Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hallelujah - Pentatonix

I've been a great fan of a cappella group, Pentatonix, ever since I watched them singing  - and winning - The Sing-Off in 2011. Their blend of voices is extraordinary and they have just released a Christmas album. You can hear and watch them perform Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah here.

Now I have to say that while I find this song haunting and lovely - and this rendition of it is particularly beautiful - I still struggle to understand its entire meaning. I do get the Biblical references but some of the other parts confuse me. I was relieved to find I was not the only one who was in this position when I googled 'what does Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah mean?' because literally pages of people asking the same question or trying to answer it came up. The trouble is the interpretations are as varied as those writing them so I decided to simply enjoy it and leave it to you to work out your own meaning/meanings.

It turns out that even finding a definitive version of the lyrics of Hallelujah is not easy but this link gives you a number of variations. Have fun and for some more information here is Leonard Cohen being interviewed about the song.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sleep Deprivation Rates as Torture, Doesn't It?

To give some context I've been sleeping badly lately - for lots of reasons I won't go into - and I'm struggling with the after effects.

In the circumstances I will share this instead of trying to write a coherent post. Arachnophobes don't look. Spider eating mouse. I'm pleased to say the hunstmen where I live are nowhere near this big and only eat moths and flies.

On a more pleasant note we have tadpoles in the garden pond. Our resident motorbike frog had been calling and calling over the last month or so and has obviously attracted a lady friend - or more likely several lady friends given there are three different sizes of tadpoles enthusiastically feasting on the algae in the pool. I tried to take a photo but it turns out that muddy brown taddies do not show up well and all I got were pictures of clumps of green algae.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Of Owls

Last night I heard a sound coming from the tree in my front garden. You can hear it here. It's the call of the southern boobook. It's a medium sized brown owl found across most of Australia, also known as the mopoke because of its call.

I found this photo of a Southern boobook on the Pixabay website and I have to confess that I haven't ever seen one before although I've often heard them.

Saturday night's calls were the first time I've heard a mopoke for a while although I'm sure there are a number in the bushland around us - there are two golf courses with large areas of bush within a few minutes walk of where I live (one has a resident mob of kangaroos) and two bush reserves as well as a number of parks and wetlands no more than five minutes by car so there's plenty of hunting habitat.

Even more interesting than hearing the bird calling was what happened afterwards when I heard something that sounded vaguely like crickets but not quite right. In my trusty bird guide I was delighted to find that this was most likely a young owl because they make a cricket like call. Can't be positive, of course, since I didn't see the birds but I suspect we either have a nest in the tree which would be wonderful or, since it's breeding season, a parent had a newly fledged juvenile with it. Either way they are very welcome.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's Definitely Spring

and I've had that urge to get into the garden that comes with it. The glorious poppies I posted about only three weeks ago are on their last legs after we had a hot day - it reached 31 C - and they and the nasturtiums did not like it one little bit. They'll all have to come out in the next little while but I'm waiting so I can collect seeds for next year. I'll have have a wander around the local garden centre and see what I can find to replace them. Such a chore - not.

In the meantime I've been repotting the hanging baskets so now there are some much happier looking strawberries and some baskets of brilliant blue lobelia. I'll try to get some white cascade petunias to add to these for a splash of contrast but they aren't easy to find these days. The sad thing is that several of my old wire baskets have rusted out - they're literally holding together with what's left of the coir liner - so I need some more. Another excuse - as if I needed one - to go to the garden centre.

The other area I've been focussed on is the vegie patch which is half planted up. I've started laying paving paths as well but that's a slow process due to my current aches and pains. Here are a couple of photos to show how industrious I've been. See.

The hot day wiped out the cucumber seedlings and a lot of the lettuces but the seedling tomatoes, capsicums, sweet corn, zucchini, eggplant, beetroot, parsley and basils are all looking good. The onion chives are in flower, too, and they are so pretty that I let them do their own thing instead of doing as I'm told you should and picking the buds off to extend the season. The border of them means they are plentiful enough for us anyway so why not enjoy the flowers.

And just because I could I've added calendulas - partly to encourage insects and partly because a certain small person loves to raid my garden for flowers. The borage is still in full bloom and delighting the bees while the self sown sunflowers are already in bud. You can see them in the top right corner of the bottom photo. I'm waiting for the rest of the beans to come up along with an assortment of other seeds I've put in newspaper seedling tubes to avoid the voracious skaters we breed here eating through the stems as soon as the seedlings get more than a couple centimetres above the surface. I hate using chemicals so I have to find other ways to raise my plants and this is one way that helps.

There's much more happening in the garden apart from the new plantings, of course, but that's enough for now - except maybe I should mention the grape vines are shooting (which means dolmades - yum) and the blueberries are smothered in fruit (and I can hardly wait for them to ripen)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spoon Theory

Since Christine Miserandino posted her Spoon Theory on what it's like to live with a chronic debilitating illness a number of years ago those like me who live with chronic pain or a chronic illness have found it a useful way to explain just what it's like to have to deal with this every day.

I thought this was very widely known but apparently not everyone - including those who would benefit from it in explaining their situation - has heard of it. What made me realise this was that I was having a particularly bad day yesterday and when I mentioned to a friend who also suffers from a chronic illness that I was out of 'spoons' I was greeted by a puzzled silence. Then I posted on Facebook about it and another friend asked what I meant. So I thought I should revisit Christine Miserandino's post and link to it.

One thing I should stress is that the Spoon Theory applies to chronic illness. It doesn't relate to those days any normally healthy person has when they're tired. Chronic illness is draining, debilitating and disrupts your life. If you suffer chronic pain or illness - or both - there are days when you literally cannot do things that healthy people take for granted. And I get it - it's very hard for you, the healthy person, to grasp why it is I pull out of a social engagement at the last moment or why I say if I'm asked to go somewhere that I'll see. I'm not being inconsiderate or difficult. It's simply that I am at the mercy of my body and I don't know whether I will be able to do what I would like to.

I'll give you an example. Pisces and I have been invited to two events this weekend, one on each day. The first is a family birthday party and the other is an outing with a group of friends which will involve a bit of walking. Both are some distance from where we live. When I replied I said that we'd love to come but I had to add the caveat that I'd make a final decision on the day. Am I being difficult or deliberately obstructive? No, I'm not. But I got the distinct impression from one friend that she thinks I am. Can her reaction change anything? Will I suddenly be able to commit? No - but the reaction does leave me feeling that I am being annoying and/or inconsiderate. Honestly, I don't need that on top of everything else but it happens all the time and just makes life that bit harder.

I get that it's inconvenient and I wish I could be more reliable but I can't - and that's where the Spoon Theory comes in so handy as a short cut explanation. Everyone has at least one person with a chronic illness in their lives so have a look. You can find it here.

Edited because I realised I had misspelled Christine Miserandino's name. Don't know how I missed that.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Reading the World.

So there I was this morning catching up on my Facebook feed when a link came up to a BBC post about writer Ann Morgan who in 2012 decided she would read a book from every country in the world in the course of one year. It proved to be quite a challenge because there are new countries, small countries, countries with only an oral and no written tradition and others where books may have been published but have not been translated or written and not published.

Inevitably I mostly read books from English speaking countries - which largely means books from the UK, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand but includes other English speaking countries as well. For instance I've recently read some great books by Irish and Scottish writers. I do read books from other languages but sadly they have to be translated into English because, although I have a basic knowledge of a couple of other languages, I'm not fluent enough to capture all the nuances needed to read and comprehend a complex book and do it justice. In recent years I have read books translated from Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, French, Cantonese, Egyptian and Arabic but when I remember how many countries there are in the world it's obvious that I've barely scratched the surface of writing from around the globe.

Now I've realised this I'm determined to make a serious effort to read more widely. Given the difficulties Ann Morgan faced I'm not even going to attempt to read a book from every country in a year but I am going to actively seek out books from other cultures using her list as a starting point. I suspect I am going to learn a lot.

Ann Morgan's post on the BBC website is here and the link to her book list is here

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Life Can Be Frustrating Sometimes.

I've just had a very frustrating morning because I went to log in to my ISP account and it refused to accept my password. Since I already had an issue with them because I couldn't reset another password associated with the same account after they had 'fixed' a previous problem I was not a happy little camper. Much ranting and venting brought Pisces and the cat to find out what was the matter. Now they both no doubt meant well but as neither has any knowledge of the mysteries of the internet having them sitting there looking on did not really help the situation. To make matters worse the website  - as is so often the case - didn't actually have any useful way to work out my problem or, for that matter, even provide an easy way to contact them. Well, there was a live chat option but the combined problems were so complex I was pretty sure I'd be sitting here typing for hours. I gave in in the end, of course, and went to chat. It did take quite a while and I still can't access my account or change my password but the good news is that it isn't my account or computer that are to blame. It's the ISP. The upshot is that eventually they will fix things at their end and then my worries will be over. Do I believe that? Hmm, I'll just have to wait and see, I guess.