Well, here we are then….

You know, I feel so overwhelmed by everything that I don’t know where to begin. Everything seems too huge to be able to get anything down on the page. And of course EVERYONE is feeling exactly the same. It is quite startling to realise that EVERY SINGLE HUMAN on the PLANET if facing the same threat AT THE SAME TIME, and needing to deal with the very basic emotions and fears AT THE SAME TIME. Has that ever happened before? That’s another quite mind blowing concept.

I decided a few days ago that I would give up trying to work out my opinion on many things, such as the debate about opening/closing schools. The bottom of the problem with schools seems to me (see, I do have an opinion!) to come from not really knowing whether children are asymptomatic carriers or not. Will they spread the virus into the community, and elderly relatives especially, or are they better off being slightly more quarantined at school, keeping the vital health workers at work rather than at home caring for their kids? The experts are divided about this, because NO ONE KNOWS THE ANSWER. They can only work from data from overseas, mathematical modelling and medical understandings of disease spread. Data from overseas can only be a guide because each country has very different health systems, testing regimes, and are at different points along the curve. How can I have an opinion?

I only know that

  1. It won’t be over until we have a vaccine
  2. Our world will be a very different place then (but what it will look like is dependent on all the actions that take place along the way, including what you and I do.)
  3. I am so grateful that I do not have to make these big decisions that impact on every aspect of our lives.

So, to cope, I am doing what I can to make my life as healthy ~ mentally and physically ~ as possible.

  • Physical distancing, of course; washing my hands as frequently as possible (I may stop wearing rings as a result!); changing my clothes when I come inside and hanging them in the sunshine
  • I say ‘physical’ distancing, because I am still keeping a social connection, just through other ways. In fact I am in touch with way more people than usual! Kate wrote a great post about sending letters. Australia Post is still operating, even overseas, although there are delays to just about every country. It’s a great way to connect to people who don’t use the internet. I have been reading blogs, and love the way we are keeping each other’s spirits up. Every blog has its own way of doing this, and I thank you.
  • Eating well. Supply chains have been disrupted, mainly because they are scrambling to keep up with the over-the-top demand for food. The Fella and I are okay, and we have enough toilet paper, thank you for asking!
  • Sleeping well. This one is a tricky one. I am sure you understand how the dark thoughts flourish at night. I have a routine of calming tea, nourishing reading (not on a screen) and deep breathing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t I watch rubbish on TV and try to remember that things will be easier to deal with in the daylight.
  • Walking. The fresh air is a great antidote to the darkness. I have added in a daily sketch, which I am posting on Instagram. When I can’t walk outside I will sketch something from the garden. The point is to help me remember that the flowers are still growing, the birds dashing around and the bees are still making honey. The world still turns.
  • Each day I am looking for little things that are beautiful or joyous or connect me. Like these hearts in the window of a local shop, that closed today.

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We have had supportive messages from our neighbours, so I put this sign on our letterbox today.

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  • I am being careful about where I get my news. I haven’t looked at Facebook. I am relying on the sensible coverage of the ABC, our public broadcaster, as well as some recommended sites. I want information and well informed opinions from experts, not hysteria nor ‘I’m no expert but….’.
  • And lastly, of course I am adding creativity into the mix. Although, the odd thing is that I haven’t had time for much sewing lately. Keeping in touch as well as making sure I have the various supplies I need uses up quite a bit of time!

So I hope your strategies for keeping healthy, especially mentally healthy, are working well. Now, I am going for a walk and a sketch.

Stay well.

Namaste 🙏🏽

PS forgive any typos; my brain is scattered and my fingers are following along!

A special gift

It is a busy time, but I just had to drop in…..

We know there are deep divisions in the world, and we despair over what we are doing to the world. We feel anxious. It is easy to succumb to the negativity.

But then along comes the postie, with a special gift made by a special person, to remind me that for all that is wrong with the world, there is an awful lot that is right.

The gift was from my friend Kate, who blogs at Tall Tales from Chiconia. I know that many of you follow, read and comment on her blog (and if you don’t, you should). You will know her as a very generous soul. I know her too as a dear friend, even though we have only met a couple of times ~ the distance between McKay, where she lives in tropical Queensland, and my home in Melbourne is huge.

These last six months for me have been full of medical matters for my partner and my Mum. Both are on the mend, but everything has been a distraction from my artistic work. Kate has picked up on this, and sent me a beautifully quilted brush roll. She hopes that it will help me get my creative mojo back, and I am sure it will.

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Kate has not only made something special for me, but her extra layer of thoughtfulness is that the pattern of the material is watercolour feathers. It was a special piece of material from her stash.  She knows that feathers are important  to me. How special is that!

I have often admired the brush rolls of other painters, but none compares to mine, because theirs have not been made by a thoughtful and insightful friend. Their’s don’t have feather fabric nor custom made pockets to hold a variety of things.

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So thank you Kate, for reminding me of all the good there is in this world. Enjoy your Christmas with those you love! 💕

Have a lovely festive time. I hope you spend it doing the things you love with the people you love. And that Father Christmas brings you an extra special something.

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 😄 ~ 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, 😘 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.  “When 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’t regrow the children. I feel people have shown more love towards each other. There’s such a strong community spirit, people all wanting to help each other.”  What a beautiful attitude – 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.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-07/tributes-paid-for-anthony-foster-at-state-funeral/8589872

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4691002/the-man-who-was-integrity-personified/

A delight from Queensland

Recently Kate emailed me to ask if I wanted a nest. Well, who can resist a nest? Probably plenty of people, but not me!

The story behind the nest is that an olive backed sunbird created this nest by suspending it from the fairy lights right by Kate’s backdoor. Kate had the delightful task of keeping the nest, bird and eggs safe. You may remember her blog posts about it, where you can also see a photo. It is an amazing creation, especially to be made by such a tiny thing.

Yesterday the nest arrived, safe and sound, because Kate had packed it so well.

 

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And this is my new treasure

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Not everybody’s cup of tea, but I love it. The muted colours, its fragility, its construction (how does one little bird create such a thing, especially as only some parts look like they have been woven) and the little additions, like the feathers and paperbark (must be from a melaleuca!)

My mind is buzzing with creative ideas. Maybe even oil pastel?? In October there is an exhibition of natural history subjects, and this little sunbird nest could be just the subject for me! I will keep you posted.

So many thinks to Kate for thinking of me. She is such a generous soul, and my world is richer for knowing her.

The sketchbook (br)enters Europe

You know about the Travelling Sketchbook, (in case you don’t, click on the previous link)….Chas is one of the Sisterhood, and her post about the Sketchbook arriving in Europe sums up what I think the whole thing is about. I hope you agree.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world – I give you that most democratic of instruments, that most trans-boundary of objects, that most diplomatic of materials –  the Travelling Sketchbook o…

Source: The sketchbook (br)enters Europe

#stitchingsanta reveal #2

The second parcel still hadn’t arrived when we left for Western Australia a few days before Christmas. Our neighbour was collecting our mail, so I knew it would be in safe hands if it arrived. We came home a week into January. When Melissa gave us the post I wondered about the lack of parcel. I even wondered whether I had muddled up things, and that there wan’t one. I was concerned that an unknown blogger had gone to a lot of trouble to make up a parcel for me and it was lost in the mail system. I felt quite rude.

Time to ponder what to do. Check with Melissa; email Sheila. Then I read a new blog post from Rita at Rita’s Design, who was telling her readers about the parcel she had put together for Anne. Oh dear….but at least I knew who to talk to.

And then a most amazing thing happened.

Not half an hour after I had read Rita’s post, the Fella called out “Anne, there’s a parcel here for you!” There was Rita’s box, but it wasn’t telling of its adventures from Germany to Australia!

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I happily ignored this instruction!

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Inside was a delightful hand made card, with this message

As I first scrolled down on your blog I immediately felt a connection to you because I respect and love nature just like you. Even though we have a different way of expressing that and our creativity I think we have a lot in common.

I think so too.

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Rita designed this tray especially for me, and the feather decoration was just perfect. (There are feathers on the sides of the box too.) It will be a fine box to put my feathers in. 🙂

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In the background you will see a white mug with a fine feather on it. Rita stencilled it herself, again with that feather motif.

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She lives on the border of the Netherlands and thought I would probably like one of their hot-choco-spoons. She is right 🙂

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This delightful little angel was crocheted by a very talented friend of hers.

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However, Rita made this key holder, again in the shape of a feather ~ a parrot feather methinks! ~ so I won’t be loosing my keys again.

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Or my luggage, because now I have a luggage label made of the cutest fabric.

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Speaking of fabric, as well as all these other goodies, there were two (not one but two!) pieces of material. Soft colours, and the top one has a feather pattern too.

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Again, I was overwhelmed by Rita’s generosity and thoughtfulness (and grateful that it is not languishing in the depths of of an Australia Post cavern.) I am humbled by the kindness shown to me by both Rita and Joey.

In Rita’s box there was one more little treasure, these festive coasters, on which will sit my new mug, on top of the protea placemats. A BIG THANK YOU to both of my #stitchingsantas, you have made my Christmas even more memorable.

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If you want to find out what I sent to one of my #stitchingsanta buddies you can read Lynn’s unveiling of one of my parcels. And in a lovely twist, Lynn is one of the Sisters of the Travelling Sketchbook!

If this has piqued your interest for Christmas this year, follow Sheila’s blog to watch out for her announcement.

#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. 🙂

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!

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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

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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!

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

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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.

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

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A very cute coin purse….

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

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

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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.

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

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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 🙂 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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The original sketchbook

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

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How does my garden grow?

It is quite a while since I have talked to you about my garden (aside from reblogging an earlier post about the jacarandas in my street). That’s partly because I have had so many other things to write about, and partly because when I got home from the Flinders Ranges it was an overgrown jungle. How could there be so many weeds in such a small space?

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
How many weeds could there be? (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

Let me remind you that my vegetable patch is actually in my front yard, because that is the part of my garden that gets the most sun. It is a good size, about 3 x 2 metre. I have built up 4 beds and do my version of crop rotation. One of the advantages of veggies in the front yard is that you have all sorts of interesting conversations with the neighbours and people walking past. It makes it very easy to give away vegetables. I thrust broad beans on anyone who stopped for 2 seconds! 🙂 And we have had some generous donations in return, as you will see if you read on.

Once I conquered some of the weeds I found that I had a silver beet tower and a glut of  broad beans. I was forced to be inventive when cooking them, and wrote about some of the recipes here.

I thought we would have a break from silver beet…until a thoughtful  neighbour brought me some more seedlings. They could not be abandoned, so they have gone in, and are doing well.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

I had some strawberry crowns that were past their best. So I dug them up and replanted them on the street front, where the non-existent fence is, as well as along the path to the front door. They are doing very well. I love strawberries so much that I bought 2 more plants, one is ‘Red Gauntlet’ and the other is ‘Bonnie’, a white strawberry. Such sweet little flowers and delicious fruit — if we can get to them before the snails!

The neighbour who gave me the silver beet also gave me lots of tomato seedlings which are powering along. In the photo you may see a pumpkin leaf or two. It has come up out of the compost. Pumpkins tend to take over, so if it wants to stay it must be well behaved. There are also photos of potatoes. Would you believe me if I said that they were free too? When I went to the nursery to buy seed potatoes they told me it was past the time to plant them. However, I could help myself to the bags over there, for no charge. I had nothing to loose if they didn’t come up, so I planted them out. They all sprouted and are growing very well.

Next time I will tell you how to plant potatoes the easy way. And remind me to tell you about the sweet potato too.

I love the flowers of the Solanaceae family — tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants. They look like very fancy turbans, and are great fun to draw!

So, from mayhem to order, with a little help from the compost bin and worm farm and a lot of help from the Under Gardener (aka My Fella 😉 )