Life

Metaphor

by Elizabeth on October 24, 2017 · 0 comments

in Life, Time lapse, Videos

A GoPro time lapse, shot at 5 second intervals.

Julia Isabelle, via Thought Catalog:
To the friends who loved me unconditionally when I hit rock bottom

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You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine

by Elizabeth on June 11, 2017 · 0 comments

in Life

I haven’t known how to write here while my head is one big knot of thoughts, and anyway, it seemed like a good idea to untangle them a bit first.

Here’s where I’m up to.

 

What I’ve learned about grief is this:
Once you’ve experienced the ground disappearing from underneath your feet it’s difficult to keep your faith in the stuff you used to trust.  You stop depending on gravity, you begin looking around for quieter, rockier pathways, for stuff to grip on to in case your world flips another ninety degrees without warning.  You wear sensible shoes and colours that blend you right into the background, and many of the obstacles you fight are of your own creation. You prepare yourself for things that will probably never happen because none of the old rules apply.

What I’ve learned about grief is this:
It’s okay to feel grief while being surrounded by love and laughter, while being incredibly grateful for present joys.  It is possible to have a wonderful life and still find yourself stumbling over pain as deep as the ocean, all because GoogleAds targeted your demographic for pre-natal supplements and family passes to theme parks.  Get fucked, GoogleAds.

What I’ve learned about grief is this:
It comes and goes in waves, and sometimes I feel incredible strength and fragility all in the same day.  Sometimes the grief is an urgent, gaping hole in my lung and at other times it disappears like white noise into the background.  The moment you forget it’s there is when you’re most in danger of tripping over it again.

What I’ve learned about grief is this:
From here, everything looks different and it has taken time to start appreciating the new view, to stop wishing for the old one.  I made the most progress when I finally confronted it head on, learned the shape of my grief, named its parts and identified the bits I was strong enough to squash.  I’ve learned that I’ve had to rest a bit before tackling the final and biggest parts.

 

Sometimes I feel like a massive dickhead for not being over this yet.  Other times I remember to congratulate myself for managing to stay upright, for building some really great new stuff from the rubble.  Both things are true, even if it doesn’t make any sense.

Not much makes sense, but I’m learning to trust my instincts again and to put faith in old truths.

I’m okay, but I dunno.  I bet if you could see inside my head some days you would cross the road to give me a hug.

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2016.

by Elizabeth on November 25, 2016 · 2 comments

in Life

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Illustration by Antoine Doré

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say something;

by Elizabeth on July 19, 2016 · 4 comments

in Life

noheart

You’d be forgiven for assuming that I never think of this place anymore.  It’s been 15 months since my last post and, whilst it feels like I’m sending this one out into the void (seriously, how and why are you reading this?) I decided it was time to say something here anyway.  This blog was originally intended as a kind of curated record of my life, and well… life has changed.

Tim and I went our separate ways a couple of months ago, after ten years together and mountains of memories and travels and shared experiences.  He’s living in a cute little apartment closer to the city and I’m still in the house that was ours for six and a half years.  It’s our first time living in different parts of the city that we chose together and everything is different now.

It’s weird, staying in this house.  There are rooms that look exactly the same as they always did, and there are times when I expect to turn the corner and see his shoes, or his desk, or that one fucking drawer that was never, ever closed.  For a while there it amazed me how even that drawer, now tightly shut, represented a loss.

It took time for Tim to find his new place, but eventually he did and then the removalists came for his things while I was at work. My best friend told me not to go home alone that night, but that’s what I did and the world did not end. Bit by bit I’ve rebuilt my home to disguise the indents in the carpet, the ghosts of furniture that I used to own but don’t belong to me anymore.

The furniture has been the easy part to solve.

Time is making everything easier, just like every feel-good movie promised.  I’ve figured out a morning routine which allows me to empty my dog and get to work on time.  I’ve started managing utility bills for the first time, and my old self-confidence is returning from wherever it’s been hiding.  I’ve stopped behaving like Olivia Benson every time I come home to my empty house, and I haven’t trawled cat adoption sites or dreamed about dying alone in literally days now, so I think I’m going to be okay.

There’s more to this story than I will ever write about here: the ‘why’, the sacrifices and collateral damage, the utter heartbreak suffered by both of us.  What I will say is that there was no third party and we have parted carefully as friends.

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Now that the fog has lifted, for the first time in ages I can look ahead with a smile and truly appreciate the things that I still carry with me.  I know that I was so incredibly lucky to have been loved, and to have been a part of a wonderful family on the other side of the planet for the past decade.  Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have loved and been loved by each of those wonderful people.

The challenge for me now is to take the lessons I have learned from the past year, the terrifying and brave promises I have made to myself, and carry them into some sort of new future that will be so much different than the one I had previously imagined.  For me this means taking some big risks and keeping my bruised heart open when it would be so much easier to build a wall.  It means settling for nothing less than I deserve, advocating for myself like it’s my job, and filling my life with the good stuff.

And hey, there is so much good stuff to be thankful for.  These days my home is full of rad 90’s tunes that remind me of my happiest years, a warm pup, and friends who have turned up and been my refuge.  I have good health and good fortune and my burdens feel lighter.  I am excited by a future full of brand new possibilities.

So, I’m back.  Everything is different.  What have I missed?

 

A letter from Anna Spargo-Ryan to her daughters: I hope someone breaks your heart all at once

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(note to self)

by Elizabeth on April 10, 2015 · 1 comment

in Life

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Take these thoughts

by Elizabeth on January 13, 2015 · 4 comments

in Life

shower

Hey, remember when I used to have a blog?

I think about writing here most days, but each time I sit down to blog I remember how much time has passed since my last post and it’s overwhelming so I take a nap instead.  Could this be why I am the very last blogger on Earth to be offered a book deal?

So life has been great, terrible, amazing and awful since we last spoke.  Real talk: 2014 punched me right in the face and left a bit of a mark, and then I finished the year with an impressive bout of pneumonia.  Because really, why not be eighty-five years old all of a sudden?  I’m on the mend now, but there’s no ignoring the message that my body has been trying to send.  (I’m listening, please stop yelling…)

I have some really, really happy memories of 2014.  We started the year right with a visit from Tim’s family, which was special time together that we so rarely get to have.  My job (for the most part) was great last year.  I finished that enormous 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge that you’re all sick of hearing about, and achieved a few things along the way that I didn’t know I could do.  I made a bunch of art that I was proud of, and learned some new things.

But also?  2014 was hard in many ways, and although I’m not going to share the details in this public space it deserves acknowledgement of some kind.  I’ve been giving this year some serious side-eye until it proved itself, but the good news is that we’re off to a really good start.

 

Hey!  Let’s talk about something else.  Rah reminded me that each year I do this little quiz (except apparently last year I forgot) so here’s my 2014 round-up:

  1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
    Tim and I took a quick trip to Perth, a place that neither of us had been before.  I ran a fun run for the first time and loved it.  I took an online ethics and justice course through HarvardX and aced the final exam.
  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    I don’t think I made any resolutions for 2014.  My only goal was to finish my 101 Things, and I DID.  This was such a big part of my year and it felt incredible to meet that deadline.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    Two of my best friends had tiny, handsome baby boys this year.  I am utterly in love with their teeny baby faces.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
    My friend Yas had a short and gut-wrenching battle with cancer this year, and died leaving two little boys and her brand new husband behind.  You can read the last part of her story here.  I really wish you could have met her.
  5. What countries/states did you visit?
    Western Australia, New South Wales, ACT and Queensland.  No overseas travel this year.
  6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
    Better quality sleep, and earlier mornings.  A bit of extra cash would be nice too.
  7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    Aside from the birthdays of new little people, no particular dates stand out.  I’ll probably always think of Yasmin every time we put up our Christmas tree because she tried so hard to make it home to see her own.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    The big achievement of my year was finishing my 101 Things in 1001 Days list, especially as I left so much of my list until the final year of the challenge!  But, if I had to choose a single “thing” from my list it would be that time that I pumped out 60 drawings and paintings in 3 weeks.  Like a goddamn maniac.

  9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Yup, it was a bad year for minor (but irritating) illness.  Mostly because of my busted lungs.
  10. What was the best thing you bought?
    The first thing that comes to mind is ArtGraf Black Carbon, because it totally transformed the way that I drew and painted this year.  I mean, this drawing below took no time at all – maybe half an hour?
  11. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
    A few good friendships have become even stronger over the past year, perhaps when I needed them the most.  I really do have excellent people in my life.
  12. Whose behaviour was appalling?
    Scott Morrison, Rupert Murdoch and everyone else who allows evil to be used against vulnerable people.
  13. Where did most of your money go?
    A bunch of money was spent on interstate travel this year, which is a pretty happy way to spend it.  Also all of the art supplies.
  14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    Probably the moment when I realised that I had a hope of meeting my 101/1001 deadline, as long as I devoted my days to getting it done.  It was so worth it.
  15. What song will always remind you of 2014?
    Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst, because obviously.

  16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    I wish I had made more art without a deadline.  I don’t think I’ve painted a thing since the end of my 101 Things project and that’s really dumb.
  17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Mindless internetting.
  18. How did you spend Christmas?
    We spent Christmas Eve with my parents, grandmother and a couple of other rellies.  Christmas Day was just Tim & I and my parents, which was pretty great and long overdue.
  19. What was your favourite TV program?
    I can’t just choose one show in 2014.  We continued to adore Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Mad Men, and we also discovered (and then mainlined) Orphan Black and Revenge.  We are super picky with our TV, but when we find something we love it CONSUMES us.
  20. What was the best book you read?
    That’s easy: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea.  I expect that I will re-read it over and over again in my lifetime.
  21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    Honestly?  Can we be real for a moment?  I love Taylor Swift’s 1989 completely and unironically.  There I said it.
  22. What did you want and get?
    I wanted to be better at drawing, and after lots and lots of practice I can say that I am.
  23. What did you want and not get?
    I wanted to buy a house, but I feel like we’re getting further and further behind.  Melbourne real estate is no joke.
  24. What was your favourite film of this year?
    The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Easy.
  25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I have officially reached the age where I have to stop and think about my age.  Let’s see… I turned 34 last year, and Tim took me to the most incredible Italian restaurant at Crown Casino called Rosetta (one of Neil Perry’s babies).  They make their pasta and ricotta fresh every day, and every dish was better than the last.  Such a treat!  Tim gave me a ukulele for my birthday and my mission this year is to play it well.
  26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    Maybe a haircut?  Seriously, I need to stop cutting my own hair.
  27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
    2014 was the year that I started wearing navy instead of black.  I’m totally hooked, especially with hot pink lips and nails, and nude heels.
  28. What kept you sane?
    Long conversations with my closest friends.  Snoozes on the beanbag with my pup.  The coffee that magically appears in my car’s cup holder every morning because Tim is literally the greatest.
  29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    I’m not all that big on celebrity crushes, but if I could be best friends with Anne Hathaway that would be pretty great.  She’s probably reading this.
  30. What political issue stirred you the most?
    This year it’s really difficult to pick just one issue.  It was such a terrible, terrible year to be a member of any vulnerable group in Australia – especially if you were an asylum seeker, unemployed, homeless, elderly or a student.  Perhaps the most disturbing issue last year was the incubation of fear (by politicians and the media) of Islam. I find it too embarrassing (and infuriating) for words.
  31. Who did you miss?
    Family, both mine and Tim’s.  It’s been a bit lonely without them lately.
  32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014
    The art of unplugging.  This was the BEST, and I still haven’t turned my phone notifications back on.
  33. Quote a song lyric that sums up your yearTake these thoughts
    Put ‘em in your basement
    Take these thoughts
    And send them down the track
    Make sure they don’t come back

    Take these thoughts

    Take these thoughts
    Take these thoughts
    And if they come back ‘round
    Just burn the whole place down

    – Take These Thoughts by Chris and Thomas

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Happy 1001 Days! (101 Things in 1001 Days)

by Elizabeth on September 28, 2014 · 5 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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#67: How to cure an #iSlave

by Elizabeth on August 26, 2014 · 2 comments

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?

 

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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

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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.

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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.)

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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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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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34

by Elizabeth on March 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Family, Life, Stuff

I feel like I’ve been limping towards this Friday since about Tuesday morning. It’s been the kind of week where we’ve done way too much, but it’s all been good stuff so I don’t get to complain about the exhaustion.  The very definition of a first-world problem.

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  • We ate at Rosetta, a Neil Perry restaurant at the Crown Casino.  It’s his first stand-alone Italian restaurant, and the food and service was nothing short of perfection.  We were happy that we chose to be there on a Sunday night because the restaurant wasn’t totally packed and we were able to take our time.  This place has earned a special place in my heart alongside Taxi and Nobu.  They make their pasta and ricotta fresh every day.
  • I had my very first cello lesson.  God, I can’t wait until I can zoom all over that fingerboard effortlessly!  It makes the prettiest sound in the world and I am really convinced that this is an instrument I want to pursue seriously.

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  • Tim bought me a ukelele!  (Can you tell that I’ve been trying to put an end to my muso drought?)  It’s a concert grade instrument with a pickup, and maybe one of these days I might record my progress so that you can laugh at my expense.  My neighbours must count their lucky stars that we moved in next door.
  • It’s been a pretty big week for presents: pretty flowers delivered to my office, a classy bouquet of Caramello Koalas (!), a necklace and… a pony!  I don’t have to remember to feed it and it even came with a matching plastic stable that stands about 20cm tall.

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Meanwhile, while I’ve been living it up for my birthday there’s been a lot of worry for my family in Brisbane.  Last night my grandmother spent her first night in a nursing home, and it’s been a pretty big decision for all involved.  It’s the first time she’s really needed help to get by – she was happily doing her thing until a couple of weeks ago when she fell and broke her collarbone.  She already knows most of the staff from years of visiting her sister, and she was lucky to be given a room just nearby.  Mum & Dad found her a beautiful antique desk/dresser for her new room and put up lots of her photos and paintings to make it feel like home.

She (thankfully) sounds really happy about the decision and we’re all happy that she can hand over some of the boring chores to the staff there.  She was recently diagnosed as being 103, and the treatment is not having to clean your own bathroom anymore.

 

Happy weekend, everyone.  I’m looking forward to putting in some serious hours for the stuff on my list – more updates on that soon!

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Taking stock.

by Elizabeth on March 2, 2014 · 1 comment

in Home, Life

I’m pinching this list from Pip Lincolne again, with a couple of little adjustments.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

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  • Making :: lunch at work every day instead of buying it.  My new office holds more cans of chickpeas and tuna than I care to admit.
  • Cooking :: my favourite soups as soon as the temperatures drop a little further.  Get over here Winter, let me love you!
  • Drinking :: coffee!  Water.  And an entire bottle of Tuck’s Ridge Vino Dolce on Friday night.
  • Reading :: A Clockwork Orange.  Yikes.
  • Wanting :: some motivation to sit and draw the way I used to.  I think maybe I’ve forgotten how to do it?
  • Looking :: around my house, which needs a quick power-clean this afternoon.

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  • Playing :: my newest instrument!  I have a gorgeous cello on loan from work while I figure out if it’s something I want to pursue seriously.  I haven’t had any lessons yet but I am already obsessed.  I bet you wish you lived next door.
  • Deciding :: what to draw next.  Hand, face, still life or tree?
  • Wasting :: my weekends on recovering from my work week, instead of doing productive stuff.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have bought such a comfortable new mattress last year.
  • Sewing :: nothing right now, but I’m about to dive into my huge pile of yarn and finally figure out how to crochet.  I’ll apologise in advance for all the swearing you will probably hear from your house in the northern hemisphere.
  • Wishing :: that I could dig up the courage to go for a run.  I’m signed up for a fun run next month and haven’t trained in, oh, about 18 months.  Is that bad?
  • Enjoying :: My paid Pandora subscription.  I’ve had it for more than a year now and rarely have to skip a track these days because it knows me so well.
  • Waiting :: for the clouds to clear so that I can take the final photo for task #80 in my 101 Things in 1001 Days project!
  • Liking :: the cool evenings we’ve had lately, and the more restful sleep that comes with it.

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  • Wondering :: how soon I’ll begin my next 101/1001 project after finishing this one in September.  Last time I took a big break, but I have so many ideas stored up for my next one…
  • Loving :: my new office at work.  It’s all mine, and since I spend so much of my waking hours there I’ve put a lot of effort into decorating it so that it’s a nice place to be.
  • Pondering :: which parts of my list to tackle this month.
  • Considering :: whether to study again later this year, or concentrate on the stuff I’m doing outside of work.
  • Watching :: a bunch of Martin Scorsese films this month.  This weekend we’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator.  Both films were amazing and my admiration for Leonardo diCaprio keeps growing.
  • Hoping :: that this is the year we can buy our own house.
  • Marvelling :: that anybody can afford to do that in this city.
  • Needing :: some sort of sign about the future.
  • Smelling :: rain in the air.  Maybe I can’t take that photo today after all.
  • Wearing :: pajamas after midday.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Following :: some of the commentary on GOMI with interest.  I wish more bloggers paid attention to the conversations over there without throwing tantrums, because there’s so much good advice there if you are able put your ego aside.

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  • Noticing :: that my little old dog is slowing down.  He turned 12 last week which means he’s officially a senior citizen.  We love that great big dummy so much.
  • Knowing :: that compared to so many people, I am a lucky girl.
  • Thinking :: about the two little birds I rescued at work last week.  One was trapped in a drain and you wouldn’t believe the DIY contraption I came up with to save that little guy.
  • Feeling :: like 2014 is already kicking 2013’s butt.  The things that were eating me alive last year have died right down, and everything just feels calmer and more under control this year.
  • Admiring :: Lilli, for being the strongest lady out there.
  • Sorting :: my cool weather wardrobe, and putting away some of my summer clothes.
  • Buying :: very little.  I don’t feel like I need much right now.
  • Getting :: excited about winter clothes and coming home from work to a crockpot full of stew.
  • Bookmarking :: the best little timewaster on the internet, Neybers.  It’s a simulator for interior design/decorating and it’s seriously addictive.  You can see a bunch of my designs here.
  • Disliking :: basically everything that comes out of Scott Morrison’s mouth.  I bet he has trouble sleeping at night.

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  • Opening :: birthday presents in a few weeks.  I hope I finally get that pony I’ve been asking for!
  • Feeling :: pretty content with life right now.
  • Snacking :: on chocolate macadamias because you’re not the boss of me!
  • Coveting :: a night at a luxurious hotel and a spa treatment.  That would be heaven.
  • Wishing :: that last weekend’s White Night festival wasn’t so overcrowded because it could have been such an amazing event.  Did you go?
  • Helping :: somebody at work with their CV last week was really rewarding.  This guy had paid an agency hundreds of dollars to design their resume and it was terrible!  I am one box of chocolates richer than I was last week.
  • Hearing :: that cello calling my name, so I’ll end this post here.

So how about you? I’d love to read your answers in the comments below!

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Warm all over

by Elizabeth on February 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Australia, Life, Melbourne

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Oh, my God, I feel it in the air
Telephone wires above are sizzling like a snare
Honey, I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere
Nothing scares me anymore… 

Sorry, not sorry for putting that song in your head.

 

Summer in Melbourne has finally broken, I think, but just last week bushfires were raging throughout the state.  For a few days the city was blanketed with a thick smokey haze that made everything look mysteriously beautiful, while just an hour away homes were burning.  It was eerie.

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The sun was especially spooky.  Hidden behind that thick veil of smoke it looked more like the moon with its sharp outline and translucent light.  These photos could almost pass as shots I took of the supermoon last June.

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I set up my video camera one afternoon hoping that the sunset would be spectacular, but as the sun dropped towards the horizon it was swallowed up by the smoke until suddenly it was gone.

There are aspects of our little house that drive us crazy sometimes.  There’s no built-in storage and our landlord takes months to approve repairs.  But one of the things that keeps me here is our view of the sky – the sunsets, the middle-of-the-night stargazing and glimpses of the International Space Station from our driveway.

We will be very lucky if we can still see all this sky from the driveway of our next house.

 

I’ve been MIA again, I know.   There are reasons for this, as usual, but I’ve missed this place too much to let those reasons get in the way of writing here the way I used to. 

Over the next week I’ll be sharing some posts that have been collecting dust in my drafts folder, including a whole bunch of 101 Things in 1001 Days progress. 

Thanks for still checking in here, despite the recent radio silence x

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Fright Night

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2013 · 1 comment

in Home, Life

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Halloween is, for most Australians, a pretty polarising subject.  Every year the same tired arguments are trotted out about how it’s too American (nope), too dangerous (solution: parenting) and contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic (see previous: parenting).

I happen to think Halloween is pretty great, though probably helps that our household is 50% Americano and we seem to have the most polite trick-or-treaters in the entire world in our neighbourhood.  There were so many pleases and thank yous at our front door last night!  We had lots of princesses and superheros and monsters and zombies drop by and most of them had mums who waited at the gate.  It was nice to meet some new neighbours.

I wasn’t organised enough to carve pumpkins this year, but we still managed to bring a little bit of creepiness to our street.  Aloysius the skull and Randy the skeleton made appearances for the fourth year running and this year we added a ghost too.

It’s just a shame that with Daylight Savings there’s very little actual darkness during visiting hours.  There’s nothing spooky about a blanket with eyes when the sun is still up!

 

Previous Halloweeny fun: my first carved pumpkin | last year’s spooktacular | our Halloween party/movie night |

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