Thursday, December 27, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas.
2. Please refer to it as a ‘hoopla’ and not the dreaded ‘m’-word…
3. You have to tag specific people when you’re done. No “if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged” stuff is allowed. The number of people you tag is really up to you — but the more, the merrier to get this ‘hoopla’ circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it! Let’s involve as many people as possible!
Hmm, so here goes:
1. I always wake up early on Christmas Day. Even as an adult. I can't help it. It's exciting!
2. This year my Secret Santa (we have that system in my family) asked what I want and I requested either a complete surprise, Coldplay's album "Parachutes", or the Oxford Book of Carols, which is a beautiful book of singing/piano music with carols from all over the world arranged beautifully.
3. Being in the southern hemisphere, sometimes I feel like I've missed out on Christmas pop culture. I have never seen real mistletoe, mulled wine is a bit impractical at this time of year, I have no idea what eggnog contains and used to assume it was an eggplant drink, it never snows here in December unless you're on top of a mountain, it's the wrong season for holly, the list goes on. There are lots of benefits to a summer Christmas but one year I would love to spend Christmas in Germany or somewhere cold.
4. I have played both a cow and a poplar tree in nativity plays at our church. Should I explain? The first was the innkeeper in a nativity musical (the main character was Mary's donkey). And on the other occasion I was Polly Poplar, the heroine of the drama - all the other trees at the nursery were being bought as Christmas trees but I was too ugly, being a poplar, until an angel came and decorated me with Christmas lights and then I was beautiful! It's hard to pretend to cry when you have a tree costume on.
5. My mum died around Christmas time so lots of people assume Christmas must be hard for me. Actually Christmas seems to give some meaning to Mum's death, for me. Although I can totally understand that some people in similar situations find it very difficult.
6. I have two particular pet peeves about this season - people who think Christmas is an evil or unnecessary thing with pagan roots that Christians shouldn't participate in, and people who decide that since they aren't Christian they should try and stop other people from celebrating. Ie, the man in Wellington last year who rang noise control because the Salvation Army band was playing carols on the street, as they do every year, complaining it was offending him and usurping his right to religious freedom. Killjoy.
7. Another pet peeve is the Christmas music that plays in malls. Sheesh, it's already noisy and hellish enough in there without Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Jingle Bells playing over and over. I have never been unfortunate enough to work in a mall over Christmas but I heartily pity those who do.
8. I like waterfights and barbecues at Christmas. I know that this year we will have the latter, but everyone's too grown up for the former now, unless I enlist my nieces and nephews. Oh, and that's right - I have a cast on which I'm not allowed to get wet or walk on - looks like a fun Christmas for me.
9. My sister wrote a Christmas musical for our church one year, as part of the composition element of her music degree at uni. I still have some of the music and I still think it's really good.
10. (edited because I suddenly remembered this) One of the nicest things about getting a real tree when I was a kid was that it would always be too tall, so Dad would lop off the top with a saw. I was allowed to put it in a smaller bucket, decorate it myself, and keep it in my room as my own mini-Christmas tree. Kinda cool.
11. Last night our neighbours invited my dad and I and some other neighbours over for a Christmas barbecue. It was so nice feeling part of a little community.
12. Next year at Christmas time there will be two more members of my family.
Edit: *scream* Must! Tag! Someone! Layling, Tusk, E., slskenyon, and Patty, if they read this. And the Ukrainian Mafia.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Actually, what I write here isn't going to sound all that original or "special". It's a bit of a cliche, in fact.
In this film, someone's father has always given them the advice that success isn't all life's about. Instead, what matters is to have tried.
Despite this being a really sweet moment, the first times I watched the film it just washed over me, to be honest. Yeah yeah, that's what everyone says, heard THAT before. Third time through, I stopped to think. The one thing I want to be successful at (- writing -) is the thing I'm most scared to attempt. My major reason for not hunkering down and writing The Novel, instead of just sitting round excusing myself and waiting for The Idea, is that rejection is a little too frightening. More frightening is making the attempt and then finding out that I'm a crap writer and I can't actually do it unless I want to sell my soul and do Mills and Boon. This has always made perfect sense to me even if I don't admit it.
(Of course, an element of my inaction is just pure laziness.)
But then I thought, suppose some day I die, which is more than likely. Will I really be lying on my deathbed surrounded by adoring hordes of descendants, or with my life flashing before my eyes in the midst of some tragic accident, thinking, "well, at least I never got rejected by a publishing company"?
I've got to get on with it. Just do it. Bite the bullet.
There are probably about ten cliches in this one blog post, not least that "trying is the most important thing". Maybe this particular cliche hasn't used up all its truth, though.
And at least if I write the novel and die without seeing success, I can delude myself into believing it will be published posthumously, make my grandchildren rich, and ensure for myself a well-kept tombstone.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I panicked even more when she asked me to try on a dress in a store called Portman's that sells clothes in both Australia and New Zealand. I tried it on - a beautiful shiny red - but it wouldn't quite do up, and it came almost two thirds up my thighs. *scream* I think Portman's makes clothes exclusively for ballerinas. My friend gave up on that idea very graciously and looked elsewhere, finally buying dresses at a shop called Ezibuy, and buying two different sizes for me just in case one didn't fit right. My panic has been toned down over the last few months, mainly because I didn't think about it, but today Jane Doe brought the dresses to my house to try on.
Well, I did. The smaller size fits me perfectly and it is BEAUTIFUL. I am so relieved. Over the last year or so I've found it impossible to find a single dress that doesn't make me look like an elephant, and somehow my friend finds one without me even having to try it on first. Here is the link if you want to see what the dress looks like - it is the red one on the right - http://www.ezibuy.co.nz/Search/4103/Burnout_Voile_Dress/36132.htm
THANK YOU JANE DOE! Bring on the wedding (Feb 9).
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I have come back to:
- heavenly, heavenly cold weather. When I came out the airport door, it was rainy, misty and windy. BLISS. Such is a New Zealand summer. It's only started to get sunny today. And when it gets warm, it won't be too dry and it won't be too humid. There will be hardly any flies, no poisonous spiders, no snakes.
- Dad, my sister and her husband, my two nephews aged 9 and 7. Alex, the younger, said to me on Thursday - "when are you going to get married and have babies?" (I am the only one in the family who is still resisting.)
I snorted and said, "I don't know, never maybe."
Alex replied, "Well, you're lovely, someone should marry you!"
As little as I want to get married right now, isn't that just so sweet? Who wouldn't want to be around a kid like that?
- old computer and slow, restricted internet. I cannot use facebook and my gmail and blogger accounts only display the basics - no photos can be published today. Right now it is still funny.
- a soft bed. For various reasons the mattress I slept on in Oz was built like a log and my sleep now is long, luxurious and uninterrupted.
- people who are like me. Even chatting to the airport staff who wheeled me through Christchurch Airport reinforced this. The Aussies I met were on the whole great, and hardly all that different from me. But being back here reminds me this is where I belong, this is where I fit in. No more New Zealander jokes. No more overemphasized imitations of my accent. No more slightly different standards of politeness.
- a mall in which I inevitably run into at least three people I know every time I shop there. One of the lonely things about Perth was walking around town or mall or beach and knowing I would see nobody I knew even vaguely. Today I met some friends at a cafe near Riccarton mall and besides these friends I bumped into four other people I know. Christchurch is a small, small place.
It's good to be home.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Me and another crew member while we waited in the stinking heat for the wind to come up.
My brother driving. Yes, he had fun.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
A long tail boat from outside
Around the coast of Phi Phi Ley, a smaller island, and near where we snorkelled. The island itself was just beautiful - it felt like we were in a mini-fjord at times, with those big rocky walls, except the water wasn't very deep.
The beach outside the place we stayed on Koh Phi Phi. The restaurant was right by the beach, and the swimming was amazing - right by our doorstep.
The sunset on, funnily enough, the night I broke my heel.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
1) from Pride and Prejudice - When proposing to someone, do not insult their family.
2) from The Firm, by John Grisham - If something seems too good to be true, distrust it. It is probably run by the Mafia.
3) from The Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien - Don't get too attached to your jewellery.
4) from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte - Never marry someone without checking up on their family mental history.
5) from Journey into the Whirlwind, by Evgeniya Ginzburg - Truth actually is stranger than fiction.
6) from All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque - War sucks.
7) from anything by Agatha Christie - If something bad happens, always suspect the most unlikely person, OR anyone with an airtight alibi.
8) from Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding - Never date cads.
9) from I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith - A surefire way to get rid of writer's block is to get someone to lock you in a tower until you've written five pages.
10) from Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler - Logic is not all it's cracked up to be.
11) from the Bible - God is nice and he likes me.
So there you go. I tag anyone who likes books (or, if you prefer, movies or TV).
By the way - last night we went down to the beach for fish and chips with some friends. It was about thirty degrees (celsius) and there was no wind. Result: FLIES. It was horrible. The sort of thing that should be a Hitchcock movie. And as soon as the fish and chips were ready, it was like we were surrounded by hundreds of flies. We had to eat through tiny holes in the paper and even then I think I only managed about six chips and a quarter of a fish before I was just too sickened to go on. There's nothing like a swarm of Australian flies to kill an appetite.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
By the way, if any of my readers wear oversized sunnies - I am absolutely sure I would not be scared of you.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I opened my cards/presents at breakfast. Among them was a card a lot of people from my home church signed which was very very sweet. Also there was the card pictured above, from my niece Lydia, who is ten. This is the poem she wrote inside it:
Icing on the cake
I think she's destined for great things.
I had a lovely day - I met my sister near her work for lunch, and then I went for a swim in the afternoon, and I did THIRTY LAPS. (I am so proud of myself. I have been going regularly for a couple of weeks now, and doing thirty or forty laps each time. I decided to take it easier today because after all, it's my birthday.) Then this evening when J&J got home from work, we had:
Cake. Janet's almost unbeatable Armenian nutmeg cake. Yummmmm...
Then this evening we went out for dinner to the Little Creatures brewery which is also a really popular bar/restaurant. Very cool. And Little Creatures beer is actually nice. My sister is going to kill me for including the lower photo; somehow my photos of her always make her look like an alien.
And in just over two weeks, I am off on my birthday present from my family - a trip to Malaysia to visit my brother and family, from whence we shall drive to Krabi in Thailand. Huzzah!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
From the mid-twenties to the early-fifties, Stalin was the dictator who ravaged Russia and surrounding nations. The thirties in particular were drenched with blood and one of the major things that happened in them is referred to as the Purges, in which Stalin systematically exterminated and exiled anyone who could possibly have anything against him and even those who obviously didn't, using the NKVD, the Russian police force who later became the KGB. They were given labels such as Trotskyist (Trotsky was another Communist leader who had opposed Stalin and eventually fled the country) or saboteur etc. Prisoners would be forced to confess to ridiculous crimes, and then to denounce others.
Here's some of the stranger stories that come out of this period.
- A 65-year-old woman from a collective farm near Moscow who met Evgeniya Ginzburg was somehow denounced as a trotskistka (Trotskyist), a term she was so far from understanding that she confused it with traktoristka (tractor driver), and said to cellmates in prison, “I don't understand, they don’t put old women like me on tractors.” Having received a ten-year sentence for Trotskyist terrorism, she asked Ginzburg, “Are you one of those traktoritski too, dearie?”
- A war game in the army had a marshal simulating attacking Russia from the west. "General Lukirsky concluded that the Red Army would have to retreat to the east, but they would stabilize their line just outside Moscow. He was arrested and shot for “letting the enemy get to the gates of Moscow”.
- Both arrests and charges operated according to a quota system. A cellmate of Evgeniya Ginzburg: “as a Tartar it was simpler to put down ‘bourgeois nationalist’. Actually they had me down as a Trotskyite first, but they sent the file back saying they had exceeded the quota for Trotskyites but were short on nationalists.”
- Made-up confessions were encouraged to be dramatic. "A workman from Kiev gave a detailed account of attempts to blow up a bridge a kilometer long with several kilos of arsenic. Another explained his activities in an organisation aiming at the construction of a number of artificial volcanoes in order to explode the entire Soviet Union. Another prisoner admitted that he had informed the Polish consul of the weather as shown in a forecast put up regularly in a public park."
- The Arctic explorer Papanin was trapped on an ice floe in the Arctic circle for weeks with three associates, one of which was a NKVD man, and a dog. His diary was later published, but censored. In the uncensored version, he writes that the explorers and the dog celebrated Stalin’s birthday and the other Communist festivals by holding demonstrations on the ice, marching up and down with banners, since none of the quartet would dare suggest that the activity was preposterous.
- From Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago: At the conclusion of a conference in Moscow, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone leapt to his feet, and the small hall echoed with stormy applause… for three, then four, then five minutes. The NKVD was standing in the hall watching to see who quit first! After eleven minutes of applause, the director of the local paper factory sat down – and everyone else stopped with a sigh of relief. That same night the factory director was arrested and given ten years.
- 'The NKVD built a case against a young man who was the champion stamp collector in the north Caucasion town of Kholodnogorsk, on the grounds that his collection contained a German stamp with Hitler on it as well as an English one with Queen Victoria that was worth more than its Soviet one with Lenin. The young man was forced to confess that he “led a counterrevolutionary organization masked as a stamp collector society”. '
- Prisoners in independent parts of the country independently devised large-scale denouncing, reasoning that this would drive the system to such grotesque extremes that society would collapse unless it was halted. One imprisoned doctor from Kharkov pleaded guilty at once and listed on paper the several hundred doctors of Kharkov, all of whom he knew by name, as enemies whom he had recruited. His interrogator balked at arresting all Kharkov’s doctors, and so the prisoner reported him for shielding members of a counterrevolutionary organisation.
- One cabdriver’s interrogator wanted him to confess to his crimes without being told what they were. Eventually, after a long night of interrogation, he finally confessed, and was hit in the face for crimes he did not even know he had confessed to.
- There was a lack of hay or fodder for livestock – so Soviet agronomists created a new form of silage called ‘twig fodder’, officially proving that small branches of pine and fir trees were rich in calories and vitamins, assuming that horses and cattle would eat them. Anyone who disagreed was sent to a concentration camp. The result: starving and dying horses, and officials too scared to report what was actually happening.
Though the entire history of this time in Russia is tragic, there are other stories which I will not repeat that are absolutely heartrending. You may remember that sometimes I have written posts about becoming a tyrannical dictator and sending people to the gulag - well, I want to announce that further study of history has totally killed that joke for me and I will no longer be mentioning it.
If you are interested in reading the most well-written and amazing memoirs on this subject, look up Evgeniya Ginzburg's two books Journey Into The Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind. Gripping and bizarre yet moving reading.
[These stories were taken from Stalin and the Shaping of the Soviet Union, by Alex de Jonge; chapter four Soviet Politics 1917-1991, by Mary McAuley; and chapter seventeen Stalin in Power, by Robert C. Tucker.]
Thursday, October 25, 2007
- girls having sex in jandals
Probably the fault of this blog post.
- career options jane austen lover
No offence - but I'm not sure there are that many. Please let me know if I'm wrong.
- a whitebaiting song
.... huh? why?!
- johnny cash tea party
- many sleeps distance horse walk
... and how they got to my blog from there I am unsure.
- how to check the gender for a golf ball goldfish
- boys as brides
- baby has lopsided crawl
I'm not sure if my blog will give helpful and/or sound baby advice...
- karrakatta cemetery ghost
- damn you jane austen
- i detest jane austen
- kill jane austen
- why i dislike jane austen books
I obviously chose the wrong title for my blog.
- rogaine gwyneth paltrow
I have no idea why my number one most hated sport has anything whatsoever to do with Gwyneth Paltrow.
- diy bouncy balls
Fun but obscure.
- schick quattro treadmill girl
Poor delusional man.
- whinging matilda
Hear hear. Sorry Aussies.
- secrets and shames of white people
- everybody's free to wear sunscreen! U2 will get old
Separately, not so weird, but together - confusing train of thought.
- Bach is like cosmos
Sounds profound but I don't get it.
- soccer players in undies
Well if they found it on my site I'm not complaining.
- austen persuasion feelings unused
How exactly does one 'use' leftover feelings from Austen, anyway? I am completely in agreement with this person.
- notes to play hey there delilah on the alto recorder
Umm... I dig recorders, and Hey There Delilah's a nice song - but it's not exactly difficult, containing maybe four notes, and why specifically the alto recorder?
- help the blind, the wayne barnes
Obviously another bitter Kiwi.
There were also a large number of people who found their way to my blog via incorrect song lyrics such as Robbie Williams' 'Strong' turning from "my breath smells of a thousand fags" into "margaret smells of a thousand fags", or U2's 'Yahweh' from "take these shoes, click clacking down some dead end street" into "take me shoose Trish maybe make me clean". Did you know you were mentioned in U2 lyrics, Trish?
Besides the point - a small girl turned one today in this household. We are all very proud of her. She is still extremely cute and just getting funner and funner to be around as we watch her figure things out like standing on her own and taking (assisted) steps. I was up at 5:45 this morning for present-opening; am I not an impressive aunty?
Friday, October 19, 2007
1) Pompeii, Italy. The fact that this was unearthed only recently but shows life as it was thousands of years ago - pheeewwww. I want to be there tomorrow.
2) Machu Picchu, Peru. Rightly so, this is becoming a very lauded destination. I don't like to follow the trend but in cases such as these (just look at that photo), crowd behaviour isn't all that bad.
3) Petra, Jordan. I have wanted to go here for ages. My mother has been here, and a sister, and they both said it was one of the most amazing places they ever visited - and they've been to lots of places.
4) The Great Wall, China.
6) The Pyramids, Giza, Egypt. There is something mysterious and indefinable about these that is very alluring.
7) The Himalayas, Nepal. Ooooooooh, they're so biiiiiiiiiiiig.
8) The Acropolis, Athens, Greece. I basically chose this out of a whole heap of other places in Greece - Greece really should be counted as a wonder all on its own. But if I could just see this place I wouldn't be too unhappy - at all.
9) Angkor Wat, Cambodia. There is something so romantic about a temple that was devoured by the jungle.
a) Prague Old Town, the Czech Republic. Obviously.
b) Mont St. Michel, Bretagne/Normandy, France. The photos are like a fairy land, and apparently, so is the original.
c) The Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia.
d) Venice, Italy.
f) Ayers Rock/Uluru, Australia. Unfortunately I will not be visiting while I am here in Australia this time. But this is probably the closest of my list of wonders so I will have to visit sometime in the future.
g) Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany. No explanation necessary, I think. All the same, I have it from a German friend that there is a much nicer castle near her home. :)
h) The Colosseum, Rome, Italy. History history history.
i) Finally, Gallipoli, Turkey. This may not mean much to the rest of the world, but to New Zealanders and Australians (ANZACs) it is a sacred site. I would love to be there for Anzac Day (April 25) ceremonies at least once.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
All the info is on the website - I think the collection week for the boxes in the States is November 12-19, but it's happening already in Australia. If you are in Australia you may like to look here for info.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
1) Henry Tilney of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. He is my first choice Austen hero, the coolest and wittiest man she wrote, I think. For example:
"And now, Henry," said Miss Tilney, "that you have made us understand each other, you may as well make Miss Morland understand yourself -- unless you mean to have her think you intolerably rude to your sister, and a great brute in your opinion of women in general. Miss Morland is not used to your odd ways."
"I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them."
"No doubt; -- but that is no explanation of the present."
"What am I to do?"
"You know what you ought to do. Clear your character handsomely before her. Tell her that you think very highly of the understanding of women."
"Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world -- especially of those -- whoever they may be - with whom I happen to be in company."
"That is not enough. Be more serious."
"Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half."
2) Dobbin, from Vanity Fair. I get so annoyed with Amelia for most of the novel for not noticing how great Dobbin is.
3) The Phantom. Okay, so he murders people and kidnaps young opera singers - but it's a well-known fact that troubled musicians are irresistible! And despite the apparent ugliness, there is something super attractive about him - Gerard Butler's version at least.
4) The Sound of Music's Captain von Trapp. Yum-yum! Dance with me, Georg!
5) Inevitably, Mr Darcy. Quite apart from Colin Firth, Mr Darcy as a fictional character is very attractive at times.
8) Mr Rochester of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Of all my list, this is the one I most wish was not fictional. Mr Rochester is written as ugly, but he comes across as so powerful and magnetic a personality that you can't help wishing that. Recent TV adaptation with Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester - very successful.
9) Captain Frederick Wentworth, of Austen's Persuasion. Silly of me to have three Austen characters on my list, but I couldn't resist. There's always something about a man in a uniform. And a man who knows how to write a good letter.
10) Faramir, from The Lord of the Rings. In the books, Faramir is one of those minor characters who turns out to be a really good guy (he's the one who ends up with Eowyn). I think it's a pity he's not made much of in the movies, but I definitely had a crush on him by the end of Return of the King.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Anyway, yesterday's post was going to be my only rugby one but then I saw some of the listings on TradeMe, New Zealand's form of eBay:
AB2007 personalised license plate.
"Four More Bloody Years! Bugger! We Choked!" - Holy Crap - Is Wayne Barnes Blind? History has repeated itself, and the All Blacks have lost to France. It may be hard but these may help heal your pain! These BADGES are Big 57mm badges reading:
It's just a stupid cup (I'm dying inside)
Four More Bloody Years
I love the Rotation Policy
I love the Conditioning Period
Wayne Barnes is a wanker
ALL BLACKS FLAG - LIMP AND WET. Flag is no longer required. Limp like the effort of the team it represents. Wet - like the wet fish of a ref we had to endure. Happy Bidding!
6 A+ Grade Nike Super far golf balls with "All Blacks: We Wus Robbed" printed.
COMPOSURE - Second hand excess composure. Left over from the All Blacks World Cup campaign. Useful for playing minor international rugby teams. However not recommended for playing major international rugby teams, for assistence in these matters please see my other listings as there is plenty of unused All Black passion and adrenaline.
And apparently some bright spark has put up the All Blacks team itself for trade.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
1) The haka - well, this hasn't changed. I have always been a fan of the All Blacks' spine-tingling rendition of the Maori war dance at the start of their games. For a brilliant example of this check out this youtube video of it. (Highly recommended.) Much better, if I may say so, than the Aussie Waltzing Matilda which is all they could come up with in response.
2) The national anthems, sung at the beginning of each game. This is not a new tradition either but this world cup they decided to microphone the players as they stand in a line, arms around shoulders. It's great because rugby players are not renowned for their musical skills in general, and so you can giggle away whenever they hit the wrong notes at the top of their voices (which is frequently). South Africans - worst singers yet.