Head in the Clouds

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Author: claudine

Update of sorts

Hello again! I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging again, but just felt so tongue-tied. So I thought I’d start with something simple – a weekly update of stuff I found interesting in the week.

  • This week I discovered the Chat 10 Looks 3 podcast. Actually, I heard about it a while ago, but only just listened for the first time this week. I love it! Very funny and intelligent. I’ve been working my way through the episodes since. The podcast is created by Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales (for those who don’t know, Annabel Crabb is a political journalist, and Leigh Sales anchors the 730 program on the ABC). Annabel and Leigh chat about books, movies, the internet and the news – topics close to my heart.
  • This year marks 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (as I discovered through the aforementioned podcast). Vanity Fair caught up with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
  • The ABC has produced a three-part series of articles on the front lines workers in the fight against domestic violence. It’s sad, but was quite an eye-opener, worth a read.

Current reading: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Quite enjoying it so far. It’s about an elderly couple in medieval Britain making a journey to see their son, but there’s a mist covering the whole land that’s making people forget their past memories. I’ll report back later, if I remember :)

Waste not

I recently threw out about 10kg of expired stuff from my kitchen pantry. That was a sobering experience. I kept thinking, how did it come to this?! Turns out the expired stuff come into the following categories:

  • Stuff that I bought when they were cheap: vitamins, hot chocolate powder, instant coffee sachets, baking chocolate.
  • Stuff I thought I’d like to try to cook with one day: kluwek, century eggs, various jars of spices, ready-made frosting, hundreds & thousands, cake sprinkles, agar-agar sachets.
  • Stuff I used a little of, but then didn’t use again until they expired: sushi rice, arborio rice, muesli, potato flour, wholemeal flour, brown sugar, gelatine, baking powder, palm sugar, desiccated coconut. Sad to say, various fruits and vegetables came under this category as well as I failed to use them up before they’re too far gone.

So! I shall try to resist the temptation to overbuy when something is on special, buy only what I realistically will use in a timely manner. And perhaps just do baking from ready-prepared packets instead of stocking up on baking supplies. Or do baking more often, hmm.

Cat’s in the cradle

I’ve recently started to listen to Pandora Radio, have since been discovering old bands and artists from the 60s and 70s that I had never heard of, whose songs I really, really like. Mostly for their lyrics, but lots have very catchy tunes as well, that had become classics over the years.

One song that I found had very striking lyrics is Cat’s In The Cradle by Harry Chapin.

Based on his own relationship with his son, the song is about a father who’s too busy to spend time with his son. As the son grows up, he grows to be just like his father, too busy to spend time with him. Here’s how it begins:

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

And then the chilling ending:

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then Dad
You know we’ll have a good time then

 

No fool

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

Jim Elliot

Reading about reading

I’m in the middle of reading Richard Glover’s book, “George Clooney’s Haircut – and Other Cries for Help”, and I’m really enjoying it. Richard has this gift for finding the hilarious and the ridiculous in everyday life.

For example, in response to the oft-repeated advice to “live in the present”, he pointed out that remembering the past and anticipating the future are often more enjoyable than the present:

In recollection you can strip away everything that stood in the way: your sore feet, the couple talking loudly behind you, the queue for admission. Memory pares down the moment to its essence. The same is true of the birth of a child, a kiss, a bushwalk. As memory, the experience is at its most pure, intense and unencumbered.

So true!

On a later chapter, which is my favourite so far, he muses about what makes people who love to read, love reading. Is it only people with unhappy childhoods or unfortunate circumstances who are driven to find escape in books? (There’s a shorter version of this chapter in Richard’s SMH column here.) He made this spot-on observation (emphasis mine):

Reading offers a universe that doesn’t revolve around us – our problems, our vanities and our fears. In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, there’s a scene when Anna’s child has been taken away by the husband she spurned. She’s heartbroken and wants to tell her lover, Vronsky, about how terrible she feels. She pauses, worried about the look of disdain she knows will pass over Vronsky’s face should she unburden herself. Once she’s seen that dismissive look, she’ll find it impossible to love him. And so she says nothing.

By this stage in the story, she’s a character we don’t even like; yet the reader is overwhelmed with sympathy. You feel like cradling Anna in your arms. In that one scene – it’s only a few lines of text – we understand the extent of what she has given up; how little she will receive in return; and – here’s the painful bit – that she knows all this herself.

This is what fiction does, encouraging us to see the world through the eyes of someone else; in Anna’s case, a person from a different country and century. It’s a masterclass in empathy.

Totally agree. I’ll read on with great anticipation of more gems like these :)

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