Thursday, May 26, 2011

Webly goodness

I suppose this image really has nothing to do with rest of the content of this post. Only, a bookshelf fat with books next to a window streaming little slanted chinks of light says possibility and inspiration and challenge and the arty juxtaposition of light and objects -- which, in my mind, ties in with a random collection of links that have offered possibility and inspiration and challenge (and even arty juxtapositions) to me in odd moments over the last little while.

This project, called 52 Weeks, is just an amazing idea that I would love to try sometime. Basically, this lovely lady committed to taking a self-portrait and writing an accompanying poem every week. Her pictures are amazing and I look forward to absorbing her words. It looks like a great creative challenge. I wouldn't be so keen to do the self-portrait thing but maybe some other type of photography theme. And the poems? I'm so there.

Since it's a couple of weeks old by now, I'm seriously web-senile to be linking to it, but I really enjoyed this episode of the Boundless Show. The main theme of the round table discussion was appearance, and how Christians should think about such seemingly superficial issues. The podcast guests discussed the delicate balance that accompanies the idea of being good stewards of the stuff that's only skin deep. It's not helpful to be extreme at either end of the spectrum -- being constantly obsessed with appearance, or decreeing that it doesn't matter at all because we're all going to get old and die anyway -- and the discussion was really interesting. Sometimes it's discouraging to see how focussed society is on physical perfection. As someone who is far from the standard of ideal physical beauty, I frequently struggle with the idea that lack of perfection holds me back or causes me to miss out on good things in life. So it was especially encouraging to hear from one of the guys on the podcast that what he finds more attractive than being a ten out of ten or the ideal weight is the fact that a girl is actively taking care of herself and putting an effort into being well-groomed and approaching the world with a confident demeanour. That perspective might be rare, but it's encouraging to know it does exist.

This lady's blog is fairly new to me but I'm just so inspired by her creative, colourful, and fun Moleskine journalling. My journal-keeping habit has fallen by the wayside a little in the last year or two, but these journal scans make me want to take it up again, with a (great and colourful) vengeance.

Along the line of daily habits, Miss.Elaini.Ous (best name ever?) has committed to wearing the same black dress for a hundred days in a row. Her project has me thinking of new ways to use the items in my wardrobe (and my camera; the outfit shots are really lovely), but much more importantly, Elaini is using this project to draw attention to and raise money for the needs of orphans, in partnership with Warm Blankets Orphan Care. It's a good thing.

Finally, I was touched and challenged by this post from author and songwriter Andrew Peterson. A lovely story of obedience and God's grace in the sort of life-experience we all meet at some stage.

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Laura Elizabeth -- hang in there! Semester-end sisters together foreverrrrr! And yes, Pascal and Maximus are definitely excellent choices to sustain joy and hopefulness :).

Cara -- thank you so much for your rousing cheer! And I offer the same to you in regards to your recital. Go forth and conquerrrr!

Asea -- your day sounded lovely! And so many small moments to celebrate what is really an end of an incredible era in your life. :D

Samantha R -- thank you, lovely lady :).

Mothercare -- and you are even gooder for me :).

Eweight -- aaaaah! You're not supposed to say that. But, hey you -- last semester!!!!

Katie -- I'm so excited by your short story success! And I hope you win that contest I saw you refer to on Twitter. I'm your cheer squad!

Elisabeth -- I'm blessed :).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This monster ain't under the bed.

You’d think that, having faced the beast four times already, I’d be totally ready to go head to head with the monster at the end of the semester. Apparently not so. Today it returned, grinning evilly, and I failed to meet it with grace and gumption.

The thing is, I’m most content when life has variety and balance. A bit of socialisation, a bit of hermiting. A bit of chaos, a bit of calm. A bit of work, a bit of play. A bit of hurry, a bit of slow. I struggle when any one thing becomes all-encompassing and the other things have to be put to the side for a while. And the problem is that the end of semester is completely all-encompassing. Every spare moment seems focussed just on seeing out a deadline, which doesn’t feel at all like what life (or learning, for that matter) should be about. Don’t get me wrong; I love the study and I love the work – I just don’t love it being the only thing that’s going on. And I struggle with guilt when I say no to things that are good things and things I want to do, or when I have to put time with others on some sort of schedule. In my perfect world of idealism, you don’t fit people into your life; you fit your life into people.

Anyway, so all that resulted in the end-of-semester monster rearing its head which really looked like me having a day of polar opposite behaviours – diligence and procrastination, laughing and crying, power-talk and whining. However, a bunch of things conspired to turn my frown upside down. One is the delicious (and half-empty, in the picture) creme brulee frappe that my sister brought to me out of the blue. Mmmm! Also, in the background, beautiful new rug on sort of loan basis from Mum and Dad. It's so cosy!

Then there's this honeycomb sundae that my Mum fed to me, post Thai dinner date. I rarely have icecream because I'm not a huge fan of it, but the upside of that is that when I do have icecream, I'm really in the mood for it.

This guy with his cool shirt and his spiky do always brightens my days.

And this is my Mum/counsellor/friend/psychiatrist who is possibly also related to Mother Theresa.

Also, a game of kid's monopoly made me laugh. Big bucks, my friends.

And these two, one of whom turns out to be an excellent, relaxed mum and the other of whom turns out to resemble a koala and alternately impersonates the pope, a drunken hobo, a lucky cat with that waving arm motion, and an angry samurai warrior, all with the most basic variation of facial expressions.

What helped you to be happy today?

* * * * *


All of you -- well played, friends. Appreciation of my nieces and nephews guarantees eternal admission to the Society of People Danielle Loves.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sorry, do you two know each other?

Abby Victoria, meet my friends. Friends, meet my newest niece. She's one day old in this picture (eleven days old in real life) and at the point of taking this shot she had already claimed a large chunk of my heart for her own. Sorry she couldn't be bothered waking up to chat with you. Less than two weeks old and already too cool for school and out-chilling everyone around her. Sorry guys. Abby, seriously, what a diva.

* * * * *


Katie -- why does excitement always come in big handfuls instead of nice steady trickles?

Brooke -- Lauren, Brooke wants you to have a hug! Brooke, Lauren returns the hug with thanks!

Samantha R -- you got it, friend.

Rebecca Simon -- she is indeed the perfect child. I mean, you will agree: firstborn children generally are perfect in every way. Aw, I had a hot chocolate this very afternoon. If only you were here to share!

Un -- lol. Glad the trip was [awkward pause] pleasant.

Elisabeth -- thank you!

Abbie -- thank you on all counts! End of semester is a great refining time. Babies, however, are just plain fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Big little adventures

So many adventures big and small can happen in the space of one week, and the happiest of all happy adventures in the last seven days was the arrival of a brand new little niece. Yes indeed, she arrived precisely on her due date (my beloved first niece’s fourth birthday!), a chubby little pink bundle of cute who already has her dad’s nose and mouth and hair halfway between the colours of her mama and papa. I am under strict instruction not to share pictures and details until the doting parents have done so themselves (and they are taking their own sweet time about it), so I am sitting on my hands until then. But: A NIECE! A TINY GIRL! A CUTE LITTLE GUMMY PERSON!

That big adventure led to lots of other small adventures, some less fun (driving around the airport a hundred and fifty times waiting on the arrival of a flight that was delayed three hours and fifteen minutes), some extremely fun (my sister Andrea flying up from down south to meet her new niece – and be my first official overnight Housie guest). Owing to the general lack of sleep that seems to accompany the arrival of any new baby, we didn’t do anything very grand – just lots of family catching up, lots of talking, one day in which there were four shopping trips, and lots of baby-hugging – but in spite of that (and the inevitable spilling over of weird emotions, my traditional response to life’s big moments) it was excellent.

It turned into something of a long weekend, too, as Andrea didn’t fly out till Tuesday afternoon, and then I got to catch up with a lovely West-Australian-turned-Territorian friend who was in the city for the week. We chatted while her fifteen-month-old dynamo cherub beamed upon us and impressed us with her sometimes unintelligible but always genius monosyllabic observations of the world.

Today it’s back into the books and an attempt to get my head around Hegel’s philosophy of history, something which really wants to defy a concise single-sentence definition. My tactic when I don’t have a clue about the subjects I’m writing essays for is basically just to immerse myself in the topic until I start to gain some sense of what’s going on. Sometimes it takes ages but eventually I start to get it. Thank you, ITunesU, for giving me access to incredible lecturers in great universities around the world. Ah, I love the internet!

The semester is close to winding down which means the deadline pressure is winding up. At this time of semester, I always find myself wishing there was a more even spread of assignments throughout term. I’d far rather do an assignment a week (dotting the hardcore major projects throughout) than have a bunch due mid-semester, a few here and there, and all the big ones at the very end. I want to learn, not just pass, and I feel sure I’d remember so much more and invest more of myself in each essay if they were spread throughout the semester rather than due in big lump sums. Never mind; deadlines are helpful and oddly inspiring, even if they are unfun.

And this is unrelated to anything else I've said in my post, but who needs context for pretty pictures and creative challenges? I don't. Words to Shoot By.

* * * * *


Bek Axe -- :D

Lauren -- It did want to come out! And 'it' is a she!

Carla & Alastair -- but we were focussing on belly (and the mama didn't want her face photographed that day).

Bethany -- this aunty is enthusiastic about the responsibility of posting pictures ;).

Cara -- and hugs back to you! I hope life is lovely for you way over there <3

Un -- we know that's not true!

Laura Elizabeth -- I promise you I read nothing creeperish in that remark. LOL I love surrounding myself with small children. :D

Staish -- See you tomorrow?

Samantha R -- that little kid already knows the feeling of being mobbed by papparazzi, believe me.

Meaghan -- we must repeat the insanity of something similar to the trail of carnage soon ;).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Could be any day now...

My littlest sister is due to present me with another niece or nephew soon. Her due date is the 12th of May (incidentally, my first niece's fourth birthday) so it could be any time between now and the next couple of weeks. Notice that I am speaking entirely in terminology that designates this future little human being as my niece or nephew, not their son or daughter. I will freely acknowledge that the whole reason my sisters marry and reproduce is to make me the happiest aunty in the world.

No, but seriously -- does that belly not look like the cosiest, cutest little nesting place for a small person to be hanging out? That little splodge might never want to leave.

* * * * *


Un -- His poses may not be standard, but at least he was posing, for once!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend XXIX :: mum is the best (seriously)

To celebrate the excellence of Mum, we came from our various homes to meet at the point for a barbecue picnic breakfast. It was bright and sunny and actually cold. It was awesome.

James had the food cooking business seriously in hand.

We ate sausages, hash browns, eggs, and pancakes under the friendly arms of a big sprawling fig tree.

It was all fantastic, until this creepy guy with too many legs crashed the party and (quite literally) ended up in the drink.

Mum, thank you for being who you are.

I almost forgot. There was a little ham with our eggs, too...

Actually, that's a whole lotta ham.

* * * * *

Mothercare -- you're my biggest (only?) fan.

Katie -- thank you :).

Staish -- :D

Eweight -- I asked for your new address but you never replied so I couldn't send you the mag. However -- I got a sweet little card from you today and the BONUS FREE PRIZE is that I now have your addy and can mail you the mag. Love!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm free!

There was a man, once, who was thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. After he had served twenty-five years of his life sentence, some fresh evidence came to light, and the man was released from prison. As he got off the bus delivering him back into his old neighbourhood, he couldn't resist kicking up his heels and dancing a quick jig.

"I'm free! I'm free!" the man shouted.

A little boy standing on the corner looked at him scornfully. "That's nothing," the boy said. "I'm four."

So, I know that it's "nothing", but this little blog is free -- ahem, three -- today, and I thought I'd take a little trip down memory lane, a look back on the bloggy adventures which have been the most conversational/most interesting/most bothersome to the rest of you all. Behold, the top ten most commented-upon posts here:

1) It's a blog party! This post, from August 2009, comes in at the highest-commented here in Danielle's Little Blogland. And all because I used the emotional blackmail that was the occasion of my twenty-ninth birthday to force you all into commenting. You made me grin.

2) A very long-winded way to say: I'm thankful Now this is more apropos. This post, from January this year, was me talking about how very appreciative I am of the true friends in my world -- and I think a lot of you could relate to just how much of a blessing real, genuine, true friends can be.

3) Hey hey it's a Christmas giveaway Who doesn't love free stuff? This post is from November last year. Amy won. (Hi, Amy!).

4) Ding dong, the witch is dead? This post appeared just this week, and it seems you guys had as much to say about the death of Osama bin Laden (and the incongruous rejoicing thereof) as I did.

5) A short story about dolly steps In which I flailed all over the blog about having a short story published and illustrated by a real children's book artist, and in which you guys joined me in doing the happy dance -- proof that you guys know how to 'rejoice when others rejoice'. That was October 2009.

6) Post-it note I asked for updates, and you guys -- very nicely -- answered. In the picture in this post, from June 2009, I look noticeably less chubby than I do now. Rats.

7) Step inside Just last month, I took you on (half) a tour of the new Housie. I still have to show you round some of the other nooks.

8) Mr. & Mrs. Webber When my sister Lauren got married to her love, James, in June last year, you guys were as excited to see pictures as I was to share them.

9) Flashback Friday: the waiting In September 2008, I reminisced about what it was like to be six and a half years old, waiting for the arrival of a new little baby who was surely going to be born in the middle of the night.

10) A decade(ish) of faith and fellowship and flaws In November 2010, the final issue of Whatsoever Magazine, a part of my life for over ten years, was mailed out. It signalled the end of what had been an amazing journey.

BONUS! The trail of carnage: an epic adventure -- which is really just a post full of pictures of gross dead things and my excellent friend Meaghan and I being ridiculous.

Thank you, blog buds and real life people who somehow want to read my words. It's fantastic to know you.

* * * * *


Katie -- yes, I love shuffle! It reminds me how much of my music I haven't even listened to fully. Ridiculous!

Jessica -- Yes, you should definitely try a Daybook-style post at LJ! You'd make it interesting :D.

Samantha R -- Ooh, enjoy Spring! Spring and Autumn are my favourites.

Bek Axe -- We need a cheeseburger date sometime, hey?

Mothercare -- Thank you! :D (Good thoughts re. Osama, too).

Brooke -- So, so true. It's just a messy situation all round.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daybook #8

Outside my window it's Autumn -- really, truly, finally, delicious Autumn! The days are bright and sunny, crisp and fair, and the nights are cool and cosy. Also, there's lots and lots of rain. FAVOURITE.

I have been listening to old music lately. You know how you overplay music until you really need a break, and then you rediscover it again -- gleefully -- later? Yep. I've been enjoying Kutless's Strong Tower, an awesome worship album with some newer worship tracks as well as covers of songs I remember from the days when I freezed my knees off at Sunday school classes in the old CWA hall in Singleton.

I have been wearing cardigans. Cardigan weather hurrah!

I am thankful for my beautiful niece, who turns four in just eight days. I never expected to love this extraordinary little person so much, but everything she says and does amazes and impresses me. And I love that already we can be BFFs and share our delight for good books and art supplies.

I am pondering -- and have been pondering for the last week, in full essay-writing immersion -- Karl Marx's theory of social change. Ah Marx, you thought you were so scientific but inside you were such a Utopian dreamer!

I am reading When We Were Young, a collection of writers' reminiscences of their childhoods. I have a thing for childhood stories, as well as a weird penchant for processes -- especially tales of how creative people came into their gifts. This book combines both.

I am creating a schedule and a day-to-day plan as life in the new Housie settles into something of a normal routine.

I am hoping and praying for opportunities and for courage.

I am looking forward to a shopping trip with my mother and little bro tomorrow; being done with this essay; a cheeseburger date with Ruth on Friday.

A picture-thought I'm sharing is of paper starlight, part of the happy-sparkly decor at a friend's engagement party on the weekend.

* * * * *


You all -- had such excellent, thoughtful things to say in response to my last post that I can't possibly reply to all that wisdom here. But thank you. I think Katie summed it up nicely: Vengeance never solved any problems ever.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ding dong, the witch is dead?

It feels like two or more historically significant moments always go hand-in-hand. Over Friday and Saturday, Twitter was buzzing with enthusiasm about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton -- and then yesterday there was just as much hype over the death of Osama bin Laden. Honestly, I don't need to watch the news anymore to get headlines; Twitter is usually the first to let me in on anything. (I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, but that's beside the point anyway.)

What stood out to me most about the responses popping up in the whole conglomerate of social media was the immediacy of the joking, the rejoicing, and the mocking enthusiasm -- not for the royal wedding, but for the death of Bin Laden. Interestingly, even those too-cool-for-school bloggers and tweeters who groaned and rolled their eyes at the wedding frenzy were willing to jump in and remark gleefully on the Bin Laden story. It feels a little skewed when it's considered more intellectually appropriate to rejoice in someone's death than to celebrate someone else's marriage. Already, jokes are running hot.

I'm super glad I'm not in any position of power or responsibility to have to make the kind of calls that result in execution (or in sending others to death and danger). It follows, then, that I don't have any conclusions about whether or not Osama bin Laden's death was the right course of action. I really have no idea; I will gladly leave that to the authorities, and I have immense respect for the military personnel who follow orders and sometimes have to do hard things to pursue peace. They have to make black and white decisions in entirely grey areas.

But we, who are in no position to make those decisions, can still decide how we respond to them. Relief is one thing, but rejoicing is quite another -- especially if we choose to identify ourselves as Christians or (in the case of the US) as a Christian nation. If that's the case, then we need to think and respond Christianly to world events.

A friend posted these Scriptures on Tumblr:

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live (Ezekiel 18:32). Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles (Proverbs 24:17).

I think those quotes say it all. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

(Okay, back to your regularly scheduled internetting. I actually shrink from chiming in on issues like this, but I've resolved to live an examined life through this blog, and this is all part of... examining life!)

* * * * *


Un -- it was so yum :) Nice code-name, by the way.

Cara -- tiger bread is a white loaf with a crackly, stripy brown crust. So good.

Katie -- it really was.

Asea -- yeah, come for breakfast this weekend! :)

Laura Elizabeth -- YUM. Bananas are definitely good on french toast. Okay, I'll let you in on my ultimate french toast secret which I only have incredibly rarely because it's so extreme -- a nutella sandwich french-toasted with banana and maple syrup on top. MMMMMM.

Lauren -- I thought it looked like potato, too. That would be pretty yum in itself :).

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