coffee heart

After that very rotten week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking inward, as one does.

I imagine this will continue for a bit, but I’ve acknowledged that I spend way, way too much of my life with my brain consumed by work and not nearly enough time with my brain occupied by things I enjoy. This really does need to change.

And so it was that I was searching for brain-delighting activities on class bento and stumbled upon typewriter art.

I’m slightly intrigued and it looks like a really fun class, but this definitely made me feel my age:

If you’ve never used a manual typewriter, you’re in for a treat!


And slightly related, if you’ve not come across this Wired article (Email and Slack Have Locked Us in a Productivity Paradox) in your travels, it’s a quite interesting read.

Back in ancient times when I first started working we had a mainframe and I think maybe 2 or 3 terminals in the entire workplace. I don’t think everyone actually had PCs in an office where I worked until maybe the very late 90s.

I really can’t remember (or even conceive of) what we did all day!

But imagine not being plugged into a machine for hours and hours and hours. I’m sure it was nothing at all resembling paradise, but from here it seems rather appealing.


After the ghastliness of the last week, I was really keen to get to my porcelain hand-building class this morning.

As I mentioned here I’ve been eager to do some sort of ceramics for years and years and kept getting in my own way. No more!

The class was in a really wonderful studio space in a light industrial area relatively nearby. Also sharing the space were other creatives and a couple of bands. So our hand-building was accompanied by a Metal band rehearsing – they were both earnest and adorable.

The class was really small and the teacher an utter delight. It was such a nice vibe, I had a brilliant time.

We made three pieces with three different techniques. Of course, my technique was exceptionally rusty, having not touched clay for like 35 years, and I had to manage my own expectations a bit. But given all that, I was pretty pleased with my pieces.


First piece: Pinch pot

Second piece: coil pot
(full disclosure: this is really another pinch pot with a single coil around the rim)

spot the fingernail marks

Third piece: Slab platter thingy

I didn’t get a decent shot. But I rolled the clay out over crumpled muslin and got a kind of textured fabric effect – and just cut out a simple circle shape.


The pieces will be dried and fired and clear-glazed and fired again – and if they don’t explode in the kiln, I’ll get them back in about a month.

Next up – intro to Japanese ceramics in a couple of weeks! Different teacher, different location.

If I’m still super-keen after that one, I’ll definitely sign up for something more in-depth.


We had a workshop at the SML office during the week with our divisional management team – there were eight of us, plus the facilitator, who we’d not worked with previously and was not industry specific.

Facilitator is a camp, pale, weedy little man in his late 50s with a kind of ginger-ish Hitler moustache. Facilitator is the MD of his company.

I adore workshops, I love collaborating, exchanging ideas and stretching my thinking. This one was right in my wheelhouse, mostly talking team building and our direction for the next couple of years, which my new gig will be pretty instrumental in driving.

Everything was running fabulously, there was lots of our usual banter and gentle piss-taking, very good energy. I’ve known this group for many, many years, we get on well and we are all really comfortable with each other.

It sounds really obnoxious, but I’m a pretty good workshop participant, I’m usually fizzing with energy, have lots to contribute, but always making sure I’m bringing the much more reticent people into the conversation – “Ringo was saying something really interesting about this the other day, what was it you were saying again Ringo?”, “I know FCFC had some killer insights on that …”, “Vincenzo can explain this much better than I can”. You know the sort of thing.

Everything was good, it was fun, vibe was great.

And then …
We’re capturing issues/themes/whatever on the board and I was trying to explain to Facilitator that the theme I’d mentioned was not the same as another. Theme B might look like Theme A, but really isn’t.
Facilitator still wouldn’t add Theme B to the list.

Me (calmly): “I’m not sure you’re understanding me – here’s why Theme B is a different thing”.
Nods from all, Theme B is a very big thing for us.
Facilitator: “it’s the same as Theme A, we need to move on”
Me (slightly stubborn, but still calm): “I know you want me to shut-up, but … “.
Facilitator (completely snaps): “How dare you say I want you to shut up! How dare you insult my professionalism like that!”
Us: silent, mouths agape
Facilitator: “This is exactly the culture of this team playing out right now, carolbaby dominates everything and no-one else gets a chance to contribute! It’s toxic and dysfunctional!”
Us: silent, mouths agape

Tea break
Us (in kitchen): “What the fuck was that?”
Me: starts to cry

Session 2
Me: mutinously quiet (occasional quiet sob and sniffle)
Them: silence
Them: more silence
Them: some quiet, tentative contributions
Them: more silence
Facilitator: “Carolbaby, do you have anything to contribute here?”
Me (quietly): “No, I have nothing”
Facilitator: “Really?! YOU have nothing?!”
Me: “That’s correct, I don’t have a contribution to make at the moment”
Me: “Okay, that sounds like a good idea”

Outside meeting room
Facilitator: “You have nothing to contribute?”
Me: “That’s right”
Facilitator: “Don’t have anything? When this is your area?”
Me:”I don’t feel like I have anything to add to what has been said”
Facilitator (very much in my face): “You know what you are? You are a petulant little brat! AND THAT IS MY TRUTH!” (gets closer) “THAT IS MY TRUTH!”

Me: gasps, backs away, mouth agape, hands to chest
Facilitator: gasps, backs away, mouth agape, hands to chest
Me: backs further away, hands wrapped around self
Facilitator: backs further away, hands wrapped around self

It occurs to me that he is mimicking me.
He continues to copy everything I do and do it very closely.
It is – to not put too fine a point on it – fucking harrowing.
I’m really sobbing at this point.
Bobs is witnessing this – confused and sort of shocked.

Facilitator (shrieks): “I have never seen anyone so unprofessional as you in 30 years of consulting! You are dysfunctional and very obviously have some deep and toxic issues with Bobs!”
Me (through tears): “What?! Bobs and I are extremely close!”
Bobs agrees we are extremely close.
Facilitator: “You prevent the team from contributing (and lots more stuff about how I’m a absolutely terrible person – probably the worst person ever).”
Me: cries
Bobs: confused and sort of shocked

And then!
I retreat back to the meeting room where I’m being shepherded by Facilitator, to continue as if nothing had happened.
I’m sitting, sobbing with occasional deep breaths to steady myself – trying to answer direct questions from Facilitator, quite worried that if I don’t perform he’ll crack again.

Everyone looks horrified, no-one knows what to do.

It was a really bad, bad scene.

I do not attend the group lunch.
I really want to go home, but I don’t feel like I can.
I go to Muji and buy a new diffuser.
I thank TheUniverse I brought a handkerchief with me today.
FCFC tells me I should have just walked out.

The afternoon is long.
I participate in the sessions in a restrained way.
I occasionally cry quietly.

Workshop over
I tell Bobs that he has really let me down, that he has broken my trust, that he should have done something, anything, to stop what happened.
Bobs unfortunately has a lower EQ than my tea cup.
I explain that this was not a robust debate, or a difference of opinion but an unprovoked attack on a pretty defenseless person.
Bobs can be fucking clueless.
This does not help.

I come home.

Clearly Facilitator is a massively unstable nutjob.
I still have no idea where it came from, and why I was the target and it’s obviously extremely unlikely I’ll ever know.
I’ve been trying to move on from everything and let it go.
My subconscious really doesn’t seem to want to play along as I’ve been plagued by nightmares and random acts of crying / shaking.
It has of course made me brood on the possibility that Facilitator is right and I really am an absolutely terrible person and no-one else is being honest with me about that.
Word slowly spreads internally about what happened and people feel quite murderous. Their obvious outrage makes me feel much better.

I had it out with Bobs again today and I think he finally, finally gets that what happened is a very serious thing.

Thankfully I never have to see Facilitator again.

I’m very glad that week is behind me.


I was slightly early for my GP appointment on Wednesday, so ducked into the bookstore for a browse while I waited.

There were several books I’d have loved to buy, but I find it a bit of challenge to read physical books. I tend to lay about reading and it’s kind of annoying to do so while wearing glasses and the typefaces are so tiny that I absolutely can’t read without them.

My eyesight has deteriorated quite a lot in the last year. I suspect this is largely due to being very close to a screen for hours and hours and hours and hours every day now that I’m remote (may the remote working continue forever!).

It doesn’t help at all that pretty much all of my pastimes (crafting, sewing, reading, embroidery, knitting, blogging, photograph-taking**, fish-watching) involve close work – even cooking requires wearing glasses to read recipes! There’s no respite for my poor eyes at all.

Of course the easy thing to do would be to go buy the books I’m interested in kindle format, but I really don’t care at all for the idea of rewarding Amazon for the hard work and care the bookstore has done to get me interested. I’ve said before that Amazon does a pretty appalling job of recommending books I want to read, though Amazon does a pretty stellar job of recommending books Amazon wants me to read. Please save me from another gripping psychological thriller full of twists.

Of course I could buy a kobo reader, which would get Amazon out of the equation, but still dis-intermediating the bookstore.

I could force myself to undo the habit of a lifetime and change my reading position – maybe sit in a chair instead of sprawl about. Then I will be faced with the second challenge of disposing of the physical copy, because (and I know this will appall many of you) I don’t want a an extensive collection of books that I’ll not likely read again.

What would solve my challenge would be to be able to buy a digital edition AT the bookstore. I think one of our large (and probably now only remaining) bookstore chains tried this maybe 10+ years ago and it was not a success.

Will report back if I overcome this, but open to suggestions!


** I feel like calling what I do photography is a bit of a stretch


My lunch date was cancelled, but excellent day nonetheless.

I finally made it to the GP to talk about my leg and got a referral for a scan of my veins. Finding a medical imaging place to actually do it was rather challenging as it’s somewhat specialised. Eventually got there and I’m booked for mid-March. Will report back.

I also had a lovely lunch with Don, and carpe’d the whatevs and did a (very basic) yoga session and a couple of other admin activities that have been lingering. Oh and an ikea trip – which I think is pretty much mandatory for solo days off.

I think my near-death-by-bus-while-gardening experience has been preying on my subconscious as I was awfully sooky and kind of defeated about work yesterday.

A decent sleep and day away from it has been excellent and I’m ready to go fight the good fight.


Joe/Frank started his last semester of undergrad today and was back on campus for the first time in a almost a year!

During the chit chat this evening about how it all went and his feelings on being on campus vs distance learning, he mentioned how nice it was to get out of the house (understandable) because the energy from my work calls was often really stressful (wait. what?)

Don agreed and added that it is often challenging to work at home because of this, so he mostly chooses the office. The stress is apparently palpable, the energy very bad.

This is wild because I always wear a headset, so no-one can hear the other sides of the conversations – they can just hear me.

I thought I was mostly quite chilled with occasional bursts of stress. It’s apparently very much the reverse, which I am really honestly horrified to learn.

I need to remedy this immediately because this is exactly the sort of person I do not want to be!


This is rapidly becoming plants week.

I bought a small pot of mystery flowers (some kind of daisy**?) at the fruit and veg shop last week for $10 and sat them in a ceramic pot next to my desk.

They’ve definitely brought me much more than $10 worth of joy – and look like they’ll keep bringing the delight for at least another week.


** given my “success” with conifer identification, I suspect they are absolutely not daisies.


You might know it as the verge or the grassy bit between the footpath and the road, or maybe you do not have such things at all where you live.

The verge in front of our house is a kind of motley collection of various types of grass and well, lots of weeds. We’re on a quite busy road and it gets quite a lot of sun – it’s a pretty harsh environment.

In Sydney in some areas, maintenance of this area is your responsibility, others the Council takes care of it. We’re in the latter group. In our case “takes care” means a lawnmower on a setting so low that it takes it down to the roots and exposes bare patches of earth.

In summer this brutalisation happens once a fortnight, but because it has been raining quite a bit this year the usual Council mowing hasn’t been happening as regularly as it otherwise might.

As an experiment to see if there was any hope for anything out there beyond grass and weeds, earlier in the summer I planted a very straggly geranium and cast about some marigold seeds I’d liberated from some dead flowers. They’re both going better than expected (expected being quickly dying) but the grass was growing even better and swamping the plants entirely.

Council mowing has been happening in surrounding streets in the past days so I thought I’d trim back the long grass around the plants to see if they were left untouched by the mowers. If they weren’t, no real loss.

So after our morning walk and while the coffee was brewing, I went outside and started trimming.

Because of the busy road, I was very careful to not trim too closely to the gutter and tried to be very conscious of where my hands were. Unfortunately I clearly have very little idea of the rest of my body in relation to my hands.

And so it came to pass that my head was poked out into the road and I happened to glance up and see a fast-moving bus about a metre from my head.

Not very illustrative illustration below.

not to scale

I drew back pretty quickly and felt the whoosh as it passed.

I’m absolutely fine, but it definitely gets you thinking!


It’s been almost 11 months of daily morning walks on pretty much the same route, and almost 11 months of me telling Don every day how much I am intrigued? obsessed? by the pine tree next to the cricket oval.

We do have pine trees all around the place, but I can’t recall seeing such a variety as this In Real Life. It’s so amazing – just like a brush painting!

image pillaged from pinterest

It’s in a pretty incongruous location and is hiding in plain sight – you can spot the absolute magnificence behind the green tank.

The wee cones are just like Christmas lights!

I was super-excited a couple of weeks ago to find a sprig of it on the ground after strong winds – and of course brought it home to enjoy! Sadly not really super-scented.

I’m so fascinated by the little clumps of pine needles – as ever left way too long before photographing, so is way beyond its best.

I absolutely need to identify and try to grow one of my own!

Oooh oooh – my searches on the Information Superhighway while writing this post suggest it might be a cedar and not a pine at all. Will investigate further.