Indoor Passtimes

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It’s winter in Melbourne, we had the shortest day of the year yesterday and the weather is getting chillier. I have always like cooking, and the cold weather seems to be bringing out my European peasant roots (my Dad’s family is German and I’m going to pretend that’s what it is).

I ordered a box of ‘make at home pretzel kit’ from Pretzel Australia a while ago when Victoria went back into lockdown after a rogue COVID-19 positive person was wandering about causing spikes. We’re still under restrictions but they’re a lot more relaxed than they were this time last year that’s for sure! But back to the pretzel kit, it took a couple of weeks to reach me which meant I was still waiting for it after we were let out of lockdown.

Last week I made them, I kneaded by hand because I don’t have a fancy dough hook type mixer. It was a good ab workout that’s for sure. They turned out even better than I had hoped, the first one straight from the oven was so delicious, but the subsequent ones were also tasty.

To serve, I have been eating with mustard, or pickle, and sauerkraut and polish sausage and cheese. It’s a very German version of a ploughman’s. Some photos of the process are below (note I do have a mirrored splashback on my stove).

Prior to my adventure into pretzels I made a beef stroganoff, which was really yummy but super rich. So much creamy stew. Next on the list is something with red wine; coq au vin or ragout.

There’s something about cold weather and slow cooked food, soups, and home made bread. I’m sure it’s not just the peasant in my heritage but something about cocooning and storing calories.

I haven’t been doing much writing the last few weeks. I have a manuscript on which I have done one pass of edits. I hope to have it ready to publish with it’s sister manuscript in early next year, though I probably need to get a wriggle on with booking the editor.

I like being at home, but I don’t like being trapped at home. I used to enjoy going out a lot and I’ve dipped my toe in the water a couple of times when Melbourne restrictions allow and it’s been fun, but also confronting. Being in crowds isn’t something I’m used to anymore. I hope once everything settles down and the vaccinations are all rolled out we will be able to go out and feel comfortable in crowds again.

I hope you’ve been able to keep going with your projects and life, whether you’re working from home, home schooling, going to work even with the lockdown or trying to keep yourself entertained at home because you can’t work. Nourishing the body is worthwhile, especially in times of stress, and I like cooking.

Café Gummo

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I stand on stage
Cables at my feet
Can’t move far
Lest I fall over the edge

Beats a bit out
The drums slow
The guitar fast
I’m in the middle

I look out at the faces
All turned to me
Some seem tired
Uninterested

Will they regret it
Too loud, too country
Too slow, too rude
What do they think?

Last week I enjoyed it
Being in front of people
Revelled in their gaze
Today I’m in my head

I can see more
And hear better
But my mind is not quiet
Shift my feet

A stranger approaches
After we pack up
Says he enjoyed the show
I’m glad, but tired, hungry

I head home
Get a burger on the way
Rest my feet and
Look forward to next time.

NaPoWriMo Wrapped Up

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Just a short post today to say once again I have finished up my annual challenge of National Poetry Writing Month – NaPoWriMo. Modelled after National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the idea is to write a poem every day over the month of April.

I wrote every day, some of the poems were even moderately good. It seems writing every day is good for producing quantity, and theoretically some of it will be quality.

In Melbourne we’re back to almost pre-pandemic levels of socialising, so I’ve been going to work in my city office, going to see bands and out for dinner, modelling for art classes and all the other things I filled my time with before the car accident and lockdowns. It means my ability to find time for writing has been tested; I’ll have to be more strategic with my time.

I’m enjoying getting out there and seeing people, and unlike last year, my poems this month weren’t all just about being in quarantine! I’m sure to post a couple of poems here as I work through them, but now I turn my attention back to my latest novel manuscript. I have a set of two books I hope to release next year so I need to get a wriggle on.

I hope you’re all dealing with the colder weather okay, I’m certainly enjoying the excuse to have a knee blanket and hot water bottle. See you out in the real world soon!

Structure before Meaning

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Today I will try to write a poem that rhymes
with strong meter and development
I acknowledge content suffers sometimes
in the pursuit of perfect accompaniment

Time marches ever onwards, I’m in a hurry
to get one thing or another done. Finished
before the next one is due. I scurry
towards the end, usually diminished

Lessened by the need to produce, propel
some project or other, as though it matters
In five years, who will notice? Maybe rest a spell
and observe the world, urgency shatters

When life is a rat race, if you win, you’re still a rat
vainly trying to change the system from within
Twisting and turning yourself, as an acrobat
working to maintain the status quo. To spin

out of control, nose diving toward the ground
mixing metaphors to fit the rhyme scheme
Fit the concept to the words, as they surround
My poem. I don’t seem to have put in a theme.


I wrote this today as part of NaPoWriMo. So far I’ve been able to produce something everyday, though the quality is wildly variable. I’ve been a bit quiet here on the blog, not least because here in Australia we’ve pretty much got the pandemic under control and we’re allowed out of the house. I’ve been to parties, and bars and restaurants with a reasonable expectation of not dying. It’s great, but I’m back to being busy all the time.

Mother’s day is coming up, and later in the month are my mother’s and grandmother’s birthdays, it’s getting cold and dark earlier and earlier in the evening. At the end of this month I’ll go back to working on my manuscript, hopefully I’ll be able to get a bit more done on it than I have this month. I have big plans for my next couple of releases I just have to finish them!

NaPoWriMo 2021

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For the last few years, in April, I’ve signed myself up to the National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo. Modelled of the novel equivalent, NaNoWriMo, in which I also usually participate in, the aim is to write a poem each day in April.

This year I’m doing it again. I had a rough start, on 1 April I was performing with Wasted Monday at a dive bar in Thornbury after a full day of work and I didn’t get my poem done for the first day. I have managed to catch up, but it’s quite hard to write two poems in a day.

I can often pump out about 2,000 words in an hour or so when I’m sprinting on a fiction manuscript, but poetry is a different process. It’s about selecting just the right word, taking the time to consider the myriad meanings and nuances, the rhythm, the double entendre, the flow, metre, assonance-the list goes on.

Does anyone else do this month long challenge? A friend of mine wrote a poem every day for a year once, she found the process instructive, inspiring, frustrating, and sometimes defeating. I think part of the point of writing challenges like these are to force me to produce something. With poetry, perhaps more so than other types of writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the perfection of the piece. To obsess over exact word choice and placement, sometimes to the point of paralysis. At least if I write thirty poems, a few will be worth continuing. Plus Maureen, who manages the NaPoWriMo website, provides daily prompts for those of us who can’t think of something to write about every day.

Perhaps that’s another reason I find this harder, in some ways, than NaNoWriMo-I need a new concept for each poem. I could do a series, but it would still be a lot more ideas than for a novel, which is essentially one big idea, instead of thirty small ones.

I should get back to it, though, since writing this blog is procrastination for today’s poem. I’m sure I’ll publish one or two here on the blog, but others will stay locked away in the archives not for public consumption.

Behold

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After Ecce Homo Corona, by Eureka

A light skinned man sits, his hands are bound in front of him, his chest is bare, one shoulder covered with white fabric, barbed wire in a crown on his head. The background is red with spear like flower and foliage visible.
Cover image, Ecce Homo Corona by Eureka

I think of Christ

Jesus of Nazareth

Shepherd to a flock

convinced of their righteousness

but so often wrong

Dissident, revolutionary

not one to turn any away

yet so many now use his name

to push down the desperate

Christ as an excuse

My cup runneth over

giving to another

will not deplete me

instead build our mana

Just love thy neighbour

even the weird ones

Sweat Shake Palpitate

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My band, Wasted Monday, has released our first album, Sweat Shake Palpitate. For once, I’m not spruiking my writing.

“It’s been a long and winding road but we’ve recently finished recording our first album; Sweat Shake Palpitate!

A lot’s happened along the way; our original drummer left, our replacment French connection had to go back to France, Lu pinched a nerve in her neck, we found Aaron our lead guitarist! Then Fleur got hit by a car, and it got even better from there, COVID-19 hit Melbourne and for most of 2020 we were in lock down.

In a stroke of good luck Lu’s new housemate off-handedly said they’d recored our songs. Lu didn’t believe them, but a few days before Christmas, in a psychedelic lounge room, we recorded 9 tracks and here they are.

Avalible now on our Soundcloud and Bandcamp.”

We’re looking forward to a few more gigs and open mics now we’re out of lockdown (touch wood), so watch this space.

Déjà vu all over again

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It feels like it’s been a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t written much on my other projects either, unfortunately. I’m sure a lot of you out there will identify with my frustration with the continuing pandemic situation. Melbourne went into our first lock down in March 2020, and we’ve just entered another five day Stage 4 restriction period. Naïvely, I believed that once we’d kicked the second wave that we would be able to go about our lives almost as normal. Cautiously, but mostly normally.

This morning I baked sourdough fruit and chocolate buns, pictured. I was going to take them to an event today but that was cancelled when the government announced the changes yesterday. I had the ingredients ready to go and I decided I wanted buns. In true pandemic style, I burned them, or at least I burned the fruit. If I pick off the burned chunks they taste okay though, so not a total waste.

We’re all worried the lockdown will be extended and we’ll end up stuck inside for the next three months like we were in winter last year. I don’t know if I’d survive another long period of restrictions like that. Eventually even binging Netflix doesn’t sound appealing.

The vaccine will start rolling out in the next month or so, and no doubt that will change the landscape for the pandemic but until then I guess we can only suck it up and try our best. It will be hard, but the end is near, I hope. Here’s to coming out the other side.

I’m really trying not to expect anything right now…

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I tried to write this on New Year’s Day but got distracted by being tired and a bit sore from having a big night. Even now I’m still tired and scatterbrained.

When I wrote up this list I saw it’s exactly the same as last year’s. Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to stick to stuff I can do on my own, while in my house, until the COVID-19 vaccine is in wide circulation and the threat of another lockdown is not imminent.

So here’s the list:

  • Publish Singular Focus
  • Finish manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2020
  • NaPoWriMo 2021 (April)
  • NaNoWriMo 2021 (November)
  • Keep up the blog
  • Paint more murals
  • Put on a third Melbourne Fringe Festival show (October)*
  • Wasted Monday performances*

The last two are pretty much dependent on the ability to move around in the world. For a long time Victoria had no cases, but they’re back. We’re definitely doing much better than other places, so hopefully we can get the spread under control again.

Music, writing and art have kept me sane while socialising has not been possible. I really miss performing, but I know I’ll be back on stage soon.

For everyone’s sake I hope 2021 is easier than 2020, but if not, we’re all kick ass at staying inside and wearing masks now, and maybe that will make the difference.