Thursday, 31 July 2008

vertical bag jump

video

A higher degree of difficulty than plain old horizontal bag-stalking, the vertical bag jump is inspired, of course, by Aoise's beloved puss Hamlet. Hammy was the absolute king of this manoeuvre, made even more challenging by jumping into A4 envelopes. Scout may be the boss of the paper bag, but she has a way to go before she can reach Hamlet's level of skill.

Hamlet's crazy ... crazy in love!

This is so fantastic.

[via Anthea on the Facebook news feed]

Public Service Announcement

We have council garbage and recycling bins at our office. No longer do we have to take rubbish home or illegally deposit the office garbage in the street bins. Yes, we have moved to unheard-of levels of sanitation here in Kingsford.

Through all the sarcasm, I am actually grateful for this. Amazing how such small things make such a big difference.

I'm chugging along with Salt - I'm in the final design stretches now, and hopefully it should be ready to go to print by the end of the week. Which is tomorrow. Er. Hmm.

Tomorrow I also have a review with my boss, and a taskforce meeting for SPRTE. Then counselling. Might be seeing the Dark Knight in the evening with Dave if I haven't completely melted down by then. On Saturday, I'm speaking and presenting a seminar at the Faithful Writer conference. And in the evening going to see Sigur Ros at the Hordern with Guan and Duncan.

I'm glad I have nothing to do tonight - methinks an early bedtime is in order.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Light


There is something very pleasing about candlelight, especially Northern Light candlelight. We went to the Remo VSC warehouse shopping night last Thursday and bought a bag of the tiny Muse beeswax tealights. They're much smaller than a normal tealight, and so I thought I'd try my hand at making some holders for them out of FIMO. The millefiori one looks very pretty lit up, but it's a bit chunky and blobby when you look at it close up. So I have to work on that with the next one I make. But for the moment, I'll just enjoy the candlelight...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

winter hoorays

Hooray for being indoors, in pyjamas and wrapped in a thick blue dressing gown, while the rain steadily pours down outside. Hooray for a big, warm bed to lie in and listen to the water smattering on the window panes, splashing off the roof tiles and pooling in puddles on the driveway outside. Hooray for being well-fed, for studying the Bible and for friends. Hooray that God forgives me my bad temper and my tears and loves me just as I am.

Monday, 21 July 2008

elsewhere

I have been missing France lately. I really enjoyed it when I was there in April - possibly because I was striking out on my own, I had arranged it all myself, I was being entirely independent and seeing what I wanted to see, and experiencing the joy of new things. I got to catch up with beloved friends. I wandered around and enjoyed exploring. I ate well. I stayed in lovely places. I revelled in the beauty, in the otherness of the surrounds. I delighted in the sound of that beautiful language.

Sometimes I wish I was there still, but I have to keep remembering that if I lived there, eventually I would catch up to myself. I'd still have to work through the issues that I'm working through, and life wouldn't be like it was on holidays because, well, it wouldn't be holidays anymore.

At the same time, I've been feeling so grateful for our house and the level of comfort mum and I enjoy, living here. It's so strange feeling at home somewhere, but feeling restless, like maybe you belong somewhere else at the same time. I think that's part of the Christian thing as well, that we live on this Earth for a time, but we really do belong somewhere else. This isn't our home. Maybe that's why it feels so hard to be here sometimes.

But in the meantime, I have to keep thanking God for little joys. And maybe I'll go and watch Amelie again...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

sing along!

This is one of the best FAQs ever and demonstrates why I giggle in girlish glee whenever Joss Whedon has a new project out. The last installment of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog goes up sometime today, and it will be available for viewing free until Sunday night. So check it out! It's great.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Red Tree

As you know from my previous rant about WYD, I was a little worried about getting in and out of the city on Tuesday night. I was also worried as I wasn't especially well that day (had been home sick from work), but I was determined to get into the city to meet Karen for dinner and to hear the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

The trip into town was uneventful. A group of American girls got on at UNSW, though they weren't pilgrims - they were dressed up for some concert or other, and had so much makeup on I was tempted to run a finger down one of their faces to see if it would leave a channel.

The city was buzzing with people leaving work, pilgrims swarming around Hyde Park, and others just wandering aimlessly in bunches down the streets. I was early so I took the chance to stick my head in the Apple Store, absolutely packed at 6pm. I was impressed by the glass stairs, but I don't know that there would be any reason to go back there (unless they were running an interesting workshop or something).

I wandered down to the GPO and saw Karen perched on a stool, scribbling away in her notebook. I gave her a hug, and we ordered dinner from the GPO Wood Fire Pizza. I read her notes for a difficult article she's writing, and we chatted over prosciutto and funghi pizza (the word 'funghi' inexplicably had us in giggles).

After we ate our fill, we strolled across Martin Place to the City Recital Hall. Every time I go there I am struck by the beauty of the building, and the delightful way it's nestled into a laneway, almost unseen from the street. We climbed up to the top tier of seats and were almost right in the middle for the performance.

A large, portrait-oriented screen hung down above the orchestra. As the ACO began Shostakovich's String Quartet no 15, the sepia-toned images from Shaun Tan's The Arrival were projected onto the screen. The angular darkness of the music blended well with the haunting illustrations, though occasionally the projections were a little too swift and I wished I could have gotten more absorbed in the pictures. And I have to say, sometimes I find Shostakovich's style a little too obscure and jagged, and long for something a little more lyrical that I can get lost in.

Well I got that in the second half of the program, a new work by Michael Yezerski, Richard Tognetti and Lyn Williams called The Red Tree. It was inspired by Shaun Tan's wonderful book of the same name, which explores a complex, sad and wondrous emotional landscape through incredible imagery. An unnamed red-haired girl moves through her day, struggling with feelings of isolation and depression, searching for understanding and solace. It's a theme that I can relate to, of course.

The seven movement work was large and grand and sweeping, yet intimate and personal and piercing. The Gondwana Voices children's choir was an integral part of the peformance, and they were fantastic, singing in a mixture of English, Finnish and Hebrew. So tightly co-ordinated and perfectly pitched, and the occasional soloists had the purest, bell-like voices. I think my favourite movement was The World is a Deaf Machine, with the percussion of the choir's hands and feet punctuating the driving melodies of the orchestra. The work ended with the last few positive, hopeful images from Tan's book, and left Karen and I with contented smiles.

Karen and I parted at Pitt Street and I caught the bus home. It was mostly empty and smelled of vomit, but, I thought, at least most of the people seemed to have left the city. Well. Except for the one bunch of French pilgrims who got on at Liverpool Street and romped onto the bus in a blur of orange, waving their flags and shouting "Bonjour! Bonjour!" at the four of us already on the bus. We looked at them blankly, willing them to just. get. on. the. bus. They sat up the back and chattered loudly in French, getting more and more raucous the further away from the city we got. I put on my headphones to try and recapture some of the calm I had felt at the end of the concert.

It was a relief to get home, hug my mum, and get into bed. I spent some time poring over the book of The Red Tree before finally drifting off to sleep. Thanks for a lovely night, K!

bulldozers

Okay this is just ridiculous.

World Youth Day organisers, with help from police, have been clearing plants from the park, at Parkham Street in Surry Hills this morning, in order to build a two-metre wide ramp over the park for pilgrims to walk across on their way to Randwick racecourse.

But residents have resisted the move, saying it is over the top and will damage the treasured five- by 10-metre park.

George Pell said earlier this week that Sydney had been "invaded by joy" - I'm not sure about the joy part, but the invasion feels about right.

Monday, 14 July 2008

WYD rant

I just have one question. How much money did the Catholic Church give to the NSW Government and the City of Sydney to get permission to take over Sydney?

There are many things that bother me about World Youth Day ('day'? Ha!), including:
  • There are around 300 road closures at various times over the six days, including chunks of George Street in the city and Anzac Parade in the Eastern Suburbs (which are two major public transport routes). The events and road closures are also blocking access to two major Sydney hospitals (Sydney Hospital and Prince of Wales);

  • The CBD and Darling Harbour are majorly disrupted for the pre-WYD events, with the procession of the cross and icon from the Harbour to Central today, and a mass for 150,000 at Darling Harbour tomorrow night (this, of course, happens to be when I'll be in the city for a concert at the City Recital Hall, and researching how I am going to get home is what started this rant off in the first place);

  • Randwick Racecourse and the area within a 2km radius are almost a complete no-go area for the whole of this weekend (my mother's church in Kensington (just near the racecourse) isn't able to have a service in their church this Sunday because the parishioners won't be able to park anywhere near the church);

  • The whole Pope-worship thing really bothers me ("'...He's like Jesus Christ on Earth,' said Liba Vazquez, 17. It was worth waiting two hours in the cold for a glimpse of the Pope, she said." (SMH) No. He is not like Jesus Christ.). And they're projecting images of Benedict on the Harbour Bridge, which is just creepy all round;

  • And the thing that bugs me most? That people think that this has anything to do with Christianity. Trust me, it doesn't (I've been told by a reliable source that I'm starting to sound like a Reformer - it's like history come to life in a really annoying way!).
I might actually say something helpful in the next few days about all this, but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

more things I made

I got inspired by the FIMO website to make this tealight lantern for M's birthday present.





And also, at the last minute, I gave her the owl too. Because, really, who likes owls more than M? That's right - no one.

Birthday meals

I think the best parts of birthdays are the meals with wonderful friends. Well, and the presents. But the meals are always the standouts. It's probably a throwback from childhood when you have the birthday party with all your friends, and the food you like, and a cake. Sometimes we have parties as adults, but there are always lovely birthday meals, no matter what.

In the last few days it's been a birthday for two lovely friends, Karen and Mary.

Karen's birthday was on Friday, so Ben, Guan, Elsie and I took her to the Chinese Dumpling and Noodle House on Anzac Parade for...Chinese dumplings and noodles, oddly enough. Ooh, and honey chicken (if you have given up on honey chicken as something flabby and over-sweet from those all-you-can-eat takeout places, give this honey chicken a try - it's absolutely divine). I love eating there with these people! And I think K enjoyed her birthday lunch.




Today was M's birthday. She loves breakfast and brunch, and I wanted to take my friends to Pyrama, so it was the perfect opportunity. Although grey and cloudy and a little on the chilly side compared to last time we went, Linda fixed us up with a heater and we were right on the edge of the outside area, overlooking the light rail.

The food was yum, and needless to say, enjoyed by all (yes, even G, despite his 'grumpy' face).





ad break

I can't believe that one of those annoying ads on the left hand side of Facebook actually enticed me to click on it - even more unbelievable, it was actually for a cool website!

Check out BetterWorld Books. They seem to have a pretty comprehensive catalogue of new and used books, and
All books sold on BetterWorld.com help fund high impact literacy projects on four continents. BetterWorld.com has over 2 million books, free shipping in the US ($2.97 worldwide), and every order is shipped carbon neutral with offsets from Carbonfund.org.
A bookseller supporting literacy projects...well go figure. Seems like a much better alternative to Amazon!

(though not quite on the same social-conscience bandwagon, another cool Amazon alternative in the UK is The Book Depository - with free worldwide shipping!)

Friday, 11 July 2008

To lift our spirits again



Here's some things I made...Panda was given to Karen today for her birthday, and I've been experimenting with owls. That's the owl and the pussycat in their beautiful pea-green boat on the left.

Safe Harbour

"So what do you want to talk about today?"

It's a benign question, handing me the control. The conversation starts off light-heartedly and is interspersed with laughter. But before long it turns into a tangled handful of threads, intersecting and knotting and severing and looping. I leap forward and backtrack and forget a whole slew of important facts and retrace my steps and sink into conjecture.

Then, deftly, it's like she flicks the lights on. "Well that makes sense, looking at it like this," and as she begins to rephrase my own words, suddenly it's clear that what I thought was a tangled mess is a bizarre tapestry of sorts; it's not pretty, it's not elegant, but there is a picture there, a story in tableau. As a writer, how could I have missed such a clear narrative, such a strong sequence of cause-and-effect? It's been there all along.

Staring at it, starting to make sense of it, it begins to hurt me anew. Unexpected tears clog my attempts to speak. She looks levelly back at me and reassures me. And somehow I know there will be a way through this, even though the very prospect exhausts me.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Little joys

Sure, she can drive me nuts, but there is something to be said for the pure, anarchic joy that a cat like Scout can bring.

video

Also she's totally the boss of all paper bags. Just so you know.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

therapy

I wish I could stop the unexpected waves of sadness that roll over me. They're often not generated by anything I can pinpoint. It's not like something happens to make me feel this way, which is partly why it can be so frustrating.

I tried to ward an impending wave off tonight by making something with my hands; creating things can be so therapeutic, especially if the end result is pleasing! But almost as soon as it was done, I felt adrift and weird.

Perhaps the way of dealing with it is not trying to stop the wave from coming, but just accepting that it's going to come and try and ride it, instead of being dumped by it.

Maybe a long hot bath will make me feel better.

lazy writing

"Nicole Kidman has delivered her first child, a baby girl, her agent, Wendy Day, said." [SMH]

Wouldn't it be a worry if the child was anything but a baby? 'Nicole Kidman has delivered her first child, a fully-grown woman...'

get through it



I need to watch this often - and so do you, probably! [source: 43 folders]

Monday, 7 July 2008

I'm sure there was weekend in there somewhere

So I've pretty much settled into my new office downstairs. There's so much space, it's almost the exact opposite to what I had upstairs. This week Mark's on holidays and the other tenants haven't quite moved in yet, so I have this absolutely massive space all to myself. It's so much easier to concentrate, to just focus on a task until it's finished and get a lot of little bitsy things done. We're still working on keeping the communication flowing freely between the two offices and maintaining relationships. It's good, I guess - ducking upstairs every couple of hours to say hi is a tiny bit of exercise I wouldn't otherwise get!

The weekend seems so far away now, though. On Saturday I went to Word By Word (the Christian writing group), and Karen and I did a test run of our seminar on Writers and Editors that we'll be presenting at the Faithful Writer in a few weeks' time. I had been having a bit of a meltdown about my writing and abilities and just life generally, though, and hadn't been able to wrap my brain around it at all. Thankfully Karen was way more organised than me, had even printed me session notes, and we managed to get through it quite well. I had a little cry in the stairwell and then had to nap during writing time because I was just exhausted. But I needed Karen to say "I think you're burned out and shouldn't write today," for me to go 'hey I think I'm burned out and shouldn't write today'. Funny how we don't let ourselves off the hook sometimes, but seem to need others to tell us it's okay. Thank God for wonderful friends who know what it feels like and keep an eye on me!

I played Wii at Guan and Mary's for a while, and then went to Bondi Junction with mum to buy a computer game to distract me. I couldn't find Civ IV and ended up buying...er...the Sims Life Stories instead. It's a very pointless game. But it's kind of fun to just muck around, dressing up characters, building them houses, and seeing the Sims interact with one another. Though having played it for a little bit now, I'm kind of disturbed by the emphasis on physical relationships that didn't used to be there. And of course, there is no spiritual dimension to these Sims. I don't think that even occurred to me years ago when I used to play the Sims 1.

(Jen doesn't understand how I can enjoy such a game - I think she ranted once about how the Sims didn't do what you told them to, which is a little too much like real life for her liking - but there is something in it that allows me to detach myself from my rambling brain, I don't have to do or achieve anything. It's kind of like a computer version of playing around in the sandpit.)

Sunday was quiet and restful. I did several loads of washing, planted my desiree potatoes in the raised bed I made for them (happy potatoes!), and played with the cat in the sun. Mum and I went out in the late afternoon to buy her an electric blanket, and just twenty minutes in the Supacenta at Moore Park was enough to make me feel miserable again. That place just gets me down.

I headed off to Unichurch at 6.30 to hear Guan preach his first sermon, on the end of 1 John. It was a really good sermon, with lots of jokes that I wasn't the only one laughing at (mum and I have earned ourselves a reputation as a 'good audience' because we'll laugh at any joke in a sermon, no matter how lame (though yours weren't lame, G)), and good, solid challenges and encouragements.

Then home again, home again, jiggity jig and the weekend had evaporated, just like that.

Friday, 4 July 2008

UBO

So I went to the friendly neurologist this morning. He looked at my scans, then whipped through a whole bunch of motor skill and stimulus tests and then smiled and said, "Well as expected, there's nothing wrong with you."

Basically the mark on my scans is what he called a UBO (Unidentified Bright Object). Other people with headache symptoms have had similar marks, but because "nobody's died from it" they haven't cut a brain open to see what these UBOs actually are. And apparently mine is so small it's nothing worth worrying about anyway (the UBO, not my brain).

So that's a relief that I don't have a tumour, or multiple sclerosis, or anything sinister. But it still doesn't help me out with the headaches.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep last night, but I was feeling a bit fragile afterwards. So I went and had a morning coffee at Berkelouw's and bought some cards and wandered slowly through the grey drizzle back to work. We had Thai for lunch at work. And all I really want to do is nap now.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

space: the final frontier

So it's finally happened! Mark and I have made the looong trek down one flight of stairs to our new offices (the way the rest of the office has been reacting it's like we've moved an hour's drive away, but we're still in the same building). The space has been divided into five large offices, and we have the two biggest. The other offices are still empty at the moment, so it's a little surreal to wander through this brand new and completely blank suite of rooms. But gradually we are making them our own; our books are out, the Salt display wall is up and someday soon I'll be bringing my dad's couch in from my garage so we have somewhere comfy to have meetings.

I'm already happier to be at work. Amazing the influence your environment can have on you. Well not really - going from having a desk in an open space where I could hear everyone in the office's conversations no matter how quietly they tried to talk, to a large room that I can shut the door on...I'd be worried if it didn't make me more productive. It's luxury, I tell ya!