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‘If our mushrooms make you hallucinate, please inform us immediately so we can overcharge you.’ Scott Adams.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I would never describe myself as a mushroom aficianado (although, for some inexplicable reason, I do seem to think the word ‘fungi’ is a pretty cool word . . . )

In fact, now that I think about it, I know very little about the different types of mushrooms at all.  I rarely cook with them (well, of course if you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I rarely ‘cook’ anything at all) but my interest was piqued recently when I read an article that stated that the species of mushrooms we do know about is probably only a third to a fifth of what is actually out there still waiting to be discovered.  That’s an awful lot of undiscovered mushrooms!

Apart from being an interesting tidbit, this snippet of information would normally have little impact on my life (still not planning on doing much cooking) . . . . except that alongside that article were photos of some of the most spectacular looking growths of fungi (such a cool word!) I have ever seen.

Suffice to say that, although I may not be enticed to do much cooking with them in the future, they may just be well on their way to becoming one of my new favourite things to draw . . .

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.’ Ken Kesey.

I was fifteen when my mum and dad decided that the family should move back to England to live.  (When I say ‘back’,  I mean that mum and dad were going back, my sisters and I were born in either Australia or New Zealand and had never been to England.)  That was nearly 45 years ago (gulp—that’s a bit scary when you say it out loud) and the world was a different place then.  England was all the way over on the other side of the world (well—it still is, technically) and, although many English people had relatives in Australia, if was so far flung that the average person didn’t really seem to know all that much about it.  (These was the dark ages remember—no internet, no social media, no skype.)  All they knew about Australia was from old movies or reruns of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.  As you might imagine, my sisters and I attracted a lot of attention . . .

I remember being ‘the new kid’ at school and forever being asked to talk about Australia.  Tell us what it’s like . . . (Er, well . . .)  Is it always hot?  (Well, yes, in the summer.)   Have you ever seen rain?  (Me—lost for words.)  Did you have a kangaroo in your back yard?  (We lived in the city—so no.)  Are the spiders really all that big? (Bigger.)  Does everyone talk funny? (Excuse me, could you repeat that please.  I can’t understand a word you just said.)  Do you know my Auntie Ethel?she lives in Australia . . .  (sigh.)

I never really got comfortable in England (or any other country I lived in really).  I missed Australia.  I missed all sorts of things about it—the warmth (damn it gets cold in England), the people, the colours, the trees, the tim-tams—but when I really thought about it, I mean really thought about it, what I missed most were the sounds.  The inevitable dawn chorus (the magpies, the cockatoos, the kookaburras—which, by the way, can often start their songs long before dawn!), the sound of motorboats and jetskis on the water, the interminable drone of lawnmowers (not quite sure why I missed that, but I did)—and the cicadas . . .

OMG the cicadas!!  Why on earth did I miss the cicadas??   Somewhere along the line my ‘memory of the sound’ must have muted their continuous ear-slitting roar to a gentle hum—it’s the only explanation!  Well I am certainly not missing them now.  All the planets must have recently aligned because we certainly have had a ‘bumper crop’ of them this year.

Cicadas are the loudest insects in the world and there are more than 200 species in Australia. And (wouldn’t you know it) Australian cicadas (specifically the ‘green grocer’ and the ‘double drummer’) are amongst the loudest species on earth.  (BTW, I had no idea cicadas has such cool names—Black Princes, Floury Bakers, Yellow Mondays  . . . )  At close range these cicadas are noisier than any lawnmower chainsaw or jackhammer (in excess of 120 decibels, which is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear.  Don’t I know it!)  Apparently it is only the males who ‘sing’, which is probably just as well because if all the females were singing as well all of humankind would be deaf within days . . .

But, you know, I’ve decided I’m not going to be too hard on them.  Most of their lives are spent underground and for some species this can be for a period of up to several years.  And then, once above ground, many of them only live five or six weeks.

When I look at it that way, if I had dragged myself up out from under the cold dark earth into the bright sun and clear air, I’m pretty sure I would want to sing my little heart out too . . .

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘A good beginning makes a good end.’ English Proverb.

So here’s a good beginningin Chinese Astronomy 2018 is the ‘Year of the Dog’.  (HA—Like it isn’t always ‘year-of-the-dog’ in my household every year anyway . . . )

I have never been one for making New Year resolutions but in the spirit of a brand new doggie-year I found a few listed below that really seem to work for my girls, so I think I am going to give some of them a try.  (I especially like points 1, 4 ,7 and 8 . . . )

Perhaps if you haven’t already made your own list you might like to share some of ours . . .

A very Happy New Year to you all!!

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What do monkeys sing at Christmas? Jungle Bells, Jungle Bells . . . ‘

To all my family, friends and fellow bloggers –

A Very Merry Christmas to you all!  Hope you all have a fabulous day.  Eat, drink and be merry!

Sally, Mabel, Maude and Molly . . .
(and Maudie’s new Christmas monkey . . . )
XX

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Something feels funny. I must be thinking too hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

Soas I am sure you are all excruciatingly aware—the end of this year is upon us and the start of a brand new year is fast approaching.  I am not quite sure how that happened again so soon (it feels like I have just gotten over last Christmas and New year) but nevertheless here it is and so it seems like a fitting time for a little self-reflection. (You have my permission to run screaming from the building . . . )

When I started this blog in 2015, I admit, it was on a bit of a whim.  I didn’t know anything about the mechanics of blogging, and in fact, I don’t think I even read any kind of blog on a regular basis.  I can only imagine that it ‘seemed a good idea at the time’.  I was doing a bit of writing for the college brochure (just a paragraph a term) and perhaps thought it might be fun to see if I had anything to say on more a regular basis.

(Well—that’s the party line.  In all honesty I was probably bored rigid and looking for a new ‘project’.  I think I probably fully expected that I would give it a go for a couple of months and then it would all fizzle out, like so many other of my pet projects—’Cure for an obsession: get another one’—Mason Cooley . . . )

Anyhoooo—imagine my surprise then when last week I realised that I have actually been posting my scribbles and sketches for over two years now!  Two years!  That seems incredible to me and I was immediately prompted to ask myself a couple of questions.  Onewhat did I do with my ‘spare’ time before I started blogging? . . . and Two: what on earth did I find to write about during those last two years?

I have no idea what the answer is to question number one (slept more, probably) but the answer to question number two seems to be anything and everything . . . and (often) nothing of consequence at all.  Taking some time to go back and re-read some of my much earlier posts has been a weird experience.  Some of it I remember writing and some of it not at all.  Some of the writing seems quite readable (trying to look at it objectively) but at other times I wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Very strange.

I have never considered myself a natural writer and I have never found writing easy (you know those people that say ‘the writing just flows out of me . . .’?  Well, bully for them.  Personally, I just want to poke their eyes out with a sharp stick) but I do think I assumed it would get easier the more I wrote.  It seems like I was kidding myself for, in fact, I found almost the exact opposite to be the case.  I am not even sure whether this is a good thing or a bad.  Is the writing getting more difficult because I am trying harder—or am I just running out of things to blather about?

So, here’s the thing.  Here’s what I have been asking myself.  Should I continue?  Should I continue to write my weekly missives or have I run my course?  Seriously.  I’m asking.  I don’t think I am ready to stop writing entirely (although there are certainly days . . . ) but then perhaps I have already passed my ‘use-by-date’ and you lovely people who regularly drop in to catch up with me are just all too polite to tell me.

I have been going back and forth about it in my mind for a couple of months now and I have decided I need to clear my head.   I am therefore going to give myself a couple of weeks off.  I mean really ‘off’.  The college closes next week and I will be away from the office for three whole weeks!!!  During that time I have determined I am going to do as little as humanely possible (perhaps I should say as little as ‘doggily’ possible.  My girls have it down to a very fine art and I am going to observe them closely . . . ) and that includes taking some time off from writing this blog too.  (Was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard?)

So dear readers, I am going to now take this opportunity to thank you all for following me thus far and for your much valued friendship and support.  I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve made some fabulous new friends and I’ve even reconnected with some very old friends again too.  It’s been great.

But for right now Winnie and I need to take a bit of a break from thinking so hard, so I want to wish you all a very happy and safe and carefree Christmas (eat, drink and be (really, really) merry!) and a fabulous start to the New Year and, with a bit of luck, a much clearer head (and I’m hoping a vastly renewed enthusiasm) I look forward to seeing you all again in early 2018 . . .

Sally and ‘the girls’ XXX

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No water, no life. No blue, no green.’ Sylvia Earle.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

No words either.  Just another sketch . . .

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.’ Liz Carpenter.

I got a letter from my Mum this week.  Not a long letter.  Not a fancy letter.  It didn’t really even tell me much that I didn’t already know, but it was still a lovely surprise because, quite honestly, I can’t remember the last time I received an actual letter in the post (not just from Mum—from anyone).  Come to think of itI can’t remember the last time I wrote one either . . .

I guess it’s not all that surprising.  Time and technology wait for no man.  Why write a letter when you can contact someone in a nano-second by phone, email, text or tweet?  There must be a whole generation of people out there who have never even thought about hand-writing a letter to a friend or relative.  In a world where ‘google’ is a verb, Wikipedia is the new Encyclopedia Britannica, Android is no longer only a character in a sci-fi movie and texting has created its own language one could begin to believe that social media has become the only acceptable way to connect.

I know I am showing my age here but I do remember a time when I wrote, and received, letters all the time.  When I left home at the age of 17 (centuries ago) to go and work in another country my mother had only one rule for me (or at least only one rule she voiced out loud)—I had to write a letter home every week.  It didn’t matter if I had nothing remotely interesting to say, whether I been out gallivanting around the town, whether I had been working flat out, or had been in bed all week with the flu.  One letter every weekthat was the rule.  And I wrote them.  For years and years.  And, truth be told, once I got into the swing of it I quite enjoyed writing them (but don’t tell my Mum that).  I must have written hundreds.

How interesting would it be now (and a tad freaky) to reread some of those letters written by my much younger self?  I reckon it would be a bit like time travelling backwards.  I wonder if I would even recognise the girl I was then?  I must ask Mum whether she kept any of them . . .

Because people do keep letters, don’t they?  Letters from childhood penpals, or school friends, or family, or old lovers.  They are precious to them.  The paper they are written on, the ink they are written with, the individual handwriting whether neatly scripted or quickly scrawled.  Some letters come with doodles or drawings and odd little inserts.  They have special a way of evoking memories and emotions.  They say you are worth the time and effort (and extra expense) of receiving a letter.  I guess that is why so many handwritten letters have survived throughout history.  They are so personal.  A bit like diaries.  People are loathe to destroy them.

Today of course people still have vast correspondences, but most of it is entirely electronic.  I wonder how many people out there feel compelled to save (all tied up with pretty string in a box in the wardrobe) sentimental printouts of emails, phone texts or microbursts from the twitterverse?  Not so very many I would guess.  And how much easier now to get rid of it all.  Highlight.  Delete.  Gone.

There.  I’ve gone and made myself all nostalgic.  Not nostalgic enough to stop writing emails or using my phone of course (I’m not entirely silly) but nostalgic enough to think about maybe writing back to Mum, instead of giving her a quick phone call.

I have to go into town this weekend anyway.  Maybe I’ll spend some extra time looking for some pretty stationery . . .

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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