Saturday, October 22, 2011


We are rolling through Spring and right into Summer. The temperatures have risen and the days are slightly longer. (One thing I learned after moving here is that there is not much shift in the number of hours of daylight from the shortest to the longest day.) It is more humid and the air is thick with the smell of one plant, tree, or flower after the next. First there was the Wattle that smelled of vanilla and licorice. Then there was the Sweet Magnolia, then Jacaranda, Mock Orange, Honeysuckle, and some kind of Cassia (a relative of Wisteria). Now the air is full of the perfume of Jasmine. There were green leafy boarders all over the place until one day they all burst open with tons of magical white flowers.

It is hell on people with allergies, but what a wonderful thing to be attacked by. It is so strange to walk down streets with construction sites, warehouses, and stores, seeing and smelling beautiful natural life. The climate and the area just support it in spite of the human push. The plants are pushing back. It reminds me of the Talking Heads song … "there was a parking lot, now it's all covered with flowers…"

I am waiting for the Frangipani (Plumeria) trees to start to flower as that will be both beautiful and fragrant. Right now there is just the freaky looking trunks and empty branches with a few spiky leaves on the ends looking like something from Star Trek. They are sure to transform quickly.

Whatever the month, whenever it rains, I inhale the smell of Eucalyptus and Camphor trees and I can't help but feel healthy even if I am surrounded by traffic and garbage. I went to the beach yesterday and there were piles of kelp washed up. It smelled so salty and good, not rancid and rank.

I don't know exactly what it is, but this city is rough around the edges, scrappy, and somewhat thrown together. It is a mixed up, multi-layered work in progress and I like that about it. I wish I could get photos of all the things that strike me as I walk or drive by, and I wish Skype or Facebook could get smellevision.

(the photos are: jasmine, wild native violets, magnolia and wattle)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Give us this day...

I remember an old woman many years ago when I lived in Santa Cruz saying to me that she had the same thing every day for breakfast. I thought that was so odd and infinitely boring. I don't know what point it started at for me, but I have had toast every morning for at least the past ten years. Sometimes it is a toasted scone. Sometimes, rarely, I have an egg, cereal, oatmeal, or some fruit with toast. For a while I had pancakes on Sunday. But, basically, I don't need or want anything else than one piece of toast with butter and jam with my tea.

The catch is that it has to be delicious, high quality bread. White, wheat, rye, multi-grain, doesn't matter as long as it is not full of air and dough conditioners. My favorite is a dense, German style rye. To my delight, Sydney is a heaven for bread (a.k.a. toast). I can get it in the supermarket, the green grocer, the bakeries, or the week-end street markets. It is only a problem to choose which one to buy. I go to Bourke Street Bakery, Sonoma Baking Co., and The Grumpy Baker. Last Saturday, I got a lovely, heavy rye from Neu's at the Taylor Square Market.

I don't see myself changing my habit any time soon. In fact, I have to refrain from having the same thing for lunch.

I have been doing some sketching and researching certificate programs for textile design. I am really excited that I have a routine and a plan to propel me through the next two years at least. (more on that later).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

POP goes the beginning of October!

This last week seems to have sped along from one thing to another. The work/home/fun pattern is establishing itself, and new possibilities are popping up all over the place.
Last Saturday David and I went on the train to IKEA. We got a wardrobe to hold all the stored clothing that I brought from the states - good bye large box in our room. We got two rugs for the two downstairs rooms so they are a little cozier and less echo-ey. We got a side board to match the dining set so we have storage. and we got a small cupboard to put our bike supplies in. It was a huge bunch of purchases, and I don't really want to feel like I am living in a cookie cut IKEA, but we had been looking around with no luck and we were really overwhelmed by the logistics and the number of things. So, now we have a basis to try and decorate a comfortable and stylish temporary rental home.

This inspired me to take on two other tasks. One was getting my art supplies and fabric boxes organized in the big walk-in storage closet at the top of the steps. I got rid of all the cardboard and paper from the shipping company, and organized the lot. So now it is tidy and there is more room to move around to dig out whatever containers I may need.

The other thing I did was go to two different design stores to look at fabrics to recover an old chair that we have. It is a very cool vintage piece and will be Ab FAb when it is redone. I am excited about having gorgeous fabric to look at every time I walk into the room. I also want to figure out how to incorporate complimentary fabrics on the throw pillows for the couch, and the love seat in the other room. It has been really fun to have my obsessive thoughts focused on fabrics, design, color, etc. I fall asleep imagining different ideas. I may decide to print or dye some fabric and make my own pillows. I am just really happy right now about the idea of supporting the work of other independent textile designers.

Speaking of supporting other designers, Wednesday night I got on the bus after work and went straight down to Circular Quay (pronounced key) then walked over to The Rocks for the opening celebration of my friend Kit's (those of you who know Nat, this is her amazing daughter) pop-up shop. Kit won a competition to have a 6 week stint in this historic part of town that is known for its high end shops and restaurants. It is a popular tourist area with narrow, winding, cobbled streets.

Kit's concept was to have a fun, cute, brightly colored space filled with crafty, hand-made items. True to her personality, she whirled people, products, and publicity into her creative vortex. The shop (named "Mini Mart"), and the opening event were marvelous. There were snacks, drinks, and DJs (two groovy young women), and smiling conversation all around.

I saw Jenna (my life as a magazine) who I had met at Kit's first craft night back in June. She had her work in the Mini Mart, and it was as adorable as she is. I also saw a guy that I had sold fabric hooks to at my work. He is a textile designer who I never thought I would see again, and there he was at the same party as me. He is Spanish and does photographic images on fabric. I got his website info and will follow his progress.

There were other happenings this week involving friends, art, and entertainment, but I will have to write about that later as I have gone on long enough.

Hasta next week!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Deep Thoughts

I had my first week at work with my normal schedule (4 days off, 3 days on). It was pretty good. I was able to really enjoy my time off with a little lazing around, a little focus and work on my textile design ideas, and a little fun around town. Then I was able to get some continuity at work and not resent it because I knew I would be getting a break again before I got too tired. I am trying to focus on making the overall space as aesthetically pleasing as is within my power. I am trying to highlight and give respect to the things that I think are deserving. For example, we have a whole wall of trims, mostly amazing, that were shoved together and tangled, and I cleaned them up, color coordinated them from pale to dark, and made them look amazing. While doing so, I found several that I plan to buy even though I have no immediate use for them.

I am also trying to remember to treat every interaction with as much genuine humanity as I can. I really enjoy meeting and interacting with people especially when I am centered and focused. I love it when people are grateful and complimentary, and I hate it when they are condescending, impatient and rude. But, I feel better when I remind myself of the words of Deepak Chopra, that I am not the good, nor the bad things that people think about me. One thing that I am keenly aware of now, more than ever, is that it is never o.k. to treat another person, working for you or not, disrespectfully.

This might seem like a ridiculous idea to people who like to feel superior. It might also seem risky to say that we are not dependent on the good or bad opinions of others, because where does that leave morals, social codes, and even connections? I am not sure and I can't get into too lengthy an argument here. I do know that I like it when the truth strengthens something good and is dangerous to something bad.

David took our daughter, Valerie, to a talk tonight, and is taking her to another one tomorrow night, at the Sydney Opera House. It is part of a series of talks called "The Festival of Dangerous Ideas". Most of the topics seem very heady and some, I am hoping are less outrageous than they sound. The ones that they are hearing are Jonathan Safran Foer, talking on vegetarianism, and Slavoj Zizek on Communism. Unfortunately, the tickets are not available to the masses, and they are probably serving meat in the cafes. Still, I feel chuffed to be part of a family that cares about important issues, whether they are practical or philosophical. I also feel extremely fortunate to live in a place where this type of thing gets a "festival" and a saturday night booking at the opera house.

I tend to think a lot and sometimes I just want to quiet my mind. I thought that working a low level job would pull me out of thinking and into doing, but really, it just gives me more to think about. I get creative ideas but I also just feel my brain making sense of people and things.

(the photo is of David and Valerie leaving to go to the talk, and the bus that I take to work)