Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 345: Keeping Me Busy

Oops. I think I got 'blog three times a week' and 'blog every three weeks' mixed up. Here's what is keeping me away from the written word:

The Tour. De France. My one and only sporting go-to. I couldn't gives a fiddle about World Cup soccer or the upcoming Commonwealth Games (unless there is going to be diving, gymnastics, synchronised swimming or ice skating). But the tour will keep me up well, well beyond bedtime—and I am talking about my bedtime, which is well, well beyond anybody else's bedtime. How good was the day with the cobblestones? Sensational riding—they still averaged out at a ridiculous amount of kilometers an hour and came over the line looking like they had just finished Tough Mudder. A tough Mudder would probably have been easier. Talk all you like about drugs in the Tour de France, there are some who don't indulge—I am convinced. You can see it in their faces. And what they do is incredible. Plus there's the scenery.

The flu. What? Again? If this keeps up maybe I will have to start getting the virus injected into my arm, and the bag of sweets, after all. Then if my theory pans out that I will get the flu from having the injection, it will at least be three times less than I'm currently averaging per year.

The house hunting. It continues. I know it seems like a long time but what you have to remember is I work shifts, my other half works (different) shifts, showings happen on Saturdays. The chances of those three things lining up are similar to some rare meteorological events, and also requires two pieces of cardboard, one with a pinhole in it, to safety protect your eyes while viewing. We have been home from holidays for five weeks, but have only been able to go looking for two days in that time. Saying that, we do have a house on our radar. I don't want to put the mozz on it, so I won't say much here, but keep your eyes peeled for more news. Trawling the Internet for other options and getting the finances sorted are taking up a lot of thinking-time, if not doing-time as well! I hate tax. So much. So, so much.

List_Addict               Irene

The fashion mags. A dear friend at work is finding and passing on a treasury of fashion magazines for me to pour over. I've said it before that I can never justify buying them, but who can resist looking at them. They do take up a fair bit of reading-at-work time that I then make up at home with reading instead of blogging, but they do remind me of a couple of the most important things in this 'fashion blogger' game: don't take it so seriously, and, do take it over the top!

The [name omitted]. [Name omitted] and [name omitted] are running, during July, their inaugural [name omitted] fitness challenge. The idea is to do [detail omitted] in [detail omitted]. I haven't gone out of my way in any awfully extravagant manner to exercise, but I have walked to do errands, walked to work a couple of times and done some walks during work, around and around the car park. I've had four days unfortunately where I scored a grand total of zero miles, most often because I spent the whole day in bed, but I am just short of thirty [detail omitted] so far and don't doubt I will make it. I don't have a car. It is amazing how creative you get avoiding walking. I wait for the boy to go shopping to do mine; I catch the tram to work. I was about to post this blog when I noticed that the ladies organising this challenge had started another one for next month. I went to sign up. In their rules they stipulated that people had to be doing some sort of organised gym class or session to qualify for time spent doing it: that 'errands' or 'travelling' and similar activities were not valid, and that people who thought they were, were cheating themselves. Until then I had felt proud that I had, to some small degree, stepped back from finding the lazy way out of my no car situation. I wrote them a friendly Facebook note and de-joined the group. But it doesn't mean that I will get back precious blogging time, because despite not being a 'proper' exerciser, I am going to continue trying to get my moving ratio higher. Just on my own this time.

Speak to you soon: maybe this week, maybe in three weeks time!

The Outfit
Dress: Op-shopped
Jacket: Thrifted, Salvation Army, Santa Fe, NM
Tights: Retail
Boots: Doc Martens

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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On the Daily Express

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 344: A Rocking Horse

Here, at near enough mid-way through the year, a time when tax should be all I am thinking of, is the abysmal progress—in little, cantaloupe coloured, visual-deterrents-to-denial bar graphs—of my many book challenges. In case you were wondering about it while you did dishes.


So easy: everything I read qualifies. But this is all about numbers. I pledged to read a hundred and one books. I am up to seventeen.

101 Books

Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014:

I nominated books for this when I signed up. Do you think it is cheating to change them if it means I can say I have read more? I'm a purist, so at only halfway, I am saying no. Closer to the end of the year I may change that—The Handmaid's Tale is a Governor General and Authur C Clark Award winner after all! Puristically though, I have read one book in this challenge: Meg Cabot's The Boy Next Door.

12 Books

Semi-Charmed Summer Book Challenge 2014 (SCSBC14):

5 Points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long—Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Gregory Maguire (372 pages, 4 stars)

20 Points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014—Divergent, Veronica Roth (487 pages, 5 stars)

200 Points

Around The World in Twelve Books Challenge:

I am forty-two per cent of the way through book one. Do I make that sound impressive? See the bar for how un-impressive that is. I am currently reading Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor, set in Nigeria. Short stories. Magical realism. More about that when I finish.

12 Books

Tournament of Books (ToB):

Mmm. This is all about newish books: all the books in the tournament are selected from those published in 2013. I only own one at the minute but because it is a real book and my pile is a teetering injury risk, I am popping off right now to buy an e-book so I can start working this list. Okay, I am back from my shopping expedition. I chose via the lowest common denominator—money. Is that awful? I am trying to buy a book room with a house attached to it remember! Next on my TBR e-book pile is Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things.

17 Books

Irene               List_Addict

While I have you (because face it, if you are still reading then you may have a little bit of an interest in books), and (can you tell I am hurt by the fact my best friend won't read blogs I write about books), but while I have you, here is a tweet-sized run down of what I have finished lately. All in one place. Concise. Quick.

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters; Mark Dunn; 4 stars

Ultimate fun equals playing with language. Epistolary novel that literally loses a letter each time a tile falls from the statue of Nevin Nollop, author of 'The quick brown fox jumps over the laxy dog'. Until someone makes a new pangram.

Airframe; Michael Crichton; 4 stars

Politics, espionage and capitalistic greed don't make good partners with airplane maintenance and media representation for the average passenger. Don't read before flying.

Highland Surrender; Tracy Brogan; 3 stars

Typical girl's-brothers-make-her-marry-a-boy-from-warring-clan, girl-hates-boy, boy-is-perplexed-because-he's-basically-nice-despite-his-clan-alliances, girl-comes-round, brothers-get-it-in-the-end. Don't usually read them. Didn't mind it.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Gregory Maguire; 4 stars

Recycle, upcycle, refashion, retell. Cinderella rewritten from a stepsister's p.o.v. Explores what beauty means. Timely in a society where it means 'selfie'.

23 Shades of Black; KJA Wishnia; 4 stars

Female, Latina. It's a struggle being a cop in NYC. But at least your author makes you appear both vunerable and superhuman. Punk, art, toxic waste skew the crime genre norm, but not believably.

Divergent; Veronica Roth; 5 stars

Can't help picturing Jennifer Lawrence. Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. To see the ideal in human traits is to ignore their downfalls. It's sure to fall apart. Loved it despite its issues—see a literary criticism class near to you for further.

Case Histories; Kate Atkinson; 4 stars

Flawed but charming detective; check. Multiple interwoven plots and intrigues; check. Quiet, small, powerful writing packed into character filled vignettes; not expecting that. New favourite author. One of.

The Handmaid's Tale; Margaret Atwood; 5 stars

Dystopia without fight scenes that require special effects budget and stuntmen. Explores both the frivolity of human nature in the late twentieth century, and our right to have it.

The Outfit
A Green Velvet Dress Many Ways
Way One: Itself
Dress: Op-shopped
Earrings: Retail

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 313: Last Thoughts

Even though I am (undeniably, but denied anyway) getting older, I have rarely had funerals to attend. It's a good complaint. I am sure the statistics will change. Maybe it is part of what makes me able to get through a work day without loosing all my faith in the human race, but I feel like I have an almost Monty Python/absurdist relationship with death. I'm not afraid, I'm not regretful. The sadness of death is always sadness for the ones who don't experience it, for the ones, instead, who witness it. We recently lost a gentleman from work. The funeral was this week. At the service someone said that he was nicknamed 'Grumpy'. I must have been lucky because I never thought he was. To me he was always cheerful despite what was a life-long battle with disease, mostly acute diabetes. He was quirky, conversational, interesting and curious. He was patient and kind. He worked so hard in our stressful, highly-paced, responsibility-ridden positions in a way that I found respectful and professional—not everybody does. I didn't work in the same area as he did often, so maybe this isn't everyone's experience; it was mine. And not always working in the same area meant that I had a higher chance of being on the same breaks as he. And breaks are where you get a better chance to talk to people. He fell ill before we got back from holidays and so the space between his being there and his not, in my life, seems much larger. For others it is one day to the next. But under everything, for me, one feeling I have—and let me explain before you judge—is relief. Living is hard work. And that is before anything like the sort of thing that our friend lived with: constant, lifestyle-affecting illness, operations and medications, dialysis numerous times a week that required sleeping overnight on the machines in the hospital. He suffered a heart attack a week before he passed and they werent sure how long he was away before they brought him back, not sure how much damage there was. It's over R——. No more pain, no more worrying, no more suffering. Maybe not even awareness. Peace. For everyone here worry, pain, suffering and awareness still persist, in an increased way for many, as the days remain close to his passing, but for him, not. To me, that is a relief. R.I.P.

List_Addict               Irene

The service did make me think about what I would like to happen for my own funeral. This is where the absurdist level will kick in for sure: don't read on if you take death seriously. I just can't. If When If I die, anyone roped into being involved in the after effects can take this current post, made this day, in lieu of all past, and up and until any such later-dated changes, to be the last and final requests for my last rites. Firstly, you can resuscitate. But only if I am coming back the way I was when I went, or more quirky. Don't leave me on machines unless the same outcome is guaranteed either. Unplug. Give away every single useful organ. I'll try and organise it, because space is of a premium, but I would rather be buried, not burnt. I want the big stone gesture, the return to the earth. If it is a real issue getting space, then eaten by birds is my second choice. Make my chapel a tiny, tiny one. I would never fill the room like R—— did, but if the room is tiny, it may seem the same. The thing I am having the most difficulty with though, is the music. Song lyrics seem so much more poignant at funerals. It makes me wonder who chooses them. Are there good funeral songs? Do writers know that when they pen them? Can you choose our own funeral songs when, really, and once again, the funeral is for those left behind? What would you want your funeral song to say about you? I have spent the last twenty minutes going through the songs on my i-pod. My funeral curator would not need to search further. But they would need to be discerning: 'Big Socks', 'The Tennessee Bird Walk' and 'Dumb Ways to Die' are all favourites, but totally unsuitable. If I knew me they way I do, which nobody really does, the song most likely to make me cry at my own funeral would be 'The Wind Knows my Name'.

The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go red swing jacket that takes too much ironing for too little return and pants which are worn through in some seriously embarrassing areas
Jacket: Op-shopped
Pants: Primark
Necklace: Retail
Shoes: Op-shopped

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 312: You Could Read Something Else

It is reckoning time. The Literary Junkies June round-up. If you are here for amazing fashion, can I recommend you visit Ari or Tamara instead; if you are here for naked bike rides, can I suggest Melanie may be more what you need; if it was engaging repartee you wanted, maybe go visit Sally. But if hearing me rattle on and on about books in a monthly review of all things bookish, an exercise which always ends up longer than polite society deems acceptable, then you're in the right place: HERE! [I can feel you clicking the 'X' button from here B——, don't think I can't!].

Q: What are you reading? Tell us about it!

A: The attempt to get the book pile to a reasonable size is marching steadily in the wrong direction despite having blitzed through quite a few books on my recent holidays. New to the currently reading pile are three books courtesy of my latest Book Riot Quarterly Box. This quarter was all about genre, and the team decided to get us to stretch our genre-ic legs by trying something that we might not ordinarily read: Romance, YA ('Young Adult' in case you haven't picked up a book since the latest genre phenomenon hit town) and Fantasy. In that order, the new books are A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah McLean, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King, and, The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin. They have literally hit the pile in the last few days; I have yet to start any of the three so I can't tell you about them—I don't like to read blurbs, it gives too much away!

Q: Library or bookstore?

A: I love the idea, and the institutions, of libraries, but I am a keeper of books and so the bookstore, real and virtual, is my place. A girl can't have a book-room full of books that have to be returned to someone else's book-room every two weeks now, can she? When I find my perfect house with its amazing book-room, I dare say I will have to spend some more time in bookstores because a shelf seems like a lot of books, but a room full of shelves will need quite a few more. What a shame. Maybe I turn make my book-room into a library!

List_Addict               Irene

Q: What book(s) have you read and re-read several times?

A: I am currently re-reading the Millennium series. Are they going to make another movie? I'm missing my Daniel Craig 'Blomkvist'. But the series or books I have re-read the most would be a close tie between the Harry Potters and The Great Gatsby. I re-read Fitzgerald because of the magic of the language; I re-read the series' because it puts into perspective what amazing writing-engineering feats they are.

Q: What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

A: I can't recall not loving to read and so it is hard to say what started it all. I would read Nancy Drew and Famous Five books in single sittings during my parents naps; I would sneak into the conservatory (for want of a better description of what that room actually was) and read books by torchlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. I think I must have brought reading over from the last life—I don't think I have a starting date.

Q: Who's your favorite author? Tell us so we can binge-read!

A: I'm a Libran. This question never results in a one word answer. I'll throw a few names into the ring: Chuck Palahniuk, Niall Williams, Kate Atkinson, Jeannette Winterson, Haruki Murakami.

Gotta go, I can't get enough of The Handmaid's Tale at the moment. I read it years ago: I think we all did. But I have forgotten, or not realised when it was a 'school' book, how amazing it is. The original dystopian YA as someone (citation needed, Wikipedia style) said recently. Do yourself a favour, if you are between books and wondering what to look at. I can't wait to read more Atwood. Don't understand why I waited so long?

The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go black tunic whose strange neck has got stranger with washing
Tunic: Op-shopped
Jacket: Thrifted, Alamosa, CO (don't worry, it is not real)
Leggings: Black Milk
Sunglasses: I have no idea!
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 341: I'm Baa-aa-ck

I think, perhaps, maybe, I'm back. I could sound a little more positive than that I am sure, but I have a slight distrust of my will power and ability to draw myself away from my current dual procrastinations of Candy Crush Saga and I can say, without a shadow of any doubt (partly depressingly) that, in the physical sense of the word, I am back in Melbourne. I'm back at work—that is where the depression comes in. I'm back with the dual craziness better known as Lollii and Darby—and you can never regret being back amongst puppy-love even if it does include bed-hogging, wet chewed paper, possessiveness and an inability to eat in peace, ever again. But what I most hope to be back to is (at least tri-weekly, that's a good aim) blogging, sharing clothes with Irene and taking photos in interesting spaces despite the lack of daylight.

List_Addict               Irene

If you don't come around often, you may not be aware of where I have been in order to now be trying to get back. Physically I have been in the UK, hiking in installments and giving up hiking; blogspherically I have been here; and psychologically I have been over here. I was reading other people's blogs earlier, and came across a post by Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb. She was talking about there being no breaks for the Full-Time Blogger. It kicked me in the butt because I am not a full-time blogger. I am a fun-time blogger. And so I have no excuses—no sponsors to please, no lack of secure, alternative income (whether I like what I have to do to get said income being irrelevant), no nothing (which is a double negative that essentially then means 'something', but I had set the sentence up to have three no's and couldn't think of a third). Paradoxically though, as a fun-time blogger, Catherine is saying, by omission, that there are breaks for me and my ilk, and that I shouldn't feel bad for never posting. (I am an interpretive reader, it's my Literary Arts degree speaking through sub-text). But I am preferring to take the message that there isn't the pressure and only the joy, and that should be enough to get me blogging and photographing and playing around with clothes. And house hunting in the hills should provide numerous opportunities for shoots in amazing locations. No excuses. Watch me come up with some.

The Outfit
Dress: Handmade
Sweatshirt: Retail, Beachport Convenience Store
Leggings: Target
Shoes: Blundstones

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 311: Still Time to Think about Books

I am with the boy, in a hotel pub on the main square of Fort William, Scotland, wasting time while summer scorches the whole of the UK except this little North Western corner, drinking tea—and Bloody Marys—and thinking about books. Tomorrow we start walking again. You can read it about it over here at my other blog, Le Jog: Bifurcating Britain Land's End to John O'Groats on foot with(out) a beaver. In the meantime ...

I long planned to join in with Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life on her Summer Book Challenge. It has quirky categories. I like quirky categories. Normally I would sit here for hours and work out which books they will be, but this time I am going to let things develop more organically. Here are the categories, and I'll let you know the books as I read them. (Lucky you.)

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around. (You must have at least 150 pages left in the book to use it for this category.) There has only really ever been one book that I put back down and didn't pick up again: I dread going back, but looks like I will have to. It is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's August 1914. Yay. Love gigantic war fiction epics. These points may go wanting.

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it.

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.

15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge. (Yes, you will have to wait until the first check-in to choose this book! So no one will be able to finish this challenge in only one month; sorry!)

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title. No other words will count—including kids, offspring, etc.—so please don’t ask. :) Ooh, perfect opportunity to get out the Salman and do a little magical realism in Midnight's Children.

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014.

25 points: Read a book written by a blogger. (Submitted by Jessica of The Tangerine.)

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.

List_Addict               Irene

What I didn't plan was to find one more little challenge that looks like fun. It's The Morning News Tournament of Books (ToB) shortlist. I have just discovered this 'thing'. Every March, The Morning News selects around sixteen of the best books published the previous year and randomly sets them in the ring, two by two, to fight it out. A more succinct explanation can be found here. For us mere mortals in the reading world, we can follow along the battles (too late now, come back next March), or, like I am going to do, we can read the books. Any excuse to read more books. Here is the list:

At Night We Walk In Circles by Daniel Alarcón

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsim Hamid

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Hill William by Scott McClanahan

The Son by Philipp Meyer

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The People in the Trees by Hamya Yanagihara

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Woke up Lonely by Fiona Maazel

That is it though! No more book challenges for this year. It's a grand total of four: the one above, the one below, the Eclectic Book Challenge 2014 and the Around the World in Twelve Books Challenge. And of course, Goodreads over there in the sidebar. No more. And I'm thinking cross-contamination may happen. Better get something read now!

The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go batwing top I like, but never wear.
Top: Op-shopped
Skirt: Op-shopped
Belt: Op-shopped
Necklace: Retail
Shoes: Poetic Licence via Irregular Choice 'Whiplash'

Photographer de Jour: Moi

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 310: Books or Bricks, Words or Windows?

The Australian government (yeah, I am embarrassed about them too), in their infinite wisdom, are proposing that we will need to wait until we are seventy in order to retire. It is their hope, I am sure, that we will: (a) make enough money to be self-supporting for the rest of our short retirement years to avoid asking them for any, or, (b) die conveniently soon before, or soon after, so we can't ask them for any money and they can take a chunk of ours in 'being dead' tax. But if that is to be the case, I think it may be time to look at a career path. Previously I thought I had left the run too late, but now I have extra time to play with, and play I must. I have two ideas.

List_Addict               Irene

I could either get my PhD (here she goes again, clapping on about the damn PhD, the audience murmurs), or I can completely change track and study architecture. When I was at high school there was this book in the careers councillor's office that went through all the careers in the world, alphabetically, telling you what you did, what you needed, what you studied. I never really got beyond the 'a' section (I'm systematic that way). I always thought I had found all the vocations I needed to think about in 'artist', 'archeologist' and 'architect'. I can't say what happened, what changed. Maybe I am just a commitment-phobe. Maybe I just lost track. But the other day, while watching Grand Designs (you all do, admit it!) I suddenly blurted out that long held desire to be an architect. And really, it's probably not as silly an idea as it seems. I think I would have more fun being a PhD-ed literature professor, leather-patched elbowed and tying together theory and pop culture in the most ridiculous ways that I can. I love it beyond words, but the prospects are much slimmer—I would effectively have to wait for a professor to fall dead from his perch in order to race several hundred other interested parties to his stand, office and post-name letters. As an architect I would have fewer opportunities for flights-of-fancy thought (but probably not none), but more opportunities to actually get a job (even if I am old). Commitment is still fighting its way into my brain with placards and objections, but ... Let's just say there is a small crowd shouting out some slogans for the opposition. What do you think? Is it ever too late to make such a radical change? Or should I happily go to my grave telling police where to go.

Now, truth be known, these photos are from a stockpile I made before leaving. I'm currently on holidays, walking through the UK and forgetting all about fashion (I wore socks and sandals to breakfast if that gives you any indication of how much I have forgotten). If you'd like to see what I'm up to please pop over to my other blog for a visit. Enjoy!

The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go tan coloured corduroy jacket
Dress: Op-shopped and chopped
Jacket: Target (a million years ago)
Earrings: Lovisa
Shoes: Op-shopped

Photographer de Jour: Moi

Who Wore It Better?

Getting linky today with:

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