Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More kids' stuff - Geelong Play Space

from Wendy
Here is more kids' stuff - the Geelong Play Space. I was only told about this place at the weekend and had a look this morning. It's located not far from the entrance to the Geelong Botanical Gardens.

My Fiji grandchildren would surely love this place with its scramble wall, swings, sandpit, stepping-stones, press button timeflow water source, sundial, pioneer cottage ruin, boat, sheep, ocean and pirate sounds, bamboo tunnel, spinning toys, magic mirror.

I wish more adults could think of the children and the future when they carry on with their egos and politicking!

The Geelong Play Space has been designed for children of various abilities and incorporates gardens with built environments, each section telling some stories about the history of our land.

This morning there were bus loads of children and mums and some dads who had come all the way from Ballarat to this Play Space.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Backyard three-wheeler bike/wheelchair

A favourite item when small kids come to our place is a kind of three-wheeler bike/wheelchair that was given to us to send with a dozen wheelchairs to Fiji, but it looked so odd that we just kept it. It was built by someone using a chair seat and a bit of this and that. It works by rotating the handlebars and the brake is very good indeed. We inherited large areas of cement in the back yard when we bought this place so it's ideal for racing around. Our block is 220 feet deep so there's plenty of space beside the bungalows.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ten months after the bushfires in Brisbane Ranges

It's ten months since the dreadful bushfires that raged through Anakie Brisbane Ranges area. At the weekend we drove from Geelong to Greendale via Ballan so saw the recovery. Leaves sprouted from tree trunks giving a strange furry look and there were many grass trees in flower. The landscape is no longer so blackened and bleak but still there are many trees that are starkly black and will not recover.

New outer suburbs of Melbourne

Today after driving through picturesque hills near Greendale and Bacchus Marsh, we eventually travelled through some of the outer Melbourne suburbs and noticed the repetition of boxes next to one another, without trees, without individuality. I drew a view of a section of new white houses behind a long white fence behind a kind of fake lake. Some of these suburbs have only one or two roads going in and it's very hard to even find your way out again. It's some kind of security, someone told me. People want to be in a kind of sanctuary!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pacific Forum - view from Oz papers

from W and P
We bought the Age, Herald-Sun and Australian newspapers today just to see their views on the South Pacific Forum. As expected most articles praised Howard, but some papers had a bet both ways re Australia's sometime 'big-stick' colonial attitude. I wonder what John is saying to Laisenia Qarase? Maybe - 'I'm as tall as you are after all,- even though he is standing on a step or something! As usual cartoonists looked at stereotypes of Pacific (old) customs!

drawings at Shenton Manse

from Wendy
Some pages from my visual diary when we lived at Shenton manse, corner or Ryrie and Garden Street.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Coloured and albino peacocks

I need a few pictures for references to do some more drawings/paintings so I've decided to place them here. The guy birds have the brilliant colours and tails and the hens are rather plainer - hmmm just like the body decorations on the men and women in Papua New Guinea.

Anyway, there's apparently superstitions regarding these birds I guess because of the eyes in the tail feathers and the ability to change colours. The colour of a peacock feather is caused by its complex structure and changes with the angle of incident light.

The white colour of an albino peacock is due to the missing black melanine pigment. The usual rich colours of the peacock are seen because black pigment which absorbs most of the incident light, allowing us to see only the interference colours. In the albino peacock, the interference is still happening, but the effect is entirely washed out by the abundance of white light. The "eyes" of the tail feathers are clear, not coloured.
W. (with a bit of help from google search friends!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two peacocks at a wildlife sanctuary

This morning we went to Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary at Barwon Heads with our granddaughter. One of the drawings I dud was of two peacocks, one very colourful, the other albino - all white. For more pictures check out babasiga blog.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Swings and slides and playtime

from Wendy
This week I am busy child-minding so life is all about swings, slides, walking by the beach, watching cartoons, reading, helping Grandpa at Donation in Kind, and riding a three-wheel home-made bicycle. A four year old keeps Grandma very busy! Lots of conversation of course in English or Fijian. And time for painting. My granddaughter from Fiji is four and over here for ten days while her Mum goes to a conference.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tom Bowen of Geelong and the Bowen technique

from Wendy
A few weeks ago I sketched a sculpture in the Geelong West Park, not knowing anything about a man called Tom Bowen. Then Pandamonium posted a comment on a blog referring to the Bowen technique and this rang a bell, so I looked up stuff about him on the net.

In the late 1950’s Tom Bowen worked for the Geelong Cement Works and it was during this time that there were obvious signs of an interest in healing. His friend Stan Horwood believed Tom had a unique gift. Tom started helping people with ‘bad backs’ and other ailments and so his life of helping others began. Stan Horwood invited Tom to set up a practice at his home every evening after completing a day’s work at the Cement Works.

The business grew through word of mouth. People would wait outside the Horwood residence for hours to see Tom. Cars would line the pavement. It became obvious that the practice could not continue this way and so it moved to 99 LaTrobe Tce., Geelong, on a full time basis. He stayed at this address for a few years and then moved to 283 LaTrobe Tce.

At all of Tom’s clinics there were collection boxes for all kinds of charities. At times there were novelty items available for sale. Anything to help those less fortunate than others.

Tom did not have appointments as such. A patient would ring his clinic and told the opening hours of the clinic were between 9am – 11am and 1pm – 4pm. On arrival at the clinic patients were given a number from 1 to 33 in order of presentation.
Tom had a Saturday morning clinic for disabled children where they were treated free. Parents would bring their children to him from many miles away, sometimes traveling 3 – 4 hours. Results were not immediate with these children but over a number of years results were amazing.

He held a clinic every Saturday evening for those who had injured themselves playing sport during the day. This was also a free clinic. At this stage of his career he could have made a great deal of money, but this was definitely not his priority. Tom trained several men during his lifetime. These people were: Keith Davis, Nigel Love, Kevin Neave, Oswald Rentsch, Kevin Ryan and Romney Smeeton.

He moved to Villamanta Street, Geelong West. It was during the 1970’s that Tom applied for registration of his business. This was eventually refused. This had a devastating impact on Tom. He was interviewed by a government inquiry where it was stated that he saw 13,000 patients per year. Whether he was registered or not people still came from far and wide to see him.

Today Tom’s work has been taught world-wide and is taught at university level in Australia.

He had a favourite saying by which he lived his life:
“I expect to pass through this world but once,
any good thing therefore that I do,
or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature,
let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall never pass this way again.”

Notes above adapted from information from Heather Edmonds and Pam Trigg
It constantly amazes me when I hear stories of apparently ordinary people who do extraordinary things when they develop a passion in life.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Scribbling at a Rotary dinner auction

When I wasn't drinking, eating, dancing, I found a pen and scribbled on the back of the auction notes - the Italian double-jointed pop diva, the big-voiced auctioneer, a few glasses and bottles on our table, and no, that wasn't a person sitting at the table, but a large teddy bear bought at the auction by one of the women, and this gorgeous bear sat opposite me most of the evening! I think they made many thousands of dollars last night which goes to numerous good causes including sending containers to the South Pacific for schools and hospitals.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

From diary from Shenton manse

from W
I had an A5 booklet full of drawings and notes of our garden environment when we lived at Shenton manse on the edge of Geelong city area. Here are some pages from that time.

Sorry about the dark middle but it's the kind of binding on the book - the pages won't flatten out. Any tips on how to fix that - apart from cropping one page at a time?

Bro'Town on Oz TV - what do you think of it?

Natalie Craig writes in the AGE Green Guide 'Naughty New Zealand cartoon series Bro'Town grafts politically incorrect subject matter onto Biblical allegories...'

In Australia it's currently showing on SBS TV on Monday nights and is a seven-part series.

I've seen four of the earlier episodes on video, a Maori friend gave us. We laughed ourselves silly at the antics of this bunch of Auckland Islanders but at the same time were rather horrified by the language and attitudes which make fun of everyone and everything. It's made by the Naked Samoan crew who also did the film 'Seone's Wedding'. The dialogue is very quick and of course has those different accents - Kiwi and Islander, so a second viewing might pick up on some of the jokes.

Some of our friends just do not laugh at Bro'Town but I guess I am immature enough to think it hilarious.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A phone call from Mumbai or Bangalore or somewhere...

from Wendy

The phone shrills but my ears are also ringing.
Five seconds of silence and that's a bad sign. A call outsourced? They usually ring about 6 p.m.
'You have been chosen…'
Her accent is definitely Mumbai, though she does mention Brisbane.
'I can't talk now. A black bird is flapping around my head.'
She doesn't listen. 'Your phone number has been chosen for a special…'
'No, no bhaini. A black bird, maybe a starling, flew into the house. Someone left the back door open. It's been hovering over my computer so I had to put on my son's work hat because I'm so scared and I had to switch the computer off. I didn’t' want a bird dancing on a s d f…'
There was a pause and I could hear her breathing. 'You know about Optus,' she pursues.
'Optus can't chase the bird out! The blackbird can't find the doors though I've put lights on the passage. It sat on top of a James Dean photo that was left over after a garage sale...' I yell as the bird flaps across the ceiling. 'It happened twice before. Maybe it's thirsty because of the drought.'
'Optus is…'
'Dhanyabad bhaini.' I click off.

Not quite the truth, but near enough.

I am so scared of flapping black wings and a bird inside the house will give me high blood pressure! We got it out after plenty of shouts and advice and shoves with a long broom. Though my son later says that it was probably very scared of me in my large green hat. We could have done the Francis of Assisi act, held out a hand quietly with some food and coaxed it out.

However, as the other two times when a young blackbird flew into our house, Peceli was out and me and my son solved the problem after twenty minutes of agitated shouting!

And I think the girl from the Mumbai Call Centre will be a bit confused too and may want a few minutes off to have a drink of chai.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Making quilts to care

from Wendy
At least two groups of church women make quilts to give away or auction. In Geelong, in the suburb of Belmont, they started with half a dozen garbags full of fleecy bits of material that no one else wanted. In Doncaster, Melbourne, a group found there were some women in Vietnam who needed help. So they started cutting, assembling, stitching, knitting, crocheting.

The Belmont quilts are given away to needy families or individuals. The first quilt made by the Doncaster women is up for auction, the proceeds going to a quilting project in Vietnam where women are given training, employment and independence. So the squares in patchwork become part of a circle of on-going care, which is nice in this day and age.

(Pics and info from Crosslight magazine, Uniting Church.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Art Quilts at the National Wool Museum

from Wendy
Last week I checked out the National Wool Museum in Geelong, especially to view an exhibition of intriquing and contrasting quilts, not designed for beds at all, but to hang on the wall. The tiny pics in the cataloque only give a clue to the design as the impact of the textures, and cutout layers of wool, felt, rayon, raw edges, stitching, dyed cloth, is so much more. There was knitting, embroidery, scribbles with yarn, tie-dying, lattices, raised, padded areas. Amazing stuff.

I have heard that quilts originated from a bundle of old clothes thrown onto a bed, then artistic women started to cut shapes and redesign a quilt, often into regular patterns. However at this quilt exhibition there was little of that.

One entitled 'Salt Bush' by Fiona Wright was made using hand dyed wool tops, silks, threads and pigment inks.

'Forest of Contrasts' was made with regular square shapes using tree shapes, one a lone pine at Ocean Grove, the other a River Red from Flinders Ranges.

The quilt I liked best was realistic from a distance, but close-up was made up of hundreds of little stitches with thick woollen yarns, felt,and cotton. Margaret Perkins called her artwork 'The River' and it was like a view from the sky of a river meandering through an arid land.

The fourth example I have given is by Anna Brown, 'Strata #2 The Mine' using wool fabrics, batt, wool bends and silk, and she was inspired by rock patterns and sediments re-organized by mining.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Poetry Gig at Portarlington

from Wendy
Occasionally in the Geelong region a poetry afternoon draws writers and friends to the Portarlington Hotel upstairs ballroom (now carpeted). Janine McGuiness and Brendan Ryan organise these gigs.

Last Saturday the writers featured were Richard Kakol, Yvonne Adami, Kevin Densley, Jackie Hosking and Annie Barclay. Then we had violin music and a narrative by Astrid van den Akker-Luttmer. A blackboard list encouraged readings from members of the audience adding spice to the planned program.

I enjoyed the variety – serious, literary, political, smart one-liners, a fractured fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs. I probably laughed at the wrong times as well. Poetry can be so introverted at times and unreadable, but spoken words at a gig like this is a good way to test the sounds and whether the words do communicate. Richard Kakol, using his Braille laptop, read stunning poems about the Antarctic and climbing Everest, poems very visual as well as layered with insight into human behaviour.

The pics include Annie Barclay, Richard Kakol, Maurie Murphy and a group sunning in the balcony of the hotel.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nostalgia and 'comfort' foods

from W
Tooners, a blogger from Bahrain, raised the subject of 'comfort' foods and favourites and wrote that she went in for macaroni cheese and even mashed potatoes. There are those foods that remind us of childhood and our Mum's fabulous cooking - those days mothers really took time to make nutritious and colourful foods and they even baked! But they really were over-salted, or over-sugared or vegetables boiled too long! I remember the holiday times mostly - down the Mornington Peninsular, and during our evening walks beside the sea at places like Dromana we would try varieties of icecream - rum, banana, coconut, plum pudding.

Mostly though I remember a garden full of fresh food - all vegetables home grown - peas, beans, carrots, artichokes, pumpkin, etc. and an orchard of fruit trees - lemon, orange, grapefruit, pear, apple, blood plum, nectarines, apricots, cherry-plums, almonds, walnuts, and the list goes on.

Then when I left home at 17 for the big city of Melbourne, I discovered Spaghetti Bolognese, coffee scrolls, Danish pastries, different kinds of coffee, icecream with toppings, so rejected the old nutritious kind of meals.

Then I moved to Fiji and tried all kinds of exotic Indian, Chinese, Fijian foods and have stuck with these recipes mostly ever since. Roti and curry, halwa, sawai, yam and fish in coconut cream, sweet and sour pork, fried rice. Specialties in season also - ota - which is fern, and duruka - a kind of Fiji asparagus. And of course mangoes, especially parrot mangoes.

Sometimes we do change our preferences though - I used to like Cherry Ripes, but now chocolate seems too sweet, and fruit cake gives me indigestion!

I guess some 'comfort' foods are still roast lamb, pork chops, marinaded chicken, but sense decrees that lots of rabbit food - dozens of green and pink leaves - are necessary for heath! In cafes these days, there is usually a large white plate with a pyramid of rabbit food that doesn't have much taste at all. Not that we dine out much. And takeaways - fish and chips from the Lebanese shop across the road - are still on our menu!

Next week is the Indian Diwali Festival time and I remember visiting friends and eating halwa - a sweet pudding. This recipe sounds close to the kind of halwa made in Fiji. It's the cardamons that give it the lovely flavour.
Besan (Gram Flour) 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Sugar 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder 1 tsp
Pure ghee 1/2 cup
Almonds or Cashews or Pista 10 or 15 finely chopped

1. Heat ghee in a thick pan or vessel prefer copper bottom.
2. Now add gram flour and keep on stirring on low flame until the flour turns golden colour.
3. Then add cardamon, milk and sugar.
4. Keep on stirring the mixture until the mixture turns thick.
Serve hot by decorating with fried nuts in ghee.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

drawing in Geelong Botanical Gardens

from Wendy
This morning I went on a tour of the gardens with a guide, and a talk by an artist who makes scientific botanical illustrations particularly from the Otway Forests. When the others in the group took a bus to the Art Gallery, I stayed on and did some sketches of the base of the Moreton Bay fig tree, the Japanese birds and snapping turtle sculptures, a strange Crown of Thorns plant, and collected leaves as usual.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A sonnet for a Diva

from Wendy
Yesterday I received a postcard from Venice. I never got to Venice, or Paris, or Madrid, though I had planned to - many years ago. I only got as far as Fiji and the South Pacific. However, after all the novels, films and travel pictures, I feel I've been there.

I wrote this sonnet one day after Fay White, a songwriter and singer, told us a story about an opera singer in Venice. It was the kind of poem that just wrote itself and I didn't have to change many words at all. Other times writing is painstakingly slow.

I had in mind the kind of music in the 1981 French film 'Diva' and have read this poem with a background of an aria from La Wally.

Diva’s Sonetto

The gleaming vortex of water is my nightmare.
I lean from palazzo windows, pain in flood,
intent upon another death in Venice and dare
the Bridge of Sighs to be marbled in my blood.
The pin pricks of stars reflect, a prelude
not a finale, as the sky fates so amaze.
An aria I’ll sing, with a shift in mood.
Sounds resonate into canals and courtyard haze
and one by one gondoliers gather in their way
until there’s a listening, then a sudden applause.
I change my intention, then early next day
a bouquet and basket are placed near my doors.
A note, ‘Grazie Diva, here’s roses and wine
for our beloved, the bearers of fire divine.’