My online pottery class

You may remember that I signed up for an online pottery class, thinking “How on earth is this going to work?”, but loving the idea of it.

It worked really well, thanks to the good organisation of the tutor, Vincenza. There were four weekly online classes with clay and materials provided by her. Over the three weeks of making I made a flat plate, a little bowl, a vase and a bird.

My favourite is the little bird, because it sits so nicely in my hand.

The vase is a slab pot. To construct this you wrap a slab of clay around a cylinder. I used a beer bottle, which was the perfect shape! Decorating it was tricky, as nothing seemed satisfactory, until I saw the tassels on a scarf. I added some more marks.

The fourth week was glazing. We had dropped our greenware work to Vincenza, who did the first firing, the bisque firing. When she gave them back she added little pots of glazes in the box.

The finished pots…

My best results from the course was to rekindle my desire to do more pottery. I did it many years decades ago but it sat on the back burner during that time. Next year I will look around for a somewhere to do some more. That should be fun 🙂

Also it was a delight to do something unexpected during our lockdown.

Oh, fabulous day!

Today, Melbournians emerge with our unkempt hair and our huge grins into our new ‘COVID-normal’ life.

Because we have done something extra-ordinary; we have got our case numbers from over 700 a day to 0, and 0 deaths, for two days running. Two Double Donut Days! To put that into perspective, on the 5th August we had 715 cases while Belgium had 334. A couple of days ago Belgium had 15, 622.

I don’t want to gloat, but rather celebrate our achievement. We got here with a strict and long lockdown which has been very hard for so many people. So much repair will be needed.

Today, for the first time for months, we can sit down for have a coffee and a meal. We can go into a shop that is not an essential service ~ art shops! We can catch up with friends outside ~ I am off for a picnic with friends! We can leave our homes for whatever reason we like. (Previously we had only been able to leave for 4 reasons.) We can live our lives.

With caution, of course. There is no room for complacency as we have not eliminated the virus. Recognising that the home is one of the most dangerous places, visiting indoors is restricted to one family a day. Sitting with family and friends is something we have been longing to do, but because our guards are down, it can be the place where the virus will spread. Indeed it was larger family gatherings that rapidly spread the virus in June.

I can visit my Mum! I am seeing her on Friday, and the thought of taking her out for a coffee brings a smile to my face.

For a couple more weeks we can only travel within 25 km ~ the trip to Mum is 22km! There is still no travel in or out of metro Melbourne. Mandatory mask wearing will stay for quite a while yet.

To be honest, I am still a little dazed by it all, and still thinking it through, reflecting on that strange liminal time. Undoubtably I will have more to say in later posts, but for now I will enjoy my friends, my Mum and a latte in a glass rather than a takeaway cup, sitting at a table. And celebrate the simple things, the important things.

How about this for an unusual online activity?

There are so many wonderful things to do online. Have you been sampling some? I have listened to a range of talks, from topics about mountain pygmy possums (just the cutest animals), through feral pests, to edible weeds, as well as visiting museums and galleries and attending online concerts and book launches. However, today I began what I think may be the most unusual thing to do during this period of restrictions ~ an online pottery class!

Sew-a-longs, watercolour lessons, life drawing classes all seem quite doable online, but pottery? It made me laugh every time I told someone about it, and made me smile whenever I thought about it.

Many years ago, when I was doing my teaching diploma, I sub-majored in Art, specifically pottery. I loved it, and did classes for many years after that. Life changes and goes in different directions. It’s a very equipment heavy art form; paper and paint aways seemed easier. But the idea was always there…..one day.

This class is organised specially for Seniors Week through my local council, for October. Our first session was this morning. I was rather flustered at the beginning as I was under-prepared. It was my own fault as I hadn’t read the emails that came last week to register my address which meant they hadn’t been able to deliver the supplies. The tutor, Vincenza, very kindly dropped off my kit last night. I didn’t realise until five minutes before logging on that there was an envelope with instructions. The Fella was highly amused to see me dashing about collecting the things I needed!

Despite that rush I had a wonderful time.

The kit had all the important things, especially the clay, already cut into useful sizes, a little container of underglaze, a rolling pin and other odds and ends.

The kit

The class met over Zoom and Vincenza took us through making slab plates. Then we had time to work on our own, asking questions as we went.

My task over the week is to make two slab plates ~ one is to be textured and on the other I am to sgraffito (draw) into the underglaze. We can attach a raised foot if we like.

First plate ~ work in progress

The texture on this first plate came from rolling the banksia cone over the clay. The darker areas are from the ink of the paper I was rolling on. Vincenza assures me that the marks will burn off in the firing.

And yes, these pieces will be fired. Firing the clay was something I was unsure about, as the logistics of it seemed daunting. It seems like Vincenza will collect all our pieces in a couple of weeks and take them to a kiln for the bisque firing. I am not sure how, or if, we will glaze them.

So, I am off on a new adventure.

I love the way people are thinking about how to do things differently, and really appreciate that this is available to me. It has already brought me joy. And did I mention that it is free?

What have you enjoyed doing online?

Another story, to (hopefully) make you smile

My Dad’s story seemed to resonate with you, so I thought it is time for another. (If you are not sure what I am talking about, you can catch up with my earlier post. Or you can dive into this one.)

Just a little background: The story is told by Dad about his grandfather, Bill Mason, who lived in a little house in Canning St, North Melbourne. Grandpa Mason is quite a character, as you can tell from this story, which probably happened in the last years of the 19th century.

Grandpa Mason was a bricklayer by trade and like most working men of that time he rode a bike to work. He loved to tell us tales of when he worked on the railway viaduct over Flinders St, and the building boom of the 1880s.

One job he was working on was a row of terrace houses over Moonee Ponds way. They were up to the second story and it was time to knock off, and as always the practical joker, he said to his mate, “I’m not going down the ladder, Jack, I’m going to jump into that pile of sand.”

He went to the edge of the scaffold, swung his arms and pretended to jump. You guessed it, he overbalanced and finished up backside buried in the sand, arms and legs pointing skyward.

“What the hell did you do that for Bill? You coda hurt your bloody self.”

On this job were two labourers. Olaf was a Swede, a big solid chap, an ex sailor off the sailing ships. He did all the rigging and scaffolding, and Mick, he looked after the bricks and mortar. According to my grampa these two were always arguing. Olaf said Mick was as thick as two planks.

Here was my grandpa half buried in the sand heap, and Mick telling him how lucky he was that he put the heap of sand in that exact spot. If he had put it over there, “you woulda missed it Bill and hurt ya bloody self.” Olaf pushed Mick out of the way and he and his mates, still laughing, dug Grandpa out of the soft sand and straightened him out.

By now my Grandfather was very stiff, very sore and very sorry for himself. Now, how to get Bill home? He could hardly walk and the last thing he wanted was to sit down. So Bill’s mates decided that Bill wouldn’t be back at work for a few days. They lashed his hod and level to the bar of his bike, his trowel, bolster and brick hammer into a bag, put the bag over his shoulder, lifted Bill onto his bike, and pointed him in the direction of North Melbourne [about 3 or 4 km away] and gave him a shove. Now that’s real mateship for ya. Probably, as soon as he left the site, they would have been laying bets as to whether he would get home without falling off his bike.

So far, so good. Grandpa Mason reached Canning Street and home, still on his bike. But by now he was even more stiff than he was half an hour ago. He couldn’t lift his leg to get off the bike.

So there’s Bill Mason riding around in circles in the middle of Canning St, yelling at the top of his voice “CLARA! Come and get me off this bloody bike.” [Clara was his wife, Dad’s grandmother.] Well, either Clara wasn’t home, she didn’t hear him and knowing my grandfather I find it unlikely that she didn’t hear him, or she thought the old fool had had one too many. For whatever reason, Clara never came out.

Bill had one choice and one choice only ~ fall off the bloody bike. By this time he felt that half of North Melbourne were out in the street laughing at him. He had no option but to fall off the bloody bike in front of all those bloody women and kids. I bet that didn’t improve his temper any.

Mum said “For weeks after, whenever he went out walking he had to walk in the gutter; he couldn’t lift his foot high enough to step up to the kerb.

But t didn’t cure him as a practical joker.


And a bonus shorter story for you, about my Dad’s experience as a bricklayer

According to the Macquarie Dictionary, a hod is a portable wooden trough for carrying mortar, bricks etc, fixed crosswise to the top of a pole and carried on the shoulder.

Every builder’s labourer would have his own hod. The length of the shaft would depend on how tall, or short, the labourer was. When it was on his shoulder the shaft would be around 30cm clear of the ground. To load it he stood near the stack of bricks holding the hod in one hand just below the vee of the trough. Around 10 brick were loaded into the vee. He put his shoulder under the trough, straightened his legs, then up the ladder two or three stories, unload, then down the ladder and do it again.

Carrying mortar was the same procedure, except they would go to the mortar board, load the hod with a shovel, hod in one hand, shovel in the other. All the mortar and concrete in those days was mixed by hand, no motorised mixers.

When I was about 16 my Dad was building a brick house in Moorabbin. After spending a day on the board mixing concrete by hand I thought I would die. A day or two later my grandfather handed me a hod and said, “Here lad, have go with this”. I soon discovered that I couldn’t even balance it while loading it with mortar, and when it was loaded with bricks I could hardly lift it, let alone carry it up a ladder. I decided there and then that labouring wasn’t for me!

Even today I look at those lovely old buildings around Melbourne and think of the men that built them and marvel at their skills.


(The house as the feature image is the house Bill Mason lived in, and where my Nana grew up. After a couple of renovations I am sure neither would recognise much about it’s more glamorous self, except the facade.)

Hearing my Dad

Well, this will be a coronavirus free post ~ no lockdown updates, no quarantine blues, no case numbers.

Instead it will be about my Dad and my Nanna, with a tale told about my grandfather and my great-grandfather. I hope it might bring a smile to your face.

My Nanna was a great story teller. I have many loved memories sitting listening to her stories of the family. She had a knack of making the ordinary events of family life into funny and interesting stories, a talent she passed down to Dad.

Dad recognised how precious those stories were so over time he taped her memories. However, he didn’t leave it there. In the last decade or so of his life he wrote those stories down. This wasn’t just transcribing Nanna’s words, but creating books of family history around those stories.

We were all amazed by what he did for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, he always hated school, leaving at 14. Reading and writing was a chore. So all the stories and books he wrote for us was a great achievement. Imagine how proud we were in 2004 when he won second prize for his story “Grandpa’s Pipe” in the True Life Section of the story writing competition run by Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Secondly, all of his work was done on a computer. These days that sounds like a very mundane statement, but he had never typed, much less used a computer, and was on a steep learning curve. He taught himself to scan, print, add and move photos and documents, as well as setting up files and documents. Interspersed with the stories and family histories are world timelines, letters written from the Western Front in WW1, maps and so on. How amazing is that?

Dad always gave us copies of his work, and they have sat on my bookshelf. A few weeks ago I had reason to read one of his books, looking to see if my Nanna had mentioned something I had been reading about.

As well as reminding myself what a trove of funny, family stories there were, I realised these stories were written just as Dad spoke them. It was as if he was in the room speaking to me, I was hearing my Dad again. It was a special time, partly because it was so unexpected.

Let me give you a little flavour with Dad telling this story “The Cable Tram”, set in North Melbourne where my Nanna grew up, in about 1919. I hope it brings a smile to your face.

The Cable Tram

My grandpa Mason’s grocery shop had a bike for deliveries. Now, my grandpa’s shop wasn’t busy enough to afford a boy to do the deliveries, so my grandpa did them. Imagine if you can my grandpa on a bike, a middle aged man, tallish, 5 foot 9 inches, thin but wiry, a black moustache, glasses, a brown fur felt hat, a longish apron and smoking a pipe. He always smoked Havlock plug tobacco. In my mind’s eye I can see him on that bike puffing away like an old steam tram.

He would come home at night worn out, complaining about pushing that bloody bike all over North Melbourne. Mum [my Nanna] was house keeping at the time and her reply was “Dad, buy a small van.” “I can’t drive girl” was his reply. “Len will teach you.” [Len was my grandfather, returned from the war and courting Nanna.] Eventually grandpa gave in and agreed for dad [Len] to teach him.

They got a Ford T van from somewhere, where I don’t know but knowing how canny my grandpa was, I doubt very much that they bought it. Probably the Ford T would have been one of the hardest cars to try to reach anyone to drive. The hand and foot movements were completely different from any other car, and for someone like my grandpa, the fastest thing he ever drove was a horse and jinker.

Here we have an inexperienced driving instructor and an even more inexperienced learner driver, with all the levers and controls on the right had side of the driver, out of reach of the instructor. In a ten acre paddock may be, but here they were driving around the streets of North Melbourne. All went well for a while, no stop signs at intersections, no roundabouts. Their main thing to watch out for would have been kids playing in the street.

After a while it was time to head for home. They drove into Canning Street, up the hill past no 47 to the top of the hill. The idea was to stop, turn around and gently roll down the hill to number 47 where the three girls were waiting.

Grandpa must have relaxed and lost concentration at this point, because the Ford didn’t stop, instead it headed down the hill towards Abbotsford St. This is where the panic started.

Cable trams ran along Abbotsford St, and it just so happened that at that particular moment one was about to pass the end of Canning St. The Grippie saw the Ford heading down Canning St, straight for him. He panicked, threw the cable and stropped the tram.

Here’s grandpa, in the Ford, heading straight for a cable tram, and he did what any normal person would have done in the same situation. He panicked. He planted his two feet firmly on the floor, gripped the steering wheel firmly with two hands, pulled back on the steering wheel and yelled for the bugger to whoa!

But the bugger wasn’t a horse and the bugger didn’t whoa until until it ran into the side of the tram. Luckily they ran into the side of the dummy and knocked it off the rails. The dummy is the enclosed cabin where the passengers sat in bad weather.

The drinkers from the Homebush Hotel thought it was a great joke. They laughed and gave all sorts of advice, most of it not helpful. But when it came to putting the dummy back on the rails there were plenty of helpers.

When it was all over and the drinkers went back to their drinking, the cable car headed on the city and Len took the Ford T back to where it came from. Grandpa said that he thought he would stick to the bike. It was cheaper to run.

Time for an update

Last time I wrote I was settling back into Stage 3 lockdown. Unfortunately case numbers in Melbourne are not flattening, and there is talk about going into Stage 4. That will be a new world, because things weren’t that strict last time around. However, we have to get the numbers down.

And really, for me, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. I am only making brief forays into shops for food and often a walk up the street for take away coffee. I can get food delivered, and can forgo the coffee 😩. I have a backyard that needs lots of work and plenty in the house to keep me out of mischief. My heart goes out to the others who are not in my position, and unfortunately there are so many of them at the moment.

Also I wrote about the public housing towers. Residents in eight of the nine towers are now at Stage 3 ~ able to go out for food, exercise, work and care. However one tower had to be kept in strict quarantine as it was deemed that residents were either positive or a close contact of those who were. They are, apparently well supported. I am not sure what level of care is being taken in other towers around Melbourne.

But enough of the virus!


The other day I received three delightful treats in my letter box. The first was a card from my Mum, who lives on the other side of town. We often write to each other. Then there were two lovely protea flowers. I must have a secret admirer, as I have no idea who they were from.

The third was even more special. It was a parcel from Catherine in New Zealand. She blogs at Random Thoughts from a Non-Warped Mind and Catherine: the Maker. She constantly amazes me with the things she makes, and this parcel was full of joyful creations.

A treasure trove of goodies from Catherine

You can see the range of goodies ~ cards, notebooks, fabric squares, knitted delights, hand embroidered pieces, papers embellished and printed. How blessed am I? And blown away by her generosity, and talent.


It is a while since I have told you anything of my art, aside from my Stitch-A-Long sewing. I have been better at keeping my newsletter readers more up-to-date; if you want to be in the know you can sign up for my vaguely fortnightly newsletter. There will be a new one in the next day or two, where I will be writing in more detail about tearing paper.

While it took me a while to get going, lately I have been busy with arty things, especially any thing to do with paper:

Gelli plate printing

Collaging

Folding paper

And now tearing and sewing paper (More on this in my newsletter.)

It is good to have a place to escape into, isn’t it?


As you can tell from the fancy dropped capital letters and the little separating dots, I have been playing with the new WordPress editor. I only have one whinge. In the old system I could upload photos straight from Google photos. Now I have to download them into iPhotos and then upload them. Am I missing the magic button that will save me a few steps? Any ideas?

Well, here I go again….Lockdown #2

The northern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, have seen a disturbing number of COVID-19 cases over the last week or so, most of them coming from community transmission. Compared to many other places the numbers are still low ~ in the 60s and 70s each day ~ but still enough to know that it must be brought under control. We can see from other countries how easily low numbers can increase to numbers that overwhelm.

So the Victorian Government has declared that 10 postcodes (zip codes) are to go into lockdown. My postcode is one of them. And I am perfectly fine with this. Action needs to be taken now, and we know that isolation works at suppressing transmission.

It is interesting to think about why Melbourne has been affected, as the other states have either very low or no new cases. This is my interpretation of the information I have gleaned from the authorities…..

International arrivals, ie returning citizens, are quarantined in hotels for 14 days. Quite a few of these arrivals seem to have come with the virus. In Victoria security at these quarantine hotels was farmed out to a private security firm, while in other states it is the job of the state police. I suspect that some of the security guards caught the virus from returned travellers. That was compounded by breaches of hygiene protocols by these security guards. Sharing a cigarette lighter has come up a few times, as well as crowded tea rooms and lack of protective equipment. So, a couple of the security people caught the virus, and inadvertently took the virus to their families.

At this time restrictions were being eased and families could gather in groups of 20. We love our families, and I can imagine how exciting it was for these families to see Grandma or Grandpa or cousins for the first time for ages. It is hard (but necessary) to maintain that 1.5 metres in a loving family gathering. So the virus was shared around. Then it moved to other family groups, and so it spread.

Now we have too much spread and these 10 ‘hotspots’ have to go into isolation.

We can only go out for the usual four reasons:

  • shopping for food and essential supplies
  • exercise
  • care and caregiving (this includes medical)
  • work and education if you can’t do it from home

It all feels very familiar.

And comforting in a weird way. As restrictions were gradually being lifted I felt a little confused. Not confused about what I could and couldn’t do, that always seemed clear to me. Rather I was confused about assessing the level of risk. Should I go to the hairdresser? I answered myself “No”. Should I go back to pilates? Probably not. Would lunch at a restaurant with friends be okay? Yes, as there were only 3 of us, and I knew they had been very cautious. I assumed the restaurant had the right protocols in place. Each venture out needed to be weighed. Now any dilemma has been removed ‘cos there is no option to go out!

The other thing that strikes me about this lockdown is that my level of anxiety is lower. Were you like me back in mid-March, or whenever your lockdown began, worrying about all manner of things? Will the rubbish still be collected? Will supply chains hold up? What happens if our electricity supply can’t cope? Would I have enough food? I even remember wondering if the parklands would be maintained. And I didn’t even have the worry of job losses or loan repayments or how to keep a business afloat.

I know what this quarantine period will look like, and that I can deal with it. I am confident that things will hold up, that the rubbish will be collected and the lights will stay on. And I know that there are others, like my wonderful family, on the ‘outside’ who are there cheering me on.

We are still at the beginning of this pandemic, and numbers in many countries are frighteningly high. So uncertainty is our new normal, our Covid normal for quite a while. We know what we have to do ~ practise excellent hand and respiratory hygiene, socially distance (at least 1.5m, please), wear a mask and don’t go out if you are feeling unwell. And if you do have to go back into lockdown, please do it.

On the practical side, the exhibition where I had two pieces hanging has been put on hold. The Incinerator Gallery has been caught up in all of this. Disappointing, but that’s how these things go.

Let me finish on my lovely librarian. You know how I love my library, and how happy I was to have it open, even though I couldn’t browse. I went in yesterday, before the lockdown, to confirm that they had to close. The librarian asked me if he could select a bundle of books for me to borrow. So between us ~ me standing behind the desk and him at the shelves asking if I like this author or that style ~ I borrowed a stack of books. I wouldn’t have chosen some of them myself, but I will certainly give them a go.

So, between my art and my book supply I feel that I am well equipped for another month at home.

Stay well.

Some Odds and Sods

A few bits and bobs, odds and sods for you today.

I was procrastinating about the second square for my sister’s grandson’s quilt. I got some excellent ideas from many of you. Thank you for your helpful suggestions and ideas; in the end I went with a stylised car.

Can you tell that I had a little trouble appliquéing smooth curves? I wouldn’t want to travel too far with those wheels!


If you read my fortnightly newsletter (and the next one is due this weekend, sign up here if you would like to know more about my art) you will know that I have two collages accepted into an exhibition at our council gallery. It is a community based exhibition, designed to celebrate the opening of the gallery.

My two works are abstract representations of the wetlands that I have become fascinated with over the last few months. You may remember my post about it.

Both are so different to the fine, detailed realistic work of my previous botanic art. However, I have been moving in this direction over the last few years.

The paper for the reeds was created by smearing acrylic paint around on photocopy paper, mainly using an old credit card. Then I cut around the shapes that look to me like reeds. The papers for the sky and water were printed with my gelli plate.

If, by chance, you are around Moonee Ponds at any time soon, drop in. The exhibition opens next Tuesday, 23rd June at:

The Incinerator Gallery

Holmes Rd

Moonee Ponds

You may wonder about why it is called the Incinerator Gallery. Check out their website to find out more, including opening hours and social distancing measures.


The other news is that we sold out caravan the other day. If you have been reading my blog for a few years you might remember some of the trips the Fella and I did in our little Avan. The last big trip was the dash over the Nullabor Plain to Western Australia. Unfortunately it is a few years since we went travelling, and when we did it was obvious that it was becoming more and more difficult for the Fella.

We had tossed around the idea of selling it. However, whenever we thought about it, the problems associated with getting it ready were too much. The big issue was that it is difficult to park it in our suburban street and we have no off-street parking. To get it ready for sale would mean having outside our place for an indefinite period, irritating the neighbours, the school over the road and the parking inspectors. It was easier to leave it out the back of our friend’s large country block.

Then we got a phone call out of the blue. The buyer, John, is a friend of the friend in the country. He had seen the van, understood that maybe it needed a new battery, regassing of the air-conditioning, new seals etc, but offered to buy it without even going inside. An offer too good to refuse! It got better when he was happy to do all the paperwork and clean it out.

So now our little van is off on different adventures.

Will I miss it? I miss the idea of being able to take off. There were still lots of places left to explore, and I never did get to travel up to the Kimberleys. However, I know that currently it is not realistic. So I am glad there is one less thing to sort out, one less little niggle to be dealt with.

What will I miss? I will miss the chance to immerse myself in different habitats, being able to wander; but you don’t need a van to be able to do that. I will miss the quiet and stillness, especially in the evenings. The Fella always goes to bed way before I do, so evenings in the van were a time to read, sketch, journal, catch-up with myself, to listen to the night sounds.

Camped at Moody Bluff Rest Area, Nullarbor Plain, New Year’s Eve, 2016 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

And lastly, a photo of the framed collage I dropped to the Incinerator Gallery. It is being guarded by a snake, created by my talented brother. His iso-art has been to create mosaic snakes!

Coffee and cake

Meeks has decided to catch up with friends by posting her coffee and cake. I am missing the catch ups with friends too, usually down at the local coffee shop. So let’s chat over a morning cuppa.

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I have used the tea cup my Mum gave me for my birthday.

The cake is a German apple cake, although don’t ask me why ‘German’ (the apple is obvious!) My friend, with whom I often have coffee, recently came out of the mandatory 14 day quarantine at a hotel chain, after returning form overseas. Each day she and her husband were given two pieces of fruit each. The fruit mounted up. They knew that it would be thrown out if they left it, so, brought it with them when they were released into the fresh air. I received a bag of apples.

I pulled out the Nursing Mum’s Cookbook, which is one of those fabulous cookbooks with every basic recipe you could ever want. The cake is very tasty!

If you would like to have your own coffee and cake, link your post to the comments on  Meek’s page. It doesn’t have to be fancy baking, it is the chat that is important.

GERMAN APPLE CAKE

Cake

  • 125 gm butter
  • 90gm sugar
  • 1 cup plain or self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 3 cooking apples
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • juice of 1 lemon

Cake: Melt butter in a large saucepan, add sugar and stir until it is beginning to dissolve. Add flour and stir well, beat in egg. Grease a 7″ cake tin and using fingers spread a little more than half the mixture over the bottom.

Filling: Peel, core and slice apples, place half of these in layers over the cake mixture. Mix together sultanas, sugar and spices and sprinkle over apple slices. Cover with rest of the apple slices. sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread resining cake mixture on top, in spoonfuls.

Cook in a moderate oven for 45 minutes.

 

Interpreting the Wetlands

Down the end of my street is an oval. When I moved into my house decades ago it was enclosed on three sides by a large, old industrial site. The site was owned by ICI, and aside from the far corner there was little activity. For many years I walked the fenced perimeter peering in at the old buildings, musing about what might have gone there.

The oval was only used by the cricketers and footy teams, and the occasional dog walker. A creek meandered through the site, sometimes buried, sometimes encased in a drain, eventually making its way to the nearby Maribyrnong River.

Of course the site was prime inner suburban land, and after remediation, it was sold to developers. The development wasn’t too bad. The best part though was that the creek was freed from the drain and turned into a wetland. The fences were removed from around the oval, and the space was opened up.

Now I can walk down the end of my street, across the oval and into the wetlands, where there is always something going on.

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Now  that the fences are down the oval is an integral part of complex and is well used.

I am very fortunate to be able to walk here as my daily exercise. The Fella walks around the oval while I go further around the wetlands and often join up with him on the way home. It is a safe place for kids and scooters and bikes and dogs, there is room for us all.

For me though, it is more than just a place to exercise. I am intrigued by the textures, the reflections, the light.

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My fascination never went further than many photos and a thought in the back of my head to translate what I am seeing into art. Then, by wonderful serendipitous luck I enrolled in a course with Tara Axford, whose art I have loved ever since I came across her on Instagram.  She takes the different elements of the bush around her home and makes artistic sense of them. The course is designed to help us see past the clutter and messiness of nature to interpret our special places.

I am loving this course, loving it so much that I am taking it slowly, absorbing, learning, allowing my mind to play with the ideas Tara gives.

What’s not to love when the first module encourages me to beachcomb though the wetlands on my walk, picking up treasures as I go. Tara calls these ‘pocket finds’, a term that is perfect! I was so inspired after watching the first video that I went down to the wetlands in the wind and rain to see how different it would be. Of course I came back with many pocket treasures.

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Over the last few days I have been creating vignettes with my treasures. Rather compelling and very satisfying.

 

I wonder how the next modules will help me further interpret the wetlands.