Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Excerpt from the review of Song of Destiny concert by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra:

"This well-attended concert featured two significant drawcards - the opportunity to hear a live performance by the accomplished Finnish mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi and the chance to experience the world premiere of a work by popular Hobart-based composer Maria Grenfell.

...Grenfell's Night Songs is an imaginative setting for chorus and orchestra of three poems by Australian writers based on the themes of night and motherhood within a uniquely Tasmanian context.

This uplifting work drew on the strengths of the orchestra and highlighted the skills of various sections and individuals within the orchestra through the incorporation of brief solo passages.

The TSO Chorus did a commendable job of bringing the texts to life, particularly in the captivating opening Notturno." (Reviewed by Carolyn Philpott in The Mercury, Tuesday 18 November 2008)

Happy composer!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Career choices for 5 year olds

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a teacher, so I can teach people who speak English, how to speak French, because I can speak English AND French." Followed by a beautiful rendition of "Frere Jacque, Frere Jacque" in French. Then: "I know how to catch a monkey. You just follow the monkey and then when it sits down, you go WHAM with your net."

Monday, November 10, 2008


I will finish my exam and assignment marking by Thursday. I will.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Coming up

My piece Night Songs will be performed by the TSO and TSO Chorus in the Song of Destiny concert next Saturday, November 15, at 2.30pm in the Federation Concert Hall.

The piece is a setting of three poems by Gwen Harwood, Esther Ottaway and Henry Lawson. So far I think the rehearsals are going well. I went to a chorus rehearsal two weeks ago and they were sounding great! This week I was scheduled to attend four rehearsals but the Artistic Manager called today and told me the conductor only wants me at the last two. I'm quite happy about this - it's easier for me to not have to rush to a 7pm rehearsal on a week night, but also says that *fingers crossed* there aren't any major huge horrendous problems with the muzik that they need me there to unravel bits. Phewsies!

Oh. Also on the programme are pieces by Brahms and Elgar.

Meanwhile, I'm desperately trying to get my uni marking done, tidy my study, and plan a small vegetable patch. I've suddenly got the gardening bug and it's rather worrying. I don't really think I have time for it but at the same time I don't think I can not do it. Everyone is planting vegetables. Not just because of the insane prices in the shops, but because they taste so much better. I bought a great little book last week called One Square Metre by Lolo Houbein, and I am literally going to plant one square metre of salady things and see how it goes. Start small, rather than launch in and watch it fail miserably. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time management

I've just read Rhonda's post about Time Management over at Down to Earth.

I've really been struggling with this over the past few weeks. I think it's partly because for a few weeks I was feeling quite a lot of malaise bordering on depression. In the past day or two that has lifted, thank goodness. Shortly after her first birthday, we worked hard at addressing Lillian's nasty night-waking habits. Encouraged by a couple of visits to the GP, we had two nights of controlled crying to night-wean her, and they were really essential for my sanity, although I couldn't bear listening to her cry and so many times almost gave in. The extra unbroken sleep has made such a difference to the family. Unfortunately she's taken to waking at the crack of dawn, but I have some strategies up my sleeve to sort that out as well... there is always something!

Anyway, time management is often a bugbear. I am an organised person, but I often feel that I need to be more organised to fit in all the things that need doing and this is frustrating. Life's challenges vary according to the age of your children, and as we still have a little person who has two day sleeps and is still breastfed, there are only so many things I can do each day, and I just have to accept it - as do others.

I do believe in the maxim, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." But just how busy do we need to be? I am busy. Very busy. Sometimes I do not know where my time goes. These days I spend over an hour a day in the car just doing the school run. And I know we made the choice to school our son across town, but in Tassie terms that's only a 20 minute drive from home - although it feels interminable! And we do not regret our choice of school.

But apart from the school run, there's everything else to do around and for the home. I try and let Lillian have the two sleeps a day she still seems to need. I love that she still has two sleeps a day, but the poor little chicken only gets both of them at home if I don't go anywhere! Then there's work. I've been teaching again since the end of September, which has been a bit of a shock but now the dust has settled I feel completely energised by it.

Since I finished my commission, I have been busier than I possibly imagined - and the thought of another commission fills me with dread! How would I possibly get it done? Well, by not doing all the things I've been doing since I finished my commission, of course! Life has a way of sorting itself out and you juggle demands and take short-cuts when you need to, and do things the long way when you don't need to.

Anyway here is my take on Rhonda's Time Management post.

Yes! I love lists. I cannot live without my Filofax. Yes, ancient technology, I know, but I do not have an iPhone yet and I like the tactility of writing my lists, jotting down my commitments. Lists are especially important when shopping. I still have nappy brain and when short on sleep, there is nothing worse than going to the supermarket and coming out with 20 things but forgetting the three that you actually went in for.

Hmn. I don't really like doing this. I used to teach aural skills at 8.00am and thought that was tough. It was probably tougher on the students than me. But that was then and this is now and we have two children and so we rarely sleep in these days. At the moment, Lillian is enjoying the pre-dawn chorus. (I think there's a bird in a tree near her room whose days are numbered.) But seriously, getting up early does mean that your day starts with a gradual increase of activity and things just get done because that's what you do when you get up early. And when things get done, the whole house hums.

I always feel much more at ease when I know what we are going to have for dinner. It's just one less thing to think about when you're tired and the children are whingy at the end of the afternoon, and some small person is saying, "I'm STARVING. I'm so hungry I could eat three fridges." Oh yes. This only half an hour after he was last fed. I've been lagging with my meal plans lately, must improve.

I'm not very good at doing this. I tend to think that things get done faster if I just do them. But it's important to let go, and so I'm trying to encourage the five-year-old to do little things like set the table, clear his plates, take his shoes off outside, bring me his lunchbox etc. Children enjoy some responsibility - and so do adults. If David wasn't catching the bus to and from work, he'd be making a few more trips for milk and bananas on the way home!

Even if I am running from early morning until night-time, I try to do this. It just makes life simpler. I am finding lately that I'm not having to do laundry every day, but when I do, it's generally a couple of fuller loads which save on power, water, and effort.

TV, computer, long phone conversations - sometimes you need some down time, but TV and the computer particularly tend to suck up the hours. Some days I only check email in the evening, as I literally haven't even set foot in my study. Sorry for anyone who has been emailing me and wondering why I'm so slack at replying! Or blogging, for that matter.

At this stage in my life, the only time to myself is when the baby is asleep and the five-year-old is at school. Or in the evening. But I do prefer to spend evenings companionably so time to myself is a rare commodity. I think it would be beneficial for my state of mind, particularly on weekends when there is someone else around to do a spot of child-minding.

I have been trying to do this, although storage is an issue. Buying in bulk works really well for families if you can manage it - cuts down on trips to the shops and you always have something in the Magic Cupboard, whether it's a tin of salmon for a quick dinner, or another box of tissues for when someone starts sneezing unexpectedly.

Make lunches the night before. Lay out clothing. Do some ironing and/or baking. Pack bags for the next day's school, activities or outings. Put on a load of laundry or nappies. I even went through a stage when I would put out the cereal bowls the night before. A little obsessive, but it worked at the time.

Thanks Rhonda. She always has such great common sense on her blog. Go and have a look, but don't waste too much time on the computer today. Think of all the other things you could be doing instead!


Well done, America. Let's hope that the election of Barack Obama will indeed bring new hope to a country and a world in need.

I loved his speech. Bravo.

But apparently all is a-buzz in "the blogosphere" about the new First Puppy. Never would the Obama girls have thought such a decision would be so fraught with implications. Welcome to the White House, I guess.

It's a busy week for politics. New Zealand goes to the polls this weekend too. Many are anticipating Helen Clark's defeat. It will be interesting to see what happens, as so far I have not been following the NZ election. Oh, the shame.

And... even Bhutan has a new king!