Saturday, December 31, 2011

I resolve to........

eat healthy food in appropriate portions (except on special occasions or when I feel like a treat), exercise as regularly as I can, resume daily meditation, find and use alternatives to swear words except in extreme circumstances when trooper-style swearing is called for, reign in what might be perceived as an overuse of smiley faces and exclamations in all tweets, emails, blog comments etc, say yes when previously I might have said no, treasure my friends and family, blog more regularly than I did in 2011 (seriously poor effort!...oops), ask myself "What would Liz Lemon do?" if in a pickle of any kind (also substitute Kim Deal, Miranda Hart, Dawn French, Karen O, Princess Mary or other famous person as appropriate to aforementioned pickle), find out what quinoa is and perhaps eat/cook it, continue to listen to more new music...especially music with banjos, accordions, ukuleles, string basses etc, tidy my desk regularly (ha...notice I didn't say HOW regularly), recycle more diligently, procrastinate less, stop eating dinner in front of the television at least once a week, ignore or change any of these resolutions at will. Goodbye 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011


It took less than a week for me to completely bork up my sleep schedule. Usually I am an in bed by 10/10:30, awake at 5am kind of gal. Since starting holidays last Friday I am now a go to bed by 11, read for nearly an hour, fall asleep, wake up at 8am at the earliest kind of gal. This is followed later in the day by a mid-to-late afternoon nap which can last for 1-2 hours. Of course this means that I am not tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable-ish hour and the whole process starts again. Now, you may ask, what's the problem here? This sounds like a perfectly good holiday sleeping schedule. Well, the problem will begin on January 30 when I have to return to work and wrench myself out of this lovely laziness. Why am I concerned about this now - a month before it will even happen? That's just the kind of worrywart I am.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I missed a fair few good movies during the first decade of this century. It was a combination of being consumed by a PhD and living in a regional centre that isn't great at getting the more independent releases. This is why I was very happy to see Once was on Monday night on one of those extra channels. I recorded it (because I can't seem to watch anything with ads in it anymore) and sat down to watch it last night. I had heard about it of course but nothing prepared for the simple beauty of the story, the understated, natural performances of the two leads, and the amazingly heartbreaking songs. I could see the ending coming (and I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it) but it was quietly devastating. This was a true romance of a film. So when I finished it and found that Four Weddings and a Funeral was on the normal telly, the contrast was absolutely ridiculous. Here's one of the songs from Once.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Would you like some potato salad with that?

Gosh it seems like just a couple of days since Christmas. The years really do go quickly as you get older.....Wait a minute! Yes, that's right....It's second Christmas today for me. This time with my aunty, uncle and cousin (and grandmother again). We did the hot food thing on Christmas day so today is salad, salad and more salad. Not that we haven't already been eating a lot of salad at other meals apart from Christmas lunch. I made a potato salad on Christmas Eve. We managed to "finish" it last night. And by finish I mean we looked at what was left and decided to throw it away because nobody could stand another mouthful. I did suggest a potato salad eating competition a la The Vicar of Dibley brussel sprout situation in the old Christmas special but no-one was up for it. Lucky for us that my mother has made a whole new one for today's lunch isn't it? Mmmmmm.

Monday, December 26, 2011

tatty decorations, watermelon salad and marinated lamb

Christmas this year was a quiet affair with just me, my parents, my sister and my 90 year old Grandmother. We skyped my brother and sister-in-law in Brisbane, and will see my uncle, aunt and cousin tomorrow. So the actual day was the smallest celebration for many years. It was also the first time in years we didn't have to blast the air-conditioning all day. The weather was relatively pleasant and breezy for summer. My Dad wore his special red Santa shirt. And once again my Mum had put out this work of art - a nativity scene that I made when I was in Grade 2. It's survived quite well don't you think?
Of course the angel is supposed to sit on top of the manger and Mum has confused Joseph with some of the three wise men. One day I will buy her a nice nativity scene....perhaps one that isn't coloured in with felt pen and has a sheep that doesn't have cotton wool glued to it's back. Or maybe I'll force her to keep using this one. We actually do a kind of swap with tatty Christmas decorations. She sighs and keeps dragging out the nativity scene and I let her keep this freakish blue-eyed animated Santa. I hate it with a passion.
Anyway, I got a new dinner set (white), some lovely earrings and a bracelet, a new beach towel and this piece of nostalgia from my childhood.
The food highlight was the butterfly marinated lamb that my Dad cooked on the Weber and the watermelon, feta and olive salad that I made based on the wonderful 2paw's recipe. So good it was, that I'm making it again tomorrow for 2nd Christmas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 25

One of my absolute favourite Rockwiz moments from a previous Christmas special. Last night's Christmas special was excellent also. If you didn't watch it I highly recommend you catch up with SBS on demand. Thus endeth Wendy's Christmas Countdown for 2011.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 24

(it stops abruptly but you get the idea)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 18

Short and sweet. Just right for Sunday morning.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Countdown day

Make sure you listen right to the end to hear the "horse"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 15

Such a joy to sing along with this isn't it? Glor....orr.......................................i-a..Hosanna in excelsis!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 13

Just in case you're not following me on twitter I am sharing this awesomely wonderful Jingle Bells. If you are following me on twitter then I expect you to watch it again.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 11

Well this is tremendous fun! I believe old GF Handel would have approved. Maybe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 10

Well here's something sort of wonderful! Thanks to @ShallowThought for sharing on Twitter. The question is, I suppose, what would Freddie Mercury say?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 9

Well there are so many questions about this film. My first one is when did we get so skimpy with the size of our Christmas paper hats? These ones are monsters!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 8

"Many Christmases ago I went to buy a doll for my son..."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 7

Christmas Countdown goes all contemporary classical and traditional today with this beautiful song by John Rutter. The music geek in me likes this version because I can follow the parts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I interrupt this regularly scheduled Christmas Countdown to bring you some exciting news. I am on two days leave. That's right. TWO WHOLE DAYS in the middle of the week no less. It's scandalous really. After working the whole weekend, I was still recovering from my tired and cranky of last week so in a fit of something (pique perhaps?) I decided to use up some carer's leave. It's not that I won't be doing work things but I will no feel obligation to spend the whole day at the computer. I might get some Christmas shopping done. I might go out to lunch. And coffee. I might actually get to fold and put away three weeks of washing. I might get out my Christmas decorations. I might do lots of things. Or I might have a nap, lie on the lounge and do some reading. Who knows? So far I have had a sleep-in and eaten breakfast. If my life was a Facebook game I'm sure that would get me past the first level.

Christmas Countdown day 6

Perhaps you're one of the 4 million and something people who've already watched this on youtube. If not, it's a pleasant way to spend 2 and half minutes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 5

I don't know about you but I was a huge fan of Men Behaving Badly. Here they are "singing" one of my favourite Christmas carols.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 4

Here's a Christmas song I hope we can all get behind. Paul Kelly is a living treasure and this is a classic and wonderful Australian song with a Christmas theme. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Countdown day 3

Remember 1984 everyone? No not the famous novel...the year. I was in Grade 6 and Wham were just making it big with that good looking George Michael. What's interesting about this Christmas song is that it is so completely boring and repetitive. Extra points to you if manage to watch it all the way through.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Countdown 2011 part 2

Here's one of my favourite ever Christmas television moments. The UK Office Christmas special. If you've never watched it then you are very naughty and you won't be on Santa's list. Best. Mockumentary. Ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown 2011

Welcome to this year's Christmas Countdown. I have made an executive decision (given that this is my blog I feel that's appropriate) to include not only songs in the countdown this year but also other snippets from popular culture referring to Christmas. Enjoy December 1st's foray into the world of Christmas with this beautiful clip from Community where Pierce and Abed look for the meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

of dissatisfaction and acronyms

We are all still awaiting the appearance of our FCP (Final Change Proposal) for the new SEP (Single Enabling Program). In the meantime CaC (Campus Coordinators) continue to interview prospective students for next year even though in reality the CaCs may not be the Access Coordinators (ACs) in the brave new world of the SEP. Some of them may be Discipline Coordinators (DCs), Course Coordinators (CoCs) or even a Head of Programs (HoP) or Head of Services (HoS). So while we wait for the Vice Chancellor (VC) and the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Industry and Vocational Education and Training) (DVC Industry and VET) to make the final approvals on the FCP we trundle through each day, growing increasingly impatient with the shifting deadlines. Yesterday was the first day where I really wanted to walk out the door at work and never come back. That's why I'm up and getting ready to go there today...I guess. Things are looking up though. On Thursday I will begin my annual Christmas Countdown in song on the Spiralling Shape. Hurrah!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

dull powerpoint

I look forward to the Saturday that I don't spend it mainly inside sitting at my computer. Of course, this is made more pleasant now that I am using my shiny new Macbook with it's soft glowing keyboard and clear as crystal screen. Still, I would rather not be trying to whack together a presentation on Angry Boys at the last minute. It's an expectation of a my research allocation that I do a uni lunchtime seminar at least once a year. I blithely signed up for November 22 many months ago, thinking that by this time I would be free to spend all my working hours on writing and research with few other commitments over Term 3. HAHA on me. My kingdom for the crystal ball that would have foretold the endless upheaval and daily tasks associated with our area's restructure and change proposal. As a result, I am cobbling together something about mockumentaries, Chris Lilley and S.Mouse! with an accompanying dull powerpoint and hoping for the best on Tuesday lunchtime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

music, fruit and veges

My working life is an endless whirl of meetings at the moment. Meetings in person. Meetings on the phone. Skype and videoconferencing meetings. Why so many meetings? We are coming to the tail end of a VERY long restructure process that has been going on for years. At least, I hope we are getting to the tail end. Because, seriously, I cannot take much more. Merging three programs into one is a complicated business, and while my work is only a part of the entire restructure it is truly enough to keep me busy until Christmas at the least. What is keeping me sane? Well, as usual my beautiful piano students keep me entertained. This afternoon saw an impromptu version of The Tickle Song....a composition by the father of one my students. It has words and music (none of which I can remember now) but they are very entertaining. I also spent a wonderful hour talking Debussy's La Soiree Dans Grenade with my advanced student. We chatted about Debussy, motifs, musical picture painting, sounds, texture, character. It was an absolute treat. She also bought me half a kilo of cherry tomatoes and a hand of bananas. So you know, music accompanied by fruit and vege. What's not to like about that? In other less fantastic news I think my hot water system is on the way out. Cool showers are not my favourite thing...even in a Queensland summer. And it also seems like someone may have declared a plague of ants upon my house. They're springing up everywhere....even in my bedroom! I swear this is nothing attractive to ants in there!! What is going on? Still on the upside, when I bought my coffee on the way to work today I got a free one for some reason. So you know...swings and roundabouts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I looked at the sea

Well my friends that was a very nice Sunday indeed. Here's what happened. I had a little sleep in. I got up and ate my breakfast at a leisurely pace and enjoyed my green vanilla tea. I did my meditation. I did some exercise on the Wii. I ignored the fact that the Wii was berating me for being a lazy pants for the last "40 days". I folded and put all my washing away. I cleaned up my home email inbox and made some proper folders to file important emails into. I tweeted intermittently. I did some preliminary notes and planning on my Angry Boys paper about S.Mouse. I cleaned out my car. I remembered to put the bin out. I had an egg sandwich for lunch. I watched My Year Without Sex and thought about life and death and other things. I backed up my Kindle on my two external hard drives. I transferred some pdf docs to my Kindle. I lay on the lounge to start reading the pdf docs and promptly fell asleep. I woke up at 4.30 to a phone call from my mother inviting me to fish and chips at the beach. I went, I ate fish and chips and looked at the sea. Now I am home.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A spot of millinery on a Monday

Many of you may be attending Melbourne Cup events tomorrow. With this in mind I thought I would share my last minute millinery tips with you. Firstly, you must find a hat. I think that any old hat will do. For instance this year I have chosen my second best gardening hat. I have had it for nearly ten years. It's quite faded and green and has often been scrunched up or left in the car. It's perfect for any occasion. Then you need some frills and fussy things to add to it. Try not to be stylish here. It's a waste of time. Everyone knows the best hats are the ugly, weird looking ones (see for example Princess whatshername at the recent Royal Wedding). To decorate my hat I have chosen a silk scarf that I bought for 5 dollars in the throw out bin at Just Jeans last winter, and a big ugly fake red rose that may have come from diva. Whack it all together in five minutes and you're set for any tacky work function that you may be attending.

Monday will be torture for you today

Dear Monday,

I know it's been some time since our last correspondence. Apologies. I hope you have been keeping well. Me? Why thank you for asking. I've been quite fine. I just have a tiny request. If you could manage it I'd really appreciate it if when I check my stars on my iPhone app you don't begin with "Monday will be torture for you today". I'm sure you can understand what I'm getting at. It really doesn't set one up with the most positive frame of mind towards seizing the day. Your reputation would really be enhanced if avoided describing yourself as "torture" and instead worked towards a happier, rainbow-filled, bouquet of flowers kind of image.

As always, just a few thoughts for you to ponder once you have finished with today before next week.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's the circle of 5ths

It's always amazing when you have a breakthrough moment with a student. This happened for me yesterday afternoon while giving a piano lesson to my newest student - an adult who recently completed her Grade 8 practical exam. We were working through some theory when she asked what seemed like a very basic question. How do you know what sharps to write in what order in the key signatures? This was strange I thought. Here's a student who has played pieces of quite a high level yet she's not sure about how the keys work. Tentatively, I asked her if she knew about the circle of fifths? No. The circle of 4ths for flats? No again. So I got a big piece of paper and a pencil and we did some basic maths to show the pattern of how sharp and flat keys work. Once you understand it, it's really very simple but no-one had ever explained this to her before. For instance everything about sharp key signatures moves in fifths. C major has no sharps or flats. If we want to find the major key with one sharp in the key signature we go up a fifth from C - to G. G has 1 sharp - F sharp. If we want to find the major key with two sharps we go up a fifth from G - to D. And then to our F sharp we add a second sharp up a fifth from F - C sharp. So, D major has two sharps F sharp and C sharp. And so it keeps going. Flats work on the same pattern except everything is in 4ths. The look on her face when this clicked was absolutely stunning. She couldn't believe it was so easy. How could she not have realised this before? This encounter emphasised a few things to me. Never assume what a student may or may not know. Always check what might seem even the most basic knowledge. Also, encourage students to ask questions. The learning environment has to be one that encourages them to communicate with you without feeling like they are "stupid". And, as the teacher, I have to listen carefully for even the tiniest cues that might indicate there is a gap in knowledge somewhere that needs to be filled. That lesson made my day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stay tooned

For a while there in the last weeks of winter I was starting wonder if I would ever get out of bed at a decent hour again. Even though my alarm would go off at 6:30 most days I would still be snuggled under the doona at 7:30....even 7:45 on a bad day. Then I would have to race around like a very late person in order to get ready and be at work teaching at 9am three days out of five. Thankfully, the sun has started to rise earlier and I am getting out of bed a little bit earlier each day. This means there is time again to drink a cup of green tea before heading off to work instead of scarfing down a bowl of cereal and running out the door. There is also time to write a blog post which is what I am doing now. I am most unimpressed with my reduced blogging activity this year. My twitter addiction, study, work and other writing, as well as piano students and accompanying have all kept my weeks full. Now, though, as the year starts to draw to a close I have a little more time so I plan to try and raise the post count before Christmas. Stay tooned.

Friday, October 14, 2011

me...playing the piano

It's been a little while since my last post (she writes as she hangs her head in shame). I'd like to say I'd been on a lovely, relaxing holiday travelling here, there and everywhere without a care in the world. Not so, my friends, not so. I've been finishing off the teaching term here at uni. I've been marking essays. I've been trying to work on my library assignment. I've been rehearsing for choir concerts which are on this weekend. I've been teaching the piano. I've been attempting to make progress on a draft of an article. I've had a birthday. Of course, none of these things are any excuse for ignoring my blog. But it's like my relationship with exercise at the moment. When I have the time, I don't have the motivation. When I have the motivation I don't have the time. So instead, here's a little piece I'm playing on the weekend at our Celtic themed concerts. Percy Grainger is a fascinating figure in Australian classical music for many reasons. Most people know him for his arrangement of Country Gardens. He was also a wonderful pianist himself, also known for his complicated relationship with his mother, Rose, and his interest in sado-masochism.'s me playing his arrangement of a Scottish folk song, Will ye gang to the hielands Lizzie Lindsay. Enjoy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thoughts on Mrs Carey's Concert

On Monday evening I sat down to watch Mrs Carey's Concert, the documentary by Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond. It followed the "trials and tribulations' of Mrs Carey - music teacher at a Sydney girls' school - over two years as she prepared her school's musicians for a concert at the Opera House. Yes, that's right - the Opera House. It was at this point that I began having difficulty engaging with the documentary. I think it was supposed to be a doco about the transformative power of music and the importance of music education programs in schools. That's fine. I'm a huge supporter of both those things. However, the documentary I found myself watching was a story of elitist, privileged and somewhat spoiled schoolgirls a la J'aime King who had no idea of their fortunate position in life. Sure, the music was very beautiful and the technical proficiency and musical ability of the students was impressive. Why wouldn't it be? They had access to wonderful teaching and facilities and didn't question that. The quality of the string instruments they were playing jumped off the screen - no factory made cheapies here. The teaching staff were clearly talented but I almost laughed out loud when they talked about how some of their students go through a bit of a "feral" stage. I don't think they would survive if they actually met a feral adolescent in real life. The sulky teenager we followed who, for some reason, wasn't that impressed that she was being forced to sing a chorus from Aida, was eventually hammered into submission by the night of the big concert at the Opera House. I'm sure she'll hate classical music for the rest of her life. Teaching fail. Where this documentary really fell down for me was that it was lacking in any emotion. I couldn't engage with the protagonists. This meant that while I was full of admiration for the music they were making it didn't move me. It didn't speak to me on the affective plane that music needs to. I've been thinking about it a lot during the week and comparing it to me experience of watching the series featuring British choral conductor, Gareth Malone. During nearly every episode of his work building a choir in Unsung Town which screen recently on ABC2 I was moved to tears when I could see how much difference was made by introducing music and singing into the lives of people who not had the opportunity to engage with it before. If you've ever tried to start a music program in a school from scratch you'll know how difficult it is to build a culture of understanding of music's power into a new environment. Some years ago I got a job a private school where there was no string program at all. It took three years to even have a group in the primary school that could play simple, simple songs mainly in tune. This is the challenge music teachers all over the country face every day as they scramble to be given rehearsal time for choir or orchestra. If they are lucky enough to have the support of the school's administration that makes life easier. If not, then they battle. The give concerts in big classrooms, community centres, school halls, at fetes and other such events. They do not go to the Sydney Opera House as a matter of course. I would like to see a documentary that follows the music teacher doing the country circuit of tiny schools, or perhaps the music teachers who have to fight with the sports departments for funding and precious time. I didn't dislike Mrs Carey's Concert. It was very impressive. I just didn't like it that much.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A large piece of toenail

Yesterday afternoon I made my 15 minute journey to Innes Park as usual to do an afternoon of piano teaching. The five sisters and their good friend were all delightful as always. This week I was treated to the sight of a broken toenail...and then as a follow up...I got to see the large piece of toenail that had broken off. It seems my youngest student had been saving it just for me. While I am nowhere near as brilliant at capturing dialogue as Catriona at Circulating Library the conversation went something like this: Me: Right, let's start with this one today (points to music book) Youngest Student: I broke my toenail. Me: Really, that's no good. Okay, from here, what's the first note? Youngest Student: Would you like to see? Me: Not really. (youngest student immediately starts ripping off her shoes and socks) Youngest Student: See, it's all red. Me: (suitably impressed) Hmmm...yes that looks sore. I think you will live though. Youngest Student: Would you like to see the toenail? Me: Not really (youngest student races to her bedroom to find the piece of toenail and returns with it in the palm of her hand. For the record it was really quite large) Me: Wow, that is big.....No, you can hold it. Youngest Student: Ok (places toenail in her discarded shoes and sits back at the piano ready to play) Lesson continues as if nothing had happened. Then after all the lessons I was treated to dinner...yummy homebread and homemade sausages followed by a caramel drumstick. What more could I ask for on a Thursday afternoon?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fighting fish and fern

My parents and my sister have left town for a week for a little holiday. Before they left they gave me the contents of their fridge (lamingtons,shallots, a leek, pumpkin, tomatoes, capscium, spinach, a single potato, cherry tomatoes, avocado) as well as my sister's fighting fish and my mother's maidenhair fern to look after. The food will be turned into tonight's dinner. The fighting fish, whose name is Jack (after Captain Jack Sparrow) and the fern have been placed in the bathroom. It is my duty to keep the bathroom door shut all week to prevent the cat from discovering their existence. The bathroom is the safest place but should worst come to worst I will be making trips to both the nursery and the pet shop before the week is over.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guinea pig and frog

One might imagine that an afternoon of piano teaching would be about teaching the piano. One would be mistaken. It's that of course but lots lots more. For instance, take today. It was the usual Wednesday afternoon line up. We began with a brother and sister team who have their lessons one after the other in between their good mother ferrying them to and from gymnastics. Here I was treated to tales of a recent trip to the snow and (perhaps the highlight of my week) a delightful 8 year old boy demonstrating how he could make two sounds at once. First was a rendition of a guinea pig and a frog. Then, for his second act he performed guinea pig plus cicada. It was tremendously impressive. Following this I heard a long and involved story about another 8 year old's taekwondo lesson yesterday afternoon, including a run down of all the different belt colours. Next was a talented 16 year old who came bearing three gigantic home grown lettuces and about half a kilo of cherry tomatoes. The evening is rounded off with my two adult students. The first one, a pharmacist, shared some stories of life in the pharmacy as well as a rendition of a Richard Marx song from the 80s which brought back memories of school socials. Lastly, the mother of a four year old, and 18 mth old twins informed of the politics of dancing lessons for kids in town, as well as the ins and outs of childcare. I am considerably more informed about all sorts of things than I was at 3:30 today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

buying shoes on the internet

The last few weeks have been busy busy busy and the next few will be as well. Fear not dear Spiralling Shape readers, this has not prevented me from buying shoes on the internet. Oh yes. You heard me correctly. I did it once and I may well do it again. Living in a shoe-buying backwater here in regional Queensland means that I have a choice of cheap-ass tizzy shoes which I will not wear for love or money OR...well...nothing. So I resorted to the wonders of the world wide web and clutching my credit card took a leap of faith into the scene of shoes from overseas. The good news is they took only a couple of weeks to arrive from Israel, they fit and best of all....(wait for it)....they are green. What more could a girl ask for?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Still in my pyjamas at 9:15am

Once again I have been neglecting my blog rather shamefully. This does not mean I have not been blogging though. As part of my library studies this term I am maintaining a blog for activities and reflection on a weekly basis. I stole the title from Doctor Who - Silence in the Library. I am enjoying playing with the various web technologies we are being introduced to. As most of you who read this blog are well aware, I am not the most technological person in the world, so it is nice to feel like I am gaining some command over something. This week we are using flickr. I haven't used flickr for photo sharing before, preferring instead either to post selected photos here, or bombard fb friends with them. Given that I am pretty much done with facebook in any meaningful way, I am enjoying using flickr and I think I will continue to do so.
So apart from work being slightly madder and crazier than Term 1 I am doing lots of piano teaching and accompanying at the moment. And I am trying (and succeeding) to be vigilant about my work from home/line in the sand days for research. Today is one of them which is why I am still in my pyjamas at 9:15.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Easter in August

They have Christmas in July so why not Easter in August? At least that's what my mother decided when she found the Easter present she had bought me earlier in the year while she was cleaning out her patchwork material. So as I was leaving their house last night after some yummy dinner we wished each other Happy Easter and I took up a little bunny rabbit made of floral material. It was the culmination of evening of interesting conversation. The other highlight was perhaps my mother telling me that my father had saved some pictures on to a BSB stick to take to his family reunion next weekend. Needless to say my sister and I made fun of her for quite a while.

free shirt and cap

I am up bright and early for a Sunday morning. This is because some weeks ago I blithely agreed to "man" a stand at our campus Open Day. That day is today. As you might imagine now the day has arrived I am less enthused. So now I have to shower and dress in my free university logo polo shirt and black pants (denim not allowed according to the "briefing" from marketing) and go to uni for the day. Did I also mention I get a free university logo cap? No? Well, who wouldn't want to go to work on a Sunday for a free cap? I shall be giving it to my father at the end of the day. Lucky him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

holidays: I'm doing them wrong

So this week I have officially been on holidays. All that really means is that I didn't go into work (except for Tuesday and Thursday for an hour each time). Unofficially, I have been answering work emails, putting out little work fires, responding to questions from students, looking at drafts of their first assessments, taking care of a PhD student's confirmation document, finishing a rewrite of a paper and doing my library study. The only fun part was the study. I also cleaned out my wardrobe, taught the piano Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, accompanied Tuesday afternoon and went to choir on Monday. The most holiday-like I got was beginning a 30 Rock marathon starting from Season One. I have managed to laugh out loud a couple of times. That's got to be good for me right?
Back to work (officially) on Monday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

View from my freshly dusted desk

This morning I tidied and dusted my desk. Here's what I can see while I sit at it. I dream of a spacious work area at home. I would love a separate office where I can spread out, have lots of filing cabinets, shelves with everything organised and in the one place. I long for enough power points and usb ports and good lighting. Instead, because I have chosen to turn one of my bedrooms into a piano teaching room I have a weird assortment of desk-type furniture which is constantly piled with a mixture of junk mail, work stuff, library study stuff and research stuff. There is an unpleasant spaghetti mess of cords and powerboards hidden between the two drawer filing cabinet and the little desk. I choose to ignore that for there's no keeping it tidy. My workspace consists of the aforementioned filing cabinet which is chock a block with cords, warranties for electrical equipment, adaptors, chargers, sticky tape, ribbon and wrapping paper and other sundries. On top of the filing cabinet is a printer which I bought in May and am yet to hook up to my computer (so I probably didn't need it after all). The filing cabinet is also home to my lamp, my external hard drive and my modem. On the desk proper is my laptop, more chargers that use the computer, a corkboard , two containers for pens and bits and pieces and usually whatever I am working on at any particular time. Next to the desk is an antique traymobile. It should be used for dainty afternoon teas, piled high with cakes and fine china. Unfortunately, its wheels are dodgy so any attempts to move it anywhere result in the need for a pitstop to reattach the wheels. I love it though and it functions well as storage for overflow of books and CDs on the bottom shelf, while the top shelf is used as an extension of desk space. It belonged to my great grandmother's cousin. I'm sure she never pictured it housing some intrays from Officeworks but there you go.

I have quite the supply of citrus fruit at the moment.

My intrays....

My VIP Leonard Cohen pass. I was not a VIP but I knew someone who was. Looks impressive though doesn't it?

My china cabinet complete with Royal Doulton tea and coffee sets, small collection of miniature genie lamps and brass tea pot and sugar pot.

Container of pens and other junk.

Pencil case, diary, current paper draft....

USB..yes I know it's only 1GB but it was free at a workshop I went to a few years ago and still going strong.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Friday...Bob Dylan says so

And we all know that if his Bobness says so it must be true. Today indeed was Friday. Not just any Friday but the last Friday of official work for an entire week. I finally gave in and took a week's holiday. I have been desperately trying to save up my holidays to take a huge chunk at Christmas-New Year, but after last week I decided that I couldn't wait any longer. I had, as they say, had enough. So I ripped through this week and couldn't wait for today. I did some work on my journal article revision and will continue to do so over the next week. What else am I going to do though?

1. Sleep in
2. Go out for coffees and lunches
3. Teach the piano
4. Go to choir on Monday night
5. Accompaniment rehearsals on Saturday and Tuesday afternoon
6. Nap
7. Watch TV
8. Faff about on the internets
9. Read
10. Clean out my wardrobe
11. Work on my library study and readings
12. Cook
13. Some non-strenuous house cleaning and tidying
14. Listen to music
15. Anything that takes my fancy

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm a Judith Lucy fan

I haven't written much about television for a while. That's not because I haven't been watching TV. It's just that nothing much has been very interesting. This week though there are a few things mentioning.

Angry Boys
This week saw the final episode of Angry Boys. I was crossing my fingers and toes that the legends would not arrive in Dunt for Nathan's going away party. But they did. For me, this broke the tone of the series. I sat through (and enjoyed) 11 episodes of fairly unrelenting dark satire examining the causes and effects of the damaged contemporary culture of masculinity. I was willing the final episode not to fall for the "happy" ending. But it did. I was willing Lilley to finish the final scene with the ordinary party in the back yard at the Sims' farm with no special guests, just Gran and the family farewelling Nathan. But he didn't. I was a little bit disappointed.

Judith Lucy
I'm a Judith Lucy fan. There, I've said it and now you all know. I loved her memoir The Lucy Family Alphabet and will make a point of watching anything she does on television. I quite enjoyed the trip she made into Catholicism and saw great potential in the questioning of spirituality and religion. It reminded me of our Year 7 religious education classes where the poor lady who volunteered to come and teach RE in a STATE SCHOOL (emphasis intentional) didn't get to read us Bible stories because we were too busy asking her how she could prove that God exists.

Friday Night Lights
I've been hearing lots about this program for a while but have never bothered trying to catch it. Quality drama. Yes. American football. Not actually that interested. If I'm home I'll watch it. If not, I won't set the dvd recorder. Also, I spent some of the first episode reading the summaries of each series on Wikipedia so I don't really need to watch anymore at all.

Last Sunday saw the two paintball episode follow ups. They weren't nearly as good as the first paintball episodes. But if you want to watch a smart, American comedy this is the one I recommend. It's better than just about anything else on free to air even when it goes to repeats.

Oh and I have been watching Torchwood. The jury is still out......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spell "altruism".....

I have three lessons of two hours per week with my students. For the first 6-8 weeks in the interest of expanding and improving vocabulary (given that it is a course on language and writing) I give a spelling test. Usually I attempt to connect the words to the issues and ideas we are discussing and writing about in class. This means that we follow the direction of the course from writing about the self to writing about the community in all shapes and sizes. This year one of my spelling words has been "altruistic". Each term I have been dismayed at the number of students in the class who have never heard of that word before, let alone what it might mean. "Use it in sentence, Wendy!". So I do. There are often still some blank that follows my explanation of what it means. (note: explanation is also one of our early spelling words). Discussions of altruism, volunteering, social capital and its generation quickly follow and most students can connect to these concepts in some way which is slightly more heartening. I think this term, my dismay at the lack of knowledge of the notion of altruism has been coloured by listening to the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist scholars talk about compassion and happiness, the interconnectedness of all human beings and other such things at the recent Happiness and its Causes conference. We must recognise what it is that makes us human, as well as the fact that as humans we all have these qualities (good and bad) in common. A smile, said the Dalai Lama, is perhaps the most simple and easily visible act of compassion towards another person. In class we talked about the sense of community living in a largish regional town compared to living in a capital city. This is not to say that cities cannot have high social capital, but sometimes it might be more difficult to detect. On a train recently in Brisbane I was reminded of this when I found myself naturally looking to make eye contact with other travellers only to be met with a sea of iPods and newspapers. I asked my students how they respond when their checkout person at the supermarket asks "How are you today?". Do they just say "Good" and get on with their business, or do they respond in kind? I know the checkout operators are told to ask their customers that, but what if we as consumers turn this into a social transaction, not just a business one? Is that an act of compassion? Will it start to build social capital? I think so. On Friday evening I was reminded of the power of community while at the local launch of the Price of Life which I have posted about recently. Nicky Bonney talked about the tremendous community support she and her family had received from the Bundaberg region during their difficult times. Simple things like neighbours cooking loaves of bread, bringing over meals, donating small amounts of money - all of these acts are the things that bind communities together and need to be cultivated. They don't just happen by themselves. All these thoughts come together when faced with the news of the terrible news in Norway, of famine in Africa, of the death of Amy Winehouse. How is it as a community, a global community that we have let the world come to this? There are no easy answers or quick fixes I know. Perhaps though it starts with us as individuals, taking responsibility for our own behaviour and gestures of humanity towards others. Not only do we need to be able to spell "altruism"; we need to continue to practice it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

I have a dream

Tomorrow in class we look at writing for different audiences as a start to the students thinking about the purpose of their writing, their choice of words, the need to communicate clearly etc. The examples we use are part of this speech, which still gives me goosebumps, together with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I also give them some Barack Obama and this year, just to change the tone completely, this:

(you'll have to copy and paste the link as embedding is disabled)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life is precious

I can't remember the last time I read an entire book in one sitting but it happened yesterday. "Which book which book Wendy?" I hear you all cry in eager anticipation of a reply. (Or not...up to you really whether you talk aloud to blog posts).

The Price of Life by Nigel Brennan, Nicole Bonney and Kellie Brennan.

This is the true story of Nigel Brennan's kidnapping in Somalia together with a Canadian journalist, Amanda Lindhout and the efforts Nigel's family went to get him out of Somalia alive. It's a page turner. I couldn't put it down. And even though I knew the basics of the story from the news, from following the daily updates in our local paper here in Bundaberg, from watching the story on Australian Story, and from talking with Nicky when she arrived on the doorstep of uni at the beginning of the year, nothing prepared me for the full story as written in the book. It's an emotional journey - one of disbelief, anger, sorrow, pain, funny moments in the midst of darkness, patience and impatience, love, hate, tenacity, perseverance, determination and inspiration. It is told clearly and simply by each of the three authors. Their different perspectives intertwine beautifully to depict the strength a family can muster in the face of an unexpected disaster. It reinforces my respect for Senator Bob Brown, increases my respect for Dick Smith, confirms my suspicions about the wheels of government and international diplomacy, and reminds me of just what human beings are capable of - both good and bad. It's well worth reading because we all need reminding of what's important in life and how fortunate many of us are. I feel lucky I was able to remember by reading this astonishing story, rather than having to go through the events in person. In the end, I went to bed thinking about how precious life, every life, is.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I need more days like this

It's Friday. I hope it will be the first of many this term when I can work at home. I persisted through the revisions of a paper all day. I did allow myself a morning coffee and banana and coconut bread this morning downtown. But then I came home and got stuck in and forced myself to sit at the computer even though the writing was slow and tedious. When I had nothing to write I sat and thought. I watched the sun pass over the house and shine in my big back windows in the early afternoon. The cat kept me company by snoozing on the lounge. By 4pm I had made some progress and lost all ability to concentrate so I stopped. The evening was made bright with the arrival of some strawberries. I just polished some off with some yoghurt and thought how lucky I am to have strawberries straight from the farm.

I need more days like this.

Monday, July 4, 2011

we've only just begun

This afternoon at 4:30 was the first singing gathering at CQU Bundaberg. I had been immensely inspired by the power of music while at the Happiness conference a few weeks ago and finally decided it was time for me to get off my behind and do something with an idea I had been storing up for years. That's right - singing and music for fun, for joy, for all round goodness and well-being. So with a groovy name in hand - MusiCQUe on Mondays (thank you to @CirculatingLib for her inspiration) I emailed the campus staff, announced it a staff meeting and chose some music. I got 8 people turn up this afternoon with about 4 others who couldn't make it today. For a very small regional campus I was pretty happy with that turnout. It's a beginning. Strangely, I hadn't really thought about the enormity of starting a singing group entirely from scratch. It's no simple task but I decided to just go with my gut and choose some fairly simple songs and see what happened. It was great. Everyone sang in tune and we even managed to sing some partner songs which for a first try is excellent. Sometimes I forget that not everyone can hold harmony lines. We sang Wade in the Water/Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child, then Top of the World, Supertrouper, and what proved to be a popular choice with Maxwell's Silver Hammer. I have some Carole King on order and will most likely spend my spare time trawling the internets for other bits and pieces. The best part of the I was leaving hearing one of the songsters singing to herself in her office.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

the latter

This is my first Sunday with no commitments of any kind for many many moons. It's either been trips away, concerts, assignments, marking or rehearsals for what seems like forever. Not that I'm complaining. All those things are good (well except perhaps for the marking) but it's lovely to wake up with absolutely nothing to do.

Last weekend was the trip to Brisbane to finally see Harvest Rain's Jesus Christ Superstar. The Jinxster and I flew down and met up with our theatrical star friend Jason before and after the show. The lovely Rhonda also joined us taking the spare ticket we found ourselves with. Although we didn't get to see the original Judas because he had broken his ankle during the previous Wednesdays performance ON STAGE, this was still the most energetic show I had seen in forever. In fact I will go so far to say that it might be the best musical Andrew Lloyd-Webber ever wrote before he got all faux-operatic and obsessed with cats.

Last Sunday was made memorable because I got to meet twitter friend @kirsty_l in person. That's right! People on the internet are real. And delightful, witty and intelligent. And sometimes, if you're very very lucky they have yummy pavlova which they share with you over a cup of tea. The previous week I had the good fortune to meet @Shallow_Thought and @JohnGunders. It was a cool breezy Friday afternoon at Southbank and we talked about all sorts of things to do with humanities, social media, PhDs and otherwise over a cup of coffee. Again, this was a wonderful treat!

Sunday night dear Grant and Kate took me out to dinner. I had the most beautiful lamb I have ever eaten. Also, a starter of cauliflower and truffle oil soup which was tasty as well as dessert of sticky date pudding. These are a few of my favourite things. I did get a strange look from my brother when I told him I had met some people from The Internet. This was closely followed by a short lecture from me to him on the value of Twitter with the instruction that he shouldn't dismiss something before he tries it. Then we chatted about the Dalai Lama, social justice, community work and other wonderful things. Finally on Monday the Jinxster and I made our way to Anne M's at Clayfield where she fed us home made pizza scrolls before we jumped back on the plane to Bundaberg.

Holidays are now over as the teaching term starts tomorrow. This means I could either choose to work all day on bits and pieces OR I could just muck around reading and listening to music in between doing mundane tasks like the washing. I think I choo-choo-choose the latter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

feeling guilty

It's Thursday afternoon and I am sitting at work feeling guilty because I haven't posted to my dear blog for some time. It's not because nothing has been happening. On the contrary lots has been going on. I just haven't had time to process it properly, let alone write and reflect about it. But here I sit, about to give it a whirl.

Let's start with last weekend and our mid year choir concerts. Each year the Bundaberg Orpheus Singers perform a classical, sacred concert and then a concert of lighter music. This time around was the classical concert so there was lots of Alleluias, Amens, Glorias and the like. We were joined by the Toowoomba Vocal Ensemble whose conductor is the sister of our conductor. It was c-c-c-c-cold at the Saturday evening concert in the big Catholic church in town. When I wasn't playing my hands were wrapped in the extra coat I had taken with me in an effort to keep warm. It didn't really work. The Sunday afternoon concert weather was much more civilised. By the time that was all over I was slightly weary as I had only arrived back in Bundaberg on the Saturday morning from Brisbane. I had spent two days at the Happiness and its Causes conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Many of the speakers were thought-provoking as well as thoughtful. I particularly enjoyed Jane Goodall, Mathieu Ricard, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, as well as B. Allan Wallace. The conference is run each year by a Buddhist institute and it was beautiful to hear people talk of the values of compassion, empathy, kindness and community. There was lots to take in. Lucky for me I bought a number of books (as I always do) so there is time now to read and inwardly digest. I also met some twitter friends in person. This was an absolute treat as they are no longer imaginary but real! (if you know what I mean). This Saturday I go back to Brisbane with the Jinxster to see Jesus Christ Superstar. We had originally booked to go in February but the season was flooded out so these are our replacement tickets. Before that though, tomorrow is the first Orientation Day for our term 2 students. We have 29 eager students of all ages, sizes and shapes ready to go. At least I hope they are ready to go. Where the mid term break has disappeared to I am not quite sure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the words of The Doctor

These are my new shoes. They are stripey and colourful. In the words of The Doctor, stripey and colourful shoes are cool. Trust me. It's either that or they are the equivalent of wearing a bow tie. You decide.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I am on my 15 minute break between piano students so rather than do anything really productive like my assignment (because let's face it takes me 15 minutes to get all my books and papers out and organised) I thought I might write a little blog post. What about? Well, we shall see. For what is supposed to be the mid year vacation time it is ridiculously busy at work. No sooner have we marked our students' final assignment than we are testing and interviewing students for term 2. I spent the morning chatting to all sorts of prospective students ranging in age from 17 to early 60s with the varying degrees of life experience to boot. It looks like it will be an interesting class with a more even gender balance than we had in Term 1. Apart from that I am teaching the piano, trying to find time to finish my last library assignment (a monster sized report), wondering when I will find time to big revision on a paper that has come back from peer reviewing, wondering whether I can find the time or energy to apply for a promotion and/or a teaching and learning award grant thingo. The latter two involve "writing to selection criteria" which I absolutely loathe. Still, moving up a level would be nice financially if nothing else. Have I been watching television? Sure! Doctor Who is keeping me mightily entertained as is The Craig Ferguson Show (which I try to remember to record every night). Repeats of Friends every evening on GEM are nice to eat dinner by. Remember when Ross and Rachel were "on a break" and Phoebe carried triplets for her brother? I do, and now I am reliving the late 90s all over again. It's comforting. And (apologies for the atrocious pun) the Kindle has rekindled my love of reading. I have read more books in the last two months than I have in the last year. I'm even finishing them! This is amazing as I had developed a terrible habit of starting books but never getting to the end. I'm delving into comedians' autobiographies at the moment and really enjoying it. I have the vaguest awareness of Russell Brand but his two Booky Wooks were a treat to read. I also enjoyed Sarah Silverman's book, Anh Do's story, Stephen Fry and Tina Fey. In hardcover I adore Dawn French's Dear Fatty and like Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. Perhaps I will become a collector of memoirs. I find them far more interesting than fiction at the moment. Although, I am reading The Blythes Are Quoted by LM Montgomery. It's an unusual collection of Anne and Walter Blythe's poetry and short stories in which the main Blythe household feature as bit players. And now it is 4:27 so I best return to the piano room, sharpened pencil in hand and ready myself for a rigorous working over of some Bartok.

Monday, June 6, 2011

the beach

Yes indeed I spent four days at the beach. These photos are from the iPhone 4 which I must say has a far superior camera in it than my previous phone. The weather was stunning. They were perfect Queensland winter days.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Tomorrow I am going on a holiday for four days. Never mind that I am in the middle of an assignment, have assignments that need marking, have timetables to do, have an orientation to plan, have a paper to revise and resubmit, have to decide whether to apply for promotion and/or a teaching and learning award. Never mind any of those things. I am going to the thriving metropolis of HerveyBay for four days with my parents and sister to do nothing except shop, drink coffee, eat out, walk in the sun, take photos, read and watch TV. Yes, it is perhaps the daggiest holiday ever but that is just fine with me. This will be my only proper days off until at least mid October/November. I will not be taking my watch, my makeup, any good clothes or anything at all related to work. I will be taking my Kindle, my iPhone (pod), my new sneakers, my hat and my very ordinary clothes. I may eat ice cream, fish and chips and other foods that are bad for me. I may sleep in, nap during the day and go to the movies. Indeed, I may do all these things or none of them. In other words, I will do what I like.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something to savour on Sunday morning

Well good morning Sunday. I have finally dragged myself out of bed and now sit at my computer drinking my green vanilla tea in a most civilised manner while I contemplate my sinus-aching face, headache and all round general snottiness. I have also begun to cough. I believe this to be a good sign because all of the highly authoritative material on the "common cold" that I have read on the internet tells me that this is one of the final stages of said cold.

Enough of my whining. What else has been happening in Spiralling Shape land? Well, the teaching term ended on Friday. I spent the week helping my beautiful students with their final piece of assessment which was a researched essay on a topic of their choice. It had to be a contemporary Australian issue. As a result, I know now quite a lot about the human impact on the Great Barrier Reef, childhood obesity, eating disorders, substance abuse, drought, problem gambling, ADHD, smoking and a number of other topics. I am sad to see this class leave us for they have been delightful to teach, hard working and dedicated to changing their lives for the better. As always, they have taught me a great deal in the process of me teaching them. If you're not sure exactly what I do, here's a link to a story that aired ABC Wide Bay which describes it beautifully. The student voice is strong.

So we had a little farewell party for them on Friday afternoon. They bought the food. I bought the congratulatory certificates and small gifts for those of them who had managed twelve weeks, five days a week without missing a class. Impressive!

On Friday evening I then went to a lovely concert at the church in town that has the most uncomfortable pews in the whole wide world. Still, the music made up for it, particularly the performance of the Bach Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin which is one of my many favourite things. The soloists were Barry Davis and Kirsten Kerr. Barry has "retired" to Bundaberg from years of professional oboeing around the world. Never mind that he works like a trouper and is involved in all sorts of music making in town. We are fortunate to have him here indeed. Kirsten is a stunning violinist who grew up in Bundaberg and then went on to bigger and brighter things before settling in Rockhampton with her family. She is famous for teaching me the violin when I was a girl. Actually, she's not really famous for that at all. The other professional achievements on her resume far outweigh that glory. The Bach was beautifully stylish, cleanly articulated and the second movement soared clearly through the church. For those of you who don't know it go directly to youtube, do not pass go and do not collect 200 dollars and look it up. I will finish with a little taste of it here. This is something to savour on a Sunday morning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

and your wii age is.....

48! That was a pleasant discovery last night after I had spent an hour fiddling around with cables and remotes and other bits and pieces to finally get the thing set up. As the Wii kindly informed me that is 11 years older than my actually age. Yes, thank you very much. I can do basic mathematics. Still, it was fun setting my little picture in the settings. I gave myself glasses and a happy smile. Then I played around with the stepping activities for a bit. I was quite uncoordinated the first time. There is a reason I stopped dancing lessons as a child. And then I sat down again because no matter how old and unfit I am there was no way I going to miss Tony Martin and Ross Noble. I am naturally a lazy, non-athletic person so we'll see how this new exercising lark goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

gushing I know....

Where's Wendy? I'm sure this is question you've all be asking yourself as you obsessively check The Spiralling Shape to see if I've managed to write a new post in the last two weeks. My apologies. I have no single excuse. Life is getting hectic with a week until the end of term, an assignment of my own to finish (for which I now have a much needed extension..thank you kind lecturer), wrapping up the Eisteddfod, teaching the piano, blah blah blah.

Television wise I have been delighted with Angry Boys and expressed as much in the link below last week. Last night's episode was even tighter and more astute.

I simply cannot express how much of a genius I believe Chris Lilley to be. If he never makes any more television he will have already done more for Australian television than most. Yes, gushing, I know. I shall stop now.

Just now, I had another piece pop up. The link is below. As a regional television viewer I took umbrage when I found out about the Nine/WIN divide that occurred in Monday evening's scheduling. I must credit our local paper for alerting me to this yesterday. Monday evenings I go to choir so I was unaware of the late change that had been made. Read on.

Exercise wise this week saw the my return to the netball court after some 25 years. The last time I played netball I was in primary school. I cannot remember the last time I ran anywhere voluntarily. It was great though. I scored 3 goals out of 5. However, my body is now paying for this sudden, unexpected exertion. I feel like I have done 100 situps and my knees are creaking when I go up and down the stairs. I am what they might call "very unfit". I plan to start remedying this sad situation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

the end of a little era

The Bundaberg Music Eisteddfod is over for another year. I spent the weekend sleeping in a bid to recover from a hectic week. For the last 10 years I have taken on the official position of "music coordinator" on the Eisteddfod committee. This year I decided that I had done enough and finally made the decision to step down. I will continue to be involved with my students, perhaps some accompanying and a little bit of volunteering during the week, but no longer will I be responsible for getting out the schedule of competition, timetabling the venues and sessions, photocopying the program, taking it to the music stores for sale, monitoring our email account and answering numerous queries from music teachers, parents and students. I also won't have to look after a week's worth of prize money, ferry adjudicators from venue to venue all week, organise the start of most sessions and fill in at the last moment when volunteers don't arrive. There will be much less lugging of boxes of music and folders up and down stairs, and more enjoying of the music. It's the end of a little era for me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

That all sounds very grand....

Yesterday afternoon I "launched" my book. That sounds all very grand doesn't it. It wasn't really. I was determined it wouldn't be. I don't really like being the centre of attention and didn't want any of my kind friends and colleagues who attended to feel obliged to buy a copy. Instead, I decided to chat about the process of publication (very briefly!) and then chat about TV comedy. So that is what we did and it was lots of fun. We also had cheese, crackers, wine, tea, coffee and little cakes. In a slightly unfortunate turn of events someone (NOT ME) had tipped off the local paper so my photo may well appear in the auspicious pages of the News Mail at some point. Until, then you will have to make do with these photos of my book.

Afterwards, I raced home because I was late for a accompanying rehearsal with a double bass student who is playing in the Eisteddfod tomorrow. Then I ordered Thai takeaway, drank some of the wine that I had commandeered from the leftovers at the "launch" and settled in to watch an actual grand event on the telly. I finished the evening with a massive headache and went to bed. I certainly know how to party.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here we go eisteddfodding

It's been a delightful Easter break, filled with slothfulness, rocky road, and some writing and assignmenting. Mainly however there has been slothfulness of varying types including watching televsion, watching films, reading and sleeping. This morning is a special day because I was out of bed before 8:30. Needless to say I am not particularly looking forward to the return of the work routine tomorrow morning. That is in the future though so I will ignore it for now. The only busy day was Friday which was filled with Eisteddfodding in Maryborough. Choir went down to compete in two sections - the Sacred Choral contest and the Open Madrigal Section. We are small in comparison to most of the other choirs who take at least 5 minutes to all get on the stage and seem to number almost 100 singers. That's more than double our size. And no matter how much talk there is of, "doing your best" "winning isn't important" etc etc everyone secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wants to win. Some of the conductors take it VERY seriously, particularly in their choreographed conducting style which is sometimes quite amusing. The accompanists also appear very self-important appearing on the stage during the madrigal section simply to dong out the starting notes for the singers. We don't do that as our conductor uses a tuning fork and quietly and unobtrusively gives the notes for each part. This is much more classy in my opinion. I caught up with some Maryborough/Hervey Bay friends who I hadn't seen in years which was lovely and we were all home and tucked up in bed by midnight.
Oh yes, and we were Highly Commended in both our sections. I nearly forgot!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


On Sunday afternoon I had the absolute joy of watching a documentary about the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. To my shame, despite actually studying classical piano at university some years ago, I had not engaged with Gould's recordings much before. I was aware of his star power, the legends of his Bach recordings, but apart from that he had not been among the big, famous pianists that we were exposed in our piano classes or musicology sessions. Those were the pianists from a generation before - Ashkenzy, Horowitz, Richter, Rubinstein, Arrau, etc (you get the picture). Modern men like Gould, with his idiosyncratic interpretations of Bach and others were off the agenda. Now, some twenty years later I am disappointed it has taken me so long to hear the beauty of his playing. His articulation of Bach in particular is quite unusual but once you hear it you can't imagine why anyone would play it any other way. His personal life was a difficult one, perhaps, the documentary implied, because of autistic tendencies. He certainly was obsessive about his health, as the pages of hourly records of his blood pressure and notations about many other ailments demonstrate. He also made the unusual move of leaving the concert platform behind at a very young age (31) and focussed instead on recording, radio documentaries and exploring his philosophy of music and art. His commitment to these things was inspiring. The fact that he died of a stroke at the age of 50 in 1982 seems cruel. The music he made lives on. Here's a little taste:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rant complete

Here's my rant for Monday morning.

With every good intention of turning over a new leaf of exercise and well being I got up half an hour earlier in order to fit in both meditation and exercise. Tick. Yay for me.

Then I stupidly returned to my usual routine of breakfast accompanied by the internet. The following delightful emails were waiting for me. 1. An explicable email from the university's promotions person saying that had not received anything from me re promoting our program AFTER I HAD SENT A LONG EMAIL LAST THURSDAY. 2. An email from a student who, due to his religious beliefs he will be absent for approximately ten days and you know, "we'll still be able to contact him while he's away" etc etc. Like heck we will. 3. Rejection of abstract. Very nicely worded and encouraging but nonetheless they don't want it. Am I setting my sights to high? Am I kidding myself that I have any time to give the mental energy to research? Should I chuck the whole thing in? You know, the usual thoughts. 4. My grandmother is in the hospital (note: this was a telephone call not an email). There is nothing visibly or physically wrong with her. This is a recurring event. 5. The email about the flyer for my book launch is still sitting there. If I wait for it to "go through marketing" there is every chance that the launch will be over before the "approved flyer" returns. Given the fact that the university contributed nothing towards the publication of the book I don't see why I should I have to rely on their marketing approval. So I won't be. I shall make and print my own flyer and hand/email to anyone I like. 6. Email from music shop. "We've run out of Music Eisteddfod Programs". Yes, lovely. Because just what I feel like doing today at work, in between preparing and teaching a class on annotated bibliographies, dealing with staff and student problems, finalising my marking, liaising with the library regarding our information literacy sessions and other unexpected delights, is to stand at the photocopier and make some more booklets.

Rant complete.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

tonight at Wendy's

Did I tell you how much I enjoyed Tony Martin's A Quiet Word with Alan Davies last Saturday night? Probably not. Well, anyway, I really did. Mr Martin's interviewing skills were lovely, in an easy-going chit chat kind of way, without the slight smuggishness that so characterised Andrew Denton's more recent work. He was always my favourite on The Late Show. What I mean is, (unlike Mr Denton) it didn't sound like he was showing off when he asked his questions, even though he had clearly done some research. I thought he set a delightful mood. Tonight, he interviews one of my heroes, Rhys Darby (aka Murray Hewitt) from New Zealand. That's right....Band Meeting...Present. If you didn't watch it last week, then watch it tonight. Of course, I am slightly conflicted because Rockwiz is on at the same time, but my dear people that is what a dvd recorder that can record two channels at once is for. I save Rockwiz as a special treat for later on.

Last night I fell asleep during New Tricks. I'm sure it wasn't the quality of the program. I was tired. I managed to stay awake through Miranda - which has grown on me upon second viewing. Sadly, last night was the final episode. And please don't judge me, but tonight I am recording "He Just not that into you" or whatever the heck that film is called. Because, there was no way I was paying money at the cinema or video shop to watch, but now that it is free I feel I can give some of hard drive space to it and fast forward through the bad, boring parts. We all need to watch some ordinariness now and then, otherwise how would we tell what we really enjoy?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

sadly, no chorus or jazz hands

So yesterday was Monday and what a Monday it was. Firstly, it was long. I was at work from 8:30 until 8pm. Then I went to choir and got home at 10. My tasks at work included some mild procrastinating, emails,marking, making a powerpoint slide, fixing a presentation for yesterday evening, giving a presentation yesterday evening at the "Research Showcase" (sadly, no chorus line or jazz hands, although I did crack some jokes which some people smiled kindly at), mingling and "engaging with members of the community" - mostly sciencey, agriculture people - you can only imagine how interested they were in a television studies research person who talked to them about critically reflecting on one's own practice as an educator to identify the assumptions which frames one's work. Safe to say, no-one came and asked questions of me at the end. The upside of this was that I could enjoy the food which for once was not the usual dire buffet of finger food one finds at such events. There was also wine although I did not partake of it because I had to speak, and then I had to go and sing and play the piano. When I got to choir late they were singing Streets of London. It really is a very pretty song. And then we practised our music for the Eisteddfod. We have a pre-Eisteddfod concert on Sunday. I am now singing first alto in the unaccompanied Sacred piece, and tenor in the madrigals. The tenor line goes just a little bit low in some places for my "range" (posh musical term for the highest and lowest notes I can sing with ease). For instance the F and E below Middle C are a little bit of a stretch. Still, madrigals are so much fun to sing and the tenor often has a great part. Then we finished with our accompanied Sacred piece, a short bouncy chorus from Judas Maccabeus by Handel. So I played the piano for that. My happy music mood was soured slightly by an officious email from an Eisteddfod committee member. I hate getting those kind of emails any time, but late at night is even more frustrating as it interrupts my sleep. Still, I have replied in professional manner this morning and there it lies.
Welcome Tuesday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear iPhone

Dear iPhone
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your many months of trusty morning alarm/wake-up service. I rely on you to disturb me from my slumber, and keep disturbing me as I lazily press snooze, until I actually manage to get out of bed and put my feet on the floor. Without you I would be late more often than not. However, this morning I think can both agree that there was a repeat of an unpleasant incident regarding the end of daylight saving where somehow you took it upon yourself to wake me an hour earlier than usual. I thought we had solved this problem but upon checking your settings you seemed to have strayed off Brisbane time. So as "Piano Riff" blared into my shadowy bedroom, I stirred from a dream thinking..."goodness the mornings are closing in"...but no! It was only 5:40am, even though your time said it was 6:40am. So in the nearly dark I pressed a few buttons and reset you back to Queensland time. And then I lay awake for an hour, trying to go back to sleep. It didn't work.
Don't do it again
Kind regards

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the dreaded double u-turn

I caught up on last week's Amazing Race just in time for the next episode tomorrow night. I was not particularly sad to cheerleaders Jamie and Cara eliminated. However, it was the shocking behaviour at the double u-turn that was most delightful. My favourite dating goths, Kent and Vyxsin u-turned Jamie and Cara right in front of them! Awesome moment until Jamie and Cara then u-turned the Harlem Globetrotters who are somewhat inexplicably called Flight Time and Big Easy. I am guessing these are not the names on their birth certificates. Father and daughter Ron and Christina continued to bicker through the challenges. And the other father and daughter team of Gary and Mallory (who is like an excitable, squealing small animal) were so full of good cheer and humour they were unbelievable. Sisters Jen and Kisha, mother and son, Margie and Luke just got on with business. They are all impressive competitors. The Cowboys Jet and Cord (again with the names!) managed to keep their hats on and not run last for a change. And Zev and Justin only just scraped through. Meanwhile, the dinosaur challenge sorted the wheat from the chaff. And that chaff was the cheerleaders. Finally I'd like to shout out a special mention to Channel Seven for showing a promo for tomorrow night's episode that gave away who was about to be eliminated. Good work indeed.

barely pausing for procrastination

It's been an uneventful Saturday. Beginning with the weekend ritual of breakfast at Indulge, I dragged myself out of bed, showered and wandered out the front door by 7:30. It was worth the scrambled eggs and bacon which are the yummiest ever. Breakfast was accompanied by perusal of the local paper, mainly to check the birth and death notices and other such cheery reading. Next stop, Woolworths for the groceries. Here's a tip for young players. If you get there between 8 and 8:30 the shop is nearly empty. That's right, grocery shopping is almost an enjoyable experience. I ran into a lady from work and we both talked about the bad news of a colleague who this week was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Very sad indeed. Then it was time to race groceries home, dump them all over the kitchen and after throwing the cold things into the fridge and freezer, next stop meditation. Peaceful and clearly somewhat motivating, as I came home and barely paused for procrastination before finishing all the washing and cleaning the house. I rewarded myself for this mighty feat with a cheese sandwich, some giant purple grapes and a cup of French Early Grey Tea (leaves not a bag). It's tremendously refreshing and strange that I like it given that I don't like the English Earl Grey at all. After all that racing about and vacuuming and such I decided twas time for a little rest. I had barely sat on the lounge before my eyes were drooping shut. So I let them. I woke up and looked blearily at the clock on the kitchen wall and thought "Oh My Goodness I have slept until 5:15". So I got up and got busy again washing up the dishes and other bits and pieces until I noticed it was only 4:15. I'd had my own little daylight saving moment of confusion. I could have had more of the sleeping. So I sat down again and read for an hour which was most pleasant. It was the first time since my Kindle arrived on Thursday that I had a proper chance to play with it. I decided I will not allow myself to ever have more than two unread books on it. We shall see how long that lasts. I started The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Do. And there is a Jasper Fforde in the queue. This does not count magazines and newspapers of course. Of course!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Up and down

It's coming up to Easter which means one thing in the land of choral singing round these parts. That's right...the Queensland Eisteddfod which this year is being held in Maryborough. So, for the Bundaberg Orpheus Singers is just down the road. We are entering the Sacred Choral and Madrigal section where the classic little ditty above is the set piece. I love it. It's fun too because being unaccompanied I get to sing and I have chosen to sit with the tenors. It's high in their range and low for me.

Our own choice is Rest Sweet Nymphs which is very beautiful also. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We need some dreamers

For the first time in weeks I have not had to do "work" on a weekend (unless we count replying to email) so I have been able to do some TV watching catchup from my DVD recorder. Last night I went retro with Pie in the Sky which I will never cease to adore. I still have an Annie Liebovitz documentary from weeks ago, Brick Lane, all three episodes of Strike Back and La Vie en Rose from last night on SBS to make my way through. However, today I felt like a documentary about the 1960s in America so I watched Roads to Memphis all about the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the story of his assassin James Earl Ray. It seemed peculiarly pertinent that I watch this as it connects directly with some of the topics for discussion that have been popping up in class. In the first few weeks of term we introduce our students to the idea of genre, use of language for particular audiences and purposes, the difference between writing and verbal speech etc. Two of the examples we provide always provoke a lot of discussion and this year was no different. First we give them an excerpt from Dr King's "I have a dream" and this is followed by Lincoln's Gettysburg address. While it is fascinating to see the varying levels of awareness of these cultural figures, it is also interesting that the students engage with the writings so readily even if they don't know very much about either Lincoln or King (I blame the current education system but that's another story). We talk about the language they use, who are they speaking to, why do they choose particular words, phrases, do we think they are effective in getting their messages across. In some ways, for students to answer these questions its helpful if they have no prior or contextual knowledge until after the discussion; that way they take the writing on its own merit. Anyway, it's always a lesson I enjoy and it often filters through into many classes that follow.

Watching Roads to Memphis this afternoon I was reminded of how far we haven't come in many ways. A similar point was hammered home to me when I used John Lennon's Imagine in class for reflection last week - giving the students the song lyrics to reflect on the message. Nothing has changed. In fact with the ongoing turmoil throughout the world constantly bombarding us on the news, Lennon's song seemed even more poignant. Sure, call him naive, a dreamer, but without the dreamers the world would be a poorer place. (embedding is disabled so you'll have to click on the link)

A fellow lecturer was keen to use some Bob Dylan as well for similar reasons. And with the connections between everything suddenly seemed very clear. And sad. I don't really keep up with current music these days...well that is I don't listen to Triple J or any other commercial radio. Who are the equivalent songwriters writing protest songs, songs of political comment - for me over the past decade it's been Wilco, Billy Bragg and the like. Bring them forward. I think we need some decent dreamers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Isn't it wonderful....

Isn't it wonderful when you wake up in the morning and realise that it's Saturday? No work.
No need to talk to people if you don't want to.
Cups of tea and coffee when and how you like them.
The fresh smell of washing powder wafting through the house as you do your weekly laundry.
Restocking the fridge with groceries and throwing out all the stuff you didn't eat last week.
Cooking up a big lamb curry and freezing it in meal size portions so cooking over the next few weeks is not a chore.
Faffing about on the internet.
Catching up on the telly you recorded during the week.
Looking forward to lying on the lounge in the afternoon pretending you are going to read a book but knowing this is a lie you tell yourself so you can have a nap.

Enjoying the peace and quiet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Go dating goths...GO!

It was my usual Tuesday evening slothed in front of the TV catching up on things I had recorded. Watching a repeat of Bones for the want of anything better on the real television, I was delighted to catch a cameo from Kent and Vyxsin, the "Dating Goths" from The Amazing Race. Kent had even more makeup on than usual, and Vyxsin's hair was very pink. Kent got to do some fabulous overacting in a scene at an auction at a scifi/fantasy convention. I am currently watch them disintegrate on The Amazing Race which is playing Sunday evenings on one of Channel Seven's extra channels. I would love for them to win, but after this Sunday's episode it looks like they "may be eliminated".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011


I see from my twitter feed that Whites only made it through one series before being canned. Now it looks like there is a movement to get it renewed again. After accidentally watching last night's episode on the ABC I'm not sure why, because it just wasn't really that funny. This is a shame because with cooking shows and celebrity chefs taking over our television schedules there sure is room for a biting comedy about them. Mix Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and that guy with the cravat together and there's a character I could watch with interest. Anyway, it makes me sad that Whites was so....ordinary...because I love Alan Davies. He was perfect in Jonathon Creek and lovely on QI. And Katherine Parkinson from the IT Crowd is fantastic as well but here she just seemed to be playing a poor imitation of Jen. The crafty little apprentice storyline was all just a little obvious and tired. The best thing was Maggie Steed as snobby diner from hell. Here's an actress who knows how to make the best of a ornery job.
I just don't know that I will tune in again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ramblin' through the week

This is just a little ramble through my week. Teaching is going well, but as a colleague and I discussed this afternoon we have to cram a whole heap of skills and content into the first month of the term to get our students to the first assignment. This makes for lots of preparation, lots of reading for the students, and classes which are go go go. I have managed to keep up with my study readings and started on my assignment. This weekend will be all about evaluating and posters.

Apart from that, my piano students on Wednesday afternoon are absolutely delightful. The youngest is racing ahead through his book in leaps and bounds. For the last two weeks he has arrived with at least one, if not two, extra pieces ready to "surprise" me with. And the determination of my two adult students is admirable and inspiring.

Tuesday we were grilled at work in a series of meetings with an external consultant who has been employed to do a review of preparatory programs and support services at uni. I think what he might have found that there are many issues which feed into the uni's high undergrad attrition rates...many of them in the undergrad faculties and programs. Unfortunately, that might not be within the scope of his review. I had a lot to say and I said it. Let's face it, you usually only get one chance with these things so I went for it...very politely.

TV wise I have been studiously avoiding the news. Not because I am not gravely concerned and saddened by recent events, but such is the power of seeing it over and over again on the telly that it all gets too much. Instead, I have continued my love affair with cheesy sitcoms, watching Scrubs every night on one of the Channel Seven repeat stations. Tonight, I am going to catch up with Big Love from last night, and then watch either Pie in the Sky, The Amazing Race or All Creatures Great and Small. I am recording 30 Rock as well as some program that sounds mildly interesting about the High Street in the "olden days" on the ABC at 8:30. I enjoyed David Attenborough on Sunday evening. I also watched Bones although I am sick and tired of Channel Seven stuffing around with random repeats. I mean really, a couple of weeks we see The Gravedigger get her head shot off outside the courthouse and then last Sunday, we discover who she is. Stop it! Still, the science-magic is all very gobbledygooky and entertaining. It makes me feel smarter when I watch it, even though I don't understand what they're talking about, I still manage to follow what's happening. That's quite a writing feat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not romantic or funny

Last night I watched 27 Dresses, just to see what I might have missed when it was at the movies. The answer to that question is nothing. Sure, I like James Marsden and Judy Greer and the guy from 30 Rock whose name I can't remember. I don't watch Gray's Anatomy so the appeal of Katherine Heigl is lost on me. And really, is Ed Burns that hard up for a gig these days that he had to take a crap, one-dimensional part in this film? It seems so.

It was just what I expected, or even a little bit less. Lots of stereotyping of romance, love and gender. There was the potential for it to be a little bit subversive but they went for the happily ever after ending which all in all was a little bit sick-making. Overall, it made me feel old, cynical and not at all inclined to watch another so called romantic comedy ever again. Unless someone can recommend a decent one made in the last five years.