Tag Archives: A Case for Trust

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26 May

What a fabulous week I’ve had! I’m in beautiful Sydney, partly for my Other Life work but also to see Vivid in all its spectacle and finery. Lighting-the-Sails-SONGLINES

So I’ve got lots to share, but I’ll be a little late sharing it tomorrow because I want to bring you the best of the Vivid Festival Opening Night. I’m going to quite some trouble to capture some great views for you (I know! After all this enthusiasm, it’d better be good, right?!). darling harbour

 

So check in tomorrow night for some great music, a quote and a person that have really changed my thinking, a bit of cute and a lot of light and colour!

 

Vivid Sydney celebrating the Doctor's 50th anniversary! - Imgur(These are some photos from previous Vivids to whet your appetite!)

 

‘Til then…

Gracie x

Friday in Five

20 May

Got five minutes? Here’s what I’ve loved this week…

Book of the week

The Wife's TaleChristine Wells is a Brisbane author to date most famous for writing delicious historical romance novels under the pen name of Christina Brooke. Her new novel, The Wife’s Tale, combines the best of her historical romance writing skill with contemporary drama, a fascinating mystery and some very poignant commentary on the lot of women – even wealthy, talented, intelligent and feisty women – in 18th century England. Christine’s pre-novelist profession as a lawyer lends terrific authenticity to her courtroom scenes. There’s intrigue, pathos and romance aplenty. I confess I wasn’t much taken with the premise – ‘An unforgettable novel that transports the reader from modern day Australia to the windswept Isle of Wight and the courtrooms of London in the 1780s’. If I hadn’t enjoyed her historical romances so much, I might not have read it at all. But my word, I loved it!

Idea of the weekC'est une merveille

How I love this! An inveterate quitter of foreign language classes, I’ve failed my way now through several language apps and am finally feeling very slightly less incompetent in French after several months on Memrise. But even with my determination to learn to converse in a language other than my own, the cleverness and elegance of this little device – a translating earpiece – fills me with awe. How simple! How obvious! How wonderful, to think we could break down barriers so easily. Sign me up!

 

Pretty of the week

sculptureIsn’t she beautiful?! And not just because her creators are French! Sophie Mouton-Perrat and Frédéric Guibrunet make these graceful, life-size papier-mâché lamps. You can see more on their website here. I’ll be keeping my eyes wide open for them on my next trip to Paris!

 

epiphanot

Word of the week

Epiphanot. (n) an idea that seems like an amazing insight to the conceiver but is in fact pointless, mundane, stupid, or incorrect. I’m afraid I have epiphonots all the time, but at least now I know what I’m doing! More clever new words here.

 

And, sadly, a farewell this week…

Gillian Mears

Award-winning Australian author Gillian Mears died this week. A long-time sufferer of multiple sclerosis, she nevertheless produced Foal’s Bread, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award and winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2012. It’s a stunning book, and I’m sorry we’ll have no more of her work to savour. Rest easy, Gillian.  Photo credit: Angela Wylie

 

Hope you’ve had a fabulous week! Would love to hear what you’ve loved…

Gracie x

Friday in Five

13 May

Got five minutes? Here’s what I’ve loved most this week.

Pic of the week

refugee crisisOh my word. Where would we be as a feeling, caring race without the dedication of photojournalists? Sergey Ponomarev took this extraordinary image for The New York Times, just one of the images that led to the NYT and Thomson Reuters sharing the Pulitzer Photography Prize for coverage of Europe’s refugee crisis. It’s increasingly difficult for Australian journalists to tell stories of the refugees and asylum seekers in this country – our detention centres are closed to the media under legislation passed in 2015. But as a nation of immigrants, the memories of dislocation and of sacrifice to create new hope and opportunities for our children are never too far below the surface of our collective conscience. And that’s why work like this is so important.

Person of the week

noniMuch-loved and respected Australian actor and story-teller Noni Hazlehurst joined the Logies Hall of Fame this week, and gave a magnificent speech covering mental health, asylum seekers, bigotry, technology, violence… and at the heart of it all, a plea to remember our humanity.

It’s a little over 10 minutes long, but well worth watching.

Smash of the week!
flat white

Fellow blogger Servetus wrote last week in praise of Australia’s predilection for a coffee pick-me-up we call a flat white. What’s a flat white? It’s basically steamed milk over espresso, and the trick is in the foam. Too much creamy froth and you end up with a latte, which nobody here can be really bothered with – or not in my part of the world, at least! And if the base coffee is good to start with (and really, why would you bother if it’s not), then two shots under that creamy foam will set you up nicely for the day.

avo smashAnd to accompany it? Another great Australian epicurean invention – the avocado smash. My favourite breakfast place is Kitchen@Buderim, where the delightful and far-too-witty-for-early-mornings Edwina smashes my avocado with macadamia nuts and roasted corn kernels, lime and coriander. Fresh, healthy, amazing texture and absolutely delicious! It’s hard on the heels of flat whites for shaking up American breakfast habits, and I couldn’t be more proud!

Reviews of the week

And here’s something else I’m personally proud of this week: some sparkly new reviews for A Case for Trust! Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to write honest reviews.

“Whilst still shadowing the traditional romance novel formula, this book brings a lot more depth and a touch of suspense to the story which is very refreshing. The characters are very believable with natural flaws but they don’t stop you liking them, which is essential for me. On top of this it is beautifully written with a natural flow and style.”

“Gracie MacGregor is one talented writer – I consider myself a bit of an expert in this genre… mostly in terms of volume – because I have read virtually any and all of these kinds of books that I can get my hands on and there are definitely good ones that leave you wanting more and the rest that leave you wanting more, but not in a good way!!! This was a cracker. The only thing I didn’t love was that I read it on my phone as I am still old fashioned and don’t have a tablet…”

What have you loved this week? I’d love to hear about it.

Gracie x

Friday in Five

6 May

Got five minutes?

tapdancers

It’s been a big week DownUnder, or at least in my own little part of the world, and I suspect I’ve missed many fabulous things as they’ve flashed past me, but this… this I loved. Hope it gives you a lift, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Gracie x

Friday in Five

29 Apr

Got five minutes? Here are some of the things I loved this week.

Person of the week

The Natural way of thingsThe Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature, and in its three short years has already significantly improved the profile of women’s writing (and reading) in this country. This year, the Stella was won by Charlotte Wood for her novel, The Natural Way of Things. It’s a powerful book, but equally powerful as her book, I think, is her passionate plea for an arts renaissance, dressed up as her acceptance speech for the Stella.

 

Flick of the week

alanrickmanI was relieved to discover I HADN’T missed Eye in the Sky, which had appeared briefly in our cinemas some weeks ago and quickly disappeared. It’s back again, and it’s brilliant. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the audience sat utterly still and silent through the end credits. Then BoyWonder and I talked about it all the way home… and for some time after that… and I’m still talking about it with friends. It’s a quiet film, with none of the Hollywood brashness that would probably guarantee better box-office takings here. I hope it’s a sleeper. It deserves to be seen.

Pic of the week

How beautiful is our world? Hubble nails it again.
Our beautiful earth through Hubble telescope

 Play of the week

4000milesOur little coastal community was spoilt for dramatic choice this week, with playwright Willy Russell’s Educating Rita playing at one end of the coast and Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles at the other. I plumped for the Herzog, and was reminded yet again what a wealth of talent we have in our Australian arts scene (refer above for the arguments why it matters!), and how lucky we are that independent theatre companies bring their work to small communities. American Herzog possesses an uncanny gift for writing poignant, funny, profound and contradictory characters who, in this case, were so familiar to me it was like watching a home movie. The cast was brilliant, the performances finely nuanced, and for not a moment did I recognise I was watching this wonderful story play out in a community hall more commonly used for school prize nights and fitness classes. Wonderful!

Song of the week

Katie-Noon-Brodsky-Quartet-900_GalleryI’m not a huge fan of Katie Noonan’s, but my goodness, this collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet sounds amazing! Judith Wright is my favourite Australian poet, and to hear her words so hauntingly delivered in song is magic. Enjoy!

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve loved this week! Drop me a line?

Gracie x

Lest we forget

25 Apr

It’s Anzac Day, a day of sacred remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorating a bloody and blunder-ridden battle that was one of the first Australia had fought as a newly federated nation. It wasn’t glorious. It certainly wasn’t romantic. We weren’t even victorious. How typical of Australians to cling to the memory of a blue* we comprehensively lost; with our Kiwi brethren, our annual day to bash the Brits for their ANZAC_biscuitsmilitary ignorance and strategic stupidity, and to break our teeth on syrupy biscuits that, more than any other culinary tradition, proclaim our loyalty to our colonial and rural past and a way of life that most contemporary Australians have no genuine relation to.

It certainly makes for pretty movies. Mel Gibson never looked so good as he did ducking snipers and dashing across trenches in a futile effort to stop his mates going over the top.

In spite of all that cynicism and the sense sometimes that really, it’s just another excuse to stay home from work, Anzac Day is nevertheless the most important day in our national calendar. More important, certainly, than Australia Day, the purpose of which nobody seems too sure about, beyond its marking of the definitive end of the Christmas/summer break. And it’s becoming increasingly significant, as the swelling throngs of visitors to Gallipoli, the barren peninsula in Turkish Thrace where it all went wrong, and to the dawn ceremonies that take place in every city and town, attest.

dawn ceremony

There are plenty of commentators more expert than I to explain why a farcical fight a century ago is growing in fascination for Australians. I think perhaps it’s because we are increasingly uncertain of what it means to be Australian – a kind of national thrashing-about for values because we’ve let go of concepts like a fair go for everybody.

At the same time, we’re letting go of the respectful hush with which we’ve historically spoken of our war dead. We’re less ready to believe they were all heroes, although not for one moment or by one inch do we respect any less the courage, endurance and determination they carried into Anzac Cove. This article tells how the release of war archives are giving new generations the chance to know something of the Anzac ancestors they never met.

“My grandfather’s story does not fit easily with the Anzac myth. But unlike many from the older generation, my siblings and cousins are happy to look the truth of his service in the face.”

We’re also becoming more respectful of the role our indigenous peoples played in this and other wars. Around a thousand of them fought in the First World War, and returned home to the same prejudice, discrimination and lack of rights or recognition they lived with before they enlisted. As their descendants now march in Anzac Day parades in remembrance, it feels like perhaps we’re dismantling some of the walls, just a little, that should have come down long, long ago.

GallipoliSo that while the golden cinematic glow gives way to a more realistic assessment of our ANZAC legends, the real lustre of ANZAC Day remains and grows. These were real men and women serving in brutal and terrifying conditions, with next to no control over their lives or futures. They had each others’ backs; they served and sacrificed and suffered and skylarked. Those who came home came home damaged, whether or not they brought home visible wounds, and they picked up where they left off, raising families and building a country.

Individually and collectively, their stories are worth remembering.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Happy Anzac Day.

Gracie x

* a “blue” is a fight in Australian slang

Friday in Five

22 Apr

This week’s favourite thing will take a little longer than five minutes, but it’s so worth it!

sunrise

I had the very great privilege of being in the Brisbane Baroque Festival audience when Emily Cox’s Canticum Chamber Choir performed Vivaldi’s Women of the Pieta suite, which Vivaldi wrote for the Ospedale of the Pieta, a home for the care of illegitimate daughters of Venetian noblemen in Venice. These received a thorough education and superb musical training – usually funded by their (mostly anonymous) fathers – and their performances were famed throughout Europe and beyond.

It turns out Vivaldi wrote a lot of music just for these young girls, and accomplished conductor Emily Cox made sure we understood why, artfully leading her choir and orchestra of women into producing some of the finest choral music I’ve ever heard. It was breathtaking in its beauty, soaring and sweeping and perfectly set in Brisbane’s Gothic Revival Anglican Cathedral.

Sadly, this week’s performance in Brisbane wasn’t recorded – or not yet that I’ve discovered – so here instead is a recording made for the BBC some years ago. Should you have the opportunity to hear this wonderful piece live, don’t miss it!

I’d love to hear your favourite things this week! Why not drop me a line?

Have a beautiful weekend!

Gracie x

Friday in Five

15 Apr

Got five minutes? Here’s what I’ve loved this week.

Jaw-drop of the week

JudithbeheadingHolofernesA new Caravaggio! I can scarcely believe it. In my first-ever visit to the Louvre in Paris many years ago, I spent a few minutes fighting the crowds to see the Mona Lisa then wandered into the gallery next door, where I was very much more moved by Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin. Since then I’ve become a bit of a Caravaggio crack-head. So I was very excited by this report of an unknown Caravaggio discovered – aren’t they always? – in somebody’s French attic. It’s believed to be related to this painting of Judith beheading Holofernes, currently on display in Rome. Can’t wait to hear where the new discovery will end up – I do hope it becomes available for public viewing.

Pic of the week

Pippa going to the partyEagle-eyed reader and author-in-the-making, Helen from England’s Oldham region, discovered this pretty girl recently and thought she could have been purposely painted for A Case for Trust. If you’ve read the book, you can probably guess the scene! Flirty and fabulous – perfectly fitting! Thanks, Helen!

 
 
 
 

Fashion of the week

Apparently Adidas is ageless! time travel

In another fascinating discovery this week, scientists have discovered a 1500 year old Mongolian mummy, seemingly wearing Adidas boots!

 
 
 
 

Awwwww of the week

Because you were so delightfully interested in the future of our koalas (thank you!), here’s some good news on another critter, very close to my own heart. Brush-tailed rock wallabies, also known as pretty-faced wallabies (for obvious reasons!) are critically endangered in the southernmost parts of Australia, and vulnerable in the rest of their natural geographic range. I have a mother wallaby of this type who often appears in my backyard, and the last two years she’s brought a joey in her pouch with her. This is her right here.brush-tailed rock wallaby kb

Song of the week

darren percivalYou might not know him outside of Oz, but Darren Percival is a local performer who was runner-up in Australia’s first The Voice competition a few years back and has had some terrific commercial success since. The reason he’s my singer of the week, though, is because he’s one of the most generous performers I’ve seen, consistently sharing his “airtime” and visibility with up-and-coming performers. This week he kicked off a series of very affordable workshops that give a whole range of people from all walks of life the opportunity to open up their lungs and hearts and have a good sing. He’s a true “soul” performer in every sense of the word – and his music is magnificent, too. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear what you’ve loved this week! Drop me a note in the comments box? I’m always happy to share!

Gracie x

Friday in Five

8 Apr

Got five minutes? Here are the things I loved most this week.

Pic of the week

fieldoflightuluruOh my word, how glorious is this? I am madly trying to work out how I can possibly afford to get there to see this amazing Field of Light installation by Bruce Munro at iconic, sacred Uluru in Australia’s outback. I already have my big trip planned for this year, but get there I will.

Flick of the week

WeareallconnectedWatch this brilliantly crafted and intriguing little clip right to the end, for a message so pertinent, wherever you are today.

 

Book of the week

It’s been a difficult week for a number of women close to me. How to help? How to support? In the end, I gravitated to one of my favourite women in crisis: the sublime Nora Ephron. Here’s what she said to me from across the chasm:

i-feel-bad-about-my-neck-2“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”

After that, it was obvious. I bought my friends books, by Nora Ephron. Their problems are not trivial, but they are all helped by courage and humour.

Person of the week

veiledvirginSomebody I’d never heard of, but who has brought so much joy and awe to my Facebook friends this week that I thought I’d share his work here as well.

Giovanni Strazza was a 19th Century Italian sculptor working in Rome. His exquisite piece, the Veiled Virgin, carved from Carrara marble, now resides in the Presentation Convent at St John’s, Newfoundland.

Another big trip for me to add to the bucket list, because when I look at her, I can’t believe my eyes, or his talent. I want to see it up close.

 

I’ll leave you with this, my song of the week. Let me know what you’ve loved this week?

Song of the week

Happy days indeJudyandBarbed. Two of the best songstresses of all time, together, making me happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Gracie x

 

Are koalas really as cute as they look?

2 Apr

One of my favourite bloggers, Servetus, asked after my last post if koalas really are as cute as they look. And yes, they really are. At least as cute as puppies, certainly as cute as kittens. Watch this koala joey’s first photo shoot for a cuteness overload!

Sadly, they’re a lot more vulnerable than those domestic pets, despite their cute factor and their popularity as Australia’s national symbol. koala sleepingThey’re wild animals, generally nocturnal, very curious and often surprisingly trusting of humans. It used to be very rare to see a koala in a suburban environment, but increasingly as their habitat is destroyed by urban encroachment, we’re seeing them during the daytime seeking help – usually needing water. Here a young male has wandered into a suburban backyard and gets a drink from a kind stranger.

It’s not only urbanisation that’s threatening them. Along with many native Australian animals, they suffer severely during our summer bushfire seasons. Photos from this video were seen around the world after Australia’s 2009 bushfires. Again, a koala is desperately needing water, and puts up with being petted for the sake of a drink.

Domestic dogs are a threat. Cars are a threat. Backyard swimming pools are a threat (in my suburb, homeowners with swimming pools are installing ropes just under the lips of their pools, so koalas who fall in after seeking a drink have a way of climbing out again). Chlamydia is ravaging many koala populations, causing blindness and infertility.

koala bathIn rural areas, cattle are a threat. Young male koalas, particularly, are attacked by cows which herd and trample them as they attempt to move between trees. This photo went viral in Australia under the heading “Koala takes a bath”, until it was pointed out the koala was probably trapped between the water trough and the cows behind it. Unlike roos, they’re fairly slow moving and can’t get themselves out of trouble in a hurry, particularly on open ground.

Sorry, this is all very grim! The question was their cuteness, but it’s hard to talk about how beautiful they are without despairing over how endangered they are. Back to the cute!

Their fur is just as soft as it looks, even on full-grown adults. They have very sharp claws, and have been known to climb human “tkoala mum and joeyrees” standing too still watching them. And they’re often not terribly nice to each other, either. This pair fought like children over a favourite tree. The crying you hear in the video isn’t how we usually know koalas are about. More often, they sound like this (and usually in the depths of the night!).

Their feeding habits also appear to be changing. It used to be believed they only ate leaves from a very limited range of eucalypt species, but researchers are now discovering they’re also eating insects as well as from a much wider variety of tree species – whether this is an adaptation to their changing environment or simply a new discovery of longstanding behaviour, we’re not really sure.

Their smell is unmistakeable, thanks to their eucalyptus diet, but unlike possums, it’s not particularly unpleasant. In fact, there’s nothing nicer, really, than bushwalking through a eucalyptus forest and sniffing that koala aroma on the breeze!

So yes, they are absolutely as cute as they look. Come on down and visit, Servetus, and I’ll introduce you!

Gracie x

 

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