Monday, March 30, 2009

spoiled brat

Found an interesting looking parcel waiting for me at the Post Office on Friday morning:

noticed that it had RAOK* [ random act of kindness ] as the top line of the return address

barely restrained the baser instinct that wanted to rip it open with my teeth then and there, right in the middle of the main street

ditto when I got back to the car which naturally contains scissors in the glove box

in fact I was a positive model of restraint and not only waited until I'd reached home, I even made myself a nice cuppa and took the whole lot out into the sun on the verandah

probably should've held off on that cuppa, cos look what was inside:

of course I needed to have a second cup of tea just so that I could 'christen' the lovely blue and white floral mug

so huge thankyou to Anne [ sadly blogless but she's stockingstitch on Ravelry]

and it probably goes without saying - but I will - that David thoroughly enjoyed the choc chicken when he got home

* we have a lovely aussie based RAOK group on Ravelry

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The scene: Friday - a perfect early-autumn afternoon, slightly warmer than usual and bathed in late afternoon glow
Us gathered at Victory Park, Castlemaine for a sound-check [running late of course - they always do ] before the official proceedings opening the Castlemaine State Festival which is a feast of visual and performing arts happening up here until the end of next week.

Family groups began to trickle in with blankets and chairs, picnic teas at the ready, strolling performers moved through [ or above, as the case may be ] the crowd and there was a palpable feeling of expectancy and happiness

So as not to take the edge of the song for later, we used Yil Lul [ which we'll be doing at the closing Garden Party ] as our sound check and then, spread out three deep in front of the stage, attempted to sit until needed.
Now when I say 'sit' I actually mean crouch on the ground, all bunched up and unobtrusive, and hope that by the time Jane needed us to stand, that the combination of numb feet and muscles still protesting from the Blackadder Incident would allow me to get upright with some degree of dignity still intact.

In true Castlemainiac form, there was minimal boring, self-aggrandising waffle.
What we had instead was:

the Elders of the local DjaDjaWurrung [ Jarra speaking ] people, Uncle Brian and Auntie Carmel, garbed in traditional possum skin cloaks inviting us all onto their land, followed by a clay bedaubed Ricky Nelson chanting the Wominjika song. In Jarra language Wominjika means roughly 'welcome to our country' and hearing it sung in that strange, eerie nasal voice used in koori singing and accompanied by stamping and the clapping of one boomerang on another was wonderful and powerful.

... even if the smoke from the equally traditional welcome fire was a bit invasive at times

then the response

Jan Wositzky [ local singer, banjo player, teller of tales, composer and all round good bloke ] began to sing his song " Wominjika" joined by Ron Murray** and [ to great applause ] by the Mayor of Castlemaine, Puck Schieraugmented by James Rigby on guitar.

"Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thank you for the welcome to your land
Can we two walk as one underneath this sun
Thankyou for the welcome to your land

Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thankyou for the welcome to your land
can we two walk in peace by your shining creeks
Thankyou for the welcome to your land

Some of you shed your blood when the long-boats hit the sand
Some of you danced with us, dancing hand in hand
Some of you were stolen from your home when you were young
In this, in this old land - in this, in this old land

Some of us arrived in chains, some with a Bible or a gun
Some to make our fortune, some came for the sun
Some of us sought refuge to start our lives anew
In this, in this old land - in this, in this old land

Then it was the turn of our massed choir [ ChatWarblers, Peace Choir, a contingent of local school children, and several other choirs ] to add harmony and chorus ...

"Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thank you for the welcome to your land
Can we two walk as one underneath this sun
Thankyou for the welcome ...

wominjika, wominjika, wominjika
Thankyou for the welcome to your land "

[ composed by Jan Wositzky ]
From our side of the mikes it sounded pretty good for an open air effort, and I can't help but wonder what Jan W. made of it. Apparently it was the first time that he's heard his song performed by anyone other than himself and while one man singing with banjo is great, it is an entirely different sound with around a hundred male and female voices singing four part harmony!

As we came to the end, the Jarra chant once again rose up and over the top ... marvelous... Dave obviously loved it*
The party went on for another couple of hours but David and I left after our singing was done

* David is technically a member of the Peace Choir but the quiet-crouching-all-bunched-up would have been hugely outside his comfort zone so instead he watched from a prime front position with Carer Sarah who also took some of these photos

** Ron is an elder of a different tribe, so he too needed to be welcomed onto DjaDjaWurrung land. If you click on that picture, you will be able to see that he is holding the tail feathers of the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo which is his totem animal - the Victorian subspecies is a highly endangered bird and Ron asked us all to pray /think positive thoughts for its continuance.

Friday, March 27, 2009

the perils of country life episode 6037

A rather pungent - in fact it wouldn't be going too far to say revolting, and distressingly familiar Odeur de Rutting Billygoat insinuated itself into my nostrils, and then my conciousness, as I sat here yesterday lunchtime, innocently trolling the Blogiverse.

My immediate thought [ after the 'erk ...yuck ... never smelt him-next-door from inside the house before' ] was something along the lines of "... that wind must be coming from just the wrong quarter"

Then my tender ears were assailed by what was either a Bedouin in full cry - unlikely in Central Victoria - or a male goat in the throes of passion, serenading the object of his temporary affection.
My immediate thought THIS time was " that sounds bloody close"
followed by
"that sounds very bloody close"

hell's bells and jumping catfish
Blackadder's out!!!!

so I sprinted for the kitchen door, grabbing the camera on the way, just in time to immortalise the sight of a fairly startled looking Robbyn being assured that she is the [current] love of Blackadder's life
Needless to say PND and Brenda were not home and of course I didn't have handy any chain heavy enough to fasten him to a nearby tree.

Got any idea how much effort is required to persuade a fully grown 100 kilo plus male goat to go about 200 metres in the opposite and uphill direction from the object of his affection ?
Well I do and I'm here to tell you that it is entirely possible that my right shoulder and upper arm [ not to mention my already dodgy knee ] may never be the same again

and as the final ironic twist in the tail ?

Today all of next door's livestock have been moved as per schedule to their new farm out at Strathfieldsaye

that beggar knew it was his last chance
I don't know how he knew

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I would like to think that the image I project on these here interwebs is that of a good and law abiding type ... quirky ? maybe .... creative? certainly hope so ... mad as a hatter? quite possibly

but definitely law abiding

and you see, that's the thing, internet appearences can be deceiving:
For your information, I spent a goodly portion of Tuesday behind bars

so there!
I was
in stir
the clink
the Pen
the Big House
the Slammer
the Pokey

and I'll be going back 'inside' soon

but panic not, gentle reader
I haven't quite descended into a rampant life of crime

and now a digression:

the Old Castlemaine Gaol
is an imposing building set high above the town and was in use from the days of the goldrush, housing in its day, both men and women, in what was considered a model establishment but now looks frankly horrific
... and the thought that it was still in use less than 20 years ago gives me the heebiejeebies

luckily my purpose there was quite benign

The Castlemaine State festival starts tomorrow and so Robyn and I spent about 5 hours on Tuesday hanging 16 of her artworks.
and yes, you read that aright
it took us 5 bleeping hours [ well, okay, four and a half plus lunch ] to hang a grand total of sixteen poster sized works.
Because the building has a heritage listing, one obviously is not allowed to hammer in nails willy nilly - or even at all - and so we had to be very creative in how things were attached and to what ... hence the five hours.

Rob is a graphic designer and also an illustrator of children's books whose signature style incorporates a combination of painting and computer scanned/manipulated photography,
This exhibition of recent works is entitled Quirky Critters [ one of several things happening there for the Festival ] and is definitely kid friendly.
The Old Gaol itself is likely to appeal to that streak, which most kids seem to possess to some degree, that delights in the slightly gruesome. So basically if you're looking for somewhere to take the rugrats during the festival - March 27 to April 5 - you might want to put this one on the list.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Giveaway by proxy

My dear friend IRL Jane is having a giveaway to celebrate 600 posts and is giving one of her lovely handmade bags as prize.
Ms Moggie [ her above who is a dead ringer for my Sophie, albeit, Sophie would like to point out, slightly more ... ahem ... well padded ] says she wants more entries so please go visit and leave a comment on this post or this one

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Economic downturn be damned

I'm no stranger to the concept of reduced discretionary spending, or a tightened belt, but sometimes you just have to buy something purely because it makes you smile amidst all the doom and gloom

and if it happens to cost less than that $3.50 cup of coffee, that you think twice about and then pass on ... well so much the better
Look who was waiting for me at one of the local Op Shops [ Thrift Stores ] on Tuesday when I was on a single minded - and ultimately successful - hunt for more old sheet music for collages :

no price tag and I was on tenterhooks as I asked 'how much ?'

and the answer? a princely $3 !


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

another connection made

There are very few images in existence of my father's side of the family
This is mostly because , when my grandmother passed away in 1949, my uncle Joe, who was still living with grandma, carted everything [ and I do mean EVERYTHING ] out into the backyard and set fire to it. By the time his brothers and sister managed the drive down to Lorne from Melbourne they were greeted by the sight of a huge bonfire blazing away - furniture, books, family silver, school prizes, the lot.

Some photos survived the purge but only because they were safely in the albums of other family members and they are few and precious
Imagine my surprise and delight then to find this hitherto unknown [ well, unknown to me anyway ] photo of Grandma Bat

tucked inside an old map of Hobart that I unfolded for the first time last week when I was looking for ephemera for my collages.

I never met Emily Hyams Batterham because she died before my parents married, but now at least I know one more thing about her - she was a knitter !

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did you know ... ?

... that, having fulfilled its purpose as provider of one of life's essentials, that a wet, soggy teabag can have a secondary existence as an art material ?

which is my way of saying that I opted for tea staining rather than paint to antique the edges of Mum's photo:

first person to see the finished piece was Tara aka fiestywench who brought Sunday lunch

Ricotta fritters with tart citrus sauce - and then settled in for some post-prandial knitting and some Dragon [chilli-flavoured] Chai

all in all a good way to spend a sunday arvo

Saturday, March 14, 2009

of rain, and memories of mum

raindrops on rosesrain
glorious rain

a lovely grey, soft day and enough precipitation to make the garden happy, the goats most emphatically not, and to require his Beariness to undergo the indignity of an unscheduled bath [ odeur de wet dog with definite undertones of next door's billygoat ]

significant amounts of goat paddock

oozed down the hill

but that's perfectly normal around here

Not a day for gardening, so I spent the day ... when not otherwise occupied with canine-ablution duty or cleaning up after an epileptic cat ... knitting lace and working on another collage/mixed media/call-it-what-you will that I started yesterday

I've used a postcard picture of my late mum aged about 2 ... and before anyone starts howling about me having the temerity to destroy a vital bit of family history, I do have another original of the same picture.
... was going to write 'original copy' but that's a bit of an oxymoron. Anyway, there were obviously several printed as postcards for various family members, and I have ended up with these two.
I used a 12" primed canvas again and started with a dark green base, added the same gold as the last piece, and several layers of printed paper serviette tissue and more gold, green and burnt umber.
Then the front page of some old sheet music ... 'When Thy Blue Eyes' ... more paint and tissue, and finally, after some tense moments spent carefully wetting the back of the photo and gently scraping away most of the back layer whilst holding my breath and with my tongue 'just so' ...

and don't you just love that huge bow on the top of her head ?

I may need to add a little burnt umber around the edges because it looks almost too new for a pic taken in 1922, but the postcard printing on the back was certainly that old so I guess the photographer must have used top quality emulsion or somesuch.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why cats are better than dogs part 368 *

Firstly m'lud, I would refer you to exhibits A and B

and herewith: exhibits C and D

so I put it to the jury that unless my house has been mysteriously overun by megamoths, the conclusions are quite clear
I don't imagine that there is very much that Mr Bear can mount by way of a coherent defence*

* except extreme cuteness

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mrs Murphy is alive and well in Central Victoria

Wouldn't you just know it ?
I spent every day - every single, blessed, hot-and-sweaty day - for a month before Nadie and Chris' party cossetting my garden into some semblance of respectability ... not easy at the tail-end of a very hot dry spell either, especially with 38C/100F temps the 2 days immediately before ...
and it looked quite presentable on the day... even though not one single solitary person made any mention of it
[ Nadie says that they did - just not in MY hearing ]
in keeping with Murphy's law of gardening, the best of the roses waited until THIS week to show off:
anyone care to hazard a guess at the identity of this red one ? ... repeat blooming, lightly scented, fairly upright habit and large open blooms ... anyone ?

Pierre De Ronsard [ and why on earth would anyone name such a gloriously froufrou pink and white rose Pierre ? ]

David Austin's Leander

of the 75 [!] pots of annuals ... living party decorations really - that I put in purely to fill in all the drought related gaps, at least 70 are still with me. I don't hold out much hope for their long term survival but for now it all looks rather lovely

and last night we got actual rain

Monday, March 09, 2009

Take two serviettes

okay I'll cop to it
I'm obsessive about a great number of things
most of which you probably know about :
storage solutions for all the above ... plastic tubs, bags, boxes, folders, binders

and the one that perhaps you don't know about because I strive mightily to keep it under control

I'm a paper products junkie

... notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, notepads, stationery - and I really have to restrain myself from adding to my enormous stash of interesting photos

so I was thrilled when I found an article in the latest Cloth, Paper, Scissors written by mixed media artist Sharon Tomlinson

that advocated using interesting printed paper napkins/serviettes as the base for mixed media pieces

ooooh goody - permission to go buy some pretty serviettes
and a small cheap primed canvas

I have no desire to copy Sharon's unique and quirky style.
It's hers
but there was definitely something that resonated with that idea of those flimsy tissue images that caused me to haul out the file that contains all the ephemera found amongst my late mum's stuff and which I have no good reason to keep but I did anyway ... like a letter written on half-a-dozen sheets of the lightest of wartime issue 'on-active-service' paper from mum's BFF Mavis.

the serviettes were separated to harvest that top layer and adhered to the canvas
then cheap gold acrylic paint [ so cheap that there's very little actual pigment and it gives a lovely soft burnished look if applied with a very light hand and rubbed back repeatedly]
then the letter
more bits of serviette
more paint - sort of pewterish this time
a white monoprint from a feather to echo the images on the serviette and to reinforce the idea of transience and impermanence

at this point I did print some words in strategic spots but have since painted and stuck over them

pretty but lacking focus

so then a 'sewing woman' cut from a card to anchor that bottom left corner
a layer of pine green brushed on and sponged off

then dark blue
and finally the gold again to soften and lighten the blue and blend the whole

I'm still not sure if it's finished - my feeling is that yes it is - but in any case I'll live with it for a while now.
How do you know when something is complete ?

Mum has been gone since 1994, her BFF, Mavis, died of cancer in 1965, and yet here is this chatty note written in the midst of huge conflict over 60 years ago still surviving.

Through the lens of memory, all summers are golden

how nice

Jackie's timing was impeccable and I found this lovely award

waiting for me at 7am when I rather reluctantly rose to the importunings of four goats and three cats who recognise neither public holiday sleep-ins nor post-migraine brainfug [ unlike Bear who was being a perfect gentleplum and waiting for me to show signs of rising ]
so apparently I have to:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.

Sheepish Annie
Warty Mammal

and while we're at it, I just realised that I never said thankyou or passed on these awards ... and I have to hang my head in shame and admit that my currently foggy memory can't even conjure up who gave me the sassy woman in yellow
so lease leave a comment whoever you are
The Real Person Award [ Marie antoinette ] was from OzJane ... that much I DO remember

so if you wants 'em, and you think you deserve 'em, take 'em and pass 'em on