Wednesday, November 30, 2005

All I need is a bumpin beat to bump away my blues

Since J bought an Ipod she has been listening to music a lot more often than she used to, and also seeking out more and more to listen to and to fill up those gigabytes. It makes me really happy to see this happening cause I know how important music is to me, the excitement of discovering new things and especially the connections between different styles and artists. I also like the being a music enabler, trying to finding those songs she knows she likes but can't name.

We've been comparing notes on how having music to listen to can make boring or repetitive activities so much more appealing. I used to occasionally try jogging but I never managed to keep it going over many days/weeks. Realising that I could run with my MP3 player made all the difference. (Buying $200 running shoes may also have been an important motivational factor.) I try to remember to take a spare battery with me too, because I learned the hard way that if the music runs out it's going to be a hard slog, possibly involving some dejected walking, to get home. The music is not really for running to as such. It's more to daydream to while running so I don't think about the fact that I'm running. Unless it's to imagine crossing the finish line of a race. Sometimes I'm skiing (bumps), and quite often I'm somewhere else entirely. Except - being Road Safety Girl - when crossing roads.

Today I finally made a new mix for the MP3 player. It had been months since I had changed the music on it, and I had been running to the same two albums - not even a decent mix of upbeat music - for way too long. No wonder I hadn't been feeling much like going out for a run. Today's run was the best I'd had in ages. With the new music I was inspired to change the route as well.

Later this evening I realised I hadn't listened to the new Darkness album yet (yay!) and also, that the bathroom was really really dirty (boo). It actually took more than the length of the album to finish the bathroom, but that was okay. I loved it, and instantly wanted to play it again. This lead to the motivation to cook dinner, which is worth noting because I generally need almost as much prodding to cook as I do to clean.

Rock music. Is there anything it can't do?

Monday, November 28, 2005

A thousand Cheshire cats grin inside of me

Recently at a party I had a long conversation with B, all about his family and growing up in Scotland. It came out that he still all his mother's knitting needles and wool stashed at home, as he hadn't quite wanted to just give them to Vinnies, after she died several years ago. He was thrilled to hear that I'm interested in knitting and offered to give me his Mum's needles and leftover wool if I wanted them.

Since I'm pretty sentimental, and almost as aquisitive, especially when it comes to craft supplies, I was tickled pink with this offer. Last weekend a few of us were at B's house. After dinner, he brought out a large alfoil box (you know those huge caterer's packs?) and I spend the next couple of hours gleefully picking through a large collection of knitting needles, crochet hooks and other bits and pieces, getting polite disinterested hmmms and ahhs when I couldn't stop myself excitedly pointing things out.

worn needle heads, originally uploaded by Olma.

As soon as I saw these I wanted to photograph them. Those needle heads with the paint mostly worn off and the metal showing through reminded of Dad's (lovingly kept) old Dinky and Matchbox cars.

I haven't crocheted for ages (and can only do very basic stuff), but fell in love with this wooden-handled crochet hook straight away. Don't you just want to pick it up and fondle it? I guess a photo can't capture how lovely it feels - since this came home with me I've already finished a little crochet project already. It just looks and feels like a real old-style, well crafted tool. (You can click for bigger pictures).

When I discovered this teeny tiny crochet hook hidden away in a plastic sleeve with a much larger hook, I really did squeal with glee. It's so tiny it would be easy to bend or break it, so it has its own protective lid. I haven't tried to use this one yet. The work would have to be lace-fine (or, maybe, a total disaster).

I felt I had to check several times that B really wanted to give all these away. It's silly but I felt better when, amongst the wool and unfinished knitting, we found a finished pair of grey socks, so he kept those. I assured him that I very much appreciated the gift and would treasure it - and use them of course.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I like my bands in business suits, I watch them on TV

The other night on the bus I saw a high school boy carrying a wooden coffee mug tree. Exactly the same as the ones we made in Year Seven. Exactly the same except for a few small details, like for example the rungs that the mugs are supposed to hang on didn't appear to be pointing down like mine had somehow managed to do. In the same class I also produced a hexagonal metal spinning die with drastically uneven sides. My woodwork and metalwork skills were kind of wonky.

So, the baby blanket. The first I have attempted. I based it on this very basic pattern, but I didn't love the garter stitch. I tried stocking stitch, but the edging wasn't anywhere near tough enough to stop it from curling badly. So, I thought I could make the blanket a bit more classy (and smooth/soft) by substituting basket weave. It started ok.

The pattern involves knitting on the bias, which, as I had recently found with knitting the insanely popular (and rightly so) Clapotis, makes a nice drapey fabric, and I could see how it was supposed to make a nice snuggly blanket too. By the time I got to the halfway point, and turned the corner, I could see that the overall shape was going to be more of a diamond than a square.

I'd only tried blocking once before (a lace scarf) without much lasting success, and this yarn was acrylic which is less inclined to change its shape than wool. But I gave it a go anyway. I pinned it out into a pretty nice square, and left it to dry for a day or two. But when I unpinned it, it really didn't stay much more square than before.

Mum suggested steaming it with the iron held just above the fabric. This certainly helped - see how I've stretched the sqares out one way on two of the corners (left)
and the other way on the other two (right), in an attempt to make all the corners closer to being the same shape. I was pleasantly surprised that the effects of the steaming remained after I rewashed the blanket, but I don't really expect them to survive repeated machine washing.

Fundamentally, it's just not square. See? Bit tricky to fold.

I thought long and hard before I handed this over to the intended recipients. I hoped they would lean to the side of appreciating the charm of its wonky-ness, more than being put off by the not-squareness. (Guys, if you were just being nice, thanks anyway!)

Acknowledging one knitblogging inspiration.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm trying to tell you, it will if you don't even try

This is the time of year when the start of every day requires a tough decision. Is it warm enough to wear sandals? Getting dressed for work in summer is so much simpler, just pick three things that don't clash - top, pants or skirt, and sandals. No decisions about which combination of jumper, cardie, jacket, coat, scarf, and tights is necessary, and still making sure there's a decent t-shirt underneath it all for when the office heating gets too much. In summer I generally keep a cardigan or two sitting in my cupboard at work, cause often the air-conditioning is way too cold, so I don't need to worry about carrying extra layers.

Oh, how I love not having to wear socks or tights. But at the same time, I always feel a bit bad that men still have to wear socks and shoes. It seems kind of odd that they have a much smaller range of choice in work attire, though I know many wouldn't have it any other way.

I used to think I should at least always have covered toes at work (ummm, cause toes are rude?). But I found that my feet get so sweaty, I generally need socks or stockings with any kind of closed toe shoes, even if they are open at the sides. Actually, for my first couple of years of office work I never went bare legged. But it seems to be ok to be more casual in summer. And life's too short to spend time and energy (and sweat) following self-imposed rules that few others, if anyone, cares about. So now I just try to keep my toenails reasonably presentable, and bare them for all the world to see. Who's looking anyway?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Just a little bit of guilt

If it's a warm morning, this is what Mia does straight after we get back from our walk. Only for a minute or two, just enough to cool down.

I drafted this little post earlier today, with the slightly iffy title, 'Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff'. We're now just back from the vet, where Elvis had a grass seed and a whole lot of assorted gunk and matted hair cleaned out of his ear, under anaesthetic.

We knew something was hurting - unlike his sister, Elvis is not too stoic and squeals if something hurts - and he had been holding his head to one side and doing a lot of head shaking and scratching. The other day Kam pulled out grass seed out from the skin behind his ear, and at first we thought that was the source of the problem.

This photo was actually taken a couple of weeks ago, and since then the backyard grass has got a lot longer (to the point where it was falling over in great sheafs) and sprouted a whole lot of seeds. Even when the grass is short, the dogs still manage to pick up grass seeds now and then. But still, that long grass can't help matters. I'd been focusing on getting the front mowed so we don't look like the shame of the neighbourhood.

PS Kam mowed it yesterday. Love you, Kam!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A long time ag... far far where?

My movie date for Friday night was postponed, so I took the opportunity to continue the Star Wars trilogy (the real one) with The Empire Strikes Back. I'd been meaning to re-watch all three movies properly for ages - properly meaning all in one go and figuring out which bit was in which movie, cause I saw them all in bits so many times at parties and group gatherings.

So, I have an confession to make. I have a problem. Those text introductions to each movie, the ones that scroll away from you at a funny angle? I have so much trouble reading them. I am a pretty good reader, relatively fast, always been a good speller too, not that that's likely to be relevant here. But I just can't keep my eyes and brain focused on that crazy scrolling text. It seems like it's going to shrink away to nothing before I can take it all in. I had to pause three times to read it on Friday night. I had only had one beer. At least I was watching alone so I felt free to pause without embarassment.

Now I'm telling the internet.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved

Monday morning was one of those. I was tired, and didn't have time to make coffee before going to work. Once I got there I made the mistake of getting settled in at my desk and checking email (etcetera) for too long, feeling more and more like a coffee would be really useful to kick start a few brain cells, but less and less inclined/able to get up and actually make the coffee. Finally I trudged into the tiny kitchen to wash out my mug. There, a man I kind of know (as in, I know he works on my floor) gave his usual cheery Hi-how-are-you greeting. I mustered up a half-enthused 'ok, thanks', with a little gap before I remembered that it's polite to ask how are you back.

As I was scrubbing my mug with a dish brush which had seen better days, he said, deadpan, "I think it's time that brush was returned to the men's toilets".

I've been trying to think of a circumstance where I might have found that funny. Maybe if it was someone I knew better. Nope, probably not funny but I might have humoured them more willingly. Maybe if it was later in the day. No, I think that would just make it more likely I'd have a cleverer comeback. Or be more willing to hide my disdain.

I started to laugh politely but as I realised how truly uncalled-for the comment was, I let a little disgust show on my face. What I was hoping to convey was less 'ew! you really grossed me out and now I can never use this cup again' and more 'Hmph. I can't believe you would be so juvenile'. (I may have a little pride issue about not often being offended or surprised by anything.) He left the kitchen.

Later in the day I made another coffee and he was there again. Straightaway he said, "I hope I didn't offend you with that comment this morning? I just think that brush is really pretty old and mangy."

I looked at him, trying to decide how to respond. I was surprised to find that I really was still a bit annoyed about it. After a pause, I said "I'm not easily offended". I hoped he would take this to mean I hadn't been offended, but was happy for the ambiguity to remain.

The thrills continued on Tuesday, when I played basketball and could not sink a single basket. It's not like I'm some hot shooter but I've had a few good games lately, and I always get a few points at least. Oh yeah, our team lost... but my individual performance is more important, dammit.

Wednesday began with the discovery of a mystery pile of - something - on the path leading to the washing line. If you're eating as you read this, you might want to skip this bit. Every ant and fly in the neighbourhood had come to check it out. My first thought was that it was something one of the dogs had chucked up. Eventually I realised it was some little creature, probably a mouse, that one of the local cats had caught in the night, and partially eaten.

I had to clean it up before the dogs finished their breakfast and came to investigate. Mouse entrails. Ew ew ew ew ew ew.

Later in the afternoon, Wednesday improved astronomically, when I was able to purchase a first edition of Stephen King's Carrie for $5! At least I think it's a first edition, and if it actually isn't, I don't want to know.

Today was warm enough to wear my new green sandals. I love coloured shoes but have mostly only ventured into reds before (cherry docs, etc). Green shoes - what fun. I was like Leo in Twin Peaks this morning - "New Shoes! New Shoes!"

Tomorrow night I'm going to see the creepy movie, The Exorcism of Sally Rose with S. Kam had grudgingly agreed to see it with me (in daylight) but I was able to let him off the hook.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What have you been up to lately?

For some reason this question inevitably causes me to freeze up. I find my mouth opening and closing wordlessly as my brain tries to work out some things I've been doing lately, significant things that other people might find interesting, and then to work out which things I might have already told this particular person, and which things might be appropriate to tell them. And often all I can think of is the content of my lists - call x, y, and z; finish projects a,b and c; wash some clothes for work; clean the shower.

Thursday night was the opening of Gormley's School for Lion Tamers. Lots of people came to the opening, including Mum and Dad all the way from Newcastle. It was a great party and of course a wonderful exhibition. It's on til 13 November (Wednesdays to Sundays 11am to 5pm). Go. See it.

Earlier in the week, thanks to J's visit, I discovered Magna Carta Place near the Old Parliament House. Apparently it was a Centenary of Federation project and a joint Australia - Britain effort. What we liked about it was the acoustics, and we stomped around in it making different echoes. I also liked the rich timber construction but fear it won't wear well.

I'm listening to the new Wolfmother album. I use the word album deliberately. The CD booklet has gorgeous Frank Frazetta art. All the print in it is really small, as if it's a much older album that has started out with a full size LP cover and later shrunk to fit a CD. What really brought a smile to my face was the way the tracks are laid out in two separate lists on the back, it doesn't actually say 'Side A' and 'Side B' but that's the flavour. Old school. I was amused to hear about Justin Burford from End of Fashion taking potshots at Wolfmother - apparently he called them 'another fucking retro band cashing in on what everyone's done years before them'. Not very gracious, given that End of Fashion beat Wolfmother to win in the Breakthrough artist - single category.

Maybe that's why I like Wolfmother, cause I am a bit 'musically slow', and I get what they're doing. Not a few trends - Oasis et al, Nirvana + grunge, the list goes on - have totally passed me by at the time, only for me to finally GET IT several years later. Because of these experiences, I haven't been willing to completely write off this stoner rock thing. I still don't think I'm really ever gonna love it. But I went to see Sons of Kyuss last night with Kam (their final show in fact) and it was a great show! I really enjoyed it. I think I was in a mellow mood, and that helped.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You've come looking for me, like i've got to set you free

More art from Bunda St Canberra City