Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Books: My Summer Reading, and Best Books 2010

I started this year's summer reading with Stephen King's "Full Dark, No Stars"... I hadn't read any King for a long, long time, and this offering is made of four novellas (I love King's short stories and novellas the best!). These are a true set, they go together to span the whole expanse of human's doing what they do - plot revenge, harbour resentments, and keep dark secrets - but with a lightness... I would tell King there are stars, because in each story I laughed out loud more than once, and that gives relief as a reader, and breeds empathy towards the characters.

Reminds me of: King at his best! Read if you enjoy the short stories more than the horror novels.

NEXT STOP, since I was in the mall waiting a looonnnggg time for my family, I walked into the book store and picked up Stephen King's "The Stand", a large novel, an old man who came and sat next to me joked I would be alright for entertainment if I had to sit there all day. I said 'I better not be sitting here all day!'. The fall out of catastrophic epidemic (you might say 'plague', though it is in this case a variant of influenza that does the damage) and the resurection of society in the aftermath were compelling for me, and I got through this fairly quickly for its size.

Reminds me of: nothing I've ever read.

Next Stop: Justin Cronin "The Passage" I had picked this up prior to reading Full Dark... and it flowed on really well after reading The Stand, I like to flow from one book to another. Another catastrophic health crisis and again, the restructuring of human civilisation in the aftermath. The nature of the soul, the very essence of humanity is explored, and if you love the supernatural there is something here for you too.

Reminds me of: The Stand, also, The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Next I picked up Emma Donoghue "Room" the back jacket says "Jack is five, and excited about his birthday. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures eleven feet by eleven feet....". Just from this, I was fascinated, I wondered if this was a prison where mothers have their children, or a Flowers in The Attic type situation, or is Ma a whack job like Bad Boy Bubby? I devoured this book, which is both joyful and sad and is told magically through the eyes of a child.

Reminds me of: Hide And Seek by Clare Sambrook

Currently Reading: Greg French "Menagerie of False Truths" gets better as I go along, fascinating portrait of the various manifestations of autism, but has some gross stuff about insects and trout fish and what they eat!

Reminds me of: Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs

My Favourite Books Read for the First time in 2010
1. Good To A Fault, Marina Endicott
2. Plain Truth, Jodi Picoult
3. Room, Emma Donoghue

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Best of Christmas' Past

Here we are (minus Mum, who took the photograph), Christmas, 1981. This is the cubby house my dad built for my christmas gift. It had a foundation with paved verandah, locking door, and real glass windows, even carpet, and thanks to mum it even had drapes! After months of hard work, we had the grand opening on Christmas Day. Pictured are my brother Don and his wife Cathy, peeking out the window; my brother Ken and his wife Cheryl on the front verandah on the left; and myself and Dad on the verandah on the right.... also note the glass of Coke I'm holding.... in my childhood we only had soft drinks on SPECIAL occasions so that was also very exciting! I also have special memories of the building of the cubby house, and my job was general hand... on one weekend a sudden bolt of thunder made me jump.... scattering the tin of nails I was holding everywhere. After the weather cleared, Dad sent me out to pick up every last nail I could find... waste not want not!

Christmas 1983, here my Dad and I are with mum's sister Jean and my grandmother... I just realized though that again, Mum is not in the picture, there is one that dad took with her in it but I have it framed. This was my first Christmas with my Nanna, we drove the long way across the Nullabor desert to get to Adelaide in time for a real family celebration. I can tell you that trip was long, hot, and many a cup of ice cubes was consumed en route. Being with Nanna for Christmas was truly magical.... definitely one of the best times in my life.
Unfortunately this year on Christmas Day, my cat Roman (pictured here a few years younger than he is now), was quite distressed before lunch and given his age and the increasing problems he has we were forced to discuss his future. At 17 years old, Roman is losing his sight a little, is getting a little hard of hearing, and thin and very stiff in the back legs... all of this is to be expected, but we are continually trying to prevent bowel obstructions which are painful and distressing. He can no longer take a general anaesthetic and we can't watch him struggle with what is an essential daily function, we give him tablets with senna in them to help, but he is also losing control of the nerves needed to do a bowel movement so it will only get harder for him. I had been hoping not to have to make this choice, I had a romantic idea of him dying happily asleep in the back yard as he is wont to do, but when the holidays are over we will have to say goodbye. It is a pity that the vet clinic does not have a special room for this, where you can sit as a family on a couch with your pet on your lap as he goes to sleep but alas, I know it will be on the exam table in a bland room where we only recently just had him re vaccinated. My biggest worry is that I will be crying before we begin, I don't want Roman to think I am unhappy or stressed as he picks up on these things. I have a few days to spend as much time with him as possible and prepare myself. I remember a Christmas a few years ago when the vet saved him on christmas day, so we are lucky to have had an extension on his life from then. Actually we have saved him a few times over this 17 years together and I know I'm very lucky to have enjoyed a long life with him. So I will remain as positive as possible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Announcing: the Starzyia Birthday Club

I'm accepting new members now for the Starry Girl by Starzyia Facebook Birthday Club. Members receive a 15% discount in both my etsy and madeit shops during the month of their birthday.

To join, all you need to do is become a facebook fan of my business, and post a comment under the Birthday Club discussion telling me the month of your birthday. The code for claiming your discount is mentioned in the discussion, you can come back and refresh your memory any time.

You don't need to tell me your age, just your birth month will do!

Find my facebook page via the box on the right hand side of this blog, click the like button if you aren't already a fan, and then open the discussion tab, and post your comment telling me your birthday month.... as easy as that!

Hopefully I will be wishing many of you a happy birthday in 2011, when the club discounts begin in January!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Most Beautiful Monday

The holidays really provide a sensory feast... there are the decorations, the gift wraps, cards, music, and the aromas of delicious foods. Everywhere I look in my home I can see something that just gives me that happy kick, 'oh yeah, its Christmas!'.

The house is quiet, and the roads are wet, I am soothed by the sounds of cars 'swishing' down the road, a totally different sound to the traffic on a dry day... the tyres, they just skim along the surface making this light, delicate sound 'ssshhhhh', I am quite entranced by it.

The scent of cinnamon fills the air from my lovely cup of steaming chai latte.

I think I might be in heaven.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I've Been Featured as Dusty Diva of the Week!

I'm so very lucky to be sharing my creative journey with some amazing, wonderful people, one of these is Samara a generous and talented etsy member from the far south of my state, Western Australia. As well as working full time and putting her heart and soul into her own creations, Samara regularly features a fellow Australian creator in her blog segment Dusty Divas. Its my humble honour to be featured this week, and I would love for you to come and read about the evolution of my business Starry Girl by Starzyia, and fully explore the blog for all the other exciting posts and please, check out this beautiful, talented lady's creations....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Most Beautiful Monday

Okay, so I've been a bit busy, I have let my Journal of the Senses slip... its a book I write in, in appreciation for anything I've noticed using my senses, I find its a great form of gratitude, and regularly writing in it has raised my awareness of the present moment as I live each day. I have still thought about these experiences, but I haven't actually written them down, or shared them as I sometimes used to in my blog. So I thought I'd try and do this each Monday and call it Most Beautiful Monday.

The most beautiful thing I heard today was a horse whinnying quite happily in a distant paddock, this gave me such a surge of joy, which I guess I should explain! We have lived in a semi rural area for such a long time, for years there was paddock after paddock with agisted horses coming and going. Sadly in recent years the big development companies have bought out the small holdings and constructed 'lifestyle' villages. Saint Ives took over the riverfront, and the smaller companies built along the entrance roads to what I must now call our 'suburb'. I heard one whinny in the morning, and one again in the afternoon and it was medicine for the soul.

The most beautiful thing I saw today was the moonflowers that opened overnight, this is the flower at the top of the post, but its a picture I took late last summer. Each flower only opens for one night, and we have them growing a long way along the back fence as the season progresses we can have too many to count all open at once, truly over 100 of them in one night!

I really hope I can stick to doing these posts regularly, practice makes perfect, right?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What I'm Buying this Christmas

My personal favourites for gifts this year include any of the owl or matryoshka doll wheat heat packs handmade by Australian madeit seller choochiebubble! On my visit to the store today I can see the matryoshka dolls have sold out for now, but there are plenty of colourful owls, and a pig, left to choose from. I am sure in the future the popular dolls will also return! These are very reasonably priced at the $27 mark and with domestic (Australian only shipping) of $9.90 will come in under budget if you are shopping for gifts under $50.

I pounced on these poetry tealight holders already (in transit to my door as we speak) but there are so many great gift ideas in store for the bibliophile in your life. I found the price and the shipping costs from the UK were very reasonable for something fragile which is sent in a triple walled box.

Here we have my favourite stocking stuffer for 2010, the matryoshka doll tweezers available in a number of great colour patterns, I bought for $3.95 with free Australian domestic shipping. I bought mine from Bondi Top Sellers online ebay store
As for myself, any book or matryoshka doll themed items will be met with great excitement as I collect them.
As online store shipping deadlines start to loom, consider sending your online gifts directly to the recipient, its one way of helping them on their way a bit faster.
My store deadline for international orders has passed, but Australian domestic orders can be taken up until Dec 14th for Christmas delivery

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Satin Cord Necklaces

I've had a lovely time today photographing these necklaces made a little while ago, they have now been added to my etsy store.
The top image shows a vintage peacock cabochon threaded on an electric blue satin cord, adjustable up to 18 inches. I have two of these, just one listed at the moment.

This sweet painted shell button showing a bird on a branch is another favourite of mine, I have two necklaces like this, one in my etsy store, one in my madeit store

Here you can see a button, which I have pimped out by gluing the rose pendant on top and adding a bail for threading onto the light purple satin cord. Again, I have two like this, one is currently in my etsy store.
All of these would make excellent gifts, but my shipping deadline for overseas delivery has passed, for Australian residents I can take orders up until December 14th.
My etsy address is

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Acceptance Is Not Always Appropriate

Having written about my journey to accept my friends, it may be time to mention that acceptance is not always the best thing, its sad to say that in our lifetime we will probably all have at least one toxic relationship. In my case, you could say I decided not to accept my friend's behaviour any longer, or maybe what I had to accept was that I needed to be brave and part ways.

Its been perhaps four or more years since I parted with my friend, and although I was at the end of my rope when I severed the friendship, I still to this day feel concern for my friend, I wonder how she is, and where she is, but at bottom of my heart I know I don't want to get sucked back in. I can't "just" ring her, or write to her, I don't even want to meet her on the street. I feel guilty about this, but I also know that it is essential for me to avoid her. It still gnaws away at me though.

If you are wondering whether you have the strength to live with this kind of guilt, let me point out, the occasional gnawing guilt has been less stressful for me than the friendship was. It gets more stressful during the time that you are trying to end the friendship, but as time passes you heal and feel relief.

My friend in question was my next door neighbour. We met in January 2000, I had come home from hospital after what you might refer to as a 'breakdown' which I attribute to burn out from my job and the fact that I have bipolar disorder. I was nagged into meeting this woman, let's call her Carrie, by her husband and her mother because she was at home in a rocky emotional state and they thought we could be companions. Not a good match, not a good idea, but I found it difficult to say 'no' when the invitations and suggestions were so frequent. It turned out that although we grew to care for each other very much, it was unhealthy, I suspect she was competing with me to be the most 'unwell'. She also wanted someone who would not judge her, with my psychology degree and counselling experience I seemed like the perfect non-judgemental friend, but I realize I was just wearing my judgement on the inside. At first I believed I was just being respectful, but over a few years I discovered I was just too timid to tell her what I really thought.

Carrie was in denial about the effect her suicide would have on her two very young boys. She found it easy to say they would be better off. Carrie thought that because I have had suicidal times in my life that I understood and accepted her ideas about this.

I also found Carrie to be racist, which is completely unacceptable to me, but most of the time when she would make a remark or share a "joke" I was so shocked I went silent.

I didn't approve of her wastefulness of water either, we are in a crisis here, and she'd hose her driveway down and send gallons of water down the drain without a care in the world, and I would just follow her around like a little dog wagging its tail.

Carrie was also extremely dishonest, rude, disrespectful, and bullying, and again, I'd take it.

Perhaps worst of all, she would try to pimp me to her sex addict husband, and allowed him to sexually harass me in front of her and her kids.

She never made any effort to look after me as a friend, or listen, and frequently used me as a buffer to shelter her from her mother. The mother who originally hoped I'd be a friend for Carrie ended up saying the most horrible things including accusations that I was having sex with her son in law... all of which Carrie was more than happy to pass along to me so that she'd have an ally against her mother. For school events, and family parties, Carrie would beg me to attend claiming the boys wanted me to, but when I would turn up, the boys didn't give a hoot, largely ignored me, what I was really there for was to prevent a scene between mother and daughter.

I spent years fuming, crying, and stressed to my eyeballs before I finally snapped. I was fortunate that Carrie and her husband had divorced and she had moved out of the house (though I'm not too thrilled to still live next door to my harasser) so that I could stop visiting, calling, and responding to texts.

When I knew beyond a doubt that I wanted to end contact with Carrie, I was stressed... how do you end a friendship? I know how to dump a guy, but how do you dump a girl? I never did have that conversation with her, I didn't want to tell her my reasons and be argued with and 'never complain, never explain' did come to mind. So she is out there somewhere, still not aware of her behaviour or how it effects others.... but its my sanity I have to worry about, not hers.

I have healed tremendously in these past years, I don't think I could have while still maintaining that 'friendship', and I know in future I will not allow a toxic relationship to go so far, to take so much of a hold in my life. Nip it in the bud... either by speaking up and giving the person the chance to change, or end it sooner, that is my advice to anyone.