Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Ode to my Parents

It's nearly lunch time on a Sunday, and I'm not at church.  Nope, I'm actually in a towel in my lounge having just escaped from my bed and into the shower. 

I don't go to church.  This is not nessesarily a permanent arrangement. 

My parents are Christians.  They're the good kind.  The brave kind.  I am a Christian because they are.  Yeah, I'm a Christian because that's how I was raised.  It's familiar, it's home.  It's the way I have always made sense of my life.  But I'm also a Christian because my parents are who they are.

They spent too many years in the kind of church that is a trespass against the very nature of God.  The kind of church that makes too many rules.  That denies grace.  That denigrates the value of women, and therefore of all people.  They escaped that kind of Christianity when I was in my early teens.

Since then, they have done the opposite of what many people do.  Instead of having the boundaries of their life and faith narrow, they have pushed back and expanded.  They have said, what part of this faith of mine is true?  What part shall I let go?  That's courage, my word, that's courage.

They live out their faith in different ways.  Mum goes to church every Sunday.  Dad stays home.  The best part of this is that they accept and support each other in this.  Dad doesn't say, why do you bother?  Mum doesn't say, you should go to church.  They have room inside their faith for more than one way of expressing it.  They honour the different expressions of their shared faith.

This helps me to be brave.  I know that my particular expression and framework of faith would not be what many Christians would accept.  But I have been supported by my parents to find my own way to a faith that engages me, that comforts me, that pushes me past my own boundaries.  I embrace a faith that might not always be what they would choose, but I am proud to be their daughter and to honour the heritage they gift to me.

So it's Sunday and I'm not at church.  But maybe I am, in my living room, watching things like this:

Saturday, May 28, 2011


My kitchen is one of my favorite places in the house.  We hang out there like crazy.  I'll be baking or cooking and Simona will be sitting at the kitchen table studying.  We have music on, our neighbours smile and wave through the's basically sweetness.

I have started religiously keeping all glass bottles that pass through the house - soaking them and getting those pesky stickers right off them.  Plus I've been purchasing the odd cute but impractical glass and hunting out old and tiny bottles. 

All this in aid of having somewhere to put the flowers, grasses, feathers, seed pods and various other things that I inevitably come home with every day.  So my window sill is a constantly changing parade of flora from our neighbourhood.

Plus, it's amazing how a practical thing that looks so prosaic can become so beautiful when it's denuded of stickers and full of flowers.  I like to take things and use them in the opposite way - like using souvenir teaspoons for every day use.

Gorgeous vase on the far right all the way from my Sister's table.

It makes me happy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

bazaar goodness part two

my goodness that bazaar was a good 'un. I'm still bathing in the warmth of the bazaar happiness.  My school desk has been put to work in my room (oh such a shame for me it didn't fit any where else).  It is holding the yellow typewriter (until we figure out where it goes) and it now is home to my gorgeous sewing machine.  Which means it is set up and ready to go all the time - I predict this will boost my sewing time tremendously.  Important next step: invest in some fabric.  Sadly, this will need to be postponed while I save up to visit the dentist.  I have a tooth that is falling apart.  Literally.

Anyway I'm still in denial about that so let's quickly move on.

Scarves - in the left a lovely heavy silk scarf and on the right lightest oroton silk scarf you ever clapped eyes on.  It's tremendous.

This is a book of 'English cathedrals' and it includes plans.  Well, I tell you what book, I have plans for you.  You would love the plans if you saw them.  I love plans and I love cathedrals so I'm pretty much hyperventilating in the church car park over this one.

Doilies.  I'm so inspired by doilies.  I just can't leave them alone.  I keep using them - sewing them on things and then making brooches out of them.  I have some new plans for them - especially the top one in this photograph.  It's  so beautiful and stained.  It is even more compelling to me because it is damaged.

Ring the bell that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in.

-Leonard Cohen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Me and dieting

Me and dieting. Me and my body. Me and the mirror. Me and portia de Rossi. This blog could have so many titles.

I have been dieting or "not dieting" since I was about 15. That was when I realized that I was not normal. Or that I was fat. Those things are pretty much equated in my mind.

Writing this blog makes me sad. I am sad for all the years I thought I was not good enough. I am sad for all the women who told me (implicitly or explicitly) that being fat meant I was not good enough.

All my life I believed the story that I was told. Every one told me the same story.  If you are fat, then nothing about you matters as much as that.  No matter how successful you are, or how good, or how smart, or how gifted or tender hearted or generous or loving, none of that is as important as your size.  Your size is the most important fact about you.  Did I get the story wrong?  Maybe.  But that's the story I heard.  It's not that I thought other things didn't matter, it's just that they didn't matter as much as that.

I am great at dieting.  Really, super great.  I can loose a heap of weight.  I can even help other people loose weight.

Just one catch.

Dieting doesn't work.  And I mean that in a very specific way.  I mean that dieting does not get me what I want. 

What I want, firstly, is to love myself.  Secondly, but equally important, I want to feel normal.

Dieting never does either of those things.  Even when I lost 30 kilos.  Even when I was 'in a healthy weight range'.  Even when everyone I met commented on how good I looked (comparatively, of course).  Even then, I did not love my body, and I did not feel normal.

So even then, dieting didn't work.

The only thing that has actually worked for me is not 'not dieting'.  It's giving up dieting.  When I said, at the start of the year, I will not diet this year.  Not for one day.  Not for one minute.  I will not use any part of this year to diet.

That day, and every day after that, I felt normal.  And almost every day after that I have loved my body.

This is why.  Because I have disciplined myself to look in the mirror and ask a different question.

Since I was about 15, I have looked in the mirror pretty much every day.  And each time I have asked one question.  Do I look fat?  Or maybe do I look thin?

That is the only question I have asked the mirror.

So I have been learning to ask different questions.  To look in the mirror and ask, do I look good?  Is my make up good?  Do I like these earrings?  Does this colour suit me?  Do I like this dress with this cardi?  Do I like these tights?

This is also why.  I have disciplined myself to look at other women and ask a different question.

Since I was about 15 I have looked at other women and asked one question.  Is she thinner than me?  Or maybe is she fatter than me?

So I have been learning to ask different questions.  Do I like her clothes?  Do I like her hair?  Is her make up nice? What is she doing?  Is she happy?  Would I wear that?  Should she?

Doing these two things has changed me.  I reject the lie that my weight is the most important fact about me.  I reject the lie that being thin is the only way to be beautiful.  I reject the lie that other women are more beautiful than me just because they are thinner than me.  I reject the lie that dieting gets me what I want.  I reject the lie that I cannot love myself even though I am not thin. 

This is not everyone's story.  This is just my story.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

the bazaar

oh yes, i went to a bazaar.  no, not in turkey or some great place like that, but in lovely little ashfield.  for those of you not of the sydney persuasion, ashfield is in the inner west.  it's about 20 min from the cbd on the train, so it's pretty handy.  about one third of the people who live in ashfield were not born in australia.  and from my observations, i'd say they were mostly born in china.  i say this because ashfield is home to about 1,000 chinese restaurants.  and, if you know me well, you'll know this makes me happy.

so ashfield is not what you'd call a 'cool' suburb.  it's no annandale.  nope.  it's no newton.  it's right on the edge of the more western suburbs, if you catch my drift.  which means, basically, that we can afford to live in a gorgeous art deco building on a really cute street with two bedrooms AND a study and a kitchen that's actually quite a decent size.

so ashfield doesn't have much street cred.  but oh my word, i do so love it.  i love living in close quarters to other people.  for some reason, it works.  the thing i never in a million years expected to find in sydney is quietness.  my street is so quiet.  no traffic sounds, no loud music, no noise really of any kind.  except birthday parties.  and i hear people walking down the street.  and birds, my word they are noisy.  so i live in the midst of a great big city but have found more quiet and peace than i've ever experienced.  I walk home down the middle of my street.  okay, this is because it's light there and so i can avoid cockroaches, but still.

i love how you get to peak into peoples lives all the time - i see people making dinner through the window, dads rocking their babies on the veranda, shoes lined up outside the doors, glimpses of parties, i see in the door when church is on at all the bowed heads. 

i chat to my neighbours about the washing and the weather.  we smile.  after the earthquake they stopped me to ask if things were okay at home (how did they know i was from christchurch?).

there's a lady on the corner who waits for her husband holding her cute little baby.  we smile and wave and her baby stares at me.

i pick flowers when i walk the streets.  ashfield is full of art deco buildings and federation homes (think bay villa).  full to the brim of beautiful architecture and old streets with tall leafy trees.  i honestly don't know why it doesn't have the street cred, but i so hope it continues.

anyway, goodness me, the bazaar.  there is an op shop i love but it only opens on thursdays.  they practically give things away.  today they had a bazaar.  this is all run by the local baptist church, so far as i can tell.  there was devonshire tea.  i had the best scone in the world with jam and real cream.  it was delicious but made me slightly depressed about my own scone efforts.

i also bought some really great bargins.  some things didn't make the photo list.  a cute little jug.  an amazing early 1900s plate.  a beautiful basket.  two vintage scarves.  All for the princely sum of $12.

And then there's the things that did make the photograph list.

only a bright yellow typewriter.  the yellowest type writer in the land.  in perfect condition.  and i mean perfect.

and then just an old school desk to sit it on.  it's so freaking beautiful.

look at it.  oh my word.

and what, you ask, did these things cost me?  $6.  yes, for both.

so this is why i love ashfield.  because it really is just so beautiful, but it really has no idea what it's worth.  and i am taking full advantage.

finders keepers AND a bazaar

in one weekend! oh the humanity!  my wallet is aching from the strain.

first, we went to finders keepers last night.  it was utter insanity.  in a really cool part of town near the uni - we walked down from redfern station through streets lined with terraces and big trees.  i totally love it.  it was beautiful and mild with a big moon and lots of people about.  the venue was the Carriage Works which i'm guess is just about as self explanatory as you can get.  they have restored it so well with lots of original machinery about the place. 

it was jam packed with people.  it was insanely over stimulating.  the stalls were amazing with just the most beautiful things you can think of.  but there were too many people and we had to take a break half way through and go and find dinner.

i could have bought something at every stall but we had a budget so i didn't.  i love what i did get though.

this amazing art work

outrageously gorgeous hand made dress
stunning brooch.  honestly.  i'm stunned.

I'll do another post tomorrow about the bazaar because i think those photos just need their own post.  in other news - i'm doing great right now.  love my job so much.  really enjoying it at the moment.  i get to do such a wide range of things and i really enjoy almost every part of it. 

right. me and The Sumo are going to go for a walk as it is our favorite time of day - just before dusk.  the light in ashfield is golden and it is just the right time to wander the streets and gaze at the beautiful homes.  the other night when we did this we went past an old commercial building that was all closed up.  but inside someone was playing piano.  they were amazing.  we just stood there and looked at each other.  it was a moment.

i've also posted over here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things I am collecting

Here, in my new home, I have had to start a new collection.  What do I collect?  Well, birds.  But also I collect, well, things.  Seed pods.  Sticks.  Bits of metal lid.  Chunks of wood.


Feathers and leaves

receptacles for the above.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A new venture...or two

So I've been venturing bravely into the new world of embroidery.  I've been doing some hand stitching lately - I made a couple of little brooches - and now I've just finished my first embroidery.  I absolutely love hand stitching.  I think I might like it even more than knitting.  I am actually sad when things are finished because I enjoy it so much.

So this is my first attempt.

I'm really quite happy ridiculously happy with it.  It was a joint effort with the Sumo, who drew the bird on the fabric for me - we found him on google images.

 I'm so keen to do some more.

The ravens are one of my favorite Australian birds.  They are ENORMOUS.  And they make a sound like a crying baby.  And they perch on the highest of places.  I just love them.

Anyway, I think the next one we are going to do is 'a charm of goldfinches'.  I'm off to the craft store today to get some more supplies.  But first, washing, groceries and a bit of a tidy up.  Of my hair.  It's a disaster after a slightly riotous night in town last night.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And a voice says 'this is london'...

I finished up late, about seven or eight
Packed up my desk and went down to the street
I took a long look at the place that I loved
And then I hopped on a plane
And I just sailed away

Oh London Street in Lyttelton
You looked so sturdy
In the crook of the hills
Tucked down by the sea
I never knew you were temporary

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some glimpses of my life

Hello my blog friends.  I have been blog silent.  For two months.  I've had the laziest and most expensive mobile internet in the world.  I have not enjoyed it.  But last night, the miracle of wireless broadband entered our home, our nest.  It's fast.  It's reliable. It is relatively cheap.  And it means that finally I can share the bits and pieces of my life that I have been wanting to show.

Like the little geckos that hide away in the cracks and caverns of paths and fences.

Like the little girl who came home from Deb's place in my luggage.

Like the toadstools/mushrooms that pop up everywhere - transient ephemera of the dark soil.

Like the owl money box from Sussan's who lives on my ever growing stack of magazines (I'm addicted)

And the souvenir teaspoons that we use every day - the Cathedral one always makes us sad.

And there's more - oh so much more....