One of the things I like most about living in Tasmania is that I can have a green lawn. I used to live in South Australia and as if the hot, dry, grass killing summers were not bad enough, our house was built on a block composed basically of limestone. After several tries, we gave up trying to grow a lawn and had bark chips, pavers and ground cover plants.
My lawn is not one of those beautiful smooth lawns like a bowling green or a golf course but it is grass. Personally, I like the daisies mixed in with the grass. They remind me of my childhood in England making daisy chains with mum.
What would sportsmen do without grass? As I write this I’m watching cricket on television from Lords Cricket Ground in London. The state of the grass is a big deal in cricket. Will the wicket be bouncy, flat or two-paced? Will the outfield be fast or wet and slippery? In the tennis world, everyone talks about the grass courts at Wimbledon, another iconic British sporting arena. All codes of football are played on grass that often turns to mud in winter. It’s a lot less painful to play football on grass but I know of a team who plays on a gravel surface in Queenstown, Tasmania
I think it is important that every city has green space. Those quiet places you can go to enjoy a bit of nature amongst the concrete and steel. Especially if you are not fortunate enough to have a garden of your own.
Of course, if all else fails you could always buy some astroturf and have fake grass.
Like most of us, I have fears that may seem irrational to others. I have a fear of falling that prevents me from doing things like changing lightbulbs, getting on to escalators without panicking and going up or down a steep flight of steps. As I have grown older it has become worse. I can’t even ride on the top deck of a bus now because I’m afraid of going down steep steps backwards.
Things like going to the doctor or to visit a government department also make me feel fearful but in a different way. I feel like there is a big stone in my chest. I do what I have to do but really I just want to run away.
I am lucky though that I don’t have to experience the fears that many people have to face every day. The fear of being hungry, of having nowhere to sleep at night. I do think about this one a lot because I know that it can happen to anyone. A bit of bad luck, illness or debt and suddenly you are out on the street.
Imagine what that would feel like, losing your home. Suddenly all you have in the world is what you can carry with you. The night is coming and you don’t have enough money to rent even the cheapest room for the night. How do you sleep out in the open? How will you keep warm? How will you prevent your stuff from being stolen if you do manage to sleep? How do you protect your family when there is nowhere to go? How do you live with that fear every day maybe for years?
Although you don’t hear it as much now the expression “Fair Dinkum” is one that most older Aussies know, even transplanted ones like me. Well, I have been here more than fifty years now.
Every country has its own slang words and expressions and often we use them without thinking how strange they probably sound to people from other parts of the world. My understanding of “dinkum” is that it means something is the real deal, for example, Crocodile Dundee was meant to represent a dinkum Aussie bloke.
An Aussie would say “Fair dinkum” to reinforce that what he/she was telling you was the truth or by changing the inflection use it as a question. “Fair dinkum?” (Is that true?”)
A long time ago I read a book called “They’re a Weird Mob”. It’s the story of an Italian journalist who is sent to Australia to write articles for an Italian magazine about Australia. Nino, the protagonist, thinks he speaks very good English but when he arrives in Sydney he finds he can hardly understand a word anyone is saying to him. Taking a job as a builders labourer he makes friends and gradually learns to think and speak like an Aussie. The author was, in fact, an Australian by the name of John O’Grady who wrote it in 1957. The book was made into a movie in 1966. Here’s a scene. Of course, it looks very dated now.
While I don’t entirely agree with O’Grady that migrants should forget their own culture and embrace that of their new home I did like the book very much. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts Naomi and I worked with many Europeans who came to Australia around the time that the book was written. I believe that our culture has benefited from them bringing some of theirs with them. It’s why we have a wine industry, restaurants serving food from all around the world and colourful fairs and festivals to enjoy. Those people’s children who were born in Australia and their grandchildren are as Australian as any of us.
I think that movies, television and social media have homogenised our language. Young people in Britain, Australia and the USA use more of the same words and expressions. Only the accents differ. I can’t help feeling that’s a little sad because I rather like “strine”.
If you like the way something smells you might say it has a pleasant scent, fragrance or even odor but normally odor, or as we spell it odour, does not have pleasant associations.
When I first put my house on the market the agent said: “You probably don’t notice it but the house smells a little ‘doggy’.”
My pets live inside and nothing is going to change that but after that, I became paranoid about bad odours. Even though I cleaned the carpets, opened windows and burned scented candles I was never sure if the house smelled OK. It smelled fine to me but how did I know that wasn’t just because I was used to it?
What made it worse was that one particular family who came to see the house obviously didn’t like animals. They arrived early and I had not had a chance to leave the house. I always take Cindy for a walk while the house is being viewed. Of course, she rushed up to their car to say hello and I think that put them off. Apparently one of them had asthma or allergies. I probably should not have warned the agent that Polly was hiding somewhere in the house and he should not leave the front or back door open. As Polly is an indoor cat and doesn’t like strangers I worry about her escaping if someone startles her. As long as she can hide under a bed she’s fine.
They hated the house complaining about the smell and even that one of them could not breathe. The agent said they were fussy people and had not liked anything he showed them but I still felt bad.
Smells are a big deal in real estate. I’m sure you’ve read those articles about having the scent of baking or coffee brewing in the house when there is a viewing. I don’t do that. It seems a bit contrived and actually, not everyone likes those smells. Naomi hates the smell of coffee for example. I try not to use any scents that are too strong or too sickly sweet because not everyone likes those either. Usually, I just open all the windows that actually open for a few hours, unless the weather is really bad and if I do use any kind of scent it will be something that is not too overpowering, citrus is a favourite.
This Saturday I have people coming to look at the house again so Friday will be a day of preparing the house and making it look and smell as nice as possible. Wish me luck!
I could not help but think of the beautiful reflections that I see in the still waters of the Huon River on a calm day. That’s where most of these photos were taken either at Port Huon, Franklin or Huonville. The last two were taken at Strahan on Tasmania’s West Coast and Lake Dulverton at Oatlands.
I don’t take easily to change unless it’s something that I’ve chosen to do but like the seasons, change comes whether you want it or not. Some changes you have to adapt to because you have no choice. In my lifetime Australia introduced a decimal currency, the metric system, Celsius as the standard for measuring temperature, daylight saving time and a new national anthem.
Some of those things were easy to adapt to, I’d only been in Australia a fortnight when decimal currency was introduced and I was eight years old. It didn’t change my life much. Daylight Saving, on the other hand, I was very resistant to even refusing to change my watch for several years. I read of one country, I can’t remember where now who changed from driving on one side of the road to the other. That’s not a change you can refuse to participate in.
Life choices are sometimes changes you make willingly, even eagerly. I remember about a week into my first holiday in Tasmania saying “I could live here.” I went home with a desire to make that change and although it took nearly four years we did it. It was a big change for David and I as we didn’t know a soul in Tasmania, we would have no jobs to go to and would have to start over but we wanted it and we did it. I won’t say it wasn’t stressful. Moving from a house you’ve lived in for 25 years and transporting all your worldly goods to another state is not a walk in the park.
Change came again when David died and I found myself learning to live alone. In a way that was a gradual change because of the many months, he was in the hospital. The real change was in realising that he was never coming back. When we bought this house I thought that I would live here forever, or at least until a day came when I couldn’t take care of myself. Now the house is on the market and one day it will sell and I will move on again. Not a change I wanted to make but one I’ve accepted will be better for me, and for Naomi in the long run. When it happens I will go forward, if not joyfully, at least with a sense of curiosity and anticipation of enjoying the next place.
Today I decided to some cooking. I had a banana that was getting a bit brown so I decided to make a banana cake and while I had the oven on a Shepherd’s Pie, or technically Cottage Pie, because I used beef mince. It makes sense to prepare more than one thing when I’ve got the oven on as it saves power. I like to make something that will last me for a couple of meals or have leftovers I can freeze for days when I can’t be bothered cooking.
When I was younger I used to enjoy cooking more and enjoyed experimenting with different things. I had lots of cookbooks and I would often spend my days off from work cooking. David and I used to watch Formula 1 regularly on TV and on race days I used to try to cook something from the country where the race was being held.
Over time though, I lost interest. David always enjoyed what I cooked but because he’d had his stomach stapled in an attempt to lose weight he could only eat small portions. He wouldn’t eat fruit and didn’t really eat a lot of vegetables. I didn’t mind that so much as the fact that he’d often eat a tiny dinner and then an hour later he’d be snacking on crackers or other things he ought not to be eating. It took the fun out of cooking for me over a period of time. When David stopped working and I was still working full time he took over the cooking and the shopping so I did not have a lot to do with it except for baking and special occasions. Now that I live alone it seems a bit pointless to go to all that trouble anyway. I like things that are quick to cook so I can get back to blogging or whatever else I’m doing or things that I can prepare and then leave to cook in the slow cooker.
I do enjoy making our Christmas goodies and other seasonal things like Hot Cross buns or Anzac biscuits but I’m not really interested in cuisine as such. Every month I go with a group of friends for lunch at a local hotel or restaurant and it is fun to order something I wouldn’t have at home but I’m not really interested in trying to make it myself and confess I get a little bored when the others spend ages discussing cooking. Funnily enough, at our lunches, the men spend more time talking about food while the women are often discussing politics or current affairs. I don’t really enjoy watching cooking programs on television either unless it is instructional rather than a competition between would-be chefs.
While I was cooking this morning it occurred to me that what I get the most pleasure out of preparing is comfort food. The beef stew mum used to make, Shepherd’s Pie, baked rice pudding, fruit cakes, apple crumble and other homely things like that. I guess that says something about me as a person, doesn’t it?
I’m hoping that when Naomi and I finally move in together my interest will be revived. We can take it in turns to do the boring everyday meal preparation and have fun making the other things. We both have vintage cookbooks and we like the old fashioned recipes. It’s a lot more enjoyable to cook when you can make it fun.