Monday, May 30, 2005

Doing the Flickr thing: 2


Still lost in the wilds of Flickr, Reader. Plus (whispering because it's so damn exciting) I've transferred to an unlimited-download account and now I can download music...

(sounds of squealing and John Butler Trio)

I'll probably be back one day. Would you like a cup of tea?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Music meme

Matty passed me this music meme and I was seriously worried about doing it. (Do I want you to know how much of a dag I am? Why, no!) I love music, but for years now - and for one reason or another - I haven't kept up with what's going on. At the moment the only new music I hear is on the radio.

But... I had SO MUCH FUN doing this meme! I was scouting around trying to remember things I used to love, and trying to find the names of things I've heard recently. And I loved it! I feel like I've had a holiday. Thank you, Matty.

Total volume of music on my computer: zero, 0, nothing (Haven't got an MP3 player. Should I get one? Will it kill my download limit?)

The last CD I bought:
k.d. lang - hymns of the 49th parallel

Song playing right now: There's nothing playing right now, except night noises outside the house (and there's not many of them).

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me (reinterpreted by me to be "More than five songs I hardly hear at all, but would like to hear more often"):

(current, and only heard in passing on the radio)
Millencolin - Ray

The Cat Empire - Sly
The Waifs - Haircut (live version)
Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life

(old albums, and remembered with love and memories)
Crowded House - Crowded House (uni)
The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (years of cool)
Mary Black - No Frontiers (travelling)
Jackson Browne - Running on Empty (country verandah on a rainy afternoon)
and last but not least, the most immediate and surprising waves of joy came from hearing a snippet of ACDC's single - Back in Black.

So I'd say that last one in particular now marks me out as an official Big Dag.

Three people to whom I'm passing the baton:
Hmm... I don't know who's reading this, and whether you'll be interested, but let's see what happens:

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Doing the Flickr thing: 1


Monday, May 23, 2005

Doing the farm thing: gravedigging

I had to bury a heifer** today. I found her dead yesterday afternoon, and then spent all night worrying about having to bury her today. She was beyond and below the dam in this pic...


...and most of the paddock involves going up, down or across a hill. I hate driving on these slopes, after once sliding the damn tractor through a fence (hillside / damp ground / brakes had no effect). I particularly didn’t want to have to dig the grave on an angle, because the tractor tyres churn up the grass and soil and it gets slippery, even on flat ground, and especially after the sort of rain we've had recently.

But, as usual, all that worry was for nothing. I managed to get the poor dead beast into the bucket of the tractor (the scoop at the front) and was thus able to carry her back up to a flat paddock at the top of the hill.

It took more than two hours to dig the hole to bury her in. This pic makes it look like I was digging through to China...


... but in fact the hole was only a bit more than a metre deep. It should have been more than that, but I gave up once it reached the level of adequate. The hydraulics on the tractor are useless, so I'm told. I don’t know what this means specifically, other than I had to lean on the lever with both hands to raise, lower or tilt the bucket, every single time. And digging a big hole involves an awful lot of raising, lowering and tilting the bucket... Aggravating. Very.

Still, big sigh of relief from me. The deed has been done: poor dead No. 012 is buried.

**A young cow who hasn't had a calf.
++This part of the farm now belongs to other people. My parents continue to graze their cattle here until the new owners build their house and move in.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sing me a song

I haven’t been blogging very well lately, sorry. Flickr has diverted me. It’s a fascinating place. And also sometimes there just aren't any words in my head. And then I can't find any good quotes, either. Or any links. Or anything else of any interest whatsoever.

But I feel guilty about not posting anything, and in the absence of other ideas, here's the plan: I'm going to post a pic from my Flickr account and then attach to it two lines of the song playing at the time the photo appears on the blog. Leaving it in the hands of fate or chance or something. (Mind you, I’m listening to k.d. lang’s “hymns of the 49th parallel”, so there’s a pretty good chance the lyrics will come from something there...)

Here we go.

Camphor Laurel1

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

- "Bird on a wire"
Leonard Cohen

Mmm, not bad :) Good one, Leonard.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ten things I've never done

Michael at Mischievous Constructions kindly passed this on (thank you!).

I've never:

- punched anybody in anger (but I’d seriously love to)
- understood the appeal of male strippers (they don’t look sexy, they look stupid)
- wondered about a life in sport

- been in a beautiful spot without wishing to be with someone I loved
- fitted in

- felt sure
- made good, made heaps, or made out in a car
- smashed crockery, slammed doors or screamed
- met my match
- been understood or appreciated**

I now pass this meme on to anan and birdy, but I haven't asked them yet, so if you're reading this and are NOT anan and birdy and want an excuse to do this list yourself: I pass it to you. Specifically: you. Go on. It's fun.

**A joke. Isn't this what these memes are about? We humans are stupid and predictable, but who'd be anything else, eh? I like us.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Going Flickr


I've started a Flickr account. Jen B found it in less than 20 seconds, but that's because she's a genius.

I'd forgotten just how much I love making pictures. I've been taking photos for this blog, but making pictures is different. I'd forgotten: it's fun! And the proof for me is in the Time Thing. You know how, when you're doing something ordinary and everyday, you can pretty much guess exactly what the time is? Well I can, anyway. I walk in after a few hours mowing or whatever, and can usually guess within ten minutes what the actual time is. This afternoon I went out to make pictures and when I came back... no idea. No bloody idea. It could have been 12 o'clock or 4 o'clock. No idea...


And, Reader, this makes me happy. Oh yay, I say. Oh yay.


My youngest and far-more-sensible sister suggests the post which used to be here could be very hurtful if certain people saw it. And she's right. So... it's gone.

Not so Evil after all, darl. (As if there was ever any question...)

Thursday, May 12, 2005


If your area of the world is currently drought-declared, you might want to skip this post.

It's raining here today:

We've had showers, off and on, since the 2nd of May. I've been keeping a record for Dad. The weather is always a topic of conversation with him, though for farm-planning reasons rather than chitchat. He needs to estimate whether there'll be enough grass to get the cattle through the coming dry season. If we don't get enough rain now, he'll sell some cows or calves, and to get the best prices he needs to sell before every other local farmer does the same thing.

Here's the rain-score so far: 176mm between 02 May and 9am this morning. Which is good. Not fantastic, but much better than most people are getting. We're lucky again.

Rain is falling from the sky, and the grass is growing (and looks just like a stormy green sea):

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The beauty of blogging

Think you know about women's rights in Islam? Anan has something to say.

Blogs, eh? Person to person, around the planet. Nothing better.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


My life isn't turning out the way I expected it would. I thought my children would look more human than this, for example:

Left to right: Feathers McGraw, Ernest, Piggly and Horace (atop the monitor).

Every so often I start to despair and carry on, thinking I should be this, I should be that, everything should be different and I've got no alternative except to feel ashamed. There are things I should change, and there's a lot I am ashamed about. Most of it, frankly. I'm never going to win a "Time Well Spent" competition, put it that way.

But. There isn't any such competition, is there? There aren't any hard and fast rules about how we should live, except the ones we sign up to ourselves. The trickiest part about the whole thing is realising this, and then deciding for yourself what's important. And then doing it.

I'm not doing it well. I'm not doing the doing part properly. I'm spending a whole lot of time in the not-doing department.

But now, for the last five minutes at least, instead of agonising about doing it all wrong, now I'm thinking "This is what it's about". This. Whatever I'm doing or not doing, here and now. I'm not on the way to my real life, I'm in it.

Bloody hell.

(I probably shouldn't be laughing.)


Sorry, Reader. I didn't put this very well the first time, and I want to have another go.

What I meant was, it's okay that my life isn't turning out the way I expected. I thought I was doing it all wrong and getting nowhere (and from a normal worldly perspective that's true) but then I realised it doesn't particularly matter. Maybe whatever I'm doing now is what I'm supposed to be doing (even though it doesn't seem to fit any plan which would be drawn up by someone with a brain, say...).

And I bet I still haven't put that properly. By "what I'm supposed to be doing", I don't mean there's a script to follow or a role to fill, I just mean that whatever is in my life now is the real thing. I've been thinking all along that somehow I got off the track and need to find it again in order to live as I should, but now I think maybe there is no should; there is no right track. The track I'm on is the right one, just because I'm on it. This is where I am. And where I am is where I'm supposed to be. And that makes me laugh, because to anybody else, and to most of my own brain, I look like a big failure who's going nowhere. All the "shoulds" tell me I shouldn't be laughing, but I'm laughing anyway because I don't have to listen to them.

Does this make sense now? I'm sorry the first attempt was so scrambled and led you to think something I didn't intend. What the hell, though, eh? It happens.

And can I say I'm TERRIBLY offended no one has complimented my children. Those boys are cute, damn you! How come you haven't noticed?

Mothers Day

Searching for something to say about Mothers Day, I came across the story of "the mother of Mothers Day" in the United States, Anna Jarvis. But please take note: I can’t find good sources for any of this information. You’ll just have to believe it’s true because...?

Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) was the daughter of Granville Jarvis and Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905). Of the 12 children in the family, Anna was one of only four who survived to adulthood. Her mother, motivated to improve living conditions and to unite a community fractured by the Civil War, started Mother's Day Work Clubs, (alternatively called Mothers Day Friendship Clubs and co-established by Mrs Jarvis's brother, a doctor) and later a Mothers Friendship Day. She also dreamed of establishing "a day of honor and memorial for all mothers everywhere", but died too soon.

And now our hero, Anna Jarvis the Younger, steps up to the plate... Please don’t be offended by my tone here; I don't mean any disrespect to the Jarvis family or anyone else. It’s just that the following scene might cause a riot of mirth or scoffing at an Australian funeral, and I can’t imagine it without orchestra and choirs of angels, the whole vista bathed in mood lighting and our beautiful heroine glowing fiercely under spotlight:

Standing at her mother’s grave, Anna is heard to declare:
"Mother, that prayer made in our little church at Grafton [West Virginia] calling for someone, somewhere, to found a memorial to Mother's Day....

The time and place is here, and the someone is your daughter, and by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother's Day."
Priceless, yes? What a gal.

Thenceforth Anna devoted her whole life to Mothers Day, in one way or another.

The first Mothers Day service was held on 10 May 1908, three years and a day after the death of Mrs Jarvis, in the church where she had taught Sunday School. Anna sent 500 white carnations – her mother’s favourite flower – to be pinned onto the proud and grateful chests of mothers, daughters and sons. In 1910 Mothers Day was celebrated across the state of West Virginia. By 1914, Mothers Day stretched across the whole USA, celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

However, this wasn’t the happy conclusion to the story for Anna. She became enraged by the growing commercialisation of the holiday, and opposed the selling of flowers for the day. In a press release she criticised the floral industry: "What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?" She also disrupted a meeting of the American War Mothers because they were selling Mothers Day carnations, and was removed by the police.

In 1923 she filed a suit against the Governor of New York, protesting a Mothers Day celebration. When the court dismissed the case, Anna protested, and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

And in the 1930s, she campaigned against a Mothers Day stamp to be issued by the US Postal Service, appealing to President Roosevelt for help. (The phrase "Mothers Day" was removed from the stamp, but not the offensive white carnations...)

There's probably a moral to this story: be careful what you wish for? Or be really very specific? :)

Anyway, I hope mothers everywhere had reason to thank Ms Jarvis I & II today. Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Déjà vu, take two

I’m having trouble with my memory. Specifically, I seem to be leaving comments on blogs and then only later remembering that I’ve written exactly the same thing before. Or might have. I’m never quite sure. There’s just this sense of déjà vu, but only in retrospect. This would be nothing other than embarrassing (for me) and rude (towards the blogger), except that one of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m scared of getting it myself.

The symptoms of early dementia are the same ones you might also get with other things, like stress or depression. And there’s no test to tell whether you've got it, and no cure. Even if there was a test, I wouldn’t want to take it any way. Who’d want to know, if there’s nothing you can do about it?

I think maybe I’ve just got a weird brain. I remember incidentals, rather than the important things. This morning my (other) grandmother was telling me about the death of a woman who used to live locally; her husband used to deliver feed supplies to the farm here. I would have met both of them, probably many times. But I can’t remember her, or her husband, or their children, or even if they had any children. What I do remember – the only thing – is a big concrete step between their house and shed. A concrete step. The only thing I remember. It was just the right height to sit on, and it was in the shade of the shed, so it was cool. (Why I was ever at their house and sitting on their concrete step, I don’t know. Can’t remember. Obviously.)

So the thing is this: if I repeat comments on your blog, please forgive me. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I can’t remember, and mostly just that I’m weird.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Driving to the airport: 1

I don’t know whether this happens for everybody, but I hope it does. Somewhere in the past I started seeing my parents as individuals, rather than as my parents. It’s a very big change of perspective. We now get along almost as friends. In earlier years, I think none of us could have imagined this miraculous change of atmosphere (which had been previously somewhat fraught, shall we say, at least from my own point of view).

I drove up to Brisbane today with Mum and Dad. They flew out for an overseas holiday, and on the way there I was struck once again by how cute they are.

Dad loves planning things: designing itineraries, doing all the research, booking the planes and trains and hotels. He printed out a detailed list of their travel plans for this trip, and distributed it to everyone within range. If you’d like to know where they’ll be in five or ten or fifteen days time, the name and phone number of the hotel, the mode of transport (with ticket numbers) and estimated time of arrival, you could probably just ask anyone on the north coast of NSW; we've all got a copy of the itinerary.

Mum organises details of a different kind: clothes, more clothes, and the extra suitcase of clothes, plus all the little bits and pieces you need when travelling - all carefully colour-coordinated, neatly packed, and possibly finalised in the thirty seconds available before it was time to leave the house. I’m guessing she’ll have offered some of the big ideas for the trip (“Croatia looks nice, love”) and Dad will have plotted out their battle plan.

Mum will be the one taking photos - they’ll spend a few hours getting just this angle right, or waiting for the sun to move just around that cloud (Dad mentally tapping his foot and rolling his eyes).

Then when they get home, Dad will go through and arrange the photos in albums, cross-referenced to a map (where he’ll have drawn their route in coloured pens).

Mum will take every opportunity to buy presents for people back home - hours spent looking for just the right shade of blue for their granddaughter’s scarf, for example, or a day or two traipsing through markets searching for just some tiny thing to make her friends laugh (Dad doing more of the mental foot-tapping and eye-rolling, and possibly looking at his watch - the time having been pre-adjusted in the plane on the way over).

I’m glad I get to see them like this. There’s always just a hint of fear for me as they walk towards the airport departure gates: nobody knows the future. I hope they travel well. God bless my Mum and Dad. They’re nice people.

Driving to the airport: 2

Views from a moving car...

... except the car had actually stopped at this point (beside the Pacific Highway, west of Byron Bay, looking north-west) so I could take these three shots (stitched together in a panorama) when a vehicle parked in front of us. The occupants - jumping out to see if we were all right - were Mr Soccer Head (brother-in-law) and Stringbean (nephew)! It’s not often that a highway feels so friendly.

Mount Warning, called Wollumbin by local Aboriginal people, near Murwillumbah, looking south-west. The peak is the central magma plug from an extinct shield volcano.

Recent highway upgrades have produced some lovely-looking bridges.

Looking north towards Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, the towns either side of the New South Wales/Queensland state border which form the southern end of the Gold Coast.

I can't remember for sure, but think this is the Nerang River, looking west.

Brisbane and the Brisbane River, looking west from (and through the bars of) the Gateway Bridge.

(I don’t recommend doing this because it’s stupid and dangerous and I should have been punished by death, but...) Here’s a shot taken sight unseen while I was driving home - Mount Warning in the west, under a dramatic afternoon sky.

Thanks to new roads, the whole trip from here (north coast of NSW) to Brisbane airport takes less than 2.5 hours. The route is a typical highway/motorway for most of the journey, so not much of it is scenic, and if you tried to drive slowly you'd probably get squashed by a B-double (semi trailer with additional trailer - a huge and fast-moving truck) but it is quick and easy.