Reading Rules

Oh, I have already been slack with the photo a day. I have posted some individual pics that didn’t inspire much commentary straight to facebook, so I will link them all back in at the end of the month.

So here we are at Day 16: what you’re reading. Ah – now that’s right up my alley, except this photo actually shows two things that I didn’t think I would ever do.

First – e-books. I’m a bit of a bookophile. Given the choice between a new edition and an old battered paperback I will usually choose the latter. I love the smell of books and the feel of them in my hand. I’m not precious about dogeared corners or stained pages. To me, it all adds to the whole reading experience. So I swore black and blue a few years back that I wasn’t going to go down the e-book path. I’m usually not such a luddite, I swear. Yet one day there I was reading a review of a book and it made me want to pick it up rightnowthisminute.  And I pressed a few buttons and there it was, like black magic. And now I am completely under their spell. Entranced by the e-books.

Second – I never ever watch a movie or TV series that is based on a novel without first reading said novel. For Game of Thrones however I will make an exception. Tony and I started watching the series after several friends recommended it to us. I swear not an episode goes by without both of us letting out an astounded bellow. Watching it forewarned would just not be the same, but I am enjoying reading along after each episode. Tempting as it is to turn the page and find out more about what is happening in Westeros, I have not yet succumbed. Anyone who knows how quickly I churn through books will understand how strong I am being.

How do you take your books? Paper, electronic or film? 

 

 

Skyline

OK – in case it isn’t already glaringly obvious, I’m no photographer. So I am trying to distract from how terrible my photography is by prattling on.

Yesterday’s Photo a Day challenge was “Skyline”. I was out and about with my Dad yesterday, and didn’t really get a lot of opportunities to take photos of a skyline. Well, that’s not entirely true. There were probably several decent moments when I could have snapped a shot while we were driving, but when I’m a passenger in my Dad’s car I am generally trying to ensure he knows where we are going and we are not running into a bus to really pay much attention to the horizon.
So I snapped this pic when we were back on terra firma in a Westfield food court.


It’s kind of suburbia at its worst I suppose – overlooking a Maccas carpark with a stretch of “homemaker centre” behind. But you know what? I don’t actually mind it here, as much as I joke about ‘brick veneer land’ with my friends. I live in the western suburbs of Newcastle – which is getting a lot of attention lately for being a pretty cool place. Hell yeah! Newy is a great town, both to visit and live. Of course, the part where I live is not shown in the Lonely Planet guide – we have no hip cafes or funky boutiques. No nightlife other than the local tavern. No picturesque vistas over beaches and rivers. But there’s a lot of heart out here in the “bogan outskirts” (to quote an infamous bus), which belies the portrait painted of suburbia in the media. There’s community spirit, excellent public amenities and friendly neighbours. Not everybody is a kindred spirit, but people are more open-minded than you might think. No better or worse than anywhere else, I reckon.

Plus we have parrots and possums and eels and dragons in our backyard. Dragons!

Oh – and since I am posting a day late, here is Day 3: something you wore today. $3 Big W Thongs. Oh yeah, I’m classy.

Peace

About time I dusted this lil old blog off. I’m going to ease myself back into the swing of things by participating in the May Photo a Day Challenge from Chantelle over at fat mum slim . It’s a nice way to get back into the habit of posting again, and maybe I’ll end up  with more photo memories on my phone than just pictures of cats and cups of coffee.

Oh.

 

Today’s theme is “peace”. This is the moment in my afternoon, just before my (and his) peace is shattered with the arrival home of first one then the other stroppy, stinky, starving kid, and I become the Questioner: How was your day? Do you have any homework? Do you really need to leave that there? Do you have your stuff ready for karate/netball/piano? What do YOU think?

Until then though, it is just me, the coffee and the cat. Deep breath.  Ahhh. Peace.

 

When is the most peaceful moment in your day?

And So This is Christmas

I’m hearing the same from so many people around here -  “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.” I must admit I’m feeling a bit that way myself. Unseasonably cold, the rain, the gloomy. I suppose people who stick to the northern hemisphere Christmas traditions are pleased. A roast dinner is much more feasible when it’s not 40 degrees outside.

I’ve never been a big one for sticking to traditions just for the sake of it. Our family Christmas celebrations have morphed and changed over the years. When I was a little one, Christmas was all about my Oma. In Germany Weihnacht (literally Holy Night) is celebrated in the evening of December 24th. My brother Joe and I would be banished from the rumpus room out the back while Oma helped “the angels” set everything up for Christmas. We would lurk about outside, trying to catch a glimpse of them at work. When we were finally allowed in, the room was transformed into a magical wonderland. A big white tree loaded with ornaments and dripping with lametta, the clay nativity underneath, Christmas music playing, and presents everywhere! We were the only grandchildren, so I confess we were very spoiled, barely being able to wait for the singing of Stille Nacht to be over so we could rip in to our loot.

I was 17 when Oma died, and over the next few years Christmas changed, because doing the old traditions just didn’t seem right without her, the heart and soul of our Weihnacht. Now with a large blended family, we started the more Australian tradition of Christmas lunch. Christmas Day was noisy and fun, with up to seven twenty-somethings, descending on the parental home in varying states of disrepair from Christmas Eve partying. I remember one year I crashed at Joe’s place as we’d headed home from town together, and we walked across two suburbs together the next morning to get to Christmas lunch, hung over as all get out, joking about our plight.

Sadly our blended family didn’t go the distance, and Christmas changed again. My little family went back to celebrating on Christmas Eve. Just the three of us now, but bolstered in numbers by our partners and children. It wasn’t the same as the old days of Weihnacht, but we created our own traditions again. Joe and I taking turns to host, and having fun coming up with different ideas for food. I’m afraid I was always outdone by my big brother, who even turned tacos into a gourmet feast.

This year we have to face change again, and it is the biggest and hardest one of my life. I lost my brother in September. Too suddenly. Too soon. A wonderful husband, father and son. Loved so much by his brother-in-law and niece and nephew too. I’ve been too lost to write about it until now. It will be my first Christmas without him –  a big Joe-sized hole in my heart. The rain and cold feels right this year – because “it doesn’t feel like Christmas” anyway.

But now after remembering these Christmases with Joe, I think back to my Oma. She was a world away from her homeland, having left her entire family behind, and it probably never felt quite right to her either. Yet she put so much love into Christmas for the sake of her two beloved grandchildren. So I will continue to create new traditions and keep some of the old for my family – my husband and children, my sister-in-law, niece and nephew and my Dad. We have each other to lean on gently now when times are so tough, and to face this big change together.

 

Grammar Versus The World

OK people, I’m putting on my grammar hat today, because I have a pet peeve. Tired of complaining about it to friends and acquaintances on a one-to-one basis, I am putting it out here on the wide wide world of web, so as to best reach more people, because quite frankly things are getting out of hand.

So, here’s the thing:

You know that big V between the two teams that are playing each other on the weekend? Like Lions V Velociraptors, or The Western Force V The Northern Hunger. You’ll see it a lot if you watch The Footy Show. Actually chances are, if you watch the Footy Show (or indeed present on the Footy Show) you are just the people I am trying to reach, so read on.

OK – the big V (sometimes written as ‘vs’) stands for VERSUS. It’s a Latin word. It means against.

Note the big ole U. It’s not ‘verses’. There is no verb ‘to verse’. (Unless we’re talking competitive poetry, which, well, whatever floats your boat, and if you’re into that you probably already know what I’m banging on about, so as you were, you adorable rhymey little things.) You can’t verse someone at footy, netball, naked luge, [insert your sport of choice here]. You just can’t. The Upper Turramurra Spotted Owls are not versing the Windale Heights Rabid Donkeys in the Grand Final this weekend, and it’s not just because they are fictitious, but also because the word ‘versing’ DOES NOT EXIST.

I understand kids saying it. I do. They are just conjugating what they think is a verb. My kids say it. And I correct them. Every time. And they roll my eyes at me. Every time. And also many other times, for many other things I say. It’s what kids do.

But it’s creeping into the vernacular. I keep hearing adults saying it too. Grown men and women, who should know better! I even saw it written somewhere in an actual publication last week (which so horrified me, I have blocked all memory of which publication from my brain).

Now I’m a simple girl. I’m not averse to droppin’ my g’s (although not, may I say, my g-bangers). I have been known to boldly split infinitives. I know I write messily and hastily, like a drunken fumble behind the pub on a Saturday night.  Yet still I say –  this ‘verses’ foolishness must stop. People, if your children say it you must correct them. If they are teenagers you must also shame them. And if your adult friends say it, you must slap them. Hard. Because I cannot take it any more!

 

Storm in an Athlete’s Cup?

Mia Freedman is copping a lot of flack for comments she made on the Today Show this morning about Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win. I think the levels of abuse and the name-calling she is being subjected to is completely ridiculous (really people, take a long hard look at yourselves!).

I am however a sports fan, and I do get grumpy when people roll their eyes when everyone is getting excited over a sporting victory.  Mia has explained herself pretty well here on mamamia.com.au, and asked “If you strongly disagree with me, I would genuinely love to understand how sporting success makes you feel.” I replied in the comments section, but thought I would share it here as well.

“Mia, I didn’t see you this morning, so can’t comment on what you said or how you said it, but I do respect your take on this. A lot of my friends who don’t follow sport feel the same way. I completely agree that it is frustrating to see sports heroes lauded above the other heroes working tirelessly at other jobs that make a difference in our world.
But a world without sport or the arts – two things I consider possibly at the two ends of the spectrum of ‘fairly useless’ human endeavour? Well – I don’t want to live in it. To celebrate the absolute magnificence of what we can achieve is the very essence of what it is to be human. And to have it come from someone as close to home as simply coming from the same country – well, the levels of inspiration just lift that little bit higher.
You ask to understand how sporting success makes me feel – as a sports fan. It may be impossible to describe in any way to make someone who doesn’t feel the same way “get it”. But I’ll take a shot. I am a Novocastrian, In 1997 my hometown was doing it tough. The steelworks – the city’s largest employer, and very much the backbone of this town – closed down, leaving many uncertain as to their future. Not 8 years earlier we had experienced a devastating earthquake, which left emotional scars to match the physical. That same year, the Newcastle Knights pulled off a magical, last second, underdogs victory to secure the premiership. Now looking back – it was just a footy game. It wasn’t even in a full comp as this was the time of Superleague. But that moment (I was at the game, with my Dad and my husband) it lifted spirits, it gave us something to cheer about, there was a party atmosphere that the town needed so desperately.I don’t follow the NRL much anymore, but that moment will live with me forever. I still get a little misty-eyed just thinking about it.
Onto the TDF and Cadel. You know – I just spent three weeks sitting up to stupid o’clock cheering on Cadel and also many other cyclists. I’m not an aficionado of the sport, but my husband rides and it’s easy to get caught up in it. It becomes emotional even when you’re not directly involved. Sure we should be talking about other people as heroes too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do both. Celebrating the triumph of the human spirit, what some people can do – be it with body, brain or heart – or oftentimes a combination of all three – well, it gives us a lift as we go about our own difficult little lives. And that aint nothing.”

For more on what I think about the “hero” tag, here is what I wrote on Jessica Watson last year.

 

So, hero or no -  did you watch the Tour? All of it or just the last few nights? How did you feel? And most importantly how are you even coherent right now?

Write on Wednesday – I remember…

Inspired by the beautiful words I have been reading as part of this challenge, I have decided to make the leap myself. Check out Write on Wednesday’s other bloggers here at inkpaperpen.

Write On Wednesdays

 

I remember her smile. Lipstick red when she was going out – shopping or to the club to play cards with her ladies. She was a good card player. The Major from Fawlty Towers was right. I remember sitting opposite her at the dining table, each of us playing patience. She stuck her tongue out a little bit when she concentrated. We all do that. Dad, then me and now the boy. Funny how it goes.

I remember her fingernails. Long. Manicured. Red or pink polish. She taught me to do them for her when the Parkinson’s became too much. One stripe of colour to the middle then one to each side. “Just three times, like so.”

I remember her voice – her almost perfect English. Not Strine. She was a Dame. Dahm-eh. The German kind. A lady. But I reckon she was a dame too. A classy dame. Well mannered. Brought up right, but with a sense of fun that suited this country that she called home. More Aussie than German in the long run.

I remember how her eyes danced when ever we walked into her house. How she clung to us on arrival, with calls of “Bussi’ge’m! Bussi’ge’m!Give me a kiss. Even if we’d seen her last week or on the weekend or just yesterday. She smothered us in love. We’d push her away laughing. Enough! Enough! Secure that we were her favourites. Her everything. She spoiled us with food, with gifts and always always with love.

I remember my Oma.

Spoiled for Choice

My daughter has foolishly left me alone in the house with her box of Cadbury Favourites. Now generally, I would be happy to eat each and every one of these delicious morsels. The trouble is, when faced with a choice it all becomes too hard. Crunchies are too light, Boosts are hearty, Caramellos are divine but a tad small, plain Dairy Milk is too moreish, and the Moro – well, I’m not even sure what that is. I’d eat the lot, but I have a sneaking suspicion she’d notice. In fact, I’m not sure that she hasn’t counted them. Besides what I really feel like is a Chomp. There’s something about the way they feel when you bite them – the wafer crunches and the caramel is just that little bit chewy and the chocolate is light and creamy. Dammit. I’ll just have my bowl of pears and be done with it. 

 

What’s your favourite chocolate bar?

Category: Domestic Thinks  5 Comments  Tags: ,

Nathan Tinkler – Sponsor Me!

For readers outside the Newcastle area, and non-followers of Rugby League in general, this post may not make a lot of sense. So a quick recap of recent events: Nathan Tinkler (local bloke made good super-awesome in the mining business) bought local football (aka soccer) team, the Newcastle Jets last year. They had been struggling with finances, having trouble drawing crowds and well, just not winning. Thanks to his investment, not only did the players get paid (seems like a major oversight on the previous administration’s behalf), the club also brought the supporters back with some great ticketing schemes and then in a masterstroke that was reported all over the country, invited superstar David Beckham and his LA Galaxy to play an exhibition match to a packed crowd.

Now Mr Tinkler has won his bid to takeover Newcastle’s number one rugby league team, the Newcastle Knights. And the first sign that he means business – übercoach Wayne Bennett is heading here next year.

This is all very well and good if you are a fanatical sports fan. I did take advantage of the cheap tickets to get along to some Jets games over summer. But on the whole, while it’s nice to get some positive news out of Newy, I’m a bit meh on the league, so Tinkler’s not really doing much for me right now.

So here’s my plan: Nathan Tinkler – how would you like to sponsor a Newcastle family? Both my husband and son were born and bred here. My daughter headed up the F3 when she was just 5 days old and never went back. In fact, she was born in Kogarah, in St George Hospital so that’s one more Dragons supporter stolen from the heartland. I started out life on the South Coast myself, but have lived here pretty much full-time since I was 9, and also bear the Novocastrian mantle with pride.

As for return for your investment – well, we would be happy to wear Tinkler sponsorship logos on all our clothes. Paint your name on our roof. Do you have a family crest? If you don’t, I’ll get my 10 year old son to design one for you (you OK with ninjas and jedi?) and we’ll fly it from a flagpole in our front yard. I’ll even plant hedges and fashion them into topiary likenesses of your good self, if you so choose.You may need to provide a landscape gardener to assist, as I have a brown thumb.

My husband can fix your computer. This is a skill obviously highly in demand, considering the amount of calls he gets from family and friends. You could have a 24-hour hotline, directly to his yacht (oh, we would need a yacht, that OK?) for those moments when your printer wont work, you need a DVD player installed or your TV reception is fuzzy. Apparently working in IT makes him the electronics-whisperer. We gripe about it when family does it, but for you, Nathan, it’s all good.

My daughter (she’s 12) would like to be a zookeeper. Forget Australia Zoo – with the right training and funding she could set up Tinkler Zoo right here in Tinklertown, I mean Newcastle. Imagine it – your face emblazoned on all merchandise plus your name huge in wildlife conservation circles would kind of make up for all the mining. And you’d get to be responsible for seeing a kid live out her dream. Not all of us want to be footballers, you know, Nathan.

The boy actually aspires to be a game developer. Now there’s an opportunity for you. Resident Tinkler! Little Big Tinkler! Super Tinkler Kart! It’s a competitive field to get into, but he’s smart and keen. All he needs is the right qualifications (MIT would probably do), and maybe a small startup company to get things rolling. All the latest consoles between now and University would probably suffice to keep him interested in the interim. You can throw in an iPad2 for me, if you like.

We’ll shave your name into our dog. We’ll emblazon your name on the Captiva  – or perhaps you’d rather see it on a Mercedes or Jag, it’s your call. We’ll change our cat’s name from TomSelleck to NathanTinkler – oh yeah, cos you’re more awesome than Magnum himself.

Think about it, Nathan. The possibilities are endless.

 

 

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My writing talismans – these guys live above my desk. On the left – Bill Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, wielding his quill. On the right – Marge Simpson’s prom date Artie Ziff and his “busy hands”. They each have their talents to share, don’t you think? The Bard obviously reminds me to care for the words. Artie says “if the words don’t flow, just make a boob joke.”