Monday, January 31, 2011

P365 - Day 31 one month in

I’ve been taking daily pictures and writing about them for a month today, so I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my first month of blogging.

It’s been an interesting process for me. At first I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do this, but after a couple of conversations and a randomly drawn card, I knew that this was the right thing for me to do and the right time to do it.

My original plan was just to take a picture each day and write a few sentences about it and that would be it.

But I found out really early on that a lot of the pictures had stories that needed more than a few sentences, and some of them triggered seemingly unrelated memories and thoughts. So my photo of my coffee mug turned into a story about not judging people by what you hear about them, and my photo of my Twitter feed became my thoughts on a lifetime of being told I was shy.

I wondered if anyone would care what I had to say – after all this is just one blog in the hundreds of thousands or even millions that are out there. I’m not a celebrity and I don’t create great art or write great words of inspiration. I’m just a normal working mum, with lots of insecurities, fears, hopes, dreams, highs, lows, good days and bad days.

But despite this, I’m thrilled that I have readers who read my posts and leave me comments – on here, on facebook and on twitter, or sometimes in person. I love that people I don’t even know, or have only met briefly, take the time to reply to what I’ve said.

And I like how different people ‘get’ different things that I write. Some people like scrapbooking, some people like my photos. Some like the mum stuff and some like the gardening. I don’t expect everyone to be interested in every single thing I write and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me either. 

One of the things that I’m grappling with in creating an online presence is how much to actually say, what I want to make public and what I don’t. There are some parts of my life I don’t want to share, and I suppose what I feel comfortable sharing will change as my circumstances change. I also need to take care not to say anything about other people that they might not want ‘out there’.

I also think that if I wouldn’t say (or at some point haven’t said) something in real life then I shouldn’t say it online. Sometimes I might need to make it clear that I’m talking about my own circumstances and that my thoughts on my situation are in no way a judgement on what anyone else does.

I don’t set out to offend or upset anyone. If someone disagrees with me, that’s fine, but I’m not going to apologise for being me and hide my opinions just because someone else might not agree. I just ask that you respect my views, as I will respect yours.

What all that boils down to is that I don’t see the point of writing this blog if I’m not going to be myself.

Having started writing about what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, I now feel less like I’m the only person in the world battling with trying to keep my house organised, or overcoming a fear of meeting new people, or coping with sending my child to school for the first time. And while it doesn’t lessen my own day to day struggles, knowing that there are other people out there dealing with the same things reassures me that I’m not on my own.

So thank you everyone who has read any of my posts and has said something to me about anything I’ve written. I appreciate you taking the time to do that, and it means a lot to me.

And so to the photo:

31 January 2011
This is a digital layout for my Project Life album. It’s based on the Project 365 app on my phone, where you take a photo each day and slot it into the relevant day on the month’s grid.
P365 app screenshot

Obviously this is a January calendar grid, painstakingly created in Photoshop Elements, and each day I’ve simply cropped and resized the photo of the day from the blog, dropped it into the grid and added the date in the corner.

The grid is a 10.5” square and each photo is resized to a 1.3” square. I’ll put a border around it and have it printed as an 11x14” print (once I’ve shopped around for prices).

Then all I’ll have to do is stick it to a 12x12” sheet of cardstock, slot it into a page protector and add it to the Project Life album. On the other side of the page protector I’ll write up a brief description of each photo and a few embellishments to jazz up the page a bit.

And that will be January's photo of the day done. Easy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

P365 - Day 30 fun at the farm bar

Just outside Hayes, on the Lyell Highway, you will find the Two Metre Tall Company

Two Metre Tall is a micro-brewery located on a cattle farm, which brews a range of Real Ales and Real Ciders, including the glorious Poire, which I could drink all day if finances weren’t an issue and I didn’t care too much about my liver.

(I’m not going to rehash stuff from their website about the farm and the brewery on here – but do go and check it out. It’s an interesting read.)

The brewery owners, Jane and Ashley (whose impressive height inspired the name Two Metre Tall), run a regular Friday afternoon ‘Farm Bar’ session, complete with hand pumped ale and cider, music and a BBQ. You can bring your own picnic or BBQ or purchase some of Two Metre Tall’s glorious beer-fed beef sausages or burgers.

Slabs and I first went to a Friday Farm Bar last year when Lil Sis and Mr Tall were visiting and thoroughly enjoyed it. Only problem is, Friday’s a work day and I don’t get home until late, so it’s never been a goer for us unless we’re on holidays.

In response to requests from punters such as us, Ashley and Jane decided to open up the bar on a Sunday so that people who couldn’t get there on Friday afternoons could attend, and they scheduled three Sundays to see how it goes.

In the end, the afternoon turned into a mini-tweetup, with some of my Twitter friends getting in on the action as well, so it was great fun to meet some more people I’d only ever talked to online. Juniordwarf had a blast running round with another couple’s little boy (I wonder if there is a term for a twitterer’s children? Twitkids sounds kind of wrong) and the Forester Real Ale and the beer-fed beef patties were just what I needed. (Refer to point (4) in the previous post.)

It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I definitely want to go back again.

P365 - Day 29 the tale of the garage sale

I am on a mission to declutter my house.

While I would dearly love to take a week off work and go through my house room by room ruthlessly eliminating anything I haven’t used/touched/worn/read in the last 12 months (or two years, or whatever the home organisation gurus say is the appropriate time frame), but I don’t really have enough leave to make that possible.

Plus I have a small child, with whom I really want to spend time before he starts school and takes his first steps into the big wide world without me.

So the more sensible approach is a more slow and steady – one drawer at a time – type process. I started months ago, and I’ve stopped, started and stopped again.

Meanwhile the piles of stuff I don’t want but don’t know how to get rid of have begun to make navigating the house a rather difficult, and possibly dangerous, pursuit.

So when our friends said they were having a garage sale and asked if we wanted to bring some of our stuff over to put in the sale, we jumped at the chance.

Consequently the decluttering became a bit more frantic and several trips were made to our friends’ house over the last week to drop off unwanted items.

This is the first garages sale I’d been involved in and wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been told that blokes from second hand shops often turn up with big trucks and offer dirt cheap prices for heaps of your junk, which would have suited me fine. The way I looked at it, they'd be paying us money to take our stuff away. Win win!

We didn’t expect to make much money, so most stuff was $2 or less. The point was to get rid of the junk rather than get rich.

And in the end we didn’t do either. Well, we got rid of some of the stuff, we made a bit over $100, we had a nice day with our friends and juniordwarf had a great time staying with his grandmother. One of the charity bins will soon be getting a sizeable donation of clothes, the tip shop got some new stock and the free classified ads in the paper might be getting a bit of a workout soon. Overall it was a pretty good day.

Things I learned from the garage sale were: (1) no matter how cheap they are, people don’t buy clothes from garage sales. (2) Baby toys sell pretty well. (3) Books don’t. (Not even second hand bookstores want my books!) (4) Drinking too much wine at the post-sale gathering gives you a hangover.

No wait, I already knew number (4). I just still haven’t learned that particular lesson.

And the man in the truck? We’re still waiting for him.

Friday, January 28, 2011

find me friday no.2

It's time for 'find me friday'.

Last week's photo was way too easy. Of course it was 10 Murray Street, aka the State Offices.  Well spotted by elissma, who got the answer within 15 minutes of me posting the challenge.

I hope this week's picture is a bit harder to find. I really like these bricks.

The answer will be revealed in next week's 'find me friday' :)

P365 - Day 28 scrapbooking

Before I ventured into the world of scrapbooking I thought it was an expensive hobby for American women who had lots of money and too much time on their hands. ‘Why don’t they just put them in an album and be done with it?’ I used to ask myself.

My first trip into a scrapbooking shop was a terrifying experience, matched only by my first trip into a baby shop.

What is all this stuff?

What do you use that for?

Look at all that paper! Ribbons? Buttons? What’s that got to do with photos? (I still haven’t gotten over my aversion to buttons on pages, in much the same way that I’m resistant to stitching.) 

Brads? Isn’t Brad a guy’s name? How many different types of adhesive are there? What’s the point of having all that lovely patterned paper if you’re going to cover it up with photos? It costs HOW MUCH??!!

Where do I even start?

The purchase of a scrapbooking magazine, followed by a trip to one of those ‘craft clearance’ events, resulted in my first ever layout. 

This was closely followed by a beginners class at a local scrapbooking shop, a magazine subscription, and many many purchases. Followed by many more purchases.

My stash grew, the space available to hold the stash shrank. My ‘discretionary’ money disappeared pretty quickly every fortnight.

I started to make some pages. Some were good, some were a little embarrassing, (some were downright terrible), but I pressed on regardless. I ‘scraplifted’ ideas from layouts published in the magazines and I participated in online sketch challenges (for the uninitiated, this means taking a sketch outline of a layout and basing your own layout on the sketch – a great help if you’re stuck for ideas).

In early 2010 I started going to scrapbooking nights at our local scrapbooking shop, where I met some wonderful ladies who do some fabulous layouts and who I later joined on the PCA forum, where I met even more like-minded scrappers.

I’ve found everyone who I’ve met connected to scrapbooking is so friendly and helpful, always willing to offer suggestions and to help out.

If you’d asked me five years ago whether scrapbooking was for me, I’d have laughed and said not in a million years. What a waste of time and money!

But then again there was a time when, if you’d asked me if I was going to have a child, I’d have laughed too . . .

Times change, people change, opinions change. Turns out my opinion of scrapbooking was way off course and it’s become a huge part of my life. 

And so today's photo is what I did at scrapbooking tonight:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

P365 - Day 27 hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go

One of the ideas behind Project 365 is that you record all the little things in your life. Things that seem insignificant at the time, things that you see and do every day, things that just pass you by without you paying much attention.

They are things that today you might wonder why on earth you’d want to take a photo of. 

But in five, ten, twenty years, you might look back at the photo and the subject might have changed beyond recognition, it might no longer exist, or it might be exactly the same, and the photo might trigger memories of things you used to do or places you used to go that you’d forgotten all about.

Becky Higgins describes it like this:
Some pictures will illustrate bigger moments and some shots will be routine stuff in your life. It all adds up to paint the full picture of your life right now.

Likewise with my writing. Some days the pictures serve as a trigger for me to indulge in some self-reflection and write a great deal.

Other days the picture is simply a record of something I did or something I saw that day.

Either way it’s the story of my life as I’m living it.

And so to today’s photo. This is one of the pictures that shows something I do regularly. It’s the view from the car windscreen as we drive up Davey Street in the morning on the way to work. 

Stay tuned for 'find me friday' tomorrow :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

P365 - Day 26 dragon

What else do little kids do on Australia Day but go to family days out and get their faces painted?

Stop it with the photos, Mum!

juniordwarf is quite into dragons at the moment, so that's what he wanted painted on his face. 

Reflective dragon

He’s a big fan of Shrek and he loves the scene where the donkey is trying to get away from the dragon. I think his favourite bit from that scene is where the dragon roars, so he loves to roar like a dragon.

Dragon roar!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

P365 - Day 25 a little guy

Today juniordwarf and I went to a friend's house for a mothers group get-together.

All the other kids were inside dressing up and juniordwarf was checking out his friend's play area. He asked me to come over to him. When I got there I noticed this little guy hanging out near the slide.

It was the smallest lizard I'd ever seen. (It would've helped to put a 20c piece next to him to show how small he was!) 

At first I wondered if he was actually alive because he didn't move for ages. Just stood there. Terrified probably. But he was fine, and juniordwarf got a good look at him before he scuttled off under the play equipment.

Monday, January 24, 2011

P365 - Day 24 me at work

I was at a loss to think of something to take a photo of today. I guess that’s part of the fun of Project 365 – coming up with something different every day.

So today I present: ‘me at work’.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

P365 - Day 23 my camera in the raw (for sunday selections)

My ‘normal’ camera is a Fuji Finepix SF6500FD. I’ve had it for about three years.

It’s one of those cameras that is a bit more sophisticated than a compact point-and-shoot (athough those cameras seem to be getting more and more sophisticated every week, so perhaps that’s not true any more), but not quite a DSLR. It doesn’t have interchangeable lenses, you can’t connect an external flash and it doesn’t have a huge F-stop range.
This was an impossible picture to take on my phone,
 while holding the camera with my other hand like I
was taking a self portrait. Hence the blur!

But as an ‘intermediate’ camera, it has all the features that I’m likely to need as I learn a bit more about photography, and will probably help me decide if I really want to take the next step and get a DSLR or if I’m happy at the level I’m at.

When I was camera shopping, one feature I really liked about it was that it looked like a 'real' camera, it was something I could really hold onto and it had a manual zoom, which makes precision zooming a lot easier.

It also makes for a much bigger camera, which is a bit of a pain for outings with juniordwarf.

One of the features it has, which I didn’t really know anything about when I bought it, is the ability to shoot in the raw.

I mean RAW.

Now I’m no technical photography guru and don’t fully understand what RAW format is, but I know that it produces an uncompressed file that contains all of the information captured by the camera’s sensors, whereas a JPG picture is compressed and so a lot of the information is lost in that compression process. The result is that a RAW file is a lot bigger (about four times) than a JPG.

But this means you can make a lot more precise edits to the picture and tweak it a lot more effectively, because there is more data there. It also means that, unlike a JPG, you don’t lose quality every time you edit and save the file.

So for frogpondsrock's Sunday Selections project this week, I've decided to post some of my very first RAW editing efforts.

Last year we had holidays in NSW and spent some time in Tumut. As with most rivers, the Tumut River is full of photographic potential, so I got up early one morning, flicked the camera setting to RAW and began shooting.

I spent a couple of hours wandering up and down the river bank, taking photos, watching the light change as the sun came up and generally having a relaxing time.

When I got the files back to my computer I had no idea what to do with them, so every now and then when I’ve got nothing better to do, I open up one of the files and play with the settings until I get something that I think looks OK.

Tumut River, NSW, March 2010

So far I’ve tended to go for the over-edited look. I like the intensity of the colours, the stark contrasts and the sharpness of the image. But as I said, I have no idea what I’m doing and I have a lot to learn -  I guess you only learn by doing, sharing and taking on board feedback.

There’s a fine balance between a good photo edit and an over-edited one. This one is probably too over-saturated, but I really like the bright colours in this case. I certainly wouldn’t do this for every photo.

The second one is a photo I took today while juniordwarf and I were at the playground today. I looked at my camera this morning and realised that the last time I used it was 31 December 2010! I've been intent on my phone's Project 365, and I've been grabbing our little point-and-shoot whenever a photo opportunity crops up. I've been neglecting my real camera, so I decided to take it with me today just in case there was something interesting to photograph. 

Turns out there was - there were these amazing clouds in the sky and I was really kicking myself for not having my polarising filter with me.

Clouds - original as shot

Clouds - after some formatting of the RAW file
The learning continues!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

P365 - Day 22 the baby on the computer

Our trusty old Mini DV camcorder has finally given up the ghost for good. We've known for a while that it's time to upgrade, but like any good procrastinator, I've put off looking for a new one. And besides, a lot of the websites I've looked at are actually full of praise for the Mini DV format and lament its decreasing popularity.

I thought it would be a good idea to download all my tapes onto the computer in case anything ever happened to them. Pretty much all of the 15 or so tapes are of juniordwarf's life up to now, and I'd be shattered if we lost them.

So a couple of weeks ago I started the transfer. The first tape was fine. The second tape played back very jerky. So did the third and the fourth tapes. This was not a good sign. Tape 16 (the 'in progress' tape) played back fine. I was confused.

The eject mechanism of the camera jammed.

Harsh words were spoken.

Fearing that some of my tapes were damaged, I put out a desperate call to borrow someone's Mini DV camcorder to confirm whether the problem with the tapes or the camera (or both). Fortunately one of our friends had such a camcorder and was kind enough to lend it to us.

Tape 2 downloaded just fine. As did tape 3 and tape 4.

Enormous relief that the tapes were fine and we now have the footage in editable format.

Now to find a new camcorder . . .

. . . and to download the rest of the tapes.

and the actual story of the photo of the day

Juniordwarf was fascinated by the whole download process. He loved seeing himself as a baby on the computer screen. 

These photos didn't come out very well (the phone flash is seriously bright and I don't think it works well in close up situations - I'm still figuring out how it all works, but have committed to doing this Project 365 thing on the phone, so shoddy photos are part of the charm of it all . . .  or so I tell myself). Even so, I just love how they capture his interest in watching himself.

Friday, January 21, 2011

P365 - Day 21 find me friday no.1

Welcome to the first edition of Find Me Friday here on pastpresentfuture.

I really enjoyed the pictures of various buildings around Hobart in last Friday’s post. So much so that I thought I’d do it again.

But this time it has a twist. At the end of each Find Me Friday blog post there will be an unidentified picture of part of a building or installation or something within Hobart. Most probably it will be something that catches my eye on the way from the bus stop to work, or as I’m wandering around looking up at lunch time (apologies in advance if I bump into you).

It will then be over to you, my loyal readers, to identify the building in question – or at least the general location.

Fun, hey?

I think I’ve managed to change the comments section so anyone can post a comment, not just people registered with the various blog sites, so there’s no excuse – unless you aren’t familiar with Hobart, in which case you’d probably have no idea. Sorry about that.

First up, here’s today’s picture of the day.

It’s a building called the ‘Old Bell’ Chambers in Elizabeth Street. I saw it yesterday out of the bus window and thought the bell looked really interesting. I wondered why I’d never seen it before. Obviously I hadn’t looked up at the right time.
From the brief information available on Google it appears that the building was once the Old(e) Bell Inn (and/or Old Bell Tavern) before being converted into shops.
Shops currently located underneath this funky fa├žade include the Happy Herb Shop, DeWaldt Service Centre, Solda’s Sound Centre and Too Bizarre.
According to a report in the Mercury on 21 October 1936, the Old Bell Inn was ‘typical of its day and the rendezvous of hard-drinkers’. Apparently Marcus Clarke would frequent the Inn and write notes that became part of his book For the Term of his Natural Life, and a painting (or mural) on the wall was attributed to the convict artist Thomas Griffith Wain(e)wright (1794-1847).

The Mercury article goes on to say that at auction the building was described as ‘a modern property . . . a substantial two storeyed brick building . . . a fine block of property situated on a part of a main thoroughfare that is rapidly improving’.

At auction, bidding opened at 5,000 pounds and increased in bids of 100 pounds until it reached 6,400 pounds, at which price it was passed in for sale by private treaty.  ‘The bidding was active, and the price offered approached very closely the reserve placed on the building.’

On 15 March 1951, following the building’s sale ay another auction, the Mercury reported:

many people in Hobart can recall the days when they used to frequent the old tavern with its sawdusted floors, and enjoy a glass of beer in the pewters which were one of its attractions. Old timers tell many stories of the building when it was a public house.

(The Mercury articles were sourced from - what a fantastc resource!)

and now it’s over to you . . .

This is an easy one to start with. It’s somewhere in Hobart. I had to crop out part of the sign or it would have been too easy.

Post a comment with your answer. The building will be revealed next Friday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

P365 - Day 20 out of the frying pan, into the fire

or, things are not always what they seem.

This is my coffee cup at work. I've had it for years and I use it every day.

It’s one of Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons. I bought it for myself many years ago when I changed jobs. It seemed highly relevant to the situation I found myself it.

I’d been working in a government department for several months in a job that was boring beyond belief and where nothing much happened. The work I was doing, when there was any work, was something that could have been done by someone two or three levels below my level. It used none of the skills that I had needed to demonstrate to get into the department in the first place – writing, research and analysis, problems solving and so on.

As a result, I was bored, unmotivated and felt like I was losing my skills through lack of use. Every day my confidence in my skills and abilities decreased a little more, to the extent that I was feeling like I’d never be able to get another job at the level I was at, and that promotion was definitely out of the question.

Fortunately, the senior managers were aware of my predicament, and one day I was offered an opportunity to work in a new area that was just being set up.

Now, you’d think that this would be the chance I’d been waiting for to get the hell out of where I was. Normally this would have been the case. Except the head of the area was to be a manager who had a reputation as having zero people skills, being a demanding perfectionist, who had been known to reduce staff members to tears. I was terrified of him, and I don’t think I was the only one. Working for him was not exactly what I had in mind when I said I needed a change.

Someone had once told me that if there were people the department wanted to get rid of, they’d be sent to work with this manager, basically to push them out the door without the department doing anything. (I might add that this is an unconfirmed rumour and in no way reflects the policy of the department, which in any case no longer exists.)

So I hope my hesitation was understandable. I was pretty sure I wasn’t someone they wanted to shunt out the door. I believe that I had developed a fairly solid reputation as someone who was pretty good at their job, despite there having been limited opportunity to show that in recent months.

But the thought of spending any more time than I had to in my job, and the implications for my professional development of staying there, scared me more than going to work for this manager, so I agreed to the transfer.

I bought the coffee mug, because it was how I felt at the time. 

Out of the frying pan into the fire.

It won’t surprise you to discover that the manager was nothing like his reputation suggested. In fact, I’d go so far as to say he’s one of the best managers I’ve ever had.

He managed to give me work to do that was just a bit more difficult than I thought I could do and he expected that I’d do it. And for the most part, I did. My confidence in my skills, which had taken such a beating over the previous months, returned and I started to enjoy my work again.

Yes, he was demanding. He set high standards and expected commitment from his staff. He wasn’t always easy to get along with.

And not everyone thought as highly of him as I did. Another young woman working in the area wasn’t able to live up to the manager’s high standards, due to her own particular circumstances. Unlike me, she had a very miserable time working for him.

There is a quote somewhere – I can’t remember what it is exactly – but it’s something like: ‘one man’s wine is another man’s poison’. And this situation at work illustrates it perfectly.

The funny thing is, if I had been in different circumstances – if I’d gone to work for him today – I doubt I’d be able meet his expectations.  If my life then was my life now, my opinion of him might have been totally different.

From my perspective, I went to work for him at the right time. I learned a lot and am grateful for the experience. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

P365 - Day 19 back to school part 1

This time in exactly four weeks, junior dwarf will have started school.

Actually he will be starting Kindergarten, which, for our interstate friends, is the non-compulsory year of school that comes before kids start school proper at the age of five. It has different names in different states, and Kinder is sometimes the first year of mandatory school, hence the confusion.

Where junior dwarf will go, he’ll do three full school days.

It’s going to be a huge change for us. Since he was about one year old, I have worked three days a week in my day job and have been at home with juniordwarf the other two weekdays.

Once school starts, I’ll change my work hours and only have one full day at home with juniordwarf.

It’s going to be so weird, and this subject deserves a whole post on its own, so I’m not going to say anything else on it right now.

Today we went shopping for a lunch box and a school bag for juniordwarf. I had no idea what would be needed. School lunches are something completely new to me and I am kind of terrified about having to start getting them ready each day.

I remember saying to someone last week that the first time I looked at all the back to school stuff in the shops, I got very scared and overwhelmed. It reminded me a bit of the first time we went into a baby shop and saw all the stuff that was in there, and totally freaked out at what it was all for, how much would we really need and how we were going to sort out the necessary from the fluff.

I felt a bit the same way when contemplating school lunches.

Apparently meal planning is going to be very important from now on if I want to stay on top of things.
Anyway, juniordwarf was a bit out of sorts today, so we never got to the new bag. We only really looked at lunch boxes.  Taking advice from people who have done this before, what was going to be important was whether or not he could easily open the box. We’d tried a few weeks ago and he wasn’t interested in even trying, which was somewhat discouraging. Today we found a couple of things that he could easily open, and a cooler bag that I’m pretty sure he’ll get the hang of pretty quickly. Especially if he wants to eat!

He was quite taken with the black lunch cool pack, so we got that, a sandwich box and a snack box. I’d already got some extra freezer bricks, so he can use what he calls ‘the green bottle’ to keep his lunch cool.

So mission almost accomplished.

The next step is to make sure he understands what he’s in for when he goes to school.

We’d already been going to a pre-kinder/play group session at the school last year, run by the Kinder teacher. The idea is to get the kids used to the school, to meet some other kids they’ll be at school with and for the mums to get to know each other too. Toward the end of the year it got a bit more formal for the next year’s Kinder kids and they spent a bit more time doing ‘school stuff’ with the teacher.

The big difference this year – aside from the fact that he’ll be there all day instead of an hour and a half – is that I won’t be there with him.

I don’t think he quite understands that yet, so I’ve started talking to him about what will happen when he goes to school, explained that it will be a bit like daycare, as I will drop him off and he’ll stay at school all day with the teacher and his friends, and then I’ll come and get him at 3 o’clock.

The first time I explained this, he got very upset and said no he wanted Mum to be at school with him. My response was that he’d be with the teacher and his friends and that didn’t need me there, just like he didn’t need me there at daycare. He seemed OK with that for now.

I hope it’s going to be that simple, but even if it is for him, I doubt it will be for me. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be one of those mums who cries on their child’s first day at school.

I never thought it was a big step, after all he’s been going to daycare most of his life, and on the face of it, dropping him off at school is going to be the same as dropping him off at daycare – just like I told him.
But on reflection, it’s not really. It’s his first real step away from me, into a world where, for the most part I won’t know what happens. At daycare, the carers fill us in on what juniordwarf's been up to during the day; we know what and how much he ate, who he played with, when he went to the toilet and what he drew.

At school, we’ll have to rely on what he tells us. Of course we’ll be able to find out about what’s going on from his teacher, but it won’t be the formal reporting we get from daycare.

It’s his first steps into the big world, and his first steps to independence. Small steps mind you, but steps nonetheless. He really won’t be my baby any more (even though he always will be!)

And so I suppose thinking of it like that is going to see me as one of the tearful mummies on the first day of school.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

P365 - Day 18 where the wild things are

Today I read Where the Wild Things Are to juniordwarf for the first time. I’d got the book ages ago and put it away for him until I was ready to give it to him.

Of course, I forgot about it. I was reminded of it when I saw it in the wonderful book 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (General Editor, Julia Eccleshare), which is one of juniordwarf's favourite books at the moment – he loves flicking through it and pointing out the books he recognises.

Where the Wild Things Are was written by Maurice Sendak, published in 1963 and won the Caldecott Medal (awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children) in 1964. It’s widely recognised as a classic children’s book, and was made into a movie in 2009.

Now this is the point where I say what wonderful memories I have of reading and loving this book as a child, and recount how I used to read it sitting on my grandfather’s lap, or with the dog curled up at my feet, or under the covers with a torch when I was supposed to be asleep.

Only I don’t have any memories of reading it at all. I’m certain I did read it. I’m familiar with the story and the artwork, but I just can’t remember reading it.

In fact the only memory I have of the book is from Primary School when we all dressed up as monsters – maybe for a Book Week activity. Somewhere in a shoebox under my bed is a polaroid of me and a couple of other kids dressed up in out costumes. Mine was an old brown blanket type thing that my mother had sewed into a monster costume that covered me from head to toe. It was a fine effort (and I hope I never get called upon to create something similar for juniordwarf when he starts school).

It’s much the same as my memory of other classic kids books – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Rosie’s Walk, Madeline, the list goes on (and on and on). I know I read them as a child. I remember them. As soon as I open them it’s like reconnecting with an old friend. But I don’t remember the actual physical act of reading these fabulous books.

That’s fine.

Now I have juniordwarf, I have an opportunity to discover all of these books again and to share them with him. I can create new memories of reading, sharing, exploring and enjoying these books - and lots more that weren't around when I was a kid (Walter the Farting Dog springs to mind). And now I’m older, they’re memories that will stay with me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

P365 - Day 17 creating keepsakes

The January issue of Creating Keepsakes arrived in my mailbox today.

It’s the Australian edition of an American magazine, so it has pretty much everything the American one does, with Australian ads and a section for Australian readers to submit layouts.  The style of a lot of the layouts in the magazine seems quite different to the style of the layouts published in the Australian magazines I’ve seen.

It’s my favourite scrapbooking magazine, as it seems to showcase the style of scrapping that I’ve developed over the past four years.  That is, my style has evolved thanks to the ideas that I’ve got from the magazine.

In general, I prefer clean, linear layouts, generally with lots of photos and minimal embellishments. At most events I take a lot of photos and I find it impossible to narrow it down to one or two good ones to scrap, so I end up reducing the size of a large number of photos and putting them all on the page. Most of my multiphoto pages are based on a grid, or a version of a grid, so there are lots of straight lines.

Here are some examples:

Luna Park page 1
Luna Park page 2

To my logical and ordered way of looking at the world, the grid layout is a great way to tell the story, and I find using heaps of photos tells the story better than I could do using one or two photos on a layout. (One school of thought is that you should just pick the best couple of pictures and just scrap those, but I can’t bring myself to not use photos that are halfway decent.) The alternative is to use lots of photos over lots of layouts for each event, but I simply don’t have the time to do that, and I’m so far behind on scrapping the photos from juniordwarf's first three years that it would never happen.

That said, when I have special photos, or particularly good ones, I love to do a more detailed layout with more ‘stuff’ all over the page. Like this one:

And I do try to break up the straight lines with various bits and pieces, so the layouts aren’t too boring and samey.

Even though my own style is very simple and linear, I love looking at my scrappy friends’ layouts, as these talented ladies do some absolutely stunning layouts that are the complete opposite of the layouts I normally do.  They’re the kind of layouts that magazines publish, and I’m often in awe of how they turn out.

That’s one of the great things about scrapbooking. It can be whatever you want it to be – and whatever you need it to be. You can create elaborate artworks that are completely breathtaking or you can stick some photos onto a page and write their story. You can develop styles such as ‘grunge’, ‘freestyle’, ‘whimsical’, ‘vintage, ‘shabby chic’ and so on. You can highlight one photo or use many. There are no rules, and if there are, you can break them.  It’s all about what you want and how you want to display your photos and memories.

Scrapbooking a way of preserving your memories, of showcasing your photos and of telling your stories. Sure, I could just stick the photos in albums. It would save me time and a hell of a lot of money. My house would be tidier. And my photos would still be preserved.

But I enjoy the thrill of creating a beautiful page that makes the most of my photos. I love finding a piece of paper that exactly matches one of the colours in my photos (this can be an extremely time consuming and frustrating process, but sometimes my perfectionist nature will accept nothing less than an exact match). I love watching my scrappy friends create their stunning pages and getting ideas from them.

It’s fun, it’s relaxing (except on those occasions when a layout just won’t come together and there’s nothing I can think of to do with it), it’s a way that I can be creative (I never saw myself as creative – but that’s another post for another day) and it showcases my photos beautifully.

I can’t imagine not scrapbooking.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

sunday selections - eyes

I was inspired by a photo of a snakes eye by frogpondsrock as part of her Sunday Selections project to post these to photos.

First up is juniordwarf. This was an experiment with saturation and lighting. There were too many colours in the original photo for it to be cohesive, but I love it so much that I wanted to make it more interesting to look at. It's not one I want to keep filed away on the computer. This is one version.

Second is sleepydog. I took this photo for a 'macro' photo challenge on the scrapbooking and cardmaking forum that I'm a member of. Anyone who knows sleepydog knows that to get her to sit still for more than two seconds is a rare feat indeed, so that fact that I got a photo at all is nothing short of miraculous. That it's (I think) a pretty good shot is a bonus.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that a colleague told me that many treats had been used in getting a posed picture of her dog. Treats. Why didn't I think of that?

P365 - Day 16 birthday card

I love handmade cards and I’m often amazed by the wonderful creations of my friend Flat Katt, Lil Sis and my scrapbooking buddies on the scrapbooking and cardmaking forum I'm a member of.  

Flat Katt was the first person I knew who was into cardmaking in a big way and I'd always look forward to getting my birthday card from her each year, to see what beautiful creation she had come up with. Now Lil Sis is doing it too and hers are wonderful too - she made the most adorable baby card for juniordwarf that I've ever seen. And now I know my forum friends, I get to look at their stunning work as well, and sometimes I participate in the cardmaking challenges on the forum (and for me they are a real challenge!). 

Scrapbooking is one of my things, but I’m not much into cardmaking. I like to look at cards and I love to receive them, but when it comes to making them, I’m a bit of a novice. I find cards too intricate and fiddly. Where it’s fairly easy to cover up most mistakes on a scrapbook layout, the smaller scale of cards makes it much harder to do.

Even so, I do sometimes make some cards. I make one each year for juniordwarf’s birthday, and for other special people in my life more occasionally. Usually if I remember with enough time to get organised to actually do it!

Well today was Slabs’ birthday and I had forgotten to get him a card. Heading back to the office after lunch on Friday I couldn’t face going into a newsagent and sifting the birthday cards to find an appropriate one, so I decided that, as I was going to scrapbooking at our local shop that night, I’d enlist my scrapping pals to help me. I wouldn’t even need to be organised because I could buy everything I needed at the shop.

Well, help they did, and this is what we came up with:

I’m pleased with it. It’s very much my style, simple and to the point. I hope he likes it!

For the people who are interested in this type of thing, the material list is:

coredinations – ‘nightfall’ cardstock
bazzil – some shade of orange cardstock
imaginisce – live loud collection (paper & ‘World Tour’ rubons)
kaisercraft – mini alpha stickers (black & white)
kaisercraft – droplets (blue)
versacolor – charcol ink

P365 Day 15 - the jungle (15/1/2011)

Our back yard has a fenced off section behind "Slabs’" home brew shed that is ‘mine’. I have my own tin shed, which is filled with gardening tools, seeds, magazines, sporting equipment and old furniture that we don’t have a home for any more. It’s a prime target for the clutter police.

My original plan for the area was to have a culinary herb garden in front of the shed, a walkway between the shed and the fence lined with different varieties of thyme leading to another herb garden behind the shed.

Down the side of the home brew shed is another narrow space where the previous owner had constructed some kind of wooden boardwalk to a very small garden bordered by the fence on one side, the shed on the other side and a lattice at the front.

We can only speculate what might have been grown there.

I planted a climbing ‘Blue Moon’ rose.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the area. As a result it has become one of the many sadly neglected and overgrown parts of the garden. It doesn’t help that on the other side of the fence, blackberry plants grow with reckless abandon, along with another climbing, twisting plant that is possibly called morning glory. Add ivy to the mix, and a heavy infestation of what people call stickyweed, and you get a jungle that is pretty much impenetrable.

I can see the rose down at the end. It seems to be doing fine.

Every time I’ve looked down the side of the shed, I’ve thought how overgrown it’s been getting and how I must get in there and clear it out a bit and decide what to do with the area. But it never really seemed that important, just another job for the to-do list.

Last week, I noticed the intrusion of these plants into my herb garden, so I decided it was time to do something about it. It was my number 1 job today, and unlike so many other days when I have good intentions but never actually do anything (ooh yeah), I really got the job started.

Armed with my trusty Fiskars secateurs and some gloves that, in hindsight, should have been somewhat sturdier, I commenced the attack.
Horrible stuff

Stickyweed is quite easy to remove. You can just pull it and great armloads of it come out. I like that about it. I don’t like the fact that it sticks to every part of my clothing and the little fuzzy seeds are a real pain to remove one by one.

Blackberries, on the other hand, are not easy to remove, nor can you simply grab a handful and yank it out. Hence the need for sturdier gloves. I miss my Riggers. I don’t know what other people’s techniques are, but mine is just to cut it back, bit by bit, chopping it up into bits small enough to go into the garden bin.

There is another technique. It’s called Triclopyr. It may well be required to ensure that the jungle doesn’t return. But I want to use it as little as possible, because I really don’t want to be using poisons on a regular basis in the garden.

After an hour, there is definitely progress. There’s a lot to go, but I feel a lot better about it now that I’ve started.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

P365 Day 14 - look up! (14/1/2011)

Whenever I’m going anywhere, I want to get there as quickly as possible. I hate it when people dawdle along on the footpath or meander all over the place, and I especially hate it when they stop suddenly in front of me.

Sometimes, when I’m in a rush and getting more and more frustrated, I think there should be express lanes through the city so that people who need to be somewhere can get there without obstacles in their way. Or that slow moving people should be banned from the city at certain times. Or something like that.
(Of course, some days I am one of those slow moving people – it’s hard not to be with a small child in tow – and then I find people in a hurry to be rude and inconsiderate as they rush past me. It’s all a matter of perspective. But I digress.)

The trouble with getting to where I’m going is that I don’t take in much of what’s around me. I don’t notice things that might be interesting. My focus stays at eye level.

A piece of advice I read a long time ago on how to find interesting things to photograph was to ‘look up’.  I can’t remember where I read it, and I’m sure many, many photography writers have said the same thing.

But the gist of the advice was that there is so much more to the world than what you see at eye level.

Things that most people don’t see, or ignore, because they’re not directly in front of them.

So look up, look down, get down and look up, get up and look down – change your perspective, shake things up a bit, make the ordinary into something different.

Elizabeth Street
When I’m walking through Hobart, I love to look up, beyond the shopfronts at ground level to the old facades of buildings that were constructed last century. (At this point, you will have to excuse my ignorance of all things architectural or artistic here, as I have no idea what anything on a building is called other than the roof, the doors and the windows.) 

I’m fascinated by the intricate work on the facades, the colours that they’ve been painted, the original names of the buildings and the dates they were built.

The Mall
I just love looking at them and imagining how much fun it would be to spend time wandering around photographing them and making a collage of facades. (I have no doubt this has already been done.)

And then, returning to ground level I think I’d like to explore the city further and photograph doors, door knobs, letter boxes, bolts, keyholes . . . things that I pass by every day and mostly ignore.

I’d like to photograph signs, single letters, numbers . . . there’s so much out there, so many opportunities in the main streets, the alley ways and laneways.

But for now, here is a little sample of the facades I find so interesting. (These were taken on my phone, on the run, in the rain this morning.)
Collins Street

I love the contrast of the old and the new buildings here (Bus Mall).

Law Society Building, Murray St

Thursday, January 13, 2011

P365 Day 13 - walking the dog

One of my Happiness Project resolutions has been to walk for 30 minutes each day. Ideally with sleepydog.

Over the holiday break, we had family visiting, we over indulged somewhat, and I'm still having trouble getting back into some kind of normality (aka routine). This week I finally got my act together and started taking sleepydog on her walks again.

It's been hard. The temptation to relax on the couch with a refreshing beverage is strong. But I knew that every day I put it off, the less likely I'd be to get back into it.

sleepydog loves her walks, but she's pretty worn out when we get back.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

P365 Day 12 - not a good drying day

Before the holiday break I used to have a washing routine. I’d do one load on Monday night when I got home from work, hang it out in the morning and juniordwarf (who loves to help with the washing) and I would put the next load on so it’d be ready to hang out when we got home after our Tuesday activities. On a good day the first load would be dry by then. Then Wednesday is towel day.

In winter we rarely get good days. It’s often foggy, overcast, raining or all three. The undercover washing area only takes so much, at which point the airer in front of the heater comes into play and (with all the guilt over greenhouse emissions and high power bills), the clothes dryer.

But when the sun comes out, and especially when it’s windy, drying the washing is, well, a breeze.

Every time I’m hanging out washing on one of those days, I flash back to a scene in an Aussie comedy show from the 1980s or 90s, which might have been the Big Gig or it might have been Fast Forward, with two housewife characters who used to talk to each other over the fence, who might have been Denise Scott and Jean Kitson (or might not have been), and they used to talk about what a beautiful drying day it was. And they’d go on and on about it.

So I’d always have in mind this ‘beautiful drying day’ on all those sunny, windy days.

Today was not a beautiful drying day.

It’s been raining. A lot.

I haven’t got back into my normal routine, so the washing production line doesn’t work effectively. I keep forgetting to do the washing on Monday nights, so I have nothing to hang out on Tuesday morning. So the whole routine falls into a heap.

While I was trying to cram the second load of washing into the undercover drying space and cursing this rain for preventing me from getting it all done, it suddenly occurred to me that I had nothing to complain about.

At the same time as I was fussing over getting my washing done, Queensland was being flooded. People were losing their homes, everything they had. Some people had died and many were missing.
I saw the floods on TV and I read the reports, yet still I couldn’t really fathom what was happening. To hear about rivers peaking at 22 metres, houses being completely underwater  – I couldn’t  . .  can’t . . . even imagine the reality of this.

I read accounts from my online friends about what they were going through and feared for their safety. Reading about one friend away interstate with her three children expecting to return home to have lost everything brought tears to my eyes as I thought what it would be like to come home to a destroyed house, having had no chance to save anything. (It now turns out her house wasn’t flooded, which is such a relief.)

Hearing about a little boy the same age as juniordwarf who had died was even harder. Much much harder. While it would be dreadful to lose everything, things can be replaced. People can’t.

The devastation is on such a massive scale and there is so much loss that it makes everyday problems seem trivial.

As soon as my thoughts turned to Queensland, getting my washing dry was the most insignificant thing in the world.

PS - if anyone can identify the series/actors/characters, or even the actual phrase they used, because I'm not sure it even was 'a beautiful drying day', please feel free to correct me.