Wednesday, 27 June 2007


It's been far too long since I visited Too Much Coffee Man. It used to be one of my favourite comics, along with Platinum Grit (pictured right) when Heath was comic collecting and I'd pilfer from his stash. Looks like Shannon Wheeler has another strip going - 'How to be happy'. I clicked on this one and burst out laughing (I think I can identify with it at the moment).

Also it would appear that there is now a TMCM opera. That is both weird and completely unsurprising.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

o i do love a festival

Well not much has happened in the way of writing today (though the day is not yet over and for some reason, I get my best writing done around twilight or late in the night...not sure why that is, just know I need to leave ample time in the day to just mooch around). But mum came up and spent the day with me. It also happened to be Katoomba's Winter Magic Festival, complete with a parade, market stalls, musical acts and people swathed in lots of velvet, corsetry and silly hats. It was a beautiful day and lots of fun - pictorial highlights below.

We wandered up and down the main street for a while. I bought a skein of the most gorgeous hand dyed merino (because I am determined to finish knitting a scarf this winter, damnit); a present that I'll probably give Imogen for Christmas of a pink and purple felt bag made in Nepal to raise money for an orphanage; and mum bought us both some beautiful jewellery. Then, having had enough of the crowds, we went to Lilianfels for our playing-at-being-ladies high tea. I love hanging out with my mum!

this little girl was the first I saw dressed up after mum and I met at the station and she looked so chuffed to be in her princess dress - the kids by and large had the best costumes!

part of a dragon, I think it was made by kids at the primary school and I'm guessing this guy was their teacher (or dragon wrangler)

tilted main street and gorgeous blue sky

part of an inexplicably long chunk of the parade - a whole bunch of Falun Dafa supporters/practitioners. there was a marching band, drummers, dancers and people with quite alarming banners showing Falun Dafa practitioners being tortured in China, along with one that simply said in big letters "Falun Dafa is good" - well, it does come from the land of propaganda, doesn't it? I'm still not sure why it took up so much of the parade, and as it was the last group to march it made it end on kind of a downer.

We couldn't work out where this group was from - a commune or something? All the men had bushy beards and all the women were in shapeless dresses with long, usually braided hair. Wherever they were from, they were very happy-looking and energetically danced to some great folk music.

Friday, 22 June 2007


a short note to say
things are much better today
sleep helps everything

(Garth! That was a haiku!!!)

Thursday, 21 June 2007

learning...and remembering the good things

Well we actually had a decent conversation over dinner tonight. I think we're learning to be civil...obviously these things just take time and I was lucky in March to be with a group that gelled so well.

So it was good that dinner was pleasant, as I've had kind of a shocker of a day.

It started last night with me spiralling downwards into 'what am I doing this for?' mood, then a 'why did I ever think I could write?', then 'no one will want to read it anyway', then 'maybe I should just give it all up and become a gardener' (prompted by watching Rod Dark gardening yesterday - he looked so...content). Jen chatted to me on MSN for a while and was very encouraging and told me I was hard of hearing because she was continually telling me that my writing was good, I just refused to accept it.

Then today I got an email from work about my pay and hours that, although completely reasonable, just upset me no end. Those feelings of frustration about work, feeling like I'm working as hard as I can to fix up the problems I caused yet getting nowhere, and feeling like I can't make myself understood especially in terms of the importance of my writing, all heaped on top of the writer's block/inadequacy thing from yesterday. So it was altogether not pretty. I burst into tears and couldn't stop crying - so I'm glad it happened here and not in the office like it did last time the topic of my pay came up.

I decided to give it up as a loss and go for a drive. I had lunch at Leura and looked in the shops, bought some more musk sticks (necessary writing food) then drove to Hilda's Lookout (above the CMS conference site - it has the most amazing view of the Megalong Valley) and sat there for a while, praying, thinking, crying, eating (of course), and talking to mum on the phone for half an hour. She helped me to calm down and be reasonable about it, and to see that this too would pass.

I listened to the Messiah as I drove back to Katoomba, bought a lightweight movie on sale at Kmart to watch in case I couldn't get the negative thoughts out of my head, and some wine for dinner. Then as I headed back to the house, the following verses popped into my head (also, it's my favourite Bible passage):
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7
I thought - what's the point of whingeing and complaining and crying and wailing about all these things? I'm being looked after. God has given me many great gifts and I am to use them in his service, for his glory. I need to trust him. I need to give my worries to him. So I did.

I wrote all this down in my journal, then took Catherine's advice and did some editing just to feel like I was going forwards and not muddling around in the mire of lack-of-creativity (even though I told her it couldn't be done and wouldn't help). And what do you know, I ended up writing an important conversation between Daniel and his sister that pushes the story along rather a lot and actually achieved something useful today!

I am so blessed to have people around me who put up with my temperament and encourage me instead of saying I'm not worth the effort and giving up on me. I'm so blessed to have a God who loves me even though I keep forgetting to thank him for it. And I'm especially blessed to have the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

snow and a haircut (two bits)

mostly melted by the time I went for a walk, but here's some snow...

and the one snowman I saw on the main street of Katoomba outside the mountaineering shop

the picturesque view of Varuna emerging out of the bush

and me with my new haircut that keeps falling in my eyes
(but it feels so good not to be completely scruffy as I have been lately)

let it snow!

It snowed last night! I woke up at some strange hour and was compelled to go and look out the window, and lo and behold, everything was covered in a thin mantle of white. The sun has come out today, so it has completely melted away, but it felt like an exciting little secret that I discovered.

I’m reluctant to go out of my room if I can hear anyone out there, which is so anti social of me. But that’s alright too…I’m sure they all feel the same way and I guess during the day we're not supposed to distract one another anyway. In the meantime I can sit in my study watching the gardener (who I think is the grandson of the Darks, who built this house) tidying up the property after the inclement weather of the last few days, and I can enjoy the sight of blue skies and the sounds of joyous birds. I can eat the dried fruit and nuts that I bought from the co-op yesterday, which is fortunate because it’s really all I feel like eating. And of course, I can keep adding bits and pieces to the new scenes I have written, which keep delighting me with what they reveal about my characters.

If it snows again I'll try to get a pic, but in the meantime I think I'm going to walk up to Katoomba and take advantage of the sun while it's out. I’m going to get a haircut at 11.30 and then will have lunch and write in the café I think. It's a good working holiday, really.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

a whinge, or, the joys of community

I’m proud to say that I got a good fire going tonight, despite the damp wood. It's a shame the company wasn't more crackling (pardon the pun). It’s such an odd group of people here this week, not really that cohesive. Last time the group talked and laughed and joked and we learned about one another’s lives, as well as what each of us was working on. This group sits in silence until one of us asks a question about someone’s book or agent or publisher and then we talk about that for a while until the silence returns.

Tonight I asked Gwenda when she first started writing, thinking it would be a reasonably short answer, and then everyone else could talk about how they got started. But my question launched her off on a monologue that must have lasted a good half an hour. There was no chance to derail her or interject or anything, so the rest of us just had to sit and listen. And although probably about a third of what she said was quite interesting, she has that habit that many old people do of just rambling, eg “and then we went out for dinner for my birthday and my nephew was there. My nephew has Australian parents but he’s been living in the States and so has quite an American outlook in his ideas. So we went out for dinner, it was for my birthday, and my nephew was at the dinner. And after the dinner we went back to my place. And he came too…” etc etc. It just went on. And she has quite a papery, monotonous voice that is quite hard to listen to.

Anyway. Nobody asks me anything or seems to want me to talk about myself. I seem to be the one asking questions to get the conversation flowing, and I’m not especially good at that so that gives you a clue as to how social everyone else is! I asked Mark about his book and he refused to talk about it because he was sick of discussing it. He said “I should ask you about yours,” but then when I started to talk about it he seemed completely uninterested. Everyone is pleasant enough, but nobody jokes or laughs much. It’s all very polite. Quite strange.

Also dinner itself was a bit weird. It was fish, which Sheila insisted was hot and had to be eaten immediately, but when we started to serve it, it was almost raw. So we had to microwave it, which took quite a while and by the time I’d returned from microwaving mine everyone else had served themselves vegetables and not left any for me (which I thought was, well, rude). No I lie, there were two green beans and some mashed potato. So I mostly ate mashed potato because the fish wasn't very palatable after its nuking. I have a feeling I’m going to be hungry later.

There's a reason I always refused to live in a share house.

In terms of the writing, I wrote about 2000 words today. None of it was especially cohesive, but I was darting between characters, building up little scenes and having fun with it. Also one of the characters is a latent artist and used to draw comics, so I spent some time drawing comics that he would have written, which opened up things about his personality that were quite surprising. I don't understand this whole writing thing; it works in such a weird way for me. But I shan't question it; I shall accept it graciously.

another room of one's own

Arrived at Varuna yesterday and it's just wonderful, of course. Here's what I wrote in my journal last night:

It’s perfectly wonderful here. I'm in the Ladder Room, this time (so named because of the ladder fixed to the wall leading up to the widow's walk on the roof - I might investigate it if the rain stops). It's warm and cosy and I can hear the rain gently pattering outside. I have a jasmine and sweet pea candle burning and a pot of peppermint tea. My bed looks comfortable and, well, I have to say this is just the best room. I’ve had a sticky beak in the others, and although it would be great to have an ensuite and double bed as in the main room, out of all the rest I think this is the winner.

It seems a nice bunch of people, though I think I’m the youngest. There is a woman called Felicity from Canberra, who has two children and is working on a book called ‘Joy comes in the mourning’ or something like that, about grieving. There is a speculative fiction writer named Trudi from Melbourne who is working on her seventh book, for which she has been given a seven figure advance, but she seems very down to earth and enjoys knitting. There is an ABC journalist from Sydney called Mark who is writing a non-fiction book about death and dying. And there is an older woman named Gwenda from Adelaide writing a book about the Murray and Mississippi rivers.

It’s another early night, only 10.00 and everyone’s locked away in their rooms. Trudi and I sat in the living room chatting for a bit but the fire died and so we left. In actual fact I had wanted to read, but it felt awkward just sitting there in the silence while she balled wool from a skein she had brought. It’s so nice to be sitting here in my pyjamas, at my little work station, all set up like this. It’s wonderful. This place feels like home.

Going to go up to Katoomba now and get some lunch, coffee and some preliminary writing done, then will come back and hopefully write all afternoon.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

much better today thank you

You'll be pleased to know I'm not going off on a melancholy rant again. I had a good day - led the singing at church, the highlight of which was singing 'What a man, Abraham' with three 4-5 year olds assisting. Came home and packed for Varuna, and did a bit of last minute work for AFES and slept most of the afternoon. I was ably assisted in my moodshift by the following playlist, which I have titled 'Rainy - but not sad!':
  • New Slang - the Shins
  • Better together - Jack Johnson
  • Good enough - Evanescence
  • Letter from America - the Proclaimers
  • Let me be - Xavier Rudd
  • Superstition - Stevie Wonder
  • Hope and validation - Bernard Fanning
  • Rehab - Amy Winehouse
  • Give Judy my notice - Ben Folds
  • I believe - Stevie Wonder
  • My baby just cares for me - Nina Simone
  • Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs
  • Beautiful - Carole King
  • Hot girl in the comic shop - Tripod
  • Black horse and the cherry tree - KT Tunstall
  • Heal over - KT Tunstall
  • My old man - Joni Mitchell
  • I'd like to - Corinne Bailey Rae
  • You're all I have - Snow Patrol
  • You know I'm no good - Amy Winehouse
  • Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters - Elton John
  • Army - Ben Folds Five
  • Proper nice - Joss Stone
  • Spinning wheel - Blood, Sweat and Tears
  • Coming back - Gotye
  • Daisychains - Youth Group
Also, I got a text from Brett this afternoon asking if I wanted a spare ticket to Tori Amos at the Opera House in September. And although I can't really afford it, I said yes because, well, it's Tori Amos at the Opera House! Hurrah!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

mood indigo (of the temporary kind)

I've had a terrible bout of hormone-related mood swings in the last couple of days - the worst in ages. I feel a bit sorry for my flatmate Dave (or anyone, really) for having to be in the same vicinity as me at times like this, but when I apologised for my mood he just shrugged and said "Why are you apologising?" so maybe I shouldn't worry so much.

I forced myself to get up and do stuff today instead of lying around feeling morose. I went into the city to buy things, necessary and otherwise. I got:

  • 'The Tent' by Margaret Atwood, because I've just finished a book and thought it high time I get back into someone who used to be my all-time favourite author.

  • A pair of black pants at Nobue in the Strand Arcade, same as the khaki ones I got last week - they have been so comfortable and warm I thought they were worth doubling up on, especially as they're on sale. They have this great double waistband thing with beautiful red Japanese fabric on the inside of the waistband and pockets (this, of course, led to Dave and I getting into an argument (both times) about the point of such detailing - he can't understand why you would put something like that on the inside, where it can't be seen. And I can't explain, in a way he will accept, the joy little things like that give me. Not functional at all, just makes me happy. Of course, when I'm in a mood like this, I can't just let it go and I get all upset not being able to make myself understood). Anyway, the girl in Nobue was very cheery and totally understood why I would buy two pairs of the same pants!

  • A teacup with a design on it called 'contemplation' - it shows a branch of cherry blossom and two figures fishing by a lake. It's a pleasing oval shape and also has no handle, so you have to kind of cradle it in your hands, which I like. I got it at the Tea Centre, which I had never been to before but always wanted to check out because Karen mentions it in her blog from time to time. It was quite busy, but I liked sitting there, eating my fruit toast, drinking my yummy glogg tea (black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, almond, ginger, cloves and cardamon) and writing. I was trying to dissect my mood, writing down the various moods I get into and what is helpful/unhelpful about them. I wrote a page each about being reactive, aggressive and depressed and then I stopped. Hmm. Maybe I should have written about some of the more positive aspects of my personality too.

  • A pair of nobbly brown fingerless gloves, which will come in handy for when I'm freezing up at Varuna and madly trying to type.

  • Two pairs of hot pink and black knee-high socks, one pair stripey, the other pair argyle. They make me glad even though, like the waistband of my Nobue pants, they will probably never be seen as they will be covered by boots or pants.
Then I thought I had better stop with the retail frenzy before I did some really serious damage. I had an appointment at the gym, which I forced myself to keep even though I just wanted to curl into a ball on my bed, as I know that the endorphins from exercise help greatly with these kind of hormonal lows. I felt great while I was at the gym, but the benefits rapidly wore off by the time I got home and had dealt with things like grocery shopping, clothes washing and making dinner.

As well as the hormones, the weather probably doesn't help. I do love the cold and the rain but of course it tends to make me feel melancholy. Also I feel really quite lonely, but don't want to ring anyone or see anyone. Mum's in Noosa for the weekend (and gets back after I go to Varuna), and I guess I would normally go to her for a big hug and some TLC. It's really quite frustrating because I know how I'm feeling is irrational and it will pass, hopefully by tomorrow. But in the meantime it is the most suffocating miasma.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

a mysterious woman on a clifftop

Here's a photo of me looking cranky and windswept at Scarborough. I wasn't really cranky; perhaps just a little reflective. Also it's hard to know how to look when you're taking a photo of yourself with a mobile phone whilst standing on a rain-soaked clifftop in the wind. It was atmospheric, I will say that much.

I went back to staff conference today and in free time I always like to drive down to Coledale and have a coffee. I love driving along the Sea Cliff Bridge and the whole sea/mountain aspect of the area, and the woman in the cafe was great - even though I was 5c short she still brought me my large mocha and lindt dark chocolate chip cookie (both were yummy).

Conference was good, if a little heavy going. A seminar on NTE in the morning and then in the afternoon/evening, more talks on intelligent design, and the second part of a talk on gender, which included discussion of Kevin Giles and his writing. Most of it went over my head and/or I was too tired to take it in, so I spent the time editing Salt articles and trying to piece together an interesting editorial. I have a feeling when I read it tomorrow it will be mostly incoherent.

After a drive back through the rain with Jess and Cheryl I'm now in my pjs, listening to Amy Winehouse and the rain on the windows - the combination of which has a weird, world-weary quality to it, and it feels like I might just walk out of my room into a smoke-filled 50s burlesque show. I'm tired but wide awake. I might have a hot chocolate.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007


I think I've been overdoing it. Not in any decadent sense, mind you, just in the normal, day-to-day stuff. I've been working slightly longer hours, and working on Saturdays (long story...basically I have a lot of hours at work to make up due to my time off sick and so working an extra hour every day and Saturday mornings seems to be the only viable option at this point, short of chaining me to the desk for the next two months). Been going to the gym for short, half hour sessions two times a week. Been eating reasonably well, although had a couple of pizza lapses, but didn't think they were anything to be worried about.

So I got sick again.

Went down to staff conference at Stanwell Tops on Tuesday, expecting to stay til Thursday. Had to help Stuart launch our new website and explain it all to the staff, and we got through that okay but I rapidly went downhill as soon as it was finished. Was finding myself completely overwhelmed by all the people and the fact that there is absolutely nowhere you can go short of leaving the campsite where you can be on your own (and not freeze to death outside). Found myself getting stressed and exhausted by small things. Tried to see if a nap in the afternoon would help, but found the bed uncomfortable, had difficulty negotiating the top bunk (which has never bothered me before) and was further nauseated by the room smelling a lot like toilet cleaner.

So instead of staying til Thursday, I drove home on Tuesday night with a shocking headache and feeling quite nauseous. I think I realised something was definitely wrong when I spontaneously burst into tears on the way home, then as I drove past St George Hospital thought 'it would be so nice to be back in hospital right now'. That's not a normal thought.

I was planning to do Salt editing stuff today at home, but ended up sleeping for pretty much the whole day. I'm glad I came home. I think that's the problem with recovering from being unwell - you're so excited about feeling better that you just launch back into life without thinking about the fact that you need time, you need patience, your body needs rest.

I go back to Varuna next week! I can't think of a better restorative than that. And it was something like two degrees today...I think I'll be spending a lot of time, rugged up, in front of the open fire, consuming words, and the rest of the time rugged up, absorbing the central heating, producing words. Yay!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

oh oh oh and then there's this!!!!!

sorry, but i do get a little excited every time a new HP trailer is released (and the last book is coming soon too!)

it was a dark and stormy night

Looking south towards Coogee - 8 June 07.
Photo: Dallas Kilponen,

The weather is absolutely insane at the moment. For the second night in a row I'm wide-awake at 2.30, listening to the howling wind and lashing rain. It is quite amazing in a way, but gets exhausting after a while (even though I do love weather like this). I was impressed that the Baddeleys braved the weather and the roads to come over tonight for dinner (which they kindly brought, as usual); it was so good to see them, even if by the end of the evening we were all kind of sitting in a tired daze, staring into the middle distance and groaning at Mark's ever-worsening puns.

I haven't been near the water, but thought the above picture was pretty evocative and can't believe there are people stupid enough to go surfing in weather like this (there was another photo of a surfer being thrown through the air at Bondi). Also, how incredibly hard it must be for people who live on the streets on nights like this - so much worse than usual. Where would you even go to get out of the wind? It's inescapable. I am so grateful for the shelter and warmth of my home, even if I am a little worried that flying debris is going to smash through one of my windows.

I need to sleep.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

charmed, I'm sure

I got a new charm today - a ladybird. What does this signify? Well I'd been thinking I needed one to mark the momentous occasion of my surgery, but I didn't think they made gallbladder shaped charms, so it was always going to be a bit left-field. So there are three reasons I got the ladybird charm:

  1. I like ladybirds.

  2. They are supposed to be good luck, and although I don't rely on luck I feel it was a major blessing that I was able to get into hospital and have the surgery so quickly (and no I am not implying that I consider blessings to be the same as good luck - it's a tenuous thematic link with the ladybird thing, ok? Perhaps a kind of mnemonic).

    I'm not sure where I picked the luck thing up; as a kid I just knew they were lucky. But when I looked it up (on wikipedia of course) I discovered that it's a worldwide myth:
    In parts of Northern Europe, tradition says that one's wish granted if a ladybird lands on oneself. In Italy, it is said by some that if a ladybird flies into one's bedroom, it is considered good luck. In central Europe, a ladybird crawling across a girl's hand is thought to mean she will get married within the year. In Russia, a ladybird is called Божья коровка (God's cow) and a popular children's rhyme exists with a call to fly to the sky and bring back bread. Similarly, in Denmark a ladybird, called a mariehøne (Mary's hen), is asked by children to fly to 'our lord in heaven and ask for fairer weather in the morning'. In Irish, the insect is called "bóín Dé" — or "God's little cow".
    So there you go. I had to quote the above because many elements of it fascinated me. No wonder the Russians had to queue up for food if they were relying on ladybirds to bring bread back for them - how could they fly to the sky and bring back bread, unless they have some incredible weight-strength ratio thing going on (perhaps like an African swallow...)? In what way does this bug look like a cow? Or a hen? But then again, it doesn't really look like a bird or a lady, so maybe I'm clutching at straws.

  3. So to get back to the original topic, the main reason I chose this one is that the charm's design looks exactly like my scars! A little gruesome, perhaps, but I think it's kind of funny - a line down the middle where the cut was, and a series of little dots on either side where the staples were.
Just in case anyone was wondering, I'm healing up quite nicely. Though I went to the gym today for my first personal training session since going to hospital and we had to stop after half an hour because apparently my lips went blue and that was cause for alarm.

Little steps.

Monday, 4 June 2007


The government is pushing changes to the superannuation system. Or something. I haven't really paid much attention to the details because I've been a little intrigued by something else about the two ads I have seen on this topic. One ad features a woman who runs her own business, washing dogs. The other ad features a young girl working as a vet with lots of cats (every time I see the cat at the end I wish I could have a kitten, but it doesn't make me want to contribute to my super). Both have a male voice over, gently explaining the scheme.

Are women who like pets the only ones who need to think about their superannuation? I just find it curious.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

getting into The Scene. kind of.

Today mum and I went to the Sydney Writers' Festival to hear Kate Holden talk on a panel about memoir (with Alice Pung and David Hill). Unfortunately, even though we were early, the room filled up and we had to sit outside, but they very kindly were playing the audio from all the full houses on speakers outside the venue, so we got to sit outside and soak up the ambience of the Festival while hearing the three writers talk about their very different memoirs.

I ran into Peter Bishop, the Varuna Creative Director, on the way into the Festival. I think he remembered me...I reminded him that I'm coming back to Varuna in a couple of weeks - it's so soon! Every time I think of it I get excited all over again. I think I might have already mentioned that...

It was a gorgeous day, one of those beautiful Sydney autumn days, where it's quite sunny and mild with a slight coolness to the air. The Festival is held down at the Hickson Road wharves, in the STC/SDC/Sydney Philharmonia venues, and it's such a great spot, all industrial and angular, with the Harbour Bridge rising over the top of it all, bordered by the warm sandstone and the glittering water. Makes you really appreciate this city on days like today.

I was quite pleasantly surprised at the feel of the Festival - it was as crowded as I had anticipated, but had this really laid back, funky, villagey feel. Of course there were heaps of pretentious people swanning around - they were the ones wearing hats, interesting spectacles and/or artfully draped shawls - and that whole scene is the main reason I have avoided the Writers' Festival up until now. But aside from them there were plenty of genuinely interesting people, including many who seemed vaguely familiar, and I eventually realised it was because they were famous authors. Wandering around the Gleebooks bookshop I kept hearing snatches of fascinating conversations and just enjoyed being there. I bought three books: The Messenger by Markus Zusak, the little red writing book by Mark Tredinnick and watermelon by Ruth Ritchie.

After Kate's panel and book signing we had a glass of wine with her and her publicist Kirsty (on the house, thanks to Text Publishing!). It was starting to get dark and colder and our parking meter was running out, so we left to have dinner at Bill and Toni's. I think I'll probably go back to hear Kate's other panel tomorrow, and maybe check out some other things and not be so afraid of the whole Scene - after all, I'll be part of it soon!

Friday, 1 June 2007

how Rebecca got her groove back

Birthdays are fun. Well, they should be fun. I know some people don't enjoy their birthdays, but as you all know, I do. So I like to do my bit to help people enjoy theirs!

Today is Meg's birthday. I made her a cake and also this little creative thingummy, featuring some pics of Bethany, me and Meg, artfully placed paper and a ton of Liquitex gloss medium and varnish. It's been really fun playing around with colour and using a paintbrush - there is something so therapeutic about painting, even if it's only layers of varnish.

I hope she likes it.

Mum was excited, mainly because she could see me doing something creative. "My creative daughter is back!" she said when she came over the other day. It's a big deal mainly because I haven't felt able to do anything much at all since I've been sick, and so to start up a new project and enjoy doing it seems momentous.

We agree that it bodes well for Varuna - I return there in two weeks! I can't wait. I haven't been able to do that much writing since I left in March, but hopefully I will be able to use this week in Katoomba to great effect, and I will soon have a novel that I'll be forcing you all to read.