Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Green Walls

I was scrolling through my Pulse stories this morning, and saw an amazing Green Wall. It was so Inspiring that when I got home tonight I did a little search about Green Walls. They've gained some momentum in recent years for a couple of good reasons.
Green roofs and walls are increasingly being built to provide ecosystem services and multiple social and economic benefits. This is a rapidly growing industry with increasing levels of government policy, investment and guidelines providing incentives for green roof and wall construction.
 I grew up in an unconventional home, in fact it was a converted chook shed. However, in the middle of the house we had a tree - the telephone hung on the tree, and dad had cut a seat in the tree also. But I seem to have been attracted to the idea of involving green into living spaces.

We think our cities need more green spaces. Not the colour green, but plant-life green. Plants everywhere, growing on walls of car parks, inside office buildings, along laneways, on rooftops.
We want to Junglefy our cities.
We think plants can provide a multitude of benefits to our cities. Visually they are beautiful, they take in toxins and pollutants and in return cool and clean the air, introduce wildlife corridors, reduce the heat island effect, control storm water and reduce energy consumption by providing thermal mass. [from here]

I love urban spaces with green walls, but I'm also really interested in the idea of edible walls. Weather it's using a small space in a small yard, or weather it's just about having an edible wall, I'm intrigued. I am playing with the idea of the green wall in the bathroom.
I haven't yet designed the idea of a bathroom wall, but I think I will start to collect ideas for a herb wall on my back veranda. If anyone has had any success with green walls - Id love to hear about it. If you have seen an awesome green wall somewhere - share it here.

Mayo Clinic

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Japanese Lit Challenge Updates

DolceBellezza is busy hosting the Japanese Literature Challenge 8 - which goes through to January 2015. Because its a long event, it doesn't feel overwhelming to try and read things. I'm enjoying mixing up my Japanese reads with my other genres.

I'm still reflecting on Murakami's Colourless Tsukuru. This book was so different from any other Murakami novel, because its about relationships and grief & loss. I've sent alot of time reflecting on it. But, I think it's time for me to move on.

So I've picked up another Keigo Higashino novel, The Devotion of Suspect X, because I really enjoyed the first Higashino, Salvation of a Saint.

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.(quote).

I dont always read efficiently, but these crime novels engage me - these are my easy reads.

Now, on other Japanese Lit News - Murakami is releasing a new novel (in English) later this year, The Strange Library. Check out this review for some images from this illustrated new book. This is going to be quite a new book for Murakami.. and it's on my list for reading. Check out this quote.... its enough to get me in.

‘The food was delicious but I could manage to get only half of it down. If I didn’t make it home, the worry might drive my mother to another breakdown. She would probably forget to feed my pet starling, and it would starve to death.’

If you don’t hurry you’ll be lost for eternity,» said the girl-who-was-a-starling.’

Thanks Bellezza for hosting the Colourless Tsukuru read a long - I quite enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki - Murakami

Today I'm posting my thoughts about this book as part of a discussion occurring over at DolceBelezza. Feel free to join in. The questions were posted by Random House, and we're just selecting some questions we wanted to work with. I'm responding to Q's 1 & 2 primarily, however I have a feeling I'll post another review (perhaps part 2) in a couple of days with some more thoughts. 

Q1. What is the significance of the name of the novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage? Why is Tsukuru branded “colorless”? Would you say that this an accurate description of him? Is this how Tsukuru sees himself or is it how he is seen by others? What kind of pilgrimage does Tsukuru embark upon and how does he change as a result of this pilgrimage? What causes these changes?

I propose that Tsukuru is not so colourless, but more pastel. I felt that he identified as ‘colourless’ in contrast to his friends, whom he held in high esteem for their individual ‘colours’ or strengths. While I was struck by the concept that your name could have such a powerful influence on your character, I don’t believe Tsukuru was actually without character. He presented to me as a caring, compassionate and concerned person, even in his youth. As part of the group, they played with children while Shiro (Yuzuki) taught piano classes, and they did other community minded activities. I don’t think he participated in this out of mindless following, I think he saw that as important. 

I don’t think that it was inappropriate to call the book ‘Colourless Tsukuru’ because the concept did influence how I read the book. I think the title made me think more about who Tsukuru was and how he felt he was what his name meant. 

The pilgrimage he undertakes is both a personal journey of self discovery, and a journey in the physical sense to different cities, which represent his willingness to see  things differently. His friends never travelled far, which to me indicates their need to feel safe and secure, while Tsukuru was prepared to travel to uni and work. The when he was the one to make the pilgrimage to discover what happened in the past, he was the one to travel. The others didn’t. 

Q2. Why does Tsukuru wait so many years before attempting to find out why he was banished from the group? How does he handle the deep depression he feels as a result of this rejection and how is he changed by this period of suffering? Is Tsukuru the only character who suffers in this way? If not, who else suffers at what is the cause? Do you believe that their distress could have been avoided? If so, how?

I think he accepted the ‘banishment’ in the first place because he had faith that his friends knew what they were doing, but his reaction to it then was out of fear – he didn’t want to know why it happened. I think he ‘lived’ with the pain because he didn’t know any other way to react (not surprising given he was an adolescent male). Eventually he just moved on with his routine ways as a way of avoiding the pain. In true Murakami style, routine is an important strategy for coping. So many of his novels have the main character  living a simple routine. (perhaps that’s why I like his books, I like simple routines too). Other iconic Murakami characteristics appear here too – swimming, a glass of Cuttey Stark, listening to classical music, and sex – help Tsukuru to regain his personal meaning. 

Sara appeared to play a pivotal role in encouraging Tsukuru to take on the journey of discovery. I think it was a timely encounter, serendipitous, meeting Sara. She was a facilitator of healing because she was prepared to look at the story from a different point of view. She was bold in her assertion that she would not let this lie if it were her, and bold in her encouragement that this would be a significant thing for Tsukuru. I believe the serendipity of the moment for Tsukuru was that Sara was bold enough to say what she thought, and Tsukuru was interested enough in pursuing Sara as more than a friend, that he was motivated to do the journey, for her. He soon found the journey was for him. 

I think that each individual in the group of 5 was personally affected by what transpired. I think each one suffered following the decision to cut off Tsukuru. The boys did what boys do – plough on, forging out their existence, but not so boldly as to leave the town. The girls dealt with what they were facing. Eri (Kuro) felt obliged to carry on in the caring role. Shiro (Yuzuki) was also suffering, but perhaps she suffered all along. I think Eri had an extreme burden and experienced great suffering. Murakami captured in Eri’s story, something that many women the world around experience – responsibility and guilt. Eri’s story turned out positively, but it was a difficult journey for her. She suffered because she cared too much for her friend Shiro, but also because she lost her love, Tsukuru. 

I’m not sure the pain was avoidable. I think they group made the only choices they knew how to make then. We’ve all made similar decisions, and sometimes there’s no clear way of reversing the events that happened. Sometimes it takes a very bold person to actually identify and act on a wrong.
This book was not a typical Murakami novel, not surreal by Murakami standards. I felt an affinity with the story because this has happened in my life (and I suspect many others can relate to it too). Friends who share alot of their lives together, drift apart or suddenly part, with no further contact. I still have friends that I feel ‘dropped me’ and I don’t know why. 

One of the most powerful quotes in the book for me is this;

The past became a long, razor-sharp skewer that stabbed right through his heart. Silent silver pain shot through him, transforming his spine to a pillar of ice. The pain remained, unabated. He held his breath, shut his eyes tight, enduring the agony. Alfred Brendel’s graceful playing continued. The CD shifted to the second suite, ‘Second Year: Italy’.

And in that moment, he finally able to accept it all. In the deepest recesses of his soul, Tsukuru Tazaki understood. One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony. (near the end of chapter 16).
What was your favourite quote?

Monday, September 1, 2014

A cup of Tea and thoughts on blogging

image from here 
Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying a lovely afternoon tea with my girlfriend Karen, from awonderinglife, and her gorgeous Sweet Pea. What a joy it is to watch a 2 year old eat a pink macaroon!

While watching little Sweet Pea bouncing on her trampoline, Karen and I chatted about the world of blogging, social media and what it means for us and our persuits. Do you think about this stuff? Have you thought about the possibility that blogging is 'old school'? what about the question of facebook, twitter, printrest, tumbler  google+??

I wonder about blogging, more so perhaps about my own blogging..... what do I want to be achieving with blogging? is blogging about 'achieving' something? Do I want it to be different from what it is? If so, how?

 image from here

I have a sense that if my blogging was more about 'selling' or 'recruiting' or 'posing a position', that I should be more engaged in a social media strategy - linking my posts to facebook so people can 'like' or 'share', and relating my posts to images that can be 'pinned'. If my blogging was to be about selling, recruiting or posing positions, then I'd be more active at pursuing 'followers', and I'd be more interested in 'outcomes'.

But I'm not sure I am interested in selling, recruiting or positions... I think I am interested exploring my own positions on issues, and perhaps linking with others who are exploring similar ideas. I think thats what blogging is for me - connecting with like minded thinkers. But how does that 'connecting' occur in the blogging world? I've learned that its about visiting other blogs, commenting, leaving 'signs' that we are on a similar wave length. This takes a commitment beyond just following facebook links.

I find that blogging is not really a 'smart phone' friendly sport - where as facebook, pintrest and twitter, all have smart phone apps which make those platforms much more mobile. Blogging requires access to a bigger screen.

I find myself wondering about the future of blogging? what do you think? what are your thoughts about blogging, social media and mobile apps?