Welcome to Weekend Reads, where Virginia Trioli brings you a handpicked selection of the week's stories.
Now, where were we?
I think when we last saw our heroine, she was sailing forth on a wave of emotion after completing 11 bone-crunching years as the presenter of the celebrated ABC News Breakfast. She then found herself washed up on the shores of NOTHING TO DO for a few glorious weeks before setting sail towards the treacherous coast of morning radio on ABC Radio Melbourne, where she's valiantly established a little beachhead among the very friendly locals.
There's a kettle on the stove and life is good.
I've returned to this column at a time when Australia is burning like never before, earlier than before. Did you see this map of the country, with an angry border of flames encircling the nation? The map mirrors data released by the Bureau of Meteorology showing the greatest bushfire risk zones for this summer.
I don't particularly care anymore for outraged attempts at getting those in power to acknowledge the link between climate change and the increased intensity of natural disasters, including bushfires — what's the point? The science is clear, and even Rupert Murdoch once said we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt.
But here we are, and as I look at this map of fires, and trace the summer holiday pilgrimage of the majority of Australians along the flames of the east coast, I realise that we are all going to have make the kind of choices this year that we've probably never made before.
I grew up with the bushfire lore of traveling with woollen blankets and bottles of water in the car (you might survive under the blanket, but you almost certainly won't in the car) but this time the decisions are even tougher: will we make that eight-hour east coast trek through the most potentially at-risk bushfire zones in Australia?
For the first time ever — I don't know. I'm worried. One way in and one way out for so many of these coastal hamlets, and that thought is frightening.
It's a conversation we must have as communities and as a nation now: how we will look out for each other, work together if disaster hits, keep each other safe and survive. Science and climate will make disaster experts of us all.
This week I've side-eyed almost every web page I've called up, trying to avoid spoilers for series three of The Crown. I've only got Friday and Saturday nights to binge on the joys of Olivia Colman and the party princess played with pouting disdain by Helena Bonham Carter. Nothing the Royals can do to shut this speculative fiction down — but here's one example of where they managed to.
This piece by Barbara Barbosa Neves adds to the catalogue of shame on how we treat our older Australians — please read this and reflect on how you can help ease their burden of loneliness.
And it turns out there is a formula for success: here's a brilliant bio-mechanical breakdown of Steven Smith's batting genius, to be enjoyed while you listen to our brilliant Grandstand team cover the First Test on the ray-dio…
Thanksgiving is next week, and while I know we don't celebrate that odd American tradition of colonisation/football/yams here, please enjoy a selection of some of my favourite, most horrific Thanksgiving dinner dishes for your gloating amusement … Jell-O salad, anyone?
And for your Saturday night music — I have words and music: a fabulous conversation with the keeper of the great American songbook, pianist and singer Michael Feinstein and blues mesmerist Kent Burnside. The chat, from my Conversation Hour is here with my ABC colleague Lisa Pellegrin, and here is Kent slaying it with the Flood Brothers. Savage bliss.