18 September 2014

Dumplings

It is a small restaurant, tiny in fact, with only a handful of tables. Korean dumplings, filled with delicious morsels, plump and soft. 
 

Permitted to take a photograph, I opted for these hand-made beauties. Crafted by skilled hands, they await the steaming that will combine the flavours. Delicious.

16 September 2014

Tired of trying to do the impossible?

I've had enough. I'm tired of trying to do the impossible and ending up doing nothing instead. I can't find time for thinking and I can't find time for doing. I have to work out how to deal with this but when am I going to fit that in?



Do you have the same problem? Not enough time in the day - any day! I feel as if my life is slipping by and I can start to feel panic rising. How can I do everything I want or need to do? When can I fit it all in?

Taking a deep breath, I sit down and try to calm myself. This panicking won't do me any good, so I decide to work out a strategy. Aaargh - another thing to do!

I start getting alarmed again, so I take another deep breath. And another. Any more of these and I'll pass out. Hmmm...there's a thought - a nice long sleep would be good. No one would expect me to do anything while I was asleep, would they?

I finally decide to go for a walk. As I walk around the streets near my home, I feel myself start to focus on the things around me. I stroll past a house that has been painted a soft lavender shade. There is a huge sandstone pot in the front garden, filled with an unfurling fern.

The next house has an overgrown garden. I look more closely and see it is actually well organised. There are fruit trees and vegetables - beans climbing up poles, twirling their tendrils around and around. Flowers are open and their petals seem to look at me as I pass by. Soft shades and bright colours - they're all mixed up and seem to complement each other, growing together.

I'm nearly home by now, just a walk through the parkands to go, along the path, which curves through the grass. Spiky grasses with soft furry heads wave as I amble past and some touch my leg.

As I approach my front door, I slow down and realise I don't feel overwhelmed any more. I feel energised instead and I quickly move into my studio. 

On a large piece of paper, I draw the shape of the grasses. I draw tendrils from my memory of the beans, along with the fern leaves as they open to the air. 

Before I forget the colours I've seen, I pull out fabrics. Blue sky colours, lavender, sandstone, caramel, green and flower colours. I spread the fabrics around me and touch them gently.

Settled, I set about planning the trivial but essential tasks of my life. I schedule, I clean, I shop, I eat and I work - but all the time I'm dreaming of colours and shapes and how I can translate them into cloth.

I am calm and back in control.

06 September 2014

A quick question on Saturday




You probably all have an opinion on this. You might think 'chapter titles - there are chapter titles?' or 'absolutely, they help me anticipate what's coming next' or perhaps you don't care either way.

What's your opinion?

01 September 2014

My book of the month: September

I was wowed by this book. I truly didn't know what was coming next and I was compelled to keep reading until the last twist was revealed. It is a totally engrossing psychological thriller.



You can read about Apple Tree Yard on Goodreads.

28 August 2014

Resisting peer pressure

I've been pondering about the impact of peer pressure lately, given that there seems to be so much of it around. Some is benign and non-threatening, so can easily be ignored but, other times, the insistence can be too much to resist.



Here is a recent example of such pressure: over the past week we've seen many photos of people pouring buckets of iced water over their heads 'for charity' (Most of the photos don't refer to which charity and certainly don't tell you why this action will help the unnamed charity.**)

These people have been called upon by other people in their networks to tip the water over themselves. Much like an online meme, but with physical consequences - remember it's winter in Australia and I've seen plenty of shivering going on!

Most of the doused people have done it in good spirits but some who've been nominated really don't want to be involved. 

This is when peer pressure kicks in.

It takes a strong sense of self to resist this sort of coercion, to say 'no, I don't want to do this'.

We all want to belong to a group and have a longing to be accepted. I don't believe, though, that this need to fit in should dominate our actions. Being part of the crowd shouldn't mean the same as being subservient to group-think.

So how do you recognise a strong sense of self? 

I have discovered a thoughtful post by Malavika Suresh that I have found helpful (in fact, I wish I had written it!). It's definitely worth reading if you are interested in this subject.

I'm convinced, though, that the core of a self-aware person is the belief that you are responsible for making your own decisions. We each have a single life to live and are the leaders of the way we live it.

How do you resist the pressure to do things you really don't want to do? Do you have a way to say 'no' without feeling obliged to add excuses? I'd love to hear your comments about this. 

** We are all free to donate to the charities of our choice at any time without having to wait for someone else to convince us. We make our own decisions, remember!

26 August 2014

Textiles Tuesday

Are you ready for your regular round up of textile news? Here are TWELVE links for you to explore. 
 

* See photos of the Australian quilts that will be on display at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork/ European Patchwork Meeting in France next month.

* Classes for The Embroiderers' Guild NSW Summer School in January 2015 have been announced. 

* Did you know there is a Modern Quilt Guild in Tasmania? Yes, there is! Check out their Facebook page.

* Lindsay Conner provides her tips for pressing a finished quilt. 

* Are you a Dr Who fan? Here are crochet patterns for the Whovians in your life. 

* Congratulations to all the prize-winners at the Canberra Quilters' Show. You can see photos here. 

* How much does an author receive for a quilt book? Here's Sam Hunter's view.


* World Quilt Competition prize winners here. 

* Part two of a series of articles from TextileArtist.org on the best hand emroidery books. This article has an emphasis on practical use within modern textile and fibre art. 

* The second issue of the free Through Our Hands digital magazine is now out.

* On 31 August, Dianne Firth will be speaking at the National Library of Australia in Canberra on Layers by Design: Landscapes and Quilts.

* On 28 August, there is a talk in the Floor Talk Series on Mid Century Textiles - Then and Now. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne VIC.  

24 August 2014

The day I sacked my keyboard

About five months ago, I bought a new computer. The old one was getting slow and I wanted to upgrade various programs, including the operating system. For months I had dithered about what I would buy and when I would buy it - desktop or laptop, wait for the end-of-financial-year sales or purchase now. 

Really, there are too many options for us these days and I find it makes decision-making more difficult. Instead of celebrating the diversity of choice, we often wallow in our indecision. Maybe that's just me?

I prefer a desktop computer to do proper work. I have a lovely 21-inch screen that allows me to wrangle photos easily, as well as let me read and write whole documents without enlarging the text (and without my reading glasses). So a desktop computer was duly purchased.


I loved it immediately. Windows 8.1 was different, but I had no problems customising it to suit my way of working. New software was loaded and settings tweaked to ensure everything suited me. 

Except the keyboard.

Some of the keys were in different places to those I had known. I kept deleting letters instead of back spacing. The keyboard was smaller so my fingers kept going to the wrong places. You would have thought I couldn't spell because there were so many typos. Yet I persevered - for five long months - because I was sure I just needed to get used to it.

Finally, a few days ago, I'd had enough.

That was the day I sacked my keyboard.

I reconnected my old keyboard and immediately I was more productive. Keys were where my fingers expected them to be and, when I hit them, they produced what I had anticipated.


Sometimes you just have to support your own gut instincts - I knew the new keyboard wasn't working for me yet I still persisted. Finally, when I let it go, writing became comfortable again. All is well in my creative life now since the day I knew the keyboard had to go.