Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Council Clean Up

The local Council has given us ten days to prune, weed and generally refurbish our gardens if we want them to take the results away - free, gratis and for nothing. So since yesterday was Pisces's day off, I encouraged him to help me, his hands being fists of steel compared to mine. We now have a pile out the front but much left to do - and there is rain forecast. Not real rain you understand, of the kind that soaks in and bathes the plants' roots in a bath lasting weeks. No, this is more than likely to be a delicate misting that is burned off in a couple of days but at least it will spare us watering with some luck. The drought has us restricted to two ten minute garden watering sessions a week and the city is showing the effects. I drove past Lake Gwelup today and already the lawns surrounding it are dry and yellow and the centre of the lake itself is now an island.
Everywhere verges are being abandoned into miniature dustbowls. My own verge is still relatively green because gazanias self-seeded there about fifteen years ago and, since everything else I have ever planted there (except for the jonquils that appear miraculously every winter to perfume the street) from natives to desert exotics has died, I'm grateful for their dark green leaves, decorative even when heat stress makes them turn their silver-grey undersides out. Then the garden looks like moonlight by day except for a scattering of flowers ranging from bronze touched with rust through amber- gold, the exact colour of the eye of the tiger, and on to clear yellow, bright as a buttercup. I wonder if I held it under my chin as we did when we were children, whether it would tell me if I liked butter too?
The back garden is a different story. I've given up watering the lower garden. It's not visible from the house and water is very precious. I want to pave it, scent it with thymes in between the bricks and edge it with tough and lovely perenials like agapanthus, dianthus (the gorgeously perfumed clove pinks) and have purple hardenbergia garlanding along the back fence. Hardenbergia, kangaroo paws and banksias are very popular now but I remember when I was a child my mother was regarded as a little odd for encouraging these beautiful natives which everyone else in our sub-division ripped out.
The top garden just outside the house is finally being worked on again. The standard roses have had a first flush of blossom but a second is on the way and this evening I noticed a crimson bud opening on the Mr Lincoln bush. There's still some weeding to be done but in a few days I will plant waterfall petunias (and soften their pastels of lavenders and pinks with white and cream as well). They'll replace the nasturtiums that have finally shriveled under the heat and their delicate perfume can mingle with potted herbs outside my door.
I thought the rest could wait until it rains again but I succumbed to the selection of basils and parsleys at the shopping centre and now they sit in their seed boxes waiting to be planted out. Be patient, little ones. Rain is coming.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Notes for Politicians - of whatever party

The Australian Federal election 2007 is over in a landslide. We have a new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and a new Government. Now we must wait and see what happens.
So I thought this was a good time to look at what I found most annoying during the campaign - apart from the fact that it was certainly the most boring campaign I've ever had to watch. It was so dull that I suspect there'll be a record number of folk fined for not voting because they fell asleep. For the benefit of those from elsewhere we have compulsory voting in Australia. That way we all have to bear the responsibility.
Top of the list was the phone calls from would be Members of Parliament and/or their supporters. They were all annoying but the recorded telephone call from John Howard put him and his party in the same category as the dreaded telemarketers (if not worse) because it came after 9:00 pm which a straw poll of acquaintances of all political colours agreed is past the time when it is civilised to intrude. Given my attitude to phone pests, and for the same reasons, this did not go down well.
Then there were the trees sacrificed in the name of advertising by all parties. In each week of the campaign our household (with four registered voters and in a marginal seat) received anything up to 10-12 pieces of glossy electioneering, usually with 2-3 sheets in each. This does not include the average of one or two a week during the six months before the election date was announced. With all parties claiming green credentials I have to wonder exactly how they define them.
As a voter I want to know what precisely I am being promised so I sit through media interviews however stultifying. I do not want to see a candidate or member of a political party evade issues and they all did. That's right. No matter what party they represented. I lost count of the number of times interviews became a classic example of the "Yes, Minister" mantra of if you don't like the question being asked answer one you do like whether it has been asked or not. Are they forced to study "Yes, Minister" tapes before they stand for election to learn these techniques?
I became heartily sick of seeing little babies being cuddled and kissed. This is the only time in their lives the poor little mites don't have to think about politics and its ramifications and they can't escape. Just leave them alone, I say.
Then there was the endless and repetitive television and radio advertising, little of it positive with the bulk crudely produced and designed to scare, not inform. My advice: if you want to spend vast amounts of money on advertising at least make it look as if you have something to offer.
Finally, calling an election in the hot months of the year when it isn't forced is not a good idea. While the actual voting takes place inside, the queues of those waiting to get in at the polling booths are broiling. Makes a mockery of the anti-skin cancer campaigns, doesn't it.
Not only the political parties need to think about their actions. The attempt by a commercial television channel to rescue us from the boredom of serious commentary in the tally room by bringing along personalities to make their program of vote tallies entertaining and the filming of skits by a satirical program are hardly treating the election of a government which will determine our future for the next three or four years with the respect it deserves. Unfortunately tally room space being somewhat confined, the entertainment frequently drowned the actual results being broadcast by the only nationwide free to air program. But, hey, why would people without access to big city based channels want to know who their next government was going to be anyway?
So there's my list. Any chance of it making a difference? No, I didn't think so.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Free Rice

I came across this on Glenda Larke's blog. At you get the chance to test your vocabulary. When you are a word tragic like me that's always fascinating in itself but this has the additional bonus of the organisers donating rice through the United Nations World Food Program to starving people. So why not go and have a bit of fun and do something worthwhile at the same time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Writers of the Future

The quarter finalists, semi-finalists and finalists for Writers of the Future this quarter have been announced and they include two Western Australian writers - pause for drum roll - Sonia Timms, a fellow member of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre Speculative Fiction Writing Group, who is a finalist, and - another drum roll - my fellow Clarion South attendee, Lyn Battersby, a semi finalist.
Congratulations to you both. This is a great achievement and you should be very proud given the calibre of the entries in this world wide competition.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Sonia when the prizewinner is announced.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Journal Writing

A question came up in the journal writing workshop I gave to a writing group this week. The emphasis was on written journals and how they could be used in developing an idea for writing as well as self exploration but I touched on other journals - scrapbook journals where pictures, newspaper clippings and so on are kept with personal comments, reading list journals which give a personal review of books read, memoir journals that focus around a particular period or person, gratitude journals and photographic journals. In passing I mentioned blogs and LJs. This caused a lot of discussion. Why would anyone journal on the internet? It's a good question and I've been thinking about it a lot since.
Why do I blog? In the end it's because I like to write and share my writing life with anyone who cares to read about it. I blog about things that are important to me, what is happening in my life and things I hope will be interesting and give pleasure to anyone who finds my blog. My blog is not the journey of self exploration a written personal journal would be but it is an aspect of myself and one I'm pleased to share.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Nuisance calls

So today I'm asleep in bed with the worst migraine I've had in a year and a swollen foot I've been told to keep off and the phone rings. Because I'm asleep and doped with painkillers I'm out of bed hobbling towards the phone before I think about it. Almost there and the answering machine clicks in. Good. I hobble on. The answering machine message is almost finished and as I reach out to pick up the phone - the caller hangs up. This happens regularly - and invariably makes me angry. I assume it's someone trying to sell me something or a charity because everyone else (whether it's personal or business) has the courtesy to leave a message. Yes, I understand that the caller, who thinks the fact that I have my number listed in the telephone directory means I'm inviting calls, does not know whether I'm ill, disabled, hanging out the washing, bathing the baby or in the garden. What infuriates me is that having interrupted my life - and the same applies to everyone else they ring - they then do not have the decency to acknowledge that they have done this by a courteous "Sorry to have troubled you."
Then there are the pests who forward dial so you answer the phone to no response and when or if they eventually deign to speak to you do not apologise for this rudeness. Instead they ask cheerily "How are you today?" and even these are not as annoying as the dinner time callers. Can't they - or their employers - look at a clock?
We've put our number down on the Government's Do Not Ring Register now and considered going ex directory although even that doesn't seem to stop automated dialing according to friends who have private numbers.
The solution often suggested is to evolve strategies to irritate them as much as they irritate us but I'd feel guilty about doing that because the blame really can't be laid on the actual callers. They are simply earning a living, usually with a prescribed spiel, while those ultimately responsible for the invasion of our privacy, their employers, are unfortunately far too clever to get caught actually communicating with those whose lives they make miserable.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Year On.

It doesn't seem like a year since I began this blog but it is. It's been a busy year too, full of changes both good and bad. So here's a quick overview.
There was a death, two births and a marriage. There has been serious illness, sadness and great joy. I went to Clarion South, learned so much, and made some good friends in the process. Through it all I've kept on writing. I finished and began editing my first novel and my second is under way. I've completed ten short stories, two of which have already achieved recognition, and ventured back to poetry. I've given several workshops at writing groups and been a guest speaker as well.
I didn't quite meet all my objectives but given the circumstances I'm satisfied. I give myself a gold star.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Conflux podcasts

Somewhat belatedly I should tell you that the Conflux podcasts are available at . As well there are links to blogs about Conflux.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Of Honeysuckle and other things.

I walked out of the laundry this morning to the sweet scent of the honeysuckle. If ever there was a flower more aptly named I am yet to find it. We rarely use the path down the side of the house in the winter. It's damp and dark then and the clothesline on the edge of the vegie patch right at the rear of the house doesn't get enough sun to dry the washing so I use the more winter friendly one out the back. As a consequence I haven't ventured along there for months. The result is a perfumed jungle of dark leaves, starred with cream and white blossoms. I have pushed the trailing swathes aside just enough to let me get through - and they were very obliging. No flicking back to hit me in the eye or stretching across the path to trip me. Even the ferns and a few hardy succulents, which pretty much look after themselves until it starts to dry out, are flourishing.
The bird's nest fern I inherited nearly thirty years ago is obviously happy. It's now large enough to be almost blocking access to mundane but useful equipment like the hot water system and air conditioner. I hate to disturb it but I will have to find some way of suspending it from the pergola although it's so heavy that it is going to be a challenge.
In among the honeysuckle there are Boston and fish bone ferns (my poor holly ferns and maidenhairs didn't survive last summer), strings of delicate chain of hearts succulents, a very tough aspidistra, a crown of thorns - vicious but lovely when it's in flower - and several cacti in the arid area where the sun bakes the only exposed part.
This little garden is one of the joys of summer. It takes the least work of all but it's cool and green and reminds me of the "ferned grot" of Victorian poet, Thomas Edward Brown, in his poem "My Garden".