Saturday, January 31, 2009

Organic Gardening Tips

Thank you goodnplanty! I recently entered a free give away at goodnplanty's website, and all I had to do was offer up some of the things I do to save money and recycle things in the garden. Guess what! Yes, I won the prize.. Check this out for my entry which includes CD's, pantyhose, pee and tea leaves!

This surprise win has me pondering how I can share other idea's from my gardening experience. I have a friend who has recently returned from a year traveling, including experiences WWOOFing, which is a volunteer experience as a Willing Worker on Organic Farms. My partner and I did some WWOOFing in 2002 in France. It's a wonderful experience living with the locals, working in organic gardens and learning from other experience organic gardeners. We can learn so much from sharing stuff. So for me.. I will look at ways I can share bits n pieces as part of my comittment to the blog improvement project. In the meantime, if you have any gardening tips please post them here or at goodnplanty..

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Devil's Whisper - book review

I've finished this just in time to be included in the Japanese Reading Challenge 2 which closes Jan 31st. This was an easy read, and while I'm not used to reading mysteries, I enjoyed the story line. Miyabe presents 2 story lines here, (and I didn't realise this until the end), one good string and one bad string, one good man and one bad man. The bad man is revealed later in the story, but he's basically nasty and uses hypnosis to achieve his desires. The good man is implicated in the story as a result of an accident he caused. This then compels him to do good to the people he hurt in that accident. Eventually the bad and good story lines meet, and I wont tell you where it goes from there...

This also contributes to my current commitments to the Lost in Translation challenge as it is translated from Japanese. From a translated point of view, I cant see any inconsistencies, however, how would I know? Any idea's what to look for when reviewing a translated piece? I did enjoy reading about aspects of life in Japan, specifically Tokyo. Having visited once, I could picture the locations of some of the stories, the houses with plastic covered car ports, and train stations. I think I will enjoy reading translations for the travel possibilities, past and future.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This was my fourth book in the Japanese Literature Challenge 2 and a very different style of read for me. During the Japanese reading challenge I got addicted to Haruki Murakami's fictional fantasies and picked up 'Underground' not really knowing much about it. I made a commitment earlier this year to read some non fiction, but secretly thought 'how boring?' Well this non fiction account of the Tokyo gas attacks on the underground was definitely not boring.

'Murakami shares with Alfred Hitchcock a fascination for ordinary people being suddenly plucked by extra ordinary circumstances from their daily lives' (Sunday Telegraph). This so aptly describes what Murakami has done in this book. In the first half of the book he sets out to locate as many individuals he can find who were affected by the Gas Attacks in 1995. He interviews individuals, and some their family members, who were travelling on the 5 subway lines affected by the terrorist attacks. Each interview is printed as it was recorded and double checked by the interviewee for accuracy. These are powerful stories of every day people being plucked from their daily lives. What surprised me most was the apparent equal mix of individuals who broke with routine to help, and those who did not willingly break with their routine. Some people were compelled by their routine to stay in the carriage with the gas fumes because that's were they always sit! Others were courageously moved to help, putting themselves in harms way (either knowingly or not) to help. One is moved to question - what would I do?

In the second part of the book, Murakami offers his own reflections on both the terrorist attacks and his experience researching it. from page 195 the chapter called 'blind nightmare'
For many months thereafter, the media overflowed with 'news' of all kinds about the cult. From morning til night Japanese TV was virtually non-stop Aum.....
none of which told me what I wanted to know. No, mine was a very simple questions: what actually happened in the Tokyo subway the morning of 20 March 1995?
or more correctly: what were the people in the subway carriages doing at the time? what did they see? what did they feel? what did they think?

In the third part of the book Murakami interviews present and ex members of the cult Aum. I have to say this was the most challenging bit for me to read. Murakami is courageous himself in that he accepted the challenge to document what happened on that day in march, and what lead to it from the cult members perspective.

Now a narrative is a story, not logic, nor ethics, nor philosophy. it is a dream you keep having, weather you realize it or not. just as surely as you breathe, you go on ceaselessly dreaming your story. And in these stories you wear two faces. You are simultaneously subject and object. You are the whole and you are a part. you are real and your are shadow. 'Storyteller' and at the same time 'character'. It is through such multi layering of roles in our stories that we heal the loneliness of being and isolated individual in the world.

Murakami hasn't disappointed me, he's challenged me. I have a professional interest in trauma and psychological wellbeing, and this was a true and honest account of many individuals different experiences of the same extra ordinary event that changed their lives and their views of the world.

Recommended reading!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Q and A - Book Review

As a way of trying to save some money so I can visit India in September this year, a friend loaned me a pile of books. I was then faced with the challenge of which book to start on, so I started with reading the back covers. I think this was the third one I picked up in the pile, but I couldn't put it down. This was a page turner for me, from the back cover on...

I enjoyed the authors story telling of the many different aspects of life in India. How Indians love their film industry, their heritage, their Taj Mahal, through to the implications of being a colonial country and the side by side life of a Muslim and Hindi boy. I enjoyed the depiction of an Australian family in India, and the aussisms the boy learnt. I think most of all I found the book captured many of the deep and culturally twisted aspects of an 'incredible' India, yet has a fictional fantasy of the young orphan boy becoming a billionare - very film like. For more of a review see Farmlanebooks for her great review.

I'm looking forward to the movie slumdog Millionare - the shorts I've seen so far show a colourful and intense India I've grown to love.

Premio Dardos Award

I am ticked pink to have been nominated for this award by Della Bellezza. The Dardos Award is in appreciation of the merits - culturally, literary and individually - of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog. The conditions are
  • to be tickled pink
  • copy & paste the award picture to your blog
  • write down the regulations
  • link to the blog who bestowed you the award
  • and finally nominate 15 blogs for the award.
Now, I am truly tickled pink that Della Bellezza has expressed her appreciation of my blog and how I express myself though it. Nominating 15 blogs will be a challenge for me, but here goes.
  1. Bookbath
  2. Another Nutter
  3. Life in the Dome
  4. Blue Mountains Menagerie
  5. Alpaca, chook, garden, travel and...
  6. A Growing Delight
  7. The Kingfisher Scrapbook
  8. This delicious solitude
  9. A Fondness for Reading
So, I will need to come back to this later - I have 6 spaces to fill oneday soon. But to all those I nominated, I love your blogs and the way you express individualality, cultural awareness, and literary interests. I challenge you to find 15 to pass this on to - or change to rules to 9!

Balmain & Camille

Friday Fun - Yesterday I took 1/2 day off work and caught the train to Sydney, then caught the ferry to Sydney's historical harbourside suburb Balmain. I wandered through the streets of sand stone cottages interspersed with modern architecture proudly contrasting the colonial era of the past. I meandered through trendy bookshops (oh oh), vintage clothing and designer label shops and had a lazy afternoon reading in a shady cafe courtyard. After enjoying my self thoroughly, I caught the ferry back to the city where I met my man for a champaigne and canapes prior to going to the Camille concert as part of the sydney festival.

Camille, French and tres entertaining, was energetic, ephervessant, creative and cosmo in every sense. While her style is probably a little avant guard for my everyday listening, I really liked what her band and she were able to do with voice, rope, sticky tape, wabble board and microphones.

Really was a great day out for me, ending with a few drinks and dessert at an inner city bar before my very capable partner drove the 2 hours home.

oh yeh - bookshop purchases included 2 for my 'lost in translation' challenge - H Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore' (Japanese) and Slavenka Drakulic's 'Freda's Bed' (Croatian).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fire Sale

Hi All, Just a quick entry as it's a gorgeous day outside and I'm in the middle of stripping the paint of an old wooden clothes rack - aiming to recreate the provincial look! Anyway, I wanted to put the end to this book, which I've been very slow to finish. I have been so distracted by Murakami's books, and Audrey's story, that this detective story took the back seat over Christmas. Sarah Paretsky's Fire Sale is finished now. I'm not going to spend too much time reviewing it. It's about a female detective, a rich family, a poor community, and the rich controlling the local factory and supermarkets with little respect for those who need the work locally. I liked the plot, but the story took too long to unfold and there was too much detail in it for me.

Life is a little busy at present, so I promise to do my final Japanese Literature Challenge 2 review next week, plus I was recently awarded the PRIMO DARDOS award out of appreciation of the merits - culturally, literary and individually - of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog. I will devote an entry to this next week also. Thanks Dolce Bellezza!

Now my quote to ponder: from Lao Tzu
At the center of your being you have the answer,
you know who you are and you know what you want.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Starting 2 New Challenges

After much consideration, I've decided to join these 2 challenges in particular (for now), although I will probably follow others involved in The World Citizen Challenge (which I think will cross over with Lost in Translation).

Operation Actually Read Bible is being hosted by Becky and has fairly open ended 'rules'. You choose which books of bible you want to read, and you set the time frames (or don't). I like these rules... SO, my challenge to self is
  • Read 4 books of the bible before end of July 2009 - Probably will be James, Mark, Ruth, and Hebrews
  • Read 1 chapter of one of those from my french bible...
  • Review the experience at the end.
Lost in Translation is being hosted by Frances of Nonsuchbook. The aim is to read six books in translation over the year (probably wont include the bible books, but they have been translated). What I like about this challenge is to opportunity to discover more of what I learnt during the Japanese Literature Challenge 2 - that there is so much to learn about different cultures. I haven't yet decided which books they'll be, but I will post about them when I've found them. I will try and choose 6 different languages of origin.

Now, on that note - it's time to sit in the garden, have a cup of tea and read. I will share with you a photo from last nights sunset from my back verandah, and another teacup.

My teacup from Jaipur, India

White Tiger

I love to travel, I love to explore and I enjoy the science of understanding people. I have had 2 trips to India, and currently planning my 3rd, and both times my senses have been bombarded, and my understanding of people has been challenged. India is complex, dangerous, beautiful and the Indian people are equally complex, beautiful and endearing. North India and South India are different also. Geographically, historically and spiritually. However, in my brief encounters with both, I was awakened to something we don't experience in the west, and that is a deep loyalty to community and 'the way it is', and the bondage that loyalty can enforce.

White Tiger was a difficult read for me - I found the story teller to be crass and blunt and some of his language evoke strong feelings in me of dislike for the man. However - the author (as opposed to the story teller) has very craftily depicted what he calls the 'rooster coop' - or as I had previously noticed, the loyalty and bondage experienced by the Indian people. I thought the story teller was a drunk and conceited rambler and was challenged to even finish this book - however as one friend said, 'just see it though to the end and you'll see what he's doing'.

2 quotes I liked:
Watch the roads in the evenings in Delhi:sooner or later you will see a man on a cycle-rickshaw, pedaling down the road, with a giant bed, or a table, tied to the card that is attached to his cycle. Every day furniture is delivered to people's homes by this man - the deliveryman. A bed costs five thousand rupees, maybe six thousand. Add chairs, and a coffee table, it's tend or fifteen thousand. A man comes on a cycle0cart, bringing you this bed, table and chairs, a poor man who may make five hundred rupees a month..... (page 174)

She brought me a cup of coffee in a cup set in a metal tumbler. they have exquisite manners, these South Indians. I poured the coffee into the tumbler, and sipped the correct way. (p311)

I'll leave you to think why I like these quotes. I look forward to my return to South India, to a community where the Rooster Coop is real, and women and children are less than Roosters.


I have this prayer on the back of my toilet door. Recently a friend commented on how challenging it is to go to my toilet. I have a few other challenges and affirmations there also. It's a good spot for me to read them, however, until my friend commented, I fear I was just reading them, not believing them. It is challenging to think 'I am a child of God' and I can 'shine' and play my part. I've been thinking about this all weekend.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won't feel
insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory
that is within us.
It's not just some of us; it's in every one of us.
And as we let out own light sine,
we unconsciously give others
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

This quotation is commonly thought to come from Mr Mandela's 1994 inaugural speech as president of South Africa; however Mr Mandela did not use this quotation in any of the three public addresses at the time of his inauguration. Ms Marianne WIlliamson is the author and it can be found in her book 'A return to love: Reflections on the principles of a course in miracles'. (

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Connections

Goats on a wall. India
Goats are terrific creatures, I had them when I was a kid (ha ha) and I've always been intrigued by them. I think they have real personalities and guts to push the boundaries. The goats in the picture above are testimony to that - they're out on a pillar over a fast flowing river. they make me wonder what sort of boundaries I will be able to push this year?

My Staycation (follow link for definition) is coming to an end and I'm a bit sad about that. However during this time I have made some new connections with other bloggers I hope will be able to foster. I have added a few new blogs to my list both in the Gardening and Book worlds.

Other highlights to my Staycation, have included going to the Monet Exhibition in Sydney with a friend, Dinner with my Partner and friends on NYE, Breakfast at a local cafe near our lake, beach time, reading time (soon to blog on the completion of White Tiger), a wedding celebration and of course gardening and Blogging time. I'm happy to remember Christmas holidays 2008 as my Staycation of relaxation! Hope you have had a fantastic Christmas/NY season also:)

New Years Resolutions

I'm not a serious blogger, and I don't want to set myself up for those inevitable feelings of guilt when I'm not able to commit to something regularly. So I'm not sure yet if I'm signing up for the Blog Improvement Project (BIP), but I have been captured by the first step in the project..... setting blogging goals. The first question to consider in the BIP is 'what's your blog for?'.

This is a questions I've been pondering for a while now, and I don't know if I have much more of an answer than I like to think about things and write about them. I enjoy writing. I recently sent the link to my mum to keep her in the loop. She asked 'who reads this?' and 'what's it all about?'. I have wondered these things myself, and I'm happy just to think that I read and reread it, and if other people join me in this journey that's great.

The BIP site suggests that improving your blog is a good thing, and in the course of the next year disccuions will occur on "possible topics includ[ing] goals setting, writing better content, building community with readers, getting more readers, and blog layout and design". I am attracted to the idea of building community with readers..

So in 2009, my blog is primarily a blank canvass for my wandering thoughts. I think I'll stick to things about gardening, tea and teapots, and books/movies. Some of my blogging goals include
  • keep the posts breif
  • improve the links - especially to differentiate my gardening posts from my book/movie posts
  • promote ethical, environmental and socially just ways of living (and aim to do this myself)
  • make links with others in the blogging community
  • have fun :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tea Thyme

Teacup and cake saucer - gift from Grandma
Teacups are pretty things, they're feminine and they seem to share experiences with us. This one was a gift to me from my Grandma a few years ago, and it seems to me, it's shared many experiences with many women in it's lifetime. I treasure this one because it so welcomely offers cake with the tea experience - and sometimes we need cake.

Bookbath recently blogged about her beautiful Christmas gift of a teacup, and it surprised me, just how many bloggers do collect teacups. I recently had brunch with a friend and we talked about this phenomenom, wondering what it is about teacups that attracts us to them. I feel certain it's their timeless elegance, ability to take us into a fantasy world of princesses, and their unconditional acceptance of us regalrdless of what state we're in. I love those qualities in a friend. I think us bloggers, should give our teacups some airspace - post a blog about your favourite or share a story about one you've known once. If it's not teacups for you, what is it?

Thanks Grandma, for this, and other special memories.