Susie's Amazing Technicolour ...


Tuesday 31 May 2011

Why does so much of what I draw end up being  ... well, vaginal, when it's not being treelike?

... is a good selling point.  Sunlight-dappled advertisements for "where the bloody hell are ya?"  Come visit the land of the amiable, friendly Aussie.

When in reality, Australia has changed beyond recognition in the past 20 years.

You couldn't put it on a travel advertisement, but more and more often the reality resembles something more like this.

The Strange Learning


Friday 27 May 2011

The case for death (and the case against performing animals):

When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.  Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension.  On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment, like a blind person who is being led, and who places one foot in front of the other cautiously but unwillingly.  Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause or meaning of them.  The performing wild animals in a circus go through their programme, I believe, in that same way.  Those who have been through such events can, in a way, say that they have been through death - a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience.
Karen Blixen - Out of Africa

There is much to be said for learning to die well while you live.  You can go kicking and screaming all the way down, if you want, even if you know that life tends to lie out the other side of all of those deaths.  Even if they are not what you want, or maybe even not what you can see for months or years.  The possibilities that lie within one small seed, maybe they lie too in all our deaths.  Maybe even most in our most meaningless ones.

So you kick and scream all the way down even if you do feel life lying just beyond death because while you know that, you also don't know that, or you forget, because in those perpetual death places you can't for the life of you remember being anywhere else ever.  And then the life breaks in once more and again, you remember the meaning of perspective.

Learning to die to live feels part of the great circle.  Not a line, to me.  Not something linear that ends at some point (even though it will - or will it?)  Yes, a circle, a spiral.  Coming round and round back to the same places again, feeling like a breath of some sort of grace, the different angle examined, the new puzzle piece learned.  

And you come up over the hill and it all breaks open before you for the millionth time, like sparks, and you remember what you have always known, and have forgotten again:  it's love.  Love holds it all together.

Ten Steps to be More Like Me


Tuesday 24 May 2011

It must be May, because I'm tired.  One of the things I'm tired of, frankly, is reading ten-point-plans on how to better myself.  Sometimes I wonder how much of that is really someone else's ten-point-plan of how I should make myself more like them.  Or someone else's ten-point-plan of what they want themselves to be like at some point in the future.  Sometimes I feel like what I'm reading are infomercials for one more person's enlightenment journey, packaged up to sell.

But hey, I'm pretty cynical today.

It feels like we are getting ever more homogeneous, right under our own noses, and I don't like what that feels like.  Instate anti-bullying laws all you like, but the playground still seems mean to me, just perhaps a little more sophisticated in its meanness.  Sometimes it feels like the breadth of humanity is becoming constricted down into diagnoses and pills we can use so that we are not made fearful by differences that we do not understand.

'Cos that's what it comes down to so often, isn't it?  People who are different from us, we fear them, don't we.  And so that's why the scale of what is considered "normal" becoming ever smaller makes me feel just a little bit edgy.

Unfortunately, I'm not anywhere near as immune to feeling fearful of others' differences as I would like, though my desire is to be as accommodating to just letting people be, in all their stuff, right in the middle of themselves right now.  But that is easier to type than it is to do.  Especially when I feel so scared and anxious so much of the time.  My partner and I have some  major, major ways of seeing things different amongst all our commonality.  Do I like it that when we discuss certain things, at times when I am feeling small and scared and tiny, that he can feel like I am rejecting him?  I don't.  It makes me feel sad.  I think it's patently unfair that all of those emotions we have when we feel small and tiny and scared manifest themselves as negative things like aggression out the other end, out our face, and hurt someone on the other end.

My partner and I both have some weird going on, I suppose, if you asked Taylah and Matty at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre what they thought of us.  Anxiety and depression and Aspergerers and old traumas that jump up at times to create some havoc.  Those things can always appear to other people as things to be feared.  Which often translates as things to be treated.

I think about Jesus' dictum to "love your neighbour as yourself".  It's easy to try to love your partner as yourself, though you fail many times, because you love them and you want to understand them.

But I wonder what life would look like if that "love your neighbour" dictum was in play - in my case with Taylah and Matty, for example.  I wouldn't be able to caricature them as bogans.  I'd have to actually look beyond the labels I slap on people to what lies underneath.  I think what love your neighbour would have to involve for starters would be a willingness for people to be prepared to be a little scared with each other, all of the time, while resisting the urge to pack each other off to counsellors and psychologists and Glaxo Smith Kline when there is any evidence of a difference in thinking that goes against the grain of what Channel 9 spouts.  Loving your neighbour as yourself would have to involve a willingness to admit that we are all a little scared of each other.

Sometimes I think our easy suburban living has taken us away from our own intuition and perception and understanding, and each other.  We are fearful of each others' frailty.  Sometimes I think all of theses things that we use to communicate - like computer screens and iPhone screens - are decimating our ability to be able to sit with someone who is messier than an avatar.

The things I like reading most online are those things where I can see the rawness inside someone's gut.  It is so much more thin on the ground these days, the courage to be real.  Even while we are all blogging.  The ironies and paradoxes of this age, and of our own souls (mine included) are never-ending.

In Blackwater Woods


Wednesday 18 May 2011

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver
I often wonder how big my yard would need to be if I had to grow everything I ate there.  Well, I don't often wonder that.  That would be sorta weird, wouldn't, it, but I do think about it from time to time as I go about my life being able to purchase vast quantities of herbs and spices and thingymies and jiggeries that wend their way to me from parts round the globe to end up looking rather dull in the local supermarket, so that I have to actually take the time to ponder their origins and write, in sentences far too long for good readibility, about how rich it makes me feel to have all of this stuff to be able to cook with and drink whenever I want.

Whereas these Indian women who are picking the camellia sinesis leaves that go into my five-a-day tea habit do not.  We are very lucky, my friends.  When I feel displeased because the era impedes on me with its whirrings and ringings and connectedness-but-notness, I remind myself of the basics of a rich life:  a bed, a roof, and a full pantry.

Image: Nac Datta

This is capsicum annuum.  From this variety we get regular capsicums (known also as bell peppers), cayenne pepper and paprika.  It would also need to grow in my garden because the paprika's gone into the slow cooker for tonight's chickpea soup.  Today it freezes in Susieland in a raining winterishness, and so a bit of pepperishness goes into the soup to keep the immune system running hot.

Image: Douneika

The brassica oleracea, or cabbage, is very unsexy.  It's sort of like the vegetabilic equivalent of a pair of daggy tracky dacks with the bum hanging out.  But I love cabbage.  Whether I love it in the above soup remains to be seen, because Chickpea and Cabbage Soup ain't exactly the thing you dream of rushing  home for when Mum's cooking, but we shall see.

Image: Frank Starmer

This is fabacae, sp. caesalpinioidae, and while we're here, aren't these Latin names rather tiresome?  There's not a lot of timbre about them, is there?  It's like other Latin words, like clitoris and testes;  it just takes all the humanity or shrubanity or life essence out of these things and turn them into something cold and antiseptic that you certainly would not want to touch even with a bargepole, let alone anything else.  Whereas plenty of people like to touch clitorises and testes, and actually find it quite a pleasurable experience.

Drinking this is also quite a pleasurable experience, although not in the same category.  But a cup of senna tea  is a lovely thing to help ... well, you know, move things along down there.  

Yeah, I know, I'm getting all coy suddenly talking about poo, after I've just talked about clitoresis and testes. But those are generalised clitorises and testes, not my personal ones.  Whereas now you all know that I had a cup of senna tea today because the cableman came round and there wasn't any cable to lay.  

Image: Lalithamba

This last one is my favourite.  It is ulmus rubra, commonly known as the slippery elm.  It's not the leaves or the flowers or the fruit that are eaten this time, but the bark.  

Speaking of the flowers, Wikipedia informs me that the flowers of elm trees are bisexual or unisexual.  Well, there you go.

Image: (C) Steve Baskauf

Ground down into a fine powder and drank, the bark becomes very moist and sticky when mixed in water, which helps to soothe inflamed parts of the body.  People use it to help with their inflamed gastrointestinal tracts, bringing relief to sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut syndrome.  

My old doggy had a bad day yesterday, throwing up his guts all over the floor.  A visit to the vet last night reported an overindulgence in bones (mea culpa) resulting in an overtaxed system and an inflamed stomach.  And so I was particularly heartened this morning when Lester, after not eating anything yesterday, partook of his very own soup:  broiled chicken in slippery elm and chicken stock-flavoured water.  Dat dog knows what's good for him.

Which may very well end up being tastier than the version the two leggeds have this evening, but we shall see :)
Image: Swamp Dude

Some Days ...


Tuesday 10 May 2011

Some days, you just feel your age.

Some days you are up all night, throwing up in four different spaces, unchewed hunks of bone covered in a soup of slime.  When you get up in the morning others clean up after you while you look mournfully at them.  But you bear it all with doggy dignity.  Not for you ego pricks, but you like to make it outside when you can.  You do, when you are not outright misbehaving, like to obey the rules.

Some days you wake up after a bad night and all your joints ache from the walk the day before.  Some days your old bones don't warm you.

Those days you follow her around the house.  Every time she gets up, you get up too, and follow her to wherever she is going.  She velcroes some extra padding on you, the coat reserved for days when it freezes outside, but you don't make the connection and you lie under the desk at her feet.  You try to climb up onto Chair, who is now living next to the computer, but your doggy coat clunks you up, and there you stand, half in Chair, half out, until she lifts you off and you just lie where you are, on the floor, while she cuts dream collage bits out of magazines and says things to you that you can't hear anymore because you're deaf.

Those days are not the ones you like best.  You like the days like yesterday, where you walked, and you played with the people, and you ate bones, and barked rudely at everybody when they did not do what you wanted.

But defining days as one better than the other is artistic licence on your pet's part.  You do not live there.  You are blessedly removed from anything other than here.

Here, you can bear the bad days with doggy grace. 

How Embarrassment


Wednesday 4 May 2011

I was listening to my local radio station yesterday and the presenter played a song of great dagginess.  Surpassed in dagginess only by other John Denver songs like Annie's Song*, Take Me Home Country Roads has the cheese falling off it in big, long, pathetic shreds like drool out of the side of a dog.

My abysmal attention span focussed on that song for its entirety, because it's so cute and so sweet and so other things you put in italics.  It is embarrassing to admit that I like such cheesiness and such sweetness, in such an age of cynicism and abject suicidal despair.  And cheesy and sweet are yukky combinations, so by rights I should not like this song.

But I do.  He is yearning to go home where he beloowwwngs.  West Virginia, mountain mama.  And anyway, I just thought of cheesecake, so there goes my theory.

(PS:  Don't you think John Denver looks like Kevin Rudd's  Muppet lovechild?)

*I also like Annie's Song.  So shoot me.
Pic:  Douglas Brown

is missing Facebook a little bit.


Sunday 1 May 2011

But not enough to rejoin.

Two friends separately asked me yesterday to rejoin Facebook so that we could keep up with each other more easily.  Even though we all know that texting and emailing and stuff are all other options with which to contact me.

And it's that strangeness which fuels the resistance that continues (although, admittedly, I did log on the other day for five minutes before I "deactivated" again  :)