A gem of a word

MYTHOLOGEM (mi-THOL-uh-jem)

noun: A basic theme of a myth, for example, revenge, honor, betrayal, etc.

This words comes courtesy of Anu Garg’s A Word A Day email list (wsmith@wordsmith.org).

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This is why I do it…

I did some school visits in September, to a school in Traralgon. I was up before the sun and drove out of Melbourne as the sun rose. It was early, but a lovely time to be heading out of town. I did three sessions with preps, Yr 1’s and Yr 2’s.

The children were great and the sessions went well. Reward enough. But at the end of the third session, the prep teacher brought a sheaf of papers. The preps had gone straight from my session back to their classroom and written me letters.

Here are three of them:


Made me smile all the way home.

Chim chimeree

I bought some flowers at the market yesterday, partly because of their name. The florist had written it as chimchimcheree…which immediately had me singing the chimney sweep song from Mary Poppins and wanting to dance across rooftops. Chim chimmeree, chim chimmerie, chim chim cherooo…etc

I looked up some flower books and after a few false starts found that it is actually ‘chim chim chere’. It’s really pretty and a thousand miles from the sooty chimney brush.


But I keep on singing…

Pompeii Dog

A few years ago, we were lucky enough to travel to Europe and spent two weeks in Italy. One dreary day we boarded a bus for a day trip to Pompeii. After the obligatory (buy something here or we won’t let you back on) stops, we arrived at a blue-sky Pompeii. It’s an amazing place, but having seen quite a number of ruins we were almost inured to the tragedy that occured here. It was just too hard to fathom, and we were distracted by the glimpses of life, rather than the horror of death.

Then I saw the dog. It was a cast of a dog also preserved by the ash and stone. It wasn’t on display really, but in a locked up cage that housed rows and rows of amphora and other artefacts in various states of repair. I wrote about it in my trip diary but also sketched out a poem about the dog. Somehow the dog’s obvious agony gave the human tragedy a voice.

The poem, Pompeii Dog has just been accepted by Moving Galleries and will shortly appear in a Melbourne train carriage, to be read by commuters. Fantastic thought that, taking the poetry to the people.

Phar Lap is launched



Today I attended the launch of a picture book I’ve watched grow from a simple spoken idea nearly eight years ago. Phar Lap the wonder horse (the picture book) began as part of a conversation while watching children do circus classes (okay so the connection isn’t that clear yet). It’s in ballad form and is gloriously illustrated by Patricia Mullins using collage.


Jackie Kerin is the author and her Phar Lap story is the first picture book on his history. It follows his story from birth to death and all the wonderful excitement in between. It uses the language of the racetrack, of the time. Jackie is a talented storyteller and performed ‘Phar Lap the wonder horse’ for the audience. The launch, held at Melbourne Museum, in the presence of the tall red horse, was attended (amongst others) by a class from a local primary school and others. Jackie held us all in thrall as she performed.


Patricia’s wonderful original artwork was on exhibition and it was great to see the textures and layers in her work. Afterwards we retired to The Windsor for a wonderful lunch.


Congratulations to Jackie and Patricia and Melbourne Museum (publisher). It’s a wonderful book.

Some random images


Last Saturday afternoon we went down to watch the sailing boats sail (yes they are there…just a little left of this pic) and saw these moored boats. This tiny dinghy, complete with frayed rope and sitting lower than low in the water, looked like the loneliest boat in the harbour.


On my daily walk, I traverse this block where all the trees have this weird lean and twist to them. Perhaps it wouldn’t be surprising if this block were facing the sea with a constant onshore wind, but it isn’t. It’s about 3 k inland. So why are they all twisted? Only in this one street?

My Carmonkey. Doesn’t everyone have one?

Bark from another tree along the route I walk daily. I can see a face in this one. Can you?