Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Basement horror

I spent most of today wallowing among spent cat turds, mud and congealed-who-knows-what in the basement of my apartment block. I sat in it, I fell in it, I squatted in it, I banged my head against a streaky wall so hard I got dizzy. It was the kind of room that a serial killer ( a la Silence of the Lambs) would have coveted and possibly even killed for. It was a miserable long day and I will admit to crying on the stairs on more than one occasion.

And the reason. A family of 5 feral kittens and their extremely feral mother. At least three of the kittens have bulging eyes just like my Pirate once did and I simply couldn't sit there and not do anything. I feel like rescuing Pirate means nothing if I fail these little lives instead.

It was almost impossible though and the mother would attack my limbs with such rage ( and love for her kids) I wanted to walk away. And yet, of course, I could not.

By the end of the day I had managed to catch two of the infested little creatures.  Not complete success but not failure either. Tonight they are being cared for at a vet where they will remain for the next days before being returned to their mum. I wish I could give them a safe home forever.

Istanbul has broken my heart.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bloodmoon Basel

Look at my beautiful old home town, Basel, under the blood moon. I wish I could go back to her, back to how she was. I had such a lovely job there, financial security, good health care, adorable students, kind friends and above all a home filled with love.

I had stability and a future which I can no longer find.

But I can't go back now even though for me financially it would be my best chance to salvage any sort of future security.

No. Alas, I cannot.

Too much blood spilled there.

And I am still spilling it today.

Saturday, 26 September 2015


O look, Istanbul has decided to throw an art and culture Bienali in honour of my return. The theme is Tuzlu su ( Saltwater) which is apt given it could mean my tears at leaving my folks in Australia, my tears at the thought of leaving Istanbul, tears of joy when Istanbul delights me or quite simply my good friend - the Lady Boss.  There are lots of little installations set up all over the city but the ones I chose to visit are on Buyukada ( Big Island) which is about an hour ferry ride from the European side of Istanbul. And the best bit is the displays are free and in English. Actually, the second aspect I think is a bit of a shame. I mean it is nice for me to be able to understand what is going on but is not very inclusive for all the Istanbullis who do not have a command of the language. Such a pity. One of the hardest things in my classes here has been to engage my students in discussions about art. It doesn't tend to rate for a lot of them to the extent that when I have asked them to tell me their favorite painting in the world they often simply say the portrait of Ataturk hanging in Ankara. That is not to say it isn't a fine portrait but it is not really what I mean when I ask them about art.
And yet the incredible thing is my most favorite painting in the world is done by a turkish painter - Osman Hamdi Bey.

Anyway  Buyukada was very pleasing. I got to lay down in the hull of a moored ferry on a bed made out of ropes and get hypnotized. I saw a great video montage about Trotsky. And my favorite was this set of sculptures  set out in the sea just off the island.

Crazy, gorgeous ideas.

I loved the juxtaposition of these absurd animals against the mad skyline of Istanbul

There was even an emu!

Of course I had to join in.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Along our Roads

I have always said to students that if they come to Australia for a visit, forget about the cities and the endless sprawl of suburbs. Come for the landscapes, the seascapes, the animals. And every time I am home and I experience the beauty and might of Australian nature, I feel vindicated in my view. Whether it is being swooped at by a magpie or laughed at by a kookaburra, walking among eucalyptus or marveling at the relentless power of the ocean, it all leaves me feeling exhilarated and very much alive.
This time around I have been lucky enough to visit the coast on a couple occasions. I went with my sister to Mooloolaba on the North Coast for two nights and the thing that I loved most was really how little it has changed since I was a child. Sure the shops have got a bit more ritzy and I prefer wine with my view instead of frozen coke but there is something reassuring about seeing a place remain in its core unchanged.

I perhaps have changed a bit. Especially when wild waves suddenly come thrashing across the rocks. My near drowning last year has given me a very healthy respect of the water which perhaps as a child I did not hold to the same degree.

It was good to be able to spend this time with my sister. Strolling paths we had walked twenty years before, pointing out places we had stayed with mum and dad. Part of me wanted to be able to peer through the window of the Tropicana Inn and see us all there as we were back then. Horribly burnt, choosing videos, playing Trivial Pursuit. It made my heart ache to see the Inn still standing there, unchanged but for a coat of paint, and yet all of us changed, older, so much further down the road of our lives. How grateful I felt that we were all still walking our roads even after all that time.


Ha ha... Aslan strikes again

Monday, 7 September 2015


Happy Birthday Papa...thank you for driving me everywhere since I can remember, burping the alphabet, calculating tunnel-to-car ratios, loving cupcakes, reading to mum in bed, fixing door locks with band-aids, for giving me such thick hair, for sharing a glass of bubbly in the evening, for calling Sooty 'Chook Cat' and Badger 'a pelt in waiting', for hugging me tightly and letting me go, for defending me against Bad Cat, for singing like a soloist in the church choir, for encouraging me to write, for sending me pig-themed postcards when I was 15 years old, for our trips around Switzerland and the Lake District, for lunches at university when I studied there, for letting me deface your whiteboard with lewd cartoon when I was aged 4, for being kind and patient, for mansplaining, for Longreach and Winton  and exploring dinosaur plains...

For everything really.

He kind of went a bit ISIS on the cake but he didn't touch the bottom!!!

Here's to 77 years enriching our planet.