Elizabeth is an Australian blogger and photographer, living in Melbourne after a lifetime in Queensland. She is undertaking a challenge to complete 101 Things in 1001 Days, and documents her progress here.  Scarlet Words is also home to stories about life in her newly adopted city, and news about all the cool stuff she discovers on the web. She’s in love with a boy called Tim, she’s owned by a little dog named Harry, and has an embarrassing habit of introducing herself in the third person. If you like, you can read even more about her here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Task #77 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Take 101 photos with black & white film

There were very few tasks on my 101 list which truly spanned the full length of the 1001 day project, but this was one of them.  On 1 January 2012 one of the first contributions I made to my list was to shoot some photos with my film camera, and she was still working hard in the final few days of my challenge last week.   My little F80 travelled with me all over Melbourne and down the Great Ocean Road, although admittedly she was always the camera which was left behind when I had to pack for a flight!

Nothing could ever replace the anticipation of waiting for film to be developed. I usually sent in a few rolls at once without knowing what they contained, so every time I picked them up it felt a bit like Christmas morning.  For somebody so accustomed to the instant gratification of digital this was a much needed lesson in the art of patience and that was really satisfying.

I have a lot to learn about shooting with film, and like everything else on my list I would have produced far better results if I had been pulled in fewer directions.  But done is better than perfect, and I’m happy to have created a collection of 101 little black & white, analog memories.

 

(I’m testing out a new gallery plugin, and am especially curious to see whether this layout survives all the way through to my RSS reader.  If you’re reading this post through a newsfeed and don’t see a collection of thumbnails below please click through to my website instead.  I’d love to hear from you if you spot any problems!)

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Happy 1001 Days! (101 Things in 1001 Days)

by Elizabeth on September 28, 2014 · 3 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life

glamping

I’m writing this post from the magical looking tent in the picture above, making me officially the luckiest girl I know.  Tim and I have spent the past few days glamping right on the beach near Sorrento, and late last night I braved the cold to take the photo above because I knew it would be a beauty.  The sky was crystal clear, and with no light pollution around the stars were just phenomenal.  We could even see the Milky Way, but tonight the sky is covered in cloud and it’s just as lovely listening to the rain tapping on our canvas roof.

My goodness, what a way to end a project spanning almost three years!  Today marks the very last day of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project, and I’ve only just put down my last classic novel: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway – the final piece of my final task.  With the waves crashing outside my door as I read, could there have been a more perfect location for this book without jumping on a plane to Havana?

There were times when I truly believed that I wouldn’t finish my challenge this time around.  Life threw me a few really good curveballs over the past two years, and I can name a couple of times when it would have been so easy to throw in the towel.  The temptation was there, but each time I considered caving in I remembered that I had a kickass list of tasks full of stuff I actually wanted to do.  What would be the point of quitting on the stuff I really love?

(Sidenote: if you are considering this challenge you must start by writing an amazing list.  When the going gets rough it had better be bulletproof.)

But really?  It was also other people who deserve the credit for convincing me to get back in the saddle each time I fell off.  Every comment, instagram like and retweet reminded me that I had pals quietly cheering me along, and that really really mattered.  It still amazes me that some of my biggest cheerleaders are people I’ve never met in the flesh.  You guys are rad and I’m so glad I live in the future.

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I’ll keep this short, because my 101/1001 widower is snoring in my ear as I write this and I owe him the biggest cuddle.  We’re heading home to Melbourne tomorrow morning and then I will begin the process of digging through my archives to write a wrap up of all 101 tasks.

I will be just as relieved as you when I can go back to regular old blogging.  Soon!

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101 Things in 1001 Days:

Task #89 – Draw or paint 25 figures
Task #90 – Draw or paint 25 faces
Task #91 – Draw or paint 25 hands
Task #92 – Draw or paint 25 still life scenes
Task #93 – Draw or paint 25 trees

Let me begin by saying that yes, this is one of those occasional image-heavy posts.  Now would probably be a good time for a cup of tea.

 

Back when I wrote my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days almost 3 years ago I was taking weekly classes at the Melbourne Studio of Art… and I was rapidly running out of cash!  Those classes were excellent for a complete beginner like me, and I knew that in order to keep getting better without a teacher I would need to draw constantly.  I set myself a pretty conservative goal to draw 25 figures, faces, hands, still life scenes and trees and resolved to chip away at it gradually.

Only that’s not what happened.  At least 60 of the drawings on the wall above were created in the past 3 weeks under a cloud of fear and sleep deprivation.

(I know, I know.  Believe me.)

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The good news is it worked.  Even in the past 3 weeks I’ve seen my drawing improve, and the sense of urgency created by my deadline made me push through some of the mental blocks that I otherwise would have caved into.  Each evening as I sat at my dining table I resolved to pump out a certain number of drawings before bed, and that raw determination helped me to set an excellent pace.

There are very few finished pieces in the picture above – maybe only ten or so out of the whole bunch.  This in itself is a bit of a win for me because I’m far too likely to dwell in the details if left to my own devices.  Pure necessity drove me to draw, and then throw it to the side and draw again.  It felt good to have permission to move on, and to see the value and lessons contained in the ‘duds’.  And there were plenty of those!

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I’ve spent an awful lot of time inside my own head in the past three weeks, thanks to this challenge, and I can’t adequately explain how this time ‘alone’ has changed things for me.  With a pencil in my hand I was constantly making decisions and solving problems on the paper in front of me, and before long I noticed my thought patterns shifting when I was away from my desk too.  Perhaps this is why people love meditation so much, the act of silencing the white noise and thinking more deliberately, more consciously.  That’s what I felt happening to me as I threw myself into these drawings.  Clarity, and lots of it.

It might sound cheesy, but I really did resolve a bunch of my own internal worries thanks to all these trees and boobs and bottles.

You guys, drawing doesn’t come naturally to me – not at all.  I don’t have a great deal of natural talent, I wasn’t born with an ‘eye’ for scale and perspective, and I will never have to stop working hard to create a beautiful drawing or painting.  I have accepted it, and even embrace it because I understand the personal value in sitting down and quietly solving a hundred little problems.  If the end result is good that’s fantastic, and if it’s not?  Well, there’s almost certainly a lesson in it for the next drawing.  Every little sketch strengthens a muscle.

I’ve put my best drawings below, and you can click the thumbnails to see a larger version.  Give yourself a round of applause if you make it to the end!

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Task #79 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Complete an alphabet photo series

For almost three years my deadline for the this project, 28 September 2014, has seemed a very long way away.  It’s hard to believe that I’m staring down the barrel of the final week.  Just 6 days to go!

This is the 88th completed task, and I promise that sounds far worse than it actually is.  So many of my tasks are neeeearly complete, and those that are yet to be started are part of a special plan for next weekend.  More on that later.

But first, enjoy this fun little photo series.  Each photo represents a letter of the alphabet, and the only rule was that I needed to find objects which accidentally formed the shape of the letter.  I tried to not take this too seriously so there’s a mixture of DSLR and iPhone photos in here.

AA BB CC
DD E F
GG H I
JJ KK LL
M NN OO
PP QQ RR
S TT UU
V W XX
YY ZZ

I’ll be back soon with an update about some of the art I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks, as well as a special surprise that I’ve been planning for you guys to say thanks.  I promise it doesn’t suck!

I seriously can’t wait to get back to normal blogging.  One more week…

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Portrait from Scarlet Words on Vimeo.

Item #98 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days: make a time lapse video of a drawing or painting.

I spent Saturday at my dining table, surrounded by brushes and watercolours and paper.

With just 21 days to go until my deadline (eek!) I have a stack of drawing to get done, and by the end of today I started to feel like the lady in this drawing looks.  Over it.

Serves me right for procrastinating, I guess.

This facepalming lady was fun to make.  I’m starting to learn how to use water soluble graphite which, when paired with canvas paper, is magic.  You can pick the colour up and push it around the page until it looks just right, which is harder to do with traditional watercolour paper.  It’s nice to be able to hit it with the eraser to pull out the highlights too.

So, on with the rest of my drawings.  My main hurdle right now isn’t the number of drawings I need to complete, it’s that drawing is no fun at all when you have to quickly move on to the next thing without making it perfect.

If you’re interested in seeing my progress you can check out my hands, figures, faces, still life scenes and trees.  Whose dumb idea was it to draw so many trees?

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#67: How to cure an #iSlave

by Elizabeth on August 26, 2014 · 1 comment

in 101 in 1001, iPhone, Life

phonelove

Image source: Romance Academy

 

Task #67 of my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days: Have a technology-free weekend

Let me tell you about life without phones, screens and social media!  I’ve just spent a weekend free of all my gadgets and it was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.

I left work last Friday afternoon with my phone locked in my office cupboard, and by the time I reached the car park I already felt different.  It felt very liberating to be free of the buzz each time an email, text, tweet or Facebook notification came in and that was the moment that I realised just how wedded my subconscious had become to that sound.

Although I already had my suspicions, last weekend I realised the extent of my gadget dependency and how it has been affecting my life.  I am still a big believer in taking my phone with me whenever I leave the house (because flat tyres, stranger danger etc) but what really struck me is the way I’ve been using my phone to pass the time instead of getting on with living.

On Friday when I came home from work I dropped my bag, played with the dog for a while and then went to sit down at my computer like I normally do.  But then I remembered that it was turned off and my first thought was, “what am I going to do now?” and that really bothered me.  Let’s face it, you’ve seen my To Do list and I’m not exactly running out of material.

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Image source: Melarky

 

The pain of being device-free was short-lived, however, and once it was over the benefits kept on rolling in.  By Friday evening I felt as though I could relax and stop consuming everybody else’s news for a little while.  My mind began to quieten down and I discovered that more of my own thoughts were getting a little airtime for the first time in ages.  My thoughts had stopped competing with the shouting phone in my hand, and it felt peaceful.

I had expected that my weekend would feel longer without screen time, but I was pleasantly mistaken.  Instead I found myself engrossed in my deliberately-chosen projects, experiencing them fully and without distraction.  The time trickled away, but without the usual sense of loss and regret that I normally feel after an unproductive day off. My mind was peaceful and I felt completely present in what I was doing.

The laundry still got done and the house was quickly tidied, but surprisingly it felt like a luxury to be using the rest of my time for my friends, books and painting.  Why did I feel so indulgent, when that time was all mine to start off with?  I hadn’t expected to feel actual guilt about pouring myself into my favourite things, and that’s given me plenty to think about. Is this part of the reason I’ve been reaching for my phone every ten minutes? Have I not been giving myself permission to do one thing at a time?

 

weaponsofmassdistraction

Image source: Hunter Langston

 

What I noticed

    • When I switched off my phone at 4.30pm on Friday I needed to be certain that Tim and I had decided on a meeting time and place for our Friday night date. And then I needed to be on time, not my forté by the way, because I knew that I couldn’t text Tim if I was running late.  (I was late, of course. I can’t help but wonder if living with a contingency plan in my pocket has something to do with that bad habit.
    • With no access to Siri or Google Maps I needed to plan ahead for where I was going, and what information I would need before leaving.  So much for my usual trick of googling a recipe from the supermarket floor!  I realised that having the internet in my pocket can be a mixed blessing because it feeds right into my tendency for procrastination, improvisation and avoidance of fully committing.
    • While normally I struggle to sit still for the length of a movie, last weekend I read a novel from cover to cover for the first time in ages.  Since there was no point in indulging my usual thought patterns  (I wonder if I have any emails to respond to?  I just thought of something I should tell the internet about immediately!) I was able to give it my complete attention.  Bliss!
    • Tim came home with roses on Saturday, and since I couldn’t record them with a picture I noticed I spent more time just looking at them.  Enjoying them.  Committing them to memory and noticing their tiny changes.  It was really nice.
    • Meal times were spent talking instead of staring at the TV (although, to be fair, we’re not big TV-watchers anyway)
    • When I was tired I went to bed and fell asleep straight away.

 

What now?

I switched my phone back on when I got to work yesterday morning with a small pang of sadness.  I was eager to check my email and read some news headlines, but once that was done I felt a strong desire to reduce the rest of the ‘noise’ before I fell back into old habits.

So here’s what I did:

    • I switched off all sound and pop-up notifications on my phone.  I left the badge notifications in place so that I can see at a glance when I have a Twitter or Facebook notification, but not until I choose to look!
    • I unsubscribed from about 90% of my promotional email lists.  Have you noticed how some online stores have a couple of sales every week?  Come on.
    • I’ve created a “Close Friends” feed on Facebook so that I can keep up with the most important news more efficiently
    • I’ll eventually create some similar filters for Twitter (#auspol, close friends, bloggers etc)
    • Ditched a bunch of pointless apps
    • Declared my side of the bed to be technology-free!  I’m even considering looking for an old-school alarm clock so that I can charge my phone overnight in a different room.

I feel absolutely no sense of loss about reducing the stuff I consume, because I don’t feel like I was really doing any of it justice anyway.  The more snippets of 140-character information I was reading, the more scattered my own thoughts became.  And worst of all it was getting in the way of the stuff that really mattered!

This short experiment has taught me so much about the value of slowing down and looking up.  Just imagine what impact an entire week might have had…

TRY IT!

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The art of unplugging

by Elizabeth on August 20, 2014 · 3 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life

techfreeweekend

I have a handful of tasks on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days which have been kind of hard to get excited about.  Some of them are gym-related (no surprise there!) while others have challenged me to give up something I love.  That month without coffee was rough.

So it’s probably not surprising that I’ve waited until Day 965 to embark on Task 67: Have a technology-free weekend.

This Friday afternoon I’ll switch off my phone, lock it in my desk drawer at work and walk away.  I’ll put away my iPad and laptop too, as well as any other gadgets that would normally make an appearance in the course of a weekend.  There will be no TV, and when the sun sets the lights will mostly stay off – at least in the rooms that I’ll be in.

I’m going to spend a bit of time over the next two days working out exactly what “technology-free” will mean, and set a few rules for myself ahead of time.

Here’s the plan so far.


Banned:

  • devices such as my phone, iPad, computers, digital cameras
  • social media and texts (obviously!)
  • dishwasher and microwave
  • lights, unless I’m working on something for my 101 Things list and candlelight won’t cut it
  • hairdryer & straightener (oh no!)


Allowed:

  • I can drive, but only if I really really need something that can’t be reached on foot
  • washing machine and heater
  • oven and stovetop
  • film cameras

selfie

Questions nobody has asked me yet:

But like, why?
This task isn’t really about the environment, or appreciation for how technology has made life easier.  I added it to my list because my phone has practically become part of my anatomy and it’s a major cause of distraction and procrastination.  I have a pavlovian reaction to the buzz of my phone and that bothers me.

Will you die?
I fully expect that my hand will reach for my phone constantly for the first day, and I’ll be slightly annoyed when I want to google something to get a quick answer.  But it’s just one weekend!

Mostly, I’m expecting the weekend to feel longer, for the pace to slow.  I’m anticipating that Tim and I will have more time to talk, and maybe I’ll finally have the brain space necessary to sit down and do a bunch of my drawing tasks too.

Will you cheat?
Yup!  There are a couple of allowances I have given myself.  For example, I’ve found an ancient, feature-free iPod full of who-knows-what music and I’m going to check it out over the weekend.  It will be a big step back from Shazamming a song and purchasing it in under 60 seconds.

However, I won’t ask Tim to look something up for me or help me break any other rules.

We haven’t really discussed this part yet, but I’ve already decided to not drag Tim into my device-free hell.  Instead, if there’s something he wants to watch on TV I’ll just take myself off to another room and do something else.  Who knows, maybe he’ll decide to power down too!

I secretly can’t wait for the peaceful, productive weekend ahead of me without the lure of all those screens.  If you miss me this weekend, just picture me wandering down to the corner shop to buy an actual newspaper (whaaaat?) with my frightening naturally-dried hair.  You can be sure that my phone will be buzzing loudly in my hand again by 8am Monday morning when I plug it back in!

If you have any other ideas for making this lo-fi weekend even better I would love to hear them!  Leave me a comment before Friday afternoon, or maybe you could leave me a tweet to look forward to on Monday?

See you on the other side!

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#55 – Build a snowman

by Elizabeth on August 17, 2014 · 2 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life, Melbourne

I can’t quite believe that I haven’t posted anything here for more than 2 months!  It’s the usual story – the less action you see here, the more is (probably) going on in my offline life.  When I grow up I want to be one of those people who can manage both and still have time to brush their teeth.

It’s crunch time now with my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days - only 41 days left to finish the remaining 28 tasks on my list.  It sounds bad (right?), but more than half of those items are already well underway and the others are probably manageable as long as I don’t lose my momentum.  The main thing I have to do is sit my butt down and draw stuff!

I want to try and write about some of the more interesting items on my list that I’ve completed during my absence, so hopefully you’ll be seeing a little more action here over the next few weeks (but not if it gets in the way of actually finishing my list by 28 September!)

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Task #55 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 DaysBuild a Snowman.

Tim and I drove up to Lake Mountain yesterday to complete one of my favourite tasks on my list: build a snowman!  We waited a little too long to tackle this one, and since there’s not a lot of snow around this weekend we paid the $53 entrance fee to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort to make sure that we could get it done.  There was a great little cafe at the top of the mountain, and once we’d warmed up we found a little off-road spot beside the cross-country ski trail and got to work.

hat

Sidenote: Earlier today I found a photo of myself wearing this same pair of Docs when I was SIXTEEN.  Way to age more gracefully than me, shoes.  Thanks a lot.

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Probably the best part of making these snowpeople was the reactions of the people passing by.  Some people called out to us as they scooted by on their skis, while others actually stopped and asked to be photographed with them.  Me and my snowmen feature in a bunch of strangers’ photos, including one incredibly enthusiastic group of “bros” who insisted that I be in their shots and make peace signs with them.

(By the way, Tim, that was a greeeeat time to wander off for 10 minutes…)

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We waved goodbye to our little friends, warmed up with a hot chocolate and started to head home to Melbourne.

The drive back down the mountain was spectacular at the end of the day, as usual.  It’s amazing to see the difference between these shots and the ones I took last time we were at Lake Mountain which was about 18 months after the Black Saturday bushfires.  Everything looks so much healthier now and the new growth seems well established.

(There’s a bigger version of the panorama below if you click on it.)

lakemountain

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See?  Magic.

I’ll be back again soon with some photos from our QLD adventure last week, and hopefully a little more progress on my remaining tasks.  I’m starting to wish that I had crossed off that pesky Swim in the ocean task before it got so freaking cold…

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All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

I’m still laughing at this video even as I type up this quick post.  Richard Dunn found himself stranded at an airport after his flight was cancelled last week, so using his iPhone (and a wheelchair and a roll of packing tape) he set out to make a music video.

It starts strong and then it gets better.  Three thumbs up.

(Related: SOUR GRAPES.)

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Marina Abramovic and Ulay

by Elizabeth on May 24, 2014 · 1 comment

in Art, Cool stuff

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in.  When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMA retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her.  Ulay arrived without her knowing it, and after 22 years of separation this is what happened.

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Marina Abramovic6
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Marina Abramovic2
Marina Abramovic1

These gifs are from Tumblr so the original source is probably lost forever, but you can read a more detailed account of the story here.

Here’s the full video:

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heavylifting

Source: The Australia Institute

 

Last week’s federal budget announcement is pretty big news right now.  Australia had some idea of what was coming, and after months of rhetoric from Abbott and Hockey about Australia’s so-called ‘budget emergency’ we all understood that the announcement would be tough.  We had been warned that we must all share in the ‘heavy lifting’ of a budget characterised by widespread cuts.

However I don’t think many of us expected to be handed a budget in which those who are already most disadvantaged would shoulder a disproportionate percentage of the load.

I want to have a real conversation about this.  After a few days of reflection I have put some of my thoughts down and I really hope to hear from others – especially if you disagree with me.  I am not an economist; I can’t pretend to give an expert analysis of this budget.  I don’t think that this limitation excludes me from commenting on the consequences of widespread cuts to our welfare system and essential services.

And there will be consequences.

 

gina

 

My disappointment with this budget has nothing to do with my own situation or personal needs.  Tim and I are both fortunate enough to have as much work as we need, at a salary that allows us to live comfortably and to pay our bills – including the HECS debt that I still carry.  We have both studied hard, we are hard workers and we contribute our fair share as Australian taxpayers.  My family is concerned about our financial situation because we’re long-term renters but I can’t deny that our lives are pretty good.  Tim and I understand how lucky we are.

According to Hockey we’ll be working until we are 70 years old and we’ll pay more for our petrol than we used to.  We’re finding it utterly impossible to buy a house, but we will be okay.  There are so many others who can’t say the same.

 

winnersandlosers

Source: http://greens.org.au/

 

There are many Australians, other people who work just as hard as us and pay their taxes, who will be significantly worse off under Hockey’s changes.  If you’re having trouble understanding what all the noise is about perhaps you could try to imagine life from the perspective of these people:

    • Senior citizens:  Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will lose the Seniors supplement, which currently sits at $876.20 per year for singles and $1,320.80 for couples.  That doesn’t sound like a lot of money when you’re a young salaried person, but to a pensioner this could easily affect the quality of their diet, affordability of medications and their willingness to see a GP when needed.  At this vulnerable time in their lives (and after a lifetime of paying into the Australian welfare system) they find themselves on the chopping block.  And the cost of living continues to rise.
    • Young people:  The government will provide cash incentives to businesses to hire people over the age of 50, placing a further obstacle in the path of young jobseekers.  There is an assumption that there are plenty of jobs to go around, but take a look at the unemployment rate in regional towns to understand how bad the odds are for jobseekers already.  Furthermore, people under 30 who are unemployed will have to wait six months to be eligible for welfare assistance.  Once eligible they can only claim for six months before it is cut off and the cycle begins again.  Anyone who thinks that this won’t lead to an increase in homelessness, crime and abuse is ignoring reality.  This is serious stuff.
    • Students:  In addition to the above, a university education just became less accessible for those from a lower socio-economic background.  And if they graduate at 22 they face the six-monthly cycle of welfare ineligibility if they can’t be placed in a job immediately.
    • Sick people: I have a fundamental issue with sick people being taxed more than healthy people for the purpose of raising money for medical research.  It is my firm belief that the sort of person who can casually say, “it’s only $7!” does not understand what it’s like to not have $7.  Add to that the increased cost of PBS medications, co-payments for blood tests and other procedures, and you’d better hope that your other children don’t get sick at the same time.  Put simply: this co-payment will mean that fewer sick people visit their GP.  It will mean that fewer children are immunised for killers like whooping cough.  And I don’t mean to tell the Treasurer how to do his job here, but perhaps he’d like to consider how the cost of treating preventable illness in our community will affect health spending.
    • Indigenous people:  Hockey has told a particularly cruel joke here, raising the Australian pension age to 70 while the average life expectancy of an indigenous male is just 69 years (and 74 for females).  Our government has responded to this gross inequity by cutting $534 million from Indigenous programs, many of which are health care services.  Have you seen the stats on preventable blindness in our very own backyard?  Are we proud of that?
    • Asylum seekers:  Let’s be clear about this – asylum seekers are permitted by law to seek refuge in another country.  This isn’t even up for debate – if you believe otherwise you have been taught a terrible lie.  You have a responsibility to stop that lie from spreading any further.  In the Age of Information, ignorance is a choice.

The fact remains that, however unpleasant the Australian government tries to be, it cannot match the terror from which those who are genuine refugees are fleeing. That remains the fundamental flaw in the policy of deterrence.
– Malcolm Fraser

Source (plus a bunch more info): http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-13/budget-winners-and-losers/5433178

 

australian government dictionary 2014

There seems to be a pervasive attitude amongst Australians that conservative parties care about the economy, while the left-leaning parties just spend money and jump up and down about trendy welfare issues.  As long as we subscribe to this attitude we can never have adult conversations about the shape of our nation.  Political discourse will continue to be driven by catchy, fear-mongering headlines and insults.

I am a left-leaning voter.  It’s a source of amusement to some people in my life, and I’ve been called a ‘hippie’ by more than one for the concern I have shown about asylum seeker issues and the environment.  My beliefs don’t stem from some childish need to be different or because I enjoy jumping up on my soapbox – I actually find political discussions with conservative voters really stressful, particularly when they’re people I care about.  I am a left-leaning voter because human beings are more important to me than Gina Rinehart’s power and comfort.

  • I don’t support my tax dollars being used for subsidies for big business at the expense of struggling families.
  • I don’t want families to pay more for fuel while the mining industry pays less for theirs – especially if we continue to ignore investment in renewable energy (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has been axed too).
  • I believe in protecting our Medicare system, and I believe that senior citizens who have paid into that system over the course of their lifetime should be the last to lose it.
  • I believe in on-the-ground, practical support for our indigenous communities and refugees.  I also believe that any ‘solutions’ created and sold to the nation from Canberra will fail.
  • I believe that a tertiary education should be accessible to all, and that the resulting debt should not be equivalent to a mortgage.  I believe that disadvantaged people will be less likely than their financially-stable neighbours to take up a university place because of the eventual debt and that this will widen the gap between rich and poor.
  • I believe in the work of the CSIRO and independent media such as the ABC and SBS.
  • I believe that some school chaplains do good work and that much depends greatly on the individual and the power/scope granted to them by their school board.    I do not support the federal government’s commitment to provide $250 billion dollars to the school chaplains program over the next four years at the expense of the vulnerable groups above.  Instead, I support the provision of qualified counsellors to schools, especially if the government insists on slashing the income of Australians who are already struggling to make ends meet.  Sadly this is not on the table.

I could go on, and on, but you get the idea.

What are we doing here, Australia?  How is it that in the year 2014 we have become such a mean, self-satisfying nation with the government we deserve?  Why is it that we, with our AAA credit rating and our capacity to dodge the full weight of the GFC, can justify such appalling injustice for the sake of achieving a surplus?

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I was fortunate to attend a speech and Q&A session with former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser last night.  He spoke about his new book Dangerous Allies and the need for Australia to stop cuddling up to the USA and Britain for protection.  He had some other pretty big ideas too: increase the population to 40 million, triple our spending on defence and start acting as though we belong at the grown-up’s table on our own merits.

You’d probably expect this sort of leader to be big on border protection and preserving our national identity too – you know, the sorts of excuses that people give for rejecting immigration and refugees lest they change our ‘way of life’.  Instead, he condemned the two major parties for the inhumane way in which we have treated these vulnerable people and for neglecting our duties in the region.

When one member of the audience asked Mr Fraser which of his achievements in office he was most proud of he referred to the bipartisan efforts of Whitlam and Fraser to take in large numbers of refugees following the Vietnam War and to crush the White Australia Policy.  In 1980 he gave a speech saying that the age of bigotry and racism in Australia had come to an end.  “Had I been right about that,” he said last night, “that would have been my greatest achievement”.

I wonder, had both major parties decided not to spike election issues with racist fear-mongering language, what sort of government would we have today?  And what sort of budget would have been handed down if bigotry had not been such an effective election strategy?

 

Can Kevin Andrews tell me how many chaplains it will take to make up for the damage that has been done to disadvantaged people in his care?  I just want to make sure that we’ve allocated enough cash.

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An & Ria’s first flight

by Elizabeth on May 4, 2014 · 3 comments

in Cool stuff, Videos

Two elderly Dutch ladies fly for the very first time.

Watch the whole thing – it will make you smile like a crazy person!

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Ameristraliano

by Elizabeth on April 14, 2014 · 6 comments

in Australia, Family, Life

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Last week was a huuuuge one at our house.  With just 10 days notice Tim was invited to attend a ceremony to finalise his Australian citizenship, and so ended 6.5 years of his status as a Permanent Resident.  He’s been working towards this day for about 8 years!

His ceremony was a small catch-up event which was designed to ease pressure on the city councils who had huge waiting lists.  This meant that he could only take 2 guests and there were no gifts handed out.  But it was still a beautiful venue to take the pledge and become an Australian.

Tim’s family was too far away to join us, but luckily my Mum was able to come down from Brisbane.  It was a beautiful rainy day and very exciting to be reaching this milestone with Tim.

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Once the ceremony ended Tim (sadly) had to hurry back to work.  Mum and I made a quick stop to buy him a very important piece of national attire and then we raced home to set up a little Tuesday night party in his honour.  Pretty much everything went wrong that afternoon (including me burning my hand with boiling sugar, and heavy rain that threatened to push the party inside) but by the time my extended family arrived we had pulled it all together and the rain hadn’t washed everything away.  We ended up  having such a great time together, and Tim passed the ultimate Aussie test by barbequeing for everyone in the rain.  One of us!

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Oh, and see that little tree up there in the middle of the table?  When I found out that Tim’s ceremony wouldn’t have any gifts I was a little bit sad, since I’ve always pictured him receiving a little native tree with his certificate.  So Mum and I went out and bought one instead.

I love that someday that little tree will be planted in the garden of a house that we own, and we will remember the night that we sat around it and celebrated Tim’s big day.  It’s been really special for me to see how my immediate and extended family have fully embraced Tim over the years, especially since his own family is literally on the other side of the planet.  He misses his people a lot, but at least he is surrounded by people here who really love him to pieces.

So a big congratulations to my Ameristraliano.  Still every bit American as when he arrived*, but now a fully-fledged Aussie too!

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* except for all those times when he said, “thanks mate” to shop assistants and waiters when we last visited the USA!

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startchute

Image: electricrunaus.com.au

Task #23 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Run a 5K fun run

The last time I put on my running shoes was sometime in 2012.  I’ve been itching to get back into running for a while now, but whenever the urge strikes I’ve always managed to blame my asthma or my dodgy knee for putting it off until ‘next week’.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the physio about my knee and she laughed when I said I was signed up for last night’s fun run.  “Well, that’s not going to happen is it?”, she said.

The thing is, I was determined to run this 5K whether or not my knee was busted, even if I hadn’t done any training.  When I put on those shoes for the first time yesterday I didn’t know whether I was even capable of running around the block, but I decided that I was going to give it my best shot and if it was all too hard I’d walk the rest of the way.

Tim and I signed up for the Electric Run months ago and it looked like so much fun that there was no way I was pulling out!

 

Tim and I started the race together, but after the first kilometre I told him to go on without me so that I could set my own pace.  My knee was in good shape most of the way so I was able to enjoy the light shows on the course and all the amazing costumes.  There were stacks of volunteers along the side of the track yelling encouragement and giving high-fives, so it was pretty much impossible to be sad!  Besides, I had light-up shoelaces.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that I was running 5K three days per week, but for some reason this particular task totally psyched me out and I wondered if I’d be able to make it past the halfway point.  According to RunKeeper I actually ran a fair bit further than 5K last night (perhaps it was from weaving in and around all the walkers?) and only walked for 60 seconds of the whole course when I reached the top of a huge hill.  I lost count of the number of people I overtook so I’m pretty happy with how I went.

So basically I am a dummy for not starting my training months ago, and a dummy for letting this race worry me in the lead-up to last night.  I finished 10 minutes behind Tim but I still finished!  Maybe I’ll put the Colour Run on my next 101/1001 list?

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48 Things in 180 Days

by Elizabeth on April 1, 2014 · 1 comment

in 101 in 1001

collageSo… here’s the thing.

If you’ve been reading here for a while you will know that my 101 Things in 1001 Days project is a big part of my life and this blog.  I created my list in the spirit of enhancing my life, so I was careful to never add tasks that made my project feel like a chore.

The truth is, in 2013 I made very little progress because everything in my life felt like chore.  That wasn’t really the fault of my list, it was just the product of a really tough year spent keeping my head above water.

I’ve been working on this current list for 2 years now and at the start of 2014 I only had 50 completed items to show for it.  I’ve realised 2 things:

  • I need to seriously haul ass to meet my 28 September deadline; and
  • I may need to lower my standards and expectations to make it across the finish line.

 

Here’s where I stand right now:

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Completed: 53 / In Progress: 19 / Not started: 29
I have 179 days 5 hours and 58 minutes left.  The remaining 49 items need to be completed at an average rate of one every 3 days.

 

I totally intend to finish this thing because I still really, really care about my original goals.  My list is still full of the stuff that will enrich my life and make me happier, and I’ve worked too hard on it to quit now.  So I have a solution: three new strategies to put a big dent in my to-do list, and start reining the beast back in.

 

 

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Image: free printable from iheartnaptime.net

1.  Finished is better than perfect
Now that time is my master, my challenge to myself is to stop overachieving and just get on with it.  Perhaps this will mean that some of the art I make won’t be worth framing.  Maybe I won’t be valedictorian of my yoga class.  All that matters at this point is getting it done, and then moving on to the next task.

2.  Do three things well, not ten things badly
I’ve been multi-tasking since the beginning of this project, and if anything I’ll be dialling that up a notch or two.  However, there is a trick to maintaining balance and I am conscious of not biting off too much at once.  One thing I’ve done to maximise my time is listen to unabridged audiobooks of classic novels while I drive and work on my art projects, and then whenever my hands aren’t busy I just pick up my book again.  It doesn’t feel like cheating, and it saves me a lot of time.

3.  Break it down
I’m a really visual person, and for somebody like me the best reward for hard work is to SHOW me my progress as it grows.  There are a bunch of tasks on my list that are made up of many smaller parts, and I found it frustrating that finishing one component didn’t really translate to a result on my chart.

So I’ve made myself a brand new chart with all of the remaining tasks broken down into their parts.  Every drawing of a hand, figure, tree or still life has its own square, so whenever I work on my art there’s incentive to finish it and cross it off!  It means I can cross off stuff more frequently and keep up the momentum.

My new list lives on the inside of my pantry door, which means I will look at it at least once per day.  The really hard, time-consuming or expensive tasks are red, the easy-peasy ones are blue, and the yellow ones fall somewhere in between and probably require some planning.

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I guess you could say that my new approach is to actually stop thinking of this as a 1001-day project, and instead worry about the remaining 180 days.  There is nothing stopping me from punching this thing right in the face as long as I just keep going.

So please, wish me luck… be my cheerleader if I get whiny.  And if you see me mindlessly dicking around on social media remind me that I could be working on one of those little squares instead.  I promise to do the same for you someday if you need to tackle a goal of your own.

179 sleeps… here we go!

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