Sunday, 25 September 2016

It's Re-potting Time

It's that time of year -- early Spring -- new growth is beginning to sprout, but it's not yet time for flowers or fruit. I had 3 fuchsia cuttings that I started a few months ago when I pruned the mother shrub. They grow so strongly in my garden and it's a satisfying experience to work with them.

Nice, strong roots have developed:

I also had a bamboo cutting that was ready to pot. The Daiso pots that I've been collecting for the last few years look strange with actual dirt in them!

This strange fellow is a fuchsia cutting I took last year. I didn't think a cutting with such a thick circumference would take, but it's done very well, even if it looks a little lopsided! I needed to wire it to keep it from falling out of the pot. Even though I don't work with bonsai much anymore, I learned some valuable techniques that I can use with normal plants. For some reason I forgot to take a photo of him in his new pot, but it looks basically the same, just larger! I also pruned off a few of the dead twigs in the hopes it will grow bushier. If I were Adam of Adam Ask Why, most of it would be lopped off, but I'm not that brave!

Even the Fuchsia can have beautiful bark. Well, I hope that's how it's supposed to look!

While I was working, I noticed some new growth in the offcuts from the rose bushes that I'd pruned a few months ago. It seems some of them had their bases in the water pooling in the bottom of the wheelbarrow and had started to grow.

They wanted to live, and who am I to argue? So I put them in the jars recently vacated by the fuchsias. One was so tall I had to work my wiring techniques on it to stop it from falling over. I have no idea whether you can successfully grow roses from cuttings, but it's always fun to experiment.

Lastly, I fertilised the fruit trees. I took a tip from last week's episode of Vasili's Garden for improving fruit trees. The larger trees are doing very well, but the two we planted ourselves -- a cherry and an olive -- were not quite growing as well as I'd hoped. Vasili advised to spread mulch around the base of the trees, as the roots are still quite shallow and the grass can compete with the roots for nutrients. I also spread the fertiliser further out from the base of the trees, to encourage the roots to grow further.

I'm excited to find out the results of my work!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

101 Things in 1,001 Days: The First Year

Today marks 1 year since I started my first 101 Things in 1,001 Days list. I've been really enjoying it so far, though there are a few things I have learned and things I will do differently next time. I think I prefer this format to other goal-list-type things I have done before: like yearly goals, yearly themes or "30 Before Age 30". Of course, they are not that different, but I think the longer time period makes me feel less pressured. Also, 101 items is a good amount to cover all of my diverse hobbies and other things I'd like to do over the course of a few years.

I haven't completed many things from the list yet, but some of them are quite significant milestones that I'm proud of. I finished my conscript, which I'd been working on for nearly 20 years (blog post to come). I got a cat, and he's quite a fantastic cat! I unpacked all of my books, and made jam. I organised a party for a milestone birthday.

So far I have re-assessed the items on the list at least twice. I'm the kind of person whose interests change over time, becoming curious about new things and putting aside old ones along the way. For this reason, it's been important for me to take a flexible attitude and be willing to make changes. Otherwise I'd never complete the list! Not long after starting, I made a conscious decision to re-assess the entire list at least once every 6 months. I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of everything -- I just created a second tab to store these superceded ideas, as well as ideas for future lists.

For example, I'm no longer so interested in #50: Go Fruit Picking now that I have my own fruit trees to invest time and effort into. #93: Take my Mum to Womadelaide seems obsolete now, as I found out recently that she's no longer so enthusiastic about going. I originally put #44: Get A Massage Every Second Month as I wanted to take advantage of subsidised massages under my health insurance. It was going quite well until I found out that I can only have 3 per year, so I needed to re-think whether I was comfortable with that level of expenditure.

Aside from changing interests, there were a few things on the list that are probably no longer feasible for me to do. For example, #97: Visit the Open Gardens. The official Open Gardens scheme has closed down, though there are still private gardens to visit. #33: do NaNoWriMo was a dismal failure as November is an incredibly busy time of year for me. #53: Go Overseas -- might be more difficult to achieve now that I have a cat to care for.

⇒ Despite having the SMART Goals model hammered into me at work (Specific, Measurable, etc), I still put in several items that were vague and open to interpretation, such as #60 Have All The Basics Done In The Garden. At the time, I thought I'd go back in and list specific tasks that I wanted to do under that banner, but I haven't gotten around to doing that yet.
⇒ I wish I had put in more items that are one-offs and less that are "do such-and-such every month". While trying to develop regular habits is good, the 101 Things in 1,001 Days list is possibly not the best place for these. It's discouraging to look at the item on the list over and over, knowing you won't be able to tick it off until the very end of the 1,001 days.
⇒ Next time, I'd like to have more of a mix of big, small and medium-sized items. Having a good amount of small-sized items means that more items can be done satisfyingly sooner. One version of the Kanban workflow system from Japan classifies tasks into mouse, elephant and even blue whale sizes. It's a cute idea!

I've done several new things in the past year that aren't on the list, or things I've done before but never done them so well before. I saw a concert with music I love for the first time -- not just one, but two! I went to a fashion runway show. I changed my attitude to life and work which I think will serve me better in future. For the first time, I've started calling myself an Archivist. For the first time, I said to both friends and strangers, "I'm an artist." I've begun to realise more about my spirituality. And I've started a major new project which I'll talk about more in a future post -- when I'm ready! I think it's important to acknowledge these things which can't be conveniently written down in a list, or may have come along spontaneously but ended up being important milestones in my life.

Looking at my list and the items I've crossed off or are well into, gives me renewed motivation to continue. I'm looking forward to finishing it off and drawing up a new one, even though that's a long way off at the moment.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Madman Anime Festival

A few weeks ago, I went to the inaugural Madman Anime Festival. Melbourne has been a bit lacking in anime conventions since Manifest ended in 2013, so I was happy when I saw that MadFest was on. Madman are the biggest distributor of anime and manga, as well as other independent films, in Australia, so they are in a good position to run a festival.

The festival space was smaller than I expected, but there were plenty of things to see and buy. I didn't attend any of the activities, but there seemed to be plenty to keep fans busy all day. I've been meaning to learn more in the world of anime and manga for several years now, and the intense, vibrant atmosphere was a good way to learn what's popular and what makes fans excited.

The main point of this post is to show off my purchases, so here they are:

I'm very interested at the moment in collecting stickers for my Hobonichi art diary, so I spent a lot of time loitering in the Artist Alley area. I bought some Pokemon stickers from Elking Art, and Pusheen stickers and some prints from two girls whose card I unfortunately didn't get:

I've recently started watching Sailor Moon (the original series) for the first time, so I was excited to pick up these badges and a keyring. There are also a pair of Tuxedo Mask earrings and a Totoro pair from Curious Emporium.

I couldn't resist this Pikachu plush, and the Hello Kitty is a gift for my Mum. I named the Pikachu Pickles.

I purchased a hand-crocheted Totoro for an embarrassingly low price from a stall whose card I also didn't get. The detail on this plushie is lovely. The Domo-kun and Beemo come from a mystery box that Husband bought. I got the pick of everything in it that was pink!

Finally, some manga/manwha I purchased from the $5 stall -- Platina and Metamo Kiss. I was hesitant to buy any full-price sets as it's always a risk with something you're not familiar with. If I like them, then I'll buy the rest at a later stage.

While the festival was relatively small, I preferred it over the larger ones which can become overwhelming. I hope it will continue next year, and also hopefully that I will know more about anime by then.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

My August

August has been an incredibly busy month for me. I began my new job on the first of the month. I attended two events for the Melbourne Fashion Week Plus festival, going to a runway fashion show for the first time. There were birthdays, dinners and Pokemon catching days. I saw my two best friends more this month than I have in a long time, which was lovely. Work changed my roster and it's different every week, so I haven't been able to settle into much of a routine. Despite all this, I've been more inspired and had more of an urge to create than I have in a long time.

What I've been working on ...
I went through all of my crochet/knitting projects and re-arranged and re-prioritised them. I've been wanting to work on my monster plushies recently, and decided to start with this small yellow one. I haven't actually done much more progress on it, but at least it's easy for me to pick up when I have the time and inclination.

What I've been painting ...
One of my friends turned 40 years old, and I wanted to make her something special, so I painted her this painting. I had a 2-week deadline, and I had to work hard, but I finished it just in time. I'm quite proud of it -- it turned out exactly how I pictured it in my head. It refers to and event that happened over 15 years ago, and I hope it will convey how valuable her friendship is to me.

I was also spurred on to finish this painting which I began last year. It only needed a few finishing touches, but now I can add it to my finished works. (Of which, well, this is the first one that I haven't given away, so I have a sum total of one!)

What I've been making ...
I started a zine, my first in 7 years. It began as only a semi-serious thing, a reaction (or quiet rebellion, if you like?) to working full-time again. Then I met some amazing people at an event I went to, one of whom is also working on a zine right now, and I was incredibly inspired to commit to finishing it, as well as ideas for at least 2 more. I'm at the mock-up stage at the moment.

What I've been observing ...
Also, look at this! The fruit trees in my garden have started blossoming. This is a nectarine blossom, but flowers on the apricot and plum have also begun to burst open.

Selections from Instagram