Monthly Archives: July 2017

‘A camel is a horse designed by a committee.’ Alec Issigonis.

Camel milk.  Yes, you heard me right—this post is going to be about camel milk.  Why?  Well, it’s like this . . .

As usual, it got to about Thursday this week before I realised I had not even begun to think about what I might write for my regular Friday post.  (I keep thinking this is going to get easier but it never does.  Sigh.)  Anyway, in a bit of a panic, I went in search of my little ‘blog book’ where (when I think of it) I note down items that have caught my interest and therefore might (hopefully) also be of interest to others.  I hadn’t seen that little book in some time and it took a bit of searching but I eventually found it hidden underneath 4 sketchbooks, 2 pencil cases, a pile of scrap papers and a bunch of crayons which had come loose from their box.  This did not bode well . . .

I sat down and started to read through my notations.  Nope.  Nope.  Done it.  Nope.  Boring.  Sigh.  ‘Why would anyone . . .?  Nope.  Camel milk.  Say what?  Camel milk.  Huh.  I have no recollection of reading, or watching, anything (ever) about camel milk.  I realise of course that camels do produce milk—they have babies after allbut beyond that I don’t recall ever giving it another thought.

But I had noted it in my book and my interest was piqued (again??) so I went in search of camel milk . . .

And guess what?  It turns out that camel milk is the ‘next big thing’!  Who knew?  Not me, and seemingly not very many other Australians either.  Camel milk might be big business elsewhere in the world but in Australia it is still a fledgling industry.  There are only around 10 camel dairies in the whole country but from the amount of buzz online it would seem reasonable to assume that these enterprises are set to expand and develop.  They seem unlikely to have any issues around stocking their dairies at least—Australia is home to the world’s largest population of wild camels.

(Camels were imported here in the early 19th century to be used for transport and heavy work in the outback but when they were no longer needed they were set loose to fend for themselves.  Designed ‘by a committee’ or no, they found themselves particularly suited to the harsh Australian conditions and they throve.  There are now hundreds of thousands of them roaming free across the country.)

Of course, just because there are so many camels wandering free doesn’t mean they are automatically willing to happily stand in line and wait to be milked.  Catching them is difficult (and expensive) and once caught it can then take another 2-6 weeks to train a wild camel to the point where it can be milked. They also yield around four times less milk than a cow, so I guess it is hardly surprising I haven’t spotted camel milk on any of our local supermarket shelves just yet.

But give it time.  These camel dairies (sorry, but that still sounds so weird—’camel dairies’) are gaining momentum and heading out of cottage industry status into more commercial concerns so availability will slowly go up and prices will eventually come down. And, reading the research, there certainly do seem to be significant health benefits (if you are in to that sort of thing).  Camel milk has more fat and protein and less cholesterol than cow’s milk.  It is three times higher in vitamin C than cow’s milk and 10 times higher in iron.  It is also high in unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins but lower in vitamin A and B2.  (Oh, and apparently it tastes good too.)   And if you are not much of a milk drinker (like me—hardly ever touch the stuff) other products like cheese and ice-cream (much more enticing) are now also becoming more widely available.

Wow.  Considering I knew nothing about the subject when I started I seem to have just written a substantial promotional advertisement for the camel milk industry! Yikes!  Sorry about that.  (I swear no one was paying me for it—but perhaps they should have been!)

Still, I have left it all too late to re-write now so there you have it.  Camel milk.
All I have to left to say ishere endeth the lesson!


Posted by on July 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Donald Duck. “Quacking” people up since 1934 . . .

A couple of months ago, David, the owner of our local movie house, The Plaza Theatre, asked me to do a tidy-up job on an original 1940s advertising board he had recently acquired.  Having never tackled anything like that before I was a bit nervous about taking it on, but I said I’d give it a try.  

(This was ‘sight unseen’ of course.  When David told me about the board I had it in my head that it was going to be about the size of a sandwich-board, so I was somewhat taken aback when he brought it around and I realised it was actually taller than I was!!)

I regret now not taking a photo of it as soon as it arrived it but I didn’t think about at the time.  By the time I did think about it (first photo below) I had already spent two days cleaning, scrubbing and hand-sanding 60 years of dirt, mould and general ickiness off it.  (My girls helped, as you might imagine.)  It had seen some wear and tear for sure.  The sides and edges were particularly knocked about, and it was covered in dings, dents and cracks, along with thousands of pin holes and lots of tiny little (almost invisible) nails (possibly the remnants of long-ago staples) which I discovered when I started sanding and repeatedly caught my fingers on.  (I can honestly say I worked on this until my fingers bled . . . )

It took a couple of weekends and a good deal of trial and error as to what materials to use (and not to use) and many repeated admonitions to the girls of  “No.  NO.  NO!  Go over there.  Go sit over there. You’re good girls, but PLEASE DON’T STAND ON THE BOARD!”, but in the end it was done, and I was reasonably pleased with the final result.  It was a fun project and I enjoyed having a try at something a bit different.

To cap the whole experience off, David unexpectedly gave me a bunch of free movie tickets for my efforts as well!!  Woo Hoo!!

A few fun facts about Donald Duck . . . .

Donald Fauntleroy Duck was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing his “duck” voice while reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Nash voiced the character from 1934 to 1983.

Donald first appeared on the silver screen on June 9, 1934, in the animated short film, The Wise Little Hen, dancing to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. He then went on to star in seven feature films and won an Oscar in 1943 for ‘Der Feuhrer’s Face’.

Donald has an uncle (Scrooge McDuck) a girlfriend named Daisy, a twin sister named Dumbella, and three mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie . . .


Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘I speak over 2000 languages, including Dodo and Unicorn.’ Polynesia the Parrot. (Dr Dolittle)

I saw a program the other day in which children were asked who their favourite superheroes were.  Not surprisingly all the usual suspects were thereSuperman, Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, The Flash . . .  Out of idle curiosity I then did an online search and found a survey in which adults were asked the same questionand the results were almost exactly the same.  (What? No Deadpool?)  

While I admit I love to watch the Marvel-movies these days, I can’t say I ever identified with any particular superhero when I was growing up.  I remember I used to watch the Superman TV series with my dad (along with really old re-runs of Flash Gordon (‘Flash, a-ah, saviour of the universe’) although I don’t think he can be counted as a superhero as he didn’t have any real superpowers) but my dad enjoyed these shows much more than I did.  When I was younger I always thought these shows were kind of silly, but the older I get the more I enjoy them.  Colours, lights, explosions, aliens, implausible plots, buff-bodies in lycra and body-armour . . .  I mean, what’s not to like?

And I started to wonderif I had to pick a superpower for myself, what would it be?   Mmmm, so many to choose from.  I am not keen on flying at the best of times, so that one is out.  Reading peoples’ minds? (I think I would prefer not to know.)  X-Ray vision? (eeerk—that’s just creepy.)   Invisibility? (meh.)

Then something happened this week which brought on another of those ‘WTF?’ moments (I seem to be having them a lot of lately) which decided it for me.  My superpower of choice would be the ability to talk to animals, a la Dr Dolittle (‘ . . . if we could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree . . . I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, alligator, guinea pig, and flea . . . ) 

. . . but the very first animal language I’d want to be able to converse in would be ‘dog’ . . .

On Wednesday I came home as usual to a pack of silly, raucous, over-excited little dogs, who barked and bounced and jostled and hounded me (ha-see what I did there?) until I eventually changed into my daggy-duds and was ready for our afternoon walk.  (Well—not  Molly.  Molly decided a couple of weeks ago that she was never going to go walking with us ever again—but that’s a whole other story.)

So we left Molly sitting in the front window guarding the house and Mabel, Maude and I set off for the park.  All good.  We played on the grass, barked at the big scary dog around the corner (from a safe distance), met and chatted with some friends and then headed out along the river walk towards the beach.  By this time everyone else seemed to have gone home for their dinner so I let the girls off their leads so they could stop and sniff and explore (and wee) to their little hearts’ content.

(When I say ‘explore’ Maude usually roams far and wide—as long as it is within a six foot circumference of me, and Mabel rarely leaves my right heel . . . )

Anyway, there I was, happily walking along, looking at the water, watching the birds (wondering whether I should have brought my sketchbook with me) when I suddenly realised that Mabel was no longer at my side. Looking over my shoulder I found the girls sitting close together on the path about 100 yards behind me.  Just sitting . . . and watching me walk away.  I called them to me.  No response.  I called again.  Nothing. They just continued to sit quietly and watch me.  I scanned the area to see what might have stopped them. There was nothing.  Or at least nothing I could see.  No other people, no other dogs, no other . . . anything.

I called them to me again.  Nope.  They moved not a muscle.  Sigh.  As I started back towards them they stood, turned, and headed for home.  Well, okay then. Home it is.  They didn’t appear upset, or scared, or distressed, but something—some sound, smell, sight—or notion—had stopped them dead in their tracks, and left me clueless. They may both be a bit scatty at times but this was weird even for themand they have always come to me when called.

When we got home they greeted their long lost sister Molly, ate their dinner and settled in for the evening as if nothing untoward had happened.  And perhaps it hadn’t.  Perhaps there was nothing freaky going on and I was reading too much into it.   Maybe they had just had enough of walking and didn’t want to go any further (I guess there is a first time for everything).  Or perhaps (and I think this is the most likely option) they were trying out a new doggie-jedi-mind-trick on me (in which case—it worked.)

I’m resigned to that fact that I’ll never know what was going on in their wee heads that day (or any other day for that matter) but I can’t help but imagine how cool it would have been to have had the ability to look my girls in the eye and asked ‘What the . . . .?’  — and actually received an answer.

Now, that would be something to blog about . . .

Post Script:  
If my girls could have superpowers of their own, I wonder which ones they would choose?


Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Geologists have a saying—rocks remember.’ Neil Armstrong.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I wonder if that’s true?  I hope so.

I’m hoping that if I stare at these rocks long enough they will remember (and remind me) what it is I’ve forgotten . . .



Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.’ Oscar Wilde.

I have never kept (or even started) a diary.  Well, not a proper ‘Dear Diary—this-is-what-I-was-doing-this-is-what-I-was-feeling’ kind of diary . . .

(To clarify—I do keep a date-diary for important things (‘pay day’, ‘holidays start tomorrow’, ‘day trip to Forster with Pammy’) and appointments (‘M, M, & M due to get their nails done this week’) because my old brain just doesn’t remember these things for itself any more and there are only so many post-it notes that fit around the edge of my computer.)

. . . but I had also never really felt any deep-seated urge to write my daily thoughts and feelings down on paper either.  Truth be told, before I started this blog I never wrote much of anything—apart from a couple of short paragraphs in our college brochure each term (which I was coerced into by my boss I might add.)

However, now that I am writing more (and kinda-sorta-sometimes enjoying it) I can see that there might well be advantages to writing something . . . anything . . . every single day.  I can go for days and days without putting pen to paper because I ‘can’t think of anything interesting to write’.  I have the same issue when it comes to sketching (I can’t decide what to draw—so I don’t draw anything.  Sigh.) The fact that I know that the longer I leave it the more difficult it becomes to start up again appears to hold little sway.

But a diary?  No, I don’t really think a diary is for me. I would have nothing as sensational to write in it as Oscar Wilde, but even if I did (or maybe, especially if I did) I am not sure I would want to commit it to paper. It seems to me that private diaries seldom remain private.

Still, I definitely could benefit from the discipline of writing every day, and thinking about this reminded me of a book I read years ago ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages.  What are morning pages?  Morning Pages are one of the basic tools Julia advocates for unleashing creativity.

‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.  There is no wrong way to do Morning Pagesthey are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mindand they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page . . .
and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
(Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

I remember when I read this book all those years ago I thought these morning pages sounded a bit . . . ‘Really?  Sigh.  How that is going to work?  Maybe I’ll give them a go.  Some day . . . ‘  But I never did.  Maybe I wasn’t ready then.  Perhaps I am now.  Now I kind of like the idea of writing without thinking and not having to worry about spelling, or grammar, or making sense to anyone else.  I like the idea of doing them longhand (perhaps I can even doodle around the edges and that will cover me for the ‘draw something every day’ (unkept) promises I also made to myself) and I also especially like the fact that (unlike a diary) I can tear the pages up immediately afterwards if I want to, so no-one is ever going to read them (ever) but me.

At worst I will have wasted a little (more) time in the morning.  At best—well, who knows.  I might surprise myself.  Anyway, my creativity could do with a bit of unleashing so I’m going to give them ago.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

But until then, just so you know I am not a complete diary-phobe, I thought I’d finish with an excerpt from a diary I read just the other day . . .

“Morning: Slept.
Afternoon: Slept.
Evening: Ate grass.
Night: Ate grass. Decided grass is boring.
Scratched. Hard to reach the itchy bits.

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat


Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Without my dogs my wallet would be full, my house would be clean, but my heart would be empty.’ Anon.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

  • Three heartworm injections,
  • Three C3 injections,
  • Three ears-eyes-heart checks,
  • Three nail clippings,
  • Three pinched, poked, prodded, over-excited, over-wrought and now very tired little dogs . . .
  • One exhausted mum . . .

(and one very quick, very loose (and very rare) sketch of all my three girls together)


Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Be bold; there are no terrible consequences in knitting.’ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I can’t quite remember how old I was when I first learned to knit but I know knitting was something I indulged in, and enjoyed, for years and years.  I used to knit all the time.  I made sweaters and scarves and cushion covers and toys and blankets and . . . well, you name it, I probably had a go at it.  (Okay, I never made a hoodie for a dog, but I might have if I’d thought any of my boys or girls would have worn them . . .  )  And then, for reasons I can no longer remember, I stopped.  Just stopped.  Probably I got too busy, or too lazy, or took up other interests instead . . .

Until about a month ago I had not thought about knitting for the longest time but, when clearing out one of my cupboards at home, I came across a large whicker basket filled to the gunnels with all manner of knitting paraphernalia.  Great big fat plastic needles, long skinny metal needles—and every size needle in between. Knitting patterns, scissors, packets of pins, tape measures, crochet hooks, various reels of (tangled) threads, stitch holders, safety pins and a notebook and pen. And of course, yarn.  All sorts of odd balls of yarn.  Oh my—I had forgotten how much I loved the yarn . . .

But no.  Stop right there.  I must not get carried away.  If I am going to get back into knitting I am going to take it slowly.  I must use up the wools and yarns I already have first.  No rushing down to the nearest wool emporium to buy up skeins and skeins of gorgeous vibrant coloured . . . or mottled . . . or flecked . . . or chunky . . . or worsted . . . or angora . . .or alpaca . . . or silk . . .  Sigh.  So much yarn and so little time.  And space.

Because, in spite of what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says, I can already forsee at least one terrible consequence.  My renewed ardour for all those gorgeous knitting patterns, wools, threads and yarns could easily begin to rival that of my (seemingly unrelenting) desire for new pens and pencils and paints and sketchbooks . . .

. . . and I really can’t afford to move to a bigger house just yet . . .


Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Uncategorized


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