Thursday, 5 April 2018

Imagine That

The mug on my desk has a chip on the rim. Emblazoned with Albert Einstein’s famous quote Imagination is more important than knowledge it was a favourite, so there was never any question of tossing it out once I could no longer use it for my cuppa. It now holds my pens and pencils, and reminds me every day of the importance of looking beyond what I merely see, challenging me to listen to my heart and not only my head.

The creative process is a long and winding road, with enough highs and lows and twists and turns to bring you undone unless you believe you’re on the right path.
Finding ways to negotiate that road, particularly in the times when I feel dry and uninspired, is what keeps me forging ahead, however faltering my steps may be.

‘Write what you know’ has long been a premise from which to start, but for most of us our lives are fairly routine and ordinary and on the surface wouldn’t appear to be of much interest to anyone else. To quote Jean-Jacques Rousseau The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. If it were not so, the whole realm of literature and film and music and every other artistic endeavour you could think of, wouldn’t exist.

But throw in some other possibilities, little tangents, head off down some unexplored sidetrack somewhere, ask ‘what if…’ and see where it leads. For writers, those two words can conjure up all sorts of scenarios, bringing disaster, mayhem, conflict, and all manner of unexpected joys or tragedies into an otherwise ordinary world. For all artists and artisans, whether visual or not, those words can open up other ways of approaching a task, especially when the ‘usual’ way of doing things no longer has the impact or holds the sense of fulfilment it once had.

All too easily we lose our inner sense of wonder and curiosity when our childhood years are behind us. We experience moments of it here and there, where something resonates deep inside, and wonder in those moments how and when and why we let all slip so easily. We don’t need to recapture our youth, we simply need to capture those moments when they come our way, and be thankful.

Think outside your head
travel through imagined worlds
never seen before

Monday, 2 April 2018

Flushing out the Funnel

I was becoming suspicious of the perfectly round hole in the garden bed by my back porch. Having hosted a tiger snake in that bed for a couple of weeks during the hot weather, I knew it wasn’t his, he was way too big to fit down there. It was about 2 – 3cm in diameter, and after my son telling me of his close encounter of the eight-legged kind in what sounded like identical circumstances, the time had come to take action.

I’m usually a live and let live kind of person when it comes to creepy crawlies, but when they’re in the vicinity of the house that’s a whole other ball game. My solution went like clockwork. A dribble of petrol down the hole, I wasn’t sure if I was going to set light to it but I didn’t have to. Overcome by the fumes what immediately vacated the hole was not only a super-sized spider, but a rather ominous looking Tasmanian Funnel Web. I didn’t think quickly enough in the moment to get something like a matchbox to put next to it to indicate its size, but looking at my ruler today, and trying not to do the fisherman thing of making it sound bigger than it was, I reckon it would’ve been about 10cm round, including the legs that is.

I have to admit it wasn’t until about a year ago that I even knew Tasmania harboured this species. Thinking they were endemic to Sydney in particular, I had always made my visits to that fair city very brief, having seen one once at the bottom of someone else’s back porch steps, and never wanting to repeat the experience.

So today, on April Fool’s Day no less, there I was, staring Mr Funnel Web in the face, well not quite that close, and I was thankful for his groggy state courtesy of the petrol fumes. My determination to mark the occasion with proof dispelled any fear, and I moved him from the garden bed to the path where he seemed happy to pose for the camera and move about, no doubt somewhat puzzled as to why he’d been unceremoniously flushed out of his comfy hole.

And then I chopped him in half with the spade.

What? You thought there was going to be a happy ending?

Over the years my encounters with Huntsmans, White-tailed and Wolf spiders have had me convinced I’m on some sort of hit list because of my swift disposal of such intruders within the four walls of my fortress. A Huntsman in the car while you’re driving in peak hour traffic is not the time to get on good terms with arachnids, however fascinating they may be, and a very distinctive wolf spider web in your favourite armchair is a telltale sign the contract out on you is still very much alive.

Did this latest inhabitant bear me any ill will? Was he just biding his time at the bottom of the steps? Did he intend to mount those steps and explore more than the garden? Unfortunately for him, if there was the remotest possibility of such a scenario, he had to go. Funny thing is, I’ve seen those distinctive holes before, but now I know what lurks beneath, I won’t be so complacent.

Live and let die.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Tim Tam Games

I’m sure Arnotts Tim Tam sales aren’t on the decline, so their latest ploy to get us to part with our cash made me curious and had the desired effect I guess. I rarely buy chocolate biscuits, but I bought two packets, you had to buy two of course to get the special, and they’re not just any ordinary Tim Tams. Their flavours have multiplied over the years and now some more have popped up on the market, but there’s a twist.

Stick them in the fridge, which is what I always do with chocolate biscuits anyway, and the claim is that the packet will change colour. So I did as I was told, taking before and after photos in order to check the claim, for as I took them out of the fridge later I must admit I couldn’t see the difference. The iced coffee pack was still brown, and the Turkish delight still a pinky purple, but it wasn’t until I saw the pics on the computer that it became obvious. The ‘Chill Me’ was what had changed, going from white to a distinctive blue with ice crystals.

I scratched my head, puzzled. Had Arnotts become official sponsors of the Winter Olympics? Had they gone to all that trouble to coincide the release of their latest creations with the Games? Had they sent plane loads of our choccy favourites to PyeongChang so people from all around the world could munch on them while wandering from one outside venue to the next, watching them turn blue with cold while they did the same?
Somehow I doubt it, even though it is colder over there at the moment than the inside of a fridge, and the reasoning behind the fridge trick left me with a ‘So what?’ I wondered how many different departments were part of making that dubious ground breaking suggestion and bringing it to fruition. It’s not as if Arnotts need any extra help in cornering the market in chocolate biscuits. By and large they’re everyone’s go-to choice, and this latest marketing strategy has me thinking I won’t be bothering to go back again, but rather stick to my occasional purchase of the plain dark chocolate variety which in my estimation is the best anyway.

There are moments when our western culture and what we take for granted must seem so idiotic to those in developing countries and other far flung places where there’s not only not much choice in what to buy, but the drawcard of fancy packaging simply wouldn’t be on the radar. For way too many, a roof over their head and a full belly are a luxury, and I have to confess to being as guilty as the next person in putting those facts to the back of my mind as I wander up and down fully laden supermarket aisles.

Finding that balance, not being a grumpy old woman and decrying everything that assaults my sensibilities in this consumer driven society, but not being self indulgent either, isn’t always easy. Negotiating a pathway where I adequately care for my own needs while finding ways to support others sounds simple. Maybe it is. The slogan ‘Live simply so others can simply live’ comes to mind, and I guess for me that’s what it comes down to. It’s all about choices.

I don’t need much to get by. I certainly don’t need Tim Tams in packaging that changes colour.