Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fruit Plate 

Today I went to buy a fruit bowl. I didn't need anything fancy, just something to keep my fruit from mouldering into the benchtop. So I headed off to one of those cheapy shops that sell craft supplies and homeware.

I didn't find a fruit bowl, but I did find a dish labelled 'Melamine dinner plate $2' and that could fit a lot of fruit. You'd have to be eating a lot of dinner (like a tin of Pal, some bread and a bone) to get your money's worth as a dinner plate with it. I liked the yellow daisies that ringed the inside edge, so I bought it.

At the counter, I accepted a plastic bag from the sales assistant lady. I explained that I'd look a bit silly carrying a plate onto the bus (yes, and it would be unwieldy - so plastic bag justified!). She agreed, we laughed and off I went.

At the bus stop a ute drove past and a male passenger yelled out so loudly I jumped. I must be wrong... it sounded like he said 'Nice Plate.'

So the bus comes along and I hop on. The driver said,

Did you buy a plate?

Surprised, I laughed and said,

Yes.

To which he said,

Cool.

Are whacking great $2 fruit bowl dinner plates more noteworthy than I thought? Is it National Plate Day? Imagine if I hadn't accepted a bag...

Update: By request (CW), I've taken a photo of the hidden-from-view $2 melamine plate that attracted so much notice. I took a photo on the day but it came out too dark and looked like a cheap plate. It still looks like a cheap plate but now it contains the orange given to me at the WA Giant Walk in Freo on Friday.

White dish, with two apples, a lemon, and an orange

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One Small Walk For Me... 

One Giant Walk for WA! We're going for a Guinness World Record this Friday at noon. I've checked, and you can walk in Gero, Esperance and Busselton but not in Nannup. That's okay, I won't be in Nannup. Potential world record-breakers need to walk for one kilometre, so it shouldn't be too hard for most people. Anyone can organise a local walk (so if you're in Nannup, get a move on!) and there are a few to choose from in my area. I'll need to walk to get there.

Thanks to Simone from EnjoyPerth for bringing this to my wandering attention!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Late Nite Magpies 

Why are the magpies making early morning bird calls? I feel like it must be near-dawn and I should get up but it's a little after 1am. I want to go out and join them. We could just sit around and talk, watch a fire die down, go for a walk in the dark. I feel like there's something I could be doing outside and I'd have company in the magpies. Maybe there is something I could be doing outside but buggered if I know what it is. What are they doing?
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Broad 

I love live performances. Gill, Martin and I went along to see Broad at the Octagon on Saturday night and it was the best kind of live performance, hiccups included. The show starred, from left-to-right on stage, Ella Hooper (from Killing Heidi), Deborah Conway, Kate Miller-Heidke, country singer Melinda Schneider and Mia Dyson.

They opened with a Seekers tune and finished with the Travelling Wilburys' 'End of the Line' - songs written for five singers. For the encore they sang Talking Heads' 'Road to Nowhere', with opera-trained Kate Miller-Heidke vocalising one of the instrumental parts.

For the first half the musicians took turns to sing their own songs, with the others backing. For the second half a guy on the keyboards, a drummer and a double bass player joined them. Ella Hooper can rock from stage left, sitting down in a venue that doubles as a lecture theatre.

Deborah Conway, who experienced more sound hassles than is fair, asked the others about their songwriting. Melinda Schneider wrote sixty songs in a year after her divorce. She sang 'It Takes Balls to Be A Woman.' Most incongruous moment: seeing Ella Hooper singing and playing along to it. And she did play along.

Hearing such strong voices, particularly Mia Dyson's deep bluesy stuff - that's what I love about a live performance. I can't imagine that it's ordinary.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Climbed a Hill, Saw The Sea 

The weather left me no choice but to go for a walk today. After visiting Tom Collins House when I first came to the city, today I thought I'd see what else is about at Allen Park. Bush tracks lead up to Melon Hill, where a plaque marks the place of former defence batteries. From here I could look down to the ocean, over bushland and a small housing estate.

Dark bush, rooves, downhill to sea, blue sky

I thought I'd walk to the water through the estate, but Seaward Village, which includes many Defence Housing Authority homes, has no direct access to the beach because of unexploded bombs.

So I wandered some more and thought how my walks are a lot like Sunday drives, only if I come to a dead-end I can perhaps use a walkway but if I follow my nose in the wrong direction I can be gone for a very long time. Luckily my nose knows how far my feet are willing to walk.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book Sale To Save Children 

Gill and I talked about maybe going to the book sale at UWA this weekend. The sale supports the Save the Children Fund. I'm not sure if we're seriously considering going or whether mostly we just wanted to go oh my God, it's open at 6 A M on Saturday!? and then to go, and ABC Radio are doing a live broadcast... from a book sale!?. The sale starts on Friday night but maybe it'll do me good to rock up early Saturday - I wonder if I can get some breakfast?
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Zoo Life 

My favourite animals at the zoo are the penguins and the otters. They look like they're having fun, zipping in and out of the water all day. Does this not look like the good life?

Dark penguin in green water with head raised

My sister and her family travelled up to Perth from Esperance this weekend and we spent Friday at the zoo. We caught a train and the ferry, just like I often did with my Nanna as a kid. I've visited the zoo so many times I've lost count. Shan could only remember one visit and that's probably because my grandparents moved back down south when she was young and because I'm the eldest, so I've gone on almost every family visit. Then there are the visits I've made as an adult.

As a child I sometimes became bored and tired at the zoo. Too many other families, reminders to stay with my family, lots of squinting to look at some poor animal in a concrete cell lying resolutely in the shade. Now that the animals have a bit more space, it's easier to imagine what they're missing in the wild. I spent one visit to the zoo as an adult wandering around in tears.

Ooh, but this time I saw a wombat! They look a lot like rocks. The zoo is also building a new section to house sun bears rescued from Cambodia by Free the Bears Fund. We liked the macaws, Jess saw a cheetah, a spinifex pigeon let Jess and Josh give him a scratch and we could all check out a dugite up close. The turtles are cool too - so I like animals that can walk and swim. Oh, and about the only thing I could see in the nocturnal house was a frog sitting on a toilet cistern. Oh my God, is that a toilet?

My favourite part of the zoo (apart from the penguins and the otters, who from my point of view had equally cool houses when the otters lived in the concrete castle with the slides and the penguins lived in the wading pool with an island deal) is the merry-go-round. I may have commented before about how much I like the noise of the metal parts as they move. The merry-go-round (or carousel) looks a treat with all the lights turned on but my beautiful merry-go-round sound can't be heard over the 'carousel' music. Horrible music it is, including an instrumental version of 'Eye of the Tiger.' Matt wondered if someone recorded it at home!

The zoo is unreal.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dust and Coffee 

Shan and family are visiting tomorrow and I should clean up. I keep feeling the telly to see if it's dusty (it is) and reminding myself that I must dust it soon. Maybe if I keep feeling it, eventually I'll have felt off all the dust. I have way too much recycling but I haven't taken it out because I want to cut out the 'sensitive' information found on some of the papers. I needed more hanging files too, so today I headed out to Ikea to pick some up. I called into Oxfam for more Fair Trade coffee for my visitors on the way and came home to discover that I'm nearly out of Milo. Colombian coffee, kids? Ahh, should be fine.
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Awkward and Upward 

Saturday night I chatted with a friend about a workshop I attended a few years ago. I'd signed up for the workshop because of the subject to be discussed and then bought a novel written by the facilitator. The novel included two characters who shared something significant in common with me. One of them suicides and the other dies in a humourous accident. What are the chances?

That's just too weird, I thought. That's not how I'd choose to have Something In Common, which isn't often written about, represented.

During the workshop, the discussion turned to whether writers of fiction should write about what they don't know, specifically whether they should write about characters who are of a different ethnic or racial background to themselves. The facilitator/author supported the idea that they should, that this is what writers of fiction do - they imagine what it might be like to be someone else, to live a life different to their own.

I agree, but I wondered if authors also have a responsibility not to stereotype - or not to leave perhaps the one reader who shares that Something in Common wondering why the literary joke's on her.

Did I share my thoughts with the group or the author? No, I didn't. I couldn't explain to my friend why not. I said it could have been embarrassing. But 'embarrassing' wasn't quite what I meant.

What I meant was that the situation could have been awkward. Awkward for me and potentially confronting for the author. Hi, is there any reason why you've killed off the only two characters in Australian literature who have this Something in Common with me? Did the Something in Common contribute to the suicide? I can see it contributed to the humourous accident. No one in the room would quite understand.

I told my friend on Saturday that, at the time, I didn't feel strong enough to keep it light and still bring in my perspective.

Rodney blogged about Awkward situations after reading Seth on Awkward. Seth says:


The reason we need to be in search of awkward is that awkward is the barrier between us and excellence, between where we are and the remarkable.


I don't think anything remarkable would have come from me breaking through the awkward barrier at the workshop. Maybe I'd feel better, having responded. I do know that I avoid doing stuff that could become awkward, or that I sense I'll handle awkwardly. And I think that if I can overcome that, I'll be able to do much more.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Who's for Swish? 

On Saturday I set off for my first go at Swish, a game similar to table tennis and that can be played by blind and sighted people alike.

The balls are plastic, have holes in them, and - most importantly - contain bells. The wooden bats are flat and rectangular.

Two swish bats and a ball

The table has raised sides. Instead of a net, there's a high wooden panel and the aim is to get the ball under this panel and off the other end of the table. The blocking and attacking, plus the need to keep the ball close to the surface, reminds me of air hockey.

A wooden swish table

Each player uses the bats, their forearms, elbows and hands to sweep the ball back to the other side. Some players wear gloves and elbow pads. I came along in a t-shirt and took off my watch. Even so, I only have the faintest hint of table rash to show for my efforts.

We played doubles. The winners are the first to eleven points, provided they are two points in front. Before you serve, you ask if the opposition are ready, then you call play. The panel is high enough that I couldn't see over it while playing. When I stood straight I could look across to catch the expression of an opponent.

I expected to hear the ball jingling on its way but the most fun comes from belting the ball and hearing the bat slam across the table surface. Sometimes there's a curse, but mostly there are laughs and wisecracks. I started out a very vocal player, I kept surprising myself, but by the end I could hit the ball without letting out an 'ooh' or an 'aaggh' - and that's not a bad thing.

One player explained that it's okay to cheat so long as no one hears you. Cheating would involve having a second go at the ball with your arm or bat so that it travels all the way under the panel. If the ball makes it under the panel but isn't within reach of your opponents, it's a dead ball. If it doesn't go under the panel, it's their point. If you mis-time your hit, or there's spin on the ball, or you have funny Mr Burns-like arms, then you might not get the ball back under.

I played three games, after a short demonstration by a teammate. You have to hold the bats longwise and so that the bottom edge is closer towards you than the top, otherwise you flick the ball into the air and off the table or into the wood panel. I hold the bat in my right hand and hit backhand, with my elbow to the right and my hand in front of the bat to close the gap (you don't want any gaps or the ball will end up on the floor and you'll have lost a point). For the first two games I played with my elbow up against the side and couldn't get much oomph behind the ball if it came to that side. I didn't want to get it whacked. For the third game I changed places, so that my elbow sat at the centre of the table, and I think I played better.

Some people might find it difficult to play a game without having sight of the opposition. I think Megan would go nuts! For me, it's great not to worry about what I can't see.

So, even though my arm's sore now I'm keen to have another go next month. I've been encouraged to bring friends along, so everyone's welcome!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Story in a Notebook 

I have a new notebook! I love notebooks, I carry them around everywhere and stash them in drawers. Sometimes I even take notes. I may as well wet my finger and write notes in the air as take them down in a paper notebook but my brain is reluctant to re-wire itself, preferring to swear at my uncompliant retinas instead. Sometimes, I think it kicks at them too, which probably doesn't help. I know it stamps its feet (they would be mine).

I do like to collect story ideas (my brain and I) and I try to copy my notes into NoteTab. Maybe I should have experimented with something like Treepad before now.

What's making me feel happy and notetakery again is Google Notebook. If you're not familiar with Google Notebook, it's used to save text, images and hyperlinks from the Web, as well as your own notes. You can have different sections in the notebook and start new notebooks - I may never stop in the notebook section of a newsagency ever again. Maybe just a quick fondle, but that's it.

A Google Notebook can be kept private or made public. I'm a curious sort, so I experimented with a search of the public notebooks for "retinitis pigmentosa."

I did find a notebook with information on RP. It contained notes on the controversial treatments available in Cuba and a file on how to get a child's passport.

Every notebook tells a story.

Ramesh Natarajan, I wish you and your family or friends good luck.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Crustaceans and Collectables 

We saw baby crabs feeding on Saturday. They sat on the rocks of the groyne at Cottesloe, on the reef side. When told to have a look, I didn't hold much hope of being able to see them. The black ones remained invisible but a little yellow crab suddenly appeared in my field of vision and Oh my God! There's a little crab! His pincers grabbed food and he ate non-stop. Left, right, left, right. Yom, yom, yom, yom, yom.

On Sunday I went to the Golden West Antique and Collectors Fair. The Western Australian RP Foundation runs the fairs to raise money for research and this is the first time I've gone along. They're held at the Fremantle Passenger Terminal and I think this is the first time I've entered the building. I walked along the cement verandah of the Wool Stores, crossed to a pub I've known as the Harbourside but which is now the Flag and Whistle (closed on a Sunday or closed for good?), then to Captain Munchies and over the footbridge to the terminal. I know a few people whose first visit to the passenger terminal was their first visit to Western Australia. Makes for a much better story than arriving by plane. The hall is on the second storey and huge windows look out over the harbour.

I didn't expect to enjoy wandering a hall full of pretty breakables. But the colours drew my attention, and the dainty flowers and the landscapes on china. Even the jewellery. After twelve years without earrings, I wanted my ears re-pierced and a necklace. I knelt down to look closer at painted cup, saucer and plate sets, stood back from big limp-lidded dolls and gently felt the weight and smooth surfaces of glassware. I saw some Carlton Ware too but didn't know which pieces Mum already has.

I didn't want to buy anything but I came away with a small vase made of amethyst glass. I think it's the idea of amethyst-coloured glass more than the actual glass that I liked. The woman who sold it to me said I needed some white freesias to place in it.

Twice this weekend I prepared to see nothing but took a look anyway. And this weekend, it paid off.

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School Train 

Caught a school train during the week, a special service that stops at places like Shenton Park and West Leederville but not at Subiaco. While I waited at the station, a group of boys talked and laughed. I remembered how good it felt to be out of school and on the way home.

Then one boy sought and received confirmation that someone who made a slur got the facts wrong. Who cares? asked the slurrer. You do, said the first, you... blah blah blah.

Yikes, I thought, now I remember.

When the train pulled in a bunch of kids dived out of nowhere to rush into the door nearest me. I joined them and discovered three girls sitting cross-legged on the floor, in the square marked for wheelchairs and prams. One of them attended a different school. She asked the others about a girl at their school they didn't like. The conversation went a bit like this:


What does she do?

Eats.

Who does she hang around with?

Nothing.

Ha, ha. She hangs around with nothing.

Did you know she's a lesbian?


Where do kids find these scripts? On the train and on the after-school buses the conversation is painful and predictable, familiar and unaffecting. So strange.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tongue of Hawk 

Couldn't help sharing Heidi from me, my life and infrastructure's encounter with a hawk! The hawk is panting, with it's tongue visible, because of the heat.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Citizen Journalists, Show Us Your Perth! 

PerthNorg asks West Australians to write, suggest, read and/or vote on articles about Western Australia. The content's not as city-centric as the name suggests and 'norg' is a short form of 'news organisation.' Anyone who follows the 'house rules' can register to contribute.

When PerthNorg founder Bronwen signed up for BarCampPerth (are any other Perth Bloggers going?), the PerthNorg site wasn't active. You can imagine me most of the weekend thinking, Perth Norg dot com dot au?

Only last month I whinged about West Australian news sites, so I hope this takes off.

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Democrats, God and The Government 

God and Government is a survey conducted by the Australian Democrats about the relationship between religion and government. The survey not only asks questions about the influence of religious groups and individuals on government decision making, but also about the role of government in the affairs of religious organisations that receive government funding. Thanks to Rodney from The Journey for drawing attention to the survey.
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