Saturday, April 23, 2016

I hope you love birds, too

Good evening. I am one day into the long weekend, to be spent pootling about at home. My sister and little nephew came up for a fairly spontaneous visit from Melbourne last weekend, and I was out for the entirety of it, so have been looking forward to this one to do some home jobs and clock up the needed I'm-an-INFJ hours at home. Though when my younger sister and her family went off to the coast to do a family fun run I did sigh and think it would be nice to have a family to fun run with, and when my pilates instructor said she was going camping with her husband I did sigh and wish I had someone to camp with, but no, I shall be thankful for my little home and pootling in it, which I am generally very happy doing. I have jogged and poked about in my garden and washed and put away things, then went and sat in the glorious Autumn afternoon sunshine at a cafe near my house on the edge of town, with a friend and tea and cake, which was very pleasant.

Last weekend I went out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve with my sisters and nieces and nephews, where someone involved in it's construction had a poetic bent and there are interesting quotes scattered about in the infrastructure. I took a photo of this one on a board walk, which has inspired a return to Emily Dickinson's poetry.

The full quote is: "I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven." It is from a letter she wrote to Eugenia Hall. I thought it required some Emily Dickinson poems about birds.

The most triumphant Bird I ever knew or met
Embarked upon a twig today
And till Dominion set
I famish to behold so eminent a sight
And sang for nothing scrutable
But intimate Delight.
Retired, and resumed his transitive Estate -
To what delicious Accident
Does finest Glory fit!

One Joy of so much anguish
Sweet nature has for me
I shun it as I do Despair
Or dear iniquity -
Why Birds, a Summer morning
Before the Quick of Day
Should stab my ravished spirit
With Dirks of Melody
Is part of an inquiry
That will receive reply
When Flesh and Spirit sunder
In Death's Immediately -

These both call to mind the last stanza of an old favourite, the first poem I posted here in 2007, by Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush, that says:

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Let the birds be an example.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Life goes on ...

So it’s been a while. And I still have nothing much with which to make a comeback.

I did make a quick trip to Sydney the other week for a night at the Opera on the Harbour. It was my second year to be treated to such a spectacular, with my dear friend Margaret. Every year she gets two tickets for her birthday from her husband, who doesn’t like to go, and so I have been instead. It’s a very fine night out. We go by water taxi across the harbour, the stage floats out on the water backdropped by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the props are always magnificent, there’s fireworks ... This year the opera was Turandot, by Puccini (though Puccini didn’t actually finish it), which, when you pause to reflect on it, is actually a rubbish story. In brief, Prince Calaf, driven by lust, is determined to try for the hand of the beautiful but brutal Turandot, who’s executed all men who’ve previously made an attempt. He solves her three riddles and wins her hand, she still refuses to have him, so he offers a counter riddle, that if she can find out his name before dawn he will die. There is one person who knows his name, a slave girl named Liu who loves him, so Turandot decides to torture her to find it out. Afraid she might quail and reveal his name Liu kills herself to save Calaf. Calaf takes no notice of this sacrifical death of the faithful Liu, because he just wants the murderous Turandot. So much so that he is willing to take her by force. Finally, when he kisses her, Turandot crumbles and admits she was afraid to be controlled by him. It’s thoroughly dysfunctional. The only true heroine is Liu, and even she is somewhat ridiculous, besotted with Calaf because one day he smiled at her. I also found that much of the music was somewhat forgettable and tuneless, except for Nessun Dorma, which redeems it all. That said, it’s a wonderful evening out, irrespective of what the Opera actually is. It’s the experiential combination.

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

In other news, the straw that broke the camels back almost literally happened, commonsense prevailed over my ongoing lower back/hip niggles, and yesterday after work I did my first clinical pilates class. This was actually quite relaxing and I don’t think I was so terrible, though there was some unsteady wobbling going on where there shouldn’t have been. Hopefully this benefits my overall health and wellbeing. Jogging has been more or less hurting me ever since I tore my calf muscle but I am determined to keep on.

The crazy plant lady has visited again. Once upon a time I had a box elder maple tree in my courtyard, which is an environmental pest in the ACT, and potentially way too big to have there, so had just been waiting for the time to get it out. I’d done my google research, asked a nursery worker to identify a tree in a photo, and decided on an evergreen magnolia called a ‘teddy bear’ to replace it, my criteria being an evergreen, dense, small tree. I had no intention of dealing with it just yet, but my local nursery had a sale the other weekend and just happened to have a nice bushy little teddy bear magnolia on special, so I bought it. But then I had to come home and cut down the maple tree before I could plant it didn’t I? This unplanned activity contributed to me starting pilates. I’ve decided that one garden bed has to be entirely native plants now, as a favour to the birds and a return to my lost love of nature conservation (I do love and believe in natives, though you’d never know with all the exotics I have ended up with – it’s just larger native bushes that are difficult, often being scrappy, small-leafed specimens that weren’t going to screen out neighbours).  So I have started my native garden with some ‘Canberra Bells’ Correas. Inside my house I thought I should keep up with the hipsters and the magazine-house people and got a fiddle-leaf fig. That all happened spontaneously on a big plant weekend. Now I must stop buying plants (though this article motivates my indoor plant acquisition). Today though I came home with a pomegranate tree seedling from a colleague. Don’t ask me where I am going to put a pomegranate tree, but I wants it.

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

I’m re-reading Little Women for book club. This choice I approve of. I’m enjoying it.  I am hosting the next book club so it’s my turn to choose the book, but I haven’t yet come up with anything. The sort of books I like and want to read are not likely to generally please – particularly when we try to choose something that is readily available in public libraries. I am open to suggestions.

A few weeks ago I fell under a strange compulsion to buy this old trophy from the tip shop. So you can all be champions!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Praise to the Lord

We sang this arrangement of an old hymn tonight in church. I liked it (though I wondered what was going on in the last lines in the beginning). The lyrics were slightly different from my childhood remembrance, particularly these lines:

"Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er hath been
Granted in what he ordaineth."

(That whole verse isn't in my old church hymnbook, which is curious, and in other versions it says "Have you not seen all that is needful has been, sent by his gracious ordaining?", which is a little different in interpretation to the above. Another version says "Hast thou not seen how all they longings have been, granted in what he ordaineth". I have been amusing myself with these differences in terminology.)