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‘I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.’ Virginia Woolf.

Today is my birthday.  I am 59.

Several people have already reliably informed me that ’59 . . . is nearly 60′, followed by the inevitable‘So . . . how do you feel . . . being nearly 60?’

Well, to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really thought about it much (so thanks for the reminder guys) but now the question has been asked I am a little surprised to find there are actually quite a lot of things about being ‘nearly 60’ that I really like.

For a startI like still being around.  Many people aren’t so fortunate so I view 59 years as somewhat of an achievement in itself.

I like that things that caused me a good deal of worry or angst or upset in the past now barely give me a moment’s pause.  (It’s taken a while but I have finally worked out that, while some things really do matter—many, many more really, really don’t.)

I like that I am far less concerned these days about how I look (or, perhaps more honestly, how anyone else thinks I look) and am now far more interested in how I feel.

I like that I am entirely comfortable in my own company and I can choose to participate, spectate, or entirely forgo (‘thanks, but no thanks’) without also feeling the need to elaborate on my choices with long convoluted explanations (or excuses).

I like that I have learned to never miss an opportunity to do absolutely nothing.  (Some may call that bone idle.  I prefer to think of it as a life choice.)

I like knowing that, while it’s definitely okay to follow the rules, bending (or even breaking) one every now and again can be a lot of fun . . .

. . .  and I like the fact that finally accepting some things really are absolutely and totally beyond my control has done wonders for my sleep.  (And, if I do still have the odd restless night, a nice little nap the next day is entirely appropriate anyway.)

So, all said and done, I am feeling pretty good about this birthday, and if you should come across me sometime, standing in the street, gazing blankly upwards, please don’t be alarmed.  It’s not my advancing years taking a toll on me.  I have not forgotten where (or who) I am.

I am merely taking a moment and altering my aspect to the sun . . .

Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If loving shoes is a crime . . . I’m looking at life without parole.’ Brian Atwood.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

You know what I was thinking about most of yesterday?   My feet.  Seriously.  I was thinking about how much of my life I must have spent dealing with tired, aching, sore feet.  I mean—supposing it were even possible to calculate such a thing—what would that equate to in hours . . . days . . .  months . . . years?

It’s not as if I were even wearing horribly uncomfortable shoesthey were, in fact, one of my oldest and most comfy pairs—but at some point yesterday I became suddenly aware that all I was thinking about (seriously—nothing else going on in my brain at all) was how I could not wait to get in my own front door and kick my shoes off ( . . . and my bra too actually but that’s probably TMI for this particular post . . . ) 

Sadly it seems, no matter how much I might wish otherwise, gone are the days when I could don my high heels at 7.00am, run around in them all day (literally), pop into the supermarket on the way home to do a bit of grocery shopping and still feel able to stand around and gossip with one of my neighbours for half an hour at the end of the day.  These days I barely make it to lunchtime before I become increasingly aware (as my old dad used to say )my dogs are barking‘ . . .

But the thing is—I love my heels.  I really do.  I have always owned flat shoes of course (who doesn’t?) but no matter how cute they are, for me flats have always been for schleping around at home, or going to the movies (navigating all those steps in heels in the dark—I don’t think so), or walking the dogs.   They’ve never been ‘proper’ shoes.  Heels make me feel taller and slimmer and . . . dressed.  That’s it I think.  I have never considered myself properly dressed unless I’m wearing a fabulous pair of heels.  

What to do, what to do?  I know what you’re going to sayI should stop wearing my heels right now and give myself a break, right?

Well, I think we all know that’s not going to happen.  (I mean, seriously?) 

But I do think a compromise might be in order.  I think I might just be able to convince myself to buy a couple (or three or four) more pairs of extra-cute flats that might nicely complement the heels I already have.  Then I could wear my beloved heels for part of the day and surreptitiously swap them out for a similar (flatter) pair when I feel the need to give my aching tootsies a rest.  What do you reckon?

Sounds like a fine plan to me . . .

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘In Heaven, it is always Autumn.’ John Donne.

Autumn is here!  Finally!  Well, according to the calendar at least.  (Okay, so the weatherman says it is going to be hot again today so it might be a little while yet before we start to feel any real benefit but—YAY!—Autumn!)  Autumn has always been my favourite season in Australia and I have to tell you I have been seriously hanging out for it this year!  I have not enjoyed this summerat all.  I can just about deal with the heat (that’s what air conditioning is for) but the oppressive and constant humidity we have had to deal with over the last couple of months has been off the charts.  I have been longing for some cooler weather . . .

(Before I go any further, my sincere apologies to those readers living on the other side of the world who have been (and in some cases still are) trapped in the depths of a freezing winter.  There can be nothing worse than listening to someone complaining about an endless run of steaming hot sunny days when you are all freezing your bits off.  However, when it gets to be proper winter here and I start to complain about it (as I most assuredly will) I promise I will not be mortally offended when you write and gloat about how lovely the weather has been where you are . . . )

I am not the only one in my household who has struggled with the heat this year.  My girls have been exceedingly listless (in Molly’s case almost comatose) and their days have been mostly spent dozing fitfully, drinking gallons of water, going outside to pee all the water away again, staggering back inside to drink even more water . . .  and then dozing again.  Now I know that doesn’t sound all that different from any of their usual days, but this time all these ‘activities’ (and I use the term loosely) were all done in exaggerated slow motion.  (Except when I had the big fan trained on me and was required to briefly move from my seat.  Then all three dogs developed an amazing ability to immediately transport themselves miraculously into ‘my spot’ only to become completely unconscious again and therefore entirely unable to move back out of it! )

But never mindit’s autumn and all that uncomfortable heat and humidity will soon be far behind us!  I’ll be able to do all sorts of things I haven’t been able to do in months.

I’ll be able to wear sleeves again.

I’ll be able to take hot showers again . . . and eat hot food again . . .  and drink hot drinks again . . .

I’ll be able to get into my jammies and woolly socks and slippers as early as I like without feeling guilty about it.  (I’ll be able to actually wear jammies and woolly socks and slippers again . . . )  

It’ll be less crowded outside and there’ll be less dodging and weaving around pushchairs and prams and scooters and bicycles when the girls and I go out walking.  (It’s amazing how many ‘fair weather walkers’ there are around here.  Autumn and winter is mostly left to who of us who walk purely for the joy of it—or for our health—or who have four-legged family members who would make them crazy if they didn’t . . . ) 

Oh yes.  I think I like the idea of Heaven always being Autumn.

(Provided, of course, that heaven is also going to be loaded up with hot chocolate . . . and jammies . . . and slippers . . . and woolly socks . . . and dogs . . . )

 
10 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No colour will ever be brighter for me than black and white.’ Allessandro Del Piero.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines colour as ‘the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light’.

The human eye can only see light within specific wavelengths so, by this definition, colour is the range of visible light that humans can actually see.  For us, the visible spectrum begins with the wavelengths we call violet.  This then moves on to blue, green, yellow, orange, and ends with what we call red.  The trouble with this approach is that there are some very noticeable exceptionslike black and white. In science black and white are not considered colours because they do not have specific wavelengths. White light contains all wavelengths of visible light while black is the absence of visible light.

But you know what?  That doesn’t really work for me.  I need to see black and white as colours because, in spite of my love of all the other colours of the rainbow, my day-to-day life is a vision in monochrome.

My home decor is mostly black and white.  I admit  there are a few (quite a few actually) vibrant pops of colour here and there, but the fact remainsI have white walls, white cupboards, black lounge, black chairs, black and white rugs, black and white prints and black and white quilts and pillows.  (All serving to beautifully accentuate all those other lovely colours I might add).

I also have three little dogs, two black-and-white, and one all black.  Now, I hasten to add that I absolutely did not choose these little dogs so they would match my furniture.  That was more of a happy accident . . .

Many of my clothes are black and whitejust because I really like wearing black and white It works in any season, it’s easy to mix and match (and add to—no more vacillating about whether it is quite the right shade when buying something new for my already far too substantial wardrobe) and I can also easily pep it up with any other colour on a whim (fuschia pink shoes!!) while still looking tidy and presentable when out and about in the world.

(Wearing mostly black and white is also exceedingly helpful when you are the owner of aforesaid three hairy (and prone to frequent shedding) little dogs.  The ever-constant dog-hairs on my clothes are at least evenly distributed . . . )

So, scientific or not, I think I need to continue to see black and white as colours—otherwise I might be forced to rethink my whole take on my world and everything in it.

I’m not sure I’m entirely ready for that . . .

Just as well Mabel had her red collar on or she might have gone completely unnoticed on the black and white quilt.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.’ Spike Milligan.

I might have thought that quote funny once.  Unfortunately my sense of humour on the issue of power and light has take a bit of a knock lately.  I have now joined the ranks of those who have no difficulty whatsoever in believing that if God really had had to rely on the ‘Electricity Board’ for a connection we might all still be sitting in the dark even now . . .

Do I sound a little frustrated?  Well, I am.  Just a tad.  For the last couple of weeks I have been getting reminders from the power company that my current ‘plan’ will expire at the beginning of March and that if I don’t renew it immediately there are bound to be dire consequences.  (Those weren’t their exact words of course but that was the gist—price hikes, loss of bonuses, etc etc . . .)

Well alright then.  I’d best get that renewed poste-haste hadn’t I?  No worries, this should only take a second . . .

So I followed the link to the appropriate website, logged in, found the ‘Renew Your Plan’ button, pressed Enter and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .

Okay.  So maybe the website needed a minute.  (I admit I can be a little impatient with these things.)  That’s okay, I have other things I can be going on with.  I left the little round thingy that indicates that the website was processing my request running and went and attended to something of much more immediate importance . . .

After finishing my cup of tea I came back to the site to find absolutely no progress had been made.  The little wheel continued to spin around . . . and around . . . and around . . .

After a further 10 minutes of waiting I decided I definitely had better things to do.  The website was obviously having issues.  I’d try again tomorrow.

And I did.  And the next day . . .  and the day after that . . .

Sigh.

I’ve tried to renew my electricity plan every day for the past week now with the same result (I know I know, the definition of madness . . . ) but I really, really, really didn’t want to phone them.  There had to be another way.  So I searched the site for a ‘Contact Us’ button.  Lo and Beholdthere was a box that said they’d call me (free of charge!) if I had a problem.  Just ‘Click Here’.  Click.

My phone rang almost immediately.  Woo Hoo!!

‘Thank you for calling,’ (said the cheery (and obviously pre-recorded) voice)  ‘ . . . we are taking a lot of calls at the moment but if you are happy to wait . . .  (long pause)  . . . 45 minutes . . .  we’ll get to your call as soon as we can.  If not, please call us back.’

I knew there was a reason I really, really, really didn’t want to phone.  Like I was going to wait on hold for 45 minutes . . .

One final desperate search online eventually found me a ‘Lodge an Enquiry’ section.  What did I have to lose (except perhaps my sanity)—’So. . . .’ I wrote politely, “is there something wrong with your website?  Because I have been following all the prompts for over a week now to renew my existing plan and I really don’t seem to be having much luck . . . “

I received an immediate (and very polite) response‘Thank you for your enquiry.  Your message is important to us.  We will get back to you within 2-3 working days.’

Sigh. (Again.)

Of course, three days later I still haven’t heard anything back from them so this post must now serve as fair warning that next time I write to all you lovely people I may well have reverted to chipping away on a stone tablet by candlelight.

But wait! look!  There’s an email just come in from the power company.  Maybe this will sort it all out . . .

‘Hello Sally.  This is just a friendly reminder . . . ‘

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.’ Katrina Mayer.

Even after being back sketching for a couple of years now I find I still don’t do much drawing ‘out-of-doors’.  I always manage to find some excuse ( . . . it’s too hot . . . or too cold . . . or there are too many people about . . . or OMG the sandflies!! I dither and dather and although sometimes I do get as far as packing up all my kit and getting myself to the front door, more often than not it’s . . .  ‘I don’t know . . . perhaps I won’t do that today . . .  maybe I’ll go tomorrow instead . . .’   It’s definitely an issue for me and one I haven’t quite got my head around yet.

So now, before you get all excited and think that I must have actually talked myself into venturing out into the big wide world to complete the sketch below—nope, I copied it from a photograph (I wanted to see if I could replicate some of the detail in the undergrowth)—but I was thinking about going outside to sketch a real tree, so I reckon that’s a step in the right direction . . . isn’t it?

Anyway, now that we are on the subject of trees it seems like a good time to share something I came across recently called the Baum test—also known as the ‘tree’ test.  Apparently this test can be used to represent a person’s personality traits (similar to handwriting analysis).  Basically, all you need to do is draw a treenot copy a tree as I didbut actually draw a tree from your own imagination.  The idea is to draw quickly and without thinking too much and to include (or not, whatever you prefer) the roots, the trunk, branches, leaves, fruits, flowers, etc.

Then comes the psychology bit.

According to the supreme beings who know these things—if you drew a tree with strong deep roots you are probably a pragmatic and rational person.  If you drew shallow roots (or none at all) you are more likely to be quite timid or uncertain in life. The trunk usually symbolizes your personality.  If your tree has a large thick trunk, you are more likely to be outspoken, emotional and possess great inner strength.  If the trunk of your tree is small or broken it suggests you are rather fragile or withdrawn.  Thick branches suggest a communicative personality.  No branches or very small branches indicate an inability or reluctance to communicate with others.  Drawing leaves and flowers show your attempts to achieve success (or perhaps lack thereof??)

So there you go.  Why don’t you give it a go yourself?  I’d be interested to hear about your results (although I guess now you’ve already read the possible analyses your final creations could possibly be somewhat compromised.  Hmmmm—I didn’t really think that through . . . )   Anyway, I admit I haven’t actually tried the Baum test myself yet.  For a start I don’t draw quickly (ever), so given that, and my propensity for detail, if I start right now I’ll probably be just about finishing my own imaginary tree sketch some time next week . . .

Now, I wonder what the psychologists would have to say about that!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.’ Carl Sandburg.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Fighting spouses, other people’s children running all over your front garden, loud music lovers, screaming mothers, people who let their pets run wild, late-night partiers, someone who trims all the boundary trees and hedges—and throws all the debris into your yard . . .   Does any of that sound familiar?  Anyone who has lived next to nasty neighbours will know how stressful and unpleasant it can be—and how it can be enough to drive even the sanest and most peaceful person to the brink . . .

Happily, I have been very lucky with my neighbours over the years.  Although there have been one or two I was not overly sorry to see the back of, for the most part all my neigbours have been friendly and supportive, kept their children and animals under control, their domestic affairs to themselves and only gone slightly overboard on the noise levels on high-days and holidays—which, quite frankly, is fair enough.

Consequently I have had very little to complain about . . . and I would hope that any of my neighbours, if asked, would be able to say the same of me.

Even so, no matter how friendly with, or fond of, my neighbours I am I can’t really see how a good sturdy fence between us can do much harm.   Just to be on the safe side, you understand . . .

 
9 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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