Taking Stock: July ’17

 

IMG_1290.JPGHey gang! This month, I’m taking stock in Hobart. My man and I have snuck away for a few days before he starts a new job. Gosh, Tassie is lovely. So much to see in such a little space! So whilst we’re kicking back and relaxing a bit, I thought I’d see what’s happening now that July is drawing to a close.

Making: not a lot at the moment. I’ve finished my latest weaving and have brought no supplies with me. I do have my sketchbook so maybe I’ll make time to do a sketch.

Reading: The Handmaid’s Tale. My friend, Isabel, invited me to join her book club and this is the current read. I saw the TV series so I’m interested to see how closely it follows the novel. I have to continually remind myself that it was written thirty or so years ago. Quite prescient.

Watching: whatever crime drama SBS on demand is recommending in my feed! The advantage of having had my man home for a few months means we have been enjoying sitting down and binging on some tv series. Latest two have been Cardinal and Valkyrien.

Cooking: nothing for the next few days. No cooking facilities in our accommodation so pouring muesli and dolloping some yogurt on top is as complex as it’s going to get.

Drinking: water at the moment, some wine with dinner, I imagine.

Listening: to A-ha and my man attempting to do the falsetto 😬

Smelling: the Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Balm that’s in our bathroom. Nice!

Wondering: how clean the kitchen will be when I get home.

Booking: tickets for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Wearing: jeans, jumper, cosy socks.

Liking: being on holiday. And alfinding it a strange experience being away when it’s not school holidays. That hasn’t happened for fifteen years!

Hearing: a bird chirping.

Buying: a pack of ephemera from The Maker.

Hoping: my man enjoys his new job.

Wishing: I could be a fly on the wall and see how the kiddies look after themselves this week. It will be a bonding time for them!

Noticing: how pretty Hobart is. The Derwent, the mountains, the old sandstone buildings.

Loving: the comfy bed here.

Feeling: blessed to have a lovely man, two healthy kids. Nawh, a bit soppy! But ’tis true. There’ve been some tricky times over the last few years but I think everyone’s feeling pretty settled at the moment.

How’s your July?

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Tell me a story

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I’ve been thinking about stories a bit in the past few weeks. When I was little I loved reading stories that allowed me to escape my small, conscientious, timid life. I delighted in the rebellious escapades of the naughtiest girl in the school.  I marvelled at what it would be like to be as bold and adventurous as the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Gosh, my mum wouldn’t let me play outside in our unfenced front garden, and I was only permitted to walk home from school via the side streets rather than along the main road (okay, it was the era of some strange child abductions but still…). My anxious, pimply, adolescent self longed to be one of the girls in the Sweet Dreams novels. Imagine being asked to ‘go steady’ and wear a letterman jacket! As a suburban Melbourne girl, I’m not quite sure I actually knew what that meant but it was clearly the pinnacle of teenage boy-girl relationships. Stories were for entertainment and escapism. True stories? Blah! So boring! Where was the fun in reading about other people’s lives? It all seemed way too earnest to my younger self. I did enough ‘learning’ at school. I didn’t need it when I snuggled down under my blankets at night or was wiling away the school holidays.

But, of course, as we add more years to our lives, our tastes can broaden and change. I still love reading novels and short stories for entertainment and escapism but I have come to appreciate the rewards of reading about the lives of others. A few weeks back, I went to the opening night of the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Melanie Cheng, who was the winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, spoke to the audience and she had a great line about writers being the “personal trainers of empathy”. I loved that! It made me think about some of the writers whose stories I have been reading recently, not just in book form but also online, and how they have helped open my eyes and understanding of life experiences different from my own. I have thought about Magda and how societal attitudes contributed to the pain that tortured her as she sought to accept her sexuality, Maxine’s many encounters with racist attitudes in Australia, and why representation of diversity in the media is so important to Carly. I challenge anyone to read the personal stories in They Cannot Take the Sky or to listen to The Messenger podcast and not understand the damage the Australian government is inflicting upon asylum seekers (disclosure: I provide transcribing assistance to Behind the Wire). I have remembered the blog posts Sarah and Amanda have shared about anxiety and MS and how they have reflected experiences in my own life.

Reading – or listening – to the stories of other people’s lives is not about escapism. It is about staring life in the face. Sometimes that can be confronting. At other times, it can be comforting.

There have been times when I have wondered about blogging. What is the point of it all? What am I writing about? For what purpose? Perhaps you have felt that too. Maybe we should reassure ourselves that whenever we write, we are telling a story about part of our life. It is a way to connect with others – and even if that is only with one reader – in sharing our stories we are opening the door to understanding and empathy.

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Taking Stock: June ’17

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Here we are! Middle of the year! 2017 has so far been exciting, disappointing, relaxing, busy, liberating but on the whole MUCH more pleasant than 2016! Phew! So…drawing inspiration from Meet Me At Mikes, this is how the mid point of the year finds me.

Making: chocolate hedgehog slice, collages, a weaving. Busy hands!

Eating: chocolate hedgehog!

Drinking: peppermint tea

Cooking: lots of soup! Broccoli and zucchini, pumpkin, cauliflower. Excellent for lunches and for filling tummies that may be needing meals early, late, whenever!

Hearing: the radio in the background

Listening: to Trace after seeing Rachael Brown interviewed on The Project. We used to live in Thornbury so I have a clear picture of where these events took place. I hope the airing of the podcast will help solve the mystery of Maria’s brutal murder.

Reading: The Good People

Watching: Broadchurch season 3. Gosh, I love Olivia Colman! She’s in the Emma Thompson class for me. She always produces such authentic performances.

Wishing: the tradesmen we’ve had hanging around the house for the last few months would finally finish their jobs. They’re all lovely and I greatly appreciate their efforts to return our home to ship shape condition, but you know when you just want to have the house quiet and to yourself?

Wondering: lots of things! Why do I have so much milk left over this week? Why have so many apparently-sturdy teabags been spilling their contents whilst steeping in boiling water lately? How long will the queue for the Van Gogh exhibition  be today? Would I like Grantchester? Why is marriage equality still an issue in this country?

Pondering: a blog post that has been running around in my head but hasn’t made it to the page yet

Buying; wool for weaving – online and in person

Enjoying: a mid-week dinner and movie date with my man!

Pretending: we are back in New York! Cold weather, a visit to the NGV planned, and tickets to three shows in five days booked!

Looking: forward to seeing Kat Stewart in White Rabbit Red Rabbit tonight

Thinking: about ‘career’ plans

Knowing: I should go for a walk soon – and empty the rubbish bins…

Noticing: I’ve had less hot flushes lately. Happy dance!

Enjoying: going to a yoga class with my boy!

Bookmarking: lots of different colour palettes

Liking: cold weather and cosy scarves

Loving: these cakes. Oh my!

Is your year progressing nicely?

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Taking Stock: May ’17

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Brr! It is a chilly ol’ day in Melbourne! The sky is blue at the moment but the air is chill and there are predictions of hail later in the day. That’s okay by me because I can stay tucked up inside for the rest of the day. I am going to sit inside with my cup of tea, pop something to slow cook on the stove, and continue with a bit of crochet… and laundry duties! But before that, a ‘take stock’ of what has been a bit of an up and down month for us.

Making: this blanket. So many colours! I made up my own colour combo so it’s taken a few trips to the wool shop to pick up the colours that I think work together

Eating: left over cauliflower, potato, leek and bacon soup

Drinking: chilli hot chocolate. Love that hint of a spicy finish!

Cooking: beef casserole for dinner with math and peas

Listening; to Lindy West on This American Life and Nettie Wakefield on The Jealous Curator. Have you seen her gorgeous pencil drawings? You should check them out here

Watching: Masterchef – yep, sucked in again for another year! – and Thicker than Water

Smelling: a combo of the peanut butter and choc chip cookies I baked this morning and my boy’s pesto pasta

Hearing: keyboards clacking from all members of the family

Cringing: at the clip of Trump shoving the PM of Montenegro. It’s the smug look on his face and the jacket buttoning. Can’t stop myself from repeat viewing!

Waiting: to read an email from my parents. They’re on their first day of a four week trip to Canada.

Reading: Nine Parts of Desire and They Cannot Take the Sky

Loving: that my girl now has her licence! No more ferrying her to Pilates and singing lessons!

Worrying: that my girl now has her licence! Now my ears are pricked up waiting for two people to drive in the driveway!

Coveting: this coat

Knowing: my man is gong to get rained on when he goes out for a run

Laughing: at my thirty year school reunion. Thirty years! Can you believe that? I’m sure when I used to look at the photos of the old girls at the reunions in our school newsletter they looked SO OLD! Not like us groovy bunch.

Trying: to cut back on my food waste. Mushing up lots of vegies for soup, buying in smaller quantities, and putting together leftovers for lunches

Buying: tickets to this with Kat Stewart and this

Enjoying: a new volunteer role with Behind the Wire

Hoping; my man will find a less stressful job soon

Looking: forward to a long weekend away with my man

And that’s May almost done and dusted! How’s the last month been for you?

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Taking Stock: April ’17

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And here we are! Nearly at the end of April. I have lost all track of time. Easter, non-instruction week for the kiddie-adults, Anzac Day…daily routine has completely disappeared. But I think I have wrapped my head around the fact that today is WEDNESDAY so…I need to go to the supermarket and take my girl to Pilates. And maybe if I ‘take stock’ I’ll reinforce where I’m at. So here goes!

Drinking: lemon and ginger tea with honey

Eating: homemade muesli, yoghurt and peaches

Cooking: choc chip cookies later today, and something warming for dinner. Think it needs to be stewy!

Hearing: thunder

Looking: at the black clouds rolling across the sky and the rain gushing over my gutters. Melbourne has turned on the wet winter weather today!

Wishing: I didn’t have to go out to the supermarket in this weather! Will just wait a bit…

Watching: The Young Pope by myself. Jude Law – he’s a bit of a prickly pope! Rebellion with my man.

Reading: The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Some cracking lines but I think I’m going too slow with it. Need to pick up the pace to get to the nub of the story.

Making: a weaving! Went to a beginners class at The Studio Workshoos on Sunday. ”’Twas fun!

Bookmarking: online weaving tutorials!

Listening: to Maryanne Moodie on The Jealous Curator

Wondering: how not to become overwhelmed by all the crafts! So many crafts, so little time. Sigh…

Pondering: the revelation that my left hip is very close to having osteoporosis. Hmm. How did that happen? I blame maternal genetics. Anyhoo, must cut back on the caffeine (hence, lemon and ginger tea!), keep up with the exercise, take some vitamin D. But it does make me feel a bit old 🙁

Noticing: the rain has eased a tad. Might be time to head to Woolies!

Buying: new towels for the bathroom. The money spent and pleasure received from this purchase don’t seem to equate.

Turning: pages in my visual diary and smiling at my drawings, pastings, writing

Loving: that soup weather may finally be here!

Okay. So I think I know what I’m doing. Hope you are settled in your week. Pop over here to see what is happening in the life of the brains behind ‘Taking Stock’, Pip Lincolne.

Cheerio!

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Taking Stock: March ’17

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Hey gang! How are you going? I have been feeling pretty good. Yep, I have. I’m enjoying the post-school life. There seems to be a lot more free time. Not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m not having to run around sourcing costumes and dress up day clothes, which seemed to be needed with annoying frequency! So it’s good. But me being me, the guilt thoughts are starting to creep in, and there’s that little voice saying ‘everyone else is working, you need to be doing something!’ Because for some reason I don’t count cleaning the house, doing the washing, the garden, the cooking as doing anything! So I’ve started clearing out the attic to assuage the guilt. So much stuff up there! I’ve been making lots of trips to the Salvos!

So apart from becoming a manic attic cleaner, what’s been happening with my freed up time?

Making: still working away on my cosy stripe blanket. Had to undo about eight bands of colour the other night because I’d miscounted. Grrrr!

Eating: grapes

Drinking: tea

Cooking: rigatoni with salami, tomato and chilli

Hearing: the wind outside. It’s getting quite blowy out there

Listening: to lots of podcasts! This American LifeS-Town (think this is going to be good!), Chat 10 Looks 3, and The Messenger (an ‘interview’ with an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island)

Watching: This Is Us. I LOVE this! The relationship between Jack and child Kate, Randall (loved the night in the hotel excitement!), William, Kevin. All so good!

Reading: A Spool of Blue Thread

Looking: forward to a beginners weaving class next month

Loving: cuddling a sleeping baby at a new family I’m working with

Wearing: skirt, singlet, cardigan and beads

Noticing: I don’t know when school holidays are

Planning: a couple of short trips my man and I could take when work becomes less consuming for him

Wishing: the painter hadn’t found so much dry rot when he’d washed down the house! Eek! But what can you do? We have lovely new fretwork and window architraves now!

Opening: our garden waste bin a lot now that the leaves are falling and the raking has begun

Knowing: I need to make sure I don’t lose contact with my school mum friends

Has March been good for you? Do tell!

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Have you read…? The year to date in books

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post so I think it’s time to do a quick round up of what has been sitting next to my bed, my couch, and shoved in my bag and carried around!

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The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits ‘Hygge’, that lovely concept of Danish cosiness, is hot right now, yes? And there are quite A LOT of books in the bookshops explaining to harried souls how they can incorporate hygge into their daily lives. This was the ‘how to hygge’ book that I received in my Christmas pile. It is a lovely looking book. The pics are muted and tranquil and they made me want to spend my days wandering through forests or sitting by candlelight with a mug of hot chocolate. And, to be honest, this is pretty much what the text said – over and over again! There was a lot of ‘hygge is stopping by at your neighbours and sharing a glass of wine on the verandah’,  ‘hygge is a basket of knitted slippers at your front door’, or ‘hygge is lighting a candle and eating breakfast together’. Now I am not averse to any of these suggestions, but I probably only need to hear the suggestion once, not once each chapter.  Reading the book made a long haul plane flight feel a bit more hygge-like, but I’m not sure if I’d been sitting on my couch at home that I would have continued reading it from cover to cover.

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The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North Fairly self-explanatory from the title what this one is about! The story of the wunderkind filmmaker Sophie’s life and death is told by those closest to her – her brother, ex-husband and lover, and those who were part of her working life – film subject, film reviewer and producer. As I read the novel, I was a little unsure how I felt about it. I wondered if I was learning more about the characters who had had relationships with Sophie, than I was about Sophie herself. The focus of their recollections seemed to be how THEY responded to Sophie, how she made THEM feel. But as I read on, I started thinking that in showing how they were affected by Sophie, they were painting a picture of her – a self-contained, distant young woman who was an observer of life (appropriate for a filmmaker!), who,  when she did become a participant, seemed driven by her own desires rather than the desire to share herself with others. For the most part, I found it difficult to warm to her, but Anna North has managed to infuse her with enough victimhood and trauma in her life for her to be seen as a psychologically isolated, tragic young woman. Not sure that I super enjoyed it, but the fact that I am still mulling it over weeks down the track shows it was an affecting read.

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The Dry by Jane Harper This was a goody! Set in the fictitious sunburnt Victorian town of Kiewarra, this thriller seeks to discover who was responsible for the murder of the Hadler family. Is it a murder-suicide, or is there a killer in the small town? Aaron Falk, a former local, now a member of the Federal Police, returns for the funeral of his old friend, Luke Hadler, and is persuaded by Luke’s father to assist in the investigation. Aaron’s return stirs up the town’s emotions surrounding the crircumstances of the death, years earlier, of Ellie Deacon, a friend of Aaron’s and Luke’s. Were they involved in her death? Had Luke killed her? Had Aaron? This novel had sufficient twists and turns to keep me wondering throughout as to what had taken place, and satisfyingly, kept me guessing until the end on both counts. Recommended!

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Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance And now for some non fiction! Hillbilly Elegy is part autobiography, part social commentary. JD Vance grew up in Kentucky, then Ohio before becoming a Marine and then graduating from Yale Law School. He spent much of his life living with his grandparents whilst his mother battled drug addiction and cycled through one failing relationship after another. Vance shines a light on what constitutes hillbilly culture – its genesis and how it has spread from the south to the Midwest as hillbillies have migrated in the search for work. Alongside his own story of what it was like to grow up in this culture, his time spent in the Marines, and at Yale, he describes the culture of a people who feel hardly done by through the decline blue collar jobs; who feel minorities have gained an advantage over them through Democrat presidencies. Being Australian, I have read this book as an outsider – I cannot judge how accurate his evaluation is. I have read some criticisms of the book; that Vance seems to be saying that because he has become successful, others could too if they’d only put in the work. I didn’t get that impression from the book. I saw it more as explaining why there was a disaffected group in US society ripe for the politics of Donald Trump. And throughout, for me, he was conscious of his good fortune in having a family who despite their violent tendencies, aggressive behaviour and addictions, valued education and knew that he could achieve. They knew he had the ability to choose a path in life, that he didn’t have to accept what was, and it is this that he feels needs to be role modelled for those growing up within the hillbilly culture. An interesting read to learn more about US society.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty I’ve never read any Liane Moriarty before and with Big Little Lies hitting the small screen, I thought it was time to give her a go. I’m not sure if this novel is reflective of her others, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by this one. The story revolves around three couples, Erika and Oliver, Erika’s ‘best friend’ Clementine and her husband, Sam, and Erika’s neighbours, Vid and Tiffany. The three couples, plus the daughters of Clementine and Sam, and Vid and Tiffany, gather for a barbecue one afternoon at Vid and Tiffany’s. Early on we learn that something has taken place at the barbecue that shakes the relationship between the couples. The chapters flick between the day of the barbecue and the present where we are made aware of the strains in Erika and Clementine’s friendship, Erika’s mother’s hoarding, Clementine’s cello audition, and Vid and Tiffany’s attempts to maintain a relationship with Clementine and Sam in the wake of the barbecue. For me this was a page turner but only because there was such a heavy-handedness in writing about what had happened at the barbecue – along the lines of ‘if only we’d stayed home’, ‘if only we hadn’t agreed’ – that I was saying through gritted teeth ‘just get on with it!’. I’m not sure that I felt the fallout from the incident to be entirely warranted, and I didn’t warm to the characters sufficiently to be concerned with their stories once the incident had been revealed. As a holiday read, maybe it’s okay. I guess I’d say ‘proceed with caution’!

Have you been reading anything interesting this year? Have you read any of these? Should I try another Liane Moriarty?

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