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Reviewing Glen Hansard

It appears that the last music gig that I reviewed was in June last year — Against Me! — yikes, I had not realised it had been that long. (My one year old kid helps me to pass the time a little.) It’s funny, I remember when I did my first review, I was a bit on the terrified side — not to mention that I took hours and hours to get it right and get it out. (And a right version of that review would look totally different today, but that is writing, and that is life.)

I managed to get my latest review done pretty quickly (even with aforementioned one year old keeping me up half the night) which was of the excellent Glen Hansard. He performed last Thursday night and I was excited because I’m a fan; I have a soft spot for him because of his connection to Eddie Vedder (whom I admire greatly). I have seen Glen about five times now and each time he has not disappointed. It’s tricky when you can’t get personal during the music review process — as is the case for TheMusic.Com.Au website anyway — as I wanted to mention that I was hanging out to hear Aretha Franklin’s Respect pop up during Lover Don’t Leave Me Waiting. When I got my wish, I was thrilled. I can’t mention stuff like that in a review because the reader does not care, but hey you’re on my blog and now you all know. A great talent, that Hansard bloke — go see him if you ever get the chance. (And Google Glen and Eddie singing Falling Slowly when you can, too.)

Below is an excerpt from my review which you can read here. (There are a couple of awkward changes from the editor but c’est la vie. I’m not allowed to say that, am I?)

“Each song was built up impressively – one of Hansard’s strong points; notably the Van Morrison cover Astral Weeks, which also showcased the singer’s manic strumming. Hansard was accompanied by upright base, and the song culminated in a bit of a folky-metalcore display, if such a sub-genre exists.”

Last Weekend Of Winter

Too sleep-deprived to string many words together (my youngest hasn’t been sleeping well over the last week) but I wanted to document my as-is backyard yesterday. The camera was it.

If you aren’t looking through the gallery: I found a vintage high-chair, our magnolia tree takes my breath away, I love the influences of Steiner schooling on my eight year old son, and I look forward to our finished pergola.

Back, But Battered…

My blog was offline for a few months after a mishap with my web host. (Mind you, my main website remains offline but that’s because I am still working on its rebuild.) I restored a small selection of posts from a random time but I have lost a lot. Yep, gone. That is the explanation for the missing and sporadic entries, as well as the broken images. I may be able to bring back a few posts from some email archives but more importantly, I need to move on and upload fresh content. It’s good to have this space sorted again. Thanks for your patience.

Update: I discovered that my Goodreads profile keeps an entire copy of my blog posts! It’s only until October 2014 but I am so relieved that I’ve managed to salvage more data. Hurrah!

Out With The Old

“I may have decided to pursue photography but I never told the writer side of me what I’d be doing with him. He was left hanging. Lately, whenever I had spoken about photography to someone and then heard the other person say: ‘And what about your writing — what will happen with that?’ the guilt would surface and boy, was it ever-present. Not a nice feeling.
I did ignore it at first as I thought it would pass. But on the weekend I pulled up a chair for the writer side of me and asked him to deal with it. I told him to go and take an indefinite break. Maybe we will meet up again. But right now, he has to make room for the camera.”

The above is an excerpt from a journal post of mine from 2007.

For those that don’t know, I have wrapped up my wedding photography business indefinitely. I don’t foresee that I will shoot another wedding any time soon, but who knows what the future holds. For now I am focussing on my manuscript (a novel) of which the first draft is completed. I’m currently running through the first round of edits and it hasn’t been easy. Throw motherhood into the mix, and most days it feels impossible.

In the meantime, I have thousands of photos from the last ten years sitting on my storage device and aside from digging one out for a “throwback thursday” on Instagram every once and a while, I’m not sure what to do with them.

It’s no secret that I love getting my hands onto a good project… the perfect venture. If it’s not a Pearl Jam portrait project, then it’s a forum dedicated to inspiring women (back when vBulletin software was all the rage) or a first novel. Out of my love for music and live gigs, a couple of years ago I had thought about starting my own music magazine, but decided it was not the right time to proceed. Just as well, because these days I don’t have the hunger to shoot a concert. (Even getting out to gigs as a spectator has taken a backseat.)

For a while, I looked left, right and centre for a new creative purpose. It was tricky to establish what was merely an interest, or something to pass the time, or what my ego wanted me to pursue. And then about two weeks ago, an idea finally arrived, which came nestled among an entire thought process, and I felt that this was the project I had been waiting for.

(Apologies to those who have already heard about Heal Protect Nourish in my newsletter this week.) The new project is a wellness website with a primary focus on reducing toxins in our bodies and lifestyle. It also involves a gentle advocacy for safe vaccination. The latter was probably the driving force behind creating the project. Vaccination is an icky topic, and I do accept that, but I also believe that there is a tactful way to get sensitive messages across when you have love and kindness in mind. And that’s my general approach. Quite a few people have cautioned me not to tackle such a topic, but, well, in a very non-bullshit way, I felt guided to do it. I’m still working on the website and hope to have it live in a couple of weeks time.

Outside of my inner world, the bubs is starting solids, the hubby and I have been pinning ideas for the extension on our home, one of the cats (Ivy) has left the abode for good, and I gotta say it — Pearl Jam’s current American tour seems phenomenal so far (thanks to the tease of social media).

You’re There, I’m Here #3

This is the third post from the project series You’re There, I’m Here.

[My friend Donnie suggested an idea for a collaborative project where we each take a photograph outdoors on the same day. The purpose is to showcase the contrast in our surroundings as we are 16,504 kilometres apart.]

See all posts here.



Jennifer: Twenty days into autumn, this is my back door, some metres away from the house, through our fig tree, way after dusk. Though it’s home, it’s a perspective that I’m not familiar with.

Donnie: On the first day of spring, there in the back side of an old wall, atop rickety steps and weathered wood rails, was a door that someone had felt the need to proclaim as new. For a while I debated the truth of the scrawled words, then I realized that ultimately, a door is a door, and opening it is a new beginning.

My image probably looks a bit eerie, could be King’s latest book cover even, but to be honest it had been a strange day, and the vibe had stuck around for the evening. Earlier that day I had visited my paternal grandmother at the nursing home, and speaking of unfamiliar perspectives, it truly saddens me to write that I just don’t recognise her anymore–she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I was also waiting on news from my maternal grandmother’s back surgery after she’d had a fall. On top of that, one of my cats went and ‘fashioned’ this horrible gash on her back, most likely from a fight with another cat, and I was worried about it, and needed to take her to the vet. (Mind you, she looked like an animal extra from The Walking Dead.)
And so I had intended to capture some sort of well-isn’t-it-lovely-that-autumn-is-finally-here moment, and how refreshing the cool is in the evenings now, but it didn’t work out that way. Then again, that is one of the things I like about photography: you never know what you’re gonna get. Come to think of it, that’s very similar to my writing process, too.

Donnie and I don’t share beforehand what we’re planning to shoot, and so I love that we both ended up in front of a door. I can always appreciate a nice dose of synchronicity.

See Donnie’s post here.

You’re There, I’m Here – #2

This is the second post from the project series You’re There, I’m Here. The first can be found here.


Adelaide: A subtly-lit gumtree at dusk that Jennifer tried not to take for granted on Christmas eve.
Lexington: A bright Santa made Donnie take notice of the dreary weather on Christmas eve.

I had aimed to get my shot outside the hall where my extended family always get together on Christmas eve. However, the surroundings were a little banal. I took a few shots anyway, totally uninspired, and then I saw a dandelion head in the air. I liked the idea that perhaps an angel was nearby and so I tried to follow it and shoot at the same time. A photo didn’t work out, but during my movement a gumtree (that I had initially passed off as ordinary) got my attention in the end…

I know that my photograph doesn’t exactly scream Christmas. But I love that the floating dandelion was my reminder to live in the moment during the Christmas chaos, therefore making me really feel the spirit of the festive season.

See Donnie’s version here.

You’re There, I’m Here – #1

My friend Donnie suggested an idea for a collaborative project where we each take a photograph outdoors on the same day. The purpose is to showcase the contrast in our surroundings — with perhaps an emphasis on the season — as we are 16,504 kilometres apart.

This post is the first from our project series called, You’re There, I’m Here.

Adelaide: Late-spring grapes begin to grow from a vine that is over a 100 years old.*
Lexington: Late-autumn leaves were aglow in a backyard.

Donnie’s post is here.

*My family and I have been at this property for only 18 months and it was our neighbour that informed us about the age of the vine. The grapevine is planted right on the boundary between our home and the neighbour’s. Years back, when there were plans to put up the adjoining fence, our neighbour didn’t want to see the vine destroyed as a result. He arranged for the fence to be erected on his side of the boundary — for the love of preserving the vine.

My husband had never pruned a grapevine before. He winged it during the first spring at this home, and a couple of sizeable bunches sprung forth. Since then, he has become quite the avid gardener. He tried a new pruning technique this year and consequently there are grape bunches sprouting everywhere. However, time will tell whether his research paid off, or if there are in fact too many grapes on the vine…

PS – Following on from my last blog post, I now have a baby boy and a finished first draft of my novel. I am still amazed at both accomplishments. I have shared details of these two significant happenings on my Instagram profile. Next step on baby front: enjoy every moment with him as he is already six weeks old! Next step on manuscript front: take it out of the drawer where it has been germinating for the last seven weeks and begin the first edit. (When I’m not feeding, changing nappies, and sleep-rocking.)

Having A Baby and Writing A Novel

There are two definite things going on in my life that began this year. I am having another baby, and I am writing my first novel.

It will be my second child; I’m due mid October.

And it will be my second (proper) attempt at writing a novel, although, this is the most promising experience I have had in my life so far.

(I tried to write something about 7 or 8 years ago, although, to be honest, I don’t really know what it was. After I abandoned it, I forgot about it, and I no longer thought of it as a novel attempt. Perhaps it was more like an extended exercise to teach myself how to write a novel. A practice novel. I guess.)

(I also wrote about 4000 words of fluff for Nanowrimo during October last year. I’m not going to count that as an attempt either. The idea didn’t work and it wasn’t the right time for me to begin writing a novel.)

So now I am 25% of the way through my first draft—it’s about 20,000 words down to date. My aim is to finish the first draft before the baby comes. That way, I can let the draft sit for a good two months while I am caught up in newborn land. Once that time has passed, I can revisit, revise, and get it to some beta readers. That is the plan anyway.

I feel like I have mentioned my pregnancy a lot on social media but I realised I hadn’t yet posted about it on my blog. My photography jobs will be winding down and I’ll be starting maternity leave by the end of August. However, I plan to keep up with writing projects until my waters break.

At 23 weeks and 2 days pregnant today, I am reasonably hungry most of the time. I am trying to make sure that I am well fed before I sit down to write. Otherwise my desire to eat comes out in the novel, and my characters start talking about food a lot. It was amusing when I realised it was happening. That may be a tip for all the pregnant first-time-novel goers out there. I wonder how many of you there are in the world right now. I salute you all, and I dedicate this blog post to you.


Eight Day Old Hex Sign

[This is something that I quickly wrote thanks to a writing exercise from Gail Carson Levine.]

The first time I saw Stephen, he painted a hex sign on my right arm, and I couldn’t move my fingers for three hours. That probably sounds like he injected me with something to cause temporary paralysis, but what I mean is that I had to stay still so that the art came out exactly how he wanted it to. He used black, yellow, red, white and a hint of blue which reminded me of tear drops. I didn’t know what a hex sign was before I met Stephen. It was far from symmetrical but I thought it was striking nevertheless. Apparently he liked to paint them on everyone he felt a connection with. At first I thought that was kind of creepy, but now I like that about him.

I have often wondered about how many he has painted, and how long people have left it on for. I left mine on for around eight days. The paint started to crack where my skin had folded or been stretched. I was surprised that I had left it on for so long and I am not sure why I didn’t scrub it off earlier.

Not long after I had the painting done, I was at my local supermarket and saw a tall girl with a similar sign on her wrist. I smiled to myself. The girl had long black hair that stopped at her waist, piercings in her lip and she was reaching for the lactose-free cheese in the refrigerator. I was short and blonde and didn’t care for piercings, and I never had to buy lactose-free dairy. I don’t really know what came over me, but I headed her way and lingered just behind.

Suddenly I said to her, “I had a sign painted like that on my arm about two weeks ago. My friend Stephen did it for me. I don’t suppose he painted yours, too?”

She raised her eyebrows and took a step back.

“I’m sorry,” I continued. “That was a bit random of me.”

“Wow, how bizarre,” the girl replied, putting the cheese into her trolley. “A Stephen painted mine, too.”

A sound escaped from her mouth – it was like a chuckle and a hmmph meshed together. We stood there for a few moments. It was awkward. I assumed it was the same Stephen, but I needed confirmation…