Friday, April 24, 2009

Machine gunners and a national myth

What are your ANZAC day plans?
I'm going into town to have lunch with the remaining members of the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion.

My grandfather was a machine-gunner in the Second World War, and his mates still get together on ANZAC day every year. This will be the first they ride in a jeep, and not walk for the march - quite remarkable considering they're in their 80s. I think there are about 10 of them left.

The annual ANZAC day luncheon is a unique thing. It's like nothing else in my life. There are toasts to the Queen and to the fallen, there are offical openings and speeches. There are all kinds of faces present, some as young as men who would've fought, others vacant with age and dimentia. Above all, there is a deep appreciation and thankfulness for peace and freedom, and a sorrow for the lives lost and the necessity of war at all.

Unfortunately I've not met either of my grandfathers. Jim, who fought in WWII died when my mum was 16 - not in combat, but from cancer. And my other grandfather died just before my parents were married.

In some small way, the ANZAC lunch brings me closer to Jim. I imagine what he would be like had he lived to 80. His nickname was 'smiler', and i'm sure nothing would've changed. I can imagine him surrounded by his mates, proudly introducing us with a smile on his face. I also imagine the wrinkles carved into his face, sharpening at the Last Post, telling of the sadness within. Mum says he refused to march for years after the war. He couldn't accept the public acclaimation of something so tragic. I imagine that with time, he might've changed his mind. He would've walked, but the feelings would stay the same.
I always have mixed feelings on ANZAC day - my natural instinct is to recoil from the smooth weaving of a national myth, a grandiose narrative of mateship and sacrifice, which is reinterpreted as victory and exploited by leaders year by year. And yet, I want to honour my grandfather and others, who found strength in the midst of death.

Someone I know a few years back admitted they thought we'd won the battle of Gallipoli, and I thought how reasonable that assumption was given the hoohah made of it all. And yet, we lost. We lost big time.

The ANZAC story should be one of regret - regret that mankind could come to this, and yet celebration of mankind, that so many were willing to sacrifice their lives for their fellow men. This I have learned from the 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The french idiom and food blogs

What a delight it has been to come across the wonderful food blog Chocolate and Zucchini. Not just for the amazing recipes, but for the brilliant entries about food-related French idioms! It's a full playground for word lovers.

The best bit is hearing a real french woman read the phrase, then put it in context! It's definitely scratching an itch I've had for a while to get back into learning a language. I did French at school until Year 10, and German to Year 11. I would like to pick them up again, particularly French.

I have to say though, it's such a delightful blog, I hope it's not just tout sucre tout miel....*

*translation: all sugar all honey

While I'm at it... here are some other great food blogs... do you have any favourites?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry by music and food connoisseur, Lee Tran

Pia Jane Bijkerk - while it's not really a food blog, this Sydney ex-pat does food styling and posts recipes sometimes that look AMAZING.

Canelle et vanille - stunning photography and recipes

Raspberri Cupcakes by my friend from school, Steph

Disclaimer: I haven't cooked anything from these sites - everything's too unhealthy... boo hiss!

Photo credit: flickr, Allan Sanders

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A slight whinge

I hope this doesn't come off as ungracious, but I need to vent.

Question: What is with people assuming that everything you do in your early 20s has to have a clear, stated goal and outcome?

People keep asking me what I'm doing with my career, where I'm going and how my current work moves me forward on that career path.

Why isn't it enough for there to be unique daily outcomes that aren't even oriented towards me and my so-called "career"? Why isn't it enough to be doing something meaningful each day? Why does what I'm doing right now, have to be a step towards some future outcome? What about today?! What about people's lives today?

Okay I think that's enough rhetorical questions for one post. And probably enough angst.

I understand my work is really weird and hard to define, and seems pointless to most people. But it's actually meaningful in and of itself, and doesn't need to have a five year plan tied up with it. The work isn't about me and my career, it's about impacting people's lives now with the life changing truth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to do..!?

Why is it that when it rains, it pours?

I don't generally have a busy social life. I do stuff, yes, but not all the time.

However this weekend, I have a party which I'd like to go to, one of my favourite bands (Big Heavy Stuff) is doing a reunion show in Marrickville, and my friend's band is having their debut album launch.

ARGH. And I hate having to do the whole -go to one thing, then rush off to another.

If my highest priority was etiquette, I'd probably go to the party which I've RSVP'd to. Next on the obligation list is my friend's album launch - gotta support your mates, right? But to be honest the reunion gig is what I'd like to do most!

hmmm etiquette or desire? How do you make these kinds of decisions?

On a side note - anyone keen to see Big Heavy Stuff ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009


What easter means to me: HOPE (of the Jesus, not Obama variety).

...we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus ... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4: 14 - 18

This American Life

Are you a podcaster?

Generally, I'm not. I think it's because I'm not organised. I don't have a system - no monday nights = downloading/uploading.

But, just in the last few weeks I've been intentionally podcasting This American Life, which is a show on Chicago Public Radio.

It's the only non-music I listen to on my iPod. In the last few days, I've heard a show about people who've strived to be remembered beyond the grave and mostly failed, a feature on the global banking crisis (which I now understand - YES!), and a show about Plan B - as in how most of us end up ditching Plan A, and going with Plan B, and how that works out in people's lives.

It's hard to describe how fun, absorbing and oftentimes eccentric the stories are. The executive producer and presenter is Ira Glass, who is the cousin of Phillip Glass. They're doing a joint show at a warehouse in Brooklyn at the end of the month... ugh too cool.

They offer internships at TAL... I wonder if they would take an Aussie?

Living in miniature

I don't know why, but I love these terrariums by Stephanie of 3191 fame.

There is just something cute about miniature. There is a limit to the cuteness of miniature, but these are very cool. I love the jars. And what a cool gift idea.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Days with my Father

You must spend 5 minutes looking at this. It is beautiful. What an equisite way to preserve the memories he has of his father. Easily the most moving thing I've seen/heard in a long time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

crabapple walk

Throw six potatoes
over your shoulder:
shot-put in reverse

where they land
there you plant
your six seeds

burrow deep
into the soil aplenty
where it's rich, dark, moist.

Let the earth
reveal its name
and speak of
time between rain

then you will
learn the language of


Okay so my self-enforced break wasn't really that long. What can I say? I have no stamina in these things. And what's the point in stopping for longer than I would like to? Two weeks is pretty good for me.

Anyway, so I'm back. Things may not be as frequent. But I'm back.