A quick update, and lots of good people

It’s a busy day today ~ shopping, tax time, the day to write my newsletter (in this one I will do the full reveal of the 3 trees I have sewn; don’t miss out, so sign up here), and time to work on my new WEBSITE¬†ūüėĄ¬†~ so it’s only a short post about things that have been playing around in my mind.

Yes, I have made lots of progress with the website, and am going with WordPress. Now there’s a surprise, especially to me! I will tell you a lot more about it soon, promise. Today I want to thank everyone who left a comment on my last post. But I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Catherine from Hillview Embroidery. She set up a WordPress.org site and her detailed emails have given me a thread to follow through the decision making. Hugs to you Catherine, ūüėė¬†Have a look at her sumptuous embroidery, including her gold koala!

Now, onto other good and generous people…..

The world has been mesmerised by the rescue of the lads from the cave in Thailand. I am sure you were like me, marvelling at how many people came together to achieve that miraculous rescue, donating equipment, time, expertise. Sadly Saman Guana even gave his life.

The rescue is a glorious example of compassion, generosity, selflessness and co-operation, traits that are as much a part of humanity as competition and greed. It shows what is possible. It shows that if we took out political interests and profit we could solve climate change and other problems that beset our world.

There were so many Good People in the story of the rescue of the boys and their coach. I urge you to have a read of Jill’s blog Filosofia’s Word¬†“Good people doing good things ~ the rescue”. She tells of so many wonderful people, but my favourite is the rice farmer. To quote Jill:

Her name is Mae Bua Chaicheun and she is a small-scale rice farmer, owning about 5 acres of land in a small village near the mountain where the boys’ soccer team was trapped in the cave.  When news broke that an entire soccer team was trapped in a cave, Chaicheun dropped everything and headed to the mountainside to help.  Chaicheun spent a week at the cave, cooking meals for the rescue workers and pitching in wherever she was needed.  But when she returned home, she found her rice fields in ruin.  The water that was being continuously pumped out from the cave during the rescue mission, along with heavy rains, had flooded the area and her rice crop was gone.

But Ms. Chaicheun is not complaining.¬† ‚ÄúWhen I got home the water was two feet deep, and the young plants were flooded. Children are more important than rice. We can regrow rice but we can‚Äôt regrow the children. I feel people have shown more love towards each other. There‚Äôs such a strong community spirit, people all wanting to help each other.‚ÄĚ ¬†What a beautiful attitude ‚Äď a beautiful woman, yes?¬† An addendum:¬† the Thai king has pledged to purchase all the ruined rice crops from Ms. Chaicheun and others whose crops fell victim to the pumped waters.

My other Good Person is on the other side of the world, on a bike.

You may or may not know that I am a Tour Tragic. Last night I was up to 1:30 in awe of the cyclists in the Tour de France as they pounded their way up the steep roads of the second Alpine stage. And then they sprinted at the end!

Cyclists expect to fall and be injured. Of course they want to stay upright and try to do everything they can to stay safe, including using their excellent bike handling skills. One cyclist, Lawson Craddock, fell on the first day. Ironically his number is 13. I don’t know how superstitious he is, but he has turned the number on his back upside down!

He fractured his scapula in the fall, but got back on the bike. I can not image the pain that a fractured shoulder blade would cause, especially to a cyclist who needs to be able to push and pull on the handle bars. Craddock was easy to pick out over the next few days. He was the rider in the bright pink and lime green jersey (his team’s colours) who was always at the back of the peloton and usually riding in a lopsided way to protect his injury.

But he continued on, and lately he has been harder to spot as he works his way into the middle of the peloton.

But the courage (although some may call it unwise) that Lawson Craddock shows is not why I am writing about him. Many cyclists ride with injuries, some much worse. i am mentioning him because after his fall Craddock said that he would donate $100 for every stage he managed, and asked others to contribute. The money is to repair the Houston velodrome, damaged in a recent hurricane, the velodrome where the Texan Craddock began his cycling.

So far donations have topped $100,000, and Craddock is still in the race! I hope he makes it to Paris. There will be many cheering him on.

And now on to my newsletter. (But maybe a cup of tea first.) Click here to find out more about my latest art creations.  

Farewell to a man of grace and dignity

I was going to write a different  post. However, today I listened to the broadcast of the state funeral for Anthony Foster, and wanted to acknowledge him and his work. I never met him, but I know that our society is better because he was in the world.

Most of you have probably not heard of him, but if you have, you will know that he was a man of incredible courage and dignity.

Anthony and his wife Chrissie had three daughters, Emma, Aimee and Katie. Emma and Katie were repeatedly raped as young children by a paedophile Catholic priest. Both young women were traumatised by the abuse:

Emma Foster suffered from eating disorders, drug addition and self-harm after the abuse, and in 2008 she overdosed on medication and died at the age of 26.

Katie Foster developed problems with alcohol after her experiences, and was left with physical and mental disabilities after being hit by a drunk driver in 1999.

Anthony and Chrissie became tireless fighters for justice for victims of abuse. Their work brought about the formation of a Victorian inquiry into abuse and the federal Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This Royal Commission has uncovered grievous abuse of children in a range of institutions, especially the Catholic Church, where the coverups of paedophile priests seem to go very high up the hierarchy.

The elegies at the funeral spoke of Anthony Foster as a man who not only had the courage to overcome his own trauma and grief to fight for justice, but also gave unstinting support and friendship to abuse survivors in their fight for justice.

As his daughter, Aimee said,¬†“We will be OK because you showed us the way. We will continue to love, laugh and share.¬†We are thoroughly better human beings for having had you in our lives.”

And that goes for all of us.

But there has to be more. As Joanne McCarthy says:

Anthony Foster deserves a state funeral. More than that, his death requires us to honour his memory by demanding governments act on the royal commission’s recommendations.

Most certainly.



Thanks John, you will be missed

John Clarke died suddenly last weekend, and I want to add my tribute to the many that have flowed. Australian readers will immediately know John’s humour; it may be the first time overseas readers have come across him.

John Clarke came to Australia from New Zealand, where he had developed a character, Fred Dagg. There are many examples on Youtube, but I couldn’t resist this gem on real estate.

Clarke was a brilliant satirist and these are just some of the creations he has been involved with, some of the joy he has given us

  • The Games, a mockumentary of the Sydney Olympic Games, described¬†on Clarke’s website as: “a series in which the problems of organising an event of this magnitude were identified, re-labelled and buried at sea in a lead-lined container.” This¬†snippet from the show¬†is a classic. The Prime Minister of the time, John Howard, refused to apologise to the Indigenous People for the¬†many injuries inflicted on them over the time of European colonisation. This is how the problem was solved on “The Games”.
  • Farnarkling Never heard of the sport of Farnarkling? Let Clarke himself fill you in (taken from his website):Farnarkeling is a sport which began in Mesopotamia, which literally means ‚Äėbetween the rivers‚Äô. This would put it somewhere in Victoria or New South Wales between the Murray and the Darling. The word Farnarkeling is Icelandic in structure, Urdu in metre and Celtic in the intimacy of its relationship between meaning and tone.

    Farnarkeling is engaged in by two teams whose purpose is to arkle, and to prevent the other team from arkeling, using a flukem to propel a gonad through sets of posts situated at random around the periphery of a grommet. Arkeling is not permissible, however, from any position adjacent to the phlange (or leiderkrantz) or from within 15 yards of the wiffenwacker at the point where the shifting tube abuts the centre-line on either side of the 34 metre mark, measured from the valve at the back of the defending side’s transom-housing.

    Clarke gave farnarkling reports on the famous satire TV show, The Giles Report.

  • ‘Death in Brunswick’, a film he acted in with Sam Neil

However, I most remember him for his interviews with Brian Dawe, another brilliant satirist. Together they created short segments of interviews, where Clarke would be anybody, from a politician to a financial advisor to a quiz contestant, and interviewed by Dawe on political topics of the moment.

Ahhh, I could go on for ages. If you want to see more, just search for Clarke and Dawe. But I can’t leave without showing you my very favourite one. To me it summed up Jeff Kennett!

The word will be a poorer place without John Clarke stripping away politicians’ cant with humour and a sharp scalpel. He will be very missed.

#stitchingsanta reveal #1

You may remember me telling you about the #stitchingsanta swap organised by Sheila at ¬†Sewchet. You could opt in to either a knitting/crocheting secret santa, a sewing secret santa or both. Then Sheila¬†matched us all up. What a fabulous idea, and what an organisational nightmare it must have been! Thank you so much Sheila. ūüôā

The idea was that the goodies wouldn’t be opened until Christmas Day.¬†My first parcel arrived well before then, which was lucky as the trip to¬†Western Australia was going to get¬†in the way. It came from Joey who blogs at¬†littlebackdogsa. You might also like to follow this link to see why she calls her blog Little Black Dog.

Imagine my delight to see this parcel arrive at the door, all the way from South Africa!


Inside were lots of individually silver-paper wrapped presents. I am very easy to please, and anything wrapped in paper delights me!

Her card said

I am your Stitching Santa buddy, all the way from Johannesburg, S.A. I had so much fun putting these gifts together for you. I tried to keep it South African, but with your love for plants and birds as part of the theme. I hope you enjoy them


Joey’s instructions were to open one present each day leading up to Christmas, which was good because (a) I wasn’t going to be in Melbourne for Christmas and (b) I am terrible at not opening presents!!

I can’t remember the order in which I opened them, but I do know which was first, because I was blown away by this spoon and knife set. Look at those beautiful patterns!


There were a generous number of threads, chosen to suit my palette of colours! They will certainly be used over the year.


There was some tape. I am going to use the lacy one on a project that my Mum is working on. I think she will love the extra zing it gives her work.


Tapestry needles ~ Yay! I needed some with different sized eyes, and these have their own little house to be in. How did she know?!


A very cute coin purse….


and some South African chocolates and biscuits. These got eaten on the trip over to WA! Yum.


A note pad and pencil, because Joey must know that lists are the backbone of my life.


And there is more. Are you blown away by Joey’s generosity, because I certainly was, and still am. Here is a set of cards with a beautiful lacy pattern cut out of them, (I love writing letters), as well as a notebook (I love notebooks!). Of course the notebook has a Cape Town post mark, proteas and, I presume, South African birds.


Finally, some more South African themed goodies….two placemats, again adorned with proteas, and a bag that will be perfect on my walks.


Joey’s thoughtfulness and generosity is amazing. I can only hope that she had as much fun organising the gifts as I did opening them. ¬†Many, many thanks Joey. xxx

Her card was a postcard of the Ponte Tower. The photo was part of a project that is dear to her heart, and you might like to take a look. iwasshotin joburg ūüôā is a project where former street kids are given disposable cameras and encouraged to photograph their world. You can see more at iwasshot

Now, I did say that there were two parcels coming my way. The second was also a delight to receive, but it is a story for tomorrow.


I went to three exhibitions in three days last week.

The first was the Archibald  Prize Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

The Archibald Prize, first awarded in 1921, is Australia‚Äôs favourite art award, and one of its most prestigious. Awarded to the best portrait painting, it‚Äôs a who‚Äôs who of Australian culture ‚Äď from politicians to fashion designers, sporting heroes to artists.

This is my photo of Michael Mc Williams’ stunning painting ‘The usurper (self portrait)’, which is an amalgam of feral animals that are such a problem in many parts of Australia. However, there are other portraits on the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s website.

Michael McWilliams ‘The usurper (self portrait’ (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson,2016)

The next day I headed off to the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre to look at the works in ‘From the studio: Bayside¬†Artists in Residence’, which is

a biannual exhibition which celebrates the artistic yield of writers, artists and composers, who have completed a yearlong residency as part of the Bayside Artist in Residence program…….The program places participants within the stately environs of Billilla Mansion ~ a heritage¬†listed property incorporating a public garden and magnificent historic house.

For more about the residency look at the website.  There was a range of genre too, from my nephew, Evan Lawson, who is a composer, through novelists like Gillian Barnett, to Kate Just, a fibre artist. The following are my photos, showing a smattering of the high quality work that has been produced.

The third exhibition was Verdant Garden at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre. It is a gracious old house, a perfect exhibition space.


Again a range of high quality works, created by artists who drew

inspiration from the role of the garden on contemporary life, this exhibition celebrates the long, intimate and symbolic relationship between artist and garden. Featuring contemporary artists using a variety of mediums, this exhibition explores ideas of germination and the ways urbanisation has impacted on Australia’s love affair with the garden.

So, I have seen thought-provoking art, of a high quality. Then it struck me that each of these¬†exhibitions were in spaces that relied heavily on the public purse. I don’t know their funding models, but they are galleries that are part of arts programmes of local and other forms of¬†¬†governments. Without this funding these galleries, and these exhibitions and, therefore, these artists would have no support. *

The Arts are about exploration of our culture, environment, values and philosophies. Artists, in which ever creative form they work, explore and interpret, encouraging¬†us to look at the world in a different way. Of course they also delight and entertain. Art can also be very inclusive. Anyone can pick up a paint brush or a pen, they can dance or compose music. In fact the more voices we hear the more we are challenged and engaged, we are more likely to begin to see the world from someone else’s point of view. In our battered world the more ways we have to show diversity and inclusion the better.

If we take away funding from any level of artistic work we are making our place a poorer and more bland, less inclusive place. In fact our level of Arts funding should be increased.

It is glorious to see these galleries in our midst, and there are many around our towns and cities. They need our support, if only by visiting  the exhibitions they show. That shows the governing funding bodies that we value them and want the funding to continue.

[*I understand that the Archibald Prize Exhibition is different. It is such a formidable part of the Australian art scene that, like Mt Everest, has its own micro-climate. That said, I only paid $15 entrance. Most of the exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ballarat are free.]

And while I am on the Public Funding Bandwagon, let me do a shout out for local libraries. Mine turned 40 this week. It is a little branch in an old bank building. About 20 years ago the council wanted to shut it down. It was saved by locals protesting and a court challenge. It’s an important hub in our community, as it really does include everyone, from my Fella and me to the Somali mums who bring their toddlers to story time. Yay for libraries!

All this from the gorgeous Kate

A little while ago I had the privilege of meeting up with two blogging friends, EllaDee and Kate. We spent a delightful hour or two at the Botanic Gardens. It was like old friends meeting up, because, although we had never met, we are old friends through our blogs.

Imagine my further delight when I came home one afternoon to a parcel from Kate. In it were little treasures that I have to share.


If you follow Kate’s blog (and if you don’t, maybe you should!) you will know that she is an amazing quilter. The mat she sent to me is too nice to use! But I will, and I will think of her when I do.

The quilted mat

She hand stitched me a book mark, with my initials and even a feather. Knowing that I am obsessed with feathers is not difficult, but how did she know that I collected bookmarks? This one will have pride of place. And I am looking forward to drawing that feather she sent.

A special book mark and a wonderful feather

There were more treasures to come.

A little while ago I had a flurry of making sketchbooks, which I sent off to bloggers who wanted one. Kate’s has come back to me. I was blown away when I saw what she had added to it. I will let the photos speak.

The original sketchbook





…..and lastly some extra, beautiful feathers. I am very humbled, Kate, thank you.



I would like to thank…. #3, and a small update on suspended coffees

This time I would like to take the time to thank a man who took the time to help us.

A couple of weekends ago the Fella and I went off holidaying in Alice the Caravan. Now before we start our journeys we always check her lights. Usually I can give the thumbs up every time — all working beautifully. However, this time the brake lights didn’t show up. The Fella cleaned the connection, another check and everything was lighting up as it should. Off we went.

Not far down the road, while stopped at traffic lights, the Kind Stranger came and told us the lights weren’t working. We pulled over, cleaned the connection and checked the lights again. All okay, so off again. We stopped a few more times to check and everything was fine.

A big THANK YOU to our Kind Stranger, who took the time to get out of his car to let us know. And a Thank You to all of you who have done the same thing, saving potential accidents. New cars have globe failure alerts, but Alice is a caravan of the more mature variety! Such technology has completely passed her by.

And an update on suspended coffee….

(If suspended coffee is a new idea, have a look here. If you want to catch up with what has been going on in my little suburb of the bloggersphere, have a look here.)

Today I went to my market coffee shop, Coffea Coffee, and asked if they would like a leaflet about the suspended coffees I have been buying. The chap taking the money remembered me as the “suspended coffee lady”! He willingly took the leaflet and seemed interested in following it up. As he said, “Too easy!”

I would like to thank….#2 — follow up

Last week I wrote aboutsuspended coffees. It’s a very simple idea. You go into a participating coffee shop, buy coffee for yourself and a ‘suspended’ coffee. That’s a free coffee, available for someone in need. All they need to do is ask the cafe if there are any ‘suspended coffees’ available.

Thanks to Meeka who reblogged my blog, and to people who commented so positively on her blog and mine. So many people seem to respond to the idea. Time for an update on what I know.

Firstly, I went into our cafe at the Victoria Market, Melbourne, ordered my 2 lattes and asked if they do suspended coffees. The chap taking the order didn’t know about them, but the one making the coffee said he had heard about it. They had a quick chat and seemed to know someone who would benefit from the coffee. So I paid for my 2 and the extra. The man ordering next to me said that he would do it too.

The shop is Coffea Coffee, top end of Elizabeth St, right next to the entrance to the meat section of the market, and they make excellent coffee. Next week when I buy our coffee I will buy a suspended one and give them some information about the concept.

Which leads me to my second part of the update. There is a Facebook page, Suspended Coffee Society Melbourne, to like. They have set up a website which details cafes that are on board with the concept. As well they have fliers and information to give to shops.

That’s what I know about suspended coffees in Melbourne. I am sure that other cities will have Facebook pages of their own.

Have you anything to add to the update? I would love to hear from you.

Suspended Coffee Melbourne Logo
Suspended Coffee Melbourne Logo


I would like to thank #2…….

Sometimes in our busy lives the smaller kindnesses can get overlooked¬†and¬†eaten up. One of my aims is to stop, to take the time to acknowledge the kindness, to say “Thank you”.

One of my simple pleasures is to go to the Victoria Market to do the shopping. (More on the Vic Market in another post.) We go to a coffee shop in Elizabeth St and over the Summer have been sitting outside. I saw the following happen. (I noticed this a little while ago and was going to post it. I didn’t get to it, and then serendipity stepped in and showed me a blog along the same lines.)

An elderly, probably homeless, man walked along the street. He was stopped by another man who was sitting having coffee. The elderly gent was told to sit down while the coffee drinker went into the cafe. After a little while the elderly gent had a latte and a piece of cake to eat. I was really touched by the simple gesture of the coffee drinking man. What an easy thing to do, and yet I have never thought of doing it. So thanks to him for the gesture, and for showing me the way.

Then recently I came across a blog on a similar theme. This is the link. It tells the story of a coffee drinker finding out about ‘suspended’ coffees. While you are buying your coffee, you can buy a ‘suspended’ coffee. Homeless people can come into the cafe and ask for a ‘suspended’ coffee. In some places you can also buy ‘suspended’ sandwiches or other food.

I think that is a wonderful idea, and would like to be able to do it in Melbourne.

So, what do I hear only a little while after I wrote that? There is a move afoot to have suspended coffees here. They have a Facebook page (of course!), and are starting to gather momentum. Next time I go into that coffee shop at the Vic Market I will ask them about suspended coffees — and let you know.

(Don’t you love it when the universe lines up?)

I would like to thank….. #1

Sometimes in our busy lives the smaller kindnesses can get overlooked¬†and¬†eaten up. One of my aims is to stop, to take the time to acknowledge the kindness, to say “Thank you”. One example came my way this week.

On Tuesday morning, we found a baby possum lying on the paving under the clothes line. She was a tiny ball of wet fur, shaking slightly. (Later my partner asked me how I knew it was female. I said because she was strong and courageous! As it turned out, she was a he. Oh well, still strong and courageous!)

We put him in a box lined with newspaper, and investigated wildlife organizations. It took a while to get on to someone — and that conversation happened because the carer took the time to get back to me. She said we needed to get the possum to a vet as soon as possible.

So I took the little fellow (still thinking she was a little lass!) to the vet. The receptionist told me that the vet would look at him, and if all was well, pass him onto a wildlife carer. I went back yesterday to find out what had happened.

As it turned out, while he survived the night and went to a carer, he died during the day. Poor little thing.

So, I want to acknowledge my vet, Noel Smith, and his staff for the time they volunteer to help hurt wildlife. And more widely, all those other vets and wildlife carers who do so much to help animals injured as a result of our presence. Our world would be a poorer place with out them.