Monday, February 28, 2011

Lovely listening

'Sup, homies? I'm taking a little break in the middle of my study Monday to tell you about an album you should definitely listen to: Andrew Peterson's 2006 release, The Far Country. If the amazing otherworldly cover art doesn't make you want to listen right away (though it should), here are some other reasons to listen to this album:
  • it's unlike the music I normally enjoy. I'm generally drawn to stuff with a harder edge to it or deep folkiness, and I like listening to male vocalists who have gruff voices. Andrew Peterson's music is none of those things and yet it still pulls me in.
  • this guy is more than just a musician. He is a true lyricist with the soul of a poet. Perhaps you'll appreciate that even more once you've read his blog or his stories, but the songs on this album are like individual poem-stories of their own, and are truly beautiful.
  • it will make you think good things about Jesus and the people you love.
  • it's totally free at the moment. WIN. (I love generous artists!)

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Unanonymous -- hey, you! Yes, that is definitely a wee peek of the new VW. Cute, huh?

Samantha R -- it's funny what we are bold enough to pull off. I'd be too shy to wear neon yellow, so there you go :).

Abi -- Ooh, those books sound great! It's been years since I read Caddie Woodlawn, but I loved it so much when I did.

Asea -- your possible classes sound like grand fun! I bet you can't wait to get into exciting new things :D.

Eweight -- argh! I'm so sorry you keep losing comments! Blogger is sometimes nasty. YES. I think we definitely need to email our fingers off.

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Small details of a housekeepish nature:

In an attempt to make this blog more comment-friendly, I've recently changed the commenting option to open in a comment page instead of simply to be embedded under the posts themselves. This is good news for some anonymous commenters who don't wish to log in with a Google or OpenID account, but how about for the rest of you? I've suddenly been inundated with spam, too, which seems too coincidental to be purely coincidental. Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This hope has been brought to you today by the colour orange

There is so much that is bleak and grey in this old world, especially lately. So much to ponder, so much to pray about. Well perhaps it's silly, but yesterday all the surprising touches of orange in my day helped things feel just a bit cheerier, even on a purely superficial level.

* * * * *


SandieT -- thank you so much for your wonderful thoughts! They are such good, meaty truth that I'm going to share them here so that everyone who has struggled with the creative life can be encouraged by them as I was: 'The lie exists that when we are talented, what we do should come easily to us. For the athlete, natural talent is not enough. He/She wins because he is disciplined, he trains, he perseveres, he denies himself to achieve his ultimate goal, pushing through the wall of pain, overcoming in exaltation to win the prize. So it is with writing. No matter how gifted the writer, it is still hard work to give your best. Keep at it! Don't give up! It is all learning and developing your craft and nurturing your talent.'

Katie -- I'll probably have another semester of study after I finish this year, totalling 3 1/2 years overall. Learning more about photography sounds great; please feel free to blog about your insights? *hopeful grin*

Samantha R -- web design? That's amazing! Enjoy the journey; I'm sure you'll do a great job :D.

Amanda -- I definitely aim to enjoy all the reading :).

Abbie -- ooh, I have The True Woman, but I haven't read it yet. And what are the titles of the other books you're reading? I'm always up for recommendations :).

Anonymous (unanonymous) -- yay indeed! YOUR DREAM CAME TRUE!

Julia -- :D They're definitely excellent subjects.

Mothercare -- But do you think you'll want to graduate? ;)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Going to school is lots of fun (from laughing we have gained a ton)

This post has been brought to you today by the letter A, which stands for Andrea, who happens to be my sister, who is the person most likely to ask me, "When are you going to make a new blog post?" -- which, in turn, makes me feel loved and popular. So this post is for you, Andrea, even though you are probably likely to think school talk is boring.

I'm in my third year of uni; how laughable is that? And with week one of said third year under my belt, it's time for a little school update, especially since some of you have been interested to know what subjects I'm doing. The little stack of library books in the picture above offers some clues. So, this semester I'm taking:

Theory & Philosophy of History -- which so far consists of lots of philosophy surrounding the nature of history and time, and it feels all very Greek-wandering-round-philosophising at this stage. I think it will prove to be quite interesting and -- particularly where the essays are concerned -- a good challenge. 'History cannot exist outside of time, and yet time is not history'...

Christ, Culture, and the State -- I picked this one because I needed a kind of sociology subject and I was intrigued by the title. What I've encountered so far is lots of political theory and philosophy which I think might prove to tie in well with my history subject. (If you want to pretend to take this class, you can buy my lecturer's book here; I'm plugging it because he's a great teacher and you can totally read the book in an Irish accent because that's what it was written in ;D).

The Icelandic Sagas -- Vikings! Iceland! Myths and legends! Heroes! Very large beards! Okay, what is not to like about this subject? Part history, part literature, part excuse-to-read-about-crazy-men-from-windy-volcanic-islands.

Writing for Children -- I've saved (what I'm guessing will be) the best for last. Children's literature is something that gets me very, very excited, so I'm thrilled that I get to spend part of this semester delving more into this world and perhaps learning how to find a place in it myself. The lecturer is Rosanne Hawke and having read several of her YA books, I have a healthy amount of respect (reverence, even) for what she has to say about the craft. One of my assignments for this class is to write a picture book manuscript (insert many exclamation points here)! And this is work?

So there you have it. That's what I'm up to for the next few months. What about you? If you're studying this year, tell me about your subjects (I like learning about learning!). If you're not taking formal study, tell me how you're educating yourself. Life is full of learning; what are you reading, writing, or pondering?

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Rebecca Simon -- B&B + Launceston = charming.

Carla and Alastair -- okay, a dose of amazing via ultrasound beats a dose of pretty any old day!

Katie -- if only we could pluck things right out of the internet and eat/use/enjoy them in real life... *sigh*

Brooke -- I will add you to my list of potential proofreaders to call upon :D.

Julia -- you are an AWESOME cheerleader. If you didn't already have an excellent job, I'd employ you full time. Only... the pay kind of stinks.

Samantha R -- and this tiramisu was rich. I just had a quarter of the little cake and that was plenty.

Asea -- ah, the snow sounds uh-may-zinggg!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A dose of pretty:

There's been so much prettiness in my week, and since everyone needs a little dose of pretty in their lives, I'm sharing. First, Spring-coloured macaroons!

Tiramisu from my favourite new patisserie.

A gorgeously handmade (and international, no less) Valentine.

An edible Valentine from closer to home.

Dried flowers hanging from the kitchen dresser.

An amazing surprise from my mother -- a gorgeous little bedside chest of drawers with the cutest porcelain handles and a little sliding-out tray for coffee.

Postcards which help me to pretend I'm back at the National Gallery. The large one with the grumpy small person is by Brack, the bottom one by Drysdale and the top one is by Margaret Preston. These three ladies hanging on my wall inspire me to create stories.

What prettiness has brightened your week?

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Cara -- yes! Let's cheer one another on while we row! :) PS. I finally sent you an email!

Samantha R -- You're so right: immersion is key. xx

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Becalmed on a windless lake

The novel rewrite I'm currently engaged in feels something like a neverending story -- or, if we're looking for more comparisons, running in place. There's a lot of puff and even some sweat but I'm getting nowhere.

Part of that, I think, has to do with the fact that the rewrite hasn't been a regular part of my days lately. The gap between when I worked on it last to when I work on it next might be two days or two weeks (or --*shamefaced*-- two months); either way, letting it sit between editing sessions means that each time I tackle it again, I have to think my way back into the story. This wastes time, and it makes the work feel much scarier than it is.

More than that, though, when I finally do force my way back into the life of the characters I love, I bring with me such a weight of my own expectations and pressures that the result is almost paralysing. This has to be amazing. This has to be brilliant. This has to be good enough to be published. I bet Harper Lee had no pathetic manuscripts lying around her study. Oh no! This is not amazing. It's lame. I can't write! FOR PETE'S SAKE WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?

It's like my own dreams and desires cripple the work. Self-sabotage? I'm an expert, and I'm left picking away at my story and feeling like I'm dragging a haycart up hill: taking forever to get nowhere. Then comes the volley of the next round of expectations, the comparison with the mythical wonder-writer. Real writers don't feel like this. Real writers are swept along by their own stories. Real writers get there quicker. Oh, there's quite the saga going on in my foolish little brain.

This week I read something which reminded me that it's okay. All of it. It's okay for the work to feel hard. It's okay for it to hurt. It's okay if I don't know what I'm doing. It's okay if it takes hours. What matters is putting in the time and doing the work. I can't predict whether I will ever be any good at this, but I can try to be good. And if it's not all plain sailing on a sea of sparkling inspiration, it doesn't matter. When there is no wind, row.

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Katie -- I'm doing some really exciting subjects this year; I'll post about them soon and go on a schoolish rant.

Samantha R -- who knew you could paint with a brush in each hand? ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daybook #6

Outside my window it's been bright, blue, and sunny all day, with a bit of breeze as respite from the February heat.

I have been listening to Brooke Fraser's Flags. I *finally* bought the album and have only just heard bits of it but I'm sure I'll love it. I mean, it's Brooke.

I have been wearing denim and sailor stripes.

I am thankful that uni has started for another year. Learning! Books! Writing! Excuses to read lots and lots of children's stories!

I am pondering Valentine's Day and what it means for different people.

I am reading Darius Bell and the Glitter Pool. If the title is not enough to pull you in, it's by Odo Hirsch, you know.

I am thinking about Tom Hanks' youthful demeanour (Sleepless in Seattle is on, okay?).

I am creating mess -- constantly, it would seem.

I am hoping and praying that I will learn to find the roots of my identity in the unchanging reality of who I am in God, instead of basing it on what I do, or how people see me, or what I fail to do.

One of my favourite things is finding little facebook messages from my excellent cousins.

A picture-thought I'm sharing is from an art lesson with little brother on Friday. The theme of our exercise was 'calm'; the one brush in each hand thing was his idea. Ambidextrous art!

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Carla -- I did indeed, Carla-girl :D.

Bette -- I want to be hugged by you within an inch of my life!

Asea -- I will even go so far as to be your fairy godmother!!

Samantha R. -- :D

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Girls just wanna have fun:

I'm back from my days of fun and frivolity with my goddaughters, and so thankful to have had some special extended time to tie strings and make memories.

The solo road trip was the least fun part of the adventure (yes, I know I now like driving a little bit and I know I'm starting to understand maps a little bit, but still... it would have been more fun with a fellow road tripper) -- but the rest was just a whole lot of serious playtime. We read and swam and played Just Dance on the Wii. We did crafts and wrote poems and had entire conversations in British, Italian, and American accents. We cared for numerous dogs and chickens and horses and fish. I was hugged to within an inch of my life and pleaded with to tell made-up stories (enter Jonny Bignose and Sally Spaghetti Bolognaise). And I was called DeeDee Girl and told every day that my laugh is so funny and sweet.

Well, Annie and Marie, so are you.

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Katie -- thank you, I did!

Rebecca -- here's the first batch of pics. I might trickle a few more in over at my tumblr.

Samantha R -- thank you. It was fun!

Janellehardy -- You're probably right! It doesn't look as though there's sixteen years difference between Emma and Mr. Knightley. Probably more like eight to ten. Yes! I will email you with New Church Adventures when I have had a few more of such.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Notice of (brief) absence and all that

Well hey. If it feels like all I ever do here in old blogland these days is pop in to tell you that I won't be here, you might be right. Because, um, I'm at it again. But give me grace; I'm off to the north coast of New South Wales (solo road trip; eep!) to spend time with these cheeky cherubs, my goddaughters. I anticipate a week of tea parties, cooking adventures, reading together, swimming, and them laughing at my attempts to use the Wii. Photos on my return, okay?

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Bonnie -- It's definitely a great adaptation! I believe it can even -- gasp! -- rival the Gwyneth Paltrow version.

Katie -- the big question: did you get some corn chips to fulfill your craving?

Rebecca Simon -- yes! Definitely do find it. You'd love it.

Cara -- SO excited to get a comment from you :D. My Dad won't watch Austen, but he really liked North & South -- as did my brother in law.

Samantha -- yay for brothers indeed!

Mitanika -- I got tired of waiting for this one to hit Australian shores and ordered it straight from Amazon UK :).

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