Monday, June 30, 2008

Geometric and $200 million dollars worth

from w
The new Westfield development in Geelong is ready to go - official opening in a couple of weeks now that the bridge and glass tower up up. Okay, I protested a lot about the bridge and still think the obsession with shopping is not the way to make a city liveable, but Mike Dugdale's photos are rather good. Here are a couple of them. On the other hand money like that could build a few children's parks and walkways along the river and seaside. Hmmm. Today's Geelong Advertiser have many photos of the project development. I still would rather see the sea straight down Yarra Street and not have to go up to the Westfield bridge to see it! I only go into Westfield to pay bills at the RACV then scuttle out quickly!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

What to do about a wheezy cough?

from w
Junior and I both have a dry cough at present so resort to lemonade, lemon tea, honey, steam with Vicks, cough lollies, etc. etc. I did a google search and came up with some herbal medicines so might try the turmeric one tomorrow. I usually make up tea with ginger, honey and lemon but haven't got any ginger at present.

Cure the Cough, the Natural Way by Janice Kumar
Honey is well accepted way of providing cough relief. One way to us it effectively is to combine it with the curative properties of the onion. To get rid of an irritating cough, pour 2 teaspoons of honey on a freshly cut slice of onion. Cover it and let is lie for four to five hours. Then take one teaspoon of this honey after removing the onion piece. You will find immediate relief. Repeat the second teaspoon after three to four hours.

Another remedy effective in cough with a cold is as follows. Take one onion, five basil leaves, two cloves and five peppercorns in 200 ml of water. Boil them together till the water reduces by half. Sip this hot concoction, thrice daily to find substantial relief from cough and cold.

A persistent allergic cough is very irritating. It dies not seem to go away easily and keeps the patient irritated all day long. If you can't find a cause, try this cure. Take a guava (fruit) and bake it in an oven. Eat this baked guava once a day for three to four days and you will find substantial relief.

Another quick fix for minor coughs is turmeric. Take half a glass of hot water and add a pinch of salt to it. Stir. Then add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Drink this mixture once daily for three days to find relief. This is also an effective pre emptive way to protect the throat from persistent infections.

For a sore throat and cough, try turmeric with milk. Add a teaspoonful of turmeric powder to a glass of milk and boil it. Sip this hot milk, morning and evening to find relief from a sore, painful throat and cough.

Another herb that works well in case of throat problems in ginger. Squeeze one teaspoonful of ginger juice and add an equal quantity of honey to it. Ingest this concoction and then follow up with a cup of hot milk to find relief from cough and minor throat problems.

Another remedy is to take half a cup of hot water, add three teaspoons of fresh lime juice to it, one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of ginger juice. Mix well and sip this concoction, three times daily, to find relief from cough.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

The golfers are asking 'Where is Peceli?'

from w
His Monday game friends, his Tuesday game friends, his Thursday 'Golden Oldies' and the Saturday players... Oh, I forgot the guys on Friday. Well he's in Fiji and maybe digging up cassava or kawai!

Barwon Valley club members call him Pat usually because they can't pronounce Peceli properly. And the trophies he wins are usually mugs, glasses and golf balls.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

I never got to Paris but...

from w
I'd booked on a trip to Paris once upon a time but cancelled to go to Fiji instead.... and never got to Europe. Anyway, I enjoy reading magazines and newspaper inserts about travelling and often listen to the adventures and misadventures of friends - often about food and funny tummies. Why do people travel so much? To see around the next corner I suppose. Here are some pics - two from today's Age newspaper, one drawing by Simon Letch, the other by Bowman.

I like the idea of travel on the cheap in the pockets of kangas or is this picture about the urge for adventure in Australia and new experiences.

Daniel Levine a marketing consultant says, The secret of success is to make people think they are slightly more adventurous than they really are. More than ever, travellers are looking for new and unique experiences that make them feel special.'

PS Saturday morning I read the papers - The Age, and the Geelong Advertiser, and something I have done since I was six - cut up pictures afterwards! I have to throw out half of the papers first - the careers, cars, houses for sale, etc. then start on the Traveller's section, arts, cartoons, letters to the editor - and oh dear, in the local paper I have to check for births and deaths too!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Freaky Battle of the Choirs

from w
After occasionally watching shows like 'So you think you can dance' or 'Australia's got talent' I wondered just what would 'Battle of the Choirs' be like. Well, it is rather freaky, the sound quality on TV means we can hardly understand the words, and the silly swaying and ballistic gyrations of the singers upstages the poverty of the voices, often just singing in unison. I'd rather see choir members standing still and let the voices be the miracle, not the distraction of the choreography. Where are the good choirs in all of this?

I was listening to the radio this morning to 40 minutes of the Australian Boys Choir from the 1980s and they really could sing! What about the Pacific Islanders and their choirs? The sound quality and the harmonizing in a Fijian or Tongan choir is so much better than the choirs in the TV competition. Go to this site to find the links to listen to Fijian choirs. The sound reminds me of the Labasa choir when they were on tour to Australia.

The winning choir in the TV competition gets $100,000 I think, and a contract, but so far none of the groups are good enough in my opinion! The judges of course compete for attention - one wants good sound, another (the guy who established the wonderful Choir of Hard Knocks) wants bonding between the singers and that's a good point if it wasn't for the fact that the winners are going to make recordings.
Okay, okay - singing in a choir can be a great bonding experience.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The tone or mood of a picture

from w
Using Photo-edit I changed the tone of the pic I did yesterday, mainly from colour to line, chalk, charcoal and the mood is immediately quite different. It's odd that you can make a charcoal/chalk picture without getting messy and black all over your hands! So different to the early days of sketching!


In the bleak midwinter

from w
I wanted to do some drawings/paintings connecting the winter solstice with the silhouettes of trees but didn't get around to do it. Even today I'm not happy with these two pictures that I made this afternoon. I left my sketchbook behind at a meeting so just had to remember the trees I had seen.

Here in Geelong it is not really a 'bleak midwinter' as there are many flowering shrubs, roses, brightly coloured creepers, and I saw a tree loaded with cumquats. A photographer from the Geelong Advertiser made an interesting picture using the different times of day - from dawn about 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But I have been reminded that the long dark night of the winter solstice is not just for one day for many people in today's world. Our speaker at the Women's Interfaith group this morning is a refugee from Iran. She had to flee her country because she is a bahai and people of her faith were persecuted in terrible ways. It was a lively discussion and enlightening because it is hard to imagine being hounded because of a set of beliefs, and the bahai people that I know are peace-loving people.

A poem I wrote, and posted some time ago, but I think it is still topical - this mid-winter.

Seasonal blessing

When spring buds gently appear
may new forms surprise you
with their unexpected breath.

When summer flowers open out
and wave their coloured flags
may you have a discerning eye

When autumn leaves drift softly
may their maps of silver lines
grace your footsteps.

When winter’s chill sweeps under foot
may we all be reminded of blue skin
and that bones are brittle.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

A short story about a church organist

drawing by Gerald Hoffnung.

from w
If you don't like the story, then just blame my irreverence on the Winter Solstice, though I did write this a while ago. It is fiction of course though I have met a few church organists in my time and know the sometimes awkward moments in the power struggle between music-makers and clergy!

In a Minor Key

In St Hilda's church in Geelong there is a Heritage listed pipe organ with two manuals and a pedal board, and seventy-six voiced stops. The current organist is Mr Ebenezer (Ben) D'Buhl who is seventy-two years, lean, with a fine head of white hair, and he resembles Einstein. When he plays, his hair flops and moves with the music. He is a musician par excellence, some of the parishioners say.

When Rev Jeremy Honey, a young, stylish minister arrives, there is a stirring, a puzzling shift, because Jeremy decides to use guitars and a drum set, and, heaven forbid, there is a computer and powerpoint presentation each Sunday!

The members of the congregation have a cuppa out in the garden after Sunday worship each week where there are tables - an urn, coffee, tea, plain biscuits. Ben usually joins in, though he is really a private sort of man.

Over the morning tea, Jeremy, who calls a spade a spade, says, 'Ben, I have some good news for you. The pipe organ can have a rest for six weeks and you can take a holiday.'

Ben sneezes into his Irish Breakfast and Harriet Aspidistra has to lend him her handkerchief.

Three days later, Ben writes a letter amid huffs and shouts to the air, 'Never have I been told to take a break!' He hands two letters with a flourish to Rev Jeremy, one for the Council, the other cc. to Rev. Jeremy Honey. Ben turns on his heel, and walks elegantly towards his car.

Jeremy starts reading.

I have been the organist in this church for thirty years. Over that time I have seen seven ministers come and go, some co-operative and musically inclined, others who have given me full reign, but others, including this present incumbent, do not appreciate the majesty and possibilities of this excellent instrument..

Jeremy notices that Ben has spelt 'reign' wrongly, a Freudian slip.

Ben's first meeting with the new minister had been over instant coffee in the manse. Ben had told Julian that he once studied at the Melbourne Conservatorium, then for two years in Paris, in fact with the organist at The Madeleine Chapel where Saint Saens and Faure were once organists.

Jeremy soon realised that the organist had strong views about 'those novices who are really pianists' and 'have a go at the organ, only using the foot pedal-board for the last verse of a hymn!' It seems that Ben shuns organists who play jazzy or folk style Christian songs on the pipe-organ, calling that 'sacrilegious’ on the God given musical instrument!

At first Ben and Claire, the newly appointed choir director, had got along, but the friendliness diminished, perhaps when Claire made a ridiculous remark. Ben was playing a recessional, a Toccato by Widor, quite a flight of music, exhilarating, a kind of ripple effect with numerous notes as his small feet danced on the pedal board. Claire had said, in his hearing, 'Hot stuff! I think Mr D'Buhl is having an….. er... sexual episode!' Ben nearly freaked out. He's never been married and… well, he's a lonely man. 'What a mischievous thing to say! How dare you!' He had rolled his eyes and swept away muttering, 'It is not earthly music. It is heaven orientated. You have misunderstood the music of the great Charles Marie Widor!'

Jeremy reads the letter.

I am writing this letter to the Parish Council because I am dismayed at what is occurring in our Sunday worship and at the Wednesday so-called ‘Holy Intimacy’ hour. I have been pushed aside by the Rev. Jeremy Honey and his consort, Ms Claire 'somebody'. Both are using all kinds of secular rock and roll music to lead our parishioners and visitors up a strange path indeed! There is no decorum, no order, no tradition which has served us well.

I was astonished when the Reverend Honey requested that I take leave for six weeks so that other musicians can play - some students at the TAFE college and Deakin. So I am writing to you, the esteemed members of the Council, to overturn the request that I take leave. I have only missed seven Sunday’s worship in the past five years, due to bronchitis I might add, and I am certainly not a sick man at present.

A second point to consider: My remuneration has been at the rate of $70 per service and I would like that increased to $80 as the purchase of music is quite expensive these days.

A third point: There is a need for the organ to be serviced in the next two months as the Diapason stop on the Swell is irregular.

Yours in musical service to the parish,

Ebenezer D'Buhl
A MusA B Mus. M Mus. Collegiate of Magdalen Chapel, Paris.

Rev Jeremy Honey pockets his copy, and pops the second letter in the church box in the narthex for someone in the Council to find. There is no hurry.

Three weeks later, an unfortunate street accident lands Ben in hospital and he dies prematurely. Three of his musical acquaintances all demand the honour of playing the pipe organ for his funeral at St Hildas: Miss Priscilla Manang, Dr Arthur Dox, Mr Jonathon Diappe. However, Jeremy Honey can't find the key because it's somewhere in Ben's house. The duplicate, which should have been in the organ stool is missing.
So Rev Honey organises a guitar and drum kit to accompany the final farewell to the tune When the Saints go marching in. As the music is playing, the curtain on the back wall suddenly slides across causing brilliant sunshine to fill the church with radiance.

'It's a sign!' calls out Mrs Alison Tupperwere, who tends to be charismatic.

Two months later, Ben's sister, who has cleaned out the shelves of her departed brother' kitchen in his immaculate Boom style house in West Geelong, is spreading honey on her morning toast, when she finds metallic objects in the honey pot. The major and minor keys to the pipe organ are found at last.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm getting tired of noisy people

from w
A problem for me is when and how to say to noisy people - 'Hey, button up, let other people talk! Or just listen to the silence.' But I am a wimp - I just sigh and don't say a word, though I simmer instead. The dilemma is wanting to keep a friendship but also advice the noisy ones to calm down, stop being self-centred, and listen to other people. They have value too! This puts me in mind of a poster I had up on the kitchen wall one time until it got really tattered. It's such a well-known prose-poem but it still resonates with excellent advice. Apparently copyright is claimed but it's been circulated for many years and reprinted a million times so it's in the public domain. The drawing above of Ema and her baby - well that is the kind of softness and quietness I crave.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ABC Four Corners on Aboriginal communities

from w
Last night there was an outstanding program on the ABC TV - Four Corners - looking at the situation of the education of Aboriginal boys and girls in remote communities. It was called 'Educating Kimberly'. The problems, the possibilities, the social situation of the camps. It was all there. View it if you wish.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

A protea from the Farmers Market

from w
I bought a single protea from a stall run by a Winchelsea family. They are interesting shapes to draw.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Farmers Market in the Mall

from w
Despite the awful bridge not too far away (over Yarra Street, part of Westfield's capitalistic development) the city sometimes can be a charming place. Once a month in Little Malop Street there's a Farmers Market with brightly decorated tents offering honey, chai tea, vegetables, pickles, flowers and so on. It was a grey day yesterday but I had some errands in the city so was able to wander around the temporary market, buy fresh greens, a flower, and watch the visiting South American band. World music - my scene.

Also, in the middle of the market was the delightful children's pet area, (for grandmother artists as well) with two piglets in jumpers, three ducklings in one enclosure, five fluffy chooks, a baby goat or two and numerous lambs running free and bunnies in their own pen. Most of the creatures wouldn't keep still for me to draw well, but at least the bunnies were snug in a huddle and kept relatively still! What a delightful place it was with kids patting every creature in reach.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Why I like Geelong - the unexpected sound of the Andes

from w
Ever since the Simon and Garfunkel song entranced us many years ago I have been mesmerized by the Andres pan pipes and here they are again, this time in the mall in Geelong. On Friday when I was hurrying for a bus after buying a Melways for my son's birthday, and today when I went into the city (well we call Geelong a city though there's only 200,000 people!) for some odd jobs. This time I sat down and sketched the five singers from the Inka Marka group who hail from Melbourne and have been together for about ten years - probably the best loved folk music group in Australia. They even played a version of this song that circles in my mind occasionally.
I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail.
Yes I would. If I could,
I surely would.

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.
Yes I would. If I could,
I surely would.

Away, I'd rather sail away
Like a swan that's here and gone
A man grows older every day
It gives the world Its saddest sound,
Its saddest sound.

I'd rather be a forest than a street.
Yes I would. If I could, I surely would.

I'd rather feel the earth beneath my feet,
Yes I would. If I could, I surely would.
I didn't have a camera with me so made two sketches. And here are two websites about them, and the chance for you to listen to their fine music.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Of camels and border collies

from w
Last night I watched the SBS program on TV of 'The Story of the Weeping Camel'. I had heard about it a couple of years ago but missed seeing it. It was delightful, slow-moving but a beautiful story of a Mongolian family living in a desert place with their herds. I loved the part where the mother is singing to her child and of course the therapeutic use of music in the last 15 minutes of the film. It reminded me of our indifferent nurturing of family at times.

From The Age - The Story Of The Weeping Camel
Robin Oliver , reviewer
June 9, 2008
This is a story of a nomadic family tending flocks of sheep, goats and camels on the fringes of Mongolia.
Tuesday June 10
10:00 PM
You may have been told that this is a perfectly lovely film. That's acceptable advice, though perfection is a slippery customer and here is achieved only in four or five substantial sequences. Happily, these combine to make The Story Of The Weeping Camel essential viewing, though it also means sitting through much that is of little consequence to the main story. It runs for 87 minutes, survives a languid start and, oddly, comes to a somewhat abrupt ending just as we are loving every second.
This is a partly planned and largely scripted story of a nomadic family tending flocks of sheep, goats and camels on the fringes of desert country in southern Mongolia. Luck comes into it for after a difficult delivery, a shaggy brown camel named Igen Tenne, gives birth to Botok, an albino colt, and in sad scenes of rejection refuses to have anything to do with such a strangely coloured creature and denies him a good feed. Botok is kept alive by hand feeding from camel milk served in a goat horn but it is not enough.
The family decides that young son Dude shall ride a camel to the nearest town, do some shopping for grandpa and hire the best violinist he can find to serenade Igen Tenne with traditional camel music and soothe her into accepting her baby. It'll be a big cross-country adventure and Dude's excited younger brother, Ugna, is allowed to go along. He'll buy an ice-cream cone - he asks the price: 250 tugrugs - and, seeing television for the first time, decides to ask his father to buy a set. Dude thinks the cost - 20 or 30 sheep - will rule that out. They choose Mukbayar for their violinist and so we now approach the fabulous finale with gorgeous deep sounds from a two-string fiddle.
The family knows this groaning music has worked when tears well up in Igen Tenne's eyes. It's a wonderful moment, not to be missed.
From Rotten Tomatoes website
Synopsis: Effortlessly blending drama, nature documentary, and ethnographic film, THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL weaves a magical tale about a nomadic Mongolian family who reunite a rejected baby camel with its mother. When a mother camel refuses to sustain her child, the keepers of the camels often reunite them in a ritual with folk music and chanting, the results of which elicit deep emotion--even causing the mother camel to weep real tears. Exploring more than just traditional ritual, this film speaks to the very nature of love--the baby camel cannot survive without his mother, just as no animal or person can. Directors Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni drew upon the documentary style of Robert Flaherty (NANOOK OF THE NORTH), who recreated events to comprehensively portray his subjects. The pair tirelessly filmed spontaneous events for much of the mother-baby story, but chose to recreate certain moments in the family's daily life. A particularly humorous and insightful example involves a young boy who clearly feels conflicted between his family life and his desire for a more Western life. The film creates a contrast between the two, showing the boy listening to traditional fables in his family's tent, but then dreaming about owning a television. This spare film provides a visually enchanting and unique learning experience.
Genre: Foreign Films
Director: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni
Screenwriter: Luigi Falorni, Byambasuren Davaa

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chinese wind chimes

from w
I was given this pretty set of wind chimes yesterday so I did a painting of them before I move them on. The picture with the red background is real paint on paper but the others are only cyber pictures using Photo-edit. I waw surprised at all the tiny details in the metal pieces and they were difficult to draw and paint.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Thank you in Geelong

from w
Every single day a woman phones me or calls in about boxes of beautiful materials, sewing kits, wool, craft books, etc. for me to sort, box, label and take to the Donation in Kind Geelong depot in North Geelong. Peceli helps in boxing and transporting. About fifteen containers leave the depot each year bound for the South Pacific or Asia. I am amazed that a small request and a dozen flyers I printed have had such a response, often from strangers who just happened to see a flyer at the Spotlight shop. The women often give me an assortment of craft items that are brand new from the shops. The items are going to women's groups in Fiji (or elsewhere) or to secondary schools for the needlework classes. I believe that there are always two or three women in every village who are inventive, imaginative, and can find new ways to make quilts, baskets, mats, clothing, etc. I hope some will be able to establish cottage industries with the things we send.
Today when I came back from a luncheon with a group of older church women I found the front verandah of our house filled with boxes, and I don't know who delivered them!

Another thing for saying thank you is for the recent rain so the drought is a memory, though we are still on restrictions. The grass has greened up and the citrus trees have survived. There are flowers and even fruit on the lemon tree in our back yard. A few months ago I really thought the tree would not survive the drought.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

'what can you do with words' gig

from w
I spent today at another seminar/conference type gig! This time I went out to Deakin University Waurn Ponds campus, my old stamping ground, for a seminar about writing. About 200 people there. And a free lunch too. The sub-text was to get senior secondary school students, uni students and oldies interested in doing the courses offered in Literary Studies and Professional Writing. I went because one of the speakers was Helen Garner, an author of bity realist stories and novels. Parts of the program were irrelevant to me so I did a few surreptitious drawings and added a bit of colour while waiting for a bus in town. One of the speakers - with long hair - was a speech writer for a politician. Another got excited about a long anecdote while promoting the wonders of doing an MA.

It was a good day overall. Before the seminar I had gone to the library to look at a couple of books by Andrew Thornley as I really wanted to see what he said about Macuata/Mouta/Mali/Naduri/Ritova. I was amazed to read that in the 1850s a Methodist teacher was stationed in Mouta (Nadogo, Macuata) and many people there became Christians. That was earlier than we thought. However wars followed and wife and child of that teacher were killed. Peceli and I really want to find out more about the early history in Macuata.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The alleyways of the city

from w
I was up in Melbourne yesterday for another workshop at the Uniting Church - again by train, but this time it was a smooth trip both ways. The discussion was very intensive.
Johnny Baker from London. His website has hundreds of links and ideas. His group - Proost which is Dutch for cheers - make postcards and here is one. On the back is a fabulous kind of poem but my discretion tells me don't pinch the lot. He said it's okay to publicize Proost productions though.

So when there was a break I wanted some fresh air so went for a walk down an alley behind the Uniting Church Centre. What a difference from the gloss and shimmer of the cafes and offices! It was a monotone of dank place but at least I didn't draw the overflowing rubbish bins! I really dislike tall buildings but curiosity drove me down the alley. I was surprised that someone had grown plants and a vine near a doorway.

A couple of other websites worth looking at are: one and a video. which is entitled 'Bath water or baby'.

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