Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Tangled Bank

The Table of Contents of The Tangled Bank e-anthology - to be launched on Darwin Day 12 February 2010 by Tangled Bank Press - has been announced. I am delighted to see, among a very impressive list, my Clarion South 2007 fellows Ben Francisco, Christopher Green and Chris Lynch as well as Brendan Carson who, I believe, attended Clarion South 2009. Chris Lynch is also the editor.

The idea of celebrating Darwin's achievements attracts me and I'm looking forward to reading this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Toodyay Fires

Toodyay is a pretty little town just north east of Perth. It was one of the early European settlements in Western Australia and so is, by Australian standards, quite old. It has retained many of its historic old buildings which adds to its charm. We were close to moving onto a hobby farm in the area before health issues made it impossible.

Sadly parts of Toodyay been burned out by a bushfire believed to have been started by a fallen power line. Thirty seven homes have been destroyed and miraculously there were no deaths. Film of the fire showed it moving at incredible speed seeming to gulp down vegetation and stubble as it went. Behind it lay nothing but black.

We've had high temperatures recently. A succession of days in the high thirties and on the day the fire started it reached 39.6 Centigrade in the city so it would be much higher inland. That morning I had looked out my back door - in the suburbs near the coast - to see a plume of smoke rising from my neighbour's yard right on the fence line. They were obviously out and my hose is not long enough to reach so I ended up throwing buckets of water over the fence to put it out. When I talked to them later we could see no reason how a fire could have started but it certainly brought home to me just how volatile our native vegetation is.

We were lucky. The people of Toodyay were not.

If you want to help those who have lost everything donations can be made by phoning 13 72 58, going to and follow the Bushfire Appeal link or the Bendigo Bank.

Ticonderoga Publications is donating part of the price of all books sold in the next two weeks to the appeal.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Change in Travel Rules

According to news reports from July the Australian Federal Government has decided to relax the restrictions on flying with dangerous objects like nail clippers and knitting needles. I'm delighted to hear this being a knitter from way back and also objecting to not being able to clip a damaged nail until I retrieve my luggage. This has always been a patently stupid restriction especially as it also affects those who are just visiting the airport to see travellers off and I'm glad to see it go.

I have a question though - as apparently do all the travellers still being stripped of their nail clippers, knitting needles etc at airports. Why has the ruling not come into immediate effect? Are we supposed to believe that nail clippers - to use one of the more ridiculous items on the list of dangerous objects - are suddenly going to cease to be dangerous in July? Or is it that such items pose some inherent danger? If so what is it? If these items are a public danger we need to know about it before they turn on the general population. Is a whole range of new nail clippers etc being manufactured to protect us? If so what do we do with those items we already have? Are they safe? Do we need an amnesty so we can hand in all our old nail clippers and so on and replace them with the new safe version?

Ridiculous? Of course - but is it any more ridiculous than employing people right now in our airports (who are paid out of our taxes) to confiscate something that a) isn't dangerous in the first place and b) will in July miraculously become safe?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What was he thinking?

In a televised interview Tony Blair has stated that even if there were no weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq another reason for the invasion would have been found with his support because Saddam Husein was a bad man and deserved to be overthrown.

What was he thinking? Was he thinking at all? Certainly Saddam Hussein was a bad man and was doing terrible things in Iraq but since when has that been a reason for invading another country? On that basis Blair could have ordered the invasion of any of a dozen or more countries with governments bleeding their countries' economies and harming their citizens - and which have been doing this for much longer than Saddam Hussein - but he didn't.

That Mr Blair does not find this even slightly embarrassing is horrifying. He made the decision to commit troops to the invasion of a sovereign nation which posed no direct threat to his own country. Because of that action so many people have died - including Iraqi civilians and British troops - and he doesn't think there was anything wrong with either the decision or how it was made?

I am frankly appalled.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Egoboo WA Post

My introductory post on the Egoboo WA blog is up. Why don't you drop in and have a look. While you're there have a look at the other posts by Joanna Fay, Sarah Parker, Satima Flavel and Carol Ryles. We'd like your comments too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Garden is Many Things

I guess for most people a garden is a place to relax in, to entertain in and to beautify your home. While my garden has all those functions it has another. For me a garden should supply at least some food and other needs for me and my household. I'm not doing a Tom and Barbara (in The Good Life British comedy of the seventies) - quite apart from the impossibility of keeping pigs and goats in suburban Perth I have no desire to so - but I do like the idea of growing food plants. I've been doing this for most of my life for lots of reasons but mainly because I love to nurture plants and to be able to wander out to the vegetable garden and pick dinner. I'm lucky in that I have a reasonable size block of land with an area ideally suited for growing vegetables and even at difficult periods of my life I've always managed to have at the very least a collection of herbs and mostly there is much more.

What is interesting is that I now find that I have been ahead of my time. There has apparently been a sudden revival of the urge to grow your own food with even apartment dwellers setting up mini gardens on window ledges and balconies. I have to wonder exactly how much they harvest from these minute gardens but it's a trend that can only benefit anyone who tries it. Fresh picked vegetables and herbs are not only good for you - they taste so much better.

And just to prove my point here are some photos of my recently planted vegetable garden.

Not much to show yet with most of the plants still hidden among the mulch but I'll give you an update in a few weeks.

And just to show we have something almost ready to harvest, a few grapes. The last few years we've lost most of the crop to heatwaves and/or powdery mildew. So I've got my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Twelfth Planet Press Silly Season Sale

Over at Twelfth Planet Press, they have a special offer on their shortlisted Aurealis Award books of free postage in Australia and splitting the postage with overseas purchasers. Go here for the details. I'm heading over there myself.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I was watching the excerpts from Tony Abbot's press conference on television on Tuesday and I was shocked to see his behaviour towards Julie Bishop, who was elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party when he was elected as Leader. He cuddled her and described her as a 'loyal girl'. This is a grown woman who has been elected by the party to serve as its Deputy Leader - which means she is expected to have the nous to be able to act as the alternate Prime Minister should there be a change in government and the need arise - and he calls her a girl and cuddles her?

I can't think of another workplace where a senior colleague would be permitted to behave like this. What gives a man the right to put his hands on a work colleague - and then compound the offense by calling her a girl? This is a term that belittles an adult woman and is usually used as a put down implying as it does that the woman is childish. If Mr Abbot doesn't understand this he needs to have it explained to him. I noticed that he didn't cuddle any of the males present and call them boys.

I assumed that this would be offensive to the majority of people so had no intention of blogging about it but after a conversation today I found it apparently is not - at least not to some men who found my remarks on the subject very mirth-making. For the record I don't find this sort of insulting behaviour either humourous or acceptable and I don't think many women would.

Aurealis Awards 2009 Shortlist

Wow! It's a very strong list. It'a great to see so many of the books and stories I have enjoyed listed. The list is here. Congratulations to all those who are short listed.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Love is...

a purring cat curled on your lap and kneading you gently while he's being stroked.

So That's Where All My Time Went.

My PC died at the beginning of last week and what with being away and catching up again and life in general I haven't had the time to take it to be fixed - if indeed it can be. I had pretty much everything backed up except some fairly unimportant emails and my Internet bookmarks. Haven't missed the emails at all but the bookmarks are a different thing altogether.

Oh how easy it was to just drop down the list and click on my favourite blogs and websites or to roam through them and just have a look at one I hadn't looked at for a while. Now it involves laptops, Google searches and well, time. So I just go to those of my friends which were also bookmarked on the laptop - and guess what? Instead of spending an hour or more trawling through the list and getting distracted and wandering the Net after I check in on my friends I do some housework (Not too much of that. I find it highly over-valued), do some work in the garden, spend some very overdue time sorting the clutter that has needed attention for mumble mumble (well you don't really need to know that, do you), and writing or other writing related activities. That's right - writing - and amazingly I'm finding I am managing at least another hour a day on top of my usual amount.

This is a message from the Universe I suspect.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


You'd be forgiven for thinking not much happened in my world in November if you've been looking at this blog. Not true. Actually I've been emulating the swan - gliding effortlessly over the water while paddling madly beneath the surface.

There were health issues, family issues, a computer that crashed and died and all the other things that make up life, of course, but the big thing was the Egoboo WA retreat. Egoboo WA is a group of five writers, who have made the commitment - the enormous commitment - to read and critique each other's novels culminating in a three day face to face critiquing marathon at Eagle Bay. This involved providing a completed draft of our own novel as well as reading well over 500,000 words - the combined total of the other four novels - and providing detailed comment on each novel. Novels had to be up by October 22 and critiques ready by November 25.

The group is of necessity a closed one because once you get more than five members the volume of reading is too much but it is working for us. We had good advice from the ROR - wRiters on the Rise - group who have a similar very successful set up.You can read their blog - Ripping Ozzie Reads - here.

So now you know why there have been few posts. I've been lost in four amazing worlds and, since I came back, tweaking and playing in my own as I profit from the critiquing skills of the others.

If you want to know more about Egoboo WA have a look at our blog here. We'd love to see you.