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Life

Life

Watching as the locals pass silver balls…

4 October, 2012

It would be remiss of me not to include a lyric from Ben Fold’s “Adelaide” about the city we just got back from visiting for our niece’s wedding. We didn’t actually pass the silver balls in Rundle Mall on this trip (and it’s been over a decade since I’ve done it!) because we were in the Barossa region north east-ish of Adelaide. Sadly, this post is silver ball free but it is enriched with the soothing power of grapes.

Collage (clockwise) of blue sky through wisteria vines; wisteria flowers; and an arched window sitting in a wall covered in vines.


We went to six wineries on our day trip, but the most memorable and photographic was Seppeltsfield. Featuring an amazing range of ports that Nick partook in tasting (I stole sips) the winery also boasts 100 year old ports! We got the opportunity to smell 1910’s vintage and I swear it smelt like a sexy lady. I honestly can’t think of any other way to describe the rich perfumey scent! After elbowing in on the port tasting I’m beginning to think I may just be a port drinker after all.

Me peeking through wisteria vines wrapping around a rotunda.


Six HUGE barrels of wine, each about the size of an elephant torso.


A bottle of 100 year old port in a wooden presentation box.


Myself, standing amongst grape vines, arms outstretched and enthralled with my first encounter with a wild bunny.


We ventured back to the Barossa for the main attraction, our niece’s wedding, held in the garden of Lyndoch Hill which contains a ridiculous amount of rose plants (reportedly over 30,000!) Many of the roses were in bloom, but the bulk of the garden wasn’t and while disappointing, I’m sure it’ll look absolutely incredible whenever the roses do decide to pop out.

Jacqui and Kris surrounded by family and friends on their wedding day.


After the garden wedding was crowned by late afternoon sun peeking through the branches and the clouds, we headed up to the hall for delicious food and wine, meeting new people and singing raucously to The Righteous Brothers as we waited for our dinner! It was a lovely day to celebrate Jacqui and Kris and I feel so blessed to have been there to witness it.

Garden, Life

Perks’ Backyard *

18 September, 2012

I haven’t posted much about our new place mostly because I’m still working on it. The garden has come a pretty long way since we moved in and I may as well show you the progress!

Our courtyard garden as it was when we moved in. A small paved area bordered by a low hedge with taller plants behind.


Collage of the courtyard during process of ripping out the garden and pavers. (Also Miffy enjoying the new turf!)


We don’t have a large yard, and we weren’t fond of having the small space made even smaller by claustrophobic hedging. Miffy needed a place to go to the toilet and sun herself too! The whole yard was ripped out (mostly by Nick!) but we did keep the lovely pink camellia tree on the left hand side. The garden beds were pushed back a little on each side to allow for more grassed area.

The backyard blitz was done on the cheap: we pulled out plants on the weekends (a good thing to do because some were damaging our front fence!), recycled the tiles and sleepers into garden edging, and housewarming gifts bought our turf. We had (and still have) a heap of dirt which has been great for potting up cuttings from my mum and Nick’s mum. Sharing cuttings is FANTASTIC for getting a garden started! I never knew you didn’t really need to buy plants! (It sounds so basic, right? But I never knew!)

I have plans to put lattice up on the big fence (on the right side) and train vines up it, and to hang small pots of colour and herbs on it as well. The right side fence extends down the length of our property and could do with some softening! I hope to scour junk yards for cheap lattice – I checked on pricing at Bunnings the other weekend and discovered it’d cost $25 a piece of lattice and we can’t afford that!


I took a video this morning as I did my regular garden check up and prepared to plant seedlings given to me by my gorgeous friend Erin. I thought I’d share it here so you can see what I’ve been working on. Gardening is something I’ve wanted to do, but never had the chance; any pot plants I’d ever had died rapidly in my care so I was really nervous in the beginning. It’s nice to have things to take care of, that you can watch growing. It all seems very magical to me!

* For non-Australians, my punny title refers to Burke’s Backyard – a long running gardening show on the teev that starred Don Burke.

Life

Goodbye Nana

20 August, 2012

A photo of my Nana with hand drawn roses and freesias surrounding and a banner saying “Nana 1926-2012″.


My Nana died on the weekend. She has always been an exceptional woman, and an exceptional Nana. Her love and support for me and my creative work have been unflagging, and she helped me a lot with setting up my shop.

I still don’t really know what to say. I spent yesterday scanning photos and making a slideshow for her funeral. She still feels alive! I can still hear her chuckle and feel the way she’d grab my arm when she wanted me to listen to her.

Nana in 1946 at 20, wearing a cute square neck dress and a curled fringe.


She was a cool lady. You should have known Nana.

Art

I’m not running anywhere… especially up that hill.

7 May, 2012

Watercolour self portrait of me, standing with a pair of crutches under my arms and wearing a denim jacket, short dress and pink gradient leggings with a CAM boot on one leg. Text in a speech bubble says "GPOY". (Gratuitous Photo of Yourself.)

So, two weeks ago Nick and I were set to head down to Coffs Harbour for a few nights after scoring a deal on Wotif for $32 a night accommodation. I was looking forward to the break and I’d even written out an itinerary of things to do and see while we were in the area. Our hotel was next to the Big Banana! But the bed was foam and once you sat down on it you could never escape! And there was a dolphin and seal park where you could get kisses! As well as a tiny model Dutch village! A butterfly house! A carob factory! So! Many! Things!

On our first full day we decided to drive to Armidale to hang out with a super awesome pal, and I had planned on scouring local op shops for magical rural deals on furniture and whatnot. Unfortunately I happened to break my ankle while strolling through one of Armidale’s gorgeous parklands, just moments after giggling at a dog bathing in a fountain, and ended up falling into a soft bed of grass and fallen magenta leaves. I was helped up by Sonia and Nick, feeling a bit of a pain in my ankle and a lot of pain when I took a step, but we carried on and swung on swings and looked for deer at UNE.

The pain got a bit much for me and we left to drive back to Coffs, with Nick threatening to take me to the hospital emergency. On a toilet stop I totally planned to show him how good I was at walking and not wincing, but I couldn’t take a step unassisted at all! Nick made good on his hospital threat, and well, it was a good idea because I actually broke my ankle. My first ever broken bone!

We left Coffs Harbour the day after I broke my ankle. No dolphin kisses. No Big Banana. No butterflies. No shower because it was in a bath tub and I couldn’t get in because I broke my bloody ankle walking in Armidale. Guh.

So I’ve spent a week at my Mum’s, and I’m now back home. I’ve got a CAM boot as my statement accessory for the next couple of months, as well as a pair of hospital grey crutches. I’m glad I didn’t get a plaster cast, but I’m still very grumpy at myself for ruining our nice holiday, not getting a dolphin kiss, and being unable to properly help when we move in a few weeks. Also, it hurts.

Fancy Lady Industries is closed until I can get fully mobile again, and that might be even after we move in early June! I’m planning on doing a print order, probably on a pre-order system, so if you’ve got requests do let me know!

Life

Year at a glance.

1 January, 2012

A collage of 12 drawings I did this year.

Last year sucked for a lot of reasons.

Anxiety and depression threatened to take everything I knew away from me. I was admitted to a psych ward. Diagnosed with Graves Disease and PTSD. Lost friends. Moved cities. Lost autonomy. Spent a lot of money trying to get better. Had to give up my art practice for long stretches of time. Endured physical and mental pain.

A collage of an outfit from every month in 2011.

I did figure out a few things though.

Friends who piss off at the first instance of anything that looks like it’s going to be something other than a fun time are not friends. People who criticise me without actually giving a shit about me are just trolls. My mental health is infinitely more important than basically everything else. People who think me selfish for looking after myself, my mind, my body and my life as a priority can disappear. Releasing secrets is sometimes the best thing. I am valid. It wasn’t my fault.

A collage of 16 Instagram photos of various things from this year.

I don’t know what this next selection of 12 months will hold, and I dare not try to predict the future or set ridiculously high expectations of myself. I will do what is best for me and my kin. I will keep breathing. It might be awkward and uncomfortable but I hope there’ll be some peace and laughter too.

Life, Photography

Settling in.

20 August, 2011

A photo of sand and the beach with two people walking along the shore line.

Since moving I’ve been quiet, but I’m taking some time out to settle in. Where I was once at home in the city, bordered by big buildings and noise while everyone went about their Very Important Business around me, I’m now allowing myself to sink into a world that is much slower and kinder. There’s lots of nature around us now, and I can sit on the balcony and watch magpies pick over the lawn as corellas and lorikeets browse the branches above. I’ve been riding my bike to the shops and getting to know the best route to take, overcoming narrow pedestrian bridges and roundabouts like obstacles in a new life-sized course. We are about 5 or 10 minutes away from the beach and the best hot chips I’ve ever had in my life!

For some people Brisbane is home forever, and for others it’s just a springboard before going on to much more exciting places. I never really thought I’d leave the city even though Nick and I had dreams of living in Melbourne and being fancy artisan types. The move to the Gold Coast was a decision we had to make due to illness and finances; we never thought it’d be the most ideal decision but as I settle in I’m charmed by the sense of community, the fresh air and the space around me. Too often I am seduced by the most glamorous and fancy things but now I’m seeing the value of the opportunity to rebuild myself in such a caring and nourishing place. It’s rather liberating.

A photo of my feet on sand.

A photo of Nick walking away from the shore towards the camera.

A photo of lots of tiny tomatoes lined up on a window sill to ripen.

A photo of a hanging pot plant with its green leaves tumbling down.

A photo of my reflection in a window as I take a photo.

A photo of the vista from our balcony through a security grill. Beyond tree tops and roof tops Surfer's Paradise sits on the horizon.

A photo of a Polaroid camera and red polka dot tea cups sitting on a shelf with a pink my little pony tucked inside one.

A photo of several hanging pot plants outside agains a backdrop of greenery.

A photo of a bright orange teardrop shaped light fitting in the hallway.

A photo of an owl shaped clock on a wall with pink and green wallpaper.

Life

30 by 2012: Stuff I want to do.

5 August, 2011

My parents have tried to instill in me the importance of setting goals but I am generally quite a foot-loose and fancy-free type of person. I’ve always floated through life content with pursuing knowledge and experiences organically because life has always seemed to be the sort of thing best served largely unplanned with a side of wondrous wide-eyed whimsy.

Photo of a page in a notebook that says "Goals." and a list. Click for full text.

For me goals have either been quite nebulous (see: be a rockstar and become Michael Jackson’s best friend) or fairly specific (see: learn to crochet, get my art in a gallery or oh-god-let-me-just-survive-this-awful-anxiety-until-I-can-get-home-and-hide-in-bed.) When I think about it I am pretty good at achieving the latter and quite okay with leaving the former filed under A for “As if”, but I’ve always shied away from goals that are imposed on me. I’m not terribly interested in buying a house, maintaining a stock portfolio or losing weight. Other people are, and that’s cool, but it really bothers me when they assume I’d be into the same sort of thing.

So I guess I wanted to try and formalise my goal setting because throughout my life I’ve always felt other people looking down their Rather Adult noses at me because I’m not Terribly Mature. As I mentioned above, sometimes my goal for the day is simply surviving and I feel these little goals are persistently overlooked as unimportant and if you’re like me and have disabilities, a keen disinterest in keeping up with the Joneses, and aptitudes that veer away from the mainstream, you can feel as if your goals and the passions that populate your life aren’t worth much.

I think that my goals should be worth a lot, especially in this recovery period in the wake of a rather bollocks few months. I want to feel like I have some measurable and realistic goals to cross off, and also some other slightly hard to measure ones too that I can be mindful of and work towards. If I can get to New Year’s Day in 2012 and reflect on this list and the stuff I’ve achieved, I hope to feel a stronger sense of confidence and self worth.

Things I want to accomplish before the beginning of 2012

  1. Ride down to the shops on my bike by myself.
  2. Make a padded headboard for our bed.
  3. Paint a mural on our bedroom wall.
  4. Go to an art gallery every month.
  5. Grow my nails long enough to do a french manicure.
  6. Design and sell a new piece of jewellery.
  7. Hold a nail painting party.
  8. Get my back tattoo touched up.
  9. Start my sleeve tattoo.
  10. Dye my hair turquoise.
  11. Hold an event for SEQ fatties.
  12. Sort out my recipe book.
  13. Finish my first scrapbook.
  14. Revamp my two bookcases.
  15. Sell stickers of my art.
  16. Write a business plan.
  17. Charge what I’m worth.
  18. Return the books I have that belong to other people.
  19. Make a new friend.
  20. Catch a train from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.
  21. Make new art.
  22. Finish my first cross stitch.
  23. Write ideas down in my sketchbook more often.
  24. Take action on the ideas in my sketchbook.
  25. Undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
  26. Be nice to myself. Engage in positive self talk and commit to dedicated self care.
  27. Support other people more.
  28. Make a dress.
  29. Adopt a puppy.
  30. Write a zine. Gather all previous zine content and just do it!

It was quite nice sitting down to collect all the loose goals and ideas flinging around my head. If you’ve got 10 minutes I really recommend writing your goals down. Even if they “seem” silly, but are secretly really special and important to you, write them down. I bet it’ll make achieving way more achievable. And if you’d like to share, please do!

Life

I do like the beach, but I do not like sand.

21 April, 2011

Writing has always been my way of expressing things that daren’t pass my lips but as my blog stats grow and grow I feel like blogging and emailing have also morphed into another way of talking. This tricksy world has forced me into communicating my feelings instead of keeping them bottled up. How dare it!? I am very fortunate to have a network of loving people around me who really really love me and want the best for me. As I’m rather awkward at verbalising how much I appreciate all this fussing I want to take a moment right now to write about how I’ve been so moved by everyone’s support in the last few weeks.

When I was in hospital I was overwhelmed with lovely messages across all the various forms of internets I use. My parents came to visit me twice over that weekend, while Nick came to see me every day. I would see other patients who’d been in for months look at me with all my abundance of support with sadness, and I wished I could share around the visits with them too. I did the next best thing by sharing all the food Mum snuck in for me! My Auntie and Nana sent me care packs when I got out and my mother-in-law insisted I come down to stay with her for a few weeks.

It’s a testament to how powerfully isolating depression and anxiety can be when you are still struck with horrifying dark thoughts even when love is demonstrated to you on a regular basis. When you stumble into patches of lightness and love, like a clearing in a rainforest, and see all the people in your life who are watching out for you it can be embarrassing too. Sometimes I’ve edged back into the darkness under the canopy because I am so ashamed that I can’t be healed by all these wonderful people’s care, and I am mortified that they may see these relapses as rejection or poor manners. Oh but it is a lot more complicated than that, I’m aware!

So thank you everyone. Thank you so much for having a care in your heart.

This week I was invited to stay with my Mum and sister at a holiday house up the coast. It was terribly relaxing. I took some crocheting and work up with me, but found myself helping my sister sew a skirt and reading Russell Brand’s autobiography. I did some work, promise! I’m making up the fat necklaces over this long weekend to send out next week. Mum and Michelle couldn’t resist trying the gold mirror necklaces on!

Even though the beach was a stroll away we only went once and that turned out to be pretty lucky considering my lack of balance and coordination at the moment, which led me to falling over THREE whole times in the space of 20 minutes. This is a very ominous stat and I shall be keeping my sand trekking to an absolute minimum until I get better! I blame the last fall on my sister, who spun around quickly as we walked along the shore at twilight and screamed something about a shark. Mum and I immediately bolted, but I didn’t get far before realising I was going down. As I surrendered myself to any available sharks in my proximity Michelle burst into hysterical laughter, telling us she’d seen land on the horizon. Not sharks. Thanks land, for infiltrating my camera lens and my clothes. I hate sand more than ever. It is a gritty menace that tricks me and swallows my feet.

Do you want to see photos? Go on, everyone loves photos. (Unfortunately none were taken of my falls because I didn’t think to flip the camera on and document the beach coming up to hit me in the face.)

A photo of my sister and mother's legs with feet planted each on very large stones, which are amongst lots and lots of large, grey stones.

A photo of my red paisley skirt and feet in wet sand. My toenails are shockingly pink (literally, China Glaze Shockingly Pink!)

A photo of my sister sitting on her haunches looking into a rock pool.

A photo of a large expanse of flatish rocks on the shoreline with pink and purple puddles sitting in them. The sky is a fantastic pink/ purple gradient.

A photo of my Mum and sister sitting on a rock against the shoreline and waves.

A photo of the waves rolling in at sunset. The beach curves around from the left foreground to middle background and the sky is a gradient of purple to pink.

Mental illness

Sometimes it’s a struggle to manifest fance (manifance?)

29 September, 2010

This past few weeks I have struggled. Not just with blogging but personally too (and I’m waiting on some blood test results that might return an outcome I’m NOT keen for.) Lots of bloggers seem to cover up all the bad bits and present the shiniest and most palatable version of themselves to the world, and while it’s nice to appeal to aspiration and positivity but I think that it’s important to be truthful and raw too. I think that trying to be positive all the damn time puts a lot of people off blogging too; I’ve encouraged my husband to blog the struggles as well as the victories as he starts his own blogging endeavour, but I struggle to share my feelings when I’m feeling low and asking for help is especially difficult. It’s harder for me to do this more recently because as my readership increases, so does the percentage of people who aren’t very fond of me and often I feel like admitting my flaws and failures is just providing free ammunition. But then I realise that the percentage of warm, supportive and considerate readers basically swamps the haters, and I want to be able to share vulnerability because yannow, I’m a human being too!

Photo of a bougainvillea branch against an unpainted wood fence; the flowrs are bright fucshia.

So in the spirit of being raw here’s a list of things I’m struggling with right now:
● My blemished and scarred skin;
● the impending humidity of summer and worrying about how I will manage not to look like a melting wax effigy of myself in the next six months;
● feeling like a failure in comparison to others even though we are in completely different fields;
● going to my sister’s wedding and feeling like an odd-bod;
● not being tanned even though I have never tanned and have little interest in being tanned, but wanting to just because I am the whitest person in my whole family and the wedding photos will look odd;
● being fat in Brisbane in summer because despite what the news says about an obesity epidemic, fat people are NOT everywhere and I usually feel like a sideshow attraction whenever I am around people who are not my friends;
● a depressive episode that seems to be stretching languidly over a number of months, making me think that I might need to go on meds again;
● the cost of treating my diabetes, having to find money for a MRI for my high heel damaged foot and a possible hypothyroidism diagnosis;
● feeling like I am drowning in emails;
● etc.

I’m not looking for solutions or advice really, it’s just a relief to let these anxieties out to reduce the echo inside my brain.

Photo of water in a pool, the light is dancing on the gently rippled surface and the water looks a deep greeny/ blue.

To be fair, some good things are also happening too:
● I’ve cut back on commissions because even though I like drawing things for people, I feel like I don’t have enough time to focus on my personal work and develop my skills;
● the first meeting of Aquaporko BNE, a fat femme synchronised swimming team;
● I ordered more fat necklaces and hope to create a new design to be cut in acrylic soon;
● plans for camping with friends;
● exploring some lovely Lush product samples that Fran sent me;
● discovering Mylanta can be used as a face mask to draw out zits and reduce oilyness;
● some people really like my illustration and design work and that’s nice.

The other week I was having a fantastic discussion on Twitter about the culture of positivity and how damaging it can be, especially when different issues intersect with this societal demand to be unfailingly upbeat and happy and positive. My own particular beef with it is that as a person who suffers depression there is always someone around to tell me to “cheer up” or keep my “chin up” and, you know, if it was as simple as just being happy I would. Because it’s a real effing larf to be depressed and struggle to do even the most simple daily activities. It’s hilarious when people tell me I’ve got excuses for everything. If I could just wave a wand and cut that terrible “behaviour” out, I’d be a winner for sure!

So, I guess this is me extending my middle finger to that culture of positivity as it effects the bloggersphere. Sometimes I am so immobilised by worry I can’t move. Sometimes I am so sad I can’t brush my hair. Most of the time I am so fearful of how people will respond to my experience with mental illness that I do not talk about it. I want to shrug off that shame because it does nothing for my health.

(Hitting Publish on this is the scariest thing.)

Body Image

I keep moving

14 April, 2010

Proof I'm still standing after a weights workout

Remember that time I was all gung-ho about the Couch to 5k? I remember that time. It didn’t last long. After struggling with finding exercise gear that fit and fearing nasty people yelling things out at me (which totally eventuated), you know what? I stopped doing it. I didn’t like that I stopped running, because I enjoyed it but I needed to sort this problematic stuff out first.

I started with finding a solution to one huge problem: I didn’t have a proper bra that I could do such a high impact activity in without a lot of pain and discomfort. The amount of moaning I’ve done on this issue is legendary, and as a result of that moaning the president of Enell emailed me. I’d been trying to buy an Enell bra from a few different places with no luck so I was really upset and aggravated about the whole issue. Renelle, the kind and benevolent president, had heard my cries and sent me three bras. I actually weeped with relief when I got them. They fit! I could jump up and down without my chest slapping me in the chin! I could hang upside down without my boobs falling out of their cups! It was an Actual Revelation.

Recently my husband and I found ourselves in a position where we could actually afford a gym membership, so we signed up at a Jetts 24 hour gym. And you know what? Now that the issue of heckling is mostly removed, I feel so much more motivated to exercise. I don’t think that many people with slimmer builds consider this constant anxiety about being harassed for being fat whilst one is exercising. It’s a huge barrier – an unhealthy barrier for everyone. I’m really impressed with Jetts and Jess the manager, who is also looking after Nick and my programme. I told her that weight loss wasn’t my primary concern, and that I wanted to focus on fitness and strengthening my arms and she listened to me! You guys, I’ve never had a fitness professional actually listen to me and design a programme that actually helps me (rather than helping the fitness professional feel like they’re Saving A Fatty)! The gear is all new, there’s a cap on memberships so that you don’t have to fight for equipment, and the cardio machines have TVs built in to them (so I can shake my fist at moron politicians on morning TV). We’ve gone almost every second morning since signing up, and even though the walking lunges with 5kg weights in each hand is leaving me with screaming thighs, I’m feeling more energetic and motivated.

Wobby legs

The final piece of the puzzle is the exercise pant. I’ve been wearing some men’s 2xl Slazenger tights, which are pretty rad for preventing chafing but I’m wanting a pair of actual women’s pants. Because you know, I’m a woman. Nick has been searching for some skins that will fit him too, because it seems like Australian retailers don’t think that a 6xl man could be exercising (while self righteous doctors abuse “The Obese” for not exercising in the background!) We found an American retailer called Aero Tech Designs which stocks cycling and work out gear up to proper plus sizes and ordered some pants each. I’ll let you know how that goes when we receive them!

So right now at least, I’m enjoying the gym. I’m enjoying the time I allocate for myself which turns into time spent with Nick having a quick coffee before we start our working days. It’s good stuff!