Dragon Slayer

What is it about dragons? Every tradition has one or, at least, East and West each have their own mythical variant of the diabolical beast.

Australia doesn’t really belong to either tradition, which is probably why we have to resort to recycling dragons…

Melbourne’s very own Dragons of Targaryen.

Melbourne’s very own Dragons of Targaryen.

Or, how about a PET Dragon (made from recycled plastics)?

Or, how about a PET Dragon (made from recycled plastics)?

It’s understandable. Who wouldn’t want a pet dragon or two with which to smite thine enemy?

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When I stumbled across this quiz on Twitter, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna be a dragon!’

Anyway, I took the quiz, and it reminded me of that moment on Buffy before Willow turned badass

"Oh thanks. Old reliable? Yeah, great, there’s a sexy nickname!"

“Oh thanks. Old reliable? Yeah, great, there’s a sexy nickname!”

I mean, a Fish? Seriously??

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Talk about boring old reliable.

But then I got to thinking. We all descended from fish, right? Even the dragon…

First the fish, then the legless lizard, then the four legged fire-breathing fiend.

Really, that makes me the First and Original badass.

Stonefish. Australia’s master of camouflage – the most venomous fish in the world!

It reminds me of one of my favourite songs, End of May by Keren Ann.

Close your eyes and make a wish
Under the stone there’s a stonefish…
Hold your breath and roll the dice
You haven’t seen me disguised yet!

One step wrong, and dragons be gone!

I guess that means there’s more to fish than meets the eye. So now I’m cool with that :)

Happy End of May, friends of the blogosphere!

What House do you belong to? Any secret powers you possess?

Every Day is Stupid

Sometimes I get tired of my own BS, don’t you?

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a really crappy day. No reason. I even knew it was all in my head, and that only made things worse.

It just was – not so much the Sunday blues as a Dark and Stormy gloom fest.

Nothing could snap me out of it – not even the final season of Weeds!

The upturn in mood began a few days later, with the arrival of my first ever eBay purchase, followed by several other sources of undue momentary glee…

1. Vintage bean slicer

Ever since I left home, I’ve moaned over the loss of Mum’s mouli shredder.

I’m not a fan of electric appliances. They’re heavy and expensive and annoying to assemble. And they take the tactile fun out of handling food.

Or so I tell myself.

I bought this Italian ‘Moplen’ instead of the French ‘Mouli’.

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I’m not sure why – it looked less used and the blades were all shiny. Which probably should have told me something.

In fact, it’s quite clumsy and difficult to use. BUT…

Pasties

I managed to make a week’s supply of vegetable pasties, AND…

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It has a bean slicer! Oh, the joy of not having to slice beans one at a time anymore.

2. Cocktails in Berlin

Well, Berlin Bar, to be exact – two rooms divided into East and West, with charming French waiters and confusing paintings of austere looking nuns on the wall.

But the cocktails and, I’m told, even the mocktails are to die for…

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There was a certain glow to Melbourne-town after that, the kind that makes you glad you’re alive not the designated driver.

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3. Reliving Pepi’s youth

You know how when you dread a task, and put it off hoping it will go away, it turns into Godzilla??

That’s what the next books in the series had become, as I dreaded the seemingly immense task of getting Pepi’s pictures ready for publication.

In fact, once I sat down to do it, it only took me a day and the up side of that was reliving periods in Pepi’s life, like this one:

Pepi meets Maxi.

Pepi meets Maxi.

Pepi learns to escape and terrorise the neighbourhood.

Pepi learns to escape and terrorise the neighbourhood.

Pepi moves house.

Pepi moves house.

A story told in three pictures or less :)

4. Crywank

What?

Maybe you’re not like me.

Maybe you don’t spend your life whining about everything from the bugs that ate your sage plants…

Freakin' little blighters!

(Freakin’ little blighters!)

…to the fact we’re all going to die hungry and penniless.

But if you are, then we all need to get a grip. Or have a good cry. Or both.

I stumbled onto this ‘anti-folk, sadcore’ band because an American twitter buddy asked me to tell them what I know of the future (believe it or not, in Australia, we are ahead of almost all of you – in time, at least!).

This is what Crywank had to say:

Tomorrow is nearly Yesterday and Everyday is Stupid. Waaa…

 

The music is not so much sad, as making a joke of our sadness. And that makes me immeasurably happy.

What little absurd things make you happy? Give me a glimpse into your day, week. Hell, give me anything!

 

Open Sesame

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of someone who left their past behind like the words High School Reunion.

Honestly, it’s probably the reason why I stayed off Facebook for so long.

And why my Profile still looks like this:

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Don’t get me wrong. My classmates were good people. It was boarding school, and they were just like family. Only better, because NOT family.

It’s hard to describe how much you miss friends like that – such an intimate part of your daily life one day, gone the next.

Even harder when you know a big part of the reason they were ‘gone’ is that you slammed the door.

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Let me put this in perspective.

It was a Christian school, and most of my friends were believers in some sense. But normal, you know?

It was just a part of their lives, along with boy crushes and manicures and torturing the Dean’s pet cat.

Me?

There was Before Graduation. Do gooder preacher girl. On track for sainthood with a scholarship for Theology school firmly in hand.

Then there was After Graduation.

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The about face probably made no sense to anyone but me.

I disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving a trail of burned bridges and lots of rumours in my wake.

Fast forward twenty years and my real and imaginary worlds suddenly collide with a mysterious Friend Request.

Crap, this name sounds familiar, I’m thinking. Who is this? What do they want with me?

My finger hovers over that button like the key rattling Pandora’s box. Open Sesame, a world of hurt to follow…

Sure enough, Class of 1994 has tracked me down. I feel old. Really, really old.

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Flash forward – Michele from ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’

But there’s something else.

Amidst the fear and regret, anticipation. A longing so deep it bleeds.

I attend the reunion. Despite the fact it’s a breakfast. And I’m not a morning person. And there’s not a drop of alcohol in sight.

What I don’t expect is this – no one really cares!

They’ve moved on. We all have. Important jobs. Partners. Kids. Lives. We’ve all matured. Found our own ways of dealing with the world.

I thought I was going for closure. Instead, what I found was a circle of beautiful people who still want to know me, despite the fact I was an idiot in school our wildly divergent paths.

Will we be best friends again? It’s unlikely. We live on opposite sides of the river, for a start.

Still. There’s a bridge on which to travel now. An open door at the end of it.

And love. Lots and lots of love.

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(Okay. Maybe not that much… :) )

Who were you in high school? Would you go to a reunion?

Mother’s Touch

Mother’s Day. Each year it rolls around, and each year I fail to find words.

I left home too young for my Mother’s liking. Living apart in more ways than geography, we can probably count on one hand the number of Mother’s Days we’ve spent together since then.

But as I look back, there are countless moments in between we’ve shared. Working, side-by-side, for the good of one or all the family.

My favourite memories are those with our hands in the dough, when as a child she taught me the almost lost art of baking bread.

A ritual she no doubt shared with her own mother, and so on, back through generations past…MothersTouchGen

 

We’re born looking up to you -
To Her.
We grow up
Somehow
We out grow.
And as the kink in our gaze
Shifts gear
We see crossways and
Sideways and
Every other which way
Except the one
Where we see
Eye to eye. 

And yet we know
That underneath the
Not looking and the
Not seeing
Is the part where we join hands.
Her hands. 

There’s a story etched there
Silent as the years that pass
Deep as the affection flows.
A job worth doing is
Worth doing over and over
Like a well worked dough
Kneaded and needed
Less for what it is than
For what it represents.

Love is a doing word.
Passed through
Not down
One generation to the next.
Where would we be
Without our Mother’s touch?

Wishing all the mums out there a special day of pampering!

Do you have a favourite childhood memory of your mother’s hands?

Astral Projection

In the years since my road map took me on the scenic route through life, I have developed a passing interest in Astrology.

This is based in certain unscientific observations.

Like the illuminating discovery that my sister and I have not one astrological compatibility in our chart.

No one needed to tell me that our planets were at logger heads when I was born!

When I found that out it was a relief – I could finally file us under ‘Irreconcilable Difference’ and move on.

Likewise, it came as no surprise, watching my nephew and his mother interact, that his top three planets share the same positioning as mine. Poor fella.

(It’s part of the reason I contend that Karma is just another word for Genes.)

There are other patterns too.

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Library of Congress planisphere from c1708, courtesy Stuart Rankin

My partner and I are situated in opposite positions on the zodiac, being Taurus and Scorpio.

She also shares my father’s birthday, which in itself is not all that remarkable (yeah, I know, *Daddy issues* – it’s not the same year, okay? :) ).

Delve a little, though, and we find that every member of her family shares a birthday with someone close in mine, only in each case, it is gender reversed!

Is this freak coincidence, or is there something to it?

Some contend that Astrology is just another form of quackery. A kind of mystical, hocus pocus fortune telling. Maybe. Maybe not.

The planetary line up at the time of our birth is never the same twice. It is branded to us, like a fingerprint, or DNA.

A site of endless mystery for curious minds to unravel.

A blueprint, if you like, of possibility.

What fascinates me is the way that scientific discoveries sometimes mirror ‘mystical’ explanations for the way things are.

For instance, did you know scientists have found a gene that predisposes us to religious belief?

This leads me to wonder – is it possible that the sensory memories encoded in our genes are just a more sophisticated way of explaining reincarnation?

Or that the historical trajectory of planets is a more precise means of mapping the course taken by one giant breath of life?

On the one side we have belief in the wisdom of an all knowing being where the limits of our knowledge fail.

On the other, a precise methodology that turns flat surface theory into solid 3D fact.

Both reaching for a mystery neither dogma can explain. Pointing in the same direction, but unable to shake hands.

For my part, I find the magnetic push-me-pull-you of planetary entanglement far more compelling than a nudge from a big hand in the sky.

Beyond metaphor, it connects me with elemental force to the wider universe, a small part of a much grander mystery.

Mystery is good. It is reaching for the unknown that propels us forward, and what is life, if not an inexplicable need to create meaning from nothingness?

So, until science can disprove the notion that our personality is written in the stars, I will go on reading my forecasts, and contemplating possibility.

Do you read your stars? Any freaky patterns there you can’t explain, or is it all just hocus?

Evolution

What do you do when you turn old enough to realise it’s been twenty years since high school, and you’re just as shiftless as you ever were?

Watch a grunge-chic vampire flick, of course!

Only Lovers Left Alive is a Jim Jarmusch take on vampirism in the twenty-first century that is a welcome departure from the Twilight zone. Suitable, in other words, for those of us more in touch with our mortality.

The film documents a centuries-old love affair between Adam (Tom Hiddleston), a reclusive, “suicidally romantic” musician, and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a somewhat more optimistic, but equally reclusive, literary buff.

Living in obscurity between Detroit and Tangier, Adam and Eve share a languid existence borne as much of human (“zombie”) fatigue as a shortage of uncontaminated blood supply.

It’s the way they treat the world,” complains Adam, “and now they’ve succeeded in contaminating their own blood, never mind their water”.

It’s difficult to describe what happens. There’s an unwelcome visit from Eve’s sister, the problem of dead body disposal, and the last pure drop of illegally acquired blood – “type O negativo”.

Be warned: the film is dangerously anaemic of narrative tension. I’ll even admit to nodding off somewhere in the middle…

And yet.

How do I love this film? Let me count the ways.

There are so many truly clever, ‘you just have to see it’ funny moments in this film.

It celebrates, as much as pokes fun at, a kind of self-indulgent nostalgia – the kind only people who grew up with analogue can truly grasp.

Like the couple’s video chat, facilitated by an iPhone on one end, and an elaborate 1970’s telephone-to-television hook-up on the other.

only_lovers_left_alive_ver5“How can you have lived for so long and still not get it?” asks Eve of Adam.

There are numerous in-jokes about vinyl versus YouTube and the download generation.

Creative rewriting of the origins of classics, from the likes of Shakespeare and Schubert.

A healthy disdain for family, given 87 years between visits isn’t deemed long enough by Adam (“It’s always a bit weird with family”, concedes Eve).

While it may be true to say that not much happens, all the little moments come together in poetic symphony right at the end.

As Adam and Eve contemplate their fate and the meaning of entanglement theory, they watch, enthralled by what appear to be the only (other) lovers left alive…

What I love most about this film is the evolution of the vampire mythology. Where once vampires were seen to prey on humans with abandon, there is now a recognition of their dependence on human virility.

Whether it be the artists and their fan base, or the vampires and their blood source, they are interdependent on each other.

The reminder that we’re all going down together was just what I needed to be grateful for another revolution around the sun!

What was the last film and/or birthday indulgence you truly enjoyed?

Happytown

UnknownWhen my nephew turned three, I gave him a book called The Chimpanzees of Happytown, by one of my favourite children’s authors, Giles Andreae.

It is a magical, rhyming tale of a Chimpanzee who moves to Drabsville, plants a forbidden seed and eventually transforms the entire city into a colourful, carefree Happytown.

I never knew what an apt story it was for this happy little chap, until last weekend, when he visited Melbourne town for his 10th birthday.

It was his first interstate trip as an unaccompanied minor, for two nights and an unspecified outing with his Aunt.

Melbourne being known for its gloom, we were expecting another week of rain. But by the time J got off the plane, the sun was out and the forecast had been changed.

“You brought the sun with you!” we said, not knowing how true that would turn out to be.

It was a perfect Sunday.

After a bike ride to the local skate park, where I was instructed to record every jump until he got it right…

…we took a one hour ferry ride to the city.

His exuberance at the sights was unexpected.

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“Has Dad seen this?!” J wanted to know.

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Before long, he had wrestled the camera from my hands.

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Click.

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Click.

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I think he hoped to do a direct transfer from his brain to Dad’s.

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We pulled up outside the Arts Centre just as my camera battery died…

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…and then we were off to see the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, a theatrical production by kids aged 8 to 18, about a girl with a circus hidden under her bed.

Following the show, filled with wonder and ice-cream, J was ready to dance all the way home to Happytown.

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Aunty Larns, have you seen the movie Dumb Ways to Die? (click the pic to see it)

Debriefing on the way to the airport the next morning, I was surprised by the vision he had of my city.

If you had asked me, I would have told you it is dark and gloomy, and everyone wears black.

That Melbourne has forgotten its roots in a drive for glamour and opulence. And other less flattering things.

But my nephew saw a city full of colour and art, nice historical buildings mixed in with interesting new ones, factories, ships and lots of different things to see and do.

He left me with a smile on my face, and a resolve to get out more and find the colour in my world.

Have a Happy Easter, everyone!

What colourful things do you have planned these holidays?

Känguru Hop

This week I was tagged in a blog hop by Rita, the crafty almost-Australian French Canadian writer and rose whisperer over at Crafty Expat. (Have you ever seen roses like these?).

I’m pretty impressed by Rita’s commitment to the path less travelled from criminal lawyer to tortured writer. Hop over here to learn more.

But for this week, here are my answers on all things writerly:

What am I working on?

HP Titles clusterGood question. Given my relative silence on the matter, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m having you all on, that the first three books of Hello Pepi were just a ruse, a means of tricking you into believing Toy Dogs Are For Real.

But it’s no ruse – toy dogs demand to be taken seriously! All of last year until now I have been working with an illustrator to complete the final four books in the series – a fictionalised account of the real life Pepi, in verse.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I could tell you about the things it does and doesn’t have in common with Tales of Peter Rabbit. Or how the illustrations evoke the classic feel of Alice in Wonderland.

I could say this is not a children’s story, but rather a story for kids of all ages. And I could tell you how Pepi would object to being used as a device for a human centred tale.

Or, I could simply show you one of the songs in the Hello Pepi inspiration soundtrack. A song that tells about a day in the life of Schnappi the Krokodil.

(How could you Not fall in love with this creature?)

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote this series because Pepi taught me many things. He taught me how to love, how to listen, how to speak. His greatest gift was that he taught me how to live.

Most importantly, I wrote this series because small dogs, and by extension, small creatures, are so often misunderstood, misrepresented and overlooked in the greater human narrative.

But they have their own stories to tell. Stories that not only need to be told, but need to be heard.

How does my writing process work?

PepiDaneWriting is a mysterious thing. I hardly know how this came into being. Except that Pepi somehow linked his synapses with my brain waves and transmitted a story in lines and images that surprised us both.

I’d write solidly for half a day, a combination of scribbled lines that were then shaped and reworked on the digital page.

Sometimes it was linear. Sometimes the end came before the beginning. Possibly, there was a little bit of Rhymezone involved (ahem).

Always there was an animated sequence in my mind that somehow made it to the page.

When I was done, I would read it out aloud to Pepi. And he would jump up from his bed and dance for me.

Since this blog hop came to me from the land down under, I thought it only appropriate (in the spirit of Schnappi and his hopping Känguru friend) to extend the hop to another Australian writer.

Kath Unsworth is new to my blogging world, but I was immediately taken with her magical illustrations of miniscule moments (and other creatures), as her knack for making a story out of almost anything.

Here’s her bio:

manny2Kath Unsworth is an artist and writer who lives down the far south coast of Australia, her dream is to create, illustrate and write happy hopeful picture books for children. She takes her inspiration from the world around, remembering what it was like to be a child. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams.

Kath blogs weekly about the journey of a writer at Minuscule Moments, using her photos and art to give her readers a personal view on the journey. Learning the craft of writing and illustrating picture books, whilst balancing every day life as a mum with two children.

What’s the most child-like guilty pleasure you enjoy?

Possum Tales

Change, for me, is always slow. Before it arrives, I’m already there in my mind, just waiting for the physical components to slide into place.

When I came to this happy little hovel by the sea, it was like stepping into a well worn slipper.

Common Ringtail Possum

Common Ringtail Possum by David Cook

The oasis, marking with finality an end to years of complicated share house living, long past due.

I didn’t care about the shabby paint job, or the brown brick walls, or the fact that my neighbours could stare straight through my kitchen, into my living room, and out the other side.

It was my home. Where I could be myself, with the only other person on the planet who’s ever seen what that really means. And asked to stay.

Six years on, why am I so restless?

I’d like to blame it on the screaming single mum, and the fact her kids have finally found their voices, too.

Or the retiree who, bless his knee-high cotton socks, still manages to get excessive joy from pruning the wildlife out of the trees.

Or the fact my house is now bursting with skerricks of unfinished things – ointments and clothes and discarded trains of thought.

“This place is too small!” It screams, everywhere I look.

But that’s just an excuse.

Recently, during a rare afternoon spent cleaning up my garden, I heard rustling.

High up above, from within a thorny hideaway, I glimpsed a gleaming bit of tail.

Possum Tail

My little Ringtail Possum has moved house!

That evening, I placed a pear on the fence by Lady Possum Tail’s home. A goodwill offering to the gods.

She took a bite, and hurled it at the ground, I discovered the next day. Shame on me, for insulting her sense of self determination!

A few nights later, when I was washing up the dishes, I spotted her sitting on the fence. A little garden sentry, looking at me, looking at her.

And I realised, it’s not the neighbours, or the house. It’s me.

This home was only ever a holding pattern. A place to go underground a while, to find strength to face the world again, on my own terms.

In her ever gentle way, Lady Possum Tail came to tell me. It is time.

What’s the longest you have stayed in one spot?

Short, Sweet and Tangy

Some of you will have noticed a change around here. It was time for a new look, one that properly reflected the spirit of Go Wild. Quietly.

It was also time – past time – this chick got her scamp back on, with a return to weekly posts.

If you’re unsure what any of that means, check out this post, wherein I explain this blog’s reason for being, including its ancestral link to all things Fraggle ;) .

With any luck, this blog will start to get a little more creative, now.

It’s like those tomatoes I was telling you about.

Fraggles, living under rocks as they do, aren’t known for their stellar gardening skills.

But when faced with green tomatoes, any self-respecting Fraggle would first consult the great oracle, Madame Trash Heap (otherwise known as Google) before letting them go to waste.

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Green Tomato Chutney

They’d add a bit of this or that:

400g green tomatoes
100g ripe tomatoes
1 pear
1 red capsicum
1 Spanish onion
100g brown sugar
100ml apple cider vinegar
50ml malt vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 red chilli
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp cummin seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

Throw it all together in a pot.

And after an hour or two have turned a raw, bitter fruit into a tidbit shared by the whole clan.

Short, sweet and with a hint of tang, just like this post ;)

So, without further ceremony, welcome to my new pad! Feel free to take a look around and enjoy the quiet.

While you’re at it, if there’s any feedback you’d like me to hear, let me know in the comments. Navigation issues? Aesthetic likes or dislikes? Topics you’d like to see more (or less) of? Hit me with it, I’m all ears this week.

Or, if you’re perfectly happy…

What’s cooking in your world today?