vanessarama: (merlin: hands)
Hello, new people I have friended, or people who have come across me. Feel free to friend me back, or not.


Here are some things about me which may help you make up your mind whether to do so )

(very sparse) Masterlist of fic )

I knit a lot. Also, I write more stuff here about real-life than about Merlin.

Docos

Jan. 10th, 2014 09:39 pm
vanessarama: photo by <lj user="yavannauk"> (boys with cheekbones)
I love documentaries. Love 'em. Recently I saw two - one American and one English - that really stuck in my mind. They were not about similar incidents but they're both about families, people trying to make sense of the inexplicable, and most of all about the illusion of perfection and the pressure to keep that appearance going at all costs.

The US documentary was 'There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane' which you can watch here in its entirety (warning: it does contain two distressing images of Diane's dead body after she was pulled out of the wreck). It's about the Taconic State Parkway crash; Diane Schuler drove the wrong way down a highway for two miles and ended up smashing into another car, killing herself, her daughter, her three nieces and three people in the car she hit. Her autopsy showed that she'd drunk a large amount of alcohol and smoked marijuana just before the crash, but everyone who knew her insists she was a perfect mother, psychologically stable, and definitely not an alcoholic.

It's not just Aunt Diane there was something wrong with. )

The English doco was 'We Need to Talk About Dad' which you can watch on the youtubes here. It's about a happy family - parents and two boys with a "perfect" life - until the father called the mum into the garden, blindfolded her telling her he had a surprise for her... and hit her in the head with an axe. Amazingly, she not only survived but did everything she could to prevent his prosecution. Originally charged with attempted murder he was eventually convicted of GBH and spent only five months in prison. He was deemed to have suffered a temporary psychotic episode, and his wife took him back into the family home.

This was both OK and not OK with their eldest son )

So there you go; two haunting documentaries about two horrible events.
vanessarama: (smiley colin)
OK, I missed the first few days, but I was sick and therefore have an excuse! Still sick actually, but not so badly. But i know I need to get back into the habit of writing and this is as good a way as any!

I am still busy, but it's good busy. Working from home, I'm able to work more at my own pace and in line with the way my natural cycles of attention go. This largely involves working from about 7:30am till about 11 am, having a big break in the middle of the day, and then doing a few more hours from about 2:30 till Rohan gets home. It seems to be the way my brain is set up to operate. Oooh, and I have a laptop now! It's slim and light. It makes it much easier for me to work throughout the day as I can move between locations, curl up on the couch, stretch out on the bed, etc. Am still getting used to Windows 8 and setting it all up to operate as I want it to, though.

The Australian federal election is on this Saturday and I am dreading the fact that we'll probably have a change of government. Mind you, IMHO both major parties are representatives of Teh Evil. Quite disgusted with the way the Labor Party has betrayed its roots.

And finally and most wonderfully, it's Spring! Spring has sprung! I had the house all open today and let the warm air in, and it was glorious.

I miss looking forward to new Merlin :(
vanessarama: (bearded colin)
We have a long weekend, meaning today is a holiday for Australia Day (although the day itself was actually on Saturday). Yay holiday!

Alas, most of this weekend has been spent waging the War On Ants. The dry weather is bringing them up. They appeared in the bathroom on Thursday, the toilet on Friday, the kitchen on Friday and Saturday, and the laundry on Sunday. I have persuaded Rohan that his usual method of "nuke them all with Mortein" clearly isn't working, and so we have resorted to the Ant-Rid. Hopefully that will get rid of them for good.

And meanwhile, as we whinge about the dry weather, Queensland is flooding. Ahh, Australia.

Here is one of the most haunting things I've read in a long time: The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans.

This guy is a search-and-rescue volunteer who, on his own time and dollar, goes looking for long-lost missing people in various types of wilderness. He became interested in the case of a German family who had gone missing in Death Valley in 1996; their car was found but no searches turned them up. Based on what he knew about the family, and on how he thought a European might react in those circumstances (for instance, they might make for a nearby military installation, believing its borders would be patrolled as they are in Europe), he went out looking in 2009; and he found them. Or he found the parents, at least. It's a long read, and it's not easy; but he doesn't post any pictures of anything upsetting. And he remains a very sympathetic guy, even in the face of unsympathetic authorities and what certainly seems like foolhardy behaviour from the people he was looking for.

On to more pleasant things. We've done very little this long weekend. But I baked! Here is my first attempt: a cheese pull-apart!



Unfortunately its structural integrity wasn't the best and it rapidly became a cheese fall-apart. But Rohan says it tastes like a real pull-apart like Baker's Delight used to make. Yay! Now I'm hoping the cinnamon and sugar scrolls I have proving at the moment will be just as successful. They haven't swelled up as much as the bread dough did, and we don't have that amazing yeasty smell throughout the house, but they're definitely getting plumper.

I've also got around to posting some of the photos we took when we visited Maldon a few weeks ago. Maldon is an old gold-mining town that's notable for having the most untouched streetscape in Australia... allegedly. Rohan's Irish ancestors spent the 1860s/70s in Creswick, a town quite close to Maldon and also a goldmining town, and I like to think of them walking these scenes. Even though I don't know what any of them looked like :)

Maldon under the cut )

Oh, and one last thing:



THIS STILL MAKES ME SMILE.



AS DOES THIS.

(both images stolen from tumblr, omg how does anyone ever work out who was the first person to create anything on that thing? it's impossible! tubmlr is frightening)
vanessarama: (bearded colin)
Fairly horrible stressy day today. But! It ended with unexpected niceness from someone I have been in a massive grump with lately, and I feel better about that person now. Also I have red lipstick which I bought yesterday, which stays on forever and is red! (I very rarely wear lipstick).

Also, this is WONDERFUL, touching and funny and makes you feel good. Please, please watch it:

Adam Hills hosted an (unfortunately not legally binding) Mass Same-Sex TV Wedding. oops, fixed link

With letter from 88-year-old lady who sent her own silver sixpence, and bonus Hamish Blake!
vanessarama: photo by <lj user="yavannauk"> (boys with cheekbones)
I can't believe I will be on holiday this time next week. This is the first holiday I've been on where I haven't felt holiday-like at ALL in the leadup. Possibly it's because this one will begin with A Boat rather than A Plane and that is something I'm just not used to. (We are going to Tasmania, which for those of you not familiar with Oz geography, is the big island down the bottom. If you want scale, it's about the same size as Ireland).

Possibly I feel this way because life and work have been such a whirl and I feel like I've been overburdened with responsibility lately. I really do feel a bit as if I'm hanging onto everything by my fingernails and it is limiting my ability to engage in human interaction.

Hey, Colin Morgan? Yes, you, with the scruff and the velvet suit and the twinkle in your eye. Is it possible for you to be any more gorgeous? Try, I dare you. *settles down and waits*

It amuses me to look at those old photos of wee!Colin in that rather ugly loungeroom (or in his wee flat while filming Doctor Who) and how much that contrasts with awards ceremonies and champagne fountains :)

I am thinking of applying for a position as a member of an advisory board to the forthcoming charities commission. Am I insane? But it's a good career move. Of course, I'm sure there will be a lot of applicants.

I ripped back and reknitted the left front of my Brigid jacket after working out where I'd gone wrong. Now working on the sleeves. I've blocked the back and fronts - it's the first time I've used blocking wires on a garment as opposed to a scarf - and it looks *awesome*. Can't wait to show it off! I think I will focus on garments rather than shawls this year, if only to use up some of my garment-sized quantities of stash.

Update

Feb. 6th, 2012 11:32 am
vanessarama: (merlin boys)
Good grief, how swiftly the time goes. I can't believe it's already February.

Yesterday's 33 degree C weather, with accompanying hot wind which caused an OMGEXPLOSIONANDFIRE at the local train station, became 18 degrees and rainy within an hour or so. Ahh, Melbourne. Tomorrow I will be in the Red Centre (I love saying that) where it will be in the thirties again (although like most desert places it will be cold at night). Also, I'll be away two whole days because there is only one flight a day between Alice and Melbourne. Oh, geographical tyranny.

Knitting: I had a most discouraging moment last night. I'm knitting a jacket in pieces (for those who are Ravelry-enabled, it's this one) and after reading some Rav comments chose to knit the fronts first. Last night I finished the back... and discovered to my horror as I went to block the pieces that one front is an inch shorter to the armholes than the other front. And I can't work out where I went wrong because it looks as if the cables match! Argh! I will work it out when I'm feeling a little less annoyed with myself.

Fandom: Season one Merlin on UK-TV continues apace and it's so interesting to watch these episodes now. The thing I never really picked up on as much before is that, while Arthur is a dick in these episodes, Merlin is totally a dick too. He's arrogant, impulsive and doesn't recognise that actions have consequences; both he and Arthur are in the stage of being self-centred about their effect on the world, without recognising that the world and the people in it are also players who can affect what happens.

Old fandom: Over the weekend we watched the blu-ray of Fellowship of the Ring, and the Costa Bodes doco which I hadn't seen before. I had forgotten how utterly awesome the LOTR movies are. It's years since I last watched them, and there were actually bits I'd forgotten. Also was reminded how much I love Kiwis and that it's far too long since I last visited NZ. It's amazing how much the Isengard scenes resonate with the war manufacturing effort explained in 'The World at War' documentary, which we've been watching as it screens on 7 Two.

Telly: Rohan and I, after watching the aforesaid World at War (narrated by Laurence Olivier; I love the way he says "Sovi-ette") watched a two-part doco on the weekend which was all about the rise of Hitler. Really, really interesting because it gave very clear and understandable historical and cultural context and framing so you could really understand why and how he managed to manipulate a disillusioned, impoverished, disenfranchised nation. Very interesting; nobody should ever, at any time, think “it couldn’t happen here”.

Also, just as the History Channel has become the Tony Robinson channel, SBS seems to have morphed into the Neil Oliver channel. Neil! With his Scottish accent and his long locks blowing in the wind, as he looks over his shoulder Hollywood-starlet style while standing on a windy cliff! So much love.

Reading: Have finished 'Making Sense of the Troubles', which attempts to do what it says on the cover. Admittedly I began reading this for fandom-related reasons, after seeing a lot of Colin Morgan-related discussion where people were completely unaware of the lingering effects of the Troubles and of the divisions in NI in general. (It is, for instance, still extraordinary that Colin went to an integrated school, since 95% of students in NI still attend what are essentially either Protestant or Catholic schools.) Also, after seeing the 'Who Do You Think You Are?' where David Tennant meets his NI relatives and is so, so uncomfortable holding the Orange Order sash that belonged to one of his forebears, who was involved in anti-Catholic policymaking.

The really fascinating thing about the book was the 20th century historical context, and comparing its balanced view with what I grew up with on the news. I grew up wanting desperately to travel to the UK, but thinking it was dangerous because of the IRA. IRA violence outside NI was regularly reported here; virtually all violence which took place within NI, including all the loyalist violence, was almost never reported. In fact, I doubt we would have heard anything about the Troubles here at all if not for the fact that the IRA carried out so many attacks in England. Recommended book for those interested, although it does get dry in parts. What I got from it was that the situation is nuanced, complicated, and so bound up in history that those of us without centuries-old traditions and grudges might find it difficult to understand.
And that it doesn’t have a happy ending; but it does have hope. Which I suppose is as much as humans ever get.
vanessarama: (Default)
Google Streetview has updated for Australia. Sadly, it is no longer possible to take a StreetView stroll down the streets of Marysville and other affected areas as they were before the 2009 bushfires. Spookily, though, the labels are still there, so you can see what B&B or local business or charming little shop used to be on some of those sites before they were devastated.

It looks like it was a beautiful day when they went through, and it's interesting to see the rebuilding process, and also sad to see how many places have not yet been rebuilt. And I suppose some may never be.

I understand that Marysville residents had asked Google to not redo Marysville, so they could remember it as it was. Looks like they didn't get their wish.
vanessarama: (Default)
This is National Missing Persons Week in Australia. The theme this year is when someone goes missing, more than one person is lost.

When someone goes missing, it affects family, friends and colleagues; current estimates are that 12 people are affected for every missing person. Many of those individuals will be affected by “ambiguous loss” – with no idea what has happened to their loved one, and no resolution, they live constantly doubting themselves, wondering if they did something wrong, if they are giving up too soon, unable to grieve properly but unable to move on with their lives. It is a cruel thing. Even the knowledge that a loved one is dead, whether by choice, accident or malice, is less cruel than not knowing.

If you are ever tempted to get away and make a clean start, someone will be affected; someone doesn’t want you to go; someone loves you and someone will be looking for you. For sanity’s sake and their sake and the sake of all the public money that will be spent looking for you, let the police know you are missing voluntarily.

Even if you’re not and have never been tempted to disappear, it’s a good idea to make sure people know of your whereabouts. You don’t want to end up like the man I call the unhappy camper. Nor do you want to be one of the dozens of unidentified people who have been hit by cars when out jogging or walking, without ID, and whose identities are unknown.

If you’re going somewhere that involves moving through deserted or sparsely populated country, make sure someone knows when you leave and when you believe you’ll arrive. Get lots of sleep. Don’t try to drive yourself beyond your limits – it can lead to hallucinations and lack of control. If you're going to drink, don't go near water. The number of young men (in particular) who've drowned just because they were drunk and walking near water - even in heavily populated areas.

Make sure someone knows your accurate height, your weight, your marks and tattoos. Know those things about your own loved ones.

I think we do a fairly crappy job of handling missing persons in this country - witness the woeful incompleteness of most profiles on the AFP site, the fact that we still have no national database of missing persons and the fact that there is no national database of unidentified remains. We're getting better. But we have a while to go.
vanessarama: (merlin: i drink poison)
Rohan and I have this weekend morning routine. It began when we started downloading Merlin on the Sunday morning after it had screened in the UK; Rohan would do the downloading, extracting and so forth, and I would cook him pancakes. We would eat the pancakes and then watch Merlin. Recently I discovered that buttermilk makes pancakes better, and more recently still, after much experimentation, I discovered the Perfect Pancake Formula. This is for big fluffy Pancake Parlour type pancakes, not thin crepes. It's nice and simple. I share it here below the cut )
vanessarama: (Default)
- Rohan came home on Thursday night and took Friday off work; we went to Chadstone and bought a Le Chasseur casserole/french oven. It is AWESOME. It cost a lot but I've been lusting after it for ages and it does seem to produce extra tasty food. I cooked a fabulous beef casserole in it on Friday night and there is a chicken one in the oven now (with white wine and garlic and sage, mmm). Any suggestions for favourite casserole-dish-type recipes appreciated!

- Went to the rather lame local Collectables Fair on Saturday. Bought nothing.

- Went round to Ben's Saturday night and revelled in the presence of dear friends.

- Made Welshcakes for 'A Taste of Harmony' at work tomorrow. Not that there is much Welsh in me; I just like Welshcakes :)

- To paraphrase [livejournal.com profile] eyebrowofdoom: HEXAMAGONS HEXAMAGONS.



See?
vanessarama: photo by <lj user="yavannauk"> (boys with cheekbones)
I went to Horsham. Or, as I have renamed it, Locust City.

Yep, that locust plague we city folk keep seeing bits and pieces about on the news is not only real, it's disgusting. They are EVERYWHERE out west - buzzing about or sitting around or squished on roads. Several hit me in the short walk from the bus to my hotel. On the bright side, hotel was brand new and therefore the pillows and mattress hadn't had time to get uncomfortable yet; dinner was good if expensive; and the workshop went well.

And then I came home and Rohan made bacon and eggs for supper. Which is how every chapter in my life should finish.

Now I go to catch up on Merlin fic and knitting patterns which may have been posted in my absence.
vanessarama: (merlin boys)
For once, Monday morning does not fill me with ennui! I have the day off, because I worked last Friday. I will be spending it knitting and watching documentaries. Much like I spent yesterday, only I baked a carrot cake then as well. The house smelled of fresh grated ginger for ages, a wonderful warm fragrance :)

On Friday I finished what I hope will be my last policy submission for some time and sent it in to Treasury. In the thick of it all I never realised how stressed I was over all the policy stuff I had to do in February. I feel much lighter now.

The news from Christchurch continues to devastate. I am so sad to hear that the news isn't good about Shane Tomlin, the man who was very publicly rescued, was seen entering the hospital, and then disappeared. They haven't said what happened yet. I wonder whether he was confused from the head injury and wandered off somewhere obscure outside or within in the hospital, unnoticed in the confusion. Very, very sad.

In other news, Colin Morgan apparently continues to be lovely. No surprises there :)
vanessarama: (Default)
Hello internets! *squish* I have returned from Alice Springs. My workshop went very well, and I really liked the woman who organised it. I did not like the hotel, which kept me waiting 90 minutes for my room to be ready (I would understand if it was in the morning, but it was 4 PM and rooms should be cleaned by that time of the day). The food was good, however; om nom nom barramundi and I treated myself to a Mojito.

And sadly, there is no water in the Todd. Apparently there was a lot about a week ago but it's all gone now. Alice is surprisingly green at the moment though. They've had a lot of rain. They also have a mouse plague - someone told me their cat is catching 3-4 mice a DAY. Cyclones, floods, locusts, mice - it really is the apocalypse.

Anyway, here's a pretty thing I finished lately:



Pattern: Dover Castle (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Starry by Dream in Color, colourway: Plum Paisley
Model: Lilies in the backyard

and a few more photos, because I can )

Floods

Jan. 12th, 2011 09:17 am
vanessarama: (merlin: wet)
75% of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone. 10 dead, 90 missing so far.

For those of you unfamiliar with our geography, the disaster area is twice the size of Texas, or five times the size of the entire UK. And it's not just bush or outback; it includes our third largest city.

Donations (tax deductible for Australian taxpayers) can be made to the Premier's Disaster Relief Fund. Those wishing to support the relief and care of wild and domestic animals during this crisis can donate to the RSPCA Queensland, which has toll-free numbers for US and Canadian residents to call.

The ABC's page on ways to help is here and you can also watch live coverage of the crisis on ABC News 24, which has been un-geolocked for the time being.

The Twitter tag to follow is #qldfloods and the Queensland Police Media Unit are a good place for updates too: http://twitter.com/QPSmedia

Like many Australians I have dear friends and family affected by this. My Queensland peeps, I am thinking of you all.
vanessarama: (Default)
In news outside of myself, bloody hell. Queensland Police Service has just urged residents in low-lying areas between Gatton and Ipswich to immediately self-evacuate to higher ground. Huge wall of water in Toowoomba. Look at the vid on that page. These floods. It's unbelieveable.

For those outside Oz; the flood-affected area is larger than France and Germany combined.
vanessarama: (ponds)
It is nice and quiet at work, as officially we are still closed for the holiday break. I am supposed to be taking advantage of this time to file and clean things up, but of course I am not. I am getting other stuff done though.

I weighed myself this morning for the first time in probably a year, and it was a huge wake-up call. I am heavier than I thought I was, heavier than I've ever been, and I need to lose at least 25 kilos. I am going to try out a program that [livejournal.com profile] sharpest_rose is having some success with, and then if it doesn't work it is ALL HER FAULT, mwahaha. Because it's never mine :D

On the bright side, Rohan is going to build me a new computer! I am very excited as it will be grunty enough for me to play Sims 3 comfortably without the odd stuttering and slowing down it gets sometimes. He is having a lot of fun planning and pricing it.

Also, the knitting is going excellently so far. I have done 11 repeats of a Shetland Triangle so far, and I only cast on on Sunday. It's in the most gorgeous dark green silk/cashmere lace from Skein Yarns (it's actually greener than the pic). The yarn is the softest thing I have EVER felt, and I have a lot of gorgeous yarn so I've felt a LOT of soft things.

I also bought myself some natural moth repellents from Kleins Perfumery to protect my yarn stash. I was very impressed with their customer service - I ordered on Monday, which was a public holiday, and got my stuff Wednesday. It was beautifully packaged within the box, in separate waterproof bundles tied with ribbon and I got lots of free samples as well. In case you're wondering I got some of these and some of these. I like the latter best, simply because the other ones smell of clove and I don't like clove as much as other things. I can smell them just walking past the room where the yarn is stored now, so I assume moths will be kept well at bay.
vanessarama: (merlin: tension)
The Google Maps satellite view for Marysville is now obviously post-Black Saturday. You can see how few buildings are left in the town. But if you drag the little Street View man onto the streets, Street View is still pre-fires. So you can virtually walk around a town and look at a pretty town that's almost totally destroyed in satellite view.

It's especially jarring because you can see the satellite view tucked in at lower right of the frame. And because all the labels for the B&Bs and shops and hotels all still show up, even though they are showing up over empty plots.

Today

Dec. 17th, 2010 10:40 pm
vanessarama: (merlin: dollop-head)
Today:

- I unravelled a sock that wasn't working and started another pair that is.

- I was horrified by seeing a Scientology ad on National Geographic Channel (UGH UGH NATGEO WTF?)

- The Foxtel man came around to fix our crappy connection and showed us the line which the possums had nearly nibbled right through. All fixed now and we have a new box.

- I began writing another long Merlin story.

- I began writing a short Merlin story.

- I made red and green Christmassy stained glass jelly which Rohan and I have now eaten. I made the surrounding jelly clear instead of white, flavouring it with lemonade.

- I made nommy chicken thigh and snowpea risotto

I think I may finally be beginning to relax for the first time in several months.
vanessarama: (colin colin colin)
OH my god, how much more can I adore Colin Morgan than I possibly do already?

Also, the conference call tidbits at the end are particularly cute.

And my second good thing of the day is, surprisingly, a legal judgement. I browse new judgements on Austlii regularly; I began doing it for work, but then I found out how interesting it can be (not to mention how freakin' normal and sane it makes me feel compared with some of the stuff people do). And this week I came across a decision in the Supreme Court of NSW involving adoption by a same-sex couple. The judge explains:

because this is the first adoption application by a same sex couple in this State and because there has been considerable debate in the community as to whether same sex couples should be allowed to adopt, it is important for the Court to explain the reasons for its decision, not only to the parties but to the community at large.

Reading the history of these two poor kids and how their natural mother has behaved made me fume. Reading the judge's observation on how amazingly 'Mr Smith and Mr Jones' have taken two difficult and unhappy children and turned their lives around gives me so much hope:

All of this evidence was corroborated and, indeed, heightened by my own observation of Mr Smith, Mr Jones and the children when they, their families and friends attended Court for the formal making of the adoption orders. The love and trust between the children and Mr Smith and Mr Jones – whom the children call “Dad” and “Papa” – were palpable. The children, happy and outgoing, stood close to their new fathers, hugging them in moments of excitement and at other times unconsciously reaching for their hands.

There's a lot I could say about the community attitudes that made it necessary for this judgement to be public, but I won't, because that would bring a negative tinge to what looks like a wonderful, exemplary and entirely good outcome for everyone concerned. Yay Mr Smith and Mr Jones!

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