Monthly Archives: June 2016

‘Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal.’ Russell Lynes.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Russell Lynes makes a very interesting point here, don’t you think?  It seems to me that this is a conversation that I might like to have at some length—but don’t quite have time for at the moment.

Perhaps I will come back to it at a later date . . . 


Copied from a newspaper photograph.
(Yes, I know it’s another drawing of a dog—but what can I tell you—I like drawing dogs—
and copying a picture of a dog at least ensures that the creature will stay put long enough for me to finish the drawing.
And also—this picture kinda sorta went with the quote . . .  at least in my mind . . .  )


Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’ Plato.

platoMy first thought when I read that quote was “Yep, that sounds about right.”

My second thought was, “Mmmmm, I wonder what Plato would discover about me?”

And then I thought (because, occasionally, I do continue thinking) “I wonder what he means by ‘play’?”

play (verb)
1. take part in (a game or sport)
2. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

I don’t believe, at least looking at me from the outside, that most people would consider me a very playful person. In fact, if you were to agree with the first dictionary definition only, I could probably be considered as one of the most unplayful people on the planet.

'I don't wanna play!'

‘I don’t wanna play!’

Because I don’t like to play games.  I never have.  (That’s not an apology by the way—just a fact.)  I didn’t like to play games when I was a kidand nothing much has changed since then.  (I absolutely hated sports days at school where you were put on a team and made to play a game you didn’t want to play, with a bunch of kids you didn’t want to play with, and, to rub salt into the wound, you were actually expected to enjoy the process as well!)  Even now as an adult I’ve never really seen the allure of on-line games, card games, or the dreaded ‘board’ gamesthey’re fun for about ten minutes and then I get bored with them (see what I did there?) and just want to pack up and go home. And I definitely don’t find myself all overcome with excitement at the prospect of watching a game show or sport on the telly.

See what I mean?  I sound like a barrel of laughs, don’t I?

But in my defence I’d have to say that my ‘play’ time runs much more in line with the second definition.  I like to spend my leisure time reading, writing, sketching or watching moviesnone of which really need other active participants.  (I can just see Plato’s notes now —’Does not play well with others’ . . . )

But there are exceptions to every rule—even for me—and although I may not like to play games with other people, I really do love to play games with my dogs.



Well—except for Molly.  Molly doesn’t play.  At all.  She was five years old when she came to us and I just don’t think she ever learned how—and no amount of encouragement or enticement over the next four years has made a scrap of difference. She did once—in a mad fit of doggie-bravado—make a tentative grab for a toy that was lying near her, but unfortunately it squeaked at her, and that was enough to send scuttling to the deep-dark-under-the-couch for the next couple of hours.  She has never felt the need to repeat the experience.  (With little conversation and even fewer play skills, I wonder what Plato would make of her?)

Mabel & Maude

Mabel & Maude

Luckily, in the playfulness department Maudie more than makes up for Molly’s (and my) lack.  Maudie was born to play.  Every moment not spent eating or sleeping is for finding something, or someone, to play with.  She just can’t help herself.  She’s noisy, inventive, hilariousand totally relentless.   No wonder Mabel has gone so grey so quicklyhaving a little sister like Maudie must be totally exhausting.  Mabel will join in with a game as long as it is not too boisterous (I am sure she only joins in a lot of Maudie’s games because she won’t get a moments peace until she does) but, just quietly, I think she’d really rather prefer a quiet cuddle.

Maudies ToysBut, you know, be they playful or not-so-much, every day I am grateful for their presence in my life. They are my saving grace. Nothing makes me laugh more than playtime with my girls.  I am sure I would be a sadder, sorrier, and definitely more unplayful person without them (even if  Maudie does stretch the limits sometimes when she saves her loudest toy (her pink ‘oinker’ pig) to play with when I am trying to watch the evening news . . . or brings me the ball to throw . . . again . . . and again . . . and again . . . )

So, all in all, I think my initial thought on Plato’s quote still holds true. It does sound right, bearing in mind that play means different things to different people.

Hopefully Plato would take that in to account and watch me play, both with my books and pencils, and then again with my dogs, before coming to any major conclusions about me . . .


Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.’ Mark Twain.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I knew Mark Twain was a favourite of mine for a reason.  

I think perhaps I should take his advice more often . . . .



Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.’ Winston S. Churchill.

queenEarlier this week on the BBC I saw the Queen give her speech in thanks for her recent 90th birthday celebrations, and as I watched I thought how lucky Her Majesty was to have someone on staff to help her write her speeches.  (I am assuming this is the case, because if she had to write all her speeches entirely by herself where the hell would she find time to do anything else?)  


Anyway, assuming the Queen does have a speechwriter I have to say I am a tad jealous.  I could really have used someone like that these last few days to help me with my words.   I have had real problems stringing a coherent sentence together all week.  And not just a sentence in the Queen’s English eithera sentence in any intelligible form whatsoever.  On more than one occasion I have had to stop, take a breath, and remind myself
‘Use your words Sally . . . use your words . . . ‘

headcoldAnd then, towards the end of this week I came down with a really severe head cold—which explained a lot.  While being ever-so-slightly pissed off about this, because, well, who needs it?—I was also quite relieved, as I had been starting to think my brain must have sprung a leak somewhere.  But being under the weather, and seemingly in a perpetual brain-fog, did make me more aware of just how much I depend on my words—and how much I like words and miss them when I can’t find them.

(Well, I like most words.  I don’t like acronyms—and I am not even sure they count as real words anyway, even though they are pronounced as such.  And I don’t like initialisms either, as it turns out.  Did you know there was a difference between an acronym and an initialism?  I didn’t, and I am not really sure I needed to know that either, but there you go . . . )

wineoclockBut, aside from these, I do like to learn new words, and it seems that there are new words being invented and added to our English repertoire all the time.  An earlier update to the Oxford Dictionary (August 2015) had almost 1,000 new words and phrases (including slang) added to it.  Some of these included manspreading, nuff said and awesomesauce.

Happily, the words beer o’clock and wine o’clock also made the grade. 🙂

New words are good (the first 2016 updates are starting to appear in the dictionaries now) but what about the old words?  What about words we never see or hear used any more?  What happens to them?

groakThis week I came across the word Groak.  (I am not sure what I was looking for but ‘groak’ definitely wasn’t it.)  Groak means ‘to stare silently at someone while they are eating, in the hopes that they will give you some of their food’.  Anyone who has ever had a dog, and likes a dinner of sausages on occasion, will be intimately aware of having been ‘groaked’ . . .  So cool that I now have a word to put with that look.

Wondering what other weird and wonderful words I could find I did a bit of research and discovered that there are a huge number of archaeic or obsolete words that have now gone out of fashion.  I have noted down some of the more colourful ones for you (and this is only a tiny selection . . . ) 

bibble:  to drink often; to eat and/or drink noisily
(so Saturday night at the pub, then)

brabble:  to argue loudly about something inconsequential
(probably at the same time you are bibbling)

slubberdegullion:  a slovenly, slobbering person
(someone you know leaving the pub in complete ‘cattywampus’ (see next entry))

cattywampus: in disarray

crapulous:  to feel ill because of excessive eating/drinking
(as in ‘I’m feeling totally crapulous today.’  It seems some words haven’t changed so very much at all.)

callipygian:  Having beautifully shaped buttocks
(Okay nothing to do with the pub . . . unless the barmaid or barman is thus endowed.)

doodlesack: old English word for bagpipe
(Not at all what I thought of I when I first saw this word.)

tittynope:  a small quantity of something left over
(Again, not my first guess.)

borborygmus: sound of intestinal gas
(and we’re back to eating and drinking at the pub again . . . )

Mogigraphia:  Writer’s Cramp
(A signal to wrap this post up? ) 

bagpipeI’m thinking I should send a short note to the Queen, drawing her attention to some of her country’s long forgotten words and suggesting that it might be a good idea to have one or two of them surreptitiously slipped in to one of her next speeches

‘Members of Parliament have been meeting regularly this year, bibbling and brabbling in constant cattywampus, while one lone piper has valiantly piped forlornly on his doodlesack trying to cover the constant borborygmus . . . .’

Perhaps I shouldn’t hold out too much hope for an interview for the next speechwriter’s job opening . . .


Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘You ain’t dun nothin’ ’til you’ve Dunbogan’.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

On the other side of the river from North Haven where I live is the seaside village of Dunboganand the place to go for a great cup coffee with a view in Dunbogan is ‘The Boatshed‘. 

This is a sketch from a photo of the Boatshed.  If I had wanted to draw the Boatshed from this angle any other way than from a photo I would have had to have been out in a tinnie on the riverand that was never going to happen.  But I wanted to do some practice on perspective and this seemed like a bit of a challenge (which it was).  Also note that there are no people in this sketch.  This is never the case at the Boatshedit’s usually packed with people enjoying their coffee and cake and feeding the fish off the deck—but I haven’t quite got the hang of drawing people yet so I just pretended they weren’t there (a little thing called ‘artistic licence’.)  One challenge at a time, methinks . . .


‘You ain’t dun nothin’ ’til you’ve Dunbogan’.


Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘I’m interested in everything but passionate about nothing.’ Jeanne Calment.

worldThis week my Blog Stats told me that people had logged into my site, not only from within Australia, but also from England, the USA, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, France, Germany, Ecuador and the Ukraine. While I realise that it is entirely possible that the majority of these people were actually looking for something, or someone, else and just happened to land on my blog by accident (although the log-in from Spain could well have been my sister as she was on holiday there last week) it still kind of blows my mind that any of these people in these far-flung countries could find me at all.

When I started writing this last year I barely knew what a blog was. (Seriously. I am computer literate in many aspects, but totally naive in others.)   I had no expectations of what I was going to be doing with it.  I really just thought of it as a fun idea that I could ‘play’ with for a while.  It would, hopefully, provide some small amusement for my family and friends, and when I ran out of things to say (which, by the way, could be any day now) I could ‘shut up shop’ and no one would really care one way or the other.  No harm, no foul.  I don’t think I ever really considered that I might be getting visits from people I didn’t know and had never met, or that any of these people would be the slightest bit interested in anything I had to say.  So, as lovely and surprising as it is to have these new friends, it’s also a little bit unnerving too . . . and it made me stop and think . . .

feeling pressureDoes this mean that I am going to have to become more ‘serious’ about this blogging-thing now?  (But where’s the fun in that?)  Am I going to have to ‘lift my game’?  (Where would I even start?)

Should I be writing more than once a week?  (Oh please God—No.)  Should I be concentrating on just one theme, instead of just blithely blathering on about anything that pops into my head that week?

Should I be spending more time reading those ‘How To’ sites?  You know the ones—How to write good blog (for dummies) . . .  How to write a better blog . . .  How to write a blog people will want to read . . .  etc etc.

No Pressure.

No Pressure.

Well—No.  I’m going to have to stop right there. That’s where I am going to have to draw the line.  I am sure that most of the ‘How To’ blogs are only trying to help, but I swear, if I read just one more that says ‘unless you have an undying passion for everything you do you might as well give up now and stop wasting everybody’s time‘ — I might just have to poke somebody in the eye.  (I am not quite sure how I would actually poke someone in the eye online but I’d give it a go.)

 Pas·sion: strong and barely controllable emotion.

It seems to me that we are constantly being told that we need to be ‘passionate’ about everything we do—our work, our writing, our singing, our art, our whatever . . . and if you are passionate about any (or all) of those things—that’s great.  I think that’s fabulous.  You rock.  But I just don’t seem to be built that way . . .

writers-block-cartoonI am enjoying writing this blog (most of the time) and when it feels like something I am writing is coming together (and making a modicum of sense) it is all very satisfying.  But do I have ‘strong and barely controllable’ feelings that send me hurtling towards my keyboard to get it all written down and out into the ether? No.  (I would love that to be the case but in truth I seem to spend most of my time wondering what the hell I am going to write about next.)  So, passionate?  Not really.

teaI am having a ball with my art classes and my renewed interest in sketching, and loving trying out new techniques and art materials—but do I wake up every day and feel a desperate all-encompassing need to get to my sketchbook and start sketching my dogs even before I’ve had my first cup of tea.  Nope.  (Cuddling the dogs, yes.  Sketching them—not so much.)

Cover_DBDoes this then mean that if I only enjoy these things but am not passionate about them I shouldn’t bother to do them at all?  That I shouldn’t share my thoughts, or opinions or insights on them?  Am I completely wasting my time? Or your time?  I don’t think so.  At least I hope not.  I am pretty sure that the blogosphere is laden with people who are passionate about their lives, their families, their pets (okay—I guess you could add me into that category), their sports, their knitting . . . . and I am equally sure there are as many out there who are interested in so many things they don’t know where to look first.  And it’s all good.  Who is to say that one is better, or more interesting, than the other?  Vive la différence!

winking dogSo, to all the lovely people who have been visiting my blog, old friends and new, ‘Welcome’.  It’s lovely to see you and to see you keep coming back, but be warnedwhat you see is what you get. Things aren’t likely to change here very much, at least in the near future (short of some life-changing epiphany).   I hope my writing will improve with time, but as my thoughts and interests seem to become even more random with each passing year, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for any kind of constant theme (although there will, of course, be more dog stories . . . )

I may not be passionate, but I plan to stay interested.  I hope you do too.


Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.’ Edward R. Murrow.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Ever had one of those days when you wake up in the early early morning and find yourself thinking that you don’t really know who you are . . . or where you are . . . or why you are here . . . but you have that vague uneasy feeling that you’re supposed to be some-one, or some-where, else?

Weird . . .


This sketch is a copy of a photo I saw on-line.  
I have no idea who took the photo so I cannot credit them here, but I thought the dog’s face just said it all . . .


Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘If you take my advice there’s nothing so nice, as messin’ about on the river . . .’ Tony Hatch/Les Reed.

Riverwalk-earlyI got to thinking when I was out on my early morning walk today (I do that sometimes—think.  Not often,  and hardly ever in the early morning, but sometimes . . . )  Anyway, I got to thinking how easy it is to forget, when you wake up to it every day, just how beautiful it is here where I live.

I have lived in North Haven (on the mid north coast of NSW) for around 13 years now.  I love it, but I do have to remind myself on occasion not to take it all too much for granted.

The Camden Haven (of which North Haven is just one small part) is blessed with a spectacular coastline and beaches, extensive waterways and lagoons, walking tracks and cycle paths aplenty, and abundant birdlife and native animals (all of which my Mabel, Maude or Molly have attempted to chase or catch at one time or another . . . )

north haven beachThe Camden Haven River runs, literally, past the end of my street.  When the girls and I go out for our early constitutional our biggest decision is whether to turn left and follow the breakwall alongside the river all the way down to North Haven Beach (that would be Maudie’s preference—Maudie just loves the beach) or whether to turn right and follow that same pathway in the other directionup towards the boat-ramp through the mangroves and then on towards town (which would, in truth, also suit Maudie as she has a special friend at the bakers we pass, who often saves a little fresh-baked treat for her).

mangrovesEither way, the walk, and the scenery is gorgeous and it’s a calm and pleasant way to start the day. (Unless the girls see a kangaroo . . .  which we quite often do.  In the early early morning kangaroos are usually heading back into the bush after sneaking into town during the night to feast on people’s lawns.  I can always tell when one has been in our street.  My sister’s dog (in England) likes to roll in fox pee—Mabel likes ‘roo poo’ and she is always the first to find it.) 

Living by the river seems to breed early risers.  No matter how early we are up there are always a few others out and about before us.  Just before dawn the fisherman have already set up in their favourite spots along the wall, rods and bait boxes at the ready.  Then there are the other early morning walkers, one or two joggers and cyclers, and, believe it or not, once we even came across a ‘mature’ lady happily hurtling along at full throttle on her son’s skateboard.  skateboard(I think she was a bit surprised, and abashed, to see anyone else out and about before 5.00am, but she explained that her son wouldn’t let her ‘have a go’ when he was around so she had taken matters into her own hands. Go girl!)  

And, of course, you can always tell if it’s going to a nice day, even before the sun is up, by the number of cars and boat trailers lined up haphazardly across the carpark as they wait their turn at the boat ramp. As you can imagine, with the river and the sea in such close proximity, being in and on, the water is a must. Well—for most people . . .

laurietonI freely admit that, although I am very fond of the riverI am not so fond as to actually go in it.  My mother always says we come from a family of ‘people watchers’ and she is dead right. I am not much of a joiner-in-er.  I am much more in my element sitting comfortably on the grassy riverbank, in the shade, with the dogs, watching the boats and tinnies streak up the river on their way out to the fishing grounds off-shore, or waving to the kayakers as they pass me, or giggling at the lone paddleboarder paddling valiantly against the tide for all he is worth—and getting absolutely nowhere. (Bless.)

dolphinAnd then there are the dolphins.  I could sit and watch the dolphins all day. They cruise up and down our river in little family pods with such regularity that sometimes I am actually surprised when someone comments on them being there.  It’s too easy to forget that not everyone gets to see such a fabulous sight nearly every single day.

pelicans (1)And if I get bored watching the people on the water (and wondering if they are wondering what is in the water beneath them) I can always watch the parrots and galahs squabbling, or the cockatoos feeding in the trees, or the myriad other waterbirds whose names I do not knowor, my favourites, the pelicans who gather in bustling, pushy crowds around the fish cleaning tables waiting for scraps thrown by the fishermen.

Perhaps I should do more of my thinking in the early morning.  When it is still calm and clear and the day’s bustle and noise has not yet taken over.  It’s easier to be mindful and grateful for things before the working day takes over.

So I am going to try and make an effort to just stop every now and then, and take a moment, and remind myself of just how lucky I am.  To be where I am.  To live where I live.  And I am going to try and keep reminding myself of it every single day . . .

north brother


Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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