My heart is less heavy, thanks to you

Last time I wrote about the results of our federal election last weekend. My heart felt very heavy because the result was a loss for the environment, an election based on selfishness and fear. And my teapot broke.

There were swings to the Liberal Party (ie conservative), including, astoundingly, a large one in the seat of one Queensland member, who spent more time visiting his girlfriend in the Philippines, on tax payer money, than he did in the Parliament.

I wondered how my political thoughts were so out of kilter with the rest of Australia.

People like me, who want to protect the environment, equal rights, fight homophobia and racism and so on are described as

‘inner city, left leaning, latte sipping, tree hugging, chardonnay shiraz drinking tosspots’

Well, I wear all those labels (except tosspot!) with pride.

And I suspect that many of you proudly wear some of them too. The comments on my post heartened me. I might be living in an inner city silo, where my friends and family are as shocked and dismayed by the election results as I am, but I have discovered just how wide that silo is. It seems to stretch from Great Britain across Europe to the United States and many other places.

And maybe it is not a silo, maybe it is an umbrella, sheltering many of us from the hate and menace that seems to be around us. So thank you for sheltering under the umbrella with me, for leaving me comments and giving me hope that there are many of us who are longing for a better world.

And an update on the teapot……

The Fella and I bought a stainless steel one.

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No chipping this one’s spout. It is double hulled, so the tea stays toasty warm. And the Fella, as an old ex-boiler maker, has a long term love affair with stainless steel ~ and tea!

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Just a little advertisement before I go…..As you know I am heading to my artist in residency at the end of next week, so my Etsy shop will be closed for all of June. However, there is still time to put in an order, if something takes your fancy.

My heart is heavy

Australia voted yesterday. There are two parties that could expect to form government ~ the right-wing Liberal Party and the more moderate Labor Party. The Liberals have been in government for quite a few years, and what a chaotic, mean spirited and clueless Government it was. The Labor Party was consistently ahead in the polls, although the leader, Bill Shorten, who happens to be my Member of Parliament, was always behind Scott Morrison.

So, I was quietly confident, and quietly excited, because the Labor Party was talking about policies that would give some hope to the issues we face. They talked about closing tax loop holes that would free up money to be spent on cancer care; the Liberals called it a Retirement Tax. Labor had policies and ideas to do something about climate change. The Liberals, who have a rotten record on climate change, wanted to know where the money was coming from; Shorten rightly pointed out that we couldn’t afford not to act.

And so it went on. Labor proposed ideas, the Liberals harped on about high taxes and ‘you can’t trust Bill’.

Watching the count last night was a shock. Not only did the Liberals return to government, but with a bigger majority. They won seats. Morrison is hailed as the Miracle Worker, winning the unwinable election.

Meeks has more detail on her blog Meeka’s Mind.

To add to my woes of the last 24 hours, there was no Democracy Sausage at my Polling Booth 😳 and our teapot had an accident (yes, I am looking at you my Lovely Fella!).

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I had a restless night last night, despairing over what this says about us as Australians and as world citizens.

This election has been a choice, and I feel that voters have chosen self-interest rather than a better future for us all. The Liberals are no friends of the environment. Malcolm Turnbull was dumped as Prime Minister because of the climate skeptics in his party. The huge Adani coal mine will go ahead and the nonsense of ‘clean coal’ will be investigated. The talk about ‘future generations’ is simply talk.

My mind spun last night, and then got stuck on one thought ~ I felt powerless, without control. So, I need to take control of the things I can, starting with my garden.

Why the garden?

  • It brings me joy, digging and planting brings me peace, and I need that.
  • There’s exercise too, well known for regulating mood.
  • In my little patch I can encourage pollinators and microorganisms and birds and butterflies. The world needs havens for these.
  • It helps me monitor seasonal changes and moon cycles.
  • My veggie garden is in the front yard, getting maximum sun, encouraging others to see that even a little bit of soil can grow something. Many vegetables are very easy to grow.
  • Because it is in the front yard the Fella and I can do a little to help foster community. We often have conversations with people walking past. Indeed just yesterday I had a chat with a neighbour originally from Lebanon about rosemary. She told me that it made a very soothing tea for colds. Last time I wrote about my garden I told you that we have a system with another neighbour ~ her veggie scraps for our excess produce.

Fired up, today I went to the local nursery and bought:

  • pea straw for compost (organic, but in a plastic wrapper ~ go figure that one)
  • Zoopoo ~ compost from animals’ waste at the zoo!
  • Red mustard seedlings

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  • Seed potoates
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I don’t plant them very deep, and then cover them with mulch
  • Spring onion seedlings
  • Garlic
  • Seed packets of turnips, pal choy and swedes

Already growing are the peas, an earlier sowing of garlic and silver beet.

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We are heading into Winter, even though the weather is still warm and dry, but things are still flowering in the backyard.

Nerines

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a corn flower

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a foxglove (yep, that’s a bath at the back of it….don’t ask….)

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the white correa

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and who can resist a dandelion?

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The pots are doing well (can you see my new Japanese fish kite?)

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and the worms seem happy in their little worm farm. (This photo looks a little strange….the washing is hanging on the line a couple of metres behind the worm farm, not dangling in it!)

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There are other ways to help the world too, but my little patch of healthy garden is an important start for me. Let me leave you with this quote, where Leonard Woolf, husband of Virginia Woolf is speaking:

I will end… with a little scene that took place in the last months of peace. They were the most terrible months of my life, for, helplessly and hopelessly, one watched the inevitable approach of war. One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler—the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers… Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window: “Hitler is making a speech.” I shouted back, “I shan’t come. I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.” Last March, twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard. Leonard Woolf, “Downhill all the way: An autobiography of the years 1919 to 1939” 

Off to Police Point

I am spending all of June in a little cottage on Police Point, the edge of the Point Nepean National Park. You may have read about it in the letter from my studio that I sent out yesterday. Or you may remember me talking about it a while ago. But if you haven’t heard about it, don’t get my newsletter and don’t want to click the link to catch up, let me explain.

I have been granted an artist in residence position by the Mornington Peninsula Shire, to spend a month in the Gatekeeper’s Cottage creating and exploring art. How amazing, how luxurious, how special is that?

Point Nepean is the eastern arm of Port Phillip Bay, and you can see the red dot way down on the edge. Can you see the white dot for Moonee Ponds, just north of the word Melbourne? That’s where I live, about 2 hours drive away.

Map of Point Nepean

And in this photo, can you see the red roof? That is where I will be, with the wonderful national park away to the right. (This photo came from the Mornington Peninsula Shire.)

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Some photos I took when I visited in late 2017.

A couple of years ago I was an artist in residence at Flinders Island. Fantastic experience, which lead to my obsession with the shapes and textures of that windswept coastal heathland. Point Nepean has similar vegetation, buffeted by the winds off the Southern Ocean. I want to wander through that environment, with my sketchbook, looking at the shapes, noticing the details. Then back in the cottage I want to explore how to translate what I see onto the paper.

I will be using watercolour, and sewing onto the paper. (My sewing machine has gone for a service, to make sure it is in tip top condition.) I would like to explore ways to work larger because at the moment I am constrained by manoeuvring the paper around the machine.

But I want to be open to creativity, to let the ideas dance and sing in my brain.

On the practical side, there are art supply shops in towns along the coast road down the Peninsula….just in case I need something vital! And while I don’t want to come back home, it is nice to know it is only a few hours away.

It will be important to not fritter my time away, and I know how good I am at doing that! So, to make myself accountable I am going to try to post on Instagram and Facebook each day, and have a weekly round up here. So, if you would like to follow along with me, I would love to have your company.

Notre Dame

The sight of the beautiful cathedral blazing was a shocking one. However, I wasn’t moved to write anything about it, until Jill Dennison’s post made me think. This is a part of her thought provoking post:

Within hours after the blaze, French tycoons had already pledged hundreds of millions of euros for restoration, as had some of the country’s best-known companies.

Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame shot to the top of the bestseller’s list, and the publishers of the French language editions pledged to donate all proceeds.  Apple chief Tim Cook pledged an unspecified sum and the Walt Disney Company, which turned Hugo’s Hunchback into a 1996 animated feature, said it would put up $5 million. The University of Notre Dame promised another $100,000.  The Bettencourt-Meyer family, the largest shareholder in the L’Oreal cosmetics empire, offered 200 million euros, while oil and gas producer Total pledged 100 million.

All great news, right?  I was happy … but then … a simple statement by CGT union (Confédération générale du travail) chief Philippe Martinez made me stop in my tracks … and think …

“In one click, 200 million, 100 million. That shows the inequality which we regularly denounce in this country. If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency.”

Stop.  Listen.  Think.

Another example of how money is available, but not distributed in a fair and equitable way.

I encourage you to read all of her post:

Thoughts … On Notre-Dame

How does my garden grow?

We are having very stable Autumn weather at the moment. It’s my favourite time of the year, especially to garden. The soil is still warm enough to plant things in (although very dry) but the cooler nights are turning the leaves into glorious reds and yellows.

But it is dry ~ our driest start to a year on record. That’s a scary stat, because we are well used to dry conditions. So, let’s hope for the rains to come soon.

Let’s turn our eyes away from that for a little while, and look to what is happening in the garden, because I have been trying to get things under control.

As you know the front yard is our veggie patch. The corn, beans and tomatoes are finished, and I cleared away all that debris. We left the corn roots to rot down into the soil ~ it’s not just laziness!

At the moment there is nothing to see, except the spread compost. If you had x-ray eyes you would see the pea seeds and snow peas seeds beginning to germinate under the soil.

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Nothing to see here!

The bees have been very active over the last couple of months. At the moment the rosemary bush is one of the few food sources for them. It looks scraggly, but the bees are loving it. And I have been delighted to see a native blue banded bee. It is a beautiful bee, with quite a loud buzz. They are solitary bees and you can find out more about them here. The backyard bird bath is too deep for bees, so I set up their own water station  in a shallow bowl and stones under the rosemary. I will say that I’ve never seen them use it!

The other thing to show you before we head down the back is the containers ready for my neighbour to collect. Dagmar lives in a flat, with no chance for her own garden. Like all of us, she hates wasting her food scraps, so we have set up a system where she leaves her scraps and coffee grinds. We put them into the compost or worm farm and return the washed container. The drop off point is the blue stone block near the tap.

Chillies are the only produce to share with her at the moment.

The backyard is looking more under control too (well, parts of it).

The salvia is growing so well I have planted two more.

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A helebore made it through years of neglect, so I figure they grow well in the garden too. Two more have gone in.

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The tatty one on the right is the older plant. One of the new plants is at the back, behind the foxgloves.

Mum gave me a punnet of corn flowers. They are doing well, growing at the base of the sedum.

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The poor fuchsia isn’t doing so well. It may need more sun. And a repot.

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The pelargonium is flowering well, but something gets in and munches the flowers before the bud opens. Any thoughts?

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But the begonias are thriving on neglect

While our vine is looking rather tatty, and there are so many leaves to sweep…

I am lucky to be able to enjoy the neighbour’s tree from my back door. Autumn is a magical season.

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More fiddling and fluffing

Before you read on…..I am still fiddling and fluffing with the look of the site. This current theme is different to the one I wrote about yesterday, so I think I am happier with it. But the reasons for the new look are still the same. So read on……

You may have realised that this blog looks different. It is! I am fiddling around. This is its second theme this weekend, and there may be another, as I am not really happy with the menu on this theme.

Why change?

Well, you may remember me trumpeting my new website in the middle of last year. My intention was to create a website that gave me control and have the potential to transition from Etsy.  While I felt very clever working out all sorts of things, there were just too many things I didn’t understand. Security being the Big One. I couldn’t get my head around the different levels and the necessary plugins. I knew that if I was going to ask people for very confidential information I had to get that one right.

There were other issues. However, the other Big One was the look of the thing. I couldn’t get that fancy dancy look that I wanted. That probably requires payment, and I am not prepared to do that.

So, I have decided to trash the site (still working out how to do that!) The loss will be the domain name, but I think it’s a small price to pay (or not to pay!) I can still do much of what I want with this blog. I am looking for a theme that is clean and uncluttered, that allows me to show off my art. My plan is to have pages that describe my art. Sewing on Paper  is the first of these. Each page and image will have a link to my Etsy shop.

Another page is Useful Links, very title boring, but necessarily explicit. This has worked well for me. I can put links to a few things I wish to highlight ~ maybe a drawing that has just gone into the shop, a blog post, a link to the shop etc. Then that page becomes the page I link to in my bio in Instagram. Then, when I am posting about my new drawing I can say ‘link in bio’; that link will take customers to my Useful Links page, which can then send them on to the Etsy shop! And it does work. So, if you have an Instagram account and sell things, I suggest you set one up too. It’s good because you can’t make direct links in an Instagram post. (If that is not clear and you are intrigued, I can be explain it in more detail.)

The other thing I am trying to set up is a home page. The default is the blog roll, but I rather fancy a static one, again, showing my art. It will be the About Me page, which at the moment is dreadfully out of date. That’s if I can get it to work!

So, I should be able to do all I want to do, with less hassle, and no domain name. And I already have all of you lovelies reading and liking and commenting. I realise that instead of moving house I am adding on a new wing, so I get to hang out in the same neighbourhood. That’s a win! Like any good renovation, I am going to have a golly good clean out, of old posts and photos that are just cluttering up the place. I wonder what treasures I will discover as I go back through the archives.

Let me know if there are issues with this theme. Unlike the house analogy, I can change my mind at any time.

‘Uncoloured’ Exhibition in Kyneton

Kyneton is a pretty, regional town in Central Victoria, an old gold mining area. It is also the home of the Old Auction House, which is hosting a group exhibition I am involved in. It is called ‘Uncoloured’, and you will not be surprised to know that the works are all black and white.

There will be 7 of us exhibiting.

Print

I love the little glimpses of art on this flier, little teasers!

I will show you the seven feathers I am exhibiting. You will have already seen them if you get the letter from my studio. And if you don’t get the letter, why don’t you sign up, so that you can hear about the things happening in my artistic world?

I decided that pairs of feathers would be a good idea. So two guinea fowl feathers from my latest playing with ink and masking fluid.

Two tatty feathers, created with ink pens.

Two feathers with the fine lines drawn in ink. (They are created on the same type of  paper, despite one looking grey. That’s my photographic skills!)

And a single, realistic feather, created in pencil.

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All works will be for sale. I hope to sell some, of course, but I am happy to be part of this. It has been just far enough outside my comfort zone to be doable, but to push me into something different for my art. I had to give myself a little nudge, not a huge shove!

I dropped the drawings into the gallery today and received further good news from the curator ~ I have been accepted into another group exhibition in May. This one is called ‘Not your usual canvas’, and my sewing on paper art works fit the bill!

So, if you are able to visit Central Victoria, check out the exhibition. Lots of lovely places for lunch too!

[Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with my work, sign up for my fortnightly letter.]