Sunday, June 26, 2011


Not having bought anything new lately, I started running my finger along the spines in the bookcase looking for something crying out to be read, or read again. Decided to go back to what I was reading a few decades ago and delved into Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Realised partway through the first chapter I hadn’t actually read it, Tess of the D’Urbervilles being the only Thomas Hardy I had under my belt and the favourite of many in much the same way as Pride and Prejudice is the favourite Jane Austen. It had been lurking there untouched all this time alongside Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure picked up in the last year and equally untouched.

What is it about “The Classics” that causes me to go running for the dictionary every few pages just to make out what the author is getting at? Silly question I guess, it’s obviously the language, otherwise I wouldn’t need the assistance. I realise much of what we regard as classic literature was written a century or so ago, and most of the time you get the gist of what the author is saying by the context, but once you immerse yourself into a story you don’t want it interrupted every half an hour.

Now I know it was published back in 1874, and set in England where those of a certain breed command a much more thorough use of the King’s English, but did Hardy really think we’d all know what a thesmothete was? It’s not in any of the dictionaries I have in the house, had to Google it to find only one definition meaning that which is established, a law, or in the context of this story, a legislator or lawgiver. Not sure whether it’s because Far from the Madding Crowd was one of Hardy’s earlier novels and he was still refining his art, for around halfway through, the weird words lessen and the story flows a lot more naturally. Then again, maybe people in literary circles at that time actually used words such as these in their general conversation.

Peregrinations – wanderings

Recusant – one who refuses submission or compliance

Inanition – emptiness, especially from want of nourishment

Apotheosis – canonization, deification

Supererogatory – doing more than duty requires

Anathematize – curse

Lanceolate – shaped like a spearhead

Tergiversation – making conflicting statements, change one’s party or priciples

Spoliation – pillaging, seizure of property by violence

Abjure – renounce an oath or opinion or claim

Incarnadined – dyed crimson

Pellucid – easily penetrated by light, sight, or the intellect

Interstices – gaps, crevices

Amaranthine – purple, kinds of plant with coloured foliage

I’m all for learning new words, and just rolling some of these round your tongue sounds great, but for me at least it’d be a lot easier in terms of the flow of the action if he could simply say what he meant, even if it takes a few more words to say it. The trouble in doing that I guess would detract from the “classic” language used and reduce it to a mere good story for us mere mortals.

In the process of trolling the dictionary I must admit to getting sidetracked and being fascinated by all sorts of words I never use. Maybe I should submit these to the Reader’s Digest and see if they end up in Word Power.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Aaah, the sky is falling! Just when it looked like the ash cloud from the Chilean volcano was not only hovering over Tassie but had actually descended to ground level, all we were experiencing here in our village was a good dose of what most of the State had been suffering for the last few days. Merely a decent dose of fog.

Our position part way up the mountain usually exempts us from such afflictions, as we sit in glorious sunshine looking down into the valley blanketed in a thick layer of the stuff which often sits there all day. Nice to look at when you’re above it, but chilling to the bone when you’re in it.

So, yesterday was our turn, don’t think we even made it to 5 degrees. And to add to everything being obscured all day we woke to a doozy of a frost, all the yards white and scrunchy underfoot. My timber walkway from the path to the front door turned into a skating rink, pools of water were frozen, and even contemplating hanging out the washing in bare hands was fraught with the danger of possible frostbite.

As if the discomfort and annoyance for those whose travel plans were thrown into disarray because of a volcano half way across the globe weren’t enough, just when it looked like things were on the improve, Tassie’s winter weather threw yet another obstacle into the mix to keep people grounded a little longer.

Being grounded is an interesting word, and depending on how it’s used can be seen either as a positive or a negative. The physical limitations of this week’s dilemma for travellers as they attempted to negotiate other means of getting from A to B were probably a negative experience for most, as well might be the stern words “you’re grounded” to a teenager who may have stepped over the line.

But when we refer to someone as being well grounded, I bring to mind people for whom I have a lot of respect and hold in high esteem. Those of sound character, those I can trust, who don't see themselves as the centre of the Universe, who display a degree of wisdom, warmth, patience, perseverance, self discipline, and responsibility.

Being grounded for me implies a solid foundation on which a stable framework and structure can be built. From whatever sphere, be it faith based or not, operating from a set of values gives you a focal point from which to start as well as measure your motives and performance. Without the groundwork, what grows from it will be all the more vulnerable and easily compromised when challenges arise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


It’s not every day when you’re in the midst of competing against others for a coveted prize, recognition of your ability or simply the personal satisfaction of achieving better than usual results, that you manage to move up 13,352 places in the space of one week.

With a perfect 8 out of 8 for my AFL footy tipping this past weekend, my monumental leap up the scoring ladder resulted in my being ensconced in position 79,314 overall, which might sound like a bit of a shocker, but seeing as there are 168,745 tipsters participating in the official AFL tipping competition, at least I’m in the top half.

Here we are, half way through the footy season, and I must regretfully confess to tipping against my beloved Doggies who seem to have lost their woof and inherited a definite whimper at the moment. My fortunes in tipping usually correspond to how well or how badly they are doing, for each week I peruse the fixture, say ‘Yeah, it’s possible,’ and bravely tick their box. Well, my jump up the ladder this week is courtesy of my shameful and disloyal behaviour, but that’s footy tipping for you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


What was supposed to be a pleasant afternoon off after an appointment in Hobart this morning turned into an epic journey as our little island State was lashed with wild weather. Heading south yesterday afternoon the bad weather set in about half way there, then continued during the night. Teeming rain and gale force winds meant I cancelled plans for a leisurely lunch and stroll through the Salamanca galleries and shops, and headed straight home instead.

Took me three hours, way longer than usual as the road conditions were atrocious, even had to negotiate several sections of flooded road, so to pull up in the driveway in one piece was a great relief. Said a prayer of thanks as I imagine there may be others who very well might not make it home tonight.

As I write with the sun sinking behind the Western Tiers, not that it’s shown its face all day, there is a tiny patch of clear sky towards the northwest, but I somewhat doubt we’ve seen the end of this latest wintry blast. The wind is still raging and the front door rattling, so I think it will be another long night.

Funny how for most people talking about the weather is usually regarded as small talk, something to talk about when you run out of conversation, but we Tasmanians love our weather! Well, I do anyway. Good, bad or ugly, I watch with fascination as the mountain backdrop to our village changes its moods along with the elements. A friend told me the other day how she gets the SADs, not just a case of disliking the cold winter weather, but seasonal affective disorder, where prolonged grey skies, cold temperatures and dreary days really do affect your emotional well being.

I’m fortunate not to be afflicted in such a way, but I know even I welcome those first days of spring when the warmth returns and outside activities are once more on the agenda. So spare a thought for those who in these next months of being shut in are not shut off from the warmth and company of others who can dispel the grey clouds hovering overhead.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


On the first day of winter.…it tried to rain, but not very convincingly. In fact, autumn went out in rather spectacular fashion as three ripper frosts in a row gave us a foretaste of what is yet to come. Was sitting with a few friends at dinner tonight, pondering over whether the season in which you’re born has any bearing on the type of climate you prefer.

I was born in autumn and always feel most comfortable in a temperate climate, much easier to put another layer on than run out of layers to take off when you live in some icky sticky steamy hot and humid place. Not sure how I survived eight years in Queensland, but the climate is definitely one thing I do not miss.

Summer, yes that’s her name, was born in summer and loves the hot weather, hated her first winter here in Tassie last year, but is becoming acclimatised. There was one around the table who didn’t fit the theory, so who knows, could be an interesting study for someone who has nothing better to do.

So, with the delights of the changing colours and other engaging autumn discoveries behind us for another year, my hermit cave is all prepared to see out the long months of bitter cold. The wood heap is stacked, furry blanket on the couch, big pot of soup simmering, fire keeping the place warm, plenty of books to read, electric blanket on. I’m home and hosed.