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Rainbow’s End

rainbowMy blog has lain dormant for a very long time, and I’ve been meaning to re-energize it and get back to regular posting for ages.

Finally today is the day … though sadly the prompt is not a happy one.

On 11 August, two days ago, Robin Williams died. All the details are still not available, but we understand it was suicide. It’s a shock that has reverberated around the world in the last couple of days – through social media as well as the conventional media. And with this blog post, I guess I’m adding my small voice to thousands – perhaps millions – of others. [Read more…]

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What is This Life?

There is a poem called Leisure by W. H. Davies that begins:

What is this life if, full of care.
We have no time to stand and stare?

Parliament Station CrowdI found his words echoing in my head when I travelled into the city the other day by train. It seemed almost nobody was taking time to ‘stand and stare’.

Everyone around me seemed to be in such a hurry. Heads down, they bustled past me off the train and up the escalators. An ocean of brown, black and gray flowed past me, with only the occasional splash of bright colour to relieve the monotony.

For a moment I felt a little conspicuous myself, in my bright red jacket … :) But took comfort from the other brightly coloured dots like me that were scattered in the crowd.

I saw one gentleman in a bright green shirt who hurried past and up the escalator ahead of me.

Stand on the left, walk up on the right is the ‘rule’ on our station escalators. I guess some folk walk up for the exercise, some are worried they may otherwise be late for work.

Parliament Station EscalatorAs I watched Mr Green Shirt pace up from step to step, I found myself making up a story in my head. Of course he wouldn’t be heading for work, as he wasn’t dressed for it. In my imagination he was headed for breakfast with a loved one – hurrying in anticipation. I imagined him reaching the café, taking a seat at a table, eying his watch anxiously. He’d made it on time, but where was she? Then, oh joy … there she was, also hurrying to their rendezvous. Both faces lighting up in pleasure … scene cut to fade out.

I was smiling at my own foolishness as I walked out of the station towards the tram stop. It was pouring with rain, so some folk had paused by the station door to wait for it to ease a little. How silly not to have an umbrella with you in Melbourne! :)

Outside even the black, brown and grey contingent suddenly sprouted bright colours as they raised their umbrellas. And as I waited for my tram, I watched in delight the stream of hurrying folk on the opposite pavement, looking for all the world like brightly coloured, walking mushrooms.

Lady on the TracksA long though uneventful day of work later, on my way home, I also saw the ghost of a lady at Parliament station! Ok, ok … so something had been spilled on the tracks. But there she was. A well-dressed lady from the 1920s, complete with cloche hat, holding a mug of coffee in her hand.

Stop, stare and imagine … what a joy it can be. And it definitely added sunshine to my life on that rainy day in the city.

As W. H. Davies’ poem concludes:

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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Snow in Springtime

Amazing snow cover up at Mt Baw Baw this weekend! Who would have thought there’d be more than just dirty slush by this time of year.

Then again, it’s been a long time since I’ve been up this way in springtime. :)

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All the signs said no chains needed, but one car in the top car park had them on.

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Possibly a local. :)

But we made it all the way without a problem luckily.

It is SOOOO good to be escaping the office and housework for the weekend! A sorely needed break.

Posted from WordPress for Android

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I’ve Been Everywhere

I've Been Everywhere

Photo: chrisroll

[Another ‘rescued’ post – re-created from memory :) ]

After writing my post The Magic and Music of Place Names, in which I mentioned Lucky Starr’s version of I’ve Been Everywhere, I found a few more fascinating snippets about that particular song.

I found there’s a guy called Peter Harris, who planned a whole trip around Australia based on visiting all 94 places it mentions!  You can read about his travels on his website, complete with photos of the places he visited.

And, as Peter says:

This blog is a record of the visit to each of the 94 locations, and I DID IT! All 94 places in 18 months, over 30,000km!

He also used his trip as an opportunity to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation  – and by September 2011 had raised over $3,000.

Way to go, Peter! :)

I also discovered there are a number of different versions of the song, adapted for different parts of the world.  Not long after Lucky Starr recorded it in Australia, Hank Snow wrote lyrics with place names from the United States – a version that Johnny Cash also recorded.

On Peter Harris’s website you can read lyrics for yet more renditions. For example there’s one for New Zealand, created in 1966 by John Grenell , and another for Texas written by Brian Burns.  Wikipedia lists even more – including one for Czechoslovakia!

And finally, over forty years later, here’s a modern example showing just how well the song has survived the test of time.  It’s one for online gamers – a World of Warcraft version!

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The Magic and Music of Place Names

Map of Australia

[This is a re-write of a post originally published here a couple of weeks ago, then lost beyond recovery because of our disastrous server crash. Because of Lauren’s kind words I’ve done my best to coax my original muse out of hiding and reproduce the post. It’s not exactly the same, but I think I’ve captured it much as it was. :) ]

Place names around the world have always fascinated me. Some can be particularly quirky, others are an accurate or sometimes wry description of local geography. Still others may simply be music to the ears when you say them aloud.

Australia is no exception – we have our very own collection of magical, musical or just plain quirky place names.

I’ve always been fond of Ferntree Gully the name of the suburb in Melbourne where I live. But there are other names far more unusual and fascinating – many of course drawn from Aboriginal languages.

One of the latter is actually the longest official place name in Australia: Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill in South Australia. Apparently it means “where the devil urinates” in the local Pitjantjatjara language.

Imagine being able to say you live in Success … What a wonderful thought! There are people in Western Australia who have that advantage. And there are folk in Tasmania and South Australia who are able to say “I come from Nowhere Else…”  Yep – we actually have TWO of those!

The only place in Australia that begins with X is Xantippe in Western Australia. Apparently a name given to the place because of its rock-hard, granite ground in which it was almost impossible to dig post holes. Xantippe was the name of Socrates’ wife – who was supposedly a very hard woman. :)

Then there’s Sheoak Log, also in South Australia. Though I assume local residents don’t crawl out from under a log. ;) And in New South Wales or Western Australia, you can go for Broke.

In South Australia, some folk live in Foul Bay or Coffin Bay. Though I think if I lived in one of those I’d be tempted to move … Perhaps to Wineglass Bay or even Egg and Bacon Bay in Tasmania? Hmm … then again, for some Tasmanians home is a Dismal Swamp or The End of the World.

Queensland can boast a Banana, a Humpybong, a Wonglepong and a Pimpinbudgie. New South Wales has Jimcumbilly, Burrumbuttock, Come By Chance and Tom Ugly. In Victoria there are Cardigan, Manangatang, Mangalore, Upotipotpon and Tittybong – the last just north of Teddywaddy. And if you live in the Northern Territory you may come from Boing Boing or Humpty Doo!

But perhaps the most musical collection of Aussie place names is the song I’ve Been Everywhere, written by Geoff Mack in 1959. It was recorded by Lucky Starr in 1962 and became almost an instant cult classic. Here it is … and here are the lyrics as well, in case you’d like to follow along. :)