Saturday, 3 March 2007

Possum Magic

There is a wonderful Australian children's book called Possum Magic, written by Mem Fox. Possum magic is what I feel whenever I see little possum bits in the holes to the possum boxes. Today is very hot, the sort of day when bits appear - perhaps seeking a cool breeze - and there it is, a tiny possum foot peeping out of the hole. I've blown the photo up as far as seems reasonable - don't you love the cute little toes?

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Do you haiku?

For Christmas, one of my daughters gave me "Knit One Haiku Too" by Maria Fire. I'd seen this book in Borders and been tempted to buy it ... but resisted ... so was really pleased to receive it. Only to be really disappointed when I read it. I don't know what I expected, but it didn't hit the spot. I've done a few searches for reviews, but only came up with a couple of raves on booksellers' sites and a deafening silence elsewhere. Why? After long consideration I came to the conclusion that the book failed to please me on two fronts:

Firstly, the short musings did not grab me at any level - it was a bit like reading a blog in paper form - the main difference being that I expect nothing when I read another person's blog - if it doesn't connect with me at some level I just surf on out and look for something else. When I read a book I have a certain level of expectation - that I'll be amused, engaged, or stimulated or .....the list goes on. And if I'm not, I'm disappointed.

Secondly, I found the haikus to be ?too contrived, and, at times, nothing more than nonsense - I wondered if the Japanese form does not translate well to English - there is so much subtley in Japanese culture and the Japanese language that it seems naive to think that you can just take a 5-7-5 form in Japanese syllables and replace it with English words and bingo! you have haiku!

Then in my search I found this site and aha! my discomfort was explained. Jane Reichold and Keiko Imaokai in "How-to-Haiku" write on both the symbolic and grammatical structure of the haiku form. At one point Reichold says " Suddenly I could figure out by myself what was wrong with a haiku that failed to jell as I thought it should. I could ask myself if there was a comparison, a contrast or an association between the images and if this relationship was clear and understandable for the reader" . Perhaps the comparisons, contrasts and associations were present in this book, but, in general, they were not clear and understandable to me. Imaokai's essay on the grammatical structure of Japanese haiku and the difficulties this presents for the form in English, further explained why this book "failed to jell" with me.

Ahh - it's a hard life being an armchair critic! I'd be interested to know what other people think.

Today was knitting-group-at-Cherryhills day and when I picked up my friend, I couldn't resist taking a photo of her beautiful red flowered eucalypt - the flowers were so new that she wasn't aware they had opened. If you look carefully, you can see a gumnut about to "pop its top" - they are magical. I have always loved our eucalypts- when I was a child we'd collect the empty gumnut ends (I don't know what they are called botanically) and put them on our fingers to look like witches' fingers - those eucalypts aren't native to the area here, but if they had been, I guess my kids would have pretended they were Edward Scissorhands! I used to knit gumblossom hats (a fad - I tend to have them) and everytime I photograph something this beautiful I vow to use the photo as inspiration for colour or form in my knitting - but end up doing nothing about it. One day...

As usual Janette and Roxie have made me smile with their comments. Just as well I was born a pessimist, Roxie! Thank you Willow for your good wishes, and before too long I'll post some more wildlife photos for you Carson - you said you had possums in a built-up area - they're amazing little blighters, aren't they? There was one in my street that had a dray in a deciduous tree branch right above the footpath - almost within reach. I must have walked under it dozens of times without seeing it and only noticed it when I was looking for a bird with an unfamiliar call. It wasn't there last time I looked - I think the electricity commission had lopped the branch too close for comfort. No doubt it's happily scratching away in someone's roof! I don't have fond memories of The Magic Pudding - the banksia men used to give me nightmares when I was little. I should revisit it (do I have the right book?).

Monday, 26 February 2007

Day 57 - I'm not ready for autumn ....

Autumn used to be my favourite time of year because the weather is usually cooler and we don't get the winds that invade spring. I love the cooler days and crisper nights, getting out my slippers again and reaching for the hot water bottle at bedtime.

The first of March marks the start of autumn in Australia, and a few days ago I had thought that the leaves of the Ginko biloba were starting to change, then convinced myself that I was imagining it. But the first yellow leaf fell from the mulberry tree today - a poor, lonely thing on the ground. And suddenly I realised that I'm not ready for autumn - but is it the season I'm not ready for, or this stage of life? I'll be 63 this year and am very conscious that both my parents died "young" - 69 and 70. If I follow in the family footsteps that gives me just six or seven years to do all the things that I've left undone. Perhaps that explains the obsession I've had with numbering the blog days - mmm - I'll have to give that one some thought.

Oh well, enough! Looking on the bright side - literally - I heard the rainbow lorikeets making a great fuss outside, this morning. Usually they only make that sort of noise when they have found a hapless possum outside in a tree in daylight (possums are nocturnal).

Sure enough, the lorikeets were prowling around one of the possum boxes, scolding, peering inside and generally disturbing the possum's slumber. In this photo you can see the possum having a bit of a scratch while one VERY cranky lorikeet scolds me for taking a photo!

Being laid low with "the cold", I've not had much enthusiasm for anything including knitting, so have limited myself to finishing another African jumper - knitted in plain red as I started it on the trip to Bundeena last week and didn't want to cart two balls of yarn around - and a couple of dishcloths - these latter in a vain attempt to use up some of the mountain of yarn that lives here. By the way, thank you Janette and Roxie for you get well wishes - and permission to whine! That brought a smile to my face! Little did Roxie know I'd get all morbid instead!