Friday, January 29, 2010

Please look after this bear

Time for some nostalgia. What tv shows did you watch as a child? When I was very small, I was a big fan of the Wombles and Paddington Bear. This clip takes me immediately back - especially the theme tune! - to sitting on our living room floor on the old nubby brown carpet that used to be there, gazing up at the old black-and-white tv.

As I got a little bigger, I was allowed to watch programs that actually featured people rather than solely the soft and furry, and so I was then raised on a steady diet of late 60s/early 70s American sitcoms - The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and so on. But it is the soft and furry that exerted the most pull over my young and fertile imagination. I didn't long to be a part of a large step-family (although I did want Marcia's long, straight hair), cast spells or live inside a genie's bottle. Oh no. I wanted to live in a world populated by talking bears in hats and duffle coats and other animated creatures who lived out their lives in underground womble-sized burrows, where they ate womble-sized meals at womble-sized tables and chattered amongst themselves. In short, I wanted to believe that there was a whole other world beyond the one I could see before me. I wanted to believe that if I just looked away for a second, one of my army of teddy bears would have a quick chat to the fellow next to him, or give his ear a scratch, or have a flick through a book. I'm still not convinced that this world doesn't exist, and I'm glad. It's important to live in the now and engage with what's tangibly around you - of course - but it's also lovely to think of the worlds upon worlds upon worlds that may be out there. Somewhere. Just glance away for a second and there they are. One day, I'll glance back just in time...!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Say Cheese

I seem to be asking you a lot of questions this week. I think it's because I am thinking a lot - my mind is going at about twice the speed of my still sore body! So, today I ask...should I buy a new camera? I think I mentioned long ago that I like to take photographs. But I have been very much of the 'point and shoot' style of photographer. If the photo turns out good - great. If it doesn't look quite like it did in my mind's eye - well, what am I gonna do about it? Now, I think I want to get serious. Being the delicate, artistic soul that I am (ahem), I want to start taking some more artistic, unusual shots and I think for that to really work, I might need a) a bit more skill and b) another camera.

At the moment I have a Samsung Digimax S500. It's pretty good and I think it's probably more my fault than the camera's that it's not doing all that I want. But I am thinking of upgrading to an SLR camera. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I really am a babe in the woods on this one, so all thoughts welcome. And can anyone recommend a book on taking good digital photos? And what's the deal on Photoshop? Do many of you use it?

Meanwhile, above are some of my 'mean and moody' (as Smash Hits used to say) shots...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Photo courtesy of Google images
And speaking of all things crafty that have caught my in-need-of-diversion eye of late, I have discovered Sashiko over at goodness ( It is a form of Japanese embroidery, often white stitches on dark cloth it would seem. Sometimes with a pattern to follow (as above). And it looks mainly to simply be running stitch. I could do that! (she says with her usual bravado of turning something extremely complicated into something extremely simple and only realising the actual skill gap when half way through the task). I suspect it may be what I perceive to be very Japanese - that is, making something look simple when it is in fact quite complex, and the beauty of the thing lies in that perceived but not actual simplicity.

Anyway, I will give a teensy-weensy-little go and let you know how it turns out. Does anyone else do Sashiko?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Right now, in eight

Old Faithful...still in use, but less and less.

The medication box...still in use, but less and less (yay!)

Good DH working at home today.

Getting creative...back to some cardmarking.

Rediscovering the joys of the ipod while I get creative.

Getting even more creative...going to make some Fimo critters this afternoon.

My 'busy corner' of the living room, near the couch...finally finding the time to read all those magazine articles and books that have been sitting around for the last six months! Even managing to tardily sew on the odd button...hence the sewing box.

Getting even more creative...starting a new knitting project even though I haven't finished the last one. I just liked the wool.

I have borrowed this idea from Amanda's wonderful blog today over at SouleMama ( The notion of pausing and looking at what's around me right now really works at the moment, since I am taking things one step at a time (literally!) and trying to appreciate each moment as I slowly get over my recent bout of sciatica.
Looks like I am getting better, though...all this activity suggests I am getting bored!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Hopefully, I can entice the Tansy Fairy to come to stay...

Rosemary and thyme add a lovely crispness to the air in the bathroom.

At the op-shop recently, I discovered The Herb & Spice Book by Sarah Garland. It describes both the history and uses of a lot of different herbs, as well as providing some very nice recipes. Flicking through it, my interest in herbs has been renewed. I have very successfully grown rosemary in our front yard and a little bit of thyme, but everything else has foundered in the baking sun and dry soil. But now, interest re-ignited and faith restored, yesterday I bought tansy, rue, lemon balm, oregano and sage. The first two I will put into the ground because apparently they grow to be quite large but the latter three will go into pots which I will place near to the front door, so as to hopefully be greeted with a lovely aroma as we enter and exit the house. Does anyone have any herb growing tips?

Friday, January 22, 2010

A delicate matter

Statue of the Venus of Willendorf, courtesy of

Bodecea's blog today has really got me thinking ( Women's body image. Where do you stand on it? How do you feel about yourself? Me, I am neither fat nor thin. However, I am not, as my father would say, going to blow over in a strong wind (I should hasten to add he hasn't said this directly to me but about the rounded in general). And as my mother would say, I have never been a small person. Cartman on South Park may even suggest that I am 'big-boned'. For years, I have wanted to be my very anithesis - a blonde, waif-like creature about whom people would say "Oh, isn't she delicate!" I am not delicate. I am healthy looking. Robust even (at least, I was until I did my back in). True, I have never done anything to actively achieve waifness. I've never dieted and even now, in early middle age, I eat what I like. This, I suspect, will catch up with me soon and I may have to start being a bit more tuned in to what I consume and how I exercise. But this will be for my health, not because I am trying to match some sort of image fed to me by society of what a thirty-something woman living in Australia should look like.

But why did I ever want to be a blonde waif? Where did that come from?

Last night, on a tv program called "Inside the Great Magazines", the narrator said "Women's magazines can tell you how to be female." And it's true. Female identity is largely a construct of the media. It simultaneously dictates and feeds off society's desires. The whole thing reminds me so much of Posy Simmonds' cartoon, "The Seven Ages of Media Woman":

Little Miss Sunshine
Pretty Blonde Teenager
Bra-Burning Libber
Attractive blonde housewife, mother of 2
45 year old Super Mum
Battling Granny
Lonely Pensioner

A couple of years ago, I was shopping in one of the major chain stores here and I overheard the shop assistant saying "Oh yes, size 14 is extra-large!" Size 14 (equivalent to about a European 44)?? Most women in Australia are size 14 or larger. So what does that suggest about society's understanding - or acceptance - of the average woman?

As I grow older, I am happy to say that I becoming more accepting of myself. I am almost...gasp...pleased with how I look. But why wasn't this always so? Why have I bought into society's criteria for so long? Where do these ideas come from? Where do they start? Why just a few weeks ago did I feel the need to say even on this blog that a photo I'd posted of my shadow looked 'chubby', to somehow explain myself to you.

I am me and I can do little more than that. Indeed, I want for little more than that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bloody Fascinating!

Found: the perfect cartoon for bloggers! And before anyone takes offence, I very much include myself in this!! If you haven't discovered, do go and take a look. I started getting their 'Daily Dose' cartoon sent to my email inbox last week, and it does give you a (sometimes much needed) giggle first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gilbert Fun

I am a bit of a sucker (ahem) for all things supernatural. I was a huge fan of Buffy, Angel and Charmed; now I watch Supernatural and there was even a show about real-life ghosthunters on here called Haunted Australia which I watched too. I don't know why because I am a complete coward with these sorts of things. I jump at shadows. I do hear things go bump in the night.

Perhaps I watch these shows for precisely that reason - they do have an element of truth for me. I believe in them. In fact, I believe I have actually heard a ghost - but that is another story for another day perhaps. As Shakespeare said, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Lately I have been loving Being Human. I watched it when it was first on last year, but I am loving it just as much second time around. It's the improbable tale of a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living together and trying to resolve their past and present situations - in short, being human. But unlike the teenage angst of Twilight (sorry, I just can't get into that one), it is told with great humour, as well as a real sadness at times.

A couple of weeks ago, the brilliant character of Gilbert was introduced into the show. He died in 1985 at the age of 19, so he remained decked out in the skinny jeans, the v-neck jumper, the black overcoat covered in badges and the winkelpicker shoes of the period, with the omnipresent Walkman clamped around his neck blaring out the Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Fall and the track he dances to here (complete with Morrissey-esque bunch of flowers) - Fun Boy Three's "Tunnel of Love". His mission was to cheer up Annie, the main ghostly character who's also featured here, and show her a little "Gilbert fun". Spooky supernatural stuff and the Smiths. Could it get any better for me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Views from the couch II: What is your gift today?

I have been a fan of local Australian musician Wendy Rule for a very long time. I have had the joy of hearing her sing live several times. Her voice is so evocative and the material about which she sings so interesting. I don't think you have to subscribe to her spiritual views to get something from this lovely, lovely music. This song, "Creatures of a Day", is from one of the first CDs of hers that I ever heard: World Between Worlds. It still remains a favourite of mine for quiet, sometimes melancholy moods.

Yesterday, beset by back pain, I put on her Meditations on the Four Elements CD and just tried to relax. Listening, I realised at the end of each track, she asked of the four elements (earth, air, fire and water): "What is your gift today?" And I thought, what a wonderful way to look at the world around me. What gift is the air giving me today? It's bringing a breeze through the kitchen window or giving me a moment of enjoyable distraction as it picks up some leaves and sets them down again. The earth gives the gift of bringing our veggie patch just a little closer to harvest, the water encourages my parched petunias in the front yard to keep going, fire heats our dinner. Everything gives something, including ourselves. What is your gift today?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Views from the couch

The floral wreath hanging in our living room window, reflected in the afternoon sun on our living room wall.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Well, what a week it's been. I've always had a weak back since I took a fall from a stool at high school but it's mostly been manageable. Last Saturday, after having had an exercise stress test on Friday on a treadmill that was set at just a little too fast a speed, I found I couldn't sit down at breakfast without leaning to one side. By Sunday night, I was in the emergency department of our local hospital in more pain than I've - literally - been in in my entire life.
I have basically been lying on my side on the bed for a week except for going out to see my local doctor twice as well as the physiotherapist. I have taken more painkillers in the last week than I have taken ever. Morphine, apparently, but no morphean flights of fancy for me! No - just fuzzy pain, as opposed to pain neat and on the rocks. I have slept fitfully and eaten little.
But, but. I am starting pull out of it. And I cannot tell you how purely and simply good that makes me feel. I can now sit at the computer for more than two seconds, I am walking more and I am even able to concentrate on a book. And I have realised just how wonderful and precious it is to have a gorgeous husband and two beautiful parents who have made me toast, bought groceries, let me cry and scream, helped me in and out of pyjamas and read aloud to me.
The colour is coming back into my little patch of the Wood, and on this hard journey, I have truly seen the things that really matter.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Another poem today. I am feeling creative at the moment, after a considerable period of feeling most uncreative (if there is such a word), so, if nothing else, it's been good to feel a bit like my old self again. I would love to know what you think.


She looks out of the photo at you
And it is the past, but it is not
It is now.
That expression of waiting,
Expecting, hoping.
But the fear,
It's still there.
She wanted to but couldn't,
You want to but don't.
She was too young,
You are too old.
And it is all because
You are still her
And she is still you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Summer

To pause a little
and feel the sun

To look up
into the endless blue

To listen to
the hum of insects

To watch the baby birds
try out uncertain feet

To smell
the ripening plums

To summer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Only connect

Where would we be if it wasn't for friends? I have received some lovely things in the post lately. A wonderful parcel just arrived from dear Pina ( which has winged its way all the way from Slovenia to the other side of the world. She sent me a lovely notebook (how did you know I love making lists, Pina?), some gorgeous-looking chocolate which will be very happily devoured as I work my way through season 3 of 30 Rock, a beautiful crocheted snowflake which is already hanging in my window, connecting me with my European friends as they make their way through winter while the sun beats down on us here, and one of her so, so delicate paper creations (I am yet to hang it - I want to find just the right spot for it). And not only all this, but also beautiful stamps on the envelope. Thank you Pina. A hug to you.

And my blogging buddy in England, Helena (, also very kindly sent me a gorgeous handmade Christmas card, despite the fact that she has been full time caring for her Mum. Thank you so much for thinking of me when you have so much going on in your life, Helena.

I am a big fan of 'alone time'. From childhood, I have always been incredibly content in my own company. But as E.M. Forster said in Howards End - "only connect" - and it's in heartwarming connections like these, that new dimensions to life are added.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meat is Murder?

Photo courtesy of
You might recall several months ago I started to talk about the Ayurvedic diet. Made a lot of philosophic sense - check. Good for me - check. Recipes looked yummy - check. Did it happen? - nope. Once real life kicks in, very precise diets with long, involved recipes just don't happen for me. I don't know about you. But yesterday, I saw a segment on tv about the awful, awful, awful way most meat is acquired for our consumption; the conditions in which factory farm animals are, on the whole, forced to live (check out - but be prepared for some confronting images). So, for about the millioneth time in my life, I am considering vegetarianism. I have tried this on and off since, I would say, Morrissey was photographed holding this sign in the 80s. Morrissey is a renowned vegetarian and was one of my teenage heroes (heck, he's one of my heroes now) Or, should I say, I am considering eating less meat (mainly chicken and fish if I can manage it), assessing how the meat was produced when I'm shopping (is it organic? Free range?) and trying to (greatly) broaden my repetoire of vegetable recipes.

Do you know any good vegetable recipes? I can't think of a vegetable I truly dislike, so feel free to share whatever you enjoy. Are you vegetarian?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Warm summer days

I hope the new year has started well for you. Here in Australia, we are moving into our hottest months - January and February. The weather lately has been delightful - warm, but with a nice breeze. The dear sun is starting to flex its summer strength, though. Right now there is just a touch of that relentless, consistent heat that is still to come in full. But, this enables the garden to burst forth with tomatoes and strawberries, and there is really nothing nicer than pottering into the yard at night to retrieve some of your own produce to eat for dinner. Looking up into the impossibly blue summer sky is kind of intoxicating too. Then, after noticing the contrast of your own dark shadow cast on the bleached, sun-baked ground, it's time to spend the rest of the "warm summer day indoors" (with thanks to Morrissey on that last bit).
PS How bad are shadows for putting on the extra, really, I'm not that chubby...really...