Friday, March 30, 2012

March photo-a-day, week two:

8. Window 

9. Red 

10. Loud 

11. Someone I talked to today 

12. Fork 

13. A sign 

14. Clouds

(this post is especially for Jess)

Twenty seven:

Happy birthday, Lauren. We love you quite a lot. 

* * * * *


Jess Axelby -- <3

Hannah -- and indeed it is.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What I've been up to:

  • road tripping to Sydney with my parents and littlest brother for one of my dad's classic bike race meets.
  • catching up with my very precious friend Meaghan and her equally precious family -- and meeting her niece, Carla and Alastair's gorgeous little girl, for the first time.
  • staying up entirely too late and talking about everything -- including the merits of cheeseburgers over chicken mcbites ;).
  • seeing my sister and being in raptures over my niece and nephews and how generally amazing and funny and adorable and cute they are.
  • getting to see other New-South-Wales friends briefly amidst busyness and fairytale bunting flags.
  • slogging through unsettling surprises.
  • wrapping gifts for my sister Lauren's birthday tomorrow. I am too young for my littlest sister to be turning 27. It's ridiculous.
  • seeing The Hunger Games oh, only about three times. Long rambling thoughts coming soon!
  • reading hefty stacks of information about Eleanor Aquitaine, marvelling at her feisty courage, shaking my head at her lack of marital loyalty, admiring her political chops, and feeling rather glad I didn't get in her way.
  • writing about the books I want to share with my nieces as they grow, and
  • listening to Jimmy Needham's recent release, Clear The Stage. It's exceptional. Track 4, Rock Bottom, is my favourite so far. Beautiful lyrics and classic Jimmy Needham tune: Over and over / You fill my heart with wonder / You take me by surprise / I can't believe my eyes / Wider and deeper / Just when I think I see you / I can stumble into the ocean water / I could search Your depths and never hit rock bottom.

Happy almost-weekend!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Sunday afternoon letter:

Dear you,

It's a grey, blustery, dark Sunday afternoon -- the kind of day you resent on a Monday or Tuesday because it makes you want to curl up with cocoa and a book or a black-and-white movie and, instead, you must work. But for a Sunday, it's perfect. I put Ingrid Michaelson's Everybody on repeat to keep me company while I tackled the dishes left over from a happy day of long lost friend catching-up yesterday. Afterwards, I pulled out paper and pens and my vast pile of unanswered mail and started writing some letters. It was quite delicious, a happy luxury that reminded me of being seventeen and answering mail all the time, promptly and fatly -- because we all know fat letters are the best kind. And because I was in the letter-writing mood, and because my blog has been fairly wordless lately, I decided to write a letter to you all here, even though I probably owe paper letters to half of you as well. Never mind. One can never have too many letters, surely.

Today has been like a big round pause button freezing the frame in the middle of an otherwise hectic month. It is mostly the best kind of hecticness -- good tasks to complete, good roles to fill, good people to spend time with -- but I haven't been this tired and run down for a long time, proving that even the good busyness can take it out of a person. This morning I decidedly did not want to go to church. I wanted a sleep-in instead, and to completely shake the headache that's been dogging me since last night. But I went because I couldn't get that little verse out of my mind, the 'do not forsake gathering together' bit. Of course it was good and I was happy I went. One of the songs we sang this morning was Trevor Hodge's No Other Name. The chorus has been playing over and over in my head since:
My joy in sorrow’s tears
My strength to cast out fears
No other name but Jesus, Jesus
My hope in darkest night
My broken soul’s delight
No other name but Jesus, Jesus
So rich and so good.

I'm sure I've made reference here and at livejournal -- at least in passing -- to the near-churchlessness of 2011, and the associated agonies of hunting for a church home. Church hunting is a unique and awful pain, known deeply to those who have endured it, and never forgotten. I'll shelve my ramblings on that subject, though, and instead say how restful it is to have moved beyond that stage and actually be settling into a church, one that believes the gospel, preaches it, and knows how to love people. It's a very cool thing.

I'm still meeting for Bible study with a group of guys and girls who were also mostly wandering in a churchless wasteland last year (side note: what is this disconnect that twentysomethings are feeling in relation to church these days?). I really respect this little group of people and, though I'd consider us newer friends, we're friends nevertheless. This semester we're digging through John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life together and, though we're only two weeks in, already it's conviction city. And I mean that in a good way.

This week looks set to be a big one. There's another book review to finish for YLCF's March of Books, mountains of homework for uni (including an essay due three weeks earlier than I was at first informed, eep!), and then a bunch of very fun stuff: catch-ups with beloved and faraway friends and family, and the 12.01am opening night screening of The Hunger Games. To say I'm excited about seeing this film is a ridiculous understatement, since the books prompted such an emotional investment and are still my favourite take on YA dystopia. I truly hope the movie does them justice (I believe it will) and I'm also just a little bit giddy at the thought of seeing it before my northern hemispherean friends. Normally we get everything just a little bit later than you northerners. Not so this time!

I'll close here because this is bordering on too long by blogland standards. I'll leave you with three pictures from a morning beach photo-walk with Anastasia on Tuesday. Sand is really quite cool.

Happy Sunday evening, friends. Be cosy!


* * * * *


Laura Elizabeth -- Kat made a very cool Daria indeed! Her only flaw was not being gloomy enough. She's too naturally happy! Your description of your little-girl reading habits made me visualise you as the subject of a cute painting by an artist (from the fifties, I think) who painted the most beautiful pictures. Of course I am totally blanking on her name but I cannot rest until I work out who it is -- and link to her art, of course!

Jess Axelby -- how funny if we did double up again! Just a case of great minds thinking alike, hey? ;)

Brenda -- I always wish away my seasons of wordlessness, but I'm sure they're just part of the natural ebb and flow of thinking and writing.

Un -- you're not the only one who thought it looked like the secret garden :)

Hannah -- yes! It truly is a gorgeous spot.

Natasha -- it's lovely to be able to have a place like this, a little bit solitary and a lot sunny -- even though I'm right in the midst of suburbia.

Katie -- spoken like a true reader!

Staish -- I only wish I got some clear photos of when you were actually receiving your award. You're just a blur with blue shoes!

MME -- children's books! Aren't they the best?

Sarah -- I honestly feel like the 90s weren't long enough ago to immortalise in dress-ups, but apparently they are!

Chantel -- pin away, by all means. I'm honoured :)

Gretchen -- it truly is a lovely spot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pages under the sun:

When I was a little girl, I could stick myself away in a corner and read for hours on end, and it was totally the life. Then came high school and work and the real world and, while I still loved reading, I kind of forgot how to actually do that for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Reading became something I could do in tiny moments or for five minutes at the end of the day before falling asleep.

When I returned to studying, I was miffed to discover I had completely lost the ability to read for any real period of time without dozing off. Tragic! So part of my tertiary education has been a re-education in reading, and how to keep it up for longer than ten minutes. Believe it or not, I'm still learning. But when I have a massive stack of pages to get through, one of my favourite things is to take my quilt and book pile out to the grassy patch in front of my little verandah. I get to soak up some vitamin D while soaking up the words, and it helps me stay awake! Plus, the view is just gorgeous.

Where's your favourite place to read?

Project 52: forty

-- technically I'm cheating here, since obviously I didn't take this picture.
But it was taken with my camera, by my sister Lauren, at my request,
so it totally counts, right? This is my beautiful friend Kat and I,
at Sara's 21st party -- 90s themed! Kat is Daria; I'm Denise Huxtable.

* * * * *


Hannah -- that's SO true. There are seasons of quietness, and then seasons of intense creative fury!


I sit here in silence writing this small volume of words,
and it seems to me the most public thing I ever have done.

[Richard Rodriguez]

One day last week I realised that, lately, I’ve been communicating to you more in pictures than in words. That jarred with me. Words are meant to be my thing. Pictures are the accessory.

Words are my truest language -- at least, that's how I feel. I like talking, but I love writing. Talking is easy and expected and cultural, and society usually thanks us for it. But the most important things I want to say tie up my tongue and choke me. They bring a lump to my throat or contort my face. After all, it’s only in the movies that people really look beautiful when they cry.

Writing, though -- writing is something else. I can think words through. I can pause, re-say things in the clearest way. I can wait, move on, go slowly, totter around chasing after the right phrase. Words are a luxury. And, even though I’m still a newborn in this world of words, writing feels like the nearest I can get to being myself, the most real and honest version of me.

It’s the same with others who find words (on page, on screen) to be their mother tongue. I know these peoples' faces and I know their voices, but I feel like I know the completeness of who they are when I get to read their words, too. Reading them means looking inside of the person, beyond the smile and the face and – permit to be cheesy for just a moment – into their heart.

I think that’s why my current state of relative wordlessness has me floundering. It's like I'm suddenly mute or stumbling around with only a foreign language to get me through.

I was unsettled by it, but I realise now that we're all wordless once in a while. Sooner or later the stories will push their way to the surface. They always do. In the meantime, pictures.

PS. 400th post!

* * * * *


Laura Elizabeth -- I'm glad I'm still doing the March Photo-A-Day thing, but I've found it a lot harder to take creative pictures of the prompt words. My pictures feel bland and boring (especially this week). So maybe that makes you feel happier about not doing it?

Hannah -- ah YES! Embossing on book covers is amazing! I just like running my fingers over lumpy bumpy book covers.

Katie -- glad you enjoyed the pictures! Secretly coveting iPhones and their far superior camera.

Thelittlebluefishy -- I say don't even worry about catching up! Just start from that day's date and then you can enjoy taking pictures without feeling behind. It's so much fun!

Carla -- ashamed to say YES, I do always have that many books on my bedside table. Obviously the selection changes, but it's always that ridiculous.

Un -- that little HEY graffiti always makes me happy :)

Lauren -- absolutely it doesn't matter if it's not the right day! If a rule breaks down the fun factor, get rid of the rule :). I'm happy you're playing along.

Jess Axelby -- baby smiles might just be the best smiles :). Hey, are you blogging your #marchphotoaday pics, or instagramming them or what? I want to lurk!

Elin -- thank you!

Sarah -- my pleasure! Thank you for commenting :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March photo-a-day, week one:

1. up

2. fruit

3. my neighbourhood

4. bedside

5. a smile

6. 5pm

7. something I wore

How are your #marchphotoaday shots looking?

* * * * *


Caitlin -- I'm only a couple of chapters into Veneer, but it's proving to be an excellent read so far.

Brenda -- you'll have to let me know if you end up reading any of them :).

BushMaid -- :D Reading Like A Writer is EXCELLENT. I learnt heaps from it.

Rebecca Simon -- haha! I didn't think of the relationship between Eggs and your husby. Hee! And yes, Ethel Turner was one of my childhood favourites, and even as a grownup, her books still work for me.

Rach da Axe -- Finish This Book is like a journal of creativity. It's basically an entire manual sending you on little secret missions and getting you to do creative mini projects. It's fun and quirky! I think you'd love it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ten beautiful book covers:

Top Ten Tuesday is a fabulous book-blogging tradition created by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. To tie in with YLCF's March of the Books, I'm playing along with Top Ten Tuesdays -- and secretly hoping it'll become a habit.

This week's theme is 10 favourite covers and I probably should confess: I'm not the best person to be talking about covers of books. The swirly ones with beautiful imagery don't call out to me as much as the simpler ones do. You probably won't find an abundance of pretty books on my bookshelves because I don't generally buy for the covers. Nevertheless, this afternoon I walked throughout my house plucking books from my various bookshelves and stacks to-be-read, searching for the ones with the covers I love the most. These are what I came up with:

Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick.
This is a perfect example of the kind of cover design that appeals to me. It's spare, fresh, and classic. The typography is enduring, and the calligraphy is just right.

Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society by Timothy Willard and Jason Locy.
The colour is terrible, but the type -- bold and stark front and centre -- is fantastic.

Finish This Book by Keri Smith.
Keri Smith is a genius and an artist. Her book looks like something I'd want to make for myself, and the fact that the cover consists entirely of hand-drawn lettering makes it just so cool.

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien.
If I someday wrote a book, and it got published, and the cover looked anywhere as cool as this, I would be delirious. This is beautiful. Again, it's all about the type (are we detecting a pattern?), but the graphic elements are perfect, too. Whoever designed this cover should totally get a raise.

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli.
No title necessary -- just the picture. Genius.

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
I once swore I would never read a book in which the author's name appears larger than the title on its cover. It suggests -- or so I argued -- that the book is sold purely on the basis of the author's past work, and not on its own merit. I obviously broke that vow (it was a silly vow anyway), and this book is one of my vow-breakers. More hand-lettered type, and a cute artwork, too.

Mess by Keri Smith.
Everything I said about Finish This Book also applies here. Looovely!

Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose.
I feel my love for the content of this book made me love the outside irrationally, because now I'm looking at it and it's cute and lovely, but it's not amazing the way Birthmarked is amazing. See? I love books the way I love people. Once I know them and love the insides, it's hard to tell whether they're actually attractive or not because they just ARE.

Sagas of the Icelanders.
There's Icelandic hills and a dragon's head, you know. Plus, this book is super-fat and the edges of the pages are raw and deckle-edged, and overall, it's just really nice to hold in your hands.

The Family at Misrule and Little Mother Meg by Ethel Turner.
Like how I squeezed these in two-for-one? I've had these books since I was in my early teens, and I LOVE the covers. Plus, it's nice that I have some traditionally cute books to share in this post, proving I'm not just obsessed with bare covers and type. I devoured these books hundreds of times in various different imprints, but these remain my favourite covers. I read an article about the artist which discussed how they (she? I think the artist was a woman) crafted her paintings from photos of people she thought resembled the characters in the books. Perhaps that explains why the paintings look so real. And yeah, I admit I had a little-girl crush on grown-up Bunty in Little Mother Meg. He just looks so clean-cut and lovely, and he's so changed and matured from who he is in Misrule. He turned out quite the sweetie.

* * *

Sigh. I guess my book-cover-lovin' styles are a little weird. You should see the books I picked for my "top ten battered old books whose covers I love" post. It's like I figure the daggier the better when it comes to secondhand books -- but I'll save those for another post.

How about you? What cover designs do you love? Or does the cover mean very little to you?

* * * * *


Jessica -- don't worry! I'm behind on blog commenting and reading myself.

Un -- I think you're right! The fact that there's only this little grainy square to work with does, in a sense, make the picture-taking easier. It's like it has to be even more amazing when you have a good camera, too. However, of course that's not the case! Just taking the pictures themselves is awesome. They don't all have to be artworks! (Make sure you email me yours, okay?)

Amanda -- yes! They're just so happy to look at!

Brenda -- absolutely! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

[lately] a spot of colour II:

I couldn't resist sharing a few more snaps from our visit to GoMA's Look Now, See Forever exhibit by Yayoi Kusama. I know nothing about art criticism or art history, but these works were just a joy to behold, full of exuberance, life, and colour. I love the fact that they are the works of an older artist, someone who, in spite of her age, has never forgotten how to look at life from a different angle.

Look Now, See Forever is on for just six more days, until the 11th of March.
If you can't get there, this link will take you to an interactive online catalogue.

Project 52: thirty-nine

Happy graduation day, Staish!

* * * * *


thelittlebluefishy -- yes! The
changing is the nicest part. Even the leaves know it's a new season! I'm jealous your birthday's in Autumn. My birthday's in the blusteriest, greyest part of Winter.

Brenda -- yay! I hope you do :).

Jess Axelby -- you should totally do a photoaday, especially since you're in an amazing new environment :D.

Cara -- YAY! I'm glad you'll be joining in the photo project! I agree with you; practice
has to help, surely. At least, I hope it does (otherwise I'd have not even a faint whisper of a chance to improve). I'm so glad you've been off adventuring to see your wee chubby nephew. What fun :D.

Katie -- I'll share them!

Un -- I'm ridiculously excited that you and Sam are thinking of doing the photo challenge! It really is fun, and it's a good reminder to take pictures each day. Thanks for being keen; I'll put my attempts on my blog just for you. They
are grainy iPod photos, but that's rustic and charming... right?

Caitlin -- it's not too much trouble at all :D. I'll maybe post them in weekly batches, I think.

Laura Elizabeth -- Okay, I really need to try and finish
The Shifting Fog, since you love it so much. I think maybe I've turned into a lazy reader? The size alone intimidates me! PS. Thank you for today. It was super cool hanging out with you and discussing great books and movies. PPS. It is more imperative that you post a vlog than that I do. Simply because I say it is.

Bloss -- August babies UNITE! You wrangled it pretty well getting two winters this year -- champion! Although maybe, as a result, Spring will be even more beloved for you when it comes around in September. Mm, meaty books like
Knowing God definitely require a re-read to take all the solid stuff in. I didn't read as much as I would've liked to over the Summer so it's hard to pick a favourite, but I've just started reading Veneer and it's so good. It's a discussion of how so much of our interactions these days involve us presenting a "profile" to the world, and how that really has nothing in common with genuine Christianity. It's intriguing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Marching on:

There are so many possible and overused puns to be created about March, and -- aren't you proud of me? -- I resisted them all except for that teeny and probably not too cheesy one right there in my post title. I'm excited about March, for a bunch of reasons. It signals the beginning of Autumn. It contains my sister Lauren's birthday. And there are a heap of fun, creative things happening throughout this month, too.

Today my teeny little group of writer-friends (newly christened The Fig Tree Writers) handed in a grant proposal to our local arts council in pursuit of funding for a two-day screenwriting workshop with super-cool wordsman (and lecturer and published author and scriptwriter) Dr. Venero Armanno. My role in pulling together the proposal has been fairly minor compared to the work of the other ladies, but it's been exciting to see the process evolve and be behind-the-scenes on the chasing around, the gathering of potential attendees, the flurry of emails back and forth, and the meetings. Now to sit back and wait -- a few months! -- before we find out if our grant's been approved. Here's hoping!

What else? I'm taking part in the #marchphotoaday challenge, curated by the lovely photographer-lady fatmumslim, who came up with the list of prompts. I joined #janphotoaday too late to really get involved, and loved #febphotoaday a LOT, so I was excited to get a new month's worth of fun photography challenges. The idea is to take a picture each day, inspired by that date's photo prompt (see up there?). How you interpret that prompt is completely up to you -- and getting to see the different ways everyone does that is one of the fun parts of the project.

I'll be posting my pictures to instagram (my handle there is ohdeardanielle) where it's easy to follow everyone's progress by visiting the #marchphotoaday hashtag. However, you can engage in this project in whatever format you want. If you don't have an iPhone or iPod touch, take pictures with your digital camera (and post them to your blog!). It would also be a great way to reacquaint yourself with a film camera you haven't played with in a while. There are so many fun ways to do this.

Another March happening I'm excited about is the March of Books over at I'm singing that same old song when I tell you that I really, really like books. It only follows, then, that an entire month dedicated to all things bookish has to be a lot of fun. Throughout the month, YLCF team writers will be posting book reviews and book-related talk (I've got three posts lined up). There's also an opportunity for you to be involved (and maybe make more blogging friends at the same time) by posting reviews to your own blog, and sharing in blog link-ups throughout the month. There are some cool book giveaways, too -- and who doesn't love free books? So do join us for that little bookity bloggity adventure.

Of course, all that just serves to remind me that I am yet to do anything very concrete with my little March of the Penguins project. I've read the first book in my epic journey, and once I was done, I started dreaming about doing a video post to review it. Then I got scared off that idea, and I stopped altogether. Silly. March would be prime time for me to reignite the Penguin book review extravanganza flame -- especially since I get double the pun value. Originally the joke was on the Penguins bit, but with it being March now, my project title packs a double-pun punch -- or maybe it just kills two (flightless) birds with one stone?

Okay I'll stop now, but before I go: what is the one best book you read over Summer (or Winter, if you're in that part of the world)? To make it even pickier, no re-reads allowed. It has to be a first-time read.

* * * * *


Laura Elizabeth -- oh, that is a fabulous name! Can you please adopt a newborn baby tomorrow and name it Autumn? Thank you. Also, I agree with your reasons for liking Autumn and Spring, and that's probably why they both vie for position as my favourite season.

Carla & Alastair -- Carla, you know so much more about plants than me. I had no idea what it was called! You're right; it would make an AMAZING wedding bouquet. Also, I hadn't actually put "polar bear" and "groom" together in my head, so when you said that, I started imagining a polar bear in a suit, and... it was quite handsome.

Joy -- happy Autumn to you, too! As I was saying to Laura above, Autumn and Spring fight for favourites with me. Whichever one is coming the soonest usually gets to be my favourite :).

Hannah -- you do write the cheeriest little blog comments! Thank you for being a sweetie. xx

Lauren -- <3

Elizabeth -- :D

Un -- she's so "photonogenic" ;)

Katie -- isn't it a lovely chair? It was my Mum's gift to my Dad for Christmas. I'm a tad envious.

Meaghan -- ha! If I started to turn brown and crinkly like an Autumn leaf, I'll take a picture of myself and post it here :D.

Rebecca Simon -- and as if to spite us, Summer's just turned up the heat over the last few days, vindictive little season that it is!

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