Saturday, 27 August 2011


“A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man, and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.” - Helen Rowland

A leisurely day today, although it was full! Did a few things around the house, went out for some shopping, then a drive, and a movie in the afternoon, followed by dinner out…

For Song Saturday tonight, a blast from the past, a pop song from 1972, when I was in High School. Here is Lynsey De Paul singing one of her big hits “Sugar Me”.

Found it in a 4 CD compilation of favourite soft rock songs of all time that we bought at a garage sale today for $2.00… Lot of memories!

Friday, 26 August 2011


“Good food and a warm kitchen are what make a house a home.” – Rachael Ray

One of the best parts of travelling for work is coming back home! When I came back home this evening, it felt as though I had been away for ages. I suddenly felt very comfortable amongst my own things, the wonderful “home” smell that greeted me with the familiar objects, paintings, furniture around me. I think this is a sure sign of getting older, not being comfortable for too long far from home. However, it is also because I was not away on a holiday, but rather for work.

In any case, for dinner tonight a wonderful home-cooked meal. Whatever one may say about restaurant meals (even in the best restaurants), the palate soon palls and one yearns for the honest to goodness, simple and tasty home-cooked dishes. And so it was tonight, with a traditional Greek dish, which although a hearty soup, it is at the same time quite light.

[Meatballs in Egg and Lemon Sauce]

•    750 grams of veal mince
•    1/2 cup butter (may substitute olive oil if desired)
•    1/2 cup rice
•    1/2 cup minced onion
•    3 heaped tablespoons finely chopped parsley
•    1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
•    1.5 litres chicken stock
•    4 eggs
•    3-4 lemons
•    salt, pepper

•    Wash the rice well and drain, putting it into a large bowl.
•    Add the veal mince, the herbs, one egg white, salt and pepper.
•    Mix well, kneading the mixture so it becomes homogeneous.
•    Shape the veal mixture into small balls, each about 3.5 cm in diameter.
•    Melt the butter in a fairly large pot and add carefully the meatballs.
•    Add the stock so that the meatballs are covered (add water if not enough stock),
•    Boil and then simmer until the meatballs are cooked.
•    Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the lemon juice, beating well to incorporate it (this can be done with a mechanical whisk).
•    Gradually add the very hot stock the meatballs have boiled in, to the egg and lemon mixture using a ladle while continuing to whisk. The object is to cook the egg without curdling it.
•    Once all the stock has been added, pour the egg and lemon sauce back into the pot containing the meatballs and simmer gently so that cooking process is finished. Once again, be careful the egg does not curdle.
•    Serve immediately with freshly ground pepper and a dill sprig for garnish.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


“Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour, which knows the plenitude of the soul.” - Gaston Bachelard

I am in Brisbane for work for a couple of days, attending a conference. I took the early flight up this morning, meaning that I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. so that I could have a leisurely start to the long day with a good, slow breakfast and then catch a taxi to the airport all in good time for my flight at 6:00 a.m. All went well and the flight was pleasant enough, although the Melbourne to Brisbane stretch is now about two-and-a-half hours with all the delays and holding patterns that one has to endure.

At least, it has been an interesting day with some good speakers, but especially so an excellent speaker in the face of Michael Pascoe ( I must admit that I have been a long-time fan of his as he has always been a good journalist and TV personality, giving incisive reports and commentary, as well as good financial and political analyses. He was an informative and entertaining speaker, making even the dull economical reportage interesting and engaging.

There was quite a great deal of networking at the conference and I caught up with many people I knew, as well as making some new contacts. There was a cocktail function in the evening, affording even more networking opportunities, but from what I could see from the other conference delegates some serious drinking opportunities also. A colleague and I stayed for a little while and then went off and had a pub dinner.

After coming back to the hotel for an early night, I suddenly felt the urge to go out for a walk. The air was warm and the night still and calm. I walked out and found my way to the Story Bridge. The river below was reflecting the lights of the City with boats and ferries still going up and down its length. After the hectic day it was relaxing to sit and watch the thousands of lights coruscating in the distance, their reflections scattered by the slow flowing water of the river. A thousand thoughts flitted in and out of my mind and the meditation of the sparkling lights seemed to have a calming, peace-giving effect.

My reverie was interrupted by a few fellow walkers, young men, who walked by noisily conversing, laughing and generally horsing around. I watched them walking on by and smiled, remembering my youth and similar excursions into the exciting nightlife of the big city. I felt sleepy then and came back to the hotel, thankful a little perhaps that I wasn’t a youth any more! Another early start tomorrow.

reverie |ˈrevərē| noun
A state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream: A knock on the door broke her reverie | I slipped into reverie.
• Music an instrumental piece suggesting a dreamy or musing state.
archaic a fanciful or impractical idea or theory.
ORIGIN early 17th century: From obsolete French resverie, from Old French reverie ‘rejoicing, revelry,’ from rever ‘be delirious,’ of unknown ultimate origin.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


“It’s never safe to be nostalgic about something until you're absolutely certain there's no chance of its coming back.” - Bill Vaughn

There is almost nobody that doesn’t have an album or two of photographs around, each a little jolt that stimulate the wind of nostalgia to fill the sails of memory, making our mind’s ship travel back into the past. Nostalgia is a curious bittersweet pastille that for some has more sweet than bitter, while for others the bitterness overpowers the sweetness. Old photographs can make us smile, make us laugh, make us reflect on old times, but for some old photographs are a cause for tears as they rekindle old destructive fires and as they scratch old wounds to make them bleed yet again.

The creative writing group hosted by Magpie Tales has set a challenge based on the image above, which has stimulated the creative juices to flow yet again:

The Picnic

A sunny day, watercoloured, as those in the past can be
A brilliant morning full of joy and sunshine.
The four of us together as we so often were,
All laughter and shrieks of happiness.

A hamper, quickly packed with home-made delights,
A picnic rug rolled up, the car ready for the excursion.
The weekend all ours, and with our lips parted,
Smiling, joking, chatting, all so happy.

Maddie, Joe, Donna and Ted
The four of us together, sharing good times.
A snapshot moment, three first
Maddie, and Joe, Donna;
And then the other three
Maddie, Donna and Ted.

A song from the radio blares, as we sing along,
A special moment, this is what memories are made of.
The road unfurls, the accelerator touches the floor,
All laughter and shrieks of happiness.

A road sign, small towns, forests, hills,
A roadside stop, more snapshots, the morning all ours.
And once again on our way, the road an endless ribbon
Smiling, joking, chatting, all so happy.

Maddie, Donna, Joe and Ted
The four of us together, sharing good times.
A snapshot moment, three first
Maddie, and Joe, Donna;
And then the other three
Maddie, Donna and Ted.

A bend in the road, a treacherous rise, the lane narrow;
A truck up ahead swerving into our path,
The cries of joy turn to cries of fear
All tears, wide-eyed disbelief, and shrieks of terror.

A collision, the car spinning out of control…
A bad moment, this is what nightmares are made of.
The road collapses in on itself, the windscreen smashes,
Screams, howls and then silence as three lives are lost.

Maddie, Donna, Joe and Ted
The four of us together, sharing all till then.
A snap and the future’s shot, as three die:
Maddie, and Joe, Donna;
And since then I, alone lamenting
Maddie, Donna and Joe.


“Ισχύς μου, η αγάπη του λαού.” - Γεώργιος Α' (βασιλέας των Ελλήνων)
“My strength is the love of my people.” – George I, King of the Greeks

The situation in Libya has become critical in the last few days. The complete social upheaval that has been caused by the revolutionary insurgence is finally reaching a point where the fate of the whole country will be determined in a matter of weeks if not days. Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s present head of state has found himself in the unenviable situation of being surrounded by rebel forces with his power being diminished to his immediate staff and Libya’s control effectively in rebel hands. This marks the end of a 42-year-long reign and potentially the end of his dynastic control of the country, as his heirs will no doubt share his fate.

As hundreds of Libyan rebels blasted through the green gates of Moammar Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli today after five hours of intense fighting around it, they beat and killed some of those who defended it, fired celebratory shots in the air and hauled off crates of weapons and trucks with guns mounted on the back. The capture of the sprawling compound in the capital, had a substantive as well as symbolic significance. The storming of the seat of power of a leader effectively marks the downfall of the man as well as his regime. An iconic picture of rebels astride a monumental statue of a golden fist clutching an enemy warplane is immediately visible as proof of the overthrow of the old regime.

Pockets of resistance are likely to persist around the country for some time, even if the seat of power is controlled by the rebel forces. What is surprising is that the rebels advanced so rapidly into Tripoli, quickly capturing large parts of the city of 2 million in what was a lightning attack characterised by precision and effectiveness. Even though his compound is in rebel hands, Gadhafi’s whereabouts are still unknown, the leader having been driven underground and hiding out, possibly planning a counter-attack, however ineffectual this may be at this stage, or more likely looking for a way to escape the country.

The quote I started this entry with is significant. Any leader is only as strong as his supporters make him. The more the people supporting him are and the greater their love for him, the stronger the leader is and it is unlikely that he will be unseated. Lacking the loyalty of a significant number of supporters, a leader either topples or has to resort to becoming a dictator or a tyrant, clinging onto power through intimidation, torture, a vast propaganda machine and the support of a small but effective armed force that controls the country through terrorisation of the people. This is a situation that is unfortunately common both historically and geographically around the world.

The only problem that such a dictator or tyrant has to deal with in the fullness of time is that the populace will only remain subjugated for so long. Straw upon straw of repression, torture, suppression of civil liberties and the trampling of human rights will lead to the breaking of the camel’s back and a revolution will occur. Blood is shed, people’s fury is unleashed and in most cases the dictator is deposed. This is seen in the cases of even the so-called “benevolent dictators” as any form of dictatorship is perceived as a repressive regime that stifles free choice and the now universally revered ideal in government, true democracy.

The power vacuum that has been generated with Gadhafi’s downfall will need to be filled quickly if Libya is to become a modern country with a fair and honest government that truly looks after the interests of her people. As the rebel forces are not organised into functional political forces and as there is no charismatic universal leader, the scrabble for leadership in post-Gadhafi Libya will no doubt be the cause of further strife and conflict. I hope that someone emerges as a strong and fair leader that will give the people what has been denied them for so long and ensure that prosperity will ensue in a country that has rich energy resources.

The photograph above by Bob Strong is of a young boy who suffered a broken arm in a missile attack stands at the entrance to the main teaching hospital after Libyan rebel fighters pushed pro-Khadafy soldiers out of Zawiyah on August 20, 2011. It highlights for me the very real victims of the conflict in Libya. The people are suffering and innocent children such as this lucky one who survived, and some unfortunate ones who did not are paying an awful price for man’s ambition, greed, hate, corruption and fanaticism.

Monday, 22 August 2011


“Tears and fears and feeling proud to say ‘I love you’ right out loud.” - Joni Mitchell

You know the feeling when sometimes you go around the neighbourhood and admire the flowers in other people’s gardens? You see a spectacular rose, for example, and you look at it admiringly, smell it and enjoy its beauty, even take photograph? Then you go back home and in your own backyard you suddenly find a similar rose that you had overlooked, smelling just as sweet and as beautiful as the neighbour’s you admired just before…

This was our feeling at the weekend when we watched Daina Reid’s 2010 “I Love You Too”, an Australian film that was shot in Melbourne. It was written by Peter Helliar and stars Brendan Cowell, Peter Dinklage, Yvonne Strahovski, Peter Helliar and Megan Gale. It was a romantic comedy with a light touch and some poignant moments, a film which proved to be satisfying and diverting. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a masterpiece or a film that was wildly original or one that changed the course of the cinematic art. However, it was enjoyable and funny with its heart in the right place. Ok, the rose wasn’t a named beautiful hybrid tea rose, it was a fresh, delightful garden-variety home grown type…

The film examines various aspects of love, for example, that between siblings who had to look after themselves for 20 years after their parents died in a car crash, a married couple expecting their first baby, the love between two best mates, and the love between two strangers who start off on the wrong foot, but find in each other a genuine friendship. There is also the fiery love that begins with a strong sexual attraction and develops into a romance, a romance that for over three years seemingly blooms, only to threaten to be cut short as one of the partners begins to feel unfulfilled.

The film focusses on the strained relationship between Jim (Brendan Cowell) and Alice (Yvonne Strahovski), a couple who meet in a bar, have a one-night stand, but who find their attraction keeps the together for more than three years. Alice hopes for Jim to tell her those magic four words that men seem to have a great difficulty in uttering: “I love you too”. However, the best Jim can do is give Alice a tinny “commitment ring” rather than an engagement ring and a proposal. Alice breaks up with Jim on his birthday, characterising him as a man-child who refuses to grow up.

Jim finds that his best mate Blake (Peter Helliar, who wrote the screenplay) is unable to support him in this serious phase of his life, Blake being more suited to having fun together and fooling around. Jim gets drunk, breaks into a car and thus begins his friendship with Charlie (Peter Dinklage, of ‘Death at a Funeral’ fame), a ‘little person’ with a big heart. It is Charlie who understands Jim’s anguish and it is he who will empower Jim to try and win Alice back. Jim will also return the favour as he helps Charlie attain his dream.

This is a film about love and friendship and human relationships. It starts off in a trite way, a little slowly and may turn some people off initially, but it soon gathers speed and several threads of narrative begin to weave together in order to ravel a satisfying pattern. I believe Australian cinema has come a long way in the last few decades and this is proof enough of the professionalism and accomplishments of the local film industry. This film is not purely a chick flick of purple romance one-dimensionalism, it has a little more depth and satisfies both men and women, as each sex will find plenty to identify with.

We would recommend the film as a pleasant matinée diversion, being entertaining, poignant, funny, romantic and well-acted. Peter Dinklage steals many a scene, while Blake can be so gauche and pathetic that one has to laugh. Jim and Alice make an unlikely but pleasant couple, while Megan Gale looks very sultry and gorgeous, carrying her role as ‘Francesca’, the super Italian model with aplomb. A very good Aussie movie!

Sunday, 21 August 2011


“In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.” – Herodotus

August 18th is Vietnam Veterans’ Day. Originally it was a day to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan in 1966. The battle of Long Tan was the largest single unit battle fought in Vietnam by Australian troops. It began on the afternoon of August 18th and went right through the night until the morning of the 19th. The reason why it was looked on as decisive and significant was because the Australian army contingent had only been there a few months - it was the first major conflict involving Australian troops in Vietnam.

The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army were aware that the Australians were there to secure the province and decided that they would take them on. The was the fate that befell a company of men - Delta company, from the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - who were on patrol that particular day. The enemy lay in wait for them - a huge ambush in a rubber plantation called Long Tan. The Australians had to hold off thousands of enemy troops for the duration of that battle. Eighteen Australian troops were killed - up to a thousand of the enemy. The skills of artillery men and arrival of armoured carriers with more men saved the day. The 6th Battalion was called the “Baby Battalion” as it was made up largely of national servicemen - and they certainly underwent a baptism by fire.

August 18 has now been adopted by all Vietnam Veterans a day of commemoration. The Vietnam conflict went on for 10 years and was Australia’s longest war. This Sunday we took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne again and see the museum and educational centre associated with it. The museum contains many artefacts, photographs, uniforms, medals, equipment and memorabilia associated with Australia’s involvement with the war efforts from the early 20th century until the present time.

For Art Sunday today, a small painting from this museum, which had a special exhibition on the Navy. It was painted by Peter Churcher and depicts the bridge of HMAS Adelaide (II), on 17 February 2002. It painted in oil on hardboard and the artist says this of this painting:

“I spent one day on the Adelaide. In the morning I painted the small panel of the operations room and after lunch I went up to the bridge where a young female officer was at the helm. She was in training for steering the vessel. Outside, all around us were the merchant vessel ships moored in the Komisky area.”

Please look at my Photoblog for more photographs of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.