Category Archives: personal

music…response

i woke up at 530 this morning to yet another cool grey raining summer day down here in the antipodes. im not complaining. im very happy about La Nina, she can stick around as long as she likes if it means rain and cooler temps, after 10 years of drought and raging bushfires. but when i heard the rain and realised i was cold, i thought ‘i need more knitting time’. there is the cotton cardigan on the needles i need to finish, and ‘atelier’ i need to get out of hibernation, and a new one i want to start. so much knitting, so little time.

and then there’s socks – i managed to fix up the wasabi peas and it now slides on perfectly.

all i had to do really was reduce the amount of stitches in the decrease rounds. the pattern says purl 5 together. im just purling 3 together. much better. im enjoying these otherwise, but i need to knit other pairs for other people too. and lets not even start on the unscheduled knitting that was NOT ON THE LIST, some for the easter show, some for people who insist on having babies.

and if i didnt think things could get any more demanding at work i was wrong. i feel oddly calm about it however. perhaps its the calm one feels right before the executioner chops off one’s head? at any rate, there’s no point stressing about it as that wont help me get it done. i just need to make lists everyday and break everything down into tasks and tick them off as i go (and delegate as much as i can. i still have minions for that thankfully). i am also happy to report the home/cleaning/dog caring situation has improved, with my house mate now able to work remotely (as in, from home) for the rest of the summer, so he will be able to help with stuff around the house and with the dogs. he’s real good like that. as part of my new energy efficient eating plan, i also committed to 15 minutes house work a day. when you just do it in little chunks it doesnt feel so overwhelming.

but of course, instead of just relaxing into that little bit of breathing space, i’ve gone and added something else to my agenda. i joined a new choir!! im so excited about it, it was a huge leap for me to join this particular group – its the illawarra choral society and they do Serious Music. last year they performed Handel’s Messiah for their christmas performance, and when i arrived at rehearsal on monday night they handed me this

oh yes, Mozart. the whole entire requiem, to be performed in april. i havent sung classical since my high school choir, and i also have never learnt to properly read music (altho i can follow it), so sections like this are proving a bit of a challenge:

but they told me i did really well on monday night and are happy for me to come back. im singing in the alto part, i’m at the higher end of the range but operatic soprana doesnt come naturally, so i’m happy to be where i am. its a big group, maybe 50 people, and oh my god, they sound amazing! if i had been walking past i would have stopped and listened. so incredibly beautiful. its a real step up for me, from ethnic folksongs and rearranged beatles tunes to my favourite composer. i have the whole requiem on high rotation just trying to get the rhythms in my head – the lacrimosa was in my head when i woke up this morning so it wont take me long to get the hang of it.

a bit of a change from the usual ‘chemical brother’s (hence the post title) or ‘boards of canada’ i listen to while im working. and practice everyday is going to cut into knitting time, but i dont mind. singing makes me happier than just about anything else i do, i dont know why, i guess its true what they say about music and the soul. and theres just something about mozart -he’s always been my favourite but now to be part of these beautiful, complex and crazy harmonies, it makes me appreciate his amazing talent even more.

im so glad i took the risk to try out for a choir i thought was well beyond me. i was so anxious before i got there, so sure i wouldnt be good enough, i nearly turned around and came back home. you never know what you’re capable of until you try do you?

kxx

ps anyone up for a sunday afternoon in wollongong? i can arrange the group booking!


wip it good

if you are my age you will now have Devo playing in your head. you can thank me later. and yes i deliberately mispelled it because i am going to talk about some of my Works In Progress (wips).

but first, thank you so much for all the supportive comments in the last post. i am feeling much better about things, and was reassured by all the ‘get a cleaner’ comments. i used to have one when we lived in terry hills in a very big house, and i dont have a problem with employing someone. there are a few possible changes happening in the housemates circumstances that may effect that decision and i should know this week sometime, but i at least feel like i can do something about that issue!

i think this has been helped by ‘wipping’ (haha) a few other things into shape in other areas of my life as well. part of my overwhelm feeling was that i wasnt looking after myself, and that means nutritionally as well. i had a day last week where i just couldnt be bothered cooking and i ate sandwiches or toast for every meal, and i was sick as a dog for three days. actually, not ‘as a dog’ because dogs get sick and move on, i was worse. i felt like my gut was being twisted. i couldnt move, could hardly breath. it took three days to subside. i’ve been having increasing reactions to bread, pasta and rice and that precipated a discussion with my friend kris who i knew had done low-carb eating before. so i have made a decision to change my life in that regard.

i am not one for diets. i dont believe in short term fads. and i get very angry about all the ‘stuff’ that is caught up with women, weight and body image. if you think fat is not a feminist issue you’re probably a guy. my thoughts on this matter are best summarised by naomi wolf who wrote about how impossible it is for women to be politically active (or active in their lives in any real way) when they are busy starving themselves to death. (if you havent read that book you really should. right now). and i get extremely frustrated with all the bullshit tv shows and pseudo weight trainers who make money by objectifying and humiliating overweight people. the problems caused by a society in which its ok to automatically assume overweight people are  bad, lazy and unhealthy do little to help the issue and in fact make it worse. i must declare my own self interest here, i am overweight, and have struggled with that since i was about 16. it runs in my family, everyone is overweight. but im lucky. my dr says im in perfect health. low everything thats supposed to be low. i think its mostly because i dont drink and smoke (never have smoked, thankfully) but also im still young. i cant rely on that luck forever.

so my big decision is to mostly remove carboydrate from my diet. i’ve been working on it since tuesday. i’m well under the recommended 100g a day by taking out bread, pasta, rice and sugar. of course, i pretty much want to kill someone for a timtam right now. and i dont intend to never eat those things again (sugar in particular. in fact, if i get through a month sticking to my plan for 6 days a week im going to make a pavlova). but i cant tell you how great i feel already. just a little thing like changing my breakfast from grains to protein has changed the whole shape of my day. im not hungry. not at all. this means im not thinking about food. this is a huge step forward for me, being one of those people who has an emotional relationship with food. i feel alert and energetic, am sleeping really well and feel like this is something i can sustain. i always was a meat lover, so this plan works to my natural strengths! dont worry, im not going to blog about it endlessly, because there really is nothing more painful than diet blogging (get a life people). but i think its important to acknowledge the change and to let you know if it works!

but what i really want to talk about, related to the issue about obesity above, is the expense! my groceries are not cheap anyway, i already eat mostly fresh food. but when you take out a sandwich for lunch or toast for breakfast, and start getting your fibre wholly  from fruit and veg, you’re looking at a lot of money being spent on food. which is what makes me so angry when we have newspaper columnists running around talking about how much fat people are going to cost the health system and NOT talking about the fact that macdonalds is cheaper and easier. i had someone living a very comfortable middle class life once tell me there was no class in australia. you want to start linking obesity to postcode and try sell me that one again? i can see it here, near where i live. the coles supermarket closer to the housing commission area has dreadful quality fresh food and a very limited range. the woolworths not more than 1km south is like gourmet world. yet another social problem that we blame on the individual, yet another great big silence. im lucky, i can afford to make this change. we should think about those who are less so before we rush to judge them.

and on that note, i shall stop pontificating and get to the knitting. i am feeling more in control at work by setting some clear boundaries about my time and availability, but instead of just resting with that, i decided it was a good time to take on a knitters guild responsibility. apart from being co-secretary of my own guild group, i have offered to co-cordinate the sydney royal easter show feature display. this is not the competition part, its different. every year a particular craft gets a separate space to showcase its best work, hold displays, talk to the public etc. the knitters guild will be part of this display this year along with the handspinners and weavers and the machine knitters. its already started to be bigger than ben hur, and my spare computer time has been taken up this week with endless spreadsheeting and emailing. so much for taking things off the desk.

it also means i havent had a lot of knitting time, although i am finding by sticking to only a few things i am making some progress. for example, the restarted wasabi pea socks are now at the heel (turned it today)

the amiga ‘rowan calmer’ cotton cardi is well down the body (although i keep adding front increases which doesnt help)

and the ‘different lines’ shawl in the hoslt garn silk wool is nearing completion. another one or two black stripes and it will be onto the final red band.

these are all proving good summer projects, its been warmer here this week and i cant imagine touching anything heavy and furry. but already, we’re at the end of january and i’m worried i wont have the things ready i want to wear this winter!

oh time time time see whats become of me…from devo to the bangles in one post. dont say i dont do anything for you.

kxx


overwhelm

i am having a little melt down today. so of course, it makes sense to write a blog post! seriously though, i am not really coping with my life this week. i know i have a good life and i know i always tell people to be grateful, myself included. this morning i was doing my grocery shopping and as i reached for the cucumber (lebanese. not burpless. or telegraph), i was overwhelmed by the fact that i had 3 choices of cucumber. not only that, but that i had this big air conditioned barn that i could drive my car up to the entrance of and fill it full of fresh healthy products from all over the world. how incredible is it that we take all that for granted?

but even i have bad days. today is crap. ive been back at work a week and im not coping. firstly, i feel as though i haven’t even been away. i feel like people were just lurking behind doors waiting for me to come back so they could say ‘as i was saying…’ and continue the conversation from 4 weeks ago about all the things they want me to do. in and of itself, thats not a bad problem to have. i’m glad i have a demanding job with extremely high expectations. there is nothing worse than working somewhere you hate with people who dont care. but i can tell you the reason why there are more male high achievers in academia than female. one reason, one word. women. the men in my university are almost without fail married to a woman (i think there might be three gay men that i know of). some of them are married to academic women, but in almost all cases, she is lower in the university hierarchy than he. most of the time there are children involved, so of course, that changes things a bit, and im sure most of the academic women around me wouldnt change that for anything. but my point is, he gets to be a professor before she does because he’s got time to write while she’s teaching then running home to look after kids, shopping, cleaning etc. im generalising, but i dont think its an unfair generalisation. im not saying those women are unhappy, but what i am saying is, to get to the top of this business, you need someone to pick up your slack.

so i guess thats what its about for me right now. the lack of someone to pick up the slack. i will readily confess i only finished my phd because trent picked up the slack when we were together. and now, he might live here, but we have separate lives, and over the summer break he is not here, and i am here alone with three dogs and a house to care for. its no problem when im on holidays. i managed to fit everything in very nicely. i got to go swimming, the house was clean, clothes always being processed, the dogs walked lots. plus i got to socialise and knit. i even took on some extra knitters guild responsibilities. this last week i feel like i’ve dropped the ball completely. i havent been swimming. the house needs a good scrub. there are piles of clothes to wade through (of course its raining). the dogs have been out, because they come first, but not as much as i would like. i feel like the garden has taken on a life of its own. and knitting? well i’ve done a bit. i frogged the wasabi pea socks because my pattern modification wasnt working

and have now got them back to where they were (with unmodified pattern,which im still not sure if its working).

so im knitting-neutral really. dont get me wrong, i dont mean to whinge. i dont mind working hard at work (i do work really hard, despite what some people think. 6 publications last year. thats all i need to say). i love my dogs and will do anything for them. i will go for a swim again soon. and when im finished writing this i will go vacuum and will feel better.

but sometimes, this being alone business is hard work. i dont talk about it much. i dont think women talk about it enough, as though theres some shame in it we should hide. theres a lot of conflicting emotions there. personally, im happy to be out of a dysfunctional relationship. sometimes, i think heterosexual relationships are inherently unhealthy for women. we tend to lose ourselves too easily, become dependent. it takes a lot of work and a very special person to overcome the sexist power relations – that expectation that it will always be the female who sacrifices something (not helped by a society in which women still get paid less, so im not blaming the everyday male for any of this). i dont miss the co-dependent parts of myself that emerge in relationships. i had a little fling a while ago and it was fun, but it wasnt ever going to be serious on my behalf, and i dont just use people for fun, so i ended it. i dont regret that. i dont miss some of the unique pleasures that come from living with men, let alone living with anyone. compromise is always hard. and i absolutely dont miss being with someone just for the sake of not being single. it terrifies me that women even feel they have to stay in relationships because of that fear (let alone the real financial issues that divorce laws have done little to alleviate). what the hell is so bad about being single? why are women made to feel so bad about that?

but i will confess, today i miss having someone to pick up the slack. my poor student housemate contributes but mostly i pay my own way. i have to decide every night what im going to cook, what will work for just one, how will i fit in the housework, the shopping, the dogs, my exercise. if i wanted do extra reading or writing outside official work hours and really work my way up that academic ladder, i would have no knitting time and no social life. so i make a conscious decision not to, and i will suffer the consequences of that. being on holidays for so long spoiled me i think, so much knitting, socialising, sunshine. this week i feel lethargic, overwhelmed, teary, its all too hard. eventually i will find a way to get all of these things back in balance again, and it wont depend on whether i have another person around or not, because i am strong and capable. most of the time.

i try and be positive and grateful. but today, im not either. today, its just too tiring, too hard. sometimes it just helps to tell people that.

k xx


all good things

i feel like i have had a surfeit of goodness the last couple of weeks. an elegant sufficiency, even! but of course, my 4 weeks off work must come to end, which it will shortly. today is my last day of actual annual leave, with a weekend still to act as a buffer. im a bit worried, i dont think i will cope. i am likely to burst into tears at my desk from the horror of someone asking me to do something. or else i may run off to the pool and pretend to drown. my boss rang me two nights ago. he said ‘did i see an email from you where you said you might be able to come in this friday’. i said ‘no’. that was the end of that conversation. nice try patrick!

i have really had a wonderful time. its been pretty much what i’d hoped for, extremely relaxing, getting a few things around the house checked off my list, and spending time with my favourite people, who constantly remind me how lucky i am to love and be loved, how full my life is of clever, funny and talented people, and how far i’ve come in the last few years especially.

the last couple of days i have had my friends georgie, james and grace staying from canberra. apart from the indoor pools, they are the things i most miss about living in the nations capital. i wish i saw them more, but the last two days have filled my heart with joy. the sound of the little ones laughing together in the bath, james throwing the ball tirelessly for the dogs and having ricco fall madly in love with him (ah, a little bit too literally), making pavlova together (and trying to get james to not eat all the fruit first), watching ‘how to train a dragon’, playing pirate snap (complete with pirate speak), and then just about crying when i saw grace pick up her teddy bear to go to bed. it was the FAO Schwarz bear i bought her at xmas last year when i was in new york city. apparently its her favourite. its name is kyliebear. oh lordy! and then of course there is the other wonderful joy of a quiet house when they are gone!

other than that, i think i should just let the pictures tell the story.

its not been a very hot summer so far, but i have been out and about a lot and worked up a bit of a tan, and i hope the swimming in particular isnt over.

i might have to quit making pavlovas though.

k xx


colourworks

one of the things i left off my knit plans for 2012 was the desire to try my hand at some kind of fair isle. i’ve never done any colourwork more complicated than stripes in the round in a  hat, and everyone says its easy, and two coloured mitts cant be that hard right? but as you saw from the list, i have a few other things planned, and probably won’t get to it!

i have been thinking about colour more broadly though, but mostly in relation to home decorating. i am still very much on holidays (another week after this one, and i’m loving it). so this last week has been a great mix of socialising, knitting, hanging around at home, swimming and watching cricket. on wednesday, i met up with some of my favourite people in sydney and we went to see the picasso exhibition at the art gallery of new south wales.

it was a really terrific collection, all of picasso’s own picassos, which he gave to the french state in lieu of taxes owed. they are now the bulk of the collection at the musee national picasso in paris, which, being under renovation, is shipping its entire collection around the globe. i’m a big fan of picasso, probably my third favourite painter after van gogh and vermeer. i particularly liked the way it was curated, chronologically from room to room so you get the progression across a life, and i really loved that these were the pieces picasso himself had kept. drawings from when he was just a boy in the early 1890s, right up to the beautiful and playful bathers statues from 1956 and and beyond. what an amazing artistic life. i grabbed a few mementos

including a large print of the ‘still life on a pedestal table’ (the same picture as on the cover of that notebook in the middle). it’s destined for the lounge room, which made me think that things in there needed a little freshening up. this is what its been looking like for a while.

then yesterday, i had an ikea play-date with pru and jane and a little ikea pixie called fiona who kept slipping things into my trolley.i tried to be disciplined, i even planned what i wanted from the catalogue.


after the obligatory meatballs for lunch,

we set out and i was pretty soon overwhelmed with just how many great things they have and how i pretty much want one of everything. we stopped for sustenance and a bit of knitting

before proceeding to the checkout.

i appear to have not got many of the things that were actually on my list, and a whole heap of soft furnishings instead. which is good, because now my lounge room looks like this:

a subtle but noticeable difference. the next thing to be replaced is that blanket hanging from the window to keep the morning sun out. curtains and rod have been acquired, they just need to be installed. i’m feeling a bit lucky today and might try my own hand at drilling. then again, perhaps not.

my next task is to do something about the colour scheme in my room. the problem here is that the walls are yellow

not a colour i would have chosen. and the air conditioner is in a stupid place which means i had to put that gorgeous rothko to one side. that beautiful blue and white quilt was made for me by george and i really want the rest of the room to work around that, so i probably need to start with a new quilt cover for winter. and i probably need to do something about all these red trinkets hanging off the fireplace.

or can you have red white and blue together in a room with yellow walls? i am not naturally colour minded, but i have some idea of what goes with what (as opposed to just throwing some balls of yarn on the floor and seeing what works). there is not much else about this rented house that i would change, but the yellow walls are one of them. they are unfortunately, here to stay. any ideas for what sort of colour scheme i can work with in there would be greatly appreciated!

in the meantime, i am keeping the knitting fairly simple, but still colourful. i am making good progress on the amiga cardigan in the rowan calmer “garnet’ colourway we picked up from janette’s rare yarns.

this is a fantastic yarn, a cotton/microfibre blend that is soft and stretchy and smooth, not like some of the rough cottons we’re usually subjected to. such a shame it took me so long to discover it, and that its now been discontinued.

a red cotton cardigan. a bit of a departure for me. must be something in the (brightly coloured) summer air!

kxx


that one day of the year

isnt it crazy how one day of the year can bring up so many memories and feelings and inspire such crazy behaviour?! this christmas, i tried to scale back the expectations and focus on what i did have around me, rather than on who or what i didnt. i am very lucky to have people in my life who helped make the last few days fun instead of fraught. also, i think i was better at looking after myself, and keeping busy helped keep the black pit of despair at bay!

firstly there was the christmas eve swim.

the sun came out finally and i even got a bit of a bite on my back from the sun.

then there was the picnic preparations. i pre-cooked the pork and sliced it up with the ham. i made potato salad (my favourite one from stephanie alexanders book) and a greek salad, and packed it all up in tupperware.

christmas morning breakfast was panettone, mince tart and coffee made with fresh ground carmello beans from allpress.

i tried to do the crossword but failed dismally. i need to do more of these or i am headed for a rapid slide into senility. trent and i swapped small gifts, then we packed up the car and headed out of town. we made for wingello state forest, where we have been a few times before, including a christmas day a couple of years ago. its a good place to take the dogs, and there’s usually not many people except crazy mountain bike riders.

we set up camp

and had a coffee and some cheesecake, it really was the best ever! then trent took the dogs for a ride

while i knitted a sock.

 then we had lunch, starting with beautiful fresh crystal bay and australian ocean tiger prawns

i reheated some of the pork on the camp stove.

jem lives in perpetual hope that he will get fed from the table, but he never does. gotta love the persistence. then there was dessert and more coffee.

trent went for another ride and ricco and possum ran along behind barking, but jem came back to me. seems the 10 year old wombat would rather hang out in a camp chair (smart dog).

we did go for a little stroll through the trees though,

it was lovely and quiet except for the generator from the grey nomad’s campsite. we didnt leave until about 5. it was a lovely relaxing day even though we were both feeling a bit sad. we’re lucky to have each other, when most other family has been lost, and we try and focus on that. and the dogs were tired, so thats always a bonus!

boxing day we went our seperate ways. i had arranged to spend some time with jane and alison, and i had a lot of fun playing with connor

and knitting and eating sushi that alison made

and then an impromptu beer garden lunch on the way home

where we knitted and talked about the cricket. it makes me rub my hands with glee to think india might beat australia (no, im not a fan of our national cricket team. so take me out and shoot me as a traitor. until you get ricky ponting out of that team im not interested).

i also picked up my delivery of the discontinued rowan calmer from missfee,

and when i got home i mucked around with test swatches for a cotton cardigan. i was also very excited to find a little package from my sister waiting for me. i sent her a tin housemaid robot called roxy that i got from the popshop in darlinghurst after guild last month. she sent me a knitted prawn.

i cant wait to hang it from my knitted tree next year. that photo is of me and my sister (shes the one looking up) with my dad, grandma, aunty jen and my mum. i love this photo, even though it makes me cry.

but thats christmas isnt it? laughter and tears, love and frustration. even though this one had plenty of good stuff, im glad its over for another year.

kxx


it really is silly

so here we are, christmas eve 2011 and the silly seaon is upon us. i finished up at work on thursday with some things left undone because i spent the whole last day putting in the paperwork for the promotion they’ve offered me but i then have to apply for. universities, full of smart people. as compensation, they’re going to backdate it so i should get some bonus dollars in the new year as well. i am still thinking about the other things i should have done before i left, but i’m going to stop doing that soon. i dont need to feel bad about my year. a major project started, conducted and report written, plus 6 journal articles either published or accepted. the last one in particular was in a very high impact journal that i’ve been trying to get into for 2 years. my boss was so happy he gave me a hug and ran to tell the vice chancellor about it. bless.

but today, i am home alone, well except for the three mutts. i have house cleaning to do, a pork loin to roast (apologies to my jewish grandmother who is now rolling in her grave), some laps to swim, Forbydelsen II to watch, and a gorgeous lace stole to knit:

after a few hiccups with the bottom border i managed to turn the short row corners and pick up the right amount of stitches to now be ready to start the main chart. lifelines and highlighting tape are at the ready.

i am, however, a bit sad today. trent is out for the day and night but will be here tomorrow and we will take the dogs up to the state forest to try and avoid thinking about the fact that we are both without family at this most family-oriented time of year. im a bit antsy, because ive been reading people on twitter and facebook etc complain about their families or how hard christmas is if you dont have kids, and i just dont get it. i dont buy into the whole ‘christmas is for kids’ thing. yes there is a lot of joy in giving them presents and seeing them open them, as im sure toy companies around the world agree, but the meaningless giving of STUFF for no good reason seems to breed a sense of entitlement and consumption for its own sake. and thats not what christmas is meant to be about anyway. so i dont feel sad that i dont have kids at this time of year anymore than i do any other time of year.

but i do get upset when people whinge about family at this time of year. i know what its like. i have terrible memories of family christmases when i was young. the stress and tension and meanness. there was no love or caring or sharing there. so i dont inflict that upon myself as an adult. i have that choice. but still im sad that i have parents out there somewhere who dont care whether im alive or dead. im sad that my sister and i spent such a long time not talking that we arent in the habit of making our own christmas together (we plan to change that next year). and i wouldnt be human if i didnt feel bittersweet about spending my xmas day with my best friend who was my ‘husband’ for 14 years but now isnt, considering i also ended my new ‘relationship’ last week (dont ask!). so i’d pretty well cut off my right arm for a traditional ‘family’.

but despite all that, im really incredibly happy. what a fantastic year it’s been. so much change and growth and learning, lots of it good for a change. i’ve made a kind of attempt to bring some christmas cheer, including my strange multicultural mantlepiece:

complete with glowing santa won at the work christmas lunch. there are cards from loved ones, a few small presents (that may include a goat, a pig or a wellness circle), and then there are my favourite christmas foods in the kitchen:

yesterday trent and i made a baked cheesecake together, which was a double rainbow because we didnt argue and it didnt sink in the middle.

i have lots of  plans to spend time with excellent friends in the next couple of weeks, with a whole lot of knitting to look forward to, and i am not going back to work until january 18.

but mostly, i am alive and well. i dont live in some war torn, famine, flood or disease ridden part of the world. i have money to spend on gifts and food. i have clean water to swim in. i have a car to get me places. i do not live in fear.

it really is silly to be sad or angry or complaining at this time of year. it makes a lot more sense to give to others with less and think about what we do have.

hoping yours is full of love.

k xx