Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hip Hop Happy New Year...

New Year's Eve tomorrow. Unbelievable.

2010 has, on the whole, been a pretty amazing year for me and the family. Toby has turned from a baby into a little boy, work has been crazy busy but really rewarding and satisfying. I've published my first scholarly papers, spoken at my first academic conference, seen the last of the 'Darklands' books finally hit the shelves, become an iAddict, been invited to edit the special edition of Write4Children, won a teaching award, gone to the Sydney Writer's Festival, visited with my sister and her two gorgeous girls in Perth in July, had the worst case of tonsillitis EVER, and just generally kept very, very busy. Min has been busily beavering away at her PhD, which is shaping up nicely now and Toby has been, well... you'll see...

The last couple of weeks, you might have noticed my absence here at Musings... and also on Twitter. This is because, after all the above mentioned hijinks, I decided that my Christmas holidays would be just that - holidays - and so in the spirit of Susan Maushart I rewarded myself with something of a 'shutdown'. The only things I've used my iPad for in the last couple of weeks have been reading and the odd game of 'Plants vs Zombies.' It's been nice. Refreshing, even.

So 2010 has, on the whole, been a good year.

And so, to 2011, which is shaping up to be another busy one: Perth Writer's Festival in March, the new edition of Into White Silence coming out some time in the new year, another big year of teaching, a big conference to speak at in July (I'm talking about Neil Gaiman - yay!), a book chapter to write, the special edition to put together, a house to renovate and, of course, a family to keep on their toes :)

Speaking of which, here's my new year's gift to you all. It's our current favourite song in the WHOLE WORLD! And it comes with some pretty mad dance moves, too. What spins me out the most is remembering that this time last year Toby had just started walking, and look at him go now...*

So happy new year, everyone. Hope you have a relaxing and restful start to 2011. Thanks to those of you who've been reading this meandering little blog during the last year, and who have taken the time to let me know.

In the meantime, Party on!

*Apologies for: a) the shaky camera work , (b) my 'singing' and (c) partially putting my thumb over the camera lens for the middle bit. It's still pretty cute, though, IMHO...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

It's the silly season again. This time last year, Toby wasn't walking. How time has passed.

Before I get onto the 'What I've been up to' part of this blog entry, I'm going to throw in an idea that Min came across the other day and which, I think, is lovely.

I don't know what it's like in your family but in mine, in the past, Christmas has tended to be, well, rather stressy. There's a lot of lead up to 'The Big Day' and a lot of planning and panic and pressure and, from time to time, Christmas itself has become more of a chore than a celebration; desperately trying to cram everything in to the one little window of time.

Not this year though - Min read somewhere that the best way to deal with Christmas is to engage in a little 'mental shift' and to think of it not as one single day on which everything must be perfect, but to think of it as a season - a couple of weeks of relaxing, family, cooking, shopping, and taking it easy. This takes the pressure off, and makes the whole thing fun. We've been thinking of things from this perspective and, I have to say, it's turning out to be one of the most lovely festive seasons I can recall.

So, anyway, what have I been up to since I saw you all last?

Well, for the most part, and aside from a little administrative work this last week, I've been having a holiday from, well, life.

A couple of weeks ago, with all my teaching for the year done, my marks submitted and my admin up to date, Min and Toby and I came across to Perth to stay with my Mum and Dad for a few weeks, and to attend the wedding of an old friend of ours.

The wedding itself was on Rottnest Island, which is one of my favourite places in the world - it's a little daggy, rather run down, the accomodation is basic and they gouge every possible cent out of you while you're there ($6 cucumber, anyone?), but it has the most beautiful beaches, no television reception, no cars or internet, and within 10 minutes of getting off the ferry, you can feel the rest of the world slipping away. It's a lovely thing, and just the ticket after a fairly full-on year of work and family. Mum and Dad came over with us and had some much enjoyed 'Toby time'. We swum at The Basin, ate at the bakery, and generally caught up on sleep and reading.

And our friend's wedding was lovely, too.

Then back to Perth for a combination of pre-christmas prep, family catch ups, planning some home renovations for when we return to Canberra in a couple of weeks and, for me, starting the wheels in motion for a special edition of a scholarly journal which I've been asked to guest-edit for late next year.

This is pretty exciting, actually. The journal is a U.K. based, online publication called Write4Children, and has a really nice broad approach to the scholarship of children's writing, encompassing both theory and practice. I'm curating a special Australasian Edition, and have had some very interesting and exciting abstracts submitted. At the moment I'm considering how to form up and shape the edition in terms of threads and ideas, and then when I get back in January I'll be getting onto the selected writers, chasing up the finished pieces, organising the peer review process, then copy and proof editing. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm very excited to think that at the end of it there'll be a really solid and permanent contribution to scholarship, and one which I had a big hand in putting together.

I'm also champing at the bit to get back so that I can start writing again. This year I have some big plans. Hopefully.

Anyway, that's where I'm at. Right now it's about 35 degrees outside here in Perth, whereas back home it was snowing a couple of days ago in Yass, which is about 45 minutes up the road from our house. I think I'd rather be here, though the forecast for Christmas is for 38 degrees, and that'll really test things out.

In any case, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas with your families. I'll be back for a New Year's Post some time in the next week or so, probably once we're back home again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Brief Break

Hi Everyone -

Just letting you know that I'm not abandoning my post here (well, at least not permanently)

I'm just taking a week or so holiday with the family in Perth, and will be back to blogging again soon.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

... And Flooding Rains

Just a quick one, for the moment, as I'm about to walk out of my office for the final time this year and in four hours I have to be on a plane to Perth.

Which is not a bad thing, the way events are moving here in Canberra at the moment. Like a lot of the east coast, we've had some rain in the last few weeks. So much so that there is a fair bit of flooding going on. This morning they started evacuating Queanbean, and earlier today they opened up all the floodgates on Scrivener Dam for the first time in, well, pretty much forever. (Actually, I seem to recall reading somewhere that this last happened in 1976)

To give you a rough idea, here are a couple of photos that one of my colleagues took, a little earlier today. The first is of Scrivener Dam (For those not in the know, Scrivener is the Dam which creates Lake Burley Griffin, which is, in turn, the main water body around which Canberra is built)

(Photo: Greg Battye)

This one shows four of the five floodgates open (the fifth, closed, is on the right of the picture) and the water pouring into the Molongolo River, which is usually a slow moving, muddy trickle, but which now looks like this:

(Photo: Greg Battye)

In any case, it's a good time to be leaving Canberra. Preferably not in an Ark, either, though I suspect that's not far away.

As of ten minutes from now, I'm actually on leave and this time tomorrow will be sitting out the front of a little house on Rottnest Island in Perth, along with Min, Toby and my parents. I imagine that there'll be beer involved.

Anyway, as I have a few little bits and pieces to do before I can leave, I'm going to sign off now.


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