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Collection 366 – Week 13

Here are some other things from this week not captured in photos:

  • Countdown to Eurovision is on! 41 days and counting.
  • I made lots of art whilst I was recovering from this flu that knocked me for six.
  • Current favourite tea is Twining’s Irish Breakfast.
  • I’ve still not discovered a biscuit that even comes close to a Scotch Finger, and tea time is still the poorer for it.

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21.03.2016: Today, I ventured as far afield as the kitchen. The Great Plague of 2016 endures, and has taken me prisoner. I don’t know when I am to be released from its infernal grip. 

Nevertheless, I’m making a real dent on my impossibly large Netflix queue and becoming more friendly with my watercolors. I was exploring all of the places I wish to see on my forthcoming adventures online, and came across this most beautiful, odd looking lighthouse in northern Denmark called the Rubjerg Knude Fyr.

The lighthouse was first switched on in 1900 and originally sat 200m inland from the ocean. Now, with the creep of the sea and the large amounts of sand blowing In from the dunes behind the structure, it’s in a precarious position. Authorities estimate the lighthouse will fall into the sea within seven years. 

It’s a strange and beautiful shape for a lighthouse, and I was captivated by the story of it being gobbled up by the sea. So I painted it. 

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22.03.2016: I spent a lot of time thinking and creating from my sick bed this week. There’s not much to show from the confines of my room, but I did go through my photo ‘roll’ on my phone to find something that didn’t dwell on the fever, aches and runny nose. So here’s something instead of the mountain of tissues beside me. 

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23.03.2016: Managed to walk around the block tonight to prevent cabin fever. The colours in the sky were beautiful against the dark trees. Small moments of beauty. 

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24.03.2016: Golden hour with little mate. For a few magical moments a day, there’s an opportunity to feel like everything is beautiful and ethereal. Then the light fades and you’re haunted by the memory of everything being far more beautiful and transcendent than it currently is. 

And time marches on towards the next moment, eventually swings you back towards the happiness you feel in anticipation of this moment.

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25.03.2016: Friday night doodles whilst listening to Real Time with Bill Maher. Using this colour a lot in my sketches, recently. Really feeling it.

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26.03.2016: Frank Lloyd Wright designed this building and I am totally in love with it. I came to see Bill Maher, in the flesh. And he didn’t disappoint. But the crowd was very… Marin. Average age 70, well-to-do, and white. My 21 year old beat up Honda Accord (whose driver-side window can’t wind down) really stuck out in a sea of Porche Cayennes and Lexuses. 

Before I went in, I found an old man’s wallet. He had a little note in there to call his wife in case of emergency. She didn’t answer. So I left a message to say I was handing it to Will Call. She texted me from Singapore to say thanks and that he was very grateful. The world is a small place!

*** edit: the Marin County Civic Center (next door) was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He died before the whole complex  was completed, so the Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium was actually designed by his company Taliesin Associated Architects that was started to carry on his architectural vision.

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27.03.2016: Today sucks. Everything about it blows serious goats. Wishing I wasn’t here. Such a nice way to end the week!


Collection 366 – Week 12

I am writing this from a semi-horizontal position in bed. The tail end of the week has ushered in a terrible case of the flu, one I’m calling the Great Plague of 2016. Many of my colleagues are out, suffering from the same illness, too. Send love and Theraflu!

Here’s other things I loved this week not captured in photos:

  • This week saw me attend emergency management training. I learned a tonne and feel confident I can perform almost all of the positions required in the comms center in the event of an emergency. Preparation is key, because you never know what lies ahead. It’s reassuring — I feel confident that I can do what I need to do when the time comes.
  • I have been listening to Oh Land after finding out she’s the ethereal voice that sings the intro song to my new favourite TV show, ‘Rita‘. It’s Danish, and it just adds to the appeal. Rita’s a total badass.
  • New collaborations are in the works
  • Countdown to Eurovision is down to 48 days and 10 hours!


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14.03.2016: That evening light in Northern California makes everything look magical and beautiful, even if it’s 130 years old and in desperate need of a new coat of paint. Nature’s airbrush.

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15.03.2016: Evening walks to admire the trees and imbibe other people’s stories through my ears. There are some stragglers who have only just started blooming, but it’s nice to see there’s some left. Cherry blossom season can be so fleeting. This soft pink one and the light that was on it really captured my eye.

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16.03.2016: Had to rise at the crack of sparrows to attend emergency management training. It was dark when I left my house, with daylight just breaking as I arrived at the bus stop. It’s not my preferred time of day, but I do enjoy seeing the sunrise every now and again. Well, if I am being honest — very, very rarely.

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17.03.2016: I finished the emergency training today and found my group really stepped it up even more after our commendable effort the day before. Pretty proud, particularly when my two short films were played to the group as examples of what you can make in 30mins. It pays to play to your skill set in a crisis.

With the time change I made it back in time to go for a walk. Was great to wander about and just decompress after the session.

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18.03.2016: Today, I had an extra long catch up and cello lesson with my teacher, followed by had a few medical appointments. It was a jam-packed day – so much for a day off! – but I was happy to tick off all the things on my list. And I only had to have one skin cancer burnt off, even though I thought it was going to be four. It was a good day.

I was grateful for being able to get stuff like that taken care of (and for it to all be good news), for finding Arnott’s Tim Tams on sale (2 packets for $6 at Target! — the real deal, not the Pepperidge version), and for being treated to this gorgeous sunset.

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19.03.2016: I was invited to a barn in the middle of nowhere to meet people and play music with them. It took me a long time to get to this place in the middle of a world city, but this place exists. And it’s wonderful!

I listened to jazz in the barn and Gaelic reels on the deck. I took a wander around the property, met the local horse and watched the fog roll in over from Orinda. If I didn’t have pictures, I would have assumed I was dreaming. It’s heavenly out there.

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20.03.2016: The Great Plague of 2016 has struck me down. I have been pretty much confined to bed today, so here’s a photo I took earlier in the week on my walking adventures. For there is little here to entertain you, just copious cups of tea, Ricola lozenges, and a doona/duvet littered with tissues.

Collection 366 – Week 11

Lots and lots and lots of rain this week has made it challenging to go on any significant adventures. But, being that California is in the middle of a drought, the rain is very much welcomed.

What I loved this week that wasn’t captured in photos:

  • Riding my bike out in the rain: few people were out on the trail and it smelled so wonderful. Even when you round a corner and experience that wall of wind.
  • Walking down this one street near where I live, it seems as though everyone is doing their laundry all the time, and it’s marvelous!
  • Pastry treats on Friday mornings.
  • Practicing with my fellow amateur musicians in preparation of our recital in April.

Interested on seeing what I’m up to? Join me over at Instagram! #Collection366

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07.03.2016: The winter weather is back, but the rains are steering clear long enough for me to get a good walk in at some stage during the day.
Loving all the windflowers popping up everywhere with all the rain. And I can’t remember the hills ever looking so green! It happens pretty much every year, but still, they’re golden for most of it.

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08.03.2016: Here’s a throwback to better weather a few weeks ago down in Big Sur. I can understand why people like living down there. It’s a lovely part of the world, and I got to see more of it than I did last time thanks to a hand-me-down Subaru Outback. 👍

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09.03.2016: Rain clouds pop off for a little bit to reveal a magic sunset. I was all about the orange reflection on the water, and stopped to just watch the light fade before pushing on.

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10.03.2016: One of the best paintings at the Art Institute in Chicago is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. I loved looking over the canvas, reading the expressions on the faces of those in the diner, seeing how the light plays in the streetscape outside the diner. And so as I looked over my shoulder tonight, I saw the this scene before me — a modern day, West Coast, suburban interpretation of it, anyway. I love seeing art in everyday life. #bluronpurpose

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11.03.2016: I painted the door of my colleague and friend who has been moved on. It’s hard seeing the room empty, but harder still when I see other people using it.

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12.03.2016: This weekend is wet, wet, wet. I know rain is great and our dams could really use the water, but it feels like it has been raining forever. 

The planes are landing the other way, still, so I rode my bike out to where the runway nears the road to watch the planes. But the wind on the return journey was something else! 

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13.03.2016: A little duck family moved in yesterday. They’ve staked their claim on a small pond on the trail and they’re in it for the long haul. I passed them three times yesterday and twice today. On the last flyby, they’d moved one pond over, still not straying far from their home pond. Here’s hoping they enjoy their pond whilst they last.

Collection 366 – Week 10

Ploughing through these weeks. Surprised that we’re in double digits already. 2016 is flying by!

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29.02.2016: Each time I visit the Cliff House, I always make a point to take a photo of the bums painted onto the hillside. There’s something so irreverent about the artwork, and I presume many people don’t see this angle and stop to appreciate it. Most people are there for the views, I’m there for the bums.

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01.03.2016: Widening my podcast horizons of late, and being exposed to new stories, perspectives, and voices. It helps when you get to see the same sights you see each day through different lenses. Kinda makes it all look different, even Fort Awesome.

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02.03.2016: I try and make a note to say hello to Leon when I walk around Lake Merritt. He used to love this place, and even though I have no idea who he was in life, I can appreciate him in death. It makes me more conscious that I only have a finite number of days and that spending them walking outdoors is a nice way to spend them.

I always imagine that if I was no longer here, my memory might live on in a bench or a practical piece of art somewhere in the great outdoors.

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03.03.2016: When I pass by and see the kitchen lights are on, I always like to come up with stories about who lives there and what their lives are like.

The woman chopping veggies in her kitchen across the canal just returned home after a long day on her feet as a nurse. Frank has recently retired, so he spent the morning doing some gardening before spending the latter part of the day working on his golf game down at the local range. They’re still getting used to this new routine, but she hopes he is managing. It’s a little difficult to talk about these things, but she was working on a strategy to talk about it casually over the beef stroganoff.

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04.03.2016: How long do you think it would take to swim home?

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05.03.2016: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it rain as hard in the Bay Area as it did this morning. I spent hours lounging around, watching the Doppler maps to see when it was possible to make a break for it. I took a chance, and it paid off until about 15 minutes for home. But, at least I was dressed for the occasion. A win for practicality.

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06.03.2016: Sometimes all you want to do on a rainy Sunday is curl up under the covers, drink Irish Breakfast tea, eat bikkies, and watch old DVDs of Father Ted. 

This is Sweden Calling!

The super exciting event I mentioned a few weeks ago is finally starting to take shape. And now, I can share it with you.


For decades, I have adored all things Eurovision. And now, this year, I’m going.

And I could not be more excited about it!



What the hell is a Eurovision?

But for many of you, you’re thinking “what the hell is a Eurovision?”. Here’s a quick guide.

No American I’ve met has ever heard of Eurovision, let alone understand my hushed and reverent tone when I mention it. So this is how I’ve been explaining it to Americans here:

Essentially, it’s war. Just using only songs and sequins.


[One of my all-time favourites: Verka Seduchka from Ukraine, 2007. Source]

It’s like a giant singing contest with countries located in Europe (like France and Germany and the UK), and now, those that are not (like Israel, Azerbaijian, and now, Australia).

Each country picks picks a song and a singer to represent them, and then they perform in on the Eurovision stage, beamed to ten times as many viewers as the Super Bowl. It is intense display of talent, flair and pizzaz as each nation (and its occupants) wage battle against those around them, mixing key changes with costume changes, with a gigantic helping of kitsch.


[2007 was a great year! UK’s entrant Scooch is another favourite. Source]

At the end  of the evening, each country gets a chance to vote for their favourite song. But it’s not often a fair fight, because it’s really just an opportunity to vote for your ‘friends’ and neighbours in whatever former bloc country you were once from.



The country with the most points is crowned the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. We have a chance to hear the winning song once again, and then the next Eurovision will be hosted by the winning nation. Et voila!


[2014’s winner from Austria, the divine Conchita Wurst, presented the 2015 winner Måns Zelmerlöw from Sweden with the ESC trophy. Source]

And the ESC has been the making of many famous acts in its 61 years in existence. Here’s a few you might know: ABBA won for Sweden in 1974 with ‘Waterloo‘, Celine Dion won for Switzerland in 1988, Lordi for Finland in 2006, Bucks Fizz won for the UK in 1980 (and they’re STILL talking about it!).

There’s something about Eurovision

My family, friends, my sister’s friends, and all manner of other people who have crossed my path know about my fascination with Eurovision. It’s the jam in my sponge cake.

Douze points

I no longer say something is “awesome” or “fantastic”, instead opting for giving something douze points [or dooz-pwah for those of you non-Frenchies]. Here’s even something I wrote about it a few years ago.

There’s just something about Eurovision that is beyond marvellous to me. It’s a mix of crazy songs, kooky outfits, and sensationally good/bad performances. In fact, the worse it is, the better. Eurovision provides us with the perfect opportunity to laugh at ourselves and also to wonder out loud what the hell goes on in other countries (opera-singing vampires, anyone?). It’s the reason I live for May each year.



So how on earth is Australia allowed to compete?

That’s an entirely reasonable question. The short answer it this: we asked begged for years to compete. And finally, we wore them down, so they let us in!

Australian broadcaster SBS has been broadcasting the ESC into Aussie homes since 1983. We have plenty of people from Europe or with Euro heritage, so Eurovision has always had a strong following. Many of us love it for its kitsch value, and it’s a good excuse for a party. Now that we’re competitors, Australia just cannot get enough.



For the 7th year in a row, SBS is again sending comedians/presenters Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang. I adore Julia (she can do no wrong in my book), however Sam can be a little hit-or-miss. As much as I love them and the SBS coverage, no one holds a candle to the spicy repartee of Sir Terry Wogan whose broadcasts would make you laugh out loud. Vale, Sir Terry.

The Plan

I am heading to Scandinavia before the event, first getting my feet wet in the adopted homeland of ‘Our Mary’ (aka Princess Mary of Denmark), before trekking up to Stockholm for Eurovision Week. A whole week!

I have secured my tickets to Semi-Final #1 and Semi-Final #2, but missed out on the tickets to the broadcast final. But that’s okay. I am going to see where the wind takes me for the final. No plans, and it just feels like anything could happen. Even an Aussie win with Dami Im!


[Dami Im will be flying the flag proudly for us in Stockholm! Source]

I have been watching the Eurovision Song Contest for years in Australia and know there are plenty of people out there who share my love for the song contest that unites half the world. But getting to go is beyond special.

The countdown is on!

The countdown to Eurovision is on: 59 days and counting!

Here’s the winning songs from last year, and the reason I’m heading to Stockholm.

Collection 366 – Week 9


More adventures in the Outer Richmond, Monterey, and the East Bay, as well as a visit from my best mate’s parents.

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22.02.2026: I walked along the beach, feeling the sand underfoot and the wind on my face. I watched a young girl displaying her joy being by the water, jumping and shouting into the wind.

I saw a family with a very old Labrador, who was acquainting their new Labrador puppy with the fetching the ball from the water. I saw a seagull pecking at the various bits and pieces that had washed up along the tideline, in search of dinner. I tried to commit the colours and the sounds to memory.

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23.02.2016: Posted at a ridiculous time of the morning. I can’t sleep, and even if I could it’s just one of those days. I can already feel it. And there’s no way to ride the wave of insomnia today because I know it’s going to be a big one with meetings and events and all of the pesky things I am not interested in.

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24.02.2016: A little reminder that you will come and go in the blink of an eye, but these rocks have been here an eternity, and will probably stay for another.

Memento mori.

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25.02.2016: Found object, on grass.

Thanks, Hannah. You’re real swell.

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26.02.2016: Remnants of a pastry I was almost unable to procure because the girl behind the counter was unable to understand me.
“And a bear claw, please.”
“No, bear claw.”
“Bear. Claw.”

It took someone translating for me to get what I wanted. It was frustrating, and I don’t get it too much anymore, but it drives me nuts. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be having a thicker accent.

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27.02.2016: A moment of respite. There were no cars, just the sounds of birds chirping as though they were reclaiming the business park under the big blue sky for themselves.

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28.02.2016: Took Phil and Marg out today for an adventure. In the three or four times I’ve met them when they’ve visited SF, we’ve had very downtown-centric adventures. But today, I took them out to the Lands End trail and to visit the beaches. It was a good walk with plenty of great conversation, even though it was a little grey.