When all the signs point to yes.

This week I went home. By home I mean that Ben and the girls and I drove back to the South Coast where Ben and I grew up and met, and where we left our home and our families and our jobs and our friends 3 years ago to embark on this adventure.

SO so much has happened in those 3 years. We’ve changed. The girls have grown. The places and people have changed.


It felt simultaneously like a spiritual homecoming, and also a spiritual cord-cutting.


Whilst staying at my mum’s, I walked the beaches I played on as a toddler, dug my toes into the sand, smelled the salty briny air, and connected. The ocean is so much apart of me. I was never a surfer like my parents, but whenever I go to the beach, people always comment that I look at home in the water. And I am home.


One day, while we sat over looking the harbour of my hometown eating lunch, I was relaying a story to Ben and pointed vaguely out to sea – and pointed right at a passing whale, announcing its presence with a glorious spray of water. I literally went “Oh-OH MY GOD! THERE’S A WHALE!” What a gift! A glorious all-knowing spirit animal, there just for me at the perfect moment.

humpback_whale_by_kaylalily

And I met with some old friends, that I hadn’t seen for a while, and we laughed and connected, and I realized that they’d all changed so much. And I was so different. But our friendship was the same. As with all true friends, distance and time cannot break bonds. We were still connected by our hearts.

But then some things, inevitably, were different. And I felt a kind of ‘letting go’. Like some of these childhood ways, comforts, habits: It was time for them to be put away. I dyed my hair, bought some new clothes, and forgot to check-in with all the usual ‘imaginary opinions’ that I used to check-in with as an insecure people pleaser. My step dad obviously hated my new hair. And I laughed and I truly didn’t care.


I saw an old friend clearly, for the first time in a long time, and realized I’ve changed so much, that it was time to let them go. They obviously did not see my worth anymore, and I felt uncomfortable, inconvenient and taken for granted. But I know my worth now. And I could choose to let go of what was no longer worthy of me. And I did. And it felt INCREDIBLE.

Then on the way home I listened to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Woman Who Run With The Wolves” and had my mind absolutely blown open. I felt like she was summarizing the entire spiritual awakening I have had in the last few years!

Women_who_run_w-330

There were moments while listening where I audibly gasped, as I heard the author literally tell ‘my story’. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it!

It was as if she was writing the concluding paragraph to the ‘coming home, but letting go’ essay of the past week.

And I got home, and I threw open the windows of Hill Shadow House, and I scrubbed my kitchen floor, and I took out the garbage, and ripped all the unneccessary clothes from my wardrobe and bagged them up for charity. It was a purging. A throwing off of all that no longer serves me. a literal shedding of the skin; climbing out of my chrysalis to unfold my new wings. To welcome in this new era, and step into my power as the Wool Witch.

Here I was: Home at last. In my body, at my hearth, ready to use my intuition and the ancient knowledge of my sisters to create and to work the magic.

And then, the Universe threw me one final lightening bolt.


I had listed my last remaining skein of Activated Yarn onto an online Facebook yarn auction before I left. A roll of the dice. I reasoned that the person who needed it would find it. It was a golden bamboo-blended skein of Luck & Abundance. Infused with reiki energy, Zucchini flower, Aventurine and Citrine. A lady bid for it, saying she was going through a rough time, and could use some good luck. A second lady bid, and finally won the auction. She then contacted me by email saying that she had paid for the yarn, but could I contact the first lady for her address and send it there. She had bought as a gift for her.

Complete strangers. A completely random act of kindness brought about and manifested by threads, earth and energy. Ancestral medicine that made better three people.

That, my friends, is BIG MAGIC.

I felt overwhelmed and humbled by what had just occurred. The universe took me on this journey, showing me who I was before, and who I have now become. It showed me that I was rebirthing, shedding off all that no longer served me, while connecting to what is  deep, deep in my spirit. Then it finished up with a veritable “mic drop”.

BOOM!: THIS. THIS IS WHAT YOU DO.

The Volva has arrived.

ac388dc7c1e94a26551ea709ae76a128

Life, Challenges, and Goals

So we are nearly one month in to 2016, a year on from my cancer treatment, and the third year we are in Melbourne.

I am settling in to life here, we have built up some great networks and friends. Family life is very good, my eldest is starting Grade 1 and the youngest is growing up WAY too fast. We might not get out as much as we would like (as an adult couple) but we have so much opportunity for so many adventures with the girls (even just on the farm we rent) that we sometimes forget to spent time as a couple.

Socially we have really found our place. I have been able to get back into serious tabletop gaming, including a regular Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Anji is riding semi-regularly and her budding business/hobby (hobby/business?) of fiber making (yarn, wool, and end products like knitted goods) is growing steadily.

I have continued swimming (it feels like I am slowly getting there…) Work is going well and we have achieved some great things combining the region into a cohesive focused group.

Yet there is more that I want to achieve.

I have been reading Will Wheaton and his reboot posts (check out January post to see what I mean). He is monitoring seven categories, things that he wants to change and challenge himself with. I have some similar goals that I want to achieve and I would like to explore ways to achieve them or at least give me space and time to give them a go.

  1. Exercise: This is based around my fitness, I want to increase my level of fitness, reduce my weight and generally be healthier. Now I have been swimming fairly regularly, I just need to keep that up! Goal: Swim at least once per week.
  2. Music: Practise my guitar and record some drum tracks… generally I want to be able to create some music with my friends around Australia and the World – we can do that, we just need the drive! Goal: Play guitar more often and record at least once a week.
  3. Read: In the past I did the Good Reads Challenges – which kinda fell apart last year. I would like to make sure that I read more and in more ways. Because I now drive to work I have less time to read, so I have downloaded some audiobooks to listen to on the commute. Goal: Read or listen to 24 books this year.
  4. Write: I want to do regular posts – non-fiction around my interests and work stuff; fiction – write a few short stories or keep planning that novel. Goal: Write more, a weekly post, or a few hundred words a week on fiction.

It’s a few less than Will’s but I really can’t commit to any more than that!

Now to plan it I must work out a weekly planner – fit all the work and life stuff and see where I can fit in these goals… Onwards and upwards.

Hopefully I will be able to report back on the achievements (or not) and keep motivated to achieve these 4 things… it’s only 4 things after all!

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins – Review

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – another review in the Eclectic Readers Challenge 2012

Hunger games.jpg

I was loaned these books from a friend – The wife saw the movie recently and wanted to check out the series that inspired it and I needed a book for the Eclectic Readers Challenge – Young Adult.

This genre is one that I like – Susan Cooper, Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld among others are hiding out on my book shelves. I like the easy readability of these books as well as the adventure and feel that most young adult books have. If you haven’t read one of these since teenage-hood I highly recommend you jump back in – and abandon yourself to the story.

Back to the review… many may be aware of the series from either the books or the major movie – so I will keep this first part fairly short.

Story
This is set in the future after some catastrophe has turned North America into mostly a wasteland with humanity held up in 12 districts which support the Capitol, in a quasi-salve state.  Many years earlier a 13th district existed but after a failed attempt to seek independence from the Capitol it was bombed and in retaliation the Hunger Games started as a way to remind the remaining districts that the Capitol rules. The Hunger Games require each district to send 2 tributes (aged between 12-18) to fight it out – with only 1 winner allowed – the rest must die. The series follows Katniss, Peeta and Gale (the teenage triangle often found in the young adult genre – just get with the program!) as their world is turned apart and seemingly innocent actions cause the whole world to start to change.

This immediately made me think of the Japanese film Battle Royale (and I am not the only one… however, I am not going to enter that debate.) I am happy to believe that the author really didn’t see the movie before writing this – and after all it is a very different story with only slight similarities. Here endth the debate.

I have also chosen to review the whole series of three books – not to make out that I am some genius at reading but that fact remains with large font and spacing these books might be 400 pages each but probably contain less words then one George RR Martin !!! Man that guy can write!

Review
So what did I think of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay? I think firstly it is well written – the target audience will be able to read this easily – it deals with some difficult issues, death, family, separation and acceptance of your role in the world. The main characters, while being flawed, show strength that comes from something real – by this I mean they are not glowing vampires or love struck werewolves but normal (ish) teenagers who are made to extraordinary things in dangerous times. Worlds are turned upside down, loyalties are questioned and in the end a choice must be made.

I understand why this series is well liked and would encourage any read or any age to read this as it is a great story with good characters, action, love and all the other good bits… without being too graphic or “grown-up” (with that I mean no sex and remorse over the violence).

Suzanne has done a sterling job with this series, so often young adult books can feel ‘dumbed’ down, Suzanne has managed to keep the heavy subject matter true to younger readers while still being enjoyed by the umm older/mature/experienced readers like myself.

I will give this series 4/5

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Third in the Eclectic Readers Challenge 2012

Third up in the Challenge is Romance… I put off just re-reading Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein oh it would be so easy to just stick with my favourite genre(s) of Fantasy and Science Fiction… but I must NOT!!! So instead I asked the wife… what romance book should I read… I expected something from Jilly Cooper – the horse porn lady (note: not porn with horses but soft porn involving people who also have horses… no bestiality at least that’s what she tells me…)
No instead she handed me Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This book has special meaning to us as it was the reason we went to Japan for our honeymoon – wife’s choice after she feel in love with the Kyoto world of pre and post WWII through this book.
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel
At first I was intrigued by the writing style – this book is written from the POV of the Geisha growing up with poor, loosing mother, father, sister, being sold into a world that is alien to most European background people (isn’t the Sex trade?? – I realise it can be more than that but you can bid to take a girl’s virginity…). All these feelings and insight are written by an American man… and it was so well written I had to keep reminding myself that this was not an autobiography but a work of fiction – it just felt so real.
I think it also helped having been to Kyoto, having had a brief encounter with a Maiko (trainee Geisha), walked the street and stood in front of famous tea houses… I could almost taste again the wonderful ramen soups and hear the click clack of the wooden shod Geisha walking past us… 
Memoirs is not a true romance novel, or at least not the way I see them in my head (I’m thinking Clan of the Cave Bear here…) no this is a much more subtle book. Sayuri’s is often a sad one – torn from her family into a “better life” she takes the challenges on and shows her true potential becoming a phenomenal Geisha in a time when the world almost lost them forever.
Japan’s rich culture, which is often harsh to western eyes, has some many levels and is full of grace and depth. I enjoyed reading this book equally for the trip down memory lane and the story itself – yes a romance kept me interested and wanting to read more to find out what happens to Sayuri, while yearning that she finally gets the love she both wants and deserves.
I can’t say much more then read this – go to Japan then read it again… well worth it.
4.5/5

Killing Floor – Lee Child – Review

Another review in the Eclectic Reading Challenge 2012 – Crime / Mystery Fiction

Lee Child’s Killing Floor is the first of the Jack Reacher novels, which are international best sellers and very popular novels…
Killing Floor
I’ve never read anything by Lee Child and thought that I should start at the begin – the first Jack Reacher novel. I have dabbled in this genre before which some of the well know authors like Flemming, King (a lot of his are mystery’s and not just horror), Conan Doyle… etc. I also like Crime fiction even the ones writing by fictional authors like Castle… So I was not going into Killing Floor without some fore knowledge of the genre.
First thoughts of the book was – I know why people enjoy reading Child’s work, it was easy to read, fast paced with action and relationships. It was not high prose or complex characters this was a great read that let you enjoy the story (I think this is where I am suppose to write Journey – but I’m not on a reality TV show so I wont).
Basically if you are up for a quick read without too much thought or complex story lines to keep track of, this Child is an author you can go with.
I will be looking up more Jack Reacher novels as I think I could get to like this no nonsense, ex-marine, crime/mystery man… and I hope he one day gets to find someone to love…
3.5/5

Bio of a Space Tyrant – Piers Anthony – Part 1

This is a six part series that follows the Tyrant of Jupiter, Hope Hubris. The first five are written as journals by Hope each detailing an important part of this life. Each of these introductions and conclusions by Hope’s daughter. The sixth book details a story line from Hope’s sister Spirit and covers details when the siblings were apart.

Refugee – Begins with the Hubris poor family and there conditions on Callisto and follows their escape to Jupiter. The group is attached several times and most of the adults are either raped or killed by pirate raiders. The children are left to fend for themselves and try to survive.

LinkPiers has created a mirror to the world of the mid 1980’s in space. Many of the planets, moons, asteroid belts and locations represent different parts of the world (in the then) today. Wikipedia has a full listing of the locations and there worldly counter parts. He deals with many of the issues that are prevalent in the world, poverty, rich versus poor and even the Cold War.

In this first book we find our protagonist caught up between the rich and poor of the moon Callisto. His family are forced to move to the working dome after Hope and his sister Spirit defend there older sister Faith from the unwanted advances of a rich son. Choosing to escape to the prosperous Jupiter (based on North America) the family go on a daring trip across space in an over crowded bubble.

This journey is reminiscent of the current trips refugees take to get to Australian shore and probably more dangerous in the cold vacuum of space.

Piers details a new (to me) propulsion device a gravity drive – not great on the science but basically a field is created around the bubble giving that mass it’s own gravity apart and separate from the gravity around it. Thus the bubble can be propelled through space using only a small amount of energy (thrust) from a simple drive. The bubble also spins which is important for some of the action in this book and boy is there action.

For those weak of stomach or not into violence then maybe skip some parts of this book – however in it’s defence the violence and rape is about overcoming adversity and how the human condition can cope with tragedy and pain. It is about survival and the sacrifices people will make for family and friends in order for some to survive.

This book is well written and you move through it quickly, well paced scenes and insight into the mind of the boy who will become the Tyrant.

One thing you don;t have the any knowledge of the Tyrant and what he will become as these notes are written from the perspective of the boy at the conclusion of this book not from some faraway grandfatherly figure. At the end I wanted to know more about how this boy/man a refugee from the outer limits becomes the Tyrant of Jupiter.

Great read 4/5
I read the Kindle version available at time of writing for $2.99

Vampires and more

It’s no surprise that I like Vampire novels (now I am most definitely not talking about Twilight vampires here but the Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite Vampires – real fictional vampires). I have quite a few novels from these authors and more which cover the subject but the one that had a profound effect on me as a late teen I have never owned…

Lost Souls, by Poppy Z Brite.

Zles, a good friend of mine, had this and knew that I would love it as much as he did so he loaned it to me… I remember reading it fast, almost gorging myself on it every night. Staying up far too late to just get another page into the story – to learn more about the characters, the vampires, the sexuality, the horror and Chartreuse.

It was so well written I remember thinking it spoke to me… and the characters where part of me or was I of them… romantic silly teenage dreams? Probably, and this book could be blamed for my and Zles’s experimentation with Chartreuse… so much Chartreuse…

But why if I loved this book so much did I knew read it again? Never buy it? I’m not sure, maybe the memory of the experience reading could have blurred the lines between reality and fantasy… maybe.

Recently Darklyss borrowed Drawing Blood – knowing that I read Poppy’s books. This is the follow on novel from Lost Souls a kinda of sequel in a way, set in the same universe and with some of the same characters read about in Lost Souls… and it got me thinking about re-reading Lost Souls…

I realised that enough time has past for me to be able to read it again I am old enough to not have too high an expectation. I remember the rose coloured world my teenage self saw things and I know that I have not always been right…

After nearly 2 months wait to get the book ordered in… (another post I fear) I started reading it last night… The Prologue dragged me back in – I felt the same joy I felt when I first read it all those years ago.

Christian, The Bar, The Trinity of Vampires and the birth of Nothing… I’m not sure that this will last for the whole book – maybe it is a touch of reminicing of nights lieing on my bed in the dim dark listening to the Cure… maybe it’s the Chartreuse of yesteryear flowing through my veins but I fucking love this book…

Please if you have a book, a story, a novel, hell even a movie that moved you once long ago… try to read/watch it again… you just might find you love it all over again…

Your Local Book Store…

John Scalzi has this neat little post over on Whatever
Amazon, Local Bookstores, Me
Go on read the article… I’ll just wait until you are finished….

Are you done? Great, now while I can see Amazons marketing machine saying

“In a free market economy we are just trying to do all we can to create awareness of our brand and drive sales…”

Yep that is right… you have the right to do it… but should they? And should you as a consumer?
Personally I have bought books, cd’s, games etc from overseas – from the Amazon’s, Book Depository’s, Ozgamestore… and all for the same reason… the PRICE.
I have a young family, a mortgage, I am the major bread winner (not discounting the huge amount of work my wife does to help support me and enabling me to be able to do that…) I have to be careful about what I/we spend on luxury items like books…
However, something John wrote really resonated with me…

I have an Amazon Prime account and I get lots of use from it, because where I live often the alternative to buying from Amazon is buying from Wal-Mart, and on that strata of retailing, I’m happy to let them go after each other, with knives and bludgeons. If there’s a locally-owned alternative, however, then I generally go there. I pay extra for what amount to intangibles for me, but what’s intangible to me means a job and a business to someone else. That matters, especially these days.

How do I react to that seeing that I have admitted to using the cheaper overseas option before… I agree with what he has written – I really do! Yet how do these conflicting parts merge? How can I both support local and pay the premium and ensure I met all the other obligations in my life?
It’s really quite easy… I use priorities.
For instance I limit the amount of comics I collect and then buy them from my local comic store. I plan my new book purchases and buy from my local bookstore. I buy 2nd hand computer games from my local gaming store. I have a budget and when it is gone… I borrow books from the library and share/borrow games with my mates… In short I do what I can…
This carries across to other aspects of my life… I don’t always shop at the green grocer or the butcher, we can’t always afford South Coast Milk – but we try and we support when and where we can…
Its all any of us can do.

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012

So I have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012
Basically I need to read at least one book from the following genre…

Genres

  1. Literary Fiction – Nineteen Eight-Four, George Orwell
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction – Killing Floor, Lee Child
  3. Romantic Fiction – Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  4. Historical Fiction – Mr Midshipman Hornblower, CS Forester
  5. Young Adult – Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  6. Fantasy – The Magic of Recluce, L.E. Modesitt Jr
  7. Science Fiction – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K Dick
  8. Non Fiction – Chick Days Raising Chickens, Jenna Woginrich
  9. Horror – Horns, Joe Hill
  10. Thriller /Suspense – State of Fear, Michael Crichton
  11. Classic – The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien
  12. Your favourite genre – Ready, Player, One – Ernest Cline

Should be a lot of fun – oh and I need to review them here on my blog – which will at least mean I will blog more – or have a reason to!

Book lists

Through the power of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) I have found the Guardians list of 1,000 books you should read before you die.

I find that even in the Science Fiction and Fantasy I have read only a few of them… should I be worried, should I get the list and starting at A make sure I read them all… and quickly. Or should I just sit back and laugh that a) someone(s) made this list, b) there might actually be someone out there who has read The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell.

Go have a look and choosing your favourite genre work out how many you have read… I worked out that for the Science Fiction and Fantasy I have read 10% of those listed. Mind you ticking Terry Pratchett’s Disk World means I have read 20 billions books and counting! and they list that as 1… WTF. Also I have read other books by authors mentioned just not the one the list has…

I could also mention that once I like an author I tend to read as MUCH of that author as I can – sometimes forgoing other (just as good if not better) ones… but I guess them’s the breaks and with book prices as they are in this country I think people will go out on a limb less and less and stick with what they know and like.

Enjoy