Bedtime and sleep

Here’s an observation: how come some journalists, newspaper editors, and reporters know so much about health and fitness? I’m not referring to well-researched articles where the reporter quotes (accurately one hopes) a reliable medical or scientific source. I’m talking about the out there commands and/or instructions how to do something. One that pops up fairly frequently is about sleeping and what not to do in bed if you want to sleep well. How many times have I read that bed is only for sex and sleeping? This is possibly based in some research but why I wonder, does this one-size-fits-all become gospel just because it is repeated ad nauseam?

For myself, and I am a good sleeper, I do lots of other things in bed! I love to read in bed, books and the newspapers. Sometimes sitting up in bed is the best place to meditate, especially on a frosty morning. I do some supine yoga asanas nearly every day – I find bed an excellent place to extend and work the hamstrings without hurting my back. What better place to do the daily Sudoku and crossword than in bed? I do eat in bed, mainly snacks not a full meal although the luxury of a full breakfast in bed cannot be overrated.

Of course the rich and famous have used the bed as a place for interviews and protest – John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s Bed In for Peace, for example. Apparently the invited press were expecting something sexy, after all Yoko and John were on honeymoon! John Lennon said, “There were we like two angels in bed, with flowers all around us, and peace and love on our heads,” he continued. “We were fully clothed; the bed was just an accessory. We were wearing pyjamas, but they don’t look much different from day clothes — nothing showing.” Time magazine have a series of photos that are worth looking at – hard to believe it was 40 years ago.

Still on the subject of beds, I do like a properly made bed. A super smooth bottom sheet and the blankets pulled up to just the right level. Hospital corners with neat pockets are definitely a requirement, no casual tucking in on my bed! Three well-plumped pillows although I only sleep with two but I need the third for when I prop myself up to read in bed. Clean sheets that have been dried in sunlight have a charm all of their own (and spell-check wanted to change my use of the possessive ‘their’ to their adverb ‘there’! Tut tut MSWord).

Bedtime and sleep

Writing about Reading

When I had been at uni for a semester or two, I was given an assignment to write a Literature Review. This made very little sense to me. I asked my anthropology tutor, “What is a Literature Review and how do you write one?”

“It’s a review of the literature on your essay topic” was the best explanation I was given. I couldn’t believe how little I knew. I have been a reader my whole life and now I discover that I have read all the wrong books. Many years later I had a similar conversation with my PhD Supervisor. “I’ve read so many books” I said, “but hardly any of them are of any use to me here.”

This is about when I worked out that a good simile for the research behind a PhD Thesis is a stack of many fat Yellow Pages directories with a thin Telephone Directory on top. The Yellow Pages support the Telephone Directory. The PhD candidate has to have all the Yellow Pages (research) stacked up before the Telephone Directory (Thesis) can be useful.

To return to my assignment Review of the Literature, I actually wrote one by mistake. Once I knew what I was meant to be doing I found I could do this thing. Writing an Annotated Bibliography was another hurdle for me. I ended up by keeping copious notes of every academic paper, every book and any other learned source that might prove to be useful. All these notes, alphabetically filed, written in pencil, are still here in my study. I need to clear them out.

Teaching tertiary students, which is where my studies eventually took me, made me appreciate the obstacles I had managed to overcome. I think lecturers, teachers, and tutors sometimes forget the ways of learning before actually grasping something. Meeting the student at the bottom of the ladder and not halfway up is probably the most effective way to teach.

Once my Thesis was out of the way, my next task was to learn to read for pleasure again. However, my critical eye will always be open and not a few books have been scrapped because of this. Deep reading is a skill that I had to learn. Sometimes reading like this is a nuisance and I have to suspend my pedantic internal reader.

At the moment there are two books that haunt me. Both are novels, one very well written the other not so brilliant but both have the power to startle me when my mind is at rest. Oyster by Janet Turner Hospital is one and the other is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I was warned that Oyster would cause flashbacks – and so it does. The Lovely Bones, well I don’t know. I wouldn’t recommend it. I reviewed it on Goodreads and have just managed to post it to this blog.

I have reviewed Oyster and published it to this blog but will do so again. Ironically, I decided to read Oyster for relief, to break up the intensity of The Neapolitan Novels. Well, I do some silly things sometimes and this was one of those times.

Writing about Reading

Oyster – repost of Review

OysterOyster by Janette Turner Hospital

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There were times when I thought, “I can’t continue”. Oyster is best taken in small doses. Janet Turner Hospital is a master of her craft. She draws you in and shakes you up. The horror of some scenes – and they are ‘scenes’ – hurt me physically.
Oyster is set in outback Queensland, in the throes of drought. Outer Maroo, an off the map settlement in an off the map location, and the strangest population of any settlement anywhere.
If I put on my academic’s hat, I’d say this was postmodernism at it’s peak, but that’s a personal opinion.
Strangely, since I read the book, I keep coming across references to Quilpie (which does exist) and other ‘real’ places in Outback Queensland that are mentioned in the book.
If you’re up for the challenge, I encourage you to read this book!

View all my reviews

Oyster – repost of Review

The Lovely Bones – Review

The Lovely BonesThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first The Lovely Bones seemed too confronting for me but I persevered. The story of Susie Salmon keeps reflecting in my mind. The awful death of this child echoes within her own family, the community and in the society. As the reader I also longed for revenge on her murderer.

The Lovely Bones is described as being “luminous and astonishing … it finds light in dark places …”

I found it so, so sad. The story will stay with me for a long time.

View all my reviews

The Lovely Bones – Review

Not fancy cooking

Would I like to make a living from writing? I don’t really know! And, at the moment, I don’t really care.

portrait by Lily circa 2012

Trigger warning for vegetarians and vegans.

Today, when we got back from Freo I put together a rich oxtail stew. It is cooking away as I write and the aroma is divine! I like to make big pots of stew and/or soup in winter. It is good to have spare meals in the freezer. I don’t put too much in each container because it is tasty to add fresh veges when reheated, thus giving the stew a boost.

Why I decided to make stew today was because I read an interesting cooking hack on a Facebook chat page “Chat 10 looks 3” whereby cauliflower was added at the beginning of the cooking time to make the gravy rich and creamy. I usually use sweet potato so today I used both. I am not a precise cook and I use measurements like a ‘sprinkle’ or ‘handful’ or ‘some’. I cook on an ancient gas stove top.

This is how I make Oxtail stew: I start with a large, heavy bottomed, stainless steel pot and melt some coconut oil before adding the pieces of oxtail to brown. If the tail sections are very fatty I trim some of the fat. Today, I added roughly chopped cauliflower including the stalk. Add some roughly chopped carrots, pumpkin, peeled chopped sweet potato, onion, and a good lot of smashed up garlic.

Stir and then I add in whatever I’ve forgotten – chopped or grated fresh ginger, lemon juice (or apple cider) and chopped up lemon skin (apparently the acid helps draw out the goodness from the bones). I remember to add lentils. I used black lentils this time but usually I use red lentils.

Moosh it all around with a big strong spoon and then add stock to cover the ingredients. Homemade stock is best, of course, but if there is none available, box stock is ok or even stock cubes. Season to your taste – if you’ve used bought stock it won’t need so much salt. If I remember I sauté whole coriander seeds in the coconut oil at the beginning, before I add the meat. Today I forgot to do that. Sometimes, if there is a sad looking apple in fridge, I’ll slice it up and add to the stew.


Cover and stir occasionally, especially if you’ve added anything with sugar because the mixture will stick to bottom of the pot. I don’t use flour or cornflour as thickener because the sweet potato, cauliflower and lentils do the trick and are not gluggy.

My mother used to make Oxtail stew and it is one of my favourites. I suppose it is comfort food in the cold weather. This is not fancy cooking but we like it in our house!

Not fancy cooking



I think I caught the cold in Bali as the day before we left I said to Kath how stiff I was feeling – thinking it was from all the yoga. I self-medicated with gin and soda but that didn’t work! The plane trip back to Perth was fairly horrible but luckily not too many people and Perth airport was more or less deserted. Bali was quite cool most of the time. I think I must’ve been Balinese in a previous incarnation because I wore a jumper most of the time and the only other people who did were Balinese! There were heaps of Europeans wearing very little.


Some people are not keen on Bali but for me it is the best place. This last trip, a sneaky little five-day number, was lovely. I’m not a massage addict but managed to have two amazing sessions: one in Sanur at The Nest (highly recommended) and an extra long spa treatment in Ubud at Karsa Spa, also highly recommended.

The video clip, I’ve Been to Bali Too, came up on one of the Bali Facebook pages. It was filmed in 1984. For those who know Bali and have been there, will also see how much the island has changed in the intervening years. The amount of traffic must’ve increased by 100% in the thirty-three years since the clip was filmed. More and bigger bridges, hotels, tourists, shops – even massive tourist buses from Java trying to negotiate the narrow mountain roads.


I noticed many more dogs than last time I was there. Most Bali dogs are not really owned by anyone although I saw quite a few had collars on and looked well tended. There seems to be a considerable disconnect between dogs ‘owned’ by ex-pats in Bali and the local owners. We met an Australian tourist walking a large and beautiful black dog along the front in Sanur. I asked her about the dog. She told me it belonged to the homestay where she was living. She decided to walk it each day because it was cooped up most of the time. She said, “He pulls like crazy and smells like a polecat!” I had to agree, the dog really smelled to high heaven. I saw one dog covered in sarcoptic mange poor creature. Rabies is endemic in Bali, especially in the countryside.

The outbreak of measles in Bali concerns many people. Many Balinese suffer hearing loss because of measles. Not only deafness, but also blindness can result from measles. I can remember when I was a child, 20 years before measles vaccine was invented; we had to stay in a darkened room because of the threat measles posed to vision. I’m still amazed that some Australians do not vaccinate their children against this – and other ‘childhood’ diseases.

Everywhere you turn in Bali another hotel is under construction. Nearly 5million tourists visited Bali in 2016. And so the development in Bali continues with POTUS wanting to build a massive resort on the sacred ground of Tanalot. It saddens me.



Order and disorder

The first time I saw a Twenty-eight, an Australian ring neck parrot, I asked Roland to stop the car. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, by the side of the highway this brilliant emerald green bird pecking at grass seeds. Of course I had seen brightly coloured birds before but nothing like this. The Latin name is Barnadius zonarius. The bird is quite large. When I have found corpses of these birds, victims of road-kill, I’ve been surprised at how big they are.



This morning I was listening to the plaintive call these beautiful birds make. I’ve heard from someone who knows, that it isn’t really “twenty-eight, twenty-eight” but rather “vingt-huit, vingt-huit”. There are a few families of Twenty-eights in our area and they are widespread throughout Western Australia. I’ve heard that when it is about to rain the birds hang upside down on the power lines and washing lines and call, “vingt-huit, vingt-huit”. I have seen them hanging upside down on my washing line but not associated this with rain.

Now I’ve got that out of the way I’ll get on with what I was planning on writing about, which is the state of disorder in my writing practice. I have a number of notebooks, journals, and other places where I write. Most of what I write begins life written in cursive in one of these notebooks. I fully intend to have some form of order: reflections in this notebook; travel notes in my Moleskine; poetry here, fiction there … and so it goes. Go it certainly does because invariably whichever notebook I pick up is the one in which I will write. I prefer unlined because lines limit me. I prefer to write with a 2B (or softer) pencil because the feel of the graphite running smoothly over the paper gives me a frisson of joy.

Blogging is the only place I am interested in publishing my writing these days. Does this make me a dilettante? A dabbler? If it does, do I care? No.





Order and disorder