These Final Hours

I watched the film “These Final Hours” at the cinema a year ago. It’s made by a local film-maker from Perth, Western Australia, and was shot on location right here in Western Australia. The last scene on the beach in the film was actually shot at Point Peron in my own town of Rockingham.

I just so happened to surf onto the film again this morning on Foxtel cable television, and decided to watch it again.

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The storyline of “These Final Hours” is rather grim. The trigger-happy powers that be have pressed those fatal buttons and assured the total annihilation of the entire world. America, and the entire Northern Hemisphere, is gone. A rolling, unstoppable tsunami of hellish fire is on its way to the last 2 countries left in the world – Australia and New Zealand.

No “On The Beach” dramas here a la Nevil Shute. There’s only a scant few hours left for Western Australia before the fires reach our shores. A lone radio broadcaster summarises the end of the world as it happens. In the film, James, the main protagonist is just about to leave his girlfriend to go to the Biggest and Last Party On Earth, when she tells him she’s pregnant. At the start of the film, James is a two-timing scoundrel, who’s estranged from his own mother and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’s about to go to this Party to hook up with his other girlfriend.

On the way, James happens upon a little girl lost, Rose, who begs him to help her get to her aunt’s house in the hills (Roleystone, to be exact), where she believes her father has gone to spend these final hours. Reluctantly, James agrees to help her. After he’s gotten to the Big Party first, of course.

The Party is as hedonistic as it gets. It is, after all, the Party to end all parties, the last one ever, let’s all go out with a bang and not a whimper. One of the partygoers, who calls herself “Mandy’s Mum” (the wonderful actress Sarah Snook in a short but memorable role) is obviously high on drugs or otherwise off her rocker, and makes little Rose take a pill, which makes her sick. Meanwhile, James’ (other) girlfriend shows him the underground bunker that’s been prepared for her family to ride out the Apocalypse in. James tells her it’s not deep enough underground, and a year’s supply of food and water won’t be any good, as the radiation will take thousands of years to dissipate. Basically, we’re all dead already.

Anyway, because Rose is throwing up and feverish from taking that pill, James doesn’t know what else to do but to take her to his estranged mother’s house. There, while Rose recovers, James and his Mum are able to reconcile. He asks her what she intends to do with these final hours. Previous scenes showed groups of people praying in the streets, and mercy killings and suicides of entire families, as well as looting and The Party. James’ Mum simply says she’ll be doing some jigsaw puzzles.

Now James has had a change of heart and mind, and is determined to get Rose back to her family. And then he intends to go back to his pregnant girlfriend, that he’s realised is his real love. We’re talking Redemption here.

Alas, poor Rose’s other family members have done away with themselves out in the bushland behind her aunt’s house. James wants to take Rose with him back to his waiting girlfriend, but Rose tells him she promised her father they would see the end of the world together, and she’s staying put. So James drives away, with the poignant vision of Rose in his car mirror, running behind him and waving good bye, until neither of them can see each other anymore.

Halfway down the highway, James’ car overheats and he gets out and starts running. The heat is becoming unbearable, as the lone radio broadcaster states that there’s under an hour left before the tsunami of rolling fire reaches the shores of Western Australia. Birds are literally dropping out of the sky.

James manages to run back to (presumably) Rockingham, where he’d left his pregnant girlfriend earlier. Only, she’s not in the house, so James runs down to the beach to look for her. He sees the rolling, roiling clouds of fire coming towards him, but he also sees his girlfriend standing alone on the beach, waiting for the inevitable.

With scarcely five minutes left, James and his girlfriend still manage to find time to have one last argument before reconciling. Finally, they stand together, arms around each other, faces turned towards the wall of fire.

Then, white out.

Watch the trailer of “These Final Hours” here.

This film made me cry. It wasn’t so much the fact that okay, the world is ending, so what will you do with these final hours? But more the question of: How the hell did we let it come to that? Why were we unable to stop ourselves from self-annihilation? Why did we allow all those wars to happen, all that killing, terrorism, destruction of the environment? Were we too complacent? Were the voices of those who spoke out and spoke up too soft for others to hear and heed? Or were we too far gone down the route of consumerism and capitalism, that we no longer cared about the wellbeing of our humanity and Mother Earth?

Yes, it might have been only a movie. But in that movie, the whole World ended. And it was all our own bloody fault.

And do you know what the scary thing is? That it could bloody well happen to us one day, if we all continue down this destructive path of negligence, ignorance and mis-information. If we don’t wake up now and realise that we are responsible for our own future and the future of Mother Earth. This isn’t a spaceship that’s taking us to the Promised Land. This IS the Promised Land, and we are failing miserably to appreciate what we have, to protect it and preserve it for our children and future generations.

What frustrates me is that we are custodians of the Earth, but look at what our greed, selfishness and egos are doing to it. More and more creatures have gone extinct or face extinction due to human activity, in the name of Money.

Where land should be farmed and tilled for crops to feed the hungry, there are vast housing estates filled with homes that not everyone can afford, while the homeless linger on the fringes of society, largely unnoticed. In some countries, it is even ILLEGAL to feed the homeless and destitute!

Also, in some countries, it is ILLEGAL to live off the grid, to be self-sufficient and live off your own land, store rainwater, generate your own power. Why?? So that the government can keep you under control, by plugging you into The System, like those millions of other drones.

You have been warned.

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My Favourite Graphic Designs

Just a compilation of some of my favourite graphic design ideas and inspiration, curated from my Pinterest board “Graphic Design”. Here you will find business cards, logos, packaging, posters, etc. Quirky and clever uses of negative space. Beautiful bottles filled with just as beautiful (I hope!) food and drink.

I maintain my Pinterest board for inspiration, and add to it whenever I find examples of pretty packaging, fonts or advertising illustrations. Just in case one day I decide to have a professional logo designed for me, or some cutting-edge business cards printed…oh okay, just because I’m an eclectic magpie and like collecting beautiful things. :-)

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Birthday Bread

Today, the 1st of July, happens to be Canada Day. It would’ve been also Princess Diana’s birthday. It is also my birthday.

I’d been meaning to try out this recipe that I came across on Pinterest. It’s for a round loaf of crusty bread that needs no kneading. The idea of using a cast iron pot, instead of a loaf pan, appealed to me. I must confess I’m not very good at making breads. They always come out flat, or grey. Sometimes both at once. So this no-knead, “Dutch oven” crusty loaf recipe seemed too good to be true.

Here is the link to that recipe.
http://www.jocooks.com/bakery/breads/crusty-bread/

I didn’t follow the measurements in the recipe per se. I had bought a box of Laucke soy and linseed bread mix, so all I did was mix it with the amount of water and yeast as specified, and only from thereon did I follow the Dutch Oven recipe.

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You have to leave the dough to rise for 12-18 hours. I’d prepared 2 lots of dough last night, and left them to their own devices overnight.

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This is the batch The Kid mixed.

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And this is the batch I mixed.

So, roll on the morning. The recipe says to preheat the oven to 450 Farenheit (around 225 Celsius). The cast iron pot you use (aka the “Dutch Oven”) also needs to preheat.

Next, all I had to do next was flour my kitchen worktop, scoop out the risen dough, form it into a ball, and drop it into the preheated pot. Like so.
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And then, put the lid on the pot. Pop the whole thing into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The lid is important for ensuring a crusty crust, as it keeps the moisture in as the loaf bakes. After the 30 minutes are up, take the lid off and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, to brown up the crust.

Et voila! C’est incroyable!

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This is the loaf just after removing the lid.

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Here it is after browning up.

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And here it is in all its magnificent crustiness. Yum yum yum! Happy Birthday to me!

(I made 2 loaves. My neighbour Diane had baked me a loaf in her breadmaker, and The Kid loved it so much he urged me to get a breadmaker so we could have freshly baked bread every day. But I figured, if this recipe really works, then there’d be no need for a breadmaking machine. So I’m giving Diane a loaf and sharing the recipe with her).

Ta Daaa!
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I’ve just realised something. Bread makes me happy!

Silence The Noisemakers In Your Head

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For they are only the sound
Of ceaseless, meaningless chatter,
Of your ego’s fears and concerns
Fashioned out of the wings of
Uncertainty
And flown by the mechanics of
Your mind.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For they tell not the truth,
Only that which your ego
Is eager to hear,
To justify to yourself
That the world is out to get you
And that you must
Get them first.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For they can drive you mad
With their convolutions,
More twists and turns
Than a rollercoaster ride
And even more frightening
Because, at least on a rollercoaster
When the ride ends, you can get off.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For they only cause you
Headaches and stress
With their constant worrying,
Writhing like a ball of worms
Looking for a way out
Of the labyrinth
That they themselves have created.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For they are constantly searching
For that Magic Pill
That Grand Solution
To a problem that they created
To entertain your ego
When in actual fact
There is no problem.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For their greatest wish
Is to create problems
And then offer solutions
And urging you to accept
Those as the truth
When they are only figments
Of your own imagination.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For what you think
Is perceived as real by your body,
And the more you listen
To those unruly noisemakers
The more your body believes
That the crisis is imminent
And prepares to fight or flee.

Silence the noisemakers in your head
For nothing in this world is real
Except for the things you accept
What you believe
Is true
What you say
Becomes real
You really are the Architect
Of your own Universe.

So,
Silence the noisemakers in your head
And
Listen to your heart instead.

AlyZen Moonshadow

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(Image by szerbijn on Flickr, as seen on Google Images).

The Company Of One

So, I’m sitting in a local eatery waiting for my cappuccino and a “Crispizza” (see photo below). I’d read a book, but the one I’m on (“Men, Money and Chocolate” by Menna Van Praag, I’ve just finished). I decide to people watch instead.

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There’s a couple at the table next to me, who don’t seem to be agreeing on much. He’s decided to eat his lemon garnish. She’s scrunching up her face thinking about the taste of it.

Another couple are sitting in the corner. They’re not saying much to each other. In fact, they’re not speaking to each other at all. She looks fed up. He looks bored. A couple of times he stifles a yawn. I wonder what their story is. She seems a tad angry to me. Maybe they’ve had an argument.

An elderly couple are just finishing their lunch. There’s a trolley full of purchases parked next to them. As the couple get up to leave, I wonder who will push the trolley. He simply wanders off, leaving her to do it.

A lady on her own walks into the eatery and sits at a table near me. I wonder if she’ll nod or acknowledge a fellow solitary customer. She doesn’t even see me. She whips out her mobile phone and starts texting on it. It’s glued to her hand the whole time she’s there, even when her food arrives and she’s eating.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

There’s another lady at the table opposite me. She’s finished her meal, but seems to be lingering and pondering deep thoughts. Finally, she gets up and leaves. And I notice that there are 2 pots of tea on her table, 2 cups and saucers, but only 1 plate with a half-eaten sandwich still on it. I wonder what this lady’s story is, she of the Pink hoody and the Twilight shopping tote. Was she there with someone earlier? Or did she really have 2 pots of tea all to herself?

The book I just read, “Men, Money And Chocolate” tells the tale of Maya, who fantasises about finding the right man and having enough money to live a fulfilled life, but who instead drowns her sorrows and disappointments by eating cake. Lots of it. It’s not light, frothy chick lit like a lot you see these days. This book is published by Hay House Publishing (the UK’s leading mind, body and spirit New Age publisher, with branches across the globe, including Australia). There isn’t much action in it, but rather a lot of deep conversations between Maya and the people she meets, about Life, Love and Destiny. It reminds me of the fabled Ouroboros, the snake that devours itself, as in the story Maya decides to be Bold and Go For It, sells everything she has, leaves the United Kingdom and takes her self-published book to America, where, when she least expects it, the last piece of the puzzle falls into place and she finds love. The title of Maya’s book in the story? Men, Money And Chocolate. The theme of Maya’s book? About a woman finding herself after much trial and tribulation. Very clever indeed!

And so, back to where I am. No, I haven’t written a book. But I would like to, and I might. My point is, I love my own Company Of One. You never have to put up with someone’s traits and behaviour that you can’t stand. You don’t have arguments and silent sulks with yourself. You don’t need to wonder who’s going to carry the shopping, because you already know the answer. You don’t have to pretend to be having a conversation with someone else by texting or playing on your mobile phone, when you could be enjoying the food placed before you. And, if you came into the eatery by yourself, you don’t have to pretend to be waiting for someone else, or order 2 pots of tea, 1 for your imaginary friend.

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The Company Of One is the Best Company you’ll ever have. Learn to enjoy and appreciate it!

Louise L Hay Quotes

I’m currently reading Louise L Hay‘s seminal book “You Can Heal Your Life“. Well, at the same time I’m also reading “Men, Money And Chocolate” by Menna Van Praag, and “The Book Of Secrets” by Deepak Chopra.

How do I do it? How do I read more than one book at a time? Those of you who know me by now, know that I like to be doing everything all at the same time. It’s simple, really. I just leave books around the house – in the bedroom, on the living room sofa, on the kitchen table, yes, even in the toilet. That way, wherever I chance to be, whichever book that lies within reach is the one I’ll start to read or continue where I left off earlier. (Just so you know, I have a little library of books inside that toilet, yes really. Shelves of books. Just in case you get bored while sitting on the throne).

That is the method to my madness. Or perhaps it’s the madness to my method.

Anyway, moving along swiftly, I’ve always admired Louise L Hay. Her “Power Thought Cards” deck was one of the very first oracle/affirmations decks that I’d bought, back in 2008 when I first moved from Spain to Ireland. I still have those cards, and from time to time I like to shuffle the deck and draw a “Card of the day”. Those cards contain affirmations to motivate and reassure the person, rather than my personal preference, quotations.

I’d just like to share some of my favourite Louise L Hay sayings/affirmations/quotations with you today. Who knows, they may trigger off something inside you.

These are all curated from Google Images, and all credit and copyrights remain with the original artists/writers.

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To The Boy In The Orange Onesie

Our eyes met
Across the space of ten feet
You were sitting behind
An elderly couple
And I was standing by the door
You had on a light orange onesie
With ears, I think it was a
Pokemon suit
But I could be wrong
It’s been a very long time
Since I last watched that show
You were smiling, I remember
But I don’t know what
You were smiling at
Or why
But our eyes did meet
For just a second
And then you smiled again
That secret, funny
Mona Lisa smile
You were the most
Beautiful person on the train.

And then the train stopped
And everyone got off
Including you
And we all went to the Convention
Making our own way
Up the escalators
Across the concourse
And into the Convention Centre
And you were lost to sight
After a while I had my lunch
On the grass in the park outside
It was a crisp, sunny day
And later, I went back inside
To see if I could get a photo
Of the Alien or of Groot
Or Darth Vader or a Dalek
Or maybe find myself
Some nice art prints for my wall

And there you were again
Still in that onesie
With the light orange floppy ears
Still with your Mona Lisa smile
And once again
Just for a second
We smiled at each other
As our eyes met again
And then you were lost in the crowd
And even though I kept my eye out
For your cute floppy orange ears
Hoping to catch another glimpse
Of your beautiful grey eyes
I never saw you again

All I wanted to do
If I saw your face again
In the crowd
Was to go up to you
Give you a hug
Onesie and all
And say
“Please don’t leave
without saying Hello”.
But I couldn’t find you
And so I leave it
Up to Fate to decide
If we should meet again
Somewhere, sometime
And perhaps next time
We will do more than nod and smile
Perhaps we will have the courage
To say “Hello”.

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FREEBIES! Gelli® Print images

I must admit I haven’t been practising my Gelli® printing lately, having been drawn in a different direction by my latest mixed media photography art projects. If only there were more hours in the day, if only I could split myself in 2 or even 3, one to do Gelli® printing, one to work on my photographic art, and one to run around town doing other things.

No, housework is NOT one of those other things.

Also, you may have noticed that every time I mention the word Gelli® I now use the ® sign after it. This is with the permission of Gelli Arts®, with whom I have no affiliation. It’s so folks don’t get confused and think I work for Gelli Arts®, or am endorsing their product.

What I Have been doing, these past month, is using photos of my Gelli® prints in conjunction with other photos and clipart on my mobile device, to create images for ongoing projects.

So right now, I have over 200 close up photos of my monoprints. Of which you’re welcome to do whatever you like with the following:

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Have a great weekend, folks!

Project: Inspiration Deck Booster Pack

In January of this year, I started a new project of cards with inspirational sayings. My intention was to create a deck of 25 different cards, which could be boosted by another 25 later on. In February, I finished the first 25 designs, just in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations. You can read about that first deck, and have a look at some of those cards in this post.

A few days ago, I was playing with some Apps and filters, and decided that, instead of trying to fit my prepared background images into some sort of frame, why not simply use a white shape template placed over the image, as a mask? I could then place my text on the mask itself. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about my text being hard to decipher over a colourful background.

So, here are just a few examples of the “Booster” pack of my Inspiration Deck.

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These are just the rough gems. I have yet to trim, resize and polish them, before they’ll be fit for printing.

With the first batch of the Inspiration Deck, I gave several away at my Uncle’s Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner. And a few days after that, I Abandoned several in my local area, by putting them into envelopes with the Art Abandonment tag stuck on, and leaving them in people’s postboxes. (I live in Australia, where putting mail in postboxes without it going through the Postal system is perfectly legal. Hence all that junk mail one gets).

I expect when I’ve ordered and received a deck of these new cards, another Art Abandonment exercise will be in my diary of things to do.

Bearing in mind though that this is still in the early stages…I’m still playing with a couple of other design ideas in my head, so it all may change at the drop of a hat. I know, I’m fickle :-).

Chance Encounters

I happened to be on the train into Perth CBD the other day, and was sitting behind an African lady. Across from her, on the other side of the carriage, was another African lady. The two of them were having a grand old time engaged in deep conversation across the 5  feet or so of space. For a minute I wondered why these two obviously very good friends were sitting on opposite sides of the carriage, in different seats, and chattering across the aisle, rather then sharing the same seat. As I eavesdropped on their conversation, I came to understand the situation better.

The 2 ladies were not close friends. In fact, they were complete strangers who happened to be on the same train at the same time. Which one had approached the other first, and for what reason, was not important. The important thing was that, at some point on their journey, one of them said “Hello” to the other, and the other responded in a friendly manner. And then they began a conversation, and, because they shared much in common, despite one being from Liberia and the other from Cameroon, there was much to talk about. I couldn’t help but notice how their faces lit up when one sparked off a common thread in the other, it was joyful to see.

As the train approached a station, the African lady in front of me got up to go. The other one whipped out her mobile phone and said “We should exchange telephone numbers so we can chat some more”. By now the train had reached the station and the doors had opened. The other lady rummaged frantically in her handbag for her mobile phone. I knew that she wasn’t going to have the time to find her phone, exchange numbers with her new friend, say good bye and get off the train. So, I tapped her on her shoulder.

I said, “I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on your conversation earlier. Don’t worry if you can’t get off the train here. You can always get off at the next stop and catch the train in the opposite direction back here. It’s not everyday that you make a new friend. So, take your time, get her number, meet up for coffee or lunch another day. Enjoy your new friendship.”

She laughed, and did as I said. The ladies exchanged numbers as the train moved on. They still clearly had a lot to say to each other. When the train stopped at the next stop, the first lady got off, after promising to call the second one.

There was one more stop before I had to get off the train myself. I found out from the other lady that she’d been down to Mandurah earlier that morning, as her son had told her his house needed some repairs. However, when she got there, he’d forgotten about her visit and had gone out. She told me she’d walked around his housing estate and seen a property for sale that she would be making enquiries about. But now she was headed up to her other son’s house in Osborne Park, to check in on him.

I said, “I wouldn’t classify this as a wasted exercise. If you hadn’t gone down to Mandurah this morning, you wouldn’t have seen that property for sale. And then you wouldn’t have been on this train and met your new friend. Isn’t Life wonderful?” And she laughed and agreed.

After finishing my business in town, I dropped by Nespresso for a cup of coffee. There’s a round kiosk inside the store just by the door, where you can taste free samples of their range of coffee. I like to have a cup just before heading to the train station right opposite the store. Today was no different.

As I sipped at my coffee, I turned to the young man next to me and asked what he thought of his cup of coffee. He said it tasted just like how a “flat white” should taste (that’s a cafe latte for readers outside Australia). Then, out of the blue, he mentioned how coffee helped him de-stress, as stress often triggered epileptic fits in him. The tall lady on the other side of him empathised with him, and said her nephew suffered epileptic fits triggered by stress too. Then the young man, whose name was Richard, told of how he’d quit Year 11 of high school because he was constantly being bullied for being epileptic.

He said that the last straw was when he’d suffered a fit in front of his so-called friends, and, instead of helping him, they’d simply lain him down and stolen all his clothes. He’d woken up to find only his underpants on, and his shirt covering him. He’d had to wrap the shirt around his lower body and walk home that way, and everyone had laughed at him, rather than being sympathetic or offering assistance. The tall lady and I shook our heads in disbelief. Teenagers can be so cruel!

Richard said he didn’t mind having fits, but what he minded was not knowing what had gone on while he was unconscious. I recalled a recent movie called “Unfriended”, where a teenage girl had been secretly filmed by her “friends” while passed out from drinking, and the video had gone viral and as a consequence of the cyber bullying and taunts from her peers, that girl had committed suicide. Richard had seen that film, and he agreed heartily that it was indeed the lowest of the lowest of humanity to behave in such a manner.

Richard then said that leaving his school had been the best thing he’d done. He was now enrolled in a TAFE (a technical college) studying towards qualifications in Psychology, and he’d spoken to many people in the city, from all walks of life, and so he felt more positive about his life now than ever before. He said his parents had not been supportive of his decision to leave school, but then that was their problem, not his. He said they’d told him he wasn’t old enough to make such decisions about his own life.

I said, “You don’t have to be of a certain age to know what you want to do with your life. Perhaps you needed to experience all that bullying from your peers, and to leave school and come to the city and find yourself, in order to place your life in the direction you’re in now. It might not have happened if you’d stayed in that school and continued to put up with the bullying.”

I came away from that encounter feeling that, here was a young man who’d had the good fortune to awaken from his slumber, and discover his life’s true purpose. And at such a young age too. He’s one of the lucky ones.  So many of us, either by chance or by design, choose to sleepwalk through this so-called Life, and never discover ourselves, or the real wonders of the world.

I had a really good day, that day.

Without-change-something-sleeps-inside-us-and-seldom-awakens.-The-sleeper-must-awaken.

(Image found on Google Images, by http://www.verybestquotes.com, from the writer Frank Herbert).