Home work

Summer is over, so we’ve taken the shadecloth down in the courtyard, and started work on the vegie garden. My first ever attempt at bricklaying! It’s fun; a bit like cob building, but not as messy and with the added element of greater permanence. I guess I really live in the ‘burbs now… the other end of the wall is going to be a barbeque, nice and big and brick (but fear not, it’ll be rendered and probably colourfully-tiled also). It’s nice to spend a weekend at home, and actually have energy for the place again; it’s been a while.

I guess this project’s going to take a few more weekends.


I’ve just discovered the ABC’s blogs (blogs.abc.net.au) and I quite like what I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s just the idea of far-away correspondents filing these ‘letters home’ that appeals. A chap with a laptop (I’d like to think he’d be writing in longhand, on some favorite brand of Australian notepaper, but I realise the anachronism in that; he ain’t Bill Deedes) stopping his rental car by the side of a dirt road and pondering the economic future of the place he’s in, with Australian readers in mind. Postcards home, from people I’ll never know. (How odd the world is.)

I pulled up this editing window because I had to write something: I’ve been sitting here all afternoon slumping lower and lower in my chair, trying to focus on the magical world of Tivoli Storage Management Concepts. So magical. So engaging. Yes.

Oh, God, let me out of here! I really don’t know how I will manage being in this office over the remainder of this year, as the weather warms up, and all I want to do is stroll around enjoying spring! I’m not convinced of Tivoli’s ability to save me…

I’d thought to write no more on this blog, at least while employed at IBM. That being all day long at a computer would deter me from using a computer to express anything of myself — but that doesn’t work: sitting at this computer all day without using it to express something at least slightly human, has just dragged me down into a sort of mind-numbing ‘droid-like state, from which nothing looks worthwhile or interesting. Can’t have that. So I’ll keep spilling these poorly-thought-out thoughts onto this blog (in the fairly sure knowledge that very, very few people will ever read them).

“Dad, I dug a hole.”

I have been digging this morning, working on the chicken run. It’s muddy, now we’ve started pulling up the concrete, and the clay sucks at my boots and sticks to all the tools; how very far this is from my memories of digging soakwells in Fremantle! (Incidentally: I have only just learnt that around here they don’t even have soakwells, and all storm water goes into Sullies; I’ve just never thought about it…)

I looked down at the mattock, at the ridge that runs down the center of its blade and the taper of the handle where it runs through the eye, and I was stuck by the fierce solidity of this joint of wood and steel. Such a strong place, grubby and perfect for what it does, and so greatly congruent with its materials that I’m sure no one can find fault with this example of truth to materials. And if anything, it is that which I am striving for in my life.

(P.S. The title of this post, if you don’t know it, is a quote from The Castle.)

Lines through the greensward

I’ve been walking lately. To university, to the co-op, and home again: along Sullivan’s Creek I go, sort of following the bike path and generally veering off and strolling quietly through grassy, damp, tree-lined avenues. It’s nice, as nice as anything really, these quiet moments of stillness amongst the green, and I notice the small things: bark on the trees, the slope of the ground and suchlike.

This being Canberra, there are trees in lines. The lines don’t always line up, but they’re there and usually in pairs: an avenue of oaks, or poplars, or whatever it might be. Very impressive, these tree-lined walks, very imposing at times or at least strongly suggestive of the fact that they were intentional. It’s a shame I don’t like them.

Which is my point this evening: I don’t like trees all in a line like that. I try to, honestly, I do try to. I want to enjoy the order and symmetry, the purposeful majesty that those early Canberra planners liked to sprinkle around our city, but I just find it rotten when it comes down to it. I don’t like walking through them.

When it comes down to it, I say, and down is what I mean: down to a personal, human, small, easy level, one which a human on foot can comprehend. Great sweeping monuments to human ingenuity are not made for humans! The small things are, and a small, winding path through the trees makes me smile.

God smiles on those strolling through the woods.

My very own garden plot

Map showing location of my garden plot.I’ve got a community garden plot at the COGS O’Connor garden. It’s 9×5 metres, on an old tennis court, and has nothing but weeds growing on it at the moment (because I only picked up the key yesterday). A. and M. have also got plots there; we’re all neighbours in the north-east corner, and hooray for that! :-) [For some reason, I hesitate putting people’s names on this blog, they mightn’t like it y’know.]

I have a number of rather peculiar ideas about what I’m going to do with this plot (peculiar to some ways of thinking about the thing, of course; but then everything’s peculiar to some way of thinking isn’t it?). I want to plant beans, to follow in Thoreau’s tread, learn how he “came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus. But why should I raise them? Only Heaven knows.” It’s what inspired me when I was eighteen, and nothing much has changed… it’s just that I’ve not done much since then. I’ve an idea to have a morning seat in the garden, a place to sit, a place to write—prehaps even to have tea—and tend to the garden. I’m sure I’ll be laughed at, I usually think I will be…

I’ll get the camera working again, record (visually) what’s going on, but really I think I’d be better off sticking to text.

Triple Gripe

Eighteen buckets of water for A.’s garden. A cycle over to my new community garden plot in O’Connor. And now much grief caused by our bothersome host.

It’s fun carrying buckets, when one doesn’t have to worry about getting sunburnt. I’m oh-so-excited about digging my new plot! If you’re in the market, don’t, whatever you do, host with deasoft.com—I’ve never had to submit so many support tickets for anything.

On The Love of Doing Stuff Well And Caring For Things

In which I am prompted by events surrounding the previous night’s dinner to explain that Things being Wrong annoy me greatly; I outline something of what happens when they do; I float off into a daydream of how I should prefer to live; and I rant against others’ uncaring attitude towards wooden chopping boards and knives.

What is it about doing things correctly that riles me up so?! Pacing backwards and forewards last night in the kitchen, finding myself thwarted at every turn by things that (I imagine) most people would have not a second glance for, let alone be so disturbed by that they they would be unable to even prepare some dinner. Could I even put some rice on to cook without being filled with something close to revulsion at the poor arrangement of the rice/bean/olive buckets?! A revulsion who’s only remedy is to label the bins properly—no! more: build a better shelving system—but still more!: re-arrange the whole kitchen, replacing all (horrible) laminex with timber and building also racks for drying herbs, tables for bread-kneading… and still it’s never enough. On and on down this road of doing-it-the-right-way I go every time I start to take the smallest interest in Things around me, and although at every turn I feel a little closer there is rarely much satisfaction because a) I can see just a little more that needs to be put to rights, and this is preferable to the other times when b) I am unable—prevented by my friends, my housemates, the landlords, circumstance, whoever, whatever—to do things as I should like to.

Sometimes (whenever I can, to be honest) I let my imagination run free with thoughts of a little cottage—one or two rooms—all of my own and a garden that surrounds it. A workshop with a place for everything and everything in its place, for woodwork of course, and for bicycle maintenance and everything else that I’d like to be able to do. I’d have a nice armchair by a small potbelly, with a book nearby to put my book on and a standard lamp standing paxman’s duty; a footstool, space for a tea tray, prehaps a radio also…

Some find it excessively pedantic, but I like to have straight garden beds, laid out with string, bordered by box prehaps, and no-one can argue with many vegetables and what about a bit of wheat too; it’d be fun to try threshing in my own parlor.

I’ll not go on in that vein this morning, although prehaps I’ll return to these thoughts and paint a fuller picture of this One Possible Life for me (I’ll mention the walk to the train station in the morning to go to work, and the sewing table at which I’d make my three-piece suit). I began this post this morning with the idea of why don’t people care a bit more about the Things around them?!! Why is it always okay for things to be ‘good enough’? I don’t want things to be good enough—I want things to be Right!