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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When the stars align

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It’s a bit of a blowy old day here. The sky is grey and it has a touch of the ‘hunker down inside’ feel about it. You know when you have one of those days when the stars align? The weather is perfect for your mood? The day demands nothing of your time? Yep, I’m having one of those. And it is bliss!

It started with a Sunday morning walk, but a solo one as the man has a broken foot. Love having him for company but it was quite nice to hit the streets by myself with a podcast for company, and then meet up with him at our new local favourite for coffee. Lunch was leftovers from dinner last night so no need to think what to have. Love that! Why can’t leftovers always appear in my fridge? Gosh, my heart always does a little skip when I spy something yummy from last night’s dinner in the fridge!

Uni is yet to start so the boy and the girl are relaxed and happy with no brain power demanded of them. Many of our recent Sundays have been taken up with driving practice as the girl strives to accrue the hours needed before she can do her test but today she’s happy to take a break. Nice!

The day is inviting me to relax. I’ve been reading my bookbuying wool, drinking coffee and tea, and feeling quite at peace with the world. I’ve got burgers for dinner, so I don’t even really need to think about too much cooking tonight! I do need to make an after dinner sweety-treaty but I think I can manage to get off the couch in my chilled state and whip something up. Might do it whilst having a glass of wine…or a G&T. Decisions!

How has your day been? Have you had the stars align for you?

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Taking Stock: June ’16

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Don’t these Japanese windflowers look pretty? I’m loving opening my front door to find these blooms waving their pretty little heads at me. They provide a lovely bit of cheer on a grey, wintry day. Halfway through the year, and with the days becoming ever shorter, outdoor delights are harder to find and we need to look for them indoors. Personally, I quite like snuggling down inside, slurping soup and listening to rain pattering on the roof. Here’s where I’m at the moment.

Making: a start on my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. You can read about that here.

Reading: Reckoning by Magda Szubanski. I’m really enjoying her memoir. Much to take out of it about our search for our identity.

Watching: Hugh Laurie in both Veep and The Night Manager. Chuckling at him in the first and a bit wary of him in the second!

Cooking: lamb saag. Yum on a winter’s night! I use this recipe from Gourmet Girlfriend but add a bit more meat for my protein loving man and boy. And I use baby spinach instead of the kale.

Eating: my mum’s fruitcake baked for us at my man’s request. What a gem she is!

Drinking: English breakfast tea. Lots of mugs!

Listening: to Bowraville. If you enjoyed the first season of Serial, you will enjoy this. It investigates the murders 25 years ago of three aboriginal youngsters over a five month period from the one street. Aside from the murders, it is an interesting commentary on race relations in Australia.

Enjoying: watching this Carpool Karaoke. Lin, Audra, Jesse, Jane and James having a singalong is pretty ace!

Looking: forward to the school holidays

Coveting: this dress. I think it would be a perfect trans seasonal frock but how much can I afford to spend?

Feeling: pleased with myself for pulling lots of weeds out of my back garden this morning before the rain came down.

Wondering: if I can make it to see this movie this week.

Waiting: for my wool order to arrive so I can start making this cowl

How are you going as you head towards to mid-winter? Or are you looking forward to long mid-summer days? Maybe you want to take stock too?

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Have you read…? Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Last year, I sat in my car in the supermarket car park listening to a radio interview with Bryan Stevenson, who was in Australia to speak at the Perth Writers Festival. His story of his work as a civil rights lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was distressing, infuriating and inspiring. His excellent book, Just Mercy, fleshes out the stories he touched on the interview but also serves to illuminate a raft of issues in the American criminal justice and social welfare systems.

As a young law student in 1983, Stevenson undertook an internship with the Southern Prisoners Defence Committee (SPDC) in Atlanta. As executions began to take place again in the Deep South after years of delay, the SPDC worked to provide proper legal representation to condemned prisoners who had been convicted without proper or no legal representation. A visit to a prisoner on death row brought home to Stevenson the grave injustices of the legal system towards indigent and coloured prisoners. As he explains

Presumptions of guilt, poverty, racial bias, and a host of other social, structural, and political dynamics have created a system that is defined by error, a system in which thousands of innocent people now suffer in prison.

In the late 1980s, he established the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to assist prisoners facing execution and, over time, this has expanded to tackling issues of mass incarceration, juvenile imprisonment, programs to assist those re-entering society after imprisonment, and the provision of policy advice on issues related to race, poverty and crime.

He explores a number of cases he has been involved in, with that of Walter McMillian being the thread that runs through the book. Walter, an African American, was wrongly convicted of the murder of a white woman and sentenced to death. For me, this case exposed enormous issues with the criminal justice system: racial bias, the ability of judges to overturn sentences imposed by a jury, the dangers of having elected judges/sheriffs/district attorneys, the corrupting effect of deals with witnesses, and the sheer incompetence and bias of some of those working in the legal profession. The appalling result in this case was even worse than the apparent injustice in Making a Murderer. Spoiler alert – after six years on death row, and thanks to the tireless work of Stevenson and his team, Walter was exonerated. Whilst this was great cause for celebration, the sobering thought, as Stevenson points out, is that Walter’s case only came to his attention because he was on death row. If the judge had not overturned the jury’s sentence of 30 years and imposed the death penalty, Walter would have spent his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Stevenson exposes the treatment of juveniles in the justice system. How is it that children as young as 13 can be sentenced to life imprisonment? How can children be imprisoned in adult prisons with all the risks that that entails? For Ian Manuel, a 13 year old when convicted, this meant spending 18 years in solitary confinement as this was the only way to keep him safe from other prisoners. The work of the EJI has seen the courts, over time, prohibit life in prison sentences for children.

Harsh sentencing laws for drug and minor offences has seen an explosion in the prison population with the consequence that the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. This has created massive overcrowding in prisons but also has led to social disadvantage becoming entrenched. Parents are removed from their children, those convicted of drug offences are not entitled to welfare or public housing, felons are disenfranchised. How are people able to rise above social disadvantage when society is not assisting them in any way?

As an outsider to the US, I have read about police shootings of black men, the college riots and the Black Lives Matter Movement. I understood that racism remains an issue in the country. Reading this book showed just how entrenched this racism  – hatred – is in some parts of the country and the devastating consequences this has for many African Americans. It made me think about how the proliferation of guns in the US has enabled so many people to become murderers where, without such access, they may have committed less serious crimes, or no crime at all. It made me appreciate the social welfare, health and justice systems we have in Australia (although there have been some devastating failures in our parole system) but it also made me think about how these systems are treating, or not treating, our indigenous people. It is a book that made me want to learn.

I am in awe of the work carried out by Bryan Stevenson and his team of lawyers. In the absence of societal support, it is essential to have people prepared to fight for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised; to provide them with a voice and to give them the opportunity to live life to their fullest potential. A highly recommended read for those interested in social justice and social policy.

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If you are interested in issues of race and/or the failings of the US justice system, you may like to have a listen to the first part of My Damn Mind and Anatomy of Doubt. Indigenous incarceration and disadvantage is explored in this excellent article by Sarah Gill

Taking Stock: March ’16

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Hello! How are you? It has been an AGE since my last post! But now it is Good Friday and everyone is home doing NOTHING because that is our Good Friday tradition – along with eating 70 million hot cross buns – so I thought it a most excellent time to put the feet up, pop the fingertips on the keyboard and take stock as we hit the ‘quarter way through the year’ mark!

Cooking: fish and chips. My mother has ingrained in me that this is only dinner permitted to be eaten on Good Friday

Eating: hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!

Drinking: instant coffee at this precise moment. Nothing fancy schmancy here!

Reading: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Wow! Opens the eyes to the incredible injustices in the US criminal justice system

Wanting: daylight saving to end. Light in the morning please!

Making: time to do some drawing every day

Enjoying: a very lazy day

Loving: that it is school holidays. Little sleep-ins, earlier nights.

Wearing: jeans, singlet, flowery top

Needing: to get said jeans altered. I think they’ve stretched and are now feeling uncomfortably loose

Hearing: twittering and chirrupping

Watching: Occupied with my man, Gilmore Girls with my girl, my boy watching his usual history documentaries

Listening: to  Clare and Pip interviewing Melissa and Ben

Feeling: happy with some new Etsy purchases courtesy a birthday gift voucher

Knowing: that even at 17 and 19, your kids are never too old for an Easter egg hunt! Easter Bunny was admonished last year for not leaving one. Oops!

Wondering: if I should do some embroidery? Feeling inspired by Threadfolk

How are you travelling up to this point in the year? Has it been smooth sailing for you? Choppy waters? Bit of both? Maybe you want to take stock too? Thanks, Pip, for the ‘Taking Stock’ idea!

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So what’s been happening?

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Howdy! How are we all? I feel like I’ve been away from the blog  world for a little bit. I’m not quite sure why. My girl is back at school, my boy has been away on holidays so I must have had HEAPS of time by my lonesome to compose a post. I guess I’ve just been puddling around catching up on some of the people and places I haven’t caught up with for a few months or checking out new things to do. So here, for the record, are some of the things which have kept me from tapping away at the keyboard.

Spotlight: I went to see this with my movie buddy and it was excellent. Have you heard of it? It’s about the investigative journalism team at The Boston Globe who uncovered the extent of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church in Boston. Not exactly cheery but the focus was not so much on covering the abuse but rather how the team went about its investigation. Compelling performances by a great ensemble cast, including Mark Ruffalo and Stanley Tucci. Such genuine actors. Love them!

Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei: Emily made the train trip from Ballarat to ‘the big smoke’ and we went to see this excellent exhibition at the NGV. It was HUGE and I think we were a little overcome by it all! We were both marvelling at the sheer volume of work that Ai Wei Wei has produced.

TV: we’ve been watching the third season of The Bridge which has been excellent, as always. A bit retro watching just one episode weekly because we are so used to binge watching whole seasons at a time! We’ve also been catching up on season two of The Americans. Yep, we are a bit behind! Kept forgetting it was on pay TV after it disappeared from free-to-air.

Podcasts:  SerialChat 10 Looks 3this chat  between Wil Anderson and Julia Zemiro, and Iz and Ez discussing booky, watchy things

Crocheting: I made another one of these giraffes for the daughter of a friend of my mum who is awaiting a tiny arrival and I’ve started on these maybelle squares (well, I’ll turn them into squares!) in the ongoing endeavour to work through my wool stash! I’m going to join them up to make a blanket, I think. Can you guess what inspired my colour choice?!

Books: I enjoyed reading Hope Farm, which my lovely girl gave me for Christmas. It’s been nominated for the Stella Prize, and deservedly so.  Isabel lent me Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, a gem of a book on writing, creativity and life. Current read? All the Light We Cannot See

Friends: coffees with lovely friends. It’s really important to nurture our relationships, isn’t it? I try to make sure I don’t leave it too long between friend catch ups because in all the busy-ness of people’s lives (yep, I hate saying that – let’s remember we don’t have to fill every second of every day for our lives to be valid), relationships can easily slide. And that’s a great pity.

Stuff: you know, the ordinary things. Domestic goddess duties, new school year adjustments, the admin of life. Not very exciting, but we all have to do it, don’t we?

How about you? Have you been out and about doing nice things? Or have you been enjoying some quiet, reflective time?

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