Friday, June 22, 2007

Irony, anyone?

Anyone else think it's ironic that blogger spellcheck doesn't recognise 'internet'?

I take it back

So, I go to lunch, with my boring pasta and I'm-too-lazy-to-cook-real-food tomato sauce (not, like, ketchup. Like, canned toms, onion and olives) I'm thinking 'boring boring boring.' I open the fridge. It's filled with food. Filled. E, who I mentioned in passing in the previous post with a dash of bitterness for never giving me her movements, had catered for a seminar we held here last night. She cooks the best middle eastern food you'll ever eat, and she always over caters.

Lentil soup (which I did not partake of - I am still a bit iffy about lentils. My parent's lentil craze went so far as to include lentil pizza and I'm still not over it) meatballs, rice (stir fried then steamed, for extra fluffiness, with noodles and slivered almonds) roasted vegetables, and, to top it off, jelly and custard cake. It's like trifle, but without the space-wasting sponge cake (lowest form of desert ever) Soooooo yum.

I came back from lunch satisfied and full. More than that, though, I came back relaxed. I spent 45 minutes in a room full of warm sunlight, good food, and happy women. We chatted and laughed and ate and I feel so rested that it's like I've had a good long nap.

I love my place of work. Now, if only no one will ring it for the next three hours, it woud be perfect.

Things I am sick of

:: People asking me if the email I've just given out is all in lower case. Why yes. Yes it is. Know why? Because emails are not case sensitive

:: People asking me if their email address will be able to send emails to someone in London. Seriously?

:: People giving me WAY too much information when I ask if I can take a message.

:: People telling me their life stories over the phone.

:: The phone.

:: People coming and talking to me when I'm blogging. How rude, I mean, don't they know I get paid to fritter away my time on the internet? Did they miss the memo?

:: People not telling me what they're doing and then getting angry when I ring and interrupt a meeting. There's a simple way to avoid this. E, I'm looking at you.

:: People asking me to fix their phones for them.

:: Being able to fix people's 'broken' phones by turning them on and then off. I will never never never work in IT.

:: People thinking out loud on the phone or in front of me, thus preventing me from looking at pretty pictures of knitting on the net. Rude. Memo.

:: People telling me about the projects that they're panicked about and that I'm going to have to help out with - right at the end of the process which they haven't yet started, and which will take at least a fortnight. There's only so much room in my head, you know.

:: People standing too close.

:: People taking things out of my hands when it's nothing to do with them and I need it. Personal bubble, people!

:: This week. I'm so cranky. All I want to do is sit somewhere quiet and possibly dark. My brain hurts.

:: John Howard and cronies. Now they're going to send the army into the Northern Territory to protect Indigenous Australians from themselves and the symptoms of a broken system. It just seems to me that the last time the Australian government took drastic measures 'for the good of' Aboriginal children, it didn't go so well.

Things I'm not sick of (for the fair and balanced crowd)

:: Working in a socially aware and caring workplace. Although this does mean we have to talk about things which make me feel sick, like Johnny's brilliant idea mentioned above, and the new IR laws, etc, it's much better than not being able to talk about them for fear someone will make me feel like a raging lefty - in a bad way.

:: Not working in a workplace with people who don't know anything. My friend told me the other day that her workmates were having a conversation about how Big Brother comes from the Truman Show. Her workmates often ask her things like 'where's Hanoi' or 'Where's St Petersburg. Oh. So... where's Stalingrad' Or saying things like 'I want to have children so that when judgement day comes they can be raised by angels' I just don't think I could cope with that. Does that make me a bad person?

:: Chocolate

:: knitting

:: Breathing out in long, slow breaths. Maybe it's because I'm a little stressed, but this feels way better right now than something like breathing should.

:: The Internets.

:: Shopping on said internets.

:: Getting my parcels ordered while doing said shopping on said internets at work and sneaking peeks at it all day long.

:: Pictures of baby animals. Especially with illiterate captions included. (Altogether now.... aaaaaaaaaw)

:: Tiki bar TV. I love Johnny Johnny. I watched Red Oktober last night and tears came out of my eyes. Is it bad that I understood most of the l33t? I think it might be.

:: Geeking out with the one woman at work who understands what I mean when I use terms like 'flamer' or 'troll' or 'n00b' or 'html' or 'blog' or 'boing boing' or 'Cory Doctorow'. It makes me feel less alone.

:: Looking at other people's knitwear. There are a couple of people at work who regularly wear impressive knitwear - machine knit, but still impressive. I think I freaked one of them out a little by asking him to stop in the middle of the corridor so I could examine how his collar was attached to the rest of the top.

:: Going to see Kaffe Fasset talk tonight about colour (Yay! Oh, yay!)

:: The fact that it's lunch time and I don't have to answer any phones for at least an hour.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I just got into Ravelry.

I'm scared.

What if I CAN'T STOP????

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reasons my housemates think I'm crazy

1. I knit. All. The. Time.

On Saturday I knit almost the whole right front of the jacket I'm working on. At the same time, I have picked up branching out, which I started a while ago. I must rip one repeat for every two I manage to do correctly, lace is soooo not my thing. And yet. I can't stop. I can't stop! The scarf is now long enough to go around my neck one and a half times - about half the length of a short scarf. Can't Stop. Also, I bought some sock yarn, which I now have to swatch and work out if this pattern wil fit my feet or I need to do a dodgy with the needles. And I have promised to knit another nautie for a friend to give to her boyfriend. When she saw my stash of (acrylic) yarn, she told me I had a sickness. In a loving way. In my defense, I have only bought two balls of acrylic in the last ten years, both for nautie. So there. Also, I think I may have developed an allergy to acrylic yarn. Everytime I work with it or wear it, my eyes puff up and get all itchy.

But THE POINT IS that yesterday, all I wanted to do was knit. I wanted to knit so bad. I'm sitting here at reception, and I'm thinking 'if I whip my knitting out here, will anyone care?' The answer is yes, because I have work to do. Just because I am not this second doing it, doesn't mean that sublimating my knitting desires by working my way through the 'c' section of my bloglines is a work-sanctioned activity. But the moment I got out of work, I knit. I knit while I was walking to the bus stop. In peak hour traffic. On a major road. And I didn't care. As I wandered past the library (knitting) I peered through the window and mused that there were a lot of people in there. Then it hit me. They were all knitting. So I'm guessing that there is a knitting group that meets there. So tonight I am going to go in and ask about it. I already have a knitting group, but I can only go every second Wednesday, because I don't drive and every second Wednesday they meet somewhere that is hard for me to get to. What is it with knitting groups and Wednesdays?

2. I take things out into the garden in the morning and take photos of them.

These are the cupcakes that caused all that fuss the other day

It got to Monday night (public holiday, long live the Imperial Monarch of the Moment) and as I surveyed my pile of finished pieces of Jacket, it occured to me that I had inteded to take photos of them. It was now the end of three days during which I was home in optimal photo-taking light conditions, and had I taken any photos? No. Well, I tell a lie. I took photos of this

My sister performing at Music in the Squares. Shes the first trombonist on the left.
We're very proud of her.

I also took a photo of this:

This is the pedastal on the statues of Queen Victoria in, you guessed it, Victoria square. It's just been cleaned. Can you see the red grafitti? You probably can't read it, though. It says 'Not the first Queen Victoria, not my Queen' And then, down the bottom, out of frame, it says 'free David Hicks'

Long live the Dead Monarchs

However, I did not take any photos of this until this morning

They're on the bonnet of my cousin's Valiant. Almost the same colour, ne? His new valiant (eye roll) is that exact same colour inside. No complaints from me, since it's my favourite ever. Anyway, that's the back, two fronts, and one sleeve. So close, people. So close. Last night I pinned it together and attempted to try it on to see if I had to do any adjustments, but it was so huge and heavy that it just pulled itself apart and I couldn't really see. Anyway, I've decided that since it's supposed to be a jacket, it doesn't really need to be close-fitting or whatever. Also, I'm lazy. That's a lot of knitting, y'all. I love this yarn. I heart Bendigo Woolen mills. It used to be my Cardigan for Arwen, but that didn't turn out so well. So I frogged it. Pictures later.

We were at my grandma's on Sunday for her birthday and she'd just finished a cabled cardigan. In Bendigo Mills wool, of course. I don't think she uses anything else. Here is a photo of her in it.

As an extra bonus, you also get, from L-R, Uncle Michael, Aunty Lisa (no, no idea what's going on there), Aunty Anne (mother of my two cousins I live with) Grandma in her cabled cardi, Uncle Daniel and my dad, Tim. Missing is Aunty Jane, Michael's twin. She was working. At IKEA.

Also out for a photo shoot this morning was my no-knead bread. I was toying with making this but it just sounded like too much organisation. Then I saw it in Australian Table, published by Coles. It was credited as 'adapted from the NY Times recipe' and in essence, it made it harder. So I went and got the original recipe and gave it a crack. The first time I was too lazy by the time we got to baking to look up what 450 degrees was in celcius, so it was a bit soggy in the middle. However, this time it is perfect, despite my cousin's reservations that it didn't sound hollow when she tapped it. I told her that the same could be said about her, and she could take her long line of bakers somewhere interesting, and stop touching my bread, please. So there. Anyway, this is its morning photo shoot.

I may have gotten a little excited. Here is what it looks like inside, too.

Mmmmmmmmm. Handmadealicious.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Feminist bakery

It was someone's farewell lunch at work today. It was a bring-a-plate lunch. I made cupcakes. This was for three reasons 1) I like cupcakes 2) I rock at baking (seriously. Cooking, we need a bit more work. Baking, I am the Queen. Or, you know. Non gender specific monarch.) 3) I had previously make cupcakes for someone's birthday and brought them in to work, and this guy had flipped his lid and raved about them. So I thought it was appropriate.

But it got me thinking. Why is it that compliments on my baked goods (or knitted items) make me glow inside with warmth and happiness, yet compliments about, say, my great work ethic or my appearence or cheerful attitude (tongue only slightly in cheek) make me uncomfortable and self conscious?

Is it because I don't think I deserve to be complimented on those things, that they aren't good things or aren't good enough to be complimented? Or do I feel that they are not representative of me, of myself, or that they are not appropriate topics for compliments? If so, what does this say about me? What does it mean that I slip so easily into the 'woman's role' when it comes to real world things like these, despite being just about the biggest mouth in the city when these issues are talked about in theory.

I pride myself on my independance. And sure, I don't need any of the men in my life (well, maybe my dad). But is that just a result of circumstance, and is it even a good thing, per se?

It's not that I don't think that the things I have made with my own two hands are worth praise. I do. But I guess I just am not sure where that level is. I hesitate to bring up that I knit, bake, or sew (a little) because that is not the person I wish to describe myself as to strangers. If it's someone I already know, I guess I feel like they know enough about me to judge me fairly - even if they judge me negatively, it won't be on one single fact. They can place the fact that I can and do do these things in with a bunch of other facts and feelings and give it context. I do knit in public, but that in itself is an act almost of subversion, something out of the norm, and sort of nullifies its 'women's work' image. But knitting at home in front of the fire with your cat by your side while waiting for your baked goods to be ready to ice as I did last night? Not so cool.

I remember telling someone about how I feel like it took me a year for my self-image to recover from being in China. Partly this was because I was just so much larger than everyone else that I always felt clumsy and huge, not a part of the same whatever that everyone else was - so different as to not even be in the same category. There was the same effect when it came to gender relations. The guys loved being in China, because the girls (and guys) there treated them like Men. They were expected to behave in the way Men behaved in the West in the 50's and before - and the Chinese girls (I suppose I should be saying 'women', shouldn't I?) acted accordingly. This meant that the guys had to call their girlfirends at least once a day, were required to say 'I love you' several times a day, and generally had to act in a way that made my stomach turn. And yet, as much as they complained, they seemed to love it. I suppose that is not so surprising.

For us girls, on the other hand, it was different. We weren't guys. But we clearly weren't like the Chinese girls.* We didn't giggle. Or twitter. Or try to walk up mountains with high heels on and then complain that our feet hurt. We didn't adorn our bedrooms with pink, frilly things, or, indeed, wear pink frilly things. I myself wore exactly two skirts in China. One was a denim mini skirt. The other was a long, black skirt with heavy, minority-style embroidery all around the bottom. Neither of which was what you'd call sweetly feminine. While in China, I bought mostly men's clothes and shoes, since that was what fit me. That, and tourist stuff, so lots of out there chinese style tops with dragons on, etc. Or, you know, stuff that was a little too tight and didn't really show off my various bumps and lumps to their best advantage.

In fact, most of us gals there were fairly hard-minded and hard-nosed. It takes a certain groups of personality traits to end you up teaching English in China, especially in Guiyang,** and the ability to faint neatly is not among them. So they Chinese people couldn't treat us like they treated girls (WOMEN) there. So they treated us as Foreigners. Which meant, like men.

Even to the foreigner men, we weren't really the same as women. I mean, here, at home, you get the girls-who-are-friends and the girls-who-are-girlfriends - the old, 'Damned Whores and God's Police'*** thing I guess, but it's not such a hard distinction, and the grey area in between in pretty enormous. In China, at least with the people I was with, not so much. I was just a person, not a Woman. Which in some ways was awesome. But the thing is, I am a Woman. I don't want to not be a Woman. So it was hard to adjust back into being able to be a complex human being in public, if you know what I mean. All this was going on on a pretty subconcious level, to the extent that, although I saw what was happening and articulated much of it, I didn't realise the extent to which it was affecting me.

So you remember how three paragraphs ago I was telling someone about this. I was trying to explain everything I've just said, about how I am not now, nor have I ever been, a girly girl, while Chinese Girls (as a whole) are. So I told them that I don't 'wear skirts or scads of makeup or frilly things or dress up to look nice for a man or bake and cook or sew or..."

Then I realised I do. I do or have done all of those things, while many of the mostly hideously offensively girly girls I knew in China wouldn't know how to cook, sew or clean if their life depended on it. In fact, in almost every way I am much more of a traditional woman than any of them. I do cook, and bake - in fact, I enjoy it, as long as there's no pressure to get it on the table. I knit and I know how to sew and I have extensive knowledge about things like how to get stains out, or the many varied uses for vinegar in the house, or how to sew a button on. Does this make me a bad feminist? I would like to think not, no more than not hand-sewing her children's clothes makes this woman a bad mother. But maybe I am a traitor to my class and cause. You tell me.
And what is the difference between being a downtrodden woman who cooks and bakes for her man because she needs his approval and an empowered, emancipated woman who cooks and bakes because she likes to and finds it a relaxing creative outlet and who also finds it pleasing when people appreciate her hard work and effort. (The last one's supposed to be me, FYI.) Is it perception and intention? Because those are such fluffy things, so hard to pin down. What about the downtrodden woman who cooks and bakes because she needs her man's approval but who also happens to find it a relaxing creative outlet? Oh, if only the villains would put their black hats back on and start waxing their mustaches, life would be so much simpler.

I'm a believer in the hoary old line that Feminism is about Choice. What you choose to do. It's your right to choose to stay home with the family or to become a CEO. Both these things of course require much sacrifice and hard work, but such is life. If that's what you choose, you should have to opportunity to make those sacrafices and work hard, as long as you don't have to make more and work more than others (men) in your same situation. I believe, deeply, that women and men are equal, but not the same. I think if you try to treat people the same, you end up treating them unequelly - expecting women to fit into a man's world, usually (although not always). And to not acknowledge the biology of us as a species is just foolish. To expect women not to want to have children, or to want to spend time with them when they have them, is unfair to women because it disadvantages them by making them work against their genetic and biological make-up.

As I said, I like being a Woman, I like being who I am, and I am not going to give that up. Not even for true Equality. That is the kind of Equality that Mao^ wanted for China - bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator, not lifting people up. But if that is the price of equality, does that mean we will never have it?

So much of who we are is tied up in our gender identities. And often these are good things, things we like. I was reading a book on the different ways Men and Women talk (it was called 'You just don't understand' and it was a fascinating read, but embarrasing on public transport) and at the end, the author was talking about assymetries in body language. When men and women hug, she puts her face against his neck - a one-down position that frames her like a child, the one to be protected. When they walk along, his arm is over her shoulders, or her arm through his. Again, framing her as one-down, inferior, in need of protection. These are things we do without thinking, that feel right to do, that we don't know how to do another way.

So what's my conclusion? Well, I'm not sure. But I do know that my cupcakes are all gone. And they were good.

This was on my friend's door.

Does anyone know who did it so I can credit it?

Can you read it?

*Note: I knew many chinese girls who weren't like this. OK. Several. But most of them did a Jeckyl-Hyde as soon as they got a boyfriend - especially a Foriegn one. Also, this refers only to Chinese girls in China, more specifically in Guiyang, where I experienced them. It should not be taken as a judgement of people of Asian descent. It is a genralisation about the Gender Culture in the city in which I lived.

** The pictures in the Wiki entry are stunningly beautiful. My overall impression of Guiyang was... grey. Bleack. Cloudy. However, the last two photos of the temple - that was right near the second branch of the school where I taught, I walked past it almost every day. It was beautiful.

*** Check out the woman in the 1975 edition's cover. She looks like she's having waaaaay too much fun... ;P

^Speaking of Mao - is this the best T-shirt ever, or what? I totally want it!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Here are some photos to accompany my updates.


And again:

And once more:


How it used to look

How it looks now (only, not really because it needs a cut sooo bad. Next week, I promise, hair. Omg, I'm talking to my hair - no, I'm writing blog posts to my hair. Someone help!)

And, finally, some random photos from Mother's day of my extended family walking on the beach at Largs Bay:

That's my mum with her tongue out here

And this is my dad. No, I don't know what he's doing. Inspecting, I imagine.

Is this inappropriate?

Ok. So, I want to talk about something here, because I started to write a comment in the femiknit mafia's post, and it got waaaaay too long. So I'm going to post it here are link it. I was reluctant to do this, because, as Emily said, I like to curate my world on this blog, in internet land, etc, and I don't really feel like this has a place here. It doesn't really have much of a place in my everyday world, either, just because it's faded. But I think it's important. However, I don't want this to be preachy, because, you know, I'm talking about... dum dum dum... Abuse.

Only, I want there to be no capitals, because this is not a story of Abuse and Suffering, nor is it a story of Triumph over Hardship. It was just something that happened, that's over now.

The story goes like this. I was abused when I was a kid. I must have been about 8; certainly no more than 9. Nothing major, nothing too vile. It was once off, and it wasn't a relative, which I think would be much worse - how do you tell someone about that when you're a kid and they are someone who is supposed to be protecting you? Anyway, in my case it was someone who volunteered at the place where both my parents worked, and they had him over for a day because... well, I guess they felt sorry for him. He was disabled, you see, physically and I believe a little intellectually disabled as well. For that same reason, I wasn't allowed to dislike him, even though I did. I had to be polite and all that, which of course is as it should be.

Anyway, long story short, he felt me up a little. My dad was home, but busy running around doing house stuff and looking after my sister who would have been under one then. I won't pretend it was fun. I won't pretend I coped with it exceedingly well as it was happening.

However, that night, I told my mum. And as far as I was concerned, it was over, then. It was done. It was no longer my problem. We ended up prosecuting him, (I just wrote persecuting - is that bad?) but only, really, because it turned out that he had done this before. Always to girls younger than me, none of whom had wanted to testify. So I decided that I wanted to prosecute because people who do those things ought to be prosecuted. As it turned out, he made a deal and I didn't get to testify in court. I was disappointed. Go figure.

I hesitated to bring this up, because I really don't think of myself as part of the category of people who have been abused - whatever that means. Anyhow, it certainly isn't a part of my life now, nor has it shaped anything to do with me since the court case was over. It did for other people, though. I know my mum was worried about whether I would be scarred by it. Also, the place where they worked changed almost all of their staff, and he came back to volunteer. The single staff member who remembered the incident was outraged that he was there, and spoke up. She was trounced, because, you know, he was disabled, he must be pure and good.

{This is not a denouncement of disabled people, either (wandering off topic) it's just that, you know, people in minorities can be bad too, or annoying, or incompetant. They are all just people with individual traits, and treating people like they are only what their 'group' is is as discriminatory when it's good as when it's bad. Only, you know, not as bad.}


The point was, I was not a gregarious child. In fact, when I think about what I was like the word that comes to mind is 'anxious'. I was verbal, I suppose, which helped me articulate what had happened and get it out of my head, sort of. What I think helped the most, though, was that I knew what sex was. My parents weren't afraid to talk to me about it (well, maybe they were, but they did it anyway) or answer my questions, and I had books and stuff. I think I had a fair grasp on what the story was, as far as a kid can do. I knew what it was supposed to be. I knew that touching down there was related to sex, but that this was not meant to happen, that what he did to me was wrong, and that my parents would think so to. It meant I could tell them and I knew that they knew what to do (even if they didn't)

My message to Mafia is not to forget: kids are smart. And they are strong. As long as the frameworks of support and love are there for them to lean on, kids can bounce back from a lot of things. And they pick up more than you think they do. I'm not saying that they know what to do in every situation, but if they know that you are there to talk to about it, to help them, then they can deal with a lot. I think Little Man would be fine, God forbid anything like that happened, with you and Wifey there to support him. He might not be able to articulate how he knows, but I'm sure if anyone tried to pull anything inappropriate, he'd know.

In conclusion: congratulations on your Dale!