Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I am feeling a little hot under the collar this morning. Chinese spammers have been stomping all over my nice blog, posting comment adverts, I assume. There was a list of notices in my email inbox 0f 40 plus this morning.

Although I haven't been posting for a while, I am still attached to what I have there, and feel really affronted by this pollution. Sadly, comments will now have to be moderated with word verification just to keep these pests out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


One of a series of poodle portrait commissions just completed.
Pastel on Board

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hard To Believe

My floor sander did a terrific job, ripping off all the old paint and exposing clean sheets of chipboard underneath.

He was such a nice man and quoted me $600 for the entire job. I paid that 8 years ago, so although I felt it greatly overpriced then, today it semed pretty fair.

It was done by lunchtime, and I was very pleased. He had talked about charging me less, and did, knocking $200 off his quote, leaving me amazed at his kindness. He had brought up some clear acrylic finish and was going to sell it @ 5 litres for $30. He gave it to me!

Utterly amazing to find a tradesman who would do that. I would have paid the $630 without question. Makes your little heart sing..................

I have put a coat of undercoat/ sealer, two coats of deep plum/ burgundy and most of the second topcoat, moving my furniture back and forwards. Yesterday Mr Bliss put down some cement sheets and timber edging on the east door where the rain comes in sometimes, so I am doing the same there. My acrylic topcoat didn't last the whole distance so I rang my lovely man up and he said, "I'm going to be down at Knoxfield today and the suppliers are nearby, so I'll get you another 5 litres. Still the lovely man................

Nevertheless I will be pleased when it's all done and I can have my studio back.


We needed a ram to service our 5 girs for this season and was offered an aging gentleman from my man's workmate.

We were a bit horrified when we went to pick him up, as he was an emaciated old fellow, but his owner swore he would be OK for a few girls, and would probably come back home to be ready for a bullet.

We called him Heffner after dear silly old Hugh, the playboy, and we did see him chatting up the gals after a couple of days, but we were not able to see him 'do the business'.

All he seemed to do was eat, so we hoped to see him put some weight on, but after a couple of weeks he still hadn't gained anything, and seemed to be even more bony.

On Saturday I heard Mr Bliss mumbling loudly to himself down in the paddock, and went down to see him trying to get old Heff to stand up. Poor old man did, but only just and was unable to walk. My man went into a spin and we tried to ring the owner, but no answer for that day or the next.

When things don't go the way they should, my man gets very unsettled, so I took the initiative and made the difficult decision to put him down. A couple of shots later, poor Hughey went to God, and was unceremoniously put into the ute to go to the burial place the family farm uses.

I think he just starved to death, with his teeth so worn he couldn't get at the grass, which would probably explain his constant eating. A couple of freezing frosty nights where he couldn't get warm just pushed him over the edge. Maybe having so many nubile women on call put too much pressure on his old body.

We don't know whether our gals still need the attentions of a younger boy, but they probably do. I'm a bit worn out on the subject. We don't have the room to buy a ram and keep him separate, so will rent one next season.

Hugh's previous owner seemed unfazed by his sudden demise............

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Beginning

My studio floor is being sanded today. When it was built around eight years ago, the sander sold me some 'two pot' for the top coat. I had painted it a solid deep burgundy and then went to enormous trouble to stencil a design around the edges. It looked absolutely fabulous with a deep mirror finish.

Two weeks later the man who was installing an air conditioner dropped a wrench on it and left a huge flaw. Horror, real horror! Over the next months and years the top coat separated from the colour below and lifted off in sheets, leaving the floor a total eyesore.

I should have used polyerothane, which I knew would work.

So we will paint it over the next few days moving my enormous pile of gear backwards and forwards. I use it for my gallery, a bed sitter for guests and grandchildren as well as a creative haven from the outside stresses. I will actually feel like finishing the last few jobs on the building that have been hanging over my head for years.


On wednesday we went into the city to see a barrister about my upcoming claim for compensation for my motorcycle accident. It is rather involved and I am glad to a have a guru solicitor who is steering me through it. I am using a 'No Win, No Fee' agreement which takes the pressure off somewhat. The barrister receves $2000 for creating this affidavit chronicling my accident, injuries and the effect it has had on me physically and mentally. He lodges it with TAC and then we go on from there.

He was a very nice man and put us both at ease.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Litter Next Year

My nearly three year old Standard Poodle bitch belongs half to me and half to her breeder. We are to share equally in any litters that she might have. Now, at three, we are having to think seriously about when and to whom she will conceive. The litter will be born here, which is a big job for Zara and I, as poodles have about 8 pups on average.

Kathy hasn't seen Zara for some time now, so on Saturday, I put her in the car and went to meet Kathy at a nearby dog show at Bunyip. She was showing the progeny from her last litter, a stunning white girl looking at her absolute best in her puppy clip. I stayed to watch her class and she got Reserve Challenge which pleased Kathy greatly.

She went over my happy little girl with a fine tooth comb and pronounced her to be constructed very nicely. I have to take her off to have her hips x-rayed to check for hip dysplasia, and a blood test for Von Willebrands, the doggie equivalent of hemophilia where the blood doesn't clot. The way my girl races around her yard shows me there's not too much wrong with the hips.

Kathy has a litter nearly due now and I am happy to leave it until her heat next year, so we're aiming for a winter litter. That cancels out the cold kennels in the shed. Where do I have enough room for a litter, I worried until today as I was out in the studio drawing with a friend. She suggested there, and wow! there is plenty of room out there and it can be heated. Worries over.

I have to take her to Sydney to meet her planned boyfriend, so we will take off for a few days and sightsee while she is being mated.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I wish I had taken my camera so I would have photos to accompany this post.

Over the weekend Mr Bliss and I went for a drive out through the local areas affected by the recent bush fires. It was a real eye opener, with many houses spared but the surroundings burned right to the door.

Miles of fencing is gone but the farmers are working hard to get new posts and wire up. Many paddocks were stripped to the bare earth, but are now sporting a tinge of green after the recent rains.

Always amazing are the gum trees, which sprout shoots all the way up the trunk in order to get the tree functioning again. After it finally grows a new crown, these shoots all fall off when they are no longer needed.

Along the road sides, the bracken ferns' long green tendrils are reaching for the sky.

Nature is indeed a wonderful thing.

Not so wonderful are the stories of fence posts, laid out by farmers ready for 'planting' the next day, and stolen from the paddocks. Indeed, poor character will not improve in the face of such hardship. Thieves are thieves, and stay thieves, no matter how bad things get.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Did the Earth Move for you?

We were sprawled comfortably in front of the giant TV watching 'Casino Royale' a few nights back, when the house shifted on it's footings, creaking and groaning. Then it began to shudder noisily, with things rattling busily in the cupboards.

The epicentre of this quake was in Korumburra, about a half an hour's drive away. We did have a smaller tremor a few months back, harking from the same place, but that was very light. At the time I wondered whether I had imagined that, but this one was 4.6 on the Richter Scale, and there was no mistake.

Will there be a bigger one at Korumburra? They must be wondering.

Friday, February 27, 2009

No Gratitude for our Hospitality

This week we saw a young man on CCTV having his head kicked by Sudanese youths at a suburban railway station. We watch as he is shadowed by the three along a narrow corridor, how they spoke to him then shoved him down and aimed deliberately at his head. He tried to get up a couple of times, but they kicked him down again.

Apart from this shocking violence from the recipients of our refuge policies, there was more. A young couple stepped into the corridor, and walked quietly past, obviously nervous, but made no attempt to help. I am assuming that they told no-one, because after the men left, the injured man stumbled to his feet, bouncing backwards and forwards between the walls as he went to find help. No-one came, so I am assuming the couple did nothing. Good to know we all take care of each other.

I'm not sure but I think this man is still in hospital with 'serious head injuries'. Two of the three men have been arrested.

They have come from a place where violence is normal, and landing in 'safe' Australia, they form gangs and cause this sort of mayhem to peaceful Australians.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Close Call

Mr Bliss had a fright three days ago while he was messing around out in his shed. He stood on a rake which had the classic reaction of smashing up into his face. The rake was old and had a frayed pointy end on the handle. It knocked his glasses off his nose and whacked him in the eye, which made him turn the air blue with his cursing.

On examination, there was blood running out of his eye and the eyeball looked a bit scraped. He went off to the hospital to wait the interminable wait in casualty, and came home with drops and a patch on his eye.

He was very lucky that he didn't pop the eyeball, but he is recovering, and back to firefighting again today. Another check with a doctor yesterday showed it was healing well, so we can both breathe a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bye Old Dog

My old poodle died yesterday, very suddenly, and presumably from a heart attack.

He spent most of his afternoons contentedly dozing on the front veranda, watching his two beloved gals playing or dozing around him. Every now and again he would stagger clumsily to his feet for a drink of water, as his kidneys have been dicey for a few years, wander round for a moment then settle with a heavy sigh back on his cushion. Dinner time is about 4.30, and he would stand hopefully peering through the door for his big bowl to be put in front of him. Another drink and some more time on that cushion until bedtime out in the doggie runs at 7pm.

I've just bought a new laptop and spent yesterday afternoon transfering piles of files from the old pooter to the new. He was not in the front of my brain, so when he didn't appear at the door looking for his bowlfull, I didn't think much of it and went looking for him, until I spotted him down by the gate.

He was lying quietly on his side, legs stretched out like he was asleep, but he wasn't. He must have gone for a wander and felt bad and just laid down and died.

His two lady friends came out with me and looked and sniffed at him, looked sadly at me and walked away. It's so simple in the animal world.

Mr Bliss (thanks for the name girls, I like it!) was away at the fires again, and wouldn't be back until dark, so I sent a trunk radio message out for him to ring me and come home ASAP for a burial.

He did and chose a nice spot down in the forest under the gum trees and buried him there.

But what a nice old dog, and for us, so lucky to have lived so long, as his history tried to undo him many times. He had a heart murmur, 2 separate snake bites, bloat (stomach twist needing surgery), and a cruciate ligament snapped at the rear. He lived through all of those and reached the venerable age of 15.

He had a gentle lovable nature and was known to nip his very favourite visitors in his pleasure at seeing them, so everyone knew to guard against his passion by holding his head away.

He visited oldies in the old folks' homes and we got quite famous making it onto the front page of the local newspaper, and reached Australian Champion in his show career before he came to me.

We'll miss you, old dog.............................

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Week on...........

It's hard to describe what last Saturday was like a week after the event. I know my man had been working on the fire at Boolara and had gone out early to begin another day. The weather seemed pretty innocuous with bright sunshine and a coolish breeze. Forty six degrees was forecast, which seemed hard to believe.

Around lunchtime the heat began to kick in, and while the air conditioner did its job keeping the temperature down to 27C in the house, opening the door meant stepping out into a hot bath, with thick, super heated air. The wind whipped up into a frenzy. Small fires across on the northern ranges began sending up thick columns of smoke and creeping across the hills. Phone calls from my firefighter sounded very worried as things rapidly spiraled out of control. They were pulled off the fire line for the bulk of the day as it was deemed too dangerous.

Radio and television told of houses burning and people dying, or having near misses. Images of burnt out cars that had crashed into each other in the thick smoke showed the horror that must have been.

The newspapers have been full of it all week, with photos of those that died, families and heroes. A seventeen year old boy took his camera and filmed while his parents rushed around trying to save their house.

A dehydrated wild koala with burned paws was filmed as he drank from a fireman's bottle, trusting and desperate.

Cities grew on football ovals as thousands, who had no place to go, moved into army tents.

One hundred and eighty one people have died at last count, and many more are in hospital with burns.

Australia began to donate to a Red Cross fund for the survivors which now totals over $81,000,000. The Australian Cricket team and Shane Warne visited the oval and plays cricket with the kids, and a telethon with many of Australian elite performers were on board.

In the middle of all this excitement, my man gets up at 5.30 am and leaves at 6 to start at 7, and works on the fire line all day to return home at 9 or 10 pm. He arrives with blackened face and clothes, smelling of soot, happy to be home and safe for another day. The DSE firemen do not figure much on the TV, as they are usually working hard in the forest away from the cameras, but he's my hero.


I spent a couple of days in hospital this week to have my knee manipulated under anesthetic and am hoping to get a better result once the pain and swelling subsides.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bad Weather

Well, we had the longest hot spell on record in Victoria last week. In my mathematics 45C turns into 112F, which is hot. The air con that we bought the winter before last kept me at a cool 27 inside, but that was so I could watch as my garden just frizzled away. There is now enormous damage everywhere I look, but it's too early to trim all the burnt bits off. They will have to wait until autumn, just in case we get more.

Anticipating some summer heat, the week before I pressed my man into building me a shade cloth sail to stretch out over the veggie garden and that is not so destroyed. Instead that was ruined by my feeding the plants blood and bone and Dynamic Lifter the month before, not knowing he had mixed in super phosphate to throw all on the paddocks. That literally burned holes in the leaves and annihilating some all together. This year's veggies are struggling now. The zucchinis, which are usually producing more that I need are just a few sprouting husks.

Time to let go.

By the end of the heat our first deliberately lit forest fire took off up the line near Mirboo North, so my man was called away to help. He has been delivering fuel to the dozer drivers carving out containment lines around it and has been gone for four days, back tonight for a rest, then probably off again.

Twenty nine homes were lost, so the police are very keen to find the fire bug. I have often remarked that it would be good to put him into old fashioned stocks in the middle of the town affected and let the townspeople deal with him. Public humiliation seems like a good tool to me.

Yesterday we had a cool front move up from the west, bringing with it lightning strikes but no rain, which has started 29 new spot fires. No wind yet which can fan them into major problems.

Our summer is usually very focused on what fires are where, as my man comes and goes with the flow.


Needing some human contact, rather that up here talking to the poodles for days on end, I took myself off to see 'Gran Torino', produced, directed and acted by Clint Eastwood. He's a 78 year old wrinkly now, and there is talk that this will be his last movie, but this one was a good one. He plays a dried up, grumpy old bloke who fought in the Korean War, so doesn't like Asians, and he has a whole household of them next door. Political correctness goes out the window as he calls up every unsavoury term he can think of to describe them.

He does the grumpy really well, and there are flashes of 'Dirty Harry' and other classics from his past. I enjoyed it. I heard him interviewed about it a few weeks back, and he is such a cool guy.

Friday, January 23, 2009


My apologies to my lovely blog pals, as I haven't written much for a while. I am in a bit of limbo right now, waiting for more recovery on my knee, then the expected battle for compensation with the TAC (Transport Accident Commission). I was warned by a doctor recently that they are just another insurance company who will stop at nothing to pay out as little as possible. Bring it on, I say!

I have to wait until my injuries are 'stable', which will be a little while yet.

My new knee is truly brilliant and causes me very little discomfort. But it does not bend enough for normal range of movement and activities, so will probably need some in-theatre manipulation under anesthetic. I will know more after the fourth of Feb.

I'm sure once the smell of the battle to come gets into my nostrils, I will feel better.................


Apart from that, last Wednesday I put myself onto the famous Atkins Diet, and have lost 2 kgs already. Renowned for fast weight loss, it is very rigid and allow NO carbs, NO sugar, NO wine (boo hoo!) and NO fruit. This causes your body to go into 'ketosis' where it burns fat, not sugar and carbs. If you don't eat the carbs your body can't use them. My two daughters are on it and one has lost 7kgs in about 3 weeks and the other lost 3 kg in a week. We are having fun just geeing each other up when we falter.

I was becoming far too 'plump' for my liking and have already lost 12kg just being very careful since last July, but this was too tempting. Speeding up the losing process, then going back to my careful eating is my plan when I'm there

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snakes Again

We had our summer confrontation with our local tiger snakes last weekend and fortunately the dogs were not involved for a change.

My man was happily browsing through his considerable piles of stuff in his shed. He moved his mower, and there it was - a metre long tiger! I heard muffled 'f' words coming from the depths and no answer to my query but more of the same.

Sadly his accumulation of things in his cave gave the snake ample opportunity for escape, so it lives on, hopefully in harmony with the noisy male part-time resident, my fella.

The dogs' kennels are built into the rear of the shed with openings to the outside and a concreted run. All the snake had to do was slither under one of the internal doors and he could have happy 'hissy' chats with the poodles. They're not very forgiving with snakes as two snake bites so far have proved, so we blocked that exit with wood nailed to the ground to close the gap under each doorway. A snake now has to come out the front and go round to the run and get in that way.

He's probably been living there for months, we just hadn't met until now. I've sprayed the snake repellent everywhere, so hopefully that will send it into a spin and it may leave.

We can only hope, and in the meantime the other 'cave dweller' had better wear boots and long pants.