Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday afternoon music on Monday afternoon

Yesterday I wrote on facebook something like 'I do love a good Baroque Adagio on a Sunday', and so I do. I was having a little classical music fest while I caught up on some work. This was the particular piece of sublimity I was up to when I wrote that (with a little Allegro thrown in).

The politics of nostalgia

I loved this portion from Lost in Translation, by Eva Hoffman:

In Speak, Memory, Nabokov makes the poetic, or the playful, speculation that Russian children before the Revolution – and his exile – were blessed with a surfeit of sensual impressions to compensate them for what was to come. Of course, fate doesn’t play such premonitory games, but memory can perform retrospective manoeuvres to compensate for fate. Loss is a magical preservative. Time stops at the point of severance, and no subsequent impressions muddy the picture you have in mind. The house, the garden, the country you have lost remain forever as you remember them. Nostalgia – that most lyrical of feelings – crystallises around these images like amber. Arrested with it, the house, the past, is clear, vivid, made more beautiful by the medium in which it is held and by its stillness.

Nostalgia is a source of poetry, and a form of fidelity. It is also a species of melancholia, which used to be thought of as an illness. As I walked the streets of Vancouver, I am pregnant with the images of Poland, pregnant and sick. Tesknota throws a film over everything around me, and directs my vision inward. The largest presence within me is the welling up of absence, of what I have lost. This pregnancy is also a phantom pain.

In our highly ideological times, even nostalgia has its politics. The conservatives of the sentiments believe that recovering their own forgotten history is an antidote to shallowness. The ideologues of the future see attachment to the past as that most awful of monsters, the agent of reaction. It is to be extracted from the human soul with no quarter of self-pity, for it obstructs the inevitable march of events into the next Utopia. Only certain Eastern European writers, forced to march into the future too often, know the regressive dangers of both forgetfulness and clinging to the past. But then, they are among our world’s experts of mourning, having lost not an archaeological but a living history. And so, they praise the virtues of true memory. Nabokov unashamedly reinvokes and revives his childhood in the glorious colours of tesknota. Milan Kundera knows that a person who forgets easily is a Don Juan of experience, promiscuous and repetitive, suffering from unbearable lightness of being. Czeslaw Milosz remembers the people and places of his youth with the special tenderness reserved for objects of love that are no longer cherished by others.
Image from here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Using your hands = mental vitamins

This is very interesting. It might explain why once I get started on a crochet project, I feel a certain compulsion to keep going. From the Ladies Home Journal (yes, such a thing still exists! - the whole article is quite fascinating) via Austin Kleon:
When you do meaningful work with your hands, a kind of neurochemical feedback floods your brain with dopamine and serotonin. These happy brain chemicals are natural antidepressants, and we’ve evolved to release them both to reward ourselves for working with our hands and to motivate ourselves to do it some more.

A gift to the people of Australia

Once upon a time some medical research people were launching a diabetes and heart research program and randomly chose six neighbourhoods in Queensland for sampling, of which mine was one. So they came door knocking, asking if we’d like to participate. Knowing the difficulties involved in scientific research myself, I signed up. Now, no matter where I go they find me and send me surveys to fill in, and every five years I go in for testing – rigorous testing.

The five years came around on Friday morning, so I fasted, went in and had initial blood test, drank syrupy sweet sugar liquid, had my height and weight taken, did my depression survey (this was weird), my food survey, my physical function tests, memory, word knowledge and number pattern tests (I was a little surprised by these – they haven’t featured in previous tests), transport, household and physical activity surveys and so on and so on and so on. I even had to give them a urine sample – eek! Eventually they let me go, but I have come away with a thigh monitor and a hip monitor on, that I am to wear for a week. These were voluntary extras. I drew the line at the 24-hour blood-pressure monitor though, mainly because I had to get it back to them the next morning, and I didn't want to go back there on a Saturday (I had a few hours work to do on Saturday to make up for time lost on Friday already).

Anyhow, I have done what I could to skew the data to the healthy end. Just quietly, I think I aced it for you all. I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol (not that a person necessarily has any control over those), there is nothing yet wrong with my physical functioning (when they strapped something on my ankle to test my leg force, I smiled to myself and thought, I think the family calf muscles I inherited might make an outlier of me on this one), I eat vegetables, and word knowledge and number pattern tests? - I like them. I am not sure about the memory test however. They rattled off a very long list of things we were to buy at the shops, and then we had to recall as many as possible. I wasn't really concentrating and that's mean when you haven't had any breakfast. (And it made me think that maybe all these GTD type systems that say you should get things out of your head and onto paper/into devices aren't actually so good for your brain. Try remembering your to-do list and social calender instead.) One day in I am thoroughly irritated by this hip monitor though! I will be pleased to be done with it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Challenging naturalism - with logic

Every now and then I stop fiddling about in youtube and wrapping yarn around a hook to raise my sights to ponder life's big questions, and I thought this article was interesting. I dredged it up from the NY Times Opinionator. It's written by Professor of Logic at Oxford University, as a response to those who duck challenges to Naturalism. Here's an excerpt you might like to keep up your sleeve for the next watercooler conversation:
We can formulate the underlying worry as a sharp argument against the extreme naturalist claim that all truths are discoverable by hard science. If it is true that all truths are discoverable by hard science, then it is discoverable by hard science that all truths are discoverable by hard science. But it is not discoverable by hard science that all truths are discoverable by hard science. “Are all truths discoverable by hard science?” is not a question of hard science. Therefore the extreme naturalist claim is not true.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Under the wings

I've been out the last three nights after work, which is when the wall starts rising up to meet me (often in the form of the pile of discarded items rising up in my room), but I thought I'd share this picture (thanks to George for sharing it on facebook). Isn't it beautiful? It's almost enough to make me want to create one of those inspirational posters with Psalm 36:7 on it. Almost.

I think this a female Orange-breasted Green Pigeon (but they are not Australian so I couldn't be sure). I've never seen a pigeon do this. I've also only now realised just how often the image of sheltering under God's wings is used in the Psalms: see 57:1, 61:4, 63:7, 91:4, 17:8.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Right here, right now

I have been listening to the Laura Marling CD that mysteriously appeared in the mail. I love the music, but I must say, the lyrics are another story, and I am not one of those people who can easily separate the two. I haven’t sat down and read them in depth yet, but there seems to be a darkness and poison in them that I don’t enjoy. She’s a fantastic musician, especially given her age, but I feel like I am getting some of that angsty melodrama that is being a 21-year-old.

I’ve also been listening to the new Sara Groves, with lyrics so full of grace and forgiveness and hope, and I know which headspace I’d rather end up in. There is something so much healthier in the place she’s singing from - and that’s not a cheesy “life is always awesome” space, but a place of reminders of truth and hope and what love really is in the middle of weakness and ordinary life.

On the album she has included a little “ditty” of an unfinished song. She comments on this song about how we’re often waiting for that ideal scenario in which we could serve God or love others better, or fulfil who we really are ... when the truth is, right here, right now, is the place God wants us to serve him from. This little 48 second ditty goes:

I’m tired of blaming everybody else
I’m sorry if I’ve blamed you
I have everything I need to be myself
I have what I need to love you

There’s no way to brace myself
There’s no way to sort it all out
What you need from me I can do it right now
I can do it right now

What you need from me I can do right now
What you want from me I can do right now
What you want from me I can do it right now
I can do it right now

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kinds of Blue in print

In other news, remember back here how I told you all some friends of mine were running a crowd funding campaign to print a book, Kinds of Blue, an anthology of comics about depression? Well, last week I actually went to the book launch, which was very exciting.

So, now you can actually buy yourself a physical copy, and still view it before you buy it, over here. It would make a nice and thoughtful gift for that friend you've got (because who hasn't got one of those friends?) struggling with depression.


So, I’ve hit a wall or fallen in a slump or wandered away in distraction or some such thing when it comes to blogging … Feeling a bit busy lately (when the reality is that nothing is all that immense). We had Made Fair Markets at church on Saturday again coinciding with the opening of I ♥ Kirribilli, which I wrote about last year, so I got to the church at 8.15 am and the placed buzzed all day and I ate too many cupcakes (some excellent person made raspberry and white chocolate ones, and another excellent person made carrot ones, and they were everywhere in abundance). The Exhibition runs all of this week. If you’re in Sydney, you should go peek. There’s good live music lined up for every night this week (played in front of the church) and you can bring your friends, get take-away and loiter.

So excuse me if I disappear. I’ve even had thoughts in my head that could be real blog posts, which I have almost forgotten how to write. I'm also in the midst of an overly ambitious crochet project for my Mum’s birthday in November (I don’t know why I decided I had time for that).

Since we are talking art, this is my niece at an art show with a drawing she did of my nephew. Aren’t they both sweet? She's a talented little drawer. On their recent visit, everywhere we went that there was sand, she was drawing in the sand. I don't think I felt the same compulsion to draw in the sand as a kid.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A surprise package

Over the weekend I ordered a few things online, as present season has well and truly started with three family and one friend’s birthdays and a baby on the way in November, then Christmas, more birthdays in January and so on. I’d been getting tracking emails from Australia Post for the last couple of days and so knew I had two parcels to collect from the local post office (which is quite the nuisance when you work business hours elsewhere, and I was wondering why one of them had gone there when I had given my work address). So, I bolted out of work early yesterday, pedalled home with some urgency and jumped in the car in an attempt to make the post office by 5pm.

I thought I knew what I was expecting. But instead the post office lady brought out the biggest tough bag I have ever seen. I put my arms out to receive this in some confusion, together with my other little predictably-sized box for little boys toys. So then when I got to the car I had to open it, and then tear open the tape on the cardboard that surrounded whatever was inside.

What I saw was a large flattish black something with the words “The beast was a creature I did not know” printed on it. It was wrapped in plastic, and at first I thought it was a canvas style something, and that someone had sent me some kind of wall hanging that said “The beast was a creature I did not know” (which I would find just a little bit obscure). Then I realised that perhaps it was a box. I decided to deal with this further at home, so I’m driving along thinking ‘what IS that?’, and why have I got it and who sent it and what are they trying to tell me? …

This is a strange thing to pull out of a package when you are not expecting it, is it not?

When I got home I realised that this was indeed a box and that what I had was an LP, with a couple of CDs, a weird and somewhat macabre little story about said beast, a steel guitar slide, and that it all appeared to be part of a Laura Marling package. And I began to remember that she has a new album out, though I had not been paying all that much attention yet and hadn’t registered the name of it. Here’s the contents of my box.

At this point I was excited for a few seconds about the possibility that someone had sent me this (most interesting) parcel. Then I started to have vague recollections of there being a possibility of winning some such thing recently, so I searched ‘Laura’ in my emails – nothing. Then I thought well, it must have been the Frankie newsletter if it was anything (and I had just been looking at the most recent one showing a colleague some shoes yesterday) and so I went looking through a few, till I found said possibility, and I think that must be where it came from.

But how curious that they don’t notify of you of these things, with a big email fanfare that says “you are the winner!”. It’s all rather nicely mysterious. So, I like Laura Marling (though you might be guessing that I am not one of those fans that knows all there is to know), a young British folk musician, and I am very pleased to have this (though how/whether to keep and store such a thing is a point). Here is a youtube video off this album.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A little bit behind - a short film

If you were at the ENGAGE conference last year (I think it was last year) you might remember this fellow being interviewed on what it was like to be a Christian and an actor. Well, here he is in a short film, for which he won best male actor (as part of the 48 Hour Film Project). Amuse yourself:

A LITTLE BIT BEHIND from Chris Byrnes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beautiful passivity

I saw this article in Christianity Today (the Australian edition, which I didn't actually know existed) by Sam Manchester about on facebook yesterday. It melds into various thoughts of late.

The gospel plough - Bob Dylan

So, there’s been a few too many music videos here of late, but, you know how recently I posted Eyes on the Prize sung by Sara Groves and Stephen Mason from Jars of Clay? Well, it turns out that that was originally an old gospel folk song, called The Gospel Plough. It was later appropriated by the Civil Rights Movement in the US and reworked into Eyes on the Prize in the fight against slavery, and what Sara Groves sings is essentially the Civil Rights version. But, in poking about, I discovered that Bob Dylan covered the original folk song Gospel Plough (I’m not ever going to spell it “plow”). It's quite different, but you can still hear the relics of the original in Sara.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Like a childhood summer

One of the bonus songs from the new Sara Groves songs is available on youtube. I can see why it’s in the bonus category (which usually means didn't make the album cut I presume), because it’s a nice little song, but lacks the searching substance of many of her other songs. I do like it though, and there's cello, which is always a bonus. (Alistair has also been posting Sara over here - another good song.)


I’m not the slightest bit interested in rugby. Sure, I have sat down and watched a game or two with friends on occasion, and I can get into that. I even had my hair sprayed blue for a state of origin game once, and in Townsville, which is a very long way away from the “roaches”, that was a dangerous thing to do. But I’m not going to go out of my way to watch it by myself. Maybe I could have it on in the background while I did some crochet.

All that said, there is something I feel like announcing to the world somewhere. Just because. Once upon a time my uncle played rugby against the All Blacks, when he was in the Australian Army under conscription, and he was “talent spotted”. He went on to play some rugby professionally for a time, but I believe that was “league”.

That is all.

I asked a male colleague about the difference between union and league, and he said “boat shoes are union”. I get it. The curious thing is, my Uncle and Aunt would not let their kids play rugby. They are surf life savers instead.

P.S. My grandmother was from New Zealand, so I reckon I can stick a claim in either way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Poetry Day - Let it be for nought

I feel like this blog has become not much more than a repository of things I fancy of late, and yet I have one service to humanity, and it’s this: poetry.

Poetry, so it has been said, utilises both sides of your brain simultaneously, and this is a good thing. (See a little summary in Simone’s post here about left and right brain and their engagement in poetry and singing, and I was talking to Rob Smith about this very thing last Sunday night.) In the reading of poetry you may delay the disintegration of your mind, and it’s a good bit more interesting than messing with numbers (though my Aunt recently did get me doing Sudoku). Read it with a coffee, because for all it’s other evils, coffee may preserve some of your mental functions also.

And so to make sure it is a full and well-rounded education you are receiving here, I thought I’d post what is one of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s most famous Sonnets from the Portuguese. I am in two minds (no pun was intended!) about this poem when it is taken in isolation. Certainly, once we have gained a love, we hope it will endure through all alterations and all faults. But in gaining a love, I suspect the recipient does like to believe that there are reasons, embedded somewhere within them, for it’s development, and that it isn't actually for “nought”. But then, clearly loving for nought is the more Christlike of the two.

Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard (1732–1806)


IF thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
“I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day”—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photography blooper #1

Over the holidays with family I had more of an excuse to use my newish DSLR than usual, in the way of time and subjects. To my shame I forgot it the first day we went out to Coogee and Watson's Bay, so made do with the phone that day. Then later in the week I was using it and one day I changed the battery, as you do, and then took some shots at Balmoral, without paying much attention to the screen playback, because it was too glary to see it at any rate ... So when I got home I was rather miffed and disappointed to discover that all the shots were decidedly blue.

I'd been using it in P mode, because I just wanted to take happy snaps as it was the middle of the day and not ideal lighting anyway, but I wanted to spot focus more easily. So I thought the camera must be malfunctioning somewhere. When I investigated the problem later pictures were fine in fully "auto" mode but horrible in any other. When I mentioned this to a friend they suggested the white balance, but I thought 'no, I didn't do anything to the white balance', but I have since checked and somehow, while fiddling about changing the battery, I must have interfered with the white balance setting and pushed it onto "incandescent" in manual modes (it was still set to "auto" in "auto" mode, obviously).

What I was unprepared for though, is the monumental difference this made. Here is a photo comparisons between "Auto" mode and "P" mode with the white balance on "incandescent", from my balcony. (To me, white balance is one of those things I'd rather deal with at the print level, not at the time of taking a photo.)

All was not completely lost as I was able to adjust the photos in iPhoto to some extent, though I don't know that I have managed to get the colours completely true. Here are my corrections. The reason my nieces were getting about with red roses is because as we scrambled over the rocks they actually started washing up out of the sea, which was strangely romantic and provided us with some fun fantasising. I told the youngest one that someone over the sea must love her. And she says 'but how would they know the roses would wash up just as we walked past', and well, that's just the magic isn't it. Only Hollywood has the answer to that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why do we sing?

Here is Bob Kauflin's sermon, mentioned below.

The Swell Season, The Movie

So, I meant to post this earlier, but there is an upcoming music documentary on The Swell Season. The reviews are interesting, like this one and this one. I don't know when it's actually screening in Australia, but I'll be aiming to find out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Music and the emotions

Bob Kauflin spoke at my church on Sunday night on ‘Why do we Sing?’, which was excellent. (I was on power point, and I was told to be prepared to be "flexible" at the end of the sermon, to the point of not knowing which songs we'd actually sing. The pressure. Then I discovered that they’d replaced the mouse with some newfangled one that had no scroll button, so I was finding it hard look through the slides without changing them up on the screen. Thankfully Paul Dale had told me he’d come back and deal with it. I love the way he comes to the rescue of us powerpoint button pushers when things get disordered (which they rarely do) - you know you've got back up from the top. And then it actually didn’t get so complicated.) Anyway, this sermon also flowed on from an excellent lecture Rob Smith gave at the Moore College School of Theology on music and emotions (at the moment I can’t seem to find an online link to either of these things, sorry). And then yesterday I was reading on through Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman, and I came across an intriguing few pages on learning music and it's connection to the emotions (and the power that it has to make you feel emotions, without necessarily being able to tell you why, in the words of Bob Kauflin: this is why Christian music must have good words; we need to know why we can be peaceful, not just feel peaceful ...). Here are some snippets:

Marek and I embark on our musical education in tandem, and as the first step toward God knows what unknown heights, we are taken for a “hearing test” – something apparently advised by experts as a way of testing a child’s potential “musicality”. For an hour, we are led through such paces as singing fragments of melodies, repeating the pitch of notes played for us on the piano, clapping out rhythmic patterns, and trying to identify similarities between different intervals. Marek gets over all of these hurdles with flying colors; I have the humiliation of failing most of them. I do not have a good ear.

Later, though, one of my music teachers will tell me about the importance of “inner ear” – the ability to hear feelingly. In this, I turn out to be better. Music seems as lucid to me as books … It speaks to me about everything in pearly, translucent sounds.

… She is the first in a sequence of music teachers to whom I owe the closest thing I get to a moral education. In this intimate, one-to-one apprenticeship – an apprenticeship mediated through the objective correlative of music – they teach me something about the motions and the conduct of my inner life. When Pani Witeszczak attempts to convey to me what tone to use in a Bach invention, or the precise inflection of a theme of a mazurka, she is trying, indirectly, to teach me the language of emotions. “Music is a kind of eloquence,” she tells me.

Music – philosophers have known its dangers – insprires me with such grandeur that I think I know what inspiration is about. As I progress to pieces by Mozart or Chopin or Beethoven, I begin to feel in possession of enormous, oceanic passions – anger and love and joy and grief that surpass merely being angry, or happy, or sad. “I know how anyone in the world feels,” I confide in Marek once … If I can express the passions contained within a Beethoven sonata or the Chopin Berceuse, then I know everything about being human. Music is a wholly adequate language of the self – my self, everyone’s self. And I am meant to speak this language; life wouldn’t be complete without it. Music begins to take the shape of Fate, or Destiny – a tremendously powerful magnet toward which my life will be inevitably moving.

Monday, October 10, 2011

IKEA does crochet

Since I am being crafty, has anyone else noticed that IKEA has decided to branch into crocheted storage options? Probably not. See these LIDAN products, and also these from the KOMPLEMENT range. (I took a look at these up close, and it is definitely crochet.) You could make them yourself, or else, for the time, effort and cost of materials involved, you could just buy them from IKEA (I suspect they'd have to be making these "handmade" items in a sweat shop somewhere though, which might be good reason to DIY).

Crochet DIY inspiration

Well people, this could be the beginning of the end, but I have joined Pinterest. I was fossicking around (well, the truth is, I did a search on "crochet" and had a real quick look) and found this picture. Now, too much of a good thing does indeed exist. This is OTT crochet IMO. But, I do like the crocheted lampshade idea, even if you don't granny square it. I have two lamps at home that I found down near the rubbish bins (yes, I'm like that - we have a rubbish area in our apartment block garage and sometimes things are just sitting there for the taking, and well, who can resist?). They were quite fine lamps, with plain cream woven papery sort of shades. Only one of them has since had a plant sitting a little too close on it's table, so now the shade has brown spots on it. This could be my next option, only I don't think I'd be quite so flamboyant. Or I might just take them back to the rubbish.

Picture from here, via Pinterest

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Poetry day - Perplexed Music

And now, having given you that much, I will post the hopeful rest.

Perplexed Music
-by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Experience, like a pale musician, holds
A dulcimer of patience in his hand,
Whence harmonies, we cannot understand
Of God’s will in his worlds, the strain unfolds
In sad, perplexed minors: deathly colds
Fall on us while we hear, and countermand
Our sanguine heart back from the fancyland
With nightingale in visionary wolds.
We murmer ‘Where is any certain tune
Or measured music in such notes as these?’
But angels, leaning from the golden seat,
Are not so minded; their fine ear hath won
The issue of completed cadences,
And, smiling down the stars, they whisper – SWEET.

Pictures from here and here.

The pale musician of experience

So, I gave you Charlotte Bronte on experience, and here is Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

Experience, like a pale musician, holds
A dulcimer of patience in his hand;
Whence harmonies we cannot understand,
Of God's will in His worlds, the strain unfolds
In sad, perplexed minors.

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning

Friday, October 07, 2011

Eva Hoffman on reading

Like so many children who read a lot, I begin to declare rather early that I want to be a writer. But this is the only way I have of articulating a different desire, a desire that I can’t yet understand. What I really want is to be transported into a space in which everything is as distinct, complete, and intelligible as in the stories I read. And, like most children, I’m a literalist through and through. I want reality to imitate booksand books to capture the essence of reality. I love words insofar as they correspond to the world, insofar as they give it to me in a heightened form. The more words I have, the more distinct, precise my perceptions becomeand such lucidity is a form of joy. Sometimes, when I find a new expression, I roll it on the tongue, as if shaping it in my mouth gave birth to a new shape in the world. Nothing fully exists until it is articulated. “She grimaced ironically,” someone says, and an ironic grimace is now delineated in my mind with a sharpness it never had before. I’ve grasped a new piece of experience; it is mine.
Lost in Translation
-Eva Hoffman

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I ❤ low-fi

There is something to be missed here. Those times when you groaned as you ejected a tape, because it remained connected to the player, and you had to very carefully extract reams of tape before winding it back in, hoping that next time you played it there wouldn't be a crackly bit. I still have some cassette tapes in the top of my wardrobe, but I think their days are numbered.

The unknown future of us all

This is somewhat randomly, sadly, weird. I started reading the story of the woman who died when a helicopter crashed into the river in New York, only to realise that I knew who she was. She served me, and I was chatting to her, last time I was in Galluzzo’s in Glebe.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Short films for the melancholy

One of my visiting nieces is a lover of movies. The other always has her nose in a book. The movie lover was repeatedly scanning through my DVD collection (which is by no means expansive, and of little interest to a 12-year-old) but on the last day she pulled out a couple of short films and watched Cracker Bag first, which I have mentioned a lot here, and then Birthday Boy. I had to sniff and wipe my face for the sadness, as I introduced my niece to "disillusionment" and the ruins of war.

I mostly own these two films because Glendyn Ivin is an old friend, as is the wife of Sejong Park, but also because one of them won the Palme D'or at Cannes, and the other was nominated for an Oscar. I've discovered that Birthday Boy is now on Youtube (whether or not it should be is perhaps the question). If you've never watched this beautiful little eight minutes of animation, then here it is, for your illumination. It's a true story, set in Korea, 1951.

Bleeping Back

I am back at work today. Boo hoo. It’s been a full past 10 days. It’s amazing how little time you have to do anything at all when the house is full of people you feel like you should be entertaining and socialising with (not to mention that you want to be entertaining and socialising with). I haven’t read any of my book, played guitar, written a blog post – nothing. All I did was some crochet as we sat about in the lounge room. My niece is still so fanatical about Press Gang, which I gave her for her birthday last year, that she brought the whole boxed-set with her, and we watched a few episodes when at home (which is when I did crochet, and I was also teaching and helping the other niece make a crochet cat). There was one day where they went to catch up with some other relatives, and so I made the most of that time to make a trip to Ikea, which I have been wanting to do for a long time, only because after going to every other shop closer to home with a tape measure, Ikea seemed to be the only shop with the right-sized thing.

We went out every day to see something or other about Sydney. Two things I had never done before as a resident was to walk over the Harbour Bridge and go up Centrepoint Tower. These are just not things you think to do when you live here, but I am pleased I have now done them. My nieces had never been to Sydney before so we did all the basic sights of the city and some other local and scenic ones. Some days the weather was a little less than average, but we managed. My brother-in-law flew back on Sunday, as he had to lecture yesterday, and my sister and the kids stayed on till today because flights were really cheap. This afternoon was going to be an effort, with me trying to leave work early enough, the day before press day, after holidays, to get them to the airport in peak-hour traffic. My sister was stressed about making it on time, I was stressed about having to get away from work, so in the end I had this bright idea that they could catch a taxi (which is cheaper than the train for three people from my house), which I think works out best for all concerned. That’s why I'm having this lunch break. The problem is that I also have to be home early tomorrow for a house inspection. And for the last ten days there has been so much stuff everywhere in the flat, with people sleeping in the living room etc, that I have almost forgotten what it used to look like when it was tidy (sometimes my room is a big mess, but I do like to keep the living area tidy). So I think I have a job ahead of me tonight, hiding the evidence of all these people having been there so the agent doesn’t think I have been sub-letting.

And now I need to go on a diet (there were a few too many “snacks” and desserts consumed, which I don’t normally indulge in, except at Christian events where there are always snacks a plenty) and find something more interesting to blog about.