much to do

Not feeling much like writing this week because of being busy with life. Not overly busy, but just doing things. Here’s a run down:

I’ve been continuing with trying to learn Russian, but now I’ve decided to use two different websites instead of relying on just one. The one I’ve added (Memrise) has the benefit of having recordings of actual people saying the words and phrases, which you’d hope is more accurate and true to real Russian.

If I try to do even just a little bit of learning every day, I’m hoping I can get decent level in a few years or so. I have a book of Russian stories I’d like to be able to read one day, but I know that day is quite far away (unless I really dedicate a significant amount of time to learning).

As for other reading, after realising that I haven’t been sticking to my own advice to someone else about reading a little bit every day, I’ve been trying to make sure I read a bit whenever I can. Sure, it’s not quite back to a daily habit yet, but I think I’m making more progress with War and Peace than I was, say, a month or two ago.

Speaking of War and Peace, I’ve discovered that I’m more engaged with the book in the parts about the relationships between people, and their lives in Russia. On the other hand, my brain seems to tire more quickly from reading about battles and warfare. Only when there is some description of the individual human experience in the war, do I become more captivated. I think perhaps it’s just harder for me to picture the landscapes and battalion manoeuvres and whatnot than to picture a bunch of people sitting around a drawing room or dining table. 

Either way, I’m still enjoying the book overall, and am far enough along that I can start to have delusions of possibly finishing the book by the end of the year. Only thing I want to add is that I read in the introduction or blurb or somewhere that Pierre is the character most like Tolstoy himself. However, I’ve so far found Pierre to be one of the least likeable characters, which I think is confusing my brain because in Anna Karenina, Levin was the most autobiographical character, and he was my favourite.

Writing this post, I’ve really come to realise that I’ve given myself a lot of things to do that require consistent and frequent effort. The next on the list is piano. I’m very aware that I need to practise piano a lot more than I have been if I want to ever get any good at it, and be able to play the kind of music that I want to play. Of course, in this I have no delusions, as I seem to spend more time on learning Russian and reading books, which seem a lot easier.

Perhaps another area that has been a bit neglected is the garden. After all this rain, the plants are flourishing, but so are the weeds. And I think too much rain builds that complacency of “we don’t need to worry about watering the garden today”, and it quietly slips from the daily routine.

But the clouds have dispersed for now, and the sun has come out. It is the start of the week-end, and there is much to do!

happy days

It’s Sunday night here, but it’s a public holiday tomorrow, so it feels like Saturday. But yesterday also felt like Saturday, so I guess things are pretty good here.

I’ve been busy but not overly productive. I had the day off work on Friday, so I went to visit my friends who were preparing for their holiday to Canada (how I wish I could join them!) I helped them lock their windows, and get rid of rubbish, so they gave me cake and miscellaneous perishable food from their fridge.

A local brewery was doing a special Oktoberfest menu this week-end, so a friend and I went there for lunch on Saturday. We were there last week-end too, but the bar has such a relaxed atmosphere, and the staff are so chill, I’d happily become a regular. One of the owners was working behind the bar, and he actually remembered us from last week. I take that as a good thing. I’m sure they think our patronage is a good thing too.

Today (Sunday) I wanted to catch up with a couple of other friends. I reckon Sunday session friends are pretty high up in the unofficial hierarchy of friends. You know, the kind of friends you want to round out the week-end with, or the ones you can talk to for hours (hence the Sunday sesh should preferably start in the early afternoon, to allow ample time to chinwag until the sun goes down).

I’m not sure why, but I thought I’d be home early on Friday night, and I thought I’d be home for dinner on Saturday night, and likewise for tonight… But cleaning and other things went late on Friday, and we ended up at an arcade bar on Saturday, and I completely was not keeping track of time at all tonight. So the cooking and cleaning and blogging and writing that I had planned this week-end didn’t happen. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.

There is tonight, and there is tomorrow. And just now I got a feeling of deja vu, as if I’ve written this kind of post before, and very possibly I have because I guess this is the kind of thing I do not learn. But if I have a chance to go out and hang out with friends (and try some good beers), then I will take it. Chores can wait — I know I’m not that irresponsible that I’m never going to get around to them — and I will carve out time for writing.

Speaking of writing, I’ve started working on a new story. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make this novel-length, or maybe it’s better to just keep it as a short story, but it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about an idea for a story, so I’m just going to write and let it develop into whatever it’s meant to be. I guess that’s kind of how life is…

5-7-5 x31

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I had intentionally waited until the last day of July to post this “month of daily haiku” recap, but that’s not really why I’m writing this now. (This isn’t much of a recap anyway, being such as short post. I suppose this is just to mark the end of the month.) I would have written and scheduled a post for Monday if I’d had time on the week-end. I did not.

The week-end was exceptionally busy — partly of my own doing, partly not completely of my doing (house stuff, appointment, long walks, book club, meet ups, airport pick-up, lunchtime catch ups, long chats, live music, etc, etc).

This upcoming week-end is looking like it’s going to be equally full, so I’m basically forcing myself to sit down and write this now (on a Wednesday night when I should already be in bed, asleep) so that I can stop worrying about breaking my weekly blogging streak.

I suppose in a similar way (but kind of on a smaller scale) I’ve been trying to not break my daily haiku streak. And I’m glad (and quite proud) to say that I haven’t broken it!

Thus ends haiku month,
But the journey’s just begun.
More haikus coming…

daily haiku: week 1

I’ve now finished seven days of writing daily haiku, so I thought it would be a good idea to look back and share some of my favourites. It’s actually been more than seven days, if you want to get technical about it, since I actually started thinking up haikus before the start of July. My mind was sort of preparing itself for the challenge, like warming up before a marathon.

Since July started on a Monday, the start of the work week, I tended to think up haiku on my way to work: while walking to the bus stop, on the bus, in my car, or while cycling. (Yes, my commute was very varied last week.) This meant that several of my haiku are related to the outside world: nature, meteorological phenomena, animals, etc. Whatever I observed gained automatic consideration for haiku topics. Continue reading

finals footy

Gotta love having the AFL and NRL Grand Finals on the same week-end, hey?

Saturday was the AFL Grand Final, played between the Hawthorn Hawks and West Coast Eagles. I had backed the Hawks for their last two premierships, but I had always backed West Coast whenever they went to a GF, so it was a tough choice of who to support (of course, my usual loyalties are with the Lions, but we won’t talk about that just now).

Going into the match, I kind of wanted West Coast to win – maybe just slightly more than I wanted Hawthorn to win. But I didn’t really know any of the players on the Eagles’ team, whereas I could recognise several Hawks from having watched their previous GF matches. Besides, you could tell really early on – like, not even halfway through the first quarter – that Hawthorn had this one in the bag. After the Hawks kicked eight (? can’t actually remember now) unanswered goals, it was pretty much game over for the Eagles. I will admit, I was a bit disappointed by how one-sided the game was, and stopped watching after the third quarter.

Sunday night’s NRL Grand Final, though…! That was frickin’ insane! Don’t know if it’s possible to have a better GF than that.

It was Brisbane Broncos versus the North Queensland Cowboys. My loyalty will always be with the Broncos, but with an all-QLD Grand Final (first time that that’s happened too), I would’ve been happy either way. And this game went right down to the wire. Broncos were up 16 to 12, but the Cowboys managed a miraculous try right on the full-time buzzer. Un-frickin-believable! Thurston just missed the conversion (it hit the goal post and bounced back in-field), so the match went into golden point. But, of course, within two minutes of extra time, Thurston got the field goal that got them the victory.

This was Justin Hodges’ final game, so it was unfortunate that he couldn’t get the win for a deserving send-off, but I’m still happy for the Cowboys for getting their first premiership (and who better than Thurston to lead them to that victory?)

I haven’t check out the match stats, but I reckon North Queensland had a lot more possession in the second half than Brisbane did. Brisbane did remarkably well in defence, but it was obvious that it was wearing them out to have to keep defending repeated sets of six. And I’ll admit, I understand the strategy, but I did get a bit annoyed that the Broncos kept purposely sending the ball to the sideline every time they got to the fifth tackle.

Well, you can’t have it all, hey? Still, it was such an exciting, edge-of-your-seat match, which was exactly what I expected from an all-QLD Grand Final. And, also, according to the commentators, it was a record turn-out – the biggest crowd for any GF. And this was a match played in Sydney between two QLD teams! Just goes to show how much Queenslanders love their footy!

mmm… smokey…

I think a good measure of how much I enjoyed something is how eager I am to write about it afterwards. This probably doesn’t apply for everything, but it probably works for certain things like novels, movies and food. Of course there are other factors that affect how much I want to write/blog about something, but as a general indication, it’s alright.

So, keeping that in mind, let me now say that I was very eager to write a post about camping at Gordon Country after getting back just this afternoon. Coincidentally quite similar to the last time I went camping.

That first time I went camping, there were toilets and showers and such. This time, at Gordon Country, there were no such amenities, and the place is so massive that I don’t think I saw any other people in the entire time that we were there (except for the odd 4WD/ute driving by on the other side of the creek, and that one guy on a mountain bike). I believe my friend said that this was more like “real” camping, and I reckon “real” camping sits well with me.

It’s kind of funny because leading up to this week-end, I mentioned to a few people at work that I was going camping, and their reactions were less than enthusiastic. They seemed to not understand the appeal of camping. This made me reflect on why I like camping (I always hesitate to use the word “reflect” in that sense because it brings back memories of all those reflections I had to write throughout uni…)

But what’s not to like? I reckon it’s a great way to spend a week-end. You get to get out of the city, relax, slow down, unwind and just enjoy life. Sure, there’s the issue of sleep not being as comfortable (especially if it’s really cold, as it was this week-end), but the way I see it, any rejuvenation gained from a week-end sleep-in is almost completely negated by that first alarm on Monday morning. Sure, there’s the issue of having to deal with “the elements” – rain and hence lots of mud, in this instance – but that’s never dampened my spirits.

And, sure, there’s the lack of creature comforts but, you know what, I reckon that helps me to be less “princess-y”. Well, to be fair, I don’t think that I’m that princess-y to begin with, but I do care about cleanliness and hygiene and that sort of thing, which is probably expected considering my line of work. Slack food prep practices make me a bit squeamish (by this I mostly mean stuff like washing hands before touching food and stuff like that) and I tend to avoid eating anything that’s burnt (like, at the charcoal stage, unless that’s how it’s supposed to be cooked and presented). But going camping, even just these two times, has made me feel more at ease with all these things. I can let go of my OCD and just go with it.

I suppose a big determinant of how much you enjoy camping is the people you go with. I guess I’ve been lucky enough to always go with the right sort of people (i.e. easy-going people who know what they’re doing). And dogs make it more fun, too.

I will not, however, deny that having that hot shower after getting back was so damned good. But it does make me a little bit sad that I’ve already washed off all of the smell of the campfire smoke.