Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Some belated thoughts on Christmas

I know that plenty of people want to just to get Christmas over with when it rears its over-decorated head every year. It's easy so stress yourself out as you untangle the decorations, cursing as you stand on spikey star-shaped Christmas lights (even worse than Lego); make the food; hunt for a gift for your brother's boyfriend's half-sister's father; cry in frustration as you try to master the art of curling ribbons; plan, plan, plan and plan for things you barely have time for; and try not to pull out your own hair as you are assaulted by horrendous festive songs in the supermarket when you are just trying to buy some organic carrots in peace (to quote my sister Jazz: "I'm not sure if it's singing or some kind of anti-ear campaign.")

...Okay, so as you can tell from my cynical over-exaggerations, I'm not a fan of Christmas. Alright, no, that's not true; I'm not a fan of the consumerism and expectations that come hand-in-hand with occasions such as Christmas (or the songs - seriously, they need to go).

There are so many aspects of Christmas that I enjoy: I do appreciate some of the decorations because I have an obsession with all things sparkly, I love that it brings people a bit closer - be it family or simply the stranger you smile at and say "Merry Christmas" as you walk past each other in a park, I love the word 'festive', I like food, I like chocolate, I love family and laughing and togetherness. It can be so full of wonder and love, sometimes it's the only time some people get to see their children, or the only time they get to relax and have a good time. I spent my Christmas in Brisbane, and I really enjoyed just walking around a park in West End and seeing people celebrating in their own ways. I love it when it means something; I like the things about Christmas that we preach so thoughtlessly and often that it's easy to forget what it should really be all about.

My favourite part is the memories from childhood. I feel a little bit closer to the magic and whimsy of being a kid and having that unbelievable excitement when waking up on Christmas morning or choosing the one present we were allowed to unwrap on Christmas Eve. The images are foggy but the feeling is still recalled easily, as is the smell of pine needles and tinsel. They evoke the same beautiful nostalgia I get when I reread my favourite children's books, climb trees or make forts. Later memories are still smiled over: the holiday we spent eating chocolate balls in the air-conditioning as we watched our favourite comedies, or the time my parents were concerned because I laughed for 10 whole minutes at a Christmas tree that my dad had made by sticking a Casuarina branch in a pot of pebbles and zip-tying a star-shaped cactus to the top - small memories that mean a great deal to an individual.

For me, this was the first Christmas in a long time that didn't induce anxiety as early as October.Why was this year different? The answer is simple: my family and I all agreed to not buy each other presents this time. The decision saved not only a lot of money, but saved us all huge amounts of stress. For many, it seems, the holiday can feel more obligatory than exciting.

Why do days like Xmas and Valentine's Day have to be so much about presents and stressing over making everything appear perfect?

I love giving gifts, but why should we have to have a set day to give them? A set day to appreciate our loved ones, to celebrate, and to remember to have a good time? I suppose it sometimes is needed as a reminder. I much prefer the idea of the spontaneity and special-ness of giving someone a gift just because you feel like it, or because you found something and thought of them. It can be hard to find the perfect present when you're stressfully searching for them along with one for everyone else. But of course, that's just how I feel about it and it's all different for everyone.

...Anyway, I think that's all that my point was, but I can't really remember for sure because once again I'm writing a rushed post while tired (as was the case in my previous post - SO sorry for the amount of times I said 'quite' and all the other awkward things).

I hope your year was wonderful and so was Christmas day, whether you celebrate it, something different, or nothing at all, and I hope that 2015 (and all those to come after) is fantastic for all of us.

Happy New Year *throws biodegradable confetti*.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Rediscovered Pictures


Images one, four, five and eight: my sister Ireland, taken by me. Images seven and nine: my sister Jazz, taken by me. Images two and six: me, taken by Jazz. Image three: me, taken by Ireland. Images ten, eleven and twelve: me, taken by my mum. Image thirteen: Ireland and I, taken by Jazz. I can't be sure, but some of these may be edited.

Note: The second-from-the-bottom photo was photoshopped ages ago because the picture showed a lot of spots on my face, I decided to not add it in the post in which the photoshoot that this photo came from was posted because putting up a photoshopped face didn't sit right with me. Looking at it again now, I've decided that I really like the photo (unfortunately I never saved the un-edited version) but just wanted to let you know that my skin doesn't actually look like that.

My laptop has finally been fixed (after my sister's laptop, which I was using before, died) and I now have access to all my photos, so I thought I'd post (just a tad more than) a few of my favourites, of which none besides photo number nine (of my sister Jazz) have appeared on the blog.

Photo taken by my friend Thelma
I was originally going to make this a very quick post, but I realised that I really want to share with you the story of Colin the barn swallow, who made an appearance in my last post. We found Colin to have rather fortunately landed in a box full of fabric, it seemed that her siblings (who we'd seen in the nest the day before) had been taken by something, and her parents never came back for her. We named her a masculine name but addressed her as a she to "balance it out" because we didn't know the gender (I know it sounds a bit wanky, but it made sense to us at the time - when we were both very tired). I was quite annoyed with her at first, but eventually grew affectionate towards her. She seemed comforted by sitting in my hand, so I'd take her out of her makeshift nest regularly so that she got some affection, and sometimes she'd sort of flap a bit and climb up my arm or the front of my shirt, until she got to the crook of my neck and buried herself in my hair, where she proceeded to make soft, content noises (what does it say about my hair if a baby bird things it's a good place to hang out in?). My mum and I started becoming really fond of her.

It was a rather interesting experience once she started flying, as I said in a post on instagram: it "involved her flying onto our ceiling fan and getting upset because she didn't know how to get down - so I had to coax her onto an umbrella (a vintage one, natch); her flying into my face; her flying onto my shoulder and refusing to get off; flying onto my head three times; flapping and climbing up my arm to nestle into the crook of my neck; flying up and perching on the curtain railing; flying onto my EAR and perching there; and quite a lot of awkward flaps in the air in which it seemed that she wasn't sure what to do next." We then took her outside regularly for a fly, which was terrifying, but wonderful as she seemed to really love it. She was a natural (probably because she's a bird, but whatever...).

We had her for 32 days before she left 'the nest' on Tuesday, and it was really just so great seeing her grow from strength to strength in such a short period of time: seeing her fly for the first time, watching her catch a bug midair right in front of me, seeing that she'd found a dam to drink from and bath in (because she came back looking like a drowned rat), and all sorts of wonderful things. It was really quite sweet to have a bird that would fly onto your shoulder (or your hand if you held it out to her). She'd even be quite happy to sit on my thumb as I was texting on my phone. Colin also rather enjoyed waking me up by gently pulling on my eyelashes at five-thirty in the morning, which, despite my annoyance at being woken up so early, actually felt quite nice. She was also quite funny, too: once, she was watching a wasp fly around so intently that she fell off my finger, she also had a tendency to get distracted by watching the ceiling fan - it was quite funny watching her head twirl around as the fan did.
I also realised that her name was quite funny, as well: I gave her nicknames like Colinoscopy and Semi-Colin, and when she took a bath it was a 'Colin cleanse'. I also liked to have her sit on my middle finger so I could give people 'the bird'. Anyway, that's all I can think of right now as I'm very tired (and am writing this because I'm trying to update my blog at least once a month). I do miss having her around, but I would never have put her in a cage and tried to keep her. I'm just hoping that she's safe and has found a nice coliny (see what I did there?) of barn swallows to join. Long live Colin!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Scary Stuff

Halloween - Hallowe'en, All Hallow's Eve, AllHalloween, All Saints' Eve: a yearly celebration marked by orange pumpkins, jiggling plastic skeletons, dress-ups, parties, sugar, witch's hats and an overuse of the word 'spooky'. It's the time when Halloween specials come up on television and cringe-worthy marketing techniques resurface; shaken out and dusted off once again to sell, sell, sell - as cheesy and predictable as the last 152 times.

For me, October 31st is a day of eye-rolls and mutterings of "Wow, haven't heard that one before" (in response to the aforementioned cringe-worthy marketing techniques) - and this year, it's also the day that the carton of milk in our fridge passes its use-by-date - that's about it. While it's not something that I generally get involved in, I still do enjoy seeing how others celebrate and get creative with it: my social media feeds filled with inventive make-up ideas, DIY decorations and some excellent costumes.

However, I do have some issues with Halloween. My problems with it, much like my problems with Christmas, Easter and the like, are the really scary things about the occasion - not the appearance of vampires, devils, witches, ghouls and ghosts, but the extra harm done to the planet and the many Halloween costumes that objectify women.

The shouts of "Buy me, buy me!" from cheap, plastic crap - no doubt made by slaves in China - are distinctly louder in the time leading up to occasions like these. Individual plastic packaging for each bullet-sized lolly, toxic dyes from making costumes washing into rivers, costumes and decorations made from environmentally unfriendly materials, and excessive amounts of waste, etc - all equate to an environmental nightmare.
But you don't have to partake in any of that: costumes can be handmade, borrowed from a friend, rented, created with clothes from the back of your wardrobe, ethically made, second hand, or at least be reworn.

And then there's the sexism. Out of all festivities, I think that Halloween probably holds the shiny gold trophy for costumes that sexualise women. They go as far as a sexy snowman from a children's Disney movie - hot, right? The objectification of women in Halloween costumes is especially noticeable when seen in contrast to the same costumes, but for men. Where a costume for men might be marketed as funny, scary, or evil, the version for women is more likely to be labelled 'sexy' or 'naughty'.

On the other end of the teeterboard, comes the slut-shaming. When we call out stuff like this, it's important to not respond with more sexism and shame girls who wear sexy outfits. The problem is more that these costumes are pretty much all of what's on offer, and that that participates in giving society the screwed up idea that the most important thing about women is how they look to men - which is so far from the truth.

As much as I detest the fact that almost all the costumes for women that you'll find in your average cheap store or shopping centre are sexually objectifying, I'm not going to judge anyone who wears them. If you like it and you want to wear it, then wear it - it's completely your choice. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look sexy.

Although, if you are looking for some women's Halloween costumes that are about more than looking sexy, A Mighty Girl has some brilliant ideas for girls and women of all ages here.

So, with that being said, I hope everyone enjoys their day, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. The dress and heels seen above and below were taken off hours ago, so I think for Halloween I'm just going to go as the (very tongue-in-cheek) girl who forgot to shave her armpits, because nothing scares people like female body hair, right?

My familiar, Colin. This baby swallow fell out of its nest a week ago, rather luckily falling into a box full of fabric. We put it back, but there were no other siblings (when there was the day before) and its parents never came back for it. I'm actually starting to become a bit of a protective mummy bird. 
Photos courtesy of my mum

The vintage handmade dress was bought at a charity shop, and so were the heels - which I towered in, as they put me over six feet tall! To prove that you can source your entire Halloween costume ethically, I'd also like to note that the under shorts were upcycled from a pair of holey tights, the crop top underneath is a hand-me-down from my sister, and my knickers are from ethical UK company Who Made Your Pants? - they even go with my outfit, as they're green! 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Framed Moments and Captured Spaces.

Photography is one of my big passions - my biggest passion, in the area of creativity. I love those framed moments and captured spaces. It's such a personal thing for me; it's art - self expression. When I show you a (particular) photo I've taken of someone else, it can sometimes feel like I'm showing you a portrait of me - and I am, just not in the physical sense. And those that I've taken of myself? The 'selfie' takes on a whole new meaning...

So many people view photography as just "point and shoot", but they've got that confused - that's a camera. Photography comprises imagination, creativity, style, light, feeling, self, thought, angle, work, experiences, talent, skill, stories, subjects, themes, collaboration, plans, ideas, and you - and sometimes a lot of swearing, too. The camera is the wonderful tool used to capture all of that. We wouldn't have photography without cameras, but we wouldn't have so many amazing photos - works of art - without photography, without the minds behind them.

Photography can sometimes be seen as a weak practice, by those who believe that an image is as simple as aim, click, done. I get very irritated when some say "isn't photography just another word for unemployed?" or ask photographers "yeah, but what's your job? What else do you do?". Even worse than that is when people say or insinuate that the photos are only beautiful because you have a good camera. Ehem, was Harry Potter a great wizard because of his wand? I-don't-bloody-think-so. Tim Walker certainly doesn't make the amazing images he does because he bought a shiny camera with a big lens, throws his arms out in a random direction and presses a button.

On photos that I have taken of my sister, I have had comments in which people say that the images are only pretty because she's so beautiful. Well yes, sometimes the photographs I post haven't had much effort or creativity put into them, they are not the pictures that make me feel like I'm showing you a part of me, and they are pretty because the subject is...but I like them and I like taking them.

Out of all my photos, I tend to prefer the ones that I found more challenging, that incorporate more of my imagination, and sometimes they aren't the most gorgeous ones, the ones that everyone else favours, but that's okay, it's for me. Photography, writing, clothes, blog posts - first and foremost, they're for me; my rabbit hole - a whimsical world to escape to.


The photos above were all taken by me (and if the subject is human, then they're of me too), snapped on my Samsung Galaxy Mini gt-s5570 phone. Most of the other pictures on my blog were captured with a Nikon L120. All except the last have appeared on my Instagram. Most of them, like the photos I take with my proper camera, are un-edited.
They are a mix of just pretty captures and photos that have a little extra something behind them: putting on a dress that matches a vintage mirror for the sake of a shot; getting my mum to stop the car because I noticed that the blooms on a tree, a sign, a steel fence and a grey sky contrasted perfectly; spending ten minutes trying to get the perfect shot of me donning a sixties hat picked up in a charity shop that day; almost tripping over myself in the search of a mirror when the afternoon sun is filtering through my window beautifully; waiting for the right time for the sun to make some Bottlebrush seed pods cast the perfect shadow; and, most notably: waiting until dark so that I can turn off the light in my bedroom, close the door, hang an embroidered silk shirt on my cupboard door as I hold the front of it up so that a reptile light - balanced on my knee - could shine through it, while I hastily snap the photo. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Forgotten Ones

I am typing this up on my sister's old laptop as my mum's computer, which I was using previously, is currently not turning on - and neither is my laptop. The right-click button is non-functioning and the screen doesn't sit up by itself (I have it leaning against a vintage suitcase which is balanced on top of an upturned laundry basket...which is sitting atop a milk crate full of old records), but still: it works, receives internet and, very importantly, was storing a bunch of photos that I had either forgotten about or couldn't access (because they are on my unresponsive computer).

I'm really happy with the rediscovery of these photos and in retrospect I have no idea why they weren't posted beforehand - I love them! The two absolute babes in these images are my fabulous sisters and favourite photography subjects, both of whom I utterly adore. The first two black-and-whites are of my magnificent god-sister Jazz, the second photograph of her has actually appeared on this blog before, but I couldn't resist reposting it because Jazz looks so adorable and infectiously happy, as she does in the shot above. All the other pictures are of my wonderful sister Ireland, who I will be seeing this weekend - YAY!

...And as I'm trying not to neglect clothing details: the hat donned by both Jazz and Ireland is a vintage wool and velvet number found at a charity shop, the seventies leather boots worn by Jazz are mine (from Etsy), and Ireland's green sixties mini, Jazz's sixties lace shift dress and seventies summer maxi were all unearthed from my mum's hoard of vintage and second hand pieces that she has collected from charity shops over the years.