of the times

In the last weeks of work at the Project Sulfur offices, there had been so many government announcements the inadvisability of various travel things and outright bans of other travel things that it was hard to keep up.

I was somewhat surprised to see a ship in port when I arrived at Circular Quay one morning because I could have sworn I’d read that cruise ships were no longer permitted to dock.

Since working at the good end of town, I’ve been taking a daily (when I’m there) photo of the harbour at the same spot with the plan to turn it into some sort of project.


plague ship

I’d been expecting to have an uninterrupted run of bridge photos for a while, but figured I’d likely misinterpreted the ships announcement, took my photo and carried on.

I kept my distance from the disembarking passengers who were milling about the station because at that point we becoming careful about social distancing – and we were becoming increasingly aware that cruise ships are giant floating disease incubators and particularly favoured by covid-19.

My instinct to be cautious was the correct one – the ship was the now infamous Ruby Princess.

That was the second last photo I took in my series. The last was taken the next day – of another ship in port, with of course more (though less than Ruby) coronavirus on board.

Much safer at home, but I do regret the end of the series.

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greenening

Because I am an optimist, yesterday I planted seeds in an attempt to not go to the store every (what seems like) five minutes for baby spinach and rocket. Anything to avoid grocery shopping which we’ve been doing rather a little too much of!

Obviously this will not pay any dividends for quite a while – or at all given that we’re headed into winter, and my rather unsuccessful history with edible plants!

I also planted a couple of jalapeno seeds I harvested when making those baked beans (really, you should make these beans). Note to self: touch seeds, touch face, acquire burning rash.

Because I love a good experiment I tried to make a wee germinating device from a couple of plastic trays:

If I get enough leaves for a couple of sandwiches I will be well pleased.

Will report back on progress.

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burn the headset

Holy Goodness. This new reality will take a while to become accustomed to.

As expected, SML is now fully remote. This happened quite rapidly so there wasn’t a huge amount of time to adjust. The biggest difference? Meetings that seemed perfectly fine in person become absolutely torturous remotely. How did we ever get anything accomplished? Why are there so many people in this meeting? Why does this meeting not have an agenda? A purpose? Where are the actions? Such bad discipline!

Our first day was relentless back-to-back group calls (40 people on one!) and everyone was completely wrecked by day’s end. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Everything seems to take twice as long to do. We’re finding our way and trying to be kind to each other.

I’m exercising all of my Manageressing powers to keep everyone relatively positive and upbeat. We’ve started a morning half-hour team video catch-up. By day 2 we’d implemented a low-key dress-up theme. We don’t really talk much about work other than how we’re coping with social isolation and a life indoors. We workshop possible solutions to the ridiculous meetings problem, talk about our mornings, commit to getting some fresh air, exercise and vitamin D. There’s a lot of support, understanding and encouragement. It’s been really lovely and I was pretty humbled when most of the team said it’s the highlight of the working day. Though to be fair – the bar is not very high right now.

Keeping this up this energy and positivity is really enervating. I haven’t been able to do much of an evening other than to collapse in a heap. I’m trying to go gently on myself. I’ll adjust.

It seems ridiculous to be talking of struggling with the challenges of suddenly working remotely when 75,000 people have lost their jobs in the past 10 days. We’re exceptionally fortunate to have both jobs and good health right now – and very fortunate to have ThePalace(OfLove) to self-isolate in.

xxx

A huge thank you to everyone who has been blogging through these dark and strange times. It’s so comforting to read how everyone is dealing with their enforced inside-ness / social isolation / lock-down / sheltering-in-place. We really are all in this together.

And it is lovely to see these favourites posting again!

marmalade cottage

soulemama

fig jam and lime cordial

Now that we’re all trapped with loads of time at our disposal, maybe we’ll finally see a more widespread return to blogging? I plan to make the effort to show up here more. Even if it is just to talk about how I’m climbing the walls.

Stay safe!

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and made a giant pot of baked beans

I imagine much like most of you, I spent the weekend reading endless coronavirus newsfeeds and attempting to make some preparations for future life indoors.

Forced closure of gyms, pubs, restaurants and similar establishments was announced late last night and enacted at midday. Many, many people are losing their jobs – it’s very grim.

Some form of lockdown is sure to follow because many people are dickheads and seem to want to gather in crowds – particularly at famous beaches – and not comply with social distancing guidelines.

It’s far safer to stay as far away from the madness as we’re able.

We’d had a successful entire ProjectSulfur remote day last week and one was planned for all of SML tomorrow. We’re still going ahead with that, but it was also announced today that after the trial we’ll be all working remotely for the foreseeable future. This will definitely take some adjustment – my team are mostly highly strung achievers who require a good deal of care and feeding. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

This requirement to work remotely may actually be longer than the lifespan of ProjectSulfur, so I’ll go into the office at some point this week to grab my personal bits and pieces. It’s a very weird time. I’ll really miss working at the good end of town.

Don and I worked alongside each other today in the “home office” – which is basically the upstairs landing. We haven’t been officemates for around 13 years, so being thrown together all day is pretty neat. We started as we hope to continue – went for a short isolated walk to the park before work, had breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks together. Sickeningly adorable.

I hope you and yours are staying safe.

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but what does it do?

When we last left glass making, I was in a two week waiting period and kind of agonising over the outcome. Thoughts snuck up on me in the small hours – you know the type – that I should have made something smaller and easier to finish, that I was terrible at this, that I should never have considered anything beyond beginner level, that I have no creative eye, who did I think I was to try this?

My inner voice is such an arsehole.

But as time passed, I made my peace with my block likely being a Failure and took what I could from the (very good) experience – like being in the studio, working alongside creative types, learning something new, experimenting, playing with sharp, pokey things.

A couple of days before pick-up, an email arrived from our teacher …

Hi All,

Well all your works have so far worked beautifully with just one more firing to go….

So all works will be ready for collection this coming Saturday morning.

The works look beautiful!

I have attached some images below for a sneak peak. They are just quick snaps and look much better in real life!

Congratulations!!

I was fully expecting the inclusion of “except for carolbaby’s which exploded / melted / cracked / was an utter disaster”. But thought it probable that she wanted to break that to me in person.

But wait, what? Hey, there’s mine amongst the attachments!

I can’t even tell you my relief! Such relief! It worked!

I had envisioned it being oriented the other way up, but I was incredibly happy to be able to collect something which was intact and didn’t look hideous!

xxx

I arrived at the appointed time so I could check out everyone’s work before they collected it. A few of us had the same idea – and we spent some time admiring each other’s pieces and exchanging lavish compliments.

Pleasingly the studio had cleaned and polished our works for us and everything looked dazzling.

I was honestly delighted with mine. I have no idea what one does with a glass block other than gaze at it in wonderment, but I intend to do that often.

Because of the polishing mine is forever destined to sit this way (it’s quite opaque and a little rough on the bottom). But I’m good with that and maybe it looks better like this?


hurrah!


crazy for these bubbles!


those not-scratches are the outlines of all the tiny fragments of glass I layered to make the block (so many tiny bits)


my blood, entombed!


the group’s work

I made a pact with myself that I would work my way through my crafts mountain rather than signing up for new classes and social distancing means anything like that is off the table for the foreseeable future, but maybe, just maybe I’d attend another glass class.

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adventures in gardening: 903457^8743

A couple of weeks ago I was at SML HQ for a meeting which delightfully coincided with a visit from the plant maintenance man. As well as the usual watering and picking off dead leaves, he was ruthlessly pruning a tower of devils ivy.

I grabbed most of the cuttings from the bin, transported them home and set them up in various locations around ThePalace(OfLove) – so far doing very well. Devils Ivy plants sell for ridiculous amounts here, so – $bargain$.

I feel like I’ve finally landed on the cause of various indoor plants eventual failure to thrive – or more correctly an initial burst of thriving and then unexpected death. Despite all recommendations to the contrary I was not letting plants dry out between watering, rather I was making a point to let them sit in water at all times. I mean they seemed to do so well with this for the first several months, so I cheerfully ignored contrary advice.

Lesson (I think) learned.

I’m trying the correct approach with that monstera in the last photo and it seems to be working a treat.

In other gardening news, I love the early autumn garden with everything becoming overgrown and wild.

Will likely embark on a frenzy of repotting in a couple of weeks. Those mango seedlings really would benefit from being clustered into a wee forest.

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pandemonium

Late yesterday afternoon the government advised everyone to reconsider their need for overseas travel.

We’re now at > 60% likelihood of cancelling our trip to see Joan in early April. Fortunately everyone appears to be increasingly generous with their cancellation policies, so we will likely minimise the losses (though we will still be quite a bit out of pocket). We’ll monitor and make our assessment closer to the time, but I can’t see the situation changing in the short term.

Gatherings of more than 500 people are banned from Monday. Though apparently it is perfectly fine to travel to and from work in a sealed, germ-laden metal tube tightly packed with thousands of others. Lots of sports and other events now cancelled or being played without spectators.

In family impacts:

Joe/Frank is a casual employee in sports ground catering so will have no work for the foreseeable future. He also does occasional promotions work at events, so there will be none of that either. Very (very!) fortunately he is the recipient of a disability support pension, so has some income. Uni classes are still happening, though there is speculation that most will close in the next weeks and classes will go online.

Bessie’s employer is closing their office and sending everyone remote. She works tangential to sports, and has been partially redeployed to another part of the business, so hopefully her job will remain secure. Hansel’s (Bessie’s boyfriend) employer has had two remote rehearsals already. He works for a very large firm, so entirely likely they will make the move to close down offices soon.

Joan is currently in Thailand and flying back to London this afternoon. Unsure at this point if she will be required to self-isolate on her return. Of course being a Mummy I worry about her being marooned solo in a land far away. Joan’s boyfriend Ovi is holidaying with her and flies back to Basel this afternoon, they’ve all been told to work remotely at his company. Switzerland is probably the most locked down of all of us at this point.

Don’s office is preparing everyone to be remote at short notice. Lots of edicts about ensuring connectivity and such. He will be bereft with no sports on television.

We’re trialling the entire Project Sulfur team (both SML and UselessCorp) working remotely mid-week. I’m highly entertained by the idea of 40+ people on a skype call for the daily stand-up. Skype is bad enough with two people on a call. But we’re otherwise decently positioned. I’m contemplating a second monitor for home. Biscuits have been removed from the office kitchen and mints from the meeting rooms. I think we’re all expecting to be entirely remote in the not too distant future.

I’m in the early stages of a cold, which I’m pretty sure is just a cold. Several of my colleagues have the same symptoms. But who knows? Unless you’ve been in close contact with someone arriving back from overseas you cannot access a covid-19 test.

Loads of stories about much panic buying of toilet paper, pasta, rice, hand sanitiser, flour and tinned beans from the major supermarkets. There are lots of empty shelves. Thankfully most of these items can still still be had from smaller, independent stores. I’m somewhat perplexed by the amassing of flour.

I did the weekly grocery shopping last night because I suspected it would be utter madness today. We generally have a fairly decent stockpile of essentials anyway, so if we have to lock-down, we’re decently positioned. We went out to buy our preferred brand of ground coffee this morning as our usual supermarket has decided to de-list it. We also grabbed a couple of rolls of toilet paper for distribution to Bessie and/or colleagues in need.

We are of course, glued to live updates.

Interesting times ahead!

How is it in your land?

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first day of the rest of the whatevs

I made a vow to myself that I would say away from coronavirus live news updates today. It’s now past 9pm and I’ve thus far managed to avoid that particular time suck.

Buoyed by the unexpected success of my RAM sales in January, I’ve set a goal this month to find 10 unwanted things in ThePalace(OfLove) and flog them off on eBay – all profits to the #travelfund.

I found the first four items and listed them this morning. If I get $50 total for the old speakers, two bits of home-brewing equipment and a pair of lightly worn shiny silver shoes, I’ll be pretty pleased. Plus, decluttering! I’ve minimalist yearnings (again) after we had to rearrange furniture after the leaks and rather fell in love with the empty(ish) space.

In slightly related minimalisty news, today I hit the 100 day mark of the clothes buying ban. A mere two temptations (which I managed to resist) is pretty good going! The secret seems to be unsubscribing from emails and not setting foot into clothing stores. It has been actually kind of easy, I’ve not even needed to recourse to making clothes as substitutes for shopping, though I did quite delight in shortening Don’s cast off tee-shirts and making them my own.

The ban on clothes has lead to a reduction in other spending too and I’m really trying to be conscious about what I bring in. This was quite not as successful as I went a wee bit crazy buying fabric and thread at the Lincraft city store closing down sale – yet more things to add to the craft mountain. As it stands I’ll have projects to last me until 2039.

In yet another attempt to get myself away from the endless scrolling on the phone and bring a bit of cheer, from tomorrow I’m planning to sit at my desk with my first coffee and reintroduce the (hardcopy) daily journal. I need more gratitude and analogue in my life. While searching for a link for “daily journal” I noticed that for the past couple of years I’ve been quite grumpy in March.

I wonder what that’s about?

I’m also going to kill the day count under each post, it’s really not serving the intended purpose – which, if I’m honest, I don’t quite remember! something about watching my life race past before my eyes?

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60before60: #08 make something from resin – part two

I had very good intentions of attacking some of the mountain of craft projects today. Instead I’ve been sitting at various devices watching coronavirus updates and doing housework.

This is the beauty of going elsewhere to craft – minimal real-life distractions and you can totally pretend you’re an artist – no laundry in sight.

Must engage willpower.

xxx

There’s a bunch of things I feel like I haven’t closed the loop on, so I’ll try and use the next little bit to catch up on *stuff*.

First closed loop: second session of my resin class – way back in December!

We last left our heroine with her many resin objects slow-setting in silicon moulds.

Week two was the big reveal. We were all very excited!

And … I was not the only person in the class who absolutely hated everything that came out of their moulds. Disappointment all round.

BUT after a whole lot of time sanding with various grades of wet-and-dry and polishing our pieces with 3 stage polishing compound, we were mostly all turned around on the subject!


so shiny!

The second half of the class was spent working with a quick-set resin. There was much less flexibility with this – you had to move fast, couldn’t get the swirly effects, but you could have quite visible layers. I stayed with the same moulds and kind of the same colourways. I took zero photos of the process – we were locked in a room with masks and safety equipment – yikes!

One advantage of the quick-set we could un-mould quite quickly and take the finished pieces home with us. I had quite a stack!


quick-set pieces

I’ve been living with the bits for a few months and love looking at them. Of course I don’t love them all and I am still perplexed by those weird-shaped coasters (why did I choose that mould?), but seeing them all lined up is a rather nice reminder that I can make nice things.


perched on the shelf above the window in Bessie’s old room (ignore evidence of the palace falling to bits)

These three small bowls are perfect when placed next to the sewing machine to take pins, thread offcuts and such. These are definitely my favourites – two slow setting, one quick-set.


love

I need to do something with these pendant pieces and grabbed supplies a couple of weeks ago – another item on that quite lengthy crafting list!


too many pendants are barely enough

I’m contemplating adding *something* at the base of these three bangles. If I re-purpose them into small bowls, I’m more likely to use them.


two quick set on left, slow set on right. not a fan of the orange stripe – needs roughing up a bit

Hmmm – maybe I can cut bases from those weird coasters?

So, would I develop a home resin practice? NO! While I really love the look, I have no place in my life for tons of resin pieces. I’m not inclined to wear resin bangles (being all about the sterling silver) and there are only so many non-foodsafe small bowls I have use for. Nonetheless, it was an excellent experience, I’m really very glad I did it.

And that’s it for me and crafty classes for a little bit. I want to spend the next months focussing on building that travel fund AND to finally attack some projects on the list.

First step: getting the list out of my head and onto paper.

2823-2820 days

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little cuts everywhere

I spent the majority of my last two Saturdays attending an intermediate level art glass class.

I still have no huge interest in glass, but I enjoyed the beginners class and thought it might be fun to stretch myself.

Nine of us were spread across two work tables – a table of women who all knew each other well and were quite experienced in glass; and a table of relative newbies who had only done one or two classes before.

They were a great bunch of people and unlike my bangle class, there was a really positive and energetic vibe.

Watching how everyone approached the class over the two days was absolutely fascinating.

Day one

Rather than jump into making *stuff*, we talked a lot about experimentation, iteration and creative practice. Our teacher led us through a bunch of exercises where we identified words or phrases in response to questions about what inspires us creatively, what resonated about glass, what we loved about art, what we wanted our art or making to reflect.

We then narrowed those down to one word that we felt encapsulated our approach to creativity.

I eventually settled on “playful” – or more correctly was guided to playful. It had evolved from “impractical” which I wasn’t entirely satisfied with anyway. I was trying to get at the idea of creative expression without the need to have something practical or useful at the end.

Little did we know that our chosen word would be the theme for our making! Playful was not really where I thought I’d be headed – but I was happy enough to chuck my ideas out the window and just go with the process.

We then made a few sketches to reflect different approaches to our word. This was quite a lot harder than you’d think!

The goal of the day was to complete three smallish glass panels, which we would then deconstruct and include in a larger wedge in the second session.

Trying to stick to the playful theme, I played around with bold, graphic shapes and bright colours. Despite my love for the kind of layered mosaic-style stuff that I made in my first class, I tried to also stretch myself with paint and frit (which is basically tiny glass fragments that all melt together in the kiln). I guess it was sort of playful?

I was reasonably pleased with them, but obviously had no idea what effect the firing would have.

Day two

Fortunately two of my panels worked as I’d hoped. Sadly that white cross completely disappeared in the firing.

But what to do about deconstructing and reconstructing into a wedge? I had been mulling over ideas all week, but they weren’t really workable when confronted by the results (or with my abilities!).

Then our teacher threw more options into the mix – we could make a cube or a block instead of a wedge. At this point I became slightly paralysed with indecision and had to do quite a bit of quick(ish) thinking.

After a lot of arranging and rearranging, I settled on a layered block inside a clear block. I did not have enough clear glass sheets (expensive stuff!), so used a lot of glass fragments to make my layers. This was super time consuming, but we had hours – what could possibly go wrong?


playing with layers


maybe this will work?


starting the block construction

Of course this idea was WAY too over-ambitious and I was still finishing up the construction of my block beyond the end of the allotted class time when most people had made two pieces! I became increasingly cavalier with glass placement as time ticked down and I’d be surprised if the end product contained any right angles at all.

It rather felt like being on a reality tv programme. So much pressure! So many tiny cuts on my fingers! So much blood! And just like on television, as I carried my piece to the kiln, a piece fell off and shattered – forcing me to rapidly find and cut another clear piece. Several of my classmates were extremely lovely – encouraging me and bringing me bits to help me finish!

Alas I was so time-crunched there was no time to take progress pix.

I am absolutely confident my block will be a disaster.

Results in two weeks.

2828-2824 days

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