Monday, December 31, 2007

The Turn Of The Year

It's that time again!

Another year ending and another beginning. 2008! It sounds so tomorrow, doesn't it? When I was young it meant jetpacks, holidays on the Moon and robot technology that would free mankind from drudgery forever (and spit your clothes out of the washing machine neatly ironed, folded and sealed in plastic bags).

The reality is a lot more mundane feeling, even though we have things that were unheard of when I was a youngin'. iPods. Global Warming. It feels like we're getting closer to (if not on already) the cusp of the need to make things better or screw them up forever. We're both more consumer driven than ever, and yet green/fairtrade/end poverty movements seem to be gathering momentum. All social trends seem to create some sort of counter ripple. Backlashes. Conservatism breeds a liberal push. Rampant consumerism breeds a push for simplifying, for sustainability, for ethical trade. It's a funny old world we live in.

I like to think and hope that we're moving forward, to a world that puts more thought into social justice, resource use, the environment, each other.

On a personal level I feel like I'm ending the year with positive change. Although 2007 has been a pretty good year on balance. Highs and lows, joy and ennui, happiness and high dudgeon, but generally a fairly positive year. I dated, and even though it didn't really go anywhere it still was a fairly positive experience. It also gave me joy to see some of the most important people in my life develop relationships. Some days writing this blog was tough, but I had so much joy from writing on all the other days, and so much pleasure from my readers and commentors, that it was a good year for me blogwise. Work is a bit more interesting, and better paid than early in the year. I have some plans, and especially lately I've achieved some goals I set myself, even though I had a few points during the year where I felt lazy and unmotivated. My health was a bit wobbly this year, but I've brought my blood pressure and cholesterol down even though I still need to work on my weight. I lost my photo taking and creative mojo at times, but then I discovered knitting (and especially the joys of the knitting community) and I feel more creatively fired up than I have for ages.

I don't generally make firm resolutions but I do feel quite excited about the year ahead, and about what I want to achieve. About goal setting, about creative projects, about a healthier home environment, and about friendships and relationships, and about rolling with the punches and the tough times. Part of the excitement is seeing just what the year will bring though, right? What highs and lows?

Hopefully you'll all have a good year in 2008, with health, love and happiness, and hopefully you'll all hang around to see what 2008 has in store for me as well. My sincere thanks for stopping by and reading this year! Drop me a comment sometime if you haven't before, and hopefully we can share the year together.

Much love, Andrew

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I Went To The Scary Places

Years ago I worked with a Taiwanese lady called Eunice*. Once upon a time Eunice and I were having a conversation about New Year celebrations, and she told me how it was traditional in her country to have a massive clean up before New Year. To make everything spic and span. I'm not sure if this was true, or she was just angling for me to clean up my desk, but that idea has stuck with me ever since.

It doesn't always mean that I apply that knowledge, but the idea did stick.

Anyhoo, I have time on my hands before I go back to work next week and it is, after all, almost New Year. So in the spirit of Eunice's teachings, I went to the scary places today and tamed them.
  1. The garden down the side of my house. Narrow, bordered by my house on one side and my neighbour's fence on the other, and overgrown with noxious asthma weed, this space is roughly akin to the deep part of the forest, Shelob's Lair and the unlit staircase of a haunted house. (I'm fine with most living things, but I'm sorry I just don't do spiders. I'm happy to leave them be, and frankly I expect the same treatment in return.) So I put on my brave soldier face and got to it. We have bare soil, people! I know the friggin' asthma weed will be back in no time, but for the time being it is tamed.

    BTW, note to self. Despite loving the butchness of it all, don't do this in a singlet next time, a) sunburn and b) asthma weed brings me out in itchy red blotches where it touches skin, vile stuff.

  2. The under sink cupboard. How did it get so gross? Really. Moist, dark and rarely visited. (Actually, that sounds familiar.) Populated by mis-matched plastic containers and lids, a rusty never-used wok, some ancient alcohol bottles (Mmmm, Parfait d'Amour anyone?) and... what is that?... blech... I think it's like roach droppings or something?!...

    Yes, I nearly did throw up in my mouth a little.

    Now, it's a thing of pristine beauty! Everything washed, matched or thrown away, disinfected and the Parfait d'Amour dusted. Well, you never know when it might come in handy, right?

It feels like I've got a head start on some resolutions.

[* Everytime I think of her I want to say Eunice? This is a person called "Eunice"?]

Christmas, 2007 Edition

I hope you all had a nice a great Christmas and enjoyed the break!

My Christmas, in a nutshell:
  • Perhaps not unusually at Christmas time, I ate like I just found out food was about to be discontinued. My sister is a pretty good cook, and the menu was so heavy in my childhood favourites that I was powerless to resist! Powerless.
  • It was actually cold on Christmas Day where my sister lives. I'm so used to sweltering on Christmas Day that it felt weird to have to go hunting for a jacket to wear.
  • I shot a heap of photos while I was away. The two things I took endless pictures of this holiday? Architecture and pets. My sister lives in an extremely pretty ex-Goldrush town (Ballarat) which is full of beautifully preserved Victorian buildings and wide, wide streets. Then I stayed in Melbourne just around the corner from the funky Chapel Street, with my friend Robbie. If you look up above the shops at street level, Chapel Street has some amazing vintage buildings.
  • Oh, and both Robbie and my sister both have super cute pets which of course needed to be photographed! (Pictures to come)
  • I dazzled my family with the sheer fantasticness of my gifts this year. Bluetooth phone headset? You got it. Ceramic hair straightener thingy? It's yours. That Nintendo game you really, really wanted? Enjoy!
  • I got a DVD I already own, a pack of two t-shirts (quite nice, but I don't really wear t-shirts)), a book (historical trivia, looks mildly diverting) and a nice teapot and cup set (nice, but I don't really drink tea). I appreciate them all, really I do, but note to self: send wishlist next year!
  • I broke the journey home by stopping to see my good friend Robbie, and it was glorious. We had dinner and nummy nums wine at one of the few restaurants open on Boxing Day, but didn't have a late night as Robbie had to work the next day. I spent the day having a relaxing wander around the city and Chapel St (funky shops, cafes and small bars), getting inadvertantly sunburned. Then Robbie made dinner and we sat outside in the shade of his courtyard with Gin & Sodas with Lime, until it was time to head off to the airport.
  • No hottie in the seat beside, but I did get 3 seats to myself. Score!
  • I came home broke and relaxed. The broke part has lasted but the relaxed bit sort of went out the door when I discovered my flatmate had left me the gift of a sinkful of dirty, smelly dishes, a dishwaser with a pile of food in the bottom (likewise smelly), two empty toilet rolls sitting on the bathroom sink and the news that he is unable to move out by the deadline of Tuesday. Sometimes I hate my life. (OK, I know that sounds kind of trivial, but given that neither my flatmate or his frequently present boyfriend do any cleaning around the house, it was just the straw that made the camel's bloodpressure escalate. Plus the delayed moving out thing seriously screws things up.)

So not the best end to my little holiday, but the prevailing mood for my trip was fun. The hassles with my flatmate involved a brief white hot flare of anger, that has now largely subsided. Not enough really to dent the enjoyment of my time away. I'm now off until the 2nd of January, and after pottering around the house and doing some work on the garden today, I think tonight will be catching up with friends and maybe a movie.

And you? How was your break?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I won't be around much from today onwards so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas! (And if Christmas isn't your flava, then Merry [insert celebration name here]!) I have a chock-a-block weekend of shopping/eating/partying, before I fly out to Melbourne and then head inland to country Victoria on Sunday night to see my family. So I probably won't be around until I get back to Sydney at the end of next week.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading and hanging out here over the past year. For laughing along with me, for your kindnesses when things haven't gone so well, for your good cheer during the good times, and for leaving thoughtful and constructive comments. I truly appreciate you stopping by and leaving your mark on this blog.

"Dude, I sure hope this is pants."

My wish for you all is that you get to unwrap something this lovely this year!

Have a great celebration with whomever you choose to spend it with. Spare a thought for those who have less, and give thanks for this precious human life we all have! Have a great time!

See you around the 28th.
With love,

Thursday, December 20, 2007


We've had a little flurry of small gift giving here at work this morning. So far all of the gifts I have received have fallen into two categories:

a) Chocolate
b) Alcohol

I'm happy about that, truly I am, but it does give me pause to think that my workmates might think I'm a big fat lush! I hadn't labelled them as being that perceptive until now.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I note with interest your extended failure to accurately provide items/services requested. (By 'extended' I refer to the period 1968 - 2006, inclusive.)

However, I am prepared to overlook this fact and allow you to make good faith restitution by providing the following by no later than the morning of December 25th.

Please note, the 'no chimney' and 'no Christmas Tree' excuses of previous years are inadequate, and should not deter you from fulfilling your obligation. Perched on the end of my bed when I awake on the morning of December 25th will be deemed more than acceptable.


PS: If unavailable, please provide the following:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cracks Are Starting To Show

(No, not another post about James Purefoy's ass.)

It seems like 90% of the people I work with are in towering foul moods today. I wouldn't include myself in that number, but I have been a bit uptight and a little bit stressed. Some of my workmates have been in very, very dark moods indeed, and bitching about each other seems the order of the day.

I blame Christmas.

Seriously, I do. I can only speak for myself, but I'm rapidly running out of time and inspiration to get everything done. This sounds terribly grinchy I know. I keep accepting social engagements, but then at the back of my mind I'm totalling up the time I'll need to get to all these functions, balancing that with the time I have left to shop, and minusing the cost of wine/taxis/gifts from what's left of the Christmas Budget. The scales are almost tipping over into deficit.

I think it's probably a similar level of stress that's getting to everyone. Add in the rush to get everything done at work before we close on Friday the 21st, and then there is that stress on top.

I'm trying to stave off the worst of it by doing some planning. Making a few lists. Checking them twice, as the story goes. Normally I've done better by this late stage of the game. I still have some of Saturday and some of Sunday left to shop before I fly out to see my family early Sunday evening, but that's mostly it. In previous years I have worked in the city, and was able to get some shopping done during various lunch hours. Maybe I can head into the city and brave the crowds during the extended trading on Friday night?

Oh, and that's right, I have some baking to do...

I've so filled my weekends, and some week nights, and now I've made myself a bit time poor. However, just so you don't think it's all grinch all the time here, I am loving the opportunities to see friends and family, and hang out and have a good time.

Part of writing this post is to remind myself to take a few minutes and remember that!

The Miracle Of Christmas

Thank you Santa.

Thank you the sweet Baby Jesus.

Thank the Goddess, or whomever... for thy precious Christmas gift of a naked James Purefoy on our television screens last night.

I think I need to go and buy the DVD of "Beau Brummell" now, just so I can freeze frame on that stellar ass.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shut Up, Bossy!

Some Festive Season advice from the WPA.

Stylish vintage WPA posters from the amazing Shorpy.

[Link via Lots of Co.]


One of the things I did this weekend (aside from the shopping, the eating, the drinking lots and lots of beers) was to take some photos of my friends Lara and Mark's 17 day old son Inigo.

Prepare thee for some cuteness!

Lara and Mark are both knitters, and both have lots of friends who are knitters, so as you can imagine Lara and I just had to play dress-ups with Inigo's knitwear collection. Baby fashion parade! He didn't once complain that the Champagne was domestic, disappear into the bathroom to do lines of blow with the make-up boys, or call his booker to get me the hell out of here, so he has a few lessons to learn about being a top model. Although there were a couple of (very small) crying meltdowns...

While I was there one other model was anxious to get her close up.

Omote Ami

I spent much of Saturday morning looking for Christmas and birthday presents. More looking than actual buying as it turns out. It was hot and humid, I was tired and my back was aching, the stores were manic busy... If you've tried our Southern Hemisphere summertime Christmas shopping, I think you know the drill.

So after I had bought a birthday present for Mikey (the lovely ex) and a couple of other Christmas gifts, I decided to stave off a mini meltdown with some quality you know what?, it's all about ME time. So I headed into the Japanese language section of Books Kinokuniya on the hunt for Japanese craft and knitting books.

Oh trust me, the lure of the Japanese knitting book cannot be understated. You may scoff, but there is a real design sensibility to modern Japanese knitting that I really like. The patterns aren't neccessarily any more complicated, in fact they're often quite simple, but the choice of yarns and great details make them something special. Plus the styling of the books are always spot on.

Given that even the best knitting books are frequently peppered with the odd piece of hideous, a knitting book for just over $20 with only one thing in it that you wouldn't wear, well that's pretty good value for money. (And yes, it's the piece on the cover that's my least favourite.) Especially when the majority of men's patterns are so frequently very dull, or tricksy and naff beyond belief.

So this, and another book about various cool knitting techniques, were my little presents to me from Santa. He was just somewhat earlier than normal this year.

[If you're interested to see what's inside the book, go to this page and click the button on the ride sidebar that looks like this:
It'll launch a Flash browser that lets you flick through all that pages. Neat.]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Line-Up, Line-Up

The handsome boys of the Yale Varsity rowing team, circa 1913.

The lads of Penn Varsity, circa 1914.

Take What You Need

When I applied for my shiny new ID photo card yesterday, I decided to go ahead and make myself an organ donor. I always intended to, and I've always mentioned to family and friends that I was pro organ donation, but now it's official. I don't know if they do this in other countries, but in Australia your organ donator status is printed on your Driver's Licence, or in my case on the proof of age photo ID card that non-drivers can apply for.

I'm not sentimental about my body after death, or weirded out by the concept of being harvested for organ donation. Maybe it's because I believe in Buddhist concepts of reincarnation, but I just see my body as... well meat I guess... once my consciousness is no longer there. Traditional Tibetan Buddhism teaches that it actually takes quite a long time for the consciousness to fully leave the body and enter an intermediate (Bardo) stage before rebirth, so organ donation does kind of get into a bit of an iffy area in relation to that.

However, I also see it as the last great act of generous loving kindness that you can offer, to give up organs to save the lives of others. I think the Karma generated from a final act of such generousity must be pretty powerfull, don't you think? I mean, even if you don't believe in Karma and rebirth I think it's like the one truly great thing you can do for another human being being, don't you? To extend, or save their life?

(Oh, and then once all is said and done, just chuck me in the fire. If the Christians are right, I'm possibly headed somewhere pretty toasty anyway!)

Happy Birthday Mikey!

Big kitten-with-a-cupcake Happy Birthday wishes to you Mikey (the lovely ex)!

Thanks for always being such a good friend, support and confidant. And it gives me such pleasure to see you and Evan together, you deserve every happiness. MWAH!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2 Minor Achievements

Sometimes it pays to celebrate yourself, you know? Like when you finally do something you've been putting off doing. Small goals. Minor victories.

So in the spirit of celebration, I'm digging the fact that I've achieved two things today:

1. A smallish (but not insignificant) weight loss for the second week in a row in our work Biggest Loser Challenge. Alrighty then!

2. I finally got myself some photo ID. "What?" you ask? I know! Since my passport expired several years ago I have been a man without photo ID, because I don't know how to drive so I (understandably, and unsurprisingly) have never been issued with a Driver's Licence. Yes it has made life tough at times, no I don't know why I didn't take it out of the Too Hard Basket and organise it earlier. Laziness? Avoidance? All of the above? But now I'm the proud owner of a State of NSW Photo Card, complete with butt ugly mug shot. Woohoo!

All of a sudden it's like there's nothing I can't achieve. Almost!

I Could Be Tim's Rebound Guy

I had to smile at the revelation that Tim Campbell is gay*. a) Good on him for coming out, b) I pegged it for a fact on episode #1 of his appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" anyway, c) um, wasn't he in "Rent"?, and d) this is like the least surprising news item of 2007.

What's stranger though is the follow up blog item in the same newspaper Can Tim Campbell score as the rebound guy? A post which is canvassing opinion on whether he can score Australian Idol munchkin Anthony Callea on the rebound, given that he's newly single too.

Um, okay.

* Australian actor. Singer. TV soapie star. Theatre performer. Cute strawberry(ish) blonde.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Logic Strings

One of my workmates was just filling in a timesheet, which requires writing down all times in 24 hour clock format. (You know where 4pm becomes 16:00 for example.) We just had this conversation:

"Is twelve thirty, like, twelve thirty?"

"Um, yup."

Lean Mean Stealing Machine

I've absent mindedly collected a whole bunch of pens in the past few days. Apparently I've become that person, the one who comes into your office to get you to sign something and then makes off with your pen. So, you know, if you're missing one, let me know.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Weirdness!

Forget your tasteful baubles! Eschew Martha Stewart(TM) evergreen swags and bows! Cast aside tinsel! Deck the halls with weird this Christmas!

From the home of Western decor Spurfect!, come these jolly Christmas characters to decorate your ranch:

Less "Frosty The Snowman" and more "Clanky The Horsehoe".
(Faint horseshit smell sold seperately.)

Any guesses? Why it's a Horseshoe Cowboy Santa of course!

Feel the need to show your Pro-Life, Pro-Iraq War conservative stance in a festive manner? Don't just hang a yellow ribbon on the old Christmas Tree, hang a soldier fetus instead!

MissPoppy writes:

"Protect our troops - from the womb to the war. What if the fetus you were going to abort would grow up to be a soldier bringing democracy to a godless dictatorship?...

...Show that you support the "culture of life" by buying and proudly displaying one of these patriotic unborn Americans."

(Oh, and yes don't panic, this product is a satire. Thankfully. Via feministing.)

Home For The Holidays

Not my home, but my sister's home that is.

So I booked my flights and I'm now headed to country Victoria for Christmas. $259 return, which is money I'd rather spend on gifts but isn't so bad. I'll get to catch up with both of my sisters, and my two nephews will get to see both gay uncles this year (my brother-in-law's brother is a big 'mo too). Fun!

You can get kind of meh about Christmas without kids around. And when I say you, I mean me, natch. I can get so caught up in the stress, hassle and financial holy shit, I spent how much? of Christmas that I can forget that it's also a shiny, happy time of year. Seeing the fun that kids get out of Christmas is an antidote to any grinchyness.

I'm also going to stay for two days (one night) in Melbourne on the way back to catch up with my dear friend Robbie. We've been friends for more than 20 years now, and even though we generally only catch up a couple of times a year, it's one of those wonderful friendships that never seems to change. Robbie's been putting some of dear grandmama's old money trust fund to use *cough*luckybitch*cough* on a long holiday in Africa, so we'll have lots to catch up about.

Now that that's planned and I'm finally starting my Christmas shopping later this week (don't judge!), it's finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Christmas Meme

I haven't done a meme it ages it seems. I happened upon this Christmas Meme over at freakgirl, and thought I'd give it a shot.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper. I get a bit Martha Stewart about gift wrapping I have to say. It's the gay badge I really excelled at.

Real tree or Artificial?

When do you put up the tree?
I feel really invalidated by the fact that you aren't listening to me. Neither.

When do you take the tree down?
You know, this is getting a little passive aggressive if you ask me. What, I'm like some reindeer murdering Grinch or something if I don't have a tree?

Do you like eggnog?
Blech. I'm lactose intolerant, and I couldn't face the thought of any sort of Veggnog, or whatever.

Favorite gift received as a child?
The box set of Narnia books by C.S.Lewis.

Do you have a nativity scene?
No, only room for one Mary in my house, and guess who that is.

Hardest person to buy for?
My oldest sister, who has mobility and dexterity issues.

Easiest person to buy for?
Me. It's one of the first gifts I usually get.

Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. Email? Really? People do that? That's a little low energy don't you think?

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Crabs, from memory.

Favorite Christmas Movie?
"Miracle on 34th Street" or "It's a Wonderful Life" tie. Closely followed by "The Family Stone" on account of the cute gay couple, Diane Keaton etc.

When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Too late usually.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
You know, I don't think I ever have.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Fruit mince pies.

Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Screw you, you know!? I mean, really. Get. Over. It. About. The. Tree. You want one Mr It's-Not-A-Christmas-Without-A-Tree, YOU do it.

Favorite Christmas song?
Probably "White Christmas" sung by Bing, oh and anything that isn't on the Boney M Christmas Album.

Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Sadly, travel. I always go to the mountain versus it comes to me. I enjoy it when I'm there, but it adds like $300 to the cost of Christmas for me. (Ouch.)

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Um... Randolph. Boozer? Karen Blitzen? I don't know, whatever.

Angel on the tree top or a star?
I am done talking about this.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning. Just how impatient are you people?

Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The whole 'Christmas tree guilt trip' apparently.

Favorite ornament theme or color?

Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Traditional, you know, the whole English roast dinner experience. With Yorkshire pudding.

What do you want for Christmas this year?
Hmmm. Nice yarn. Book vouchers. And from the realm of the improbable, a new laptop. Hey, a boy can dream, right?

Feel free to chime in in the comments, or let me know if you do your own.

From Cute To Creepy, In 4 Easy Steps!

I don't know where this comes from originally, but apparently it's a piece of salesmanship from some American children's pageant photographer. See how you can take a perfectly cute normal child, photoshop the natural right out of them and make them look like a 'glitzy' child/adult automaton! In just 4 easy steps!

I admit that I bring my own prejudice to this, because I think the child pageant scene is wrong on so many levels. However, my point being do you see much of the child is left? I sure don't.

A Cloud Atlas & Internal Fog

No more posts about being sick, because I feel much better today. Rejoice! OK, this post has elements of talking about having BEEN sick, but it's a different attitude, I swear...

I had a pretty quiet weekend, not venturing out of the house much but enough to stave off the Cabin Fever. Knitting with the Sydney Sity Klickers on Saturday afternoon at cafe Barmuda, brunch with Evan & Mikey on Sunday late morning, and then a couple of hours of knitting at The Courthouse Hotel (made all the more exciting my a torrential downpour!) with Bex and Martin.

In between those was plenty of nappage, and some reading of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Which I am loving so far. And can I just say, my judgement may be coloured by my prediliction for pale intellectual types and the remnants of feverishness, but the author isn't so bad to gaze upon either. (For clarity, that's him on the left.)

See how I balance the intellectual pursuit of good literature with some gushing about cute guys? Light & shade, deep & shallow.

So, it's a new week. I feel much better. Time to shake off the introspective maudliness (is that even a word?) of the past week. I usually get a bit withdrawn and introspective when I'm sick. Beat a retreat. I think on one level that it's perhaps better to take oneself off to a quiet place and be demi-miserable in solitude than to be one of those people who becomes an attention whore when they're sick. Maybe? (And does writing about it here actually make me both?)

On the other hand, if you are lying in bed with a fever it's not really the best time in the world to decide to run inventory on your life. Because, the non-feverish truth of the matter is that the glass is definately more than half full.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Restoring Faith

I have a great love and admiration for a certain elderly snaggletooth nun by the name of Sister Wendy Beckett. In fact, back in a meme post in 2005 I listed her as one of my 7 Celebrity Crushes.

The thing I've always loved about Sister Wendy, having watched all her art documentaries over the years, is that she may be cloistered most of the time but that certainly hasn't made her viewpoint narrow. She never shies away from sexuality, and the realm of human desire and emotion. She brings a certain Big C and little c humanism to her Christian faith.

So when I found this quote on her thoughts on gay marriage on Towleroad it made me love her all that much more, but I can't say that I was frankly all that surprised:
Q: You've spoken out about gay marriage. How do you balance what you believe with what you have sworn to uphold?

Sister Wendy: I believe in loyalty. We should respect our church, but never believe that the church has the last word. The church is saying "this", but I believe that sooner or later "this" will change. "This" is not the mind of our Lord. God is all love. It's a delicate balancing thing. The Church has changed it's position over the years, and because the spirit is with the Church, in the end the Church will always get it right. But in the end. The spirit of the Church is the meaning of love, which hasn't yet, perhaps, been fully understood.

Well said Sister. Now, why does that seem so hard to understand for so many Christians? Not all, granted, but many. Too many.

Overly Optimistic

OK, so when I said on Thursday I'd feel better by tomorrow, it turns out it was the same deep vein of optimism that sees me with some 29" jeans still hanging in my wardrobe. But today I really do feel better. 3 days in bed (and not in a good way) saw me climbing the walls with cabin fever, so it's nice to feel much brighter and to get out of the house.

Thanks for the kind words on my last post! You guys are sweeter than sugar cane.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The sore throat I mentioned the other day turned out to be the harbinger of a couple of days of feeling really bad. Yesterday and today I've been pottering around the house feeling tired, sweaty, achey, and with a pounding headache and sore throat. It's lifting a bit now, and I feel a bit brighter, but I still feel pretty craptastic. I actually got up, showered and was almost ready to leave the house for work this morning when I though, Nup, ain't gonna.

So I've been drinking tea, napping fitfully, watching Ophrah (yesterday it was about gay people all over the world, and it was fascinating - unless I'm delirious of course), shuffling from room to room like an old man, unsuccessfully trying to get in to see my doctor or any of the other doctor's at the surgery (note to self, plan the getting sick thing ahead next time), and feeling a little miserable and depressed. I haven't even been able to concentrate enough to knit...

I took myself off for the 10 minute walk to the Newtown shops yesterday afternoon, foraging for provisions and something to read, and I think I must have been a bit feverish because everything seemed drawn in really bright, sharp relief. The church spire against the leaden grey sky. A small and scruffy white dog being called by the unlikely name of "Sarah". The sweat trickling down my back even while I felt chilly and close to shivering.

Anyhoo, I feel much on the mend now. It's just been some sort of bug that made its presence felt before moving on. Amongst today's excitements have been a small (interior) waterfall in my kitchen thanks to a torrential rainstorm, a leaky gutter, and a window frame that is not as watertight as it should be. I've been loving the book I bought, "In The Wake" by Norwegian writer Per Petterson (beautiful translation by Anne Born), and have been reading that on and off, between the mopping up that is. Shortly Oprah, and then an afternoon nap.

See you tomorrow, where I'll be feeling very much better I predict.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jockstraps, Tinsel & Balls

I've been having a little tinker with my template this morning, deciding it was time to inject a little festive cheer. Nothing says 'cheer' like a blonde in a jockstrap, right?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Since discovering it through a link on dooce, I've been obsessively reading the blog The Daily Coyote. Shreve Stockton lives in a one room log cabin in Wyoming with a ginger tomcat calle Eli, and a young orphaned coyote pup she rescued, called Charlie. Stockton takes daily pictures of Charlie, and posts them with occasional entries about Charlie's development.

I dare you to resist.

Gift Idea

I never thought I'd covet a tea towel as a Christmas gift, but I think I really, really need this one.

Cute huh? Oh yeah, and there's always this:

Even cuter.

The Hunting Of The Snark

Eh. I woke up with a sore throat and a bad attitude this morning. You know those mornings? The mean reds? It's not a cold or anything, just a sore throat I think, but it swept into town with a badass posse of Snark, Crabby and Lack Of Motivation. The 4 Horsemen of the Minor Apocalypse.

Plus, Tuesday. Is there a more nothing day in the calendar than Tuesday? You can't in all reason still have Mondayitis, but cresting the hump towards the weekend feels like eons away. If the world ends with a whimper instead of a bang, something tells me it'll happen on a Tuesday.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Smouldering Cads

Ok, first it was Colin Firth as Mr Darcy that made my bodice heave and my corset stays tighten. Now it's Toby Stephens as Edward Fairfax Rochester.

At least I'm thematically consistent, right?

Plus, he's the son of Maggie Smith! I mean, who better for a MIL, right?

[Some linky dinks: the official BBC website for the fabulous
Jane Eyre miniseries, imdb info for Toby Stephens, an unofficial fansite.]

Take Your Partner

Oh man. I had the most fantastic weekend I have had in ages this past weekend.

On Saturday morning I went and did the doctor thing first up (bloods for a cholesterol check), before Mikey, Evan and James swung by and collected me for the drive to Canberra. We were heading to Canberra for the annual Gay & Lesbian Bush Dance. We broke the 3 hour journey part way at the town of Collector with a lovely lunch (and a good bottle of Riesling) at Lynwood Cafe. (Check out Lynwood's blog while you're at it.)

The trip down was warm but a bit grey and rainy in parts, and by the time we arrived in Canberra it was pouring with rain. After checking in at the hotel (nice, but the beds were hard) and a brief semi-successfull afternoon nap we headed to the home of two of Evan's Canberra friends for a fantastic early evening barbeque, with more friends that had arrived, before heading to the Bush Dance.

A vintage pic of the Yarralumla Woolshed exterior, but it looks exactly the same today

The weather cleared by the time we left, and when we got to the Yarralumla Woolshed it was a nice clear and mild night. The woolshed is an amazing venue, a real working woolshed from 1904 until 1964, when it became a venue for all sorts of social events. It has been basically left as is, just with lighting and bathrooms added to make it a usable space for parties and dances.

The main room of the woolshed, where the dancing was held

What a hoot. There would have been around 300 people I would guess, in various states of country/bushranger drag. Everything from serious denim and checked shirts to glitter cowboy hats and feather fans. (But all fabulous!) The music and dancing was all traditional English and Australian country dances. It was so crowded that some of the dances became exercises in bumper-car style survival, but it was a very friendly and good natured crowd. I saw quite a few familiar faces from Sydney, and even from my neighbourhood.

There was a band, and a dance caller who gave instructions before each dance. Many of the dances were progressive, so by the time the dance had ended you had swapped partners anywhere up to thiry of fourty times at least. Some of the English country style dances were danced in groups of 6 or 7 couples, like a reel. Evan's lovely friend Dan and I turned out to be ideal dance partners, as Dan stands about an inch or so shorter than me and loves to dance as much as I do. We spent much of the night laughing our asses off, dancing like mad things, and trying to polka our way around the floor without being stepped on by guys almost double our bulk.

We even made it to around the last 20 couples of the waltz-off before being eliminated.

The dance had a midnight close, so it wasn't a late night, but I had danced steadily for around 4 hours and was so worn out and drenched in sweat that I was ready to call it a night by then. The next morning we all got together for a lazy breakfast at Amanda & Heidi's house, to chat, laugh, play with Dan's dog "Scooter" and Heidi's beautiful Malamute "Polly". Afterwards Mikey, Evan and I headed over to visit some friends of Mikey and mine, Robyn and Jeremy, for a fantastic delicious long lunch in their leafy courtyard, before finally heading back to Sydney in the late afternoon.

Good times! New friendships, chatting and dancing with people like 76 year old Lindsay and his partner Quinton, catching up with old friends, lots of laughter, and hopefully dancing off some of the weekend's serious eating!

[Updated: I just shamelessly stole appropriated borrowed this pic taken by James O'Brien at the Bushdance. Nice huh? Pop on over and read James's blog post about his weekend in Canberra.]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hey There!

Welcome to the world Inigo George Nettle! Congratulations Lara and Mark, and OMG you guys, you sure made a cute one!

New Project

I have a 3 hour car ride to Canberra this weekend for the Bush Dance I mentioned on Wednesday, so I wanted to throw a simple and somewhat mindless knitting project into my bag for the journey. Idle hands, the Devil, etc people! A couple of weeks back a friend of Lara's brought along 2 giant plastic bags of her grandmother's old yarn stash to our pub knitting session, to see if any of us wanted to take it off her hands.

Vintage Yarn
Nummy purple and chocolate brown vintage yarn

I scored some balls of this vintage Patons "Totem" 8ply wool. Can I tell you how much I love the purple? Seriously. It's shot through with plys of red and blue, giving it a nice lively aspect. (I love a good lively aspect, but who doesn't right?) I don't know how old this yarn is, but it had a distinctive mothball smell which is now thankfully fading.

Totem Scarf
No matter how much I fiddled with this pic, the colours are too light. The contrast is much more subtle and the tones darker, more like the colours in the first pic.

So, I cast on for a simple 2x2 rib scarf, fairly skinny and hopefully fairly long. I have 4 balls of the brown and 3 of the purple, so I'm knitting the stripes in the same ratio. I find knitting rib kind of tedious, so I've definately made a rod for my own back with this one. However, it's pretty mindless to knit, and I wanted to knit something reversible, so rib it is. Good car ride/watching telly knitting.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Paste Up

I've noticed lately a lot more street art that is being done on paper, and then pasted up like posters. I guess because it lends itself to screen printing and other forms of image production than just stencils or freehand drawing. I still have an issue with where some of this stuff is pasted, for example there is a sculpture in Newtown that has been effectively ruined by various forms of grafitti, including paste ups.

However, despite that I do like the actual designs of some of this work, and like these 2 examples from the park around the corner from my house, the way they get distressed, weathered or intentionally defaced over time sometimes adds to their charm.

The Watcher

Fascist Love
Fascist Love

What Is Good

A cheese and onion bagel, toasted, with cream cheese. A good, no really good, black coffee (with 2 gratis Tiny Teddies). A small bottle of organic green tea with pineapple and mint.

So that's my start to the day, what's yours?

(Oh yeah, diet be damned. Whatever.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Important Question

This weekend I'm off to a big Gay & Lesbian Bush Dance in Canberra, about 3 hours drive out of Sydney. I'm really looking forward to it, not least because it'd be really nice to get away from Sydney for a weekend.

But answer me this. What does one wear to a Gay & Lesbian Bush Dance?

A. Hazzard Drag?

B. VP Cowboy drag?

C. Clampett drag, drag?

Or, D. Something with a more 'Aussie' feel?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Patience Worn Thin

My patience that is.

It transpires that we are to be paid a visit from the head of our Big Christian Charity on Thursday. People, you would think Jesus himself was coming (again). Apparently the Rapture will be preceded by freak-outs, tantrums and urgent directives to Make Neat! Make Neat! and hide any non-approved items/office equipment/ideas.

In all seriousness, a manager from down the hall just walked in and wondered if we should take down a couple of the framed prints that are in this office. Too many $20 framed posters of Aegean seascapes (with whitewashed church and potted geraniums) equals decadence and a disregard for the Bible, I guess.

Were I a praying man, I'd be praying for strength right now.

Worth Every Cent Of 2 Bucks

I went to a big charity book sale on the weekend, a big hall filled with trestle table after trestle table of second hand books. It got to be a bit overwhelming pretty quickly, I mean after I had looked carefully at a few tables I started sort of skimming along, you know. I'm sure I missed some real treasures.

Naturally I made a beeline for the Craft & Hobbies section, to see what gems might be on offer. Treasures were precious few, but there was at least one. And at only $2! (Marked down from $3.)

Selected Highlights From "The Women's Weekly 'Best Ever' Knitting Book" 1978.

Got a troublesome naked Cocky? Keep them snug and restrained in this pretty cardigan/straight jacket combo.

Glamour for bed. The sort of glamour that says "This office is closed for business".

Designs to suit every decor!

Tell him to throw out all his old tabards. Start your divorce in style and be sure he stays single, with this snazzy new tabard!

Monday, November 26, 2007


I watched hour after hour of the election night coverage on Saturday night, eager to see what my fellow Australians would do. Whether the Liberal government of the past 11 years would be returned, or whether Australians would vote for change.

Some paste-up graffiti electioneering in Newtown.

They voted for change, with a huge swing away from the sitting government.

We now have a new Labor government. It just goes to show, you can beat the drum on money and the economy all you want, but you cannot forget a strong social agenda. Record low unemployment and a strong economy (partly due to the current mining and resources boom) is not enough if people think their rights are not being respected, if schools and hospitals are being underfunded, if the disadvanteged are not being given a voice, and if long term issues like climate change or not being addressed.

Last Place

It seems to me it was as much an anti-Liberal vote as anything else. Especially given the fact that John Howard appears to also be only the second Prime Minister ever to also lose his position as the local member for his own electorate. It will be close, and postal votes need to still be finalised, but it seems like it's not just the party that has been given the thumbs down by Australia, but the man himself.

5 Hard Learnt Lessons From The Past Week

  • You cannot assume that you know what another person is thinking. Mixed messages can be sent out by all of us, even those of us with good intentions.
  • Buddhist concepts of impermanence, of non-self, the idea that everything changes from moment to moment and so there is no such thing as an unchangeable "I" or "Me" are important to remember. Especially in the realm of self-esteem. If you fixate on "I am this", "I am that" or "this thing makes me, me" and all the expectations that go along with those beliefs, then anything that doesn't fit that template can come as a blow.
  • Consequently, feeling you have been judged and found wanting hurts like a bitch.
  • As Mick said, you can't always get what you want.
  • Don't try and have a serious conversation after 5 beers, particularly if you feel defensive or under attack. It won't go well.

So, thanks for the kind words and well wishes everyone but Pete and I were not meant to be it seems. It's frustrating to me that I feel like we never really got a chance to get to know each other, but it is what it is. It was a fun experience for most of it, and on one level it was a nice reminder that being intimate with someone is really, really nice. Who was the poet that wrote the line "Always connect"? It feels nice to connect, even if that connection turns out to be only temporary.

A New Do

Oh man I love Haircut Day.

I've written those words maybe a dozen times over or more during the life of this blog, but they're still as true as the first time I wrote them. I didn't like my last haircut though, I paid a basquillion dollars and had 2 tones of blonde streaks put in... that went a little, well, awry. More brassy and yellow, and sort of a shade I thought of as Truckstop Waitress, than they should have been. Which the hairdresser then tried to fix by putting a toner over the top. A toner which made the colour flat, and well, gingery.

Gingers, don't get me wrong, I think that most redheads are hot. Really hot. Not me though, and not a good match with my natural dark ash blonde/light brown colour.

Anyhoo. My regular hairdresser was going to be unavailable for weeks, so I made an appointment with one of the others. We had some fun, and now I'm sporting a new look. In the interest of self exposure, here's a crappy bathroom pic so I can play Show & Tell.

This one I like. Short, sharp, a bit kicky, and with just a little bit of the borderline hatefull colour left. Then like co-conspirators, the girl who cut my hair this time and I made an appointment for next time. Like dirty cheaters. Yup, I'm dumping my hairdresser for another woman. I'd like to say that it's not her, it's me, but actually it's her.

In a weekend where I spent much of the time feeling emotionally fragile, and my self-esteem took a major slap-down (more on that to come), a fun haircut makes for a pretty good BandAid.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Eyes Have It

"Renée" by Jacques-Henri Lartigues

Silent movie actress Clara Bow (1905-1965), photographer unknown.

Actress Jean Harlow, photographer unknown.

[All pics courtesy of the fabulous French Blog Minotaure.]