Saturday, April 11, 2015

In defense of the land of "Dregs, Bogans and 3rd generation morons"

We took advantage of having our first Sunday off from the Market all year and drove 2 and a half hours away to the end of a road which brings you to Strathgordon in the remote South West Wilderness Area. There's absolutely nothing there, only one place to stay and it's nothing salubrious but perfect for our purpose which was to be able to relax without having to keep the kids on a tight leash. There's no shops, no people, no internet connection or mobile reception and it was exactly what we needed for 3 nights to feel human again. Disconnecting to feel connected. We brought everything with us - the kayak, the bikes, the fishing rods and the built-in entertainment system that comes from having 5 kids. We all had an excellent time. We saw 4 other people one night and no one could believe we could have such a place all to ourselves to which we replied "shh, don't tell anyone!'. The accommodation managers hadn't seen any kids for weeks so our kids happily played with theirs and they even opened up the indoor swimming pool that belongs to the town for us to use and offered to drive half an hour to their house to get some swimming costumes for the kids but with no one around they weren't necessary in the end!

We returned home to learn that high profile creative arts icon Mr Schofield had left our shores but not before unleashing a tirade against our beautiful State and people calling Tasmania a land of "dregs, bogans and third generation morons". After our few days away and the last 15 years of living here I couldn't think of a less apt way to describe our experience of Tasmania. Most of us laughed off the petty remarks, taking the derogatory comments for what they were, a frustrated man who left in a huff because the government only offered him $300,000 to run his 3rd consecutive Baroque Festival, the exact same amount they gave him the year before. He finally apologised yesterday for his offensive comments and I guess allowances can be made for him not being in "a good place" mentally. But still, those 3 little words publicly shaming an entire State hit a nerve and left a lot of people rightly miffed. The brain is wired to be more sensitive to negative comments and since it apparently takes 9 positive comments to dilute one little negative I offer the following points just off the top of my head in defense of the State I proudly call home:

1. Best boutique Hotel in the world - Saffire, Freycinet
2. Winner of the Man Booker Prize this year - Richard Flanagan for "The Narrow Road to the Deep North"
3. Cleanest air in the world with the most friendly, down to earth people I've ever met.
4. Named by Lonely Planet as the 4th best destinations in the world to visit in 2015.
5. Best Single Malt Whisky in the world this year - Sullivans Cove Single Malt.
6. Over 40% of our State is either National Park or World Heritage Area, not a bad playground.
7. Oldest everything in the country - oldest Pub, Bridge, Church, Gaol.
8. Tasmania is close to being 100% powered by renewable energy, with the largest renewable energy business in the country.
9. Last night at the Australian Tourism Awards, Tasmania won 10 out of the 29 categories, and more than any other state in Australia, awesome Tasmanians doing awesome things.

As you were, Tasmania.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Getting there

We limped our way to the end of Term 1 and I think we are all looking forward to a couple of weeks break from the school routine. We experienced the modern day version of "the dog ate my homework" the other day, otherwise known as "Mum put my USB through the wash". It's a sign of tiredness if ever there was one. Just so you know, putting a USB through the wash on a 30 minute cycle and cold wash only does not harm the information stored on it. Who knew?

I'm loving the change of seasons and especially my favourite season of Autumn - the season of pink sunrises, golden light and in just a few days the hope that the kids will finally stop waking us up before 7 when the clocks go forward an hour.

As I sit here with a glass of red on my left and a guilty Whippet on my right (don't ask!) I'm quite glad there are some photographic evidence of the blur that has been these past few weeks. It's been a blur of markets, Easter chocolate frenzy, Athletics carnivals (x3) and end of term tiredness. There has also been a lot of progress on the outside around the farm. Inside the home there appears to have been quite a bit of knitting going on in the evenings but not much else on my behalf quite frankly.

The walls of the building aren't up yet but there has been an enormous amount of ground work done on the building site in terms of retaining walls, drainage, and under-slab plumbing. Weather permitting, the slab will be poured next week. It's all starting to feel very real now. We're now getting down to the smaller details like staff uniforms, cafe furniture and menu planning.

We've had an amazing season with our Strawberries, selling out at the markets within the first hour or 2 and we're looking forward to our first raspberry harvest next Summer. The boys have been working hard planting out the Vineyard. The Chardonnay grapes are almost all in and the Pinot grapes will be planted in October, a Coal River Farm Pinot Noir and crisp Sparkling are just a few short years away.

Thanks to your comments a few posts ago in relation to that list, I promptly went out the next day and bought myself 5 skeins of yarn and cast on my very first jumper. I've been spending evenings bingeing on Seasons 1 and 2 of House of Cards with the body of the jumper and 1 sleeve now finished. Are you a fan of the series? My Dad said I must watch it and I am a huge fan of political dramas like The West Wing so House of Cards was completely up my alley. The cast is phenomenal. If only Season 3 was available already to get me through the second sleeve as it appears I suffer from the "Second Sleeve Syndrome" and haven't been inspired to tackle the second sleeve yet. Any suggestions for a new series? The only other thing on the list that I'm doing is reading the 3 middle boys Harry Potter and we are having a lovely time doing that before bed each night. One chapter a night seems to be just right before they get restless or I start nodding off myself.

Also pictured above are my first ever pair of socks that I started 8 months ago but never got further after finishing the first sock.  It appears I also suffer from the "second sock syndrome".  You may recall I started these after being inspired by Marta in The Sound of Music when she says "My name is Marta and I'm going to be 7 on Tuesday and I'd like a pink pair of socks". Except, when someone commented on that post that they didn't remember that bit of the movie I looked into it and it appears I've mistaken these words for 30 years. It seems Marta didn't want a pair of pink socks after all. She wanted a pink parasol. What 7 year old wants a pink parasol I'd like to know.

I also finished off Flynn's 2nd birthday present (just 4 months late), the super cute Mochi Trout Fish. This brings my total unfinished projects to just 3, including the jumper which I hope to finish off over Easter.

On that note, I wish you all a wonderful Easter and apologise profusely for neglecting all of your blogs these past couple of weeks. I'm on holidays now and looking forward to a bit more leisure time. I might even move the yarn winder from the entryway :-)

Joining in with other readers and knitters here.

Mel x

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Dear Mr Zuckerberg,

As a customer of your Facebook and Instagram services I wish to provide you with the following feedback and possible improvements to your services.

Whilst Facebook is far from perfect and your recent changes are particularly irritating (and already well documented everywhere) I still thank you for this service which enables me to keep in contact with relatives and friends all around the world. Admittedly, there is more of a tendency to share distressing world news or other people's stories nowadays instead of the preferable 2006-style model of updating statuses with the riveting details of ones day such as "Melanie is now eating a lobster and enjoying it very much". However, since joining "The Whippet Appreciation Society" facebook page, the emotional distress incurred as a result of bad news bombardment has been alleviated substantially. Sandwiched between inflammatory political rants and the horrific stories of children in detention centres are now cute photos of Whippets which really takes the edge off all of the bad news and has elevated my Facebook experience enormously.

Image by Paul Croes

It puts a smile on your face doesn't it?

Whilst I would never want to be blind to the atrocities of the world, I feel the old fashioned practice of popping on the TV for the 6.30 pm news or a quick read through a reputable news source just once a day is enough, although the latter is fast becoming a thing of fiction too is it not?

Suffice to say, I am happy to continue utilising Facebook at my leisure. Each of my 346 Friends are indeed friends and people I know in real life, except for 5 bloggers that I have not met yet but let's face it, after 4 years of reading their blogs I feel like I know them more intimately than that girl I went to school with in Year 1. My main point here is that I know all of these people and the practice of "unfollowing" or "unfriending" either doesn't  happen or there is a perfectly acceptable reason for the "unfriending" such as the ex-husband of a girlfriend running off with the secretary and wishing to cut ties with his ex-wife and all of her friends. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Which brings me to Instagram and the main reason for my letter. Despite Instagram being an overall enjoyable and positive experience, this one pesky business of "unfollowing" has been the source of some minor distress over the years but I think I've found an easy solution which may help the more sensitive souls of the world - "the Exit Survey".

The Exit Survey is similar to the ones you go through with an employer upon leaving a job in an attempt to leave both sides feeling all warm and fuzzy regardless of whether you have been sacked for misconduct or decided to throw in the towel in a disgruntled huff. I'm sure you are familiar with this practice Mr Zuckerberg being the CEO of some 70,000 employees.

The "Exit Survey" will give the Instagram user a multiple choice list of reasons they are about to unfollow someone, which will then be sent to the person unfollowed. Whilst this may be unpleasant, it would be preferable to the moments of life wasted wondering why you have been unfollowed - "have I done something to upset them?", "was it that photo of the gumtree that tipped them over the edge?" or "was I absent from Instagram for too long?". Upon pressing the "unfollow" button there would first be a prompt that says "are you sure you wish to unfollow X?" which would at the outset prevent 2-year olds from mindlessly unfollowing half of your followers by accident, a situation that has been known to happen around these parts. If you confirm "yes" to the prompt then you would be directed to a series of multiple choice reasons for unfollowing.

To assist, I have made a start on your survey following a brief conversation with 2 girlfriends over coffee this morning as to possible reasons one would want to unfollow someone:

"I have unfollowed you because:

a) I have left the world of Instagram and deleted my account. 
b) You unfollowed me.
c) I followed you but you never bothered to follow me back and I prefer my social media exchanges to be based on mutually beneficial friendships, except if you are Sam Heughan. Sam does not need to follow back.
d) I no longer have an interest in taxidermy/antique lace/hermit crabs [insert former hobby here].
e) You are a robot and not a real person. I only want to be social with humans.
f) I used to find you inspiring but if I see another photo of your Sunset/Rose/Offspring/House/Lifestyle [insert object of beauty here] I'm going to poke my eyes out with a fork. I'm insanely jealous and can't bear to see another photo of that again. It's me, not you.
g) Your curated life and the hours you spent arranging your raisins on the plate with that whimsical caption was verging on the ridiculous. It's you, not me.
h) I only want to see beautiful photos with horizons that are horizontal. I'm sure you're a wonderful person. Let's still have coffee.
i)You are now posting too many photos a day and clogging up my feed so that in the 2 minutes I allow for scrolling I can't see the photos of everyone else's breakfast or laundry drying on the line. I still love you.
j) You have bought followers and I find this action a bit weird and I no longer feel the same about you.
k) I followed you because of that photo you posted of the Sloth eating the Strawberry but ever since that photo all you post are photos of stairwells. I wanted more sloth.
l) You haven't "liked" or "commented" enough on my photos and I need more interaction from you. 
m) You are "liking" and "commenting" too much and too soon on every single one of my photos and I find this behaviour a little stalkerish and needy. I can't cope with it anymore. 
n) I followed you when you displayed an interest in my product/workshop/service etc but once you handed over your hard-earned cash I didn't need to follow you anymore. That's business, sorry.
n) You unfollowed me after taking my money and I have an ethical problem with you now. That's a very odd business strategy if ever there was so I need to unfollow you.
o) None of the above. I have no idea why I want to unfollow you. I follow and unfollow willy nilly without any thought or emotional attachment to the person behind the photos. It's just Instagram. Harden up Princess.
p) Your comments and responses on each of your photos are the length of a novel and clogging up my feed. You seem very chatty, have you thought about blogging?

What do you think Mr Zuckerberg? This new era of social media is a tricksy thing to navigate. Perhaps it's only natural to feel a bit cynical about it as the years go on.

I still remain your loyal customer,



PS: Here is someone else with some interesting thoughts on technology, AKA "who pleases me today, who shall I delete"