Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Eve

 

It's going to a be funny Christmas this year. Mr Bliss has ridden off down the driveway this morning to travel to Merimbula and spend it with two of his children and their significant others, and his one grandson.

I could have gone, but am a bit antisocial at the moment, and the dogs need looking after. I am quite happy 'home alone', doing just what I feel like ..... and no Christmas food to prepare.

I am being spoiled by my ex-sister-in-law, and am going down there tomorrow lunch time for food and family. After I divorced her brother-in-law, I kept up a long standing friendship with her, and we are great pals.

So, my ex-family is like real family and all will be there. Ninety two y.o. mum, hubby, two adult kids and assorted grand children. My daughter and her 5 y.o.son will also be there as she was the catalyst that got us all together when she was twelve and friends with Nicole.

There will be heaps of food, as they love to cook. Jim, who is American, always makes a big event out of stuffing the ('goddamn') turkey, and Kath gets the Bain Marie out and fills it with far too much.

I'm a vegetarian, but I know she is thoughtfully catering to my preference, promising lots of variety for me to tuck in.

So, bring it on! Just some wrapping of presents, no Christmas Tree to fuss over, and being spoiled tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We had a disaster unfold yesterday, with one of our sheep found cast upside down along the fence. I thought she was dead, and then a leg moved. She had a big hole in her chest and it looked flyblown. We begged our shearer to come around ASAP to clean it up and have a look. He'd just finished a day's shearing miles away and must have been exhausted, but I pleaded and he relented.

She's OK, but has a 4 inch jagged, deep tear in her chest. Maggots were just hatching out in the wool, but she wasn't flyblown, thank heavens.

Nev's just clipped that area off with hand shears, and is coming tonight to do the rest of her and the others. Rain is predicted, but I hope he will arrive and do the job before it does.


I am so GLAD I went round to check on them and do their water, otherwise she probably wouldn't have lasted until tomorrow. Poor little gal!

Weeksie hasn't been the easiest of our little flock. Apart from being very short in the legs, her wool grows all over her face and she becomes wool blind if we don't trim it. She has tiny little horns that she likes to poke us with in close quarters, and she is always the one to make a break for it when we are moving them around, taking the rest off down the hill with her. But we do love her, for all her faults. 


Here she is a few years back with her tiny brand new twinnies.
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Post Script: 
Poor Weeksie was attacked by a domestic dog, as we discovered when she was shorn all over. Bite wounds around her face and neck, a huge rip down one shoulder and a large three cornered tear on her rump made it very obvious the poor little girl has had a terrible time. We felt sick, and still do!

The vet is coming this morning to look at the largest wound on her chest. She has lasted this long, but I think antibiotics are in order.

I have done a letterbox drop to all local neighbours with dogs, letting them know what has happened, that we may be laying baits, and any dogs seen wandering near or property will be shot on sight. Trying to get the correct wording to put the wind up everyone, but not insult them, took a bit of work, but I think I got it right.

Hopefully this is a one-off event. Sheep farmers up on the borders of forest have many many sheep killed and mauled by wild and domestic dogs. It must be the worst discovery you could make as a farmer.
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PPS. We have all survived nearly a week later. We had the vet for a check over, and cleaned her up each day and picked maggots out of the deep holes. Maggots are actually useful as they only eat dead flesh and leave the living. They apparently secrete an enzyme which dissolves only the dead stuff so they can lap it up, I have discovered thanks to Google. 

She has been very brave .... quite passive really, as she is usually a bit difficult. Last night as we did our final check and injected her with antibiotics, she began to play up again.. a sure sign she is feeling better. So much trauma and pain, for a sheep, she's been very understanding that we were helping her.

Everything is now sealed over, so there's nothing more than time can help. It's been less than a week since I found her and the HUGE hole in her chest is mostly filled in and the tear through the shoulder muscle is nearly there too.

Now I can get on and enjoy Christmas......... :0)

End of the World?

I just couldn't help passing these on ....





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stop Live Export Petition Launched

I am a passionate supporter of ending this vile trade, and contribute everywhere I can to push for change. I have just launched a petition with Avaaz, a 15 million member petition group, which has brought about major change in many areas of need worldwide.

I also write to the local newspaper whenever a new LE disaster surfaces, to politicians, on blogs, Face Book Pages, and donate to Animals Australia. We try to keep the pressure on government for change.

I like this..... "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation." Robert Kennedy, 1966.

This is the content of my Avaas petition:
"Australia has developed a long standing industry of exporting thousands of cows, sheep and goats onto tightly packed ships and transporting them for sometimes up to a month to as far away as the Middle East.

They suffer and can be injured from inclement weather on the water and extreme temperatures they are not used to. They can sicken or starve, and thousands die, to be thrown overboard, which has been said to mess with the ocean ecology.

If they reach their destination intact, they are then subjected to often cruel handling and brutal slaughter without stunning that would not be allowed in Australia and many countries around the world.

Australians have been horrified time and time again by vision of extreme cruelty in Live Export destinations, but the government refuses to budge as it is seen as a financially valuable industry. Month by month, new horror stories emerge to shock the nation. 

Please add your voice to help end this cruel trade."

Please consider signing on this link:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Live_Animal_Export_from_Australia/?pv=0 



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vets in Trouble with Pannus

Lily's eye was removed in July, and now it seems it was not necessary. Her other eye flared up a few months back with the same symptoms as the first. I took her to the vet (not the same one, but the same vet clinic) and it was immediately diagnosed as Pannus. We used Cortisone Drops and anti-inflammatories and it improved overnight.

I got onto the internet and did lots of research and found it was an hereditary condition and always affects both eyes .... though not necessarily at the same time. It cannot be cured, but can be controlled, as her remaining eye is now.

That led me to the conclusion that the first vet, who was pretty unpleasant to deal with, had not dealt with Lily correctly by not trying everything that could be tried before removing the eye.

I called a meeting with her and the senior vet. She apologised if I felt that she had been judgemental about me, but would not admit she could have done better. The senior vet said they had done nothing wrong and had provided me with all the options I needed. He also made a throwaway comment that 'Lily's eye was shot anyway', even though he had not seen the dog for nearly a year. He was in no position to make such a judgement. Luckily, I found a photo of Lily with a nearly clear eye only 7 weeks before the surgery, so that blows his theory out of the water, and gives me proof.

To cut a long story short, I have made a complaint to the Veterinary Board, they have accepted it and sent my submission on to the vets involved. They will send a reply back and it will be sent on to me for my comments. Finally, if we can't reach an agreement, it will go to a formal meeting.

Sometimes it pays to make a stand, as I am now. They are probably protecting themselves from litigation, but that was never on my agenda. I asked for my money back, and then said I would accept half in the spirit of compromise.... and they have refused. We'll see. The vet board doesn't make judgements about money, just the professional behaviour of vets.

I'm just rattling the bars of their cage a bit at this stage, but I'm pretty upset.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Big Dell Arriving!

I have a whacking great Dell 27" Touchscreen All-In-One computer arriving this morning (hopefully), so am very excited. I will write further about my wonderful journey into Digital Art as I go along. Yes, I am back, and promise to stay for a while this time!

I love painting and drawing on my computer, and for a while now, have used a Wacom Pen Tablet connected via a USB to my 15" laptop. Art Rage is a fabulous drawing/ painting program, simulating the process so closely, that with a bit of practice, you forget you are not scratching away on paper or canvas, and there no cleaning up or studio/storage space needed for your work.

Next, I lashed out on a 12.1" touchscreen notepad that swivels the screen around and converts into a tablet. I take that away with me on holidays and drives to draw and paint, to my Life Drawing group, and just for a quiet on-my-lap paint at home. People are fascinated, though the normal tablets, iPads and Android, can do that now. But mine is a bit bigger and the version of Art Rage is more comprehensive. Life Drawing has been a real buzz, and I have developed a method of getting a sketch down quickly, and have sold quite a few prints of my favourites.

So how to convert these computer files in to quality hard copies? I bought a beautiful Epson R3000 A3 printer, and now print on to Archival Artist paper with pigmented inks for longevity. This creates glorious prints with high definition and depth of colour. Calibrating my screen, colour matching and soft proofing has been a steep learning curve, and I still get it wrong sometimes, but I throw them away and practice some more.

We have an Artist Market through the summer months in Warragul, and I have been there for the first 2, and sold well at both. At around $20 - $25 for an individually signed A4 artist print, I am very happy with that. Selling art is harder work than it was a few years ago, and the friendly interaction with appreciative buyers has been really rewarding.

I am still working hard to spend my winnings on Hot Seat Millionaire (..... gosh, that's been fun!), and want a BIG touchscreen computer to paint on, so here comes the Dell. I think it will loosen up my painting process because it will mimic a canvas on an easel. So watch this space.

Monday Morning

It's a new week and lots going on. We went for a lovely luncheon at Cloudehill in the Dandenong Ranges yesterday. The spectacular gardens are at their best right now, with verdant clipped hedges and great banks of spring flowers. I have made a post about this wonderful place a few years back, so query on that post and have a look. Sadly, I didn't take my camera, so no new photos. Great food, ambiance, service and company made for a beautiful day.
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I am trialling contact lenses at the moment, after years of finding glasses extremely uncomfortable. Specsavers in our local town have been really friendly, helpful and professional .... and patient, taking all the time I needed to learn to install, remove and clean, etc. I was getting quite good at it, but at some stage on Saturday afternoon, I rubbed my eye, and then realised that one had disappeared. I might add, it took me a while to work that out, just thinking I was a bit cloudy because my eye was irritated!

So, thinking I had rubbed it out and lost it, I scoured the house trying to find it, to no avail. Great puzzlement.

I wore glasses all yesterday and last night. 

This morning, I thought my eye felt a little odd, and wondering as I always do, got onto Google and asked whether your contacts can get lost in your eye. Yes, they can.

To cut a long story short, I rolled my eyeball and eyelid around, and there it was!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Big Wind

A trip through the hills for lunch yesterday turned into a nightmare/marathon! Weather predictions warned us there would be gale force winds, and they weren't wrong. Here is a tale of my exploits yesterday after a simple luncheon out turned into a major adventure. There was wind and debris all along the road and then a tree down, so I had to wait for the nearby council backhoe to clear it. Then along further, more trees down, but I could creep around them. Finally, a few hundred metres from my destination, another big wattle totally blocked the road, so Sheryl came and picked me and Susan up (leaving our cars there), and we stayed for our 2 hour lunch. Afterwards we drove back to the cars and the tree has been cleared, but another was down a little way on, so we held the branches back for each other, just enough to creep through. On ahead to another tree, I spent 10 minutes breaking off branches and clearing a path, then next, on to the power lines draped across the road, with just enough room to sneak under (ribbons tied on so SP Austnet knew). The backhoe appeared again, so I pointed him to the last tree I had navigated through. He was having a big day. Onwards, dodging lots of debris and more light trees dropped here and there, to finally half a km from home, there was a huge cypress right across the road. I had to give up, but fortunately a neighbour's house was right there, so I went up and left the car, had a quick chat and commiserations, and walked home the last stretch in the ROARING wind and spitting rain. The power was out, of course, because of the dropped power lines. Mr Bliss rang, so I said could he pick up a pizza from Korumburra on his way through (as we are all electric)? He rang again after a time and said the whole town had no power and he was nearly out of fuel because the bowsers weren't working. On the drive home he got a flat tyre, so had to change it in the roaring wind and rain, but did make it home with little fuel. No power, so no hot dinner (or water). We drained a couple of buckets of water out of our tank to drink and wash with. After picking up my car, we toasted bread over the fire with an excellent built-on-the-spot wire fork and lit the candles and the kerosene lamp loaned to us by the neighbour. Mr Bliss went off to bed to read his Kindle, and I got my little laptop out and drew the lamp and candles, see:
The power came back on at 9pm. All's well and I'm exhausted! There's nothing like living in the hills.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Old Lily

 
My wonderful 13+ y.o. standard poodle Lily had her left eye removed a few weeks back, and we are still trying to get used to a permanently winking old lady.

She has been going blue in that eye for time, so her vision wasn't good enough for her to dodge twigs in the garden. She damaged it once last October, we treated it and over some time, it healed. After a few days staying at the kennels, she came home weeping a bit from that eye again. Sure enough she had done it again. I had ointment, so kept putting that in everyday, but it would come good for a few days, then regress. I had a family tragedy arise that slowed my attention to a crawl for time, but finally it got bad enough to warrant taking her to the vet.


My usual lovely vet was on holidays, and the one I saw instead dragged me heavily through a guilt trip, inferring that she hadn't healed from the 2011 issue. It didn't matter how I protested, she wouldn't relent, and suggested I take Lily to see an eye specialist down in Malvern East to try to save the eye. On ringing their offices, I couldn't get an appointment at Moe, who has only one day per month there, so would have to wait a while for the Malvern appointment. Lily was obviously uncomfortable, and I was getting no constructive advice from my vet, so felt it probably should be removed to stop the serial relapses and her suffering. I did ring the night before hoping for some different medication that might help it, but Megan said no, there wasn't.


I had no choice but to use Megan for the surgery, as my lovely vet was still away, but she toned down my guilt trip to a manageable level.
Lily has been brave and dignified through the whole process, but the sight of her stumbling out to me with her topknot clipped off and huge stitches over that side, took my breath away. Such a visual shock! I sobbed loudly all the way home in the car.
She had her stitches out last week and never moved a muscle, earning a dried liver treat from Megan.

I still look at her and am surprised to see her winking, but when her topknot grows back, I will scissor the hair into a fetching Greta Garbo look, and hopefully we'll barely notice. What a girl!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tomorrow's the Show!

Well, it's taken a while for my Hot Seat Millionaire episode to air, but it will be on tomorrow night (28th) at 5.25pm.

All my friends are very excited and their friends as well ..... so the local ratings for the show will lift marginally for a day.

I was given a bottle of Bollinger by Mr Bliss for Christmas and have been saving it for a special occasion. A few local pals are coming to watch it on our big screen, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to pop the cork!

Talk about 5 minutes of fame!

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Apart from that, I am practicing on my new Wacom pen tablet, and having a lovely time. I have always loved scratchboard art, which is board with a layer of kaolin clay, then a top layer of indian ink. Scratching the surface with a special tool creates fine lines of white.... perfect for creating fur, and anything else you can come up with.

I decided to bypass the board and do it digitally, which has worked a treat. When I want to print some, I will do a limited edition giclee print on quality paper and have a finished artwork. Anyway, here's my first one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"How To Train Your Dragon'

I took my daughter and her 13 y.o. son to 'How To Train Your Dragon' at Hisense Arena on Sunday, and we had a wonderful time. The show was beyond amazing, with life like dragons of all colours and shapes, and a set that made a whole new benchmark for theatre productions. 

It is hard to get photos to show how the set worked, as it is kept under wraps so we will be amazed when we see it.

We were.

The arena was walled off at half it's size... I suppose to keep the huge dragons stored out of sight, and to use that huge wall as part of the set. The scenery was projected onto the floor and the wall and the scenes rolled and shifted to all parts of the dragon's world. Everything moved, rocks, ladders and other stuff fell and crashed down, houses blew up, flames roared, water lapped and rippled, and fish swam. In one scene, a (real, life size) dragon was chasing a fish in the water. It would appear, and he would jump towards it, the water would splash around his feet, and then it would reappear again for him to chase elsewhere. 

The huge wall at the end would change to order, doors were projected and a real dragon or people would come out of that door.

The flying sequences were totally entrancing, with the scenery rolling up in the air, past mountains, over seas, into the dragon's nest, and the dragon and his hero moving around suspended from the roof, looking just like they were 'in' this scenery.

Down below us, there was a bank of computer guys in front of their screens working hard at timing everything right. Once upon a time, it was an orchestra, now it's computers, a sign of the times.

The dragons were spectacular with the attention to detail mind blowing, down to the smallest wrinkle, stained tooth and muscle definition. The designers said that the muscles were created with shaped bean bags under the skin, so when the dragon moved, those muscles would move realistically.


We loved it, and it was worth the long traveling times to get from Gippsland to Melbourne. It was Moomba weekend, so we were worried about crowds and parking, so the train was the go. I haven't been on one for many years, and I remember why I don't, but it got us there bang on time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Simon Scama's 'Rembrant' - Magnificent!


Part One of four sections. Well worth a look if you like Rembrandt. Simon does many other great artists and I am looking forward to working my way through them.

Monday, February 27, 2012

'Bermagui Reflections'


This painting was done around 1990 for my Bermagui solo show at Brighton. The reflections nearly sent me crazy, but the result was worth all the work. 

It came runner up in the National Atelier Competition and it's photo was in Australian Artist Magazine.... October 1991 ( I think?).

People came into the show looking to buy it, but it was snapped up early.

I have since done it in pastel as well, and that has sold off my website to a man who bought others at Brighton.

The boats and water were beautiful early in the morning and late afternoon, with still water, orangey light and not too many humans around.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wise Words Indeed.

Cloudy shapes


On my daughter's Facebook page, she posted the picture above showing a dog/cloud, and wondering whether it was Photoshopped. It's very clever, so I said I would do one as well. Being a poodle person, I chose one as my 'doggy cloud', and see below for my effort.

It takes a while copying, cloning and pasting sections, but I'm pleased with the result.

 

I have just bought a new pen tablet and am looking forward to it arriving next week. My old one became obsolete as I updated computers and operating systems, and they never updated their drivers. 

I am really looking forward to having one again, because I want to do digital art and maybe translate it onto canvas in paint.

'B J's Got a Rock'


This painting is 20 years old, and when I was painting in acrylics. It was presented and sold in my solo show at a gallery in Brighton. I sold 29 paintings on the opening night, which was a HUGE thrill. Sadly, the current financial climate seems to have somewhat slowed down spending these days.

I was fascinated by painting water then and still am now, and the fine glazing of light paint on the surface was really working for me.

He was a dear old dog; one of those obsessive, gotta have something in your mouth kind of pooches, and I worried about his teeth wearing down with all those rocks he was carrying.

I really love this painting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

'Wheel'


I am not so sure what kind of train this is, but I like this painting very much as well. It displays the solidity and the power of the metal required to drive these trains. 

It is in oils on canvas with gallery wrapped edges, measuring 610 X 915 mm and is available for sale at the 'studio price' of $1200.

There will be more train paintings to come.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My 'Red Rattler'

Coal Creek at Korumburra was full of lovely rusty peeling machinery and historic objects. When I returned some years after my reference photos were taken, it had all been taken away. The place was pristine and not nearly so interesting.


'The Tait trains, also referred to as the "Red Rattlers", were a wooden bodied Electric Multiple Unit train that operated on the suburban railway network of Melbourne. They were introduced in 1910 by the Victoria Railways as steam locomotive hauled cars, and converted to electric traction from 1919 when the Melbourne electrification project was underway. The trains derived their name from Sir Thomas Tait, the chairman of commissioners of the Victorian Railways from 1903 to 1910. The first cars were built during 1909 with the last entering service in 1951.

 A Red Rattler in 1983 at St. Kilda station

The trains were initially known as "Sliding Door" trains, as opposed to the Swing Door then in service. They were later known as "Red Rattlers" or "Reds" until the 1950s when the blue painted trains were introduced." (Thanks to Wikipedia for that info).

I remember as a young woman, going to work at Ripponlea and other trips, riding these trains and feeling a great affection for them even then. They did rattle!

I recently read a book 'Strange Country' by Mark Dapin. He wandered around Australia documenting odd pastimes by Aussie people. In it, he talked about 'gunzels', dedicated train spotters and collectors of all things train. There were even collectors of train timetables and other oddities.

I did paint the K190 steam engine years ago and got a 'highly commended' for my trouble. I still have that in my collection. It's quite large, so maybe not so saleable. I probably would give it away to the group that take care of that engine.

Train spotting is very interesting if you like machinery as I do. I went to see the Flying Scotsman when it was out here, and have hung over bridges with the camera poised as a steam train roars underneath. Once, I rushed back to the car as one passed by and raced to get to the next vantage point for another shot.

Puffing Billy has not passed my gaze and I have painted two paintings, both of which sold to a train collector.

It was sad, seeing this old carriage peeling and rusting, but it's shapes, colours and history really inspired me to do it justice. There is not a single stroke that I would change, I like it so much.

It is in oils on canvas with gallery wrapped edges, measuring 610 X 915 mm and is available for sale at the 'studio price' of $1500.

There will be more train paintings to come.

Tarted Up Website

Well, my brain is fried, but I've had a giggle creating 'image maps' for my website. They're a lot of fun; you create an image, then put 'hot spots' on it in your web builder. They link thru to new pages, like any other, but the graphic stays complete. 
New gallery light box for 2 of 4 galleries are done (blerg!!!) and 2 more when my head comes back on straight and my bum's not so sore.The pages are a bit quirky, but I learn a lot by putting ideas into action.
For a look see, go to www.robynrinehart.com

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Listing my Paintings

I have put in my site description that Bliss Hill is for my paintings as well as daily life, so I decided I would put a painting in every few days and any interesting details about it. Some will be sold, and some will be for sale.

Number 1 is 'Drifting'


A few years back, Mr Bliss and I went with a couple of our favorite people to cruise down the Murray from Echuca for four days on a house boat. Traveling so slowly and almost silently was very relaxing. The River Red Gums were majestic along the banks and I took a lot of photos of the water, trees, sunsets and wild life. I haven't painted any riverscapes yet, but I did paint this.

The river is a dull brown most times, but does get a bit of a blue green glow on bright sunny days. I have painted many reflections over the years, mostly from boats at Bermagui, so I have a bit of a fascination with them.

I hung over the side of the houseboat and threw some plucked wattle into the water and photographed it as it floated away. 

Painting all those ripples sent my brain a bit mushy, but once you establish where everything is, it's like embroidery.

This oil painting is quite large, and now belongs to a friend of mine who loves to decorate her beautiful house. She snapped it up as soon as it was done.

She comes up to my house most Tuesdays, and has done for around 12 years to draw with me in my studio. I rarely go to hers because we catch up on our friendship up here.

She does put on a wonderful Christmas lunch for our small group every couple of years, so I caught up with my painting in December. I still love it, and so does she.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going Into Hot Seat Millionaire


Well, I haven't written about it, but it's really happening tomorrow.... all day!

I have passed the online quiz and then the second audition with a 30 question quiz, interviews and write-up about the interesting bits of my life, so tomorrow I go to meet Eddie!

The nerves are just buzzing around the edges of my brain, but I am determined that I am just going to experience it, enjoy it, and be prepared to lose.

Lots of people talk about how they sit in their TV chairs and answer questions in quiz shows and how they would do well if they went on. I have been doing that for years, and finally decided to have a crack - 'put my money where my mouth is'!

Five episodes are being taped tomorrow afternoon, but we have to be at the studios for rehearsals, etc, at 8.20 am sharp. I am off into the city tonight and staying at the Vibe Savoy, which is '7 minutes' away from the Docklands studio.

Mr Bliss is coming in tomorrow lunchtime as my 'supporter', and a couple of other pals for the audience experience. Mr Bliss has been told firmly he is not to put his thumb up when Eddie asks him how I'll go!

Stay tuned, there'll be more!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turning Vegetarian

I love the flavour of meat! I have always salivated when there was a roast in the oven, or lamb chops on the barbie. But I can't do it any more.

The Four Corners Live Animal expose started me off, and it horrified most Australians with the brutality and cruelty in Indonesia. I couldn't even watch the footage, as I knew it would be burned into my brain forever. The stubbornness of the government refusing to work towards putting a full stop on this dreadful trade opened our eyes to the all-mighty dollar taking precedence over the welfare of sentient beings under our care.


I, and local animal welfare activists campaigned heavily in Baw Baw Shire, writing letters to our local MP Russell Broadbent, and further afield to Canberra. We held a petition signing on a Saturday morning, gaining over 500 signatures in only a few hours. People were furious, even local cattle producers.

Nothing helped, apart from the short term ban, and weak promises made about controlling where the animals went and how they were treated. Nothing was done about mandatory stunning before slaughter, and still hasn't. 

Sheep are currently being sent to many middle eastern countries and undergoing horrific slaughter practices, not to mention the 2 - 3 week trip where many are starving or dying from stress and illness.

In the meantime, I remained a determined meat eater, and our lambs produced the year before were being slowly fed into ours and our family's freezers. We knew that their last day on earth would be a worrying one for them, but we took them down Sunday night and they were dispatched by 8am the next morning. 'End of life' is a problem for every sentient being, us included, just our lambs lives would be somewhat shorter than usual.

The last time we went to the local abattoir, my thoughts were changed forever.

There was a very young ewe in the race, with a tiny lamb. It was Sunday evening and it looked like they had been there all weekend. No food or water. The mother had no milk, and the baby was very distressed. I looked around, hoping there might be someone nearby who could do something to help her, but the place was deserted. I looked for CCTV to see if I could take them home without being caught. I could see none, but I thought I would be charged with theft if I did. On reflection all these months later, I should have rung the RSPCA. At the time, I could think of nothing I could do to resolve it. For a long time afterwards, the imploring look the little mother was giving us was etched into my brain.

Next, a huge truck came in, heavily loaded with sheep three tiers high. I stood by it and waited for the driver to unload it and watched the sheep. They were exhausted and distressed, some lying down with others standing over them, all jammed in tight together. Urine dripped down onto them from the load above.

The truck left after discharging its load and we offloaded our two animals, herding them up the race to their allotted pen. My last sight of them was of their woolly rear ends and skinny little legs trotting into the unknown, ears swiveling in confusion and fear.

The whole episode was very difficult, far more than the times before, just topping off the horror of the Indonesian hell.

The final nail in the coffin was the expose of the extreme cruelty to pigs in the Giles Abattoir in Trafalgar. That was our abattoir!

I have not eaten meat since.....

Since then, I have been plunged into a world of animal suffering. Animals Australia, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (whales in the Southern Ocean), PETA, and groups fighting against Fur Farming and China's unbelievably ruthless fur trade have become my heroes, fighting endlessly to stamp out animal cruelty.

I feel wonderful about not eating meat, and am slowly building up a supply of terrific recipes that work for us. Sadly, Mr Bliss wants to continue as a carnivore and we have had some tussles over the proportion of meat free days allotted to each. We settled on half a week veg for him, and the other days I throw him some meat to go with my veg dinner. I don't like handling meat anymore, because I see each piece as where it came from the animal, but I have no choice or there will be a ruckus in the household. He does enjoy our veg meals nevertheless. So long as he's fed....

My final step is to try and phase out milk products. We live in a dairying area, and often see tiny calves who have been wrenched off their mothers at birth being transported off to market, and sold to be killed. Boy babies don't make the cut, unfortunately.

I love cheese and milk, but had soy this morning on my cereal and in my tea, and it was fine! Not a problem. I will buy some soy cheese and see what that's like next.

One of my daughters has turned veg, and the other is nearly there, without any influence from me. I try very hard not to lecture or judge others, as there's nothing worse than a sanctimonious vegetarian. It is very surprising how many people I know eat little or no meat, some confirmed vegetarians for years!

We will never stamp out animal cruelty or meat eating, but I am doing my bit.

Our ewes are now retired and munching grass contentedly out in the paddock.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not Again!

I have just had a call from the Red Cross AGAIN asking for a donation. I get a call maybe once a week or ten days, and I am so sick of it.... always having to make excuses while trying to be polite. It's such an invasion of privacy, to be assailed in your home. But, they are real people on the other end, trying to earn a living while doing good work, and I do try to treat them as such.

I bought some raffle tickets around four years ago, and they are still opening the conversation with a big 'thank you'.

I began donating blood last year and tell them proudly that I do, and they make pleased noises, but it still doesn't steer them away from their appointed task.

So today I said, "Oh no, not again!", quite loudly. While the poor man floundered around, I said most of the above, and that I was supporting a lot of animal welfare stuff at the moment and really wanted to be left alone. We laughed, and he asked me if I wanted to be put onto the 'do not call' list, and I sighed loudly with relief and said YES please!

We parted in good humour and I now look forward to some peace.

PS. When I have more time, I will write about my new found vegetarianism and the animal welfare battles that are dear to my heart.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Was It!




We watched Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' movie last night, showcasing the rehearsals for his huge London Show before he died in 2009. 


I was blown away at the enormous talent he still displayed and the respectful kindness he showed to all performers and technicians.

The music was amazing, as always, and the dancing was inspired. I think his style is the most stirring of modern group dance. Perfect timing and rhythm and spectacular moves.

Apart from the shock of his dying suddenly, with a dark cloud over the means, I felt ashamed at not mourning his lost talent before last night, because it was still there.

They had booked 50 London shows, and were planning more when they sold out immediately, so the poor bugger must have been totally overwhelmed. 


Orianthi Panagaris (pictured above with Michael) is an Adelaide born girl, who has played with major musicians on her climb to fame. Michael asked to meet with her, listened, and booked her that day. There is a lot of footage on the film with her playing her guitar with him. She looks so spectacular as well, with her striking face and long blonde hair.

She has since gone on to play with Alice Cooper on his tours, and has an album out, so is doing extremely well. She has some clips on You Tube, if anyone's interested.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's the World Coming to?


Outrage at the treatment of our Prime Minister in Canberra yesterday, and the sight of gleeful aboriginals waving her shoe around like a scalp will not further their cause at all. I'm not keen on Julia and her constant backtracking on her promises is making her very unpopular, but we don't treat our leaders like that. 

The other thing that disgusted me yesterday is the new Pilot Frixion Pen advert on TV, where a man is supposedly reading his handwritten recipe and urinates into the mix instead of adding 'leeks'. Yuk! I was so pipped off, I have written to them. Will the ad make me rush out and buy their pens (?), nope, but I will remember its name. That's what they want, I suppose....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australian to the Core.


Aaaahhh! Australia Day. Need I say more? Except we paraded up the Grand Ridge Rd with flag ($4.99 from Aldi) flapping proudly, getting lots of laughs and waves.

We copped out on a sausage sizzle early this morning because we were too lazy, and then watched Chips Rafferty and the Eureka Stockade (1949) at lunchtime. I never knew the full story before, but I haven't Wikied it yet to check the facts.

Mr Bliss is out polishing and fiddling with his brand new Harley and I'm chatting on the pooter and uploading a silly photo. Life is indeed good.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Absolutely Fascinating.

I was up early one morning recently and saw our resident grey thrush rolling around on an ant's nest.... really enjoying himself like he was having a dust bath. Curious, I wondered whatever he was up to, until I Googled it and discovered this:

... 'There are microbes everywhere that threaten our health and cause diseases. These microbes are a danger to other living creatures as well as human beings. Therefore these creatures, too, need to protect themselves just as we do. When living creatures are observed, we see that they use some methods to protect themselves against microbes. For instance, ants produce a kind of acidic substance that incapacitates microbes. They apply this acidic substance to their bodies and to the walls of their nest. In other words, they know that not only they themselves but also the nest they live in should be purified of microbes. Microbes disturb birds too, but birds do not have a system in their bodies to produce protective substances as ants do. Consequently birds have found a different but equally practical solution to this problem. They go to and lie upon an ant's nest, and wait for the ants to wander through their feathers. Ants that search for food stroll among the bird's feathers and the substance that kills the microbes is smeared on the bird's feathers as they do so. Thus, the bird is purified of microbes.'


How do you like that?  love Google, and all the people who put interesting info for us to read and learn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Discovery

I was rattling through my studio preparing for my coming exhibition. I thought I might find something small that would go well in the show. People love to buy, but don't always want to buy BIG.

I found some that I had done and put away, thinking they didn't measure up. But it's funny how absence make the heart grow fonder; I really liked them, so they are off at the framer getting tarted up. 




I really enjoy the scribbly layered effect, so will do more when this madness of a solo show passes.....

This Week's Favourite Pics

An Adelie Penguin grooms a soft penguin toy as researchers and crew of the Aurora Australis get out onto the fast ice which the ship has settled into at Commonwealth Bay 20 kms from Mawson's Hut in Antarctica.
Easter Island Revelation.

 I love Angels, and intend to do some watercolours of Angels from Cemeteries soon.

 Magnificent Art!

 Tired maybe?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Macro Shots

I got a macro lens for my nearly new Canon Eos DSLR for Christmas. I have always loved taking close up photos, and used to push my past cameras to their limit to get as close to the miniscule world as possible. 

But my new lens brings photography to a whole new level and I am discovering tiny creatures and details on plants I never new were there. It's a tiny world where everything is living their tiny little lives as best they can, and we know little about what's happening around us.

Macro lens have a very shallow depth of field, so things go in and out of focus within a few millimetres. Breathing in or swaying slightly can turn your carefully planned shot into mush. Using a  tripod is something I haven't done yet, even though I have one, because a slight breeze can render that ineffective. I have trawled the net for possible solutions, but have decided the secret is to take lots of shots and hopefully one will turn out OK, which they have..


Bright iridescent sparkles on a beetle

The ethereal beauty of a common cabbage moth

A section of a budding head from a leek plant. reminds me of the egg pods in 'Alien'!

A spectacular thingie on a geranium stalk.

Kinda proud of this one - exactly right!

Tiny little fly on a hebe blossom

A tiny beetle in my Julia's Rose

My delicious raspberries

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wonderful Reception!

Some of my blogger mates have come back in and commented after 3 years! Wow! Thank you so much for wandering by occasionally.

Since my last vaguely meaningful post, I have had a knee replacement (motorcycle accident in '07), and settled my claim with TAC, who treated me very respectfully and didn't drag me into court. But I felt a bit lost for a while after it was all done.

I have only painted here and there since, but had a collection of 6 paintings that really hadn't been anywhere much, and I liked a lot. I decided to snap myself out of my comfort zone and plan another solo. The last one was in '07. So, I got back into the zone and have completed the series with another 5 largish oils and a few watercolours and my show is on Feb 5th (see invite below). 'Archies on the Creek' is a very posh Restaurant/Gallery at Archies Creek, near Kilcunda. They have quite an impressive group of bars, cafes and a top notch restaurant, and the gallery is tagged on as well.

I wondered whether I could pull together my followers after such a long time, but friends have really rallied and are bringing extras, so we should have a nice couple of hours.

I am looking forward to getting up and running again.

I have heaps more to tell. This year is going to be a wonderful one, but I'm not going to spill the beans on it all at once!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fresh Blogging on the way .... truly!

I have really given myself a good talking to (finally) about letting a perfectly good blog stagnate for such a long time., so I have gone in and freshened the look of it up and reacquainted myself with the possible pleasures of having a functioning Blog and regular visitors who comment on your thoughts and images.

Blogging can be very time consuming, but rewarding in many ways, if only going in and following your history and thoughts over the preceding years.

I do have a stat counter on the bottom and was amazed this morning to check visitors and found there are still people coming in for a look.

So there! I am exhausted by all this adjusting templates and colours and fonts, so will go and have some lunch and a ponder on other things and be back as soon as my inspiration rekindles!