Tuesday, May 31, 2005


There is nothing like cleaning and re-arranging the house to make me want to live somewhere sleek, modern and new. So with this spirit in mind, here's some Tuesday linkage:
  • MoCo Loco: Modern Contemporary Design web magazine, full of drool-worthy pictures.
  • Ever wanted to live in a small, modern home like Max wants to? Not all their homes are modernist in style, but Royal Homes of Canada make some very cool looking prefabricated homes. Check out their blog which promotes their more modern designs, but also includes links to the work of other designers and architects.
  • Eco-friendly modern design is the subject at Treehugger.
  • Alway's wanted to live in a penthouse? England's First Penthouse will source a location and pre-fabricate your dream penthouse (but the cost is pretty steep).
  • Given a secluded piece of land and a megabucks budget, I would love to live in a home by like the ones designed by Fearon Hay.

Things Are Looking Up

After nearly three weeks of being sick it is nice to be able to post a more positive entry about being on the mend. Although, I skipped going to my night class last night as I was wiped out from my first day back at work, after being off sick for much of last week. I still don't feel 100%, but the coughing is subsiding and I'm no longer running periodic fevers and all that good stuff, and would probably say I feel around 80% better.

I'm starting yoga tonight, and although I wish I had another week before starting the classes, being the first night of a beginners course it probably won't be too strenuous. The rest of the week should be pretty laid back, a few more quiet nights in and then there is a 'thank you' party at the Buddhist centre on Friday night for the people who have helped volunteer at the big functions we have had recently. So far I've deliberately kept this weekend pretty much free too. My old flatmate should be fully moved out by Saturday, so I guess major housework will be on the agenda to ensure the house is ready to start being shown to potential new flatmates.

I've been pretty slack about keeping in touch with friends these past few weeks while I have been sick, a situation that hasn't been helped by losing my mobile phone. So it would probably be a good idea to fit a couple of social calls, even if just to say "see, not dead after all!".

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I was lounging in bed this morning when I heard a knock at the door. So I threw on some clothes and went to answer it, expecting it to be a friend of my flatmate's come to help him start to move house.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a friend from the Buddhist centre, who is also a student of the course I am doing, standing there with her boyfriend, a take-away coffee for me and some get-better-soon chocolate. As it turns out because I had combined getting sick with missing some of the course and losing my mobile phone (thereby dropping out of contact) my friends at the centre were worried that things weren't ok. We chatted briefly, and I felt bad about not asking them in, but the house was 2+ weeks of non-housework messy and I was headed back to bed.

I've been smiling about the kindness of the gesture all day since. You know, this is the stuff that really matters, don't you think? Keeping someone in your thoughts, taking a bit of time to see if someone is ok, doing something to make someone's day a little brighter. So thanks Tash & Phil, for such a sweet gesture and for giving me a little reminder about thinking of others.


Paving stone artwork. Newtown Square, Sydney, 2005.

The theme for Photo Friday this week is Symbol. Outside the Newtown Square community centre, just up the street from my house, there is a large number of public art installations and works that have been done as community art projects. This paving stone is one of my favourites.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Yearning For Kerning

I'm a fan of the tv show Lost, for quite a number of reasons (and only a dozen or so of those being to do with Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway and Ian Somerhalder), but I must come clean about something that irks me every week.

The title sequence letters.

"Lost" opening title

I quite like the style of it, and I get what they are going for, but the spacing of the letters bothers me. "Er, what?", you say. You see I love typography, and I'm a bit of a font nerd. In the world of typography there is a thing called kerning, which is basically to do with the spacing between letters, and manually adjusting it so that the visual impression is of equal space between the letters. You basically tuck some letters in closer together because the shape of the letters makes them look further apart. See above how the S & T seem further apart?

Ok, I understand that there is also foreshortening involved in this case, that they may be trying to emphasise the angle of the letters receding into the distance. It still looks off to me, the angle is not that strong that after all.

Anyway, I'm aware that I'm possibly the only person bugged by this. So, as you were.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

...Such A 'Happy Place' In Fact, That Here's A Kitten Pic

[Kitten pic courtesy of www.freefoto.com]


Going To My 'Happy Place' Now

Well, a little less ranty now. I got sent home from work on account of sounding consumptive and all, so I fled and took myself off to another doctor for a second opinion. Turns out I had a high fever and I don't have congestion in my lungs as per my previous diagnosis, but I do have a wicked infection of the tops of my lungs and trachea. So new drugs, and hopefully a speedy recovery and a better attitude.


See, if I can type smiley things must be looking up!


Oh crap-crappity-crap-crap.

I don't like to dump on other people about my problems, but I feel the need for a quick rant. So' if you don't like people having a good unload, then you should probably leave now and check back later. Go on, save yourselves.

(start whine)

I've been struggling along with a chest infection for a couple of weeks now, using up all the sick leave (and then some) that I haven't technically earned yet at this new job, and to my joy it's getting worse. The wierd thing about some chest infections is that you can actually get them without having all the classic 'cold' symptoms of a stuffy head, runny nose etc. Which is the case with this bout I have had.

So the past couple of days I have started to get a cold. Unbelievable. Stuffy head, sore throat, the whole box and dice. I was so wiped last night that, although I had a pretty restless night of sleep, I still slept for about 9 and a half hours. Of course this cold just means that the chest infection I have has turned around and joined in for the ride. Goddam opportunist.

Hey, while I'm having a really good complain I might as well talk about the fact that my flatmate is moving out having given me the absolute bare minimum of notice. Yup, if there was ever a time I felt less like dealing with trying to find a new flatmate it would be right now, not to mention the financial strain of maybe paying the rent until I find someone new, plus refunding him the rent in advance which he paid and I have already deposited into the landlord's account. Sigh. I kind of hate dealing with this sort of stuff at the best of times, but this is just not a good time. It also means making sure the house is not just 'regular clean' but 'inspection clean' too. First impressions count people.

So, let's also have a little chat about when technology goes awry. I already posted about losing my mobile phone, so I'll save the rant about that, except to say that the expense of getting a new one is now off the agenda. I already posted about my PC and its new 'no red' monitor policy, but now the CD Rom drive in my PC seems to be erratic. I bought a Sims game the other day, and the CD to install it wouldn't work. I've since tried other CDs, and patchy success. Fabulous!

So that's where I'm at today. Sick, frustrated and a tad pissed off.

Wasn't that a fun post? Check back later when there may be haikus, kitten pictures or other jolly japes.

(/end whine)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Television Ate My Brain, Again

Given that I've been a tad poorly of late, I've been welded to the couch in front of the tv a little more than usual. Like Homer, my sofa now has an ass-shaped groove.

Some highs/lows of the last couple of days:
  • Of course there was Eurovision in all it's tackiness glory.
  • I had high hopes for the handling of the Desperate Housewives boy-on-boy kiss in last night's episode, but it was a bit 'meh'. Of course it's hard to get excited about having The Gays on Wisteria Lane when Andrew Van Der Kamp is such a turd of a character, even if his liplocking buddy Justin is quite the cuteness.
  • Damn those Celebrity Circus people and their seductive whiles, I started watching one episode innocently enough and the next thing you know I'm only borderline apathetic. Oh, and Outback Jack's real name isn't Jack! Shocking! I guess they tested Outback Vadim and for some reason it didn't fly. Huh.
  • Oh, and when Cameron Daddo finally conquered his fear of heights by walking the tightrope, then burst into tears. Major. Ah, bless.
  • I can't even bring myself to watch Big Brother anymore, it is officially dead to me. Where is the mix up of ages, sexualities, life experiences? Instead we get a bunch of twentysomething Sharons & Darrens. Ugh. Once I realised I wanted to haul off and smack every single one of them, it's time to go TOA.

Monday, May 23, 2005


So, Eurovision is over for another year. I didn't get to watch the the entire broadcast as a) my tv reception for the channel it is shown on goes from unpredictable to bad, b) still having bronchitis, I split early for bed and c) I was home alone, and so what's the fun in watching Eurovision without having someone to hear your scathing remarks? I visited some friends on Friday night and we sat down as a group to watch the second elimination round, which was almost as entertaining.

Some highlights for me:
  • General consensus when Ireland stepped out on stage and we copped a look at Joe of 'Donna & Joe'... somewhere a chatroom is missing a geek.
  • We actually grabbed an atlas to find out where the heck were Andorra (apparently not Endora) and Moldova (apparently not Moldavia, where people find themselves 'jumping the shark' as part of a massacre on their wedding day).
  • Slovenia, kind of cute in a Euro-punk-slacker way but with a fairly forgettable song (Voice Of Reason: aren't they all a bit forgettable?)
  • Latvia, dull pair of Bel Ami* boys
  • Bosnia Herzegovina, old school. A little bit incomprehensible, a little bit like recycled Eurovision winners from the past 20 years, a bit of iffy fashion and lots of peroxide.

Now that's Eurovision!

*Bel Ami is a purveyor of, shall we say 'all male erotica', specialising in fresh faced Euro boys (18+ of course) - don't ask me how I know this.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Dharug National Park, New South Wales. April, 2005.

This week's Photo Friday challenge is Green.

I took this pic of the re-growth on a bushfire ravaged tree one cold and rainy morning at the Wat Buddha Dhamma Centre, while I was on my 8 day meditation retreat. I loved the colours, and fact that the tree was exerting its survival so vibrantly.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Well I Shall Pick Up My Lung, And Go Then

After having been home sick most of this week with bronchitis, I rolled up at my new job this morning (Hi there, remember me?) only to be back out the door on my way home within the hour. I have a history of bronchitis as a child, and whenever I get it as an adult (thankfully not very often) I have a cough that is part consumptive and part Irish Wolfhound. Soooo, with a look in their eyes which was about 40% concern and 60% fear they bundled me back out the door. Actually they were very sweet, even asking if I had someone at home to look after me.

Actually no, but thanks for rubbing my face in that, bitches.*

* Of course, I kid. I was very touched that they thought of asking.

Happy Birthday!

[Cake pic courtesy of www.freeimages.co.uk]

This blog is one year old today. One. Year. Wow, that time has flown fast.

This blog has been lots of fun so far, and I have no plans to step away from it anytime soon. So you'll get no hand wringing and forehead clutching here. Sure I go through moments of doubt; is it interesting?, have I found a consistent 'voice'?, why don't more people visit or comment?... blah de blah. Those are only moments though. I really admire bloggers that have a distinct style or voice in their blogs, but frankly I'm happiest just posting any old crap that jumps to mind or takes my interest.

I started this blog on a whim and too much sugar on 20th May 2004. Day two of my blog my ex-boyfriend Mikey left a comment from Hong Kong (after I gave him the url). My next comment however wasn't until four months later when I got a comment from an anonymous poster and then one from this nice lady on the same post. One day the sister of a friend left a comment out of the blue, which was a pleasant surprise (and a reminder anyone could read this thing).

I gained a bit of momentum, started getting more readers, and when I put a site meter on here early this year discovered that I was indeed getting a reasonable number of readers. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. Discovering how to post pictures was a revelation, and then fooling around with the blogger template led to such 21st century technologies as sidebar 'links'. Go me!

The past year has seen some fairly big changes. I went from starting to dip my toe into getting more seriously involved in Buddhism, to studying more seriously, getting more involved in the centre and now doing lots of volunteering and running the bookshop. I quit drinking alcohol and gave up meat, both of which I feel better for. I quit the job that I was unhappy in, stepped outside that comfort zone and found that my skills were not only appreciated out there but also quite lucratively marketable. I made some new friends, discovered that small children were not as scary as I had convinced myself they were, and grew increasingly comfortable with being single. Some of the changes were rough at the time, but in hindsight a pretty good year of forward momentum.

So, have a great day. Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting where you feel like it. Drop in anytime, you're always welcome.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 18: Man On Man Action Day

Over at Towleroad Andy's theme du jour for May 18th is Liplocking Celebrities. First it's an inter-Jedi smooch and then everyone's favourite rockstar hobbit decides to plant one on.

C'mon over here and pucker up boys.

Still Life, With Drag Queen

Myself and Glen at Polly's Follies, 2003.

I was trawling through some old pics this morning and came across this one from 2003. This picture always makes me smile. It was taken at a dance called Polly's Follies and the crazed looking drag on the right is a dear friend Glen. Out of drag Glen is quite the hotness, if you like them muscly and hung that is...

I look like some sort of xerox copy on 80% of a regular sized person in this picture, especially beside the Great Wall Of Drag Queen that is Glen. Let's just call it petite and leave it at that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Strange Days

Hi, this is your bronchitis speaking...

Urgh. Today has been a really strange day. A day of feeling physically and emotionally flat, frustrated, listless, bored... I guess melancholic wouldn't be too far off the mark. Hey, but I summoned up the strength of will to shower. That's a good thing, right?

Some randomness about today, heavy on the whinge:
  • Earlier my computer monitor did a weird screen wobble thing (as it does every now and then) and now I have no red. NO. RED. [sigh] So everything is dingy grey greeny blues where before they were almost rosy coloured. Suddenly porn most of my favourite websites have become less apealling.
  • I think I have lost my mobile phone, I can't find it anywhere and suspect it might have fallen out of my jacket pocket. To add insult to injury, the phone company bitches just sent me a bill.
  • Of course, my bedroom is such a pigsty at the moment it could be in here somewhere and I probably wouldn't know it. (The last time I know I had it was when I was at the movies, and I turned it off. So I can't even do the 'ring myself to find it' trick.) No phone = no phone numbers. I don't have an address book.
  • I've just spent the past few hours on Queer Filter finding new blogs to read, and suspecting that everyone is a better blogger than me.
  • I suspect I'm having a fat attack.
  • Curiously, I'm feeling oddly horny. Maybe I'm becoming a sexed up depressive 'bear'?

    Gah. Don't adjust your set, we will soon resume normal programming.
  • Journalalia

    I've been thinking a bit about online journals just recently. I don't mean blogs, but true journals. Places where people disect the minutae of the day, post about their thoughts and feelings, and so on. Now I know there is quite a bit of a cross over these days with blogs, some are heavy on links and light on personal thoughts, for others the reverse is true, and sometimes the mix is... well... mixed.

    In particular I was reminiscing about the online journals I started reading ages ago (last century in fact - doesn't that sound cool?). Pre blogs, pre Moveable Type & Blogger, back when most of the sites were scratch written in simple html.

    These early journalers are what primarily got me interested in one day sharing my own thoughts in some sort of format. Most of the ones I was addicted to are long gone now; Esperanca at Hope Wavers, Viv at First Person Particular, Anna at Lucidity, Spinny at Lemon Rind... all gone. Some of these guys I really miss. Hope Wavers was an entertaining look at the life of a twenty something girl living in the United Arab Emirates, Viv wrote long and beautiful entries about everything in her life, Anna was a Sydney local who I once passed on the street but was too shy to speak to... They all had unique voices and points of view which I miss.

    Of the early ones I read in '98/'99 when I first started to read online journals, I think The Mighty Kymm and Beth at Bad Hair Days might be the only ones to still keep it going. Stee at Plaintive Wail has made a come-back after some years of hiatus, but in a more traditional blog format. I also just discovered Patrick Cleary (of Inside and then Are You Happy Now?) has a new journal. He was one the earliest journals I ever read, and certainly the first onling journal by a gay man.

    So it is nice to see that some of the guys who sparked my initial interest in online journals are back, maybe if I search hard enough for the others I might find that they've returned to the fold too. Here's hoping.

    [It would seem that even Barbie has gotten in on the act.]

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Pity Me

    [Pills pic courtesy of www.freeimages.co.uk]

    I'm sick. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

    That is all.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Sad Face!

    Maybe it's too much cough medicine, maybe it's lack of oxygen from the coughing fit I just had... but whatever it is, I found this picture on Popjustice absolutely hysterical.

    What, you were expecting blog content?


    wan·der·lust (n.)

    A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.
    [German : wandern, to wander (from Middle High German) + Lust, desire (from Middle High German, from Old High German..]

    Today I am struck with a dose of Monday-itis and a set of itchy feet that wish to be somewhere else. In the spirit of up-up-and-away, here are some links for the deskbound traveller:

  • A fab collection of vintage airline carry-on bags at Airline Bag Lounge, collected by Troy Litten author of Wanderlust.
  • Troy has captured some wonderful images on his most recent adventures in Morocco, a place I have always wanted to visit.
  • A site I discovered last year, and have been obsessed with ever since, Airline Meals. Primarily a site about (oddly enough) airline meals, and yet so much more than that with its traveller supplied photos and reviews, glimpses into behind the scenes and links to somewhat obscure airlines (such as Yangon Air of Myanmar, Burma).
  • His trip is long since over, but Mike Pugh's online round-the-world travelogue Vagabonding is still a fascinating read. He followed this route and blogged the experience, quite an achievement. I started reading his adventures when he was in the final phase of the trip, and was enthralled.
  • I love this collection of aircraft tail livery photos at Airliners.Net "The Wings Of The Web".
  • Cliff Muskiet, a KLM flight attendant, is also the owner of a huge collection of Stewardess Uniforms. Errr, why?

    Bon Voyage!
  • Saturday, May 14, 2005


    Wow, I just noticed that at the time of writing this my hit stats counter was just a couple of hits off 2,000. I only added the counter early this year, and frankly I'm amazed anyone but me reads this thing. Thanks to everyone who visits and stops to read a little or a lot, I really do appreciate it.

    Oh, and if you happen to be person number 2,000 why not leave me a message and let me know who you are? There's no prize, but a little bundle of love and gratitude for you.

    The Final Frontier

    The theme for Photo Friday this week is Space.

    Mural, abandoned Police & Youth Club building. Erskineville, Sydney. October, 2004.

    What else but Star Trek turned on a generation to the possibilities of space travel? For me, Star Trek (and perhaps 2001: A Space Odyssey) were the oxygen that helped fan the flames of a teenage obsession with space.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Bend & Stretch

    After having done a long 8 day retreat, and a couple of smaller bouts of sitting on a meditation cushion for hours on end, I have decided to take my sorry old inflexible ass off to yoga. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'm thinking Samadhi Bliss Yoga looks good. I've heard good reports and it's just around the corner from my house.

    Of course, I could always try and find out if these guys have a centre in Newtown. [Warning, this link is Not Safe For Work!!]


    [Original teddy bear pic courtesy of www.freefoto.com.]

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    Retreat, and Surrender

    As I've mentioned in this post and this post, I recently went on an 8 day meditation retreat at the Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre in the Dharug National Park, a couple of hours outside of Sydney. The retreat was a silent 8 day Vipassana retreat, led by a reknown Buddhist meditation teacher Venerable Antonio Satta.

    This was my first experience with a retreat lasting longer than a couple of days, and certainly my first retreat with a serious schedule of meditation. Up at 5.30 am, onto the cushion by 6.00 and finishing at around 8.30 or 9.00 pm. Of the roughly 15 hour day, around 8 hours of that was spent in actual meditation. The remainder was breaks or time allowed for writing in our meditation journals.

    The Sala (meditation hall) at Wat Buddha Dhamma. Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    This building, the Sala (or meditation hall, what we refer to as a Gompa) was really beautiful and where we spent most of the time. The curving and peaked roof, carved doors and curving interior beams led it a real Asian flavour. All the windows in the Sala were screened but not glazed, and fitted with a clever wooden shutters system that could be closed in bad weather or cold. Being fitted with so many open windows, it was almost like being inside a screened porch, and the sounds and smells of the bush became part of the experience of being inside the building.

    The Sala garden. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    Around the Sala was a raked Zen style garden, complete with dry 'creek bed' and native grasses.

    The far side of the Sala, with raked gravel garden. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    My spot. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    From my spot inside the Sala, seated facing outwards through the narrow vertical windows, I had a slim view of the raked garden and the sandstone retaining wall. It was wonderful to observe the light change from the dark grey of pre-dawn, through to full light, and then through lengthening shadows back to dark again.

    During the retreat we did a variety of meditation practices, such as 'walking meditation' and analytical meditations on specific topics (such as compassion), but the primary focus of the retreat was Vipassana, or 'insight' meditation, a technique designed to create mindfullness. The aim is to switch off the commenting, judging, chattering mind and to simply observe with 'bare attention'. Starting with observing external phenomena, such as sounds, then bringing the attention to the breath and to your mind states, you work towards always being mindfull of the transient mind states and emotions as they arise.

    Stopping the chattering mind, for me that was hard. I had some great experiences of clarity during the retreat, lots of other times where it was hard slog, other times where I was struggling to stay awake, but all of these were a valuable part of the experience. The trick is to just watch what is going on inside, without labellingit, judging it etc.

    Bronze bells, on the hillside above the Sala. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    The point of the silence, and of limiting distractions such as reading, was to help to encourage this observant mind state. One of the few words I uttered during the 8 days of trying to keep total silence was "Ouch!". I was sitting on the bench seats around the perimeter of the pagoda type structure which housed the two bronze bells shown above, writing in my meditation journal, when I stood up... and rang the smaller of the two bells with my head.

    Stupa, on the hillside overlooking the Sala. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    Stupa top. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    The surroundings of the retreat centre were beautiful and the owners had capitalised on this by leaving as much of the bushland as possible untouched. Hidden in amongst the trees were wonderful suprises such as this stupa, above.

    The Road Less Travelled (which we travelled a lot). Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    I grew to love the 10-15 minute walk to and from the Sala each day. Most days we did this walk anywhere up to 10 times (in one direction or the other) as we went to and from the kitchen for meals and breaks. The first and last walks of the day were always in darkness, and walking through the darkened bush was not scary at all. (I wouldn't have surprised myself if I had gotten a whole Blair Witch scenario going in my imagination.) I guess because we were practising mindfullness, and therefore trying to really observe everything in detail, my normally intense imagination was switched off. Mornings and evenings were excellent times to encounter wildlife too, and during the retreat I saw two large goannas, a huge wombat and a couple of either small kangaroos or wallabies.

    Shrine, on the road to the Sala. Wat Buddha Dhamma, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    This little shrine I dubbed to myself as The Shrine At The Culvert (also known as Half Way There.)

    I gained a lot from the retreat, and it was a wonderful and challenging experience. It was an excercise in emotional highs and lows, fatigue and exhilaration, hope and despair, boredom and fascination... all the emotions we all go through, but heightened and being brought to centre stage. Ven. Antonio was a brilliant teacher, kind but strong and constantly challenging us to really think things through. We had wonderful teachings on a variety of subjects, which curiously always seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear on any given day to give me the kick in the pants I needed.

    From a teaching on compassion for oneself, my favourite quote was:
    "The best hug one can give, is the hug one gives oneself. ...The hug one gives oneself is called Acceptance."
    Ven. Antonio Satta

    I'll leave you with that thought.

    Abandonment Issues

    This abandoned Japanese tree top Lounge Bar could easily pass for something from a post-apocalypse movie set. ...and, cue zombies!

    [Scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the best pics. Link via things magazine.]

    In a similar vein, there was an abandoned Thai restaurant on busy Parramatta Road near where I live, which used to fascinate me. The tables were set with cutlery, folded napkins and tablecloths, the bar was stocked with bottles, all of which was covered in a thick layer of dust. (I say 'was' because it looks like after years of being abandoned the building has finally been leased by someone else and cleared up.)

    I always wondered did they a) know they were closing down, but thought 'well, we might as well keep our standards up and set these tables!' or b) something tragic happened and all the staff disappeared without a trace. I'm sure the truth of the matter is more like the owner just told everyone at the end of the night not to bother coming in the next day, but you would think they would at least go back and sell off all the items that were salvageable.

    Am I the only person that ever thinks about this stuff? What is my fascination with abandoned buildings?

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005


    The theme at Photo Friday this week is Fancy. So I thought I'd enter these two pics of one of the two carved wooden doors leading into the Sala (meditation hall) at the Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, where I recently did an 8 day meditation retreat.

    [A full entry about the retreat is to come, but in the meantime there are pics and descriptions of the beautiful bushland setting here.]

    Sala door, with images of a stupa and the wheel representing the cyclical nature of rebirth. Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    Sala door, with images of a lotus and someone meditating. Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    These doors were large and heavy, but beautifully balanced so that they were not a chore to push open. They gave an appropriate sense of 'occasion' on entering the hall. You can't see them in these photos, but the handles were tree branches that had been polished and lacquered but were otherise left pretty much natural.

    Beautiful and, I thought, very fancy.

    Going Bush

    The meditation retreat I went on recently was held at the Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre in the middle of the Dharug National Park at Wisemans Ferry, a couple of hours drive from Sydney. The centre has an interesting history, which includes the purchase of the virgin bushland site before the area around it was declared a National Park. As a result, the centre has been built in beautiful bushland, and the owners not only operate along environmentally friendly lines but have also minimised the amount of clearing done in order to operate the centre.

    While I was on retreat, and during the numerous 15 minute walking trips we took to and from the meditation hall (or Sala as the group call it) each day, I was struck by the beauty of the bush setting. Before the retreat started, and after it finished, I took lots of photos to remember just how beautiful it was. I snuck in a couple of pics during the retreat itself, which was not strictly in the spirit of retreat. I figured it wasn't breaking the rules too much though, as the type of retreat we were undertaking was a form of observational meditiation called Vipassana. I was observing, right?

    Bushland colours. Bright orange funghi on dead wood, morning dew on a eucalypt sapling and crimson tones of a fallen gum leaf. Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    The 8 day retreat was conducted in total silence, with the exception of question time at the end of each day, and we were also asked to refrain from distractions such as reading or communicating in non-verbal ways. The point of this was to focus the mind on the matter at hand, and also by restricting the senses and minimising distractions to sharpen the attention and allow for greater focus. What I found interesting was the way that this, combined with long hours in meditation, heightened my other senses and I became fascinated with colours, textures, smells and sounds.

    Mountain Devil (lambertia formosa). Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    Details of flowers, early morning dew on leaves and cobwebs, the many types and colours of funghi... all became a rich part of the daily experience. At night I spent time looking at the huge dark sky filled with an amazing quantity of bright stars and at the waxing moon.

    Misty dawn. Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    Mornings were wonderful. Rising at 5.30 (that's not the wonderful part) we started the day with a walk through the bush in darkness to be at the meditation hall for the first session at 6.00 am. Around 7.00 we walked back through the bush in the early morning light for breakfast. Some mornings (like the one above and below) were cold and misty, making the bush look translucent.

    Note the flower spike to the left of the photo above, and there are more in the picture below. These amazing native plants are called Gymea Lillies. Unfortunately the flowering season was over, so the huge flower heads were no longer bright red but instead were black and covered in large open seed pods. Despite this they were still amazing to look at. The flower on the left of the picture above was close to 30' tall (even though most sources say they only grow to about 20'), and the whole area was covered in them.

    Silver, grey and green of a bush morning. Wat Buddha Dhamma retreat centre, Wisemans Ferry, New South Wales. April, 2005.

    I'll write about the retreat in more detail, but I wanted to share some of the beauty of the setting with you guys in the meantime. It's because I care.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Put Your Thinking Caps On

    On Friday May 20th this blog will celebrate its first birthday. (Note the adorable way I speak about it in the third person, as if I had nothing to do with it? Well I ask you, quite frankly, wouldn't you distance yourself from it?)

    Soooo, I'm asking for suggestions on what I should do to celebrate the occasion. Keep in mind that I don't have enough time to get a) a tan and b) lose about 6 kilos, so no suggestions involving baby oil and public nekkidity will be considered. All of you are above that sort of thing, natch.

    Should I:
  • Write something interesting? (Please.) Oh, maybe only in haiku's!?
  • Pretend I only speak Esperanto?
  • Set up a webcam and take blurry, arty, self indulgent pics of myself (and maybe my cat, if I had one) and then blog endlessly about how the internet has stolen my life?
  • Every time somebody speaks to me, scrunch up my face and answer only in a Pee Wee Herman voice?

    OK, so see how I'm struggling here? I need your creative input. In the old days I would have added get all liquored up and make inappropriate sexual advances at strangers, but as you all know I have eschewed that sort of behaviour.
  • Monday, May 02, 2005

    I Am Dubious About Anyone Who Describes Themselves As 'Elite'

    It seems that getting up a good of head of hate on Ikea is more common than I thought it was. To quote this website:
    We are the Elite Designers. We design profound and beautiful furniture for those with wealth and taste. Which is why IKEA makes us furious, livid and angry. Do their designs live, breathe and growl? Are they born from tears of pain? Do they gently touch the bottom of the human soul? Pah! Of course not, no more than weeds can attract a bee. The big blue place is odious, its affordable design is sickeningly shallow and we loathe it even more than we loathe football. Please join us in our unqualified hatred.

    Jeezalou, put down the cough syrup and get a grip on yourself. Who knew that it was the role of a side table to 'touch the bottom of the human soul'?

    [Oh, and by the way I suspect the entire thing might just be somewhat tongue in cheek. I sure as hell hope so.]

    Do You Think He Blogs Wearing A Safari Suit*?

    I'm in love with the vintage visual ephemera at the One Man Safari blog. I'm especially fond of the Kellogg's Space Cadet and other vintage sci-fi images, and the pics from when UFO's were only known as flying saucers.

    Where he finds all this stuff I do not know, but I'm in awe.

    * A reference to the great Aussie sartorial pinnacle that is the Safari Suit.

    Weekend Haikus

    In lieu of a boring old recap of the events of the past hectic weekend, here's a few weekend recap haikus to bring your enthusiasm for this blog crashing down around your ankles.

    Saturday Haikus:

    "Volunteering at the Buddhist Centre Bookshop"
    Oh, big stack of books
    You taunt me and my price tags,
    pen, and aching hand!

    "As Out Of Place As A Sober Vegetarian At A Barbecue"
    Karen's barbecue
    I played with her dogs all night
    and loved the deaf one

    Mmm, fried halloumi
    I soberly ate my cheese
    Whilst carnivores drank

    Sunday Haikus:

    "Renate's Party in the Mountains"
    Sunday morning drive
    With Benita and Dayna
    To the Blue Mountains

    Scones with jam and cream
    In a cafe on the way
    Taste like my Gran made

    Celebrate today
    Renate was East German
    Now ist ein Aussie!