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March 11, 2012

I’ve started full time work. It’s exciting. I’m starting a brand new chapter. And this brand new chapter is no less exciting than the other brand new chapters that get lots of air play as milestones: finishing high school, finishing uni, starting work for the first time, your first home, starting a family… Freshness and challenge are not restricted by age.

I haven’t been working full time since my first daughter was born nineteen years ago. I took the full time parenting route and, after eight years of that, worked sessionally and completed a Masters and (almost) a PhD by stealth.

My youngest started high school this year and I’ve started as a full time lecturer in education. I haven’t finished writing my dissertation yet, but that milestone is very close (I’m tipping within the next week or two).

I’m not sure what life will be like after finishing my thesis. I’m hoping to resurrect some neglected aspects of life: the novel (reading for pleasure), and entertaining. The only novels I’ve read in the last couple of years have been the millennium series, A Spot of Bother, The Slap (couldn’t finish it, but still trying) and Frankenstein. Frankenstein I’ve been reading over the past week. Rosie (daughter¬†number 2) is studying it for English (she’s in year 12 doing the International Baccalaureate). I’m reading it because she said, “Mum, can you read this please I really want to talk about it with you!”. My kids keep me grounded.

Likewise, I’m not sure what life will be like as an academic. So far, its started off wonderfully. I’m very happy in my office and I feel well supported to face the new challenges.

The first of my international conferences for the year is in Vancouver in April! I’ll post a little more on this as the time draws near.

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A Parent’s Lament

October 23, 2011

When the light mist lifted this morning in Melbourne I had already been riding for half an hour. I’d met two girlfriends and we were cycling a route that one of them had discovered through Balwyn and Lower Plenty. The morning slowly warmed up and before we knew it we were riding in perfect conditions.

We cycled for two hours. I hadn’t ridden since last Sunday’s Around the Bay in a Day. In fact I hadn’t done any exercise other than the odd walk instead of drive. Around the Bay was a 210 km ride and I’d been too tired afterwards to get straight back into running and swimming.

It felt good. There was a pinch of a hill just over the half way mark that got my heart pumping. The endorphins kicked in and I finished the ride feeling pumped.

I arrived home at 10.30am. I don’t think my daughters were even aware that I’d been out. I had a shower and was standing there naked in my bathroom when Kat called out to me,

“Muuum?”

“Yep I’m in here but don’t come in I’m naked – just hopped out of the shower.”

“Oh, okay. Have you got any money?”

I only had two fifty dollar notes. I’d taken them out yesterday doing the “cash out” option at Target, and it was nice to have some money in my purse. Her boyfriend was visiting from Brisbane and they were heading out for the day. She spent too much money for a uni student, but I’d rather her have fun than be too restricted because of cash problems. Take one of the fifties out of my purse I said to her.

Still naked in my bathroom I was cleaning my teeth when Emma barged in and quickly back tracked saying, “Arg, I wish I hadn’t seen that! MUM Close your bathroom door!”

She waited while I threw on a summer dress and some knickers.

“What did you want to talk about Emma?”

“Can you drive me down to Foodworks? I said I’d meet Shari fifteen minutes ago and I can’t ring her because my phone’s busted”.

“Okay”

“And can I have some money to buy lunch with?”

“Um, all I have is this fifty dollar note”

“Well, I have a twenty”, Emma said, “Give me the fifty and I’ll give you the twenty. If I have change from lunch I’ll give it back to you later”.

Foodworks is only a 2 minute drive. I turned around and drove back to our home in less than ten minutes. As I opened the garage I found Sally waiting for me. She gestured with her hand, a stop gesture, to indicate don’t bother driving in.

“Mum, can you drive me down to the local shops. Beck is meeting me there and I’m running late”.

“Its just straight down the hill Sally. Why don’t you scoot?”

“I’m running late. Can you just drive me?”

“Okay”. We pulled out of the driveway.

“Can I have some money to do kid things with?”

“What sort of kid things? and why do you need money to be a kid?” (Sally is twelve at the end of this week).

“I might get a soft drink or icy pole”.

“Oh okay, but I only have this twenty dollar note”.

“Well give that to me and I’ll give you fifteen dollars change”.

This morning I had one hundred dollars. I now only have fifteen. This is my lament.

I’m sitting down now, munching on fruit and nuts, drinking formosan tea and reclining in my comfy chair by the window. The house is very quiet. But Rosie is still upstairs. I haven’t seen her yet today. I’m wondering whether she might need fifteen dollars before she steps out this morning…

Ah here she is! “What are you doing today Rosie?”

“Homework, but I’m going to go for a run first. Its beautiful out there!”

I feel love and pride for all of my daughters.

And I get to keep the 15 ūüôā

Highlights of Lyon

October 9, 2011

I travelled to Lyon from Exeter, conference hopping. On the little Flybe aircraft across the channel I sat next to another conference goer. He was leaving Exeter and returning home to France rather than continuing to another conference like I was. (When you have flown the 25 hours to get to Europe from Australia, you may as well make the most of it). He was a PhD student originally from Pakistan, who learnt French to obtain a scholarship at a French University. He knew Lyon. I dictated notes onto my iphone as he told me what to see and where to go in Lyon.

Things to see and do in Lyon:

  1. bellecoeur – beautiful heart, city square – biggest in France
  2. vieux lyon – old city, museums (free), restaurants
  3. cathedral – biggest in Lyon
  4. close to Cathedral climb up small tower and view of whole of Lyon
  5. statue of Mary near cathedral also
  6. Rhone Рthe bigger river, on bank: Quai Claude Bernard, walk on bank in evening (popular promenade in the evenings) Close to this is the old university (conference is in new part)
  7. near Parte Dieu there are two towers: 1. pencil tip, 2. like a half pipe, shopping centre Center Commerciale Parte Dieu – beautiful, not expensive, fountain.
  8. biggest park in Lyon, Parc Tete D’Ore, beautiful lake, underground and come up in centre of the lake.
  9. public cycling stands, 6 euros for seven days: there are machines for hiring, select how many days. if you return to any stand within half an hour there is no extra charge. there are cycling tracks.
I can now add my own reflections to the list.

Lyon is the second largest city in France. It was the centre of commerce for a region in France settled by the Roman Empire some time BC. The ruins of the largest amphitheatre I’ve ever seen are on the hill in Lyon. If you climb the stairs to the top of this hill you have a vista back across the whole city and can even see the alps in the background. This is where you can go into the cathedral (3). The old town (2) is back down the hill. It has wonderful shops to browse. I had a crepe dinner here on my last night in Lyon. The delicious crepes were cooked on a cart and we sat out of doors.

I found the city bikes (9) on the first day and I’m glad I did. Its unusual when you are in a city for a conference to have such freedom in your travel. I rode the bikes everyday and enjoyed not being reliant on transport timetables. The ride along the river from the city centre (where I was staying) to the conference venue was spectacular (6). The river is wide. There are beautiful public spaces, from fabulous children’s playgrounds to picnic areas to fountains, to grassy enclaves where people in bikinis tanned.

I didn’t go to the shopping centre he recommended (7) but the¬†Parc Tete D’Ore (8) is wonderful. I was surprised to find in the park a free zoo. I came upon the animal cages before I realised I had entered a zoo. (wtf is that a giraffe?) I spent time wandering the gardens with friends from the conference here as well because it was within walking distance from the conference venue.

But the list did not include recommendations about finding good food. Firstly I would add that any bakery in Lyon is a great start, and there are numerous. Secondly, I highly recommend an eating institution which everyone in Lyon seemed to know about, Brasserie Georges. Luckily I have colleagues who always find fabulous restaurants in faraway cities.  The restaurant was a wonderful French experience: the ambience, the food, the service. Getting to the restaurant also turned out to be a French experience for me.

I rode a city bike from my hotel to a bike stand that I now realise was opposite Brasserie Georges, except that the road was split. Between where I parked and the restaurant was a wide motorway and nearby a large rail terminal. Not realising this I walked my half of the road without seeing it and became lost. My French is poor to non-existent but I had a little routine that I could use for emergencies. Upon realising I was lost I approached a woman at a bus stop and said in French,

Bonjour, I am Australian, I don’t speak French.

I showed her the address of where I was going but it was not until she read Brasserie Geroges that her eyes lit up. ‘Ah Brasserie Georg-geh’ she said (I’m trying to capture the accent and you need to pronounce the ‘g’ softly with an ‘h’ sound in there as well). She pointed me in the right direction and told me how to get there (in French). I followed the direction she pointed but because I didn’t understand the directions soon became lost again.

I approached another person. This time I used my routine but added ‘Brasserie Geor-geh’ to it with a little palms up, shoulder shrug. The recognition was instant. Again I was pointed in a direction and given instructions in French. Of course I walked in the direction pointed but soon became lost again. I went through this routine with four more people before finally arriving an hour late. I had walked a large three-sixty to appear upon the restaurant from exactly the opposite direction to which I had parked my bike. But I made it! My friends had saved me some of the antipasto entree (sensational) poured me a glass of wine (also sensational) and I ordered duck (sensational) and coffee icecream parfait for dessert (magnificent but it kept me up way too late that night).

I was proud of myself. As you know its quite stressful being lost. I consciously calmed myself down and thanks to the friendly French people had a wonderful experience of it rather than tears.

The view from the top of the hill in Lyon

The beautiful Rhone in Lyon

My first day on the Lyon city bikes

Eating the sensational antipasto at Brasserie Georges

Yesterday I fell off my bike.

How? The bolt holding my seat on broke in half and my butt was connected to the seat when it hit the ground.

Are you okay? I took the impact onto my hip. It hurt and I have a fist sized bruise there now. I’m noticing other bruises on my legs where the frame landed. But they’re just bruises. I’m perfectly okay really. I had ridden for two hours and had arrived at Mordialloc. It was when I was hopping back on my bike for the return trip that I fell.¬†I’d only made two or three pedals on a low gear and was going quite slow, luckily. I landed on a flat surface and not in the midst of oncoming traffic! Although a few seconds later the bus parked at the stop I was passing would have been right behind me.

How did you get home? True, you can’t ride a bike without a seat. Knicks are heavily padded but not padded enough for that! Four gentlemen came to my aid when I was lying on the ground in shock – the bus driver, and three bystanders from the cafe in the area. Once they’d collected all of the seat bits off the road they established the cause (the broken bolt) and we realised that more than an alan key was needed to solve this one. I was directed to a nearby bike shop. The bike shop was less than 50 metres from where we were. I hobbled off in the direction I was told to go, reassuring the kind people I was okay and making some sort of joke about the size of my butt (given that I’d just snapped my seat bolt in half).

In the bike shop I met Karlos. Firstly he examined the seat and responded quickly to my repeated joke to compliment my shape and say that my butt size wasn’t the cause of the broken bolt (which was sweet and entirely the right thing to say to a woman whether it were true or not). He told me it was the fourth broken seat bolt he’d had to deal with that day and showed me the marks on the seat that indicated it had been fixed too far back. This put pressure on the bolt – no wonder it snapped. Secondly, he ascertained that it was an aluminium bolt and not very strong.

While he was explaining all this to me in a gentle and caring tone, I started to feel like we all do when someone is sympathetic, a little sore and sorry for myself. I couldn’t help it, a few little tears escaped and ran down my cheeks. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “I just fell off my bike”, I replied. He gave me a hug.

I dug out a tissue and pulled myself together. (I carry a snap lock bag with cash, credit card, bandaids, a tissue, and my garage blip in it.) He was impressed with my organisation. “Where did you learn to do that?” Oh, I’ve been riding road bikes since I was 18 I told him.

He started work on my bike. “Did you feel like you were reaching too far for the handle bars?” he asked. I told him that I had. I’d only had the bike for one year. I bought a carbon fibre bike with Ultegra gears as a package from Melbourne Cycles. It was a lovely bike but I had always harboured doubts about the way they’d set it up for me because I felt as though I had to stretch. On long rides I experienced back pain as never before and I couldn’t comfortably reach the drop position (a position I’d been very comfortable in on my previous bike set up by Ivanhoe Cycles). I’d even asked my bike guy at uni to check the set up. He improved the situation but only slightly.

Karlos’ history was in bike manufacturing. He’d been head-hunted for the job at Mordialloc Bicycle Centre (where I found him) and he’d only been there a few weeks. His sport was downhill mountain bike racing. He was 35 but had the demeanour of a man much younger. He was an adrenalin junkie. Compared to the spills he’d had in his downhill career, my thud onto the bitumen was pretty lame. Apparently he is fairly famous in that circle, known as ‘the jackal’. Despite the thrill seeking, he had a wholesome philosophy about cycling and life. Maybe that’s because he was essentially a country lad.

Apparently my handlebar stem had been put on upside down. By putting it the right way up, Karlos brought my handle bars closer to my reach. Coupling this with the adjustment of the seat position, I felt as though I was on a different bike, one that had been sculpted around my body shape! I was ecstatic. But that’s not all he did.

“You do realise the seat you have on is for males, don’t you?”

“No, it was sold to me as a female seat!”

“Have a look at this. This is a female seat. It has this little gap here. Do you think that would make a difference to your comfort?”

Karlos didn’t realise that he was talking to someone who for a year had been putting up with too much pressure on a very sensitive part of her body, thinking it was just down to getting the angle right, who at the end of every ride regardless of the seat angle felt as though she’d lost a layer of skin from that area and who had gritted through 210 km in Around The Bay last year minus several layers of sensitive skin due to the unnatural pressure and deep bruising around each sit bone.

“WHAT!!!@#*!?!”, I was astonished, cross and relieved at the same time, “Do you think you could sell me a female seat right now?”

“You can have this one for 20 bucks”, he grinned. He ¬†adjusted my handlebars and put a stainless steel bolt in to hold my new seat. I told him to sell my old seat if he could (it was only a year old).

I rode the 50k home and arrived just before it started to rain with a few warning drops falling from the sky. Even though my bruises gave me a bit of pain, I was so much more comfortable on my bike. And all this just a week and two days before this years Around The Bay!

If you do pump then have a massage at the oriental healing centre at Hong Kong airport 35 hours later it will hurt. Some people would say that if you do pump thirty-five hours later you will hurt. Other people might suggest that pain would be experienced at the elbows of the masseurs at HK airport regardless of what you did thirty-five hours prior. The combination is therefore a no brainer but I can vouch that it is an acute pain that takes training to endure.

My training took place at a very early age and I was coached by my father (a la Pavlov).¬†When I was a kid my father encouraged us all to have¬†our fillings done without pain relief. He’d make light of the drill and reward us by telling us how brave we were.

I endured the pain of the massage by breathing through it. It took quite a bit of breathing. There were times I thought I wouldn’t make it but I’m glad I did because the massage cured my headache and filled in one of the eight hours I have here at HK airport.

I filled another hour by going to Starbucks. There I met a random traveller from India who’s in the logistics business dealing with trade in and out of Russia and China. I think now I might go and find a restaurant for some dinner and some Chinese tea.

Hello blogging world. Thanks for being here.

I must admit I have a bit of travel anxiety building up. I used to think that the anxiety was caused by other people. For example, my husband would insist on the week leading up to my departure that I do extraneous jobs like sort out the children’s wardrobes and be on duty for kids sport and night club pickups all week. I had thought he was intentionally sabotaging my peace of mind. I’d get on the plane wound up after a week of total chaos and tension in the house.

This time he did ask me to sort out the wardrobes but I realised all I had to do was quietly explain that I was busy getting my conference presentations ready and that he please refrain from asking me to do non-urgent jobs for a week at least. He backed off. I’ve had space and time to focus on my work. But with a day and a half to fly out the¬†anxiousness is here – with no one to blame!!

I’ve recognised the issue. When I have trouble concentrating I’ve given myself license to goof off for a little while.

It’s the kind of anxiety that children have leading up to their birthday parties.

I feel like I’ve already left in my head but I’m still here.

It’s an unreality.

I’m blogging to maintain a tenuous link between here and there. I’m here. My head is there.

I’m heading to Exeter and then Lyon. Its low twenties (Celcius) in Exeter and thirty-five in Lyon! I’ve set myself the challenge of bringing carry-on luggage only. The reasoning was to avoid the ten pound surcharge with Flybe.

But what’s ten pound? … my excuse for taking on the challenge. (Its something I’ve been able to focus on.)

I’m the kind of consumer who buys random items without considering how well they fit with already acquired stuff.¬†In our first home I made the curtains and chose a floral fabric for its solitary appeal. The fabric didn’t match any of the hand-me-down furniture we had acquired from grandparents and sundry. When we sold the place we moved out and a professional decorator did it up for sale. My girlfriend who’d been in the house almost everyday for ten years said,

“Oh new curtains, they look great”.

They’d been there for the ten years. She just handn’t noticed them because they clashed.

It has therefore been quite a challenge to match tops with pants and shorts in an economical fashion. I’m hoping the silk dress I bought on sale at Sportcraft at the DFO centre will do for both climates. Oh! I don’t have any shoes to match it…

Dang.

Recently I was concerned with my responsibility for the cultural education of my children, only to discover that my children were equally capable of educating me. The use of the word ‘peeps’ in the title is another example of their influence. I was first introduced to the expression “peeps” or “peep-gang” as a modern alternative to the word ‘people’ through the lyrics of ‘Sammy The Salmon’, a song that we enjoy on long car rides, thanks to the technology of the ipod including it’s little connect-y cable that plugs into the supplied sound system of my people mover, my peep-gang mover, that allows my children to hook their own ipods up for the rest of the family’s enjoyment (or not).

The other part of the title, ‘New Orleans’, refers to the location of the conference that I will be attending in about a weeks time.

For the first time I’ll be heading off to the annual U.S. conference without my peep-gang from Melbourne.

Usually before even leaving Melbourne for an overseas conference, someone in the peep-gang takes care of restaurant bookings. I usually receive an email detailing the venues for dinner each night. Because of my peeps, I have fine dined in restaurants in Chicago, New York, Amsterdam and Helsinki. The other thing that someone in my peep-gang usually does is invite me to cocktail parties hosted by publishing houses and social events organised by academic faculties. Once I was even invited to a private party in Chicago in a roof-top condo, where I was educated on tequila varieties and listened to the host play harmonica in front of an open fire while it snowed outside. With my peeps, I’ve tasted some night life – blues clubs in Chicago, jazz clubs on Bleaker Street in New York, live music at the concert hall in Amsterdam and at a street festival in Helsinki.

But this time there will be no one to set up dinners before we go, and no one I can rely on for the impromptu things.

Its a little bit daunting, but also a little bit of an adventure.

I have put some measures in place for meeting new people. On the first night I will attend a dinner for international collaboration amongst a selection of participating universities and with the same group I have two breakfast engagements as well. I have signed up for a Mentor Luncheon with people interested in similar things to me. In addition, there are two receptions that I am eligible to attend and I have booked in for a walking tour of New Orleans’ French Quarter. This leaves still a couple of nights unaccounted for. My main aim in all of these opportunities for networking is to find some new peeps with whom I can experience some live music in New Orleans!

I have also bought a little travel pocket book about New Orleans that I intend to read some time during the 19 hours of travel. Any suggestions of must do and see things in New Orleans would also be greatly appreciated ūüôā

(Of course, this is in addition to trying to do a good job presenting my paper and going to the sessions of interest to me. Work is the focus, yes sir!).

Dirty Dancing

March 21, 2011

My daughters and I settled in to our home cinema to continue our Patrick Swayzee marathon. The Patrick Swayzee marathon began for the purpose of their cultural education, and in particular to rectify their ignorance concerning references to Patrick Swayzee’s ghost (made by the comedian Ross Nobel in an hilarious send-up of the movie Ghost), and the origins of “Time of My Life (dirty bits)” by the Black Eyed Peas.

It’s an entertaining exercise to ponder over the re-emergence of retro-, popular film and television, and the shape that the re-emergence takes. Why do some scenes in movies become iconic? Is it possible to tell which scenes from modern cinema will become iconic in their turn? Isn’t it funny that children use lines from movies that have become iconic without having experienced the original scene! I think Bakhtin had something to say about the propensity of language to re-emerge with new meaning. One does not have to have seen Dirty Harry before being entitled to use the phrase, “Make my day!” It has been appropriated within modern vernacular. A speaker who appropriates the phrase, “Make my day”, will notice its social force upon the listener, and in turn the effect upon him or herself. The phrase has a cultural “weight”. The speaker is signified ¬†as cool or in control or somehow cleverer than the person it is addressed to because its iconic (and because there is no come-back!)

I hadn’t seen Dirty Dancing since it came out in the eighties and was sceptical as to whether it would measure up to my children’s exacting standards. My children are now 18, 16, 14 and 11. To my delight, they and I enjoyed the movie. My daughters thought Jennifer Grey played a delightful¬†‘Baby’.

“Oh she is soooo sweet”, they crooned.

Baby is very cute when she first enters the dirty dancing room carrying a watermelon, when she rehearses the dance steps by herself all day and when she stands up to her father. Patrick is hot! and the older girls appreciated that.¬†There was enough of a build up throughout the movie, to be absolutely blown away by the final dance. It’s totally a feel-good movie!

It affected Rosie (my 16 year old) the most. She has downloaded the original sound track and wants her own copy of the movie to show all of her girlfriends. Her favorite scene was the “Baby, Oh Baby” song when they are rehearsing together and miming to each other. I’d forgotten this bit. It’s girly fantasy in its essence and Rosie is at the right age to dream.

Emma (the 14 year old) identified another cultural reference to add to my growing list of points towards their cultural education:

Patrick’s character said, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

“OMG”, said Emma, “That’s something you say! I never knew where it came from”. Emma was delighted to have been enlightened (and also thoroughly amused that she had heard the phrase often without knowing its origins). She laughed.

I hadn’t heard the phase used in a modern context. In a reciprocal sense,¬†Emma was educating me.

Another reverse-educative consequence of the whole project has been my appreciation of The Black Eyed Pea’s version of the song. Since my children have understood and appreciated its origins there was no need for me to stay on my high horse. Now occasionally Rosie appropriates my kitchen ipod speakers and plays the original sound track; Sally plays her Black Eyed peas album including the cover version; and we dance and sing around the kitchen to both. (Sally has a particular skill in doing hilarious moves to the rap bits. She has us all in stitches!)

To my surprise the children and I enjoyed Ghost. I had forgotten that it was full of intrigue, suspense and comedy!

The highlight of the movie for my children was overwhelmingly Whoopie Goldberg’s performance. Watching it through their eyes and experiencing their reactions made me appreciate Whoopie more than I did when I watched it way back on its release. My memory of her in Ghost had been scant, and condensed into the scene when Patrick commands her body. I had awkwardly been anticipating this scene but it was pulled off as credible in the context of the movie.

Another highlight for my children was the pottery scene before his death.

“OMG”, said Kat, “they do that scene on Family Guy!” Apparently on Family Guy there is a scene where Peter gets a massage by Demi and Patrick and his back turns into pottery…

“Very good”, said I feeling as though I was adequately performing my parental role as custodian of cultural knowledge, “more cultural references that you now understand!” I added Peter’s pottery massage to the comedian Ross Noble’s on-stage encounter with Patrick Swayzee’s ghost on my growing list of points towards their cultural education. The next one had to be an appreciation of the original sound track ahead of the cover version of Time of My Life.

Before discussing their reactions to Dirty Dancing, I would like to reflect a little more on Ghost, and in particular, the young Demi Moore. My reaction to seeing young Demi on the home screen was of instant familiarity. Not only did I remember loving her in the movie the first time I saw it, but I also remembered having my hair short back in the day, wearing baggy high-waisted trousers and vests, and being relatively flat chested. Demi in that movie represented a femininity of the eighties: independent, without make-up, without breast enhancement, creative, spontaneous. She represented the young eighties woman’s psyche, and I had lived it. It was slightly confronting, suddenly facing the caricature of my young-self’s aspirations. As well as shocking me with familiarity, and provoking reflexive consideration of who I was back then, I was confronted with the immediate capacity to compare my teenage world to the world offered as iconic to my own and other teenaged girls today. How different is young Demi in Ghost to modern representations of girl-power!

Whether movie characters reflect or set societal trends, young Demi’s influence on me (or her reflection of the world I inhabited as a teenager) was inescapable evidence of the power of the trend. I was not as individual as I thought I was! Messages filtering into my daughters’ psyches about what it means to be a girl differ greatly from those of my youth, but we have all been subjected to them. I sympathised with my daughters. Living up to the world’s expectations these days would be tough.

To be continued (next up, Dirty Dancing)…

Both Sides Now

March 8, 2010

I’m going through a Joni Mitchell phase. I bought one of her albums on CD and it has been my doing-everything-by music since the start of the year. I hadn’t realised ‘Yellow Taxi’ had an excellent percussion backing until I listened to it through my ipod earphones one evening whilst running. I came home from my run, played the song through speakers and picked up my djembe trying to emulate the background beat.

I cried when I listened to ‘Both Sides Now’ the first few times and printed off the words from the internet to learn them. I also left them around the kitchen bench hoping to inspire my daughters to sing to it. (They have lovely voices).

I blue-toothed ‘Both Sides Now’ to my mobile phone and made it my ringtone. The only problem with this is that I enjoy listening to the song so much that I have missed a few calls, subconsciously choosing to hear the song over pressing the answer key.

I’ve been cooking to Joni at dinner time, cycling and running and driving with Joni. I have now gained an appreciation for the songs I didn’t know before, like ‘Woodstock’, and ‘Carey’. The kids are getting used to Joni as background music. Can I borrow your Joni CD mum? Asked Kat, my 17 year old. Sure! Do you like her music? Yeah, it’s really relaxing and she has great lyrics.

I was pleased that Kat was enjoying Joni’s music too.¬†And Kat was right, her lyrics are great. Not only that, Joni sings them with compelling emotion.¬†She is a genius!