Mona Lisa remix by Neve

From the school work Neve has brought home at the end of the year

Double double entendre

Most writers can manage a double entendre but it's exceptional to slip two into a single headline

Visit to Lake Cowal

It was exciting to visit the "heartland" of the Wiradjuri Nation today, which required driving through water over the unsealed road.

I'd been interested in seeing Lake Cowal after meeting Uncle Neville "Chappy" Williams at Burning Seed and hearing about his efforts to stop mining at the site.

The mining is extensive and is in an area rich with Wiradjuri artifacts, including scar trees and ovens and a burial site.

This image shows a high-watermark on a tree near the Lake.

Glam And Cheese with Kimchi



The second toastie shared by Glam & Cheese sees Ash and Chase joined by Tania, who brings the spice.

Flashback to Henham Rd

Thought this photo at The Irrigator looked familiar

I took it in 2014!

Interstate guests for Remarkable Sandwiches



One of the highlights of Burning Seed this year was meeting the Glam n Cheese crew.

Chase and Ash of Glam n Cheese Toasties agreed to share their herb butter recipe.

Vote 1 Neve

Gratitude

As a kid I would ask my father if we could celebrate Halloween and he'd scoff, saying something about it not being an Australian tradition. 

If I could go back to that conversation I'd point that out he was born in North America.

Now that I have kids I celebrate Halloween with them and it seems to be increasingly part of the Australian calendar. It seems to me an opportunity to meet neighbours.

Another celebration that Australia needs is Thanksgiving.

It would be good to promote thoughts of gratitude and sharing a meal.

Scarred tree

Many scarred trees can be seen in the Riverina.

Hadn't noticed this one until roadworks included removing the trunk in the foreground.

I'd like to learn more about how to identify them, as well as recognising the tools used to make them.

Kraken comic

There are few regrets after Burning Seed but the habit of hugging people at the event is sorely missed afterwards.

I find myself wrapping arms around people and then registering their surprised look.

Remember...

I like the clever way this comic pokes fun at the use of V for Vendetta masks by protestors who seem to have been quickly distracted.

It also speaks to me of the ease at which online technology does become distracting.

There was a study I read about that looked at the phenomena of walking into a room and forgetting why one went there.

I think there's a similar process at work when we open an internet browser.

Neve's The Last Fart Bender

The latest etching on the kitchen table by my daughter is this representation of her younger brother.

He wasn't impressed but I am. It's a good likeness.

Whale snap


Observing #metoo with respect

Maybe it's too early to say but last October felt important.

At the beginning I was at Burning Seed and interested in the conversations about when an eleventh principle needed to be added to those that guide the event.

One speaker at a Town Hall meeting said it should be called Radical Respect and acknowledge issues of consent.

It became a topic I raised in conversations throughout Seed. Many women I spoke to thought it was a good idea, in contrast some men suggested it shouldn't be enshrined.

I could see both perspectives. On one hand it's important to promote consent and to frame it within a broader discussion of respect; while on the other hand, it's the case that most people are already respectful and ensuring consensual relations with each other.

It was said that making respect a principle risked looking like a nanny.

Then came #metoo and it was a shock to see many women I know shared experiences of times when consent and respect were lacking. The volume and details in these accounts were powerful.

It demonstrated clearly that society does need to be reminded to respect individual autonomy.

The #metoo discussion varied from women recalling hearing catcalls while still children, through to accounts of rape.

There was an outpouring of grief and also support, the latter valuable as social media does not offer mechanisms beyond audience reactions to address mental health.

Then men joined the conversation with their own examples of feeling like victims, again ranging from sexual harassment to rape.

But then I feel it became even more remarkable when I saw a few men I know acknowledging on Facebook that they had been part of the problem.

These blokes reflected on times when they hadn't respected a woman's autonomy and I feel that it showed how powerful the conversation had been, as well as the potential for it to have broader impact if the reflections I'd seen from older men and women reached a younger audience.

The thing that gave a surprising resonance in these conversations was when one friend recounted times when she'd been abused by strangers in public and the lack of response from passing men.

She illustrated her #metoo post with this graphic, which I assume must be from a Burner website as it proposes the 11th Principle should be Consent.

I like the phrase Radical Respect as it opens a broader topic in addressing interpersonal relations. As you can above, I used the term when I was looking for a phrase to embroider at a workshop recently.

It would be good to see the conversation continue, both within the Burner community and more widely in society.

Octopussy

Masami Teraoka, “Sarah and Octopus/Seventh Heaven” (2001)

Mugwort

This leafy shrub has contributed to many amazing dreams over the years.

If you use it instead of hops in beer, then it creates a light and euphoric drink.

It's also good infused in boiling water as a tea.

Need an alibi?

My partner is fond of joking that Mark Lehman sells alibis, since he's in the business of fabrication and maintenance.

So, if you're in Leeton and you need a cover story, maybe he can help.

Reflecting on Streams

One of the highlights of opening the Crossing Streams exhibition was learning a new word.

Ekphrasis is a Greek term for a literal description, particularly in poetry, of the narrative in visual art. So I’d guess that the responses to haiku describing scenes local to Narrandera, that were then interpreted with photography and music is a kind of inverted ekphrasis.

This was part of the writing workshop led by Dr Greg Pritchard, who had contributed to both Crossing Streams and the exhibition Slow Book Haiku that his collaborator Kelly Leonard had brought down from her home Mudgee after the works had been part of the Bring To Light Projects show in Dubbo.

I really appreciated Kelly’s interest in exhibiting in Narrandera at the Arts and Community Centre is a large venue with two rooms. There had been times when I doubted whether the exhibition I’d been asked by Western Riverina Arts to curate would manifest.



However, the exhibition slowly snowballed from unattended workshops, to around one and half dozen haiku, to over 70 tracks from musicians around the world that provided over five hours of music. For this I am grateful for the support of Marco from Naviar Records and also Marc from the Disquiet.com blog, whose Junto joined the fifth poem as one of their weekly projects.

Five hours is an almost perfect amount of soundtrack as the that’s how long the exhibition is open each day until 29 October, ensuring most tracks will be heard daily. The music contributed can be heard in the gallery and also available for perusal on an iPad with headphones.

Another highlight of the opening was hearing Lizzie Walsh and Mary Sutcliffe performing composer Fiona Caldarevic’s 'The River's Edge,' a response to a haiku by Sue Killham. Fiona contributed musical responses to each of the five poems shared by Naviar Records and they were all of a high quality and distinct among the mostly electronic contributions.

The process of curating an exhibition was one that required me to rethink my approach. In my previous exhibitions the focus had been on my role as photographer. While I contributed photography, as well as video and haiku, the idea of being a curator seemed to be one that needed an outward and collaborative focus.

While we were installing, Kelly had mentioned that this would be the first time Greg saw their work. It seemed incredible but somehow made sense given Greg’s frequent transient roles travelling between arts communities and making connections.

In the artist talk Greg told how their project had begun with a handwritten note on handmade paper from Kelly that invited him to collaborate. It said a lot about her style. I’ve really appreciated her enthusiasm for this exhibition and am excited about the idea we have to collaborate again.

It has been fascinating to see how a short poem can be interpreted sonically and the variety of the contributions provides a rich experience in comparing and contrasting individual approaches.

I was also happy to see the variety of people attending and engaging with the exhibition. At one point I passed two women considering the meaning of the word ‘verdant’ and, after reaching for their phone to check, learned it means green. That they didn’t shrug and move on showed their interest.

Crossing Streams has been a rewarding experience for me and I am grateful to Western Riverina Arts for the opportunity, as well as the photo above. Before it concludes on 29 October there are workshops on Sundays from 1pm, with Peita Vincent discussing writing then Kelly introducing weaving techniques.

The River's Edge



A highlight of the opening of the Crossing Streams exhibition was this performance of 'The River's Edge,' which was Fiona Caldarevic's musical response to a haiku by Sue Killham.

The more of your data I gather


Conversing Streams

While approaching musicians to ask them to make their responses to the haiku in the Crossing Streams project available for the exhibition, I had an interesting conversation with one who questioned whether it was appropriate for a non-indigenous person to comment on (what they saw as) indigenous history.

They wrote:
If it’s OK, can I ask a few questions regarding the exhibition? I thought about this for a while after the actual Junto, but are any of the people involved in the event indigenous? Or even the writer of the original haiku?

I ask because the prompt is using the lived experience of that group of people and I feel like it’s sort of weird for me to have even participated, being a well-off non-oppressed guy.

My reply:
Poison Waterholes Creek…is one of 14 poems that will be exhibited, along with around five hours of music. 
That poem was written by a friend who is very conscious of local history and my initial response was that I liked my poem about that location better because it didn’t open old wounds. 
Then I had to remind myself that I want to engage people but, more importantly, I read a column by Stan Grant where he talked about the need to break the silence surrounding the Frontier Wars. 
Stan’s father is a senior Wiradjuri elder and lives in Narrandera, while Stan Jr has also become a prominent voice in the process of reconciliation that Australia is going through. 
I think it’s an important conversation, particularly as increasing numbers of Australians identify as indigenous. 
It’s been really rewarding for me to see the discussion in the responses to the Junto, particularly those people who’ve gone and looked into Wiradjuri culture or found parallels with indigenous people in their own locations. 
Sometimes I think on how I can claim to be a first-generation Australian and how that is convenient when it comes to excusing myself from reconciliation. 
However, I am increasingly seeing the need to play role… So I’ve begun taking the opportunities to promote the conversation and it’s developed over the last six months while I’ve been thinking it through. 
Small things seem important, like reminding people of the treaty that was thought to have been negotiated nearby in the early 19th Century. As the national discussion about a treaty continues to be muffled by other issues, it’s good to remind people that it’s not something new.

Crossing Streams with Slow Book Haiku

What would Jesus wear?

In recent times the same-sex marriage survey has thrown up some interesting conversations, like the one about how the 'yes' vote will lead to boys being dressed in dresses.

So it seemed a good time to return to the question: What Would Jesus Wear?

While some might question Jesus' fashion choices, there's no doubting his achievements.

Jewel of the Riverina

The Murrumbidgee River catchment extends from the Snowy Mountains to beyond the dusty plains of Hay and includes numerous permanent and temporary wetlands.



Fivebough Wetland is distinguished through recognition under the United Nation’s Ramsar Convention, which identifies sites of international importance for migratory birds.



Many birds travel to Fivebough from the northern hemisphere during spring and stay for summer, before returning to breeding grounds in northern Australia and other islands. 



In winter the Wetland is also home to thousands of migratory birds taking advantage of the food and shelter available.



Over 170 different bird species have been observed at Fivebough, including seven species considered threatened in New South Wales.



Of 360 wetlands surveyed within the Murray-Darling Basin, Fivebough recorded the highest number of waterbird species and ranked second for the total number of species recorded in a single survey.



Upwards of 20,000 waterbirds have been counted on occasions, with the greatest count being above 50,000 birds.



Despite this huge influx of international visitors each year, many residents in the nearby town of Leeton are unaware of the significant role played by “the swamp”.



Fivebough was drained over a lengthy period in the 1900’s, impacting on black box woodland adjacent to the wetlands, and belah, saltbush and boree woodland on the higher areas. 



By the late 1970s Fivebough, along with nearby Tuckerbil swamp, became known for their birdwatching qualities. 



Sometimes brolga can be seen “dancing” at these wetlands, which also serve as a breeding site for black swans.



Murrumbidgee Landcare has worked alongside partners to improve the image of Fivebough Wetland, including liaising with local, state and national government agencies.



A tree-planting organised for National Tree Day in 2017 saw 50 volunteers put 800 seedlings into ground on the western side of the Wetlands.



As part of World Wetland Day in 2017, Murrumbidgee Landcare accessed funding from Riverina Local Land Services to provide a breakfast at Fivebough in the morning and film screening in town during the afternoon.

Each event attracted around 70 attendees, which represents around one per cent of the population of Leeton.



The Birds and Brekky event was supported by the Leeton Lions Club and included presentations from three guest speakers: bird surveyor Keith Hutton, wetland plant specialist Geoff Sainty and frog specialist David Hunter.



The afternoon screening of the movie Storm Boy commenced with a Welcome to Country from local Aboriginal elder Jimmy Ingram, followed by a presentation from Erin Lenon of Commonwealth Environmental Water Office on the international significance of the local wetlands.


In various projects Murrumbidgee Landcare supports efforts to rehabilitate the image of Fivebough Wetland, both its image and its environment.

Crossing Streams to make a splash in Narrandera

The Crossing Streams exhibition that opens in Narrandera will present local scenes in haiku and photography, as well as interpretations in sound.

Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan and is known for its format, often three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, reflecting on natural scenes.

Earlier this year haiku were contributed, many by local writers. Five of these were distributed to musicians by Naviar Records, who hold a weekly challenge to sonically interpret haiku poetry.

Curator Jason Richardson is a contributor to Naviar Records and orchestrated this online collaboration.

“Musicians from around the world wrote music based on poetry describing locations around Narrandera,” said Mr Richardson.

“Recordings came from the United States, Canada, UK, France, Czech Republic, Australia and from Narrandera-based composer Fiona Caldarevic.

Contributions also came from the Disquiet Junto, an online recording community who responded to a poem describing Poison Waterholes Creek by Peita Vincent.

“That poem was chosen after reading Stan Grant’s call to end the great silence surrounding the Frontier Wars,” said Jason Richardson.

Other poems were interpreted as music from descriptions of floodwaters, trucks driving through town, gums in fog and trees on the riverbank.

Over sixty recordings were collected for the exhibition, which will also show photography illustrating a selection of contributed haiku.

“There were around one and half dozen poems sent via Twitter and email and one from my eight-year old son.”

The Crossing Streams exhibition will be complemented by the Slow Book Haiku textile exhibition, which is a collaboration between Kelly Leonard Weaving and Dr Greg Pritchard.

“It will be interesting to see how the economy of short poems translates into other media,” said curator Jason Richardson.

The two exhibitions open at the Narrandera Arts Centre from 1pm on Sunday 15 October.

The opening will feature a performance of Fiona Caldarevic’s music, followed by a workshop led by Dr Greg Pritchard.

Crossing Streams and Slow Book Haiku will be open daily until Sunday 29 October, when a workshop run by Kelly Leonard Weaving from 1pm will conclude the exhibitions.

The project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, provided through Regional Arts Australia.

Surveying the damage

As a straight white male in a straight white patriarchal society, I've been a bit blase about the same-sex marriage survey.

Aside from having to endure another round of conversations with my partner on why she thinks marriage is an archaic form of property exchange, it really has very little to do with me.

In fact, I have so little to do with marriage that it seems silly for me to have to give an opinion on whether anyone should be able to get married.

But it's not about anyone in the sense of deciding who, it's about making it available to everyone.

At least that's what I thought before I started reading comments from friends on Facebook.

Matthew wrote:

The Australian plebiscite, where fathers get to tell the Australian Government that their sons are second class citizens. Thanks dad.


Kristen wrote:

The literally dozens of people who physically and mentally assaulted me for not being hetero, the people who made my life a torture and left me with damage that I am still trying to heal .... they get to vote on whether I am a real human who deserves real human rights.


The politics of Tony Abbott's idea to have a plebiscite as a way  to avoid enduring conflict about a policy that the majority of Australians support really doesn't reflect the outcome of the survey.

It's a mechanism that does little but further delay an inevitable decision that should be based on equality.

In the process it re-opens a lot of psychological scars, as well as fanning bigotry.

Of course, Shaun Micallef has already skewered the whole thing in the way a legally-trained comedian would:

Fran Lebowitz on sulking

Sulking is a big effort. So is not writing. I only realized that when I did start writing. When I started getting real work done, I realized how much easier it is to write than not to write.

Discworld

A friend from uni runs a secondhand bookshop.

On the weekend he posted on Facebook that a customer had called asking if he had a set of "Disc World" books and my friend couldn't contain his giggles.

Google tells me there are 41 Discworld books by Terry Pratchett and they share in common being set on a disc-planet that travels through the universe atop four elephants on a giant turtle.

I've really enjoyed dipping into the series when I find audiobook versions at public libraries.

Pratchett has a distinctive style of storytelling that is very conversational, almost Socratic in the way exposition seems to effortlessly be placed within quotation marks.

Even minor characters will have a role in fleshing out the plot.

Most recently I enjoyed The Science of Discworld, which is mostly a summary of the science behind our planet from astronomy to evolutionary biology.

I've tried reading the books too but find them a bit like Shakespeare in being language I prefer to hear spoken.

Stephen Briggs' voice now comes to mind when I read Pratchett's prose, as I have been reading Truckers to my youngest.

Crayola Glowboard

When a duck eats mushrooms

According to The Gabzone this is an unaltered panel from Kingdom Hearts, yet it reads like a Disney character having a consciousness-expanding experience.

Warangesda closes this weekend

The exhibition is open a few more days at the Narrandera Arts Centre.

Warangesda details the history of the Mission at Darlington Point with responses from local artists, including AMS Woman Group’s artwork Murrumbidgee Yellow Belly, Treahna Hamm’s Murrumbidgee Yabby and Rodney Simpson’s Greed all shown and all created this year for the exhibition.

This Mission was significant for maintaining Wiradjuri in the region, first as a Christian mission and then an Aboriginal station:

The historic Aboriginal occupation of Warangesda was characterised by a relatively self sufficient Aboriginal community that participated in the economic maintenance of the wider community by the provision of labour to local agriculture. The people also maintained a culturally distinct Aboriginal lifestyle firmly based on the maintenance of family connections over the wider region.
Warangesda is rare in that it is one of only 10 missions established in NSW. It is unique in NSW, as it is the only mission or reserve site in NSW to retain a suite of original 19th century building ruins and archaeological relics.
The place is significant for its association with the last great inter-group burbung (initiation) in Wiradjuri country which was held at or near Warangesda in the 1870s. 

Peter Kabaila is a historian who's written on this area in various publications and has provided the text for the informative panels. His honours thesis was an archeological survey of the Mission site and many of the artifacts he found are now in the collection at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

The Warangesda exhibition was an opportunity for me to develop my skills "hanging" the show. I'd been fortunate to get a role working alongside Ray from Griffith Regional Art Gallery and Hape Kiddle, as well as Derek and Liana from Western Riverina Arts.

This experience was rewarding and I was encouraged to contribute ideas, which flowed freely after my initial suggestion to place on the floor the modesty screens that had been decorated with Warangesda history through a project run by Kerri Weymouth.

What do you do for a crust?

Among the trees of Matong State Forest are areas with cryptogamic crust.

This is a specialised community of cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens.

It works to improve soil stability, as well as offering increased resistance to wind and water erosion.

Crusts are often a feature of arid and semi-arid areas, where their sponge-y texture might also catch seed from nearby plants.

They have adapted to severe growing conditions but can easily be disturbed.

Disruption of the crusts brings decreased organism diversity, soil nutrients and stability.

Full recovery of crust from disturbance is a slow process, particularly for mosses and lichens.

Visual recovery can be complete in as little as one to five years, given average climate conditions.

However, recovering crust thickness can take up to 50 years, and mosses and lichens can take up to 250 years to recover.

Hollows As Homes

Local Landcare Coordinator Jason Richardson has been visiting schools in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area to promote the role of tree hollows as habitat.

Did you know that it takes around 300 years for nature to provide a home for an owl? It’s even longer for possums.

There are no animals that are able to create tree hollows, such as the woodpecker in North America, so hollow creation is a slow process that relies on fungus to eat away at the tree.

In urban and agricultural areas throughout Australia, hollow-bearing trees are in decline.

In New South Wales, species that rely on tree hollows for shelter and nesting include at least 46 mammals, 81 birds, 31 reptiles and 16 frogs.

Forty of these species are listed as threatened with extinction in New South Wales and the loss of hollows has been listed as a key threatening process.

As part of Landcare’s visits primary school students learned how contested hollows can be, particularly in urban settings where hollows can be considered a public risk.

Jason spoke of his experience observing ringneck parrots intimidate grass parrots from returning to their nest.

The children were fascinated to handle the skull of a grass parrot chick.

The students then had an opportunity to assess school grounds and the surrounding area for hollows and observe local bird life using binoculars.

Burning Seed



Only a bit over a week away now!

Four plot structures

I. The Babadook
II. The Big Lebowski
III. Thelma and Louise
IV. Barton Fink

Is it OK?

My friend Alex posted this chart on Facebook and asked if the RU OK? suicide prevention campaign might be ineffective.

The RU OK? day has been running since 2009 and the chart doesn't seem to make a conclusive link.

However there are plenty of studies that show copycat suicides are a phenomena.

Does talking about suicide contribute to it?

Safe

Match wildlife to a hollow

Tree hollows are valued as habitat for many Australian birds, reptiles and animals.

Recently I've visited Riverina primary schools to raise awareness for the role of hollows.

It surprised me to learn that it can take 300 years to make a home for an owl.

Sow what?

English can be tricky when similar sounding words mean different things.

So I was curious when I read this headline and wondered if agricultural fashion had become an area of academic research?

No, it's a a typo and illustrates the need for subeditors.

Sowing seeds is planting them and often used as a metaphor, like the quote from the article here shows.

Game of chicken

Noticed the personalised number plate on this Steggles van at the lights.

Threatened Species Day

Today is Threatened Species Day.

I've been promoting the day with this photo of a Superb Parrot, which is considered vulnerable due to loss of habitat.

It's an older photo that was first published on my Shot Wildlife blog.

Three beer bottles

Saw this trio advertising clothes on Facebook this week and couldn't help but wonder if they were blowing on their beer bottles.

Could they be covering Billie Jean like the Bottle Boys below?

Sounds of (not so) silence

A friend shared this beaut version of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel singing 'The Sounds of Silence' live.



For me this song often prompts one of those 'what if?' moments.

Originally it was recorded without the electric instruments accompanying it, so I sometimes wonder how Paul Simon felt after hearing what happened to it.

After Bob Dylan went electric in 1965, Columbia Records' producer Tom Wilson decided this was now the fashion for folk music:

By June 1965, folk-rock had its first number one hit with The Byrds’ amped-up version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” That month Wilson produced “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan’s landmark electric rocker… Without the knowledge of Simon or Garfunkel, Wilson hired session players – bassist Joe Mack, drummer Buddy Salzman and guitarists Vinnie Bell and Al Gorgoni – to overdub an electric backing track onto “The Sounds of Silence.”

Gorgoni later said he regretted the decision:

“I love the song – but those guitars ... they’re just awful. I really can’t listen to it now. ... Of course, all the things that are wrong with the recording didn’t stop it from becoming a huge success. So there you go.”

It's difficult to imagine the song without those backing parts now, but I wonder if it would've still found an audience.

I guess Simon and Garfunkel have accepted the electric instruments, or are they included in the live performance above to meet the expectations of the audience?

These days a producer would make it sound like the version below!

Sausagefest

This weekend we held the inaugural Sausagefest.

It came about because some weeks ago while shopping, my partner tried to dissuade me from buying more sausages because we already had some in the freezer.

My response was that we should buy more sausages so that we could compare and contrast the results.

In the past we've compared local pizzas and it's an interesting exercise that I've learned from when I was developing my taste for wine, although I drink less of that lately.

Today we ate five varieties, two were boiled and three were barbecued.

The result was surprising as usually some family members are reluctant to eat kangaroo and it was universally the favourite. The meat was lean and free from gristle, with little extra flavour despite being promoted as containing bush tomato.

In second place was the rook wurst, a Dutch-style hotdog. It was juicy and mild.

Third place was more hotly contested, as I liked the kransky and kids liked the chicken and my partner liked the Italian beef and pork.

A black pudding remains in the freezer and, although I'm curious to try it, no one else seemed very interested in experiencing it.

Fathers Day gift

My son gave me this gift for Fathers Day.

It's a jar filled with positive messages.

Eden's such a little stirrer I see he couldn't help but put this one among them.