one cannot receive any such treatment. It was a complete fail. I am also not going to reveal where I experienced this failure. Those of you observant enough will already know the establishment within which this very poor experience occurred.

Don't worry dear reader, it's not as if I am in the throws of depression and this was the last straw. I see that bonoffee pie is making a come-back.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

What tree is this?

This is a spectacular, yellow-flowered tree that has lost its leaves and is in full bloom in early Spring.

Can you tell me what the name (common or botanical) of this tree is? I think it might be a Cybistax Primavera, but I could be wrong.

This particular specimen is located in Highfields on the left travelling north, opposite the Highfields Primary School. There is a walk-way between the highway and the suburban street and you can see it there in all its glory.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Time stretches itself, silently yawning
Age hurries forward, death dawning
Travail finally ends, new life spawning
Folly and glee leave no room for mourning.



Saturday, 20 September 2014


Legalism binds the law on us as a curse.
Legalism is simple and naive and lacks understanding.
Legalism is comfortable with regulatory, commanding, legislative, intolerant and unmerciful ways and is eventually justified by them.
Legalism cannot cope with most things, including immaturity.
Legalism produces self-approval by comparative assessment therefore it produces self-justification by establishing a personally-attainable standard.
Legalism sees all failure as rebellion, therefore it establishes petty and narrow values, which will rarely ever be clearly stated.
Legalism confuses immaturity with rebellion.
Legalism provides no power to relate, communicate, teach, fellowship or process immaturity.
Legalism promotes criticism, negativity, conformity and compliance to its expectations without any relationship.
Legalism narrows affections to mutual approval according to its standards and rejects all those who differ, and therefore promotes partiality.
Legalism never understands that to be guilty in part is to be guilty of the whole.
Legalism is easily offended by the failures of others.
Legalism never cries out, "Oh wretched man that I am!".

Culpability comes before wretchedness, which comes before silence.
We can only be freed once we become culpable for our actions and behaviours.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Spring Dress

The child-bride was attending a spring fashion 'do' a few years ago. Everyone attending was asked to bring a song, a short story, a poem or piece of prose relating to spring. 

She asked me write her a poem for the occasion.  Being very pregnant at the time she was wearing a new dress that was covered in flowers. 

This is what I gave her.

This is a poem ‘bout this here dress,
(I’m writing it good so it don’t look a mess)
My wife she wanted it writ on spring
Funny that, she don’t know a thing
‘bout suspension, brakes, a nut and bolt
Can’t blame her, it’s not her fault.
So I wrote her a poem.  I wrote it good.
It sounded just like a spring poem should.
I had hydraulics and shockies, sprockets of lead…
She took one look and said, “Empty head!”

She said it wasn’t what she meant
And she was sure my mind was bent.
So here it is, this is it.
(Don’t I feel a right royal twit)

It’s got a hem, a collar of lace
Really sets off her pretty face.
Two short sleeves, lots of flowers
(I’ve had to sit and watch for hours!)
That will do, that’s enough
I‘m not good at doing this stuff.