Happiness as Anarchy #43: Lemons

Is there nothing a lemon can’t do? Ask Professor Google about uses for lemons and you’ll be met with hundreds of different applications for the humble citrus, from cleaning the bathroom to speeding digestion. Apparently the even the smell of lemon is therapeutic, which explains why pruning the lemon tree makes me feel so good. My lemon tree has been busy making babies for months, and now it has a dozen or so large, bright fruits hanging from its branches. I love their pendulous nature – like a big round body part – and the juxtaposition of the bright yellow against the vibrant green of the leaves. They hang out their begging me to add them to a zesty cocktail!



Happiness as Anarchy #42: Still Crazy After All These Years

I’ve been listening to Still Crazy After All These Years since 1982. This is the version I know, from Simon and Garfunkel’s concert in Central Park. My parents must have bought the vinyl when it was first released and some years later made me a copy on cassette to listen to in my bedroom. As all the great musicians do, Simon and Garfunkel had a stellar band with them and allowed the musicians room to shine. I love the keyboards in particular on this track, and the groove – it has such amazing groove. As I get older I love the lyrics more and more – they seem to get closer to the truth as the years go by.

Happiness as Anarchy #41: The Promise of Poppies

To the untrained eye my front yard looks like a mess of weeds, but look a little closer and you will see the poppies coming up in their hundreds. They won’t bloom until spring, but I’ll be watching their progress as they grow up and turn into a big patch of colour swaying in the breeze. I might even attempt to pull out some of the grass growing between them at some stage.

The straight grass-like bits in the photo are indeed grass, but the slightly furry lobed leaves are baby poppy plants braving the winter chill. They will bloom in a wide range of colours, from orange to pink to red, and a few opium poppies are sure to be lurking in there.


Happiness as Anarchy #40: Open Access Art Collections

One of the wonderful things about technology and the internet is the opening up of previously restricted collections in art galleries, museums and libraries. Increasingly these institutions are digitising their collections and making them available to the public online. Can’t get to New York to visit the Met? Browse over 40,000 artworks online from their collection in the comfort of your loungeroom. Interested in photography? Wander through more than four million photographs at The Europeana Collections website. Looking for a score for some Bach or Tchaikovsky? Go digging in the IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library database. Or do you fancy a little high end colouring? Quite a few institutions have created colouring books from their artworks that are free to download and colour at your  leisure.

British Museum colouring Beardsley


Happiness as Anarchy #39: Red Wine with Chocolate

Some flavour combinations appear more like a novelty match than a treat for the tastebuds, but looks can be deceiving. Red wine with chocolate falls squarely into this category – it seems like a gimmick (and some of the advertised tasting events are certainly pitched that way) but it is actually a great combination. It was pure chance that led me here tonight – I had a splash of wine in my glass as I walked past pantry and was lured by the sirenesque song of the dark chocolate. Before I knew it the two were dancing in my mouth and I was reminded what an excellent flavour match they are. Go on – try it for yourself! The good news is both red wine and chocolate rejuvenate aging cells, according to research at the University of Exeter.


Happiness as Anarchy #38: Textile Art

Texture is a marvellous thing in the world of visual art, particularly 2D. This evening I went to Anna Farago’s exhibition at the Post Office Gallery in central Ballarat. It’s an interesting collection of quilting, photography, and embroidery. The lines are great, as are the colours – subdued, like the Australian bush that she dyed much of the fabric with – but what I liked most is the texture: lumps and bumps in the fabric, punctures and raised paths of stitching, little valleys along the seams, tiny patterns in the warp and weave. So much going on if you look closely.

I love the movement created by the long stitches in this tree.

Anna Farago embroidery

Happiness as Anarchy #37: Little gigs in little bars in little towns

I love doing gigs in my little home town, playing for the people who make up my community. Friday night I played at a new bar – Pearl & Rose – that opened just for the evening. My friend Chantel owns the bar, her kids are friends of my kids, half the people there I knew, and I met a bunch of other locals I’d not yet crossed paths with. I sang songs and watched everyone enjoying the best of a small community while they ate curry and sipped wine. If I could do that every Friday night I would be a very happy little ukulele player.

Here’s a photo captured by the very clever Jase de Vence, another lovely local:

Amie at the Pearl and Rose

Happiness as Anarchy #36: Old Art Deco Pubs

I am always excited to find original features in places where you least expect it – venues that don’t seem to pay any attention to the grand old buildings that house them. The Penny Black in Sydney Road, Brunswick, is a fine example. It’s a cheery pub with lots of beer on tap and burgers on the menu, sticky counters and a pool table. There are second hand sofas spread around, the kind that try to swallow you whole like a boa constrictor when you sit on them. But then you duck off to the toilets and discover the stairwell is all original, from the decorative tiles to the art deco lines in the walls and fancy bannister ends. It’s tired and run down, but there has been no attempt to renovate the stairwell and all of the underlying style remains. Maybe one day someone with a big pot of money will restore the whole building back to its former glory.

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Happiness as Anarchy #35: Making Good Habits

I’m up to day 35 of the Happiness As Anarchy blog and I’ve got to that point where I look forward to writing. I’ve just got home from a gig, and there is no question that I will write number 35 before bed. I don’t have to fight with myself, or the procrastination devil, or negotiate over other things I’d rather do – it has become something I just do. The writing is also becoming easier each day and, although my perception is most certainly biased, the standard of posts appears to be improving  (or my perfectionism is diminishing).  The mind is a complex beast, and I’m learning all kinds of interesting things about the way mine functions in the process of creating Happiness As Anarchy.

Read more about habit formation at Oxford Research if you’re curious.

Image result for habit new aristotle

Happiness as Anarchy #34: TED talks


If you haven’t seen a TED talk, go and watch one now at www.ted.com. It is phenomenal collection of world class talks on an vast array of topics, from music to neuroscience, nanotechnology to public art.  TED talks first appeared online in 2006 and were an offshoot of the TED – technology, entertainment, design – Conference. Although most talks only go for 12 minutes or so, I could happily let hours disappear watching the speakers talk about all kinds of things; topics rendered completely fascinating by the way they present. This is public speaking at its finest.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Sir Ken Robinson on schools killing creativity

Bréné Brown on vulnerability

Karl Honoré on the Art of Slowness

Sarah Kay’s spoken word on parenting