Verdant town of trees

This week saw the fourth haiku in the Crossing Streams collaboration between Naviar Records and Western Riverina Arts.

It was written by Narrandera Library manager Sue Killham, who has supported workshops I've run at that venue and is the chair of Western Riverina Arts board.

Verdant town of trees
Poised upon the rivers edge
Waiting for one day

My response is a jazzy track that hopefully conveys how the town is surrounded by motion, from the wide Murrumbidgee River to the two highways that meet there.

Gender neutral pronouns

There's a need for gender neutral pronouns in our society.

I write this as someone who works in fields often dominated by females.

For example, I've decades of experience working in communications and it's common to be one of a handful of men when I attend conferences.

While working with the Murrumbidgee CMA I was in a communications team with three women. It was somewhat confronting when the general manager called his "media tarts" to the stage during a meeting of the entire organisation.

A couple of weeks ago I was the only male at a meeting and was surprised when the group was collectively addressed as "girls" -- but mostly because I similarly reject being addressed as a "boy" for the inherent infantalising in that term also.

While I'm not convinced that "comrade" is the best word to take forward, it is one of the options that seems to connote a sense that we are all equals.

Get these snacks India

Recently a new grocer opened in Griffith and I guess the owners are Indian because of the usual identifiers like appearance and accent but also because they stock these Indian snacks.

I've written elsewhere that I'd like to see more curry-flavoured snacks, noting an opportunity for rice crackers.

So I was intrigued when I saw these Kurkure brand snacks and bought the green chutney, chilli chatka and masala flavours.

They're made from rice and corn flour and the result is a lot like Twisties snacks in shape and texture but with much more flavour.

The flavours vary from the fragrant yet spicy chilli one, to the saltier and also spicier chutney. The latter has almost twice the sodium content of the former, then the masala was sorta in-between with a bit more of a tomato-sorta flavour.

I'm really taken with them for being spicier and more complex than the flavours of snacks usually found in Australia. Most of the local products seem to be variations on salt in comparison.

I like that Griffith has a growing community from the subcontinent, including a Sikh temple built on the Hanwood side of the city.

Another thing that I like about the city is that it still promotes multiculturalism as a benefit for Australian society and an easy way to encourage people to explore different cultures is with their tastebuds.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when I attended a meeting of the Griffith Multicultural Council that it included a shared supper.

Nothing is true

Had to smile while eating crocodile

I've wanted to try eating crocodile for a while and took the opportunity this week when I saw it discounted at the supermarket.

The flavour was a lot like chicken, although the texture was more like a bigger fish as I broke it apart in my mouth. It didn't have the same stringy-ness as chicken.

On the packet they describe it as "light like calimari" but it didn't have the same slickness. It felt more like a chicken nugget.

The salt and pepper preparation featured more of the former than the latter. It was very easy to cook in a frying pan and the line on the packaging that it was "As Nature Intended" made me wonder whether it was saltwater crocodile.

The copy elsewhere on the packaging provided further entertainment, from the offer to "bite back" on the front to the description "pre-historic protein" on the back. I was also amused to see the word "compliment" used instead of "complement" -- which might be my favourite typo to spot in the wild.

Amazing visual convulsion

"Fully exert your inaqination"!

The packaging for this poor imitation of Lego gave me a visual convulsion.

Sweet dreams are made of cheese

Might have to make a toasted sandwich this weekend.

Table carving

My daughter Neve continually surprises me with her creative output.

At first I was aghast that she was carving into the tabletop with a busted ballpoint pen. Then my partner Jo shrugged and said she was happy to see her being creative and the table was cheap.

Last night Neve said she was doing my portrait, so I pulled my shoulders back and lifted my chin.

Then when she said "finished" I saw this result.

She then carved her own portrait and I like the kawaii-style eyes, which at first I thought were sunglasses.

A sepia wash

The third haiku shared by Naviar Records as part of the collaboration Crossing Streams is one I wrote on the coldest morning this winter.

I can still remember the noise as my car retracted an ice-covered antenna when I stopped outside Narrandera and took this photo.

My response sought to capture the sepia wash with a dirty Rhodes-style keyboard.

Shoot straight you bastards

I'm entertained when I visit the bathroom at work and see the alleged last words of Harry "Breaker" Harbord Morant on the wall above the toilet.

It brings to mind the touching moment when he holds hands before facing the firing squad in this scene from the film Bruce Beresford directed.


I'm a slut for wordplay, which is why I find the name on this television bracket amusing.

An expression of love

“Encouragement is the greatest form that love can take” — Barbara Blackman

Years ago I had a girlfriend who worked at the National Gallery of Australia and I used to enjoy getting a personal tour of the exhibitions she'd helped put together.

While looking at the Federation exhibition she remarked how one painting had been loaned by the Australian Government from the Governor General's residence, where it had accumulated years of smoke that needed to be cleaned off. This reminded me of a sociology lecturer's remark that the rise and decline in tobacco smoking had been one of the biggest social changes in the 20th Century.

One of the last exhibitions this girlfriend invited me to see was Joy Hester and Friends in 2001 and Barbara Blackman was at the opening.

I didn't meet Ms Blackman but she made an impression on me as she was holding onto my girlfriend's arm. I'd arrived late to the opening and the two of them were standing near whoever was opening the exhibition.

My girlfriend smiled at me when she spotted me in the crowd and I was surprised to see that Ms Blackman's head turned toward me in response.

Even though I could see nothing had been said between the two of them, the blind woman had also registered my presence.

It's been an example for me about how many other senses we draw on everyday. Humans use sight as their primary sense and I often wonder whether it's a detriment that we don't better use others.

Encouragement is the theme articulated by Barbara Blackman in the quote above and if she hadn't made an impression on me at that exhibition opening I might've missed her opinion in The Guardian today.

I am very grateful for the encouragement I've received from those who love me. At different times it's made a difference to my life.

Flood waters recede

This haiku by Julie Briggs is the second in the series of poems about Narrandera that are being shared by Naviar Records:
Flood waters recede
Narrandera eucalypts reflected
Which way is up?

I've written on my Bassling blog that for me it captures a sense of the turmoil that's created when your town is isolated by the rising Murrumbidgee River.

Eclipsed by a comic typo

It's no secret that I love reading horoscopes and also love typos, so finding the above was a doubly entertaining moment for me today.

Inspired doodle

Sorting through the pile of papers that accumulate in the kitchen and I thought my part in this quick doodle was particularly inspired.

I appreciate that my daughter Neve encourages me to draw because it really does make me feel more creative within a few minutes.

Bad Mummy

More of Neve's work. 

She has a very dark sense of humour.

Neve's bottled mud pie

Dry July

It's interesting for me to look over previous years on here and see annual trends.

For example, July seems to be traditionally the time of year where I have little to add.

I look over the months and see it's the month where there are consistently less posts.

This drying-up of content suggests I should develop a theme to focus my efforts.

Maybe something like the "May I share" posts during May or the "March into the archives" that I've done during previous Marches.

One idea off the top of my head is to reflect on things that I'm grateful for in my life.

Many people tell me they gain benefit from expressing gratitude and I'm sure I'd be surprised at some of the results.

Looping around town

This week the collaboration with Naviar Records begins with a poem by Greg Pritchard.

I've recorded my audible response to Greg's haiku and look forward to hearing how others interpret his words.

The results will be part of an exhibition planned for the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre in late October.

Nice owl

My friend Rebecca Tapscott is an artist who's difficult to pigeonhole.

In recent years she's branched out from painting into ceramics and print.

I observed some of the results and wrote about them here after attending the Feather and Leaf exhibition at The Roxy Gallery in Kyogle.

Today I saw this owl on the Rebecca Tapscott Facebook page and am really taken with it. She wrote:
Owl watercolour over Bogon moth and cockroach cyanotype. 18.5 x 12.5 cm. $40

Useless superpowers

My kids play this game called Useless Superpowers, where they invent unlikely comic book heroes.

Recently they were playing the game while we were driving home from Queensland and it was pleasant to hear the excited chatter from the backseat.

Yesterday Neve drew this picture that I think represents a kind of useless superpower.

Flying a drone for the army

Noticed a scrap of paper on my daughter's floor and found this snippet of a short story:
I was picked out of 34 people to fly on a giant drone for the army. It had a really comfy chair and a seat belt. It was two metres in width and two metres in length. I had been equipped with a big purple parachute so they could see me coming down. They had given me a really small backpack with a full packet of M&Ms, gobstoppers, Oreos, a Snickers bar, a Mars bar for...

The Breville Dead

As a fan of remarkable sandwiches, this horror movie cover reworked by Ya What is more appealing to me than a ham and cheese combo.

Big guitar

For a while I've been meaning to try Narrandera's guitar, which is reputedly the largest playable instrument of its kind in the world.

I'd heard it's out of tune, so I wasn't in a rush but a haiku needed a photo of it this weekend.

When I walked into the Visitor Information Centre there was a family taking photos with the guitar.

While I waited, Sally at the counter engaged me in conversation and we discussed how the instrument was approaching its 30th birthday.

When there was opportunity, I stepped onto the step that allows access to the neck and plucked at the strings.

Some of the notes were so low as to be almost inaudible but I was interested in how the different gauges of rope imitated the look of the wound strings on an acoustic, while the higher strings seemed to be varying gauges of nylon -- much like the instrument at a regular size.

Then I put my head toward the soundhole and plucked the lowest string and was awed by the deep rumble that resonated in the body of the instrument.

It was like a passing truck and, given the number of trucks that pass, I'm not entirely sure it wasn't.

As I continued talking with VIC staff about my interest in recording the guitar, they asked if I'd like to tune the instrument.

Discussion is required with Council's staff who oversee management of the Centre, but I'm hoping to return soon and get samples of this unique instrument.

Say haiku Narrandera

Neve Amethyst?

Another of my daughter's sketches and the prominence of the colour purple makes me wonder if that word is meant to be amethyst.

The items on the right look like ears, tail and some kind of weapon. I'm going to have to ask if this is a paper cut-out doll to be assembled and where the inspiration came from.

Quick doodles

My daughter likes to draw, so I introduced her to cadavre exquis, which is a game where each person draws a section without seeing the parts drawn by others.

I was surprised at how the game developed. At first I drew something resembling her head but, by the time it was passed back to me, I was using my imagination.

In later games, like the one shown here undertaken with both Neve and her brother Eden, I found myself really wanting to push myself and come up with even more outrageous doodles -- such as these Siamese twins

The games have been rewarding, both for our entertainment and a sense of pleasure.

The experience came to mind when I read about a study that found "an inherent potential for evoking positive emotions through art-making—and doodling especially."

The results of the study by Girija Kaimal et al, titled Functional near-infrared spectroscopy assessment of reward perception based on visual self-expression: Coloring, doodling, and free drawing, suggest that it only takes a quick doodle to get into a creative mindset:
In fact, in surveys administered to the participants after the activities were complete, respondents indicated that they felt more like they had “good ideas” and could “solve problems” than before the activities. Participants even said they felt the three-minute time spans for art-making weren’t long enough.

Hi cutie

There's been lots of talk about haiku in my household recently

I've been writing a haiku a day this year, which has been a challenge. I've also been trying to interest people in writing haikus to describe Narrandera for an exhibition that will be held there in October.

Anyway, it was a nice surprise when my youngest announced he was going to write a haiku. This is by my eight-year old Eden:
Lying on the leaves
fresh air blowing on my face
it's lovely weather

Octopus teapot

Love this octopus teapot by Keiko Masumoto.

Seen here

When people call you a "snowflake"

As a fan of Fight Club, I enjoyed this discussion of its lasting cultural impact in the use of the term "snowflake" allegedly written by Adam Protextor.

Unleash the creative goddess

Clearly Facebook's page suggestion algorithm can use some work

If it knew anything about me it should be that there's a domestic goddess within me!

Seriously though, why the need to gender creativity? Pretty sure it's a universal trait.

30 versus 30,000

This is an epic battle in miniature, as hornets take on a bee colony.

Reminds me of the battle scenes in Ran. Especially love the glitchy bits.

Crossing Streams will cross borders

Narrandera’s writers, photographers and audio producers are invited to join an inter-continental collaboration that will exhibit at the town’s Arts and Community Centre in October.

Western Riverina Arts will work with London-based Naviar Records to develop an exhibition that draws together haiku poetry and audiovisual responses.

Development of the exhibition begins with haiku and workshops will be held at Narrandera Library on 19 and 24 June to share tips on crafting a poem within 17 syllables.

“Writing a haiku is a fun challenge as you want to convey an observation within a strict structure,” explains exhibition curator Jason Richardson.

“That word limit is stricter than Twitter, so we’ll accept tweeted contributions if they use the hashtag #Narranderahaiku

Haiku contributions are encouraged before 15 July for the next step in developing the exhibition. They can be sent via email to Naviar Records will use selected haiku in their weekly haiku challenge for audible interpretations.

Naviar’s founder Marco Alessi has been inspiring a community of musicians from throughout the globe to record and release albums of contributed music and soundscapes.

“Naviar Records were responsible for having my music heard in exhibitions in London,” explains Jason Richardson. He has been a participant in haiku challenges for over three years.

“I’m keen to promote their activities as I think too many people are frustrated with their creative abilities for the wrong reason. Duke Ellington is famously attributed with the line ‘I don’t need time, I need a deadline’ and it’s true for talents.”

“Everyone benefits from having a prompt to try an idea and I want to encourage everyone to challenge themselves to describe a Narrandera scene in 17 syllables. You may get to hear your observation as a piece of music, possibly on a CD album at the exhibition.”

For more information see

Arose in my mind

Rose Byrne came to mind while I was having a bath today.

If you know the Australian actor then you might think that's a lascivious observation, and it kinda is.

I mention it because at the time I wondered why she'd come to mind.

Then at the library I was reading The Australian and there she was in the magazine.

I'd like to believe this is my intuition at work today but I am fond of Rose Byrne.

She sat next to me at a festival once and her voice had that Sydney accent that had reminded me of an ex-girlfriend when I'd seen Two Hands.


One of the women at my workplace told a story about how interesting it had been to undertake Myer-Briggs-type personality tests with her kids.

Last weekend I suggested a website to my kids and they were enthralled by the questionnaire.

One son let his pizza go cold while he pondered whether he agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The result wasn't immediately exciting, as three of the four of us shared a result.

Then today, more than a week later, I asked my son what to make of the result and we pondered how best to negotiate a particular personality trait.


My son bought this egg last weekend. 

It was meant to hatch before my partner got home, but it didn't. She had time to quip we'll tease Eden if he misses the birth of his monster. Then he began stressing about whether Godzilla was going to appear and it began to feel like it was a pregnancy.

Never thought I'd be happy to see another crappy toy but I am.

Near Nirvana

Over 25 years ago I watched Nirvana play at the ANU Bar from outside.

I didn't join the crowd who pushed through a window and into the gig. I stayed outside and watched from the beer garden, then was surprised when the band emerged for a breath of air before returning to play an encore.

Kurt Cobain avoided eye-contact but I did get to enthuse with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl about the show and asked the former for a plectrum. You can see the orange guitar pick on the Nevermind cover in this photo.

Just now I spotted this photo of a ticket to a show featuring Nirvana from January 1992 and was excited to see it's accompanied by another orange guitar pick.

Neve's very bad parents

I've been encouraging my daughter to start a sketchbook diary but she never finishes her comics.

It's just like how she eats her dinner, saving the important vegetables until the end and then leaving them.

Clearly there's a conclusion required here to explain why the parents are two mums.

History is our story

Leeton Shire Council recently asked for input in "activating" local heritage and it has prompted me to look at connections between the past and present.

Heritage, like history, reflects stories about the past that continue to be meaningful in the present. The Shire's existence is tied closely with the development of the MIA. There are many links to explore, possibly via the people who made it a success.

One underappreciated example is Jack Brady, manager of the Leeton Cannery, who promoted rice as a crop. This was significant in making the irrigation scheme viable and continues to be relevant as Leeton is the home of SunRice.

Another example is the name Whitton comes from John Whitton, who oversaw significant developments in rail. This seems particularly timely with recent discussion of new inland rail connections and the surprise announcement of billions dedicated to this project in the recent Federal Budget.

The Shire's links to the Griffins elevates Leeton to an international standing, recognising developments in urban planning as well as the lofty ambitions of the Modern age. If you consider Walter Burley Griffin's inclusion of a bandstand and parks within the town design, you see how architecture recognised roles for culture and nature within society.

One more significant story comes from prior to the Shire, when early settlers in the Yanco (Yonco as it was called) region coexisted with the original inhabitants of the land. The Wiradjuri people fought to retain this landscape and there is increasing interest in the so-called Frontier Wars, such as the wreath unofficially part of the ANZAC ceremony in Canberra this year.

In the interest of promoting harmony as discussions continue to promote constitutional recognition of Australia's indigenous and possibly treaties, it would be great to recognise how a European negotiated an early treaty in what is now Leeton Shire.

Yonco was particularly significant in presenting a narrative of tolerance and respect. In 1838 it was the one remaining white settlement in our region during the Frontier Wars.

Historian Bill Gammage suggests the tolerance of both the Yonco land manager and local Wiradjuri links these events on either side of the carnage and that it is likely a form of treaty was negotiated. This seems particularly relevant in light of the recent push for a national treaty to follow the one that has begun in Victoria.

The trees shown in the photographs here are thought to be Wiradjuri scar trees that are currently unlisted in Leeton Shire.


Love these whimsical enhanced photographs.

Toasted Vegemite sandwich

Vegemite is an Australian icon and the salty paste has many applications, stock in curries for example.

My favourite place for Vegemite is on toast with olive oil but my collaborator Ben, who publishes music as Kelp, suggested I should include it in my next toasted sandwich video.

For a while I pondered what would go well with the black flavour, then my friend Ash proposed beetroot and it made sense. Australian hamburgers sometimes feature sliced pickled beetroot (or pineapple but not both, it's a contentious issue).

The result was tasty but I think there might be a better flavour combination.

Resistance is fertile

Been reading how electrical resistors became a symbol of protest in Poland.

When the Solidarity movement was getting started in Poland in the early 1980s, any obvious public display of sympathy with the nascent union was dangerous, and immediate arrest (perhaps with a beating) was certainly a possibility. Media were suppressed, tanks guarded television stations, propaganda and lies were the party line, and the very word ”truth” was bandied about in a meaningless Orwellian polit-speak. Taking back the language was as big a piece of the movement as was the trade union. The Solidarnosc badge having been banned, union supporters took to wearing a small resistor…an electrical resistor…the way we might wear a campaign button. According to a Finnish reporter, “School children removed electronic resistors from old radios and attached them as visible badges on their clothes.” Add to that, the symbol of the disassembled (silenced) radio. Add to that the fact that movement leader Lech Walesa was a shipyard electrician, so the “electrical connection” (sorry!) meant something as well.

I love the complex symbolism that comes from such a simple signifier.

It's great that it continues to be a cultural artifact, such as these earrings that I found via Etsy.

Elsewhere I read about people picking resistors based on the coloured bands.