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‘I see procrastination and research as part of my artistic process.’ Lynn Nottage.

I have today gifted myself the title of ‘Supreme Procrastinator Extraordinaire’.  It’s a heady achievement (even if I do say so myself) and one I have been working towards for quite some time.  I think it’s a title I fully deserve.  I’ve earned it.

As you may recall, back (way, way back) in April I decided I was going to take a bit of a break from writing this blog.  I needed a little rest to recharge my batteries.  ‘It’s all good,’ I told myself.  ‘I’ll take a month off and I’ll write a bit and I’ll sketch a bit andwho knows?maybe I’ll even manage to get ahead of myself!  I’ll make a plan and do some research and get some stories written and some sketches sketched and I’ll make my own little treasure trove that I can delve into whenever I am caught short (for want of a better phrase).  That way I won’t be constantly running around at the last minute, glassy-eyed and desperate, babbling to myself that I have nothing to offer when  ‘OMG! It’s time to upload my next post . . . ‘

‘Man plansGod laughs.’  Isn’t that how the saying goes?

April quickly became May . . . and, although I was very well aware I hadn’t actually written anything, I could console myself with the fact that I was still actively mulling over several ideas.  (Can one ‘actively’ mull, I wonder?) 

Anyway, quite unexpectedly (as I’m sure it’s never happened before) May rapidly became June.  I admit I got majorly sidetracked here (Nordic Noir is seriously addictive) and then, all of a sudden it was July and things got really frantic at work and I found I had no headspace for anything else (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and then . . . well, here we are . . . it’s August—and late August at that—and I am finally forced to take stock.

So how did my little blog hiatus work for me?  Am I fully rested, restored and my batteries now fully recharged?  Ask me again when I am finally rid of this nasty cough I recently picked up.

Do I have that nice little treasure trove of literary and artistic goodies I so carefully planned for and promised myself?  Not so as you would notice.

Do I at least have a list of ideas for posts and sketches for the coming months ahead?  Well, not a ‘list’ as such—possibly a couple of crumpled and torn post-it notes silently gathering dust in odd places around the house.

Have I written anything at all over the last 4 months.  A draft?  A paragraph?  A line?  Ummmmmm . . .    Sigh.

Okay, that’s it.  I surrender.  I concede.  I admit defeat.  As much as it vexes me to admit it, I obviously need a deadline . . . any deadline . . . in order to get anything (creatively at least) done in my life.

So consider this fair warning!  I am turning over a new leaf—starting today!  You will be pleased to hear (I hope!) that as of right now I am head-down-bum-up-neck-deep in the throes of researching and investigating the very best way to set myself an air-tight, water-tight, every-other-kind-of-tight, no-wiggle-room, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die deadline for my very next post!

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I bought some batteries, but they weren’t included.’ Steven Wright.

Hi allJust a quick note to say that I am going to take a bit of a break from writing for a while.

I haven’t quite decided how long I will be gone but I do feel the need to recharge my creative batteries and it feels like now is a good time to take a pause.  I’ve decided to enrol in a couple of online art classes and am looking forward to immersing myself fully in them.  Perhaps shifting my focus will kick start me toward a whole new directionI might even have something interesting to say upon my return!  (One can but hope!)

Thank you all so much for following (and encouraging) my posts thus far over the last couple of years Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me and I’ve met a lot of fabulous people I would not otherwise have come across.   During my hiatus I am going to actively make more time to follow and comment on all your lovely blogs instead of just stressing myself about my own!!

So take care, and see you all again soon . . .  ish . . .

Sally, Mabel, Maude and Molly.  XX

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.’ Liz Carpenter.

I got a letter from my Mum this week.  Not a long letter.  Not a fancy letter.  It didn’t really even tell me much that I didn’t already know, but it was still a lovely surprise because, quite honestly, I can’t remember the last time I received an actual letter in the post (not just from Mum—from anyone).  Come to think of itI can’t remember the last time I wrote one either . . .

I guess it’s not all that surprising.  Time and technology wait for no man.  Why write a letter when you can contact someone in a nano-second by phone, email, text or tweet?  There must be a whole generation of people out there who have never even thought about hand-writing a letter to a friend or relative.  In a world where ‘google’ is a verb, Wikipedia is the new Encyclopedia Britannica, Android is no longer only a character in a sci-fi movie and texting has created its own language one could begin to believe that social media has become the only acceptable way to connect.

I know I am showing my age here but I do remember a time when I wrote, and received, letters all the time.  When I left home at the age of 17 (centuries ago) to go and work in another country my mother had only one rule for me (or at least only one rule she voiced out loud)—I had to write a letter home every week.  It didn’t matter if I had nothing remotely interesting to say, whether I been out gallivanting around the town, whether I had been working flat out, or had been in bed all week with the flu.  One letter every weekthat was the rule.  And I wrote them.  For years and years.  And, truth be told, once I got into the swing of it I quite enjoyed writing them (but don’t tell my Mum that).  I must have written hundreds.

How interesting would it be now (and a tad freaky) to reread some of those letters written by my much younger self?  I reckon it would be a bit like time travelling backwards.  I wonder if I would even recognise the girl I was then?  I must ask Mum whether she kept any of them . . .

Because people do keep letters, don’t they?  Letters from childhood penpals, or school friends, or family, or old lovers.  They are precious to them.  The paper they are written on, the ink they are written with, the individual handwriting whether neatly scripted or quickly scrawled.  Some letters come with doodles or drawings and odd little inserts.  They have special a way of evoking memories and emotions.  They say you are worth the time and effort (and extra expense) of receiving a letter.  I guess that is why so many handwritten letters have survived throughout history.  They are so personal.  A bit like diaries.  People are loathe to destroy them.

Today of course people still have vast correspondences, but most of it is entirely electronic.  I wonder how many people out there feel compelled to save (all tied up with pretty string in a box in the wardrobe) sentimental printouts of emails, phone texts or microbursts from the twitterverse?  Not so very many I would guess.  And how much easier now to get rid of it all.  Highlight.  Delete.  Gone.

There.  I’ve gone and made myself all nostalgic.  Not nostalgic enough to stop writing emails or using my phone of course (I’m not entirely silly) but nostalgic enough to think about maybe writing back to Mum, instead of giving her a quick phone call.

I have to go into town this weekend anyway.  Maybe I’ll spend some extra time looking for some pretty stationery . . .

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘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!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 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.
Slept.”

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat

 
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Posted by on July 14, 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?   . . .

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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.’ George Eliot.

nothing to sayI have nothing to say this week.  How sad is that?  (Well, sad to me, possibly not to you . . . )  Seriously, I have been sitting here for almost a full week (although at the moment it seems much much longer) fingers poised over the keyboard, determined to start my next post and . . . nothing.  Nada.  Not a single idea.  (Well—not a single idea that I think anyone else might be interested in reading.  I have been tired and cranky all week but I didn’t really want to write tired and cranky things here—there is enough of that in the world already.)

So, rather than berate myself, I am just going to acknowledge the fact and give myself a break (you could probably use a rest from me anyway) but I thought it only polite to let you know that nothing would be forthcoming today—just is case you thought I was being rude and ignoring you all.  (You don’t really think I would do that . . . do you?)

I don’t even have any new ‘artistic insights’ to share with you (I haven’t done my art class homework this week either—sigh—head drops to chest) but, by way of compensation (although I am not sure that is the right word) here is a quick sketch I did last weekend, before the malaise descended.  I hope it will suffice until I can drag myself out of the mire.  (A slow weekend of chocolate, wine and cuddles with my girls will work wonders I am sure . . . )

See you all next week.  X

P.S.
‘Word Count’ has just informed me that it has now taken 289 words to tell you I have nothing to say.
George Eliot must be turning in her grave . . . 

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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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