{ Under The Bluegums }

A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

March 31, 2011

A hobby for you...one for me...

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31 March 2011

I can't imagine what it would be like to have no hobbies. Perhaps I have too many and take them away from those who have none, much like the rich steal infinite bungee jumps and pink champagne while people around the world never get even a taste.

I have so many hobbies that it's difficult to get my thoughts in order. I like to do too much of too much: everything from sewing to crochet to knitting to eggart to writing a blog to photography catches my eye, and so I relentlessly trawl the internet in search for inspiration instead of actually getting down to it.

The thing about hobbies is that you need someone close to you to also be interested in what you're doing, and perhaps even do it as well. There's nothing like sharing your latest creation with someone who can really appreciate your work and the time and effort it took for you to get it looking the way it does. Similarly, there is nothing like finishing something, being really proud of it, and showing someone only to have them smirk at your efforts because they're not really interested in what you're doing in the slightest.

I don't mean to generalise, but I think that although men like to have their hobbies and their women to have their own hobbies, men are happiest when you share the same hobby as them. Take gaming for example. They love it when you participate. But you might struggle to get them to do something like dancing with you. In this WikiHow, it describes how you can turn your girlfriend into a gamer, and also warns that you should make her stay away from things like dancing because she might "sucker you into joining her".

I'd like to know why is it okay for the man to sucker a woman into doing his hobby but not for her to do the same?! ;)

March 30, 2011


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The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.

~ Buddha

March 24, 2011

The problem with technology...

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24 March 2011

Technology has usurped our lives.

We no longer meet each other for drinks - we send a message from our social media hangout. When making friends, the first place we look for new ones is Twitter, or a random social network that is filled with people who share the same interests as you. We desperately try to share our personalities with the world, but the internet is so filled with personality that you need to be famous already to truly make an impact.

When we don't know what a word means, we Google it; when we're looking for a recipe, we find it online; when we want to read, we grab our e-readers.

Even our personal relationships are affected: arriving home the first thing we do is launch our PCs into action so we can catch up on the news, or respond to our Facebook pals, or just relax with one of your downloaded films, or simply sit on our cellphones all evening instead. What happened to sharing that time with your family? Conversations are replaced with statements, meals with fast food, reading stories before bedtime with WWF and CSI.

Technology has leaked into every aspect of our lives. We can't live without our cellphones, while 50 years ago not hearing from someone for a day didn't mean they were hijacked or drowned in the bath. Our fridges tell us when we're out of milk and our iPhones tell us how warm our chicken is.

It's all getting a little crazy, in my opinion.

And just because we have the technology - just because we can - we put it wherever we can, and cars are no different.

Tesla is a new carmaker, and they've just confirmed their vehicle will support third party applications just like a smartphone would. The inclusion of an application system would mean that you could update your Twitter or Facebook status while you're driving, or have something to do while you're waiting at the traffic lights. I'm curious about this, because if they're telling us that using a cellphone while driving slows our reaction time, imagine what this would do!?

The more connected we are though, the less connected we really are. What do you think?

I've been bad myself - I get home in the evenings and peruse the internet for hours until I'm too tired to go on. Technology makes you more tired, and I've been trying not to let social media take over my life. The whole weekend I stayed off of my PC and I have to say that I felt refreshed after the weekend. I intend to do this more often, and focus on the things I keep telling myself I want to do, like paint and draw and read and write.

There's still not enough time though! ;)

Tears shed over graves

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'The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.'
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Remember this when you fight over the little things. Be grateful for each day, take time to smell the bluegums and indulge in the now, but remember that what you leave with those you love might be all that's left.

March 23, 2011

Don't fake it ladies!

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23 March 2011

When I was younger, I distinctly remember my mother telling me that I need to learn to be independent so that I never have to depend on any man. My sister was told the same, and thus, we are both headstrong, sometimes stubborn, women who know how to change lightbulbs and insist on helping to lug a big bookshelf up the stairs.

It occurs to me now that it was a strange thing for my mother to teach us, considering that she was so happily married to my father. There is no reason for her to have believed that good reliable men were so few. So by implication, she was told the same thing by her mother.

As we grew up and started sticking our noses into fashion magazines and allsorts, we learnt that this was indeed true - as women, we need to learn to do everything for ourselves. However, contradictorily, we are also told that men's egos are fragile, and they need to be the hero, so even if you can do everything yourself, you need to make your man feel useful and heroic, even if it's being "unable" to open the mayonnaise on your own.

But this has all been taught to us by our exclusively female teachers.

Is there something anti-feminist about this teaching? We are told to relinquish our control sometimes so we can retain our men and avoid being left autonomous but alone. We are taught then that autonomy is a fall-back option in case men are a disappointment, but at the same time we are subconsciously told to be afraid of pursuing a career in favour of our men's egos. We are told to choose romance over independence.

There is a flaw in this argument however: we never hear the man's side of the story. We never hear that men also want relationships, and want them to work. As Hugo Schwyzer says, "...men don't just want to be valued for what they can do; they want to be valued for who they are and for how well they can connect and love".

The media is selling men short by teaching women that their other halves are only interested in showing off their physical prowess and feeling that they are needed because of their strength rather than because they offer valuable love and a need to be loved.

As Hugo concludes, a relationship is really about what each partner can do for the other - it's about sharing and about a "mutual need".

Democracy under threat

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In the 1960s, US President Dwight Eisenhower warned that democracy was under threat from something he called the "military-industrial complex".

He said, "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist".

What he is saying is that the military culture in the US - where the number of guns you own and how often you've used them is a sign of status - is devolving the democratic dream of equality for all, because military prowess is equal to power over others.

Here is his speech:

What do you think?

March 15, 2011

Book Review || Manzovo: Place of the Elephants by Gary Albyn

Manzovo: Place of the Elephants really struck a chord with me.

It is a poem written by Gary Albyn, a Zimbabwean born in 1960 who currently lives in South Africa. His poem is about a herd of elephants who travel from Zimbabwe's Mana Pools to South Africa's Limpopo during a migration.

Thandi is the matriarch - she gives birth to Lesedi, the last of her five calves, in the Zambezi Valley and begins her herd's journey through the bushveld.

But as they go they are confronted by the expansion of the human empire - from encountering juicy swathes of farmland, the massive Kariba dam and even narrowly escaping a cull, the reader is poignantly reminded of the impact that humankind has had on these gentle and intelligent creatures.

Although I didn't have the opportunity to read the poem aloud - as it's rhythm is perfect for this type of reading - the beat is still powerful enough to bring tears to your eyes in the most saddening moments.

The poem ends with a reminder of human's place on earth, and of the fact that we are squandering it relentlessly.

Meanwhile, the illustrations by Craig Bone are stunning, and this book is perfect for your coffee table!

March 11, 2011

TheTwitter Spelling Test

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I love spelling. I especially love spelling when it's correct! But working on Twitter sometimes sends shudders down my spine when I see common spelling errors people make.

That wonderful TheOatmeal guy has posted a Twitter spelling test. There's one thing I spelt wrong, which means I send shudders down someone else's spine who's obsessed with correct spelling! :)

The Twitter Spelling Test
Created by Oatmeal

Try it! What's your score?

March 10, 2011

DIY || Rose Alice Band

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10 March 2011

Two weekends ago I spent my Friday evening making an Alice band for my niece. I had made the roses shown below out of folded strips of fabric.

Besides the roses, or other decorations you'd rather use, you'd need an Alice band, a long strip of fabric and a glue gun. The type of fabric you use is your choice of course! I didn't do any stitching along the edges of the satin so that it gives the edges some texture, but you can play around - make seams or fold the fabric until you get the effect you want.

Start from one end of the Alice band: glue a section of the strip on the inside of the band and then wrap the strip around to hide the glue. Continue wrapping the fabric at even intervals so that the band is covered. It's a little more difficult when you reach the other end of the band: trim the strip to the length you need to finish; bend over the end of the strip and secure it, then secure that to the band on the inside. Make sure it's not too lumpy because it's going to go behind your ears!

Finally, put on your embellishments with the glue gun. And voila!

I don't have a photo of how the band looked on my niece, but it suits her so perfectly because her hair is quite thick and short and curly.

What do you think?

MIM || A pouch for a Garmin and finished pouffes

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10 March 2011

I was finally a little constructive yesterday!
I finished a pouch I'd been working on for my hubby's Garmin - just a way of keeping all the accessories together and preventing any damage to the unit. I think Meep isn't impressed though!

I also finally finished the pouffes I've been working on for ages: they were stuffed and sewn up - I simply had to add the covered buttons, which took a matter of 20 minutes.

March 4, 2011

Russia's clever stray dogs

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4 March 2011

Moscow's trains have regular commuters - stray dogs.

The dogs travel to the centre of the city from the suburbs on the underground trains, spend the day scavenging and begging for scraps and returning to their 'homes' in the suburbs.

The dogs have learnt to get off at the right stop, judging by the length of time they spend between stops, and also know how to get the best carriages.

It is believed that they began their commuting after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s - industrial complexes were moved from the city to the suburbs. The complexes were the homeless dogs' shelters, and they had to move to the suburbs along with their homes. They learnt to travel to the city centre because they knew this was the best place to hunt for scraps. These dogs are so smart they've learnt to cross the roads safely, and take silly risks like jumping on the train before the doors shut just for fun.

Note: I had images once but they've been removed from the original site! :(

March 1, 2011

A gift

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A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.

But when it is given expecting something in return, or for the sake of a future reward, or when it is given unwillingly, the gift is impure.

And a gift given to the wrong person, at the wrong time and the wrong place, or a gift which comes not from the heart, and is given with proud contempt, is a gift of darkness.

The Bhagavad Gita