Thursday, March 29, 2007

Meme: Why I enjoy blogging

Kerri has tagged me for this meme. I may be an unusual choice though as over the past few months, ever since I had 6 weeks "off" overseas, I have taken a step back from blogging, to get more perspective on it. But I think this is something that most of us have gone through and can relate to.

So what can I possibly say about why I like blogging that hasn't already been said by Kerri and others? I suppose I can put it in terms of my personality. This might come as a surprise to people who have read my blog, but I am not a naturally outgoing person when it comes to forming friendships. A large circle of friends has never been something I've aspired to. I prefer quality situations where much is shared in terms of common interests, outlook on life, and being down to earth. If those criteria are not filled, guess what: I'd much rather be by myself, I am very happy with my own company.

Now in real life, especially these days with the way society has become fragmented, it is extremely difficult to find like minded people in face to face situations. Sure, you come across lots of people at work, family and social events, but how many of those people are going to fit your particular criteria for a relationship? Over a lifetime we all spend countless hours in contact with people who, let's face it, we'd really rather not know or spend our precious time on, engaging in the dreaded small talk. Yet there might be people passing you in the street, sitting next to you in the train, who would be an ideal friend, acquaintance, whatever type of meaningful relationship to share things with. But, you'll never know. For obvious reasons, you'll never know about those people who live in other cities, countries, hemispheres who could have been your friend.

Ah, but that was before the internet and blogging came onto the scene. I'll bet you thought I'd never get to the blogging bit, huh? Blogging has enabled me to link up with someone on the other side of the world who shares so many things in common with me, even my first name, that it's uncanny. If such a person lived down the street from me the chances are we'd never find each other, unless through the internet. What we are doing when we blog is initially engaging in small talk if you like, but on our own terms, at times of our choosing, without being interrupted by people you're not that interested in. Small talk face to face takes an incredible amount of time, and at the end you might decide you didn't want to pursue a relationship with that person after all. But with blogging the process is much more efficient, I like to think of it as The Great Social Filter. You become aware of the interests and mindset of your fellow bloggers, and naturally you are going to continue that dialogue only with people with whom you feel a rapport. If you are lucky enough to be able to meet a fellow blogger, like when Alice came to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, we didn't have to waste time on the getting to know you small talk. We'd done that already.

And for bloggers who live far away and the likelihood of ever seeing them is remote, that does not mean that that friendship/relationship is not as worthy.

But I have taken a step back from blogging. I don't want it to interfere too much with my life in the here and now, because we need the daily activities to extend ourselves and maintain our interests. Aside from not posting as often, I rarely go back now to comment on others' comments to my posts, preferring to email a person directly if I have something to share. I don't always read all the comments others have written before I comment on another blog, and I have pretty much decided that the number of bloggers I keep in touch with now is about all I can handle, in terms of reading, posting, commenting, and remembering things about different bloggers (children, hubbies and hobbies, background etc). So there we return to the issue of quality, not quantity.

The above might not have been what people had in mind when they saw the meme, and some of you might be thinking "Gee, that Val is a bit of a strange one!" I would totally agree! But this is the Blogger world - you can continue to read or not, you can suit yourself, and THAT, dear folks, is one of the best things about blogging.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My retirement hair

Jelly left a comment on my last post concerning one of my photos: Val, have you gone blonde?! Or is it just the lighting? Whatever the case, you are looking gorgeous, too!).

For a while I've been thinking about posting about my hair (boy, what a vanity topic). Since I retired - oh wonderful state of being - I thought it would be a good time to see what my hair really looks like, after having had it tinted or colored since the 70s. The last time I had it tinted was just before we went to San Francisco in October last year. So what you see is my natural hair color and I have been getting all sorts of comments, such as Have you had tips/highlights put in?. Even my son gave me an unsolicited compliment. I'm laughing: saving time and money, and getting compliments too.

The only downside is that I don't get to sit at the hairdressers, reading magazines and copying down recipes, and more importantly, enjoying the vibe of a very convivial salon run by a husband and wife. They don't have music playing, and there are always interesting conversations to listen to and/or participate in. I don't know about you, but I have always loved being at the hairdressers.

As for looking gorgeous, well, I might put that down to being so damned happy and relaxed, that my happiness vibes are blinding people. Can you believe that I finished working in June and the joy STILL hasn't worn off? Has anyone ever taken such glee in retirement before?

Craft room

Hey Techie Son! Look at your room! Look at your desk!

Oh, and that's NOT a box of Red Tulip chocolates on the desk - it's filled with MIL's embroidery threads that she gave me - every color of the rainbow, great for sewing books together.

Look who's sitting in your oh so comfy armchair!

I've been making more books in my craft room.

Coptic stitching with slip case

Two accordion books

Monday, March 26, 2007

Once there were six

...and now there's only one tree fern left. These have always struggled against their giant neighbors (silver birch and elm trees), and now it seems the drought has delivered the final blow.

Fortunately the birds nest ferns, ginger and hibiscus are still doing well, just adjacent to the remaining tree fern.

Recently in a guest post on Stu's Gardening Tips 'n Ideas blog I had photos of some of the water harvesting things we've installed in the garden. One we've had to replace already, it just wasn't robust enough, and for $7.50, what did we expect. So here's the replacement, which takes water from our washing machine out to the garden. We have switched to an enviro-friendly eucalyptus based washing powder (makes the laundry smell great!), and move the hose around to different plants.

Today is, aesthetically speaking, a beautiful autumnal day in Melbourne, but we would all give anything for it to be bucketing down with rain now.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Oh what a weekend!

Saturday morning I met up with Barb and we went to the State Library to attend some talks on the new exhibition of artists books. Some of Barb's papermaker friends were there too and we had lunch at the Mr Tulk cafe, where Alice and I were last week. I also got to meet another blogger buddy, Ampersand Duck, who was in Melbourne in conjunction with the exhibition.

Afterwards I had some time to kill before a very important evening event (more of that later), so went across the street to the revamped Melbourne Central shopping centre. This used to have a very elegant Japanese department store (Daimaru) and small interesting shops. Now it is very much geared to young people into fashion and who obviously enjoy being in a busy, noisy place. I'm outta there!

Besides, it was a lovely late autumnal afternoon - why spend it indoors? So I headed down La Trobe Street to Telstra Dome, the site of the evening's event: the preseason Grand Final in which my beloved Blues were playing. They played well and they won - things are looking up for 2007!

This evening we attended an event of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival*. It took place in the Botanical Gardens at Cranbourne, specifically in the new Australian Garden. It was absolutely stunning but sorry, folks: I left my bag at home and that's where my camera was! But we will go back for a longer visit and take some photos. Here is an aerial view of the gardens, but really, it has to be seen to be believed.

Meanwhile, the wonderful food and wine was vying for our attention along with the visual delights. As we walked around the gardens which were explained to us by a knowledgeable ranger, we got to sample local food and wines. There was salmon, quail and kangaroo. Delicious! Throughout the garden we could also hear someone playing the didgeridoo. A memorable evening!

*Melbourne is rather a foodie city and for a couple of weeks of the festival there are events galore to wine and dine. The festival "brochure" is as large as a weekend newspaper magazine supplement. On Tuesday we are going to an event that is devoted to the martini. We will be taking public transportation home...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Now and then

Last weekend we went to our bush block near Castlemaine. This is our empty dam, the distant figure in it, me.

This was the dam in the early 90s. It took 10 years to fill to this level, but has never filled again. 1,000,000 litres...
P.S. In answer to Sue's question about if the dam has partially filled since the early 90s: yes it has, and given the size of the dam, even partially full is quite enough water to swim around in. Over the years the dam has emptied and then half filled, quarter filled, large puddle - you get the idea.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Long weekend coming up

We're leaving for the country late this afternoon, with a stop in Kyneton for dinner. Then on to our place near Castlemaine. The only downside is we have to be very careful driving after dark because the kangaroos choose that time to come out and play tag with any passing cars.

It's a long weekend so we won't be coming back until Monday. What is Monday? It's Labour Day here in Victoria, which almost everyone has off. Not so, however, some workplaces, such as universities. There it's business as usual, or rather, busier than usual, when I would have been flat out giving tours, lectures, teaching students to use reputable online resources (NOT wikipedia!), and barely have time to turn around. I however will not be there, because.....
well, you know the answer!

Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, I will be appearing as guest blogger on Stu's Gardening Tips 'n Ideas. So do pay his blog a visit!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blogger Buddy!

Today the State Library of Victoria would have been activating its "shush" machines when Frances and I met there and had a 3 hour marathon chin wag. I don't think we stopped talking except briefly when having afternoon tea at Mr Tulk's, the library's conveniently located cafe.

Talking may have also accounted for us having a temporary delay in the lift when we went to view the domed reading room from the upper levels - I think we were too busy talking to notice that the lift doors had opened and closed behind us. And there we were wondering why the doors weren't opening and we were going nowhere.

Eventually we were thrown out of the exhibition area (well, it was closing at 5 p.m. and we were asked politely), so we went back downstairs and sat down in some comfy chairs and talked some more. How much fun that was, and we're looking forward to meeting up again, next time in Canberra.

Here is a photo that shows us sitting "like schoolgirls" (Frances' words) in the library.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Japanese Garden in San Francisco

Today I thought I'd see if I would run into the same difficulties as Alice has been having uploading and keeping photos on her blog.

So I've just selected a few photos from our trip to San Francisco last year, and thought I'd use Blog This from Picasa. Much to my delight I've found that it now uploads more than one at a time! The format isn't the greatest, they're all rather scrunched together, but I think this is better than using the "Hello" system which is a bit fiddly. (Don't ask!).

This photo was taken after the Man Who Cooks had dropped the camera on that very hard surface. He is looking suitably abashed.

Here we are on speaking terms again.

And below is us having tea in the tea house overlooking the gardens. Ah, I just noticed that 2 photos have been "lost"... Now for the Publish button!! Had to add the last two photos in via Blogger. Is there a 4 photo limit when you blog photos from Picasa?

One hour later...Hey guess what! The first 4 photos I uploaded via Picasa have disappeared, and only the ones I uploaded manually via Blogger are there. So now I have to upload them manually... Sheesh!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Google Reader

Google Reader (link in title) is an alternative to Bloglines, and I've found it works very well, maybe because Blogger is also part of the Google empire. It's an easy way to log into your list of favorite blogs and and you see only a list of those who have posted something since the last time you visited. So there's none of this clicking on a link to see if so-and-so has finally got around to posting something, waiting until the page loads, then...nah, nothing new yet again!!! (Yes, I too have been guilty of having the blogging blahs, and am still recuperating)

Of my list of just over 20, only a couple do not work under this system, even though they're using Blogger. So I'll just have to remember to manually check their blogs.