December 30 2008

The Food of the Gods Again

I just had to do it. I had to sample, one last time, that glorious cold confection. The Christmas pudding ice-cream. I deserved it, surely, after enduring the pain of seeing Australian cricket crumble. It’s as good an excuse as any.

So we went, the Librarian, Master Builder and I. Unfortunately, Game Guru wasn’t feeling too well – he preferred to stay at home and recuperate, a process which is expedited, no doubt, by his vast collection of computer games.

It was worth the twenty minute trip under a sun that wanted to strip the flesh off us. Even the breeze was hostile to those seeking cool sanctuary at the beach. It mocked us and melted our precious booty but it couldn’t take away our enjoyment. Only after I had finished my little piece of heaven did the winds we call the Fremantle Doctor begin. A bit late, Doc, but welcome all the same as we drove back home.

Until next December, Christmas pudding, ice-cream.

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December 30 2008

The Fall Of a Giant

The giant that was Australian cricket fell long before Hashim Amla hit the winning runs at the MCG today. Even the most optimistic of fans would have to admit that the cracks which appeared early this year are now gaping wounds. Gone are Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Langer, and gone with them is the mighty Australian juggernaut.

The retirements of so many great players was supposed to pull us back to the pack while the depth of our domestic system was supposed to keep us in front. That was an illusion. Our new team has been outplayed by India and outclassed by South Africa. The records show us at number one still but no one is under the illusion that the ranking reflects reality. We are, at best, number three, now, and sliding.

The giant has fallen. The fair weather fans are starting to jump. The rest of us will see it through just like we did in the eighties. Hopefully, unlike the eighties, we won’t have long to wait before the giant rises again.

C’mon, Aussie, c’mon.

December 27 2008

The Proof Is In the Pudding

One of my many vices can be indulged only during  the Christmas season. For a short period in December the Cold Rock Ice Creamery adds a Christmas pudding ice cream to their range of flavours. Now, while I recognize that not everybody likes Christmas pudding, to me this flavour comes straight from the dining table of the gods (before anyone says “I thought you don’t believe in such things” let me say that this is a figure of speech.) I have to exercise an enormous amount of will power to limit my intake of this heavenly concoction. Luckily, this year, I have managed to stay away from the ice creamery.

Until today.

The double scoop I had didn’t disappoint and I suspect Cold Rock will see me again before the pudding season ends.

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December 25 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

The 25th of December. A day that commemorates the births of Youngest Bro, Isaac Newton and a fictitious character or two. A day that begins with a grand opening of presensts followed by a breakfast party at the house of Uncle E__ and Aunty C__. This year, though, the day began with a phone call from young T__ asking us to call his mum, K__, because her car had broken down.

I woke The Librarian and explained the situation to her. She groggily made the phone call. Apparently K__’s car had broken down while she was driving back home from work. The car obviously wanted a Christmas break and expressed its discontent with a billow of smoke before shutting down a few kilometres away from us. The Librarian and I hurriedly got dressed and hurried to rescue K__ up. She looked like she was fed up with the world. Poor K__ hasn’t had much go her way. Hopefully better things are in store for her.

We got back home after dropping K__ off with time to spare before the Christmas brekky. Both kids were up by then so we decided to open presentsall of which were big hits; not surprising really since the kids had prepared comprehensive lists of indispensable items. By the time the Librarian and I headed off to breakfast both Game Guru and Master Builder were busy living up to their names.

The breakfast was a more relaxed affair for me this year. Christmases past saw Game Guru with me while Master Builder stayed at home with the Librarian. This year, however, Game Guru decided that he didn’t want to face the crowd anymore. He was happier staying at home with Master Builder as long as we brought food back with us especially the kiri bath and katta sambol. This is a much better arrangement for all concerned and I was able to enjoy the company much more. I especially enjoyed the entertainment provided by Middle Bro and family, a recital of the Christmas story using chocolate bars as props. The kids were cute and funny which helped me overlook the religious message.

The Librarian and I took the time between breakfast and the family dinner to catch up on some sleep. I almost never have a nap but my body insisted on this occasion. The kids just continued playing with their Christmas bounty.

Dinner was wonderful. There were no curries but the barbecue and salads were great. We were all stuffed by the time gift giving began. Once again Mum had chosen well and all the kids enjoyed their presents. The Master Builder loved the Bionicle he received from his Nana so much that he took it with him when we trooped to the park across the road. He had a good chat with his Nana while the rest of us kicked a ball. Game Guru surprised himself when he found that he actually kicks quite well. It was a fantastic evening and I felt quite sad when it came to an end. The drive home provided some distraction because we wound our way down side streets to see the Christmas displays provided by some households.

The Librarian called her Mum later in the night. I made a few sleepy comments and talked to Master Builder for a while before I found my body insisting on sleep.

Merry Christmas everyone.

December 23 2008

Happy Birthday My Dear Master Builder

Have ten years gone already? I still remember the day Master Builder was born and all the emotions that we have experienced since then. Those tiny little fingers have grown into the digits that deftly put together Lego pieces today.

It was a slice of heaven for the birthday boy. He received a huge Lego City set from us and an equally huge Bionicle set from his Nana and Pa. Spongebob DVDs from Grandma and Papa T__ and a gift card from Middle Bro and family rounded out his bounty. Master Builder handled the crowd very well; there were no histrionics at all. He even cut his cake in front of everybody although he banned the birthday song.

Master Builder and I had a fantastic time assembling his Lego City set. He did most of the work and I enjoyed watching him. His good mood continued even when the Boss Man showed up to give us a Christmas present.

December 21 2008

Australia Versus South Africa: First Test, Day 5

It’s all over. The South Africans ended up losing just four wickets in getting to the target of 414. Now come the repercussions and the realization that Australia is no longer the world beater it used to be. Everyone in the team has to take the blame: Ricky Ponting’s captaincy is suspect; the batsmen are playing foolish shots; the bowlers can’t take twenty wickets.

So we look forward to the rest of the summer. Can our boys lift from this demoralizing defeat and win the next two tests? It’s a hard ask.

December 21 2008

The Customer Is … a Nuisance?

Basil Fawlty was funny partly because his type of customer service was relatively rare. It isn’t quite so funny when there are Fawltys everywhere you look. Poor customer service happens so frequently now that I’m sure the customer is considered to be a nuisance every day not just during the Christmas season. Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we?

1. A member of the Big W staff roughly pushed his way in front of The Librarian as she perused items on a shelf. Words along the line of “excuse me” were not forthcoming. Glares (in stereo, no less) had no effect on this young barbarian. I had an almost overwhelming urge to store a toy rocket in a place that would cause the young twit extreme discomfort.

2. Errors made by staff members apparently don’t require apologies anymore. It is, in fact, now a faux pas for the customer to point out said errors. Don’t worry. The staff member will usually make an indignant noise to point out your errant behaviour.

3. It’s steaming hot outside and the shopping centre provides a cool haven for the parched customer. K-Mart, however, has decided to provide a complimentary sauna service for their staff and customers. I’m only guessing here but I suspect K-Mart’s management are probably enjoying a more arctic influenced environment.

4. It’s a mad rush. People are sweaty, irritated, hungry, thirsty, in dire need of a toilet break, you name it; they just want to pay and get on with the day. There are 21 cash registers so they should be on their way in no time and they would if 21 cashiers sat behind those machines. But no! Managment has decided that 4 cashiers should be more than adequate. I’m looking at you Target.

And so on, and so on.

There are three more shopping days until Christmas so The Librarian and I will be out there making nuisances of ourselves. Do join us.

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December 20 2008

Australia Versus South Africa: First Test, Day 4

The day began well from an Australian perspective. Haddin smashed his way to 94 before throwing his wicket. He received great support from Krezja and Siddle. By the time the last wicket fell Australia had set South Africa a target of 414. The pitch is still playing well and I really think the target is achievable especially against our bowling attack.

There was a moment of hope when McKenzie went cheaply but Smith and Ambla smashed the door wide open. Our bowlers don’t look like breaking through. Even the breaks due to rain didn’t dent their concentration.

The rain delays didn’t take any time away from the match because the day was extended until 8:00pm. That only gave South Africa more time to eat into the total. Even the wickets of Smith, after a magnificent 100, and Ambla towards the end of the day haven’t slow them down. The South Africans should romp this in tomorrow.

December 19 2008

Australia Versus South Africa: First Test, Day 3

The roller-coaster continues on its merry way, providing euphoria one minute, despondency the next. The hoped for denouement didn’t come as quickly as I hoped it would and South Africa managed another 40 runs for a total of 281. Mitchell Johnson got his eighth wicket but really deserved to finish with nine. Bret Lee went wicketless again which is a concern.

The pitch isn’t bad at all. If the batsmen are patient they can make runs. The Aussies obviously weren’t patient and our top order failed again. A total of 400 is achievable here, yet Australia were suddenly 7 for 162. This is worse than their effort in the first innings. Thankfully Haddin and Krejza were still there at stumps and had taken the score on to 228.

What does this roller-coaster ride have in store for tomorrow?

December 18 2008

Australia Versus South Africa: First Test, Day 2

This test match has given us two fantastic days of play. The rollercoaster ride continued today as Australia began the day with one wicket in hand. That wicket didn’t fall until 50 minutes had gone and more than 30 runs were added. The final score of 375 all out was better than I had hoped given that we were 3 for 15 at one stage.

South Africa’s batsmen batted well and looked to be in total control at 3 for 234. Then Ponting threw the ball to Mitchell Johnson and the last 40 minutes of play produced one of the best bowling performances I have ever seen. Johnson took 5 wickets for a handful of runs and looked unplayable. Australia had wrested the initiative back and left an ecstatically silly grin on this fan’s face.