The Lucky Six

It’s a beautiful still morning down at Murdunna on the Tasman Peninsula. I haven’t had any phone reception until now to write but I haven’t minded at all. It finally stopped raining yesterday and I feel like I’m living inside a pearl on Mal’s veranda.

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Yesterday, I finished the last track of my latest recording project, The Lucky Six, and did an initial mix of all the songs. It was a long day!
This has been a tremendous learning experience for me, despite my many years as a recording artist, because I’ve reinterpreted six songs by other people that have been part of life. I’ve never done a covers recording – it’s always been original material up till now – and it was surprisingly tricky to find the right arrangements.
The songs I’ve chosen are diverse but meaningful to me and range from well known (Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehain’) to the obscure (Patrik Fitzgerald’s Little Fishes).
Depending on how the mixes sit, I hope to have this little EP available as a download on Soundcloud by the new year.
Meanwhile, it’s time for breakfast. Have a beautiful day wherever you are πŸ™‚

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Another Bunny Hop Backwards or How I Became Zorg For a Day!

BunnyOfDisappointment2

It’s been over a month since I received notice that I wouldn’t be able to have ADSL2 anymore. Ok, fair enough, happy to change over the NBN. Found a potentially very good provider, Australian-based, place an order.

Six weeks later, finally have a date for a contractor to come round and install the cabling and box. Brilliant – it’s today!

Now, after ringing my prospective telco and the NBN co several times today because the contractor didn’t show up, I discover that he did! Apologies, unknown local contractor – I’m sorry if I said nasty things about you. It was my frustration showing, and my concern about that online Bachelor of Communication I’ve enrolled in that starts at the end of November. (The only prerequisite is a broadband connection).

It appears that provision to my house has to be via the existing power poles, and Aurora Energy – that Tasmanian bastion of all things illogical – wouldn’t allow access. And my prospective telco (bless them for trying!) just rang to say the expected provision of service is now January 8th 2014!!!!!

Be aware and warned, Tasmanian readers especially – this is why the NBN rollout is taking so long. I also found out today that I am not alone. My new telco have many, many cases like mine. It isn’t NBN – it’s Aurora holding up the rollout.

So you see me now, chewing up what’s left of my mobile phone credit, chanelling my inner Gary Oldman/Zorg, desperately looking for something to blow up……….

I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED!

zorg

Fingers Crossed – NBN!

My Drowning Plaster Bird

My Drowning Plaster Bird

It’s raining – again or still – my brain is suffering from rising damp I think. The chickens are lurking under their shade table or in their coop to dry and keep dry and tempers are short in my little bunny kingdom.

Meanwhile, I still have no solid internet connection but I’ve still managed to keep NaBloPoMo going – haven’t missed a day so far! And I’ve just uploaded my final assignment to a Preparation for University Study course through Open University Australia. I’ve been really surprised and heartened by my results – but the real fun starts later this month when I begin my first proper online unit through Griffith University in Queensland.

I had a phone call yesterday, and the NBN are booked to come to my house tomorrow to wire in our new fibre connection. I cannot to begin to tell you all how happy that makes me! Above all, this will enable me to teach via Skype to anyone who has a solid internet connection. As well, I’ll be able to do my online uni studies without having to resort to leaching net connections from family and friends or docking to my mobile phone connection. (I hate to think what my bill is going to be this month!)

In the greenhouse, I’ve been incredibly pleased with how everything’s still growing despite the ridiculous weather we’re having here in Tasmania. I planted Basil seed some time ago and pricked out seedlings into egg cartons to grow them on quickly and give me a chance to pot them up without any further disturbance of their roots.

Basil from Egg Cartons

Basil from Egg Cartons

It’s a neat method and I find it gives seedlings a better start. As you can see from the picture below, the Lettuce Leaf Basil has certainly taken off well!

How the Basil Grows!

How the Basil Grows!

But sadly, the front balcony, which serves as my winter salad garden, is suffering badly from the wet weather. I think the only plants that are thriving are the watercress – funny that! Hopefully, we’ll get some more seasonal warm (and dry!) weather soon, so I’ll be able to collect the seed for next year’s crops.

The Balcony Garden

The Balcony Garden

There will be little or no gardening today. Reading, songwriting (another song about the rain?), more recording preparation and plenty of cups of tea for me I think! Have a great day folks wherever you are πŸ˜‰

Tacloban, destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, has become a ‘no man’s land’ | Herald Sun

http://m.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/tacloban-destroyed-by-typhoon-haiyan-has-become-a-no-mans-land/story-fni0xs61-1226758131742

This is a tragedy of epic proportions. It’s affected so many Philippinos now living elsewhere in the world.Β  I found out tonight a close friend of my family in Singapore has been directly impacted and I ask you all to do what you can.
The Red Cross internationally are accepting donations – however small, it doesn’t matter – everything counts.Β  And I’m sure there are other aid agencies who are doing the same.
Please help.

“Jax” Update – This Woman’s Got It!

Just a very quick update today about my friend and fellow musician Jax.

The Gorgeous Jax

The Gorgeous Jax

Her debut Mini Album “These Things” is selling well and now there’s a Facebook Fan Page for her! And, southern Tasmania readers please note, Jax will be performing at the Australian Songwriters Association Tasmania big bash in December. (Details coming soon!)

As I’ve said to a few people this morning, get in early, be ahead of the trend, like this page, buy her music – this woman’s got it πŸ˜‰

Jax - "These Things" Mini Album

Jax – “These Things” Mini Album

Meeting the Locals – Another Reason to Love Where I Live

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Something to Cheer About

It’s so odd. I’m blogging from my greenhouse this morning. The door is shut, I’m rugged up and wondering where the southern spring has disappeared to.

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There’s snow on Mt Wellington again and I’m wondering if we’re going to have any proper, Australian sunshine before the end of the year.
Plants are getting rain damaged and I’m going a bit mad from looking at all the weeds that I can’t get at yet. The beautiful lilac tree is testimony to the damage – but it’s still gorgeousβ™‘

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On the upside, I discovered tomatoes that have (so far) survived. I can hear one of the hens, telling the world she’s laid an egg. The basil in the greenhouse has noticeably grown, along with everything else in here And my water tanks (my only means of watering the backyard) are full.
Along with this, the garden keeps giving and giving – we have so much food! – and I am cheering πŸ˜€

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And Now – Back to the Music!

After a little sojourn into urban farming and environmental concerns, today it’s back to the driving force in my life – music!

At the moment, I’m preparing to finish recording my next project, and it’s something completely foreign to me. After years of writing and playing my own songs, I’m recording an EP of other people’s songs. I started recording a couple of months ago and I now have five songs that I’m pretty pleased with as studio roughs. But I’d like to record one more and then start the mixing process.

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action!

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action

The concept is to record songs that have influenced my own songwriting and/or singing and believe me, the hardest thing has been narrowing it down to just six! In conversation with my musical partner-in-crime and studio whiz, Malcolm Battersby, “The Lucky Six” came up as a title. And I love it!

Also, it’s been my first opportunity to record in Mal’s new facility, The Belfry Studio, and what a delight that has been! The space is lovely and the equipment is excellent but I always love recording with Mal for a multitude of other reasons. We play together in The Fringe Dwellers so musically, we know each other very well. Everytime we get together, whether it’s for rehearsals, gigs or just a cuppa, we have a great time – we both have a similar mad sense of humour – but it’s his professionalism that shines through when I’m recording and he’s engineering.

We have a plan and generally, stick to it. He gives me space in the recording studio to get on with what I’m good at and doesn’t get in my way when I need time to consider my next move. He’ll make suggestions but not demands and knows exactly when to call a tea break. And his recording gear and microphones are good!

I anticipate “The Lucky Six” will be available as a digital download early in 2014. I’ll have links through this blog when we get it finished πŸ˜€

Some of the neighbours are a bit too cute but the view and the vibe is relaxed and lovely.

The Next Door Neighbour

The Next Door Neighbour

Personally, I think the Daleks in the control room are what really drives it and makes it perfection πŸ˜‰

Cheers everyone,

Debra

Daleks keeping Jax in line in the control room

Daleks keeping an eye on Jax in the control room

There’s Something in the Weather

Warning: this blog has nothing at all to do with writing, music, creativity or fun stuff like rabbits or chickens. It’s a lot more serious but still part of NaBloPoMo.

After yesterday’s joyful Spring interlude, this morning has reverted back to bleak, colder weather again.

For those of you outside of Australia, there’s a saying in Tasmania, “if you don’t like the weather, come back in ten minutes!” But I’m getting the feeling that the weather is scared to switch over from Winter to Spring. Yes, I know how silly that sounds but it’s playing havoc with my body and my brain. Everything is screaming to me that the seasons are shifting but down here in Tasmania it hasn’t happened yet.

Yes, the days are longer, the soil temperature is warmer, winter vegetables are going to seed, the fruit trees have flowered and I’ve packed away the thermals for this year……. but still, the colder, wet weather keeps coming back.

Now, maybe I shouldn’t complain about this too loudly. Last month saw some of the worst bushfires in NSW in a generation – and yet, we had snow on Mt Wellington and my water tanks overflowed. For those of you unfamiliar with my hometown, Mt Wellington (aka “The Mountain”) is the barometer of the whole city. Having grown up in and gone back to the country as an adult, where my livelihood was dependent upon the weather, I still find myself looking out to the mountain each morning to get my bearings.

I think that recent newspaper reports in Australia have got me worried too. This week, former conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, stepped into the climate debate, delivering a speech in the UK, suggesting claims of climate change are exaggerated. This bothers me tremendously. In my lifetime, I’ve observed that our weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable. We have more “records” in rainfall, dry days, wind speed, high and low temperatures in particular months. But in the greater scheme of things, my lifetime is only short-term. Nevertheless, my personal belief is that climate is always changing, but human activity has accelerated this change to unprecedented levels. And we have precious little time left to act.

Looking over longer-term records, Hobart’s cool temperate climate appears to be less stable and predictable than it once was but locally, few are prepared to address the issue front on. The local Bureau of Meteorology offer the data but little analysis, which is understandable. They do however, offer some excellent Climate Education Links and Tasmania has a Climate Change Action Council. Their “Blueprint For Action” acknowledges human activity as a prime cause of rise in greenhouse gas emissions, but unfortunately, this body is one of the things likely to be cut after the upcoming state election, next year.

Currently, Tasmania has a Labor/Green government, which has its issues but at least acknowledges the need for government to lead on climate change. However, like the rest of the nation, we are swinging back to a more conservative viewpoint, and it’s likely we’ll see a Liberal (that’s right-wing conservative to you non-Australians) government elected in the first half of 2014.

Yes, the government will change again – but the problem of addressing our changing climate will still be there, still demanding our attention. I look to the mountain and can’t get my bearings anymore, and I look to my son, just starting his journey as an adult, and I worry about what he’s inheriting…..

A slightly-out-of-focus Mt Wellington with snow from 14th October

A slightly-out-of-focus Mt Wellington with snow from 14th October

Do Rabbits Dream of Long-Eared Sheep?

Late Afternoon From My Backdoor

Late Afternoon From My Backdoor

I try to structure my week into bits where I work and bits where I don’t do so much. It gives me time to breathe, think and enjoy. And it’s a really good thing for my creativity. It means that I don’t earn as much as I probably could, but the payoff to my health and wellbeing is incalculable.

Having said that, my “day off” is full of activity and little work-related tasks, sadly necessary to meet current deadlines. And of course, there’s the daily blog promise to uphold throughout November. Yes, this is another NaBloPoMo post!

At the moment, I’m in the middle of a preparatory course for going back to formal study. (This is bound to be the subject of a blog post later in NaBloPoMo!) So, this morning I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading for an assignment due at the end of this week. It’s fun, I’m learning about learning again and thinking about thinking! And it’s a lot more inspiring than I first thought it would be.

Next, is some time out in the secret garden. I live in a wonderful area, 25 minutes casual walk into the city of Hobart and yet I have an urban farm. You’d never think it from looking at the front of my place! I manage to grow most vegetable needs for this household and the excess gets spread out amongst family and friends. I also have the “timewasters” out there – my lovely hens, who are laying so many eggs at the moment, and my beautiful pet rabbits – the buck, Barabas Beefcake, and two does – Bella and Boudica. I eat meat and want to take some responsibility for at least part of my diet, so their offspring will be food for me and mine. But these three characters are absolutely pets!

Barabas Beefcake

Barabas Beefcake

At present, it’s mid-Spring in the southern hemisphere but the weather has been so very strange (we had snow on Mt Wellington a few weeks ago) right across Australia. So it’s only been the last few days that it’s finally felt like the busiest time of the gardening year!

Today, I’ve been weeding the rhubarb patch, getting ready to plant more corn seedlings, which also involves a lot of talking to the hens, feeding them weeds and collecting eggs. They live in a hutch built mostly out of scrap, so it’s not the prettiest structure but it’s safe and secure for my precious girls. We call it either “Frankenhutch” or “Cluckingham Palace” but it provides a one-stop shop for eggs and chicken poo enriched mulch for the vegetable garden. All chickens are quite silly things but I have one, Henrietta who is utterly mad. Everytime I look at her I can see the link back to the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, she eats out of my hand, loves cabbage and kale leaves, and is becoming quite tame.

Henrietta of the Mad Eyes

Henrietta of the Mad Eyes

Another of today’s jobs was potting up Basil (my favourite summer herb) in the greenhouse. When I first moved here a few years ago, the greenhouse was a badly neglected shed with a young cherry tree trying to grow inside it! Now, it’s clad in clear polycarbonate roofing plastic and is where I grow chillies, basil, tomatillos, cucumber and eggplant as well as raise my vegetable seeds.

The Start of the Basil Crop

The Start of the Basil Crop

At lunchtime, there was a coffe break with friends under the chesnut tree, which will be a mass of bees in a week or two when the flowers come. Here, rabbits were cosseted, fed little treats of chickory leaves and generally loved. In recent months, I’ve been putting a cane lounge out when the weather’s been good, and it’s become one of my favourite places to take a break, read a book, listen to music with the bunnies or just think about nothing at all.

Because we’ve had so much rain the last few months, there are more weeds than vegetables at present, but there’s still enough to provide me and mine with all our salad needs and green vegetables for steaming and stir frys. It’s wonderful, keeps me healthy and keeps me connected to the earth πŸ˜€

Bella & Boudica

Bella & Boudica

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