Friday, November 22, 2013

The river keeps on flowing, but the banks are ever changing (Mostly Autumn)

ART courtyard - pergola, planter and trellis by Wozza
The projects around Red Phoenix Farm have been getting ticked off jolly smartly of late:

the pergolas are all painted and looking spiffy;

A.R.T. is now complete - both the inside and the courtyard (left) is done;

the summer sails are all up;

hedges and gardens are looking peachy.

Next big project for the summer is the carport (cool name - the place you dock your car!). I've been scheming and planning the carport for about a year - ever since we started to transform the garage into A.R.T. I'm also keen to work on a new aviary and chookhouse over the next few holidays.

View from ART
I love building projects - so rewarding and challenging for me and a complete change from the mental twists and turns of teaching. This year has been huge - returning to teaching in Nu Zild after so long away in Al Ain and then China was always going to test me.

I'm generally happy with how I went but I know there will be improvements next year as I become more familiar with stuff (the school, the girls, the curriculum, the staff, the expectations), but I'm excited about 2014 and the chance to build on this start. Teaching is weird in that respect - it's like a yearly cycle of rebirth.

Nature watch returns - the spring into summer transition means the cherry blossom on the cherry tree behind A.R.T. has turned into cherries. This has not escaped the notice of the hungry birds who have been helping themselves.

SWMBO's cunning plan
So SWMBO hatched a plan so fiendishly cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel - simply go to Giant Spiders Are Us and buy the biggest giantest spider they had in stock to drape said cherry tree in said giant spider's web.

The results were...ah...good.

The hungry birds flew down, get caught in the web, became angry birds and were then devoured, pacman style, by the massive metre long spider!

Moral of that particular story - don't piss off SWMBO by trying to gorge yourself on cherrys before she can!

We've had some purlers of sunsets lately as well. As avid readers will remember - an Aussie wattle tree (this here is called the wattle, the emblem of our land, you can stick it in a bottle or you can hold it in your hand) fell down some time ago - damned unreliable thing - and opened up a window onto some of our front paddocks and across to some distant lands. The sun now filters through the gap in spectacular fashion as I'm sure you'll agree.

View through the wattle gap, Max and Meg in foreground
And in other news: I am no longer a beardy. I don't know how my friend Stas does it. He's had facial hair since he was about 9 and his beard is massive.

I must be a sook.

I lasted three weeks into Movember and shaved it all off this afternoon. I got sick of touching the whiskers, sick of hairs getting into my food and drink and sick of not looking like me.

Love and peace - Wozza (can you see the real me? Can ya? CAN YA?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Well, I could a had a religion (Muddy Waters)

As-salam alaykum. I read this article in the Guardian Weekly this week and it seemed an obvious one to share. Many of our friends share the western view of Islam and the stereotypes associated with Islamic women in particular. This article probably won't change their view but I found it interesting.

Having lived in the Middle East and having had a joyful experience working with both Arabic men and women there I read the article and felt that admiration again that Kristiane Backer expresses (her quote is down below).

Anyway - it's a great article about western women converting to Islam...

Some pull quotes from the women being interviewed:

I stopped seeing [Islamic practices] as restrictions on personal freedom and realised they were ways of achieving self-control. (Ioni Sullivan - pictured above)

[The headscarf] can attract negative attention from people who stereotype "visibly" Muslim women as oppressed or terrorist. (Anita Nayyar)

The Muslims I met touched me profoundly through their generosity, dignity and readiness to sacrifice for others. (Kristiane Backer)

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haggard vizier of the moats seeks the sandled shores of Gods (T Rex)

Wow - we CAN really learn something everyday.

Okay so pay attention carefully all you red blooded hairy blokes out there in the blogosphere - a revelation is coming, an epiphany, if you will, is right around the corner. Well not literally round the corner, of course, that would be a metaphorical corner that... just keep reading...

Women really don't like facial hair.

Men think they do, but they don't.

They tell us they don't.

But we don't listen. We think they secretly do.

But they don't.

I thought it was just SWMBO but Movember has made me realise the truth.

The women at school (female staff and students) are pretty much* united in their distaste for facial hair on their men - something to do with kissing a hair brush apparently. Who knew? Well - um - women did.

* It was an informal albeit vigorous and noisy canvassing of opinion.

I'm committed to the month though, even though I won't be able to come close to emulating the great Rob Ryan (defensive co-ordinator for the New Orleans Saints who is pictured at the top), I will, at least, have given it the old college try.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I'd have to be a warrior (Wishbone Ash)

I have never been a fan of Movember. Yes it's a great cause (it promotes awareness of prostate cancer) but I don't like facial hair and I don't look good with a moustache. All to do with my face shape yunnerstand.

Plus SWMBO hates facial hair - if I forget to shave for a day or so she's calling me Santa Claus and making 'you look like a burgler' comments. Subtle she's not.

This year during Movember I am teaching in an all girls' school - where the male staff are few in number. We have been engaged in male bonding type events during the year as a matter of self preservation (and sanity). We're BLOKES dammit. The testosterone ozzes out of every manly pore that we can muster.

So given all that you won't be surprised to learn that the blokes talked me into participating in Movember by the usual male shaming exercises (we're not hard to work out ladies).

I decided to avoid the straight moustache look - I've tried that a couple of times, once at University and then when Keegan was born in 1984 and it didn't work out well each time so I didn't want to repeat that - I've therefore opted for a goatee style (the blokes at school are doing full beards but I WOULD look like Santa if I tried that and SWMBO made her feelings VERY clear about that not being an option).

So far (a week in) so okay - my beard grows in a weird way - with a few unwelcome gaps in the bottom bit. I wanted to look like Jeff Fisher (coach of the St Louis Rams in the NFL) but that became a forlorn hope real quick.

Unlike Jeff, my beard is white in weird patches. Sounds great huh. Jeff or me? Can you even tell the difference? One is a wildly charismatic, mega rich, handsome sporting legend and the other is Jeff.

I may admit defeat and go for a Frank Zappa style yet. We shall see.

It goes without saying that SWMBO hates it all, but I am committed to seeing it through to the end of November. Stop sniggering in the back!

Still - I cling to the idea that it's a good cause - I've posted a link to the Nu Zild Movember website where you can donate so that SWMBO's sacrifice is not in vain.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 4, 2013

If the candle lights this crooked path...I'll reach the water's edge (Dream Theater)

November 4 is the date that I dread every year.

November 4 1983 was hands down the worst day of my life.

My wonderful mother passed away.

It's been thirty years and the pain is not as keen as it was in 1983 but it's still sharp and it still reduces me to tears.

Maybe we never get over traumatic events from our youth. I was 26, yet to be married, yet to become a father, yet to travel and see the world. I was a very young 26. I looked 16 and I felt, on that day, like a person who would forever be lost.

How do I survive without a mother?

I'm still wrestling with that question.

I manage to do it by following my crooked path from November 4 to November 4 to the water's edge.

Love and peace mum - your loving son.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

One potato two potato three potato four (Derek)

Incognito when he was with the Buffalo Bills
There have been some great names in popular culture over the years.

I was watching the Miami Dolphins play yesterday - their massive left guard is the brilliantly named Richie Incognito (I kid you not - even better - it's his real name).

Some other pop culture names I've loved over the years: Rip Torn (the last name is real), Optimus Prime, Red Buttons, Ty Cobb and Stepin’ Fetchit.

But the best of all time is Slim Pickens. A true giant.

I was watching an old western on TV - a Sam Peckinpah Apache drama called Major Dundee and there was Slim Pickens. I think he had two scenes where he spoke in the whole movie and he stole both of them.

Mr Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr in 1919 (he died in 1983). The stage name came about when he started out as a rodeo rider and was told that the career promised 'slim pickings'.

He was in a stack load of TV programmes and movies but the two roles he is probably most known for are Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles.

Here's to you Slim!

Love and peace - Wozza