Wednesday, August 28, 2013


And when towards the sea you leap,
He looks as if he were asleep.

But when you once get in his range,
His whole demeanor seems to change.

He throws his body right about,
And his true character comes out.

It's no use crying or appealing,
He seems to lose all decent feeling.

After this warning you will wish
To keep clear of this treacherous fish.
from The Shark, by Lord Alfred Douglas

Well of course I wasn't referring to this sweet Guppy!

She's a custom order Guppy girl, made with the sweetest vintage flannel, and measuring a whopping 17" (well, whopping as far as guppies go). I hadn't been crafting for quite awhile, and didn't realise I was all out of stuffing, so Guppy girl had to go about half-stuffed for a few days.

Eventually, though, she was all ready to go to her new home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been certified "Cozy and Huggable" by Ro :)

Have a super lovely rest of the week!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

go ahead and say it

I don't watch TV much, relying instead on the nice folks at YouTube for entertainment. Well, one thing I watch with avid, fanatical interest are the old black-and-white movies, and TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. As long as it's black-and-white, and predates the mid 60s, I'll watch it. I love the fashions and the interior decor and the big, open typefaces. I love the crisp, refined accents and the painfully corny special effects. I love the way switchboard operators had to connect every phone call, and the way front doors didn't seem to have peepholes. I love how filling the car's gas tank cost $4.42.

Well, one thing that's especially fun about these old shows is that they'd show actors in all their fascinating, youthful glory -- some of them, still alive today, continue to show a vestige of what once was; others bear only a pale, haggard resemblance, so that you're taken by surprise when you see the credits, and think, "O my goodness! That was fill-in-the-blanks??".

So, during this period of brief, stolen bloggy moments, I thought I'd use my regular Go ahead and say it feature to quickly post some of my own black-and-white eye candy favourites. I'm pretty sure you'll agree -- they don't make 'em like they used to! First up -- Robert Redford :)

"Two photos of this guy just weren't enough".

Monday, August 19, 2013

on Facebook and "friends"

Pooh and Piglet illustration by E.H. Shepard

Hi all, just a quick little post today (please forgive any typos, grammatical errors and general ineloquence -- I have to rush through these things for now you know lol!).

Well, I'd popped into Facebook, and while I was there, I decided to do something I'd been wanting to for awhile -- go through my already small Friends list and Unfriend anyone with whom I hadn't interacted for ages, and whom I knew ultimately didn't give two hoots about me or my family.

As I Unfriended these people, I wondered why I'd even Friended them to begin with; I concluded it had been some sort of vague sentimentality, or a fleeting excitement at touching base again with someone I hadn't seen for decades. But after the initial rush of "how have you beens", communication quickly died and we became largely indifferent to each other, so why keep them on, burdening them with boring updates about myself?

As you might guess, I am not one of those people who have hundreds and thousands of FB "friends". I don't quite understand the people who do, and can only conclude that they need them for work, or else they're immensely entertaining and popular, and simply can't help themselves.

My one girlfriend has some 300 friends, for instance; on asking her if she spoke with all these people regularly, or if she even really knew who they all were, she frankly admitted she didn't (I won't even ask the guy who has 2,346 "friends"). Some of them were people she'd met only once or twice at a meeting or a party and then never saw again; others were friends of friends of friends, people she didn't even know, but who seemed to feel compelled to extend their social ripple as widely, albeit meaninglessly, as possible.

I can't help but wonder how FB affects one's concept of friendship. Many people seem to use their status updates as substitutes for get-togethers, or phone calls; comments and emoticons are used to show interest or concern. There is a sort of superficiality about it all, an implication that all it takes is a quick click of a button to be considered a friend.

Considering all the activity I see people engaged in on FB, I realise I've barely scratched the surface of what the whole thing is about. It was ages before I finally joined the site -- while the rest of the world was already fully immersed in friending, poking and gaming -- and I did so eventually in order to get in touch with an old friend from university.

For me personally, FB is wonderfully useful for things like that, and keeping in touch with those who are overseas. I post the odd photo or comment now and then primarily to keep in touch with them, and that's about the extent of my FB activity. I'm rarely on, but the times I am, I see people posting a million and one things, from political gripes to what they eat every day.

(My personal bugbear were the posts detailing every little thing their kids said or did, so I was thrilled to discover the feature that lets one silence specific people who do that FB equivalent of taking out a whole string of photos from their wallet and shoving it at you. These are the sorts of things your friends would probably never do to you in person -- FB seems to bring out unaccountable things in some people).

Well, for some time I'd wanted to share an article I'd read in an old issue of Real Simple, entitled Feel Better Already. The subhead read: "So maybe you can't change your health overnight. But you can get a head start, with these 21 painless, proven ways to instantly boost your well-being (inside and out)". Well, who doesn't want to know these right!

But before I get into that, my girlfriend happened to send me an article from The Economist. I laughed out loud when I saw the title: Facebook is bad for you -- Get a life!

A recent study "has shown that the more someone uses Facebook, the less satisfied he is with life... Those who used Facebook a lot were more likely to report a decline in satisfaction than those who visited the site infrequently. In contrast, there was a positive association between the amount of direct social contact a volunteer had and how positive he felt. In other words, the more volunteers socialised in the real world, the more positive they reported feeling...".

An earlier study "found that the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook is envy. Endlessly comparing themselves with peers who have doctored their photographs, amplified their achievements and plagiarised their bons mots can leave Facebook's users more than a little green-eyed. Real-life encounters, by contrast, are more WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)" (from The Economist; read the article in its entirety here).

Well, back to the Real Simple article. Obviously I can't copy the whole thing out here, but I'll quickly share with you a few pointers. Hopefully, you'll be able to find a back issue or the article online if you're really interested (following extracts from Real Simple, April 2013).

One, Smile -- especially if you don't feel like it. "When you smile, you trigger a psychological and neurobiological alignment with positive emotions, and that can lead to healthier living. In other words: Fake it till you make it". I agree!

Here's another: Snack on dark chocolate (yay!). "In addition to its other documented health benefits, dark chocolate may help sharpen your mind... Even better, science has found evidence for what you suspected all along: Chocolate may help take the edge of stress". Get to it, people!

Then: Try Nature's chill pills. "Take a bath with Epsom salts... Put 10 drops of lavender oil (also shown to help promote a state of calm) in 2 cups of Epsom salts. Add to warm water and soak in it for 20 minutes". Those of you with bathtubs, let me know how this goes!

Next: Take a hike. Research has found that "being in nature can improve cognitive function. In one study, an hour-long trek in a woody park improved subjects' performances on memory and attention tests by as much as 20%, compared with a walk in an urban environment. Furthermore, some Japanese research has shown that a day spent in the forest can improve immune function and decrease concentrations of adrenaline and cortisol for as long as a week". Tiny remnant rainforest, here I come!

Then: Get some "microexercise". "Studies show that everything from cognition to the lymphatic system improves if we are more consistently active throughout the day... [Researchers] found that those who got short bouts of exercise (between 1 and 10 minutes) through everyday activities experienced the same benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as did those who continuously exercised for 30 minutes". Does getting a cup of tea from the kitchen count?

Next: Pull on socks at bedtime. "Swiss researchers found that people fall asleep faster when their hands and feet are warmer than the ambient temperature of the bedroom". Also if you can get your baby to sleep through the night.

And finally -- Get some perspective on Facebook. Researchers have found that "Facebook can make you feel bad about yourself, even if you're not conscious of it. People in the study who had large friend networks tended to evaluate their lives more negatively... people tend to post disproportionately positive updates... Also, the more friends you have, the more of those impossibly perfect updates you'll probably see". Yay for my tiny handful of real FB friends!

Have a super, feel-good start to the week everyone (and go for a walk with a friend)!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

random bits

Hey ho everyone! I trust all of you are doing happy and well. I'm just writing a quick post while my mother is over cuddling Jacob! This post is really Rebecca's work; these are all her pictures (except, of course, the ones I took of her). They were taken on one of our regular walks to the beach (with my little old camera, I might add); I'm always fascinated by the way children perceive and interpret their surroundings. The picture above though is of Rebecca getting ready for ballet class :)

This is a picture of a sunbird, a bird that does bear some resemblance to the hummingbird. Rebecca got some neat pictures of this little fellow, which can be seen on her blog, along with some interesting info.

This mangrove swamp leads to the sea. It used to be substantially wider in area, and teeming with wildlife such as snakes, monitor lizards and mudskippers; sadly, this has been greatly affected by rampant human encroachment and development.

Many of the trees have been here since I was little (which, trust me, was a long time ago). They have the lush quality of the trees which used to surround our home; thankfully, these ones are still surviving.

These offshore structures are called kelongs. They're made largely of wood and are supported by tall wooden beams buried several metres into the sea bed. They're used mainly for fishing, though fishermen do live in the larger ones.

There's Ro scouring the shore with her specimen-collecting bag.

Rebecca had some interesting things to say about crustaceans in her blog post. She found a study that confirmed what I always believed -- that crabs and other crustaceans do feel pain. I've always been very much against the whole boiling them alive thing, and never accepted that crap about them feeling nothing.

The seaside version of that cow skull in desert thing.

Seeing this picture made me think of Blake's Auguries of Innocence, in particular the stanza that reads: "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour".

Now this thing. We've been seeing it out at sea for days now, bobbing about and looking increasingly weird and gladiatorial. The kids have taken to calling it "the head" and rush down to the shore every time to see if it's still there (it is). Despite looking at it through binoculars -- which Rebecca made a point of bringing for that very purpose -- we still can't tell exactly what it is. I keep saying that since no one's been reported missing, it's ok. The kids keep saying he's the lone survivor of a water-treading competition.

This is a picture I took of Becky looking thoughtful and melancholy. She's been having quite a bad bout of flu, poor thing, but is on the mend now. I look at her here and marvel at how fast she's growing.

And finally -- a quick one of Jake. He's a month now, and becoming increasingly responsive; there's nothing quite like a baby smiling at one in recognition or delight -- well worth the thumb splint lol (from which I'm recovering, praise the Lord). Do drop by Becky's blog for more pictures (bigger, better ones!) and deeper insights :)

Have a blessed, peaceful week everyone!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Hi everyone! I'm taking advantage of my mother-in-law being here to share with you more awesome happy mail! The super talented Cynthia of Antiquity Travelers sent me this veritable trove of goodies -- adorable beaded fishies for the girls, and gorgeous gemstone earrings for me, as well as the cutest bracelets -- possibly for me, but which the girls quickly commandeered.

Just look at the details on these memory wire wristlets!

And check out the amazing beadwork on these fishies -- how does one even start to make these?? The girls were thrilled of course, and I'll be using my earrings at the next posh do I attend (some day... soon... ). Thank you soo much Cynthia! That quote on the back of your card is the perfect reminder to all of us :)

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Friday, August 2, 2013


Well, one thing I just had to do while my mum was helping with Jacob was a bit of crafting! I love Jakey to bits of course, but I've been quite "art-deprived" for awhile now. I'd actually been thinking about this stop-motion experiment since the last weeks of my pregnancy, but then I was just too big to get on my hands and knees and futz around with little dolls and props. So as soon as I had a free afternoon, I rushed to give this a go!

Unlike my other stop-motion efforts, this one was an experiment in fitting images to music, rather than the other way around. Well, I realised soon enough that it wasn't that easy or straightforward, but I rushed to put something together anyway while I had the opportunity! Certainly it was a good breather to have that me time. This is a song that has served as a lullaby for Jake, so hopefully you'll enjoy it, if nothing else :)

Have a peaceful, blessed rest of the week!


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