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.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why I love Sydney

Smell the roses. Newtown, today.

As a young girl growing up in country NSW I visited Sydney often. My parents had both been born there and grew up there and we spent many holidays there. My life's ambition growing up was to move to Sydney. When I became a cadet journalist with the Nambucca Guardian News my ambition was to work at The Sydney Morning Herald within 10 years.

It took me 8 years. I loved living in Sydney. I've lived at Mosman, Bondi and Chippendale before Andrew and I bought our little semi at Marrickville.

I've spent the past two nights with our friends Lindy and Greg who owned the other half of our semi when we bought it. Their beautiful daughter Milly is my fairy god-daughter and their son Tom is two months younger than Miss B.

I love those children as if they were mine.

Yesterday I spent a few hours roaming the city and ended up at the Opera Bar where I had champagne. It was really crowded but I got a great seat, on the harbour wall. There was a couple standing near me and I offered them a seat. Turned out they had both worked for an ALP Senator and Leo had his toe broken in a touch footy match by Barnaby! What a small world it is.

Today I wandered off to Newtown and went in and out of my favourite shops, buying incense and little gifts for the children. I love the inner west and I would move back there. I love the colour and the people and their green hair and the "vintage" clothing markets and the coffee and everything about it.

But the real reason is this photograph. A bunch of roses for $10 or two for $18. You can't buy fresh roses in Canberra for $10. More like $25 and there is nowhere that does urban grunge quite like Newtown.

Best buy? A scarf with a digital print for the princely sum of $15. A work of art.

I'm hearing Sydney calling me.

My mother was born on 18 January 1933. She would have been 81 today. God rest her soul.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The neon lights are bright on Broadway

Business meeting, Broadway

Once upon a time there was a brewery on one side of Broadway and the Fairfax building was tucked away in Jones Street across the road.

We drank at the workers' pub, The Australian Hotel.

Fairfax has long moved downtown and downsized and is a distant cousin of its former glorious being but Broadway has been made over.

Where the beer was brewed is now a thriving complex of offices, apartments and eateries and in amongst it is a little corner of Cuba. And so I happened to find myself there yesterday evening with some lovely people I know through work.

When in Cuba, you must drink the local brew, which we did and then Jill and I decided that since we had the foreign flavour going we would drinkArgentinian wine.

I had the best couple of hours. We laughed and drank and ate and gossiped and laughed.

Then the most glorious part of my week...staying with my friends Lindy, Greg, Milly and Tom and their poodle Bill. These are my neighbours from Marrickville who are family. I love them so much.

We had to drink more wine and champagne. You must replace the fluids in this summer humidity.

Today, a day off in my favourite city of Sydney. No idea what I'm going to do but that doesn't matter. It's great to be here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Imagine if you could do the splits. Remember when you were young and limber enough to perform such feats of physical fitness?

One of the beauties of having a 13 y o daughter who does dance is that she knows how to exercise properly. Over the holidays she is stretching every day so that she does not lose the abilities she has spent all year gaining and perfecting.

She has written me a little program of yoga-pilates to stretch and tone my wobbly body. If only I could get the arthritic ankle to return to something like normal size. Anti-inflammatories are no match to the summer heatwave we are currently experiencing.

Hopefully if I train sensibly I will too be able to perform such a stretch some time before the end of 2014. All part of the plan to turn into a hippy artist in years to come.

Highlights of today? Coffee with a friend, organising drinks for later in the week with Sydney friends then bubbles and a pizza with another friend.

It's a nice life, if you don't weaken.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is it an EXCEL spreadsheet?

I worked for someone a few years ago and he always wanted Excel spreadsheets. I refused to learn how to use Excel because he was the accountant and I was the journalist. Today on FB he posted this joke:

OMGoodness. I loved my pollies when I worked for them but if they seriously think it is hard to get good staff...I have only one thing to say:talk to the hand.

At least I learned a lot and met some of the most wonderful people I've ever met in my life and made the best of friends.

Speaking of friends, I had a coffee with one today and resumed contact after the Christmas-New Year break with another. I love that I have this circle of professional people around me that expands a little every year. Funny how most of the people in it are men, but they make the business world go around and there are enough of them now to recognise my talents.

I've been imparting my wisdom to my 13 y o daughter, who may I say teaches me as much as I teach her. The world has changed but she and I are so similar. I do hope her path is easier than mine. She deserves that (as do I, but each new generation is meant to have it easier than the last).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Breaking up is hard to do

AT and I have had an unconventional break-up in the sense that we are good friends now, even though we have split. Today, a year to the day after moving out, I went back "home" and cleaned up some more and made our daughter's bedroom a bit tidier than it had been, pruned the garden a little and de-cobwebbed.

A friend came to visit and asked me if I felt strange being there. No, we still own the house and I loved living there. I need to go and prune the garden, which I will do when the weather is cooler. We're into mid 30s for a few days then high 30s.

I knew we had two sets of Scrabble so I brought one home and Miss B and I have had two games. Look at the letters I got....haha...funny as we live in a no s*x house, although I have told a friend of mine that if he comes to stay I will break the rule...and no, he is unknown to just about everyone, but is totally gorgeous. Hahahahahaha.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Painting class

WooHoo. Margaret held a withdrawal painting class today for all of us painting tragics who cannot get through 6 weeks without a class. We got to paint a cave. Well, a seascape, surrounded by a cave. I want to do this again and paint it as Aladdin's Cave.

This time a year ago we were moving and it was 38 degrees.

About to go into another heatwave. Urgh.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Home Sweet Home

A year ago I became a home owner on my own (with the bank). What a huge change in my life and those of the children and their dad. When anyone speaks of 2013 "going so fast" I have to disagree. It was one of the biggest, most difficult years. But we have made it.

We love living here at Royal Narrabundah. It is so serene, especially in the evenings when the only sounds are the birds chirping good night.

I have the best neighbours anyone could ask for and it is great when we meet up for a drink.

Miss B and I have done some rearranging of the house in recent days and there is a little more to do.

Hoping to greet even more guests in this second year in our beautiful place.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mystic Medusa and the Tarot Muse

For years I have been interested in astrology and how it works and influences our lives. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm rebelling against my mother who was a very strong Christian and thought astrology and anything mystical was the work of the devil.

Funny that now one of my best friends is my psychic life coach.

Anyway, I've been following Mystic Medusa and her "out there" scopes for years and for a bit over a year I have been a subscriber, which brings me much delight.

Recently she announced a new section on her website, the Tarot Muse, with cards designed by "genius artist Kathleen Lolley".  Mystic has since decided that Kathleen's works are now going to be used as Vision Cards while the Rider Waite deck will be used for the TarotScopes.

IThat site is still in development, but in December Mystic had a competition with 3 prizes. I was delighted beyond belief to win a  numbered print of Kathleen's She is My Spiritual Animal (still wrapped so I probably haven't done it justice with the photo). It arrived today. Yay. If ever there was a day when good things needed to happen it was today. Lucky for me I also heard from two of my most gorgeous friends.

This new life is hard some days, but I'm getting there and love the support I have around me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blue Sky Days

I love a blue sky day. I've had a few grey sky days lately, but today turned into a blue sky day.

Got my eyes checked. Got to love age as your eyes get fuzzier. But as the eye specialist told me: "It's better than the alternative."

The summer temperatures have dropped a little, but my camellias have withered so this evening I shifted them to a better spot in the garden and gave them more soil. Hopefully they will recover.

On our way to a full moon next week. Always interesting.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Mars day

What a strange day. Really could not get it together. Nigel cooked dinner tonight. Little brother can come stay any time.

I'm not sure where things are going. Planets are realigning, full moon next week. Let's see what happens.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Brothers, daisies and flower children

So lovely to have my beautiful baby brother staying with me. I remember when he was born in Byron Bay and when he came home from hospital I insisted he live in my room. We shared a room for a few years. I've always loved that closeness.

Byron Bay in those days was "The Bay". Nobody went there, except for a few people at Christmas. Paradise.

Tonight he cooked dinner for us. How wonderful is family? I really don't like those dysfunctional families who don't get on, but they exist.

It's so nice to have people around you who know you without any bullsh*t.

Here's a pastel I did yesterday,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

51 Weeks

What do you do when you've lived somewhere for 51 weeks? Rearrange the furniture, of course.

Our living room is where Miss B and I spend most of our time. For the past 11 months the dining table has become the "dump and run" storage site, with books, paintings, perfumes and more being re-arranged when we want to sit and eat.

Well, no more. Inspired by Miss B sorting out the kitchen on Friday I've finally acted on my desire to make some changes. The sewing room was another  "storage" room and that is being rectified.

The lounges and the dining table have been reorganised and I now have a proper storage unit for my painting supplies.

Whenever I look at photos in a "home" magazine I know they have removed all the stuff to make the place look good, but no one lives like that, unless they are a Virgo, or a minimalist.

I need to have my art supplies within easy reach, I love having my boxes of fabric where I can find a particular yellow spot or pink floral in seconds.

As for books. I cannot live without my books.

Here's to our first anniversary in the new house and an awesome year ahead.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Life lessons and kangaroos

I learnt something today. I thought I knew a lot but there is one life lesson I did not know, but I have been made aware so now know the rules of the game.

In other news I painted a picture. In oils. So hard but if you want to be a serious artist you have to paint in oils.

The painting is based on the above picture which I took on one of my walks up Red Hill.

All will be revealed when the grass is finished and the kangaroos are in situ.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Domestic Goddess

 Tidy pantry
Embroidery or cleaning?

I really have an aversion to housework. The bare minimum is too much for me, but I wash the floors and the bathrooms and try to keep some sort of order.

My domestic style is more Margaret Olley than Nigella Lawson and I was looking in the pantry cupboard a couple of days ago and realised it was hopelessly out of control, even though it is quite small. My problem is I would rather paint or sew or embroider or dream...

When I got home today Miss B announced she had done three things. She had cleaned up the kitchen, organised the pots and pans cupboard and sorted the pantry.

Oh my blessed junior domestic princess. She did not inherit the tidy gene from her mother, but today she unpacked the dishwasher and did not stop until the whole kitchen was sorted.

In a week we celebrate our first anniversary living in our new place. I have kept order here better than anywhere before, but my heart belongs to art.

Imagine if I ever want to live with another adult? They will have to accept my artistic ways or be rich enough to employ staff...hahahaha...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Moving a cat

We moved house almost a year ago. The cat moved with us. She is not an entirely happy cat. In the old house she had a cat door so could come and go as she pleased. Now, she must wait for someone to let her out and stay with or at least be outside while she wanders. She has become quite demanding in her requests for going outside and will meow loudly until her wish is granted.

Her favourite time of the day is when I get home from work and let her out. I sit outside for as long as I can and she roams the nearby gardens. One of her favourite spots is sitting on the fence post between No.s 4 and 5. Luckily I know both of my neighbours well.

Now that it is dark, the cat is sitting on my window sill looking out at her backyard playground.

We're all still settling in to this "new" house.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day

It's a new year. Yay. 2014. Anything would be better than 2013. What a year that was. I felt as though I was holding my breath waiting for it to finish....and it has. We are in a new year and in two hours there will be a new moon in Capricorn, which is the real new year, and I could not be happier.

Today I did some painting, some sewing,some angsting, some pfaffing around, just could not settle. It's going to be a big year, I know. I can feel it.

Happy New Year to all.