Monthly Archives: May 2017

‘Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.’ Doug Larsen.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I’ve just been watching the early morning news on the telly.  I’m going to stop doing that.  Seriously.

I am an early riser.  I am up before 5.00am every day (yes, even at the weekends) because it really is the best time of the day.  It’s quiet and calm and peaceful and I like to take my time and kind of ease into the day.  The girls and I usually go for an early morning walk (although they have apparently decided that winter is here now and there will be no more of these until summer comes again), then I take a long shower, get my clothes and gear ready for work and settle down for a leisurely breakfast while catching up with what has been happening in the rest of the world.

Now, I rarely, if ever, wake up in a bad mood but I can tell you this—ten minutes of watching the incessant, arrogant, posturing and listening to the inane, condescending drivel some of our politicians and ‘world-leaders’ spout (and expect us to believe) is enough to seriously damage my early morning calm . . .

But don’t worry—I am not going to vent further about it here.  Frankly, I don’t have the time or the energy for it (and I don’t want to make myself even crankier).  Suffice to say I think we all need to be far more careful in future about to whom we hand over our city (and country) keys.

And, in an effort to preserve my early morning good-humour for as long as I possibly can, I have decided that from tomorrow I shall be searching for alternative viewing while enjoying my porridge and coffee.  In fact, I think I saw somewhere that one of the channels is now showing re-runs of Pinky and the Brain . . . 

. . . although, come to think of it . . . watching a cartoon about a couple of small insignificant creatures (‘one is a genius—the other’s insane’) who are constantly hatching plans for world domination?  How is that so very different from watching the early morning news anyway . . .


Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘I like the word ‘indolence’. It makes my laziness seem classy.’ Bernard Williams.

As the week progresses and Friday draws ever nearer I usually start to ponder what I am going to be doing with myself over the weekend.  If I have errands to run, chores to do, projects to work on (or movies to watch) I’m good.  I schedule my time to make sure I get done what I need to get done and then the rest of my time is my own. Unfortunately, it is the ‘rest of the time is my own’ bit where I come unstuck.  I am always full of great ideas of things I would like to do in my ‘spare’ time but somehow I never seem to get around to doing any them . . .

Why?  Well, I wish I could tell you I had very good reason for my slothful inactivity—but, in all honesty, I can’t.  I just happen to be extremely lazy.  It appears to be my default setting.  If killing time were a profession I’d be a millionaire. Seriously.

I don’t like to think of myself as a lazy person though, and I’ve tried looking for another word to make myself feel better about it.  Lazy’ sounds so . . . idle. Bernard Williams is right—’indolence’ does sound a little better—but that’s all it does. The dictionary defines indolence as avoidance of activity or exertion; laziness, idleness, shiftlessness, inaction.’  That about says it all.  If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck . . .

Now I know I am not lazy all the time.  I couldn’t be even if I wanted to.  There are things I have to do which will not allow it.  I have to go to work every day (and actually achieve something while I am there).  I have to keep the house clean and the lawns mowed and the laundry done and the car serviced and a whole lot of other stuff . . . just well . . . because I do.  And that’s okay.  I can be quite productive when I have to be.  It’s when I don’t ‘have’ to be doing anything that my laziness really kicks in.

‘So what?’ I can hear you cry, ‘You’re allowed to to do nothing and be lazy if you want to.’   Thank you.  I appreciate your support.  And I know you’re right. Sometimes we all need time to recharge our batteries, veg out, and do absolutely nothing.  I get that.  But lately it doesn’t seem to be just a ‘sometimes’ thing (if staring blankly into space were an olympic sport I’d be a gold medalist) and it’s beginning to bother me.

(I can’t even pretend it’s procrastination.  I always try and do things I don’t really want to do as soon as I can and get them out of the way.  That way I don’t regularly wake up at 2.00am fretting about them and (the logic is) that will also free up my time (and brain) to move on to things I do want to do (. . . which I then don’t end up doing because . . . you guessed it . . .   Sigh.)

Anyway, I have whined about it enough.  Time to take action (as opposed to just thinking about taking action.)  A quick on-line search to see how other people deal with this kind of inertia (please God don’t let me be the only one) immediately brought up an article (seek and ye shall find) proposing that my problem might not actually be laziness at all (woo hoo!) but . . . wait for it . . .  ‘lack of motivation’.

Mmmmm.  Well, okay.  That sounds much nicer.  I’m not bone-idleI just lack motivation.  I’m pretty sure I can work with that.

To seal the deal, the article also contained a half page of dot-point recommendations (yay!—a list, and we all know how much I love lists) on how best to combat this appalling affliction (instead of just one say ‘get off your arse Sally and do something’ . . . )

So that’s it. I’m ready to go.  Watch out ‘free’ time.  We’re about to have a little talk . . .


Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Happiness is a warm puppy.’ Charles M Schultz.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Last Sunday was the most stunning autumn day—bright, cloudless and warm.  The girls and I spent the morning out in the garden—me doing a bit of weeding, tidying and sweeping up after the last rain storm—and girls pottering around after me, supervising and offering helpful suggestions (in between bouts of dozy little doggie-naps in the sunshine . . . )

Around mid-morning I settled myself onto the garden bench to enjoy a quick cup of tea.  Mabel sat on my lap (why on earth would she sit on the dirty old grass when my lap was available), Maudie went to investigate whatever it was that was rustling in the undergrowth down by the shed, and Molly stood guard by the back gate (‘cos you never know who might try and sneak in while she’s not looking).  As I sat basking in the warm morning sun my mind started to wander (as it is wont to do) and I started to think about a telephone conversation I recently had with my mother where she asked me one, seemingly simple, question —”Are you happy?”

I remember being a surprised by the question (Where did that come from?  We were talking about her moving house . . . ) and a bit taken aback.  I had to stop for a moment to think about it.  But, you know, I couldn’t pause for too long or Mum might have imagined the worst (because mothers usually do) so I laughed it off and answered, “Well it’s all relative isn’t it?   . . . but I’m definitely not un-happy . . .”

On and off since that conversation I have wondered about her question—and my reply.  Am I really happy?

The word happiness originally derives from the Norse word ‘hap’ meaning luck, chance or good fortune.  A modern dictionary defines the same word only as ‘the state of being happy.’  I think I’ll go with the original definition because, while I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be in ‘the state of being happy’ all the time, I do, however, feel I have been fortunate in my life.  I have family, friends, my health, a job, a place to live, and of course, my lovely dogs.  I could be a whole lot worse off.

Perhaps I would more readily describe myself as someone ‘cultivating contentment’.

Are happiness and contentment the same thing?  I don’t know.  What I do know is, that Sunday morning, sitting peacefully in the sun with Mabel all warm and sleepy on my lap and Maudie and Molly pootling cheerfully around the garden, I felt pretty damn content . . .

. . . which, truth be told, also made me pretty damn happy . . .

How could this adorable sleepy face not make anyone happy?


Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘. . . and quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies said . . . ‘ Denis Glover.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Tap, tap.  Tap, tap, tap.

I know what it is before I even look up.  There’s a big fat magpie baby peering through the office door . . .

Tap, tap, tap.

He steps back and looks up expectantly.  After a moment, unsure, he looks over his shoulder (past his sibling who is hopping from one foot to the other and chortling excitedly) to mum and dad, awaiting further instructions . . .

. . . quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle . . .

He turns back to the door.  Tap, tap, tap.

Okay, okay, I give in.  Time to raid the college biscuit barrel for a tasty treat for my little magpie family.

They seem particularly fond of the custard creams . . .



Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘The dog is the perfect portrait subject. He doesn’t pose. He isn’t aware of the camera.’ Patrick Demarchelier.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I am not sure whose dogs Patrick Demarchelier was speaking about when he made that comment but it certainly wasn’t any of mine.  My girls are all complete ‘posers’.  All three of them love the camera and can go from fast-asleep-and-snoring to wide awake ‘pick-me, pick-me’ party smiles, olympic-worthy cartwheels and posey ballerina-leg-lifts within seconds of a camera being pointed in their direction . . .

Unfortunately, they also seem to have figured out that my sketching presents the same opportunities for them to shine and I can assure you that if Maudie had been awake while I was trying to sketch her this weekend she would have been right up in my face, pointing out her ‘best side’ (and giving advice on which pencils I should use) and it is unlikely there would have been a completed sketch to share here now.

As it was, the weather turned all wet and cold and rainy on Sunday and the girls, being the sooky-la-las that they are, decided (en-masse) that winter had finally come and their best option was to try and sleep their way through it.  Thus Maudie found herself all warm and dozing in the prime spot for winter warmth—on her blankie in front of the heater in the living room.

Well, perhaps not the prime spot—that actually appears to be my lap—but after a short, sharp kerfuffle Mabel beat her to it and Maudie was relegated to the next-best-thing.

I have to say—she doesn’t look too unhappy about it, does she?


Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three—and paradise is when you have none.’ Doug Larson.

Alexander Graham Bell’s notebook entry of March 10, 1876, describes his first successful experiment with the telephone, in which he spoke through the new instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the next room.  Mr Bell writes, “I then shouted into M (the mouthpiece) the following sentence: ‘Mr. Watsoncome hereI want to see you.’  To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”

My first thought on reading that statement was that if Mr Bell had ‘shouted’ into the mouthpiece, Mr Watson might well have heard him from the next room without the help of the new invention anywaybut then I realised that was probably a tad mean-spirited. There is no doubt the invention of the telephone has had a massive impact on the world as we know it and unless you are living an extremely isolated existence (or are over 141 years of age) it seems almost impossible to imagine life without one.

Recently, however, by circumstance rather than choice, I was given a taste of experiencing just what that might be like.

Just before last Christmas I discovered my home phone was not working.  No static, no funny clicks on the line . . . just . . . nothing.  As you might imagine, an inordinate amount of time was spent to-ing and fro-ing with the phone company before the problem was eventually correctedthree weeks later.  Then, barely two months along the track, the line went dead again.  And then again another month after that.

The first time I felt quite anxious and agitated.  It really bothered me.  I felt ‘cut off’ and that feeling didn’t really go away until the phone came back on line.  The second time it happened I was irritated, to say the least.  Now I would have to go through the whole telephone company rigmarole again . . .  this is so annoying . . . and I really don’t have time for this . . . and it’ll probably take another three weeks and  . . . then . . . somehow . . . I kind of forgot all about ituntil one day the phone rang again and I realised it was fixed.

They say ‘third time’s the charm’ but I guess I will have to wait and see whether the phone company’s ‘fix’ will stick this time.  Surprisingly, I now find myself quite unconcerned.  I have come to realise that it is actually quite pleasant to not have my evenings and weekends constantly interrupted by people wanting to leave messages for the local aged care facility (my number is one digit different from theirs) or having someone insisting I buy funeral insurance (bastards) or hit me up for donations for dying pot-plants in Bolivia . . .

Maybe, just maybe, I don’t actually need a home phone at all . . .

And then my mobile died.  Sigh.

There seems nothing I can do to resurrect it.  (As John Cleese  would say ‘It is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker.’)  I admit I felt a little panicky.  No home phone and no mobile phone.  I at least need a mobile phone.  Don’t I?  What if I need to contact someone urgently?  What about emergencies?  What if?  What ifwhat?  Well, I can’t think of anything right here and now but somehow I still seem fairly certain that I really should get a replacement.  I’ll make it a priority.  I’ll do that.  Soon.

Maybe next week.

Or the week after that . . .


Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ Dr Seuss.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

Have you ever changed the way you’ve done something . . . or the way you’ve thought about something . . . or even changed the clothes you were wearing purely because you were worried about what someone else might think?  I have.  Not much these days, I admit, but certainly in the past.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time worrying about what other people thought of me—were they talking about me? . . . were they judging me?  . . . what did I need to do to ‘fit in’?

So I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do.

I went to parties I didn’t particularly want to go to because I thought if I didn’t I would never be asked again (even though I probably wouldn’t want to go the next time either).

I spent late nights out at pubs and clubs listening to music that made my head ache and drinking whatever was put in front of me, when all I really wanted to be doing was sitting at home with a nice cup of tea, wearing my fluffy slippers and watching a really bad sci-fi movie on the telly.

I bought clothes that were bang on trend but looked awful on me (thank God there was no Facebook back then) hung around with people I had absolutely nothing in common with, and was careful to whom I expressed my honest opinions in case I was thought of as difficult or uncool or not ‘normal’.

Well, they say that your true colours will always show through eventually and I guess it’s true.  After all that energy expended in trying to match my own colours to those around me it turns out that I am indeed difficult, uncool . . . and normal? . . .  well, that’s all relative isn’t it?  I reckon I am my own very special kind of normal—just like everybody else . . .

‘ . . . Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be? . . . ‘

(Marianne Williamson)


Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Sometimes the best hiding place is the one that’s in plain sight.’ Stephanie Meyer.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

Out on an early morning walk through the park last weekend I stopped for a moment to take in the quiet and stillness.  The girls were puddling about happily in the undergrowth (school holidays, although over now, had brought lots of new visitors and their dogs to the area so there were still plenty of new smells to investigate), the river was ambling silently by and the sun was just coming up.  We were the only ones out and about.  Or so I thought . . .

Calling the girls to me so we could begin to wend our way home I had to do a quick sidestep to avoid tripping over Maudie who, as usual, had tried to charge ahead of me.  In doing so I pirouetted (gracefully, as you might imagine) and found myself looking directly at a low slung tree branch.  What I did not expect was to find was that low slung tree branch had bright orange eyes—and was looking directly back at me!

Once I got over the initial ‘ . . . what the . . . ?’  I realised I was looking into the eyes of a large Tawny Frogmouth.

What a treat!  The Tawny Frogmouth is  a fabulous bird but although they are quite common around here and I hear them a lot (they make a deep ‘oom-oom-oom-oom-oom’ sound) I hardly ever get to see one close up—not only because they are nocturnal, but also because they are so damn good at camouflage.  After their nightly hunts, when they are ready to settle in for the day, they like to roost on low bare branches (as in this encounter), tree stumps, and even shady patches of ground.  I must have come across this fellow just as he was bedding down and probably surprised him as much as he surprised me.

I stood back a bit to get a good look at him.  He had already frozen in place and now closed his eyes and I swear if I didn’t already know he was there I would never have seen him.  How many of these incredible birds do I walk blindly past every morning I wonder?

I said hello to him, and told him he was a beautiful bird (one does these things when no-one else is watching) but he was having none of it.  He moved not a muscle.  Not even a peek under his eyelids to see what I was doing.  I watched him, fascinated, for a couple more minutes but, as he seemed determined to pretend he hadn’t seen me, I reluctantly decided I should leave him to his rest.

Looking around to see where the girls had got to (they had all gone suspiciously quiet) I found them all sitting at my feet, exchanging nervous glances and looking worriedly up at me.  I imagine it could be bit alarming for any child, even a four-legged one, to watch your mum engaging in what appears to be a one-sided conversation with a rotten old tree stump . . .


Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Don’t reject a shoe because you can’t run in it. It’s OK not to run.’ Christian Louboutin.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I don’t think the question ‘Can I run in these?’ was one I ever asked myself when considering the purchase of a new pair of shoes (except maybe for sneakers, although possibly not even then if they were really cute).  In fact, looking back at some of the shoes I have worn over the years I am not sure that even being able to walk in them was much of a consideration either.

I’ve always had a thing for shoes and I’ve pretty much had them all—flats, ballets, heels, boots, sandals, clogs, platforms, wedges, strappy, buckled, lace-ups and peep-toes.

And why not?  Shoes really are a necessity.  No matter what else you are wearing you do still need shoes.  Flats, ballets, or sneakers for everyday wear, heels for work or special occasions, sandals for the summer, boots for the winter.  And of course you have to think about different colours and styles as well because they have to ‘go’ with the clothes that you already have.  (Unless of course you buy the shoes first and then buy an outfit to match them—but that’s a whole other thing . . .)  Anyway, it has always seemed entirely reasonable to me to have (at least) a dozen or so pair of shoes to choose from.  

(One set of statistics I saw states that most women admit to owning at least 10 pairs of shoes, and one in every 12 women claims to have over 100 pairs.  I imagine the words ‘admit to owning’ allows plenty of wiggle-room here.)  

I haven’t actually counted how many pairs of shoes I own at the moment but I can tell you it is more than 10 and a lot less than 100 (remember I have been downsizing lately) but it is absolutely sure and certain that I do not need to buy another pair of shoes any time soon.

It also absolutely sure and certain that when it comes to the purchase of a new pair of shoes need has very little to do with it . . .


Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Uncategorized


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