Sunday, November 4, 2007

Not Property

So. The news when last we spoke was that I didn't have to vacate my lovely home. Well. Three cheers for realestate arseholes, oops I mean, agents! Apparently she hadn't checked with the landlord before offering us a new lease, and when she checked, the landlord said no. Grr. To top it all off, I found this out the day after I had acquired a new housemate. Double grr.

Anyway, the realestate agent is _trying_ to look after us, so hopefully we'll find something soon. Getting information out of her is like getting blood out of a stone, though. And at least I now have someone to move out with, so I'm not on my own. My biggest drama is moving the piano, but whatever happens I think I'll come out of this ordeal relatively unscathed.

In other news, work dramas have finally somewhat sorted themselves.

Friday night we went out on the town, first to a colleague's son's 18th, then a cocktail party, then the Base (the only night club in town - and a pretty seedy one at that). It was great fun. At te cocktail party we started playing cards cs there were only four of us. But when some others turned up, we ran around and hid the cards so that we wouldn't taint our reputation as the coolest cats in town (sorry Wamut, your crazy cardplaying antics have been outed via blog!). We carved up the dancefloor at the Base till 4am then walked home.

Saturday was a bit of a fizzer, with the last Tick Market of the season being washed out. Then today my housemate had her "Sii Yoooo" party at the pool, cos she is moving to Darwin next week. We spent most of the time slipping and sliding over the inflatable 'Commando' course. Then the rain poured down and we sat under cover eating sausages and cooing over babies.

No other news really. The subtle admirer has made no further moves, nor has the stalker. So this is me in a nutshell:

Romance: nil
Home: soon to be nil
Work: was looking like nil, but prospects are much better now.

(no, wait, this is me in a nutshell: "help I'm in a nutshell!")

I've been on a bit of a whingey platform what with all this upheaval, I promise I'll have more interesting things to say when the house stuff is settled.

Well, farewell for now. Please comment. Kel, your updates and conversation have been awesome. Hope you are all well.


P.S. Enjoy

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hot Property

Well, it would appear my house isn't, as the sale fell through and now I don't have to move! YAY me. However my housemate is moving to Darwin and so I am looking for new housemates. I am meeting one on Monday night who might move in as early as sometime this week. We're going to check each other out on Monday to make sure we're not psychos.

But in regards to the title, apparently I am. I have accumulated a stalker and a subtle admirer (I think he's an admirer, but hey, let's hope I'm wrong :P ). And who wouldn't admire someone who looks like this:

The stalker seems to be leaving me alone now that I am ignoring his txts, but it got nasty for a while there. Giving me a whole new level of stress to add to my already undelightful work situation. But enough of that, I wont harp on about it here, I'll just let you know when it is all resolved - hopefully soon.

So. The main reason I'm writing is that it's been a while. Also, it's a request for comments, cos I would love to know what you guys are up to and I never have time enough to email everybody individually.

I really loved catching up with everybody in Melb. and those with whom I didn't, thanks for your txts and facebook comments - we'll do it next time; maybe over xmas.

Well, it's late and have a staff meeting tomorrow, so be safe, stay well, party on, and I'll try not to leave it too long till the next installment.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Katherine Times and the headlines are cheesy.
Cane toads are jumping,
And river is high.
So the mango’s rich,
And the paper comes weekly.
No rush little baby,
It’s NT time.

One of these mornings,
Big mob of campers and caravans,
They’re gonna fill the streets
As the road trains drive by.
And from that moment,
Beneath the cloudless heavens,
You’ll finally notice,
You’ve come to the dry.

Friday, September 14, 2007

If I were a linguist, I'd know when to use subjunctive case

Howdy, and welcome to another edition of 'Let's talk about me!'

Firstly, I'll update you all on the Piano:

This is my lovely ex-housemate Lyndoll and I being great female stereotypes in THE LAUNDRY (no, not the rocken bar in Johnston St, Fitzroy). But, rather than doing the washing, we are playing the ancient traditional tune: choppus-stickus. Yes that's right: the removalists thought they'd be able to get a Piano into an upstairs house with only two people. Hmph. I didn't witness the debacle, but apparently, their attempts were so nail-bitingly frightening that Catherine and Lyndal had to hide inside lest they witness the not-so-silent slapstick splat of Piano-falling-on-man.

They came around the next day, this time with four people, and all went according to plan. Urrah!

In other news: Work is quite stressful, but this week has also yielded some rewards and I feel like I've acheived something. Sigh. Next week is the second workshop for the Diploma of Interpreting. After that it's a drive to Alice, a flight to Adelaide, a linguist-nerd convention (I mean, conference), and a roadtrip to Melbourne.

I'm really hanging out to see the cats. Apparently Ferdinand is giving mum the silent treament since she got back from the beach. I hope I don't cop the same. Beatrix is a loveable as ever.

Well, catch you in less than a month!


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

If I was a real Linguistics Nerd…

I’d tell you all about how delighted I was to find a minimal pair for the retroflex and regular lateral in Mangarrayi.

I’d join the Facebook group ‘So, you’re a linguist, how many languages do you speak?’

I’d tell stories in eight languages with all my linguist nerd friends.

I’d make the punniest jokes.

Oh boy, if only I was a linguistics nerd….

Hang on a minute…… !!!

So anyway, what have I been doing in this fine Katherine Region since last we spoke?

Well, we had a staff meeting in Ngukurr and got to check out Wamut’s language centre. We were all blown away at the amazing work going on there. The journey was 4.5hrs each way. And we managed to get addicted to a card game called Liggretto which Betti, our German work experience girl, brought from OS. Here is the road we travelled:

Fathers’ Day passed fairly quietly with txt messages from Mum, Ned and Imo. Hope you guys are all doing well, miss you, love you etc. A cool thing Ned discovered through predictive txt was that ‘David’ and ‘Father’ share the same letters (well, up to the e anyway). So all our Farthers’ Day messages were unwitting txts of memorandum. Kind of cool.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have become addicted to Facebook. In fact, we three housemates sit in the house and, rather than talk to each other, we all sit at our computers and ‘poke’, ‘superpoke’ and ‘pokepro’ each other (not to mention, the bumperstickers, pirate/zombie games, and the newly discovered ‘Scrabulous’ – online
Scrabble). A quite (what I think) strange phenomenon to come from this FB experience, is that it seems to be taking over real life as well. Every time I go to a party, or sometimes in other casual conversations, FB comes up and we all start talking about the online events that have taken place. I am glad for the opportunity to join the groups ‘So you’re a linguist, how many languages do you speak?’ and ‘When I was your age, Pluto was a planet’. Much fun and tongue in cheek to be had, but one must escape back into reality sometimes. This is the place where things like Work and Social Life take place; I must convince myself!

In other, more exciting and more real news: I am getting a Piano (yes, that’s right AJ, a capital P and everything!) delivered on Thursday. Hazzah! (Although I do not relish the thought of discovering just how much technique I have lost since last I tickled the ivories.)

Well, I seem to have rabbited on quite enough. Please update me with all your news. Even if it’s in the comments, or a two line email. I’m really looking forward to seeing most of you in my trip down South next month – Erica, let me know if you’re in Adelaide when I am.

In the words of AJ,

Ciao for niao.

See you on FB! :P

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bloggers' Block

Hmm… Long time between drinks. Few half backed excuses – the most recent being that I have had bloggers’ block, something which can only be overcome by writing about it.

Prior to suffering the blockage, first I was sick (I was out of commission for about two weeks with a flu/cold combo which left me energyless, exhausted and braindead). Luckily I had accrued enough flextime to get to work late and leave early. Am better now.

Then came the intervention. I had to organise interpreters for many of the community visits which was quite stressful, and filled with many hiccoughs. The stress left me functioning at a bare minimum when I got home, and it was all I could to do lift the remote, turn on the TV and vegetate. A pretty poor excuse for not keeping in touch as much as I’ve been meaning to, but I think I was still getting over the dregs of the cold. Anyway, that’s nearly all over now, and I’m learning all sorts of new and wonderful ways to cope with stress. I must be far down the road to superherodom in that regard (own horn: toot toot!).

If you are interested in reading first hand accounts of some community visits, Wamut and Jangari give their accounts at that Munanga Linguist and Matjin-nehen (the 'h' is pronounced as a glottal stop) respectively.

The most exciting thing happening now, is that I’ve finally been doing some linguistics. And I’ve started on the road to learning a language that has only two fluent speakers left – two sisters. Learning this language involves such wonderful outings as going fishing and recording stories and songs by the river. I have been instructed by the ladies that I must make recordings and listen to them on tape at home, as a previous anthropologist did. Aside from that, after this post I am going to stick posters up on my walls of all kinds of funky pronouns and grammar. You’ll know when I’m starting to feel more confident about it all when I change some of the headings of this blog to language headings, as Jangari has done.

At the moment I’m reading the Diary of Anne Frank. It’s amazing. Highly recommended to anyone with eyeballs.

Another thing I’ve been doing is volunteering at the Book Exchange. I sit in there for 2hrs on a Sunday morning, spending my ‘time of worship’ amongst the books – fitting, think not you? Sometimes it’s busy, sometimes hardly anyone comes through. But you never get bored because you’re surrounded by everything from Romance novels – titles include Indiscretions, Practise Makes Marriage, Husbands on Horseback – to spiritual healing books, children's books, history, geography, science books. I spent this morning reading Here Comes Snoopy – very cute, inflicting all kinds of nostalgia.

Oh, and I have been learning to be hospitable in my new environment – night before last, made a pavlova, and last night had ppl over for DVDs. Thanks Mum: the DVDs you sent up finally arrived this week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

SWOT that issue!

Secretariat of SNAICC (National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) has heaps of links to articles and discussion on the child abuse issue. It's also got links to articles which expose the Howard government's continued cuts to funding of projects which were combating the issues of child abuse. Here is an example.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Posting posting sorry to be so few and far between

Any News or Scandal?

Sup dawgs? Things are just plodding along here. Pretty hectic actually; am looking after a friend’s dog for a month while she’s on holiday, and will be looking after Lauren’s wallabies while she’s out bush next week.

Tilly the dawg

Wobblies Isha and Willum

In other news, I have made my first MD recording: Now I'm a real live linguist and will be archived into the work library and everything!!! :)

So, that’s some of the good stuff that’s happening at the moment.

However, not all is as peachy as that. John Howard’s response to the inquiry into child abuse, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle “Little Children are Sacred”, has left us quite devastated. He has proposed no solutions to the problem of child abuse, and is using this as an opportunity to take control of Aboriginal land. I hope none of you down south are buying into his bullshit. I wish I could be more eloquent about it, but at the moment, my brain is frozen up in horror from his unbelievable propositions. Please keep your ear to the ground about this issue.

And before I hear off, I'll leave you with some images of me under a pile of kids from next door:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Naughty Nangala!

Firstly, sorry sorry sorry for not having posted in so long. Hopefully I’ve made it up to a few of you with some of the phonecalls. But, yes, I have been off the radar a bit and very busy to boot.

The main cause of my absence is my weekend exhaustion brought on by several weeks of travelling out of communities. I feel like I’m making it sound more full on than it is, but all the meeting new people, learning new surroundings and 4hr or 6hr bus trips really takes it out of you.

My ‘naughtly nangala’ title also refers to my neglect in taking a camera on any of these expeditions. I do, however, have some photos of my housemates, house warming party, house and new bike to make up for it:
Introducing my housemates Catherine and Lyndal!

From left: Lyndal(zebra), Roger(Colleen’s man), Rob (exhousemate), Me, Josh (tree), Colleen(faerie/linguist).

ButterflyBec. Wallaby wannabes, Enrique and Lauren.

Post party cleaning shenanigans
(recognise those pyjamas, Pa?)
New Bike/New House

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Digs

This week finds me in my new abode. I’m loving it here – my house mate is lovely, my bed room spacious. The house is raised so the view from every window gives way to the lush tropical tops of trees.

The main thing I miss since moving here is making my morning and afternoon way to work over the rail bridge through Ryan’s Park. My way now, though a similar distance to work, leads me through the town centre, which has a completely different vibe. When I go through the park, I am greeted by the people sitting there, or I greet them, calling out ‘hello’, ‘good morning’ as I pass. Then recently changed, much to my amusement and delight, last week when one of the Warlpiri interpreters introduced me to a group of friends he was sitting with. Now every time I go through the park I am greeted with calls of ‘hello Nangala!’, ‘good morning Nangala!’, ‘hey, Nangala’ Such a welcoming atmosphere. Since moving, my way through town leads me past people who keep their heads down, not looking at me, let alone talking to me. Perhaps this will change in time…

This week I attended my first bush court at Barunga (supposed to be pronounced ‘Bar-ung-a’, but Katherinites usually say ‘Bar-ang-ga’). What’s that? you ask. Bush court is when the Legal Aid lawyers, magistrate, interpreters and correctional services make their way out to communities to conduct court there. Queenie (the interpreter) and myself spent a peaceful day sitting on the grass discussing stories, people, and problems with interpreters. There is another bush court next week
(Timber Creek), the week after (Lajamanu/Kalkarindji), and two weeks after that (Ngukurr). It’s great to be able to see the places and meet the people I have been hearing about. For some places I need to apply for permission to enter through the Northern or Central Land Councils – I have permission, I must carry a permit at all times while on Aboriginal land.

Well, even after my afternoon siesta, I am bushed (writing this Thursday night, though probably posting on Friday morning). Good night all.

Kriol phrase of the week: Maiti ai garra lenim yu lilbit dijan langgwuj.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Raging social scene

Again apologies for the delay in posting.

Over the last two weeks, I have been busy conducting a Kriol Cultural Awareness Course (for whitefellas) and then an Interpreter Training Workshop (for blackfellas). Although I have been busy, strangely enough, I have not been 'stressed out' - or at least only mildly so. Katherine has done strange and wonderful things to me: I no longer frantically run around as I watch my plans and expectations crumble before my eyes; instead I calmly sit, or walk to the kitchen to make a cuppa, and watch as my plans and expectations crumble before my eyes. It's a much nicer way to do things, I assure you. The NT is seeping into my system - Not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday, next time. NT.

Kriol course went well. It was my first time conducting the course, and I did so with much guidance from my fellow linguists, Lauren and Salome. We all presented
different aspects of Kriol language and Aboriginal culture in the Katherine region. Three Kriol speakers helped with pronunciation and facilitating conversation in Kriol.

The interpreter training course was coordinated by me, but the actual training was conducted by Michael Cooke, an expert in Aboriginal languages, and much experienced interpreter trainer. We also had several professionals come in and share their experiences and expectations of the interpreters they work with. The main problem with training was the poor turnout - with only one student for the first half of the last day! But on the plus side, it gives me an idea of which interpreters are reliable, and it was good to be able to see their different levels of skill.

The busy couple of weeks has been followed by an insane weekend. Starting on Thursday with my birthday:

Thursday May 3rd:
6:30am. Pancake breakfast at Damian&Aideen's (1)
--- work all day ---
7:30pmish. Impromptu birthday dinner at home - Rob cooked Roo Curry (2), had such famous Katherine faces as Lauren, Enrique and Salome, and Kim, our international guest for the evening.

Friday May 4th:
Back to the grind at work.
6:oopm. Couple of birthday glasses sparkling wine with Rob.
8:00pm. Arrive (fashionably?) late to own birthday drinks at Diggers Den Tavern (3)
11:00pm. Walk up to 24hr Servo for dessert which we ate standing out the front.

Saturday May 5th
10:30am. Coffee at Cafe Dieciocho (4)
2:30pm. Rob cooked fresh pasta for lunch.
3:00pm. Kriol Bible launch at 40th Katherine Christian Convention (5)
7:00pm. First Tick Market of the season (6)
9:00pm. Katherine Country Music Muster (7)

Sunday May 6th
Typing up blog post.
Tonight I will be making my way over to a Mexican dinner party.

Who knows what tomorrow has in store?

(1) Irish friends who moved up here about two weeks after Moi.
(2) He is famous for curry.
(3) Meant to be there 7:30
(4) Lauren&Enrique's house - they have a coffee machine.
(5) Yes, this was the most exciting part of my day - I bought 2 bibles, one for work, and one for me.
(6) Not Flea, Tick. haha, witty Katherine humour, haha! I bought some local honey and an impossible puzzle.
(7) Yep, this lived up to the country music stereotypes you know and love - girls were 'sweet as candy', 'drinking whiskey', we yeehaaed and all.

Catch yas all later!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

back to the bloggin' grind

Well, life does get on top of one when one isn't looking if one is not careful, doesn't it?

As, I am too inept (and am not on my own computer, so am feeling even less like 'fiddling around') to draw my bike route from home to work onto this image, you'll just have to use your imagination:

The house I've been sitting in is roughly to the top left hand side of the page. I ride across the southern-most bridge (formerly a rail bridge) across that main road running south there - that's Victoria Hwy - through a big car park (grey patch almost mid left hand side of page), and down the street running parallel to Vic Hwy. My work is that pale blue roof just to the left of the G in Google in the bottom right corner.

I have now been almost a week returned from Sydney at the Critical Link 5 conference on interpreting and translating. I stayed with the lovely Robert, our coolppl Fanboy, who, along with his house mates made me feel quite at home. I hope I didn't intrude too much boys, but I have a great time and you're welcome to crash at mine whenever you find yourself in the big K (yes Steve, this seems most likely to be you, as you seem to get up here quite a bit).

Speaking of 'crashing at mine', this phrase will have a whole new referent in a couple of weeks when I move into my new, more permanent, abode. A couple are moving out of a sharehouse of three, so there's room for the Slomesmeister (Salome) and myself to set up house and home with our friend Catherine (currently famous for being one of the nicest people in Katherine, lending me her car, and starring in our roaming meditation series). All very exciting but no conrete details yet.

In other news, I puposely ran over a Cane Toad the other day. I even reversed to see if I had hit it, and then I felt bad when I saw it's guts popped out onto the road (too graphic? well, I could have included a photo! :P). They hop across the lawn at night, but thankfully the don't come inside so my slipperly little green latrine friends are safe.

Yours truly,

Me. x

Monday, April 2, 2007

Not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday, not Thursday.

I’m now entering my sixth week here. Still haven’t found a place, but Salome and I are looking at one on Monday. I’ve borrowed Catherine’s car for a few weeks while she is on holidays, which makes it heaps easier to go house hunting. But there are still hardly any places available. Not to worry. NT has a very stress free, ‘no worries’, vibe – see title.

Having posted as recently as Wednesday, I don’t really have much to say. So instead, I think I’ll share some photos of last Sunday at Edith Falls:

The pool in which we swam

Yours truly (yes Dee, I am wearing my ‘hideously bright’ bathers!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

At least the frogs are clean!

I found fog footprints in my soap this morning. Most Likely put there by Pluggy, the Foot Prince:

Almost every morning, this guy is sitting on the other side of the ‘bars’ of the plughole, looking up at me. I bid him good morning and inform him I’m going to have a shower. He has a little shower of about ten seconds before he decides to go further down the drain and wait till I’ve finished. Almost every evening I find him in the bath, or somewhere in the bathroom, having climbed up through the bars. He’s such a little fatty; definitely one of my favourites.

This is Bowler, so called, not for his taste in headwear, but rather for his insufferable ability to prevent me from going to the loo in the middle of the night (when it’s pouring with rain outside!) by virtue of the fact that he is staring up at me from the bottom of the bowl.

But enough of my froggy distractions for now; what have I been up to this week?

Well, I’ve definitely been busy:

Friday was Harmony Day at the local high school. This was the first thing that I have had to organise in my role as Town Linguist. The day would have gone considerably better had we not been locked out of the library (where all our activities were based) for 30mins. However, we did get some kids in playing on our language computer games (Bilinarra, Dalabon, Kriol, Ngarinyman, Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru), and Colleen and I played a homemade game of Kriol ‘Twistim’ (‘pudim yu rait hen la bluwan’, ‘pudim yu lef fut la redwan’ [prizes to the first of you to translate that into English in the comments! – this is part one of Kriol distance ed. 101]).

On Saturday afternoon, I went to my first Auction and bought a box of books for $5 – Bargain! Another box I was looking at started to sky rocket beyond $25 dollars, so I let it go. That night saw me at the local high school again, this time for a fundraising trivial night for a heart monitor for Katherine District Hostpital. Apparently a heart monitor is around $5k, and we raised $15k. Huzzah!

Sunday, I planned to sit around, write up my post, and do other fairly non-eventful shenanigans such as dish washing and sweeping the floor (no vacuum – concrete slab). But instead, I was whisked away to Edith Falls with Salome and her housemate, Denis, where we snuck a swim in a secret spot. That night was roaming meditation (as I have taken to calling it). It had roamed to my house, where I served Tofu Stir-fry Thingy (official culinary title), followed by Chai and icecream with blue berries. We then lay on the floor and practised Yoga Nidra for 30mins, guided by one of the other roaming meditator’s tapes. It was a great night.

Monday, I was up earlier than normal (6:30am, instead of 7:15), and off to my 4WD training course at Charles Darwin University. It was heaps of fun, and I got to see a (insert appropriate collective noun here) of cycads and go down into some limestone caves. I failed to cover the vehicle in mud (a jocularly threatened ‘fail’ from my instructor), but did manage to avoid nearly getting bogged. Later, when we were trying to get bogged, we all failed. We had to park in the middle of a pond and winch ourselves. After returning the work car, I stopped by the local Civic Video and hired ‘Erik the Viking’ ($1 weeklies on a Monday – bargain!) for a spontaneous video night with Salome and Queenie (one of our Kriol interpreters).

So that leads me to today. This afternoon I was given a skin name. Now that I have an adopted skin, I can fit into the Aboriginal kinship system. It’s so cool – I have heaps of uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters and even potential husbands! My skin is Nangala, this is a Warlpiri skin. Sometimes it’s difficult to align different skin names from different language groups, so I’m not sure if Nangala means I’m Burlanjan or Gotjan (Burlanjan’s daughter) – these are from the East-side skin system more commonly used at work.

In other news:
- Today was Imo’s first day at her new Melbourne Path job. Go you good thing Imo. Go you big red fire engine!
- There’s an interpreting services conference coming up in Sydney that I may just get in on. Excitement. Will let you know more when I do.
- That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Dee, sorry I haven’t got round to photos of the house yet – I have not forgotten, I promise to put some in the next post.

Silent readers: Please comment, I love to hear what’s going on in Melbourne (or wherever you are *cough*Rob!*cough*).

Love you all. Catchya later. x

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I actually found a four-leaf clover!

Must have been a sign from St Patrick. It’s busy being pressed behind the photo that Krish gave me at the pirate party.

Which reminds me, I wanted to give Nat a special mention of thanks here, as, not only did she make the “Pirate of the High Teas” (little stick man with teabag for a head), but she made an hilarious profile to match, which I did not discover til my last minute packing the next day. I was going to post the profile on here, but can’t find it at present.

Other things happening this week: I have been actually doing stuff – contrary to the warning/advice I was given a couple of weeks ago when I started; I’ve been defining my role as town linguist; I’ve been meeting and greeting - professionally, I’ve been meeting the interpreters, and will soon be meeting people who use the interpreting service; socially, I’ve been getting to know people in town with weekly meditation and other gatherings. More of which will happen tomorrow in Pine Creek where a bunch of us are going to celebrate Colleen (another linguist)’s birthday. I’ve been attempting to make her a card today, but my useful box is at home – Or possibly in the rubbish, mum? – I’ll have to make do.

Last night I rode a bike to my friend’s house and back. It took a while to get going – read: I walked the bike a lot of the way there – but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. John, you would be so proud!

Have hardly been able to function today because of the heat. But I did manage to get a load of washing done. And I’ve been slowly reading through a book on Katherine and it’s recent history. It’s cooled down a bit now, quite pleasant actually. There is thunder rumbling around the horizon’s edge, but no rain – yet.

House hunting is not going particularly well. Salome (another linguist, out with whom I am planning to move) and I looked at a place last weekend, but they don’t allow dogs (Salome [pron. Sal-o-mee, stress on middle syllable] had a dog). Luckily neither of us are in dire straights re accommodation, so we are just cruising till the right place comes along.

Have discovered my iPod shuffle can plug into the amplifier here, so I haven’t been entirely forsaken by the likes of Ben Folds, The Strokes, Killers, George, Ani Di Franco or Björk. Huzzah!

Pa, I hope your predictive text is going well. I will try and text you some time this week.

Phil, look forward to catching up on all the goss from arts camp.

Dee, awesome chat on the phone the other night. Don’t forget how welcome you are to wander up the hill and say hi to mum/the cats. You can even try some twig tea if you’re really keen!

Imo, hope to hear from you on Monday about the job. Chookas.

All the rest of you, hope you’re keeping well, have loved catching up with those of you I’ve spoken to. Those of you up with whom I have not yet caught, hope you’re keeping safe and doing well. Send emails – even if I don’t reply, I still read them and enjoy hearing about all the Melbourne goings-on

PS. Anyone planning on coming up to the top end, please stop by and say hi.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Post the Second (with many firsts)

This is what I look like after two weeks in Katherine (note: loss of neck, and other extremities, in favour of god-like rays of linguistic brilliance!):

So I’ve come to the end of my second week in Katherine (at the time of writing, it’s Friday night, though I’ll probably compose this over the weekend, hopefully getting it up on Monday). Since last you eyeballed my literary musings, I have had several firsts.

First first: I travelled out to Barunga community to help a colleague with some translation. Barunga is about 1hr out of Katherine, travelling at about 110-130kmph most of the way.

Second first: going to Barunga meant driving a Toyota troop carrier – so I’ve been driving one of those big beasties that makes Toorak-trucks look Micro-Machines™.

Third first: I participated in a group meditation session with a few of the new friends I have made up here. I’m not sure how enlightening it was, but it was great to sit and chat among new friends, find out about the people up here and what they’re all doing and how they found themselves here.

Fourth first: I think I’ll stop at four, though I’m sure there are more. My fourth first is the staff meeting I attended today. I got a little excited when I wrote “staff meeting” in my calendar earlier in the week. It ended up being a pretty casual affair with discussion of what everyone at the centre has been doing.

Fifth first: I know I said I’d stop at four, but then I remembered that I had a “linguists’ meeting” today as well as the staff meeting. It was great being in a room full of linguists, but I couldn’t contribute all that much to the conversation, as it revolved mainly around the diphthongs of the languages in the region, with which I am too unfamiliar to express an opinion yet.

I have also been doing a lot of reading this week: Peter Carey’s Theft (highly entertaining, unusual though captivating use of language, written from the perspectives of an alcoholic has-been painter and his autistic yet insightful brother), Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man (true story – woman went undercover as a man in different scenarios over about a year), and the Aboriginal language reader given to me by a uni lecturer before I left (oh gosh! You know how I get off on linguistics? Well, this IS my bag baby!).

Most intriguing thing learned this week: bound pronouns in Aboriginal languages are remnants of free pronouns in a Nominative-Accusative language system. *wait for it….wait for it…* BUT – most Aboriginal languages now have free pronouns with an Ergative-Absolutive system; the modern Erg-Abs free pronouns occur in conjunction with the bound pronouns of the past Nom-Acc system! That’s right boys and girls, that’s what Hooch has been getting off on this week!

On a less cheery note, the shine of ‘all things new’ is starting to wear off. I’m starting to crave familiarity, such as cats, pianos, Melbourne and of course you wonderful people, the readers of this blog: my friends and relations.

Sorry for not having emailed or replied emails. The internet is really slow up here and I only have access during work hours. Most of the time my emails fail to send or gmail/hotmail web pages don’t even open.

It’s raining steadily at the moment. I’m about to get picked up to go to a party. The rooster has been giving me the evil eye, and spurred me in the leg the other day (6th first – never been spurred by a rooster before). Last night there were four frogs in the toilet – 2 in the bowl (looking up at me with trepidation through the water), and 2 in the ridges of the corrugated tin wall behind the cistern (sooo cute, they only had their heads sticking out, and looked like they were vertically tucked up in bed).

Anyway, the CD has stopped: a sure sign that I’m due to hop off this thing before I get square eyes.

PS. I have done two more dreadlocks.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

So here it is: my first blog from Katherine.

I’m sitting at a friend’s place where I am house sitting for a month. Van Morrisson’s ‘Astral Weeks’ flooding out of the speakers, my skirt is hitched up into my undies to cope with the heat (but I’m still covered in a sheen of sweat, almost sparkly), and I’ve probably got pasta sauce on my face left over from dinner. The rain is pouring down outside, as we’re at the tail end of the wet season.

When I left Melbourne, Mum was looking pretty stressed out, I was kinda flustered, but in all pretty calm about the whole thing. On the way to the airport I told Sheila that I was starting to feel nervous – she laughed, probably thinking that it was about time, and that it was a bit late for second thoughts.

After a debacle at the gate – I had forgotten that my leatherman was in my hand luggage, and, as it was a going away present, I could hardly leave it behind to be thrown away – to which John gallantly came to the rescue, things went pretty smoothly; we waited at gate 5 and then onto the plane I went.

Nothing prepared me for the elation I felt as the plane took off. I could not keep the smile off my face as Melbourne sank below me and the sun sank below the horizon. Excitement took me over and I gleefully sat, staring out the window. (Jude you’ll be pleased to know, I’m now listening to Leonard Cohen).

I touched down in Darwin where I caught about 6hrs’ sleep before heading in to Katherine on the Greyhound bus.

I’ve been in Katherine for 5 days now. The most exciting thing, apart from the fact that I’m house sitting and don’t have to look for a place of my own for a month (well, I really should start looking before then, but this week’s Katherine Times’ Classifieds section is looking pretty bare!), is that I have a work laptop (on which I am typing right this moment). So even though I don’t have internet access at the house, I can still type posts without having to spend millions of dollars at an internet café.

The most bizarre thing I have encountered at work at the moment, is that they have told me not to expect to get anything done in the first month or so. Everyone’s quite relaxed about it, but I hope to have something to show for myself by that time. However, I have been spending this week getting my bearings, finding out about the office, the people, and Katherine in general.

Things I have found out so far: there is a choir (which I am planning on joining once is gets up and running for this year); I may be able to get my hands on a piano (the principal of one of the local schools told me there may be a spare piano there); everything in within walking distance of everything else (well, almost).

Well, that’s me signing off for now. I think I’ll be quite busy in the upcoming week, but I’ll endeavour to get another one of these up ere long.


P.S. I am going to have to start riding a bike. Eek! (Imo, you know what this means!)
P.P.S. I discovered this morning that there is a frog living in the toilet: every time you flush, you can see it's little legs wiggle as it scrambles to get back up into the cistern!