Penultimate post #blogvember 2013

IMG_3505It’s almost the end of blogvember. It is the day before the last. Friday night. Glass of rosé. BBQ chook.

This blogvember I have so far written 11 536 words. By the last word on the post tomorrow it will be over 12 000. There are insights in those words, secrets and typos. There were a wide variety of topics covered and having completed a quick review, some of the writing could be better, and a lot of it would have been better with more editing. Such is the challenge of blogvember, write everyday, write fast and post.

The discipline of writing everyday is one of the techniques most commonly cited in advice for writers.

I’ve cited this before and I will again to remind myself that I am not there yet.


Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about. (Colin Nissan)

Much self editing has been at play, and not enough exposure. The exposing of insecurities I still need to work on. The generation of new ideas has been easier and harder than last year, sometimes I think because some of my ideas have already had a good run. It also lead me to conclude that there is a bit of sameness in the routine between this year and last year. I think now would be a good time for a complete overhaul and a new writing venture. I’ll be mulling that over while I keep doing my daily workout over the summer.

Bookclub #blogvember

Tonight is the last bookclub  of  2013. IMG_1070

12 months, 11 women, much wine and many opinions.

The Christmas celebration was filled with cheesy Christmas music – Michael Bublé anyone? – and great food. It was for many the first official end of year celebration and there was some relish with which several members of the party took to that first gin and tonic.

Blogvember took a back seat while we feasted and chatted. During the end of dinner there was a suggestion of  writing a line each for a post, however when it came to it, the motivation waned. I did however ask the eleven women some questions. And here is a glimpse into what we get up to once a month.

I like book club because I read things I would never otherwise read – KM

And sometimes I appreciate the books more after we discuss them. However, in most cases I still forget them – AM

What about the new Christos Tsiolkas one? Is that full of the c word like the last one? KM

They are quite good to listen to in the car … Matthew Riley .. talking books – AM

Coming down in favour of Roadl Dahl for the kids as talking books … they are good family distraction – CP

I like book club because it is my only adult pursuit – TP

David Tennant doing all the Vikings accents – is awesome – I love David – the how to train your dragon stories are awesome, the characters are awesome, even if I can never remember all their names – CP

I love bookclub because you can be smart at bookclub and it is ok, no wait, it’s because you can be opinionated and that’s ok – TL

I love bookclub because I get to hang out with fabulous women – LR

I love bookclub because I have met wonderful women  I might never have met – KSM

The only reason I am here is because I had a crush on Paula’s boyfriend – TP

It is not about the book, it’s about downloading our lives – KSM

The books are sometimes hotly debated. Contentious books particularly. The chats and stories and support are worth as much as all the books in the world.

This year we read – Flaubert’s Parrot (Jullian Barnes), Past the Shallows (Favel Parret), When Colts Ran (Roger McDonald – our Canberra Centenary book), 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window (Jonas Janasson), Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo), Illegal Action (Stella Rimington), The Rose Grower (Michelle De Krester), The Constant Gardener (John LeCarre), The Perks of Being a Wall Flower (Stephen Chbosky), Burial Rites (Hannah Kent), and Dog Boy (Eva Hornung ).




Why blogging is like philosophy #blogvember


Hipparchia – reputed to have consummated her marriage to Crates in public

Sometimes blogging is like philosophy.

Here’s one I wrote earlier.

In the hegemonic, one can claim to have the answer, or to have no use for images but we might as well do away with “false windows that lend symmetry and with illusory self-justifications.” In line with this project of the possibilities of non-hegemonic philosophy Le Dœuff notes that her own project will indeed be incomplete and provisional and never more so than in the Larynx.

One of Le Dœuff’s other imperatives is the idea that it is better to start to speak before knowing where the speaking will end than to not speak at all from fear of the not knowing. There are two aspects of methodology which will be important to capturing the resonances of the “Philosophy in the Larynx” paper. I will focus firstly on her operative lever of Rousseau to present the material of “Philosophy in the Larynx” and secondly, on the fragment which does not try to reconstruct everything and which might allow whispered, impressionistic stories which “can lead the way to an understanding of the most vital lesson”.


The soft parts #blogvember

There are parts of me that are damaged and sore. Literally and metaphorically the tender velvet purple bruise of pain resides in my right hip. It is at times more present and then, it recedes and fades. The soft part which is evident if you press it, if I lie on it, is protected, shielded and cosseted. The words to describe the pain do not come easily. I wonder if it will ever heal. Ever stop hurting.IMG_3486 - Version 2

The pain leads to compensation. It leads to holding back. I don’t use the full range of motion. I lengthen, only to a point. I hold back and keep myself in check, in reserve. Literally and metaphorically the pain is protected. I hold it in, as I hold myself back. I downplay. It doesn’t hurt that much. It doesn’t hurt today. It’ll feel better after I had a hot pack, a panadol, a stretch. Deep in my hip the pain curls itself deep in the tissue and keeps quiet and invisible.

The causes of the velvet purple bruise of pain are deeper than the  tissue. They are deeper than me. They might stretch back to the beginning of me. The soft parts need careful handling. The bruise needs to be strengthened from the inside. The support structures of the hip, the tissues, the tendons need to be gently worked over. The rest of me need to be able to sustain. The rest of me needs to bear the bruise and the pain of working on the damage.  I can’t run. It follows. I fell and now I am paying for hitting the ground.

Fantasy island #blogvember

In the late seventies there was an island where, for a fee, you could live out your fantasies. My fantasy island doesn’t involve fees, or dwarves or sea planes, or humidity. The island of my imagination is for mothers. Exclusively. Almost no one else is allowed. There is only wine you like, books you like, music you like, lots of relaxation and uninterrupted sleep. It is for mothers. You don’t have to wash clothes, or iron, or wash up, or cook. Or you can do all those things if they make you feel good. There are massages, and clean sheets every single night. Ironed. Clean. Linen. Sheets – every single night. There is any book you want, or any magazine, or any anything with words in the world, immediately. There is music. Lots of music. And tea. There is always a packet of chips, or an orange, or a lamington, or cheese and bix.

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island

The island is only for mothers because even when, or if, they go on holidays, they are never off duty. There is never the chance to just let go. That can only happen when everyone else is totally happy, comfortable and asleep. This is not possible in normal circumstances.

On my fantasy island, there are no fees, it’s not means tested, it takes anyone of any colour, race or creed. You can talk to anyone or no one. It is totally up to you. Simply, it is the best place on earth. I think it should be entirely tax payer funded. It is a community service to have invested time, energy and mental respite to mothers. My childless friends should not miss out, so they can apply through a ballot, for a few limited spots. The weather is never more than 25 degrees. It is never more than about 50% humidity. You don’t have to pack. Everything you need is provided, and it is all much nicer than the stuff you would have packed anyway.

Fantasy island is the place I always want to go in my imagination. When I need the respite from the hurly burly of the world. Wouldn’t it be great?


The garden spam edition #blogvember

Graham Thomas, named after English horticulturalist  and garden designer

Graham Thomas, named after English horticulturalist and garden designer

Small and simple pleasures are one of the best things in life. This garden, like all of then has been hard work and is always under construction. It a joy that it finally, after a long four years starting to blossom and produce. We worked today to shore up the walled vegie garden. The rescued roses, dug up in the cold depths of winter from a garden that didn’t need them anymore, now flourish in a place where roses are treasured like precious jewels. The salad is so abundant that we can’t eat it all. Tomatoes are coming along, the brave early painting now bearing fruit. More than this, the garden is a place we can all help to create together. It is a shared space, with each of us taking special interest in a corner, or a special plant. It brings the best in each of us. The hewing and hefting, the delicate planting out, the serious pruning, the mud pies, we all have different skills, different strengths.

Salad green garden

Salad green garden

Fig with peas

Fig with peas

All the strengths need to come together to make the garden work. It is an expression of our world and our family.

Rescued rose - Pierre du Ronsard (probably)

Rescued rose – Pierre du Ronsard (probably)

Cécile Brunner

Cécile Brunner



Boundless Playground #blogvember

Boundless Project - siteplan

Boundless Project – siteplan

The Boundless Playground, an all abilities playground, to mark the centenary of  Canberra is a project which is gift to the children of the national capital, from the public servants of Canberra. An important place designed for all children, regardless of ability, the Boundless Playground will provide a place for all children to play, regardless of what they can do.

A lot of us, all our family actually, has been involved in large and small ways since the beginning of the project. We have rattled fund-raising tins, administered websites, assisted with events, sung in choirs and helped out at events. The effort involved in organising such a project takes hundreds of people, long-term commitment and ideas. Creative ideas to raise awareness and funds. One of the more creative ideas was a mass choir with a Boundless song, specifically written by talented Canberra duo, The Cashews. The best thing about the mass choir is that it was full of real people, of all abilities, young and old. And it featured children. Lots of children. Some of the children were interviewed about playgrounds and the kids, lots of whom we know, made into the video. Here is it. Where do playgrounds come from? by The Cashews and the massed choir in support of the Boundless Playground.

The video features one little boy, talking about slides at about the 33 second mark. You might recognise him.

You can make a donation to important work of the Boundless Playground here.

World Philosophy Day #blogvember

November 21 is World Philosophy Day 2013. This year’s theme is “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet”. Organised by UNESCO on the day after the General Conference, it is an international event.

Celebrated on 21 November 2013, the 11th edition of the World Philosophy Day will be an opportunity to organize, on all continents, various events under the general theme of the 2013 World Philosophy Day “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet”. They will enable their participants to share a multitude of views and experiences, fully respecting cultural diversity.

Suggested activities that could be organised by people around the world include public meetings and debates, philosophy cafés or a concert. The ideas to be discussed concepts of social justice, solidarity, exclusion and inclusion in different societies, as well as issues related to the vulnerability of various groups – including women, children, young people, people with disabilities, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, people living in poverty – and the interfaces between these issues and sustainable development. Ideas that could not be more pressing for the world, for Australia and for thinking people everywhere. What saddens me the most is that we are not having this debate. We are not talking about toleration. About peaceful coexistence, about compassion, about acceptance.

© UNESCO / Sandro Chia

© UNESCO / Sandro Chia

We are talking about stopping boats, about putting children in detention and about reducing funding for services to people who need them. In few places is there room to talk about innovation and big ideas to help us solve the issues we face as a nation and as a world. Only a few conversations are being had in a noisy, angry debate, are about what can be done, rather than what we cannot do.

One of the most interesting sessions on the program for the World Philosophy Day this year, is a masterclass on teaching philosophy to children. It is to be a demonstration. It will present techniques in teaching children to reason, to argue, to work through significant issues themselves and to listen to other points of view. I wish I could go. Children are invited, I wish Benedict could go. I wish philosophy was taught in every school, to every kid, for the good of the world. In the words of the organisers of this event

The introduction of children to logical and rational thought not only develops their philosophical spontaneity but helps them become enlightened citizens, capable of formulating their own critical judgment and clear and reflective views about life from a very early age.

Enlightened citizens are who we need. They will be the ones to make sense of all the mess we are creating right now. They are the ones who will have to clean up.

I am not here #blogvember

I am not here. My new nephew was born today.
I have been out to dinner. Mocan and Green Grout. I ate the most delicious steak tartare that Canberra has to offer. And many other delicious things.


There is too much real life today to fit in any writing. Cheers. Here is to new humans. Welcome Jack. Pleased that you are part of our family little boy.

Good bones – real estate blues #blogvember

Once we went to an open house. The house in question was a small, no, tiny, original condition 2 bedroom double brick cottage. There are a lot of them in old suburbs in Canberra. They are heritage listed. The block is directly behind our current house. It was a massive block with not a stick on it. Not a single tree. A tiny shed and a car port were the only other structures on the entire block. It was real estate gold. It is 3 kilometres from the centre of Canberra. Walk to the nearby excellent local shops. The block is level enough and in the shadow of a beautiful mountain. Read More

Ring the bells #blogvember

Near the childcare centre is a church. It is quite famous in Canberra. Often it is in the news. It has a bell tower. With trained musicians ringing the bells. On Mondays around 5pm you can hear the bell ringers practising. Benedict and I often hear them as we head to the car. Occasionally, we have parked the car and listened. Sitting quietly listening for a few minutes.

Today, we heard the bells as we walked back to the car. We drove around the corner. We sat and listened. Then a little voice. Mama can we go and see? It is such a pretty sound, he said. I hesitated. It was home time. It was time for the mad whirl of dinner, bath, stories and bed. And then I caught myself. Why not? It is a special, special sound. We got out of the car. Excitedly Benedict sought the entrance through the archway. He followed the path, through the churchyard which winds past graves of the people who lived here before Canberra was a city.

Bell tower

Bell tower

The bellringers were rehearsing. When we made it to the front door, we stood in the vestibule. To our right are the extremely steep stone steps leading up to the bell tower. We could hear the bellringers conversing, discussing the pattern of bells and the order of how they are to be rung. Benedict asked me to open the main door. The beautiful stained glass window amazed him. He’d never been inside a church before. It was interesting, he knew it was a place not to shout and be noisy. We looked in, then we walked all the way round the church yard. Many, many questions were invoked. What’s a church? What’s god? How is he everywhere? Why can’t I walk on the dead people?

What I loved most is that there are many places we have yet to go. The wonder is only just beginning


Tomatoes before Christmas #blogvember

There is a story in Canberra about how you can, if you are boxing clever, sow seed and eat tomatoes before Christmas. About three people a year manage it. In a town where there is frost until November, often, and this year in particular, there was a frost in October where the temperature plummeted to minus 3.9, it is a challenge to get tomatoes into the ground and ripening fruit by December 25. Read More