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Sunday, April 18, 2010


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April weekend

I haven't written for a while…too tied up with the to and fro, 50th birthday celebrations, weekends in Canberra, our holiday in Sarawak, and now computer hassles on our return. So enough procrastinating, I'm here squatting on the floor with my laptop, too afraid to move it or the x-box download that Jack's been waiting on all day will be disturbed. Even my own computer is not my own any more (this one has XP unlike, apparently, his, hence its unrupturable bond to the cable that connects it to his x-box). My desktop computer finally suffered a stroke and died and I have only just managed to retrieve the data from the hard drive…bad timing as my work at the Black Dog has finished (I wrote myself out of a job!). To get a new job you need a computer but before you can buy one you need to get a job… I'm in that conundrum. Fortunately the laptop is now allowing me to type at the rate of more than one letter per second, which, earlier, nearly had me throwing it in the bin to join its sister (the umbilical cord to the x-box saved it).

Enough of that. blogs are supposed to be for writers to practice writing every day, undrafted ideas and thoughts thrown onto the page, whether or not anyone wants to read them. I'm happy with that. We had such a lovely weekend it might be a good place to record some of the detail. We attended a Sedre-Pooshi. What's that? I suppose, like a kind of confirmation ceremony in the Zorastrian religion, a ceremony to mark the formal acceptance of the values of that faith. Andrew's friend Farhad, an Iranian he met in London ("You're Australian?" Farhad asks, in his heavy middle –eastern accent, at the door in answer to Andrew's advertisement for a room-mate. "So am I!") –and his wife Noroja have two Australian born children, Sepenthe, 15 and Dean, 10. The Sedre-Pooshi was for them. There was a lot of chanting, and turning of pages backwards in a special book. I like chanting, especially when it returns to the tonic as it so inevitably does, after about a bar. When you have this going on for about twenty minutes you end up with a drone of the same underlying note with a bit of variation around it – it's very hypnotic, which of course is why they do it. I guess it allows you to enter a deeper contemplation and reverence for the ceremony to come. According to the little poster Noroja and Farhad had on display, the main symbolic gesture is the wrapping of threads of intertwined wool. There should be twelve strands times seven, and the - I'm not sure what you call him, the priest or the cleric, anyway the special man - intertwined it around the waist of each child, leaving three strands displayed. The three strands symbolise the three main tenets of the faith –good thoughts, good words, good deeds. I like that - good thoughts, good words, good deeds, you would think, an easy enough philosophy to follow. Andrew tells me the Zorastrian faith pre-dates Islam, and was present before Islam conquered Iran. I didn't think there could be too big a Zorastrian community but judging from the attendees, I am wrong. It was a big crowd all enjoying a huge middle eastern feast that followed - piles of flat breads, salads, interesting dips, mountain of nuts that were shared up and distributed in little gold bags, fruit platters and plates of Turkish biscuits and baklava. And then there was dancing. About 15 of Sepenthe's school friends attended, all in their too-high heels, but all there, in support of their friend - she must be a popular girl. Noroja got everyone up and dancing to a medley of Iranian, rock, disco and who knows whatever else – the Macarena, the danse des canards. It was a lot of fun.

Today was gardening and applying for jobs – another writing job that combines a few of my interests would be cool…but maybe hard to get. Then we had our neighbours in for a drink –a gin and tonic to celebrate the duty free special - 2 Bombay Sapphire for $52 – that's a bargain – (actually they ended up bringing their own bottle of wine!) You're lucky if you have nice neighbours like ours. Ours are well-travelled, hard-working retirees with a garden full of their own veggies and chickens who actually lay real eggs (we know because we looked after them while Barb and David were away) (Well, apart from the broody hens). Barb and Dave know all the neighbourhood stories as they've been there a good fifteen years or more. Tonight they told us the story of our own house. The former owner was a carpenter, a good hard working fellow unless he hit the pub too early. "Unfortunately that was about 11 am in the morning, most days," says Barb. This carpenter chap never used to mow the grass, but he helpfully came in, one time in the early days in his shorts and thongs to advise David to be careful of snakes as he'd seen dozens of them. Failing to observe that the grass was about waist high. He used to put a roll of carpet to be able to get to the clothes line. Sadly Trevor's partner - who they never saw because she had agoraphobia - died of breast cancer. She bequeathed the house to Trevor on the condition that he look after her ailing mother. So this chap sold the house - to Lawrence who did it up for us to later buy - and moved in with his mother in law. There must have been a tradition of sherry drinking in the household because David and Barb – whose chicken coop and veggie garden backs on to the place - discovered a midden of sherry bottles when they were preparing the plot. Barb thinks that there must have also been a father in law, perhaps, who had a bit of a liking for sherry – or someone must have thrown all the bottles under the house – Lawrence spent many a weekend smashing up sherry bottles so as to fit them in the recycling bin. Every weekend there'd be another sulo bin full! So there you go. One tradition not to live up to – sherry quaffing! But Andrew mowed the lawn, so we're right for snakes - and I can get to the clothes line OK!

That's it for today – my bum is sore from sitting on the floor. Sarawak soon once I can download some photos and have a moment to collect my thoughts!