Monthly Archives: January 2017

‘The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.’ Joan Rivers.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I have been thinking lately that I should be doing a tad more more exercise . . .

It’s not that I am entirely sedentary.  I walk the dogs every day (except when it is over 35 degrees(C) outside because . . .  well that’s just silly . . . )

I ride my exercise bike every day (although, I admit, some days I ride further than others . . . )

I even do (a tiny bit) of weight training every day.  (Sometimes these sessions do get interrupted though, because any time I lie on my living room floor (regardless of whether I am hoisting a barbell or not) it seems to be an open invitation for the girls to play silly-buggers and lick my eyes, or tickle my feet or nip my ears, or, in Molly’s case, sit on my tummy and supervise from above.  Last week Maudie even came over and laid her ball, ever so gently, onto my right eye socket . . . )

Anyway,  I have been feeling that I possibly could . . . should. . . . maybe . . . kick it up a notch?

In the spirit of that thought, I decided that sketching my trainers might be a step (see what I did there?) in the right direction . . .

What do you think?



Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘The problem with quotes on the internet is that you never know which ones are real.’ Abraham Lincoln.

pinocchiI laughed when I read that statement.  It seemed entirely appropriate, considering we pretty much find ourselves in the position now of not knowing whether anything we read these days (on-line or off) is actually true.

And then I stopped.  Why am I laughing?  It’s really not all that funny . . .newsman

I used to think that there was the ‘news’ and the ‘not news’.  The reputable newspapers or the nightly TV news bulletins were for the real news.  You got honest, unbiased reporting on what was happening locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  Sources were cited and stories substantiated and verified.  Journalists and their agencies could even be sued if they got their facts wrong!

mag1Then there was the ‘not news’—the lightweight, fluffy, entertaining stuff—opinion pieces, TV shows, tabloids, magazines etc—some of whom did indeed market themselves as news-worthy but were, shall we say . . . a little less vigilant in their fact-checking.  But that was okay, because these entities were in the business of selling stories, and we knew it.  We could tell the difference.

celebrity1I am not knocking the not-news by the way—I love my trashy magazines.  I look at the pictures of the rich and (in)famous, scoff at their style choices (really, all her money and she is wearing that!); read about their trials and tribulations (I had no idea how hard is was to get a diamond-studded collar for your cat these days) and marvel at how celebrities manage to spend so much time ‘hooking up’ with each other in between jetting between continents, special appearances, award shows and the occasional making of a blockbuster movie.

(I see Brad Pitt has been a very busy boy over the last couple of weeks.  Not only was he seen getting very flirty with Courtney Cox but he also seems to be in a hot and heavy relationship (and expecting a baby) with Kate Hudson—all the while fending of the ‘I’m sorry I made a mistake’ advances of Angelina Jolie!  No wonder he is looking a little weary these days . . . )

newspapersBut now we also have ‘fake news’ to contend with (ooops, sorry—I believe the expression is now ‘alternative facts‘)  and the problem is we can no longer easily differentiate between legitimate reporting and something that has been totally fabricated.  Fake news is not like not-news.  Fake news is deliberately manufactured to look like credible journalism and then used to manipulate the public.  Now, I am not entirely naive. It’s not like we (the public) have never been manipulated before, I’m pretty sure it happens a lot, but previously the purpetrators at least had the decency to look somewhat embarrassed when they were caught out, instead of just trying to feed us more crap.1984

It pisses me off (in case you hadn’t already guessed . . . ) and I am pleased to see that it seems to piss a lot of other people off too.  Of course being pissed off about it doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.  The very last thing we can afford to do is be complacent, or we might indeed one day be faced with our very own Orwellian future.

crankyAnyway, I’ve had my little vent and so I’ll stop now.  Mostly because there are plenty of other people out there already venting on exactly the same subject—but also because I have a day off today and I don’t particularly want to work myself up into a really bad temper this early in the day.

You really wouldn’t like me when I’m in a really bad temper . . . 


Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Stories from  my Sketchbook . . . . 

Last weekend I thought it about time I got out into the garden and did a little ‘maintenance’ (other than just the usual mowing of the lawns and sweeping up of the debris of the last storm kind of maintenance) . . .

It wasn’t long before I had begun to wish I had just been content to do the sweeping.  It seems my back garden is a virtual cornucopia of ‘plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered’ . . .

Methinks I might perhaps be out there ‘maintaining’ again next weekend.



Taraxacum officinale


Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

living-aloneA couple of acquaintances and I were chatting recently over coffee.  I admit, I’d lost track of the conversation a bit (I was looking for something in my handbag) until there came the question ‘Don’t you ever get lonely living on your own?’ followed by a pointed silence.  I looked up. They were looking at me.  Me? Live on my own? Whatever gave them that idea?  And then I realised they was actually talking about living with other people . . . 

In spite of the fact that living alone still gets a bad rap in our society, it is a trend on the rise.  In Australia, 1 in 4 people now live in ‘lone-person households’ and that number would probably be even higher if more people could afford to do it. (For once in my life I have actually been ahead of a trend! Woo Hoo!)  And I get it—there are many advantages to living alone (and before you say ‘Yes but . . . ‘ I do realise there are disadvantages too—but not enough of them yet for me to want to start sharing my space again.)

I love living by myself.  The whole house is my space (well—except for Molly’s spot on the end of the couch (she could give Sheldon Cooper a run for his money . . . )  

mineI can be as clean or as messy as I want. (I am not a messy person, but if I was, it would be my mess.)  I can channel-surf the TV as often as I like (so *&^%ing annoying when someone else does it)  and I never, ever, ever, have to watch any sport.  I can eat (or not eat) whatever I like, whenever I like (no judgement)—and the only one giving me a hard time about not doing any exercise is me.  I can rock around the house to my favourite music (without headphones) and sing very loudly and—well, I could go on and on . . .

harlequinDo you think that sounds incredibly selfish?  You are probably right (although you’re possibly also just the teeny-tiniest bit jealous?) but you know, in my defence (not that I really feel I need a defence)  I am well aware that I can be rather ‘challenging’ to live with, so I like to consider living on my own as a kind of  . . . public service.  Seriously.

So, having now convinced you of how content I am, I must also concede that I honestly am not sure if I would be as content if  didn’t have a dog . . . or a cat . . . or a bird . . . or a hamster . . . or some other kind of ‘critter’ sharing my home with me.  For, in truth, in my years of living ‘by myself’ I have never ever had to come home to a completely empty house.

Most people who share their homes with pets will attest to the love and companionship their pets provide, but they also give us a sense of purposegive me a sense of purpose.

hermitWhen living alone it becomes very easy to think only of yourself.  To think only of your own welfare and your own needs.  My girls give me something else to think except myself. They rely on me for their food, exercise, health and wellbeing.  I am insular by nature (‘Please kindly go away . . . I’m introverting) and sometimes I think that if it weren’t for my girls (and the fact that I have to go out to work for a living of course) I would never want to step outside of my comfy little house at all.

But my girls are are everything I am not.  They are social creatures.  They are loving, and cheerful, and playful, and hilarious, and they like to get out into the big wide world and meet other people (although they still love me best) and I like to think (to hope) that some of their happy nature rubs off on me.  I am definitely a nicer person when I am around them.

So, living alone.  Yes or No?  Yes.  Absolutely yes.

Living alone with a pet . . . or three . . . even better . . .


‘My girls’ — Molly, Mabel and Maude


Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘The only way to see a movie is in a big theater, on a big screen, with a big bag of popcorn.’ Dan Glickman.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

maltesersI agree with almost all of Dan Glickman’s statement . . .  everything except the bit about the popcorn.

How anyone, given the choice, could choose popcorn over a big bag (oh well okay then—a big box) of deliciously-chocolatey-honeycomby-creamy-crunchy-Maltesers is, frankly, a bit beyond me.  But, there you go—there’s no accounting for taste . . .

Allthough popcorn is not my movie snack of choice (it’s not even anywhere on my list) I do admit to a having a certain kind of fascination with the popcorny-popping process.  I have often stood and watched (while clutching my coffee and maltesers and waiting impatiently for the cinema doors to open) the shiny little machine at our local Plaza Theatre do its popcorn-birthing thing.  It’s kind of mesmerising to watch . . .

I can only imagine how much more mesmerising it would be to me if it were churning out yummy-scrummy Maltesers instead of popcorn . . .



Posted by on January 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘I have had a holiday, and I’d like to take it up professionally.’ Kylie Minogue.

holidayoverFriday kind of snuck up  on me this week.  I mean, I knew it was coming, but it got here way before I was ready for it.   Another thing I was also not ready for was the realisation that today is the last day of my holiday (the coming weekend doesn’t count).  Sigh.  (Oh and hey!—it’s Friday 13th too, which also seems kind of fitting . . . )

The plan for this holiday was for me to spend it being ‘busy doing nothing’, and I have pretty much succeeded—so much so that I haven’t even prepared anything for today’s post.  (Seriously—the last time I looked at the calendar it was Tuesday!)

So, rather than post nothing at all, I thought I might just show you a couple of homework sketches I’ve done for the ‘A Drawing a Day course I enrolled in on 1 January. (‘Start as you mean to go on’—isn’t that how the saying goes? )  

Over the last two weeks we have been working with different types of pens, pencils, brush pens, sharpies etc, and focusing on working with thick, thin and sinuous lines to show substance and texture . . .


Fallen tree


Stack of patterned fabrics

Drawing something every day has always been a bit of an issue for me.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I most definitely do, it’s just that on a normal working day time just gets away from me and drawing always seems to drop to the bottom of my ‘To Do’ list.  I am hoping that starting this course when on holiday (and have no excuses) will help me cement the habit.  Ask me again at the end of next week how I am faring . . .

13thBut it’s not next week yetand I refuse to think about going back to work until I absolutely have to!

Have a great weekend everyoneand enjoy your Friday 13th too . . .


Posted by on January 13, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.’ Robert Lynd.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

dangerzoneAt this time of the year one of the very first sounds I hear when I wake in the morning is the screech of a black cockatoo.  (There is no not-hearing it actually.  I have read that a cockatoo screech can reach up to 135 decibels.   Multiply that by a a flock of about 30-40 birds and that will give you some idea . . . )  

So used am I to hearing them now that, on a normal working day at least, the early morning cacophany barely registers.  I am hardly on my feet before my head takes over and immediately starts reeling off lists of chores and jobs that I need to get done that day.  A bunch of noisy birds don’t usually get much of a look in . . .

This morning the girls and I were out and about even before the birds were up.  We were walking along the sea wall just as it was starting to come light, and it was cool and calm and quiet.  Peaceful.  At least until the silence was pierced by one lone cockatoo announcing she was now awake, thank you very much, and everyone else should be too!

Within seconds there was a answering screech from a nearby tree, and then another and another until the air was filled with their raucous din.  I stood and watched as the whole flock slowly began to lift, one by one, from the trees and into the air, wheeling in lazy circles and stretching their wings (and their lungs) as they made their way across the river.

Pretty spectacular.  It’s not like I haven’t seen it before, I have.  But this morning I paid attention, really paid attention—to their colour, their sound, their joyful silliness . . .

I need to remember this morning. Next week, when I am back at work after my lovely holiday, before my head becomes full of things I have to do and places I have to be, I am going to remind myself to take a moment each morning to just think about how lucky I am to live in a place where I get to see (and yes, even hear) gorgeous black cockatoos every morning.

Surely my working day can wait just a couple more minutes for that . . .



Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.’ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

loveI am no longer sure what I was actually looking for at the time, but I came across a site the other day which listed the ‘500 most frequently used words in the English language’. Curiosity got the better of me (as it often does where words are concerned) and I had a quick look.  Most of the Top 500 were, as you might have guessed, ordinary, everyday words. (Number One on the list‘the’—in case you were wondering . . . )  

What did surprise me though was the word ‘love’ came in at number 387.  Could that be right?   Surely not. I checked another site (Top 1000).  This time ‘love’ was number 391.  Huh.  Considering I seem to hear the word being bandied about incessantly of late (‘don’t you love that programme’  . . . ‘ I just love spaghetti’ . . .  ‘I would love to be able to do that’ . . . ‘ OMG, I love those shoes’ . . . ) I really thought it would be higher up the list (most definitely before ‘feet’ at number 275, or, at the very very least, right up there next to ‘dog’ at number 317 . . . ) defines love as ‘a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend; sexual passion or desire;  a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart’.  It doesn’t mention shoes, or pasta, or TV shows (or dogs for that matter, but that is obviously an oversight or an editing error . . . )  Although that definition is still relevant, it is also very obvious that we now use the word to cover a much broader spectrum.  Which begs the question—’Can one ever truly love a thing?’

loveshoesThere are certainly people out there in the world who would say ‘yes’ and the internet is littered with people who claim true love with (and have even married) inanimate objects. (Don’t believe me?  See here.)  Personally, although I admit to having developed very strong feelings for certain pairs of shoes over the years, I fear I am too fickle to profess undying love (new season, new shoes) but having been witness to such love myself, I don’t feel I can completely disregard it either.

img113When my first dog Harry was still a tiny boy he fell deeply in love with a small stuffed donkey called ‘Teddy’.  All his life Harry adored Teddy, even long after his constant attentions had reduced the once soft and cute toy to a smelly, patched, restuffed, balding brown blob (with ears). During the day Teddy was never far from Harry’s side and every evening he would ensure that Teddy was tenderly tucked up in bed with him before he fell asleep.

Many times over the years (especially after Teddy got really smelly and gross) I tried to tempt Harry away with lovely new toys, new games, even a new little brother (Frank), but his loyalty to Teddy never waned.  It was love.  Pure and simple.  When Harry passed away at 19 years of age I buried his beloved Teddy with him.  It seemed only right.

img116If I thought this was the last time I would witness such a love I was wrongalthough this time I fear that Maudie’s ‘Ball’ (we are not very inventive with our names, are we?) is unlikely to live as long as Teddy.  Maudie is still only six and Ball is already pitted and pocked, and nibbled and gnawed—and frankly, quite disgusting.  It’s not even actually round any more.  Maudie doesn’t care.  Maudie thinks it is the most beautiful ball in the world . . .

So by now you are probably thinking that I’ve seriously lost the plot.  A dog loving a toy and a human being professing true love for their pillow is not nearly the same thing.

Perhaps not.  But who am I to judge?   It seems to me that if everyone could find some-one . . . or some-thing . . . to love as much as Harry loved his Teddy and Maudie loves her Ball, the whole world might just be all the better off for it . . .



Posted by on January 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.’ Brad Paisley.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I like this idea—that every day we are all writing another page of our very own book (although we are three days into this new year already and my own book is looking pretty empty so far.  I might have to get off my bum and do something about that . . . )

What kind of book will you write for yourself this year?

A drama?  A comedy?  A romance?  An adventure?  All of the above?   . . .



Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


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