on the maths front

I’ve changed my PhD to a Masters. Not officially, yet, but that is now the plan. And there was a thing I realised just the other day.

I think I’m getting better at distinguishing between the things I am good at and the things I enjoy. Sometimes they overlap, but not always, and it’s kind of freeing to realise that just because I can do something, it doesn’t mean I have to. (EDIT: I still like maths. In case anyone was taking the wrong message away from that.)

So anyway, just thought I’d let you know. It seemed the sort of thing to blog about. Here, have a picture of me from Berlin.

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i’ve been drawing more than writing.

I am sitting at my desk with a cup of peppermint tea to my left and the rain drizzling outside. It feels like summer is over and we have returned to Perth’s other season: the AutumNotReallyWinterSpring that’s made up of a smattering of rainy days spaced out by plenty of sunshine days with cool mornings and warm afternoons. I don’t mind it. The rain is comforting.

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I’ve been drawing more than writing in the last few weeks. After a furious foray into making art for Neil Gaiman’s Calendar of Tales (including the picture above), I had been wondering what to use as inspiration next when my Mum suggested a bunch of projects she could use while tutoring primary school kids.

First up I decided to take on the task of creating a (very) different piece of art for each of numbers 1-12. I’m not halfway yet but I’m having a lot of fun. My main aim, in art at the moment, is to learn as many styles as possible. This project is definitely helping by forcing me to look away from the techniques I used in the Calendar of Tales and find new ones.

withclouds                     waitingonideaslayers                       starting2

I’m feeling a little hampered by only using GIMP and Inkscape though. Does anyone have any suggestions of their favourite (preferably free) digital art programs?

sculptures by the sea

This month Cottesloe beach is hosting Sculptures by the Sea which is exactly what it sounds like. At a guess I’d say there are about 50 pieces of art up, scattered over the beach and foreshore, and it’s a lot of fun to wander through them taking pictures.

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My favourite actually has an Indonesian title: “mengenang”, which means remembrance. It’s made up of tall bamboo poles, each with a wind-chime-thing at the top, and each pole represents the life of someone who died in the ’02,’05 bombings in Bali. The ‘meaning’ kind of irked me. I’d been running around the sculpture feeling free and perfectly happy and, well, the little sign kind of ruined that. But at least there are the right number of poles (I had cynically feared they would only represent the Australians) and it’s not my art so who am I to say how it should be displayed. Maybe it will bring comfort to some people. Maybe it already has.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a really amazing exhibition. It almost (but not quite) makes up for missing Fringe and Womad. And I still have plenty of really cool sculptures left to photograph 🙂

art

I’ve never thought of myself as a person who could create worthwhile visual art. Sure, I would have admitted that, given some training, I could probably produce something that wasn’t disastrous. But I didn’t really believe it and it’s not like it bothered me so I never took any steps to become a better artist, or become a visual artist at all (beyond photography).

But I think we all know that I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman and this week he inspired me to create art. He’s doing a thing with Blackberry, a calender thing, and here is how it’s working.

A few weeks ago he took to twitter to get inspiration by asking questions. He then chose an answer for each month and used that as a basis/starting point/inspiration for a short story. Now, the world at large is being asked to participate again, this time in the form of contributing an art piece inspired by one of his short stories.

For example, the question for October was: “What mythical creature would you most want to meet in October? (& why?)”  and the answer he chose to inspire his story was: “A djinn. Not to make a wish. But for the very best advice on how to be happy w/ what you already have.” (@elainelowe). You can read all the stories here.

And I made this,

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Her face is based loosely on Rihanna and I sketched from a bunch of different pictures (thank you google images). The lamp was basically out of my head and, if I’m honest, I don’t like it as much as the woman’s face.

But I made it, it’s mine. And it turns out that art is fun, totally unlike the stressful panic I remember from art classes at school. Then I thought, people are always colouring pencil sketches in using their computers, maybe I could do that. So I did. This was a little more stressful (mostly just the step of transferring the sketch to a black-transparent layer) and I think I still like the pencil sketch better but it was also SO MUCH FUN. Who knew?

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Art submissions for the calender are open til March 4th and, even if you’re not interested in that, I highly recommend checking out the stories.

homemade iced tea

A few weeks ago Peter and I went out for breakfast to the crochet-covered, delicious-food-serving  Wild Poppy in Fremantle. We were a little disappointed when our iced tea came in glass bottles – rather than being homemade – but that only lasted until we tasted it.

I ordered a Peppermint, Lemon, Lime iced tea and it was the most refreshing drink I’d ever had. I can’t remember the brand name and it’s driving me nuts but when I got home I decided to make something similar.

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Several hours of trawling the internet later (okay, maybe it was more like 15 minutes) I mashed together a whole load of recipes to get this:

1 litre boiling water

1/3 cup of caster sugar

3 black teabags

1/2 a lemon

1/2 a lime

a sprig of mint (from my very own garden!)

Just add all the ingredients and stir until the caster sugar is dissolved. Take out the teabags after 3 minutes and the mint after about 15. Chuck it in the fridge til it’s cold and HOORAY ICED TEA.

It’s not quite as good as the mysterious iced tea from the Wild Poppy but it’s better than most shop iced teas and it’s a lot cheaper.

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a belated blog post

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So it’s been 10 days since I last posted. Life was relaxing and then busy and then blah. You know how it goes. I’m doing really well on some of my goals (ukulele, reading) but not so well on others (running, being less stressed).

I’ve decided to add another goal to that list, that will possibly replace the cooking goal (who knows!), and it is to have a little garden on my balcony. Are you excited? I’m excited. First up: basil!

But definitely the most exciting thing of the last week or so was going on a mini camping trip last weekend! It’s the first time we’ve used the tent my mum gave us for our wedding. Hmm, what? We’re a bit slack, yes. We drove down to Busselton on Saturday morning, spent a few hours there and then headed just a little further south to stay overnight near Cowaramup. Next morning we checked out some caves then toured some of the wineries/breweries/chocolate factories. I tried some amazing olive tapenade but when I attempted to buy it I was informed that the only jar they had was the one for tasting (which was promptly packed up so as not to disappoint anyone else).

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I hope all your goals are coming along swimmingly and the start of your year has been fun!

Grateful for.

It has been a tough year for me but here are some things that have been pretty great.

1. I found two sort of new hobbies: writing and photography, and they have given me things to think about and care about outside of work that distract me from missing my family and stop me from watching tv all evening.

2. Europe. Guys, I got to go to Italy and Austria and Germany because of my maths. I made new friends, ate delicious food, saw beautiful things and generally enjoyed the good things in life.

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3. Public speaking. It might seem like a strange thing to be grateful for but I enjoy the challenge/adrenalin of performance and I guess presenting maths is the direction that’s going to take in me for a while.

4. My husband. I find it hard to write about him, and our relationship, on here because it feels awfully personal and he’s more private about the internet than I am. Suffice to say he has made me laugh and comforted me when I was miserable and we have grown closer together in our separation from everyone else.

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5. Living near the beach. There’s not a lot to be said about this. It’s just pretty great.

6. Friends and family. I’ve really appreciated all the visits we’ve had from outernet friends and family this year. But also, internet friends, you’ve been exactly who I needed and I’m so happy that we met.

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And nope, the pictures from Europe are not even near running out so expect posts with unrelated pictures tacked onto the end all through next year too.

Happy New Year, guys 🙂