Christmas was mentioned multiple times this month. The temperature is dropping and the rain feels wintery. The depressing months are coming. Brace!
It was when I looked for Photoshop tutorials for editing the portraits I took in Wast Water that I found a series of excellent Youtube photographers. They have been very educational and inspirational for me and I think my understanding of photography has improved in the last month more than last six months combined!
Taking photos became an exciting thing again. For example, inspired by Irene Rudnyk’s collection of vintage dresses and fairy-tale style, for the first time I bought an outfit specifically for a photo shoot, along with a few vintage dress patterns to sew. To experiment with Brandon Woelfel’s style, I switched my Canon 70D to full manual mode for the first time ever, and actively thought about what techniques I would need to achieve the same look, having shutter speed, aperture and ISO floating in circles in my mind. By studying Rosie Hardy’s Instagram posts and her 365 project specifically, I was taught the story-telling side of photography and was amazed by the possibility of self-portrait and her courage.
At the same time, I realised how amateur I was when I did all the wedding shoots in previous years. Isn’t there a Chinese saying something like “the stupid are fearless”?
Here are some fearless photos I took this month for a friends’ save the date:
I have to say, this has also changed my opinion of Youtube. It was a place solely for millions of viewers to passively watch cats and dogs and other cute but meaningless and unhelpful videos alike, hours on end. But I have been benefiting lots from Desiring God channel, as well as many of the photography channels. They are usually high quality in production with a big range of topics from talented people who do not appear on traditional TV shows. It’s a strange thing to find myself writing notes down like a student while watching a Youtube video – but I love it!
Talking about writing notes, I have moved on from the trial run to my first proper bullet journal this month. It’s a soft cover dotted Rhodia notebook. It works well so far and I’m happy with the minimalist style. I also have some ideas to improvise it in the months and years to come. Here are some pictures:
I know I’m going through Centre Church at a snail’s pace but it is a huge book! The recent chapters are about the importance of city in the strategy of proclaiming the gospel. It talks about how St. Paul reached the local city dwellers as well as the countryside and other cities further away by staying and teaching in Ephesus, the centre and cross roads of the Roman Empire. It also talks about the growing population of the cities happening right in front of our eyes, the opportunities it brings and the urgency for the church to prepare to minister in this setting. I enjoy reading every chapter of it. It makes me think and gives me new ideas about what I can personally do to be part of the effort to proclaim the gospel to the world.
I read a couple of Japanese comedy drama novels by Morimi Tomihiko in August – very fitting read for summer. The first one is called The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl. The second one is called The Eccentric Family. How should I describe them? The experience of reading is like entering and retreating from a series of different but related dreams. It forms a wonderful and dreamy picture where the bathhouse smells of citrus and the “fake electric brandy” tastes fluffy warm, the humid summer night breeze above Kyoto flows across the deck of flying boats, goldfish swirl in a hurricane, a timid frog at the bottom of a well turns into a speeding tram, desperately trying to rescue their raccoon brother who becomes the main course for a hotpot party. The effect of the surreal stories is at its best when you’re half asleep, which was often the case of mine – but I’m NOT telling you where I read these.
However, by the same author, The Tatami Galaxy was not even half as good… until the last chapter – I almost didn’t last till the last chapter. Overall, it’s still not as readable as the previous two mentioned above.
I got a tennis magazine from STACK subscription and bought two magazines from MagCulture this month: Fare and The Happy Reader. A colleague is going to Istanbul, I’m slightly jealous.
On to my very own magazine.
It took me a few days to get into the mode of an editor. But I managed on the 4th August. Praise God for all the contributors being supportive as usual. One of the articles is a sermon from our minister Ian Garrett. It was one of my favourite sermons over nine years listening and learning in this church. I wanted to put it in the first issue this time last year but had to leave it out because of the page limit. And I wasn’t sure if I would have another chance to put it in because I never imagined JOURNEY would go on for another year!
A lot of things happened over the last year in the life of JOURNEY. It started as a personal project of mine, for the small readership of our own fellowship. It received a lot of positive feedback from students and non-students, internationals and locals a like. It was unbelievable and surreal for me now that issue four is in the making and it will be reaching the hands of many international workers all over the UK!
We spent the last bit of summer on Isle of Skye in Scotland. Visiting Skye was one of my dreams for a long time. The adventure was dramatic; it deserves its own posts so I won’t say too much here, just a couple taster photos to whet your appetite.
Also I praise God for some time off to rest at home on my own. I have found over the last few years that being at home alone is the best way to recharge physically and spiritually. I was able to have breakfast without any rush, hang bed sheets on the washing line in the sun and read the Bible with the fragrance of the clean linen in the backyard. The key was to be disciplined: not getting up late – so that I don’t regret wasting the morning; having a plan for the day – so I don’t watch TV dramas non-stop; not being distracted by housework – I allow myself to wipe the desk before start working, but not to get carried away by wiping all the bookshelves and wardrobes and cupboards!
20 August was our wedding anniversary. We had an unexpected walk on a completely new path from Alnmouth to Alnwick (try pronounce them) – I really enjoyed the juicy wild blackberries and all the random chat about going to Japan for 2020 Olympic Games with my best friend and husband of six years. We had a tasty wild mushroom soup in Barter Books, had a wonder around the book shop and went back to the cafe for a huge scone.
This summer also marks my ninth year living in Newcastle, UK. I cannot ask for a better life on earth.