how many ways can you get yourself some culture?

26 02 2011

After a busy week for both of us it was time for a break, time-out, culture day. We headed up to Melbourne early in the morning and enjoyed seeing the Altocumulus (mackerel sky) clouds from the freeway. An easy drive up compared with the usual busy weekday traffic.

Mackerel sky

First stop the NGV Melbourne for a look at the Gustav Moreau exhibition. A great collection of work from a prolific painter & drawer. He had a thing for the old mythical dramas and had mixed up his painting style with drawing, paint (both oil & acrylic), & etching to crate a mashup type style (which brought out the critics). Also caught the Luminous Cities exhibition of photos of the built environment from the 19th through to the 20th century. Some nice old black & white photos of Rome that brought back memories of our visits there.

Headed off for a coffee and a raspberry muffin and came across the Little Bookroom (their new store) in Degraves Street. Nice shop with lovely books (for kids) and some expensive collectors items… It was interesting to compare this book business with the mega Borders & Angus & Robertson chains, and to think about the different business models. Seems one might be more successful than the other. Note to self: must check out the original Little Bookroom store in Nicholson Street some time. Then we had a quick stop of at the South Melbourne markets before heading home.

Pako paella

Then is was out to the multicultural Pako Festa – we were too late to see the parade this year. Lots of people out enjoying the afternoon with ethnic dress, food and performances making for a lively saunter down the street. Last year the kids all had silly string, but this year it was air horns and vuvuzelas (more noise – but not as messy). The Spanish were very busy dishing up (and making more) paella, and the pubs were filled to bursting. It’s great to see this festival is alive and well. All up a busy day, but great to spend time absorbing some culture.

a fun, productive Saturday afternoon

23 02 2011

Last weekend I took apart an old, dead commando (Victa mower that is) and enjoyed getting dirty and learning about carburettors. This broken mower had been disposed of at a rubbish recycling depot and salvaged to be sold at their shop for $15. I was after a mower the same as an old one we have and thought it would be useful for parts. It still had compression when I pulled on the rope so thought it might be worth getting.

Victa commando

On getting it home it actually seemed in better nick (wheels & frame) than my other one, so thought I should have a go at cleaning it up and seeing if I could get it going. I thought I might see if there was an online manual for the mower so I’d be able to get it all back together if I pulled it apart. I actually found a couple of videos on youtube where a young fellow (geoff390) had recorded his attempts at dismantling and reassembling one of these mowers. Watching this helped me understand what would need doing to return the carburettor back to working condition.

So, pulling everything apart was easy enough, and I worked out what parts I’d need to get it back into working order. It seemed that things were a little clogged up with gunk so I needed to clean the parts in petrol and to find an air filter, an o ring, some fuel line, and a set of blades. A couple of hours later I had it all back together (thanks to John for the parts) and tentatively pulled the rope. It started first go! There was a metallic click from the blades as it was running though, and I discovered I’d put the platter & blades on upside-down (a Murphy’s Law design problem) but fixed that easily enough. After parts, I now have a $31 mower that’ll go for a few years yet…

A wonderful (and successful) learning experience that’s got me thinking about purpose, intention, & passion in education. I’ll blog somewhere else about that…

Summer holidays – a gift you don’t have to wrap

15 01 2011

Just back into that other dimension of regular life (and work) after a couple of (very relaxing) weeks spent in the bush. This summer, down on Cape Otway, we managed to have a wonderful time enjoying a life at a different pace with no pressures or timetables. What a gift to pause (stop doing some things) and indulge yourself in (sort of selfish) simple pleasures. Forest walks, beach strolls, reading, talking, eating & drinking, and even doing basic chores, make for a very refreshing time. A bit like chicken soup – good for the soul.


Good food featured quite a bit this year with puddings, soups, coq au vin, and roasts being crafted in the camp oven and wok. We were even able to quaff some home brewed beer which was brought down & chilled. There’s definitely something special about cooking & eating outdoors.


The Koala’s have been busy finding ways to circumvent the polycarbonite bands I put around the trees. They climb up other trees & jump across as well as using the pads on their feet (rather than claws) to scrabble over the slippery surface. Looks like I’ll have to add another band to make it harder if I want to keep them from eating all the leaves & killing the trees. Also lots of birds, king parrots, wrens, cockatoos, kookaburras, magpies, wattlebirds etc. as well as a couple of different wallabies. Fun to hear the young birds practising their calls & generally squawking a lot in an attempt to get a free freed from mum & dad.

So, now have been back at work for a week and trying hard to keep the work/life balance in order – we’ll see how we go…

PS. Looks like I’m going to have to invest in MarsEdit – works a treat…

testing post from MarsEdit

15 01 2011

I’ve been struggling to have my images upload along with my post in the MacJournal software. It’s been a love/hate relationship as the functionality has worked – but not consistently and now it doesn’t work at all.


So, I’m trying MarsEdit and hoping that this new software will do the trick – this is my first attempt.

A wet end to October – makes for inside goodness (books & movies)

31 10 2010

I’ve realised that my grand intentions to post more frequently have not been realised. It doesn’t matter – there are no rules. Just to say that life’s been fantastically busy.

When I sat down to write this I couldn’t think of what I might write about, but note that there are two things I’d like to share. Books I’ve read recently and films I’ve watched. Cold rainy days means time inside and books (and films) are useful diversions.

The first book is Pompeii by Robert Harris. A great insight into life & times of the Romans over four days around the time of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. I enjoyed this story as we’d visited Pompeii this year and it added some understanding to what things might have been like. The story is about the experience of a young man who has come from Rome to look after the aqueduct that brings water to eight cities on the Bay of Naples. The water stops and he needs to find out why…

The second book is My Father’s Glory & My Mother’s Castle by Marcel Pagnol. Set in Provence in Southern France these two autobiographical stories tell us about Marcel Pagnol’s childhood. We have also travelled in this part of the world and it was nice to read about summer holidays spent in the countryside. They have also been made into films which we’ll be watching shortly. We’ve also seen two other films set in Provence based on stories by Pagnol called Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. These stories are set around the turn of the century and give a wonderful portrayal rural village life filled with interesting characters. We also found the Fanny Trilogy by Pagnol which are three films adapted from plays set on the Marseille waterfront. A great love story that made it onto film in the mid 1930s.

So, if you are trapped indoors by the rain – you’d do worse than spend some time experiencing Marcel Pagnol’s world.

chores, the essence & necessity of life as I know it…

31 07 2010

Well, there we go again. Just when I thought I’d had an afternoon off to catch up on some of my own plans, the sewerage gets blocked. Like, and properly. It needs un-blocking because it won’t take any more water etc. No flushing toilets, no washing etc.etc. …and we’ve got people coming over tomorrow.

Dang! After spending the morning on jobbies, I wasn’t in the mood to have to deal with this development. Anyway, had a think about and we rang a friend who said he’d unblocked a few and had a grubber thingy. So, grubber thing came round but it still took three hours to get it sorted. Very thankful that there’s now some flow, and that we didn’t have to get the (expensive) plumber out… Now to get some copper sulphate to send down the pipes to kill the roots…

I don’t mind chores as there is some satisfaction in getting them done and I’ve realised long ago that life is a chore. Things have a changes since centuries ago and the types of chores we do have changed. Even though life in some sense has become easier, there are still things to do, get organised, ticked off the list. The jobs may be different but they are a part of getting on with it. They are a part of living and making an existence, we need to move, otherwise we’ll die. So, next time there’s a list of things to do, I’ll just plunge in and tick them off, one at a time.

time for a holiday (with some adventure thrown in)

3 06 2010

a quick entry before we head off on a time of holiday travelling in Europe again. It’s been a very busy first half of the year and time for a much needed break away from the normal routines and demands. Heading off to the airport soon, and once we get through check-in and customs I’ll be sighing with relief and starting to relax. Looking forward to warmer weather and seeing some more of Italy (particularly Sicily) and a conference in Barcelona.

You can follow the journey at the Europe 2010 blog.

more farewells and glad to have been able to help…

26 05 2010

After finishing The West Wing last week, I’ve also finished something else…

Tonight I finished a three and a half year commitment and service in a volunteer capacity. I’m glad I’ve been able to make a contribution and make a small difference to the community I’m part of. Kind words were said (and appreciated) and I hope that work can continue in the vein that it has been commenced.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but then that can be expected in a community consisting of individuals. I’ve learnt a lot about leadership, communication and common vision & goals. So, while some frustrating times, it’s generally been fulfilling work and there is some sadness in walking away. but, it’s got to be done, others will fill the breach and the work will go on. I’m looking forward to a more hands-off role mentoring other to step up. As Benjamin Zander suggests – “What contribution can you make?“

Thank you for the opportunity to make mine…

The West Wing and the exercise bike

23 05 2010

Having mixed feelings about recently watching the last episode of The West Wing. It’s been a while since I started watching this acclaimed TV series and I’ve watched it all while pedalling my exercise bike. Yep, all 7 seasons, 156 episodes and about a 100 hours – and I rode approximately 2,750 kilometres! (as reckoned by the bike computer). So, as well as being entertained and learning something about American politics, I’ve managed to maintain some level of fitness.

Being able to watch an episode or two at the end of another busy day helped me clear my head, relaxed me a little, and provided a buzz to keep me going (maybe the endorphins helped…). I enjoyed the character development, the issues that had to be dealt with, and the insight into politics and the running of a government. Now that’s it’s over I feel a little sad and want to know what happens next in the lives of all the characters. It’s not to be, so I’m thankful for the ‘ride’ and look forward to the starting on another series which will be The Wire

a special view/insight into the lives of others (and our own)

17 04 2010

I was very fortunate to be able to attend a performance of ‘small metal objects’ by Back to Back Theatre in the local Westfield shopping centre today. It was a very special experience to sit in a tiered bank of seats in the middle of shoppers going about their various activities.


The actors mingled in amongst the people and were miked-up, with us listening in via headphones. It must have looked rather odd for about 100 people to be sitting there with headphones on, and nothing else seeming to happen. At first we could hear the actors and didn’t know where they were and it was a bit weird to sit and listen in a conversation knowing it was for us to hear, but we didn’t know who was speaking. Maybe we didn’t have to know, but once we could see the actors and how they were part of the activity of the shopping centre, it changed the dynamics and became more of a play within a play(s). Once the actors walked into view, they stayed around the vicinity in front of our seating.

People were walking past doing their business, some looking at us, and mostly not knowing that we were listening in on a conversation – a sort of eavesdrop on a one small interaction taking place amongst a whole lot of other things going on. There were people at the ATMs, claiming bonus shopping vouchers, having a coffee, meeting each other, and walking around the actors without knowing that they were also somehow being part of the action.

The play also gave me a perspective on performance, and that there has so be an observer, someone to watch, for the activity to be legitimised. Well, maybe not legitimised, but for it to have meaning outside the performers.

It felt quite profound to be participating in something ‘on the sly’ and struck me that there would be so many of these interaction, conversations, negotiations, etc. going on that we never really know about. We’re usually all too busy to notice or care… An excellent play, and thoroughly enjoyable.