Slipstream and micro.blog

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I seem to be continually tinkering with different ways to bring together my various bits of activity on other social media platforms (e.g. bookmarks on Pinboard, photos on Flickr, reviews of films on Letterboxd, and so on) into some kind of vaguely coherent stream, somewhere that is under my own control. The last bit of tinkering about 18 months ago resulted in a cobbled together system in which activity on various sites triggered IFTTT recipes, which created formatted text files in my Dropbox, which I could then tweak to post on a Hugo-generated blog.

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The Peregrine by J. A. Baker

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This book was an extremely kind gift from James (@unbadged on Twitter). I’ve been meaning to write a review of it for ages, because it completely floored me. I don’t think I’ve ever read such beautiful nature writing, and I’m extremely grateful to James for introducing me to it.

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Blackbird singing at the break of dawn

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We’ve just got back from another peaceful break in North Norfolk. It has been an incredibly busy start to the year, and I am off on a work trip to Indonesia next weekend, so it was something of an island of tranquillity in a sea of turbulence. Or something like that. As usual, we enjoyed walking (I’ve posted some photos on Flickr), eating some amazing food, and getting the best and most uninterrupted nights of sleep we have had for ages.

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No more silence

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I enjoy quietness. I always have. I like a quiet working environment, and very rarely listen to music when I am focussing. However, for the past year or so, my peace has been broken by an insistent, pulsing, singing, hissing sound.

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Singer 201K

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Singer 201K

You might think that one sewing machine should be enough for anyone. I have a very nice, modern, computerised, Janome sewing machine (not to mention an overlocker for finishing seams and sewing stretch fabrics), and I’m very happy with it. It sews all kinds of stitches very competently (including zig-zag stitches), and has some useful features like stopping with the needle down (or up), so that you can easily pivot around corners, pulling the bobbin thread up automatically, and even snipping the threads automatically. And yet, I found myself browsing vintage straight stitch-only machines.

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Displacement activity: the French Dart Shift Tunic

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Maven Patterns French Dart Shift Tunic front

Well. That was a distressing, bewildering, enraging, and terrifying week. I don’t even know where to start with it. In response, I seem to have diverted into temporary displacement activity: who else would like to join me in a few moments of thinking about something other than the state of the world? I made a very red, very corduroy tunic: the French Dart Shift Tunic by Maven Patterns.

At the start of the winter, I had a plan to make a warm winter dress. My first idea was to make a corduroy pinafore dress, an idea that rather surprised me. I think I last wore a pinafore dress when I was about 5 years old. In fact, I have a photograph of me wearing it, with a ribbed polo neck jumper underneath, and a puddingbowl haircut with slightly wonky fringe above. I’m vaguely aware that they have become somewhat fashionable recently, but that wasn’t why I wanted to make one. I was after a dress that I could wear a thick layer (like a jumper or long-sleeved t-shirt) underneath, rather than covering up the dress with a cardigan. I was ready to try to draft something myself, when I saw another alternative that I could wear in the same way: Maven Patterns French Dart Shift Tunic.

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Parker 51

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Parker 51 capped

Once you get interested in fountain pens, there inevitably comes a time when you read about a pen and get curious. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already got a number of very nice pens — in fact that exacerbates the problem. The more you use different pens, the better you understand your own preferences. I try to resist these impulses when the pens are expensive, but is less easy to resist if the pen can be bought for a very reasonable price. That’s how I came to buy a Parker 51.

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Some recent favourite albums

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I hadn’t intended to take quite such a break in writing here, but by the time I got to Christmas, I my batteries were in desperate need of recharging. I had a good break, and enjoyed some time spent listening to music and reading. I’ll get around to the books I enjoyed at a later date, but I wanted to write a bit about the music I have particularly enjoyed recently.

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Ms Blue Cardigan meet Mr Blue Sky

2016 is certainly not getting any easier as it drags on, is it? Like many people, I’m finding it hard not to get anxious and disturbed by every new revelation or outrage on the news. There are certainly plenty of issues about which it is absolutely right and proper to get anxious, disturbed and angry, but there comes a time when you need to switch off for a bit. Personally, I find solace in both music and making things.

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Young Men by Balletboyz

I’m not really a ballet fan. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t go out of my way to watch it, either. I certainly appreciate the skill, athleticism and artistry of dancers, but somehow it doesn’t grab me the way that live music or theatre does. Maybe I’m just resentful that I wasn’t the kind of twiggy, graceful little girl who would have felt comfortable in a ballet class, who knows. Given this — shall we call it indifference? — to ballet, I was surprised to find myself watching Balletboyz ‘Young Men’, a ballet about First World War soldiers screened recently on BBC Two. I was even more surprised when I couldn’t stop watching it.

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