Saturday, December 31, 2011

New songs on a Saturday morning (311-320)

It's actually Saturday morning! I flicked on the TV this morning (our brand new Christmas TV) and found the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Concert hosted by Helen Mirren and Rosario Dawson. Had a little cry during the speeches of the three miraculous women laureates who shared the prize this year as well as during a few of the songs. Each laureate got to choose an artist/song, so some of the choices were more inspiring than others.

311. Ellie Goulding - 'Your Song' - It's a cover, obviously, but I wept like a baby.
312. David Gray - 'Fugitive' - Always loved this man's strange voice.
313. Jill Scott - 'Hate on Me' - Had only known this woman as an actress but her songs are up there.
314. Angelique Kidjo - 'Africa'.
315. Sugarland - 'Tonight' - Fantastic voice. Something very Annie Lennox/Dave Stewart here, but with more shades of Melissa Etheridge.
316. Sugarland - 'Stuck Like Glue'.
317. Ahmed Fathi (with Norweigan Radio Orchestra) - 'The Good Spirits' - Yemeni artist.
318. Bernhoft - 'C'mon Talk' - Awesome, with a little Sam Sparrow thrown in.
319. Janelle Monae - 'Cold War' - Fairly sure I've had this in my New Songs list before, but certainly not this version.
320. All artists - 'Move on Up' - Rasario Dawson's voice was a pleasant surprise!

Friday, December 30, 2011

"The difficult we do now..."

I think about this picture more and more often the closer I get to giving birth.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Songs on a weekday morning (291-310)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

Okay, it's been weeks and weeks since I posted one of these. Saturday mornings have been a little hectic but I've still been collecting songs that I've heard and writing bands names and lyrics on scraps of paper to look up later. Today I'm sorting through all those bits and pieces so I can empty out my diary for the year.

291. The Black Keys - 'Lonely Boy' - Love the guitar in this; not so sure about the guy dancing.
292. The Black Keys - 'Tighten Up'.
293. Friends - 'I'm His Girl' - Best part is the tinkly bell dancing round the melody.
294. Veronica Falls - 'Bad Feeling' - meh.
295. Imogen Heap - 'Earth' - catchy, sweet (live at Glastonbury).
296. Imogen Heap - 'Between the Sheets'.
297. Art vs. Science - 'Parlez-vous Francais' - awesome video.
298. Lana Del Rey - 'Born to Die' - If this woman smiled her face would break.
299. Ash Koley - 'Apple of My Eye' - Had high hopes in the first 10 seconds then they just crept back down after that. Disappointed.
300. feat. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez - 'T.H.E (The Hardest Ever)' - WTF?! Weird-arse mash of beats and voices.

Monday, December 5, 2011

52 Poems (weeks 37 & 38)

I'm not sure where the week goes. I have best intentions to do my 52 Poems entry with a found poem, a read poem or a sugested poem, but somehow I keep losing weeks. So, again, it's a double dose week - last week's poem and one for this week as well.  

Week 37

I hadn't known that Charlotte Bronte had also written poems. I should have guessed, as what else would the lonely girl who writes Jane Eyre do with her life but write in whatever form she needed, what else would the sister of writer sisters do but write? This is 'The Letter'.
What is she writing? Watch her now,
How fast her fingers move !
How eagerly her youthful brow
Is bent in thought above !
Her long curls, drooping, shade the light,
She puts them quick aside,
Nor knows, that band of crystals bright,
Her hasty touch untied.
It slips adown her silken dress,
Falls glittering at her feet;
Unmarked it falls, for she no less
Pursues her labour sweet.

The very loveliest hour that shines,
Is in that deep blue sky;
The golden sun of June declines,
It has not caught her eye.
The cheerful lawn, and unclosed gate,
The white road, far away,
In vain for her light footsteps wait,
She comes not forth to-day.
There is an open door of glass
Close by that lady's chair,
From thence, to slopes of mossy grass,
Descends a marble stair.

Tall plants of bright and spicy bloom
Around the threshold grow;
Their leaves and blossoms shade the room,
From that sun's deepening glow.
Why does she not a moment glance
Between the clustering flowers,
And mark in heaven the radiant dance
Of evening's rosy hours ?
O look again ! Still fixed her eye,
Unsmiling, earnest, still,
And fast her pen and fingers fly,
Urged by her eager will.

Her soul is in th' absorbing task;
To whom, then, doth she write ?
Nay, watch her still more closely, ask
Her own eyes' serious light;
Where do they turn, as now her pen
Hangs o'er th' unfinished line ?
Whence fell the tearful gleam that then
Did in their dark spheres shine ?
The summer-parlour looks so dark,
When from that sky you turn,
And from th' expanse of that green park,
You scarce may aught discern.

Yet o'er the piles of porcelain rare,
O'er flower-stand, couch, and vase,
Sloped, as if leaning on the air,
One picture meets the gaze.
'Tis there she turns; you may not see
Distinct, what form defines
The clouded mass of mystery
Yon broad gold frame confines.
But look again; inured to shade
Your eyes now faintly trace
A stalwart form, a massive head,
A firm, determined face.

Black Spanish locks, a sunburnt cheek,
A brow high, broad, and white,
Where every furrow seems to speak
Of mind and moral might.
Is that her god ? I cannot tell;
Her eye a moment met
Th' impending picture, then it fell
Darkened and dimmed and wet.
A moment more, her task is done,
And sealed the letter lies;
And now, towards the setting sun
She turns her tearful eyes.

Those tears flow over, wonder not,
For by the inscription, see
In what a strange and distant spot
Her heart of hearts must be !
Three seas and many a league of land
That letter must pass o'er,
E'er read by him to whose loved hand
'Tis sent from England's shore.
Remote colonial wilds detain
Her husband, loved though stern;
She, 'mid that smiling English scene,
Weeps for his wished return.

Week 38

In 1998, I lived in the UK and worked for a family that had a very strange CD and book collection. In amongst the shelves I would raid regularly, I found a copy of one of Rod McKuen's Christmas poem books, dating back to the 60s or 70s when all the young bankers were still buying hippy books and hadn't completely closed their hearts to contemporary culture. Not sure which one, but I scribbled down some of the poems and have them stashed away on yellowing paper somewhere. So in the spirit of the Christmas season, I've looked up another. And given Rod is alive and well (or at least, his website indicates as much), what is below is only a small portion of 'Gift Without Strings'.
...Though I give you only words
to unravel on this Christmas day
and words may not seem
such a pretty present,
if you let them work for you
one day you'll thank me
with a shining smile
brighter than the one I'm sending
                         out and over
to your young face now.

Watching the bump (35 weeks)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Touch of the OCDs

Lovely Husband has a mild, self-diagnosed, case of the OCDs. His manifests in piles of things: short stacks that must be perfectly square and aligned. What is interesting to me is that there are many stacks, not just one single tall pile. That brain of his, I love it so but I don't understand it.

While cleaning out my bookmarks list, I found a link to 'Things Organised Neatly' on another website that I hadn't visited for a few months. Some of these photos would certainly appeal to Lovely Husband, but I'm not sure if I should show him or not.

 Photo source: Things Organized Neatly

The indignities

Hello fat sausage fingers; goodbye wedding ring.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

52 Poems (week 35 & 36)

Week 35

I've somehow become a fan of Oscar Wilde without ever really reading any Oscar Wilde. I just hear snippets and intertextual references and love him by default. But having read some of his poems, including this one 'The Harlot's House', perhaps I like him even more.

We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot's house.
Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss.
Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.
We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.
Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.
The took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.
Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.
Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.
Then, turning to my love, I said,
"The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust."
But she--she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.
Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.
And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.

Week 36

Okay, so this poem from Alice in Wonderland is technically part of a novel, but I think it still counts as a Lewis Carroll poem. There was a quote from it at the front of a novel I was reading so I searched it out. The last line is a bit of a problem because Alice is interrupted in her recitation by the Mock Turtle, but the ending is generally assumed to be "...eating the owl"

'Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
"You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair."
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark;
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.
I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon;
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by ---

The indignities

Several times in the last few months I've startled Lovely Husband awake with my agonised groans and gasps, clutching at my calf muscle as another leg cramp hits. I had talked to the midwives and the pharmicist and was upping my dairy intake (for the calcium) and taking a magnesium supplment to try and prevent them. I hadn't had another since starting this regime last month but this morning, I got jolted awake with that familiar feeling again. My calf muscle was bulging and was probably the most well defined it's ever been. And now it'll be sore for a day or two. Sigh.

Photo source: calf muscle

Watching the bump (33 weeks)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Watching the bump (32 weeks)

The Sweet-pea wilds

A week lost to the hospital system

I had good intentions and post planned and then Lovely Husband announced his only plan last Saturday was to go to the Emergency Department of the local hospital. Okay, it wasn't so much a verbal announcement as it was perhaps the interpretive dance of his writhing on the bed in agony. I spent six hours on an uncomfortable plastic chair next to his bedside while they kept him topped up with pain medication and ummed and ahhhed about what was actually wrong with him. Finally (and after six months, really, of misdiagnosis), a surgeon was called in to consult: "off with his gall bladder". He was admitted that night for further scans and surgery in the morning. I bought a weekly pass for the parking lot, which turned out to be highly prescient, given they kept him in a state of Nil By Mouth and doped to the eyeballs on endone and morphine for four days before the scheduling of both the surgeon and the operating theatres collided. I spent the days at work then traipsing off to his ward to wait on the surgeon who never came, to wait for the operation that never came, each evening. Finally, finally, they pulled that sucker out. I know, because I watched the video.




Saturday, November 5, 2011

New songs on a Saturday morning (281-290)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

Someone in my mum-to-be group posted this video, and oh man, it made me a little teary. Our little bubs is a boy but it still gets me, right there.

281. Ed Sheeran - 'Small Bump' (Acoustic). Love his cute ranga joke.
282. Ed Sheeran - 'You need me, I don't need you' - Had a listen to a few of his other songs after seeing the one above and really dig the accent of his singing voice. Also love the simpler songs.
283. Ed Sheeran - 'The A-Team'.
284. Ed Sheeran - 'Little Lady'.
285. Ed Sheeran - 'Wayfaring Stranger' - fantastic!
286. Johnny Cash - 'Wayfaring Stranger' - also fantastic.
287. We Are Augustines - 'Chapel Song' - pretty average and uninspiring.
288. We Are Augustines - 'Book of James' - similar to the one before but somehow much better. Weird.
289. Bombay Cycle Club - 'Lights Out, Words Gone' - sweet, simple.
290. Neil Young - 'Long May You Run' - caught this during the week and it stuck with me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

52 Poems (week 34)

There are posters around for the new movie Anonymous, so I thought a little Marlowe was appropriate. Even more appropriate was the poem title, 'I Must Have Wanton Poets'.

I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please:
Music and poetry is his delight;
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay;
Sometime a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Crownets of pearl about his naked arms,
And in his sportful hands an olive-tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transform'd,
And running in the likeness of an hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die:
Such things as these best please his majesty.

Picture source: Marlowe

Friday, October 28, 2011

52 Poems (week 33)

LM Montgomery's Kilmeny of the Orchard was a favourite book of mine as a young adult, and there's a short excerpt of James Hogg's poem, 'Kilmeny', at the start of the little novel. I've only just read the whole poem, all 330 lines worth, and you can hear Hogg's Scottish burr all the way through. Reading it aloud is more fun than it should be - and with a belly full of babe, or wee bairn as the case may be, it was a nice little bonding moment.

Because the poem's so long, I've only excerpted the final stanzas.

With distant music, soft and deep, 
They lull'd Kilmeny sound asleep; 
And when she awaken'd, she lay her lane, 
All happ'd with flowers, in the green-wood wene. 
When seven lang years had come and fled, 
When grief was calm, and hope was dead; 
When scarce was remember'd Kilmeny's name, 
Late, late in a gloamin' Kilmeny came hame! 
And O, her beauty was fair to see, 
But still and steadfast was her e'e! 
Such beauty bard may never declare, 
For there was no pride nor passion there; 
And the soft desire of maiden's e'en 
In that mild face could never be seen. 
Her seymar was the lily flower, 
And her cheek the moss-rose in the shower; 
And her voice like the distant melodye, 
That floats along the twilight sea. 
But she loved to raike the lanely glen, 
And keepèd afar frae the haunts of men; 
Her holy hymns unheard to sing, 
To suck the flowers, and drink the spring. 
But wherever her peaceful form appear'd, 
The wild beasts of the hill were cheer'd; 
The wolf play'd blythly round the field, 
The lordly byson low'd and kneel'd; 
The dun deer woo'd with manner bland, 
And cower'd aneath her lily hand. 
And when at even the woodlands rung, 
When hymns of other worlds she sung 
In ecstasy of sweet devotion, 
O, then the glen was all in motion! 
The wild beasts of the forest came, 
Broke from their bughts and faulds the tame,
And goved around, charm'd and amazed; 
Even the dull cattle croon'd and gazed, 
And murmur'd and look'd with anxious pain 
For something the mystery to explain. 
The buzzard came with the throstle-cock; 
The corby left her houf in the rock; 
The blackbird alang wi' the eagle flew; 
The hind came tripping o'er the dew; 
The wolf and the kid their raike began, 
And the tod, and the lamb, and the leveret ran;
The hawk and the hern attour them hung, 
And the merle and the mavis forhooy'd their young; 
And all in a peaceful ring were hurl'd; 
It was like an eve in a sinless world! 
When a month and a day had come and gane.
Kilmeny sought the green-wood wene; 
There laid her down on the leaves sae green, 
And Kilmeny on earth was never mair seen. 
But O, the words that fell from her mouth 
Were words of wonder, and words of truth!
But all the land were in fear and dread, 
For they kendna whether she was living or dead. 
It wasna her hame, and she couldna remain; 
She left this world of sorrow and pain, 
And return'd to the land of thought again.


Lovely Husband and I finally remembered our wedding anniversary... and it only took five years of marriage.

Five years ago, Lovely Husband and I eloped to a park on a hill by the sea. People walking past and park-dwellers clapped when we kissed. We were married by a family friend who doubles as a Baptist minister when he's not surfing. His lovely wife (and one of the sweetest women on earth), Mrs D, witnessed, took photos and put together a little platter of treats.

I wore a green dress and Lovely Husband wore green shorts. We both wore thongs, that we kicked off after when we had photos taken on the green, green grass.

Four weeks later, we had a party in a different park, without the view of the sea but with all our family and friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

End of semester workspace

Sweet-peas from bud to glass


52 Poems (week 32)

Found this lovely slice of life poem via Dooce. Because Tony Hoagland is alive and well, and I'm not chasing him or his publisher down for copyright permissions - I've excerpted only a few lines from the poems, but they're lovely and should be read in full, so follow the links to a site that does have the kind permission to reprint.


She goes out to hang the windchime
in her nightie and her work boots...

Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work...
 There's something extraordinarily ordinary about the first peom and I mean that in the sense thatit's an ordinary moment captured beautifully, rather than a beautiful moment captured in an ordinary way. The second poem is more fragmented and stream of consciousness that I normally like, but there a snippets of observation that pull it back from full-on wankery.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bird Cloud

I picked up a copy of this months ago when I went to see Annie Proulx talk in town. It's taken me a while to pick it up again as there's been a mountainload of other pleasure-related and work-related reading to do. But over the weekend, I threw myself in and rollicked through the first half, which was heavy on the house-building. The second half, full of recounted history and geography of the area, was a lead weight that I had to force myself to drag to the last page. The last chapter on watching birds was especially dull - a cut and paste job from a diary if I've ever read one, with none of the charm of the characters that inhabited the building sections. Sure the bald and golden eagles show up often, but there's nothing about them that speaks of anything interesting. Build the nest, protect the nest, ride the air currants, repeat.

Now I'm at a loss for what to read next. I want to reach back into my shelf for a comfort read, but am also holding out on the hope that my book depository order comes winging its way to me soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The indignities

At my midwife appointment today, I asked about Braxton Hicks while the woman was measuring my fundus. When did they start; what are they meant to feel like? "Love," she says. "You're having one now."

This pregnancy has highlighted to me, more than ever before, that my body will do its own thing whether I'm aware of it or not, whether I'm willing for it to happen or not. Also, there's nothing like a widwife to make you feel like an idiot.

52 Weeks (weeks 29, 30 & 31)

Holidays, busy-ness and pregnancy fatigure - those are my excuses for not posting. Funnily enough, I did read some poetry - just never got around to posting it... so this is a big poetry dump to make sure I'm still on target for my 52 week project.

Week 29

I was thinking about this poem, about the iconic scene from the 1982 movie actually, and realised I'd never read the whole thing. I have the opening lines playing around and around in my head, and if I pulled out a magnifying glass I can see a few stanzas on the ten dollar note. Banjo Paterson's 'The Man from Snowy River' - what a strange Australian classic (excerpted here):
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred."

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."...

...When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent...
 Week 30

In week 30, I read a few of Jack Kerouac's poems. The one I had initially chosen was 'The Hitchhiker' but because I'm fairly Jack hasn't been dead long enough, it's still copyrighted and can't be excerpted in full. It's also so short, that I'm not sure how many words I could get away with here, so go find it, internet people, and read it.

Week 31

And finally, I read some Rossetti, Dante Gabriel this time, although I suspect I might prefer Christina. The title, 'Boken Music', got me in.
The mother will not turn, who thinks she hears
Her nursling's speech first grow articulate;
But breathless with averted eyes elate
She sits, with open lips and open ears,
That it may call her twice. 'Mid doubts and fears
Thus oft my soul has hearkened; till the song,
A central moan for days, at length found tongue,
And the sweet music welled and the sweet tears.

But now, whatever while the soul is fain
To list that wonted murmur, as it were
The speech-bound sea-shell's low importunate strain, -
No breath of song, thy voice alone is there,
O bitterly beloved! and all her gain
Is but the pang of unpermitted prayer.
 Photo source: Paterson; Kerouac

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lovely Husband

Lovely Husband had this waiting on my desk for for me after the first day back at work, post-holiday.  While we were gone, these had blossomed:

Strange holiday snaps

It was both a strange holiday and a strange collection of holiday snaps.All I have are hospitals and dogs.



Just about sums it up, really.


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