Clouds In The Head

Chickens laughter
27 March, 2014, 2:58 pm
Filed under: travel versus unravel

We can’t go away and leave 3 teenage roosters to create havoc in our normally cheerful chook yard. (The pleasant sound of chickens’ laughter echoing round the valley in the last couple of weeks has become more cackling and squawky, since the wee man-hens hit puberty.) So we decided to dispatch them this morning. It’s been about three years since we’ve killed a chook. We never “enjoy” it, and even repeating the mantra “coq au vin, coq au vin, coq au vin” lost its flavour after a bit.

But we did it, me on the actual slaughter, sharing the plucking, Donna solo on evisceration, and both of us feeling:

a)    a little ill and possibly not predisposed to intercourse for 24 hours

b)   intrigued that we should be doing it just before we head to Hanoi and presumably see a bit more of this kind of thing on our trip (might get some tips)

c)    apologetic, sad and grateful to the little roosters

d)   conscious that everyone who eats chicken, beef, lamb, fish, anything non vegetal is also an agent in the slaughter of an animal

e)    and frankly a little disappointed by the weight of the birds.

We try to make the act as humane as possible. They don’t see each other go, we cover their eyes (very calming for chickens), and we don’t do it in front of the lads, though I’m sure they could handle it. Or am I?

Photo on 27-03-14 at 3.52 PM

The packed peri-departure program continues. I’ve applied for a job, sent a cover sheet for a script, written some internet blurb, approached an auctioneer, commented on a design, copied contacts to my phone, put Quikflix on hold. Two videos to finish watching tonight, Jack Goes Boating and Elena. Not particularly mood-enhancing but that’s what we’ve got.

Do we carry our passports everywhere with us?

Or do we leave them at the hotel? Do we each need a daypack, or will one do us? Should I run up and down the hill in a last-minute attempt to earn some aerobic fitness? Ay me.


Reality TV is only “half distended” (and pre-travel is pre-gnancy)
26 March, 2014, 8:42 am
Filed under: travel versus unravel

I was watching TV last night, which some of you know we can’t do any more since Paul Keating made us go to digital, anyway, I was killing time at the in-laws and  catching up on shows called My Kitchen Rules, Resurrection, The Block, Foreign Correspondent, the news and a truly magnificent one called The Biggest Loser, when I realised that there’s a term I don’t know.

I know the concept: it’s all that padding and filler that reality TV hosts and directors and editors use to make a ten second moment turn into half an hour. How do you feel about evicting someone? How do you feel about being evicted? Who are you thinking of evicting and how do you feel about that? It’s a delaying tactic, clearly, a bloating of the insides of the cells of time. I’m sure there’s a hip cute word for it, but I don’t know what it is.

I’m going to call it “distension”. You know, a distended unhealthy tummy like on a starving child. A distended lump of garden hose where the side has weakened. I was going to call it tumescence but that’s too sexy. Or oedema but that’s not chunky enough. No, it’s distension. Temporal distension to be specific. (One thing I like about the term is that the TV people are trying to raise tension, and it works for a while but then you get sick of it and just wish they’d lance the bloody boil and tell us who’s being evicted so we can find out how everyone feels about it and then watch the next program.)

Travel is pregnancy

I found myself musing that the countdown to actually leaving on a trip is a bit of distension. It turns into this great delay, this wait, this “oh there are so many things to do” time. If you go OS a lot, you probably have systems etc. But for us, rare travellers, it’s a strange build of excitement and fear and tasks.

I was wondering where I’d felt this before. This massive amount of planning, this “it’s still weeks away” feeling, this OMG it’s just around the corner, this “come on, I’m ready” sensation.

It was when we had our first baby, nearly 16 years ago. We didn’t know what we were doing. The creature didn’t have a gender, personality, identity, “tone”, or even reflexes or eyes that worked. There was advice everywhere, books to read, things to set up, stuff to buy, bookings to make. We knew it was important, a “one-shot” chance at success with each baby or trip. We tried to be careful and sensible (how many ultrasounds should we have, when’s the best time to buy US Dollars). Then Donna was overdue and we were getting sick of it. Exactly the same way I grew sick of waiting to find out if Kerry or Roger was going to be kicked off Loser. Sooo sick of it. Time, like my love’s belly, was distended and filled inconsequentially.

Photo on 26-03-14 at 9.50 AM            Photo on 26-03-14 at 9.36 AM

And then it happens. You’re on the trip, you’ve given birth. The days consist of the demands and novelties of travel or a new human life. Responsibilities mount but very quickly so does the knowledge of what to do. You make decisions. The time before, all that prep, the single life, the getting-plenty-of-sleep, has disappeared as if it never happened. You’re a new you: the travelling you, the parent. (And don’t tell me people aren’t slightly different versions of themselves when they’re tourists!) You’re trying to fit shit in, but it’s different shit from your normal/former life. You don’t do anything perfectly but everything is amazing.

And then you shove the baby back up the clacker whence it came, fly back to Australia, update your photo albums, thank people for taking care of things while you were away, and after a couple of weeks forget it ever happened.

Which is also true of reality TV.

My hands are falling off
24 March, 2014, 7:13 pm
Filed under: travel versus unravel

My hands are falling off. Travelling overseas, it turns out after a ten year hiatus, has changed. Instead of underlining half your Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, then going, and hoping there’s a loose fit when you get there, nowadays you go on the internet three months earlier and you stay there until the flight attendant tells you to turn your computer off, the captain wants to take off.

Photo on 24-03-14 at 8.05 PM

At least I assume that’s what will happen. So much choice. So many questions. Do I even bring my laptop? Do the kids bring their devices (an iPod, an iPod Mini, a phone)? Where did I put my under-shirt passport wallet and will it fit four passports in? Are the folks looking after our house and chickens well enough versed in the strange ways of both species?

We’re only going for four weeks, but what about all the things we meant to do before we left? I was going to restructure a script, help plan the educational program for the new film fest in Dungog, start a blog at the community college, make a short film. I think I’ll do this blog instead. (Hidden agenda: I may be teaching a short course in Blogging Basics just after I get back.)

Do I take the laptop? If I do take my laptop it will be so I can write this, and upload my photos. If I don’t, it will be so I can have peace of mind and a real break while we’re away. Can I do the blog anyway – use my younger son’s iPad Mini and take it from there? Eek, I don’t know the technology. I’m a fogey!!

More questions resound as my fingers type and internet exploration continues. Have I booked the train tickets to Sapa? Is it essential to pre-book transport to Cat Ba? Do I need earplugs? Do I need to pre-book the cooking school at the Red Bridge? How much cash do we need in US dollars and do we let the lads have any of it? Everyone else is bringing shorts but I’m scared of mozzie diseases.


Well, either this blog will briefly be turned over to a short series of articles on how I decided not to do a blog on my holiday – or it will record the journey of my particular family.

Giovanni Guareschi’s family was more fiery (fierier?) but we have our own peccadillos (peccadilli? Are we a peccadilli circus?).

Donna is the relaxed one with the small pharmacy – an expanding pharmacy as any suggestion from anyone has her rushing off to the chemists to expand her dispensary. Someone today said maxi-dosing on vitamin B discouraged mosquitoes. A magic bottle of mega-B just appeared.


The 15-year-old is just going to go along in his unworried way and see what the rest of the world is like. He’s laid back but I suspect that a love of architecture and military history will surface. Oh and he’ll have to find somewhere to store his retainer for nine hours a day.

The 13-year-old who may or may not be taller than me (I’ve refused to be measured for a month) wants to do rock-climbing, kayaking, motorbiking. We haven’t mentioned that trekking is really just a Dutch word for bushwalking, which he’s semi-allergic to. Oh, and that the locals put green-coloured plant materials in many of their dishes.


And me? Well I need a holiday. I need to renew, reinvigorate, relax. Ah, but who is the boss of the timetable, the king of the map, the smith of Cam-An Rak-Ngieu and other travel phrases, the maestro of the next day’s activities? And who is thinking of taking his laptop so he can do a blog on the trip?

Photo on 2-02-14 at 9.55 AMI dunno yet. Possibly me. I’ll tell you when I get there.


Worst & best things about man flu (very short post)
2 August, 2013, 9:59 am
Filed under: Nobody Loves A Thinker | Tags: ,

Best thing about man flu: it now gives us a new one to chuck at the missus. She: I just feel terrible. He: You do look really dreadful; I reckon it’s gotta be man flu.
Worst thing: In my humble anecdotal experience, as a reaction to the “man flu” jibe, blokes are starting to underplay their colds and flus. Why is that a problem? Men, the half of the species that pretends they’re not sick even when they are, to the point where they drop dead of something eminently curable because they refused to go to the doctor and hoped it would go away, now have another reason to “downplay” their illnesses. Good one, girls.

Gresford Show videos
15 March, 2013, 6:49 am
Filed under: Daily maily

Off they go. Perhaps not as strong as last year’s but still some really keen ideas in there.

Project 3 making movies
8 February, 2013, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Daily maily

So with the career careering god knows where, it’s time to return to basics and to my passion.

I want to make films when I grow up. Again. Which means writing scripts (daily), helping others (part of how one learns, dude), making shorts (again), calling on friends, and getting a move on with the things that are some way down the path.

Lovelily enough, I had a keen idea for a short last week, wrote it this week. Already have a schedule – shooting in April I believe – and have posted the script to friend Michael, writer producer of the feature Bathing Franky.

Why is this interesting? Because when you are re-making yourself, you have to come from action not just thought. This is action. This is a forward step. It has to fit in with the rest of my life, and it has to be inspired, and taken at the flood.

Why blog this?

Well, it wouldn’t fit in a tweet. (or would it? Hmm. I’ll try the tweet as well. See who salutes what.)

Anyhow, starting mid April, or thereabouts, I hope to be casting 9 “larger-than-life” non-speaking comic roles for a short film called “Ovation”. Crew and location will be required. Though if I’m not directing, I’ll probably be First AD as well as producer.

I wonder if I should go onto Pozibles and try to raise some dosh for it? Hmmmmmm. Pozibly.

Update on projects 1 & 2. The injured wrist is inhibiting my yoga. Getting caught up in intense writing makes me forget my posture. But the solipsism is proving successful for my blogging career. 

The key to the posture seems to be to continually tweak and explore. I’ve started “opening the eyes of my chest” and “adjusting my inner groins”, and both seem to help. Having the attention span of a mite, I need the constant influx of fresh detail to my postural adjustment to keep me engrossed in it. Oh, and I ask My Love for help from time to time too.  She’s a love. 

Yoga or …
31 January, 2013, 9:45 pm
Filed under: beauty & inspirationalitism, Nobody Loves A Thinker

This quote at the conclusion for Donna Farhi’s book, Bringing Yoga To Life. “Does Yoga practice change who we are? … We feel, taste, and touch the same things but through an intensified register.”

Isn’t this aka Poetics?

Surely Poetics is exactly what it is.

Isn’t this the vocab and life experience that gives us an image repertoire for understanding our living more intensely? Better, “intently” because it’s about paying attention, removing ourselves, instead asserting our capacity as poet, possibly of the Brechtian kind, and applying it to how we live, move, communicate, interrelate, wish, react.

What I love about Yoga (capital is Farhi’s usage) is that it includes within its Poetics a physicality of body knowledge.

And it has about it the idea of “Becoming Clear”, which is also the attitude of the reformed junkie, of the politician at epiphany with less than one term to go, of the woman leaving an abusive relationship. To remove ourselves from what is abusive is a game of ego in a line of flight that goes up but does not know where the parabola ends.

Which is Yoga and Poetics, inter-evolved.

It’s all ballistic in the end, nest-ce pas?