Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

I've done this particular questionnaire on the last day of the year for the last few years. As I've succumbed to some lurgy, been up half the night coughing, I think this is a good, easy thing to do on a New Year's Eve - along with giving the cupboards a clean out and make a start on the jumper I'd like to finish by the time I start uni in March.

It's been an interesting year in many ways - and I'm hopeful that 2015 will be brilliant.

So here we go.

1.What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I started a Masters degree in September. Never done that before. I also taught myself how to knit cable - something that's elude me for over forty years. That's a real achievement.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I just had a look at what I said at the start of the year and I didn't do too badly. I've managed to keep gainfully employed, remained fit and healthy, have quite a lot of fun and get writing again. I'm not despairing too much about "failing" at keeping my resolutions, but I've started to take measures to get a few more of them off the ground in the near future.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No. My cousin had a son earlier in the year, but we're not close.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no. However, it took a while to come to terms with the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams. Both went too soon.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just Indonesia - Bali to be specific. Tasmania is not a country, but it feels like another country in some ways.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A bit of job longevity in great places - rather than bitty work. I managed to work 48 weeks of the year  - it was just that it was all over the place which made things feel not to secure. I'm a contractor - you live with it, but I'm really hoping for some well paying, longer term contracts this year - and I really don't want to go back to one company that I spent a bit of time at this year. There are opportunities to be found - lets hope they come in quickly.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 21st. Went with a group to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show with a group of friends. Magic evening. I don't think I've laughed so much in years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I reckon receiving a distinction for my first subject back at Uni was pretty special. Not going nuts at one particular job was another.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't see things that you fail to do as failures, but learning opportunities. I can't think of anything other than not losing weight - but I'm okay with that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I've had a couple of buts of rather nasty colds and flu. One bout of the proper flu in June, something akin to pleurisy in September and a few rounds of the sniffles. My left shoulder (anterior deltoid) has been pinged for a few weeks, but it's just a ping thank goodness. Will hopefully be right next week.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Comfortable heels. Audrey Hepburn gave some advice once about heels - buy they half a size too big - they will wear better and be far more comfortable. As a standard ladies 8.5, it was a bit confronting buying size 9 shoes. I found a pair of block heels on sale. Some of the most comfortable heels I've ever owned.

 12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Hmmm. A hard one that one. I'm giving this one to Julian Burnside QC for standing up for the oppressed and disenfranchised.

Rosie Batty is an amazing woman too - standing up for abused women everywhere. She's an enigma.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Pretty much all of the Australian Federal Government - atrocious mob of luddite, pork-barreling leaners if there every was  mob. Awful people.

Rupert Murdoch gets a mention for still breathing as well.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, tuition, going out, gym and shoes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I remember getting really excited about going to Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was excite about going to Bali in February. Every time Maow Moaw comes to stay I always get excited because I love having him around. He's asleep on the bed at the moment.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

There are two songs that resonate from this year.

This one:

Then there is my current theme song. I like this because of it's message:

And ear worm of the year goes to: (I hate hip hop which makes this worse)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) Happier
(b) About the same
(c) Richer in many ways.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Tried to run, exercised, read, kissed, slept.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stuck around in jobs I really didn't like that much. Put off going to the doctor about the hot flushes (The Pill really is a wonder drug)

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

At home on the couch with the cat after an early evening movie. Most of my mates have gone away. Besides, I have the snuffles, not worth running around. Just want to keep quiet.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Not so much fell in love, but had that love reciprocated. 2015 could turn out to be an incredible year. I'm not giving details. Just have to wait to see what happens.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

Two stand outs. The second series of The Hour. Sat and cried over Freddie at the end of the series.
Many a hot evening was spent drooling over Dr Blake with a large gin and tonic in my hand. Like most perimenopausal women in their forties, Friday night was gin and tonic and Dr Blake. Phwoar! Seriously, who ever would have pegged Craig McLaughlan as a sex symbol?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don't hate people. However, I seriously dislike:

Most of the Australian Federal Parliament Cabinet for being delusional fascists
James Hird for being a complete tosser (FFS resign already and go away)
One nameless boss who gave me the complete irrits - this person was more a major irritation

24. What was the best book you read?

Two books stand out. Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North." Read it back to back. Incredible.

A mention has to go to Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites". The book started me on the master's journey - if this skinny little upstart for Adelaide can write something so amazing, so can I!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My discovery was more of a rediscovery. I have to thank Steve Coogan for putting me back onto Alanis Morrisette after over a decade. (See Trip to Italy - you will understand)

26. What did you want and get?

A job that I really like after a lot of searching.
Made a few new friends
Kept my sanity for the most part.

27. What did you want and not get?

To be a size 14 on the top. Maybe this year.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I saw 30 films this year. The top five were:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel - piss funny
2. Pride - English cinema at it's best
3. Calvary - Thought about that one for weeks - Brendan Gleeson for Best Actor
4.The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Just joyful
5: Boyhood - Long, but worth it

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

On my actual birthday I went to book group. My parents were in town on the weekend before and we went with a couple of friends for a dinner in Kyneton - excellent day. I turned thirty-eleventy something.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Study and love.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Black, more black, with a bit of silver for good measure. If not black, navy - I am from Adelaide after all.
Oh, and where thongs (flip flops /jandles - what ever you want to call them) as much as possible.
In winter, chunky boots.

32. What kept you sane?

Friends, reading, cinema, exercise and my pill. They will be wrenching my oestrogen from my cold dead hands in years to come. A revelation.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

My heart still belongs to Clive Owen, though Craig McLachlan is getting up there now, but only when decked out at Dr Blake.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Pretty much everything our current Federal Government did got my back up. The publicity around banning the burqa in Parliament House and the mistreatment of ordinary people who wear burqas really made my blood boil. Do I understand why a woman would want to cover her face or wear a veil - no, I don't but it's not my business what anybody wears. Do I give two hoots if they do - absolutely not. The Liberal Coalition dog whistling to the unwashed throng once gain. I really dislike how they stir up dissent and hate by picking on minorities.

35. Who did you miss?

Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. Wayne Swan as Treasurer... I miss having a sane government - one that's not working for big business and has more than the interest of a few in their sights.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

During winter I had a job at a Telecommunications Company. My team were superb. Davey and Kaz were two of the best colleagues I've ever had - the job was stressful, harsh and pressurised, but these two made going to work a joy. We're still in contact.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Looking for the good makes things a hell of a lot better - always.
And sometimes you have to let people go - they might come back, they might not.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

You didn't run, you didn't lie
You knew I wanted just to hold you
And had you gone you knew in time we'd meet again

For I had told you.

(Got to get you into my life, The Beatles)

Have a great new year. All the very best for 2015. Keep safe. Be happy.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Year in Review Meme

As always, this has been stolen from Sunday Stealing: As always, I'm doing a question and completing a chore. Having a house guest around the place the house work has banked up once again (and I've been away for a few days, that doesn't help either).

I know there are three more days left of the year, but this seems as good a time as any to get the yearly wrap up out of the way.

In 2014, I gained:

A sense of worth, a direction and some memories of great times.

I lost:

The feeling that I had to put up with bullshit from bullying bosses. Standing up for myself - and walking away was a good lesson to learn. Life is too short to put up with crap.

I stopped:

Having no confidence in myself. I also stopped drinking caffeine on a daily basis. I do have the odd coffee, but it's rare now.

I started:

A Masters of Arts in Writing - one subject down, eleven to go. Loving every minute of it. I also tought myself to knit cables.

I was hugely satisfied by:

Gaining a distinction on my first subject back at Uni. Looking at the comments, I've worked out what I have to do to get a HD... (Yeah, yeah, over achiever...) And finding out that I can knit cables.

And frustrated by:

99.9% of what our current Federal Government does, says and thinks.

I am so embarrassed that I:

Am an Australian at this present time. Our current Federal Government is a disgrace - sending Australia's reputation down the loo.

Once again, I:

Kept my gym membership up and saw a personal trainer regularly.

Once again, I did not:

Lose any weight - but I'm not too fussed as my fitness has remained up and I'm still fit and strong.

The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is:

My red hair is probably hiding quite a few more greys.

The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this December is:

I'm a bit more self-confident and I won't take rubbish from anybody. No matter who they are. Having somebody tell me they love me regularly helps bolster the confidence as well.

I loved spending time:

With friends. Maow Maow. In nature. In the gym.

Why did I spend even two minutes:

Pondering if I should go in for the job I'm in now. That was a waste of half an hour.

I should have spent more time:

Exercising, writing, cleaning my flat.

I regret buying:

Uncomfortable shoes that are on sale.

I will never regret buying... even though with that money I could have ...

My education, even though with that money I could do all sorts of things including adding to my house deposit, go travelling, replace my couch etc etc etc...

And heels half a size too big - best advice given by Audrey Hepburn. A revelation.

I ...way too much.


I didn’t... enough.

Exercise. Read. Go out. Write. Say I love you.

 ... drove me crazy.

Our current Federal Government.

The most relaxing place I went was

Ubud, Indonesia. Love it up there. Close second was Northern Tasmania. That was brilliant.

Why did I go

To see Noah? Dire film. Russell Crowe should sod off back to New Zealand.

The best thing I did for someone else was

No idea. I've provided a few healing sessions. They were good. I try and step lightly through the world - if this means doing good things for people, so be it.

The best thing I did for myself

Went back to university. Not take second best. Exercised regularly.

The best thing someone did for me

I blame Hannah Kent for inspiring me to go back to uni. Oh, and Blarney and Barney inviting me down to Tasmania for Christmas.

The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better,

No regrets - so I'd do nothing over.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Joyful, Joyful

I'm just back from Tasmania after three of the most lovely days I've had in a while.

Barney's family have taken me on as one of their own, which is a joy in itself. They're wonderful people, easy-going, calm. Christmas Day was spent at Barney's sister's place on the banks of the Tamar River, just out of Launceston. After a lunch fof roast turkey, chicken, pork and lamb with roast vegetables and salads, then trifle, plum pudding and pavlova for dessert, (there were seven adults, three kids and a teenage boy. The teenage boy, Tim, a lovely young man of 15 eats enough for three - put away enough food to feed an army barracks, so this was just about enough food.)

After a bit of a rest Tim and Barney went sailing out on the river, Grandpa took Chance and Lance out on the dingy. The rest of us just watched on from the deck on a picture perfect summer day. No acrimony. No family fights. The only thing that came close to disaster was that the peas were left in the microwave. As disasters go, you don't get much more minor than that.

Christmas with friends is so much more mellow than with family. There's few expectations, other than to be a good house guest, watch your manners and pitch in where you can.

Spending Christmas in a town on the banks of the South Esk River, you don't get much more peaceful that that.

Yesterday,  Boxing Day (unless you're in South Australia, the only place in Christendom that doesn't have Boxing Day) was spent recovering from the food coma. I went for a wonderful hour long walk along the river, stopping to chat to every dog I passed. I looked at the river and felt happy. I've been in country girl mode for the last three days.  It's great.

At lunchtime we went and met some friends at a local park. Norty, a mate from book group hails from around these parts. Armed with her parents, brother and his kids we cooked a barbeque at the park. Sausages, a couple of champagnes, the kids playing cricket and throwing rocks in the creek. I took my crochet hook and some wool along, giving my hands something more to do thank drink. Helping Norty's Dad out with the barbeque, playing food runner and drink topper, we put the world to rights, talking Tasmanian Politics and cycling.

As lunch progressed, the table next to us started to fill. Being near this group made the afternoon.

Australia has a great tradition with picnic grounds. Many councils provide free of very cheap gas barbeques to use. This partly to stops the fire hazard, but it also encourages people to use the parks. You rock up, claim a table and go from there. You never know who might be at the next table. Half the time, after a while, you'll end up playing cricket, chatting with or borrowing bbq tools off the people next to you.

The group next to us were a bit of a juxtapostion to rest of the people in the park. The church group, around thirty in number, hailed from somewhere in Africa. Women in brightly coloured clothes, happy babies sleeping in slings on their backs. The men, engaging with all around. Norty's dad said that he knew some of them from Church and went over for a chat.

As the afternoon progressed, the music came. Joyous sounds, gospel music came from the small sound system. Then came the dancing. Men, women, children... they'd dance a bit then sit a bit, but the beats and the music went on all afternoon. At times, a few of our group got up and joined them.

I can't remember being around so much joy before. We were surrounded by happy people, joyous people, who were happy to include all in their fun. And it was just that - fun. There was no competition, no angst, no sorrow - just singing and dancing and happiness.

At times like this you realise that you're in a great country.

Near the end of the day, Norty's mum and I started talking about a few issues in the district. A retired drug and alcohol nurse, she's well versed in the problems of the district. We got talking about the defunding of the local women's shelter, and society, not just this society, needs more places and services like this to help get people straight.

One of the girls from the group heard what we were talking about and joined our conversation. She's stuck out from the group. Seemed a bit reserved - a camera hung around her neck. It was applauded when she got up to dance.

"Hi, I'm Gracie. I hope you don't mind me joining you. I heard about what you're talking about. Can I please pick your brains?"

We asked her about the group. "We're from our church. Most of us are from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana... West Africa. We like to sing. We like to eat. We like to dance. That's what makes the world a great place."

Couldn't say it better myself, Gracie.

Turns out Gracie - all of seventeen, wants to be a human rights lawyer. She's about to do her final year of high school. She's passionate about women's rights an getting out into the community and wanted to know where she could get more information. And articulate, intelligent, kind soul. We gave her what information we could and swapped numbers, happy to give her any guidance we could.

We all came away from the afternoon with our faith firmly restored in humanity.

I also came away wanting to dance.

It was a truly wonderful afternoon.

So now I'm home. The cat is thrilled to see me - he's already found the blanket I half finished for him over the weekend.

So now for a week off.

In all - it's been one of the better Christmases I've ever had.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Christmas Meme

Another one that might go down in the annals of "oh, this might be fun."

A Christmas blog.

I'm not a Christian. Hmmm.... Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Do you send Christmas cards? 

No - though I send the odd seasonal email.

2. How soon do you start shopping?

Depends  - normally early December, but I've been known to pick up things in the months before if something takes my fancy.

3. Who do you shop for?

Store vouchers normally.

4. Do you put up a Christmas tree?

No, never.

5. If so, is it fake or real?

Real ones are great, but they're not that environmentally friendly. Actually, Christmas isn't that environmentally friendly when you think about it.

6. Do you like tinsel?

Horrid stuff, but it makes cat's poo look pretty.

7. Do you use homemade or store bought ornaments?

Moot point - don't have a tree.

8. Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?

No. That would scare the possum out front.

9. Do you put lights on the tree?

Don't have a tree. Waste of electricity.

10. How about popcorn and cranberries?

Why would you do that?

11. Is there a wreath hanging on your door?: 

Hmmm - seeing a theme yet? No.

13. Do you hang up your stocking?

I don't wear stockings, they give you candida - why would you want an itchy crotch at Christmas. Nope. Besides, don't you normally hang stockings in the shower after you've washed them?

14. Does your family read "Twas the night before Christmas?"

No. However I know most of this by rote after learning it as a child.

15. Christmas Movie?

Best Christmas movie ever - Die Hard.

16. Character from any Christmas Movie?

John McLean

17. Christmas Song?

I tend to run out of stores that play Christmas carols too early (like before December) But the powers that be had a magic choir do this one in the atrium at work the other day and it filled the building with lovely music. Still love Martin Crane's version of it too.

18. Christmas Memory: 

I've got some good Christmas memories of Christmas's spent with friends. The one spent with Lachlan was a good one.

19. Give or Receive?


22. Ham or Turkey?

I don't really eat that much pig - and turkey is normally dry. I like the Australian tradition of seafood and salad.

24. White Lights or Colored Lights? 

Does it make a difference?

25. Blinking Lights or Still Lights?

Seriously, these things matter?

26. Were you Naughty or Nice this year?

A bit of both.

27. What do you want for Christmas this year?

A new Federal Government and for the untimely downfall and demise of Rupert Murdoch.

28. When do you open your gifts?

Christmas morning.

29. What's the best gift you've ever gotten?

The trampoline we got when we were kids was pretty good.

30. What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?

Oh, that cushion. A workmate once gave me a bottle green cushion with a picture of kittens and puppies with Christmas hats on it - truly dire. I accepted it graciously as it's the thought that counts - it then was placed under the blanket on the couch.

31. Who gives you the most gifts?

My friends are pretty generous. We give experiences now/

32. Have you ever had a secret Santa?

Only the ones at work and the one we have at Christmas in July - you normally score something good out of that one.

33. Do you like wrapping gifts?

Not really waste of paper.

34. Do you put change in those red buckets?

This must be an American thing - I do try and give to charity over the season.

35. Do you burn a yule log?

It's the middle of summer - having the heater on is the last thing I have in mind. Besides, my flat doesn't have a fire place.

36. Can you name all the reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

37. Do you bake cookies?

No, but I made Christmas Apricot Jam this year for all my friends.

38. Have you ever seen your mommy kissing Santa Clause?


39. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?

No, don't even know what Mistletoe looks like - it's not an Australian plant.

41. Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?

I've got better things to do with my time.

42. Have you ever left Santa cookies?

As a child, we used to leave out Father Christmas a beer, a mince pie and a carrot for the reindeer. Then  When I got told that Father Christmas wasn't real (Thanks Karen Hawkes, the Jehovah's Witness who lived down the road - I was five... thank you for shattering my innocence.) I worked out that Father Christmas had my father's dentures.

43. Have you ever sat on Santa's lap?

Only as a child.

44. Who do you celebrate Christmas with?

This year I'm heading to Tasmania to spend Christmas with Blarney, Barney and Barney's folks - they've adopted me in this year. Should be great - I've never been to Northern Tasmania before.

45. Where do you celebrate Christmas?

Normally with friends in Melbourne, unless I go away. One of the best Christmases I ever had was in Thailand. On Christmas Day we went riding elephants. That was cool.

46. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

No, but I nearly had one. I spent eight Christmases in England - Christmas is so much better in Winter.

47. What part of Christmas do you look most forward to?

When it's over.

48. Have you ever had your picture taken with Santa?

Only as a child and that was like 40 years ago.

Sorry - as a non Christian, Christmas irritates me a lot.

Ah well.

Bah Humbug.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Light, More Light

So much has been said about what went down in Sydney on Monday, culminating in the deaths of three people in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I don't need to add any more commentary on this, other than to send good thoughts to the hostages and those who died and the scene, wishing them, and their families love, strength and peace.

See, I'm one of the millions of office workers who regularly stops in at a cafe to pick up a coffee, juice or some buttered raisin toast during the morning. I get how this event has permeated society and how the collective grief has encompassed us all. We all think, "It could have been me, my colleague, my friend in that cafe." And true, it could have been any one of us there. Thankfully it wasn't.

Like many other Australians, I'm thankful that our strict gun laws prevent people from owning semi-automatic weapons. I grew up on a farm. I've grown up around guns - I'm not anti-gun, but if you're not a soldier, a policeman, a farmer or a member of a registered gun club, what do you need a gun for? Strengthening the gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre was one of the best things Prime Minister John Howard did (possibly the only thing, but I do give him credit for this one). That this gunman only had a shot gun probably saved many lives. Not that you want nutters to have guns at all - but we can all be a very thankful that this was not a hell of a lot worse than it was - many more could have died. They didn't. As tragic as this whole situation is, they managed to keep the casualties to a minimum. May those involved be able to get on with their lives quickly and peacefully.

I'm pretty cranky at the media at the moment - I'm not sure that the blanket coverage on all four main free-to-air stations was the best way of handling this - however I get why they did it and this time around, they appeared to be a lot more reserved and cautious about what they were broadcasting  - thank goodness. Unlike the Daily Telegraph with it's misrepresenting headlines and dog-whistling at those prone to ignorance and hatred. A complaint is in with the Press Council about this - breaching too many of the Press Council rules. May this lead to the demise of the Murdoch empire - horrid man. Horrid organisation. He's ruined enough lives over the years.

Since all this broke on Monday, and continued into Tuesday there's been a couple of things going through my mind.

One is something that we hear a lot in Freemasonry.

The only thing that can overcome the darkness, is the light. We need light, more light.

By focusing on the darkness, we take away the ability to see the truth, what is before us, what is good. You cannot see what you need to see without shining a light things. Light is the antidote for darkness.

So I suppose what I'm saying is that even when we're faced with such horrific and terrifying actions such as what happened here on Monday, focusing on the good, the kind and the courageous is a far, far more productive than concentrating on the bad. Of course, be aware, grieve, reflect, get angry in appropriate ways, but find the light and move forward.

As has been said so many times in the last few days, Australia, we're better than this. We're bigger than this. From every changed behaviour that's instigated from this man's foul actions, he's won.

I won't let that happen. I'll continue to look people in the eye, nod, smile, say hello in acknowledgement. I'll continue to strive for harmony and peace on this earth. I'll continue to look for the light.

The other words that keep resonating with me are some ones often heard at weddings. Corinthians 13 4-7 and 13. I'm not a Christian, but these are great words.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

In times like these, this is the message that needs to be spread.

Keep calm, keep safe, love your family and friends. And keep looking for the light.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The "Have You Ever" Meme

Better late than never I say: 

1) Have you ever gotten lost in a maze? 


2) Have you ever been attacked by a wild animal?  No

3) Have you ever ridden a camel? No

4) Have you ever pet a rat? No

5) Have you ever been a member of a gym? Yes - and I have been for a very long time. Love my gym membership.

6) Have you ever been in a helicopter? Yes

7) Have you ever cheated at a test? No

8) Have you ever ridden a tractor? yes - I can drive a tractor - grew up on a farm

9) Have you ever passed wind/gas in an embarrassing situation? All the time.

10) Have you ever played the bongos? Yes

11) Have you ever handled a snake? No, thank goodness

12) Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself? Yes - I am the Ikea queen.

13) Have you ever been scuba diving? No - afraid of open water

14) Have you ever had a disastrous interview? Plenty of them - it means that you're not really right for the job.

15) Have you ever sold your services? I am a consulting writer/instructional designer - I sell my services all the time.

16) Have you ever raised money for charity? Yes, and i try to do this a few times a year.

17) Have you ever won a giant sized cuddly toy from a fair? No

18) Have you ever milked a cow? Yes - again, grew up on a farm

19) Have you ever used the phrase "back in my time" to someone younger than you? I seem to be using that more and more.

20) Have you ever invented a fairly unique meal or drink?  I remember mixing Baileys with beer at uni - that was pretty disastrous.....

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Are You? Meme

It's Xmas jam making day, so there is my grandmother's recipe Dried Apricot Jam on the stove boiling away on the stove. I'm having a cheapo Xmas this year, so jam is being given away as presents. I think this is a wonderful idea as everybody I know has everything they need, home made jam is a good thing to give. Most people like apricot jam.

So it's a stir of the pot then a question. Breaks things up a bit and the jam doesn't catch on the bottom of the pot. Love making jam. Just wish my grandfather was here to stir the pot with me.

1) Are you psychic in any way?

I read tarot professionally and have done for many years - does this count? I'd say I'm moderately psychic - I occasionally see things and I'll often sense things, but I have no control over things.

2) Are you a good dancer?

No. I look like a fridge freezer when I dance.

3) Are you a good singer?

I can carry a tune, but don't make me sing in public.

4) Are you a good cook?

Certainly, there are things I cook which people ask for  - such as my lemon polenta cake, chicken and roast pumpkin stir fry, birthday cakes... I'm a pretty good cook.

5) Are you a good artist?

Not in a traditional sense, but I love creating things.

6) Are you a good listener?

I like to think so.

7) Are you a good public speaker?

Yes. Public speaking doesn't freak me out in the slightest.

8) Are you a good babysitter?

Depending on my mood. Kids generally like me. I generally like kids.

9) Are you a good mechanic?

No. Change a tyre, fill up the petrol and stand and look at the engine. That's the end of it for me.

10) Are you a good diplomat?

Another depends on the time and place. I can have my moments. I a bit too tactless to be a true diplomat.

11) Are you a good employee?

Turn up on time. Do what's asked of me. What more do you want. Yes, I'm a good employee.

12) Are you a good dresser?

No. But I dress to my shape and I'm colour coordinated because I wear black most of the time.

13) Are you a good swimmer?

Pretty good. I'm a medium lane swimmer when I hit the pool.

14) Are you a good skier?

Haven't been skiing for about 30 years so I'd say that this is a no.

15) Are you a good gift giver?

Sometimes. Depend who it is. My best friend got a garden gnome from me one year - she spent the next ten trying to run the thing over. When I give gifts I try to personalise them or make an effort.

16) Are you a good musician?

No. I play the flute badly and can read music. Better than some, but nowhere as good as others.

17) Are you a good comedian?

Occasionally. How do you titillate an ocelot?
You oscillate it's tit a lot.
Boom boom.

18) Are you a good cleaner?

No. Again, my house is sort of clean. That's good enough.

19) Are you a good actor?

Not really. I did a bit of acting in a former life, but I'd never make a stage or screen actor.

20) Are you a good writer?

Yes. That's part of the reason I'm doing a Masters in writing at the moment.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


It's that time again.

Book group Christmas party on Tuesday night means that I have the weekend to bag up the lollies (sweets / candy) that we use for the count.

Our book group is a very democratic in the way we choose our books. All of the group bring along two books for the choosing. Criteria for these books are 1. Of literature or good popular fiction standard, 2. Under 500 pages (though there is a bit of leeway on this.) 3. No non-fiction, autobiography and biography. 4. Easily obtainable either in a library, online or in e-book form.

At the meeting on Tuesday everybody will champion their two books, after which all are handed a rubber glove and a bag of 25 lollies with which they will cast their votes. You can't vote for your own books, but as many lollies as you want on the books. The top eleven books are selected for the year. I love what's been put up this year - I can say after Tuesday what they are, but for now, I have my own dilemma.

What am I going to put up?

Here's the bother. I had a couple of books in mind, but they've been put up already by people in the group. So I've raided my kindle and the bookshelves and I've got to get down the job of picking two.


So here is my long list, with pros and cons.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Pros: Well under 500 pages. Acclaimed.
Cons: It's the story of a female sociopathic paedophile who preys on teenage boys

See, I think this could really bring up some great conversation around the table. However I wonder how it might be received by some of the more delicately constitutioned members of the group. I've only heard good things about this book and think that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to putting it up.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Pros: Well under 500 pages, winner of last year's Miles Franklin Award, Australian content
Cons: Might be over-hyped

I've heard a lot about this book - and finally picked it up at the airport on the way home from Sydney the other day. It's the story of an outsider and the book allegedly reveals an existence of beauty, horrors, hope and redemption. Unsettling and fresh. This is another strong maybe book. But after a head of somewhat harrowing books this year (ie. Gillian Mear's "Foals Bread" and Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" maybe something lighter is a good idea.

A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine by Marina Lewicka

Pros: Under 500 pages, Funny
Cons: Strange title. About parents - and we all have our parent issues

This book is a few years old and tells the tale of a daughters and fathers. Dad, it appears, is going a bit dotty and remarries - a glamorous woman from the Ukraine - his place of origin. As the sisters try to to usurp the gold digger some not so great family history comes out. I think this is a pretty benign choice that should get the conversation flowing, especially as most of us in the group have aging parents.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Pro: Under 500 pages, we've never done any Sebastian Faulks, well regarded
Con: War story

Birdsong is seminal - probably the most beautiful book ever written about trench warfare. It's up there as one of the best books I've ever read and Sebastian Faulks is one of my favourite authors. However, I'm known as "war girl" in the group as I've often put up books about war. So after putting up the "The Book Thief", "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" and a couple of other books in the same vein, I wonder if they're sick of me putting these sorts of books up for the group.

All That I Am by Anna Funder

Pros: Under 500 Pages. Award winner. Australian Author
Cons: War story. It's been put up before and didn't make the cut.

We've had a couple of books that should have made the cut, but didn't. Ian McEwan's "Atonement" being one. This is the other. A story of Jewish refugees in London in 1939, it tells the tale of two sisters living their lives under a greater threat. Anna Funder is an amazing writer, but I'm wondering if it would get a second telling - though in saying that, we have four new members in the group now who wouldn't have voted for it when it didn't make it (and it only missed out by one lolly - just like Atonement - yet another war story)

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Pros: An author we respect, looks interesting
Cons: Over 500 pages

Michel Faber wrote one of my favourite books - "The Crimson Petal and the White". We also did "Under the Skin" earlier this year - strange book that it was. He's a fantastic writer - but the book is over 500 pages - not by much, but I think that this will preclude it. This might be my Christmas reading.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Pros: My mother thinks it's brilliant, great reviews
Cons: Just over 500 pages. War story

It may seem strange to want to put up a book my Mum likes but she's has good taste in books. I send a lot of books her way and she tells me of things she likes. She's raved about this one. However, it tells the story of a blind girl in France and a young boy in Germany in World War II - do you see a theme happening here? Good reads rates it up there as one of the books of the year.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Pros: Under 500 pages, great author
Cons: A bit strange

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors. The queen of dystopia, she's incredible. I love her imagination and her presence of mind. We did "The Handmaid's Tale" a few years ago and the group loved it. I listened to "The Year of the Flood" the sequel to the book on a road trip to Adelaide a few years ago and that was brilliant. Margaret Atwood is a living treasure.

So can you see my dilemma? There are a number of other books I've considered putting on the short list and I have to make my decision by the end of tomorrow. We're nearly there - but gee, this is a hard one.

Any advice on what the two should be would be welcome.

Have a great one.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Shop Around the Corner Meme

Well, study is now over, interim marks are in and it appears I've got through my first semester back at university. Final results aren't in until the end of the month, but it's looking positive. Tomorrow is December. Very cool.

So no I'm at  a loss - what do I do for the next three months? Write a novel. Knit a jumper? I don't know.

Anyway, here's this week's meme. It's too hot to think at the moment. Questions, as per normal, are from Sunday Stealing.

What kind of job did your mom have when you were growing up? 

Mum was a theatre sister and general nursing sister at the local hospital.

 Have you ever known anyone that’s been on tv, including you? 

I was on "Win Roy and HG's Money" a very defunct quiz show in 2001. I won $700 and beat a "Sale of the Century" Champion. I have a couple of uni friends who are on television regularly. One's an economist, the other is an expert in the internet security field. Both are wheeled out regularly.

 What was the most interesting animal you have seen in the wild? 

An antichinus. It's a small marsupial and they live out near my mum's face. I faced off with a fox in the woods in England one day too - Foxes are gorgeous in the English countryside.

 What holiday do you enjoy the most? 

The last one I took to America and Europe was brilliant. Seven countries in 35 days. Loved it.

 What was the first video game you ever played?

I remember playing Pong when I was about eight years old.

 What is the one thing you own, that if it got lost, you would be bummed? 

My phone., I'd be lost without my phone?

 Do you have a favorite breakfast item? 

Poached eggs on toast with lots of tomato sauce and smoked salmon.

 What do you find yourself buying all the time? 

Other than groceries - I do have a weekly ice cream cone. Keeps me happy.

 When was the last time you got a real letter in the mail? 

I seriously can't remember - it must be a couple of years ago.I got a few birthday cards on my birthday - do they count?

 Do you have a most prized piece of jewelry? 

My three strand Pandora bracelet.

 Do you own any board games? 


 What chore seems the most daunting right now? 

Just cleaning my flat is daunting enough - dusting is the worst of it. I hate dusting.

 Were you born in the state you live in? 

No. I was born in South Australia - I live in Victoria.

 Have you ever lived in a house that has been broken into? 

Yes. Thankfully nothing too much was taken and nobody was hurt.

 What is your favorite cheese? 

I love cheese but I'm not allowed to eat it. Brie - love Brie. And blue cheese... ah, cheese...

 Who do you know that watches the most sports? 

Most of the men I know what a heap of sport, but this one goes to Barney, partner of Blarney. He'll watch anything with a ball and men running around a pitch. Weird that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Oh this should be fun:

As always, the questions come from Sunday Stealing.

I might have to do a proper blog post after this one...

1. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving at home or elsewhere this year? With whom will you spend Thanksgiving Day? 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have thanksgiving.

 2. What do you have for breakfast on Thanksgiving? 

Though vaguely aware of the concept, I'm not sure when thanksgiving is - other than it's on a Thursday(?) at the end of November which seems really inconvenient. So I will have my normal protein shake because it's a Thursday and that's what I have on weekday mornings.

 3. Do you go to a Thanksgiving parade or watch one on TV? 

What, they have parades for Thanksgiving. On a Thursday. Seems a bit decadent.

 4. Do you serve appetizers, lunch, or snacks during the day? 

Why would you? It's just a normal Thursday.

 5. What do you wear on Thanksgiving? 

It's a normal work day, so work clothes. No need to dress up - it's just a normal working week day in Australia.

 6. What's your Thanksgiving table like -- do you use special plates/silver/glasses, etc? Do you have a centerpiece? A color scheme? Candles? 

Sorry, no idea what you're talking about. This sounds like the things we do for Christmas.

 7. Do you serve buffet-style or family-style? What do you have to drink? 

It's just another Thursday. I'll be going to the gym to see my trainer. That's what I do on Thursday evenings. No special meal.

 8. Once you're at the table, do you say grace or a toast or does everyone go around and say what they're thankful for? 

I'll just be thankful if I make it to the gym on time.

 9. Do you have dessert right after the main meal or later on? 

Sometimes I have a small tub (single serve) of ice cream after the gym. Because it's just a Thursday.

 10. What do you do with your leftovers?

I still think you're talking about Christmas.Sounds like Christmas. Food. Family arguments. Leftovers. Yep, Christmas. Like Halloween, Thanksgiving has no place in Australian society. However, unlike Halloween, Thanksgiving isn't a something that's slowly encroaching on society.

I think I'd prefer to have Thanksgiving encroach on our society instead. Halloween - to me, appears to be a pointless affair that leads to diabetes and excess rubbish.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Taking Stock Meme

My study year is nearly over, my second to last tutorial paper for the year is in draft form and I'm in a good spot at the moment as my new job is treating me well. Having a bit of time on my hands, I can do my Sunday meme in peace. Ther questions of this Taking Stock Meme come from Sunday Stealing, as always.

So, what am I doing - let's take stock:

Making: I'm nearly finished crocheting a cat blanket for Maow Maow. I can't be the only person who makes things for a favourite cat.

Cooking: This week is mini-hell week so I won't be cooking much. I am planning to make apricot jam in the next few weeks in preparation for Christmas. 

Drinking: Currently sipping on a coconut and pineapple water with a bit of ice. Nice.

Reading: I'm trying to decide on a book. I've just read Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" twice (end on end) and I'm sort of mourning it's finishing. Have been recommended something called "The Folded Man", though the second Rosie Project book could be good.. I'm a bit litted out at the moment.

Wanting: Six hours consistent sleep every night. I'm not making that at the moment.

Looking: Forward to studying next year.

Wishing: That somebody would get off his arse and come out to Australia. Sick of the talk fest.

Wasting: I really have to get into the habit of using all of the vegetables in my crisper. I'm sick of throwing half of them out at the end of the week.

Enjoying: Writing again, proper writing again. Thinking of getting into that novel over summer.

Waiting: For the gumption to start losing weight again. it's not too far away.

Liking: Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". The bed in the hotel I stayed in last night - Amazingly comfortable.

Wondering: How it is that that f*ckwit Abbott every got elected as Prime Minister of this nation. He's an absolute disgrace.

Loving: My new job. Great team, good location.

Listening: To Alt-J's first album.

Needing: More exercise. This will be remedied this week too.

Smelling: I put on Jo Malone's Red Roses fragrance this morning. So I smell like roses. Love that scent.

Wearing: My dressing gown. Going to bed soon.

Following: What happened at the G20 summit. And doing a lot of cringing because of it. England, please take back Tony Abbott. he appears not to have rescinded his British Citizenship, which voids him from being a Member of Parliament and Prime Minister. Anything to get the c*ckehead away from here. Can we swap you for David Cameron - he only seems mildly incompetent. And he appears to know that coal really isn't good for humanity.

Noticing: That the esteem in which Australia is held around the world is slipping by the day. mainly due to this effed up government.

Knowing: That once you know about Corporate Actions, you never really forget, unfortunately.

Thinking: Moving country might not be a bad idea if these idiots remain in power - where is a dismissal when you need it.

Feeling:  A bit sleepy

Bookmarking: I only bookmark boring industry sites at work.

Opening: Up to the possibility of becoming an author one day

Giggling: About nothing inparticular. That's normal.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Blue Meme

Stolen once again from Sunday Stealing, I'm just about to submit my major assignment for my course. Phew.

Anyway, I'm putting the final touches in my papers and doing this at the same time. The worst of the coursework is now over.

Yay. Thankfully the questions aren't too bad this week.

1) Are you happy with the person you've become?

Pretty much. it's taken a long time, but I like myself

2) What's a sound you hate; sound you love?

Sounds I love. Rain on tin roofs. Cats purring. The sea.
Sounds I hate: The freaking leaf blower used by the neighbour when I'm either trying to have a sleep in, have a day off or have a migraine.

3) What's your biggest "what if"?

I still wonder what would have happened if certain events in October 2007 had been different. A girl, a boy, ten minutes of silence in a car. It's best not to ponder that.

4) Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes. Have witnessed too much strange stuff not to believe in them.

5) How about aliens?

We're a huge universe. It seems very selfish to think that we have the place to ourselves. I'm open to other life forms out there.

6) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?

Taking up running at 40.

7) What's the worst place you have ever been to?

I wasn't enamoured with Naples when I visited 15 years ago. Thought I'd stepped into the Italian set of Goodfellas. I've never been so scared as I was then. It was the vibe.

8) Can insanity bring on more creativity?

I think it can help.

9) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender?

Clive Owen - who else is it going to be?

10) To you, what is the meaning of life?

Love, friends, laughter, poetry, music, food. In that order.

11) Define "Art".

Any format of creative expression that makes you feel something.

12) Do you believe in luck?

Yes and no. I believe that for the most part, you make your own luck. Then again, some people just appear to be lucky.

13) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?

Hmm. As I've never been in a long term relationship (other than with friends) I really can't comment on that. Honesty, kindness and laughter seem like a good start.

14) What's a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?

It's an old Rolling Stones track. I always dance around to this. Love it.

15) Where were you yesterday?

Sitting in front of this blood computer preparing my assignment for submission. That's about all I've done this weekend.

16) What's the worst injury you've ever had?

That's a toss up between breaking my little toe and nearly snapping a calf muscle a few years ago. Both took forever to fix - but thankfully nothing too drastic either.

17) Do you have any obsessions right now?

Just the normal ice cream and books thing that I always have. Oh, and Clive Owen.

18) What's up?

Nothing. A bit more sleep would be nice.

19) Ever had a rumor spread about you?

Not to my knowledge - well not since high school and then it was nothing too bad.

20) Do you believe in real magic?


21) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?

With two exceptions. No. And I wouldn't call the grudges, grudges - more I avoid any contact with these people. That they're idiot blokes I used to go out with should jot be a surprise. But as a rule, I forgive and forget pretty quickly.

22) What's your favorite (non-pet) animal?

I love all animals, but I love elephants (cos they're cuddly and you can paint their toenails red and hide them in strawberry patches)

23) What is your secret weapon to get people to like you?

I talk to anybody and I'm friendly. That disarms most people.

24) Where is your best friend?

At home with her kids. It's Sunday night after all.

25) What do you think is Satan's last name?

Either Murdoch or Abbott or Morrison - probably the former.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Music Meme

Plastic Mancunian - you might like this one! I'm trying to write a major paper as well as finish a tute paper and clean the flat, but as it is Sunday, I like to do my blog post as well. It breaks up the day.

Questions, as always, are from Sunday Stealing.

1. Which bands/artist do you own the most albums by? 

I have everything that The Pixies have put out and most of the Hoodoo Guru's albums. I reckon most people who are reading these from out of Australia will never have heard of The Hoodoo Gurus - and they probably haven't heard of The Pixies. The Pixies are God. The Hoodoo Gurus are just wonderful fun. I give you one of my many favourite songs by the Hoodoo Gurus.

2. What was the last song you listened to? 

I saw the film "Pride" yesterday, which I can't recommend highly enough. The story about a group of gays and lesbians who supported the Miner's during their strike action in the 80's. Brilliant, life-affirming film and well worth a look. The soundtrack took me back to high school - and the last song of the film was an old Billy Bragg favourite - and yes, I can sing along with it easily. My politics are showing.

 3. What’s in your CD player right now? 

You mean what's on my iPhone? A mix of of alternative music that I can work to - Damian Rice, Alt-J, Laura Marling, Nick Cave, the Amelie soundtrack and lots of Philip Glass. Yes, I know, ecletic.

Here is a bit of Philip Glass that I use to wake myself up when working on dull documents.

 4. What was the last show you attended? 

Oh, this is taking me back. I think it was when I went to see The Pixies with Alice and Dougall a few years ago. I left my run to see Sixto Rodriguez to late. The Pixies, as always, were superlative and they did the Doolittle album from cover to cover.

I give you The Pixies:

 5. What was the greatest show you've ever been to? 

Oh, that one has to go to David Byrne from Talking Heads playing at the Brixton Academy with a 45 piece mariachi band back in the early 90's. Fan-effing-tastic. As a lover of Talking Heads, how could you go wrong. Also saw Hunters and Collectors at the Tivoli in Adelaide in 1991 - I still remember that show. Brilliant. The Pixies at the V Festival on the Gold Coast were brilliant - especially as they had never played in Australia before.

See, more foreign music for those out of the country. Here's one of Hunters and Collectors finest.

 6. What’s the worst show you've ever been to? 

Thankfully I haven't been to many bad shows. Nothing stands out. Mind you, it's been ages since I've been to a show.

 7. What’s the most musically involved you have ever been? 

I did music all through school and played the flute. Does this count?

 8. What show are you looking forward to? 

The return of Rodriguez - and I reckon in Alt-J were to come out, I'd be there. I've really got into Alt-J but I don't think they do concerts somehow.

 9. What is your favorite band shirt? 

I scored a pink t-shirt from a Jason Mraz concert with the word "Geek" on it. Love that t-shirt.

 10. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day? 

I'd really love to see how Philip Glass works. Incredible composer.

 11. Who is one musician or group you wish would make a comeback? 

I miss The Police. And Sting. Used to love them.

 12. Who is one band/artist you've never seen live but always wanted to? 

Rodriquez. If he comes out again, I'm there. He's amazing.

 13. What was your last musical “phase” before you wisened up? 

I don't think I've ever had a musical phase. However, I did stop owning up to liking Phil Collins for many years. Now he's retro and it's okay to like him once again.

 14. How many music related videos/DVDs do you own? 

I have no idea - somewhere in the 200-300 region. Most if it is digitised now.

 15. How many concerts/shows have you been to, total? 

In my lifetime, somewhere around 50 I reckon. My memory is a bit vague on this, but this seems right.

 16. What’s your “guilty pleasure” that you hate to admit to liking? 

My trainer, Slap, has the bad habit of playing really dodgy 90's boy band music when we train. Really, I should not like it, but it makes me dance. Here are two of his dodgy collection that had us dancing in the gym on Thursday (I best take my Pixies mix in to get my street cred back). In my defence, I will dance along, but not sing along. Slap likes to sing along to the Kriss Cross... baaaaaddd.


 17. What is your favourite movie soundtrack? 

There are so many to choose from. Pulp Fiction, Bull Durham, Pretty in Pink, The Graduate, Almost Famous, Magnolia - all great sound tracks.

However, only because it was on television last night, I am giving this one to Beetlejuice. Just because you can never get too much Harry Belafonte.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Summation

Well, I set myself a few challenges at the start of the month. With an hour to go before All Saints Day and the end of that pseudo holiday, Halloween, I thought it was a good chance to check in and do a reset.

So, the challenges:

1) Save $300 a week. Done. My tuition fund for the first subject of next year is nearly there. Very pleased about this.

2) The Abs Challenge. Made it to day 17 - which is  a lot further than last  time I tried.

3) Throw out five things a day - Made it to day 20. The place is feeling somewhat less cluttered, but there is still a way to go,

4) Have a veggie juice a day - call this 75% done. I'm pretty happy with that - the nutribullet is being used four or five times a week.

So, this month, I'll attempt the same challenges - the throw out challenge might get a bit hard, but we can only try.

I've also got ten days before my major assignments are due in. Thankfully I'm in a good place - the story is at third draft stage, the research journey document is planned out and I'm up to date with my tutorials.The next couple of weekends will be spent polishing the turds, but hopefully I'll get through. (Plastic Mancunian - I encourage you to enroll in a subject or two at the Open University - even undergrad stuff - it certainly makes you hone the craft.

While I'm here, please find attached my last tute paper, of which I am quite proud. I was asked to discuss whether I would write for Young Adults. Of course I would  - but they don't need to know this :) Went down a treat with my tute group.

This piece was presented with academic references  - which have been taken out.

Would you write for Young Adults?  - A Response

Would you write for young adults? The question was asked.
The intrepid student was up to the task.
Like Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl,
Harry, Hermione, Ron and the Owl
Could she find the right person to carry the plot?
And keep the books going ‘til the themes were forgot.
Could she weave in the backdrop of dystopia found?
Or work gamification into lives all around?  
Could she find the right language to engage the child? 
Would she keep the love action acceptably mild?

For writing for children is incredibly hard,
And talented writers are all in the yard.

To research the psyche of the changing rug rat
Is a venture that leaves this writer quite flat.
They read over their ages and under pump,
And like to hear stories of things at the dump.

Of course children like poems and riddles and rhymes,
But who can be bothered with these withering chimes. 
Of course know your children and what makes them tick, 
Is far too much hard work for this grumpy old chick.

What of Horrible Histories and “Off with their heads!”
And stories that make kids hide under their beds?
The research component could be rather fun
But would the kid’s attention be finally won? 

How do you make the simple the very complex? 
This conundrum continues to ever perplex.
For children need challenges up to their mark
And writing this genre is no walk in the park.

Then there are the series that the children so love:
Tonnes of material and backstories to shove,
And themes age eternal (there’s no need to invent),
Of honour and courage and energies spent.
These themes that all children can see in themselves,
Are themes that will forever keep books on the shelves.

But I wonder what happens when all books go away
And the tablet takes over as the object of play.
How do you write for this fast-changing field?
Do you keep up with the Joneses or quietly yield?
The challenge at hand is to mix, match and grow 
And  hope that your ideas continue to flow.

Would I write for young adults? The answer is no.
It’s tricky and sticky and there’s no place to go.

Would I write for young adults? Ah, what’s the use!

I just hope in my next life I will be Dr Seuss.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Nerd Alert Book Blog

Finally, Sunday Stealing has posted a cracker to answer - just my cup of tea. A book blog - what more could I want? Somebody to grub out my first draft of my short story. Somebody to do my ironing? Somebody to vacuum the lounge...

As always, a paragraph gets degrubbed and a little housework is completed, I'll get through this tonight. There is a lot to do - after my jaunt down to Tasmania means that everything is a bit behind today. So here we go.

1. Favorite childhood book? 

I was an Enid Blyton fan when I was a kid and the Magic Faraway Tree was a firm favourite. I was also into the Little Golden Books and I remember that The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Mickey and Minnie go on a Picnic were read to me on a daily basis.

2. What are you reading right now? 

I have two books on the go. I started "The Folded Man" by Matt Hill on the recommendation of a friend, but I finished Richard Flanagan's masterpiece "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" yesterday and I've picked it up and started to read it again. It's one of the few books that I've read twice, back to back (up there with "The Book Thief" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

I've only got a library card with my university library, but I've not reserved any items. Thankfully most of the journals I require are available online.

4. Bad book habit?

Probably reading to page thirty, getting bored, throwing the book against the wall and picking it up and putting it away when I clean. Some of the books that this has happened to include "The Hobbit" (still haven't read it) and "The Great Gatsby" (finally got through this last year).

I have a tendency to buy books rather than borrow too. Dymocks have  two for three sales regularly. This used to equate to six books for nine... I'm slowly breaking this habit.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?


6. Do you have an e-reader? 

Yes, and I love my kindle.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? 

I normally read one book at a a time, but I will have a couple of references books around the place for a bit of interest. I can do one fiction and one non-fiction at the same time, but I still prefer just going one at a time.

Term time I will have a couple of reference books on the go, but term time doesn't count.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?


9. Least favourite book you've read this year (so far)? 

We did something called "The Shock of the Fall" by Nathan Filer which was okay - not great. Read it for book group and we had a run of books about mental illness / autism/ Aspergers. Although it's a great topic I was rather over it by then.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?

This has to be a toss up between Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites" and Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". Strangely, both written by Australian authors. Both are phenomenal books.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? 

Probably not often enough. I rarely read science fiction or crime novels. I have nothing against the latter, but the former I've never had much of a inkling to read - mind you, I've started the Game of Thrones series recently.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? 

Literary fiction and humorous popular fiction (up market Chick Lit - like Caitlin Moran's "How to Build a Girl".

13. Can you read on the bus? 

I do a lot of reading on the tram - but I must be facing forward. I can read on the train and on plains, but I can't read in the car.

14. Favorite place to read? 

Lying on my bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?  

I will lend books to friends - and normally I'm not fussed if I get it back - there are some books that are loaned out but with the firm word, "I do want this back at some stage." I'm still mad at whoever has my original copy of "The Book Thief". My book group are great at returning books.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? 

Again, depends on the book. I'm getting better at not turning over corners and using a bookmark. The kindle helps with this one.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Only in university text books and only in pencil. My copy of Dorian Grey is littered with pencil comments.

18. Not even with text books? 

I just admitted to that in the last question.

19. A book you didn't expect to like but did? 

Three come to mind. After hearing so much about "American Psycho" I thought I would hate it. I LOVED it. Brilliant book. Parody at it's best. In the same light, Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe" was phenomenal. The rest of the book group thought it dreadful, but I loved its rawness. We read something called "Foal's Bread" which grew on me like warts. I keep thinking about it - sign of a good book even though I struggled through it

20. What makes you love a book? 

Great writing, great characters, unseen plot points. But mainly brilliant writing (a la Flanagan)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Let's Talk Travel Meme

I want to try and finish the first draft of my short story tonight. I have about 1200 words to work with before I get this off to my study buddy. I have until 10 November to get it in as good a shape as possible for grading, along with a "Research Journey" paper,which won't be as harrore.

Regardless, Bud Weiser of Sunday Stealing fame has provided the questions.

100 words of the story. A question. Easy - yes?

Ok let’s talk travel, do you like to travel? 

I love travelling. If I won the lottery I reckon I'd travel six months of the year. Love it. I work to travel, as my coffee mug says. Though at the moment I feel like I work to pay my tuition.

Where have you been?

I've been lucky. I've visited over the years  - Indonesia (three times), Thailand, The United States (twice) The United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand on multiple occasions.

Next place you want to go? 

There are too many places I want to go. India and Japan are on the list (though after the reading I've been doing for the last few weeks, I might have to leave Japan for a bit. There might be a trip to Thailand or Bali if I can find the cash sometime in the new year. I'm overdue for a trip back to England too - it's nearly been five years. Time to go again.

What is something you MUST take with you when you travel? 

A charged up Kindle. I like to read on holidays. A bath plug is also really handy - so many hotel rooms don't have them. Wonderful when you need to wash out your smalls.

How do you like to travel? (mode of transportation)

I'm pretty happy on most modes of transport, but I really love boats. I'm happy on the Manly ferry or a boat around the Greek Island or on a punt down the Cam River in Cambridge. Love boats.

With someone, or alone? 

I travel alone. Nobody to travel with me. (Or not interested in going to places my friends want to go and vice versa)

Do you dance in your car when there are other people with you? 


If you're quiet what does it mean? 

It means I'm quiet. Sometimes it means I'm thinking. Sometimes it means I'm a bit stressed (though I tend to sing when I'm stressed). Sometimes it means I'm a bit blue. But generally it means that I'm just being quiet and there is nothing wrong with that - especially as I'm an introvert.

Favorite scent?  

Does there need to be just one. Up there, roast lamb, baking bread, dogs paws, Stella McCartney perfume (not that it appears to be being made at the moment) fresh sheets, fresh coffee.

Favorite store? 

My witch shit shop in the Royal Arcade. It's a home away from home. (

Say you wanted coffee.. what kind is your favorite?  

My current standard order is a large, skinny, decaf cappuccino. Unfortunately I've been made to swear off caffeine.

Favorite kind of pizza? 

Anything with hot salami, lots of cheese and anchovies.

Do you get embarrassed easily? 

Yes and no - depends on he situation.

Do you mind people asking you personal questions? 

Most of the time, no. There are some things I just don't talk about and I'll happily keep these boundaries.

You have a tank of gas, $50, and the day off… what do you do? 

Drive down to the Mornington Peninsula and spend the day at the Hot Springs. Bliss.

Favorite tv show? 

The only show I watch religiously at the moment is "Masters of Sex". It's a great period piece.

Song you turn the volume up all the way to listen to? 

The Master's Apprenticies, "Turn Up Your Radio". If you don't come from Australia, you won't know it, so here it is.

Something you keep in your car? 

My friend Sam gave me a toy rat - Scabbers from Harry Potter to be precise. He lives in my glove box.

 Highlight of your day? 

Both of Blarney's boys gave me a cuddle - without being asked. And I have 2300 words of my rough draft done.

 Something you do everyday that you wish you didn’t have to do? 

Wake up alone.

 Do you mind if people just show up at your house unannounced? 

Yes. I like to have at least tidied the place before they come, but I'm getting better at this one. Few people come to my flat.

What do you do when you disagree with someone? 

I rarely fight with people I disagree with. Normally I can't be bothered. Only if I respect the person and their point of view will I put up a fight. Normally I'll agree to disagree.

Do you enjoy rain? 

Love it.

Who’s your favorite person in the whole world… besides me?

Now that would be telling....