Sunday, March 12, 2017

Painting

I painted this. It's not for school, it's for sale. Acrylics on canvas, 50cm x 60cm. I love painting. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Showtime

Miss B and I got up today and decided we needed a trip to the country. We went to the Cooma Show, which was quite delightful, and then proceeded to Jindabyne.

It's nice to see different sky and different paddocks as we decompress from what has been in intense 12 months (add about 10 years).


Friday, March 10, 2017

The week

The weeks go by so quickly. With five days of art and seven days of life, another week has gone.

In art we are working on major projects and I've spent two days painting/drawing experimental sky works. My major drawing work has evolved beyond my expectations or plans, from an original idea involving Lake Burley Griffin. Last year I walked the Bridge to Bridge around part of the lake many, many times and took photographs, so there is much material on which to draw (so to speak).

Yesterday I drew in ink and watercolours, sky studies. Today I was cutting those studies up to use as pieces in a collage when my teacher suggested we scan one image and do some magic on Photoshop.

The best thing about this art course is that our subjects are called (Art) Investigation and we are allowed to experiment and "play".

So much has happened outside school this week. The beautiful husband of one of my most gorgeous friends has died, after a short but terrible illness. Today I learned off the death of a former colleague.
Two of my brothers stayed last night. The young people in my life are making grand plans for their futures. It is a joy and privilege to be in the lives of all these people.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

On the bus

Four days a week I catch the bus to school. It goes from around the corner to my school and I figure it's good to get out and about with the real people after years of driving everywhere. It also gets me walking again, after a sprained ankle late last year stopped me in my tracks.

Canberra is such a small place that if I catch the same bus every morning I get the same driver, and the same thing happens in the afternoon. The afternoon driver should really get an award for friendliness. He greets every passenger and farewells them when they leave. Yesterday, he helped an older passenger by lifting her walker off the bus and then arranged her shopping bags.

"See you next time," he said as he hopped back aboard the bus.

I use bus time to think and to take photographs that I will incorporate into one of my art projects this year.

This is the view towards Parliament Houses, old and new, as we cross Anzac Parade.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Downtown Downton

Miss B has been asking me to watch Downton Abbey with her for ages. I finally relented a couple of weeks ago and we are still bingeing. Now up to Season 5 ... some of it I love and other parts of it I find sad and mean and bullying ... but I like that we are spending the time watching it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The daily blog

It seemed like a good idea to blog every day this year. Now, I'm not so sure. I am studying art full-time and while I have plenty to say, I'm not sure that it needs to be said.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This single life

People are going gaga over this piece from a dying woman about how someone out there may want to marry her husband once she's dead.

I expect she means well but why does he have to be married to anyone else? What's wrong with being a widow/widower/divorcee/an ex?

I bumped into someone yesterday who I hadn't seen for a few years. Turns out she is divorced and was alone for eight months before she found a new man. "You have to move on," she told me.

Yep, you do, and I have happily moved on to the single life and have no wish to share domestic duties with anyone.

Maybe I'm the strange one, but I had lunch last year with a long-time friend who is a few months younger than me. After being married and divorced and a couple of attempts at relationships, she's decided being single suits her just fine.

Another friend who is divorced says she wants to be neither a nurse or a purse.

I love men, some of my closest friends are men, I have a father, three brothers and a son. I hope everyone with a partner is happy or at least content. There are plenty of us who are single and happy.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Oh my Lordy

I hate neighbours who have parties and play shit music and think they are better than anyone else. I really hate that.

Last night I was sitting quietly when a friend alerted me to spots and stripes. I have moved on from these creatures who need help in evolving, but they never will.

I will have to go outside and tell the stupid neighbours to shut the F up and put themselves and their dumb brains to bed. Arrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh, I used to do this 20 years ago in Sydney. Why do I have to still do it?

Friday, March 3, 2017

End of the week

We've begun work on our major drawing project for this semester and I played with backgrounds today. It's so intense doing art every day but my fellow students are a continuing source of inspiration and our teachers are supportive and informative and wonderful.

I'm attempting to portray lake water and tried four different approaches today. This is the one that leads the field.



I have two friends going through the hardest and harshest of life's ordeals at the present. I wish them all the love in the world and the universe.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Incredulous

David Speers has just announced that he is interviewing a certain politician who has now become the "fixer" of the Coalition Government. Having worked in Parliament House for some time and watched proceedings in there and from there intently over a few decades, I have to say I am incredulous.

Now that I mix with real people, I get to ask them if they are interested in what politicians are doing or saying. That would be a "No" from them.

I was the reality checker for a number of politicians. I am no longer working for any of them. There's only so much "reality" they can take.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Art

Spent today designing and making a wall sculpture relief that is an assignment for one of the units I am studying. When it is finished it will adorn the outside wall. I've made it complicated so that it covers many aspects of the study unit.

Such fun meeting new challenges every day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday

Gave a talk at school.

Painted a self-portrait.

Cooked a new dish for dinner.

The Downton fest continued.

Monday, February 27, 2017

1/6th

Can you even imagine that tomorrow marks the end of the first sixth of 2017? How quickly does time fly?

It's good to have a new routine.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday drive

Went for a Sunday drive today. Remember when that was a thing? You got in the car and went for a drive, with no real destination in mind.

We chose to head south and would have motored further than Bredbo except we saw the sign "Crepes and Pancakes". So there was driving and afternoon tea. An excellent adventure.

More Downton tonight. We've managed to watch two seasons in a week. This reminds me of the days of binge watching Melrose Place when I had to review the program for The Guide and we would get a video tape of four or five episodes. I had soooooo many friends in the newsroom in those days. Haha, good times.

Now, of course, everything is available on whatever streaming service you subscribe to or wherever you get your internet fix. I'm one of the old-fashioned ones who will pay for stuff over the internet. People need to earn a living and with the number of jobs declining rapidly, every little bit helps.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sold

Art has been a constant presence in my life, from my young childhood where my mother would paint scenes on the beaches of Byron Bay while we played and swam around her, to my art studies at school and all the many art adventures in between.
I've bought a painting from an artist on the street in Port Moresby, have a Chinese silk work that belonged to my grandmother and the painting of pelicans I bought for our first house hangs in my living room. Beautiful works by ex-Fairfax colleagues remind me of them and those glory days of journalism in the 1990s and early 00s.

To be studying art full-time is a luxury but it also has a purpose as I move from one career to another, or at least expand the one I had by communicating through art as well as words.

Today I sold this work to a beautiful friend who has supported my work by commissioning three paintings. It is a joy to paint anyway and such a joy to be able to add colour and light to someone else's world.




Friday, February 24, 2017

Art

Five days a week of art is a luxury and today we did some abstract art. Everyone in the class did beautiful fluid lines and I did this space/sound waves/new planet piece.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday

One of the joys of my new life is the lack of time for media of all types: main, hysterical and social. Gosh you can waste a lot of time of stuff that you think is important but really doesn't matter when you consider the serious stuff of life.

Yes, we all need to know what is going on in the world and I've always been more than well-informed, but lately I realise that there is so much out of our control or even our orbit and why sully our emotions with the angst of it?

The sun will shine every day, there will be d*ckheads who think they are in the charge, there will be bullies ... and on the other side of the ledger are the beautiful people who add a little zing and sparkle to our days.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Downton Abbey Fest

There is a festival of Downton Abbey at our place and everyone is involved.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bus photos

My school is on a bus ride from my place so the obvious way to get there is by bus. Using public transport is not so common in Canberra. Most people drive everywhere and complain if it takes them more than 10 minutes to get to their destination.

There's a bit not to like about the bus, but I do enjoy the time spent picking people up on the morning run and dropping them at their various schools and workplaces. My bus stops at some fancy Govt departments, including ASIO, and stops across the road from school.

To mark the year of catching the bus to school I'm photographing various highlights. It will be interesting to watch the seasons change. We had our first taste of Autumn today with a beautiful cool morning. This is us crossing Lake Burley Griffin on Kings Ave.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Reconfiguring things

It was the Goldilocks bed that did it. Miss B and I were at the local bed shop testing out mattresses for the spare room, when we chanced upon one that was so-o-o-o-o-o-o comfortable. And the shop was having a sale where you paid the price of the smaller size mattress and got the one you wanted.

And so we thought wouldn't it be great for me to get a new bed (mine is 4 years old and there is nothing at all wrong with it, apart from taking up my entire room). So I'm downsizing and one bed is going into the spare room and my bed goes into the other bedroom.

It's a win-win-win, although I suspect the spare bed will be so inviting no guest will ever want to leave. Now taking bookings for #CBR excursions ...

All my sewing and painting stuff has to find new places as you cannot have a sewing room and a third bedroom. It's been a mammoth task and one that has taken far longer than it should have, mainly because there is so much emotion caught up with all our stuff.

"Does it bring me joy?" is the question that is asked, and unfortunately, most of the stuff that is left does bring me joy ... so perhaps I need to ask another question.

In other big news I'm about to begin crocheting a new rug. Different design than I've ever made, but one to keep me warm on these cool Canberra nights that will be here before we know it.

 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some days

I get sad some days. I've had a great day. Worked at the shop, sold lots of stuff, faffed about this afternoon, had a nice dinner, but then something will remind me of something else and I think: "What the hell?"

I'm sitting outside, reading a great book, having a lovely quiet time, but it's not what should be happening. This is not how it is meant to be. Everything will be OK but by goodness, it's time for the good times to begin.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What price a civilised society?

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that not everyone in society is equal and sometimes people need a bit of help to get back on their feet, study to improve their chances of employment/starting a business or time to be treated for an illness?

Politics in Australia is particularly ugly as Katharine Murphy so eloquently writes for The Guardian but what struck me this week was people without children complaining that they are "subsidising" the childcare rebate of those with children.

Well yes, without children, there will be no taxpayers of the future. Parents who work are not abandoning their children but attempting to remain taxpayers for as long as possible. I took the decision years ago to work part-time/freelance while the father of my children worked full-time. It suited our family at the time. Now, I'm stuffed. We are no longer together and my career does not exist, for myriad reasons. I'm attempting to build a new career and am determined to do so, but sometimes for a minute or five I wonder if it just a folly. Then I remember there is no time for folly. There is only time to put my head down and attempt to build a new career by studying and working hard at those studies.

If I had not received childcare rebate all those years ago I still would have worked, but having a bit of money given back meant work was more accessible and I could do more of it and pay more tax. For the past 16 months I have been living on quite a restricted income. I am now studying. I am ineligible for any type of government assistance, despite having little income. (Please don't tell me that something must be available ... you actually have to be out on your arse to receive any assistance from this govt). I don't think anyone should receive any form of assistance that they are not entitled to, but I have been a taxpayer for many, many years. I'm not a leaner. I've always worked hard.

There is no gold travel pass for me. And now politicians on their generous salaries and ex-politicians after their generous salaries have to buy their own airline tickets. Welcome to the real world. This is the world where people catch planes in the middle of the night or at strange times, with long stopovers, so they can meet with loved ones, attend important family events, including births and deaths.

Most people don't get to sit up the pointy end of the plane, with drinks in the rarefied air of the Chairman's Lounge in between flights.  Hell, most people don't even travel by plane because it is beyond their weekly budget. Nor do they get a public forum in which to vent their privileged fury.

When I grew up, Australia offered much promise for its citizens. There were jobs aplenty and houses were affordable. You could start a business, work for someone else, take a bit of time to start a family. Now, not so much. I worked in politics for a few short years. I have few regrets in life, but that is one of them. I thought it would be good to make a difference for people, to help those who needed it. It's not my lived experience. Staff are sucked up, used up, discarded.

Someone I know has been forced from their job in recent weeks. They worked amazingly hard and did incredible work but lesser personalities demanded an end to that role.

And then there are the politicians, behaving like loons. Trump takes the cake but there are many Australian politicians who if they took a good look at themselves would/should be frightened of the character staring back at them. The scary thing is that so many people are not interested in their carry-on. They are too busy trying to get the money together to put a roof over their head and food on the table.

We were the lucky country. We certainly are not any more.

Where does this thing go? What's next? It's too simple to blame "social media" and the "24/7" news cycle. People have to accept that they are members of society. We need to work together to create a better world for all of us. Be nice, be kind, take a long hard look at yourself and if you are a dickhead, stop being a dickhead. If you are a politician, stop being selfish and remember why you wanted to represent the public. When I ask my politician friends and acquaintances, the most common response is" "To make a difference." Well, go ahead, make a difference. Don't be a dickhead. Be kind, be nice, look beyond tomorrow's headlines. Heck, look to the future. Our children and the generations to follow are counting on it.



Thursday, February 16, 2017

The new routine

Exercise in inks

Settling in to the new routine after two weeks and one of the joys is not having the time or inclination to follow what is happening hour by hour in politics, Australian or Trumpian.

What a load of bollocks it all is. I've just watched Julie Bishop being interviewed by David Speers. I love Speersy but Bishop advocating for the re-election of the WA Barnett Govt left me cold. I didn't hear one good argument. Then she said something about getting the budget out of deficit and living within our means and I realised she has no idea about the people who have no job and no Centrelink entitlements and no housing security and Federal politicians are being paid a minimum of about $200K a year ... and need I go on?

I'm loving my art studies but there isn't enough money for new brushes or new batteries for the clocks in the classrooms.

There's a lovely mix of students from school leavers to escapees from horror career conditions to mature folk trying to set themselves up for a new life and career. The teachers are so supportive and it is a luxury to do art five days a week. No wonder I had to go through all that shit in recent years ... now is the time for the reward.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Practical magic

At school we have to learn Workplace Safety but instead of watching boring videos we get to do stuff.

We have learnt how to use equipment safely in the workshop by making a pencil box. It involved hammering and glueing. I finished building mine today by adding a lovely wooden leaf that I cut with a scroll saw (paint to follow). I really need a workshop/shed.

We also completed our screen printing task. My work apron has some lovely pink ink on a black background. Now I get to turn this pristine apron into a working piece of clothing and cover it with whatever substances we use all year in our art. What a joy and a luxury to be studying art and doing art every day.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How does your garden grow?

One of the joys of life is gardening but when you have a plot the size of two postage stamps there is little room for crops or too many plants.

I put two tomato plants in a pot weeks ago and they are just now bearing fruit. Last night we had fresh basil from the garden on our pasta.

The recent heat could have knocked the garden about, but with judicious watering it is looking OK, considering the crazy hot temperatures we have had.

In my next house there will be a large garden and an art studio and everything will be on one level instead of four.

In other house news the walls of the "spare" bedroom have received the second coat of paint. Now to move furniture and find a place for the fabric and art projects ...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cure for all ills

Down in the dumps about Trump? Got a cold heart about Australian politics? Do yourself a favour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdxj5U_ilvs

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hearts and minds

Went for a drive today to visit someone in hospital. It was nice to get out of Canberra, circumstances notwithstanding.

One of the best things on the way home is that the heat relented. There was fog and clouds and a few drops of rain and now it is half the temperature it was this morning. Some days you need to see sky and at least driving through the countryside within a couple of hours of home gives great sky views.

Drove home the back way and bought some beautiful flowers from a roadside stall. Turns out the stall is out the front of a flower farm. I've driven past it a few times lately. From now on I will stop. Beautiful bunches from $10.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

The heat, the unrelenting heat

Funny how the heat warps your brain and your body. We're all carrying on as if it has never been hot before, but it has.

This summer has been particularly hot, mostly because the past two summers were wet and mild, so we are noticing the heat.

Four years and a month ago when we moved house, it was 38 degrees. In the first summer after we moved from Sydney (2003), Canberra experienced terrible bushfires. Then we moved to Murrumbateman and lived through seven years of drought. We would cool off with a swim at a friend's pool or the beautiful Yass Olympic Pool and after a few years we installed aircon so we could at least have the lounge room to chill in.

Today and yesterday it was 41. Too hot for normal activity, but you can get by if you sit still with your feet in a bucket of cold water and/or a wet scarf around your neck.

It would be fancy to have air-conditioning but this house is split over four levels and I have no idea how to cool it, apart from using blinds and fans.

So Puss and I are outside, the garden has been watered about six times to help cool us and it, and I've had a beer and a delicious apple cider, so at least I'm keeping up the fluids.

In other fun news, there is a full moon tonight. Hahahahahahaha





Friday, February 10, 2017

Wherever it leads

Week one of art and I've enjoyed it immensely. It is a luxury to be able to practice/learn art five days a week. It's nice to have the time to think and explore and see wherever it leads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hot and bothered

Sorry to go on about the weather because it is summer and it is meant to be hot but tomorrow and Saturday it's going to be 41 degrees and that's just too, too, sooooooooooo hot.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Today in politics

The Trumpster continues to Trump, the Trumble apparently Trumbled. A South Australian Senator elected to represent one party has gone rogue, but from the little I have seen and read, talks in nonsense slogans and seems to have an over-abiding interest in stopping people going about their lives unless it fits his narrow Catholic view. Would the Libs be letting him to this to counteract the Redhead?

Is that too cynical?

From where I am, busy studying art, there is little time to watch the commentators and the actual events of politics, and after years of doing both, it's entirely refreshing.

There are a few good eggs in Parliament and the rest are there to feather their nests, not ours.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Banana Bread

I've just whipped up a loaf of my famous Banana Bread. This one contains pear and strawberries.


This whole return to baking was prompted over summer by the bananas that turn from greenish/yellow to brown within days of being bought.

Bananas never ripened so quickly when I was a child and we would be given a whole bunch by one of the local growers.

Now I only have to wait a couple of days for the bananas to be ready for baking.

Cooking can be quite a chore but at least when you do it yourself, you know exactly what you are eating.

All this art and baking and I could turn into a hippy.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Something for myself



My new life began today. I'm studying art full-time.

I'm not going to post about it much until I figure out where it's taking me, but it felt good today.

Nice to do something for me.

If you have a dream, follow it.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Paint a wall

I painted a wall this morning. Two walls. The walls that held the built-in desks which were ripped out last week, leaving an enormous gaping hole that should not have been there. The Handyman and I were surprised to see the hole that someone had obviously cut into the wall but he did quite an amazing job filling it and all the other bits where the desks had been attached.

I offered to paint the wall and so I have and it needs another coat and then it's good to go.

The walls are a really boring colour and the whole interior is painted the same colour. Doesn't matter because my furniture and paintings add the colour. Too much really.

The kitchen is the next room for reinvention. With the floating shelves gone, there is so much more space. I've mastered the Tradies' Bog and have filled in the holes from the floating shelves (the Dodgy Brothers did all the work on this place before I bought it). A bit of tidying up, sanding, priming and painting and that will be done.

Today was another scorcher. Apparently next Saturday it will be 41 ...


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Thank you for your service

Last year someone in my family joined the ADF. Now, everywhere I go, I meet people who are in or have served in the ADF. It's like a giant family and I love it.

Today after working in my friend's shop I went to the birthday party of a gorgeous two-year-old. I don't really know him but I know his mum really well and his dad. What a gorgeous boy he is. He had big boys to play with and while the adults talked and laughed and ate, the boys played and kept each other amused. It was great meeting new people and talking with them about their passions.

It was quite a delight.

I was meant to come home and paint two walls but didn't. That can wait until tomorrow.

Did I mention there was sugar? I eat a bit of chocolate and drink a bit of wine but I rarely eat lollies or cake. Today there were lollies, which I did not eat, and cake (which had to be eaten because it was a birthday party). Sugar rush.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Live like a woman

It's been a huge week at the Paris Apple Hotel. We have had a wonderful tradesman in to do some serious work which I am finishing off with painting. Oh and I may have been using Tradies' Bog to fill in some holes in the kitchen after I removed the most revoltingly ugly floating shelves. Let me tell you, if you are ever inclined to install floating shelves, go outside, take a hard right turn and throw yourself on the ground. Or drink a bottle of whisky, or something. Just do something else.

The rearrangement of the house continues and today I painted primer in readiness for the real paint. So then I painted pictures, like I haven't done for weeks, but fell into an immediate state of Zen. There's plenty of time for that this year ... for now, this house has to be organised.

And so I had to go to Bunnings and buy a sander, because I needed a sander and I had a Bunnings gift card, and I already own the drill and the two batteries and apparently I can buy another 50 power tools ...

Before that I went to the tip and got rid of crap. Why do we hang on to stuff that doesn't work, isn't needed, takes up space? Who knows, but now it is gone. For $13. Best money I've ever spent.

Trump? He's Donalded. Fark. What a catastrophe. How long until he is removed from the Oval Office?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The world has gone mad

Beyonce is having twins

Trump cut short his call with Turnbull

I'm decluttering my house


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Women in the Federal Parliament

Went to Parli House today on a secret assignment, but I had a few minutes to spare so went to my favourite exhibit: Women in the Federal Parliament.

There is a photo and some information about every woman who has been elected to Australia's Parliament since Federation.

I worked in Parliament House for years and this was always my favourite place in the building. The one that brought me joy. There are not enough women in Parliament, there are not enough women in leadership roles, there are women being killed by their spiteful exes, there are women and girls subjected to other people's beliefs - the new NSW Minister for Women is "pro-life" - give me a farking break. Who gets to carry the foetus, give birth, do most of the parenting and run the household? Women.

I'm not a man hater, I love men, but give them half a choice and they adopt the hunter/gatherer/breadwinner role with glee. Because that frees them up from domestic drudgery and negotiating with children and keeping everything in order and the world ticking over.

I'm a bit fired up for personal reasons and also because of the old white fogeys who have taken over the White House.

It's 2017 for Farks sake. When will it ever be that people can be thought of as people, without needing to be squashed down by others?

I grew up as the daughter of an Anglican minister. Let me tell you religious bigotry was alive, well, thriving and kicking in 1970s Australia.

People of no faith hate religion and sometimes people of faith use their religion to persecute and exclude others. None of it makes sense.

What's wrong with getting along, treating others as you would like to be treated and saving your religious views to church, especially if you are running for or occupying political office?

Let's make humanity better, let's preserve our little blue dot, let's be our best selves.

It's worth a try.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Who is in charge?

Worried about Trump? Don't be. He's not really in charge. You'd think though that the good citizens of the USA would have made sure such a tyrant was not elected. But that's what you get for living in a real-life episode of The Truman Show.

It's quite like a giant car wreck isn't it? Two weeks ago the world was as it should be and now we have the carrot top signing executive orders and berating members of the press and sacking officials. Imagine working for him. I've seen people in offices behave like him, but on a smaller scale.

Behaviour like his leaves people dumbfounded. The victims are incredulous that anyone with such a personality can get to any level of managing others and disbelieving that someone can actually wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror and declare that they will go out and wreak havoc on people who are actually there trying to work with them.

I'm not sure how this is going to end, but there will be carnage and broken bodies and minds left strewn in ruins, like the contents of a giant pinata. Only this is not a lolly folly. It's the future of the world.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Does it bring me joy, Part 2

The culling continues. It has shifted from the material objects to the human. I've just unfriended a whole bunch of people on FB. I doubt any of them will care.

Why do we make electronic connections with people we knew in person years ago? Is it to feel a part of something, a group that exists now only in the wisps of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but not in real life like it may have once upon a time. If you have nothing but a few FB posts a year in common, you really do not need to be "friends", because you are not.

The youngest began her Year 11 adventure today. For the first time in her life she can WALK TO SCHOOL. She needs a computer and it should have been bought weeks ago but it wasn't so we did the trawl to the fruit shop and the mega store (neither of which had what she wanted, the fruit store had s**t customer service, the mega store tried to help) and then I remembered the other megastore. We arrived late in the day, flustered, tired, in need of a solution.

Chris helped us. He was so pumped about helping us that I bought a laptop for the youngest and a printer for home and a little thing that is now required for laptops and USBs to talk to each other. It was all over within about 15 minutes. Given that we had previously expended two hours of precious energy on a 38-degree-Celsius day on trying to buy what we eventually bought, it was a good outcome. But where the hell is customer service?

I help out in a friend's shop and my motto is the "the customer is always right". My job is to help people spend money, so I will engage in conversation, advise them on products and listen to their stories. I expect the same service, but it is not always forthcoming.

We're almost one month in to 2017. Trump is outrageous and we should be in fear.

PS: The printer has ink tanks. None of this cartridge business. One printer company has listened to customer complaints. Well done.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

All by myself

The youngest teenager has been at the beach for the past few nights and the oldest teenager is back at work so it's me and the cat at home.

I don't mind spending time by myself, I've been doing a fair bit of it lately. But in the interests of human interaction I thought it best if I left the premises today and went to the mart of the 11th letter and bought some stuff. At least I could have an inane conversation with the checkout person about the weather.

But no. There is no checkout person. The store is entirely "self serve". On this same outing I filled up the car with petrol and the only exchange with the checkout person was to confirm the number of the bowser I had used.

What has happened to us? All the jobs that used to exist have been automated, we have to do the tasks ourselves and there is no or little human interaction.

Australia has some real social problems developing yet we have senior politicians telling people to move to the regions if they want to buy a house. I grew up in the regions and they are farked for services and employment opportunities. I live in Australia's capital city and it's farked for anyone over 50 looking for a job. Trust me.

I saw on Twitter today that there were still tickets to the Women's Final at the Australian Open which is currently being  played  dragged out on the telly. The international tennis press wondered why there were still tickets available on the afternoon of the match. I checked, tickets were priced from $199.00.

Who has a spare $199, whoever is playing in the final? The rich and the employed do and the pollies probably get their tickets donated by a rich benefactor because they always talk business at sporting events don't they?

As the workforce shrinks, people are confined to quarters and have little money to participate in events that require an admittance fee. In the past few years I have attended sporting and musical performances that can be counted on one hand, because there is no excess income to buy tickets. Food and shelter come first.

And as for Trump. Someone seriously needs to pull that man aside and tell him he is acting like a despot. I bet our PM won't in his morning phone call tomorrow. If he had any balls he would.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's so hot, I blame Trump

This summer has been too hot. It's over 30 degrees every day and this weekend we're going for gold with 36 tomorrow and I think 39 on Monday.

I've been at home in front of a fan for most of the week but I had some chores to attend to today. Amazing how much running around you have to do for two teenagers when they are not even home.

I also took the opportunity to get a few items of clothing on sale. Buying clothes is incredibly difficult. Everything is made for short people. I suppose it saves on the cost of fabric.

I succumbed last week and bought a pant that is about 3/4 length. I've always thought it looks as though my clothes shrank, but these are nice and I wore them today.

I felt sick when I got home. It could have been a case of Trumpitis but I lay down under a fan and felt better after a while. It's the heat. It's unrelenting.

Oh for a house near a beach and a southerly most afternoons.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

M8

Happy Straya Day Mate. It would be unAustralian not to drink this beer, so I'm drinking it. Hopefully it will reduce my core temperature a few degrees.

I have mixed feelings about Australia Day. It was never "celebrated" when I was a youngster and the date changed so that the "day" fell on the Monday allowing for a public holiday. The Bicentennial fervour in 1988 sparked something and before we knew it, supermarkets were selling cheap "Aussie" merch and everyone was expected to wrap themselves in a Lamington cape and have a barbie.

It marks the day the First Fleet set foot on this land. It marked the start of the brutalisation of the Indigenous people and it's no wonder there are calls for "Australia Day" to be celebrated on any other day but this one.

My Grandmother spoke of her ancestors who arrived on the First and Third Fleets and I really must do some research and find out about them. She never said much because in her lifetime it was not cool to have had convict ancestors. Now, of course, it's great, mate.

Lucky I didn't need to have anyone around me today because I've been at home all day, sorting out my fabric stash. For those of you who do not quilt, a fabric stash is a most important requirement. There are a few rules. You may use any or all of your stash, but you must keep adding to it.

Mine was stored in plastic boxes and I'm sick of the sight of them, so I've sorted by colour and placed them all in "project bags". The reconfiguration of the house is continuing but it is so damned hot, I've stopped for today.

Old Mate, in case you are wondering, is the name we give everyone who is a dickhead. It's nicer than calling people "dickhead". The beer, Old Mate, is made by Moon Dog Craft Brewery and is a delicious Pale Ale, so the brewers obviously have a different interpretation of "Old Mate" than this family.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This is me



This is me, at half the age I am now. What a stunner I was. What a stunner I still am. The nice man at the house of Dan this evening swiped five bottles of wine and gave me the sixth for free, because he was so dazzled and kept wanting to talk, even though there was a queue. He was quite nice, I may have to go back there. If only for the wine ...

The house rearrangement is coming along tickety-boo and is how I found this photograph of the young me. 

I've figured out in my head where everything is moving to, it's just a matter of making it happen. I took myself off to the Swedish house today to get more storage boxes, but these are for the sheets and towels. This house has no linen cupboard and there is a certain amount of linen you need to have so that your house actually functions, so the linen has a new home (instead of being piled up here and there) and the fabric stash will be moved from the "sewing room".

My Marrickville days, with so many beautiful nationalities living side by side, taught me that a huge house clean before the Chinese New Year is a good thing. No one built any walls there to keep people out. It was more like open the gates and let everyone in. Isn't the DJT presidency turning into a fustercluck early? The wall!

Bring on the Year of the Rooster. Previous Rooster years for me have centred around school and work and beginnings. That makes sense. I'm about to begin a whole new phase of my life. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Does it bring you joy?

It's been hard sometimes to know what brings me joy over the upheavals of recent years but I am now well on the way to my new life and a big part of this means decluttering.

A couple of my neighbours have the minimalist furnishing style down pat and I'm inspired every time I visit.

In the past few months many books and items of clothing have been donated to charity. There is more to go but now I'm at the pointy end of the house witchery. Three rooms are having a total makeover and that means furniture has to go. The "sewing room" is reverting to its proper role as a bedroom, but this means all the stuff that has been piled up in there has to either find a new place or go, and much of it will go. The fabric stash will remain, but old paintings and books and a whole load of stuff are going.

Trying to find somewhere to donate furniture is proving difficult but the Universe will deliver a solution, the way it always does.

As part of the reconfiguration I moved the piano today. My beautiful piano that sits neglected because I think I'm not a good enough player. It's stupid because if I played more, I'd be a better piano player.

Anyway, it was stinking hot, again, and I sweated about 10L of sweat so a beer from my favourite brewer was just reward for a fair effort. See, Canberra isn't all politicians and bluster. There's beer as well. And a beer on a hot day is a joyful thing.






Monday, January 23, 2017

Two steps forward, 100 steps back

The great state of New South Wales has a new Premier, Gladys Berejiklian. Go Gladys. A woman Premier, the second in NSW.

We all gain something when another crack appears in the glass dome.

And then we go to the supermarket to stock up on food and drink and possibly a lunchbox as I am going to "school" this year.

These lunchboxes were clearly marked so the wrong gender did not get confused over which was the appropriate choice.

I may have bought the "girl" bag if had been more pinkly.

             

Sunday, January 22, 2017

#WomensMarch


David Rowe, Australian Financial Review


I thought, for about five minutes, about marching in the local event yesterday. Then I thought surely in 2017 women do not need to march to highlight basic human rights? Haven't we come a long way since the days when women were paid less and didn't have access to birth control and had to stay in a terrible relationship because they had nowhere else to go or no means of support?

So I blithely drove off to see the sea and returned home to watch tennis. Then today I saw the amazing turnout in many cities, but most particularly in Washington DC and Los Angeles. Because women do not have the same basic human rights as men and a man who has been elected as President of the United States is probably going to take away some of what they have.

In recent months I have met two women who are trailblazers for women in the ADF. They are the "firsts" in their fields and I am stunned by their achievements. I'm also impressed with the young men who work with them and treat them as equals. So yes, there are still opportunities for firsts, but we should not be regressing 100 years.

Donald Trump campaigned to make America great again and I think he may have done so on his second day. His visit to CIA HQ and the press briefing conducted by Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary and Communications Director, on the size of President's penis inauguration crowd were sights to behold. Trump casually throwing it out there in front of a memorial wall to CIA agents who had given their lives in service to their country that the US may well go to war in Iraq and then Spicer's blatant lies about the size of the crowd to the White House Press Corps. Enough disinformation to feed the frenzy of "fake news" so they will be quoted by supporters/media/and others for a few hours or days.

What a fiasco the US and the World has got itself into. How did someone like DJT become president? People watch reality TV and think they have real power. You have to admire him for having the smarts to take advantage of the times and get himself elected to power as if he was still hosting The Apprentice but it leaves all of us poorer on a social and political level.

In Australia, there are a few politicians who think if they jump on the Trump bandwagon they will win the highest office in various states or nationally.

That's a really simplistic reaction to what has turned out to be a very poor government with Malcolm Turnbull in the role of PM. Picking on the sick and poor is never a good way to take the population with you.

We are all members of what should be a civil society but sometimes stuff happens that makes you question that.

Maybe the world needed Trump. Maybe we all need to collectively get off our bums and be involved in the democratic process, at least those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy, apart from showing up and voting. Couldn't hurt.

During the working-with-politicians phase a few years ago I would tell as many people as possible how they could effectively engage with policy and parliament. Everything from petitions to writing to local MPs and Senators to making submissions to parliamentary inquiries. I was surprised how many people were unaware of these opportunities. But I guess you have little dissent if you don't invite it.

I used to have my political views on FB as "stand and be counted". Let's do this.

Yes we can.






Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inauguration Day


All over the Internet people have been losing their shit over Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the USA.

Today, I wore my Presidential shirt, which has now lived through three Presidents, and went for a long drive to see the sea.

We are currently reorganising the house and I needed to get away for a few hours to plan the next week's activities and work out a timetable of removing, moving and replacing. I even happened to find an art gallery by the sea to visit.

The sea was angry today, roiling and smashing and keeping most sensible people on the sand. Maybe it felt like it had been Trumped.

I've signed up to the Obama Foundation and Barack sent me an email today. It really is going to be OK. Trump is an old man, his ideas are old. There are plenty of people to hold him to account. We were all going to die of a nuclear holocaust in the 1980s and it didn't happen. I don't think it will happen now. I think many people will be terrified and upset and angry, but if my shirt can outlive three presidential incumbents, there's hope for the world.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The 45th President

Overnight (Australian time) Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Whatever happens in the US is reported in Australia endlessly, breathlessly, sometimes with thought. I thought Donald Trump would win the election, for many reasons. Some of them included that he was a reality TV star and any nation that can make Kim K a "star" for doing nothing but appearing in sex tapes and posting nude selfies and marrying Kanye, deserves to have someone like Trump as president.

So they will and the rest of the world will watch in a wave of horror, incredulity, anger and disbelief.

We all need to adopt coping mechanisms to get us through the next four years. One of mine is a subscription to Alien Side Boob, by the amazing John Birmingham. For less than the price of a coffee, JB draws together terrible thoughts and smart retorts and pulls the scab off the political week.

He has a lot of material to work with.

There are two emails a week. He's writing about our leaders. Here's an extract for you:

The imperial bellends who actually reign over you did much worse things this week than pathetically bigging up their sixth degree of separation from Baron von Clownstick. They moved to widen the search for people who didn’t owe them any money from the mentally handicapped and unemployed to the nation’s millions of pensioners. Why? Because those greedy old fuckers have been living the honkey rich life on the premium tins of dog food and store brand colostomy bags at Aldi while our poor and hungry fucking trough monsters in Canberra have had to travel business class to each other’s wedding and polo orgies.
Business class!

Go here:  https://gumroad.com/l/aliensideboob

I don't subscribe to much but I think this will get me through the Conflagration of Trump.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Flat packs


We have a plan this year to transform the house and it involves donating a number of furniture items (if I can find a worthy and willing charity) and reorganising the rooms.

With study on the agenda for both of us, Miss B and I needed new desks. Funny how "kitchen" tables are sturdier and way cheaper than desks. We also decided to get a shelving unit to place between the desks.

Almost everything comes in flat-packs these days and the shelves took Miss B a few hours to assemble.

She is organised and methodical and all she required was sustenance. Certain people I know measure self-assembly of flat-pack furniture in the number of "f" words that are muttered/shouted. None of that for us.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A day of milestones

Mother would have been 84 today, if she hadn't died at the age of 59. It's such a long time ago. I marked the occasion with a swim in the ocean at a most beautiful bay on the South Coast of NSW. I shall not tell you its name as one of the locals was mightily peeved that there were five other people in the water. Nobody normally comes here, she told us.

We had a beautiful swim until we saw two bluebottles and then Miss B and I hightailed it out of the water.

Way back in time I was stung by a bluebottle when we lived at Byron Bay. Those were the days when the lifesavers would "treat" the sting with wet sand. Years later I was stung at Newcastle and the "treatment" had advanced to vinegar.

The NSW Ambulance Service now has some sensible advice and putting sand or vinegar on the site of the sting are forbidden. Probably because thousands of Aussie kids proved that neither treatment worked.

Back to Mother. She hated that the Granville Train Disaster happened at all and especially on her birthday, but she was quite OK with sharing her day with Paul Keating.

Oh and on this day in 2003 the children and I were in Canberra when the bushfires struck. Being new to town I had no idea what I was supposed to do to be safe, the local ABC radio took hours to broadcast emergency information and the other half was out of town to cover a different bushfire.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

There is a beach

One of the joys of my life are some truly wonderful people who are my friends. One of them has a little place by the beach.

Apart from having the perfect ocean dip I gathered pictures and inspiration for my upcoming studies.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rice paper rolls and other adventures

Today I deposited seven large bags of clothing, scarves and handbags to my local Anglicare shop. I took to the wardrobe with a vengeance, cleared the clothes pegs near the front door and scooped up all the clothes Miss B had culled.

Minimalism and me have not been friends, or even neighbours, but recently there has been an overwhelming urge to declutter, remove stuff, have spare space.

Why do we hold on to things that are no longer needed, clothes that are no longer worn? I haven't been a big shopper in recent years but I have still managed to own too much stuff. There's some pretty good items amongst what we donated so I hope whoever buys it gets a bargain and enjoys their find.

The summer is hot and the flies are numerous. I do not like an inland summer. It has nothing to do with climate change, it has to do with growing up on the coast. I've never adjusted to the inland heat or cold. Funny how our bodies are programmed.

In view of the 33.9 C temperature at present, we had rice paper rolls tonight, with prawns, cucumber, carrot, rice noodles and hoisin sauce. So easy to prepare and no cooking required.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sun shines on a new day

Sunrise and I have not been speaking for a few weeks/months but this morning I needed to be up early and watched a new day dawn as someone quite special left on a plane to go back to work.

Planes and work have been quite the news item du jour, mostly because our rulers have been flying around the country, meeting with constituents, real estate agents, family members, job network suppliers, who knows who else...

A few years ago I worked for politicians and the travel was relentless. One week I went to four different cities in four days. By the time I got to the fourth city my credit card went into meltdown and I wasn't far behind. Another time it was four towns in one day. At the fourth I had to ask people in the room where I was, even though I had prepared the meeting briefs and had the itinerary in front of me. Wherever you went you had to be on high alert and attentive as the people who attended the meeting or dinner or breakfast or morning tea may never have met a politician and every vote counts. Years before that it was the same on a newspaper where our editor told us to be nice and help every caller as it may be the only time they ever called the newspaper, and however they were treated would be broadcast to the caller's friends and family. Every caller was a reader.

It is why my father, the Anglican minister, ministered to those who darkened the doors of the church and those who didn't. Everyone could do with some spiritual guidance, he believed.

It's hard to know who is attracted to politics and what motivates them. I would ask any politician I could why they were in Federal Parliament. The most common response was they wanted to "make a difference" for people. From what I saw, most of them did that or made a massive effort to do so, all the while seeing little of their families or their own bed.

The problem was and is the "entitlements" are open to wide interpretation. If you had to be at "A" why wouldn't you organise a meeting with "Z" to justify the travel? There was always a bulging folder of meeting requests and invitations relating to electorate or portfolio matters. It wasn't as if you had to invent a reason to go anywhere. Make the most of your 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours somewhere. That's the rules. And yes the rules may stink but you work with what you've got. Until the Government devises a program that appears to prey on the most vulnerable, with many thousands of people receiving letters from Centrelink questioning benefits that were paid, in some cases, up to six years ago. People are asked to produce pay slips and other evidence that what they told Centrelink initially was correct. This infers that most people are dishonest, which, and I have no scientific basis for this, but have been shown through decades of journalism and contact with thousands of people, they are not.

I've been decluttering my house over the past few months and there is so much crap and paperwork and clothes I never wear and other stuff that is sucking the oxygen out of me, that it is all going. I hope I never have to prove anything to anyone with a bit of paper because I will not have it.

As for those political types. I'm sure there is a PhD there for someone who wants to investigate if politics attract a certain personality type, or does being in the business of politics bring out certain behavioural characteristics.

From what I could see it was a fair dose of dog-eat-dog, bullying and threats. A bit like the three ladies in white on commercial television.




Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mid Jan


Have had a real taste of summer this year with crazy hot days and wild winds and a few storms, but that is summer in Australia. Not sure why any of us are surprised.

It always gets hot in summer. It's Austraya. The inland summer is more severe than the coastal experience and I've never got used to it.

This evening it is pleasant to sit outside, inspecting the storm damage and having a drink and reading. There's a little girl who lives close and she has some friends over so they have all patted the cat, who wasn't so keen ...





Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday 13th

We had a black Friday this afternoon when the sky darkened and a storm hit and in five minutes a tree on the golf course fell over and a branch from another tree sheared off in front of my neighbour's door. Then the storm was over.

All that wind and fury caused a blackout that lasted for about three hours. I have no idea what caused the power to be lost but it doesn't take much for the power to go off here. I know that is a first world problem but it's 2017 and if the power supply is so fragile, imagine what could happen if someone nasty took control of it...like when the Internet dies or Trump becomes President of the USA...

Prior to the storm we had lunch with two of the gorgeous people, Simone and Ruby. So nice to catch up with such good friends.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

A home by the beach


I'm not the biggest fan of where I live. Canberra is too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Most of my friends do not live here, although many visit, so that is good.

The dream that sustains me through it is living by the sea when it's time to leave here.

I have a look at coastal real estate from time to time and today I discovered that the house that was built to replace the dump we lived in at Byron Bay is for auction. We lived in The Bay, as it was known by the locals - none of this Byron nonsense - in the 1960s.

The older I get the more I yearn for the beach and the ocean.

Perfectly positioned in the centre of town, this substantial family home, formerly known as "The Rectory" offers the best of positions with potential.
https://www.domain.com.au/14-kingsley-street-byron-bay-nsw-2481-2013273674

Perhaps with some divine intervention I will be able to buy it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In the blink of an eye



Four years ago the teenagers and I took possession of our new house. I would need three thousand hours to write about everything that has happened since then.

While we put our heads down and got on with things for most of that time, in recent months there has been occasion to reflect on exactly what happened and where we are headed.

The changes to family, life, every day, work have been beyond enormous. We've had a houseguest for the past few days and it has been a joy to have her here. This place is like our little sanctuary.

I was dealing with a multinational corporation today and the helper said she couldn't believe it was already the 11th of January and it was too scary that the year was going so fast.

Oh I love 2017, I told her, because it is not 2016. I don't think I've experienced a change of year like it. It was as if the door really did close on calendar year 2016, one of the most trying and difficult of my life.

Looking forward to the full moon and Friday 13th.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Truly, madly, deeply

I've taken up reading again. The past few months I have decided that I must read and so I have been. I started truly, madly, guilty by Liane Moriarty a few months ago and did not warm to it.

Yes, she is a New York Times bestseller and has sold more books than just about anyone, but surely it is OK to say, yeah, nah.

Anyway, today I sat down and thought I would re-read what I had read and see if things worked out.

I've read past where I was up to and I'm still intrigued so I guess it is working out.

Had a drink with my fabulous neighbour, for new year, new week, this year, whatever reason...love it, love him for being there ...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Art from the heart

Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes today.

She made a great speech which ended this way: "As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once: 'Take your broken heart, and make it into art'."

Let me tell you, it works.

I read Zayn today. It was written by Zayn Malik who was a member of One Direction. He doesn't want to just be known as the person who left 1D and I'm sure he won't. We enjoy his Mind of Mine album, his first solo work since leaving the band, which is nothing like 1D.

He has anxiety issues and good on him for talking about it.

It's wonderful to see creative people produce exceptional work, whatever their age and wherever they are in their career.

That 9 to 5 business model sure doesn't work for everyone, does it?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

De Nile is a river in Egypt

Many years ago my mother saw a marble table in a shop during one of our visits to Sydney from our home on the North Coast of NSW. We were staying with her mother, who was the most judgemental mother in the history of time. My mother loved that table and wanted to buy it, but she didn't. She went back to her parents' house and told her mother about the table and how much she loved it, and her mother gave her every reason in the world not to buy it. We even went back to the shop a few days later but again her mother did everything she could to stop the purchase.

I always remember that. I was really young, younger than 10. My mother was upset about that incident for years. When her mother died many years later I asked her how she felt. "Relieved," was her response. (The table was one of many, many reasons).

At that moment I thought to myself that if I ever had children I didn't want that to be their response to my death. I want them to be able to say something like: she may have been a bit mad but we had a great time. And that is coming along nicely.

Then today I had a mother moment when I saw a handbag I really liked. I need a new handbag and have been looking for months and months. I've had a few interim cheapies over the years and a real/fake "brand name" and they are crap. But today I went past Oroton and they had a sale and it was 20% off the sale price ... and the bag I bought was 70% off its original price.

I've bought many handbags in my life but only three times have I bought quality (plus the beautiful leather briefcase I bought myself after my mother died).

Then when I got home I saw this on FB:



I'm not normally a big fan of positive affirmations made for the masses but I've been so bloody serious for so bloody long that today I appreciated the sentiment and I'm glad I bought the handbag. It's going to carry my essential stuff through what is going to be an extraordinary year.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Anti-vampire strategy

One of the joys of living in #CBR is leaving town, if only for a few hours as I did today.

I had to pick up Miss B from her seaside sojourn and on the way home we called in to the lovely town of Exeter.

I had no idea Exeter had markets until about 10 minutes before I left home today but had a feeling it did and Dr Google confirmed that they were on today. Great to use my psychic powers for shopping convenience ...

The Exeter market was quite the place to be with its selection of fresh food and produce, plants, home goods, bric-a-brac and clothing.

We got a thyme plant to replace the one that has mysteriously withered when all other herbs around it have sprung back to life some homemade pepperoni, some seriously groovy trousers, a necklace and a cupcake, but best of all: half a kilogram of homegrown garlic. Oh my goodness I love fresh garlic, for cooking and to keep the vampires away. There have been more than enough vampires in recent years ...

It is so hard to find fresh garlic around here and I refuse to buy imported garlic (or any imported food) but now I have half a kilogram plus an extra bulb for which I paid $15. I didn't ask the lovely men (father and son?) selling the garlic their names as I'm in a bit of hermit-mode at present and not telling my life story to everyone, nor asking them theirs, but I know where they live and they told me all the markets where they sell and I can get some much closer to home when this is all used.

I love markets. I enjoy meeting the makers and the growers and supporting people in their home businesses. It may be convenient to shop at large stores or online but we need human interaction and people need an income. And the planet needs saving, one garlic plant at a time.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hell in a handbasket


Got to have faith: in PJK. Now there was a leader.



If you have had half an eye open in recent days you may - and should - have noticed that Centrelink is in meltdown. It's been sending letters to tens of thousands of people who received benefits but is questioning them whether they were eligible, because it is matching income data with data collected by the ATO but it's like comparing apples and oranges and nothing is adding up.

So in its wisdom the Federal Government thinks this is a great way to improve its bottom line - by clawing back money from those least able to pay, even if they owed it, which they mostly do not.

Twitter has gone into meltdown but the only response from our Government appears to be that everything is working well. It's actually been mesmerising to watch, because having worked in media and politics I keep expecting someone to own this problem, explain it and let everything return to normal. But no one has. Can you imagine getting an official letter from Centrelink a few days before Christmas stating that you need to prove that you were eligible for the benefits paid, sometimes up to six years ago? And then not being able to get through to Centrelink to explain your side of the matter.

Even if you didn't keep the paperwork, the Christmas/New Year break is no time to be doing official government business. Hell, I live in Canberra and the city is asleep between Christmas and Australia Day. Same every year.

The only other political headlines today were about a Minister buying an investment property - on impulse - but while in another state on official business and then an announcement by the Agriculture Minister to ban the importation of green prawns, something that the prawn industry has been seeking for a long time, but only happened today in the middle of two rather big crises/own goals.

I've been in the position for the past 14 months of probably being able to get assistance from Centrelink but every time I looked at its website I recoiled in horror as I knew my spirit would be crushed by doing business with this department. I feel for those suffering this immense strain. Wouldn't it be good to have some leadership on this rather than platitudes about how great it all is?

Do you think the PM is making sure all his MPs and Senators are having health check-ups?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fruit loops

Went to the fruit shop today to buy a new charger for the laptop. $129.00 and please don't mind waiting while the two sales staff faff about with people's new phones, attaching screen protectors and generally taking up time. Oh they'll be with you when they can.

No, sorry, I had what I wanted and needed to pay and go and get on with the rest of my life for today and forever after.

I had a bit of a rant at two staff to say I was there with the item I needed and needed to pay for it. The trouble with fruit computers is that you cannot buy parts anywhere else so you have no choice but to stand there like a shag on a rock, waiting, waiting, waiting for Godot or at least someone with half an idea about "customer service". They told me they were "so busy" ...

The Australian Government is having a bit of a lesson about customer service as it sends "debt letters, not debt letters" from Centrelink to its customers, demanding the repayment of, in some instances, many thousands of dollars.

Thanks to changed employment circumstances in more recent times I have been advised by a few people to contact Centrelink. When I read the onerous rules and the huge hoops that people have to jump through I wonder how anyone plugged into this regime can remain sane and haven't gone near it.

Obviously this latest clawback of "overpaid" funds is likely to drive people to despair as CL is advising people to call Lifeline.

Yeah, well that will work when Lifeline cannot answer all the calls it receives. Watching this debacle play out on Twitter makes me wonder if anyone in the Federal Government has any real clue about how ordinary Australians live. It appears not, especially when Ministers earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year go to the media and say everything is ticketyboo. Heaven help us.

Maybe we should all move to NZ where this gem of a statement from one MP about another (an Australian Senator) arose today: "I read his press release yesterday and I suspected the guy was a bit simple and listening to that interview then, I think that has confirmed it," he said.
"He's a climate-change conspiracies' theorist; he's a racist and probably the saddest thing about his entry into Australia politics, spending so much time in Canberra, is he has denied a village somewhere in Australia of its idiot."

There's an outbreak of that at the present moment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

On holidays?

I have one child away and the other has returned to the nest for a few weeks so they are on holidays. I'm living the dream with my self-employment so I'm not really on holidays. I've been trying to finish a painting these past few days and I stood back and looked at it just now and hate it. Loathe it. The idea was good, but the execution has not resulted in anything near what was planned.

The painting can sit for a day or two until I figure out how to do something else with it.

The tomatoes have been repotted because I got a drill for my birthday last year so I can drill holes in anything whenever I want to and a big red pot was sitting around asking for a job, but needed drainage holes. Hopefully the tomatoes will have a growth spurt over the next few weeks and produce some fruit before it gets cold on Anzac Day (you can set your clock to it in #CBR).

There was a ripe smell outside for the past few days and close inspection of the worm farm revealed the source of the stink. Normally the worms and I get along fine but with being away a bit in recent months and being sick lately I hadn't kept up with the cycle of worm life ... all resolved now and the postage stamp garden has been lathered in worm juice.

I miss my previous garden. I've brought cuttings of a rose (originally planted by my mother in her last garden), some violets, lamb's ears and geraniums from it and plonked them in this tiny patch of dirt. It's "cottage" meets "a mad mix". One of the joys of living in the last house was the 1/2 acre it sat on. I've been here four years next week. The golf course is lovely as a front yard, but I need to dig and plant and reap what I sow.

Next house will have a bigger garden and a view of the sea.