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Author Archives: sallyinthehaven

‘Something feels funny. I must be thinking too hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

Soas I am sure you are all excruciatingly aware—the end of this year is upon us and the start of a brand new year is fast approaching.  I am not quite sure how that happened again so soon (it feels like I have just gotten over last Christmas and New year) but nevertheless here it is and so it seems like a fitting time for a little self-reflection. (You have my permission to run screaming from the building . . . )

When I started this blog in 2015, I admit, it was on a bit of a whim.  I didn’t know anything about the mechanics of blogging, and in fact, I don’t think I even read any kind of blog on a regular basis.  I can only imagine that it ‘seemed a good idea at the time’.  I was doing a bit of writing for the college brochure (just a paragraph a term) and perhaps thought it might be fun to see if I had anything to say on more a regular basis.

(Well—that’s the party line.  In all honesty I was probably bored rigid and looking for a new ‘project’.  I think I probably fully expected that I would give it a go for a couple of months and then it would all fizzle out, like so many other of my pet projects—’Cure for an obsession: get another one’—Mason Cooley . . . )

Anyhoooo—imagine my surprise then when last week I realised that I have actually been posting my scribbles and sketches for over two years now!  Two years!  That seems incredible to me and I was immediately prompted to ask myself a couple of questions.  Onewhat did I do with my ‘spare’ time before I started blogging? . . . and Two: what on earth did I find to write about during those last two years?

I have no idea what the answer is to question number one (slept more, probably) but the answer to question number two seems to be anything and everything . . . and (often) nothing of consequence at all.  Taking some time to go back and re-read some of my much earlier posts has been a weird experience.  Some of it I remember writing and some of it not at all.  Some of the writing seems quite readable (trying to look at it objectively) but at other times I wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Very strange.

I have never considered myself a natural writer and I have never found writing easy (you know those people that say ‘the writing just flows out of me . . .’?  Well, bully for them.  Personally, I just want to poke their eyes out with a sharp stick) but I do think I assumed it would get easier the more I wrote.  It seems like I was kidding myself for, in fact, I found almost the exact opposite to be the case.  I am not even sure whether this is a good thing or a bad.  Is the writing getting more difficult because I am trying harder—or am I just running out of things to blather about?

So, here’s the thing.  Here’s what I have been asking myself.  Should I continue?  Should I continue to write my weekly missives or have I run my course?  Seriously.  I’m asking.  I don’t think I am ready to stop writing entirely (although there are certainly days . . . ) but then perhaps I have already passed my ‘use-by-date’ and you lovely people who regularly drop in to catch up with me are just all too polite to tell me.

I have been going back and forth about it in my mind for a couple of months now and I have decided I need to clear my head.   I am therefore going to give myself a couple of weeks off.  I mean really ‘off’.  The college closes next week and I will be away from the office for three whole weeks!!!  During that time I have determined I am going to do as little as humanely possible (perhaps I should say as little as ‘doggily’ possible.  My girls have it down to a very fine art and I am going to observe them closely . . . ) and that includes taking some time off from writing this blog too.  (Was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard?)

So dear readers, I am going to now take this opportunity to thank you all for following me thus far and for your much valued friendship and support.  I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve made some fabulous new friends and I’ve even reconnected with some very old friends again too.  It’s been great.

But for right now Winnie and I need to take a bit of a break from thinking so hard, so I want to wish you all a very happy and safe and carefree Christmas (eat, drink and be (really, really) merry!) and a fabulous start to the New Year and, with a bit of luck, a much clearer head (and I’m hoping a vastly renewed enthusiasm) I look forward to seeing you all again in early 2018 . . .

Sally and ‘the girls’ XXX

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No water, no life. No blue, no green.’ Sylvia Earle.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

No words either.  Just another sketch . . .

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.’ Liz Carpenter.

I got a letter from my Mum this week.  Not a long letter.  Not a fancy letter.  It didn’t really even tell me much that I didn’t already know, but it was still a lovely surprise because, quite honestly, I can’t remember the last time I received an actual letter in the post (not just from Mum—from anyone).  Come to think of itI can’t remember the last time I wrote one either . . .

I guess it’s not all that surprising.  Time and technology wait for no man.  Why write a letter when you can contact someone in a nano-second by phone, email, text or tweet?  There must be a whole generation of people out there who have never even thought about hand-writing a letter to a friend or relative.  In a world where ‘google’ is a verb, Wikipedia is the new Encyclopedia Britannica, Android is no longer only a character in a sci-fi movie and texting has created its own language one could begin to believe that social media has become the only acceptable way to connect.

I know I am showing my age here but I do remember a time when I wrote, and received, letters all the time.  When I left home at the age of 17 (centuries ago) to go and work in another country my mother had only one rule for me (or at least only one rule she voiced out loud)—I had to write a letter home every week.  It didn’t matter if I had nothing remotely interesting to say, whether I been out gallivanting around the town, whether I had been working flat out, or had been in bed all week with the flu.  One letter every weekthat was the rule.  And I wrote them.  For years and years.  And, truth be told, once I got into the swing of it I quite enjoyed writing them (but don’t tell my Mum that).  I must have written hundreds.

How interesting would it be now (and a tad freaky) to reread some of those letters written by my much younger self?  I reckon it would be a bit like time travelling backwards.  I wonder if I would even recognise the girl I was then?  I must ask Mum whether she kept any of them . . .

Because people do keep letters, don’t they?  Letters from childhood penpals, or school friends, or family, or old lovers.  They are precious to them.  The paper they are written on, the ink they are written with, the individual handwriting whether neatly scripted or quickly scrawled.  Some letters come with doodles or drawings and odd little inserts.  They have special a way of evoking memories and emotions.  They say you are worth the time and effort (and extra expense) of receiving a letter.  I guess that is why so many handwritten letters have survived throughout history.  They are so personal.  A bit like diaries.  People are loathe to destroy them.

Today of course people still have vast correspondences, but most of it is entirely electronic.  I wonder how many people out there feel compelled to save (all tied up with pretty string in a box in the wardrobe) sentimental printouts of emails, phone texts or microbursts from the twitterverse?  Not so very many I would guess.  And how much easier now to get rid of it all.  Highlight.  Delete.  Gone.

There.  I’ve gone and made myself all nostalgic.  Not nostalgic enough to stop writing emails or using my phone of course (I’m not entirely silly) but nostalgic enough to think about maybe writing back to Mum, instead of giving her a quick phone call.

I have to go into town this weekend anyway.  Maybe I’ll spend some extra time looking for some pretty stationery . . .

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Colour is like food for the spirit—plus it’s not addictive or fattening.’ Isaac Mizrahi.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I think I fed my spirit pretty well with this sketchand not a calorie ingested . . .

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal.’ Stirling Moss.

As I am sure you all realise we are fast coming up to the end of another year.  Yay!  But alsoYikes!  I’m not at all ready for it.  Well—yes I am, but also, no, I’m not, if you know what I mean.  I am really looking forward to the Christmas break when I know I can take a couple of weeks off and just lie around the house and veg out (no phones, no computers, no students!) and play with my girls, go to the movies, do some sketching and catch up on my reading (and sleep)—but I am also very aware there is still so much I have to do before then.

To tell you the truth my brain aches.  I have never had any trouble relaxing my musclesin fact you could say I am a bit of an expert at it (sloth is my favourite deadly sin)—but my brain is a whole other story.  Although I can see Stirling Moss’s point about not relaxing your brain totally, it would be kind of nice to at least be able to switch it down a notchor three.  I like to think I am pretty good at dropping into relaxation mode when I need to and I can’t say I consciously feel overly stressed about anythingbut every now and again my brain likes to kick in and and remind me that I am obviously not as good at switching off as I think I am.

This past week I have woken every morning around 2.00am (wide awake—bam!) to find my mind running through lists of things that really (really, really) have to be done this week.  Because once they are donethere are all these other things that need to be done the week after that . . .  and the week after that . . .

‘. . . the festive season is thundering towards me and I have barely given it a moment’s thought . . . the car has to go to the garage on Friday for its MOT . . . got to think about the new term timetable now  ‘cos if it’s left until the New Year all hell will break loose . . . I have a house inspection this week, I’d better get go over it once more to keep the rental people happy . . . did I actually transfer those last course results on to that other database, or just think I did?  . . . I’ve got to get the brochure away to the printers at the end of next week . . . Marg’s puppy is coming to stay with us for the weekend  (shhhh, I haven’t told the girls yet) . . . what the hell am I going to write for this week’s blog . . . ‘

You know, that kind of thing.  Sigh.

Of course I am no different to anyone else and, if I am perfectly honest, my life is undoubtedly much less complicated and a lot less busy than many othersbut there you are.  It’s not their brains keeping me up at night, it’s mine.  It’s not as if I can do all that much about it either (short of getting really really good at meditation in a hurry and  that seems unlikely) and I do know that all these ‘things-that-need-to-be-done-right-now’ will eventually resolve themselves in due course.  They always do.  (In other words, suck it up and ride it out Sal.)

But you know, in spite of knowing all thatsometimes . . . just sometimes . . . it does a body a world of good just to have a bloody good grumble about it anyway . . .

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Hear the birds? Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m deaf and I try to imagine what it’s like not to be able to hear them. It’s not that bad.’ Larry David.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I’ve made a rod for my own back.  Sigh.  The word is out that I have been feeding my little magpie family every day outside my college window and now everyone wants in on the act . . . 

Last week, just after I had put the usual crumbs out for my magpie friends, a single lonely little noisy miner turned up and skittered about the edges, helping himself to a few tiny crumbs.  ‘That’s okay,’ I thought, ‘there’s plenty to go around.’  I was forgetting, of course, that noisy miners are not solitary creatures  . . . 

The next day he reappeared . . . accompanied by wifey and a couple of very vocal youngsters.  Now, I happen to be very fond of noisy miners.  There is a little family that lives in my front garden and I have spent many a happy time sitting watching them as they quarrel and bicker and bomb the water out of my bird bath—(plus they all seem to possess the same ‘grumpy bird’ expression which I find hilarious)—but OMG!! 

Within a couple of days they started arriving in flocks—aunties, uncles, third cousins twice removedall shouting and pushing and shoving and squabbling at the top of their tiny lungs.  The noise was deafening.  And right outside my office window!  (I guess they are not called ‘noisy’ miners for nothing.)  And worse—there was now no sign of my little magpie family (miners are incredibly territorial and will drive away any other birds—just by force of sheer numbers I imagine!)  What to do??

Well,  it seems I don’t have to do much at all.  Turns out that the new visitors aren’t quite as smart as my maggies just yet.  The magpies have obviously been watching the proceedings from a distance (so as not to cause further affray) and have come to realise that if they come tap-tap-tapping at my window as soon as I arrive in the morning they will be able to devour their little treats long before the hungry interlopers are even awake.  The strategy seems to be working.  The miners are still arriving periodically throughout the day, but with slimmer pickings their numbers are slowly reducing.

I wonder how long it will be before they catch on  . . .

More ink-blot art.
These birdies don’t look anything like noisy miners or magpies
but they do look like they might be on the hunt for a good feed!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If you are afraid of butter, use cream.’ Julie Child.

I admit I used to be very afraid of butter.  I have always preferred butter to other ‘low fat’ alternatives but I am also a child of the ‘fat is bad’ generation (and have been varying-degrees-of-overweight most of my adult life) so butter has always felt taboo for me.  WellI am here to tell you my friendsI am a bone fide convert.  Staunch advocates of low-fat eating had best look away now!!

Until recently I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a packet of butter in my house.  Seriously.  No idea.  However, a month ago I began a new eating plan (just as all the yummy treats are starting to appear for the festive season—way to go Sal!) and quite suddenly, and very unexpectedly, I found all my previous ingrained beliefs about food and dieting (and full fat versus low fat) started to crumble around me.  Butter has become my new best friend.

I admit when I came across the dietdoctor.com website my first thought was‘I wonder what they’re trying to sell?’  Imagine my surprise then to find that they didn’t appear to be trying to sell me anything at all, except perhaps a different way of looking at the food I eat.  There were no advertisements, no product placements and they even stated that they accepted no industry money for their research either.  So far so good.  It turned out that the site was run by an international team of doctors, clinicians and research scientists whose whole concern seemed to be an attempt to address the staggering rise of obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates all around the world today.

The more I read, the more interested I became . . .

I had heard about low-carb-high-fat (LCHF) diets before (wasn’t that what Atkins was all about?) but I had never tried one.  (I’d tried virtually everything else but not that.)  I was highly skeptical.  (How could high fat food possibly be good for me?  It goes against everything I have ever been taught.)  But I like to think I have an open mind (about most things at least) so I read everything on the site and I watched all the videos, and the more I read and the more I watched the harder it became to come up with excuses not to try it.  It all seemed to make perfect sense to me.  Could everything I thought I knew about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food be so completely wrong?

Anyway, long story short, I decided I needed to give it a go.  I am not diabetic, nor on any medication and I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose but the possible health implications of continuing to eat the way I was eating were enough to give me pause.  I decided to give myself over to the LCHF eating plan (full on, no cheating!) for one month to see what would happen.  No sugar, no grains, no fruit.  This was going to be interesting.

The first week was by far the hardest.  Everything they said might happen, did.  I had a searing headache for the first three days.  I had heart palpitations.  My muscles ached.  I had waves of nauseating hunger (don’t look at the lolly jar—don’t look at the lolly jar!) and I almost had an anxiety attack the first time I fried my hamburger in a pan swimming in butter!  But I persevered and then, towards the end of that first week, I started to realise I actually felt pretty good.  I was no longer getting hungry between meals.  I was sleeping better.  I wasn’t missing the bread, or the fruit, or the sugar at all, and all the butter (and cheese . . .  and cream . . . ) I was eating was actually really delicious . . .

Suffice to say, a month later I feel great.  Not only am I actually enjoying my food more (my girls are beside themselves with all the lovely smells that come out of the kitchen these days—yes folks, Sally has actually been cooking!) I am eating plenty of it—and Bonus!—I have also dropped nearly 6 kilos by doing it.  The proof is in the pudding (or lack of it). I am a believer.

But you shouldn’t take my word for it.  If anyone out there is interested in losing weight, or is diabetic (or pre-diabetic) this is a great site for information if nothing else.  All I urge is that you go onto the site with an open mind.  And here’s a small tipthere is a huge amount of free information on the site, but there’s even more information on the member pages (videos, films, presentations, etc).  Membership is only $9.00 a month, but you also get your first month free.  So sign up, read and watch everything on the member pages and if you still believe the whole concept is bat-crap crazy you can pull out before your first membership fee is due and the experience will have cost you nothing.

Go on.  I dare you.  www.dietdoctor.com.  What have you got to lose?

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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