figuring out my camera

I went on a bit of a spree taking photos of P+R yesterday. How can I help myself when they are: a) so obliging, and b) so damn cute? The fabulously photogenic Rupert looks dashing as always:

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He’s such a good looking dog, it’s almost criminal. I can’t imagine how anybody could look at his darling little face and just drop him at the pound, or lock him in a backyard with a bunch of pitbulls. It’s hard enough trying to deny him little things, like a lick of the ice cream you are eating, or five minutes of extra snuggle time in the mornings.

Rupert’s an easy photography subject, because I know he will look good, no matter what. Posie is another story. She has such complex moods and feisty expressions that never seem to show up in photos. Nathan thinks that she tends to look like “just another little white fluffy dog”, but I really want to be able to capture how much more expressive she is than the average LWFD. It’s been over a year since I bought my camera, and I’ve barely scratched the surface in learning how to use it. This was my first foray into the slightly terrifying world of ‘manual’ mode.

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One of the perks of manually adjusting my camera settings was being able to choose a quicker shutter speed. This made for some pretty cool action shots.

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As I slowly teach myself how to take better photos, one of the things I’m looking forward to is being able to take better portraits. For that, Nathan can be my guinea pig.

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Such a handsome guinea pig!

 

 

 

 

frozen

I went to see Frozen on the weekend with my nieces (it was their second time, my first) at their insistence. As I left the cinema, I was overwhelmed by a sense of grief; for what Disney used to be; for what a big part of my childhood it was; for the fact that Disney movies will never be exactly the same when my own hypothetical future kids are discovering them.

I loved the Scandinavian influences, the town and castle designs, and I even thought the little rock trolls were pretty cool – it was a nifty way of combining legend and comedy. I loved the message of the film and the emphasis on sisterly love being just as ‘true’ as romantic love. And the sequence where Elsa creates her ice castle was a pretty stunning use of technology and art.

I did not love the character design. Elsa and Anna were definitely cute despite their ‘ski jump’ noses, but they fell victim to the same problem as the characters in Tangled – looking as though they are animated versions of dolls, even down to having skin that looks like plastic. For me, this is just a jarring reminder of the fact that these movies are vehicles for the sale of merchandise, but the more the characters are basically pre-empting the doll designs, the more cynical I feel about the whole thing. Another bad point was the music, which was overwhelmingly Broadway-style. As if Disney were covering their bases by creating a movie that would easily be converted to a stage show. It would have also been nice to see more of the cute reindeer; the whiny snowman didn’t do it for me as a sidekick at all. Also, why couldn’t they just call it ‘The Snow Queen’?

As well as being a die hard cel animation fan, I’m probably being too harsh. It is inevitable that things will change over time, and maybe I’m just clinging to what was magical in my own childhood, rather than accepting that these new style Disney films will be magical to a new generation. Frozen isn’t a bad film, it’s just different.

distinguishing marks

I was twenty-one when I got my first (and only) tattoo. It was my first (and only) real act of teenage rebellion, albeit a bit late. I walked into a shop that I’d heard good things about, told them what I wanted and asked if it could be done right away. Afterwards, I texted a photo to my mum. She’s open-minded about a lot of things, but absolutely cannot stand tattoos; she called me straight  back to tell me that now I’d “have to wear a long-sleeved wedding dress”.

Five years later, there is a hint of regret when I look at my wrist. Not enough to actively seek to get it removed, but there is just this little undercurrent of feeling like the tattoo doesn’t quite match with the type of person I am. No value judgements, at all, but just a sense of mismatched identities.

People always ask me what it means, and honestly, I’ve got nothing. They’re just birds. I just picked them because they were pretty. In that way, it seems kind of ridiculous to have them inked into my skin for all eternity. I have so many other marks that actually signify something that happened to me, or something unique about me. I have a mangled scarred nose, with three pink lines that radiate out from my right nostril. I have three favourite freckles, that I’ve had my whole life: one on my butt, one on the top of my foot, one next to my eye. I have stretch marks on my hips and behind my knees from growing too fast.

I used to look at these all as imperfections, but slowly, I’ve come to realize that they are really just part of the physical story of my body and the things it has done; like a record of my life so far, imprinted on my skin. It didn’t have any meaning when I first got it, but now, it’s just another part of the story.

mixtape: paradise

I think I am actually the last person on earth to hear this song, or actually know what it was called. I heard little snippets here and there in the international trailer for Life of Pi and I think Channel Ten used it in some of their news promos, but I could never figure out who it was by or what the lyrics were.

Now, it makes me want to go to paradise. I’m listening to this song and looking up flights for my (sadly imaginary) trip to Tahiti. Oh, but a girl can dream.

lady of leisure

This weekend, we:

Went to the Portarlington Mussel Festival and ate far too much (spiral potatoes, paella, sangria and a cone full of fried calamari).
Despite my diligent efforts to stay in the shade, I got sunburnt. It was looking pretty nasty, but Mum broke some leaves off an aloe vera plant and rubbed them on the burns – instant relief!
Got to hang out with our brand new niece Arielle, even though all she did was sleep and eat.
Ate three course of mussels at my mum’s house (cold with green mango salsa, in a hot laksa broth, and in a traditional butter and white wine sauce).
Went to a four year old’s birthday BBQ at Torquay.
Played in rock pools at the beach and saw a baby crab.
Had my family over for dinner, for Mussels, Round Two: The Revenge.
And I got absolutely no work done.

I’m really loving Nathan being home, so we can do these sorts of things on weekends. It used to feel like such an obligation whenever we were invited anywhere, but now, we can take our time and actually enjoy it. Next weekend isn’t looking so rosy though. I have a feeling we’re going to be utterly exhausted by the heatwave that is predicted for this week. Four days above 39! Our air conditioner is in the living room, so we’re making plans to drag the mattress off our bed and stick it in the middle of our living room floor for a few days. I’m sure the puppies won’t mind – they like to stay in bed all day anyway.

new year

In 2013:

I went to Hobart with Nathan, drank the best ginger beer of my life and saw St Vincent and David Byrne on stage.
I did well and not-so-well at uni – I got one of the highest marks I’ve ever received, as well as the lowest. This has been a learning experience for me, and it made me realize that the world isn’t going to implode if I don’t get perfect marks.
Nathan changed jobs and actually gets to spend some time at home now.
I’m gradually starting to get the hang of this ‘cleaning the house’ thing.
I visited Boston, Washington DC and NYC.
I had a fairly complex eye surgery, looked like a zombie for a couple of months, but managed to come out the other side with a perfect result.

In 2014:

I want to cast off self-doubt and uncertainty and start writing for publication again. There is so much intimidation in reading poetry or stories by talented people. Suddenly, everything I’ve ever come up with looks so gauche in comparison; anything of mine that is ‘good’ is just a sad imitation of other peoples’ magnificence. There’s no easy way to deal with this, other than just to remind myself constantly: get over it.

I want to teach Posie how to do some tricks. She’s so smart.

I want to go somewhere with Nathan. For a number of reasons, this doesn’t seem to be the year for a grand adventure, but I’ll settle for a little one.

… however, if a big adventure presented itself, that would be amazing too. I’m not sure about my chances, but I am keeping fingers (and toes) crossed that there might be another study tour to apply for this year. America was so amazing, and although the schedule was full on, I had an opportunity to learn so much more about my destinations than I ever would have as just a tourist.

I want to plant more roses in my garden.

I’m going to stop letting people get to me. I wish it was as easy as just cutting all toxic people out of my life and never seeing them again, but things don’t always work out like that. If they have to exist in the same space as me, I’m not going to let them bring me down anymore.

Most of all, I want this year to be an improvement on last year: not that last year wasn’t amazing, but I want every year to be better than the last. Onward and upward!

beloved creatures

I hate it when people say “it’s just a dog”, to justify being cruel or neglectful, or to make themselves feel superior to something. People with children seem especially affronted by the idea that I love (I mean, really really really love) my dogs, as though they have to prove a hierarchy of love or something. There is no set amount of love that a dog deserves, there is no rule that it must be less than a child-sized amount, or a husband-sized portion. Love grows and shrinks according to how big and open you let your heart become. And if I really, really, really love my dogs, it’s certainly not taking any love away from anybody else. I promise I’ll write an essay on it one day, but for now, on to the beloved creatures.

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This year, I set myself the ambitious task of making three little quilts for the furry children in our families. Every dog (and cat) should have something special, something lovely that was made just for them. I made Rupert a special quilt when he was in intensive care, and now I want all of our animals to have one, as a little token to make sure they that know how beloved they are. It was a massive race to get them done in time for Christmas though, and there were more than a few teary moments of frantically trying to defluff my sewing machine so that the bobbin would stop tangling, but I got there in the end!

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This one was for my sister’s dog Decima (who was, of course, born on 10/10/10). Deci is a completely black Cocker Spaniel, so she looks great with really bright colours.

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This one was for my other sister’s little fatty cat Minou (aka Mr Kitty). He’s a ginger cat and a boy, so I wanted to find a balance between being pretty but not too girly. The only guideline I got from my sister Caitlin was that “his favourite colour is orange”.

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This one was for Nathan’s parents’ dog Gizmo (also called Gizimozo). Gizmo is the oldest of the bunch, so I went for an autumnal, grown-up palette.

Despite the photos, they all turned out perfectly square (the wind was blowing when we took the shots). All three of them were just a simple disappearing nine-patch (the only pattern I know) made from two packs of charm squares per quilt. So, so easy, and looks more complicated than it actually is. The only reason they took me a long time to make is that I’m not particularly confident about techniques like chain piecing yet. To make them snuggly and easily washable, I quilted directly onto polar fleece and machine stitched the bound edges to save time. As gifts, they were a hit!

christmas

I think we’re getting better at Christmas*. Things seem to run more smoothly, like our practice from every other year is starting to pay off. We still have at least four different places to go, but it’s not such a marathon as it has been other years. Maybe it’s because we have so much unstressed time leading up to it, and Nathan’s not trying to fly home on Christmas Eve.

My favourite moments of Christmas 2013:

Laying in bed on Christmas morning as the puppies jumped all over us, trying to get their presents out of their stockings! Posie and Rupert each got a toy and a megabone; Posie got a frog with dangly legs and a squeaker in each foot, Rupert got a plush pink pig to snuggle with.

My sister first made this salad (leafy salad with pomegranate and feta) last year, and it was so good, that we decided to make it this year, to take to Nathan’s parents house. The smell of the almonds toasting in the pan permeated the whole house, and it was gorgeous. The salad was pretty awesome too.

Nathan’s parents’ dog Gizmo has me completely figured out. At dinner, he started snuffling and yowling and headbutting my legs. I knew he’d just been outside, but he was insistent. So I eventually let him take me for a walk, down by the shoreline as the sun was setting across the water.

My sister (who is 23 years old) and I were in the spa at my aunt and uncle’s house, and a distant family member who doesn’t know us too well walked past and asked if we wanted a beer, then backtracked and said, “Oh, I mean, I guess you’d have to check with your parents to see if it was alright”. We were really confused, but realized that she thought we were under eighteen. There was a time that I would have been so offended, but now, I’ll just be grateful that someone thought I looked that young!

 

*Except I forgot to take any photos. Oh, the regret of someone who has a nice camera but continually forgets to use it!