Friday, December 16, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
A bit of a black day for the Baptist Church - among whom I am ranked.
After a secret? Clandestine? Impromptu? Members meeting Pastor Matt Glover has been asked to resign from his position at Lilydale Baptist Church because of his support for members of the gay and lesbian community.
Here is a quote from a paper Matt Glover wrote as part of his theological studies entitled:
Pastoral Response to Homosexuality in the Church
“Our churches have argued the issue on biblical, theological and moral grounds for years, and agreement seems elusive. But as the battles rage, real people are being forgotten, left bruised and hurting, and wondering where they fit. While not tackling the more specific issues of the debate like gay marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals, it is the purpose of this paper to bring another approach to the issue that is based on our equality before God, the work of the Spirit in our lives, and the unity that the Spirit produces in our church communities.
This alternative approach requires journeying with the real people stuck in the middle of the debate, listening to their questions and seeking answers together. It is a pastoral response that has its grounding in scripture and in my experience of ministry over the last twenty years …
Pastoral care begins with the life and practice of Jesus. With those on the fringe of his society, Jesus was welcoming and compassionate, touching the untouchable, loving the unlovable and creating a community that saw all people as equals before God. His life included teaching on scripture and the condemnation of religious leaders who had twisted scripture to protect the institutional religion. But never did Jesus isolate those with a genuine response to his care and his teaching on the Kingdom of God.
Pastoral care in the church must reflect the care of Jesus by opposing rules that drain life, and instead, create a life giving community where burdens are carried together."
Not an unreasonable response, I would argue. Yet Matt Glover has been asked to resign.
This leaves him without full time employment.
Shelley Argent of PFlag (Parents and Friends of lesbians and gays) Queensland, has started a fundraising appeal for Matt Glover and his family by donating $1000.
She has opened a bank account at the Bank of Queensland for direct debits and donations.
BSB: 124-001 Account No: 2172-4166
Account Name: Shelley Argent (for Matt Glover)
Please put in what you can.
Alternatively, if you would like to post a cheque or money order please write them to Rev. M. Glover and address the envelope to PFLAG, PO Box 1372, Eagle Farm 4009.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Dydd Llun - Monday
Fe gorffennais i ddarllen 'Mae hen wlad fy nhadau gan Gwynfor Evans - I finished reading 'Land of my fathers by Gwynfor Evans.
Roedd pedwar cant chwech deg pump tudalen gyda y llyfr - the book had four hundred and sixty five pages.
Fe ddarllenais i pob tudalen. - I read every page.
Wnes i ddim yn ddarllen e yn Gymraeg - I didn't read it in Welsh.
Ond, bydda i'n darllen e yn Gymraeg unwaith nes ymlaen. - but, I will read it in Welsh one day.
Dydd Mawrth - Tuesday
Roedd y ddosbarth diwetha Cymraeg am eleni - was the last Welsh class for this year.
Fe orffennon ni ddarllen 'Y bywyd Blodwen Jones' - we finished reading 'The life of Blodwen Jones.'
Roedd e'n ddoniol iawn.
Dydd Mercher - Wednesday
Fe es i i weld 'Under Milk Wood' ar y theatr Heidelberg - I went to see Under Milk Wood at the Heidleberg Theatre.
Fe mwynheuais i e yn fawr iawn - I enjoyed it very much.
Dydd Iau - Thursday
Wnes i ddim gwneud dim byd Cymreig - I didn't do anything Welsh.
Gosh! What do you think I am? Obsessive? 😊
Dydd Gwener - Friday
Siaradais i gyda ffrindiau newydd ar Skype - I spoke with my new friend on Skype.
Fe wnaethon ni siarad Cymraeg ers bron dwy awr - we spoke Welsh for almost two hours. (there were a few English words thrown in - but mostly Welsh)
Dw i wedi blino iawn nawr I am very tired now.
Mae rhaid i fi fynd i gwely - I must go to bed.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
For a while, due to a series of health and family misfortunes, my writing felt like it was forever chugging up-hill.
This is a serious problem for a writer.
What does one do in such a time?
You don't stop writing - that is the number one rule. You somehow keep putting words on the page. If you can't write fiction you blog - about anything. Even in Welsh, if that helps. You write copy. You dabble in short stories.
You journal. Hoping, life will one day return to an even keel. You also read. Copiously.
Non-fiction, recipes, your Welsh dictionary. Literary fiction. Historical. Light contemporary works. On holidays, you indulge in a great big romping holiday read. The kind that cuts you off from your family for hours at a time. A book in which you get lost - or maybe found.
My last summer holiday read was Kate Morton's, The Distant Hours.
Having read Kate Morton's earlier novels, I knew roughly what to expect. A tale of crumbling castles, ancient families and compelling inter-generational secrets.
Aside from their clear gothic influence, her books also have another element in common. Whether a screenwriter trying to understand the death of a war affected poet, a cameo appearance by Frances Hodgson Burnett, or a young writer finding the courage to write on the crisp new pages of a notebook, her books all provide insights into the writing life.
The Distant Hours didn't depart from this pattern. It was a tale of readers, writers, editors and war-affected families, who were influenced, by the work of one a dead man and his signature tale: The True History of the Mud Man
I gobbled the story down, revelling in its lessons and insights, and came up wanting to know more. How much did Morton's character's writing habits mirror her own? Did she use notebooks? Had she walked the fine line between sanity and insanity? Had she ever felt like giving up? Would she be willing to tell me?
If she did … wouldn't it make great article. I pitched the idea to the Historical Novels Review. Yes, they said, go for it. We will put it in our November edition.
Kate Morton was a delight to interview. So enthusiastic. Her replies so comprehensive. I wanted to publish every word. But due to a tight word limit, I had to edit her response. The result an engaging, tightly honed article (my exaggerated description), that is only the beginning of my big boast. In addition to the article, Kate asked whether she could use some the questions on her blog. The Review said yes, of course, providing the article came out after the November publication date.
Today, I had an email telling me one of the questions has made it on to the blog (yes, follow the link)
My writing life has taken a turn these past months. I no longer feel like the little red engine - I think I can, I think I can. Some days it even feels quite easy.
So what does a writer do then?
You don't take it for granted. That's the first rule. You know life is a series of ups and downs. The mountains will rise up again. Some days, you will wonder whether you can keep going.
But in the meantime, you say a little prayer of thanks when words flow onto the page, or when an article is published, and, when you find your name on the web page of an international, best-selling author, you whoop and throw your hands in the air - and enjoy the ride.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Blodau gwyllt - wild flowers
Kangaroos diog - lazy kangaroos
Mamau a babanod
Clywais i'r kookaburras chwerthin, hefyd - I heard the kookaburras laugh too.
Dyn ni'n cael dros y Sul yn hyfryd
I did a book talk this morning at Ashburton library. The titles I reviewed were:
Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunnant
Life Mask - Emma Donoghue
Sarah Thornhill - Kate Grenville
Eona - Alison Goodman
All great reads
I spent the afternoon at the State Library of Victoria.
The above titled book, dated 1839, was just one of the volumes I found myself reading - along with medical journals, sick lists, and general summarys of emigrant voyages.
I love the research side of writing.
I also saw Antoni Jach in the rare books reading room - so all in al, a true literary day.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Did you think I had stopped reading?
No way, this book is gold. Here are some more quotes:
'How many people, if you were to ask them why they've left the church, would give an answer something along the lines of, ''it's just so small."
'Of course. A gospel that leaves out its cosmic scope will always feel small. A gospel that has its chief message as avoiding hell or not sinning, will never be the full story. A gospel that repeatedly, narrowly affirms and bolsters the "in-ness" of one group at the expense of the "out-ness" of another group will not be true to the story that includes "all things and people in heaven and on earth."'
'We want to know that the last word hasn't been spoken, we want to know that the universe is on our side, we want to know on Friday that Sunday will eventually come.'
'Because that's how the universe works.
That's what Jesus does.
Death and resurrection.
Old life for new life;
One passes away, the other comes.
Friday then Sunday.
You die, and you're reborn.
It's like that.'
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Beth sy'n digwydd yn y ardd? - what is happening in the garden?
Mae'r 'borage' a 'feverfew' yn taenu - there is borage and feverfew sprouting.
Mae'r mint yn dyfu yn glou - the mint is growing fast (I don't know how to write taking over)
Mae fy 'granny's bonnets' wedi dod yn ôl gyda bwrw glaw yn dda - my granny's bonnets have come back with the good rain.
Dw i'n caru Ganwyn yn 'Melbourne.' - I love Spring in Melbourne.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Dyn ni’n enw e 'r ‘Grand Final' – we call it the Grand Final.
Fel i ddweud, dw i ddim yn hoffi pel-droed – like I said, I don’t like football. Ond dw i’n gobeithio bod y tîm Gathod yn enill – but I hope Geelong wins.
Pryd, daeth fy nheulu o Lloegr i Awstralia, daethon ni fyw yn dref Geelong – when my family came from England to Australia, we lived in Geelong. Roedd fy Nhad yn gweithio i ‘Ford’ – my dad was working for Ford. Effallai, dw i’n gobeithio bod tîm Geelong yn enill, heddiw – therefore, I hope Geelong wins today.
Mae rhaid i fi stopio ysgrifennu, nawr – I must stop writing now.
Edrych â y gêm – watch the game.
Mae flin da fi, am fy nrwg Cymraeg - sorry about my bad Welsh. :-)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I have thought about blogging so many times, but it has never quite happened. Today, at last I show up with a recipe. The Anglicised name for this sweet treat is Welsh cakes. But the Cymraeg is so much more evocative - Pice Bach ar y maen - little cakes baked on the stone.
Cynhwsion - Ingredients
- 8 owns blawd hunan-codi (hint: hunan-codi means self raising)
- 3 owns menyn (butter)
- pinsio halen (I leave the salt out)
- 3 owns cwrens (currants)
- pinsio sbeis cymsyg (mixed pice)
- Wy (an egg - the w is supposed to have a little accent but I don't know how to achieve this, yet)
- tipyn bach llaeth i gymysgu (a little milk to mix)
- Rhwbio 'r menyn i mewn i'r blawd hunan-codi nes iddo edrych fel brwision bara - rub the butter into the self raising flour until it looks like the bread crumbs
- Ychwanegu y cynhwysion sych, yr wy a 'r llaeth - add the dry ingredients, the egg and the milk
- Cymysgu i does ffyrm - mix to a firm dough
- Rholio allan, a thorri yn grwn - roll out and cut into rounds
- Pobi ar y maen dros wres cymedrol - cook on the stone (cast iron pan will do) over a medium heat.
Monday, July 25, 2011
It took me five hours to get Heathrow from Swansea, the towns shedding Welsh names and becoming more prosperous and less interesting, en-route. I sat listening to the girls opposite chattering in Welsh, all the while trying to dislodge a lump in my throat. Entering the subway to walk from the bus station to the airport, I passed the entrance to the underground. It's sign read, Piccadilly Line. The same station from which I caught the tube into London five weeks ago.
I fought a sudden mad desire to plunge back down into the earth and start over.
But no, I took a firm grip of my overstuffed-suitcase and turned into the subway.
Waiting for my flight, I find myself reflecting. What have I achieved? What has this trip meant to me?
First and foremost, it has been a recognition - of duality and loss - a search for the five year old girl who left these shores forty two years ago and had always meant to return. A recognition that I will ever be drawn back to this place of my beginning. Forever, in search of the part of me that never left. It is significant to have realized this.
Secondly, it has been a time of clarification. I have always wanted to learn Welsh, ever since mum pulled out a battered brown book of Welsh grammar and showed it to me. I finally put that desire into action about six years ago when I started learning Cymraeg at the Celtic Club in Melbourne. Going by my early ineptitude for languages (in school), I never expected to actually speak Welsh. I was content to simply learn.
But not anymore.
With the help of a fabulous online program called SaysomethinginWelsh,' I did a great deal of language preparation prior to this trip. As a consequence, I managed to speak a little Welsh in North Wales (I spoke a great deal more in my head, as I read signs and pored over my dictionary). This has crystalized my desire. I am no longer content to simply learn Welsh. I want to speak it. I hope to come back and do an intensive residential language program in a couple of years.
Finally, this trip has given me space - to walk, to think and to pray. I researched while in England and wrote while in North Wales and did a great deal of walking and sightseeing. But by far my most important re-discovery was of myself. After the terrible strain of the last few years, I needed to be reminded who I was. To walk by alone in high windy places, to see myself reflected in the habits of distant family, and to be welcomed by people I have long wanted to greet.
They have just made the final call for my flight. I must board the flight and travel home now - ar hyd y nos - all through the night. If you have ever heard that haunting melody, you will know exactly how I am feeling.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I came to Wales last Saturday. The train journey was lovely. I saw many mountains and the seaside too.
Fe gyrraedd yn y bwthyn. Roedd hi 'n gwych. Fe wnes i troi o cwmpas i agor fy ngwarbac ond dw i ddim yn medru gweld o. Dw i wedi gadael yn rhywle.
I arrived at the cottage. It was wonderful. I turned around to open my back-pack but I couldn't see it. I had left it somewhere.
Bydda i'n stopio ysgriffenu yn Cymraeg rwan achos. Does gen i ddim y geirfa i disgrifio fy nheimlo. Ond roedd ofn iawn arna i.
I will stop writing in Welsh now because I don't have the words to describe my feelings. But there was a great fear on me. My computer was in the backpack. My journal and all my cables. My iPhone battery was getting very low. Soon, I wouldn't even have a phone.
I called the taxi. No he hadn't seen a backpack. That meant I had left it on the train. I called the Arriva help-line. They said my best bet was to try and meet the train on its way back. I called the taxi. We made a dash for the train. Fortunately, it was running late and the conductor had put it in his cabin for safe keeping.
After I had recovered ...
Fe es i y pub. Fe archebais i fy nghinio nos yn Cymraeg. Roeddwn i yn balch iawn.
I went to the pub. I ordered my dinner in Welsh. I was very proud.
Fe gerddais i i Cricieth y bore 'ma nesa. Fe brynais i rhyw bwyd a edrychais i o cwmpas. Wnes i ymweld a y castell, hefyd.
I walked to Criccieth the next morning. I bought some food and had a look around. I visited the castle too.
The next few days were spent writing. For some time now, I have suffered from a lack of confidence with my writing. Whenever I sit down to write a new scene, I feel sick with anxiety. I have some moments when it all comes easily. But often, it is a struggle. I wanted to face those thoughts and fears, while alone in my cottage.
By Thursday, I was wondering whether this may have been a mistake. But I persisted.
Yn prynhawn dydd Iau, fe wnes i cyfarfod fy ffrindiau newydd Aran a Catrin o SSIW. Fe gawson ni yn sgwrsio hir. Fe ddwedais i Aran sut roedd yn teimlo pan dw i'n ysgrifennu.
Thursday afternoon, I met my new friends from SSiW, Aran and Catrin.
I shared how I was going with my writing. Aran said he faced a similar struggle when writing his lessons.
Fe wnes i teimlo yn well dda, wedyn. Rywbryd mae rhaid i ni 'legitimise' ofnau arnon ni.
I felt much better after that. Sometimes, we must legitimize our fears.
Noswaith Iau, fe es i y pub. Fe welais i fy ffrindiau newydd Arwen. Fe wnes i ei chyfarfod hi ffriniaud. Fe siaradais i yn Cymraeg. Fe ddychwelyd adre yn hapus iawn.
Thursday evening, I went to the pub. I saw my new friend Awen. I met her friends. I spoke Welsh. I returned home very happy.
Dydd Gwener, fe godais i car o Llandudno. Fe gyrrais i adref trwy y mynydd. Roedd y hen wlad fy nhadau edrych yn brydferth iawn i fi.
On Friday, I picked up a car from Llandudno. I drove home through the mountains. The old land of my fathers looked very beautiful to me.
Dydd Sadwrn, fe gyrrais i Llangollen am y eisteddfod. Fe welais i dawnsio a canu a llawer o corau. Roedd o'n gwych. Wnaedd fy Nghfynither dweud: Bydda i'n edrych i ti ar y teledu. Dw i'n gobeithio ei bod hi neb wela i fi yn y teledu. Achos roeddwn i'n eistedd yn y rhes cefn yn grio.
Saturday, I drove to Llangollen for the eisteddfod. I saw dancing and singing and many choirs. It was wonderful. My cousin said: I will look for you on the TV. I hope that she didn't see me. Because I was sitting in the back row crying.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
My room was on the fifth floor, at the end of a lonely corridor where nobody could hear me scream. But the bed-linen was fresh and I had the luxury of a basin and tiny fridge. What more could I need? Actually three things, a pair of rubber thongs, a hanging dilly-bag and a Boroondara gym towel. Fortunately, I had them all - and a slick daily routine.
I drank coffee from my portable plunger every morning, packed a picnic for each day, and charged my various electronic devices in the evening (or late at night - depending). I spent my days in museums, reading rooms, and on tours. I also saw the Beggar's Opera in Regent's Park and in between, I walked the streets of Covent Garden.
You see, last year, after my novel had been rejected and then assessed, I had to decide whether to move onto another project, or keep going. I also realized, that if I were to keep going I'd have to redraft my novel yet again. It felt like failure (though, this is quite normal I am learning), and I wasn't sure whether I could face another draft - indeed whether I'd have the heart to write ever again. Of course, the latter statement is foolish. I need to write for my sanity. But in the interim, I found myself unable to form the right words. I therefore turned to research.
I knew my main character came from Covent Garden - this was quite a down market area in 1841. I also knew I had to come up with a completely new beginning for my novel, and this involved knowing what Covent Garden looked like in 1841. I needed to explore my character's backstory (or maybe I just like research) to find out where my she lived, worked, and went to school. Very little of this will actually be in the finished novel. But I needed to know it, in order to decide where to begin (at least, that's what I tell myself).
There are no exact maps of Covent Garden in 1841 (at least not that I found). Only maps about twenty years either side of this date - in between there were multiple changes to street names, layout and buildings. I read everything I could find at SLV. Trawled British History on line. Wrote pages of notes. Made mud maps of possible changes - and it worked. I am thrilled to say - I could see my Covent Garden of 1841, though it has changed markedly. I heard my characters speak. On my last evening in the Piazza, I came across a set of market rules that put some final niggling questions to rest. It was so very hard to leave, that night - like returning from Narnia or stepping out of a time machine. But I had a train to catch in the morning.
My main character's father has always been a musician (but I wasn't sure what type). In this draft his employment needed to be specified - he has therefore become a theatre musician. To this end, I have read books on Victorian Theatre and, more specifically, theatre musicians. In the V&A reading rooms, I encountered the names of actors, as if they were old friends. It was kind of electrifying. I wanted to turn round and shout it out - look, Macready! Bunn! Kean! They are real people!
The other aspect of my novel's new beginning is life in a Deptford emigrant depot, followed by a journey down river to the sea. I decided to take a Thames river cruise from Gravesend. The Thames is an amazing river, tidal and ever-changing. The commentary of the waterman was both droll and informative. I found the Upper Watergate from where my migrants would have boarded wherries in order to be rowed out to their ships. I also visited Lewisham library and with the help of the Local History librarian, added some important details to their route through Deptford. Friends in Essex had warned me against visiting Deptford, but the librarian said it would be fine as long as I didn't wander round the housing estates after dark. As his warning was made just on dusk, it had to be a quick visit. But I got a sense of distance and space, felt the thrill of walking where my characters might have walked - almost forgetting, in my excitement, that they are not real. :-)
My other aim during my two weeks in England was to get an impression of WW2 London and the East End. My dad lived in Ilford during this time - hence my time in Ilford Library. In London, I visited Churchill's Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, as well as a WW2 theme museum that gave a sense of the sounds, enclosed spaces, and smells of this brave chapter in Britain's history. I want to write a story based on his experiences.
Now, I am in Wales and the adventure of trying to speak Welsh has begun. I hope to put on the page all that I have learned in London and Essex and, of course. Hopefully, it will make my story better - more tactile. Maybe, it will make the finished product more publishable. It has certainly made the process more enjoyable - which is by far the most important thing. For there are no guarantees in this writing game. The journey is everything.