Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog shy: thinking a little too much about the unseen public in the blogosphere

Ive been a little wary of blogging lately: of projecting too much if myself into the electronic ether. Blog-shy. It might be good to get this out in the open a bit and blow a little air through some of the things Ive been worrying about.  
Its the idea that anyone can offer comment on your life: that whatever is disclosed in a blogpost is open to interpretation, and often misinterpretation. You see reflected in the comments people make about your world (or what you choose to write of it anyway) at best another way of looking things, but at worst, well, I guess there is the chance that someone can be abusive. Thakfully this hasnt happened to me! So I suppose that the thing that has started to freak me a bit is that idea that when I post something, there is the chance that in another person's comments, I get to see my own life bounced back at me  through the words of another, coloured by their politics, world view and prejudices. And this is fine and dandy when the person commenting has a set of values that are close to your own...but when this isnt the case, I suppose you just have to roll with it and accept the on-line community for what it is: a multifarious and  unpredictable wilderness of folk that you might never meet and may well never want to. 
 The other issue I worry about is the fact that the minutiae of one's everyday life is up here (on here? there? ) for others to read indefinitely. Just last week I had breakfast with a colleague  who happened to find my blog via my facebook page and she acknowledged she had read a bit of it, which is totally fine. Hey, I know that if you write stuff, well, peeple read it. thats the whole idea. Its just that the things I had been writing about and dealing with months ago had only just been read by her, so you have the whole gamut of thoughts from times past resurfaced as if they just happened yesterday. So it was this re-surfacing of an old post that was a little unsettling, aswell as I guess its the first time I have had to chat face-to-face with a 'reader', who wasnt necessarily a friend I had invited into my blog-world. Not necessarily confronting in any way: just a momentary weirding. If that isnt a word, it should be.
So, from this point I can either choose to disclose less. Or keep on writing, and accept the idea of this new (to me) unseen public the blogosphere presents. I'll let you know how I get on with this choice.
Post script: just re-reading this I realise that this post expresses a moment in time, and possibly  a degree of paranoia. lol!  There are so many lovely people out there too that read and comment on blogs, and Im lucky enough to have some kind and thoughtful people that have chosen to follow my writing, and for this I thank you!

Friday, September 25, 2009


by Don Paterson

I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;

one long thundering downpour
right through the empty script and score
before the act, before the blame,
before the lens pulls through the frame

to where the woman sits alone
beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined on the grass
or the girl walks off the overpass,

and all things flow out from that source
along their fatal watercourse.
However bad or overlong
such a film can do no wrong,

so when his native twang shows through
or when the boom dips into view
or when her speech starts to betray
its adaptation from the play,

I think to when we opened cold
on a rain-dark gutter, running gold
with the neon of a drugstore sign,
and I’d read into its blazing line:

forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

Not a Haiku, but a great poem for today as it seems to be raining buckets, at least where I am. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday morning walking

Havent felt like blogging this last week. I have been in a bit of a shitty ol' mood. Its a combination of things: crap weather, my back being a bit up-and-down, and well, crap weather. In fact the lack of reliable sunshine is getting me down. It honestly feels like we have had 10 weekends of torrential rain, with maybe one sunny Saturday that I can recall. I know that its taboo to complain about rain when Tassie is just out of a drought, and significant parts of Oz are still firmly in the grip of drought conditions, but here it is- I cant stand (quite so much) rain as this!

So... over this last weekend, rather than wallow in my funk and stare bleakly out the window at more grey skies and heavy clouds, I went walking with a new buddy. In fact, I started my own walking group! I emailed the people i know in Launceston with a vague or burning passion for walking, setting out an inventory of walks over the next 6 weeks culminating in a 6-7 night hike from Lake St Clair to Cradle Mountain.  As it panned out only one person of the 5 or so invited could make the inaugural hike, so I dragged my family along too to keep us company. It rained (needless to say) but it WAS wonderful. The new walking buddy is a well read, chatty bloke with bright green credentials, and a happy disposition. On the drive to Liffey he pointed out Bob Brown's cottage hide-away. Its an unassuming little abode with a pretty porch facing the river and surrounded by a crowd of daffodils. We paid homage to the political dedication and charisma of this wonderful man and shared stories of our contact with the Green's leader.

Ahh, but the walk: yes, I should get to the important bit! Yesterday's walk was an easy one of just 3 hours return, so absolutely fine for the relauctant bloke (thats my bloke, not the new walking buddy) and kidlets whose enthusiasm wanes after an hour of so. The walk is a bit touristy and more populated than I would like (we met 4 or 5 groups on the trail), yet Liffey Falls are spectacular. My, how they FELL! The water gushed audibly over the precipices looking entirely wedding-cakey. Nice to witness the flow-on affects of good rainfall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Phoenix Seeds

Some semi decent weather over the weekend inspired me to get back into the garden. Unfortunately my garden still looks like Shrek's bog, as we have had soooo much rain here. The area fenced off from potaroos is a mud-bath with nasty looking green slime patches and remnant neglected veggies from the end of the Autumn crop.  Suffice it to say, I didnt really feel at all inspired to dig around in it!

So Im back to pots. And wheelbarrows, as it happens. I was thinking that I needed to raise my seeds in something broad and shallow, that could be moved about the garden easily. And voila!, this old barrow proved the perfect thing. It even had a few strategically placed holes in the bottom, which will help with draining the seed raising mix.A clear sheet of plastic over the top, and Im set to wheel it into a sunny spot, or inside the shed if its likely to be stormy or frosty.

The seeds are from a Tasmanian organic, biodynamic and heritage seed producer that my Mum has used for years. He operates from a PO Box just out of a little town rather cutely named Snug, just 20 km or so South of Hobart. The good thing is he produces seeds that are nicely adapted for our chilly nights and frosty mornings, so Ive had success with getting his tomato seeds to survive the September freezing soils.
I think my Mum had a bit of a fascination (professional only...shes a horticulturist) for the guy as he is kind of elusive, but dedicated to his work. I remember her having rather lengthy chats with him on the phone (or perhaps she told me this). Anyway, anyway, anyway...  as I was down Hobart way recently I thought I would go and pay homage and check out the operations. I found a vague address on-line, and as its not a big town thought id zoom about the Channel Highway and find him. I asked at the corner store, the petrol station and knocked on some poor persons front door, but no-one knew where he operated from.

The man is a mystery, but his seeds are rather fabulous.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Distractions: friday haiku

my grandmother's day
must have been so slow, so calm,
fewer distractions

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

5 reasons not to do a PhD, and 5 reasons to give it a go...

Being a mum aint healthy for your career. I've spent the last 10 years working part-time, working for myself, and teaching my craft rather than practicing it. With my youngest child going to school next year I feel the need to get back into it again. Trouble is, Im not sure what "it" is.  I now live in a big country town and there are few positions for an architect and/or academic.  I realise its been 10 years since I have worked, proper like, for an architecture firm. Ive had a bit of a look at the architectural practices here, and there are only one or two that do the kind of work that id enjoy, and they are, I am told, pretty blokey offices. Im just not sure I can handle the posturing egos that these kind of firms seem to foster. Its just all so tiresome and unnecessary. So, what to do????????? Ive looked at changing fields, becoming a secondary school teacher, studying yoga seriously, but neither option really grabs me as a something I want to do as a JOB.

So, the option of a PhD seems to  be a good one in many ways. If I want to get back into being an academic, its vital to have one of 'em. And if I dont, well, its not time wasted, its something of value that might even contribute to the well of knowledge....who knows?

So here are the reasons I can think of NOT to do one:
  1. Isolation. Immeasurable hours of solo researching, reading, writing.
  2. Stipend pretty pathetic, really.
  3. Three year target for completion impossible
  4. Another slab of my life within the institution (and not in the real world ?)
  5. The pain of completion....having seen someone I love go through this, im not so sure I would wish this on myself.

    And on the positive side:
  1. The luxury of time to read, consider, write in an area of interest.
  2. Hey, its money to do the above. And its tax free. And my time would be (largely) self directed.
  3.  I could construct ways of trying to keep the scope bounded, limit the topic, early.
  4. A PhD provides a direction, a sense of purpose and it has some value. Not exactly sure if it will make me more, or less empolyable in a professional sense, but the opportunity to reflect on and maybe even refigure the 'real world' is a fine thing.
  5. All things worth doing have a certain amount of pain attached, certainly at the 'delivery end. (Note not so subtle analogy with childbirth...haha!)
Anything Ive missed here guys?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Living a rich life

Staying in a friend's house is always fascinating. you get to see inside their life, whats important to them, what isnt, as well as just enjoy another’s idea of how to array objects in the home. The flotsam and jetsam of their existence gives you a kind of hieroglyphic of who they are and what they value.Their patterns and routines take over from your own (after all you're a guest in their space). You eat what they eat. Its great! Its a holiday from your own routines.

I love staying in this house in Taroona as it has 3 generations of creative people's stuff everywhere: books, paintings, posters photos and cards, objects, more books.In fact Ive already posted about this elsewhere.My favourite thing this time? To treat the dishes in the sink as foreign objects. Like rock stars, we all neglected their presence in the hope that someone else might do them. (This is definitely taking a holiday from our own routines). We sat in the sun and read books, painted, walked on the beach instead. It was like living in a share house all over again. Fun wins out over fastidiousness. I wish I had a photo of the mountain of dishes at the end of 3 days. Not pretty. But a sign of us all being relaxed in each other's company.

Fear not, S and I did clean up at the end of our visit. We are decent house guests afterall.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A hypersexualised world

Yesterday we had a couple of tradesman come over to fix the gasline on the stove - they went outside to check the gas bottles. Miss S was fascinated by their work , and followed their progress. Then she shocked me with this question:
Miss S:  (peering out the window to the two plumbers) : 'So Mum, which one do you think is hot?'
Me: Well, ummmmm, what do you mean by 'hot' ?
Miss S: well, you know, sexy and cool
Me: So, if someone is 'hot' means that they are 'cool'? (steering away from discussing the nature of sexiness with her 5 year old daughter). Thats a bit strange, dont you think?
Miss S: Well I like the one thats not fat. He's hot.
Oh GAWD. Two things get me concerned here. One, she has learnt that to be 'fat' makes you somehow unattractive. (Just for the record, he was only a little overweight). And second, where the hell did she get the words 'sexy' and in this context 'hot' in her vocabulary?
So, we talked about how a kind and loving person is the kind of person that you want to have around you. That what I see and like in a person is not just about how they look. I asked a few more questions to find out where she got this idea of 'hotness' from? But she didnt really know.

Yes, sexualised images of women pervade the media, and the pornification of young girls toys, clothes, videos etc is as insidious as it is well documented. . But i try and steer my girls away from commercial TV, and limit some of the toys they have. ( Barbies, yes but Brats, no) Hmmm....its not enough, methinks.
So this is the thing: I feel I havent done enough to protect my 5 year old from this kind of sexual language, plus she has already been sucked into the idea of objectifying the (in this case, male) body. And so I worry. What can we do as parents to keep children's play and language and way of looking at the world, childlike?

Id also like to add that it makes me bloody furious that this should be an issue at all!

Bottled water?

Hilarious that they need to go to so much trouble to sell bottled water these days.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spring planting

Its only just the beginning of Spring, but it feels like an excellent opportunity to get busy planting. Especially as the sun is shining today! We have seen so little of the sun here in Launceston, with grey skies and torrential rains and even flooding being the norm of late.
Miss S loves snow peas, and its always her job to plant them, so today we hauled out the dry plants from the frame, and potted up some new seeds.
The chocolate crackle was a little celebration in the sun afterwards!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

10 things in 101 days

Ive been intrigued to find a couple of landscape architects on blogger, who have set themselves the task of completing a list of things, a long LONG list of things! These are, I gather, things they aspire to, that they have always wanted to do, things perhaps that inspire them. Katrine, of 'My Feet Move Forwards', and Victoria, 'Being Me' both  have these interesting lists in the margins of their blogs, and I wonder how they go about squeezing these things into the margins of their lives. It hard sometimes to maintain enthiusiasm in the face of a list, but it looks like they are doing bloody well so far.  It appeals to my sense of order to catalogue the things I'd like to do. But to be honest, it also wearies me somewhat to imagine 101 things! It must be the difference between being 24 and 40!

Reading their lists leaves me wondering what it is that inspires me now? What is there that I aspire to? As I review their lists, these are things that I have been doing, and loved doing over the last 10 years combining motherhood with old and new careers, and a reignited interest in the making things with my hands, and a new keen interest in gardening, bushwalking and yoga.

I love the idea of joining the 101 things crusade, but I guess I want a mini list, with more immediate results!
So I will make a list of 10 things, in 101 days. But I will consider these things most carefully and borrow one idea from each of their lists, as a thank you!

1. Walk the Overland Track (Thank you Katrine!... I havent walked the whole thing yet, and am now confirming plans to do this in November)

2. Cook something new once per month (I might make this once per week) Thanks Victoria!

3. Continue the pilates training, daily. Focusing on core strength and begining to re-integrate my yoga routine.

4. Start my weekly walking once again.

5. Floss (lol! I always seem to rush my teeth, but I really want to avoid expensive dental visits)

6. Laugh more

7. Be open to new friendships, and try not to worry too much if they all dont quite work out the way you imagine they may 

8. Be open to the idea of a whole new career!

9. Listen to my students...actively listen.

10. Plant some seeds for summer veggie crops

I might even revise my list tomorrow, before putting it in the margin to keep my mind on the things im working towards, but this is a start. Oh, and I guess I made the executive decision to count laughter, listening and preparedness as a 'thing': a thing need not be a physical outcome I reckon...