Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Questions of 2016

Oops, I'm a day late. I've been busy. It's Xmas. I'm in Tasmania. it's gorgeous down here. Going home to a stroppy pussy cat tomorrow afternoon,

But it is lovely down here. This is the view from the deck.

Image may contain: sky, tree, cloud, plant, outdoor and nature

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Do you send out Xmas cards and if so how many do you send?

No. I do send the odd Xmas email and make the odd phone call.

2. Do you write and send a holiday letter to describe your year?

No. Don't do that either.

3. What do you think of photo cards? 

It's something Americans do.

4. How about the tree thing – do you have one every year? Do you prefer a real or artificial?

I have never put up a Xmas tree in my home since I left the family home 30 years ago. No point - it's just me.

5. Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type). If you don’t have a tree, do you decorate and if so, tell us about it. (If you don’t decorate make up a story here…)

See above. Not a Christian - no room. Waste of money. Nothing to go under it.

6. Do you hang up stockings? Whose names are on them (and relationships)? 

No. No Mantle, not American. Just no.

7. Your favorite Xmas movie(s) are? 

Die Hard. Don't mind Love, Actually and It's a Wonderful Life either.

8. Tell us about an Xmas movie you hate.

Home Alone. What a pile of shite.

9. What’s favorite Xmas Song(s)

Fairy Tale of New York.

10. What holiday song makes you want to hurl?

After having two six-year-olds make up the words to Deck the Halls over the last three days, Deck the Halls has been referred to Room 101.

11. What do you prefer for your holiday meal? 

LOTS of seafood. Heaps of prawns. Oysters. Lobster. Fresh salad. Very Australian that.

12. When do you open your gifts?

When I get them, Xmas morning.

13. Do you buy gifts for your pet?

Don't have a pet, but I have been known to make Maow Maow bed blankets for his little bed.

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

I got dumped last Xmas - does that count? A green long pillow with painted kittens on it - truly awful, but I smiled through it.

15. Do you ever travel for the holiday?

As far away as I can. This year I'm in Northern Tassie. I went to Thailand one year.

16. Did you see Santa as a child?

Yes, I had that traumatic experience - like most kids.

17. Have you ever gone caroling?

Hell, no.

18. Do you drive around and look at the Xmas lights? 

No. No interest.

19. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I've not had a white Xmas, but I've had a lot of Christmases in a cold climate. Lived in England for a long time.

20. Do you know how to ice skate? If yes, when did you skate the last time? 

Can't ice skate. Never ice skated.

21. Are we crazy for thinking that the holiday season is WAY too commercial? 

No. Christmas is waaaayyyyy to commercial.

22. Have you ever worked Xmas eve or Xmas day?

Worked many a Christmas Eve - but never Xmas day. Christmas Eve doesn't have that much clout here.

23. What are your Xmas pet peeves?

Most of it. Lots of old Christmas trauma still to be totally cleared. Hence, I'm in Tasmania at the moment.

24. What’s your favorite thing about the holidays? 

Time off work.

25. Here's your chance to say something significant to our players. Go for it!

Hope you've had a lovely time, what ever you have been doing. Just think, you could be poor old George Michael. (And I will leave you with a song... poor George...)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Small Acts of Devotion

I wasn't expecting this.

Today is the hard day. Today is the day that I'm feeling more than ever. Last year wasn't like this, but I think I was still in shock mixed with a large amount of guilt-ridden relief.

I managed Friday, the anniversary of her death, without as much as a breakdown. A couple of tears in the morning and a bit of lingering sadness.

But I'm feeling it today.  That raw kick in the guts and the desire to medicate with ice cream, chocolate, gin or lashing out at people. I'm trying to keep to myself, keeping quiet and just getting on with things, and it's working to a point, but the feeling of wanting to self-medicate in a small way is overwhelming. I've had a bit of chocolate. There's been a bit too much coke zero (I average a can a fortnight). I had a very rare Malaysian meal for lunch - but that was mostly because the queue at Nandos was out the door. 

See, today my niece would have turned 17.

It's not like the anniversary of the day she died. I still feel the relief and the release, knowing that she was no longer suffering - and my sister's family didn't have to go through the hell of watching her suffer any more. I'd prepared for Friday. Talked about it with friends. Took stock of the situation. When Friday came, it was more a case of knowing that despite the fact that she is no longer here, she isn't suffering.

Running up to the anniversary I watched as a university friend was losing her child. Very different circumstances. Very different responses. As hard as it was to watch, it felt good to stand by my friend in spirit. I understand the hurt she and her family are going through and know of the adjustments she will have to make in time.

I picked myself up today, saying something. Talking about schools with a friend I mentioned "My sister sends the girls to such and such a place." Girls. Hmm. Now there is one, not two. It's those little, subtle changes in grammar that seem to spear you hardest.

Today - I wasn't prepared for today. I didn't think about it. Wasn't reliving the last days in ICU vicariously thorough a friend.

Today, she would be turning 17.

If the leukaemia hadn't come she would be learning for her driver's license, and talking about boys and that silly K-Pop music she liked. She would have been choosing subjects for Year 12 and thinking about what she would be doing after. She'd be preparing for her school holidays and fun times with friends.

But she's not here. The leukaemia came and took her away. And it's shit.

And I mourn that loss of all that potential.

I set myself a task on Sunday night - to make a paper crane.

Image result for paper crane

I remember a yoga teacher in Ubud telling me about the restorative powers of small acts of devotion. She spoke of the canang sari, or offerings that the Balinese leave outside their houses every morning, and spoke of the devotion and love that people put into these. An every day act of love and a desire to be a part of something bigger. To wish for love and luck and good fortune. A quiet time to put the hands to work for the betterment of humanity. 

Image result for hindu offerings bali

At her daughter's funeral, my friend had her friends and family make paper cranes. I love the symbolism of this, helping to let her daughter's soul take flight.

We did the same for Lolly, but her symbol was the butterfly. I see a butterfly and I always say hello to it.

So Sunday night I sat down with some paper to make this paper crane. That small act of devotion, for me, for my niece, and for my friend.

Needless to say, I suck at origami.

I didn't manage to make the paper crane. I nearly got there, but time, and patience were wearing thin.

This is my small act of devotion. For my niece. For my friend and her child. And for me.

I will make this paper crane. I feel I need to finish this small act. 

Like everything, this feeling will pass. I'm glad I can sit with this for the day, know what it is, feel it, an move on from it.

And in the meantime, I will wander around feeling as if I've been harpooned.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Here to Serve 16 Questions

Today is Christmas wrapping day. Christmas is nearly finished. Found some butterscotch for my hosts (bought him something my grandfather would like), have Barney's 12 assorted beers in the car and I will be picking up the Maow Maow this evening for a month at Aunty Pand's (lucky cat).

Five more days at work and I'm of for three weeks. Have a gentleman's agreement that I will finish the episode in draft of the mini-series I started earlier this year. I also want to get some work done on some of next year's reading if I can. Lots to do. Tasmania first (next weekend).

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing:

1. Which is worse? Being gossiped about or being lied to?

Being lied to. Have no idea why anybody would want to gossip about me anyway. I'm boring.

2. What is your favorite "Starbucks" drink? Or if you have better taste, Dunkin’Donuts?

Melbourne has far too many good coffee places to go to Starbucks Seriously, they are one up from Gloria Jeans which is run by a homophobic mega-church and I refuse point blank to buy coffee there - I will get the odd cappuccino from there, but really, by Melbourne standards - crap coffee. We don't have Dunkin Donuts here either.

3. Name an embarrassing moment (Make it good).

No. Too many to choose from.

4. Is it hard for you to ask some to forgive you when you have wronged them?

Okay - depends what it is.

5. Who do you wish you could meet?

Would love to meet William Shakespeare and grill him about a few of his plays.

6. Best food comes from which country?

Do I have to choose one?  Spain. Love Spanish food.

7. Do you like small talk, or deep conversations?

Deep conversations.

8. Who do you most want to encourage this year?

Well, there isn't much left of this year, but I have a friend that I really want to encourage to get some help, pointed, targetted help. Just how to broach this with this person...

9. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

Save 10% of your salary each week. I'm trying. Currently that 10% is paying for tuition.

10. How often do you get real sick?

I tend to get a really bad flu/chest infection once a year. Thankfully that is about it.

11. Are you a person who has a whole lot of acquaintances, or just a few very close friends?

A bit of both. A couple of close friends, but a wide circle of acquaintences too.

12. If you could cure a disease, or heal a sickness, which one would you choose?

I wish I could retrospectively cure leukaemia. I really do.

13. What was your favorite book of 2016?

Although harrowing, "The Natural Way of Things" by Charlotte Wood was excellent. I love ML Steadman's "The Light Between Oceans" was fantastic too - much better than the movie.

14. What was one of your biggest accomplishments in 2016?

In some ways, just staying upright has been an achievement. I've got two high distinctions and a distinction for my Masters course this year too. Not a bad effort.

15. If you could be guaranteed a spot on the reality show "Survivor", would you go?

Maybe. Though the sight of me in a swimsuit would probably not be good for the viewing public.

16. Which is worse? Shopping for Jeans or a bathing suit?

Bathing suit. Jeans I can do no the denim has a bit of stretch in them in larger sizes.

17. How old was your oldest living relative (still living or in the past)?

My grandmother made it to 104. My oldest currently living relative is my aunt who's tipping 90 in January.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dear Cat,

Dear Cat,

Yes, your Mum has left you with me for a few days. I know she did this about six weeks ago and you decided that it would be great to hide under the couch for those couple of days. That you were eating and using your poo-box back then meant that things couldn't have been that bad back then. You were a model house guest in may ways.

This visit has been a bit different.

Part of me likes the cat that hid under the couch a bit better.

Maybe, if you come and stay again, we can set down some ground rules - not that you seem to want to obey rules. We have had a few chats already.

If you come and stay again - and I'm sure you probably will (your Mum does travel a bit), how about this:

1) Waking me up at 2.30 am really isn't on. Please refrain from patting my face at this time. Six am is fine to wake me. You might even get fed...

2) How is it you stay off the kitchen bench at all times except when there is chicken cooling on there? How is it that you didn't look guilty when I caught you with stolen chicken on the floor? Hey? That's naughty. (But cute)

3) Do you really have to drink out of the shower recess after I've had a shower? Heaven knows what chemicals you might be ingesting.

4)  The computer keyboard is not your special couch.

5) I only bag lollies for book group once a year. How is it you lost the three jaffas I pitched in your direction under the couch - then came begging for more? Can you play with just the one jaffa?

6) The couch is not a scratching post.

7) Neither are my toes at 6 am.

8) Half of me apologises for my drunk neighbour mugging you senseless on Friday night - the other half calls it minor revenge. She thinks you're awesome. At least she's a happy drunk (back from a Christmas party - excusable) She even cleaned out your poo box while I was away for the weekend. Hopefully you were nice to her when I was away. (Reciprocal cat arrangements - I look after her old boy when they are out of town)

9) If I sit on the couch, you are welcome to join me, but please don't look as if I am the worst person in the world when I move.

10) Your tennis ball and your teddy don't live in the hallway where I can trip over them. Can you please keep them in the lounge.

11) If you are going to sit on my desk, don't look indignant and hurt when you fall off when you sit on paper that is on the edge and then slips off. And don't get stroppy when I laugh at you for falling off. You're a cat. you land on your feet.

Do you think you might be able to stick to these rules?

What was that?


Well of course. You are a cat.

As much as I want to stop taking antihistamines, and I want to get out the hoover and clean up the tumbleweed sized fur deposits you've left all around the flat, and as much as I want to change my bedding as it feels like I'm sleeping on a mattress of cat hair which gets up my nose (and my nice white Sheridan sheets are now grey with your fluff) you are very welcome to come back again.

Just have a think about the rules...

Lots of love,

Your temporary guardian,

Pand xx

Monday, December 12, 2016


There's been a bit of death around me lately, though this is not something the phases me. Rather, it makes me feel somewhat blessed.

My aunt, a midwife for over forty years, once told me that it is an honour to witness both birth and death, as you see a person entering and leaving the world. I've never forgotten that.

What both of these events always bring, is a period of adjustment.

I'm sitting here pondering my niece's passing. A year ago on Friday she left us and the family has been in a state of adjustment ever since.

At present, a friend of mine sits next to her mother's bedside as she rages against the dying of the light. My friend's mother is in her late nineties - and she doesn't want to go - fighting all the way as her body fails her.

She deserves some peace.

My other friend, who I spoke of last week, spoke eloquently of how her six-year-old daughter died in her arms on Friday night. Her end came suddenly after a short but very well loved life. My friend's faith, her friends and an outlook that looks for blessings and kindnesses is seeing her through.. In my friend's case, I'm sure this was something that she may have known could happen. Not that it makes it any easier.That she is being supported by friends, family and faith make this loss a touch more tolerable to the outside view.

My friend is only just finding her adjustments - of which there will be many.

These adjustments will come for years to come.

I spoke to my sister on the weekend and we spoke of my niece and her passing.

It's hard to know what to do or say under the circumstances of an anniversary. I know when I finally saw her after my niece had died, after they had travelled back from Brisbane, after she had re-settled in the house  she hadn't seen in three month.

It was Christmas Day last year, all I could do is hold her and say, "Well this is shit."

It is shit. It's always going to be shit. That never goes away.

We spoke of the relief we both felt when she finally passed. Her death was a long, drawn out and horrific affair. Leukaemia can do that. She said it took months to get over the guilt she felt for feeling this relief.

I can't feel bad about feeling this. Despite wishing she was still with us in body, rather than spirit, knowing that she is no longer suffering made this feeling valid and acceptable.

There have been so many adjustments. When asked of family, I say I have two nieces, but one is no longer with us. Life is cruel like that.

I did my Christmas shopping on the weekend. I mentally ticked off that I did not have to get anything for Lolly - her birthday was just before Christmas. I smiled at myself as it always, sorta/kinda used to nark me that her birthday was so close to Christmas and my sister could have been a bit more considerate about the timing of her birth. It's a silly thing to get narky about, under the circumstances.

I remember walking into my niece's room last year. There, another adjustment - the apostrophe used to be on the other side of the 's'. Gone were the K-Pop posters and make up. Replacing them, a more sedate, yet happy room, reflective of my younger niece's less rambuctious personality. They used to share a room.

It's different now.

For me, a year after Lolly died, I look at the hole that has been left. That she died will always be a criminal waste, but this is the order of life. Some of us are meant to die young, and peacefully. Others, like my friend's mother, who is raging against what ever God throws at her, will try to hold off the inevitable.

For myself - for anybody - I wish for the peaceful option. JK Rowling put it well in her "Tales of Beedle the Bard". In the tale of "The Deathly Hallows", the last brother in the tale, the one who lived the life under the cloak of invisibility, when he was ready, “And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.” 

I know that I'm blessed to bear witness to these departures, as much as they hurt. 

Then it's a matter of preparing for the adjustments.

I keep a translation of the Jewish Kaddish for the Dead close to me at times like these. The Hebrew cuts me to the quick every time. 

In English, the prayer is softened.

Exalted and hallowed be God's great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God's majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel -- speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Bearded Questions

After a rather intense week, it's nice to be able to sit down to the simplicity of writing this meme. The other joy of life - after a month of not being able to wear makeup, particularly mascara, and after a month of antibiotics and cortisone cream, the stupid infection around the corner of my left eye has passed. Yay. I don't look like an ex-member of The Borg any more. Very happy about this

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.  (Like these questions - they're good)

What is some of your favorite music?

Most of my music falls into that genre called "Adult Alternative" so bands and artists like Alt-J, Courtney Barnett, Elle King, George and Damien Rice all live in this genre. Also quite a fan of the music of the seventies and eighties - particularly Talking Heads, The Pixies, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Rock is good too, though very partial to Classical music on occasion. Can't abide by country and western music however.

List your three favorite scents. 

This is a bit weird. Roast lamb- particularly Mum's roast lamb. Cookie Man (No Granny May's or some other chain's) cooking biscuits. Dogs paws in the morning. (Yeah, that is strange, but also soothing.)

How do you ground yourself or recharge? 

Normally go for a walk or work out in the gym. Running used to be great too. Need to loose some weight to do that again.

Any ways you treat or spoil yourself? 

I'm a bit of a sucker for high end cosmetics and perfume. Bring on a small bottle of Jo Malone.

Besides your blog, do you have a creative past-time? 

Yeah, I write. I also love to knit, crochet and cook.

Share something difficult you've been through. 

My niece passed away from leukaemia a year ago this Friday coming. That was dreadful. The alleged love of my life ceased all contact two days later for no reason. That bad enough for you? Wasn't a good time. My niece is at peace. This keeps me sane. The other I've just struck from humanity.

What helps you fall asleep?

I normally fall asleep easily, but if I can't, a couple of drops of lavender oil on a tissue near my pillow and I drop right off.

What is one strength and one weakness of yours?

Strength - I'm very resiliant and bounce back quickly. Weakness - I get bored easily and I am very destructive when I get really bored.

Have you ever received a letter or written one to someone else?

I am over 40 and have lived overseas pre-internet. Of course I have.

What makes you feel powerful, what breathes life into you? 

Writing and lifting weights. Not in that order, but I like feeling strong - both of these features of my life do this for me.

What's your favorite thing to do at night? 

Write, read, watch telly and relax.

If you could go back to any era, what would they be?

After seeing "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" I'd love to go back to the twenties.

Your favorite things to wear at home? 

Either nothing or my dressing gown. One of the wonderful things about living alone is being able to wander around naked.

If you could be immortal or have an extremely long life span which would you pick and why? 

If I was to have an extremely long life span I would need a couple of caveats attached, such as my body would not age and I could support myself. Same goes for being immortal. Whey would I want to be like the Sybil of Cumae who shrunk to the size of a grain of sand? No thanks to either unless physical and mental health were ensured.

Tell us about something positive you have done for yourself or someone recently.

I've been there for a couple of people who are looking death in the face in this last week. I hope I've been positive, but I feel like I've been standing with them as they have let (and are letting) loved ones go. I hope this has been positive for them - where there seems there is no positives.

One thing you like about your appearance?

I like my ankles and my hair.

Something that makes you feel better after a hard day? 

Friday evenings you will often find me in a movie theatre just chilling in front of a story.

If you have one, name a favorite book & movie. 

Favourite book:  Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Favourite movie:  Oh hell, Just one?  Bull Durham.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Watching, Waiting

I have a privileged position on the periphery. I cherish this position. It is one of honour as you get to witness the goings on of others, yet you do not have to go be involved.

You just get to watch. And pray.

Currently, I sit here on the sidelines, holding a friend and her family close. My friend is a person I have never met in the flesh. We met through our online university course. A singularly remarkable woman and writer, I have been following her journey for the last eighteen months. A woman of breathtaking grace, she lives a life of hope and joy under what some would say are difficult circumstances. Her sunny presence gets her and her family through some of the harshest of obstacles. It's a pleasure to watch as her attitude sees her grateful for a well-loved life.

We are of different beliefs and faiths. That doesn't matter. She's a wonderful person. That is all that counts to me in a friend. I hope she doesn't mind me calling her a friend. I find her inspirational.

Last week, things took a dramatic turn. Her daughter, already living with a litany of medical issues, was rushed to hospital. The child went from being fine to being rushed to a paediatric intensive care unit which is where she remains.

 And I am taken back to this time last year, when my nearly sixteen-year-old niece was in the same situation.

All you can do is watch, and wait, and send love.

My friend is articulate in telling of her thoughts and feelings. This is another privilege to hear, and to bear witness. I watched as my my sister was in the same position this time last year. There is nothing you can do. I used to send her dog and cat videos over Facebook. If I could give her a ten second smile a day, then I had done my best to bring a little relief to what must be the most awful of situations. Like my sister, my friend is a long distance from her home. This must be alienating as well, but like my sister, my friend is a very strong woman. She finds peace where she can.

So we watch, and wait, and pray.

It is not my business to know of prognoses or the like in this situation. When my niece was in this position, I was getting daily family updates - away from my sister's public updates where she tried to keep a sunny view on things, after a number of catastrophic medical events, it was evident that my niece was dying and that there would be a time when the machines would be turned off and she would not be there.

We're dealing with that at the moment - that she's not here. The anniversary of her death comes next week. She would have been seventeen in a fortnight, She would have been starting Year 12 in January. Getting her driver's license. Seeing boys... all these things she never did.

But you don't think about that stuff. Well, you try not to.

What you're left with is the memories. An aura of the person who permeates every pore of you that never leaves, even though the physical presence is not there. I see butterflies, and smile. I hear Korean pop music and grimace. I see giggling teenage girls on the tram and feel sad. She's not here any more. The hole is immense. It can't be filled.

I don't know what will happen with my friend's daughter. Part of me is reading between the lines the facebook posts that are provided daily. Where there is life, there is hope. But when there is life, there are other, greater mysteries as well. There are no certain outcomes.

All I hope is that my friend, like my sister, can feel the fortress of love that surrounds her and her family through this time.

I also hope that I don't have to watch a friend have a terribly sick child in intensive care again. It brings its own special kind of agony that words can barely describe.

I can only sit on the periphery and quietly send love.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Long List

It happens every year and it's something I face with trepidation and disdain.

It's our annual book choosing evening for our book group.

It should be a simple process find two books to put up for book group. You have to champion them at book group. They have to be of literary fiction or very good popular fiction standard. Preferably under 500 pages. Easily accessible in bookshops, libraries and online (so the novella your cousin Alice self published won't cut it. It also can't be non-fiction, autobiography or biography - as the latter two are hard to talk about and there is a consensus that there are more than enough fiction books to talk about.

Then, on book group night, everybody champions their books - and we get to vote on which books to read. Everybody is given a bag of 25 lollies. You get to vote on the books you want to read (and you can't vote for your own) The top 12 books are chosen for the year and the reading order is discussed and set down. Everybody knows what is being read and when It's proved a great way of choosing books - and people have a book Christmas list sorted.

For me, what's most difficult is deciding on two books to put up.  There are so many to choose from - and we only have to put up two.

So as with every year, I make a long list and try and decide over the coming week which books I'm going to take with me next Tuesday night. Quite often, it's a bit of a last minute decision, as there are so many good books out there and I can only take two. The book group have to get their book choices in by Sunday - that way if anybody can't make the meeting they get a vote (also stops double ups).

Anyway, here are my long list of books to take along next Tuesday to book group. Suggestions are welcome.

1)  The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

Pluses:  Brilliant book. Unexpectedly and wonderfully researched historical drama about a woman botanist called Alma, who lived a most unexpected life. Lots to talk about. Gorgeously written - I drank in every word.

Minuses:  At just under 500 pages could be seen to be a bit of a house brick.

2) The Night Guest - Fiona McFarlane

Pluses: A mysterious woman comes to live with an old lady in her isolated beachside home. She's haunted by a tiger that keeps coming into the house (on a Queensland beach - go figure) What could go wrong? This won many prizes two years ago and it's poignant and relevant all at once. You keep reading as you need to know what is happening. Australian author.

Minuses:  Not many - might not be everybody's cup of tea. 

3) Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey

Maude has dementia. She lives at home by herself, but she's at a point where independent living is almost beyond her - to be honest, she needs somebody keeping an eye on her full time. Maude doesn't live in the present - and the one thing she is adamant about is that her sister, Elizabeth, is missing. Elizabeth has not been seen for nearly 50 years. An unusual murder mystery that spans decades - and has a wonderful look into the life of a dementia sufferer.

Pluses:  A short, quick read. Very topical.

Minuses: might push a few buttons of the book group. Most of us have aging parents. Some of us are tackling / have tackled this sort of thing.

 4) What's Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies

I adore this book. But I'm not sure other people will. The book follows the life of Francis Cornish, art historian, collector and international man of mystery. I really is the most perfect book. Second in a series (The Cornish Trilogy - The Rebel Angels, What's Bred in the Bone and The Lyre of Orpheus) it is perfect on its own - I know I read this before reading The Rebel Angels. It really is quite perfect in its own right. And Robertson Davies is a Canadian gem - up there with Atwood.

Pluses: A very intelligent read - entertaining yet challenging.

Minuses: A very intelligent read - challenging. May also be a little hard to track down, though the interwebs would be able to get it in there.

5)  Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Chris Cleeve

 I loved this guy's first book. "The Other Hand" or "Little Bee" as it is known was one of the best book group books we've ever had. This is the author's third or fourth book and it looks really interesting. Set in World War II (and I am known as "war girl" it's allegedly set in London and that is about all I know. I just love the author and it's got reasonable write ups.

Pluses: Known author, popular topic.

Minuses: Only just under 500 pages, could be seen as a bit long.

6) Leap - Myfanwy Jones

I don't know much about this other than once again it is a prize winner and I know it has a bit of a local following. All I know about this is that it's main theme is grief and redemption.

Pluses: Easy to get, not too long (270 pages) Australian content

Minuses:  Can't really think of any.

7) Black Rock White City - A.S. Patric

Another book about death and grief. Set in Melbourne, a couple from Serbia try to make a new life for themselves in Melbourne. It's a debut novel and it won the Miles Franklin Award this year.

Pluses: It won the Miles Franklin. Not too long. Local content.

Minuses: Another book about grief. It won a prize - doesn't always mean it's good book club fodder.

8) Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood

This is an Atwood I haven't read. I know next to nothing about it, other than it is an Atwood. We've done Atwood before (The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake) and she always goes down well - saying this, I tried to read The Blind Assassin and got about thirty pages into it and threw it against the wall and picked it up a few weeks later when I was cleaning. Cat's Eye has had great reviews. It's Atwood. Atwood is God.

Pluses:  It's Atwood. Easily obtained. It's Atwood. Great reviews. It's Atwood.

Minuses: Nearing 500 pages, it's a little on the long side. Some of the book group might be over Atwood (how could you be over Atwood? It's like being over JK Rowling or Richard Flanagan.

9)  Swing Time - Zadie Smith

I've heard a lot about Zadie Smith's lastest novel. Most of it good. She wrote the incredible White Teeth, which I remember reading on a beach in Mykonos some sixteen years ago. Zadie Smith is about London stories and hyper-realisms. She's about families and every day truths. She's somebody I want to read once again.

Pluses:  She's Zadie Smith. It's all around. It's relevant.

Minuses: It's a bit on the long side of things. She can alienate some people.

So there lies my dilemma. What to choose. What to choose?

I also have to do the really hard part of things - buy the lollies and bag up the lollies. The group asked if they could get the lollies in. My response - "You buy 'em, you bag 'em!.  Strangely - I'm bagging lollies on Sunday night.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Boat Questions

Another late one. I've had a lovely quiet weekend culminating in a trip to the movies to see "The Founder". Now I'm getting ready for an early night as I'm off to see a uni buddy first thing in the morning.

So here are this week's questions. supplied, as always, from Sunday Stealing.


I'm a sucker for petrol station donuts. Especially the banana custard ones.


Probably a dolphin or a seal. I love both of them to bits.


Julianne Moore. Great actress. Great hair.


We don't really have diners over here as this is Australia, but if I'm in a road house or run down cafe, hot dogs, done the old fashioned way, are great.


Orwell's "1984" It's all got a bit too close for comfort.


I have a very holey and very comfortable pair of black knickers that I just can't throw out.


Bruce the Bum Bruise. Tripped at a friend's place, collected a garden bed on the way down. It's still giving me jip in the gym.


Rock Concert. Last one I went to was a few years ago - The Pixies are amazing.


I'd love a large two bedroom flat in Richmond.


? Strange question. Probably a t-shirt. Like plain old t-shirts.


A very, very nice car. I have a very nice car now.


Gluttony. The rest of them I have mostly under control.


I saw "The Founder" today. I give it four stars. Really interesting and Michael Keaton is excellent in it.


A cure for leukaemia that doesn't decimate the patient. I so wish I could do that.


Clive Owen!


London. 2010.


Lunch (I have to make my lunch for the week)


None, but I borrow friends cats regularly when they go away.


South Australia, though I've lived in this flat for nearly eleven years - that is something of a record.


My mum gives me a $100 voucher for Christmas and my birthday.


A pair of 3/4 leggings. They were bought today.


I really enjoyed working in testing in a telecommunications company. That was cool.


Irony. Some silliness.


I'd murder an ice cream at the moment.


I have a friend who has a child who is in an intensive care unit at the moment. Coming up to the anniversary of my niece's passing, knowing this time last year my niece was in the same spot is pushing all sorts of buttons. My friend's daughter has completely different condition to my niece, but my heart goes out to her, her family, and especially her Mum. She doesn't leave my thoughts much and I wish them all a speedy and peaceful resolution - whichever  way things may go. I can only keep them in my thoughts.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Song a Day November: What's Up

Half the battle of posting a song a day is finding the song that suits the day - and then finding the words to write about it. So my last song is a little late. Never to worry.

There were a couple of songs that nearly made it. Maybe a Beatles song, I thought. Maybe a bit of David Bowie - A Space Oddity is never amiss. Find something a bit more alternative I thought - Maybe Damien Rice or Alt-J. Maybe go political and find some Redgum or Billy Bragg.

But after two days of wracking my brain, the lyrics that were sitting in my brain came from his song.

In particular "And I pray, oh my god do I pray, I pray every single day, for a resolution..."

Okay, the last word is a mondegreen - it's actually revolution - but resolution works nicely here.

Something that's been on my mind is a study and facebook friend of mine whose child is currently in an intensive care unit. It appears there is hope, but having my family in the same position this time last year, it's brought back a lot of the feelings from last year and that feeling being overwhelmed by what was going on around the place. That sense of helplessness and fear - and part of me just wanting a resolution of all the angst felt at the time.

Anyway, I found this treasure, which is on many people's "I never want to hear that song again" list, up there with James Blunt's 'You're Beautiful", Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and my special favourites, INXS's "The Swing" and Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" albums (If I hear either again it will be too soon.)

I will always remember this as one of my London songs. Working at a merchant bank, three nights a week in the pub after work, a far easier and carefree time, when I smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights a week and thought I was invincible.

I know much better now.

And I still love this song, even if it was overplayed back in the day.

And I still want her boots.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Song a Day November:Show Me The Way

What ever happened to Peter Frampton? He was wonderful. He had a string of hits in the seventies and then all but disappeared. I know he's not dead. I know he's still playing music. I know that he should have been an absolute legend, but the fickle world of music seems to have taken him away from us, although, if you're really lucky, Gold FM or what every your classic rock station may be will play this little beauty or,"Baby, I Love Your Way."

I remember Peter Frampton from childhood. This song reminds me of summer down the beach as a child, with this blaring from the car radio.

It's still a great song. It's a pity he didn't really get out of the seventies in one piece like the Rolling Stones.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Song a Day November: Song Two

I've nearly done it. Yes, there have been days when I've had to double up because it's been busy and getting out the blog post has been a bit difficult - but it's been fun to look at the music in my life and write about it, even if it's only a few lines.

I love Blur - and I love this song. It's another song that reminds me of London and those happier, freer days when we used to go out clubbing. It reminds me of nights out in pubs when the world was just a little more innocent. And it reminds me of jalepeno poppers down at a pub after drama class.

And it's really hard to accept that this came out twenty years ago. Before all men wore product in their hair and shoulder pads had just disappeared and Barings Bank was still around and the world had a little hope left in it.

The great thing about this song. You don't have to know the words. You just have to remember.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Song a Day November: Skinny Love

Heard a cover of this on the way home. A good cover. Birdy's cover of the song (about the best cover she's done)

But I think this is better. Bon Iver is bloody good.

In the home straight now.

Song a Day November: Mexican Radio

Once again I'm in need of a happy song.

So here is a happy song for yesterday.

The Silver Thanksgiving Questions.

Oh, this should be fun.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

How many Thanksgivings do you attend?

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

Where do you attend Thanksgiving(s)? 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

What is your favorite dish? 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

What is your least favorite dish at Thanksgiving?

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here. However, how can pumpkin be anything other than roasted and served with a roast dinner? Pumpkin pie - eww.

What, if any, are your Thanksgiving traditions? 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

Name your FAV thing about Thanksgiving. 

No idea. Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

Do you make anything for Thanksgiving? If yes, share what and why. 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

Out of everything you eat at Thanksgiving, what can YOU cook the best?

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here. Don't Americans get everything out of cans anyway? That's cheating.

What do you drink with your Thanksgiving feast?

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

Has there ever been a feud during your Thanksgiving?

No. We don't have Thanksgiving. No Indians. No Turkey.

Do you have Appetizers before you Thanksgiving meal?

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have Thanksgiving here.

How many people attend your Thanksgiving(s)? If yes, who?

I have American friends and family who might come to my Thanksgiving if I was in America...

Have you ever missed a Thanksgiving?

Yes. Because I am Australian and I live in Australia. Just sounds like an excuse for a family fight.

What kind of pie/cake/dessert do you eat for dessert?

Ice cream. But I do that anyway, because I'm Australian. Nothing special about that.

Do you ever play games at Thanksgiving?

No. Because we don't have Thanksgiving.

Name 3 things you are Thankful for:

My friends. My sense of humour. The fact that I'm Australian and we don't have Thanksgiving.

Is there anyone who has normally attended Thanksgiving, that will not be there this year? Who?

No. Because being Australian, we don't have Thanksgiving.

Name the funniest person at your Thanksgiving this year and tell us more.

Nobody. No Thanksgiving, no funny people at the table.

Which person eats the MOST?

Nobody. No Thanksgiving. Nobody over to eat a large roast meal at the start of Summer. It's just another Thursday in November here.

Which person eats the LEAST?

Nobody. No Thanksgiving. Nobody over to eat. It's just another Thursday in November here.

Do any animals attend Thanksgiving dinner?

Why? Dead animals lie on the table and get eaten at Thanksgiving? Yes?

If so, do they get Thanksgiving scraps?

See above.

Who carves the turkey?

What turkey? Turkey can come out dry too.

Have you ever had to make Thanksgiving all on YOUR OWN?

No. Because I've never had Thanksgiving because I'm Australian.

Do you get along with the people you have thanksgiving with?

See above.

Is your Thanksgiving formal, or do you just do whatever? 

Whatever. See, it's Australia and just another Thursday in November. Why would be get formal for such a day.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Song a Day November: Friday

Sorry, this has to be done.

Of course it has to be done.

Worst song in the world - well it is up there :)

Jeff Bridges did a pretty go version of it on The Newsroom too.

See, I bet that made your day.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Song a Day November: Blister in the Sun

I love when you have a favourite song and then you find out it's about something else entirely.

Having loved the Violent Femmes since high school and university. I can sing along to both their first album and "The Blind Leading the Naked" without thinking.

So just like when I found out, aged 35, that The Vapours "Turning Japanese" was about masturbation - I was equally as horrified (well maybe not horrified...) to find out that this song was about the same thing.

You think about it... let me go off... like a blister in the sun... let me go off... big hands I know you're the one...

What else is it going to be about?  Like , doh!.

I was also really really pleased to see that Stephen Colbert had Gano et al on his show and he went all fanboy.

I'd go all fangirl too... Gordon Gano is up there with the Pixies when it comes to a God-like status.

When I'm walking, I strut my stuff, then I'm so strung out... bah-bah - bah-bah...

They don't write songs like they used to.

Song a Day November: Take Me To The River

Yesterday's song is late again. Oops. Busy day yesterday, culminating in a mason's meeting.

Which is why this little ditty, penned in the seventies and covered in the early eighties by Talking Heads.

I never tire of this song.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Song a Day November: Escape

Song two:

Okay, walking to book group, playing Pokemon (as per usual when walking places) when crossing the coat hanger bridge I pass an old colleague.

Be still my barely beating ovaries.

Craig (Not his real name) is what you'd call thinking woman's crumpet. See, he's an engineer. A bit on the lanky side. Hyper-intelligent. Has this quite way about him. Huge blue eyes.

And while I was working with him, I always had just the tiniest crush on him. Just a little one. Being in my mid forties, thankfully you get to have a little crush on somebody  you don't act like a schoolgirl.

But yeah, for a middle aged engineer he really is quite fine.

So we pass each other on the Coat Hanger foot bridge across the Yarra. I get a "Hello" and a beaming smile. He gets the same off of me.

I skip all the way to book group.

Makes up for this morning when I watched as a smacked out junkie nearly did a swan-dive onto the train lines. Thankfully her slightly less smacked out friend pulled her back from the edge of the platform (after instructing him to go look after his friend... sheesh, junkies - one of the traps of inner city life)

Anyway, this if for Craig, my middle-aged, blue eyed, married father of a couple if kids and an engineer. This is for you

One can have a little fantasy, n'est-ce pas?

Song a Day November: Rapture

Two songs today, as I missed yesterday's song. I blame int on the weather. Melbourne, bless it, has these great springs where it will be 38 one day and 17 the next. It was glorious yesterday lunchtime - not it's raining again. Oh what fun.

Anyway, today's first song comes from my high school days. I love Blondie. I love their use of French. I love the jivey bits they put in their early stuff. It's so disco, you just want to shove on your roller skates and spray on jeans and go down the disco.

Blondie will always make me smile.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Song a Day November: Pickles from the Jar

I get this song. I get this song because it talks, in part, about regional accents.

Because I'm from Adelaide and I say "Fr-ah-nce"  - the Adelaide long A.

It's cute and catchy.


The Getting to Know You Questions

Another late start after a weekend of good movies and a lot of relaxing. I have one more tute paper to complete and then I am eight subjects down on my Masters.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Would you prefer to be smart or happy, and why?

There is part of me that thinks you can't be too smart and happy as well - being smart sometimes means you don't get to be that happy because you overthink things. Still, I like being smart - and I'm fairly happy. I don't think you can answer this easily.

2. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?

Flying - would save so much on public transport.

3. What is your biggest regret in life so far?

Not taking counselling during my first round of uni. I still would have got there - and I wasn't ready at the time, but I think that is a choice I would do over.

4. If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be and why?

Noah from "The Notebook" is pretty good. What a man.

5. If money and career were no object, where in the world would you choose to live?

Probably London, somewhere near Little Venice. Love it around there.

6. What’s the last book you read that you simply could not put down until you finished?

That would be a toss up between ML Steadman's "The Light Between Oceans" and Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep South". Both are amazing.

7. What television show do you plan your day around in order to see it live?

Nothing really. That is why we have Netflix. Though I will watch Embarrassing Bodies if it's on.

8. What extracurricular activities or sports did you participate in when you were in high school?

None. I was terribly unsporty at school. And school was a half hour drive away and we always took the bus.

9. Of all your pet-peeves, which is the strangest?

I really dislike people who are not polite to wait staff. I have nearly lost friends over that one. I've been behind the counter of a store. Been there - hate when people are rude.

10. Is it better to beg forgiveness or ask permission?

Forgiveness. Who asks for permission anyway? Not me.

11. If you inherited or won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Buy a house. Easy.

12. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Far too many to mention. Do I have to pick one?

13. Which fictional character do you believe is the most like yourself?

There are times I feel like Yelena from Uncle Vanya. There are times I feel like Olive from Little Miss Sunshine. There are times I am Jo from Little Women. There are times I'm Bridget Jones. There are not many spinsters in their mid forties in literature or film.

14. Are you superstitious? If so, what are you most superstitious about?

Not really. But I don't walk under ladders and I do touch wood out of habit.

15. Do you believe it is vital to everyday life to know what is happening in the world around you?

To a point. I read a lot of independent media (The Guardian) and around a bit - just not Murdoch. Murdoch is propoganda.

16. What is the nicest thing anybody has said, or you believe they would say, about you?

You're the most intelligent person I know. This was said to me a few years ago. That made my year.

17. What are your life and career goals in 5, 10 and 15 years?

Finish my masters, walk the Camino de Compostella di Santiago, stay gainfully employed, write the great Australian novel and maybe buy a house and get married. The first three are two year goals.

18. Would you rather live in a large house in the suburbs, or a tiny apartment in the city with an excellent view?

Tiny apartment with a view. The though of living in the burbs with a large garden with a lawn to mow fills me with the utmost horror.

19. What are you three weaknesses?

Stubborn, perfectionist, over-achiever. I also get bored easily and I get destructive when I'm bored.

20. How would you describe yourself in three words?

Polite, caring, smart.

21. Which is more logical to follow—your heart or your head?

Follow your heart. It will never lead you astray.

22. Are you spiritual or religious in any way? If so, how?

I'm spiritual. I'm a freemason. But I'm not religious - though I love being in religious houses. I am firmly not a Christian, though I have mainly Judeo-Christian ethics.

23. If you could have any career possible, what would it be?

A writer or a lighthouse keeper.

24. Have you ever been arrested or contracted any diseases?

Never been arrested. Other than colds and fle, I had the mumps as a kid and Glandular Fever (I think it's called mononucleosis in the US) That's all. That will do. Just recovering from a small but annoying staph infection.

25. Which is better—a novel or a movie?

Novel. Always the novel.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Song a Day November: Zombie

We spent last week at school looking at copyright, copyleft and the joys of the intricacies of intellectual property, which is why I've thought to put this song up today.

After the court case around Robin Thicke and his Blurred Lines song being sued by the estate of Marvin Gaye I got to wondering just where to these blurrred lines stop.

This song came on the radio as I was driving home from dinner last night. A fun song. A great song.

But why hasn't Firsher Z sued him for ripping of his song. Have a listen to this - you ask me, it's the same song.

I think Billy Joel could get in on the act too for some bits that seem to have come straight from this:

This copyright stuff leaves my head in a spin. 

However, when Zomibe comes on the car radio, I end up singing one of the other two songs. Is this just a fluke or the way my brain is wired? Something to think about anyway.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Song a Day November: Mellow Yellow

So, I'm $100 lighter after a trip to the doctor and a visit to the chemist for antibiotics. Seems the weeping, crusty, sore, itchy eye is something real like a staph infection. Oh joy. A few days of the colourful capsules should do the trick. I'm looking forward to waking up without a crusty left eye.

So, I'm about to go out, sans makeup near my weeping, crusty, sore, itchy eye over to the other side of town for dinner and I needed a car trip song.

I have a memory from childhood, on a long car trip, somewhere, when this came on the radio.

It gets stuck in your head.

The song is older than me.

And it's still fun.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Song a Day November: Hello

I have to make a confession. I really, really, really don't like Adele. Seriously. If I don't have to hear another Adele song again I know I won't be missing much. There is lots of other better music out there that will not drive you insane.

It's not so much that she's god-awful - she isn't. I'll admit, she can sing, she has talent and she doesn't write a bad song. It's not like she's Delta Goodrem who's music is so beige it could be played in elevators for the next fifty years and nobody will notice.

Adele, bless her, I sort of feel sorry for her  - I mean she's still bleating on about her ex-boyfriend after all these years. You wonder if she needs counseling.

The other problem I have with Adele is that  she's been overplayed for year. I could happy go without ever hearing "Rolling in the Deep" again for the rest of my life. It's a bit like my aversion to INXS - which was played ad nauseum on a skiing trip when I was sixteen and I've disliked them ever since. It was enough to make your ears bleed.

So why have I chosen an Adele song for today's song of the day? 

I thought it was songs called "Hello". I hated Lionel Ritchie's song too - always thought that was dreadful.

Well, despite hating this song with a passion when Adele sings it, I've found this cover which makes it sort of palatable. It appears it takes 40 Marlboro a day and the odd shot of moonshine to make this work.

 And it's not too bad.

Far better than the caterwauling of that chic from London.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Song a Day November: All Apologies

Don't you just love it when a song gets into your head?

I've always loved Nirvana. They remind me of my time in London, getting drunk in pubs with my drama mates and a much simpler life. Then Kurt Cobain went and stuck a shot gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.

All Apologies is great which ever way it's done - I love acoustic versions more than anything.

But those last lines - they really get stuck in your head. A classic ear worm, I've had the words - "All in all is all we are" going around my head for the last 24 hours.

Oh, and I've sorted out the mondegreen in the coda too - I always thought it was, "Mary, Bear me", not "Married, Buried"...

You don't get much better than Nirvana. And to think, without the Pixies, they would never be here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Song a Day November: The Bucket

A summer song for today. Love summer songs, as it feels like Summer is coming soon.

I never got into the band as much as many of my friends, but I think The Kings of Leon need a visit. And soon. Even if they appear to be hipsters.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Song a Day November: Dumb Ways to Die

I had a bit of an emotional kick yesterday.

See, I went to see Arrival at the cinema, before I was due to catch a plane back to Melbourne. The movie is great. Really great, but there was an early scene where you see the protagonist and her daughter in a montage of her life (and I can tell you this without spoiling anything about the movie) The daughter is a baby, then a toddler, then a child, then a teenager - then a sick teenager, then a dying teenager.

And it was the sights of this that left me feeling harpooned.

The feeling passed after a while, but still, I was left to acknowledge that I miss my niece, Lolly and the circumstances of her death leave me perplexed as to why she had to go in such a way.

Arrival is a great film. I want to see it again  - and I'm ready for the emotional sucker punch now. I would like to go back and see it again - I missed the last five minutes as I was busting for a pee - serves me right for getting a medium coke zero to drink rather than the small.

Then I got on the plane. One of the films available to watch was "Me, Earl and the Dying Girl". Again, another great film - but could I watch it. No. The film's about a girl who has leukaemia and how her friendship group deal with it. Again, an excellent film - which I think I saw before Loll passed away. Regardless, couldn't watch it yesterday. All a bit sensitive.

So this leaves with today's choice of song, which comes from a strange and treasured memory. My nieces and I sang this at the dinner table a few years back. My sister was horrified that we were singing about death. My mother looked at us as if we had two heads for singing and dancing (yes, you have to do the dance with the song) at the dinner table. But I remember singing and dancing along with both my nieces to this song and having a great laugh. That it's a song about being careful around train stations and level crossings makes it even stranger.

I think about dumb ways to die - and leukaemia is a really dumb, tragic, awful, horrid and horrific way to die.

But this silly little ditty, produced on a shoestring by a government agency to tell stupid people to play it sage near train lines will always hold good memories for me.

Miss ya, Loll.