Friday, July 31, 2020

July Check in - August Goals

It's 9.30, I have school tomorrow and still I have two crits to do for class, which starts at 9 a.m. I've had dinner, done a crit, done a roller class and a day of work. But we persist.

It's goal day. Yay. Let's see how we did in July.

1) Work on the novel every day.

Nearly done. Sometimes I just thought about it, other days I wrote. would have liked to have done more, but I've been chipping away at this. I also put some of this in for my Varuna Fellowship application. We'll see how that goes.

2) Read four books

I've read two, half way through another. Damascus nearly did me in. Now reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman - and I'm not enjoying it. Ho hum.

3) Eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from my diet

I've not done badly on this. Though not perfect, I've minimised most of these things. Sugar is the hard one, but we've been not too bad.

4) Get at least 45 minutes of exercise five times a week.

Done, goal acheived. Exercise keeps me sane.

5) Every day, deal with 20 things.

I've got a 50% one this. I fell off the wagon mid month, but for the first two weeks, I dealt with 20 things in the flat on a daily basis. It was good. Need to get back to this goal.

6) Get the Mason's books done by the end of the month.

Didn't happen. Still in a pile by the bookshelf - but on the good side of things, I did buy a printer meaning I can get started on this soon. On the other side of things, I can't drop the books down with the person who will take these to the accountant as she is well out of my suburb.

And August's Goals?

Well, I'm going light on goals this month. It's my birthday in the middle of the month and I'm not putting any more pressure on myself considering we're in lockdown and it looks like it's about to get worse with more restrictions.

So because it's birthday month I'm going light.

Write three chapters of the novel.

Should be doable. It's a challenge, but doable.

No chips.

Chips have snuck back into my diet. I don't need chips. As I have a doctors appointment in a fortnight I'm on a very clean eating regime until then. But no chips. Chips are comfort food. I need comfort - I just don't need chips.

Read four books

Time to get on that one again. I'm a writer. I need to read.

Try and have a good birthday.

We're in lockdown. I have to try and have a good day.

The exercise will be maintained too.

But I feel good about these goals. I'm hoping August, no matter how restricted in movement we are, will be a good month.

Today's song:

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Writing with Dev: Part 13

How are you feeling?

Yeah, well, I'm middling. I've just finished watching Normal People and I'm a bit perplexed - mainly because I understand the relationship between Marianne and Connell on a celular level and I'm not sure if I am either supposed to admit to that or be proud of that. It's only elements of the relationship, but yeah, I get it.

I also feel like a bit of a failure. I got my Varuna application in yesterday, and to quote a classmate of mine, it feels like I've paid $65 to feel rubbish about my writing. It's good that we both feel the same about this - but you never know.

What do I need more of in my life?

Oh, at the moment I would love a lot more intimacy. I haven't been able to get to Sydney since the middle of March and I am really feeling this. Travelling to Sydney once a month for the last - oh hell, nine years, has been something that has kept me feeling like a fully rounded woman. I don't have that now - yes there are phone calls and emails, but it is not the same as a cuddle.

When was the last time I felt creativity or art? 

I have spurts of creativity when I write, and I got one of these last week in writing class, when we were doing our writing exercise. I love finding myself in that creative space where you just have to go where your fingers, and your found words take you. I had to describe what was going on outside my window - always a fun thing at 7 pm on a Winter's night in Richmond - but it was fun - mainly because I stare at brick wallif I look directly to my right, so I needed to embellish a few things - I kept it local - never a bad thing.

On my corkboard I found myself looking at a Mapplethorpe exhibition flyer. The exhibition was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and I had gone along with my friend Mariah. Her then eighteen year old son wanted to come along with us, but we discouraged this, as going to a Mapplethorpe exhibition with your Mum is not something Mariah wanted to experience.

Image result for mapplethorpe

Mapplethorpe is incendiary. He's controversial. He does a great line in male nudes. His erotica is off the charts, skirting art and pornography - it's hardcore stuff - bondage, SMBD,  anal fisting, homo-erotica for the most part. But his portraits jump off the wall at your and delve into our soul. Mariah and I loved the exhibition - not only because we got to see a photographic genius, but we got to see it together.

Image result for Robert Mapplethorpe Portraits

Sounds like I need to bake a cake this weekend. Get creative.

Now to write about the earth mother sculpture.

There is a quiet loveability to her shape,
Rounded, through years of having the edges beaten away,
Sheltering her from the harshness the world provides,
There to give respite and shelter to others,
There for me to berate,
As I negate my own perfection
With a callous, careless treatement of her better self.
Nobody tells her of the better angels
Standing their ground behind her,
Whispering encouragement
As she puts her best fact toward the world,
Never givng herself the time to nurture herself.
She is woman, the timeless woman,
A woman who swallows her own pain,
Insulating herself from the terrors of the day.
Curling up into a ball to shelter her soul
Until some comfort finds her.

Musk Sticks

I still think musk sticks are one of the most underated lollies you will ever find in the supermarket. You get them at Coles - a big bag costs you $2. I think they should be more expensive - they are awesome. The great thing about them is they never change - except when you let the air get to them and they get hard, rather than chewy. Me - I like them on the hard side - far better.

Still, of all the classic sweets you find there, the musk stick beats the bananas and the spearmint leaves and the teeth lollies and the freckles for dead.

I love that Australia has its own lolly culture. It's unfortunate that nobody older than 30 remember the 20 cent bag of lollies.

Today's Song:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Things I don't like about being a writer

I am a writer.

Writing is what I do.

But it is hard. It's not easy or romantic or glamorous.

You sit on your arse a lot.

You stare at the screen a lot.

You berate yourself a lot.

You re-read everything your write and realise you're crap at what you do.

You realise that there are very few original ideas in the world.

And everything you see you will inevitably put through your writer's filter.

You will be guaranteed that when you submit something you'll find a typo in the manuscript five minutes laster.

It ruins reading for you as you read like a writer, finding holes in EVERYTHING.

You look at the world differently to most people..

You write stuff down all the time - it will rarely get used, but you write stuff down and people think you're strange.

And it's a lonely thing to do, as you have to sit on your own in front of a computer (or notepad) and just get on with it.

And it is more than likely to go nowhere and you won't make money from it (transferable skills aside - which can be handy)

But as we were quoted last night - writing is an act where you have to scratch an itch of something you don't understand. I think that was Peter Carey who said that. I get that. I get that too well.

And when things go right - and they very, very rarely go right, it is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

I got the Varuna Fellowship application in, on time.

I don't have a hope in hell. I wish I'd found out about it a fortnight ago - I would have done more.

But it is done.

And now I can sleep. Knowing that I am a writer. And it is hard.

Today's Song:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Head too full of rubbish

The list of things I want to do tonight is massive. It's 9 pm. The Varuna application is due tomorrow. I'm just out of school, I had a day at work, a lunchtime meeting with my tutor and I went for my walk before work.

So some stuff got done.

The cat behaved like a toddler on red cordial all day. Very demanding. My hand has been shreddred by his murder mittens - this was not provoked - he just wanted my attention. It seemed to come when I was in meetings. Just what you need - shrieking like banshee when he claws your side - just with one claw. Little bastard.

School was full of gems. Our new teacher is lovely - a bit more aetherial than the old one, gave us some gems. We have more homework - we have to find the start of a novel we like - oh my - where do you begin? Middlesex? The Year of Wonders? The Natural Way of Things? Too many good starts to choose from.

But  have so much to think about with this book.

The big questions - what does my protagonist want? I think I have that one down.

We were also reminded that we write because we're scrating and itch of something you don't understand - I liked that.

But now I have to focus on trying to get something sorted for the Varuna Fellowship. I've got some of it done - but not all. I'm thinking that I'm throwing good money away, but my new tutor, when I mentioned this to her, said you have to put yourself forward for everything. I'm on the way, of sorts - but it's a hard thing to do.

At least I don't have to put any work forward to the class for another three weeks.

My head is full.

Time to try and power down for a bit.

Today's Song:

Monday, July 27, 2020

A Corruption of Karens

It's a parliament of owls, an unction of undertakers, a quiver of arrows and a murder of crows.

But what is the collective noun for a collection of Karens?

A curruption of Karens? A complaint of Karens? A committee of Karens? A carbunkle of Karens?

Before I go on, according to my Facebook page I have four friends called Karen. They are all lovely and do not display 'Karen' behaviour. They are nice, polite, community minded people who would give you the shirt off their backs and only speak to the manager if things really required it. It is not their fault their name as been made into a meme.

For those who have been living under a rock, a 'Karen' according to is:

"The stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women.

Karens take everything wrong with the typical over entitled western woman and crank it up by several thousand percent. They are a mutated subspecies that descends from the Soccer Mom, and have many of their traits. Such as a short temper, a crown bowl haircut, an unnecessarily large SUV to take her kids to soccer practice and be a menace on the road, etc etc. But Karens have developed their own unique characteristics /antics as well. Including but not limited to;

-Reveling in making the life or retail workers a living hell by constantly making a scene over nothing and demanding to "speak to the manager" (a near universal battle cry among Karens).
-Threatening to sue someone for a minor misdemeanor they may or may not have committed and may or may not have even involved Karen at all.
-Treating the drive thru line like the set of a Mad Max film by cutting in line and honking at anyone who tries to get in. Even willing dent other people's cars to save 45 seconds in getting her $1 muffin. (Karens in this situation may or may not ask to speak to the drive thru worker's manager and / or threaten to sue the drivers of the car she just rammed.)
-Being a part of the anti-vax crowd and relying on Essential Oils for the health of their children because of a Facebook post she saw.
-Reading erotica that makes 50 shades of grey look like Hamlet by comparison in public."


I think Urban Dictionary should update their description to include a middle-aged, entitled woman who makes a complete tool of herself at Bunnings. Sheesh. Pardon the pun.

As I said, my friends named Karen, none of these display this sort of behaviour - and they wouldn't be my friends if they did. Of course they can be assertive when they need to be, and that is fine, but watching these people - these stereotypical Karens - and Kevins (the male equivalent of a Karen, I'm told) behave like this is just ludicrous.

It's a fucking pandemic people. Keeping everybody safe should be on everybody's mind. The ever so minor 'inconvenience' of wearing a mask surely outweighs people's rights do to as thy please, especially when you may not know if you're carrying this insidious disease - a pox to which nobody has any acquired immunity.

I just don't get how people can think like this. I don't understand how so called rights can be thought of as more important that protecting the community. I don't comprehend how people believe all the rubbish that they see on Facebook. Are they suddenly giving out PhDs in Epidemiology and Medicine on Facebook now. It seems some people think so.

I don't understand how people in Australia don't get that we don't have a Bill of Rights here.

The only universal rights you have at the moment are pretty much as follows:
  • You have the right to treat people with kindness and dignity and be treated like that in return.
  • You have the right to an opinion - it doesn't mean you are right.
  • You have the right to be safe in the community - this means you play your part in keeping people safe. Bugger your beliefs. 
And that is about it. 

I know at the moment it feels a bit like this. I just hope it doesn't turn into it. 

But this doesn't answer my question - what is the collective noun for a group of Karens?

Today's song:

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Questions for readers

Lockdown: Day 18

Well, there isn't much else to do at the moment. I'll go out for a walk in a bit, ensuring my mandatory mask is on my face. It's okay, you look like a pariah if you don't wear one. I also need to do the ironing and the floors and generally clean up - this while preparing my application for Varuna, which is due in three days. Ah well.

Lockdown is boring. I'm doubtful we'll be out of lockdown the day after my birthday - It's not going to happen.

Anyway, here's this weeks questions, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

Pick a book you have read and answer the following questions:

The book I've chosen is Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

1.  Why did you pick the book?

It is my most favourite book in the world. I've read it six of seven times. Love it.

2.  What did you think about the book?

It's everything I love in the book - clever, funny, heartfelt, full of great characters and it gives a really interesting view of history. It's also set on a Greek Island in World War II - and I love books about this time.

3.  What do you know about the author?

I've met Louis de Bernieres. Met him at the Melbourne Writer's Festival a few years ago. I went all fangirl. He's written about ten books, but Captain Corelli's Mandolin is his most famous. He's middle aged, balding, English and has a couple of sisters. He also likes to work with magic realism - well he did in his early works.

4.  What’s the most memorable scene?

There are many favourite scenes in the book, but I love the scene with the earthquake where years later Corelli discovers the body of Carlos, who saved him from a firing squad. It's incredibly poignant.

5.  How did the book make you feel?

I get so much out of this book. The joy of love, the futility of war, the stupidity of people in general and the terror than man can afflict on his fellow man. The book makes you run the gammut of emotions.

6.  How do you feel about the way the story was told?

The story uses close third person, so you get a birdseye view io Cephalonia and the island - it's very cool. I love the assumptions the narrator makes aobut many of the characters. It can be very subtle. There are great descriptions through the book.

7.  Which parts of the book stood out to you?

I love the start of the book which sets up everything. The book really takes off once we meet Corelli around page 150, but it's the set up of island life which makes this book. You really start to care for all of the characters.

8.  Which specific parts of the protagonist can you relate to?

There is a lot of me which relates to the very pragmatic, slighlty hot headed Pelagia. She's wonderful. Corelli grows on you from the minute you meet him. His lust for life under horrific circumstances is admirable. He's funny too.

9.  Which character did you relate to the most?

Again, Pelagia.

10. Share a line or passage from the book.

“In those days Great Britain was less wealthy than it is now, but it was also less complacent, and considerably less useless. It had a sense of humanitarian responsibility and a myth of its own importance that was quixotically true and universally accepted merely because it believed in it, and said so in a voice loud enough for foreigners to understand. It had not yet acquired the schoolboy habit of waiting for months for permission from Washington before it clambered out of its post-imperial bed, put on its boots, made a sugary cup of tea, and ventured through the door.”

11. What did you think about the ending?

The ending was very sad, but necessary. Pelagia and Antonio do find each other in the end, but in some ways, its 30 years too late. He didn't have the guts to go up and see her because there was a child. What he didn't know hurt him. The could have been very happy for decades. It's bittersweet.

12. Is the story plot driven or character driven?

It's a bit of both. It's mainly character drvien, but you need the story to bring everything together.

13. If the book was made into a movie, what changes or decisions would you hope for?

The book has been made into a movie, but I have not seen it and I will never see it - horrible, horrible casting. If I was to cast it now, oh my - I'd cast this with English actors. Gary Oldman as the Doctor.  Maybe Eddie Redmayne as Corelli. Tom Hardy as Mandras and maybe Florence Pugh as Pelagia. It needs a cracking cast - and it would be better tackled by the English brigade.

14. How did the book change you?

This book is partly responsible for making me travel to Greece. I've been back a few to times. I love the place.

15. If the book is part of a series, how does it stand on its own?

The book is standalone. It's still the best thing De Bernieres has written, though I do like his other stuff.

Today's song:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

From the Road

I walked later in the day - after midday and it felt strange. I left later yesterday morning.The light was in already. A sooky, snuggly, purring cat kept me in bed. As good a reason as any to stay in bed. Besides, I don't get cat cuddles very often and I will take it when I can. Dressing, wiping a slather of deodorant under my arms, grabbing my wallet, keys and phone, I put on my mask, the other essential required in Melbourne and made my way out to the street.

It's amazing what you notice when you pay attention.

One of the criteria for a good walk is the number of dogs who come and say hello to you. I talk to most dogs I pass, but the masks seem to confuse them. Today I met Ted. He was in the pet store with his dads. Ted was some sort of doodle-dog. Black, fluffy and the apple of his dads' eyes. He came up for a pat. I've found that masks mean that dogs don't look for your smile as much.

99% of people wear mask now. Kids don't. Runners don't. Cyclists don't. Grumpy looking men in their thirties with a fuck you look on their face don't - but the rest of the people you see in the street have on masks - or at least something covering their face. I was pleased to see Erdin, one of the trainers at the gym, a known anti-vaxxer with loud views on most things health, with a bandana over his face. It's better than nothing.

I still marvel at the river. At the moment it's still, the wattle trees reflecting in the still water. It brings a sense of peace.

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Nearing the end of the walk, my mask feels a bit mucky. I've found the disposable ones are better for exercise. You throw them out when you get home. They're lighter on the face and my glasses don't fog as badly when I perch them over the mask. The material ones fog the glasses more.

Who knew that mask would be a fashion accessory.

And so I got home, after an hour out of the house. Happy that I can still walk. Happy that most people are doing the right thing.

I'll be able to smile (with my whole face) at the dogs when they pass by in the future. Just not now.

Today's song:

Friday, July 24, 2020

If things were different

If things were different:

  • I'd be down the Great Ocean Road
  • I'd be settling into my room, which used to be a confessional in a chapel in a monastery just out of Apollo Bay
  • I'd have dropped Lucifer off at Blarney's place and praying he didn't eat her kittens (or spend the long weekend hiding under the bed)
  • I'd be putting on my shy face as I meet all these new people
  • I'd be going outside and watching the stars, as the stars are so much better down the Great Ocean Road
  • I'd be told again and again not to stack my plates by the wondrous Ash
  • I'd be eating food that wasn't prepared by me - yummy food, nutritious food
  • I'd be hoping that Hugo had come along and made his cheesecake again
  • I'd be contemplating the lunacy of skinny dipping in the Southern Ocean at dawn in the middle of winter
  • And getting on my 80s music knowledge on and try not to get too competetive
  • And look forward to the best ever Poke Bowls I've ever had (though they could do with a bit more pickled ginger, but I'm probably not allowed to say that out lond) 
  • And I would have had lunch in Colac with my Uncle's daughter in Colac
  • And there would be lots of wonderful writing exercises
  • And the amazing fellowship of 30-odd likeminded souls

But we are in the middle of a pandemic, so I will be:
  • Walking the banks of the Yarra
  • Doing online exercise classes
  • Trying to find 2000 words for my new tutor (and polishing them accordingly, but really, it's just polishing a turd)
  • And doing that Varuna Fellowship application
  • And talking to the cat
  • And going to Meditation on Saturday morning
  • And talking to the cat again
  • Ironing
  • Tidying up
  • Maybe doing the Mason's books
  • And yeah, that is about it.
I know which version of reality I would prefer to be in - but saying that, at least I'm safe, there is a roof over my head and all is basically well, even if I can't do the things I would prefer to be doing. 

The Writer's Retreat will happen in time. 

Just need to find somewhere that delivers decent poke bowls.

Today's Song:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Book Group Challenge


Book group is in twelve hours.

The book is Christos Tsiolkas's Damascus.The book is 414 pages long.

I am sitting on page 285.

I've yet to not finish a book group book - and I am greatly appreciating this one - probably much to the disdain of the rest of the book group who appear to have hated it.

I have a day of meetings as well - not even a lunch break is scheduled. Lunch will be grabbed between calls, probably between the unveiling of the Kanban board and the Repository re-architecture meeting. Or maybe before we get into another three hour redrafting meeting. Welcome to my life.

There is also a needy cat, who needs to be tended to with the laser pointer and the stick and ribbons - because I'll end up flayed if I don't pay him a modicum of attention.

I also have a writing session at 6.30 - which I would like to attend as I've got 2000 new words to get to my new tutor on Saturday as well as a Varuna application to submit (pipe dream there)

So that is my day.

First things first. Lets don the mask, run down the street and get a coffee. I'm going to need this. And find some sneaky writing time.

I'll update this through the day.

10 a.m.

Page 318. Managed 20 pages while waiting to speak to somebody. Damascus is a fantastic book, but it certainly isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea. It takes a look at the very beginnings of Christianity, when he apostles were wandering the Middle East spreading the world and getting themselves killed, tortured and exiled. I'm grateful for a base knowledge of the starts of Christianity and know where some of Tsiolkas's rage comes from. I love how many the apostles meet refer to Christianity as a death cult  - puts things in perspective.

2 p.m.

Page 350. Have had a reasonably productive day at work, but got to read for half an hour at lunch. I'm nearing the end. The book is unrelenting both in scene, theme and message. What gets me is it really demonstrating some of the dreadful synchronicities which religions through the ages, where the belief in one god, or set of gods can put you in peril. In this case, a refugee, a child, a new found Christian boy runs foul of the local priestess after he desecrates a statue. Tsiolkas is in his blood-soaked element here, but he makes a crafty point. In this new found religion, the converted find themselves persecuted. Just think of how Christianity has in turn persecuted millions over the years, the lives that have been lost for those recognising the religion (think of the Spanish Inquisition, the Witch Trials...) It really does put some things in a terrible perspective.

Tsiolkas writes of a brutal world. Has much changed?

5 p.m.

Page 467. I should get this read by 8 p.m. 50 pages to go. It looks like Timothy is coming to the end of his life. I'm a bit mystified as to how much of the New Testament I've taken in - and sure I know about some of the apocryphal texts, when I was doing some referencing on Wikipedia, just to sure up some knowledge.

It's also reinforcing my belief that Christianity is fraught, a bit silly and I did a good thing in handing in my Christian ticket thirty years ago.

6.30 p.m.

I did it. Finished. I'm probably going to be the odd man out at book group, but I loved it. Yes, it was hard, almost unreadably harsh in places - torture, cruxifictions, rapes, horrendous treatment of many people, but this is a writer's book. One of my class mates said read the Author's notes first - it was a good tip. Tsiolkas is incredible. This is an important book. It's an easy read, yet an incredibly hard read. I liked this more than I liked The Slap. It reminded me of Dead Europe. I do like a book which makes me think - and this got me really using my noggin. Also, I found myself looking up a heap of things - mainly the who's who in the zoo of the book.

Is this for everybody - hell's no. But I'm going to be one of a few of the group to say they appreciated the book.

Today's Song:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice

I'm just out from a Mason's meeting. It was held on Zoom. It was lovely to see everybody's faces. It was great to listen to what people were up to. Thankfully, nobody was complaining about having to wear a mask when you're out of your house from midnight tonight. Saying that, half the people on the call are over seventy and the the reasoning and want to stay safe.

Me, I just want to stay safe and not get fined. It's not that hard to cover your mouth and nose.

Anyway, tonight we had a discussion about the four Cardinal Virtues - Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.

See the source image

It was a robust discussion - a very pleasant discussion.

But I felt a bit removed.

I look at these and I think yeah.

Image result for the four virtues

Prudence - I do prudence. I try and discern the best course of action through things. I keep council, save money, look after my health and try to do things for the betterment of myself and others.

Temperance - yeah, I do that too. I'm pretty mild mannered. I keep my vices in check. My drinking is minimal, and though I do have hedonistic tendencies, I keep them in check - okay maybe not my book addiction, but we all have something.

Fortitude I'm doing okay with. Everybody's doing it a bit tough at the moment, but I feel like I'm soldiering on, and doing it okay. I've got my coping techniques and strategies in place, meetings online to go to, a twice weekly meeting with my trainer and friend in the park (did my first training session with a mask on - I wear the disposable ones training - they get mucky, but any port in a storm - you throw them out at the end of the session). This is fortitude - just keep swimming. I've also been at this computer, working solidly since 8 am. This takes a bit of fortitude too.

So, yeah, though not perfect, I like to think I practice what I preach for these.

The one I'm having trouble with at the moment is Justice.

On any other given day I'd try and say that I like to think that I'm fair and transparent - to give "what is due to God and then neighbour" as it says in the meme above.

But during the meeting word came in. On an already bad cancer day, notice that a friend's granddaughter had come out of surgery to remove a brain tumour. The tomour couldn't be removed.

I suppose I feel these cancer diagnoses and prognoses more because of what happened to my niece. She died from leukaemia after the medical profession threw everything they could at it. It was horrible and cruel and nasty, and my darling niece, never complained.

This child is four. She's already had a couple of rounds of brain surgery and chemo. The tumour has now come back and it is inoperable, Today they opened her up, had a look and closed her. My friend's family get to take their child home to recover from the surgery and " live each day to the full and fill them with laughter and love, rainbows and unicorns." They also thanked the doctors for choosing quality of life over irreparable damage.

My heart is going out to them at the moment. It's not an easy road ahead.

But I am trying to see just where the hell the justice is in this situation. It's every parent's nightmare. I've watched as my family has lived this and it stirs up many, very raw emotions

I can only send my love to my friends. I can't fathom what they must be feeling. The child, from what my Mum tells me, is a force of nature.

But I can see no justice. There is no justice here.

It just sucks.

Today's Song:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Back to school

I went back to school tonight. I'm tying hard to not feel like a failure.

I'm not a failure - I'm just berating myself for not doing more over the break. But with the general COVID-19 malaise, a death in the family and the need for rest, well what was I expecting of myself

The cat behaved himself during school - which was held over zoom - and it will be for the time to come. I'm glad the cat behaved, taking himself off to bed. He's been a right pain today - demanding I play with him at regular intervals. I'm glad he took himself off to bed, snuggling under the blanket, as he does most nights. During the day he normally naps during the morning and afternoons - but not today. It seems I've created a rod for my own back with the laser pointer. He loves it. Demands I play with him.

But back to school.

It was lovely to be back. It was great to meet our new tutor, Kris Olsson should be great. She comes highly recommended. We met her tonight, along with a new class mate.

We're all gunning to get back to it. I'm gunning to get back into it.

Then again, I have my first consult, with Kris, next week - and I have to give over 2000 words by Saturday night. ARGH.

The writing exercise tonight was great. Write some dialogue. Write some description of what you see out your window. Combine the two. It's interesting what comes out of it. Especially when you look out my window and see cranes, the fish factory and wheelie bins. Sometimes there is a whiff of night blooming jasmine. It's a bit strange when it;s juxtaposed with a conversation about killing yourself (morbid and triggering as it is, but the effect was really cool)

It's interesting, last night there is a full moon in Cancer. It's a good time to set intentions  that help you see beyond 2020.

Well I'm setting the intention to finish the first draft of this novel by Christmas.

And something from tonight. One of my classmates has encouraged me to apply for a Varuna fellowship. Varuna, is a writer's retreat in the Blue Mountains. It's been a long held dream of mine go there. Many, many Australian writers make their way through Varuna.

Is it a pipe dream. Absolutely. But you don't know until you apply. And applications will be taken until next Wednesday. Oh I love a deadline.

Oh, and we've been told that to get our work into the Faber Anthology - one of the perks of this course, we need a headshot.

I'm not thinking about that.

Anyway, that's what happened tonight at school.

I'm knackered. Time to annoy the cat by going to bed.

Today's song:

Monday, July 20, 2020

Massive Attack

Tonight, while coming home from a training session, after the sweat and the toil of hauling iron around a park, without a mask (because exercising in a mask can't be done, especially when you get all huffy), in the drizzle, a song came on the radio.

Safe from Harm by Massive Attack?

What ever happened to Massive Attack?

Music, as most people know, is really important to me. I need it in my life. I have a song in my head most of the time. I make up lyrics to many songs, when I don't know what the real lyrics - mondegreens I think they're called. (My friend Glen Waverly has a classic one. For years he was trying to find out what a "spigger" was after hearing the song "Losing My Religion". He'd misheard, 'It's bigger...". I still laugh at that one - occasionally calling him 'Spigger" because it's cute. In his defence, English is his second language.)

But back to Massive Attack.

It's one of those bands nobody talks about any more, but they were seminal in the 90s. A mix of funk, a bit of soul and amibient sounds that you'd find in the chill out room in clubs. they're moody, they're deep and they get in your head and stay there. The sound is really interesting in that it's electronic, without being annoying. The lyrics are deep. There's often a booming baseline, never too fast, that takes you off to another level, holding the song together. It's quite magic.

I hear Massive Attack and I'm taken back to London, back to the back yard parties with a myriad of immigrant orphans, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, searching for stars in the sky. There were always a number of accents floating about - Australian, Kiwi, South African, the odd Swede and Belgian, with a local or two for good measure. The parties would linger. The music changed at midnight from rock - Alanis Morrisette, INXS, Blur, Robbie Williams, The Verve,  Four Non-Blondes - and go into something more mellow - and along with Morcheeba, Cafe Del Mar and whatever other chillout music, there was Massive Attack. The reverby sounds which you chill to - maybe even pass around a joint, but it's music to which you put the world to rights by, and you work out that things aren't that bad.

The Blue Lines album is still on high rotation in my collection. As is the Protection album. Songs like "Teardrop", "Unfinished Symphony", "Karmacoma" all have a special  place on my musical bandwith. They're a unique band with a special place in my heart - mainly because they transport me back to my twenties quicker than any other music.

Saying that, of something freaky - on the weekend I went down to see my hairdresser who has just opened up a salon in Cheltenham. We're supposed to stay close to home. Cheltenham is a 45 minute drive away. This appointment was booked six weeks ago and I was starting to look like Stevie Nicks again. Under these circumstances, leaving the suburb is allowed - but it still feels a bit strange.Would I be stopped by the police? As a single, middle aged woman in a car by herself... probably not. Would I get COVID-19 - also probably not - my hairdresser and I were in the salon alone, both quite healthy, both wearing masks).

Did it feel a bit wrong to be out of my suburb when I was technically supposed to be a bit closer to home? Well, yes.

Regardless, what was the song that came on three times during the car trip?

Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"....

The iPhone music genie was having a laugh on Saturday.

Today's Song:

Sunday, July 19, 2020

More Questions from Facebook

Another day, another decree from the government. As of Thursday, all people over 12 are required to wear a mask when outside. The libertarians are going to have a field day. Me, I'm not fussed. I've got my masks, both disposable and washable, I've been wearing one to go into the city and the shops for a while now. I look like a bushranger, but so does everybody else. Mnd you, we've been told to stay in our suburbs. Thankfully my suburb is lovely and has the river to walk along. It's lovely - and close to home. 

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Questions, as always, supplied by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. What's your favorite movie from your childhood and why?

I used to love The Sound of Music as a child. I still love it, but please don't tell anybody. 

2. What is home to you?

Somewhere where I feel safe and at one. My flat in Melbourne is my physical home. South Australia and the Fleurieu Peninsula is my generational home. London and Toledo are my spiritual homes. 

3. Do you get emotionally invested in stories? (I'm asking about movies, books, tv shows, whatever medium you like your stories in.)
All the time. I'm a sook.

4. What is the most physical damage you've ever received without needing medical intervention (so no stitches or splints or anything)?

Oh, that would be Bruce the Bum Bruise. I tripped over, and my left arse cheek landed on the edge of a garden bed and I had a black bum cheek for weeks - with a lump about the size of an orange in my butt. It took 18 months to resolve completely. It was awful. Looking back, I should have got medical attention for it.

5. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Lots of wood. 

6. Do you have any obsessions? Like Tv shows, or cats or something. Not addictions.

Yes, I have a few. Clive Owen. Lucifer (the television show and my cat), Suits, The Pixies (US rock band), Monty Python, Shakespeare and The Young Ones. There are a few more, but I'm associated with all of these. 

7. What question or question would you like God to answer?

Why do you have to be such a bastard at times?  Why did you ever make Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison?

8. Do you bite your nails?

Thankfully, no.  But I still suck my thumb when tired or stressed. 

9. What do you like about the place you live, I mean your housing, apt, house, mobile home, etc

It's central, it's safe, it's quiet, the rent is reasonable and it's near everything I need. It also has a carport. Never a bad thing. 

10. What do you like about the city or town where you live?

Good coffee, nice people, it's good for the Arts and it's got a mild climate. It does get a bit hot in Summer, but the heatwaves don't last too long. It's also a dry climate. Melbourne is often cited as one of the most livable cities in the world. 

11. Is there one place you have visited that you wish you could live there?

I could happily live in Boston, in particularly Cambridge, near Harvard. I loved it there. I also lived on a Greek Island for a few months - I'd happily do that again. I love island life. 

12. What's your favorite cookie to snack on?

I don't have cookies very often, but I'm partial to the white chocolate and macadamia cookies you get from Subway. Of store bought biscuits, Lemon Crisps and Venetians are the bomb. 

13. Are you a Apple person or PC type person and why?

I work off PCs - it's just easier and I know the drill, but my phone and tablet are Apple - and I think I will remain a disciple of the Church of Apple for a long time to come. 

14. What's your favorite things about the Zoo?

The seals. Melbourne Zoo has a great seal enclosure. I can sit there and watch them for hours. 

15. Did you grow up in the country, city or small town and what did you like about it (or hate about it if you didn’t like it?)

From the age of eight, I grew up in the country. Though I hated parts of it (the isolation, the small town mentality) I did like the freedom the country gave - that and the space. 

16. What kinds of things were you into and do when you were growing up?

Books, movies and animals. Nothing much has changed. 

17 .Do you enjoy receiving letters or postcards more, and why?

I love getting postcards as it's just nice that somebody is thinking of you while they're on holiday. They also look great on the fridge. 

18. Do or did you know any of your great-grandparents? Tell me about them.

No. they were all well gone by the time I came along. I did know all of my grandparents.

19. Do you like to be outdoors? What is your favorite thing to do there?

Now that we are locked down again, I take every opportunity to get outside. I'm a walker and a swimmer, but happy to do most things outside. Eating and drinking inparticular. 

20. Have you ever broken a bone or been badly injured?

Nothing too bad. I've broken a toe - thankfully that's the worst of it. 

Today's song:

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Meet the Dougies

Tomorrow's special thing, after the writing and the exercising and avoid people is a little course I happened upon on the interwebs.

It's an online course, two hours of my life on a Sunday afternoon for the princely sum of $30. I was hoping to do the day course a while ago, a six hour day course for few more dollars. Unfortunately I never got to do this. Other things, Faber and time constraints, then COVID-19 came. So I'm happy to be doing this. Other than the stay at home order scuppering any normality, this should be a good afternoon's learning and entertainment.

It's a two hour session on Comedy Writing with Tim Ferguson.

Who's Tim Ferguson?

Well, he's one of the Doug Anthony All Stars.

There were three of them. Paul McDermott is still trawling around the small screens on a game show. Richard Fidler, the fellow the guitar, now writes books.

Tim is the tall one.Okay, he's not so tall now as MS has confined him to a wheelchair, but every other synapse is firing. He's an inspirational bloke.

But for me, writing comedy is hard. I have no idea how to be funny. I have no idea how to write funny. It's about time I learned a few tricks and tips for writing comedy.

For $30, it's a steal. Yes, it's another few hour in front of the computer,.but it's out there.

You have to keep learning.

I'm just a bit excited to meet a bit of a legen The Dougies were about when I was in my late teens and early 20s. They were on the iconic "Big Gig", a comedy show that used to be on the ABC - back when it was funded properly and they weren't battling as many wowsers. This is the show that brought us Pate Biscuit, Candida and the marvellous Jean Kitson.

I also met the Dougies when I ushered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival one year. It was awesome. They were awesome.

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.

I'll let you know how it goes.

You never know, I might learn how to be funny - but then again...

Today's song:

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Parking Fairy

My solid relationship with the Parking Fairy continues.

The Parking Fairy is a good friend of mine. They (and I use the inclusive, gender neutral pronoun) , can be a bit fickle, but today, they did me well.

See, with the explosion of the coronavirus, I'm no longer willing to get on a tram to collect my mail in the city once a week, even with gloves and hand sanitiser, even though the trams are nearly empty, I'm not taking public transport this until things have settled right down again. Hell, I was going to go into the office to work one day next week due to them turning off the power for a few hours here - that's not happening now.

Anyway, if I want to collect my post from the city, I have to take the car in.

Regular readers will be aware that a few weeks ago I copped a $165 fine for parking in a loading zone. I can't have this happen again. But as I'm a bit tight and hate paying for parking, I was hoping for a on onstreet park which didn't break the rules. Mind you I was also willing to pay to use the paid car park near the post office. It's a bit steep - $8 for under 30 minutes, but it's better than chancing it in a loading zone and copping a stupid fine.

Anyway, today I called upon the Parking Fairy.

They work like this. About five minutes away from your destination, you make a call out to the Parking Fairy. So today, audibly, in a clear voice, I asked the parking fairy if they could please help me out finding a park outside the Post Office. You focus on this. You make your intention clear. You need the Parking Fairy's help to get you a car park. You must use your manners and let the Parking Fairy know that you value the relationship.

Well, the Parking Fairy was listening today. As I turned into Bourke Street, somebody was pulling out of a ten minute parking bay. Their job was done.

On parking the car, gratitude was given to the Parking Fairy - for this how you pay this entity. If you don't say thank you, you won't get a park again, they won't come to your aid - so you have been warned.

I went about the business of collecting the post, went straight back to the car (as the Parking Fairy doesn't like when you don't play by the rules). On getting behind the wheel, I once again gave thanks to the Parking Fairy for the excellent help they provided.

Okay, you might think I'm mad, (I am) but there is a bit of method to my madness. It's basically Manifesting 101, any witch worth a grain of salt can teach you this. Set the intention, give gratitutude, reap the reward - easy. And the Parking Fairy is pretty reliable. They've got about a 70% strike rate. They're really handy when it comes to finding parks at shopping centres or when you go to places which can be notorious for finding onstreet parking. Never call on them when you're angry, upset or feeling a bit off. Sure enough, they only come to the pure of heart.

I also like how my belief in the Parking Fairy get's ridiculed, then respected. I've even put my mother onto this one. I've been in the car when she's summoned this magical being. Maybe my mum is as nutty as I am.

But it was a good end to a not too bad week. Okay, lockdown and the restrictions we are under aren't great, but I had a surprisingly good week at work. Got a lot done and found a solution to problem, which has put me in a few good books. Learned a lot too.

Finished off tonight with a zoom foam roller class - just a  lot of stretching and fascia work - also good.

So there you go. Reliable tips on how to get a car park anywhere in the world.

I'm off now - waiting for a thrilling weekend with the computer and the cat.

Today's song:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

You're not taking the Kingswood

Pand: You're not touching my Jira board?
Colleague: Yes...
Pand: I was saying that like Ted Bullpit.
Colleague: So the Jira board is your Kingswood.
Pand: Can we call it Neville?
Colleague:  The Jira board isn't concrete.

The was tittering over communicator. My colleague, who's a few years older than me, and I, we talk the same language. Mrs Slocombe. Ted Bullpit. Plucka Duck, Agro. Heavens he might even know about Winky Dink and Fat Cat. (I wish I could find this old cartoon - I think it was in On Dit, the Adelaide Uni student paper - where they put Winky Dink on a lathe). He doesn't get my Young Ones references, but we both don't do a bad line in Monty Python. He is very envious that I met Terry Jones at a writer's festival one year.

But Ted Bullpit is extremely problematic in these woke days of now. And rightly so. I don't think cancel culture will get him as you'd struggle to find Kingswood Country on any streaming service. Ted Bullpit, the xenophobic, racist, sexist Australian archetype of the seventies who somehow has ingratiated himself into the Australian psyche.

And there are still people, like myself, who will occasionally yell out, "You're not taking the Kingswood!" at necessary moments. Like when you're workmate plays with your Jira board.

It's probably best that Ted Bullpit (Yes, that's Bullpit...) has been left off of the re-run schedule. With his wife Thema, slacker son, Craig, daughter Greta and her Italian husband, Bruno, this was the height of comedy in the early eighties. Oh, special mention of a garden ornament, called Neville, should be made. But then again, it shouldn't.

(In researching this, Neville, the concrete aboriginal, was named after Neville Bonner, the first indigenous member of the Australian Federal Parliament, who allegedly loved the show and was a regular in the studio at the show's taping)

But you look back at it now and wonder how it was funny. It's uncomfortable, mainly in it's completely politically incorrect sense of humour. I'm not a wowser, I do a good line in being non-PC on occasions, but this early comedy is something I don't find funny anymore. It's now more and eye roll, an 'Oi, oi!' and on occassions, a scowl and a comment like, "Do you really have to?"

Thing is, I grew up with a few Ted Bullpits. Not so extreme, but they were there. But this was also the time of Alf Garnett, On the Buses and many many other shows which were dreadfully racist. And sexist. And rather xenophobic. Many people of my age will recognise this for what it is now.

It's interesting when racism, inparticular, gets called out early on.

I remember a scene from The Crying Game, where Jody (Forrest Whittaker), the captive soldier is talking to his IRA guard (Stephen Rea) about what it is to be black and in Northern Ireland. This isn't the scene, but it's reminded me of this superlative film.

The film came out in 1992.

It was the first time I remember seeing systemic racism being called out. It left a big impact.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this.

I like that film, print media and television are showing a much more diverse cultures and characters - I welcome and celebrate this. As somebody who's known for not being that PC, racism, overt, underlying or unfortunately ingrained does not sit with me at all.

But should that stop me from occasionally using an old, ingrained, sorta wrong catch cry?


Today's song:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Possible blog post topics

It is twenty past ten.

I have just got off a two hour conference call on Masonic business. My brain has left the building.

I'm at 'Fire bad. Tree pretty".

I've been pondering what to write about - which can be a problem when you're writing a blog post a day sometimes. I don't have the time or inclination to do a Catherine Deveny write along post. I'm not in the mood to do a best self card as I'm not in a state to go navel gazing.

I could pull a tarot card and write about that. The eight of pentacles. Just keep working. Boring.

There's the write about my day. I went training in the park with Cleo and Jay - it says clearly in the tenets from the GuVMnt that you can work out with one other plus a personal trainer. But hauling iron on the edge of a vacant playground at dusk isn't that interesting. I asked Cleo and Jay what I should write about, but they said work, and  don't write about work.

Cancer has been the matter of the day. A friend came back with a cancer diagnosis this afternoon. It's been caught early - I hope the matter will be resolved soon - it's a treatable condition so fingers crossed. More worrying, a family friend's granddaughter has to go in for brain surgery again to have a brain tumour removed at the end of the week. The child, a force of nature, is all of four-years-old. That sucks badly. Then Jonella attended the virtual funeral of a family friend, having to suffer the double injustices of having the friend die, but at present, only ten socially distanced witnesses can attend the funeral and a more comforting, united form of grief is not available. Jonella watched online. It's gutting stuff. I feel her intense pain. I was feeling this a fortnight ago.

But I'm not in a state to go into depth about this. I'm not able to engage above basic empathy at the moment. My brain is fried.

There is the subject of masks - but I talked about that a while ago. More people are wearning them. I wear one when I'm out at the shops. Not when I'm walking. I don't get close enough to people to warrant on at the moment - but if the advice changes, I'll change that. But I'm over talking about the Rona.

Maybe I could talk about my day at work, but you don't need to hear about my battles with Jira and Confluence. These will be ongoing.

The cat is not a subject I'm willing to talk about - I talk about him enough. Besides, I bought him a new cat tree and scratching post. I hope he likes it as much as the laser pointer,

I've been at a computer since 8.45 this morning, with a small break for lunch and an hour out for training in the park. I'm a bit over computers.

Of course, I could talk about spending a good part of yesterday sorting out my car and health insurance. Saved a lot of money. Yay.

Writing about school and how I'm scared to go back next week is an option. But no.

Basically I need to get away from the computer screen and power down.

So that is what I will do.

Today's song:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Why do they mess with things?

Lockdown: Day 6

In particular, why do they mess with food things?

Case in point. The humble Scotch Finger Biscuit.

After working at one of the big banks, something we got used to was an Arnott's Assorted Family pack of biscuits was dumped into the biscuit barrel every morning.

By ten a.m., most of the biscuits were gone - grabbed by various staff making tea.

These biscuits always go in the same order:

  • Chocolate Ripples go first.
  • The Butternut Snaps go next. 
  • The Nice biscuits, with their sugar topping follow the butternut snaps. 
  • Then it's the Scotch Finger biscuits.
  • After that, it's the Teddy Bear biscuits.
  • Which leave you with the very boring Milk Arrowroot. 
The Milk Arrowroot tastes like cardboard and is only any good when you dunk them in you tea or coffee - revolting habit but they're edible that way. These bikkies can often be found in the biscuit barrel at around 2 pm, and are eaten under duress, or by anybody coming off out of their night before stoner mung. (Or they're too busy to have gone to lunch and just need a bit of sugar.)

Personally, I ask why you can't get YoYo biscuits in these Family Assorted packs. The YoYo is a South Australian standard which is best when you liberally apply butter to one side of it while singing the YoYo song. I can guarantee most South Australians over the age of 30 know the YoYo biscuit song. It's one of the things that make you a South Australian.

These are sooooo much better than the lousy Milk Arrowroot, or heaven forbid, the Marie biscuit - something I won't use for pie crusts. YoYos are the bomb. Pity you can't get them out of Adelaide and South Australia. 

But Arnotts go and mess with things. For good and for bad.

I have a packet of Scotch Finger biscuits infused with salted caramel. I bought them as they were cheap and I know they'll last me a few weeks.

It's not like I'm buying a packet of Lemon Crisps - they will normally be inhaled in one sitting.

The mighty Lemon Crisp | Books, biscuits and bicycles...

Or even worse, Venetians.... which are something akin to crack. My sister always has these in the pantry. I'm glad I don't visit my sister in Adelaide very often. She's yell at me for eating the lot.

Arnotts Venetian Biscuits 200g - BISC1160 | COS - Complete Office ...

And we won't go into the creme or chocolate biscuits. I mean look at how many different types of Tim Tams you can find:

  • Original
  • Dark chocolate
  • White chocolate
  • Choc Mint
  • Double coat
  • Black Forest
  • Red Velvet 
  • Cappuccino
  • Expresso Martini
  • Peanut butter
  • Creme caramel
  • Coconut Lychee
  • Salted Caramel and Vanilla
  • River Murray Salted Caramel
  • Sunshine Coast Strawberries
  • Manuka Honey
  • Gisborne Orange
  • Oh and all the Messina flavours they've had over the years.
With they exception of the Coconut and Lychee  ones, and the white ones, why would you mess with perfection? The normal Tim Tams are the bomb. It's just daft. Other than the normal plain milk chocolate Tim Tams, the rest of them end up being sold off at the end of  the supermarket aisles. It all seems a bit pointless.

Which leads me back to the Salted Caramel Scotch Finger biscuits currently sitting in my kitchen.

Are they anything special? Not really. Are they moreish? No. Why did I buy them? Well I was curious. Will I buy them again? No. 

I'd also like to know what is so wonderful about Salted Caramel - Why does it have to go in EVERYTHING. Okay, Ben and Jerry's Salted Caramel Core ice cream, yes. Cold, salty, creamy, sweet - bring it on.

But boring and bland old Scotch Finger biscuits - not so much. 

Looks like I'll have these to snack on over the next week or so. 

I just don't see why they have to mess with things like that. You can't make a Scotch Finger biscuit better by adding a hipster ingredient. Some things should be left as they are.

Today's Song: