Spring hail – making plans but remembering to stay flexible

It is just gone 8:30 on Sunday. I’ve been up for hours and I don’t know that I have that much to show for my efforts.

I’m in a bit of a rush…

I have a stack of writing to do. Some of it will be fun. Some of it I’m dreading – but I have to do it. (I should possibly have started with the must-do writing rather than this post.)

I’m dressed to go to the gym.* I must go to the gym. I must, I must, I must. I’m not convinced this afternoon’s weather will be walk-friendly. I could take one of my little notepads and pencils with me so I can jot down ideas for this afternoon’s writing. That would make sense.

Finally, I’ve decided to reinforce the sense of being in a rush by passing over my regular Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven options for writing. Instead I’m listening to The Black Eyed Peas. The idea there is that I won’t settle into the mooching about that is so tempting on a Sunday morning.

Mooching is especially tempting today after yesterday’s storms.

Light hail falling on the Reid Library moat
I always want to stop and watch hail as it falls

The photo I’ve chosen doesn’t really show the hail shower from yesterday. It is, however, one of my favourite views from the reading terrace.

The hail stones that fell outside the Reid were just pebble sized. They fell and bounced on the turf. The water lilies closed in protest. Everyone on the terrace stopped to watch the shower. The hail melted in minutes.

The storm was much more severe in other suburbs. My social media streams have had a flurry of images showing flooding and destruction. Some of us were able to have fun with the storm. My thoughts are with those who didn’t have that luxury.

The last hail storm I was caught in was terrifying. It was back in 2010 and a freak storm hit Perth. I’ve never been so scared.

Yesterday’s storm – for me – was ‘gentle’. One of my favourite people had called by uni for a quick chat and cup of tea. The booming thunder made us jump and laugh. We took pictures of the hail. We sat back and talked about various approaches to study and revision. We planned blog posts.

The storm went on around us. The air cooled and after a while we went inside, but for the most part we sat on the terrace with our tea and enjoyed the weather.

We passed the time. The storm passed.

Hitting twenty

Despite the louring clouds, yesterday’s storm took me by surprise.

So did the realisation – despite the regular ‘You’ve posted your xth…’ message that pops up after posting – that this is my twentieth post.

Twenty posts seems as good a time as any to step back and think how things are going.

My original plan was to create a space to ‘think out loud’. I think I’m doing that.

I’ve realised that the space I wanted wasn’t just about the physical space of the blog. It was also about the time that I made in my schedule – for reflection and planning as well as writing.

I know that I spend a lot of time – perhaps too much time – thinking.

I like the processes that go with analysis and planning. I like putting ideas together. I like just playing with them – for no reason or purpose other than the moment of play.

Riffing on an idea is my idea of a good time.

Turning up to write a post is proving to be a useful tool for reflecting on whether I’ve made any progress and setting out what I’m planning to do next.

There’s also the bonus of being part of a community of bloggers. I can see that reading, liking, commenting on, following other people’s blogs is part of being a member of the community.

I’m afraid I’m not a terribly good community member, though.

I’ve just finished Blogging 101 and I have a lot – read most – of the activities left to do. There are people whose blogs I follow and I don’t get to check in on them nearly as much as I’d like. I hardly ever leave a well constructed, thoughtful comment. There never seems time and I worry about being trite.

I like to take time to think before I write. (There it is again. That whole thinking it over before making a commitment thing. I do a lot of paper-free drafting before setting words down.)

The community element is so important, though. Otherwise, I can see this blog might be just self-indulgent alternative to a personal journal. That’s not my intention. I’m happy to be a part of conversations. I like conversations.

That said, I can also be pretty quiet during face-to-face conversations. You might know how it is; I listen and find myself just thinking things through. Sometimes the conversation ends, people move on and then, then, I work out what I want to say.

I might need to take a moment to sign. I tend to sigh a fair bit. I should stop.

Fully blown yellow rose
A week on and fading

I took another picture of the rose bud I used for last week’s post yesterday morning. It doesn’t look like the same flower but it is.

Time moves on. Roses fade. Hail melts. Opportunities to relevantly articulate a thought drift away.

Where am I going with this?

I don’t want to be wasting time. Mine or anyone else’s.

In the past week I’ve been thinking a lot about how quickly time goes. Whether you’re having fun or not. I’m fortunate in that I mostly have fun.

It is one of the most helpful things about having an irreverent sense of humour. I don’t always share it but I do tend to amuse myself.

It’s just over 10 weeks to the New Year. That’s ok. I’ve made pretty good progress with the goals I set myself earlier in the year but longer-term planning is critical for me right now.

If I take the full 8 years maximum as a part-time student for a PhD I have 416 weeks. I’m three weeks in, so there are 413 weeks left.

If I can do it in the minimum 312 weeks as a part-timer, I have 309 weeks left.

I think I’ll need to spend more than the 309 weeks. I hope I don’t need to use up all 413.

As I move through the next 350 weeks (splitting the difference, more or less, seems like a fair thing), I think that the thinking out loud element of this blog is going to be important to me. I’m aware that I lost touch with reading for enjoyment and just plain fun while I was completing my MMEMS. I prefer that not to happen again.

The fact of the matter is there is reading and writing that I want and need to do that is outside my topic.

I’ve been loving reading on public transport, for example.

My car is back from the repairer and I need to use it to get to appointments after work. I’m one (short) commute from finishing Slaughterhouse 5 and I’d really like to report back on how that went for me once I finish it.

Plain clock face showing 8:00.
Time flies

The year is ebbing away. Today is slipping away. (How is it nearly 10:30 now?) I’ve reached this twentieth blog point in almost no time at all. Or, so it seems.

Thank you for stopping by to read – and for reading (skimming, skipping) to the end.

Thank you for letting me think about all this out loud.

*Apart from my shoes. I tend to leave putting on my shoes to the last possible moment. I take them off as soon as I can. There’s no getting around the fact that I’m not a huge fan of shoes.


A long weekend – a golden time for all things ‘bookish’

As a republican – of the Australian let’s-cut-those-antiquated-ties variety, not the American political party type – I realise my excitement about a long weekend for the Queen’s birthday is not quite right.

I can’t help it, though. Long weekends are like gold and I’ll take them where I can get them.

My idea of a well-spent long weekend is not about relaxing and kicking back. I cram long weekends with things-that-need-to-be-done. I (try to) to catch up with the things-I’ve-missed-doing.

I have plenty to be keeping me busy over the next three days.

There are the usual chores and regular appointments. I have some bits and pieces from work that I need to play around with. I’m catching up with a couple of friends for a screening of the RSC production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.* I want to do some writing. I need to do some reading. I’d quite like to catch up on the exercises for Blogging 101 that I haven’t managed to do.

My priority for this long weekend, though, is to finish sorting my study. My ‘Authority to Enrol’ letter arrived this week. I can’t wait to get started.

Before I do, I need to be sorted.

My desks need to be clear. My filing needs to be done. My books need to be ready.

I need to make some space for library books because as soon as I have a new library card…there will be guests to accommodate.

Looking towards the Tropical Grove from the reading terrace at the Reid Library
View from a favourite working space

The home library

I’ve spent the last few weekends pulling my library into a semblance of order. It’s a long way from where I need it to be, but it’s coming along. The real work will happen over the Christmas/New Year break. In the meantime, I’ve been sorting and shelving.

I’ve been thinking about a cull. Thinking. I must stress that. It’s just thinking so far. I can’t remember the last time I cleared space on shelves…

There are a two or three titles that I know I will never go back to. Never. I didn’t enjoy reading them and I wouldn’t suggest to my friends that they sit down with them, either. They should probably go. The only emotional attachment I have to them is negative.

Now that I think about it, they can leave the premises this afternoon.

There are also some books that are in an appalling condition. They should probably go. Probably. Some of them. Maybe.

I’m wondering whether others could reside in an archive quality, acid-free box for a bit.

Would that do them any good? Would it do them any harm? Should I already have done this?

The books I’m thinking most concerned about are my grandparents’ prayer books and missals. They are old and in poor condition. I have no plans to cull them. I just don’t know what to do with them. I use them sometimes when I’m writing. They are a link back to people and beliefs that I’ve lost. I treasure them but they are not looking well.

Even if I had them rebound, I think they’d need some better accommodation than I am currently offering them.

Two Books of Common Prayer and two Missals
Family relics

Let the games begin

Signing up for a PhD while working full-time is a tad daunting. It’s not an impossible task but it will be tricky.

I gather I have about six-eight years to get the work done. I’d like to think I can get it done perhaps a little ahead of time. If not, I’d like to be done within the six years.

I might be dreaming. I might not. We’ll just have to wait and see.

It would be an awesome 50th birthday present to myself if I’ve kept to my planned timeline.

I’ll need to maintain a pretty structured approach to my weeks. Weekends will need to be guarded jealously. Long weekends – especially when uni is open – must be utilised.

I’ve said it before, long weekends are golden.

Family, friends and fun…all need to be in the mix as well.

I’m excited about my topic. For now – because I know it might need to be tweaked as I get into the research – I’m working with the title Representations of late medieval and early modern English women’s agency.

Here is my overview.

This project will explore the forms of agency available to women through examination of historical and literary representations in vernacular texts from the late medieval and early modern period in England. For the purposes of this project, agency will be taken to be the capacity of an individual to act of their own volition. Women’s actions and responses will be examined to investigate the proposition that agency is available within specific ways and contexts; that historical and literary texts test social structures. A particular focus will be the experience, description and expression of agency in the context of emotional communities – where the domestic as well as the civic is politicised and emotionally discursive.

While women in positions of privilege are likely to offer the greater amount of direct textual material, examples representing women in less privileged positions will be sought. In particular, textual representations of opportunities for women to actively respond to situations, engage in negotiations and decision-making processes, and determine access to their bodies will be explored. It is in these activities that the forms of agency available are directed by context.

Texts about, for and by women will allow for the consideration of a broad evidence base. The late medieval component will use texts ranging from romance and lyrics to legends of women saints and accounts of pilgrims, letters, wills and testaments, and sermons and treatises. Consideration of the early modern period will expand the project’s focus to include plays, poetry, creative prose and life writing.

There are some great texts and references that I came across during my Masters and I’ve found some more while doing the preliminary reading and developing the topic. I can’t wait to get started properly.

Would it be too keen to be at the enrolment office when they open on Monday morning?


*I’m never sure about films of stage productions but I’m looking forward to it in any case.

Introducing myself (for Blogging 101)

Hi, I’m Jo from Perth, Western Australia. How do you do?

Why am I here?

I posted my 14th post on my blog – joleemerrey –  over the weekend. My main purpose in starting to blog was because I wanted a place to think aloud – mostly about writing but also about books and films. In my first post I said I was planning to ‘think out loud about topics that might range from fourteenth-century England to modern day Australia’. I figured it would be good to keep my options open.

For the most part, I’ve found myself focusing on my writing processes and reading practices. There are some topics that I’ve decided are out of the scope of my posts. For example,  I have a day job and a family that I choose not to write about. I’ve avoided commenting on modern day Australia up to this point. I think I will stay with that decision for a while.

I don’t want to politicise my blog and I think I might if start commenting on current events…

I’m in the process of organising to enrol in a PhD (late medieval and Early Modern English focus) so there’s the reading and writing I’ll be thinking about around that. I also write poetry and prose and I’m interested in the (shifting) processes that go along with the writing I do ‘for fun’.  I’ve been enjoying just mucking around so far.

While I have a couple of dud posts – there are a couple that really didn’t do what I wanted them to do and I should have walked away rather than hitting ‘publish’ – I’m pleased that I’ve made it to my desk and committed to pulling some ideas together.

I’ve signed up for Blogging 101 because there are some things I don’t quite understand – about the process of blogging and the mechanics of the platform. I know that I would be able to work most things out for myself given time but it’s always nice to learn things as part of a community of learners…

Hi there, fellow Blogging 101ers!

The plan

Keeping to the schedule of posts might be a shade tricky. My dance card is always pretty full (day job, family, friends, study – even though I’m not officially enrolled at the moment – writing, books, daydreaming … the bits of life that fill up days so quickly and, it seems at time, silently) but I plan to get to the tasks as I can. At this point, I want to keep my Blogging 101 posts and my regular weekend posts ‘separate’. I’ll just have to see how I go.

Perth city skyline at night
I love living in Perth