095/2021: easter ruthless reckoning

As part of my current decluttering adventures I decided to use this long Easter weekend to take a small action on each of the tiny projects that have been bouncing about in my head for ages.

There’s often a lot going on in my brain – it’s really quite exhausting. Hopefully this will allow some space.

Small things:

+ Taking in the sleeves of an old t-shirt of Don’s that I’ve been wearing around the house – tacked them to size – looked ridiculous – abandoned – will keep wearing with floppy sleeves

+ Reconstructing Joe/Frank’s year 10 rugby-style jersey into a cropped jumper for me – looked ridiculous – abandoned – turned to rags

+ Putting small clear feet on those small glass plates I made in my first glass class which were very wobbly and pretty much unusable – completed – excellent! – makes a wonderful saucer for my teapot

+ Turning some pins and buttons into magnets – completed – satisfying!

I bought supplies for Kintsugi after my class in July 2019 – and they’ve been sitting various cupboards for almost 2 years.

Quite why I purchased another diamond file and chisels and work gloves when I already had each of these left from the class is something I cannot explain. I’d hazard a guess that it is because I very much enjoy buying things?

I did decide against smashing those wee plates I’d bought and they are now usefully employed as saucers under various gardening experiments.

But I did have two ceramic coasters which had smashed a while back and I’d thought to kintsugi them back together, but they’d been sitting there and sitting there and sitting there, guilting me and taking up space in my brain.

In my ruthless Easter reckoning I was all set to chuck them and buy replacements – but when I picked them up I thought why not just give it a little try?

So I sat on the upper balcony late on Friday afternoon and filed and glued and had a lot of fun.

Rather than racing to finish in a single evening, I decided to space it out over two days. This could have been dangerous, because day two could easily spin out to six months hence – but I was fairly motivated.

I also had an old broken yet adorable wee piggy bank of Bessie’s which I’d dropped when I was helping her pack to move in with Hansel around 18 months ago. Having this sitting about meant more occupied brain space.

I hadn’t touched piggy on day one – and when it came time to start filing, I reconsidered my approach, thinking he might look better simply glued back together, with a gold spot covering the chip. Spoiler – I should have gone with my original instinct. The glue line was not at all as invisible as I’d imagined – but it still looks pretty cute with the scar. And hey – a learning experience is never a bad thing.

I’m very pleased with the outcome of the coasters though!

I’ve been eating greek yoghurt and berries for breakfast for several months now and go through a litre tub of yoghurt each week. This creates quite a lot of plastic waste that guilts me every time I rinse a container out for the recycling, so I thought – why not make my own?

I planned to use this very simple recipe which uses a litre of milk and 1/4 cup of yoghurt and duly purchased the ingredients. Which then sat in the fridge for over a week while I stuck myself in a dithering pattern.

Of course when I eventually grabbed the milk and yoghurt from the fridge to make the yoghurt it occurred to me that this approach was creating just as much plastic waste (face-palm-emoji), nevertheless she persisted.

After some time in a very, very low, barely warm (40oC) oven and overnight in the fridge …

Not quite as tart as I’d like, but definitely yoghurt!

Will I repeat? Possibly not!

And to kick it all off, on Thursday I took a fading tourist map of Tokyo from it’s cheap ikea frame on our bedroom wall and had it scanned. I’d been planning to do this for months – yet another thing taking brain space.

Once I had it off the wall and in my hand the way to the scanning shop, I wondered why I was treating this ephemeral object as something amazingly precious that needed preservation forever.

I had it scanned it anyway (it cost $0.40 and I was at the office supplies store for other things), but will put something else ephemeral up on the wall and rotate with other ephemeral things.

So very strange how the brain works.

&hearts

Also planning to take the next step on

+ pillow cases for Joe/Frank – I’m slightly daunted by the envelope closure – but I have cut out the bits.

+ cushion for the top of the small cabinet behind Don’s desk where NewKitty occasionally likes to hang out in the afternoons – no idea what the blocker is with this one – maybe finding something for stuffing?

Onward!

089/2021: adventures in gardening

A long overdue update on my experiments in growing seeds-harvested-from-food.

Some random gardening experts on the InformationSuperhighway say this sort of thing isn’t worth the trouble – that if you want to grow a tree, you should go out and buy a sapling.

I say pish to that! Because:

1. Saplings are expensive
2. Saplings are often not-easily obtainable where I am
3. Experiments!

Experiment 1: seeds from a Xmas lunch 2019 pomegranate


25cm

Quite the slow grower. I always think it is dead when it loses leaves in April. Living in the semi-tropics, I totally forget trees can do this.

Experiment 2: mangoes planted from summer feasting in 2019/20!


35cm

Growth has been pretty rapid despite the soil being pretty anaerobic. The soil came from the very under-performing “compost” bin which needs a Reckoning. Entirely my fault for not coddling it.

Could do with a repot and some better soil.

Experiment 3: Ginger planted mid-this-year from dried out bits. Nothing happened for ages and I’d pretty much given up hope. Then – boom!

Experiment 4: We use quite a lot of lemons in ThePalace(OfLove). We had several small delicious local lemons late last year which were simply jam-packed with seeds, so of course there was nothing for it but to chuck them in some soil.

Hopefully I have learned my over-watering lesson and these will grow a little better than my past efforts.

Experiment 5: I cold stratified some muscat grape seeds in the fridge at the end of last year – and to be honest, forgot about them.

I pulled the pot out of the depths of the fridge a couple of weeks ago and they sat on a shelf doing nothing for a good while.

I was contemplating tossing them, but a couple of days ago noticed growth!

This is exciting!

I haven’t seen a grape vine for sale anywhere in my travels to plant stores. I have no hope at all of getting any tasty grapes, but a vine would be amazing!

087/2021

I’ve been watching quite a bit of youtube lately and am currently trapped in a minimalism algorithm. Fortunately it is quite nice one – less of the white dude bros, more of the interesting, thoughtful women.

Emboldened by all this inspiration I decided to declutter my craft supplies. I’ve had desultory attempts at this in the past, but thanks to the excellent Celia I’m now aware of The Sewing Basket – a very worthwhile place to donate all manner of crafty things.

My life as it is now, or in the future, doesn’t need a ton of craft supplies for those impromptu costumes, outfits or last-minute projects – or “just in case”.

And there were many (many!) items sitting around silently guilting me for doing nothing with them. I don’t need that kind of judgement from inanimate objects.

So I cast off lots of fabric, boxes of pins, ribbons, way too many hotel sewing kits, bobbins from school sewing (that don’t fit my machine), Bessie’s old mostly empty sewing box, dressmaking patterns, packets of press-studs and tons of other stuff – and most of the contents of my button box!

I’ve had some of these buttons since I was 10 years old – having scored an awesome button jar when the Brownies’ craft cupboard was being cleared out – but it really was time.

In shocking news, I didn’t even count them before I set them free – but there were a lot.


hundreds and hundreds

All that remains:

Also shockingly, I didn’t take any photos of of the quite large box we delivered to the Balmain Sewing Basket today.

I asked Don to ensure that I adhered to the quick in-and-out – no possibility of browsing and bringing home more. I’m on a self-imposed buy no more supplies until you have finished or abandon current projects programme.

It was incredibly freeing!

I’m motivated to have a second crack – because surely there are more things I will never touch.

083/2021

I have no idea where the days are going or what I’ve been doing with my time over the last ten days, but here we are.

As expected, we have indeed been commanded (there’s no other word for it really) back to the SML office three days a week from mid-April. To say this has been a wildly unpopular announcement is an understatement.

I’m not sure whether that much antipodean news makes its way out into the world, but over the past week we’ve had yet another stint of once-in-a-century rains for the second year running. There has been quite a lot of flooding.

Long time readers might remember our indoor waterfall of last year’s once-in-a-century rain. We’ve since spent a not inconsiderable amount to improve our water-tightness. We stayed dry over the rainy summer and were quietly enjoying our good fortune in these rains, but eventually Joe/Frank’s window started to drip drip drip from the above (new) window pane – in pretty much the same location as last year. Fortunately the new windows meant we could catch the many (many!) litres of water more easily and there was little damage to ourselves.

We had our windows dude around on Monday and he’s pretty sure it’s not the window causing the issue. The cause is one of those mysterious mysteries – there is no drain nearby, no obvious gaps or holes anywhere and this only happens in very heavy rain blowing from the east. We’re likely to spend another small fortune uncovering the cause. This evening I made an application to the Council for copies of the original development application in case it sheds any light – though based on countless tradies exclaiming “I’ve never seen that before”, it’s unlikely that the developer actually adhered to the plans in any real way.

Don pointed out that he’d never experienced leaky houses at all when he lived in the US. Windows dude said that’s because Australian building regulations are … not great.

Also quite the understatement.

073/2021

This month’s flowering pot plant … dahlias**

AU$12 of sunshine! Hopefully the rest of the flowers will unfurl over the next little bit.

xxx

It rained and rained and rained heavily on Friday night and there was some nearby flash-flooding.

And in very excellent news, ThePalace(OfLove) remained water-tight! Hurrah!

It’s a very (very) expensive miracle!

xxx

I’m trying to get back into good mental health habits from today – they really do slip if you are not vigilant.

This primarily involves not looking at The Guardian, not scrolling on my phone, stepping away from the computer, picking up the cross stitch I’m making for Bessie (which has been languishing for more than a month) and watching soothing youtube videos.

And exercise. I really need exercise. I have no idea what my blocker is – except that I find the stationary bike terribly boring.

Maybe back to very gentle yoga videos.

xxx

Scuttlebutt is that we’ll be ordered back to the office next week.

If true it will be quite shit.

xxx

** All credit here to the label, I would have assumed they were chrysanthemum

066/2021


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!

xxx

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.

065/2021

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.

xxx

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.

xxx

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.

064/2021

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”
Facilitator: “DO WE NEED TO GO OUT AND RESOLVE THIS?”
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.

Lunch!
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.

Afternoon
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.

Aftermath
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.

057/2021

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!

xxx

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

055/2021

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.