• After two and a half weeks running my own blog at this subdomain, I feel energised to start making a static site to go alongside it at the root domain ☺️ At first I was looking into Hugo, but the learning curve seems a little high and I feel like it might be overkill for what I want. So instead, I’ve installed MAMP to my laptop so I can work on a basic static site locally (with PHP includes for page layouts, as I used to do back in the day) and upload it once it reaches a satisfactory point.

    For me, there are a lot of advantages to a static site: it should be a lot lighter and more performant than having a whole CMS for just a personal site; it allows me a lot more flexibility and precision for each page (because while I know CMS templates can technically do that, I’m just better with HTML/CSS/very basic PHP); and perhaps most importantly, if life gets too busy and I don’t have the time to actively work on the site for a while, nothing should break on me 😂 When I had blogs in the past, I often had problems with spam or software updates breaking my themes if I had to leave them unattended, and considering it was just a hobby that did sometimes happen… I’m a big fan of solutions that mean I no longer need to worry about this!

  • Made these enchiladas for dinner last night 😋 Vivian keeps raving about them, and threatening to gobble up all the leftovers before I can even have any for my own lunch… 🍳

    a cast iron frying pan containing cooked chicken mince, capsicum, chillies and beansfive rolled wrap breads in a roasting pana roasting pan with five enchiladas in it, covered in tomato puree and shredded cheese a roasting pan with five enchiladas in it, covered in tomato puree and melted cheese

  • Interring my Grandma's ashes

    a photo of Box Hill Cemetery from the southwestern entranceYesterday, my family gathered at Box Hill Cemetery to inter my grandma’s ashes. The funeral itself was held back in September, but with the Covid-19 restrictions no more than ten mourners had been allowed to attend, and we wanted to delay the interment so more people would have the opportunity to pay their respects, if they wanted.

    I still haven’t fully adjusted to the reality that she’s no longer with us, which I’m sure is a common sensation. It feels like not very long ago at all that I was visiting her in the hospital and chatting away about family history and world events and all kinds of things. We certainly had some differences, but there’s also a lot that I admire and remember fondly about her.

    a grave plot with a small hole dug in it, with a basket of flowers and a photo of an elderly womanMy grandmother always kept herself very busy, both with church and community groups and a wide range of different crafts. She was a good cook, always baking her own bread rolls to eat. She was talented with a lot of different handcrafts, from sewing to weaving and knitting – perhaps her most “classic” project that I’ve heard about, the one that makes me go, “yup, that would be her,” is when she painstakingly saved all the fur she brushed off her long-haired cat over ages, spun it into wool, and made some kind of garment out of it (like a scarf, maybe). She was a fantastic gardener and could help plan out what could be done with things like front yards or large flowerbeds. She was also pretty good at rustic cabinet-making, and could knock up things like a bookshelf or a slide-out kitchen cupboard in an afternoon. Very hard-working and practical. She was also never one of those older people who acts all indignant that they might have to learn a new technology, like the internet or smartphones… I will say she didn’t have a natural aptitude for learning about these things, and especially as she got really old she could get pretty frustrated… but she’d always keep persisting because she understood it was important in this day and age. I sure hope I stay flexible and open to learning new things as I get old.

    When I was younger, I also appreciated that she was one of those grown-ups who listened carefully to kids and took what we had to say seriously. Like if there was some vegetable I hated and didn’t want to eat, she’d ask me what I didn’t like about it so she could suggest some better alternatives (instead of, you know, just yelling at me to be grateful and eat what I’m given, which is how some adults react if a child ever expresses a food preference). Her house was always full of interesting gadgets I could experiment with. She was also a source of that kind of intergenerational knowledge, stories about what it was like to be young during the Depression or WW2, or even songs and storybooks and things that were popular when she was a kid, and fun skills that are kind of unfashionable now, like how to sing rounds.

    It feels like a real shame that the Covid-19 restrictions meant none of us were allowed to visit her in her final months, and then prevented most of her friends and some of her family from attending either the funeral or the interment (or both). And while the cemetery itself was quite green and pretty, the family plot has clearly not been well-maintained, and the whole area was also pretty lonely and bereft of people – very different from what I observed in Latin America for example, where cemeteries are often full of families picnicking and kids playing, which helps to keep the dead alive in people’s hearts and minds and prevent people’s final resting places from becoming “depressing” places. I think I might’ve felt more content if Australia was more like this. But I guess, regardless of where her ashes have come to rest (and the cemetery is, honestly, a bit too far away for me to become the change I want to see in the world on this), we can still keep her memory alive through the way that we talk about her. And perhaps that’s the more important thing.

  • Two weeks on Micro.blog, and some discussion of "likes"

    As of yesterday, I’ve now had this site on Micro.blog for two weeks. So far, I’ve really been enjoying the experience. It’s been interesting to realise that I actually do have lots to share when I have a consolidated space that feels like mine to share them, and rather than letting those stray thoughts go, I’ve been typing them up and putting them into posts (or drafts) more often. In line with POSSE, this has also prompted me to post more things on traditional social media, which has made me feel a bit more connected with some of those friends and relatives I probably should’ve been making more of an effort with all along. Good developments! And I’ve also found that the Micro.blog community itself is pretty awesome – people are generally nice, post interesting things, and it seems to be the perfect size for the “Discover” page to work really well, as a kind of curated highlights of everyone’s posts.

    One thing that I have been missing from traditional social media while over here is “likes”, or instant feedback buttons generally. Micro.blog has made the deliberate decision not to incorporate these, stating:

    If you like something and want the author to know it, you can reply. We believe this encourages more thoughtful sharing.

    …and this is fine; I mean, I understand this logic! I guess the struggle I’ve had is that when I see a photo I like of a cute animal or pretty landscape or something like that, I don’t usually have a whole enlightening response to type out in return. But I still do like the idea of the post creator knowing at least someone saw and appreciated their post. So, I’ve been making the effort to type out one or two-sentence comments, trying to tailor them a bit to the specific post (because something generic like “Great photo!” sounds like it could’ve been pumped out by a spam bot, you know?). I’m probably not replying to every post I see that I would’ve hit the “like” button on, but I’m feeling pretty virtuous nonetheless.

    …and it is funny, in some ways, because when I was much younger and had a blog there were no “like” buttons then. You did have to comment if you wanted someone to know their post was read and made at least a momentary impact on someone else. It didn’t feel like a big deal then, so why does it feel like an effort now? Has modern social media changed our expectations, made us feel like we should be able to interact on a post with one click of a button? But then at the same time, honestly, is it really a bad thing to make interactions so easy?

    I guess my feeling is this: if someone was wavering between leaving a comment or just hitting the “like” button, it’d be better to push them to leave that comment, because a comment is usually more meaningful to the post author than a mere “like”. On the other hand, if the absence of a “like” button would make that person not interact at all, then as a post author I’d kinda prefer they have a “like” button to enable that low-effort interaction. You could even offer a few different emoji reactions, as Facebook now does. The Micro.blog userbase seems actually pretty good at putting the effort into leaving real comments, but on some other sites (or if I had a blog that wasn’t integrated into a social media platform like this), this lack can result in people making post after post that gets no apparent response, and feeling like they’re shouting into the void. This is definitely something I’ve experienced when I’ve tried blogging on Dreamwidth over the last couple of years. Now, to be fair, I don’t know that “like” buttons would have fixed the problem, considering that finding blogs you actually want to read is also much harder over there, but it is a question they’ve grappled with more than once nonetheless.

    Now, you can post likes with the Webmentions standard, but this isn’t an aspect of Webmentions that Micro.blog currently supports, and honestly the extent to which support for this has been implemented across different platforms looks so variable and messy that I think this would be hard for non-techies to use, at present. So for the time being, I think leaving actual comments on blogs is something I’ll have to reconcile myself to. And as I mentioned, there are plus sides to making myself to do this. However… I still kind of miss my “like” buttons 😭

  • 🐈 Love to have a lazy morning with my baby girl. Of course this was not that… she woke me up at 5:15, again at 6:55, and then I gave up on going back to sleep while she had no such limitations. But at least I got a few photos like this!

    close-up on a sleeping tabby cat, white paws held up close to her face

  • After a bewildering iCloud calendar reminder, today I learned that Norfolk Island, a remote Australian territory, celebrates Thanksgiving. Not the exact same way as Americans though, I would assume…

  • Twenty-four days now since Victoria’s last new Covid-19 case, and as of today we’re finally allowed outside without a mask, so long as we maintain social distancing! Was so good to feel the fresh air on my face as we exercised today.

    A man and woman, standing in front of some shrubbery, smile at the camera

  • Gizmo, looking up attentively at one guest pre-thunderstorm and seeking shelter on the lap of his second guest mid-thunderstorm 🐶⛈

    a small white dog looks up at the cameraa small white dog looks at the camera from the lap of a young man in a yellow t-shirt

  • 📚 Más allá del invierno by Isabel Allende

    Book cover for Más allá del invierno by Isabel AllendeI read this book in Spanish, but I’ll review it here in English, because it’s the language I’m more comfortable with and the one the rest of my blog is in. Anyway, Más allá del invierno (English title: In the Midst of Winter) tells the stories of three relative strangers – the Chilean Lucía, Guatemalan indocumentada Evelyn, and white American Richard – after a car accident in cold-snap-ridden Brooklyn brings them together and forces them into a less-than-legal expedition.

    I thought the book was alright, but something about it just didn’t hold together for me. The majority of the book consists of flashbacks, of the defining events in Lucía, Richard and Evelyn’s lives before they crossed paths. Some of these chapters were quite interesting and evocative (although I’ll admit I found Lucía and Evelyn’s stories a lot more sympathetic than Richard’s), but the sheer volume of them left the “main story” – the events in the present day – somewhat thin and insubstantial. As well, sometimes the story felt a bit more like a chronicle (“this happened, then this, then this…”) as opposed to the more compelling, causative kind of narrative that I’m used to (“this happened because of this, so then this happened which caused this…”). Often, there wasn’t a lot driving me to keep turning the page.

    Nonetheless, in Evelyn’s chapters the book relays an enlightening story about what might drive a young woman to flee Central America and arrive irregularly in the United States, what that journey might be like, and what her experience might be once she arrives. This might be of interest to some people, and I don’t think it was badly done. Lucía’s past involves fleeing the dictatorship in Chile, and was also pretty well-written, although it’s far from the first time Allende has written about that period (Of Love and Shadows and her memoir My Invented Country also talk about dictatorship-era Chile, and other books too in smaller parts). Still, that plotline might also appeal.

    Overall the book wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think it was great, either. Probably a two-star (out of five) book for me.

  • We played the family edition of Cards Against Humanity yesterday, and tbh I like it better than the “grown-up” edition. Too many of the “grown-up” cards rely on shock value and aren’t actually funny… the family edition’s full of toilet humour but at least most is actually funny 😂