Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April Report

   I won't wait for you to ask what I've been up to in April.  I'll tell you any way.

   The month began with the Easter camp and I've told you about that already.  Before the end of the school holidays Harvey and Theo came to stay and the big news is that Harvey is now a keen chess enthusiast!  (Sully is too but he tends to make up his own rules and vary them as we go along).  Harvey used his pocket money to buy a set of pieces with a folded plastic sheet playing board from our local $2 shop and was soon into the rudiments such that he was able to beat me with a bit of assistance.  (Sully beats me too but doesn't need any help!).  Needless to say, we had fun!  (Theo loves his Lego and is very inventive). 

    Once the Vic school holidays were over, Jan and Ebony came over from Adelaide and we had a few beaut days swanning about the Peninsula, visiting the beach, playgrounds and other assorted places of interest.  At McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, Ebony and Doortje raced on ahead along the sculpture trails and saw heaps of interesting stuff while Jan and I followed on sedately behind.  Ebony and Doortje belted off along the beach at Flinders and saw wrens frolicking at their feet and collected shells and cuttlefish while Jan and I stood on the jetty and tried to work out the history of the place.  More good fun!

   Doortje and I spend quiet days at home and then bust out and do something!  Today was a very nice autumn day with no wind, sun for the first half, and so we went to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne, 20kms to the east.  There's nothing "royal" about it - it's quintessentially Aussie and I'm sure if you google it you'll see pictures of the Red Sand Garden which is pure central desert.  There's a huge variety of habitat and plantings and they've got an amazing selection of plants from all over Australia.  Today we were lucky enough to see a family of what I think may have been yellow-faced honeyeaters (Lichenostomus chrysops), and a large snake with a blackbird trying to divert it from its nest in a bush.  I'm reasonably sure now that it was a tiger snake about 1.2 to 1.5m long, looking just like this:-

   We then had fish for lunch at the visitor centre restaurant and came home for a quick nap - no we didn't, we watched a DVD!

   Our local DVD shop has recently become extinct, but before it happened we accepted their offer, called in, perused the "art house" shelves and bought some cheap DVDs.  We don't normally watch many, but recently have seen, among our purchases, Peter Greenaway's "The Draughtman's Contract", Ivan Sen's "Beneath Clouds" (Australian indigenous road movie) and Richard Eyre's "Notes on a Scandal" with nice performances by Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.  We'd seen the Australian movie before but not the others.  I recommend all three if you haven't seen them.

   Musically in April, I've been listening to Castlecomer, the group of singing brothers from Sydney, and their EP Danny's Den, plus other tracks available on YouTube.  Their songwriting is quirky and their harmonies are just what siblings can do.  It may be pop music, but not run-of-the-mill.  Also lately, I've been listening to flamenco, some of the masters such as Sabicas, and jazz of the Jimmy Guiffre Trio, all recorded decaded ago.  But in the present, I've been impressed by Claude Hay, also from Sydney, and his album Deep Fried Satisfied.  He plays blues guitar, but in fact plays everything on this album (recorded in the bedroom?) and manages to sound like John Butler and others.

 I've now got a copy of Danny's Den, signed by all the "boys", courtesy of Rose and Ian, who saw them perform at the National Folk Festival at Easter.
   With reading, I've fallen into the trap of collecting books instead of reading them, but now I'm aware of the problem, I'm trying to correct it.  I've been reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind which is a crazy story, set in Franco's Spain, of a novelist who wrote "The Shadow of the Wind".

    Also on the go are essays by Oscar Wilde, Essays and Lectures, and Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus etc.

Here's a quote from Camus:

 There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest—

whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.

   I also read Christopher Hitchens' Mortality, a collection of his writings from the twelve months or so between his cancer diagnosis and death.  I was able to relate to his experiences during treatment.

   I'm really looking forward to May.  Stay tuned!

02/05/13  Bonus picture.   Gemma surprised us by playing postman and delivering in person Alan and Kim's birthday presents for me, a beaut bike made in Bali, and a wooden Beetle.

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