Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Waltzing Matilda

With several Australia Day celebration options, I decided to go up the Blue Mountains to Katoomba so I could see the Bushwackers perform.  They're an Australian bush band; no, THE Australian bush band, nearly forty years old (with various personnel over that time) and I've loved their music for, oh, over thirty of those years... it's kinda folk/Celtic/country, distinctive whether they're playing instrumental or songs.  Some songs are traditional, others new.  Whatever, it's all good stuff. 

They played two sets, and in between was time to happily wander the antiquey/junky shops and bookshops (new and second-hand) of Katoomba.  Had a great day.  It was hot in Katoomba (32degC), and very hot (ten degrees hotter) at home.  Definitely a day for a hat and slipslopslapping with the sunscreen.

I bought two of their albums which I didn't have, and have been enjoying them very much this evening.  Definitely an Australian day (well, except for the American chocolate brownies I baked this evening ready to take to work tomorrow).

Book 005: The Grand Sophy

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer.

Hmmm.  I may not restrict myself to a single Heyer, but this would have to be in my top three.  I've just been listening (again) to an unabridged audiobook of it, which is terrific and highlights the wit and irony of Heyer's writing.  And the utter fun of the story. 

This image came from here; it's the edition I have of the book (but am too lazy right now to photograph and upload...).  That blog entry compares Sophy to Jane Austen's Emma.  Sophy being Much cleverer at managing people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kiva: Meet Nieva Salabe

One of my great daily pleasures is reading the newspaper - generally the Sydney Morning Herald in paper form, the New York Times online.  On my recent holiday away, it was great fun to read the local newspapers in each district, and get a perspective on local concerns and activities through them.  You can see why I chose Nieva Salabe for my latest Kiva loan.

Kiva is an avenue for lending to the working poor.  I first learned about it almost two years ago, and since then have done fifteen loans - some are now paid back, the rest are being paid back.  When I'm repaid, I recycle the money to lend again, as well as putting in more from time to time.  While I most often have chosen women who are engaged with needlework/fabric, due to my own interests, I've also lent to grow flowers in Cambodia, sell fruit and vegetables in Peru, and other things.  It's a window on other worlds, and chance to make a difference through the brilliantly simple idea of microfinance.

Here's more about Nieva:

Nieva V. Salabe, 51, is making sure that her family has enough provision for their daily needs. Married to Jose Salabe Jr., a driver, they are blessed with three children. She makes sure that she helps her husband earn income so that their family can have a better life. She has been selling newspapers for many years.

Nieva has been a regular member of Center for Community Transformation* (CCT) for several years now. She regularly attends their weekly fellowship meetings and pays her weekly dues consistently. Because of her good repayment performance with her previous loans, she was able to borrow 12 times from CCT’s Cooperative. She is consistent in paying her dues because she used the money she borrowed to buy more stock of different newspapers for her business. Her business lets her earn a profit of PHP 14,000 per month.

Now with your help, she would like to apply for a PHP 38,000 loan. This amount will be used as a source of added capital to her expanding business by buying more newspapers to sell.

She dreams that her business will continue to grow so that she can help her children achieve their ambitions in life.

* All CCT community partners / clients are organized into fellowship groups that meet on a weekly basis. A fellowship group is composed of 15 to 30 community partners. The fellowship groups gather each week to study the Word of God, build social capital, and pay Micro Finance loans.

It's not at all difficult to lend via Kiva - do try it.  Minimum loan is $US25, plus a suggested 15% of your loan to support Kiva's own costs.

Book 004: A River Runs Through It

I think I came to Norman McLean's book, A River Runs Through It and other stories, thanks to the 1992 film, directed by Robert Redford.  Such a strong, graceful, wise, sad book (semi-autobiographical) and film, about two brothers, one responsible, one not, the ties that hold a family and the losses that never quite heal; and flyfishing, which is absolutely about itself but also a metaphor for much more.  The book was rewarding too, and has one of my favourite pieces of prose, which is the ending of both the book and film.

"It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."

Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.

Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, alhtough some friends think I shouldn't.  Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where teh summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening.  Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the worlds' great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.  Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

In the film, most of this is done as a final voiceover by Robert Redford (as the voice of the older Norman McLean - Redford doesn't appear on camera in the film).  The rhythm of this piece of prose, its simplicity and craft, its wisdom and mystery, catch me every time I hear or read it.  I don't fully understand it, and yet I do.

Here's this section from the film:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJkzmS_WTQI if the link below doesn't work)

Here's the film's trailer, in case you're interested.


Such a visually beautiful film too'; it did justice to the original writing.  Must hunt out my DVD...

PS. The mention of 'ties' was an utterly unintentional allusion.  Sorry!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On spelling

Just a quick note.  Why is Caesar so hard to spell?  As in Caesar Salad?  As opposed to Cesar, Cesaer, Cesear, Ceseaer???  I recently saw a single cafe which spelled this two ways in one menu, and it's misspelled everywhere....

Its vs it's.  Always bewilders me when I see an expensive ad in which clearly much moolah has been expended on photography, immortal prose and marketing, but omigosh, they haven't got it proofread properly.  They're trying to convince me to spend bunches of money on their quality product, and they can't get its/it's right.  I lose confidence. I do.  I start wondering if the quality of your product is all you say...

PS there are no spelling mistakes on this blog, of course.  Only typos.   !!!

Book 003: Stupid Sock Creatures

Stupid Sock Creatures, by John Murphy

Just when you thought it was all going to be tragic novels, here's a change of pace.  This book is hilarious, clever, witty and fun to browse.  The imagination it shares is utterly delightful and inspirational, so many quirky, individual sock creatures.  I still have my old school hockey socks (red, yellow and green stripes, white 'feet') and someday, this book is the one that will make them become something new.  Found this book at the Sydney Needlecraft and Quilt Fair at Darling Harbour several years ago.  I do like the way people are shaking up the world of softies/soft toys with books like this.  John Murphy's website is here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Book 002: The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

After a little discombobulation at the start, getting used to the dual voices of Henry and Clare, and the time-travelling, this is one of my greatest favourites, a great, rich, tragic, hopeful story about love and loss and the ordinary things that matter so much.  The unabridged audiobook read by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow is utterly brilliant, the best performance of this book (the film wasn't able to hold the narrative richness and detail of the book) and my favourite audiobook ever.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book 001: I heard the owl call my name

I thought I'd document, here on the blog, a year-full of favourite books.  Or 365 favourites.  Given that this house houses hundreds (OK, thousands), it will be fun to choose especial favourites.

I heard the owl call my name, by Margaret Craven
Love this book.  Found it as a teenager, and by the end of it, I still cry.  Margaret Craven's writing is powerfully simple, plain clear storytelling that leaves room for you to engage, rather than forcing you to do so.  A young priest, Mark, is sent by his bishop to be the minister in a remote Canadian village, because he doesn't have much time and the challenges of this will make the most of his time.  The native Canadian people (first people? I'm not sure of the current correct terminology) view him at first with suspicion, and he has to earn their trust and find his way in an unfamiliar culture.  It's not all a pretty story, or unrealistically neat, but it's one that resonates.  It's not a 'religious' book per se, so whether or not you're a believer, it's worth reading.

Holidays: Lakes Entrance

Fishing (and other) boats at Lakes Entrance, in Victoria.

Walking back from dinner, there were people fishing from the boardwalk.

And it was cooler, after a hot day.

I changed the blog header, but of course if you're reading this in a reader, you wouldn't know.  I'm sure I miss lots of blog prettification by using bloglines...