Catching up

So this blog-as-accountability-partner thing isn’t working out as well as I’d hoped and I’ve missed several weeks. The several weeks don’t have much going for them. All those 6/7 and 7/7 weeks seem like a lifetime away, and most of the healthy habits I’ve been trying so hard to put in place are back at 0/7 or 1/7 (on a good week).

There are a few reasons for this, and the thing is that now’s been the time I really should have been looking after myself, going to bed on time, drinking more water and less beer and pausing to breathe. But I can’t change any of that. What’s done is done, and it’s time to move forward again.

Something I’ve been neglecting for a long time has been making stuff. Arty stuff, journally stuff, scrapbooky stuff, writey stuff – just giving myself time to muck around in my room and make something.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a mini class called Creative Sandbox 101, which is a 7-day kickstarter to get people creating. I thought I’d whip through it in seven days. Turns out I was wrong and here I am six weeks later still on Day 4. The story of my life. Sign up for something, begin with enthusiasm, don’t make time for it, don’t finish, feel guilty forever about it. Yep. I can’t even finish a course that is seven days of 15-minute exercises.

This morning I felt better than I have for a long time, physically and mentally. I decided I was going to go for a walk (for the first time in at least three weeks), watch the sunrise and spend the time I would have otherwise spent moping in bed making something.

I did, and it was beautiful. I had breakfast with the boy and then it was time to make something.

201701008 Sunrise 2 IG

After clearing off my desk, it was time to make something.

After dusting up some cobwebs, it was time to make something.

I had a painting stuck to my craft mat. It had been stuck to the mat for months waiting for me to finish it and, at the same time, being an excuse for me not making anything else. It was time to call it done and go make something new. I didn’t want to waste another moment of the day shuffling stuff around my desk and not actually making anything. Action creates more action. Or something like that.

20171008 Taking the picture off the mat

Once I’d removed the picture, it was time to make something. After I’d removed the adhesive residue from the masking tape that had been on the mat, of course.

Ahem. Action creates action.

I started (yes, you read that right, I started) by making a really crappy painting based on an exercise from Flora Bowley’s lovely book Bold Intuitive Painting, which you can find on my Instagram feed if you really want to see it.

Then I went over to the Creative Sandbox 101 website and read up on Day 4’s activity. The activity I chose to do was to make photos of one person (or object) for 15 minutes. To capture different moods and angles. I decided I’d go out and photograph a tree for 15 minutes. I probably could have found one in my backyard, but I decided to make it a bit more challenging and go to the park where there would be people. I feel very uncomfortable

I feel very uncomfortable making photos when there are people around and it’s something I want to get more comfortable doing. I know most people don’t give a toss whether someone is photographing stuff around them (unless they’re photographing the person in question, I guess), and even if they do, what other people think of me is none of my business – but it still feels awkward. So today’s exercise was a two-part challenge. Excellent value for money.

I was sure I’d be safe anyway because the weather was crappy and no one would be at the park, right?

Nice try.

I tried talking myself out of doing it. I couldn’t find a tree I liked. The one I did like was too difficult to access. Wouldn’t people get worried about someone standing round a tree in a park for 15 minutes snapping pictures on their phone? Wouldn’t I be that weird woman who makes photos of trees? (I’m not sure why this bothers me. I’m probably already that weird woman who obsessively photographs 10 Murray Street, so over-photographing a tree is no big deal, right?)

No, no, no, no. You are not getting out of this.

I eventually found one away from the people, though they would have seen me if they’d looked, set the timer and started snapping.

It was an interesting exercise. The tree had lots of cool features and I was interested to see how the bark changed several times moving up the tree. There were little critters in there, things stuck between the bark and the trunk, spider webs, blackberry vines, new growth, lots of bark, some black bits, some interesting shapes. I saw faces! The 15 minutes went quickly and I only made 55 photos in that time. I was expecting more. I don’t know if any of them are any good. I wasn’t thinking much about composition and it was that glary middle-of-the-day light, so probably not. That wasn’t the point of the exercise. The point was to do something and to notice how I felt when I was doing it.

And I felt mixed things. Part of me wanted the timer to go off so I could stop. Part of me wondered if anyone could see me. Part of me enjoyed finding different parts of the tree to photograph, and wondered how old it was and if anyone had ever looked at it closely before. Part of me made me lie down on a log and look at it from that angle. That was actually one of the coolest angles. 15 minutes isn’t a long time, and I didn’t get bored. I enjoyed doing it. I’d do it again.

Maybe next time I will do this exercise with a person. Though getting up close and personal with a person might be somewhat more challenging than with a tree! (Any volunteers?)




sunday selections: hunting the fagus

Today’s post is a Sunday Selections post for River, which I haven’t participated in for ages.

One thing that wasn’t on my 100 things to do in 2013 list but should have been because it’s something I’d wanted to do for ages, and that is to go and see the fagus in autumn. 
Fagus, for the unaware, is also known as deciduous beech (or if you want to be scientific, Nothofagus gunnii) and is the only winter-deciduous tree in Australia. The only place it grows is Tasmania, mostly in remote highlands areas above 800 metres.
Every year around this time I see spectacular pictures that people have taken of the turning of the fagus, as the leaves go through the autumnal colour change. And every time I think I should go up and have a look, and it never seems to be the right time, and I miss out, thinking I’ll do it the next year. And by the time spring and summer have hit, I’ve forgotten all about it (which is why it wasn’t on the list).
This year it was different. I started seeing posts about people’s trips to Mt Field a couple of weeks ago, when the colours started changing and decided that this was the year I was going to go. 
So we blocked out the day and headed off to Mt Field. We had a vague idea of where to start looking and thought that bright yellow and orange leaves should stand out pretty well – which indeed they did.
Our first stop was at the boulder field, where there is a short walk amongst the rocks, and a few fagus trees growing nearby. These had only just started to turn yellow, so we hoped we hadn’t come too early. 
Oh yes, there was also snow. It’s pretty cold up there at the moment.

We drove a bit further up to Lake Fenton, which is in Hobart’s drinking water catchment. There’s some spectacular trees around the lake, including the beautiful snow gums that we saw last time we were there
There’s also fagus! The trees here were more advanced in colour than the ones lower down and we weren’t the only people taking photos. The main problem I had was trying to take photos of some delicate little leaves that were constantly moving in the wind. Not an easy task. But I got a couple of photos I was happy with, so it was worth the trip.

 Apparently there is another area in the park where the fagus grows; this is the Tarn Shelf, which is higher up in the park and involves a two-three hour walk. Not really an option with Juniordwarf in tow (based on previous experience of longer walks), but perhaps that can go on next year’s 100 things list.

Week in review

So I’m not doing a photo and a post a day, but I still need to keep track of what’s been happening so that I can keep up to date with my 2012 Project Life album and don’t get five months behind like I did in 2011. The main point of me doing that project is so I can remember what all the photos I take are of, and why I took them.
Having said that, one thing I want to do this year is put the camera away sometimes. I think know there have been times when I’ve been so focused on taking the perfect photo of something that I’ve missed out on fully experiencing the moment at the time.
That seems a little ridiculous – if the moment is that fantastic it will live on in my memory without a photo (or at least without the perfect photo, and certainly without 10 or 20 photos), and what point is the photo if I didn’t really experience the event?*
So . . . I need to give myself permission to not capture everything and to not feel guilty about not doing it. I don’t need a picture of every little thing Juniordwarf does, I don’t need to record everything I do. I need to do it.
The photo a day concept is great, and it provides a time capsule of what my life was like over a relatively short time, which I think will be cool to look back on in years to come. But it is incredibly time consuming – even with the simple approach in Project Life – and I don’t want to spend my whole life catching up on recording things, rather than actually doing things.
One of my friends suggested a weekly approach, rather than a daily approach, might work well for this year.
I’m going to give that a go and just do one post with highlights of the week. That doesn’t mean I won’t post at other times during the week on other things, like Project Life or my struggle to beat my demons (because we all know that you love reading that stuff), but for the stuff that caught my eye during the week, I’m going to try and stick to one post.
So, here’s a selection of photos for the week:
(Monday) We went to Russell Falls.
This will make good topic for Sunday Selections on Sunday. (I think Kim is still running it. I haven’t done one of those posts for a while.)
(Tuesday) Juniordwarf made a person out of his salad – cucumber slices for the body and head, carrot sticks for the arms, legs and ears, and lettuce for the hair. He then ate the person piece by piece, from the bottom up, and every time he picked up a piece, he said ‘looking at the person now!’
I lied. There isn’t a photo for this moment.
(Wednesday) I went back to work. I was dreading it because the previous two days had been really hot and I don’t own any hot weather work clothing. Fortunately a cool change came through and I didn’t need it. There was a stunning rainbow over the mountain on my first day back.
(Thursday) The bus got stuck in roadworks at Granton. This is the scene from the window.
(Thursday) Juniordwarf had been asking for a Harry Potter book for ages and he was really expecting to get one for Xmas. I suggested it might be better to get it from the library so he could see if he really wanted it before he went out and bought it. It arrived at the library and he was so excited about it he couldn’t wait until Slabs came back to the car to start reading it. 
Slabs and I started reading it to him but he didn’t want to hear it. When I put him to bed he said he’d read the book to his teddy after I turned out the light. It seems like he tried to do exactly that.
(Thursday) Slabs and Juniordwarf picked me up from the bus stop and we went down to the Esplanade so they could go fishing and we could have dinner outside. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant (what a change earlier in the week), but still it was a lovely thought from Slabs for us to do something a bit different, and it was a really nice way to spend the rest of the afternoon.
(Today) We went for a drive on a road we’ve never been on before.
* This the point where the camera addict acknowledges that her husband has said this to her on more than one occasion.

P365 – Day 332 – beans!

When I got home from work this afternoon, the first thing Juniordwarf wanted to show me was some beans that he and his friends had grown at their daycare centre. He was so excited about it, I just had to smile.

Slabs said that they were the first thing Juniordwarf showed him when he went to pick him up from daycare, and that he was really excited then too.

Juniordwarf said that he and I would share them tomorrow. Somehow they are going to be present at a puppet show that Juniordwarf will be doing tomorrow. He’s doing this to make up for missing out on the puppet show at the Child and Family Centre site celebration on Saturday that was cancelled due to the rain. I’m not sure that he actually even has any puppets, so this might be interesting.

I love five year old logic.

I’m still not too sure what the connection between the beans and the puppet show is. I’m sure I’ll find out though.

A good thing about all this was that he was so proud of his beans that he let me take a photo of him holding them. He does that now: stuff he’s proud of can be photographed (sometimes), but he has to completely over-pose for it. Once I’ve taken the photo, he says: “that was a good one”.

I’m just happy he lets me take a photo, because he’s become very resistant to photos lately.

Now I just wish the stuff in our vege garden would grow so he can get excited about that too.

P365 – Day 288 – catching up (15/10/2011)

After Juniordwarf’s swimming lesson this morning, we travelled down to the Huon Valley to visit some friends who we hadn’t seen for ages.

We had a lovely afternoon catching up, celebrating them finishing their university course and watching Juniordwarf get acquainted with their cats.

The weather was exactly as you’d expect in Tasmania at this time of the year – four seasons in one day. It would have made for some beautiful photo opportunities as we were driving down, but we didn’t really have the time to turn the trip it into a photo excursion, so I had to make do with a couple of pictures from our friends’ place and out of the windscreen on the way home.

Ominous sky

Country lane

Huon River from the car
The plan next time is to spend the night and go ‘tenting’ in the yard so that we have more time and don’t have to rush back home in time for dinner. Juniordwarf is especially keen!

P365 – Day 244 – 1/2 way in, I mean 2/3!

I was going to do this post as my ‘half-way through the 365 photos’ post, but other things got in the way, and I never quite made it. So here we are, it’s my ‘2/3 way through the year’ post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog lately. Why I’m doing it, whether I’m writing it for any particular audience and whether there’s any point to it.
When I started I had a vague idea about what I wanted to do, and that was for it to be a place where I could put my 365 ‘photo a day’ project. And if you’ve read my ‘to not blog . . . or to blog?’ page, you’ll know that I wanted it be a place to help me remember the past, live in the present and design my future.
Well that’s a lot to expect from a blog.
I think it does a pretty good job of serving as a reminder of what I’ve done every day this year – the present becomes the past. As well as that, I’ve done some trips down memory lane, and I’ve started to create a future for myself through my Happiness Project commitments – although over the last couple of months that’s fallen by the wayside for a variety of reasons.
But the main focus of my blog is the photos. On most days, the writing follows from them. Some days the writing is a description of something I’ve done that day, and other days it might just be a sentence or two explaining the photo. Some days the photos lend themselves to a more detailed examination about some part of me – perhaps being introverted and shy, or some of my long-lost dreams, or my struggles with decluttering my house or setting up my garden, or dealing with my demons . . .
All of that involves sharing myself and my family to some degree or another. Sometimes I simply want to show family members something that Juniordwarf has done, or keep them up to date with our life. Occasionally I have a particular person or people in mind when I’m writing about things we might have discussed previously, and some days I want to let off a bit of steam. It all depends, for the most part, on the photo – although there are times I’ve wanted to write about something in particular, so I’ve taken a photo to suit that topic.
Not everyone will ‘get’ every post, and that’s fine.
When I began blogging, I didn’t know much about blogs, so my understanding about what a blog *should* be came from reading other people’s blogs. I read some wonderful blogs, some by people I know fairly well, but mostly by people I’ve never – or only briefly – met but have gotten to know through the Internet.
There is such a huge range of blogs out there, and different people share different things. Some are totally up-front about who they and their families are, and others use noms-de-plume for themselves and aliases for their family members (speaking of which, I have the most wonderful pen-name under which my novels shall be published . . .).
Some people blog about particular aspects of their life – scrapbooking, gardening, iphoneography – and others are much more of a mixture. Some use their blogs as outlets to let off steam and to share the ups and down of their daily life and the particular challenges they face. Some people blog about ‘hot topics’ at the moment. Some just share photos. Some post whatever they want to post at the time. Most are a combination of many things.
Some of the topics I’ve written about I might not have if I hadn’t seen other people already writing about the same or similar issues. So reading other people’s blogs has helped me to feel more relaxed about sharing some things.
At the same time there’s a couple of my posts that I cringe thinking about how I commented on an issue because other people commented on it, but it really had little relevance to my photo of the day. It wasn’t really in keeping with what I saw my blog as being about, but I let myself be influenced by other people, who write different types of blogs.
But I don’t care, because I like to think that this whole blogging year has been a learning experience for me. I started out being influenced by what I was reading – because I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing – but I think I’ve started to develop my own online personality now. I’m figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t; what I feel comfortable with and what I don’t.
It’s a lot of work – to take a photo every single day and write something about it – and is fairly time-consuming. It’s been a fun project and I’ve really enjoyed doing it. There have only been a couple of days where I’ve thought it was too hard and I didn’t want to do it. There have been a few days where I haven’t had a clue what to take a photo of, but for the most part, there’s been at least one thing that’s stood out for the day.
I’m leaning towards thinking I might not continue the Project 365 approach next year, but I’m not sure. I still have a third of a year to decide.
In the mean time, I’m pretty comfortable doing what I’m doing with this blog. I don’t like to categorise it as any particular type of blog. It’s just my blog and my Project 365.
Now I’ve written the post, what on earth am I going to take a photo of to illustrate it?
Well, that was pretty obvious, wasn’t it!

P365 – Day 239 – fishing days

On Monday, Slabs took Juniordwarf fishing after daycare, and Juniordwarf caught his first fish! He was very excited to show me when I got home (although he didn’t want to touch it because his hands would get dirty).
We decided we’d go on a family outing to the same spot (on the Styx River, where we went earlier in the year) on the weekend, if the weather held up.
It did, so off we went.
Last time I was at that spot, it was all underwater. Today there was still some residual water lying around on the ground. The first thing I spotted as we drove in was a temporary ‘pond’ with some beautiful reflections of trees in it, and I knew that in the right light, I could get some nice photos.
While Juniordwarf and Slabs fished, I wandered around with my camera trying to get some decent shots of those beautiful reflections, of the river and of some rather cool looking funghi that I saw on a tree.
The boys fishing

Styx River

Tree funghi

Reflections in a ‘pond’
I also played chase with Juniordwarf, helped him climb a tree and went for a walk with him. We all played hide and seek, which was fun, but didn’t last long due to there not being any actual hiding places that might be safe for a four year old.
On his little camp chair reading.
Not real glasses!
Don’t ask about the head band.

Note the seat belt is almost on

Look Mum, I’m in a tree!
The only fish that anyone landed was too small and was put back into the river, so Juniordwarf didn’t get his wish to have fish for dinner fulfilled.
But it didn’t matter. We had a nice afternoon by the river, which is the most important thing.