Sunday, December 21, 2008

Taking Time Out

Santa seen on a back road getting some relaxation before the big day............

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Driving While Drugged

The last few weeks have been a drug filled haze, where I have done my stretches, had a doze, done more stretches and then dozed some more, waiting for my miraculous recovery to come about.

Last week gave me a rude awakening.

I had to have a blood test which required fasting, and also 20 minutes with the physio.

On the way down the hill into town, I told myself I was a bit hazy, feeling I was on the edge of doing the dreaded 'micro-sleeps'; just zoning in and out. Quite scary, so I put the radio on loud and the air con and made it safely for physio. An hour and half later, where I semi dozed waiting for my blood test, I got back in the car to go home.

To cut a long story short, I drove into a roundabout with out looking, not remembering how I got there. I was startled into reality by the furious blasting of horns by a large van which nearly t-boned me. Wooooo! That shot me some adrenaline and freshened me up enough to make it home in one piece.

The drugs I was on certainly helped with the extreme pain, but now I have weaned myself off so I can drive safely.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tiny Foal

Photo of a teensy tiny foal I grabbed from a newspaper a few weeks back.
Sooooo cute!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Weeks Past a Knee Replacement

Well, most of the excitement is now over, the worst of the pain is done, and I can actually put my knee under my pooter desk for a time.

They were right, it is an excruciating operation and the level of medication needs to be kept nice and high. I do have trouble getting comfortable in bed, and am still fighting a losing battle to get that blasted supporting pillow out from under my knee.

The hospital and nurses were exceptional and my surgeon was a delight to work with.

I did have a truly horrifying moment when I woke up and everything below my waist was dead; just couldn't feel a thing. I recalled I had a spinal anesthetic before going under, and it took about 4 hours to wear off after waking. The panic was huge, and I experienced the desperate need to move that spinal injury patients must have when they are trying to feel anything. Fortunately mine wore off.

I was lucky to be in with a pleasant woman who had exactly the same op as me, except she was number one on our surgeon's list. She was a policewoman who lived alone, and a little eccentric. We got on well all week, though she was a little prone to grumpiness at times, but none was directed at me.

We were out of bed on the second day and walking and showering on the third. Marvelous!!!

Six days later, I was out and home, and being fluffed over by my lovely man. Now three weeks today and although the knee could be bending a bit more, I am walking short distances without crutches and even driving the car, as it's an automatic. I actually went quietly around the supermarket yesterday without crutches, and it was great!

Now it's just physio to increase that bend and strengthen the supporting muscles. If I don't get a good result by the end of this month, I will be put back under anesthetic and the scar tissue will be broken up by manipulation. A good reason to work hard.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Slimy People

I though I had a buyer for my motorcycle after running it through eBay a couple of times. During the second 10 days, I had 18 watchers, which is a lot, but none of them translated into buyers. After the auction ended, I was contacted by one who expressed interest. A few emails back and forth ensued where I described the bike in detail and gave him my firm price of $18,900.

He asked for photos, so I got it out of the shed, rinsed the dust off it, gave it a polish and took a bunch. The photos were duly sent of into cyberspace.

He finally rang, all sugar and super cool, which got my hackles up straight away.

To cut a long story short, he pretended he had lots of bikes he was looking at and wasn't sure which one was mine. He never bought anything new; he was a car dealer and ran 14 - 15 cars through his books weekly (liar!), and on and on......... He was so transparent.

Then he said he would only be interested in mine if he could get it for $14,000 - $15,000. "It's not going to happen," I said. It has been valued at $21,500 by experts.

I don't think I would buy a car from this man.

Back to the drawing board. The financial meltdown is taking it's toll. Maybe I'll just put it back in the shed until it's over.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Slithering Tales

I was gardening down in my studio garden this morning and the poodles were playing in the house yard. All of a sudden I saw Lily jump backwards and give her 'snake bark', the sound that always makes my blood run cold.

Having the old poodle Connor with two deadly snake bites during his life, I am very worried about hunter Lily, who often cruises round the yard, nose down, ready to take on anything that might rear its head.

I saw the grey slither as I hobbled up the stairs, calling them all inside. Then I got the 'killing hoe' and went to do battle.

Thankfully it was only a blue tongue lizard, very angry at being flushed out of his morning wanderings. He was full grown; about 15 inches long, and didn't want to be caught, but I carried him out of the yard and let him go amongst the gum trees, very relieved he had legs.

This is a rough photo of my first iris for the year, but I am very pleased to have their handsome colours and shapes in the garden.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Grief for a Tiny Child Lost

My daughter and her partner have been grief stricken after losing her 20 week old foetus/baby.

Apart from being blown away by her maturity, passion and depth of grief, I was impressed by the richness of the process they have chosen to say goodbye to the little one.

They have collected a photo of his tiny hand, a set of hand and foot prints, and the clothes he was dressed in after birth and taken it to our favorite framer to put together in a box frame.

They also sang a song for him to the family on Sunday. His older brother made a clay model of his little brother's initial 'Z' (for Zander). They chose a beautiful place for him in the nearby State Forest and buried his ashes and the 'Z' near the junction of two rivers.

While it still hurts like crazy, they have woven together a rich tapestry of thoughts and memories so his tiny presence will last their lifetime.

I found this lovely poem online that says it all.

"These are my footprints,
so perfect and so small.
These tiny footprints
never touched the ground at all.
Not one tiny footprint,
for now I have wings.
These tiny footprints were meant
for other things.
You will hear my tiny footprints,
in the patter of the rain.
Gentle drops like angel's tears,
of joy and not from pain.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in each butterfly's lazy dance.
I'll let you know I'm with you,
if you just give me the chance.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in the rustle of the leaves.
I will whisper names into the wind,
and call each one that grieves.
Most of all, these tiny footprints,
are found on Mummy and Daddy's hearts.
'Cause even though I'm gone now,
We'll never truly part."


Blog pal ann penned a small Poem for him.......

"Precious Zander
New to earth and
New to sky"

...... I like that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This Week

My man is away all week working at chasing locusts near Shepparton. The little hoppers are hatching out all over the state, and after a year of little rain and grass everyone is panicking.

Our lambies are doing well.

My daughter lost her baby at 20 weeks ..... live at birth and then not...................

His tiny ashes are being scattered next Sunday. It's amazing how you miss someone you never even met.

My sister Pam died 19 years ago from breast cancer. Another year past.

I got into my beehive yesterday and put another story on top of the other two. I have lost courage in handling them since my accident (and with other things as well), so it took a quantum leap for me to open the box. Last time I went in, I hurried too much and they attacked me big time, leaving hundreds of bee stings pumping venom into my protective clothing. It takes time to get over such fury. A beekeeper told me afterwards to administer the smoke 'with precision', lifting the lid and a couple of puffs inside, then close it down again, and a puff or two at the front door. They all rush down to gobble honey, thinking a bush fire is nearby, and that makes them a bit sluggish. Then you go in................

They were busy with their own lives and scarcely worried about my peering inside. I should have pulled all the frames out and checked for signs of swarming, but I will do that next week. Hopefully lots of room will dissuade them. I have left two empty hives set up nearby, so I am hoping they might choose to just move next door.

I remember seeing a swarm here years ago, with a giant 'beard' of bees hanging on a tree. They are supposed to be at their most benign while swarming, and can easily be dropped into an empty hive box. Maybe it's viewing the drones and queen 'having it off' that calms them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Sheep Stories

Little Timmy has gone to stay with a local orphan lamb raiser and Victoria has indicated that she would like to swap him for one of her older lambs. Timmy's dad is a beautiful purebred Cheviot with a gentle nature. Victoria said her Suffolk ram was quite dangerous and has attacked her a few times, so she needed a new one. She's a tiny little thing who could easily be knocked over by a rambunctious boy with murder in his heart.

I am relieved to have him cared for as we don't have shedding and yards built for orphans. Next year we have determined that we will, as I would be pleased to raise a group of cheery little lambies. The grandkids would love the bottle feeding.

Timmy is doing very well, apparently.

Our poor mumma sheep was flyblown the next day after her huge drama. Thankfully she was to be confined for observation all week, so I noticed horrid blowflies buzzing around her rear end. We cleaned her up and clipped off her yucky spots, and she was fine. One stitch came out after two days and the other last night. Sheep have such a powerful flock mentality, she patrolled up and down the driveway fence, moaning and then panicking if they moved out of sight.

All is restored now and she is content.

We ringed four little tails and decided to leave the one boy with his undercarriage until we saw our sheep farmer friend who can do him. His tiny testicles kept retreating up into his body every time we tried to isolate them, and they're so tiny, just pea sized.

While we had the flock yarded last night I noticed our last ewe looked a bit 'mucousy' at the back end, indicating that her lambing was imminent. Sure enough, two hours later, she had one on the ground, so we are now finished for the year. Six live and two not. Not a good average, but the ones we have are healthy happy little things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Babies Coming and Going.

I got up yesterday at 6am to check our ewes and discovered that one had what looked like a big red ball protruding from her rear. Deciding this was out of the realms of our limited experience, I rang a local vet who came up to see her.

She had a vaginal prolapse and two lambs stuck in behind a barely dilated cervix, neither were in a good position to come out normally.

He managed to get the prolapse back in and after an hour of manipulating, got both lambs out. Both were very stressed with the lengthy process, but I revived one, and lost the other. Next time I will do mouth to mouth as it struggled to breathe but was blocked up somewhere.

Mum was stitched up to hold all together and I put the surviving baby back with it. She showed only slight interest in it, even though I had plonked the little thing in front of her nose and she sort of licked it after it was born.

Cutting a long story short, she doesn't want to know, even after a night together in a confined nursery, so I now have a new responsibility ..... Little Timmy (after the vet). He was feeding first from a syringe and my finger to get him sucking, but today he has graduated to a bottle.


The poodles would love to have a lamb dinner so now must be segregated. I am thinking maybe a couple more orphaned babies for company, so I am asking around.

I can only get this loud, busy little boy to sleep if I drop a towel over his head, otherwise he follows me round baaing.

In the meantime we have two sets of twin from other gals. One more ewe to go.


New knee on 12th November, which is great as I will get the babies up and running by then.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy, Busy.........

So much is happening right now, my head is spinning somewhat.

My TAC approval for my knee replacement has finally arrived, which is a great relief, so I will be into that soon. Two months of patient, polite pushing and coaxing the bureaucracy has paid off at last.

Our first lamb for this season arrived the other night and was stillborn. Very disappointing. As my man says, "You've got livestock, you've got dead stock!" We're watching the other four gals very closely now.

My daughter was 20 weeks pregnant last week, and went for her Ultrasound to check the baby's sex and well being. It was noted that her amniotic fluid was very low, so she went to a high res ultrasound elsewhere, and discovered the poor little bubs has no kidneys. Potter's Syndrome, it's called.

She's in labour today, so we have a very sad time ahead of us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Time Warp Meets 'Old Timers Disease'

When I heard the 'Rocky Horror Show' was coming to Melbourne this September, I went straight online a couple of months ago and booked tickets for our 12th anniversary (20th). I received the tickets in the mail soon after, checked the date quickly, put them back in their envelope, and thought nothing more about them.

We decided to make a trip of it and booked into our favourite B & B in East Melbourne for the night before, then planned a morning wander around The Queen Victoria Market, Eckersleys Art Supplies and Peter Stevens Harley Davidson.

Everything went like clockwork, although it rained at the market, and Melbourne Eckersleys was closed, necessitating a trip to the nearby Prahran shop, for my big spend up.

The Harley Dealership was choked with bikes, but didn't have the model my man is interested in, though he enjoyed seeing them. I'm sorta over bikes, as I am still chewing over whether to sell mine or keep it.

We went to Subway across from the Comedy Theatre for a lunchtime salad roll, and I got the tickets out of their envelope, checking them for the planned 2 o'clock matinee. I was horrified to read that they were for the 8pm evening show! How would we entertain ourselves for all that time, with my bad knee crunching away, and the car already safely parked in an underground car park? I must have messed up in the online booking process..................

We stared at each other with horror, then I remembered that Tickitek had an office only a few doors away. We called in there for advice and she directed us to the theatre booking at the Comedy. That done, we came out with exchange tickets for the 4pm (not 2!) matinee, so we only had a couple of hours to kill. A good result and soooo relieved.

We wandered down to the State Library, which I had never been into. A group of young men had a 'boom boom' music machine, and they were practicing their dance moves out the front, which was really entertaining. We went inside and marveled at the reading dome ......

.... and the huge computer room with mostly Chinese students flogging away. There were a couple of exhibitions going, displaying ancient books from the 14th century onwards. Ned Kelly's armour was in a glass case, and a recorded video about each section explaining how it was made and whose bullet holes were where.

His death mask was also there, and he looked very peaceful, considering being hung is probably not a pleasant experience.

The Rocky Horror Show was as good as it could possibly be, with great sets, costumes, music, cast, dancing .... you name it, it was all there in spades.

The only draw back was the narrator', Derryn Hinch, a dreary old has-been that a large percentage of the Australian public is over. He was wooden and dull, even though he appeared in the obligatory fish net stocking and red high heels at the end, I still couldn't laugh at him.

But that aside, I would recommend the show wholeheartedly.

'All Melbourne'd out', we high-tailed it for home, looking forward to our little slice of heaven once more.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gargoyle Take Over.

I've been looking for a gargoyle for years, and finally found one I could afford and actually liked. He was squatting menacingly in a foolish row of concrete creatures, and told me to buy him immediately, 'or else'.

I did as he asked.

Now I need to construct a suitable throne for him, while he takes over the family.

Sounds like a movie...............

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fighting Nature and Letting Go......

It seems like I am fighting a battle with my favourite friends, the wildlife who enjoy our patch of land.

Last week, I hit a new low, with disasters happening all around.

The glorious Crimson Rosellas I feed during winter on my studio deck decided to polish off all the blossoms on my small apricot tree. Gone! In a day.........

Next, they hooked into all my collection of geranium cuttings I struck before winter. The plants were sitting, fat and healthy, in their pots ready to go into the garden...... all nipped off to dirt level and eaten. I have discovered that hanging shiny things on the plants makes no difference at all, maybe it even attracts them!

Lime green leaved geraniums were planted out behind the studio to catch the hot summer sun have all gone.

I have a third year almond tree that produced a small crop last season. This is about to come into full bloom and they will eat that as well. I got all my old tinsel out and strung it up on the tree hoping to dissuade them. That was last week and I haven't plucked up the courage to look there. Next will be the two cherry trees.

Early Christmas

The rabbits ate the tops off all last years petunias I had clipped back and were budding up big time. Gone! The rabbits usually eat all the rose shoots, but I have beaten them this year by spreading dog poo around them, so I still have them. Fuschias and self seeded tiny plants, all gone. For once I want my dogs to pump out more poop, because I need it for a change. It makes the garden look a bit rough, but one the spring spurt is over they leave it alone.

The dogs have found and killed a nest full of baby birds, Zara swallowing one down in front of me like an oyster. They are confined to the house yard and I hope each year that our hunters won't find low lying nests, but they always get one. The bereaved parents might get smart enough to put their next nest either higher or outside the yard.

The swallows have been banned from the dog kennel rooms, because they build a nest over the bedding and poop on the dogs while they sleep. We have hung curtains at the door ways, so they can't fly in and out. They are now building one above the door under the veranda. I'll have to keep scrubbing the concrete of the run, but that's OK, I can live with that.

Lily surveying her territory

I spent a panic stricken day worrying about it all, and had to do some serious self talk to arrive at just letting go. If we don't succeed with our fruit tress, so be it. I won't plant geraniums or petunias, and will stick to pelargoniums (if they leave them alone!). I suppose I could net the trees and may do next year.

Fighting nature is the past time of losers; it wins all the time.

But, it's not all bad! Spring has sprung...............

Monday, September 8, 2008

Diet With a Purpose

I had a final visit last July to my original orthopedic surgeon. In his rude, arrogant way, he ventured that I should lose some weight. When I replied that I found it difficult because of medication I was on, he sneered, "Anyone can lose weight if they really want to!"

I slunk home, hating him for his lack of diplomacy as he was one of those tall, string bean sort of men, and wouldn't know what it was like to watch his calories.

But, after a few days, I did have a bit of an epiphany, standing in front of the mirror and hating yet again the way those spare kilos sneak on. I decided I would try, as doing without the 'naughty food' would probably be less damaging than disliking the way I was beginning to look.

Eight weeks later, I have lost eight kilograms and am determined to keep going.

We had a huge collection of delicious food on family Father's Day, and I didn't pick at anything, and barely missed it.

In a fit of enthusiasm a few years back, I bought the 'CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet' book, scanned through and put it aside. I wasn't ready for it then, but this book has given me a framework to build on. Even though the daily regimen seems a bit harsh, I have modified and blurred the boundaries somewhat and it is still working.

I make a large pot of vegetable soup maybe twice a week, which is delicious and filling.

2 cans of tomatoes
1/3 bunch of celery, with leaves included.
a large chunk of pumpkin
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 dsp stock powder or fresh chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Bring to boil and simmer until soft, then hit it with a stick blender until smoothish.

We have this most lunchtimes with 2 slices of dry toast for dipping. I am still not sick of having this soup.

The CSIRO diet advocates 300gms of meat each day, broken into 100gms chicken, eggs or fish for lunch, and 200gms for dinner. I don't always manage this, but sometimes stuff down 2 boiled eggs at lunch.

Two units of fruit, porridge with a sprinkle of sultanas in the morning, any amount of veggies (not the starchy or oily ones). Dairy foods are mostly homemade low fat yoghurt or a little cheese. We also have a half cup of nuts and dried fruit for nibbles, should we feel the need, at night.

No fat, no sugar, and only low GI carbs (wholemeal pasta, bread, brown rice). Breakouts are allowed, so long as they are not too often. I climb off the wagon for a smidgeon of something bad, then climb straight back on again. The scales don't register the odd breakout.

The diet says only 2 glasses of wine per week, but I'm not giving up the grog, and have a glass each night, sometimes more.

I weigh myself at the same time each day, to monitor my progress and for discipline if I feel I had pushed my boundaries the day before. Knowing I am holding that weight or losing keeps me strong. I am actually finding it really positive and fun!

It's working, and after losing eight kgs, I feel much more comfortable and in control of my body. I want to lose another 12 kgs and then I will be happy. My doctors tell me my knee replacement will recover better, the lighter I am, so that's plenty of incentive. And, I haven't thrown out my favourite clothes that haven't fitted for a while.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Doggy Portrait

Recent pastel commission for a coming 60th birthday.
She looks lovely all framed up.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Just Wandering By............

I've been gone from for a time as I've been a bit focussed on other things. Sometimes you just need a mental change of scene.

At the beginning of July, I was mentally brutalised by my orthopedic surgeon yet again and made to feel six inches tall. My hand still won't form a fist and is making alarming cracking noises when rolled around. Looks like it's a bit stuffed long term, but I am going to a top hand specialist this Wednesday for a second opinion. The nasty man expressed his disappointment at it's condition and ventured that I hadn't pursued physio for long enough. Not true.

He also gave me the wonderful experience of a cortisone injection into the rapidly failing knee joint, and yes, it's true they hurt. Then he sent me away with my tail between my legs to become totally crippled with bone on bone and no cartilage.

So I rebelled and went to the Melbourne Orthopedic Group, the cutting edge specialists in the city, to the knee man. He was lovely and treated me like a real person, not some pathetic husk that pays for his holidays.

We now have a knee replacement planned as soon as the cortisone that was brutally administered into my knee has worn off. Apparently it can compromise the immunity of that area, leaving it more open to infection.

TAC has to approve the surgery, which hopefully, won't be a problem.

So September should be the date. A new knee! How exciting! I'll be resting up a bit for a while afterwards, so might catch up on my blog.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can You Feel Your Brain Shrinking?

"THE brain shrinks faster if it is not stimulated, Australian researchers say.

Brain scans have revealed that people who do not engage in complex mental activity over their lifetime have twice the shrinkage in a key part of the brain in old age.",21985,24016992-5005961,00.html

For many years now, if I was around something/one particularly stupid, I would say, "I can feel my brain shrinking!"

Now I have proof!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red In The Morning

Sometimes the beauty of a sunrise just takes your breath away...................

.... and that intense orange light in the late afternoon, here for a few minutes, then gone as the sun drops.

Toys on Canvas

I am beginning to enjoy painting collections of stuff, and spotted some work on the internet where piled toys were the subject.

Having a nine year old grandson and a fifteen month old one, I took some photos, bought them home and did one.

That was so much fun, so I am working on my second, more grown up one.

This is just the under-painting, as I want it to be warmer and have more texture. It'll need a bit more drying time, so I'll find something else to get going. I have two largish commissions to do, one portrait of a dog for a soon-to-be 60 years old, and a pencil to two small boys, but the weather is so overwhelmingly cold this week, I'll wait for the mood to lift a little.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Keep Me Away From Sharp Objects

.....or that's what my man says.

I have a big laser printer I paid $2000 for about 6 years ago. Thanks to China, nowadays you can get them as easily and almost as cheaply as an ink jet.

The toner replacements for mine are a huge rip-off at about $145 full price, and eBay a bit cheaper, but still expensive. On eBay they also offer toner refills, so I ordered one of each colour at a total of $114. Good value I thought. It arrived with four bottles, new cartridge caps, instructions and a wipe for any spilled toner powder.

Although the old cartridges had caps that needed 'gouging' out, which was quite difficult, I managed to fill two successfully and reset the sections that tells the printer it is out of ink to it now has a
new one.

I felt suitably chuffed and relieved at my success and set to on the third bottle of magenta. The cap is a sealed unit and needs cutting off, so the Stanley knife was hacking away at the tip, did that and thought all that left over energy should be directed at ME. It sliced straight into the back my wrist (yes, my damaged one!), pouring great slops of blood over the table and collection of ink filling equipment.

The blood didn't want to stop once I ascertained I had really done some damage, so my cyan and yellow stained rag was held down hard as I ran to the phone to call my man (who turned out to be miles away), then my neighbour (who wasn't answering). The phone had to be knocked off with my elbow and dialed with great difficulty.

Nobody could help, so I thought better drive myself down to the hospital. Down on my knees in the medicine cabinet, I found some elastic bandage and took the pressure off the cut to wrap it tightly enough to transport. Heaps more blood but the job was done.

After a one-handed drive down the the hospital 15 minutes away, then a five minute wait in casualty, I found myself ready to be stitched up by a charming male medic and a trainee-doctor young girl. She was clearly out of her depth, but they must have spotted me as someone who would co-operate on a stitching lesson. We all worked in a friendly huddle as he asked her questions and schooled her through the process. We learned how to tie off stitches, and she learned how not to lose the thread ends (which she had), and how to administer local anesthesia.

She apologised a lot for her fumbling; he was marvelously patient, and I really enjoyed what could have been an unpleasant process.

So, now stitched and strapped up, the cut is in a place that doesn't require too much movement. Eight days from yesterday, I will take the stitches out myself and take more care with my Stanley knife. And yes, I have just refilled the magenta with no problems.

If you want refills, try I am delighted.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Clearly Gone

A friend and ex-work mate's wife died last Tuesday and her funeral is tomorrow. She had pancreatic cancer and took maybe a year for it to overwhelm her.

At seventy-ish Lorraine was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She had a reputation for sitting on the same chair most of the day, and was notoriously stingy handing out the bikkies when my man would call in to give her husband a hand lifting something.

She once told me she had had 'a headache for twenty years'.

He is the most active of men, working on seed collecting from the mountain eucalypts for the Government, watering plants at the local hardware, walking to and opening and shutting the local cemetery gates, and busy with the Lions Club.

He is bright, cheery and nice looking for his seventy three years. I expect the widows will be lining up to snare him once a suitable mourning period is over.

BUT, the reason for this post is a mutual, very funny friend rang up last night and said in the tune of the song.... "David can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone".

Get it? I did, and laughed like crazy.

Gettin' There

Old Age, I decided, is a gift........... (this came in via my emails this week, and I liked it)

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love .. I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set .

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so ma ny have died before their hair could turn silver

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Sale: Harley Davidson FXDX Superglide Sport

~ 2002 Model, black, 57,000 easy kms. Reg until 15th May 09.
~ Owned and loved by lady since new.
~ Regularly serviced/ goes very well.
~ Extras - slash cut pipes, HD derby cover, Kuryakin horn cover, chrome battery cover, black pack rack.
~ We took a tumble last September and this bike was expertly restored by the now late Robbie Hermans. Mostly new front end.

A beautiful motorcycle which will be reluctantly sold only because of physical injuries sustained.

$21,500 O.N.O

Monday, May 26, 2008

Holiday Snaps

(Did you know that the Australian shield above figures the emu and the kangaroo because neither animal can step backwards, and neither should the country?)

Our week away went like clockwork. We saw most of what we planned, the weather was great, and the four of us got on like a house on fire.

We nick off for a few days each year with two long term pals and each trip has been successful.

Our first day was to Cooma via Cann River and Bombala. Leaving the lush green of West Gippsland, we travelled through the less fertile flats east towards the border. I had always mumbled about the seemingly interminable eucalypt forests from Bruthen through to the NSW border until I rode through them on the Harley. On a bike, it's enormous fun.

Back in the 'family truckster' (Ford wagon), my eyes glazed over once again as thousands of the buggers rushed by, entertained by Jill laughing at my man's recycled jokes. Even Ralphie in the back snoozed contentedly to while away the time.

As you veer off the coast road onto the Monaro Highway towards Bombala, the land changes again, with cosy valleys and pine plantations, then the road begins to climb up towards the highlands. The country becomes rocky and the gum trees get the curly stunted shapes from poor nutrition, lack of water and cold nights. I love this area. The land has a rawness and honesty, and its people have to be more courageous and determined to eke out a living from this unforgiving place.

This beautiful painting by William Delafield Cook inspires me to paint this area. Although this is of Euroa, north of Melbourne, the feeling is the same.

I get really inspired to take lots of photos and have a go at these wonderful craggy hillocks, but having a bunch of reprobates in the car made me put it off yet again.

Onwards and upwards to the treeless plains, brown after yet another dry summer and little autumn rain. The dreaded weed serrated tussock has taken a hold on much of this enormous expanse of marginal grazing land, filling the paddocks with the unpalatable grass that balls up in the bellies of grazing animals and stays there. My man works for the DPI, and this horrific weed is slowly working its way into Gippsland via the fleeces of sheep, hay and machinery. Viewing it at its worst in this magnificent landscape makes it very frightening.

We have ridden these highlands a few times on the bikes, and the fabulous road snaking far into the distance makes your blood rise with excitement. Many a biker has been booked for speeding hooning at 150kph and more, and the cops hang out there all the time.

Most of this land is sheep grazing, but each time we see it, we wonder how they survive. Our sheep are in heaven in comparison.

Showing off to our travel mates, we insisted we stop at Nimmitabel, where there is a delicious bakery with a life size concrete elephant next door. The owners were so passionate about all things Thailand, they bought this huge 'garden ornament', put it into a container and shipped it home. It seems like the strangest thing to have in the courtyard of a remote Australian Cafe, but there it stands for all to marvel at.

My man applied his usual twisted humour foisted on innocent girls behind the bakery counter, and asked for a 'snot block'. The hapless girl's face dropped with confusion, and he, in his best stage manner, explained it was a vanilla slice (custard sandwiched between puff pastry, and vanilla icing on top...... very good!).

We wandered up to the Leather shop to peer at the biker jackets, belts, saddles and assorted leathery thingies. Ralph and I were confused about the fly swatter, which turned out to be a complete cow tail with long tassels of hair.

Our first night was in Cooma at the Sovereign Inn Motel. The owners were the salt of the earth types, friendly and helpful, with a budgie that barked like a dog. The rooms were beautiful and cheap. A celebratory glass of champagne, a very ordinary dinner at the local pub, cooked by a girl that liked to laugh, and we collapsed into bed.


The next morning we decided to get onto the road early and find a cafe for breakfast, rather than challenge the motel's cooking skills for something that might not satisfy. On the bikes, we loved get out and ride, then stop somewhere and have a really good feed.

Mistake! We got back onto the Monaro Highway towards Canberra and passed numerous underpopulated small towns, and nowhere open to supply us with our egg and bacon roll and cappuccinos. I took lots of snaps and short films out the window of the car, and found the views breathtaking. Such sparse countryside, deserted and beautiful.

As we came towards the outskirts of Canberra, the land softened and became more welcoming, the autumn poplars lined the Highway, and we could see the suburbs ahead.


We might have looked like country hicks as we cruised wide-eyed along Canberra Avenue towards the town centre. It is such a beautiful place, with all the ugly shops and industrial areas hidden away from visitors, just wide, tree lined avenues running into wide circles the closer to the centre you get.

Tummies still rumbling with no breakfast, we finally stopped in a posh shopping area, and ordered a heap of food. The sun was out, the trees with bright autumn colours lined the streets, and we couldn't have asked for better.

Appetites sated, we resumed our travels and ended up as you always do in Canberra, at Parliament House. My man and I had visited only a couple of years before, but our companions hadn't for quite a while.

It's not hard to marvel at this beautiful building, completed in 1988 at the cost of AU$1.5 billion. I remember watching it's construction on the TV, with its huge excavations and spectacular design. It is still as stunning to this day. Our Australian hearts always swell when we make our pilgrimage to the capital.

The eighty metre spire soaring over the building

The Entry foyer built out of Italian marble and all Australian timbers. The local marble was apparently too porous for this building which handles many thousands of visitors each year.

One of the beautiful inlaid timber panels depicting Australian wildflowers

Stunning garden view with autumn colours, and I love the checkerboard lawn edges.
I'm still waiting to use that idea somewhere here at home ..........

The House of Representatives, done also in all Australian timbers and leather seats the colour of our gum trees.

We didn't plan it at all, but we arrived in Canberra on the day of our newly elected Government's annual budget presentation. Security was very high, and we watched the lock down from lunchtime on when the press and opposition were able to view the budget in all its glory, but not to release it to the public.

The entire place was abuzz with expectation, and we booked to go into the 2pm's sitting of question time, where the opposition quizzed the government on many points of interest. All members were in town for this sitting, so they could be present for the budget at 7pm that evening, and we really enjoyed watching the theatre that is our parliament at close range.

We were totally fagged out after all this excitement and finally left for our accommodation in nearby Queanbeyan.

After getting lost, which is law in Canberra and surrounds, we located our funny little cabins, pulled the cork out of a bottle of bubbly for Jill and I, and a beer for the boys. We had packed a casserole each so we didn't need to eat out, and collapsed happily with our slug of alcohol and home cooking.


The next morning we planned our day's entertainment with precision. Each person voted on their favourites: the menfolk off to the War Museum, and we gals off to the 'Turner to Monet' exhibition at the National Gallery. We dropped the men at the magnificent War Memorial, and came back and immersed ourselves in culture for a few hours. Lots of landscapes later viewed with a set of earphones describing the key paintings, we were totally 'paintinged' out by lunchtime.

Then we went to see the High Court (see photo above), which was quite fascinating with 3 courts and seven judges who sit to hear matters of the Australian Constitution, and to provide the final court of appeal.Their judgment leaves appellants no further avenue available to them. We watched for about 20 minutes a matter of sexual slavery by a Thai woman importing young girls into prostitution. The seven judges sat facing all the 'silks' and clerks, and delved into the intricacies of law, which was pretty heavy stuff, but it made the weekend papers the next Saturday.

The other two courts were empty as the seven available judges were sitting together, but there was a welcoming guide standing at the doors of each to show us the large rooms and explain the process. Fascinating stuff.

We wandered out and drove around to the Museum, which had great displays of the Australian way of life, its history and collection of artifacts over the past two hundred years. The modern, purpose-built building was quite stunning, built on the banks of the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin.


Our final day in Canberra found the men and Jill visiting the High Court, and me for a wonderful wander through the Australian Art section of the Gallery next door. I had wanted to go to the Portrait Gallery, but that was being replaced into a magnificent building nearby and wouldn't be open until December.

It seemed like heaven to me to be alone and wandering through our country's history via our artists. I came away feeling very inspired, found the others and we took off to see the Old Parliament House which sits neatly in front of the New P.H.

The actual solid gold Ceremonial Sceptre for opening the Parliament

We took a guided tour, but I was disappointed by the ugliness of the building inside, with dark paneled wood everywhere.... an absolutely uninspiring rabbit warren. The guide tried hard to make it interesting, and cracked jokes about the prime ministers, and the Queen visiting.

The brilliant white elegance of the building's outside gave no indication of the drab, seemingly heartless inside.

There were a few good portraits to enjoy and the entry foyer was impressive.

Really glad to be out of there, we visited Australian Screen and Sound Archives. My man's grandfather was Campbell Copelin, who was an actor in the 30s through to TV in the 50s. I have found a lot of photos on the Net, even an original on eBay, and bought 'Tall Timbers' on VHS, where he was a bad guy. He was in about 12 movies all up and a couple of TV Shows.

The librarian was very helpful and my fella enjoyed trawling through the history with her. Wandering through a large display room with lots of movie excerpts, we came upon 'Tall Timber' playing. Bad boy Grandpa Campbell was shot as we watched.


We packed up our cabins early the next morning and bade Canberra farewell, making our way to our next planned destination, Bungendore.

This small town has seized the moment and created a mecca for antiques, artwork, and many other interesting shops. My man and I had visited before, and told Ralph and Jill we had to go there.

They have a wood working gallery there that would blow anyone's mind, with fine furniture and sculpture there that takes wood into a whole new realm. With prices for some tables up around $20,000, it is a bit rich for your average taste, but it's so lovely to look at.

They also have a leather work shop, which is chock full of anything you could imagine in leather. Not one for fussing over handbags, I couldn't resist and bought a gloriously soft calf skin bag, and some headbands for the daughters. Lovely, lovely ....

After an excellent cappuccino each in a nearby cafe, we hot-footed it down to the coast to Bateman's Bay, then on to Bermagui, our next destination. We have done this trip a few times on our bikes, and the steep drop as you leave the highlands can test your riding ability, and has been affectionately called 'Brown Undies' (after Brown Mountain). Riding up is enormous fun, but riding down requires extra care, and we have seen riders fall with the tight corners, constant braking and gear changes.

Bateman's Bay seemed bright blue as we pulled in for a thermos coffee and sandwiches at the bridge. The weather was perfect, as was every day of our holiday, with boats tied to the wharf and the ever present gulls hoping for a snack.

It wasn't long before we reached Bermagui and our pre-booked house for two days. We pulled up at our two story fibro-cement sheet house that didn't look all that exciting, but it was bang on the cliffs looking over towards the township. Stretches of coastline with waves breaking on the shore, a nearby cliff walking path, and heaps of blue sky gave us a surge of excitement.

We found the key and unlocked the house to discover it was a treasure inside with everything we could want.


I really enjoy Bermagui with it's clean beaches and lack of major development. After unpacking, we went downtown for a reconnoiter and discovered that there was a major fishing competition that weekend run by the Canberra Angling Club. This place's tourism runs on large game fishermen with huge expensive cabin cruisers with names like 'Chivas Regal' and 'Gambler'. The boats fairly bristle with aerials and long rods and other strange paraphernalia, all of it shouting 'money'!

Years ago (1990) I had a successful solo exhibition in Brighton, Victoria, based on this place, so I knew it fairly well and really enjoy coming back for another look.

We ate some super-fresh fish and chips on the wharf and wandered up and down watching the preparations for the weekend of competitive fishing. The sun was going down, and we watched a large lone seal dipping and diving around the boats hopefully angling for a free feed.

The next morning we went for a wander along the cliff path which led down to a lovely beach with cliffs that really stirred up my artistic soul.

I am planning some paintings of these glorious shapes and colours.

Later in the day we went back to the wharfs and discovered there had been a drowning accident 14 kms out into the ocean. A small craft had capsized and three went in. One drowned and two were rescued. There was a gloomy pall hanging over the anticipated competition and police and ambulance waited quietly by the water's edge for the body and surviving men to be brought in.

Back on our deck over looking the ocean, we cranked up the barbecue for our final dinner away, remarking on the success of our holiday filled with so many interesting events.

Friday, May 9, 2008

We're Going away!!!

....just for a week...... off to Cooma for a night, then Canberra for three days to do 'Turner to Monet' and other stuff, then to sit on a cliff side for two days at Bermagui to admire the whales as they go by.

The poodles are off to their special kennels, where they learn to be nice to other dogs and get fussed over by strangers.

We used to go everywhere like this on the Harleys, and may well do so again, but not this time. I was planning to put my bike on the market, but for some reason have been postponing such a final decision. Now the registration and insurance is due, so must be paid before I leave. Can't leave it sitting in the shed unguarded and uninsured.

I may as well have another go at riding it when I get back.


I went to my life drawing group today, for the first time in many months and really enjoyed it. Sometimes drawings just come easily and today was the day. We had a blond Jesus-like young man called Shaun, who plays a ukulele. He is very long and lean, but muscled, with a great face and tangled blonde hair and beard. He is an experienced model and can twist into some terrific poses.

If I can put aside my going-away preparations for a minute, I will photograph a couple and put them in tomorrow.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lamb Chops Galore

When we got our five ewes a couple of years ago, we needed to keep our small acres clear of grass, have a bit of fun breeding some lambs, and finally converting the progeny into 'table sheep', i.e. into the freezer.

Our lambs were born last September/ October, and although they happened only a couple of weeks after my being badly broken on my motorbike, I really enjoyed their antics and watching them grow into healthy young creatures.

Then the drought hit, and we had no serious rain for some months, leaving our small patch of land totally denuded of grass. So we converted an area into a 'feedlot', and fed our flock of ten mums and youngsters on grass hay from my man's family farm and expensive lucerne. They all stayed fat and happy, but caused me some anxiety as they watched me all day, reminding me their next meal might be due (when it wasn't).

Time to move on to the next stage, we decided, and I began to make inquiries as to the best method of dispatch that would cause them and me the least anxiety. Meeting your maker is rarely a pleasant event, whether it be animal or human, but it was important to me it would be as expedient as possible.

So, Monday of last week, four were bundled into the trailer and taken down to the local 'dispatcher'.
One cute little ewe stayed behind and went to our neighbors behind to be babysat by their lamb, three alpacas and a rather grumpy goat.
Little Chevy, very nervous, on the right and her new best friend, Shabby the young wether.

A motley crew, who rushed at the newcomer, frightening her badly

The mums, who immediately forgot their progeny, were put onto the trailer and carted off to be united with a new Cheviot lover, who was happy to be sent on a honeymoon with our lucerne fat mommas.

They have gone on an extended holiday to the family farm, where they are wandering happily with their woolly man, heads down and bums up, eating grass and making babies for October.

Me? I'm having a rest from all this negotiating and moving 'the flock'.

Our freezer is now full, and my conscience is clearer than I expected. To me, being that connected to the meat that we eat is better than fronting up to the supermarket fridges. We are lucky to be in the position to do it the way we have.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It Pays to Protest

Herald Sun today......

"CHINESE officials will soon meet a representative of the Dalai Lama in what would be the first such known encounter since last month's deadly unrest.

The surprise move was welcomed by a spokesman for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as a step in the right direction.

China has come under intense foreign pressure to hold talks with the Dalai Lama since rioting erupted in the regional capital, Lhasa, last month, spreading to other areas populated by Tibetans.

Beijing's crackdown in the Himalayan region, as well as criticism of its human rights record, triggered protests that have dogged the Olympic torch as it travels the world before China hosts the Games in August.

"Only face-to-face meetings can lead to a resolution of the Tibetan issue," spokesman Tenzin Takla said.

"His Holiness, since March 10 when (anti-Chinese) protests started, had been making all efforts to reach out to the Chinese Government, and he hopes the Tibetan issue can be resolved only through dialogue," he said from Dharamshala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Xinhua news agency quoted an unidentified Chinese official saying that in view of the Dalai Lama's repeated requests, "the relevant department of the central Government will have contact and consultation with Dalai's private representative in the coming days".

"It is hoped that through consultation, the Dalai side will take credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence, and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks."

Beijing had resisted pressure to meet the Dalai Lama and accused him of instigating violence."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Solid Gold Sheila ..........

One of our dearest friends, Jill, is a frustrated choreographer/director/ actor and dancer. Over the eleven years I have known her, she has been a tireless worker on many committees. Any time there is a celebration within these many organisations, she has grabbed the chance to 'put a show on' and jump into the limelight. She inspires others to take part, sets the scene, does a lot of the costumes and gets the show on the road.

Yesterday was the culmination of one of these efforts, where her local women's group had a ten year celebration. A hundred ladies from that branch and elsewhere came for a luncheon and show. I was an invited visitor, and finally had a crack at using my video within my new camera, which I might add, worked a treat.

They chose the Village People and the YMCA song, and they got the costumes together for each member of the group. Jillo was the African American in leather. We sourced a black affro wig from my daughter, and she wore my bikie leather jacket and my man's Harley belt. She glued black fluff onto her chest and you can see the rest.

Very scary.....

All the ladies were terrific, particularly the policewoman, who was just fabulous.

I might add, all of these ladies were in their 60s and 70s.

If that wasn't enough, they did a synchronized swimming piece, with the girls 'swimming' at the Beijing Olympics.

Luv ya heaps Jillo; your blood's worth bottling .....