In my new(ish) blogging adventure (which is somewhat lonely without MJ) I’m not meant to go off on tangents. I try really hard, but they just appear sometimes (and no one tells me off – occasionally I’ve been about to go too far, but I stop myself before uploading). eg. I was going to write a whole post about Craig Silvey’s nomination for Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year, way better than getting on the short list for the Miles Franklin Award :) My friend Cleo told me he’s a virgo. I once read virgos go together (and we have the same initials) so I thought I should ask him out. I’d better read Jasper Jones first – don’t want him thinking I’m shallow. I did like Rhubarb, particularly the hermit crab, but you can’t talk about hermit crabs for a whole date (well I could, but the other person mightn’t be so impressed). Luckily for CBCA WA blog readers I managed to relegate this little tale of no consequence to the comments, but here it gets first para!

Liar by Justine Larbalestier But hot guys and hermit crabs are not what I’m trying to blog about. How did I manage to start a post on a tangent!? At that other blog when I wrote about February’s Book Discussion Group of Liar by Justine Larbalestier (Allen & Unwin, 2009), things were going great, until suddenly Pink by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin, 2009) popped up without any warning whatsoever. Well, I was comparing them so there was a reason in my mind.

One of my points of comparison was both books

feature very odd schools (I have a theory JL and LW were competing to see who could imagine the most bizarre school, but I then discovered JL did go to an alternative school somewhat like Micah’s).

Pink by Lili Wilkinson LW commented that she went to a school similar to Ava’s in Pink. Being a catholic high school girl I’ve not experienced such schools, but catholicism caused my high school experience to be just as bizarre, it’s just I didn’t notice at the time. I did enjoy the class of no work, just sleep with your eyes open – religion. LW also said perhaps she and JL should have a competition for their next books.

I have the perfect idea for this comp, which hinges on JL’s recent gardening adventures, so here is another (very necessary) tangent. I was excited as an volcano to find out that JL was going to fill her very empty Sydney balcony with native plants, seeing as half my garden is filled with them (including a rapidly approaching 5m gum tree which might grow 10-40m). I do have a thing for locally native plants, rather than any old Aust plant, but I enthusiastically provided (way too many) Perth egs after someone suggested WA plants (many of which are happy to grow in sand with little watering) might be good for a sunny balcony.

xanthorrhoea flowering at Star Swamp, Perth JL decided on and procured her plants and they transformed her empty balcony. Three are xanthorrhoea (pronounced zanth-or-rear) also known as xanth, grass tree, or balga if you’re in Perth. Her xanths are a diff species to the Perth ones pictured here, but to the untrained eye they look pretty similar. And they’re both just as beautiful and grow just as well in (big) pots. Due to my discovery of JL’s liking for xanths, the challenge is for JL and LW to mention xanths, or any of their various names, the most times in their next books.

xanthorrhoea flower spike in a Perth garden LW has a detective mystery thing with her editor (or someone), but despite its finishment I have the ultimate ending for her:

Mr White killed Mr Black under the xanth with a flower spike.*

This is up there with the greatest opening line of all time:

It was a dark a stormy night…

transplanted xanthorrhoea sprouting new growth after winter rains original vegetation xanthorrhoea flowering in a local garden I think LW could win awards with a last line like that :P But of course the object of the challenge is to mention xanth the most number of times. The above line would be counted as one, maybe two cos the flower spike’s there. JL isn’t out of the running yet. Although she is at a distinct disadvantage, what with her current writing set in 1930s New York. But compared to some of the strange happenings in JL’s writing, this challenge should be easy as opening a door to the other side of the world.

xanthorrhoea setting seed at Star Swamp Let the games begin!

* This is not physically possible. If you hit someone with the flower spike of a xanth, it would just break in two. The open seed pods look sharp and pointy, as if they could inflict damage, but they would just snap off under force. Luckily this is fiction and anything’s possible.