Friday, October 30, 2009

It's me - and Sara Groves

For our road trip to Daylesford we were given a music assignment, which was to bring two CDs that would take each of us on a musical journey, and we were to be guest DJ. Fun! I had already been tempted by an email letting me know I could download the new Sara Groves CD, five weeks prior to the release date, if I bought it with a bundle of other paraphernalia. I wasn't particularly interested in the other stuff and told myself to wait. That is, until I got this music assignment. We are all big fans of Sara Groves, and one of those on the trip was my Sara introduction, so I decided to get the download and make it the soundtrack for the holiday to Daylesford.

What you have to appreciate about Sara is her honesty, her refusal to do 'smiley-button-for-Jesus' music, her efforts to share her own reality in ways that encourage others. And so here is the video for one of her songs on the upcoming album that does just that:

Monday, October 26, 2009

More of the white house

Here's a few more pictures of quaint things. Everywhere you looked there were quaint things, but it was elegantly done and not at all "tizzy".

My accompanying friends jokingly told me that their pictures weren't released to blogs or facebook, but fair enough (it's weird the way people's movements can be so public between the two, and nice to know that they don't have to be). And I'll wait to tell you more about the project we were working on, as it shall hopefully be published, and there is wisdom in not discussing things on the world wide web before they are. (It's also not my personal project, so not mine to divulge - and I am not a believer in breaking news that's not your own on blogs.) But stay tuned because I will make a big noise when it is!

A white house in Daylesford

Here are some of the snaps I took on my happy snap camera (I can't control the aperture - or anything for that matter - so I was pleasantly surprised by the second one down). One of these days I am going to splash out on a digital SLR, hopefully a Nikon. My film SLR packed it in after a fall in WA, and is not worth fixing, but I do enjoy photography. Something that this blog probably doesn't know is that my Dad was a cinephotographer (for his job I mean). He didn't live long enough for me to learn anything but camera bits and pieces hung around and I like to fancy it's in my blood.

Googling on

I've come back from holidays and google reader is out of control (over 1,000). I have decided that I don't need to be OCD and feel the compulsion to scroll through everything, just incase I miss that one amazing thing (especially through about 453 Apartment Therapy posts - though I almost feel the need when I think about those gypsy wagons). Sometimes you just have to hit "mark all as read" and move on. It's most "unhoarder" of me, but I think I can do it!

Sharing the wisdom

If you venture into the world of crafty blogs, there is a month of give aways happening about the place. My friend Ally has joined in, and if you go over here and leave a comment, two sweet owls could be yours. (And if you order from her shop before October 31st there are more owls involved!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A country writing holiday

This past week I went away for a few wonderful days in Daylesford Victoria (Tuesday's post was just a scheduled decoy). Back in August I joined the Penguin Books Australia facebook page, just because it came up somewhere and I thought, well I like them so why not? They happened to be running a competition to see who could guess how many popular penguin books there were in the library featured in this photo. So I did some sophisticated counting and multiplication, and I won!

What I won was two nights accomodation in the White House (worth a look), which contains this library. Initially I wondered what I was going to do with two nights accomodation in one queensize room down in country Victoria, because it didn't include transport and I didn't really fancy going by myself. But it looked like a lovely place to go and write (if you clicked through to the website you will see why) so I decided to do something crazy and ask a little group of people I have been getting together with semi-regularly this year to work on a writing project of sorts, and see if I could pay extra for the use of the other rooms (there is this queer set-up where you have the house to yourself, but pay for the use of each bedroom). So I asked them and to my great delight they were all keen to come and even suggested driving down.

The house was booked out for weekends for the rest of the year and I thought we wouldn't actually do this for ages, but when I asked for available dates this week came up, and to my surprise again it worked with the others to go midweek, so off we went on a random little road trip.

Of course, all of this happened before I was aware of any sort of marketing campaign for Daylesford, or the advertisement that prompted this article by Phillip Jensen. It seems there are often two responses to such controversies: you either boycott something about it and never holiday in Daylesford in your life on principle, or you engage in "culturally relevant" research and go right in to be informed. We opted for the latter in this case (albeit unwittingly). If there is going to be a hoo-hah about a lovely little town in Victoria and somebody needs to go and see what all the fuss is about, then it might as well be us! :)

Over the next few days I might tell you more and post some photos of the trip, but for now I thought I would give you the opportunity to test your Bookshelf IQ and see if you can guess how many books there are in this library. (No digging back through facebook and cheating!)

Poetry Day - A coke with you

Having a Coke with You by Frank O'Hara is a wonderful poem. The formatting came out very badly here, but do yourself a favour and click through.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Catch some blackbird's wing

I came across this video of Dave Matthews and Emmylou Harris singing Gulf Coast Highway (they don't actually start singing till about 1:30). I do love this song. And here is the original from Nanci Griffith, which is every bit as good and gloriously 1980s Texas. (And of course one thing lead to another on Youtube, and I found this, which is beautiful, and then you can listen to this duo sing Long Black Veil, or an older version with Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lunch in the city

I went in to the city today to have lunch with a friend who lives there. And I mean in the city. This is the view from their place! (That's the young Endeavour going past the Opera House in the top - at least I think it's the young Endeavour - and the bottom is Government House in the Botanic Gardens.)Align Left

Friday, October 16, 2009

Family cuteness

My niece and nephew, all under control and behaving at the shops (in a photographic moment!).

I will have to show you some more pictures sometime of the little man in my life - he is super cute.

No-one to hug at night?

This is rather weirdly sad:
German designer Stefan Ulrich created a shape-changing object, not a pillow, using artificial muscle technology. The concept? To help relieve loneliness ...
It actually moves and simulates breathing. You can watch a video of how it works at the site, which is a little odd.

(And this photo gives a new meaning to "a lump on the couch".)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Abortion addiction

No doubt this news item will prompt a lot of discussion. Right now I'm speechless.

Poetry Day - Filling Station

I've been letting the poetry readers down I know, so here is another Elizabeth Bishop. You need to read to the end of this one, with it's sweet ordinariness.

Filling Station
by Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it's a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color--
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

Picture from:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Computer dirge

My computer is well and truly dying. Lastnight it just kept stopping. And then I had to start it from scratch and go through this business of how the files weren't shut down properly so now it has to check them for errors and then it went through my whole email archive folder and so on, and then asked me did I want to restore the last IE session etc etc. Meanwhile unrecoverable minutes of my life were going by.

So then I had this brilliant idea that I could do some DIY cleaning, since a good clean out seems to be one answer (according to google) for your computer overheating. So I got out the vacuum and stuck it on the vent on the side of the computer for a while, thinking I might suck out some dust. Then I ran the vacuum cleaner over the keyboard and sucked out some fluff. But then there was that ominous-sounding clinking up the pipe and I discovered that I sucked up the O key. So then I had to go rummaging through the vacuum cleaner, in my own little dust storm, looking for my o. Then I couldn't get it back on properly - that is a delicate business and I sat there fiddling about with the tweezers in frustration, because all I really wanted to do was type something up to finish it.

So now I have a computer that works for about twenty minutes before it spontaneously shuts down and types an o about every third go. I think it's time ...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chocolate for meat-heads

I have to say, I think this sounds gross, but apparently the men from the Meat Industry Association are loving it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ethics and the Bible in Shakespeare

If you want to read something a little more thoughtful and stimulating than my sob stories, Tim over here has begun a series in ethics, which looks like it's coming in accessible, manageable chunks! I did the evening lecture course in Ethics at Moore Theological College once, and really enjoyed it, and went to Oliver O'Donovan's lectures when he was out here a few years back for the New College lectures, and enjoyed those too (but I haven't read his signature book). Here is the post which will be updated with all the links as they go up, but for now they are all there near the top of the blog.

Also, Dr Laurel, wife of Justin, has written an article on the importance of the bible in understanding Shakespeare, which I haven't finished yet, but looks very interesting!

A sob story

Well, last week disappeared in my small world of hurt. With those back issues. It was pretty good on Wednesday night - and there would even be a witness out there that I was seen running across George Street about 10.00pm Wednesday night heading for a bus, and I thought "yay, I'm running". So, Thursday morning I thought I'd go for a jog, got out of bed, dressed and out the door, made it about 20 metres down the street and thought "nope, nope, nope, I can't do this" - and I thought my pain threshold was reasonably high. Then I thought, well maybe everything is just cold and stiff cause it's morning, so I got back home and did some stretching. Big mistake. I hobbled into work. On the way home on the bus that day I wondered why everything was hurting like this, and then I had a flashback! In the process of getting these plants, my friend had said maybe he could pass them over the verandah, and so I, without thinking much, did a bit of a leap over the balcony railing to the ground below, which was actually a significant drop (maybe about 7 feet) and I don't think I landed so great (obviously I've forgotten how to do stunt balcony exits) and had silly shoes on (canvas lace-ups with no sole).

Anyway, once I remembered that I thought maybe I shouldn't just grit this out and went to the physio on Friday. Apparently one side of my pelvis is twisting off to the side and pulling my tail bone with it. I've always had a slight rotation of the pelvis (a physio told me that years ago) so I don't think this is a new thing, I just aggravated it all somehow. And apparently if your core structure is out but you have worked up the big muscles around it they start pulling on it every which way, which then gives you grief. Anyway, he told me not to run for a least 48 hours (boo hoo! - I feel like a fat, slobbish caged animal) and not to do stretches, yet. Instead I have to do this sophisticated exercise which amounts to little more than practising standing up straight. I do find going to the physio quite fascinating (and maybe this is more biological information than most people care about). Everytime I go for the next ten minutes I want to be a physiotherapist. He did something in my lower back and then rubbed furiously at a spot on the back of my calf muscle and I thought "ooh yeah! - how did he know that would be hurting?". But many of your lower limb nerves run through holes in your pelvis, which is why if that is messed up pain shoots down your legs - and everywhere.

So I'll stay off jogging for a spell (till I start climbing the walls) but it's all on the mend and I am thankful I haven't done anything more drastic. (I'm also getting some long-term solutions from the physio which might help towards the underlying problems that have always been there, but don't usually bother me - stuff like standing up straight, which is a good thing.) I have a new appreciation for people who live with chronic pain, because it's horrid - though perhaps they do something more about it than the occasional aspirin.

Anyhow, the moral of this story, folks, is don't just go leaping off high things, and be careful with your lifting.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Kindles quench the flame

Pete sent me this link and asked for my thoughts on the Amazon kindle coming to Australia. Since my opinion on technological advances is a highly sought after and coveted thing, I thought I would share it with all of you.

So, when it comes to the Kindle, I'm with Glen Hansard. (I do have something of a crush on Glen Hansard - but hey, I have a male friend who has a "mancrush" on Glen Hansard, and it's his first mancrush, so he's in a worse place than I am. If you don't have any sort of crush on Glen Hansard you should cultivate one - he's good crush fodder.) This is what he says, when he is waxing lyrical about compilation tapes in comparison to iPod play lists while introducing a song at a concert:

The problem I have with modern technology is that you can't see it, you can't tear it out and rip it up. It's not tactile enough. Letters, emails - letters are beautiful, because they're licked and touched, they're signed, they're real. You know, you'll never be able to - I don't mean to be sort of revisionist - but you'll never be able to better that. When you get a letter and it says something deep to you you can tear it up, or you can frame it, or you can put it under your pillow, or you can smell it or you can kiss it. It's something. You can't kiss emails, no matter how beautiful they are. You know, you'll get an electric shock on your lips. So ... where, what was my point?, compilation tapes ...
Maybe there's a way you can make margin notes on a Kindle, or underline the moving bits, then photocopy them and stick them on the wall, or lend your thumbed copy to someone else with a note about which part they might especially like. I don't know. But it's not the same. And your library with the spiral staircase going up to a reading loft won't smell of old books and look so inviting.

I'm a technological fossil anyway. If I do get a Kindle it will be about 20 years after everybody else gets one. But you never know, I might end up as one of those kindle converts in the article, the "book lovers who went from shunning to embracing digital works" (it's just not looking likely).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Spac filler

I seem to have completely lost something last week - call it the oomph, the enthusiasm, the mojo, I don't know - I just lost it, and withdrew a little from "public life". I hit a wall of strange weariness and dragged myself around (maybe in the wake of a big day going to Newcastle last Saturday). That said though, I did all the usual - jogging, walking to work, walking half-way home from work, working on a couple of projects in the evenings - I just felt wrecked doing it. On Thursday I thought, how about I do something really crazy and just do nothing when I get home - I could just lie on the couch and not do anything at all. So I sprawled out with two books (after running an editorial eye through that little bit of text for somebody's website) - a theology one and a novel and decided I was just going to read the novel.

So I have now started Monkey Grip, by Helen Garner (which is a Popular Penguin for $9.95 - I love it that you can buy a book for scarcely more than the cost of hiring a DVD). It's another one of those books I hesitate to mention, because once again I couldn't finish chapter one without having to read about s*x and the language makes me wince. But I decided to press on with this one, because it's about a junkie who can't quit and the woman who loves him despite herself, so I'm hoping to glean something in the way of understanding that might be useful for Overcomer's Outreach (I've had a number of conversations lately with the partners of addicts - it's no fun - though they are usually married to them, which is a different scenario to voluntarily dating a known "junkie"). I think this sort of "modern fiction" is, however, to be taken in small doses.

Then I had a very pleasant, relaxing long weekend, and even dug out the leads to see if I could remember how to draw (I think I got the shape of things mostly right, but my technique is rubbish). On Monday afternoon I went to help some friends pack for moving and inherited some nice plants: five of them off their verandah, which I am quite excited about. They were a bit cumbersome, but only one of them was heavy, being the only one in a terracotta pot, so I didn't think anything of wrenching them out of the car (where the big, strong guy at the other end had put them) and lugging them upstairs and didn't notice that anything hurt. But, Tuesday morning, it was all I could do to get out of bed, and yesterday probably goes down as the most physically excruciating day of my life, in a pain that was just everywhere but seemed to be coming from somewhere on my left. I got through the day at work on Asprin, and today is a little better - and I have been trying to do some stretches since that I should have been more diligent about for the last ten years. I couldn't be sure I can blame it on the plants, but anyway, I am going to appreciate them when putting my shoes on doesn't make my eyes water. They need a little TLC (like a stake for the one that completely flops over) and I might even take a trip to Bunnings this weekend. I like going to Bunnings and feeling all "handy".

That's about all (for now) folks. Apologies for the lack of updates around here, but I quite like that I can let this blog be more "occasional", when I need/want it to be more occasional.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Poetry Day - the art of losing

Today I thought I would give you a random poem by Elizabeth Bishop. (I noted that Simone likes break-up poems, so, here's another, a little of the ilk of Sophie Hannah - though I don't think you have to have lived a break-up to appreciate it):

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Picture from

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The relentless pursuit of happiness

It’s curious in this article by Ross Gittins, and many other articles, that “evolution” is the new substitute for sin – ie if we’re doing something futile that doesn’t quite make sense, there must be an evolutionary reason for that (and so somebody hazards a guess at one).

Also curious, is the line that “Since our brains haven't evolved further in response to the modern environment…”. What reason does anybody have for that? Why do we think evolution has been happening for millions of years, but all of a sudden it’s stopped?

Then we have the weird conclusion that our better-educated, more reflective selves can actually over-ride natural selection (and yet that wouldn't be a result of our brains having evolved, because they haven't). Baffling.