Thursday, June 30, 2011

P365 - Day 181 - closeup #4 - layout

I have a lot of scrapbook layouts that are in my 'work in progress' albums. (Yes, albums. I filled one up with unfinished layouts, so I needed to get another one.)

A lot of the layouts are pretty much complete, other than needing a title or journalling. I'm not good at doing either of these things, so the layouts tend to just sit there in the 'work in progress' albums for months on end. Sometimes years.

Every time I go to scrapbooking on Friday nights I flick through those albums and try to find a layout that I can finish that night. Usually I can't, so I start another one that inevitably finds its way into the album that night and sits there for weeks or months until I can figure out how to finish it.

Last weekend I made some progress. I finished not one, but three layouts that had been sitting round for ages and got a fourth one almost completed. It's currently sitting on the mantelpiece waiting for, you guessed it, journalling.

This is a sneak peak (it's a direct copy of a layout found in the Kaisercraft Q2 Magazine from 2009 using the Belle collection).

I really like how it's turning out so far.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

P365 - Day 180 - closeup #3 - ice

Well if yesterday was cold, today was freezing.

I didn't check the temperature outside when we left home, but a reasonable guess, based on the weather report, was about -2 degrees.

This is the ice on the car windscreen.

I like this one. It reminds me of the moon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

P365 - Day 178 - closeup #1 - fan

Today’s closeup photo is the little fan on my desk at work using the ‘toy camera’ filter on Camera+.

weekly check-in #4

Here’s my progress against my commitments for last week:

Clear the bench top: 7/7
Drink enough water: 6/7
Go to bed before 11pm: 4/7
Be up and dressed by 7am (8am on weekends): 4/7

Where I’m falling down is bedtime and getting up on weekends (and my day off). I’m going to try and improve on that by turning off my computer by 10.30 pm so that I don’t get distracted and stay up too late, although this weekend I was caught up in scrapbooking rather than the virtual world.

I’m keeping the same commitments this week. My new one – as alluded to last Monday – is making sure my desk is tidy at the end of the day, and my dining table is cleared off before I go to bed, instead of being a dumping ground for all my paperwork.

My other new commitment is to cut down on my coffee consumption, so I won't be having any coffee after the one I have at 2.00 pm.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

P365 - Day 177 what catches my eye/sunday selections

Sometimes I like to take a lot of photos of little things around me that normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to. The idea for me is to take photos that capture these objects from a different perspective, from a different angle, than I would normally see them.

This usually means getting in a lot closer to the object than normal, which is where a macro lens would come in handy. But since my main camera at the moment is my phone, I don’t have that luxury most of the time.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to test the phone’s camera to see how close I can get to objects, before it gives up in despair.

I tend not to use the zoom function on the camera, because it’s a digital zoom, so using it has the same effect as cropping the photo afterwards, and I find it easier to take the photo with more in the frame and crop out what I don’t want, rather than do it on the camera display.

I’ve been getting some pretty good results. Not macro by a long way, but still fun to play with once I start to edit the photos on the phone.

So for today’s post – and for Sunday Selections over at Frogpondsrock – here are some photos I took at the Gretna Green Hotel today.

We went there for lunch, and I’m sure the owner thought I was quite strange taking photos of random things around the dining room while we were waiting for our meals.

But there were some really interesting things that caught my eye. Because some of them are a bit abstract, I felt a bit more comfortable in using some of the more interesting filters on my phone to transform them.

Teapot on the mantelpiece


Duck on the mantelpiece



Spinning wheel


Knot in a wooden bench

Intersection of wooden table & bench

Bells in the hallway

Now that I’ve done these, I’ve decided my theme for this week is to take a photo each day of something that I normally wouldn’t photograph or that I wouldn’t really notice, and try to make it look interesting.

Let the fun begin.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

P365 - Day 176 more space to garden

My vegetable garden is something of a mess at the moment.

Well, let’s be honest here, our entire yard is a bit of a mess at the moment.

And when I say ‘a bit of a mess’, you can probably take out the first three words and the sentence would be more accurate.

What is supposed to be the vege garden is an area about 6 x 3 metres (this is a wild guess, I actually have no idea and am not going outside to measure it in the dark) that is fenced off from Sleepydog.

In the past we have successfully grown pumpkins, corn, potatoes and tomatoes. Oh, and zucchinis. Did I mention zucchinis

We have also successfully cultivated a crop of oxalis, aka soursob, which is a beast to get rid of and which I am almost ready to declare the victor in our five-year battle.

I decided that I needed more space to grow different kinds of veges, because the ones we grew over spring and summer took up pretty much all of the vege patch, despite the oxalis.

So I set up a couple of plastic squares (which are starting to fall apart), supported with bricks, with the intention of growing smaller, more compact veges like lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli, alternated with peas and beans and maybe some onions, spring onions and garlic.

This is working to a limited extent, although Sleepydog has no concept of keeping off any designated areas (the reason for the fenced off garden in the first place).

But now I’ve decided that the whole area where the squares are is going to be part of my master vege garden plan. As I’ve developed it, the non-vege parts have become harder to mow, and it makes more sense to rip all of the ‘lawn’ out and use it as well, because the left over space isn’t big enough for any other use.

Today I finished the task I started the other day of digging out the first corner of this space. I’m thinking since it’s the southern-most point of the space it would make most sense to use this for tall or climbing veges, so I’m going to start with peas to climb up a trellis.

According to Gardenate I can plant snow peas right now, so that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I’m hoping I can convince Juniordwarf to help out too, now that he’s planted his purple carrot seeds

I’ve decided I just need to get out there and plant something. Ideally I’d have worked out a crop rotation plan and a sowing schedule before I did anything, but I know me, and I know if I waited to get all that organised, I’d still be sitting here this time next year wondering what I was going to do.

So in the interests of keeping the space filled instead of leaving it bare and prone to the soil being washed away or filling back up with weeds (which I’m sure it will do anyway), or all the nutrients being leeched out of it, tomorrow we plant.

The plan can come later.

Or never.

P365 - Day 175 hand cream (24/06/2011)

One of the suggestions for doing a 365/Photo a Day Project is to take photos of the little things that are part of your life that you don't really pay much attention to.

So here is the hand cream that I have on my desk at work.

The skin on my hands gets really dry, and often sore, during winter and I need a soothing, gentle cream that won't irritate my skin further.

I found this one in the chemist recently and I really love it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

P365 - Day 174 washing, washing and more washing

Once of the things I like least about winter is how much harder it is to get my washing done.

I do most of my and Juniordwarf's washing on Tuesdays when I'm home with Juniordwarf. Slabs is responsible for doing his own and occasionally Juniordwarf's.

Juniordwarf helps me. He likes to put the clothes in the machine, put the powder in and press the start button once I've set the cycle. After it's done, he likes to pull the clothes out of the machine and put them in the laundry basket.

Most of the clothes I own are, conveniently, not tumble dryable, so we hang most of the washing outside to dry.

When I say 'to dry' I mean to hang limply in the cool, damp foggy air. We have some clothesline underneath our back porch, so quite a lot of washing can be hung out there, and over a day or two, it becomes slightly less wet than it was when it was pulled out of the washing machine.

Some days, after the fog has lifted, we might get a couple of hours of sunshine, which helps a bit too.

What I normally do is to get the airer out and set it up in front of the heat pump, which is on for a lot of the day because the house is so cold, put as much washing on that as I can fit without overcrowding, and once that's dry I bring more in from outside, and so on until it's all dry.

It normally takes three to four days to get it all dry. Then I have a few days off before the cycle starts again. So this is a fairly common sight in our house these days.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

P365 - Day 173 winter solstice [photo added]

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the exact point of the Winter Solstice was at 3.16 am today.

This means that last night was the longest night of the year, and that spring is coming.  Hooray!

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs in December, just before 25 December, which is when many people around the world celebrate Xmas, or Christmas.  This event has been marked and celebrated by people all over the world since ancient times.  The pre-Christian Solstice celebrations  honoured the longest night and saw it as marking the beginning of the return of the sun - or the rebirth of the Sun God.

Traditions, beliefs and customs from different civilisations have come together to create what many of us see as a 'traditional' Xmas, and many of these things come from the ancient celebrations held at, or around the time of, the Solstice.

I feel a bit strange celebrating elements of the festival of the longest night in the height of summer, when it feels like a time for celebrations that stem from the Summer Solstice - the shortest night. I try and avoid anything to do with snow, and snowmen and reindeer - although this becomes a bit more difficult with a small child for whom 'the magic of Xmas' is still real - and in Tasmania, it isn't uncommon for the weather to be winter-like on 25 December so, despite me rejecting the 'winter wonderland', it often doesn't feel like a time to be celebrating the sun.

Every year I think I'd like to do something special for the Winter Solstice - to mark the return of the sun -  even if it's just cooking a traditional meal and marking the night with a candle, but somehow the day always seems to creep up on me and be gone before I've had a chance to plan anything. (Yes, lighting a candle is a difficult ask for me!) If I was really game, I'd stay up all night with a bonfire to see the sun rise on the shortest day (unfortunately it's been raining and it's very cold - it is winter after all - and I'm quite averse to pulling all-nighters).

Even so, I did see the sun rise this morning on the way to work, and what a beautiful sunrise it was.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

P365 - Day 172 walkies

Juniordwarf came with me again today on Sleepydog’s walk.

After Sunday’s walk I said to him that when he was (a lot!) bigger he’d be able to walk the dog by himself.

I said there would come a day when he didn’t want me any more, and he said ‘I’ll always want you’.

When I was putting Juniordwarf to bed I told Slabs what he'd said, and I told Juniordwarf that when he was bigger he wouldn’t want me around. Juniordwarf replied, ‘I’ll want you every day, when I’m little and big’.

How sweet is that? It brought tears to my eyes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

P365 - Day 171 the clean desk policy (um, what?)

This is the sight that greeted me when I walked into work this morning.

Just as I left it on Friday afternoon. 

Two projects in progress scattered around, a letter I was supposed to have started last week, left over papers from something I finished a couple of weeks ago.

It’s really a bit of a mess (you don’t say). It’s actually worse than in the picture because the mess extends on both sides to the edges of the desk (and the drawer unit on the left hand side). The only thing that’s constraining the mess on the right hand side is the partition.

A long time ago, in another job in another town, I participated in a program called the Personal Efficiency Program. (I know what you’re thinking . . . ) Some of that program has stuck in my mind, and one of its principles was that you only have on your desk whatever you’re working on at the time. You keep things you reference regularly in easy reach and the rest of the stuff should be out of the way, off your desk.

The idea always sounded good to me, but I’ve never managed to stick to doing it. I tend just to leave things where they are because chances are I’ll need them in the next day or so and if I put them away I might forget about them.

The PEP has lots of other tools so that you don’t forget things that aren’t immediately in front of you, but that’s all about time management.

I don’t have the luxury of a lot of off the desk storage, which is a bit of a limiting factor, but I do have those handy desktop step file holders so I can at least keep things in manilla folders, labelled and still visible. But even so, I still have trouble storing things in them. It’s just easier to dump them on the desk.

So the first thing I did this morning when I got in to work (after getting my coffee), was to put everything back into its folder, put the folders into the desk file and throw out all the stuff I didn’t need any more.

It felt good and I had a productive day.

Unfortunately by the end of the day, my desk looked similar to the way it looked this morning – although the things I put away that I hadn’t used today were still in their handy storage spot, so there wasn’t quite as much mess.

But it got me thinking that if I have a commitment at home to tidy my kitchen surfaces at the end of the day, so that I don’t feel so overwhelmed at the start of each day, maybe I should try the same thing at work.

It’s worth considering.

Weekly check-in #3

I didn't forget to do my weekly check-in last night. I just ran out of time to do it before I went to bed at 11.00.

So here's my progress against my commitments for last week:

Clear the bench top: 6/6 (Thursday didn't count - I wasn't home)
Drink enough water: 4/7
Go to bed before 11pm: 3/6 (Thursday didn't count, it was a special occasion)
Be up and dressed by 7am: 2/7

OK, so a bit more dedication is required here and, in hindsight, the 7am get up on an extended long weekend in the middle of winter probably wasn't the best plan.

So I'm keeping the same commitments this week and not adding any new ones yet. I hope I'll do better.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

P365 - Day 170 stuff this, we're going out!

I have several friends and a sister who are all cardmakers.

I mean cardmakers as opposed to people who make cards, which is what I do (in the same way that I am not a photographer, I take photos).


When I can be bothered.

Or if there is a special person in need of a card and I think the personal touch is required. (Or if it’s the night before I’m seeing someone for a birthday or something and I’ve forgotten to buy a card.)

I’ve always been blown away by the amazing cards that my friends and Lil Sis produce. They are so technically perfect, so exquisite. They look stunning and I’m always sad when it comes time to pack them away.

My own cards, in contrast, are somewhat plain, simple, unimaginative, and shabby. I often wonder why I bother, when I spend a couple of hours producing something I’m not particularly happy with, didn’t particularly enjoy doing, and could have bought one and spent the time doing something fun.

Part of the problem is that cards do have to be more or less perfect. They are so small, that any little mistake is blatantly obvious and hard to cover up. This isn’t the case with a scrapbooking layout, where there is more of an opportunity to hide things that didn’t quite work because they’re a lot bigger and there’s room for error.

Cards are fiddly and I just don’t have the attention to detail – or the manual dexterity – to do that kind of fine work. Although if you told my colleagues I don’t pay attention to detail they’d laugh you out of the room – ‘pedantic little shit’ is the way one colleague has jokingly described me at work (at least I hope he was joking). But being able to sit down and argue for hours on end about what a single clause in legislation means is a completely different world to creating a piece of art. For a start, it’s words, and words – especially written words – are where I find the most comfort.

So I’ll continue to assert that I don’t have the attention to detail to be a cardmaker.

On Friday I decided to make a get well card for Lil Sis’ husband Mr Tall, who is in hospital. I started the card at scrapbooking on Friday night, but couldn’t finish it because some of the stuff I needed was at home.

Today I had to finish it to get it in the post tomorrow. It turned out to be a bit of disaster and I bitched and moaned my way through the process on Twitter, as I found I’d lost my paper piercer, was dropping small brads on the floor that I couldn’t see because they were the same colour as the carpet, inked the greeting unevenly after five perfect practice runs, smeared ink over the back of the card because I didn’t put the lid back on the ink pad, couldn’t get things to line up properly . .  and on we go.

So one of my Twitter mates said something along the lines of, well if you hate it so much, why do it?

Why indeed?

I never set out to make cards. I kind of fell into it because it’s part of the ‘papercrafting’ scene. If I hadn’t been doing scrapbooking, I doubt it would even have occurred to me to make my own cards. But because it uses pretty much the same tools and materials, it seemed like a logical thing to do.

Only it’s not a compulsory thing to do. Just because I do scrapbooking, it doesn't mean I have to do cards as well. Surely no one is going to think any less of me if I buy a card instead of make one. And there are plenty of beautiful hand made cards out there that people who actually know what they’re doing have made. Why not support their work, rather than make myself miserable trying to live up to it?

So I think from now on, I’ll be making very few cards. In fact the only card I will commit to doing each year is for Juniordwarf’s birthday just because I want to. And if I decide to do cards for other occasions and I start to get frustrated and annoyed, I’m going to give myself permission to stop and buy one. It’s really not worth the hassle.

And so after I got well and truly sick of the card, Juniordwarf and I took Sleepydog for a walk – the first time I’ve been confident enough to let him come with me, so this was a big step for him.

When we got back, we spent some time putting together our new raised garden bed, which will no doubt be blogged about in days to come.

Then after lunch, we went to the park and he rode his scooter on the excellent bike path that they’ve built for the kids down there. He’d been trying to ride his scooter around the back yard, but there’s not really enough room to get any momentum up, so I’d promised him we could go to the park on the weekend.

He had a go on the gym equipment at the park. He’s a bit small to use it in the prescribed manner, I think.

We went for a walk to see the ducks.

And finally he played on the swings and slides and struck up a friendship with an older girl, who was on the same equipment. The most amazing thing was that he climbed along a climby thing he’d never been on before.

I have no idea what these things are called (hence 'climby thing'), but it’s a series of hoops, each one slightly higher than the last, and the line of hoops connects two platforms of the play equipment. There’s one set from the ground to the first level, then another from the first level to the highest level.

Juniordwarf has often climbed from the ground to the first level, but he’s never been game to do the second one. That changed today, when the girl he was playing with did it. What did he do? He had to follow her. He was very nervous and wanted me to stand underneath him while he was climbing. But he did it – and you know what? He seemed to be better at it than the girl, who seemed to be at least two or three years older than him. He was fantastic. I was so happy he’d done it all by himself and done it so competently. It was hard to believe he’d never done it before.

He’s really growing up!

And I was incredibly glad to have gotten out of the house and away from the card debacle.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

P365 - Day 169 fun day

Juniordwarf and I went to Anglicare’s Family Fun Day.

Juniordwarf had fun. He patted some animals (including a blue rabbit, but he was still very wary of the chickens), he got his face painted (this time he got a green lizard, instead of his usual dragon),

he went on the jumping castle and he got a green dinosaur balloon from the balloonist, The Amazing Chris.

The event was also a promotion for Anglicare’s Mental Health services so everyone who attended was given a goody bag that included information from Anglicare and beyondblue: the national depression initiative  about services available for people with mental health issues and strategies for dealing with these issues. 

P365 - Day 167 Hobart GPO Tower, 5.20 pm (17/06/2011)

P365 - Day 166 Saltimbanco (16/06/2011)

Disclaimer 1: I’m writing this post before I read any reviews of or stories about Saltimbanco. I don’t want to be influenced by what anyone else has said or to think that that if I have a different perspective or understanding of it, that my view is 'wrong'.

Disclaimer 2: This is the first time I’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, so I had very little idea of what to expect.

When the tour of Cirque du Soleil’s show Saltimbanco was announced last year, my mother said she wanted to go and offered to buy me a ticket too. Well how could I refuse that? I didn’t know a lot about Cirque du Soleil other than it was a world-famous performance spectacular, filled with amazing physical acrobatic acts.

What I hadn’t known is that the performances are much much more than a circus without animals, which is kind of what I vaguely had in mind. Although, having said that, I was fairly sure that it would be somewhat more spectacular than the circuses that used to (do they still?) travel around the country and set up their Big Top in a long list of small towns.

Now that we’ve established that I am, in fact, quite uncultured and know next to nothing about the performing arts*, we can move on.

The premise of Saltimbanco (from the Italian ‘saltare in banco’ – to jump on a bench) is a show ‘set inside an imaginary metropolis of colourful inhabitants’. The website describes it like this:

Saltimbanco explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city.
Saltimbanco is a Cirque du Soleil signature show inspired by the urban fabric of the metropolis and its colourful inhabitants. Decidedly baroque in its visual vocabulary, the show's eclectic cast of characters draws spectators into a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope.

One of the banners for the show at the venue

The show was amazing!

I don’t know if it was because of the description of it as being set inside this metropolis that triggered some associations for me, or if I would have come to that view on my own, but the overall feel of the show for me was distinctly city-like. But not the city that we see every day – it conjured up visions of the movie Delicatessen (which I haven’t seen for years, so I could be completely off track), where the characters were from the underworld, rather than the mainstream, very quirky and quite dark (but also very humorous).

Despite the glorious brightness of the colours, the enthusiasm and fast pace of the show, I still had the feeling of there being a dark underside to life within this city that wasn’t very far beneath the surface.

It was a visual delight. The costumes and colours were simply stunning. Totally eye-catching to the point that sometimes I didn’t know where to look.

The music was absolutely wonderful. I’d describe much of it as tribal, with what I imagine would be African influences. Some of it reminded me of parts of Mike Oldfield’s The Millenium Bell.

And the performances were magical. 

From the twisty triple-bodied Adagio to the slipping and sliding Chinese Poles artists, the Juggler, the artistic cyclist, and the act that completely blew me away, the Duo Trapeze – everything you’d expect to see in a circus and more. Even the most amazing drums and instruments called boleadoras.

I don’t have the words to describe it. The performances were sensational, sensual, powerful, strong, delicate, breathtaking, precise . . .

Just watching these bodies do things I didn’t know bodies could do – there were times I was so enthralled by the show that I didn’t even realise the audience was applauding.

I will admit that I did find some of the theatrical and dance performances didn’t capture my attention as much as the acrobatic ones did, and I was craving more daring and spectacle. But it was all part of the show, and there were some very funny moments, including some hilarious audience participation.

It was a sensational night that will live for a long time in my memory.

Thanks so much to Mum for taking me with you.

* Compared to absolutely nothing about the visual arts.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

P365 - Day 165 school holiday fun

This is the second week of school holidays. Because Juniordwarf is only in school three days a week, there’s only three days we have to cover each week, so Slabs and I each have taken a day off work and my mother has kindly agreed to look after Juniordwarf for the other day.

This week I had today off so, combined with the public holiday on Monday (thanks monarchy!), I’ve had a five day weekend.

It was great, and reminded me of the past few years where I used to have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, by the end of which I felt like I was just getting into my ‘Mum’ role, only to have to go back to work the next day.

Today we did a lot of fun things. We did housework.

Actually, we spent some time cleaning up in Juniordwarf’s bedroom, and reorganising his bookshelf in the lounge room. We vacuumed and we continued to bring an airer full of washing in from outside at a time in an attempt to get it dry before next week’s washing day.

Juniordwarf discovered a bag full of flyers for the local community radio station that Slabs is involved with. He’s recently been watching a DVD we made of his first Xmas, which involve a rather lengthy sequence of me (in a Santa hat) handing out presents to everyone.

So today he got the flyers out, sat some of his toys down in a circle and proceeded to hand them out their ‘presents’ – ‘Teddy from Santa’, ‘Mum from Dad’, ‘Juniordwarf from Sleepydog’, ‘Mum from Juniordward’ and so on, until all of the flyers were handed out.

It took a long time, and an equally long time to pack them all up again.

I had a productive morning constructing the third tier of a scrapbooking paper rack that had been sitting in a box by the back door for longer than I care to remember. Also in the box was one of those fold up outdoor chairs that we got for Juniordwarf but never took outside to store with the rest of the chairs.
He sprang upon it as soon as I took it out of the box and decided it was time for him to set it up. So after lunch that’s what he did.

This was the temperature.

This is him.

I don’t think he feels the cold. I certainly do.

The last thing we did today, after a quick trip up the street to put the contents of Juniordwarf’s money box into his bank account and do the shopping, was to make sushi for dinner.

We had sushi because that’s what he said he wanted, and he was telling me all about how some of his school friends have sushi for lunch. About one of them, he was saying that she has sushi for lunch, then he said ‘actually no, she has a sandwich’. Bit of a difference there!

This is the first time Juniordwarf has had sushi and I was encouraged by the fact that a lot of the ‘healthy kids lunches’ type books suggest this as something kids will eat, and I’ve heard other people say their kids love it. So what a fine way to get him to eat vegetables.

I haven’t made sushi very often, and I’m not particularly skilled at it. I can never get it to look as dainty and perfect as the sushi gurus – probably because I make it every six months or so as opposed to every day –and I’m delightfully unimaginative when it comes to fillings. My standard is smoked salmon, carrot and cucumber. I’d love to try using raw fish, but I’m terrified of doing it wrong or keeping it at the wrong temperature and poisoning myself, so I usually stick to what I know.

Juniordwarf helped out making his roll. I let him taste a bit of wasabi, but he was less than impressed, as I suspected he would be, and so his was just salmon and carrot. He even ate a couple of carrot sticks on the side. Small victory!

He was so keen to eat his sushi. He kept asking when it would be ready and when he could eat it and I had to keep telling him to wait a bit longer because it needed to be chilled.

Finally he got to eat it. We showed him how to dip it into the soy sauce and eat it, but he ended up unwrapping it. After a couple of pieces he decided he didn’t like it after all, and pulled the rolls apart, picked out the salmon and left the rest.

At least he tried it, and he knows what it is now. I wonder if he’ll be as keen next time or if that’s it for his sushi experience for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

P365 - Day 164 there's a hill under there somewhere

Today was cold and foggy.

This is a normal winter morning view of one of the hills behind our house, from between two trees.

You can just make out the trees on top of the hill through the fog. The tree in the foreground on the left hand side is our yellow plum tree.

And this is a picture of the same hill once the fog had gone.

See? There really is a hill!

Monday, June 13, 2011

P365 - Day 163 look out

We went to one of our town's lookout spots this afternoon to have a look at the view and see if we could see our house. We couldn't because a tree was in the way.

This is the view looking down river.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

the star chart (and weekly check-in #2)

Let’s talk about resolutions.

Well, actually, since this is my blog (and my weekly check-in) I’m going to talk about my resolutions.

Or, more accurately, my commitments. I decided to call my resolutions ‘commitments’, because to me ‘resolution’ conjures up something you come up with for New Year and, more often than not, fail to keep. I know – the two words are most likely interchangeable and I’m just playing with semantics here, but if I’m going to be more likely to stick to a commitment than a resolution, then I’m using that word.

But first, a recap of what I’m talking about.

In January I wrote about resolutions in the context of The Happiness Project. Basically what Gretchen Rubin did in an attempt to make progress towards reaching her goals was to make resolutions related to those goals that were ‘concrete and measurable’. She then made up a chart to record those resolutions and included space for each day, where she would tick the box if she’d fulfilled the resolution and cross it if she hadn’t. (The Happiness Project, page 8.)

The idea behind this is that if you put the chart somewhere you can see it, you’ll be reminded of what you’ve set out to do, and if you record your progress, this provides a degree of accountability and encourages you to keep going.

For her Happiness Project, Ms Rubin selected a different subject for each month (such as ‘work’, ‘money’, ‘friendships’) and then set herself specific, realistic tasks related to those subjects, which at the end of each day she could assess whether or not she had done.

Each month she added the new month’s resolution’s to the previous ones, so that by the 12th month, her intention was to be keeping all of her resolutions every day.

So, having explained all that, it's back to me.

A couple of weeks ago I posted how my first commitment was going to be to make sure my kitchen benchtop was clean every evening and that all the washing up was done and put away. 

It’s a fairly simple task, but it’s something that, by the time we’d done everything else we had to do once we got home – especially on the days when we pretty much got home and went straight into dinner – I was often in a state where I couldn’t be bothered to finish. I’d do the washing up and leave it in the drainer, I’d leave things on the bench that I wasn’t sure when I’d be needing next and I’d leave the stove to be cleaned until I next needed to use it.

The result was being greeted by an untidy kitchen first thing in the morning, which set me up for being in, well, an untidy mood for the rest of the day.

So I decided to start to make a bit more of an effort, and to make sure that I did, I made my own version of Ms Rubin’s resolution chart. It looks a lot like Juniordwarf’s star chart for the little tasks we were having trouble getting him to do, and is going to need some resizing pretty soon, once the number of commitments gets much bigger.

Yep it's probably a little bit childish, but there is a certain satisfaction in doing something I said I'd do, and seeing my chart fill up with stamps. Juniordwarf is quite amused by it all too. But if it works, then I'm not complaining.
Last week was my first full week trying to fulfil this commitment, and this week was my second. My first weekly check-in was here, and I committed to coming back every Sunday night and reporting on my progress, in an attempt to hold myself accountable. By that I mean I hope I’m less likely to give up if I’ve made a public commitment to doing this stuff (even if only one person reads it).

Ok, I can’t put it off any longer . . . time to report.

Kitchen bench: 7/7 stars.
Bed by 11pm: 3/6 stars (I can’t count tonight, since I haven’t gone to bed yet).
Drink enough water: 7/7 stars.

Next week’s new commitments

This is going to be tough. The commitment is to get up and dressed by 7 am every day.

Not difficult on a work day because I get up well before then. But on weekends and on my day with Juniordwarf, I tend to lounge around for a long time before I get dressed, I don’t actually do anything during that time and I waste a lot of the day. I’m hoping that the act of getting myself ready for the day will move my mind into an action frame of mind, rather than a sloth one.

Also, if I have to get up earlier, this might help me stick to the 11 pm bed time, which I did well at the start of the week, but lost it at the end of the week.

Maybe I should make it 8 am on a Sunday though.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

P365 - Day 162 - purple carrots

A few weeks ago I found some purple carrots in a supermarket. Juniordwarf was quite delighted by them, and was more than happy to eat them. A victory in the battle to get him to eat vegetables!

He followed this by a refusal to eat orange carrots. Only purple carrots would do.

Of course.

Well our local supermarket doesn’t stock purple carrots, and we were only in the one that did because we were in the area to do something else, and it seemed like a good idea to get the groceries while we were there.

Since I’m not going to make a special trip anywhere just to get purple carrots, the only way he’s going to get them, unless we see them again somewhere, is if we grow them ourselves.

So on the way home from the Botanical Gardens last weekend, we called into a store I was fairly confident would sell purple carrot seeds (thankfully it did) and bought some.

Juniordwarf was very keen to sow some seeds, but the weather this week has been terrible and not conducive to gardening, so he didn’t get a chance until today. Today we spent a couple of hours out in the garden, mainly pulling out dead plants and weeds, and we sowed some purple carrot seeds.


I’ve never successfully grown carrots, so I’m hoping this will be the first time. Instead of putting the seeds in the oxalis infested vege patch, we put them in one of those polystyrene vegetable boxes filled with potting mix. I’m hoping the mix is light enough to grow carrots in. If not, I’ll need to think of something else.

Juniordwarf watered the seeds once he’d put them in the potting mix, and he was very careful carrying his little watering can from the tap to the garden that he didn’t spill a drop.

Now the challenge is going to be keeping him interested in the seeds’ progress until we get some carrots in about four months time.

P365 - Day 161 a million little photos (10/06/2011)

On the weekend I finally finished taking photos for the Art House Cooperative's A Million Little Photos:  Photomobile project, which I signed up to in February.

I posted about this project when I received my camera in March, and then spent the best part of two months wondering what on earth I was going to take photos of.

I chose the theme ‘In Progress’, which seemed like it wouldn’t be too hard, but when it came down to actually taking the pictures, I had no idea what to do. The only thing that really came to mind was building sites, but I didn’t think taking 27 photos of buildings in progress would make for a very interesting project.

As a result the camera sat on my dining table for over two months, while I waited, with increasing desperation as the weeks went by, for inspiration to hit.

Eventually I realised I was just going to have to get out there and do something or I’d miss the 15 June deadline for the photos to be postmarked.

Until I actually started taking the pictures, I hadn’t fully appreciated the challenges involved with taking photos with a disposable camera, when I’m used to a variety of more sophisticated cameras, with zoom functions and the ability to focus and expose for the available light. Another thing you have to remember is when you look through the viewfinder, the image that the camera lens sees is slightly down and to the left of your view, which does make a difference when you're used to shooting exactly what you see with a digital camera.

I’m used to a little beep that tells me when something in the scene is in focus, so holding up a camera and basically going ‘click’ felt really really strange.

I put the camera in to be processed yesterday and got the photos back today. Overall I wasn’t exactly thrilled with them, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. 

You had to use the disposable camera, with all its limitations – which I guess was the whole idea of the project – so what I got was what I got. I could see a few where the flash would have come in handy, and a few where I tried to get too close. Since I couldn’t crop them, I tried to move in close to eliminate distracting backgrounds from the picture, only to end up with something that was out of focus.

Anyway it’s all done now. I dropped the photos in the post box on my way home and they are now winging their way to the Brooklyn Art Library to be a part of the project. I guess I’ll find out a bit later on which photo or photos they thought were worthy of inclusion. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

P365 - Day 160 project life

I spent most of the evening putting my photos from May into my Project Life album.

I still have a lot of journalling to catch up on. It's all written down on the computer and/or on here, I just have to get myself psyched up to commit it to the journalling cards and slot them into the album.

I'm a little bit behind on that score.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

P365 - Day 159 it's seven minutes

In the mornings Juniordwarf usually gets into our bed and lies around with us for a bit, reads a story, goes to the butty . . .

Then when he’s had enough of that he looks at the clock radio and announces how many minutes it will be until he gets up.

Once he’s decided on that, he watches the clock until it’s time and every minute he announces how many minutes are left. The number of minutes varies every day, but for that period, he does nothing except watch the clock and make his minute announcements.

Today he got into bed and didn’t do any of the things he usually does. He just looked at the clock and said ‘it’s seven minutes’.

At 7.00 he said ‘six minutes now’ and so it went on until 7.06, at which point he got out of bed and went to get dressed.

(Today he read a book at the same time as he was watching the clock, which is unusual. He usually just watches the clock.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

P365 - Day 158 cooking spaghetti

Me: Juniordwarf, have you been eating the spaghetti out of the pot while I wasn’t looking?

Him: No.

Me: Juniordwarf, have you been eating the spaghetti out of the pot?

Him: Yes . . .

Monday, June 6, 2011

P365 - Day 157 poor neglected eMac, I haven’t seen you for a while

I worked from home again today, with the intention of turning what I’d written down last week into a document that made some kind of sense.

This meant a shift from my cosy reading chair to my ergonomic OH&S-approved-by-work computer desk, upon which my 2003 eMac sits forlornly, after having been upstaged by my MacBook last year.

I got it as part of an insurance settlement following a power surge that wiped out most of the electric and electronic equipment in our house. It took several months, and many phone calls to the insurance company (and possibly a couple of letters of complaint as well), before the electrical repairer that the insurance company had seemingly picked out of the phone book because it was the first one listed in our area admitted that he actually couldn’t repair my poor old fried Mac Performa, and the insurance company agreed to get me a new computer.

I can’t remember exactly which model of Mac Performa I had, but 580CD rings a bell. If that’s the one, according to, it
featured a 33 MHz 68LC040 processor, 5 MB or 8 MB of RAM, and either a 250 MB or 500 MB hard drive in a relatively-compact all-in-one case with a 14" color display. The Performa 580CD was sold in Canada, Asia and Australia, and was discontinued in February 1996.
Yep, five MB of RAM and a hard drive measured in megabytes. A 33MHz processor.

I may well laugh now, but it was the first computer I ever owned, and I loved it. I was shattered when it was fried.

The replacement eMac has an 80 GB hard drive and came with 128 MB of RAM. As you can imagine, I was pretty over the moon with it eight years ago, and couldn’t imagine how I’d ever need anywhere near 80 GB of memory.

That was before I got a digital camera, a digital camcorder and had a child.

Say no more.

I don’t remember the last time I actually used it, and it felt weird to be using a desktop Mac again. I’m now so used to the MacBook trackpad that I kept reaching for the non-existent trackpad on the keyboard. (I don’t do that at work, mainly I think because I mouse with my left hand, whereas I trackpad and mouse at home with my right hand, so I don’t get confused at work.)

Apart from the fact that it had been so long since I’d used it (maybe we had a power outage since then) that it had reset itself to 1 January 1970, everything else was working fine, and I got a good amount of work done today.

And I took a couple of photos.

These pics are edited in Camera+ and put together in another nifty little app called PicFrame, which lets you make picture montages on your phone in different sizes and layouts. I like it a lot except for an annoying habit it has, of whenever you try and move a picture around in its frame, the Rotate/Mirror menu keeps popping up.