July’s People

July's PeopleJuly’s People by Nadine Gordimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer imagines a violent, chaotic end to South Africa’s apartheid system: all-out war between black and white, with other nations getting involved (like Russia, Cuba, the US), mainly to support their own self-interest. Continue reading


When I found out that the theme for this week’s Photo Challenge is ‘spare’, I immediately thought of spare time. Perhaps this is because I’ve been sick and have had loads of spare time but no energy to make good use of it.

I have a long list of things that I like to do in my spare time.

For a start, I like walking, and as all my walking friends will tell you, rolling their eyes at how I delay them, I also like to stop and take lots of photos along the way. But no-one was around to be bothered when I snapped this view between the wires while walking on a hill top trail in California a couple of years ago.


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Monday Music: Admiration

This week, the WordPress photo challenge is to depict someone or something we admire.

I admire musicians.

I admire their skill and focus.

20160415_230627 (wassada)

Wassada, led by Moussa Diakite, performing recently at the Django bar in Sydney.

I admire their ability to set aside difference and appreciate the best of each others’ musical cultures.

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Time for a road trip (with music)

In late January, a friend (the BFF) and I set off on a long awaited road trip. We started separately, catching up with family and friends in different parts of New South Wales, then met up for a big loop through Victoria that took in the Great Ocean Road, magical forests, historic goldfields and long straight roads.
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Connected to the computer, but also to each other. On a recent visit to the African side of the family, my son (AM) showed some of his siblings what you can do with basic coding.connected-2015-08-08 15.51.11

What you can’t see in this pic, is AM’s dad (DadaK) on the other side of the table, eating his lunch and listening attentively to AM’s explanation of why coding is important, how fundamental it is to modern society, how it connects people in more ways than we can even imagine. Continue reading

Inspired by the wind

In my part of the world, August is the windy month. The traditional custodians of the land recognised this by giving this period its own special name. Many other Aboriginal seasons span more than one month in the European calendar, but not August, which is the time of Wiritjiribin — Tugarah Gunya’marri (cold and windy) in the D’harawal Calendar.

wind-tree-currarong-2015-01-08 15.10.43This photo was taken at Currarong, just south of the Shoalhaven River, which marks the southern boundary of D’harawal country and the beginning of the lands of the Yuin nation. I couldn’t find a Yuin calendar, but I imagine the weather this close to D’harawal is not that much different. In any case, coastal lands around the globe are notoriously windy  regardless of season, and the wind sculpts both trees and stone.

sandstone cliffs eroded by the wind

It etches sand.


And ushers in in a storm.

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I like the wind, although not when it whips up stinging sand on a beach, or when it brews into a cyclone. I find it exciting, invigorating.

Many people have found inspiration in the wind. Think of all the songs that mention it. In many of these songs, the wind is synonymous with powerlessness against intractable forces, such as the maelstrom of being famous.

Or obsession.

Sometimes the wind offers hope of prevailing against the odds.

And in a song that in many ways defined the social movements of the 1960s, the wind represents the fickleness of justice and the elusiveness of peace.

This is my favourite wind song.

I love this piece of music because it evokes the feelings of hope and excitement that I get on a windswept day in a beautiful place. It sounds like the wind and inspires me to dance as though the wind has lifted me into the sky.

Does the wind inspire you? Or maybe you have another wind song you’d like to share?

Inspired by two photo challenges today. See more posts about the wind here, and about inspiration here


Papua New Guinea on my mind

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been on my mind for a few reasons lately.

First, I read a book set in PNG: Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain. The book reminded me of the fortnight a friend and I spent travelling around PNG in the 1980s. It was my first experience of travelling outside Australia, and my first time in an under-developed country.

I was enthralled by the tropical fruit (pink bananas!) the freshness of the air, the translucent coastal waters and the primeval majesty of the mountains. I was fascinated by the diversity of cultures as we travelled from the coast to the highlands — including a SingSIng and pig exchange where people were lavishly decorated and costumed. I was also perturbed by the high fences around expat compounds in Port Moresby, and the poverty of many of the local people.

Modjeska captures both the beauty and the struggles of PNG. Her book explores the complicated relationships of a group of expats, locals, and their mixed race children, from the hopeful years just before independence in 1975 to several decades later — all in the context of anthropology, colonialism, art and politics. I think it’s worth reading.

The second reason PNG has been on my mind is coffee. PNG is a big coffee producer and so I originally planned to post this during Fair Trade Fortnight, but life got a little too busy, and I didn’t.

The reason I was going to post then brings me to the final, and right now the most important reason I have PNG on my mind: because a friend is crowdfunding for a coffee-growing community in a place called Paiga in PNG.

He’s been part of a group that’s raised money for a clinic providing maternal health care, which is vitally important in a country where 6.5% of all babies will die before the age of 2 years. What an appalling statistic. Now he’s seeking support to build housing for a new worker.

It’s a Pozible campaign so if the pledge target isn’t met, they won’t get the money. They need $5,000 and last time I looked, were only just over $1,000 from reaching the target. Please support it.

The campaign offers gifts for donations over $50. Here’s my virtual gift to encourage you to donate — some PNG music, because it’s Monday.

The campaign ends tomorrow, 30 June, so get in fast.