posit even

It’s so hard to stay positive! I am finding it hard to feel pleased with myself at the end of this weekend. I wait all week for work to be over, and then the weekend goes by and I have nothing to show for it but naps. What did I even do with myself?

  • I went to just one yoga class on Saturday, and none on Friday or Sunday, although it was a really good class. I’m starting to wonder if Bikram is more enjoyable going every other day instead of 5 times a week. Maybe if I set that as a goal I would stop beating myself up when I don’t go, too.
  • I taped up some boxes and packed up most of my books (they are always the easiest thing to pack, after all).
  • After a few issues, I finally installed the Blackboard application for the online workshop on intangible cultural heritage I have signed up for. The three sessions will be run on Thursday mornings in February from 10am to 12pm Melbourne time, which means I will have to be strong and determined and step away from my work for two hours, and not let anything stand in the way of that. I’m already worried about a meeting coming up this Thursday, which I’m pretty sure my boss hasn’t bothered to put into my diary but will want me to attend, but I will just have to put my foot down. The third session is the same day as an absolutely incredible-sounding lecture I want to attend at Deakin: Building Capacity for Reducing Disaster Risks to Cultural Heritage Challenges and Opportunities in Asia Pacific. So… so I will take the entire morning off work. Scary! But I have to get some small amount of study in, having otherwise given up uni this semester.

(This listing thing is cheering me immensely. This is why I have this blog, which is basically a long list of things I did)

  • I offered a load of my pre-loved high heels on Facebook to whomever amongst my friends wanted them. I was surprised by the positive response I had, and it feels really good to re-home them! Plus it means I have/will be seeing friends who come to shoe-shop, which is nice. James’ sister came over and picked up 3 pairs for a start.
  • Sent a huge pile of books off to donate to the op-shop.
  • Sorted through all my papers (and even organised them into an accordion file with little stickers and everything) whilst listening to the audiobook of Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, for old times’ sake. Polly and I listened to the Red Dwarf audiobooks at least 20 times over the course of our childhood, and it’s very soothing to me!
  • Found no fewer than 5 unfinished needlework projects (a scarf I have been knitting for several years, and 4 different needlepoint projects (a duck, some lavendar, some wildflowers, and another which I have already forgotten again). These can go in the queue behind the sashiko I am literally 30 minutes away from finishing.
  • Cooked egg fried rice and tofu, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Yes that was the only thing I cooked. I don’t even know what else I ate in the last 48 hours, apart from ice cream.
  • Spent lots of time Skyping with my wonderful, albeit monstrously hirsute, boyfriend, who I just am too lucky to have, even if he sometimes does weird things like send me unsolicited, unwearable onesies. Although he has also booked us an AirBnb bush retreat for when he gets back from Iraq so it evens out (also following mysterious requests for my mailing address, I am pretty sure he has also got me Pioneer Girl, the Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography, which is pretty much sold out everywhere. Or maybe it was a salad spinner! both are highly coveted objects of desire…)!

So I suppose overall I have done SOME things. Eeeep it’s 10:45pm and I need to pack my bag for 6am Bikram… urgh… mornings… work… must resist temptation to get miserable again.

things

I took advantage of a Monday off work to try and pull myself together.

I made baked eggs from this recipe, and it was easy and delicious. It has spices! I want to get better at using spices because without onions and garlic, food gets boring very fast.

Raw:
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Slightly overcooked (which is how I prefer them really):
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These unsexy badly-lit pictures of my wardrobe? The result of extensive organisation and purging of what is habitually referred to as the Floordrobe. I’m proud, thus they are going on the blog.

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Polly is rather keen on the hairdye scene, and we picked up some coloured hair chalks on the weekend. She experimented with blue and purple as usual, and for fun, I picked up the red, pink, orange and yellow to make a little Flame Princess makeover. I thought it would have washed out after Bikram this morning, but it turns out, I still have teensy reddish highlights (if you can spot them). I quite like them, although I trust none of my clients noticed today at work.

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Speaking of Bikram and work: my backpack at 5:30am… again, boring picture for everyone else, but it holds: breakfast, lunch, two towels, my Bikram costume, my work shoes and clothes, my toiletries, and my water bottle. I was quite impressed with my packing and organisational skills. Onto the blog it goes.

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I came out of a particularly draining call conference to find a parcel from mummy on my desk, with a fancy magical butter dish and a tapestry kit from Erhman Tapestry. I’m itching to get started but I must finish the sashiko first!! I’ve only got about an hour’s work left to do so I must knuckle down.

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Work today was a 9 in terms of loathing. I shut myself away and cried in the training room at 9:30am, although things slowly improved over the course of the day. It’s nearly always the first day back that is the worst, I suppose I should not have long weekends…

arts and crafts

We did finally make it to ACCA for the Menagerie exhibition, although it was quite underwhelming. Having built it up for weeks, we ended up whizzing through it in 20 minutes. Polly loves animals, I love art, and yet neither of us were particularly moved by anything we saw, and I thought the curatorship and general layout of the gallery were rather atrocious. It was worth going however, as I noticed in their gift-shop the remnants of the Douglas Gordon exhibition the only way out is the only way in, which we were sad to have missed. Polly and I have a special thing for Douglas Gordon, ever since going to see a fantastic show of his at the Hayward Gallery over 10 years ago in London. The ACCA shop still had the Douglas Gordon show t-shirt which was so perfect for Polly, I had to get it for her: “i’ve changed”.

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Since we were in the Arts Precinct, we walked over to the NGV and went to see a few exhibitions there too. Polly wisely suggested we start on the third floor and work our way down; why have I never thought of this? When your feet start to hurt, as they always do, at least you are guaranteed a glimpse of things on your way out, rather than never making it to the top.

We first went through the Contemporary Art gallery on our way to check out the Alex Prager temporary exhibit. There were some really interesting pieces tucked away up there — I was delighted by Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker’s Domino Effect, a video of antiquated bricks set up like dominoes toppling across Panama City and finally crashing down into the sea. It was simultaneously fun to watch, just as any large-scale domino scene is, and beautifully shot with so many historical buildings and streets, and yet it was physically painful at the same time, because you can’t help flinching as you watch and hear the ancient bricks crunch and smash into each other. I know that we can’t and should not conserve everything, but it was a really moving piece for me (AS A CONSERVATOR, DAHLING), exacerbated by reading that the colonial-era bricks are used as landfill in the UNESCO-listed town as contemporary urban development continues to gnaw its way across the city.

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(photo from here)

Alex Prager didn’t really do it for us — I did feel awkward and unoriginal thinking how very Cindy Sherman it all was, but apparently Prager openly embraces what is known in the art world as The Cindy Sherman Effect. I still would have preferred to see some Sherman though.

Then we tried and failed to locate the Takahiro Iwasaki Itsukushima exhibit, so next up was David Shrigley. His work turned out to be extremely entertaining, and it’s a shame they don’t provide benches in that space as we would have happily spent far longer reading everything.

This piece is called “Eggs”.

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I thought this one was very well suited to my blog…

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…and I was amused by the juxtaposition of these two which reflects how Polly and I spend most of our free time: Yoga/Pizza

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Shriegly also made this fantastic gate which I want.

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Polly and I were slightly hypnotised by the gallery space and wandered into the dedicated Shriegly-Shop, where t-shirts, tea towels, coasters, soft toys, and all the usual swag all abounded. The fact that it had its own shop independent of the fantastic NGV shop, and that it was crawling with people earnestly trying on caps and clutching mugs eventually sunk into my brain, as did the pricetags which all said “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO TAKE THIS JUNK HOME” (or words to that effect) and I realised how silly it would be to buy anything at all!

So we have returned home, where I am ready to finish up the sashiko. Progress shots below:

Early last night:
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This afternoon:
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sashiko monday

Polly woke me this morning by repeatedly lifting and dropping my arm onto the bed, as my alarm had been ringing for 3 minutes without effect. She explained that she didn’t want to scare me by shaking me the way normal people wake other normal people. I was very confused.

Additionally I was very grateful as this meant we got to go to 6am yoga (despite having gone to yoga the night before too). Double yoga was required to get through today… and I survived! I even left work at 5pm instead of staying there stewing over how much poop work I have. Score would probably be a 6 today actually!

This evening I didn’t want to waste my time on the internet so Polly and I watched 30 Rock and Mean Girls… and I finished the grid pattern of my sashiko! Unremarkable photo below, but proof nonetheless. Up close the stitches are quite wonky and irregular, especially when my attention was more on the TV, and all natural light was gone so I was pricking my fingers a fair bit. But from even just a small distance it’s charming, and more importantly, it’s done! Well the grid is done…

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I just realised that I never put my sashiko embroidery on my blog, only on Facebook! Scandal.

Here is the sashiko kit I ordered online back in February:

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And here is an action shot from when I first started, which shows the pre-printed pattern I am following on the back:

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Some time in March I lost interest and spent the winter staring at my iPhone. But these early morning yoga classes mean I have to limit evening screentime, so here we are… I seem to have lost the little leather thimble/needle guard (I had been using it to help me prick eggs with a pin before boiling them, to stop the shells from cracking. It’s very effective but it’s tough on my wussy fingers, and the leather needle-guard was perfect. But now I can’t find it) but I have a feeling the circular patterns are going to be a lot more challenging than the grid!

Polly in Aus

As I mentioned in the previous post my sister Polly came to stay with me for two months. We were both a little apprehensive about such a long stay but in fact I loved having her here with me — loved it even more than when she came to visit in Sri Lanka in 2012. I miss her and I am quietly hoping she will come back soon. I went through some pictures of us and the various fun things we got up to and decided I wanted to pop these on here for my family to see and so I can come back and reminisce whenever I want! Some of these are just random and some have proper activities attached…

When James was here for his surprise visit, he kindly drove us out to Healesville Sanctuary so Polly could get up close with native animals.


Polly and James watching koalas


One of our favourite sights: Kangaroos chillin’ like a villain


James and Polly make such a great comedy duo


Polly and I paid extra for a Magical Moment where you can pet a Real Australian Animal (originally with a tree kangaroo but it wouldn’t come down to play, so we got an echidna instead)




I always seem to be trying to escape in pictures of me + animals… don’t know why?

Wombats are my favourite animal and I thought these big sleeping fatties in glass boxes might be my only sighting of them…


but luckily later in the day we stumbled across the same zookeeper who was carrying a teenage wombat around for petting! Yes, she looks deranged in this picture. I chose it cos I am jealous of her job.

So much cute!

This is a not terribly interesting picture of a goanna. The reason why I include it is so I can share this fact: Early colonists of Australia named it “a goanna” as a contraction of “iguana” (totally unrelated species of course). Aaah Aussies.

Actually James took a much better one of me and Polly getting friendly with a goanna.

This is not really Polly-related, but that evening I went down to the beach with James. Couple selfie! You know I can’t resist ’em!

Continuing the trend, we follow with some more completely unrelated pictures (except they do feature Polly:

Swimming sisters!

Visiting the Immigration Museum

Pictures of Polly drinking a beverage with a straw!

I miss going for walks together. Along the river in Collingwood…

…and of course along the beach at St Kilda




We went to Melbourne Museum a couple of times — once for a night-time event at the Smartbar (which I have attended previously and LOVED) and once just for casual funtimes because I wanted to show Polly the Melbourne Story exhibits.

This particular Smartbar event wasn’t quite as thrilling in terms of lectures — the interesting ones had mostly been cancelled sadly — but we still drank lots of wine and had fun being in the museum at night with no children around: my personal idea of heaven. Random snaps from the night:
Polly being hypnotised by some creepy stick insects

Rosie smirking with a lion (and purple wine-stained teeth)

We watched this fantastic 3D 360o screen thing about the formation of rocks. Very stylish 3D glasses.

We gawked at all the incredible minerals and Polly found this finger-shaped one that made us giggle like drunken idiots

When we went back in the cold light of day we also made the acquaintance of some cute frogs — you would be forgiven for thinking that Melbourne Museum is a zoo.

More silly posing in front of Australiana:

Close-up of that tapestry

Polly is very moved

We went to Bikram yoga a few times and Polly rocked it there. One Friday night however we dragged ourselves out to class and it was canceled, so we went for Ethiopian food. When I suggested Ethiopian (I’d been craving injera), Polly made a face and said she didn’t fancy being bright purple all night. I was confused, wondering if she was referring to food stains… then realised that in France, Ethiopian food is made by and for Ethiopians and is super spicy. I quickly reassured her that in Whitesville, Whiteland Australia, Ethiopian food is prepared according to whimpy white people tastes. We stuffed ourselves accordingly (and the photos are terrible but the anecdote makes me smile so I keep them anyway!).

One of the things I did whilst Polly was here was get some second-hand frames and put up some art on my walls. She was very helpful and I need her to come back and help me pick out the right ones!

Embroidery by me + an old Christmas card from Graham

I love the lime green frame with this pointillist painting which has plenty of chartreuse and magenta to match.

We must save Taiwan! Thanks China! I got these in Beijing a few years ago.

Speaking of art, I also unearthed this majestic pictures from when I was posing for some artists in Taiwan, back in the day… (the day being 2006!)

Graham took Polly and me to Lysterfield Lake for a hike as I really wanted Poll to see some kangaroos in the wild — it’s such a special experience (for me anyway!) We didn’t see any for ages, and I was starting to worry we wouldn’t, but then one popped up from the undergrowth and we saw heaps of them after that.
Kangaroo numero uno

Polly gets in close! You can’t see them but they ARE in the picture.


Rambling hikers

JUST DON’T THROW THEM OK?

We came home that night to yet another fantastic Melbourne sunset. I love Melbourne skies.

I had been taunting Polly with mysterious mentions of how we must go see the Polly Woodside, without ever letting her know what it was. Eventually we made it there…

It’s a ship! (in case the writing above wasn’t clue enough)

Polly posed with the ship and then swiftly redirected us to the nearby bar, to pose with cocktails.

I think she looks so much like Mummy here! (don’t look at me, I look creepy as usual)

It was a really gorgeous way to spend the end of the afternoon.

But we couldn’t linger too long as we had places to be:

Alan Davies!

Too soon the two months came to an end… My boss took us out for a farewell dinner, where the food was unremarkable but Polly was introduced to the pleasures of the Fishbowl Margarita. She managed to drink most of it by herself, despite the waitress’ suggestion that I share with her (no thanks! I want my own drink!)

Polly and I had our own last supper together — I took my baby girl out for Japanese and it was very very delicious. The dessert was so good – green tea ice cream and sesame ice cream.

As we were walking home for her to pack, I said to Polly, “Do you want to get a bottle of —“ and hadn’t finished my sentence before she made a sharp turn into the bottle shop, immediately saying “Yes!” We chose it based on my time-honoured method of selecting one with a good label.

And so it all ended. Polly! do you miss Melbourne yet? Come back!!

inspiration

Today I met up with Fiona for breakfast in North Melbourne, before we cycled over to Kensington for the Open Studio day of a couple of her friends at Ink & Spindle.

Lara and Tegan design and hand-print gorgeous fabrics, and we arrived just as they were finishing up the screen printing demonstration. I loved their beautiful patterns and colours, and it made me wish I had an actual need for fabric in my life right now.

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But just as inspiring were the workspaces themselves — they share their studio with some talented jewellery-makers and illustrators, as well as the start-up Handmaker’s Factory.

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I have some space in my new home, to make up for the lack of actual bedroom space, and I have been thinking about how I want to set it up. I would like for it to be more like a studio space than a simple desk for studying — somewhere I can keep my embroidery, knitting, painting and modelling gear, as well as my school books and my “art restoration kit”.

Anyway, back to today. We came out of the studio, and by magic found ourselves on… the Capital City Trail. The weather is gorgeous this weekend, and riding Gary along the trail is like an injection of the happiest-making drug in the world. The smell in the air, that Australian heat smell, sort of spicy, the smell of the Bush, I don’t know what makes it so entrancing? I like this post on the particularities of the Australian bush, although of course riding the CCT through the inner north is not actually anything like the bush itself.

My emotional, passionate love for Australia is a secret to nobody, and the fact that I am incapable of hearing or singing I still call Australia home without breaking down in huge, body-wracking sobs causes endless entertainment to the more sadistic of my friends. In fact, just obtaining the below video — hideously cheesy and commercial though it may be — meant I spent a good ten minutes crying.

I can’t explain what it is that makes me, as someone who doesn’t have her own country or cultural identity, feel so at home here. I sometimes find it hard to believe I’m actually really here at last, after the last two years (not to name drop but I went through I think 14 different countries, some of them multiple times, before finally coming home to Melbourne). It’s like finally being given what I never thought I could have — as a permanent resident of Australia, I will never have to leave again if I don’t want to.

A lot of Australians don’t really get what it is that I love so much about this country, and even more non-Australians are surprised at how much I cling to a country that some of them describe in less than flattering tones (unsurprisingly, this only comes from people who haven’t actually ever BEEN here). And I am afraid I simply don’t have the words to tell them. But today, as I was riding Gary along the CCT, breathing the fragrant air and feeling the sun on my skin and with the biggest, bluest sky overhead, I realised that I never, ever have to stop doing this. I can go on riding my bike along this trail for the rest of my life. Not all day every day, I just mean… for the first time, there was a sense of permanency. I will be riding this bike trail when I turn 30 later this year, and I will be doing this when I’m 35, and 40, and 60. This is my home and I will always, always love Melbourne, no matter where I am in the world.

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ollie the owl

Another post written in advance but waiting for the right moment to go up! I am so proud of this piece. It’s a gift I made for my darling friend Bonnie, upon whose spare mattress I have been inhabiting since I got back to Melbourne. Bonnie loves owls, and this seemed the perfect gift to express my unending thanks to the dear girl. I didn’t expect it to take 27 hours (yes, twenty seven, T-W-E-N-T-Y S-E-V-E-N, my fingers were so sore by the end) to complete — which I had to rush as I only had 3 days to make him.

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Superhero James is also in town, and he made this gif for me so I could show Ollie off under every angle:

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I made Ollie from a kit, as I am not quite talented enough to design my own pieces, but there is still a lot of love and effort that went into him and hopefully Bonnie loves him too!