Well Happy Australia Day to you too!

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I’ve just done my first act of ‘unfriending’ on facebook. Yes indeedy, I’ve been noticing in a manner more than  a bit bemused, how as a nation we’re trying to get excited about our National Day and give it a bit of U.S. style hype.

People are wishing me Happy Australia Day – don’t recall that happening before. The ABC got all beside itself and advertised the big events happening on the tele all week. What are they thinking? It’s not as if it’s Moomba – Labour Day, formerly a cause for celebration before workers’ rights were so insidiously eroded. 

But I digress, as per usual. Today is also Occupation Day. The day a mob from a long way away, who had heaps already, lobbed here, thought “we’ll have some of this to add to our heaps” and helped themselves without waiting to be invited or checking if they were pitching their tent and lighting their barbe in someone else’s backyard. And once they realised that it was someone else’s backyard, they didn’t even say ‘oops sorry. Our mistake, all yours.’ They got quite narky and indulged in dastardly deeds to take over the backyard.

But I still digress. My act of unfriendment…

I was wafting around facebook, in my fuddled I nearly get this way, and on my ‘wall’ – or some other part of my face’s book, never quire sure, there was a truly gorgeous photo – patriotic beyond words – or two patriotically (and minimaly) clad girl persons, wearing Aussie flag bikini tops, their respective persons tastefully arranged top bollock to top bollock, grinning inanely into the camera, no doubt thinking ‘I know this is exploitative, but surely if I am aware of it, it does me no harm’ in the way people do who accept disempowering social transactions – as we all do from time to time.

That was irritating and disappointing enough – I could go on and on about the inequity between the sexes in the area of clothing and comparable flesh exposure – but the roooooolly smart comments the ‘likers’ had to offer were positively eye rollingly predictable and I got quite cross and snippy and made it my business to learn a new thing in facebook. The art of unfriending. Before that I cruised through various other offerings from my soon to be former buddy and noticed a definite tendancy to upload pictures of female people in clothes that would keep them cool in summer but would generally bilaterally dissect them and do little to facilitate the comfortable playing of sports such as volley ball. 

Anyway, I am always aware of and grateful for my good fortune being born here, and apart from a couple of things that put me at a bit of a disadvantage such as my gender and my vertical stature (not a lot of that I have to confess), I am very privileged indeed. I’m healthy, adequately educated, employed and subjected to only a couple of prejudices. I have to say that sexism I have been on the receiving end of has not been terrific or helpful, but I am fortunate in that it isn’t compounded by the vitriol attached to racism and the massive exclusion that goes with having a disability. I’m truly blessed in having this great land for my home with all its remaining freedoms.

So I love youse Austrayia!!! I rooolly do! And I love having a day off.

My truly adorable dog, Alfred the Great does not love Australia Day very much at all poor mite. He fails to understand why the day has to be celebrated by making huge banging noises with flashing things that convince him his world is about to end horribly. For that matter, I’m even nervous of sparklers, so I would happily leave out that little tradition for the peace and happiness of both of us. 

And the best bit is that this Australia Day holiday weekend will be spent at the Newstead Live Music Festival playing Unsung Heroes over two days – Friday and Saturday – and doing a set with my musical soul mate Moy in our cunning disguise as Ealey & Tyers.

Yippeee!! Think my grumpy mood has just about passed.

Have a lovely day, and spare a thought for your dogs’ sensitive ears. 


Back on the North Island but not quite back to normal

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It’s been a marvellous fortnight of mad activity, heaps and heaps of music, meeting new people and reconnecting with others, and madly missing me dawg!

While I’ve been gallavanting around Tasmania enjoying the music festivals and socialising till I aged a couple of years in the space of a couple of weekends, my poor hapless hound Alfred the Great, stayed home with Patrick (my poor hapless life partner), my mother, our three cats and Lockie – my sister’s new dog! Now Lockie is quite a cute dog who inspires Alfred to grin and purr – unexpected behaviours in the average dog – you may be starting to get the gist of Alfred’s true opinion of being expected to welcome a cousin. As you can see from this candid shot, poor Alfred is in despair having moved from only dog in extended family to one of two. Poor wee mite.

And to make matters worse, on both weekends while I was in Tasmania I was pretty much impossible to communicate with. Not because of a fit of the snippies, but because of technology oh yes indeedy!

Weekend on in Cygnet, there was no mobile coverage for my trusty irritating portable telephonic device which has an insensitive touch screen when it comes to using the correct characters, but a monsterously sensitive send button so I find my self spontaneously sending messages in three parts (brrrring I hear the Optus cash registers ringing away as I text complex messages like “I’m just about”…gone…”half an ho”…gone…”ur away, so be very careful not to touch the stove knob or you’ll almost certainly be electrocuted”…message send failure). Where was I – apart from I hate my mobile phone – Ah yes. In Cygnet I was as elusive as Greta Garbo except for the fact that I did not ‘vant to be left uloooone’. I wanted to text Patrick and check on the critters and send messages to my ancient parent. I did manage to send two texts by standing on the edge of a gravel parking area on the property where we were so delightfully billeted and by reaching as high as I could, on tippy toes balanced on a log. Easy peasy!

George Town was a different matter. There you get a jolly fine mobile signal as I discovered a few years ago after ‘mobile silence’ making my way up the east coast between festivals, having said something a little controversial about Pulp Mills and attracting the ire of some of the locals and the interest of the media, I arrived to quite a bit of feverish text and telephonic activity once I was in range. But this time the problem was me. The last thing Patrick and I said in our final exchange as I left for the airport was “Well at least it’ll be easy to stay in touch this time.”, which was potentially perfectly true had it not been for the fact that a) I left my mobile on the kitchen bench and b) my sister – as canny as me in so many respects – had remembered hers, but not her charger.

But technical hitches aside, what a wonderful weekend it was at the Tamar Valley Folk Festival. Our concert was very enjoyable for us, and I think for our audience. We met some lovely people who had some very interesting stories, I had the chance to do some MCing which I really, really enjoy – it’s the bossy bit that attracts me most I think and that I have permission to talk the leg off an iron pot while technical things go on around me – most people in George Town know quite a bit about Alfred too now. And in all of this there were two stand out bits. The first was this absolutely essential lesson in ‘tremelo’ playing on the Mandolin. An incredibly nice and friendly (and fine) mandolin player, Rosie, showed me how to hold my hand – the wrist angle and where to rest on the bridge – and voila! I could achieve a tremelo pick that was half way to respectable straight away. Thanks be to Rosie I say.

The second,  and for me one of the most important parts of a visit to George Town and the Tamar Valley Folk Festival, was the visit out to the elderly people’s home past Low Head where Moira, Bruce, Stephen and I (in the past it’s either been just me or Moy and I or Neil, Moy and I) played to some of the residents while they did their Monday morning activity, which on this occasion was making table arrangements of fresh herbs. We played a set to a lovely and responsive bunch and were cheered and moved by their warm welcome. Then we trooped into one person’s room who was not mobile enough to make it out to the activities room and we assaulted her with ‘The Water is Wide’. Poor thing looked quite alarmed at the prospect, but bravely I think, went with it and absorbed the beauty of the song and hopefully that of our playing. I have rarely been so moved or felt so honoured to play for someone. I know Moy was in bits too, and we were all very affected by the brief interlude.

So thanks Tassy for everything, despite the technical hitches of both our making. We got back to find more Pozible support and are filled with new energy to try and play Unsung Heroes to as many mobs as possible. Bit puffed now. Got  a cold. Have to be at work. But what a start to the year! Woohoo!


Strange mix of inertia and flap!

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Having had a wonderful time down in Tasmania for the Cygnet Folk Festival last weekend, I’ve settled back into normality (or not) with work and life, and of course preparation for having another wonderful time in Tasmania this coming weekend at the Tamar Valley Folk Festival.

Spend some wonderful days with Jo-Anne and Michael and Harry, Buffy and Toby  and the chookens and immediately started doing that deep sigh “when I retire” type of dreaming.

We had a lovely concert – played pretty well, with the odd ocasional technical glitch which I like to think no one will have noticed. I mean it just sounds perfectly fine to suddenly stop singing lyrics for a line or two in the middle of a very anecdotal song.  And I don’t think going cross eyed at the time gave anything away either. It’s amazing how much you can practice something and how well you may think you know it, but when something happens to distract you, you get… distracted and everything turns to pants.

It’s amazing how, no matter how organised you may think you are with props and equipment, it will always take until the last five seconds before doors open for the slide projector to spring to life. But most of all it’s amazing how kind and responsive folk are despite the weensy hiccups. We had a lovely audience at the Supper Room upstairs in the Cygnet Town Hall who had obviously all gone to bed nice and early (as you do at festivals) so they could get to our show and we really appreciated the effort.

We were equally touched by the sudden appearance of quite a few orange t-shirted folk who slipped into the room just after the Anzac biscuits had been liberated from their airtight bikkie bucket. Definitely a popular drop your scrummy Anzac biscuit from the fair stove of the lovely Moira. She’ll be hard at work again this evening getting the Tamar Valley Folk Festival batch underway.

Now I’m a sucker for a bit of a trip away. I just laaaaaarve planes and even the most ordinary of journeys has me very excited. I don’t actually love delays though.

After a lovely trip from Cygnet to the airport via some very interesting historical spots, driven by our guide and fellow UHAH musician Bruce, we pulled in at Hobart International Airport bang on time for check in. We had caught most of what we had wanted to see, but had run out of time for the Hobart Museum – “There’s a button on a wall in a museum in Hobart...” (The Man and the Woman and the Edison Phonograph), and Neil’s brother’s new seaplane. We piled out of the van and Bruce drove off to continue his plans for the days between Cygnet and Tamar.

We lined up at the check in desk for the first bit of good news. An hour and a half delay. Oh Bother! Had we known, we could easily have pressed the button on the wall and had a cuppa within sight of the sea plane. But no. We were stuck at the International (save me!) Aiport. Despite the fact that it was not yet twelve, suddenly we all felt it was lunchtime so went in search of sustenance. And I’m here to tell you after an exhaustive investigation of  the options, that Spring Rolls are just like they were when I was a kid. Just as greasy and redolent with cabbage. Very nutritious indeedy.

The big lesson I learned there in Hobart airport is that it is sensible practice for a company to completely disappoint and annoy their customers in small, isolated batches. We sat there watching progressive bits of good news – plane now due to leave at 1.15pm (initially due to go at 11.45). Then 1.30. 1.45. Do I hear later? YES!!!!! 2.05pm. And so we sat there watching our lives dawdle past in the luxury accommodations of Hobart airport, witnessing planeloads of passengers board planes which had been scheduled to leave well after us in the first place. Watching AFP personnel sidle up to the boarding gates as the passengers who were not us queued to board – presumably in case one of us rugby tackled one of them as they attempted to step on to the tarmac or decided to completely lose it and have a go at the airline staff. And we all naively said to each other ‘Why can’t they just put everyone back an hour so we don’t have to wait so long?”.

Then the penny dropped. Ofcourse!!!! We were really hacked off when we found out about the first delay, and pretty annoyed at the next one, and gradually became numb to it as each successive delay was announced. So that’s just one plane load of travellers slowly losing the will to live in the gate lounge of Hobart Airport, lulled into indifference by tepid Spring Rolls and passable coffee. Far preferable to having three plane loads of travellers getting jack of mushroom treatment and delays. Very clever I decided, if a little unfriendly. So the few (that’s us) sacrificed our comfort and on timeness for the many. Does that make us Heroes just a bit? Nah! Probly not.

Still looking foward to our next flight to Tasmania tomorrow. Yippee! Excited already… Laaaaaarve planes…

Still wading through the techno bits like a ludite

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This bloggage bizzo would have to be one of the easier to do things in the dense undergrowth of cyber space. I’m having a most excruciating time fathoming twitter, have decided linked in is just toooo embrassing to deal with, am almost coping with facebook, but am not really sure where I am in that, so have ended up sending some quite personal (though happily not lude) messages to more public spots than intended. So many traps for a young player – especially a not at all young really young player.

Still the great god PC has delivered some wonderous things to me this week. Tweets a plenty, offers of help in managing my Tweets – which I will certainly take up when I come back from the two Tasmanian festivals I’ll be playing at over the next two weekends. Emails of support and encouragement for the Pozible fundraising campaign which is going gang busterishly well, although it has slowed down a bit. And ofcourse the amazing pledges of support on the UHAH.pozible site. Truly blown away by that I am.

My wonderful and extremely Twitter-savvy neighbour, who has been gamely attempting to drag me into Tweetland, recommended that I fix a little problem I’m having with my ‘WiFi’. That’s got a lot to do with being connected to the internet when you’re not sitting at home near your modem I gather.

So because I know that Suzanne is almost always right, (indeed I have no evidence to suggest she’s ever been wrong, but we’ve only known each other for about six years so she may have packed all her mistakes in the years prior to our being neighbours) I complied and spent some most vexing minutes – lots and lots of them but to say hours would be a bit of an exaggeration and unfair to the kindly tech support people who managed not to help me despite their sincere desire to do so – establishing that my ISP couldn’t help me so I was directed to the manufacturers of my modem – who couldn’t help me until I’d been back to my ISP because something we were about to attempt was going to wipe me off the email map (or something to that effect). So I retired hurt and no better off.

I gather the reason I was keen (genuinely so, if a little ignorantly) to sort out the WiFi isssssue, is so that I can access Twitter, this fine bloggy environment, my Pozible campaign page (http://uhah.pozible.com), emails etc when I’m away from home, which I’m about to be a fair bit, on my portable telephonic device. I tried downloading Twitter to my mobile – one of those awful touch screen ones beginning coyly with the small letter ‘i’, but managed to fail at that too. ‘xpect that’s all to do with the bits I couldn’t fix up through my service provider. (all this while skipping about to the tune of  “there’s a hole in my bucket” imagine if you will…)

You should see the tangle I get into when I attempt to download ‘apps’! And I really want do download ‘apps’. There are terrific instrument tuners, chord libraries, bubble wrap simlution for popping in dull moments, there’s garage band which I’m rather keen to be dense at both on my computer and my mobile so that I can feel thick as a brick with fewer breaks. My mate Moy has her mobile well and trully sussed and she’s got one of those irritating touch screen ones and she’s going great guns with garage band which is fabulous for her because she’s a really prolific songwriter so now I expect her output to gaziliadruple.

Suzanne (aforementioned font of all knowledge) tells me I need to synchronise my phone with my computer regularly so it can learn how I type. Woh there! It took me WEEKS to learn to type, why should I make it easy for my phone to learn how I type?!?!?

So you see, I’m in quite a pickle with my non grasp of the technology which I apparently have at my fingertips – butter fingertips they must be). I fly off to Tasmania in the morning – still have to pack, note to self to remember to pack the guitar leads, charger for irritating portable telephonic device and the vitamin C – and may not be able to talk to myself on this lovely blog, or tweet or stare at walls or anything. What if I lose track of the Pozible tally! Oh no! I want to see it grow and I want to be able to write and thank people who pledge support. I want to witnes this ‘from little things big things grow’ phenomenon as it occurs. What if my tapping silence is perceived as disinterest?  Oooh dear me. Trust me I am sooooo not disinterested.

In case I go off air for a bit – or however my cyber isolation may be described… I’m not failing to react on purpose.

Really looking forward to Tassy though. Going to miss Alfred the Great of course. Staying with some wonderful friends down there on their permaculture property – loveliest people, playing music with my mates, seeing heaps of music, doing a bit of MCing (I am a chatterbox vocally as well as with my fingertips so MCing is just up my street and down my alley – that’s how much I love it).

If you happen to be in Tasmania over the next two weekends, pop into Cygnet and Tamar Valley Folk Festivals and have yourselves some magical fun.

Tap soon…


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After such a hullabaloo – how do you spell that by the way – and my previous and frankly a tad sulky post, the Pozible campaign kicked off a little over 24 hours ago and appears to be going gang busters!

As I was whinging and reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ (which probably never did exist, particularly according to a keynote by Tim Costello on November 28 last year – visit http://www.latrobe.edu.au/isp/conference.html where you can soon see video footage of his address), the first kind and encouraging person was pledging their support to the Unsung Heroes of Australian History crowd funding campaign.

Since then there’s been quite a bit of heartening activity, much of which is from good souls we already know, but some of which has come from people none of us has encountered. You wouldn’t believe how reinforcing it is when an idea you think is pretty good is supported by other people.

I was frankly a teensy scraz dubious about Crowd Funding, although investigating the sorts of project that ask for support I had to concede that it seemed to be credible and worthwhile. What I hadn’t expected was the really genuine sense of community it engenders.

With each pledge that has come in, I have felt not only delighted, surprised and grateful but also connected to the people who have responded to our plea – even the anonymous ones who I wish I could find a way to thank directly. So once again, I’m sitting here tapping away at the great god PC – with my very affectionate, and all a bit silly seeing it’s 40°C, pooch Alfred the Great (that’s the sort of greatness that will fit on a lap with minimal discomfort, the sort that has it’s greatness on the inside – thru random acts of kindness such as unsolicited ear cleansing and devoted excess toast disposal and absolute devotion between said spare toast events), snoring on my lap and occasionally wriggling when it gets too ridiculously hot for both of us.

I have actually started sorting through the ridiculous collection of winter and summer t-shirts. Have done half of the packing for Tasmania, shopped for my working week breakfast and lunch fare, thanked mother nature that the one day of recreation I snuck in to the Christmas break down at Mt Martha was before the beach was closed due to the rogue sewer pipe, and all in all am well on my way to convincing myself I’ve had a darned good Christmas break – which I have really. Haven’t played enough music or read enough books and my finger calluses aren’t as sturdy as they might be before a festival, but in all…

Hope everyone else has had a nice break too. Back to it tomorrow for me. Almost looking forward to it, except I’ll miss my lap time with Alfred!

Nearly there then…

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No time for jolly New Year hangovers for this little black duck. Since arriving home from a heady night of frolics and celebration over in Melton, I have been wrestling with the final bits of giving life to the Unsung Heroes Pozible campaign. 

Ah me! Isn’t learning fun!?! I now realise that I don’t have the correct format video thingy to upload the UHAH video thingy so I’ve spent many a minute – in the hundreds – working this out and then trying to fix it – without success to date, so all is not quite perfect as yet. 

I pressed go and the Project is now ‘live’ and I watch forlornly as after at least two hours we haven’t attracted a visitor let alone a bean of the donatory kind. Oh woe is me!

All this high drama at the keyboard, possibly on a day such as today, has lead me to reminiscing about the days when all I needed to understand about technology was how to operate a Casio cash register and cope with the horror of the ‘PLU’ – that’s Price Lookup Number in very early computer parlance I suspect. As long as the solenoid thing for the glasshouse mist spray system was doing its bit and I’d been generous but judicious with the blood and bone distribution my life would continue to run OK (I was a nurseryman by trade before I was blinded by the beauty of the  screen and the keyboard).

I used to work stuff out with a pencil, use my ears of all things to tune my guitars, I could change tele channels by walking over to the beast and turning a knob that did the job with a reassuring, and very specifically television knob sounding ‘click’, and I didn’t have chronic neck and shoulder pain from propping before the great god PC.

I have one day left before I return to work and I’ve only managed to read one Christmas presso book! I haven’t gone on a bike ride. I haven’t even walked Alfred the Great (the wonder dog) much further than round the block. I haven’t done my summer season wardrobe swap (put away excessive number of long sleeve t-shirts  in an array of rainbow colours to replace them with the excessive number of short sleeved t-shirts in an array of rainbow colours I keep in wicker baskets up on an unreachable shelf). I  haven’t done my annual office tidy up so I can approach my great god PC without risk of breaking my ankle, and yet I have unerringly found my way to said PC every day as though possessed.

In short, I’m every so slightly behind at the outset, and all because I’ve been perched at my ‘time saving device’  trying to chirrup like a blue bird, make ‘friends’ and embarrass myself by encroaching on acquaintances in a snotty cyber sort of way.

Still, glitches and whines aside, it’s 2012. All excitement and potential. We’re off to perform in Tasmania at the end of the week. Alfred has recovered from the multiple simulataneous fits of the vapours he suffered due to the devotion of some to contraband fireworks. All is pretty good with the world really.

Happy New Year