Sunday, June 16, 2019

Paris in July 2019 - Sign Up

Welcome to the sign up post for Paris in July 2019. I will keep a link to this page in all the posts this month for easy access. Once you've signed up here, I will add your link to the blog roll on the side of my blog also. 

Buttons - I have had no creative offers of buttons - so I'll work on something a little more original this week. But for the time being if you have any images you could offer for the event, let me know. contact me here...

Event Description 

Paris in July is a French themed blogging experience running from the 1st – 31st July this year.
The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through actual visits, or through reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking and eating all things French!  Here's a link to some of my previous reviews.
There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of this experience – just blog about anything French and you can join in! Some ideas might include;
  • reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction, 
  • watching a French movie, 
  • listening to French music, 
  • cooking French food, 
  • experiencing French, art, architecture and travel
If you are interested in being a part of this experience use the MrLinky widget below to add in your details. 

Over the past few years, it's worked out that I've tended to post a new MrLinky each week so we can keep up with our fellow players, and follow each others Paris in July Journey.  NB, when you enter your name, also enter in brackets the theme of your posts ie, Tamara (Book review).....

In the lead up to July, you may like to post some of your intentions... let us know what you're interested in and what Paris in July means to you. We love to share this journey! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Paris in July 2019.... Lets go!

So here it is.... Paris in July 2019.

I'm sure it needs no explanation , but for those who would like a brief description, Paris in July is a month long blogging event, with very few rules - except to focus on something Parisienne, French, or from France.... movies, books, authors, food, places, music, experiences, people, culture, history, future.... whatever you like to blog about - just do a post on something you love about Paris or France, and link it in.

There's no rules on how many posts you need to do with a French theme, and there's no limit on it either! Some of the usual participants dedicate the whole month to Paris in July, while others just link in from time to time. Some are solely into books and authors, while others try and test from all things Paris and France... So, weather you in boots n all, or just for a taster, join in, and enjoy the journey.

  • Starting next week - 15th June - I will post a Mister Linky widget - so you can register your interest
  • Then I will start a Paris in July 2019 blog roll on the side of my blog so you can easily find each other
  • If you want to see what others have posted on in the past, I've done my best to keep an archive here

Homework for this week - I would like to invite a creative lover of Paris in July to design us a button or logo - something that we can share in all our posts to connect us all together. Here's a sample of buttons from the past. You can find my email in the 'about me' section on my blog.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Seasonal Images

 Welcome to my garden on the eve of winter..... I enjoyed a cuppa here this afternoon as I had a chance to reflect on a big week in the city at work.... love coming come to get grounded again.
 I dont recall planting a special variety of eggplant, I think this interesting giant was a gift....

 Plenty of delicious green herbs to enjoy

 Mint is such a fresh addition to the back deck....

 This is a  more average eggplant, but producing very well...
loving eggplant on the BBQ each weekend.

I have been absent from my blog for a long while, and largely because I've been quite busy at work. My work is 2 hours from my home, and many weeks I dont get home mid week.. Therefore I love to come home, where I get to enjoy the local harbour for a stroll and drinks with friends, and then a retreat in the garden. 

In the spirit of seasonal images, I am thinking July is not that far away..... what happens in July? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Japanese Literature Challenge 12

My gratitude to Bellezza for hosting the JLC 12 - a bit of an annual event for me - one that encourages me to venture into a genre I do enjoy. Here's the welcome post, which states the challenge runs from Jan to March 2019. My post is a bit late due to my recent travels.. But I did join in, and here's my three reviews.. my apologies that ive borrowed from others for these reviews.... 
The narrator of “Killing Commendatore” is a 36-year-old painter. His wife has just left him. Having sacrificed his early ambitions as an artist to become a master portraitist, he leaves his Tokyo apartment bewildered, before coming to a realization: “I . . . wanted to try painting whatever I wanted.” A friend from art school lends him a remote house in the mountains, and he begins to search anew for the meaning he once found in pure creation. 
This stuff is very Murakami. “Killing Commendatore” repeats almost exactly, for example, the descent through a well to a magical world that occurs in his earlier novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” Odd creatures constantly come to life in his writing, perhaps most memorably the human-size frog calmly preparing tea in the short story “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo.”
        This very apt description comes from the guardian... 
Paul Klee once described the act of drawing as “taking a line for a walk”. No doubt Murakami views his writing in much the same fashion, as a creative ramble, as illuminating for himself as it is for his reader. His line zigzags, takes tangents and doubles back on itself. The view changes so often it’s hard not to feel turned around. Sometimes, reassuringly, Killing Commendatore runs across ground the author has mapped out before. Its gallery of spirits, for instance, can be compared to the “Little People” he deployed in IQ84, while a mystical descent into a dry stone pit is a familiar Murakami trope, most conspicuously showcased in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
For me, Killing Commendatore was reminiscent of other story lines and themes, but was a bit different. I dont think I've read anything of Murakami that has used painting as the medium of art - it's usually writing or music. What I did enjoy about this one was the influence and impact of the little girl in the story. She was a nice reminder of connection with others, and she allowed the narrator to take us on the journey of observation.  
  • Out, by Natsuo Kirino. 
Four Japanese women - Masako, Yayoi, Yoshie and Kuniko - work the night shift together at a factory making boxed lunches. Yayoi's husband, Yamamoto, is drunk and violent, and obsessed with an escort girl named Anna, who works at a club run by psychopathic gangster Satake. Yamamoto has also lost all the couple's savings playing baccarat at Satake's club. One night Satake beats Yamamoto up and throws him out. When Yamamoto gets home, his wife strangles him with his own belt. She confides in her friends, and they, led by Masako, agree to take Yamamoto's body, cut it up and dispose of it in garbage bags dispersed around Tokyo.  (the Guardian
        A gruesome storyline, but somewhat engaging.  I was quite interested in the character of the main lead. As goodreads notes 
Kirino has mastered a Thelma and Louise kind of graveyard humor that illuminates her stunning evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds and the friendship that bolsters them in the aftermath.
  • Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kowakami
Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a story of loneliness and love that defies age.
Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, "Sensei," in a local bar. Tsukiko had only ever called him "Sensei" ("Teacher"). He is thirty years her senior, retired, and presumably a widower. Their relationship develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other as they eat and drink alone at the bar, to a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love (Amazon
         One review describes the japaneseness really well - 
 "Each chapter of the book is like a haiku, incorporating seasonal references to the moon, mushroom picking and cherry blossoms. The chapters are whimsical and often melancholy, but humor is never far away.... It is a celebration of friendship, the ordinary and individuality and a rumination on intimacy, love and loneliness. I cannot recommend Strange Weather in Tokyo enough, which is also a testament to the translator who has skillfully retained the poetry and beauty of the original." --The Japan Society 
While all three of my books were completely different in style and character, I feel I gained new insights into life in Japan, connection to japanese themes, and something new about Japanese art.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


I'm a huge fan of life long learning, the continuous pursuit of improving knowledge, and the practice of curiosity. For me, regular reflection, reading & conversations are important elements of that practice of curiosity. This is not a formal process of learning for me, but rather the meandering through lessons of life and work. 

I share these reflections following the celebration of my graduation this week. Undertaking a masters degree as a mature student and full time worker, is a commitment to fast tracking learning in a particular field, engaging formally in lectures and assessment, in the hope of demonstrating a particular set of knowledge or skills.

At my graduation ceremony, the occasional speaker shared three important lessons from her career. She recommended graduates firstly find their passion, and then find a mentor. Secondly she said take a chance, be brave, and go new places. Thirdly she said, reflect on the journey, and enjoy it. If you're not enjoying it,  change it.

I would echo these sentiments from my own experiences, however I would add two more points of advice for younger new graduates. 

  1. Find your community, a group of like minded professionals who will support you, challenge you and catch you when things get tough (as they do). These people are your sounding board, and can help with your professional identity,  as if forms &/or changes.
  2. Identify what your unique offering is - this is not just your passion, but what you give back to the world. 

I have some wonderful supports around me, personal and professional. These people constantly remind me what my unique offering is, and uphold me when I'm in need. I want to say a huge thanks to the women & men in my life who have encouraged me, challenged me, and held me when things got tough. My mother and sisters who are great teachers in their own fields, to my coaches, mentors & professional colleagues and peers with whom I have had many hours of debate, and a couple of my closest friends (like minded beings) who remind me I can do better. 

While the formality of university is over, the journey continues.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Love India!

I'm having a ball, and yet i have no shower, no air conditioning, no phone, and no chocolate! Im visiting with friends and the NGO I've been coming to for 12 years. My friend and I leave our partners at home, and come here to support the local NGO as friends and encouragers.

In the past I volunteered as an english teacher and volunteered to help write policies and grants, but things have changed alot here in India. The school is now well staffed, and some of the teachers speak  english very well. Our contribution these days is conversational english, and role modelling. We used to also run a hostel for local girls to stay closer to their high school, so accomodation wasnt a barrier to their continuing education. These days, government funds and runs hostels and our hostel closed down. Roads are better, and soon public transport will be better .. this will also improve the access to higher education for our rural girls.

This week, despite a collection of amazing Hindu and local celebrations like Pongal, weve been in conversations with the team about the next steps in a business model we started last year. Its pretty exciting to be a part of these discussions, and to hear about what the team are holding as their vision.

Celebrating Pongal 
Harvest festival

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ordinary Stuff

My homegrown potatoes. I'm so chuffed. I have never grown potatoes before. But, potatoes are such a stable in our diets here, I dont know why I haven't tried these before.

Potatoes are ordinary things, not usually something that takes up a blog post - but harvesting these potatoes filled me with a strong sense of gratitude for the ordinary things in life. So I thought I'd just ponder those things for which I am grateful for recently.
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. Seneca
I'm grateful that I can walk, ride my bike, swim and am generally an active person. This allows me to enjoy the  outdoors, help others, do my own housework and so many other ordinary things. As a side note, I am grateful for the health professionals who have helped  me with my mobility and rehab for active living.
 I am grateful to live in an environment that has accessible running water. Water is so important in daily ordinary life, and I dont have to think about it very much. My family who live in some of the driest parts of Australia do have to think about saving and protecting their water sources, and my friends in India also have to work for their water. So I am grateful.

 I am grateful that I can enjoy the smell of Mint, breath in fresh air, walk safely in my streets, sleep in a safe house, and that I enjoy the company of some amazing people in my life.

“Life is truly too short to not be HAPPY and GRATEFUL today.”