Saturday, 31 May 2008

Friday Archive (belated)

The cover illustration for my entry in to the Textiles Institute competition in 2nd year at RMIT Brunswick. The Grand prize was/is 4 weeks tuition and accommodation at the Paris American Academy.

Probably the last time I played with gouache and pencils (I was soon after introduced to Adobe illustrator
and it's been my friend ever since).

I was a finalist, but wasn't really in a position to give it my all (quite the theme for my time at Fashion School really).

I am sometimes saddened that I was not able to take advantage of all the awesome opportunities that crossed my path at RMIT. But bigger things were happening, not all apparent from the surface. It is this deeper story I am reminded of when ever I see this drawing.

Still reeling from my Grandfather's death the previous year - it was a time of great emotional upheaval for me.

Part of my rationale for going back to Uni was to find somewhere to hide while I continued my daily, if not hourly, battle with clinical depression. My ability to function had been seriously hampered for some time, but I loved working with textiles and if I didn't show up for a few days no-one got cross. As a Mature Age student, most teachers guessed if you weren't there you had a good reason.

My Grandfather's death set in motion a series of events that have changed my life dramatically. Ultimately for the better, but in the midst of the maelstrom it was hard to see that.

I had chosen to cease all contact with my Mother. A decision that was not made lightly. A decision that still makes me an outcast with half of my family (including my nearly 99 year old maternal Grandmother). A decision that had me frightened, however irrationally, that she would show up on my wedding day and try to ruin the one thing that has kept me alive. I have grieved for the loss of her in my life. And I suspect I will always despise Mother's day for its annual reminder that I chose to rip out my own heart rather than let it kill me from the inside out.

I started going to CASA house. Buried deep was a secret so horrific I'd managed to hide it from several years of psychological analysis. The layers covering up the abuse were finally starting to be peeled off. Several years on, I still struggle to put this into words. If I could write a dedication in the book of "my life so far...", I would note profound gratitude to my counselor Mary M, for well, everything.

But from this pile o' shite, some flowers were born. With the money from Granpa's small estate, my Dad took me on an overseas pilgrimage to discover my roots. It was a profound experience with infinite joyous memories I draw from everyday.

I also got the opportunity to get to know my father. Our past together is complicated. He was a violent and angry man for a long time. He hurt my brother and I very deeply. But I have managed to achieve an adult relationship with him, which I value very much.

I also realised that Jms was my "till death do us part" guy. Despite our shared experiences of diabolical marriages, it was still an institution worth signing up for. Sitting in the bath, as he washed my hair, post 22 hour flight from LA, I informed him we were getting married.

I think I managed to make it back to school for the rest of the semester (mostly). I cobbled a garment together for the finalists' fashion parade, but my heart wasn't in it. My brain was busy re-wiring itself.

And I can honestly say - that I must have done a pretty good job of it - because my current RSI "stumbling block" has not plunged me back into the darkness of depression. It may inspire tears, frustration and require a re-think of my career path and goals, but by and large I am pretty happy to be here.

My friend, the gorgeous and awe inspiring Laura, won the competition. And she deserved it. I may have delusions of fashionistic grandeur, but this girl IS fashionistic grandeur - and with the callouses to prove it. I continue to be blown away by her hard work and vision. I await the debut of her own label with bated breath.

At least I'm not panhandling with a 3 legged dog

Started back at work this week. If you call 2 x 3hour sessions of the most pathetic attempts to be useful "back at work".

3 hours of "Can you do this basic task?" - "No sorry its too painful".

Tried my best to ignore the resentful tone and bitchiness. Hey this is fashion after all - What were you expecting? Sympathy?

Feel like a right eejit as I struggled to put A4 sheets of paper in to A4 plastic pockets.

Really appreciate the quiet word from a senior in another team, saying "Take your time, don't let them push you around".

Watch helplessly as a co-worker struggled with a computer program I could use in my sleep (but apparently not with one arm tied behind my back)

Feeling so demoralised (and in pain) after the first session I had to fight bawling my eyes out on the train ride home.

Swaddling my arm in ice packs and wailing like a banshee, till exhausted, I eventually feel asleep (at 3 in the afternoon).

Rinse. Repeat.

Less wailing the second time though. Thankfully.

P.S. Workcover has finally approved my claim. Yay - we can go to the supermarket! (6 weeks on leave without pay is an added complication I could have lived without)

As Age so aptly highlighted - at least we do have Workcover. If I was in any one of the places in Asia he's worked, it would be just me and the dog.

Friday, 23 May 2008

The Art of Homemade (The Friday Archives)

Still no crafting on the home front due to RSI complications.

The good/bad news is I'm starting back at work next week. I'm not sure I'm ready, but I guess I'll never jump out of bed saying "Yay I want to go back to work!", but you gotta put on a brave face and give it a go. Besides I have a few medico's in my corner if it all goes to shit.

Anyhoo - what's a craft blog without any craftin'?

So here is a bit of show and tell - Friday Archive style. I'm not sure I can commit to this meme because I think most of my back catalogue (that has photos) has already been shared.
And I might not be able to do anything artistic for a little while yet (unless I dig real deep into that A2 folder hiding behind the couch... trust me, we DON'T want to go there)

So an addendum to my "handmade oath" is that I always make my own cards.

I've been doing this for a few years - initially because I'd always forget to purchase them (and decent ones are always so expensive).

My earliest card making foray was in my pre-teens - having forgotten to get tags for the Christmas presents my brother and I had bought, I made a little foam stamp in the shape of a Christmas tree and used watercolour paints to ink it. Well the tradition kinda stuck, and each year I'd think up new styles and colour schemes, that almost took more time and effort than the gifts themselves.

Now the family doesn't buy Christmas presents but does a Kris Kringle style make or bake which suits me fine (though I think some members of the family might be sick of my biscuits!).

Integral to the gift giving for me now though is the card making. I'm ashamed to say (Dr Jimothy avert your eyes) I've even sent off gifts late because I couldn't get the card right.


Talking of delays, this rule was not relaxed for our wedding invitations either. Eight weeks out from the big day (ie. Christmas) I was too busy printing and sewing invites that no-one received Christmas cards last year. My bad.

I've been experimenting lately with cut out style cards. I'd love to develop a small range and get the them professionally cut (RSI issues necessitates getting them made) with a view to sell, but I wouldn't have a single clue about how to do this. If anyone has any ideas - please let me know.

As you can see I'm also a fan of using fabric as wrapping. To me it is the gift that gives twice (especially when the recipient is a craftster who I know will put it to good use).

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Wordless Wednesday

(this meme is a god send for a blogger with RSI)

In my garden...

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

What the Lord give, the Lord taketh away...

Whilst picking some rosemary I discovered to my delight that my Tahitian Lime had finally decided to bear fruit to maturity. Excited by my little clutch of nearly ripe limes I pulled back a few branches - only to notice lumps within the branches - all over the tree...

A quick Google search reveals my poor tree - that has been nursed through several drought stricken years and was finally surging with new life, flowers and fruit - is ridden with gall wasp.

Apparently with this kind of infestation (most of the branches are affected) I have to destroy the whole tree. How is that fair?

Poor little guy.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Broccoli and Bjork

Unfortunately in the weeks preceding the BIG DAY Jms and I had a need to go to Chadstone on many occasions. Dear God that place makes me worry for the fate of humanity, on so many levels.

But depressive, morally high-horsed diatribes aside - after the fix of fresh tempura salmon handrolls (still warm!) had quelled my distress, we happened to find ourselves in Borders in a postprandial bliss and stumbled upon the bargain bin books. More like the great wall of crazily cheap and random books that was at once inviting and overwhelming at the same time.

Well random indeed found me walking out with an armload of stuff including these two books. Possibly purchased only because they were so cheap - but both have proved to be outstanding little finds.

I don't know what caught my eye about this one - but I'm glad it did. A quick flick showed some really promising recipes. For the uninitiated, I LOVE soup. Bizarrely I never order it at restaurants, but if ever I can cook some, I'm there, wooden spoon at the ready. Perhaps its the lazy cook in me that likes the one pot meal coupled with the prep once for multiple meals.

Who could go past the strangeness of Broccoli and Oatmeal soup? Probably plenty - but not this little black duck. Just the kind of wackiness this doctor ordered - and it has proved to be an instant favourite.

(Though I may be biased - I am a Broccoli freak, I could eat it everyday - and actually try to. Jms achieved 5 star-husband status last week by discovering and cooking Oven Roasted Broccoli for me last week - OMG it was good) .

There are some really interesting flavour combinations (Brussel Sprout and Stilton, Carrot and Almond Cream, Dill and Turnip) that as you read make sense and get those taste buds tingling. It might be a little "new age" for some (soup as remedies for bad skin, circulation and sex drive starters!) but the recipes speak for themselves. There is also a really good section at the back for great soup additives - dumplings and such to turn simple soups into rib sticklers.

Bargain Number two was this biography of the world's most famous Icelandic.

I've been a fan girl from the moment the first strains of "Birthday" entered my ears oh so many years ago. My obsession ran to slowly acquiring every single remix that ever existed (foot slog style visiting second hand music shops - in the days before P2P click and download entire oeuvre option). And to Jms' credit he stayed with me all through the 6 months of listening to Vespertine at least once, if not multiple times a day.

Fortunately though my fervour has waned - partly because other obsessions came (Decemberists anyone?) and because Volta still doesn't quite gel with me (apparently though I'm not the only one).

I found it an engrossing read that goes some way to reconcile the disparate images of the uber cool artist and the unstable and eccentric individual. As a creative finding my way in what seems a marketing and product driven world - it was comforting to read that commercial success was never sought by her and her meteoric rise up the pop charts was so out of left field it completely blindsided her world. I still admire her single mindedness and commitment to her art, and am admittedly somewhat jealous that she was able to find her calling at such a young age.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Top 10 things to look at when confined to the couch

1. Pushing Daisies. It has not aired here yet, someone was good enough to send it over from the states - though Channel Nine says its "Coming Soon" (lets hope they don't treat it like Seven did Buffy). At first the premise seams too thin to support a series - but persevere, this show is awesomely good.

Beetlejuice meets hyper-real 50's sitcom whodunit that is futuristic at the same time. It will make you crave pie so much you'll whip out your nicest floral pinny and start rubbing butter in to flour. The writer's strike halted production so the last made episode was re jigged into a season finale.

Pray for season two people. I said PRAY!

2. Avatar - The Last Airbender. I know this has become a Nickelodeon merchandising cash cow - but the cartoon itself is great fun for all ages. A real plot, character development and excellent animation.

Any one who does Tai chi or other martial arts will recognise some of the moves (the animators had lessons in different styles so they could get a real feel for the moves). If you are already a fan - check out some of the chibi style special episodes. What I particularly like about Avatar is that the writers actually care about their characters (even the "bit" characters like Momo and Appa).

3. Peruse the Allison Janney back catalogue.

I *love* her. I suspect I may even want to be her (Gorgeous 6ft glamazon - why not?)

Obviously West Wing is top priority. But when the erudite but sassy dialogue gets to much (155 episodes!) time out with some Juno or even the cute cameo in 10 Things I hate about you. The Hours is a great film - but obviously suffers for Allison's lack of lines (lol).

4. Studio Ghibli movies. Any. I am yet to see one I don't like. Howl's Moving Castle is my favourite (but only just). I have just a little bit of a crush on Christian Bale (the voice of Howl in the Disney/English release).

Excuse a slight digression here - but he has such an interesting film pedigree. Empire of the Sun to Little Women, The Machinist, The Prestige and American Psycho (can't say I can bring myself to watch that one). And personally, I think his Batman is the best.

(Non-comic book folk feel free to switch off here)

Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed all the Batman movies - and they have truly laid to rest the Adam West TV series "Boof! Thwacko!" style (that indeed has its own camp appeal). It's just that as the wife of a comic book geek I got to side step the cheese of Batman comics and was given Dark Knight Returns and Killing Joke to cut my teeth on. Tim Burton's Gotham is stunning, but Batman Begins gives the character of Bruce Wayne a provenance and realism more cogent with vigilante justice.

Obviously wrapped lovingly in the escapist veil of fastasy and superherodom and with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Where was I?

5. After all the colourful eye candy, stretch the intellectual muscle with a book - for me its been Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This was required reading back in English Lit class. Unsurprisingly my 18 y.o. mind found it tedious and self indulgent. At Jms' behest I gave it a second go and I am enjoying it immensely. I guess some books find you when you are ready.

6. Zen can be pretty hard going in places so for a moments cerebral pause try "Small Graces" by Kent Nerburn - a surprising little book I found on my Dad's "Toilet" bookshelf amongst the Jackie French collection. Beautifully written, pithy passages that don't preach or have that "Hallmark" saccharine smugness. Genuine and heartfelt (and nice textured paper).

7. Back to the junk food. Mulan. Yes there might be an Anime theme here. My absolute favourite Disney. I know the score by heart (Jms knows the score of Aladdin by heart - we were made for each other). And yes I have a soft spot for Asian aesthetics. Some incredible animation. The cheesy final song is the only sour note.

8. Watch shadows dance across the wall as the sun plays tag with the rain. Consider it wise you did not attempt to hang out the washing. Reward yourself with a snooze - preferably under a dog and/or several cats (extra warmth - saves turning on heater).

9. Realise you are trapped under said dog/cats and legs have gone to sleep rendering self unable to move.

10. Stare at the ceiling rose and contemplate its striking similarity to Takashi Murakami's flowers, though it predates him by about 50 years (and I don't think he ever lived in this suburb).

How to grow a pair...

I lol'd so much I had to follow the link ...

"how to grow a pear"

It's such a cute idea. Definitely a must do when I have an orchard of my own
(looks wistfully into the distance)

Monday, 5 May 2008

High Country Holiday

Had a wonderous break from the couch this weekend.

My step sister A got married to a wonderful man I'm proud to now call family.
A was bitten by the horse bug at a very young age and has spent her personal and professional life working with horses all around the world. Upon meeting her beau she remarked to her Mum "I've met this bloke AND he's got a horse truck!"

Dad graciously chauffeured Jms and I up to Beechworth for the happy event (Driving still out of bounds esp after a painful "test" trip down to the supermarket - two weeks living off the pantry was getting a bit grim)

It was a beautiful county wedding (albeit frightfully cold) filled with horsey folk and gregarious kids. Having now organised one of those - I am keenly appreciative of all the effort it takes (and very glad to not be in the hot seat). Beechworth turned on the colour and was a great backdrop for the picture prefect bridal party replete with horse and carriage. As per usual Jms acquired a gaggle of girls climbing all over him and putting clips in his hair.

I tried my best to keep up with talk of Thoroughbreds versus Warm bloods and laughed (I believe appropriately) when the best man declared the groom used to ride an Appaloosa (apparently not a serious choice for a horseman). My only equine contribution being "I'm a Clydesdale type myself" - without mentioning it's because they have moccasins. Bravely, I think, the bride and groom held a family dinner the night before the big event at Tanswell's Commercial Hotel. It was a really nice way to meet our new extended family and enjoy a great pub meal (with tasty beers from the Bridge Road Micro brewery - Oh how WE love a good porter). We stayed in a villa opposite the reception centre - which was really cool having most of the family under one roof again (my teenage self would be scowling at this obviously middle aged reminiscence)

On the journey back we detoured via Milawa where we picked up some gourmet supplies - Milawa Cheese Factory (all vegetarian - yay!), the Olive shop (the Italian herb infused Manzanillo are SO yummy) and Milawa Mustards (I'd never have guessed how much fun a mustard tasting could be!) to name a few.

Then cementing it as our new Hume Highway family tradition, we stopped at the Avenel truck stop (where they have surprisingly good coffee) and consumed our cheese and olive booty in the sunshine.

It may not have done my cholesterol levels any good but it certainly lifted my heart.

6 unimportant things about me that involve celebrities

Thanks Claire for this little meme into the random and often goofy encounters we have with stardom (which for some strange reason we can't wait to tell everyone we know - regardless of how mundane the story is).

I didn't think I could come up with 6 (I live in an uneventful suburb) but here goes, in all their banality:

I once sold lipstick to Marina Prior - she was a pleasure to serve (and very petite for such a big voice).

I went to law school with Karen Knowles. She was completely gorgeous and friendly - quite an odd thing in the ego world that it was.

Got in Tim Minchin's way as I stepped out of a shop doorway without looking on Brunswick Street. I was quite mortified because this is one of my pet hates (he is surprisingly tall - or perhaps I am just very short)

Tex Perkins commented on how cute our dog was whilst breakfasting at Borsch on Chapel st. Obviously he has excellent taste.

I once fell asleep/passed out on Dave Hughes' couch (it was a share house so couch ownership may be in dispute). I have also witnessed Dave get heckled by random passing traffic. To me this adds to his hapless charm.

Not mine, but Jms (we are married therefore I am entitled to half credit) sent geek boy MTG cards to Delta Goodrem and she very sweetly signed them for him.

I know Jms meets a few celebs through work - but because of confidentiality can't even acknowledge their stardom, let alone talk about it later. Sadly our bragging cachet at dinner parties has been seriously hampered.