Thursday, 30 November 2006

the good, the bad, the ugly

Here's Boo.

Boo's making me terribly happy.

I actually finished a crochet creature and he actually looks like he's supposed to look.

It was really very easy and extremely rewarding, and much less problematic than trying to learn crochet via Japanese instructions.

That can be my next project.

I still have a tiny scrap of the lovely organic cotton, so I'll have to try and find another tiny project for it.

You can get the pattern

But even better was this on my front doorstep when I got home from work.
I suspected I knew the contents, but I ripped it open anyway and was extremely pleased to find this inside You can get it here, and it is in stores in the UK. There are plans for an Australian release in the near future.

It has no less than 54 projects in it like these
as well as some introductory technique sections and a directory of web resources.

I feel extremely proud to be associated with it.

So that's the good, but I feel bad and stuck in one of those situations I can only describe as ugly.

It's hard to talk about here right now, but it's all about balancing my hard line rational self and doing what I think is 'right' with my desire for harmony and peace by trying to make unhappy people happy.

I can't feel good coming down on either side in this one and being in a leadership position makes me feel incredibly isolated and responsible and torn and tormented. And like everyone, well around 50% of the people involved anyway, hate me.

Let's hope for a better tomorrow.

** Yes - they are my projects in the book! For those who asked about getting yer hands on it - the link in the post above is to Amazon UK, which has stock. This is the link to Amazon in the US, which doesn't yet have stock, but which will. This and this link to Australian sites which will also have stock soon. They are taking back orders in the meantime if you are really keen. Having now had some time to digest it I am even more impressed. The intro gives a nice overview of craft in the context of feminist and art criticism and as a renegade anti consumerist movement. Cool.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

eating my way to good health

I've often said that if I lived alone I'd die of malnutrition. I'd rather cook for 10 than 1 anyday which says all kinds of scary things about me and the way food occupies a role in my life which has nothing to do with sustenance. But that's a whole other post.

Despite the fact that D has winged off to Thailand and I'm playing solo parent for a week or so my recent health concerns have got me making an effort to eat food that can start to build back up my iron stores and general well being.Thai beef salad with cucumber, lettuce and thai herbs and lime juice from the garden and a big hunk of rare steak.

Followed up with the garden produce I love the best.

Friday, 24 November 2006

very pleasing

FinishedThe Baby Yoda, knitted in Debbie Bliss cashmreino aran duck egg blue. Nicole, I swear I'm not stalking you. But you know, you lead, I follow. I love this pattern and want it in a larger size - anyone out there able to modify it? I have a very envious 4 year old sulking as we speak.

StartedCan you guess what my first amigarumi is going to be? More importantly can you guess when I am going to learnt o spell that word? Can you believe I might actually be finishing something which is (a) crocheted (b) on a tiny freaking hook (c) has 11 separate pieces?!

ContemplatingAfter seeing Alison's new baby sling, I'm all confused about which way to go. I'd also considered making this which I've tried on and isn't nearly as complicated as it looks, but it is quite a different deal to go for the extra close hug as opposed to the sling. I had a pouch with Amy and it wasn't very good - with my curves there were too many places for her to get lost! So I get the general gist, but if anyone can translate the Japanese on this pattern I would be eternally grateful and would be happy to exchange a favour?

a little light reading

Not for the first time, Suse has gotten me thinking. And not just about the purity of my soul (that's a whole other story, pleeease).In the last few weeks books have been on my mind. As I think I've said before there was a time when books, and the reading of them, was a central organising principle of my life. But in recent years it has all but disappeared as a leisure activity for me. First there was the post child sleep deprivation thing, then postgraduate research sucked all the will to read out of me. I was reduced to the occasional summer holiday read. I don't even have a bedside light anymore. PATHETIC!But the Time Traveller's Wife has really got me back on the horse. I'm obsessed with finding another good book, and making the time to read it. With only four weeks to go until I finish my job, and hence my daily commute and reading opportunity, I'm scrambling to lay the ground work for a bumper reading list.And because I'm an obsessive process oriented list loving kind of gal I decided it would be unreasonable of me to expect anyone to make reliable recommendations without first assessing my general literary taste. So perhaps it is time to start on my list of favourites. And then I'll let someone take me on, bird under the wing style, to steer me back into the literary fold.But when I saw Suse's bookshelf views I thought that might be a place to start. I should say I don't actually own many books. Lots of house moves, limited space and loans never returned have resulted in just a glimpse of the books I have read, and whilst I endeavour to hold on to favourites, I'm pretty hopeless.

When I look at the selection I realise that there's some crap in there I'd never dream of re-reading (why do I hold onto them?!) and many of my favourites are missing, but it's a starting point. One day when I am bored or something I might actually try and sort them in descending order based on how strongly I feel about them. That should fuck with my head. And then I'll write it out in a nice neat list.

How about we start a mail order book loan club? If you spot something here you would like to read, and if you cross your heart and hope to die to return it (unless I don't care about it in which case, yeah, whatever), and you have something you think I'd just love to read - email me!

Thursday, 23 November 2006

did I tell you about my weekend?

The weather was supposed to be perfect for a tumble in the waves without freezing your tits off so we packed up and set off hereAnd although a breeze blew in and the temperature dropped we still set offfor some sandcastle funand a spot of yoga (who would have thought a 4 year old would love yoga so much?)

We were having a lovely, if colder than anticipated time. But on Sunday night in the middle of a very relaxed barbeque meal my heart started to behave all weird, leaping out of my chest with an erratic beat that had me feeling like I couldn't breath and was going to pass out. Some hurried arrangements and just as we were about to set off to drive to the nearest hospital (30 minutes away), the whole episode was over.

After some consultations and tests the doctors are guessing that combined deficiencies in iron, B12 and magnesium are to blame. After a bit of research it seems like magnesium deficiencies are quite common and contribute to a whole constellation of conditions, many of which I have expereinced at various times. Interestingly it isn't part of routine obstetric testing, though it is most likely the pregnancy is what has pushed the situation into producing such striking symptoms.

Anyway, the end result is that I am confined to quarters for the week, sleeping lots and wishing I either hadn't already finished that fabulous book, or already picked up some of the new books recommended in the comments section of the last post (thanks and keep em coming!). I'm kind of resentful I can't do anything interesting with the times - hey it's taken me till today to even post on the blog! But I get that the whole point is to lie about like a lazy cow, so I'm doing that. The ever thoughtful D took me to the video store where we stocked up on crappy films for me to watch to try and keep me anchored to the couch.

So there's not much going on around here this week.

But we are keeping up watering because we get this as a reward. Aren't they perfect? Amy is thrilled.

Thursday, 16 November 2006


Amy sitting on the toilet watching me get dressed. She’s fascinated by my panty liner.
“Is that for when the baby wees? What happens if it wees in the night?”
The following night she wakes crying because she thinks she’s wet her bed (she hasn’t).
Yesterday we had the classic Melbourne experience of wildly changing weather. We’re only two weeks away from summer and in the middle of one of our worst droughts ever, but yesterday the wind and rain lashed the floor to ceiling windows in my 24th floor office. All day I watched as the black clouds rolled in off the bay, engulfing us in hail, rain and freezing winds, and then within 30 minutes or so blowing out to the hills. A distant streak of blue through the dense precipitation and next thing the sky clears to a pleasant blue. 30 minutes later we do it all again. I am grateful to be in a high rise where the view makes the whole experience magical. Last night was as cold as the depths of winter and all the gutters on the house overflowed from the rain and hail and it even snowed on the Alps. We had a fire in the living room and even that wasn’t enough to keep us warm. The day after tomorrow we are going camping and the forecast says it’s going to be fine and by Monday a hot 30oC. It’s tempting to see harbingers of the environmental apocalypse, but Melbourne’s always been like this.
Thumper has turned upside down I think, and now instead of electrifying kicks to my bladder I’m getting them in the ribs and stomach. It makes me feel nauseous and excited and slightly out of control too. It’s not remotely fun when it happens for three straight hours from 3am to 6am.
I had another dream about kinder politics last night, like I didn’t have anything else on my mind. I was deeply frustrated by my inability to be understood and to stop the parent body from making a very unwise financial decision. They all thought I was mean for advising against it and I thought they were really short sighted to not see the risk they were taking. I also dreamed a colleague was on a tabloid TV current affairs show for being a serial cheat on his wife. Next thing he was telling me how lovely and soft my skin was and then the penny dropped. Even in my dreams it rarely occurs to me that someone might actually be interested in sleeping with me.
If you were going to get together for a bunch of really kick arse crafty bloggers you’d never met and you were going to have to make 14 of the same handcrafted item to distribute amongst them all and you were seriously intimidated but also concerned about time and energy, what would you make?
I’ve worn the pearl earrings and necklace together for two days in a row and nothing terrible has happened. Neither have I been inundated with compliments. Gee, I do like my feedback.
There’s only five weeks to go until I finish work. Blink and you miss it.
I haven’t bought or made a single Christmas present, or even thought about what to cook for Christmas dinner, which is at our house this year.
Aside from all the knitwear, which is really stacking up, I haven’t made any baby clothes for Thumper or finished the pond felted play mat. Do you think I am in denial?
Amy’s favourite word at the moment is actually. She can use it half a dozen times in a sentence when she’s really trying, or at least once in every sentence in a monologue when she’s not. It’s rather a lot actually.
I am soooo in love with being in love with a book again. Audrey Niffenegger – aside from having the wildest name, you have written he coolest book that’s passed through my hands in years (The time traveler’s wife for anyone who missed the pic in my last post). I’m loving every page, wanting to mow the story down in a single sitting, but already sad knowing that eventually it will end and I’ll be lost without it. Please all you readerly types out there recommend me some more gems and keep the love alive.

Monday, 13 November 2006

rainy monday

It's cold and wet again. Don't get me wrong, we're happy to see water falling from the sky now that it happens so rarely and I'm not even feeling the cold too badly. But forgive me if I am still thinking wistfully of days in the sun. It is November afterall.

This morning we baked these rhubarb muffins, another stunning creation from the unbeatable Stephanie. I did fiddle and added cinnamon sugar on the top which is probably some kind of sin as far as Stephanie is concerned. (It's strange and irrational but Stpehanie is the voice in my head that's my cooking conscience - kind of like the kitchen super-ego.)

We were lucky enough to have some delicious home grown rhubarb from Janet's garden and what was left after the muffins went in the pan for some stewed rhubarb. Unfortunately I was so busy doing this

That I ended up with this
and a house full of the smell of burning sugar.

I'm not at all sure about the necklace. I love the colours of the pearls. and pearls are always my most favourite accessory it maternity times, seeing as how they are something precious made by something alive. But I worry it might be a bit too much for my generally understated style. I wanted something chunkier than my usual single string type necklaces, but I don't know how well I can carry something so busy. Besides I can't possibly wear them with my current favourite earrings, since I just can't do the whole matching set thing.So I'll finish the necklace, but I'm figuring it might not last too long and I might be on the prowl for some nice big beads of some kind instead. But I am beginning to wonder if my search for the perfect necklace isn't really just a distraction from what I really need, which is a new handbag. Or two. But that's a whole other post.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

too cool

Here's me thinking I'm teaching Amy when I get out the pipe cleaners to make some pipe cleaner animals. While I focus on the instructions she goes off to get the felt and icypole stick and the next thing I know there's a whole world there. I just love that tree.
She's outstripping me on the creativity already.

And wow I was gobsmacked to see this. I feel like a mega star!

things that are making me happy in late spring

Finishing Amy's new hot pink cardi. The pattern is Rowan's Relish and though that fringing is a bit tedious, in genreal it's a lovely pattern. Amy chose the purple pom poms from my collection from Northern Thailand.

Zucchini flowers - because the zucchinis can't be far behind - and a mass of dill. Just waiting for Zucchini and dill pie with fetta.

Strawberries. Looking a bit skanky now, but once they get their toes in they will be big, fat and juicy.

What looks to be a bumper crop of raspberries, perhaps even before christmas!

Passionfruit flowers. So trippy and crazy looking and then we get the fruit - that's two great garden delights for the price of one!

A self seeded lettuce that is literally growing out of the mortar between the bricks. The power of vegetation amazes and delights me on a daily basis.

The Kaffir lime, the flannel flowers and the new magnolia. The deck seems to sprout new pot plants each week.

I barely ever get to cook these peas, I prefer to eat them straight from the pod when I'm wandering about the garden. They are so sweet and fresh tasting.

The broadbeans. I'm running out of ideas for using these up - I can't remember what I used to cook with them aside from risotto with peas and bacon.

I have trouble with cucumbers in my garden, they seem to shrivel and die before they mature, but this one looks like a stayer. And since D hates cucumbers it will be a battle between Amy and I for who gets the lion's share.

The walnut tree might eventually be cropping after five years of patience. Last year we had one nut, but it was all rotten and yukky when we finally picked it. Did we leave it too long? Does it have a disease or lack nutrients? To be honest we planted it because it was recommended as a top class 'climbing' tree and D was adamant that all kids should grow up with a tree to climb. The nuts, however, would be greatly appreciated since most walnuts here are imported and stale.

A field of what will soon be the happy bobbing heads of sunflowers. A plain label brand of birdseed ($1.99) and some good protection from hungry birds and voila!

I have planted no less than 10 different types of tomatoes this year - why have them all the same?! - but these romas are the first to grow to full size.

The espelier apple trees (fuji and pink lady) have a good 15 or so apples on them and I am deleriously happy. Best use of a fence ever known to a gardener.

Being barefoot on the grass reading an absolutely rivetting and dreamy book. Thanks for the loan Ang! The size isn't exactly what I ordered in the commuter friendly department, but geez it's great to be enchanted by a good book all over again.

A new knitting project, inspired by this.

Indulging my obsessive collecting of storage vessels. These jars are so lovely, so beautifully proportioned, and nice and solid. Like squat old fashioned milk bottles. I can see them all lined up on a window sill filled with buttons and beads. So where did I come across them? Well I can have as many as I want, so long as I keep indulging in eating milk custard from Bread Top. Is it too shameful to admit this is now going to be Amy's special treat from mummy when she goes to work? Trouble is, she appears to have inherited the storage vessel gene from me. We're going to have to eat a lot of custard if one of us isn't going to be very disappointed.

And I have other book news, and I'm busting to tell because it's very exciting, but I'm waitiing for a few answers from the far away publisher and the arrival of a package in the mail. It's all taking so long, very frustrating, but you could get a sneak peek here.

And I've discovered that at least part of my overwhelming tiredness is not due to the increasingly violent nocturnal activities going on inside my belly (we've nicknamed this one thumper). My 26 week glucose challenge test revealled not gestational diabetes (thankfully!) but a very low iron count. So I'm trying to eat lots of steak and take iron tablets with vitamin C and not with calcium or tea since they stop you absorbing iron. The whole thing is monstrously complex! Still, hopefully I'll start to feel a little more alive soon, even if I am as constipated as all hell.

Whew, there goes Saturday morning. Time to get some action happening around here.

Monday, 6 November 2006

about the doco and a few other things

There was a time in my life when I harboured dreams about being a film maker. Before that I simply loved films and it hadn't really occured to me that the making bit might be fun. I just loved to escape into that darkened world, to be carried away, to inhabit another life for a time.

And then more by accident than design I ended up enrolling in a film theory class in my first year at uni. I really loved cinema studies and bit by bit it began to take over the rest of my degree and the rest of my life. It wasn't a practical film-making course by any means, but I began to think more about what went on behind the camera.

More than that I realised that I thought in cinematic images. Reading books, which I had always done with gusto, was really just an exercise in creating films in my head and writing (something else I'd also done a lot of) was about trying to capture those visual images in words. So I started playing with video cameras and even 16mm film.

More and more it was documentaries that really interested me. I watched what is generaly considered to be the first 'documentary', Nanook of the North, and realised that it was very hard to imagine a world where what we take for granted in terms of access to other real worlds via film didn't exist. I liked uncovering the layer upon layer of assumption and construction that made up the so called window to reality, and the various processes, tools and devices that transformed the world out there into the 46 minute snapshot.

I made my first doco as part of my honours research thesis. It was about the first of what I think of as the major 'trap door' experiences of life, the end of high school. I used interviews with eight girls, four in their last year of high school and four who had finished four years earlier to explore what their expectations were of life post school and how their experiences on leaving matched those expectations. In my thesis I linked these themes with the process of education and how it's outcomes were not as direct or predictable as are generally thought.

Then in a moment of madness I set off to India where I made another doco about an illegal street clinic run by volunteer doctors. It was a really hard project because I had absolutely no grip on what was going on, because I was completely unprepared to find myself alone in India, because I was suffereing a major romantic disappointment, because the preparations made ahead of time to borrow cameras and the like had fallen through at the last moment and I was filming on a dinasaur video camera at great cost and in the shadow of the camera owners who were terrified of the police finding us filming the clinic.

And then I stopped making films. I was disappointed by the technology, and what a huge gap there was between the films I loved to watch and the films I could make, how hard it was to get access to equipment once I was no longer a student. But I also couldn't see a way to make films 'lightly'. Writing can take as little as a pen and paper, a computer at best. But films need cameras and lights and lots of people and editing suites and the capacity to set aside months of your time and of course a truck load of cash. I can't see myself as the deal maker, sucking up all those resources based on my self assurance.

Fast forward 15 years to my post birth tail spin. I felt a lot of the same things I felt about finishing school, that I was in a free fall that somehow I should have been better prepared for. That I had worked hard towards a goal that turned out to be nothing like I expected, that somehow I slipped through a trap door and I could never go back, but neither could I have ever seen what was coming. It got me thinking about what it was like for other women too. Did they feel like I felt? Could telling their stories help other women prepare for the unknown? Could exploring their stories help me to understand mine?

So in a casual I'm not really that interested kind of way I went down to the camera shop to have a look at the new generation digital video cameras. In the blink of an eye I'd bought a camera and enrolled in a short course in desktop video editing and was busy sending out emials to everyone I knew recruiting subjects for interviews.

I titled the film expecting because I liked the play on all those meanings expecting has. I developed a list of very broad questions and taped interviews with 25 or so women who had children, were pregnant or who wanted children. I thought a bit about it and what I thought some themes or film structures might be and I loaded up some beautiful footage from Amy's ultrasound and I even picked what I would like the sound track to be if I could get the artists' permission.

And then we got robbed and the camera was stolen (as was the laptop on which I did the editing). I replaced the camera, but the bubble burst. I also left my job and threw a whole stack of other cards in the air and lots of those questions I was looking to answer got channelled into my thesis. So now there is a box of little tapes and an idea waiting for me when I can find the brainspace and the time.

And now so completely unrelated images of the stuff getting made around here.

Lemon shortbread. Sadly all gone.

Some pressies for a friend, welcome Pia!
And Amy's first ever basically unassisted effort sewing. I've never seen her prouder. So we rushed out and got some tapestry canvass and she did this. So cool.