Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas tidings

So many thoughts about Christmas. Today, Bliss and I went to her Aunty Lyndall's and Uncle Rodger's house for lunch with the cousins. We met AT and Clancy there, and AT's girlfriend, his father and stepmother.

AT, Bliss, Clancy, Epi

This was the first time I had met AT's girlfriend. Why would I choose Christmas to do that? Well, Christmas chose it. Everyone has told me that she's lovely. Of course she is, AT has great taste in women...

We met and we sat opposite each other and all was good.

Why do children have to choose which parent to spend Christmas with? Why can't they spend it with both?

I know I haven't done the separation thing according to "the rules" but I figure whatever works for the four of us is good and others can have their opinions and thoughts and express them and we can be free to ignore all well-meaning suggestions. I've also taken a few leaves out of the book of one of my dearest friends who used to spend Christmas Eve with her children and her two exes, so they could all enjoy a meal together. It sounded so civilised, and it is.

We had a lovely lunch and ate too much and had a few drinks and now Miss B and I are sitting outside (our favourite place in the evenings), listening to music, having a refreshment, plotting and planning future Christmas celebrations and revelling in being on holidays.

2014 has been rather a big year. I'm sure 2015 will be big as well. They all seem to be lately.

Hope you had fun.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Road trip

The teenagers and I went on a road trip yesterday to Bathurst to visit their Grandad and Grandma. The worst thing about having family everywhere is that we are never in the one place at the same time and due to a scheduling issue, we needed to see them before Christmas.

We had a lovely Christmas dinner last night but it's a crazy way to for four hours, have dinner, sleep, drive another four hours to arrive home.

Anyway, all good.

While I was there I painted a watercolour of their lemon tree, which grows in a pot. They built their house about 15 years ago and it's been lovely to be able to go visit a few times a year ever since.

Tonight I went out with my most gorgeous friend Simone for a Christmas drink. I love my friends so much and I love the support we have given each other over the years.

Surprises today for some of them with their bosses involved in the Federal Ministerial reshuffle. Hope the outcomes for them are timely and good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Heartache for Sydney

Sydney is my town. Growing up in country NSW with parents who were born and raised in Sydney meant childhood holidays in the NSW capital. My mother was adamant that growing up in a "cultural wasteland" would be interspersed with trips to the big smoke.

We would go to art galleries, museums, David Jones in Elizabeth Street, the Opera House and anywhere there was something going on. I remember how she taught me the names of the city streets that run down to Circular Quay. George, Pitt, Castlereagh, Elizabeth, Macquarie.

My dream growing up was to live in Sydney. I moved there in 1989. My children were born there. Whenever I visit I know I am home. In recent years I travelled to Sydney often for work and used to stay very close to the Lindt Cafe.

The journalist in me knew that the siege would end badly. It did.

Religion is used for many purposes. I used to think it was an opiate for the masses, to keep them in line, to control their behaviour, to reign in wild urges.

Not any more. Religion is used by so many as the cover for their evil intent. What a sick and sorry business.

My heart breaks for the two hostages killed and the others who had to endure this madness.

My beautiful Sydney is already healing from within, with an ocean of love and flowers in Martin Place.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reunited after all these years

Whoever thought it was a good idea to lose touch with good friends from high school? Life gets in the way sometimes, but with the kind assistance of Facebook I have been able to find some of my lovely friends from long ago.

And so tonight I had the most wonderful time with the gorgeous Jan Richards and her husband Mark.

Jan and I belonged to the nerdy group at school, which meant we weren't the cool kids, but we always had each other's back.

She has been living in England for more than a decade and last year married the lovely Mark.

We have spent the past few hours chatting, drinking wine and eating delicious food. She's invited me to stay with them in England and I must and I will.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas

Oh goodness. Christmas. What a mishmash of emotions, terrible events, bad memories, good memories, new traditions.

Today, Miss B and I bought a real Christmas tree, the first one we have had in three years. It was bittersweet to decorate with the trinkets and decorations collected during many years with Andrew.

Tonight, I went and had Christmas drinks with a neighbour. We have many mutual friends and lots in common, but we have not sat and had a drink in 12 months, despite living four doors from each other.

Anyway, it was good and we are good and he has bought the place he was renting (yay!)

Soon it will be Christmas and I will spend it with family and then I will go to the beach and RELAX.

Thanks to my gorgeous friend Linda.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

You must remember this

Miss B learns dance and twice a year there is a concert at the Playhouse in Canberra. It's always lovely to go to see the results of the efforts expended week after week.

I have wonderful memories of events in my childhood when I was on the stage or performing or competing in front of a crowd. Those were the days without smartphones or video cameras or anything other than memory. In your brain.

I sat through today's concert behind two people who viewed almost the entire thing through the screens of their smartphones. No brain memories for them.

Miss B's dad and I were eight rows from the stage, so the people in front were seven rows from the stage. It was a pretty good view. But as they filmed, they watched their screens. At one point, one of them put her head sideways to glance at the "live" action.

The concert is filmed by professionals and a DVD is on sale shortly afterwards. Why not sit and enjoy it and create your own memories, and not distract those behind you with your screens?

Please don't talk to me about family members or friends who were not there. It's like being made to sit through a wedding video. No one is interested, except the happy couple, or maybe just the Bridezilla.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday night

Friday night was always pub night. When you work as a journalist, Friday signifies the end of the working week, which means drinks aplenty.

Life, of course, changes when you become a parent. But when Andrew and I moved to Murrumbateman, Friday night returned as pub night. Not every week, but it was great to go to the local Murrumbateman Inn with the children and buy tickets in the meat raffle and have dinner.

There's something about seeing familiar faces at the end of the working week that gives you a sense of belonging.

Since moving to Canberra almost two years ago, Friday night is like most nights. Home with the children. Which is entirely divine, but just sometimes I would love to be at the pub at the meat raffles talking to the locals.

Obviously living in Canberra that doesn't happen. It's not that sort of town.

The working year is meant to be winding down but this week has been as full-on as every week this year.

I've done good. The year ends on a good note, although my lovely Mystic Medusa reckons there is time for things to change between now and 2015. Bring it on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The time warp

I have a beautiful friend Colleen whose partner Ross is in a band. His band was playing tonight at the Hellenic Club in Canberra and Colleen and I went along.

We had dinner in the Chinese restaurant, which was good, then went and stood downstairs to hear the band. They are actually pretty good and the music was 80s, 90s retro. The crowd loved it.

I love that the crowd loved the music but I felt as if I was in a time warp. I wonder what life would be like to be satisfied to never seek a greener pasture, to always be content with things being the way they were, with finding happiness in the ordinary. You could go out to a club and wear chiffon and fake eyelashes and play the pokies and get excited about hearing the same songs you have heard for 30 years. The outfit de jour for men was T-shirt and jeans. For women, it was anything that revealed boobs.
There were quite a few who were swaying to the rhythm.

Good on them all. They were having such a good time.

Colleen and I had lots of laughs but eventually I had to call it a night.

An ordinary life. It's not for me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

'Tis the Season

It's Christmas. I went to my first Christmas party of 2014 tonight and it was delightful to take Miss B with me and have Mr C drive it was OK to have some wine.

Andrew and I are shareholders in Ethos CRS and I'm on the Board. They are a great bunch of people and our little company is making some headway after a few tough years in Canberra.

It was really lovely to sit and chat with such a diverse group of people. We had Secret Santa. Turns out the only people who didn't buy what was on people's lists were Andrew and I...some things never change. I got a lovely bottle of Christmas bubbles.

Now sitting outside at home and watching another lightning display. The summer storm season is upon us.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

4 December

I just sat down to write about my interstate day trip to Melbourne (for work) when I realised that 4 December is a far more important day. I hadn't thought about it until now. Blame it on the 5am start to get to the airport for a 6.30 flight...

Today is the anniversary of my cousin Kate's death. She was 37 when she died. I was 37.

Here is a photo of Kate in April 1997 when she came to our Marrickville house to meet Clancy. (That's me in the background, with Baby Clancy.) Kate already had two beautiful boys of her own. They have grown into fine young men, handsome, talented, artistic and adventurous, just like their mum.

Gosh I miss her. Sometimes I have dreams where she talks to me. Sometimes her mother does as well.

I miss them both. I miss my mother, who was Kate's aunt. When I dream about my mother, she doesn't speak.

Lucky they live on in beautiful memories and messages from beyond this mortal planet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Memories of Macksville

When I moved away from Macksville virtually no one I met had heard of it and fewer still knew where it was. Halfway between Sydney and Brisbane gave them a vague enough idea that it was a long way from any capital city and near the coast.

Today, more people than anyone would want know where Macksville is. Today Macksville farewelled its cricketing son Phillip Hughes. From all accounts it was a tremendous send-off to a young man who would have given so much more, if it weren't for the tragic accident that ended his life. His family appeared to cope with immense grace, as did his friends and fellow cricketers.

I watched a bit of the coverage and then I watched the funeral procession inch its way from the high school down Wallace Street. I walked that way home from school most days for six years. I knew every garden and who lived in every house and I would watch as the school buses drove past, with the students who lived at Nambucca Heads and Bowraville and other parts of the Nambucca Valley.

I hated walking past the school buses when they were stopped at the Macksville Public School, so I would wait as often as I could to time my walk when there was no bus picking up the littlies.

My mother and I used to walk around town on Sunday afternoons. She would point to pretty houses with nice gardens and tell me that if a person could meet someone locally and marry and live there forever, they could have a good life, but that was never going to happen for me or my three brothers.

She was right. She and my father moved away with my youngest brother and I stayed behind as I had a cadetship on the Nambucca Guardian News.

The best part of growing up in Macksville, it turned out, was being an outsider. We were told within a week of moving there that we would never be considered locals as none of us had been born there. It certainly made leaving an attractive option, and I worked hard to do that.

I've kept in touch with very few people from those days. Some of my school friends have got back in touch in recent years thanks to the wonder of Facebook. It's nice to see that they are doing well, leading interesting lives, many with children.

Growing up in a small town made me determined that my children would not be brought up in a small town, any small town, wherever it was. In 2002 we moved to Canberra and in 2003 bought a house in Murrumbateman, so they did grow up in a small town, but have attended school in Canberra,  40km away. They had the space and the brilliant night sky and the chance to meet the locals and have friends beyond school so they know what a small community can be like.

The children and I moved to Canberra two years ago and I would not be surprised if after school they become citizens of the world. They have seen their father travel the world for his work and they both have had friends from within the diplomatic and expat communities, so the world to them is a small place. Not like for me growing up in the 1970s in Macksville where other countries may as well have been outer space.

I have no sense of nostalgia for the town where I grew up. I'm still not sure where home is. It will become clear one day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Summer

Canberra likes a big sky and tonight we got this God cloud and a lightning storm. If you are going to mark the beginning of summer, it may as well be with a light show.

Today I have been to three supermarkets, gone to work, protected a colleague from a spider, taken Miss B to dance and collected her, helped finish her skirt for Textiles (imagine how much easier that would have been if the teacher had provided instruction), cooked dinner for the teenagers, fed the cat and have just sat down to my own dinner.

No wonder I've lost weight this year. Haha. And my beautiful GP wants me to give up wine. As if.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The beauty of my life

I went to David Jones today. I love that store. My daughter and I were buying something and the saleslady took us to the Armani counter. She handed me a small bottle of fragrance "for my husband:". "I don't have one," I told her. "It's for your boyfriend," she said. "I don't have one," I said.
I have sprayed the said fragrance on me tonight and it is seriously "Come Get Me".

Who knew. If only there was somewhere in this Godforsaken town to go and attract someone, this fragrance may do its trick. Otherwise, it is a long wait until the dreams I dream manifest.

Book 'em Danno

I loved Hawaii Five-O, especially at the end when McGarratt would say "Book 'em Danno". This has nothing to do with television, or Hawaii, but books.

My lovely friend Alana House from has nominated me to answer some questions about books with this: "Now I’m supposed to tag two fellow bloggers to answer the same questions. So, despite the fact it’s not their normal genre, I’m going to pass the baton to Grasping Nettles and Paris Apple Hotel  …. sorry guys … but I know you’re bookish types and will do me proud."

The questions are official. These are my official answers.

Do you snack while you read?
No. I get so engrossed I have to stop and get something to eat or drink.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
This is a crime against humanity. I respect the work of the author too much to ever mark a mark in a book. If a really need to make a point of remembering something I'll read that section again, or I may slip in a bookmark or on a rare instance, a post-it note. 
Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
I love both, but I haven't read enough fiction over the past decade. I'm trying to get back into it now. I have a real thing for cookbooks as well. I have just bought Larousse Gastronomique, which I have wanted to own for about 30 years. If only my culinary output matched my cookbook collection.
Hard copy or ebooks?
The only thing I read on an e-book is Mystic Medusa's incredible Tarot readings. I look at a computer screen at work all day. I broke my last computer's screen by letting it drop to the floor when I fell asleep. Books don't break like that.
What is the last book you bought?
Bill: The Life of William Dobell. This is a fabulous read, written by my friend Scott Bevan. We worked together at The Newcastle Herald last century. Bill is about the fall-out from Dobell's 1943 Archibald Prize-winning portrait of Joshua Smith. I'm a third of the way through. One of my great aunts lived next to the lake at Wangi Wangi and always refused Dobell's offer to paint her portrait. Last year I met a new friend who is on the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. I'd love to have my works chosen for the new format Dobell drawing exhibition, Drawing out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial. I've been learning to paint and draw since last year, so one day...
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Tim Winton. I love Tim Winton. I was a fan of Peter Carey years ago but Tim Winton captures my heart with every book he writes. I would like to meet him so we could talk about stuff.
Now I’m supposed to tag two fellow bloggers to answer the same questions.

My favourite bloggers are so busy I dare not load them up with more tasks. So I'm choosing two FB friends who live in Tim Winton country, WA. Over to you Tricia Matthews and Robin Ploof Delamont.

Friday, November 28, 2014

When Death Happens

Australia is in the grip of collective grief as we mourn the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes. He died after being struck by a ball, bowled to him during a Sheffield Shield match.

Now I happened to have grown up in the same town as Phillip Hughes, a few decades earlier. It was a town that loved sport over anything else, so he would have been considered quite the hero for his cricket achievements. He obviously had loads of talent, so this recognition was well-deserved.

No one deserves to die at work, whether they are a sportsperson or a journalist or a saw-miller or a builder or a truck-driver or a nurse.

The reason there is such an outpouring of grief is that Phillip Hughes was known to many people, way beyond Macksville, as the holder of Baggy Green #408.

I can have no comprehension of the grief that his family is feeling, apart from having a few deaths in my own family over the past 25 years. It doesn't really matter what kills people. When they are dead, they are dead. And it is a terrible ordeal for any family, but especially when young people die.

I hope in all the outpouring of grief there are no repercussions for the bowler Sean Abbott who was only doing his job. He must be feeling terrible, but this was an accident and is not his fault.

Phillip Hughes will long be remembered as a talented and plucky cricketer who arrived from the boondocks and succeeded. Let's never take that away from him. He obviously would have achieved so much more in his cricket career.

If safety equipment needs improvement, let's hope that happens. If people are made more realistic about the dangers of competitive sport, let's hope that happens. If his family need support forever, let us surely hope that happens.

God rest his soul.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When life happens

I have just spent two days in my beloved Sydney, catching up with friends on Sunday night then spending two days at a conference for work where I caught up with more friends and made new friends.

I love my life, especially when I get to mingle and meet new people. In the past two days I have met a professor, a member of the London Symphony Orchestra, many aged care workers, actors, musicians and artists.

My life is richer for meeting these people. Some of them I will probably never see again, but they have all offered me insight into their professional and personal lives.

The thing about the aged care sector is the people who work in it are compassionate and empathetic and truly remarkable.

Then I get to hang around on the harbour foreshore and meet a member of the LSO (by chance) and then when I got on the plane tonight I got to sit next to a lovely man.

I sat down and said: "It's your lucky day, you get to sit next to me".

We laughed and discussed silly stuff and serious stuff and swapped stories about all the famous people we have met - he won - he met David Attenborough on the Galapagos Islands!!!!!! and we had wine and laughed some more.

He asked me why national flags were reversed on the fuselage of planes. I didn't know and hadn't even noticed. We asked our chief flight attendant and a captain and they didn't know. No one seems to know. He also suggested Qantas should run a Frequent Flyer singles seating service ... as I told him I was always being seated next to gorgeous men  ... who are married!! Haha. QANTAS. Quality And Noticing The Attractiveness of Singles.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The G20 and other weekend activities

Galah, Watercolours on paper

The G20 Summit is being held in Brisvegas this weekend and leading the photography is Andrew Taylor. He has managed to get all the leaders looking at his camera for the "family photo" and lots of cuddly shots of leaders with koalas. If you haven't seen the images they are displayed at under Home>News>Photo Gallery

I'm encouraging Miss Bliss to show her teachers the short video of her dad directing the leaders of the free world to do as he tells them. Then they may have a little bit more of an idea of the type of family she comes from.

It's not that we are bossy, we just know how to get things done. No one is better in this world than anyone else, it's just that some have jobs with more responsibility.

Getting the leaders to look their best is a fairly big responsibility.

I'm cleaning up at home today. I have so many projects on the go. I have art supplies, knitting supplies and fabric and sewing all over my dining room table. There are places for all these things to be stored and every few weeks I need to put everything away so that I can make a mess again.

And in the middle of all of this I stop and read some of Scott Bevan's book Bill: The Life of William Dobell. Plus I really want to go for a walk up Red Hill. I haven't done that for a few weeks but I always seem to run out of time. Already the afternoon is slipping away.

Pictured is my painting from yesterday's art class. You can read more about my teacher Margaret Hadfield on her FB page: Margaret Hadfield Gallery/Studio

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My favourite things

This evening I enjoyed three of my very favourite things: books, art and old friends.

How lucky am I to have worked with so many wonderful people over my career? Many of them have gone on to great things (well, we all have in our own way).

One of the beautiful people who took me under his wing when I joined The Newcastle Herald as a young journalist, fresh out of a country cadetship, was Scott Bevan. He would take me to all the concerts as he was the rock writer and he figured I needed to get to know Newcastle.

Fast forward 30 years (we were five or seven when we worked together) and Scott has written a book about a famous Australian artist. Bill: the Life of William Dobell creates a portrait of the man who escaped from the Sydney art world and the controversy over his winning the Archibald Prize in 1943 with his painting of Joshua Smith.

Bill escaped to Wangi Wangi and Scott's book is based on Bill's life there. I am curious to read it as my great aunt Beryl (Bebbie) lived in Wangi Wangi next door to Bill and told me years ago that she had always refused his requests/offers to paint her portrait.

A year ago I met Charles Lloyd Jones (through work), who is a director of the Sir William Dobell Foundation (he took the place of his late uncle, Charles Lloyd Jones).

Is Australia a small place or do I just have all these coincidences and connections?

Whatever the reason, there is a line of Sir William Dobell resonating through my life (Terri Waller will understand this) and now my friend Scott has written this book, which I am looking forward so much to reading.

Miss Bliss and I went to the National Gallery of Australia tonight (I have finally become a member) and heard Scott in conversation about his new book. What a delightful event.

Scott asked me about my painting and said he would write a book about me when I'm a famous artist. I could think of no better biographer than him.

Bill: The Life of William Dobell by Scott Bevan Simon and Schuster

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Careful who you write about

I wrote a blog the other day about someone I used to work for. Guess who was in the Chairman's Lounge this afternoon? I said hello. Haha. I love my life.

Yes there is a certain amount of "vibe" in the air. Tomorrow, I'm going to the National Gallery of Australia to see my friend Scott Bevan talk about his book Bill: The Life of William Dobell. Looking forward to buying a copy of the book and getting the author to sign it for me.

It's free to attend but you need to register. Come along, it will be great. Scott is another overachiever from The Newcastle Herald. We are everywhere.

Up and away

I had to wake up at 4.50 today to catch a plane to another city. It's a day trip for work. We get to hang out in an airport for seven hours and fly home. Oh, work travel is all glamour.

I took myself off to bed relatively early but ended up having quite an intense "discussion" with the 17 y o. So I fell into a deep slumber and woke at 4.44am.

Having a cup of tea while the cat whines to get out. Oh stuff it. She can go out. I have no control over anything or anyone. Not sure why I pretend otherwise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not my monkey, not my problem

It's a funny old world. I worked for a particular politician for 8 months a few years ago and people still think I have some sway or influence over his utterances. This morning on radio he sounded like a d*head when he criticised the people who have fawned over the dead Wayne Goss (who deserves immense praise, if you ask me) and cheered the way he had saved Qld from itself. The Sunshine State had been under a gerrymander for many years and the white shoe brigade was in charge of development and there was no such thing as one vote, one value. But this particular politician interrupted his own interview on ABC radio to defend Joh Bjelke Petersen. Even when I was a little kid, we would joke as we crossed the Qld border that it was one hour and 10 years behind the rest of Australia.

Never fear. I don't give a fig what this person who is a Minister in the Federal Government says ... but people who know I worked for him think I should save him from himself. Why? There's nothing in it for me. I want to be an artist and a writer, not someone who saves politicians from themselves.

Sorry. I gave my pound of flesh and it wasn't appreciated. Life moves on. Get over it. I have.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A love story

In May last year I dreamt one night about meeting a man who I would spend a couple of nights with and then we would part for 12-18 months and then we would be together.

In November I met the man of my dream. He was the exact person I had dreamed about. There was something about him when we shook hands that I knew something would happen. And it did and then he wanted to keep in touch.

So we spent six months emailing and phoning each other. We saw each other twice, but only in a group and to have a couple of drinks and dinner.

As he said, it's hard to be the boy away from home when you are in your own city with a wife at home. After six months I told him we had to stop talking as he either wanted an outcome or a distraction, and I didn't want to be someone's distraction.

I meet lots of people in my life and I talk to them. If I'm in the mood for a chat I can befriend any stranger and ask them anything and everything. So in recent months I have recounted my man friend tale to other men - one I sat next to on a plane, another who sat at the photo printing machine at Officeworks, and others - the general consensus among married men of a certain age (40+) is that "as long as you don't take anything home", s*x with another woman can be just great. Not to single out men, I've been having similar discussions with married girlfriends, and they say similar things.

Normally I keep these things private but something's changed since my latest birthday. I like who I am and what I've done. I'm single and the teenagers spend most of their time with me. I get on with my ex. Sometimes my choices have made others uncomfortable, but everything I do, is out of love. Sometimes I can be a bit full-on and that scares people. There are so many people who live narrow lives and are suburban in their outlook and their lack of ambition, or they stay in what is obviously a tedious relationship for appearances and "for the children". Yep, that's always a good reason.

I don't want a house in the suburbs with a man I found on the internet. I know that makes many people happy and I have great joy for them but it would make me want to poke my eyes out with a hot stick. I'm not better than anyone else, I'm just different and it has taken four years of therapy, seven volumes of journalling and 18 months of art classes to feel comfortable to own that. I felt like an alien at school, and for most of my adult life as I tried to fit in with what the world around me was doing.

I've had so many bosses criticise me for not being "enthusiastic" and not smiling enough. Seriously. All the while my brain was churning with a thousand ways to make these people appear to be better at their jobs than they had ever been, but they didn't understand.

I have the most beautiful friends in the world. My closest friends are those who are not overwhelmed by me, they just accept me as I am, and drink lots of wine with me.

My friend returned in a dream about a month ago with another message for me. There's still a little bit of time for this to play out.

One of my dearest new friends (who I met this year) had a similar thing happen to her and she is now with the man of her dreams. Stuff happens. Good stuff, bad stuff, interesting stuff. Hope you are all enjoying the stuff you have made happen to you. I know I am.

As my friend Frank used to say "Come The Revolution, I don't want to be in your way". That time is drawing near, dear Frank.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The family Date Palm Tree

Today my Grandad Alfred Samuel Date turned 109. He really did, it wasn't just an anniversary of his birth, he was there, with family members to celebrate.

Last year at his 108th birthday he told me he wanted two more. Much has happened in a year. He has moved into full-time care, which I know frustrates him, but is the best place for him to be.

It may sound strange to most of you, but he really seems to have aged in the past 12 months. His brain is still as sharp as ever, but his body is slowing him up, a bit.

We all had photographs taken and when my children Bliss and Clancy sat with him for photos, he told Bliss he wanted a photo just with her. My Grandad has always loved the girls, in a really lovely way, and he loved having Bliss sit with him and have a photo together.

I'm a bit overwhelmed having my grandfather still alive. He is my father's father. My dad is 86. My mother died when she was 59, many years ago. So I have one side of the family that lives for a very long time and another side of the family that doesn't live quite as long.

Do I want to be 109? I've decided I'm going for 104. Which means I am exactly half-way and when I had my birthday a month ago my entire outlook on life changed. I have achieved much but there are many new adventures. There is more love to share, more people to have in my life, more experiences with the people I already know and love. We are so privileged to be alive and living in Australia. I am now ignoring all criticism of governments and elected officials of all parties.

We have won the lottery of life being born here. My grandfather's parents uprooted their family and brought their young children from London before World War I because they could see many difficult years ahead in England and in Europe.

The children all went to work at a young age, even though they were bright, but it was not the thing to remain in education when there were jobs to be done and money to be earned.

Thanks to my them, I have a grandfather who is 109 years old. That is a source of inspiration every single day. I hope he makes 110, but it doesn't really matter. Our family has this beacon of longevity, wisdom and intelligence and we will always remember that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Religious bigotry

I'm a little perplexed at the outrage about people's religious beliefs. I grew up in small town Australia in the 1970s when having the local Anglican minister as your father was a fate worse than death. I'm entirely serious. I was treated like the greatest pariah, as if I had two heads, three feet and a large green tongue. I didn't choose to have a father who was the local Anglican rector. I wasn't ashamed, but I was perplexed that it appeared to mean so much to other people. Fast forward and Australians are treating people from different religious backgrounds with a mix of contempt and abuse. I don't agree with it, but it doesn't surprise me. Australians, in my experience, are capable of hating anyone and everyone with religious beliefs. They hated me as the daughter of an Anglican minister, they hate the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, mostly because he has a strong Catholic faith. Maybe Australians need to look at their long-term prejudices before they express their hatred for Muslims. If my experience is anything to go by, religion has nothing to do with this, but small-minded bigotry has much to do with how sick our society is. I don't like going to Australian Parliament House (A building I have visited and worked in over the past 20+ years) and now see police with automatic weapons. That is not the Australia I know. Let's share the love.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spring equinox

I should be jumping out of my skin because it is officially spring but I feel so dark tonight my mood could blot out the stars. I had a lovely day, having lunch with the clown doctor Jean-Paul Bell and Maggie Haertsch. Together these two sparkling people bring much joy to the lives of thousands, through the Arts Health Institute. There is nothing wrong in my life, apart from a lack of cash, which is nothing unusual, but my mood is dark.

That's the thing with depression. All can be going swimmingly but the black fog descends. I would like not to have it, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

I remember years ago working on The Sydney Morning Herald and a particularly obnoxious person-in-charge kept telling me to be more "enthusiastic". If only idiots like that realised that some people are bursting with pride at their work but have depression.

Luckily my current boss is way more enlightened.

So I do all my therapies including walking, reading, writing, painting and sewing and hope to keep the black fog at bay. I had a beautiful visit from a girlfriend last night and we talked and laughed like we always do.

Tonight I am doing my astrology homework. This is a subject that has fascinated me for years and since I've been subscribing to Mystic Medusa my knowledge has expanded exponentially. My dear departed mother would say it was the work of the devil, but it isn't. It is an area of study that deepens with everything I read.

My other great joy at the moment is learning to paint. This really is life-changing. This is what I will do until the day I die.

You should all buy a painting before I get famous.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Very Important Friends

One of the joys in my life is the depth of love I have for my friends, which is returned many times over.

I've always made friends throughout my life and am blessed that so many of them are still part of my life, sometimes decades after meeting.

Almost six years ago I had a career change, from being a journalist to working with a federal politician. It was one of those offers made over a glass of wine that seemed like a good idea at the time and turned into a life-changing event.

From that office I was introduced to a whole new world of people and two of them have become two of my besties. Another of my besties I met by chance through work. This week I have had really long conversations with two of them on the phone and spent a few hours with the other celebrating a major business achievement of his.

He said to me: I don't know why or how I love you Margot but I do.

The feeling is entirely mutual. We come from really different backgrounds and circumstances, we are almost 20 years apart in age, but we can talk about anything from art to business to politics to family.

We only see each a few times a year but those times are so enriching. It's like having my own fan club.

Today when one of my other besties called she asked how things are going. I said things are fabulous as all my beautiful people have been in touch this week.

The amazing thing is last week I was crying and feeling really blue, wishing things would change. When you have depression it can be hard sometimes to look forward and trust that there is so much good coming your way. We'll guess what? I've changed the energy and am attracting all this amazingness.

Wonder what magic is next?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Higher influencers

There are times during the evolution of a human when they realise that while their world revolves around them, the whole world doesn't. I don't know about previous generations but I expect getting sent to the new colony as a convict or signing up to fight a war would have ripped the blinkers off quick smart.

Why then in this enlightened age do I encounter people who act like 5 year olds when they are 10 times that age or people who are 40, 50, 60 + and carry on like spoilt brat teenagers? So many adults seem to get to a mental age of 16 and think "that will do".

Why do they not realise I am not going to bend and squeeze myself into some sort of imaginary box of theirs to fit with their idea of how things should be?

I saw a friend yesterday who has just got a divorce (his second) because his wife wanted him to bend and squeeze and acquiesce to her demands and not have one authentic feeling for himself.  The mantra for everyone should be to live an authentic life. Be real, have real feelings, heaven help! express them.

Life is a rich tapestry, made with many colors and textures and fibers and emotions. There's room for us all if we just let other other people be themselves. If we don't like those selves, that doesn't give us the right to try to change them. We need to give them space to get on with their existences and hope they leave us alone to get on with ours.

What do I really want? To paint and write and have my beautiful people around me. This blog is my virtual way of doing that but I'm thinking it's time to make it real.

Is that Utopia? No, it's my true path, guided by some magical people and their work with me over the past few years to listen to my heart and embrace my soul.

If that means I run away to the hills to be a hippy, well maybe that's what I will have to. Preferably one near a beach.

Today, there is painting class and a very sick family member to visit in hospital.

Keep it real, bring on the revolution.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Offended, upset, speechless

My mother died from breast cancer 22 years ago. It was a harrowing time for her and for all of us as she was ill for nine years.
She was robbed of meeting four grand-children and they have been robbed of having a grandmother who would have loved them and taught them to play the piano and shared her love of literature and Latin and she would have taken them for long walks and talked about heaven and earth .
She would have been there with a shoulder for my tears when life got complicated and she would have been there with joy on many occasions.
But now her memory and the memory of all those women who died of breast cancer have been sullied by ill-informed remarks by a member of the Federal Government.
Please read this:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jupiter into Leo and first things

Winter cloud, Commonwealth Ave, Canberra

Today was what my mother would call a "red letter day". I got my finances sorted for the next 12 months.

It was one of those "make a phone call to the bank for one reason and end up getting the most helpful person in bank world who offered two suggestions for me and then sorted all the detail".  She was so great I asked to speak to her boss and I told him how fantastic she was/is. Which bank? Yep, that one.

This evening Clancy and I went to Parliament House to hear the first speech of Senator Matthew Canavan. Matt and I have one thing in common: we both worked for Barnaby Joyce. Only one of us is now a Senator.

He gave a great speech. Clancy and I sat with MPs Luke Hartsuyker and Ken O'Dowd and it was really nice to see them. I miss all my Nats. I love Parliament House and all that happens there, all sides.

Jupiter moves into Leo tonight and that means everything changes. Magic, money, mayhem, men, moves, masterful surprises.

I'm having the week off. It's good to have time to process some personal business.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wherefore art thou Romeo?

There are many ways to mark the end of a relationship. After the heartache and the drama of actually separating it is time to get on with separate lives.

For me this has meant remaining friends with A.T. but building a new life for myself. Our children  spend most of their time with me (for the practicality that my place is more convenient to their schools).

When I bought this place 18+ months ago I furnished it with old and new and after a few different furniture layouts we are comfortable and happy. What I wanted was something special, just for me.

And so I bought some beautiful hand-dyed velvet from my friend Lisa Walton who runs an incredible business called Dyed & Gone To Heaven which she started from scratch, initially selling hand-dyed cotton fabric. In more recent years (and in the drama of the past few I cannot remember precisely when) Lisa turned her very talented hands to dyeing velvet. I bought two "fat quarters" from her and used to stroke them and dream about what I would use them for.

I cannot remember when or why I realised she had many other colours for sale but I contacted her and asked her to send me 10 more blocks as I wanted to make a quilt.

So the fabric arrived and some time last year (I think) I cut the fat quarters into quarters and planned my quilt for my Juliet bed.

I rarely use a pattern because I love using blocks of fabric and colour to create a quilt and this was no exception.

Years ago I made a velvet dress to wear to the wedding of my dear friends Karin and Eamonn. I still have the dress - although I need to lose a few more kilos if I want to wear it - but I hadn't counted on the difficulty of sewing velvet together when I planned the quilt.

I hope all my beautiful quilting friends forgive me for not having too many straight lines in this work of art. I would be sewing it for the next 20 years if I was going to get every single corner to line up with another. Instead, the  finished result is now on my bed.

It is a symbol of the love I have for my family, my hope for happiness in our futures and the dream that some day Romeo may appear for more than a fleeting second.

Not that I'm looking in any serious or sensible way. I'm very content with my new life. I love the brain space I have for my artistic pursuits, I love my children, my friends and my ex. AT and I have known each other for 30 years and we will always be in each other's lives.

Last year I had the good fortune to meet a wonderful soul who helped guide me to get my new life in better shape than it was. He saw in me something I hadn't seen for a long time: confidence, strength of mind and a positive attitude. His friendship is a gift and I will always love him although our paths are not parallel at present.

I want to say thank you to all my beautiful friends, those I have known for years and those I've made in more recent times.

My Libran soul sometimes gives too much to others but with this beautiful quilt I have a "security blankie" just for me. Although I expect the cat will think I made it for her.

My grandmother used to talk of her ancestors who arrived in Australia on the First and Third Fleets. They were not convicts, but "seamstresses to the Governor's wife". Hahaha.

No wonder I love to sew and have a naughty side.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Women as role models, women as leaders

Back, left to right: Virginia Haussegger (ABC), Holly Ransom (G20 Youth Summit), Martine Jager (RAMS), Margaret Staib (Airservices Australia), Lucille Halloran (EY); front Helen Zimmermann (Navitas), Lee Kelly (CEDA).

I've been thinking a lot lately about my career and how women have influenced it. Some have helped, others have hindered, there have been many acts of kindness along the way, professional sharing of information and ideas and outright netball bitchiness or worse.

Today I went to a lunch organised by the Committee for Economic Development Australian (ceda) at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Lucille Halloran, managing partner, Canberra/Commonwealth Govt Lead Ernst and Young was the chair and the four brilliant speakers were Martine Jager CEO RAMS, Virginia Haussegger ABC TV News Presenter and Champion of Women, Holly Ransom, G20 Youth Summit Chair and my big brother's boss, Margaret Staib who is CEO of Airservices Australia.

The topic was Influence and Action - driving change in your organisation.

Wow. What a group. It was so good to hear the positive attitudes that these women have and employ in their many roles. They were also woman enough to admit their failings, although as they explained, men rarely do that.

With 3 brothers and no sisters, a penchant for "alpha males", the mother of an Aries boy I am quite comfortable with the male of the species.

It has not been until adulthood that I have really understood female friendships. Oh I had best friends at school, but those experiences are different to what we have as adults.  Now I have the great fortune to have some incredible women in my life. Some of them are Jude, Bridget, Deborah, Linda, Donna and of course my beautiful daughter Bliss. There are other beautiful friends with whom I can share my deepest darkest thoughts. I am truly blessed.

It was a shame we only had two hours today as the discussion and questions and answers could have gone on all day.

I am so glad to be living in a country where even though we may moan about women's representation on boards and at senior levels on management and government, girls and women can do anything they want. There are so many countries where girls cannot even get an education or go to the toilet in safety.

That's not to say let's accept the status quo but with women like those I saw today, that will never happen.

I grew up with a mother telling me I could do anything and be anything. I am glad I am a mother of two and a journalist/communicator. I also love that I am an artist and that I am a loyal and loving friend to my dear friends, female and male.

I have been thwarted along the way, many times, but the older I get more of the real me returns and I know that I have a path to follow. If others want to join me along the way they are welcome. If not, great. They have their own path to follow.

Maybe I sound like a beauty queen, Virginia Haussegger, but I would love world peace. I will do my utmost to ensure those around me are at peace in their lives so that they can go about their business of making their world a better place. The more of us who do that, the better it will be for everyone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Time does fly

More than a month since I posted to this blog. There are a few reasons. One is the amount of stuff  I have gone through in the past four years has drained me somewhat. Oh, lots of good has happened as well, but sometimes the crap outweighs the good

One of the things I have been dealing with over the past few years is a rather serious case of depression. I have learnt how to manage it fairly well and to keep up appearances, but sometimes the quicksand sucks me in and I can barely move.

It is enough to go to work and keep the children fed and life normal enough for them without having to do anything extra, as much as I may love it, like blogging.

Most people don't know I have depression but I've been telling people lately and the response is interesting. Those who I have spoken to are interested to know how I manage it, how I cope when it is bad and what it really feels like.

I have no idea if what I feel is the same as the way anyone else feels. I have no idea if what works for me would work for anyone else. All I know is that the older I get the more I realise this is something I have lived with for a long time.

I've always been really serious. When I was in infants school I missed out on a part in the school nativity pageant as the chief angel (which I was supremely qualified for as my dad was/is an Anglican minister). At the tender age of 6 I was considered to be too serious and not prone to smile. I thought of this many years later when one of my bosses told me I didn't smile enough (true story).

About a year ago I took up painting classes. This has helped me enormously. Even though I have always written for a living and had endless "hobbies" involving craft activities, painting is a whole new level.

This week I did something that surprised even me. Last year I met someone quite fabulous. His and my circumstances don't quite match but he wanted to keep in touch, and so we have for six months. In the past few months I've wondered where it is heading because in my world things are not static. In his world, they are. Good luck to him, but I've cut the tie and am now looking for the next adventure.

I know I can get through this life without being part of a pair (even though the Libran in me screams for a pair-bond) and I know I have achieved many great things for me and my children.

There are plans and dreams that will come true. There are things that will always annoy me. I could list them all but suffice to say, bullying and bullshit are the top two annoyances.

I love calling out people who do both. What the world needs now is honesty, peace and love. The only people who bully and bullshit are the weak and the insecure.

My life motto for me and for everyone is to be authentic.

If you think I'm a raving lunatic, thanks, I'm not. As my little brother tells me I'm formidable, I'll win and my world will be a better place.

Friday, April 25, 2014

We Can Be Royals

Waiting for the Anzac Day March
The Royals
Servicemen and Women
The Turks in the march
The ceremony 
Peter Fitzsimons, PM Tony Abbott and Darren Chester MP
Wills on his way to plant a Lone Pine 

Catherine helps to plant the Lone Pine
If they're good enough for Royal bottoms, these seats are good enough for Miss Bliss and me

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. People in towns, cities and outback places attended Dawn services and morning marches to commemorate the 99th landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli and to remember all those who have died at war.

Miss Bliss and I attended the morning service at the Australian War Memorial to show our respect and to do a spot of Royal watching.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been visiting Canberra this week and while we have seen lots of police on traffic duty it wasn't until today that we finally saw the young Royals.

Here is a selection of photos from the War Memorial. It's days like today that fighting for our freedom ring true. How many nations in the world allow their citizens to attend such dignified occasions with no overt security measures in place. There was the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Third in line to the British throne and assorted others and thousands of ordinary people were invited to be there as well.

Thanks to Emma who handed out Anzac biscuits to everyone on the bus back to our cars. They were the biscuits the Royals rejected.

Hope everyone who could get to an ANZAC ceremony did. Lest We Forget.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Art, art, art

I've set myself a challenge. I'm going to have an art exhibition.

Today I went to see an exhibition by one of Margaret Hadfield's students Andrew Smith.

Andrew painted his first picture six years ago and even though he sold it he knew he needed art lessons so he found Margaret and has been learning from her ever since. For Christmas his daughters gave him an exhibition space so he could have his first show.

What a brilliant idea.

Colour and Light  is on at the M16 Artspace in the Canberra suburb of Griffith until 13 April. Andrew's exhibition is entirely wonderful and he has inspired me to work towards having my own exhibition. I'm gradually developing my style and will work hard to paint some glorious pictures.



M16 Artspace:


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Art and the Birthday Eve

It is the eve of my son's 17th birthday and I was reflecting this morning to my colleagues on his birth.

It was a long and complicated experience, with me being induced because the baby was two weeks overdue. I should have known my baby was going to miss its due date which would have meant I had a Pisces child.  I had made red curtains for the baby's room and bought loads of red clothes.

So I had a headstrong Aries boy born on 4/4/97. The doctor said it would be a good birthdate as I wouldn't forget it. Do mother's often forget their children's birthdays I asked him. Yes, his own mother had.

My lovely boy is still as headstrong as he was on the day he was born and I love him for it.

My latest project in life is a labour of love: my painting classes. I knew after three lessons that I had found where I should be. As the lessons have progressed my skills are improving and the 2.5 hours at class every Saturday is one of my favourite times of the week.

Check out my art here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Send, oops

I am so careful about emails. I always write the email with no one in the address and then when I have reviewed it and edited it, I add the addressee and press send.

And today I wrote to my life coach about a friend and a set of circumstances (that are good and interesting) and pressed send and thought nothing of it.

A couple of hours later I was a bit surprised not to have received a reply from my intended recipient and as I looked for another sent email I realised I'd sent it to the person I was writing about. Hahahahahaha.

My heart skipped a couple of beats and then I called him to say what had happened. I was not surprised a few hours later to read an email that he had deleted it without looking at it.

Now that my friends, is a true friend.

It was actually a really nice email and I wouldn't have minded if he had read it, but probably best that my outpourings to the life coach stay between me and her.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day

One of the great joys of my life is my work. As a journalist I had so many opportunities and met so many people that an everyday existence would never have allowed. Some of the people closest to me are those I have met through work and I love all of them.

After journalism I worked in politics and that was like a condensed version of everything from over-achievement to madness, all with good intentions.

Now I have a lovely job where I get time to think and interact with interesting, dedicated and complex people.

Today, we joined our work neighbours for a morning tea to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Our work neighbours are Catholic Health Australia so they take their Saints days quite seriously. As do we because we get to share in fabulous food and seriously, we take them seriously for the right reasons.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Paint, crochet, think, paint

I've been in a painting frenzy lately. A painting a day. It's the only way to get good at it. My beautiful art teacher Margaret says I would do exceptionally well if I went to art school. I would love to do that. All I need is a steady income stream to allow me to go and study.

If I put my mind to something I usually get it.

Here's some of my creations from this week. The flower paintings are acrylics on canvas and I'm doing one a day for practice, the hexagons are for a rather large rug...I have to make 196. Each takes about 20 minutes.

Third picture is my painting from art class. I've finally learned how to use the watercolour pencils and this is Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta. I went there years ago. I must return now that I can paint.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Aunty Shirley

My beautiful Aunty Shirley died tonight. I have loved that woman for as long as I can remember. She is one of those strong, honest souls who stands like a rock in the lives of her family.

Her death is not unexpected, but that doesn't make it easy.

It's always sad when someone leaves this mortal  coil. At least with my studies of astrology and lessons from my psychic I have a greater depth of understanding about how to react to these life and death events, which happen all the time. Some people use religion to get through. That's fine if that is what you believe.

I believe that no one is dead as long as the living speak their name.

RIP Shirley.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Messages from the Universe

I got through so much work today. It was so productive. But I also got some weird signals from the Universe.

My email pal wasn't in touch, I got an invitation to a celebratory dinner for a former boss, an invitation to attend a Bridal expo and I got a phone message to do a small errand for a friend.

Strange combination of things coming at me. Full moon on Thursday. I'm feeling good.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Weekend, So Far

 My painting (left), Linda's painting (right)
 The view from my brother's spare room
 Crowne Casino celebrates the Year of the Horse
Big brother Ken (right) and his drinking buddy Matt (left). Spunky and a cat lover

Friday night: In Melbourne with brother Ken. Had drinks with his friend Matt and then dinner. Best thing about seeing my big brother is we have so much to say and talk and talk and talk.

Saturday morning I flew back to Canberra, did the food shopping, came home and then went to art class and did my best painting ever. I am totally loving the Year of the Horse, so far. Reconnected with my art friend Linda today. Amazing the people who come into your life.

As for our teacher Margaret she is the totally best teacher ever. She is so encouraging and generous with her knowledge. As I said to her today, art class has changed my life. Love my reset people. Love painting, love the creativity that flows.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cut the stash

Way back when ... a stash referred to illicit drugs. Being a respectable mother of two I know nothing of such things and a stash in today's parlance refers to a large collection of fabrics.

As any good quilter knows, she who has the most fabric wins. I'm sure there are many people with more fabric than me, but I have lots and it has been sitting in my "sewing room" since we moved.

A friend was visiting the other day and said what a wonderful "mess room" it was. Ha! Mess. No way. I know where everything is, well almost, and I have got the rest of the house in order But I haven't done much sewing since we moved here and I have been missing it. So I have designed a quilt and am cutting it out.

Tonight I cut 94 two-inch squares of many different fabrics. These will form the "flowers" in this quilt. I have 67 more squares to cut and then all 400 two-inch squares can be sewn together.

I'm waiting for the weather to cool a little before I resume crocheting the circles for the next granny blanket.

But best of all, art class resumes on Saturday.

In other news I got my hair cut today. My hairdresser reckons I look s*xy. Haha. And all I wanted was to look business-smart. Watch out world.

P.S. Spoke to a couple of really good friends today. Sometimes I wish I was in Sydney so I could see them and others more often than I do. Never mind, all of my lovely friends from elsewhere have a good excuse to visit the nation's capital. Visiting me.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sew say all of us

Some years ago I took up making patchwork quilts. This can  be seen as quite a granny thing to do, but I needed a creative outlet I could follow at home (as my children were young). Turns out I have made beautiful friends through quilting. In recent times life has taken over and I have not had the opportunity to sew as I used to.

Today, I decided that it was indeed time to design and make a new quilt. It's so easy to make something that someone else has made...but why bother? That's like drinking a soy decaf latte...what is the point?

So I chose some fabric from my extensive stash, worked out how many squares I needed to cut and got on with it. I haven't started assembling the quilt...but we have had days and days of 38+ and it was all I could do to get through the day without melting. At least this new project is well underway, with the first 190 blocks cut.

The background squares are light yellow and a green floral, the pink bowl is a small heart print and the rest will be floral prints...making it a bowl of flowers. Then I will add some sequins and stitching. Haven't worked out the border will be become apparent when the quilt is put together.

Friday, January 31, 2014

New year, new experiences

It's the Chinese year of the wooden horse. I've decided to take any and all opportunities that come my way. This evening, after a day of extreme heat and then a thunderstorm, I heard bagpipes on the golf course. The woman playing gestured to me. Turned out to be my friend Colleen who lives near me. We met officially a few months ago when she was walking and I invited her to have a glass of wine (as you do).

Life has been a bit busy since then but it was so wonderful to catch up this evening. We had a bottle of champagne to celebrate each other's successes and the fact that it is Friday.

Talk about a woman after my own heart.

She is learning singing, which is what I have wanted to do for a long time. The singing teacher lives in my block of townhouses.

Colleen, I discovered today, is able to play the bagpipes. Who knew? Not me. She has been playing for 30+ years. The golf course is the perfect place to practice.

Anyway, we caught up, we laughed, we talked, we had champagne. I'm starting to believe that the changes that began five years ago are finally going to pay off.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

In honour of Chantz

I got the terrible news last night that a very dear beautiful woman I have known for more than 20 years died on the weekend.

It was a surprise to her family, friends and colleagues. There was to be an autopsy today.

A sadness has descended. My thoughts are with all those who loved her and I'm going to paint a picture to remember her.

Painting and I discovered each other only last year and I am loving learning different techniques. I'm glad that Chantz got joy out of seeing my creations and was following my progress with a keen eye, according to our mutual friend.

It's just so sad when someone who is only halfway through life dies. God rest her soul. Champagne, incense and candles in her honour tonight.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The bush capital

Royal Narrabundah Golf Course

Canberra is brown. The grass is not greener, it is browner, it is deader. This summer has been awful, although most summers in Canberra are awful. It's why every second person goes to the coast or goes to Europe to ski. It really is an awful climate. Oh four seasons may make wonderful postcards, but most people who live here like autumn. Summer is too hot, autumn is Goldilocks, winter is too cold and we all have hayfever in Spring.

My little patch of garden suffered for the three days I was away and only half the plants have survived. Why don't 16 y o boys understand that their mother's garden needs water?

Never mind. I will buy some more petunias and pansies and I will plant all the bits of geranium I have taken from friends' gardens and my own other garden at Murrumbateman.

School goes back next week. It seems as though the children have been on holidays forever. They haven't, it just seems like it.

Now I'm on holidays and soooooooo tired. It was lovely to go the beach and swim in the ocean. It's also nice to have a few days at home doing nothing much. There's so much to be said for relaxing, especially when we are approaching the new moon. Who knows what surprises are in store?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Too long between swims

I love the ocean. I'm sure it is because I lived at Byron Bay and then Macksville as a child and the beautiful ocean was a place of harmony. I always liked the name "Pacific Ocean" because we were told in the '60s at primary school that Pacific meant calm.

(I notice that when you google the definition of "Pacifiic" "calm" doesn't register! Duped! Haha.

In recent years my trips to the ocean have been infrequent but I've just spent four days and three nights at one of the most beautiful places in Australia, at Bundeena. My lovely friend Linda lives there. Much has happened since our last catch-up. I've become a single parent and she has married a beautiful man. Our daughters are six years apart but love each other to bits. It was so good to see them together. Laughing, dancing, playing.

That's the thing with your true friends. You don't have to speak to each other every day (but it is a bonus if you do) and the conversation takes up where it left off. Linda and I met each other 30 years ago.

My experience at The Newcastle Herald was life-changing. I met AT there and I made some life-long friends, including Linda and the wonderful Riles.

Anyway, I'm distracted by the sunburn I suffered today, despite using 50+ sunscreen made to be lathered on before entering the water. I would have been better off using nothing. I am boiling hot and the colour of a lobster. Lucky I have every potion known to science within reach. Wine helps as well.

Canberra is hot and dry. This summer has been quite brutal. Even my lovely golf course is looking the worse for wear.

Australia Day has been brought to you by the letter "F"

Did you know that pre-1988 no one in Australia gave two hoots about 26 January. Sure, it was the anniversary of the day the First Fleet arrived but there wasn't ever a holiday or bogans parading around draped in Made in China Aussie flags.

By 1988 Australia was considered mature enough to deal with its convict past, and finding a connection to the vagabonds and ragamuffins who arrived in 1788 was a badge of honour. Australia Day has now been merchandised (is that a word , Subs?) and embraced by the populace. There are parties and events and beach cricket matches and barbecues.

For quite a few years we spent Australia Day in Bright because of the Audax Alpine Cycle Classic. But our lives have changed and today Miss B and I were in Bundeena.

One of my most beautiful friends in the world, Linda, has lived here for years and over the years she has let us use her house as our own if she is away, or we all cram in together if she is home.

She has helped me get through the past few years with grace and love.

It was while staying here almost two years ago that I figured out the course of what I had to do to make changes. I feel like I've come to the end of that process now, being back in her "Casbah".

Today started with rain on a tin roof but the sun came out this afternoon. We have been in the sea and on the beach for a couple of hours before going for a walk to see Linda's new house.