Tuesday, August 28, 2007

À la recherche du temps perdu

Recently I reorganised my rather overcrowded bedroom and ended up moving a whole lot of my favourite books to put them within easier reach (and at risk of falling on my head as I sleep...). Having moved the enormous, framed print that had previously inhabited the head of the bed to the end of the dining room table, there was suddenly room for more books in the bedroom.


Current favourites include:

> William H Prescott's The History of the Conquest of Peru, which is also giving my slightly-remembered Spanish a workout with footnotes, etc and is generally enjoyable.

> Great Short Stories of the World, compiled by Barret Clark and Maxim Lieber. My grandparents owned this originally, and I ended up inheriting it. There are some truly unusual stories in it, but a lot of great ones too.

> Bram Stoker's Dracula. I read it first when I was about 11 or so and wasn't all that impressed by it, but a few months ago, it came free with some other classics so I figured it was time to sink my teeth into it again. Better than I remembered.

> Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton (mmm, sexynerdy), which I've just started to read for about the fourth time. Must buy The Architecture of Happiness, which is one of those books you see when they first come out and think, "Oooh, I'll get it next time" about. And then keep forgetting. Or it's not in stock when you're next there. Kind of glad I didn't read The Art of Travel, as I found I utterly and completely enjoyed my holidays in June without realising the possibilities of disorientation, mid-afternoon despair or lethargy before ancient ruins...

> Although I love all of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, The Magician's Nephew and The Silver Chair have been ones I've enjoyed re-reading lately.

> The Oxford Book of English Verse, edited by Aruther Quiller-Couch (more of a perennial favourite, really).

Admittedly, I read too many "old" books. But it can be hard to find a good-quality "new" book. I have an unending amount of contempt for "chick lit," which seems to be what many book stores believe everyone wants. Either that or it's some pretentious long-winded drivel (if I want that, I can blog ;). Or crime novels, of which I had my fill by the age of 16 or so.

I guess it's just time to really browse through a well-stocked bookshop and discover what's on offer. Maybe explore some more Australian literature. After all, you can always give books away if you don't like them yourself. Even though books I buy tend to get to stay even if I dislike them, and they spend their days crammed into a bookshelf and often never looked at again.

^ The clouds yesterday afternoon.

I have returned to blogging... After being away being uninspired to write anything. Plus the weather has been fantastic, I've been busy with family things and birthdays, life has been life. Plus there's been things to burn in the yard. Always fun. Especially when pebbles that like to explode when heated are lurking in the leaves.


*cue musical interlude*

Apparently I've run out of inspiration to write anything again for my blog. Bleh. You can just imagine the winding-down-gramophone sound for yourselves there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Much as I love Hot Fuzz, it's really not the best idea to be eating strawberry jelly when you see the scene that features Tim Messenger's demise (inspired as it may be). Look at the screen, look down at the spoon with jelly on it, let your eyes wander down to the bowl and the slick, red jelly...


*shudder* You know that tummy flip-flop feeling.

Suddenly don't want jelly any more. But then it is rather late at night to be having jelly, so perhaps it's for the best.

DS Andy Wainwright: You do know there are more guns in the country than there are in the city.
DS Andy Cartwright: Everyone and their mums is packin' round here
Nicholas Angel: Like who?
DS Andy Wainwright: Farmers.
Nicholas Angel: Who else?
DS Andy Cartwright: Farmers' mums.

Oh noes!

I just broke my spork!

Well, not so much broke as melted it.

*insert shocked, horrified look*

Now... As you were.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Uninspired to write anything lately for the blog.

It's my birthday soon and maybe the lack of desire to write anything for my blog is indicative of a nearly-quarterlife crisis. Meh. That would require effort and be cliche (is everyone else sick of "Oh noes! WTF am I going to do with my life? I'm in my 20s and it's sooooooo hard! I know! I'll write on MySpazz about how hard it is." movies and books and stuff, too?).

So maybe I'll get inspired and thing of something to write about something. I mean, what's there to say about politics at the moment, other than it's getting ridiculous now with the scent of a possible November election in the wind, the stupid "WorkChoices is great so shuddupayourface" ads being put on by business, all the rubbish about "Ooh, it's the fault of the States!" when even people who aren't economically-minded can see that's a stupid argument... It's all just so silly.

Other than that, it's still winter, there's still loads of work to be done and I really should plan ahead for something exciting, outrageous, adventurous and so on for the next birthday I have.

After all, that one will be the quarter of a century thing.

In other thoughts, the "Ice Mentos" chewy is about as icy as a warm shower. Pffffft. And I really need more sleep. But it was so worth it to stay up late nattering with Amy and laughing so much and so hard my tummy hurt. Yay :D

Pic from lolcats

Friday, August 03, 2007


Hmmm... I wonder if they still do those touristy American and Soviet-era border pass stamps by the Brandenburg Gate? And whether they'd take payment in vodka?? I'll have to get Grigor to stop the car and find out...

According to The Age, Mikhail Gorbachev is set to model for Louis Vuitton. And I have to say, I love the idea!

I remember Mr Gorbachev being in power in the USSR when I was little, perhaps only because of the easily-recognisable birthmark on the top of his balding head. The Soviet Union seemed to be in its death throes when he came into power. He was the first leader of Russia to be born after the Revolution and was the architect of glasnost, which helped to pave the way for democratic reform (okay, so there was the failure of uskoreniye...) (and there was also perestroika, which sucked for people and sent the economy into a tailspin and has perhaps allowed organised crime to become what it is today in Russia). But he was a forward thinker in a time when many in his party seemed to want to keep things just as they were.

And then the Berlin Wall fell, which seemed to be the strongest, most symbolic evidence of the end of the Soviet Union and Communism therein. Mr Gorbachev's time as leader ended in turmoil, including an attempted coup in 1991, which was stopped by Boris Yeltsin. That same year, he gave power to Yeltsin and agreed to the disolving of the USSR as of January 1, 1992.

In spite of that and the animosity apparently felt toward him by a number of Russian people - understandable, perhaps, in the face of what happened with perestroika - he's generally well-regarded in the West and always was, even when he was leader of the USSR. He's an obviously intelligent man and the awards he's received are quite well-deserved, really. Plus his environmental focus and desire for sustainable living is great.

So I think it's kind of cool that someone intelligent, with such strong historical connections and future focus, rather than an anonymous model or moderately talented actress, will be featured in the Vuitton ads. Plus the one with Mr Gorbachev is done in Berlin, in front of a section of the Berlin Wall (and I loved going to Berlin - it was funny watching Lola Rennt the other night and thinking, "I've been there! Finally! And I must go back.").

Tennis stars Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi and veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve will also be making appearances in the ads, with the photos taken by Annie Liebovitz. Must keep an eye out for them.

*Fashion meets demokratizatsiya - a slogan introduced by Mr Gorbachev calling for the infusion of democratic elements to be brought into the single-party Communist-run country's government. The world needs more English-Russian crossbreed words...

Mikhail Gorbachev speaking of the Great Wall of China: "It's a very beautiful work, but there are already too many walls between people."
Today while doing the washing up, I had the odd feeling someone was watching me, so I looked up out the kitchen windown. Staring at me from the driveway at the top of the steps is a large, black cat.

I stared back at it.

He slowly walked down the steps and down past the house, out to the back yard. Somehow I was sorely tempted to make rude gestures at it with my hot-pink rubber gloves on.

And all that follows being followed by a big crow yesterday.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sto Kalo… Sto Kalo…. Kala Nea na me Feris

This morning as I left the house, a crow flew down out of the trees and landed on the electric wire leading to the house.

It stared at me intently and then flew down and followed me up the driveway then further up the road, eyeballing me the whole way. Although I'm not overly superstitious, I found it unnerving - I wasn't totally sure whether it was thinking the cake I was carrying or I myself would be a tasty meal. Maybe it just liked my entirely black outfit and shiny shoes. Being stalked by a crow isn't the most comforting feeling, even though I generally rather like them.

The whole thing made me think of all kinds of myths and superstitions about crows, most of which seem to relate to death and destruction (and I'd watched Nochnoy Dozor over the weekend).

I discovered that in Greek superstition, crows are seen as omens of bad news, misfortune and death. When you see a crow, you say "Sto Kalo… Sto Kalo…. Kala Nea na me Feris," which apparently means, "Go well into the day and bring me good news." According to English folklore, you should raise your hat to the bird as a sign of respect or greet him cheerfully (so as to avoid insulting it). Either that or cross yourself and say, "Devil, devil, I defy thee."

Wish I'd known those this morning! Although I told a friend about it and he said, "You're evil, you'll be fine." Noice.

If you're interested, you can read more about folklore and superstitions relating to crows at The Raven's Aviary.

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own sel'.

Flowers from around Droxford.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Jane Austen's house

On our last day in England, we extended the hire for the car so we could potter around the Winchester area for longer (we all loved it there and figured it'd be better than heading back into London, where we'd have gotten to lug around suitcases for the day. Always fun...). So we went to Jane Austen's house in Chawton, which Dad wanted to see.

It was so worth going! The house was rather old and had floors that creaked in the most alarming manner. Apparently there was a creaky floorboard or something just before the room where Jane used to do her work and she didn't want it fixed because it let her know if someone was approaching so she could quickly stash her manuscript.

The gardens there were absolutely gorgeous as well. And there was a plump little robin that followed us around the garden, I think waiting for us to give him food. He'd bob around pecking at insects and then bob back over our way, looking hopeful, then back to the insects when we didn't hand over any bird-worthy snacks.
The government wants to give police and law agencies new secret search powers.

I find this really scary, perhaps because of reading Stasiland and 1984, perhaps because I watched the Cutting Edge program last night called "Spying on the Home Front," perhaps because it seems like rights and freedoms are being stripped away and abused without anyone in the government complaining...

And no, it's not because I'm involved in illegal activities (I think the closest I've come to doing something illegal lately was putting a foot briefly on the seat in front of me in the train while trying to get some balance for drawing and then I remembered it's an offense to do so and quickly removing it - humble apologies to Connex! (but would it kill you to have smoother-running trains??)).

It's because it's draconian and insane and invasive. What are we going to become, Australia? A country where we're encouraged to spy on each other, mistrust everyone and use the "It's maybe a terrorist! Get them!" excuse every time rights are eroded? We're a western democracy. We do not need the secret police.

You can check out other people's thoughts about this on the SMH NewsBlog.