Best laid plans – the challenge of rethinking projects

I dream of a cupboard with patchwork quilts in neatly folded rainbows. There is the scent of lemon myrtle and bay leaves.

I have the beginning of this dream, it’s just that I haven’t made a contribution to the stack. What is there is because of the endeavours of my mum. (Thanks, madre!)

From time to time I have another go. I buy fabrics – gorgeous, colourful textiles. I buy quilting books and look at them on rainy afternoons. Sometimes I cut and start to piece quarters together.

I get caught up in the need for the piecing to be exact. It would help if I could relax my way into the sewing. I expect I would also need to be able to ‘spread and leave’ a sewing project while it was in progress.* It is literally a question of time and space.

Sometimes, when I contemplate another go I think back to the evening (sometime last century, so a while ago …) when I laid backing, batting and a top piece on the floor of the lounge room.

I stretched the sandwiched layers, pinned them into place and tacked them together. I got to the end and released all the pins but the pieces didn’t spring back to a relaxed state.

I had managed to stitch the whole lot into the weave of the carpet.

Putting the stitches in had taken a lot of the evening. I knew they were only to hold the layers in place and that they would be unpicked as soon as the quilting-proper was done. Even so, I had been neat and thorough. It was a work of beauty.

It took hours to unpick it all and weeks to start again.

Piecing it together

Why am I thinking about the delights of a patchwork blanket (preferably in a simple pattern like flying geese or tumbling blocks – I know my limitations, after all)? It isn’t just the present shift in the weather to rain.

I have a cupboard full of fabric for patchwork and quilting projects. I can’t remember the last time I opened it. At the moment, I don’t think I could even negotiate a path to it. There are books and a filing box of research notes in the way.

To be honest, the books have taken over a bit.

This was pointed out to me by one of my favourite young people yesterday who observed that I should not buy more books because (and these points were made quite clearly and purposefully)

  1. I already have more than a thousand books. (True, but I don’t think the number is excessive. Nor is the collection frivolous.)
  2. I haven’t read all the books I already have. (Also true, but I like to think of my library as aspirational. Also, tsundoku is a beautiful word. It is possibly one of my top five favourite words. In any case, I’m planning on reading them.)
  3. I have run out of shelf space and there are books in stacks of twenty on a table. (Not quite true, none of the stacks reaches to twenty. If I were a shade tetchy I might suggest that the young person should count again and revise the merits of their argument. Clearly, that is unnecessary.)

Many of the recent additions have come about as I’ve clarified the texts I want to use in my thesis.

Others have made their way to the stacks – and been graced with my current favourite bookplates – by virtue of simple desire. Or, they relate to past and planned projects.

Or, …

Does there really need to be a reason?

Adding books to my library
Some of April’s additions

Working out light and shade

Amid the flourishing crop of books and research articles I’ve been looking at my project plan as I try to rejig my approach to my thesis.

My most recent focus has been hagiography – specifically saints’ lives in Middle English, and more specifically female saints’ lives. This was always part of my plan. I’m pretty clear about the what of my research but as I’ve selected sources I’ve also been working on how the project as a whole fits together.

And I’m reminded of the quilts I’ve never made.

There’s the piecing of the squares to make the blocks and then the laying out of the blocks into the overall pattern. This happens before the (in my case, sometimes disastrous – as described above) sandwiching, strapping and quilting.

Before all of that, though, there’s the selection. The balancing of tones within a square before you move on to the blocks.

When I bought my first quilting book (sometime in the 90s) I dutifully made a shopping list on the basis of the ‘necessary items’ that the book listed. One item was a ‘ruby beholder’ and I would go into craft shops to ask if they had one only to be met with blank stares. A what?

When I eventually found one I misunderstood how to use it. It is a rectangle that features a square cut out. I thought that was so a quilter could determine which bit of fabric to feature in a block; the square was a frame. I was wrong.

As it turns out, a ruby beholder is a device for working out ‘colour values’ in fabric. It tells you which fabric in a selection is light, medium … or dark. (Here’s a video that explains this, if you’re curious.)

I had set up this (I thought) brilliant plan of the structure of the thesis. I knew I shouldn’t become attached but that’s precisely what I did, despite my best intentions.

I’ve realised that my thesis is not unlike a quilt.

I need to work on building individual squares. Ultimately, though, the pieces might have to move around.

A ruby beholder for literary sources would be a bonus.

Stack of books
Raw materials

 

*This is based on familial observations which I like to think are expressed as endearments but could equally be epithets of despair.

 

 

 

Looking into the well – seeing what is impacting on my writing

It has been quite a week. Lots of reflecting and prioritising as I sort through what is important now and how that relates to my longer-term goals.

Progress on my thesis is slow. I’m still working out how to best present my intended direction in the introduction and I’ve been working on some philological material. The good thing is that I’ve come across some really useful material in the last couple of days. My other writing … has been even slower. Despite that, I’ve come out of the week inspired and, I hope, refreshed.

Festival time

February and March in Perth are – if you’re me – pretty much perfect. First there’s Fringe World and then there’s PIAF – the Perth International Arts Festival. There’s so much to love.

Fringe World gateway in Northbridge
Gateway
The entrance to the Chevron Festival Gardens
Entrance

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been filling that well again, nourishing my the ‘arts’ part of me. And the best way to do that is, like it or not, to dive in.It isn’t without its challenges – questions about life paths and choices, anyone? – but it is fabulous. I’m blessed.

Despite there being all sorts of temptations, I’ve been restrained. The Fringe acts I’ve caught (over a two week period) are The Epic (Finn O’Branagain and Scott Sandwich), This Boy’s In Love (Adriano Cappelletta) and The Kransky Sisters. As far as PIAF goes, it’s early days. Tonight I enjoyed a mellow evening featuring William Fitzsimmons. I haven’t decided what is next. It will come down to how much progress I’ve made and how efficient I’ve been in making that progress. At the end of the day … now that I’ve had a modest helping the rest needs to be become a treat.

Except for the writers festival which is next weekend. I’m going to have to put that down to a necessity and work out how to be productive in and around the program. I have no idea which sessions I’m going to make it to. Previous experience would suggest that I should pace myself and not gorge on fully packed timetable. Should. Then again, I don’t want to be a wreck when Sunday afternoon comes around.

Material history

Another ‘diversion’ that I think will be helpful was a symposium I attended at the Western Australian Museum. The WAM’s current exhibition is A History of the World in 100 Objects. There are quite a few events scheduled in connection with the exhibition. Yesterday’s theme was ‘Unwritten Stories: Objects, Power and Shared Histories’. There was a half-hour walk through before the presentations that focused on the structure of the exhibition and highlighted some connections. I’ll be needing to go back a few more times. There’s plenty to think about. I’d like to do some of that thinking while looking at particular pieces.*

The symposium reminded me to stop and think about the problems I’m dealing with regarding textual evidence for my own work. The ‘dress’ element of my thesis is, in part, to anchor the topic to something concrete, so I can play with the idea of the material as well as abstractions. The usefulness of material/object history is something I’ve included already but there needs to be more of it in the work.

The bonus of the symposium, in addition to sharing a fascinating day with a good friend, is that it triggered some ideas for creative work. It is too soon for details – and it might turn into a nothing – but I love it when ‘study’ and ‘creativity’ come together. The symbiosis is part of the magic of my world.

A swing and a roundabout in one
In the air

On a (not so) slightly political note

In a packed with much to think about – I’ve barely touched the surface – there was something else …

I took time out to attend a protest against children being sent to offshore detention. When I first wrote the About Me page for this blog I indicated I planned to cover topics from the Middle Ages to modern Australia. As it turns out, I’ve shied away from making comments on current events in general, and political matters in particular. A while ago I edited the About Me page so modern Australia no longer ‘features.

I spend a lot of my time, reflecting on those who are silenced in history, questioning the nature and experience of agency in relation to medieval women. I also spend time writing poems about trees and the objects that frame my life. That said, I know there are more important things. There are people who need other people to raise their voices. So, in among my gadding about ‘getting culture’ and digging through research about people long since gone and all the other things that have filled my days in recent weeks, I’ve been engaging in some (I have to admit, pretty low key) activism and I feel I should own that here.

To be clear: I do not think children should be kept in detention. I do not support the detention of asylum seekers. I am opposed to offshore processing. I am dismayed that Australia’s human rights standing at the moment is so parlous. I hold both sides of politics in Australia responsible for the current state of affairs. I believe Australia is better than this.

My longer-term goals – whether pursuing further study and research, building (and perhaps shifting) my career, rolling my sleeves up to play around with creative projects – are hollow, they matter little, if I do not hold true to what I value.

FREEDOM spelt out
Let Them Stay

 

*Brace yourselves for musings about emptied coffins, childhood memories of Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth and thoughts about ephemera.

Poetry in film – January – Bright Star

As far as tangents go, I’m liking this poetry-in-film ‘project’. It offers time out but also structure. The fun part is that I can share the films with friends and family, but not necessarily the poetry. This is an important point since not everyone in my world is a fan of poetry. Here is potential for a spot of poetry by stealth.

Stealth poetry. It could be my new thing.

I can’t say that I’ve made a great deal of progress exploring Keats as a poet. I don’t often work with strongly rhyming forms and I can find them a challenge to read.* Yes, I know. This is odd given many of the texts I’m working with for my research … That said, I’ve dipped into the new volume I picked up at my fave secondhand bookstore and I’ve cruised around some websites.

With this being as far as I’ve gotten, my position in relation to Keats is going to have to remain as peripheral for now. What follows is, therefore, a general reaction rather than a considered comment.

A toe in the water

In my reading around the place I came across some observations about Keats being an uneven poet and from my toe-in-the-water effort I can see how this would be true. There are poems that just don’t work for me (‘A Song About Myself’ comes to mind even though I can see that there is a progression in there which I might enjoy looking at at a later point) but others are beautiful. I enjoyed the repetitions in ‘A Prophecy: To George Keats in America’. ‘On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer’ is a favourite, as is ‘Ode to Autumn’.

I remember attending a talk on ‘On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer’ and feel I should hunt out my notes from that day. Unfortunately, hunt in this case is not a euphemism. I can’t remember ‘when, where or who’ at the moment so I’m stumped as to where to go in search of the notes. I do remember that my curiosity was piqued and I spent some time looking at the poem and Chapman’s Homer for a bit.

(And now, as I write that, I remember what it was that was happening around that time. There was chaos. At least I know which set of notebooks to go to …)

I think the poem that I am most likely to keep coming back to is ‘Ode to Autumn’. As far as an anchor for working through the body of work goes, I don’t think this is a bad choice. I have wondered (idly) whether I might like to write out a copy of the poem to have on a board near my writing space.

Then I think of the state of my writing space and … I turn my attention to other things.

Hello, domestic avoidance.

A tree in the Patricia Crawford Court last autumn
One of my autumn memories

Back to the film

Of course, what has brought me to this point is Jan Campion’s film Bright Star. The film is visually lush and I love it. Obviously, there is a fair bit of embroidering on the details of Keats’ life in order to construct a story for a ‘mass’ audience. I don’t mind a bit of embroidery in a film. It isn’t as though I was watching it for a true representation of Keats’ life. If I want ‘the truth’ I’ll find a biography or engage with primary source material. What I found particularly satisfying is that, in a stroke of serendipity, the film has been useful not just because of the pleasure factor of beetling about the place thinking of poetry but also because of one of the narrative’s strands: Fanny Braun’s obsession with (perhaps that should be reliance on) fashion.

My research topic is focused on late-medieval English texts and the connections between clothing and women’s personal agency. I’m starting to build up a little list of films that have statements about clothing/fashion which have nothing really to do with my topic but are interesting in terms of how personal agency is connected to dress. The most obvious of these is The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006) but there are some others that I am sure are going to come up at some point.*

In Bright Star, Fanny talks about the connection between originality, or singularity, of dress and how that connects with personality. It comes down to the idea of the making and marking of an individual. In addition, Fanny’s skills in design and tailoring are presented as useful. Clothing, for Fanny, is not the frivolous whim that is dismissed by the character of Charles Brown. Rather, it a statement of self and a practical means of survival. She might make money from her creations but Brown (and Keats) is unlikely to.

Fiction it may be but, as a reflection point, this has been incredibly useful in the past few weeks in terms of considering how modern audiences and readerships make meaning of medieval and early modern texts. I’ve been thinking about the relevance of production and reception contexts – in general terms of theory but also as part of what the forces are that are shaping my own readings and the direction of my research.

Three scented stars intended as pomanders in place of the picture of the night sky was planning on using but couldn't because, really, where is Perth's summer?
Stand-in stars

*I mention this dot-to-dot connection between recreation and research now mainly as a warning to those in my life who may find themselves participating in research-by-stealth activities when they really think they are just ‘catching a flick’.

 

Letting go – giving in to the pleasure of reading

It is Sunday afternoon and on the way to my desk at Uni I succumbed to the temptations of the delights of a pot of tea (or two) and a seat outdoors at Little Way, an eatery near campus that opened a week ago.

It felt good to be outside in the fresh air. I fluffed about with some work but not much. The tea really was very good and I enjoyed the crumbed squid I opted for.

On reflection, tea and squid doesn’t make a lot of sense as a combination and I will be more thoughtful with my ordering next time but each was lovely in their own way.

Mostly, I was excited by the coolness of the fresh air.

Newly opened eatery Little Way, on Broadway in Nedlands
Fresh and inviting

 

A cool change

I seem to be inside all the time of late. This is partly because Perth has been so hot and the air outside has been like warm soup but also because I’ve either been at either my day job office or at Uni. To be outside with a cool breeze against my face was delicious. To switch off, frankly, joyous.

I don’t often goof off on a weekend afternoon. Even over the Christmas – New Year period, I kept the work going as much as I could. I’ve studied part-time while working full-time for most of my working life and, as a result, my weekends have been ‘golden’ for years. If I haven’t been studying I’ve been writing.

Catching up with friends and family punctuates the routine.

Knowing how I ‘should’ be spending my weekend time and not doing so tends to leave me uneasy. Last week, though, I’ve realised I’m at peak capacity and I felt I needed to step back a little. The year is just a couple of weeks old and I’m thinking of a holiday; just a week away, somewhere quiet, somewhere without a library.

I tend to measure a good holiday by the quality of the libraries I spend time working in. The idea of a library-free holiday feels unusual. I’ve also been weighing up the idea of making the week technology free. I don’t know how that will go. Surely it couldn’t be as hard as it feels it would be? I

’m also not sure how I’ll put together a week away. I suspect it will come down to a compromise. A week off with just a couple of days away may do the trick?

While this will go down as one of my most ‘unproductive’ weeks on record, I have made some inroads. While reflecting on my thesis topic, I’ve made links between a range of unexpected sources and influences that will be useful for further exploration. This is more exciting than I can explain, other than to say it is always heartening (yet also, on some levels, disappointing) to identify connections between the world today and what I’m looking at in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

My next step is to confirm how to make them work. They aren’t ready for public consumption but I’m looking forward to developing my explanations of the connections. That my awareness of these connections has emerged through serendipity is a bonus. What seems to be serendipitous may, of course, just be that I left my mind free for some processing space.

Using poetic forms as a means to make notes and work with ideas continues to be helpful. I haven’t ‘finished’ anything but I have jottings that are promising. At the very least, they are useful as notes and starting points for the next piece of work. I’m still in that space where any words on the page are exciting; that those words might take on a pleasing shape gives me joy.

The calm of reading

I love reading but I lately I haven’t been reading fiction for pleasure. With so much else to be doing I just let it slide. This weekend I’ve indulged in some pleasure reading. I (finally) finished A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale and I’ve nearly finished Careless by Deborah Robertson.

I enjoyed the Gale and can’t explain why it took me so long to read it. The practical reason is possibly that I put it down for a minute and it got buried under papers for a bit, languishing until I uncovered it. I had been meaning to read Careless for ages. This morning seemed like the perfect time to crack into it. I’m expecting to finish it tonight.

The thing that has pleased me about this weekend’s reading is that I’d (somehow) forgotten how different reading for pleasure is from reading for information. It is wonderful to remember that reading can be calming. I love what I’ve been reading for Uni but, for the most part, it hasn’t been relaxing of late. This weekend I have revelled in immersing myself in stories and how refreshing that can be.

As the weekend comes to a close I am still tired. The dream of a modest holiday lingers as a necessary goal but I have to admit that I’m feeling more relaxed. I let go of the routine and, while I may later be tempted to rue the day that I did, it is delightful to feel this relaxed.

Lilies in the moat at the Reid
Memory of calm

 

Another new beginning – thinking about what I want to write

I saw in the New Year watching Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009), one of my favourite films. It was a quiet start to the year but I have to say I was more than happy to end 2015 calmly and ease my way into 2016. 2015 was relentlessly busy. There was so much thinking to be done, so much musing, I could have been thinking out loud on this blog a lot. But I kept thinking the better of it. The result? Just the one post for 2015. There were many words elsewhere and along the way but I found it hard to commit to them.

Something of a love affair

Perhaps ‘affair’ is not the right word. It was more a love-hate scenario, I’m afraid. I found myself really quite liking the delete button on my keyboard. I spent more time that I ought to have communing with the delete button. Not just the delete button, I’m afraid. There were also untold numbers of erasers (I started writing in pencil specifically so I could rub words out), shredders and wild ripping of pages in half and then half again. … Not a lot of what I wrote in 2015 survived.

There was writing for work, of course. I’m not thinking about that. The main issue was writing for uni. That was fraught, more so than I expected. I danced about my ideas for everything, finding it all frustrating and didn’t really want to bring that to this space. I’m only bringing it up now because I’m in the process of regrouping and making some plans for changes.

This is not just about the New Year

I’m not just posting this today because of it being 1 January. That is a nice coincidence. Today also happens to be a day that I have taken off. I wasn’t going to. I had planned to head to uni and get some work done. In the end, I just couldn’t resist. A day off is golden, such a beautiful thing and I’ve fallen into the trap of the public holiday. They can be so alluring, so glamorous – in its archaic sense of casting a spell.

Ensnared I may be but I’m pleased that I have not frittered the day away. I’ve pottered about in my study which is not before time. As I tend to race in and out there is a lot of ‘sorting my environment’ to be done. Filing and cataloguing books and DVDs are tasks that I know should be routine but … Let’s just say it is good to have dealt with a couple of the piles that were teetering precariously. I’ve been able to tick off a few jobs and tomorrow beckons as a productive day back at my desk. Yay. Seriously.

Refreshing this blog has  been on my list of things to do for months. Some of the planning I did for the 2015 revamp that never happened is sitting nicely in a file, ready to go. I sketched out a project last night for the year ahead.

The plan – as it stands at the moment

I acknowledge it is possible that I don’t need another project. I’ve just handed the first 10 000 or so words of my thesis and they need to be radically reworked before I head into the next chapter I’m writing. I’m looking at it more as a recreational pursuit. It is sort of ‘studyish’ but also my kind of fun … Have I mentioned before that I’m a bit of a nerd? I am.

I’ve started the year with Bright Star. I’m thinking it would be nice to watch a film that links to poem on a regular basis. Read the poem – watch the film – engage in some related (but not too much) associated readings – write about it a bit. As I’ve already indicated, I know this is my sort of fun and certainly not for everyone. I haven’t sourced copies of all the films yet so there might need to be changes. I also don’t know how I’m going to go for time. That said, here’s my list so far. You may notice I’ve gone for an eclectic mix and am open to versions that received less than glowing reviews…

  • January Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
  • February O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)
  • March Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977)
  • April The Raven (I’m not sure which version … Charles Brabin, 1915; Louis Friedlander, 1935; Roger Corman, 1963; James McTeigue, 2012?)
  • May Howl (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, 2010)
  • June Lady Lazarus (Sandra Lahire, 1991)
  • July Winter Days (Kihachirō Kawamoto, 2003)
  • August Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, 2007)
  • September Beowulf and Grendel (Sturla Gunnarsson, 2005)
  • October Under Milkwood (Andrew Sinclair, 1972 … or, Kevin Allen, 2015?)
  • November The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton, 1993)
  • December How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000)

My year is packed already but I’m looking forward to knowing there is poetry on my horizon.

Ducks in a row
Ducks in a row

Back on board – thinking planning for writing

Hey there. It’s been a while. Longer than I expected. I meant to check in with a seasonal greeting weeks ago. It was part of my all-planned-and-ready-to-go list…and I missed it. Now the news shows that the world is bruised and anxious. I know our challenges and sorrows don’t just stop because a calendar ticks over. Even so, the New Year is a marker that reminds us that we can begin again. I hope it’s not too late to hope for good things and to share compliments of the season and best wishes for the year ahead.

I hope the year improves for everyone. I hope 2015 treats you well. I wish you and your loved ones all the best.

Lime tree dressed for Christmas
Bright and shiny

Wrapping up 2014

Like a lot of people, I find myself frantic in December. Fortunately, my family has been taking a calmer, more measured approach to the festive season in recent times. We haven’t quite gotten it down to brown paper packages yet, but we’re on our way.

Brown paper package
A favourite thing

Simplifying the festivities makes everything easier to deal with.

It also happens that I have a December birthday. It tends to get lost in the lead up to the 25th, which is ok. I keep the celebrations low key. I may have indicated before that I find birthdays a good time for personal reflection. Dinners and cake and the like are a bonus. I’m a fan of a bit of quiet time with a few special people. On this last birthday, I was in Melbourne with a friend for her graduation and we didn’t quite manage cake that day. (I must hasten to add that there was cake later in the week. It was exquisite.) Did I mention I was going to Melbourne? I don’t think I did. I should have. I love Melbourne. Really. It’s one of those places that feels right.* I meant to post once or twice while I was there. I wandered around the CBD snapping the occasional photo and ducking into cafes to jot down ideas.  I made some plans but, in the end, I couldn’t settle to commit myself to drafting out the content. I find committing to the page can be tricky.

Breathe

The hiatus of the past six weeks hasn’t just been because of the festive season and jaunting about the place. I also really just needed a break. I’ve had ‘bigger’ years than 2014. I’ve certainly had more traumatic years that the last turned out to be. Despite that, I found that I really needed to stop. I was so tired by the time I got on the plane to go to Melbourne I was barely lucid. While I was away I played with some writing in fits and starts. It’s not the writing I expected to do but I hope it will be useful at some point. Most of all, it was good to take some time to just breathe. That said, it was hard to switch off. I am hopeless when it comes to checking work emails, for example. Even on holiday on the other side of the country I was trying to take photos on my phone in between checking emails and responding to meeting requests… Hopeless. One of the things I love about Melbourne is that walking is such a good option. It is true that I kept finding myself walking to bookshops and the State Library but I’m ok with that!

La Trobe Reading Room at State Library of Victoria
Light and air

Libraries and bookshops are important elements in holidays in my world. I spent some time being very happy near the poetry shelves in the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria. There were familiar volumes just nearby.   It was a calm, beautiful space. I had looked forward to my time there for weeks before arriving. What more could I want? I could have spent more time just hanging out in the reading room. In the end, I was lured outside by the promise of independent bookstores and the temptation of a possible return to coffee.** As far as weaknesses go, I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

Hitting the books

Obviously, I can only imagine what the year 2015 has in store. I’m still working on setting some goals for myself. There’s plenty to be done, as always, with the day-job (I have a new contract, by the way…yay!) and family. I also have plans – big plans – for writing and for reading. There will be more writing. There will be more reading. I’m sure I can work it in to the schedule I’ve drawn up. Books feature everywhere I look, to be honest. To start with, I’ve been working on sorting my home library over the past week or so. I’ve become quite adept at assembling flat pack furniture in the past few years. Now I’m trying to work out how to arrange books on the new shelves. It is taking longer than I hoped and has become something of a mission.

It probably shouldn’t be as hard as it is turning out to be. I’m probably over-thinking the question of where to put particular texts.

Certainly, I know that there is plenty of study to be done in 2015. I finally made it back to the library at uni today. It felt like it had been closed for ages. It hasn’t. It was only for a few weeks and I could have gone earlier this week but…other things, other plans, various responsibilities, the (wow, wasn’t that a good one!) Big Bash League Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat game on Thursday… TODAY was LIBRARY day.

View of UWA Arts building weather vane
In the bright quiet

The day dawned bright and sunny (then, again, every day in Perth seems to dawn bright and sunny at the moment…summer tends to come across as relentless…). Packing my bag for the day (afternoon, in fact, because it is still vacation and the library opening hours are limited) was a joy. It felt good to be back. There was hardly anyone around and the library was quiet. I found some material that I think will be useful. I even managed to stay focused on the list I’d prepared. Is it just me that finds tangents tempting when the catalogue just unfurls with the flick of a switch in front your eyes?

I should possibly confess, at this point, to jumping from drawer to drawer when using the card catalogue decades ago. Tangents are not a new thing for me…

In amongst all the ‘not-writing- time’ I’ve spent over the past few weeks, I’ve managed to work out some of the questions I want to focus on. Most of all, I’ve worked out that there’s an awful lot to do. Tangents are not likely to be helpful. I’m planning on making 2015 a year of being organised. Any tangent chasing needs to be scheduled and mindful. I’m wondering whether the image of the simply wrapped parcel will be useful to carry with me.

I need to minimise distractions. I need to keep things simple. I need to not fuss.

If I can do that, I think I will be on the way to making the year a good one.   *This feeling of ‘right’ places is important to me. I might try to explain it one day. Or, perhaps, it’s for a poem… **I haven’t had a coffee for nearly three years. (Just two or three weeks to go until I get to the three year mark…) I don’t know why I was tempted. I don’t miss it that much on a day-to-day basis.

Blue skies – writing and the pleasure of simple things

I’ve had a great week, even if the weekend did get away from me. There wasn’t a lot of time for blogging but plenty of writing nevertheless.

It may not have been quite the writing I wanted to do but it was writing that I’ve needed to do.

I guess you could call it survival writing? Or, perhaps, utilitarian? Work-a-day?

More on that another time.

Perhaps. I’ll have to think about it…

What does stand out for me about this past week – and what I’ve been wanting to sit down and writing about all weekend – is the awareness of the pleasure there is in simple things.

Yellow, orange and red nasturtiums
Spicy nasturtiums

Spoken words

Monday featured a lecture at uni and Voicebox in Freo. I’m not a fan of double-booking and I admit I was a shade late getting to Voicebox but it was worth making the effort to get to both events.

I slipped into that dim room just let the words flow over me.

Arriving late meant that I missed part of the opening set, presented by Siobhan Hodge. I would have liked to have caught it all. Carol Millner and Randall Stephens were both wonderful.

The memory of some poems are still with me. One of the open mic in particular stands out.

It was Annamaria Weldon’s ‘My Father’s Ikons’ was mesmerising. The room was hushed and still. The images that ran through the poem were just beautiful.

 To be held in thrall by the spoken word is exquisite.

I can’t find the notes I made at the end of the evening. I expect I’ll come across them tomorrow. When I least expect it. In an unlikely place.

It is always the way.

The right place

My other joy for the week ties in with study.

It has been a week of making progress and I was just happy to be working through ideas and making plans.

I’m not sure whether I’ve shared previously about how good it feels to be on track with the project. After prevaricating for a bit after finishing my Masters last year I’ve been a tad nervous.

I  figure that new actions and directions can be unsettling at first.

Settling back into a formal study routine has been tricky. I’m aware that I need to tweak my schedule. My environment is still not quite right.

All that taken into account, the ideas are starting to take shape and it is exciting.

I’ve asked my friends and family to remind me that I was this blissfully happy when I start to moan about how hard it all is and ‘no, I don’t want to talk about my thesis’.

I’m sure it will happen. It must be inevitable.

Friends seem at pain to regale me with horror stories about the process.

For now, though, for now it is a balm and I feel blessed and I can’t wait to get back to the books tomorrow.
A blue sky behind a jacaranda
Blue skies above

*But first I need to sleep. When did the clock tick past midnight?