Thursday, March 29, 2007

View from office window

from w
Lately I seem to be obsessed with various types of palm trees with green leaves on top, brown leaves underneath! This is the view of the neighbour's fence and garden through the window of the room where we use the computer, keep books and files etc.

In our back yard we do have a large date palm tree and it has numerous brown leaves falling down. We need to cut a green branch for Sunday's Palm Sunday decoration but the green leaves are very high up.

This pic is not exactly as I made it - I used 'Illustration' rather than 'Photograph' to scan it.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

While waiting for a bus in Normanby Street

from w
Yesterday I had five minutes before the bus was due so I sketched the perspective and shadows of the palm trees in Normanby Street. I was still drawing with a pencil when the bus turned up and I had to run! I later added watercolour, more pencil and even salt!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two pictures - grass trees and Buckley's Falls

from w
A friend kindly came and took digital photos of some of our paintings etc. so now they are on file and occasionally I can put one or two into this blog. Here are two: one is an acrylic of grass trees at the Geelong Botanical Gardens, on canvas and unframed. The other is a pastel on black paper, which is framed behind glass. It's of Buckley's Falls, Geelong. The latter has been on the wall a few years, but the one of grass trees was made in recent months.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Avalon Airshow - some like it hot

from w
It's hard for me not to get preachy about some things so just read this excerpt from today's Geelong Advertiser and see what your think.
Spectacular night of flame and fury

Martin Watters

A MESMERISING wall of fire blazed across the landscape during last night's session of the Australian International Airshow at Avalon. Photo: REG RYAN
A WALL of fire and a fiery salute from Australia's stalwart strike fighter ended the public premiere of the Avalon Airshow last night.

Event organisers ignited more than 100m of high-octane fuel to create the fiery finale, after a Royal Australian Air Force F-111 performed its famous ``dump and burn'' manoeuvre over the airstrip.

The explosive pyrotechnic display went ahead despite a statewide fire ban, after CFA chiefs gave the go-ahead.

It was worth it in the eyes of the fans, who gave their necks a workout as they attempted to keep up with the high-flying fighters and the amazing sight on ground level.

Geelong couple Tim and Nadine Kirtley could not speak more highly of the spectacular finale. Mr Kirtley said the inconvenience of smoky eyes was well worth it for the display he witnessed. It was amazing. The heat on my face was great,'' he said.

Mrs Kirtley said she also thoroughly enjoyed the fiery end to the night.`That was awesome. I like stuff blowing up,'' she said.

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When should you dob in your neighbours?

from w
It's considered un-Australian to dob in people. Let them be. But perhaps there might be times when you ought to ring Crimestoppers or the Water Board and dob in someone who's not doing the right thing. In Hoppers Crossing, a southern Melbourne suburb, one household had a lovely, lovely lawn and shrubs, green and blooming, when everyone else followed the strict Stage 3 water restrictions (Geelong is on Stage 4, even stricter) and their lawns died and their plants shrivelled up. So the Water Board gave them a warning, but neighbours insisted the guy was washing his car and at night the sprinklers were on. The owners said they had a tank for rain water and were using that. Well, there hasn't been THAT much rain! So the punishment was to limit their consumption to 2 litres per minute which isn't much when taking a shower!

So should you dob in your neighbours or let them be?

Dobbing in has become the way to go - noticing people acting suspiciously such as taking photographs of a tall building, getting unemployment benefits while working, maybe being an illegal alien. There are phone numbers to ring up! When John Howard initiated the dob in a suspected terrorist with a fridge magnet per household, I rang the number and told them it is un-Australian to dob people in!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's a very bad Friday - hot and an accident in tunnel

from w
It's a blustery north wind, 35 degrees, with a dust-storm west of Geelong and now on the news there has been a very bad accident in the Burnley tunnel in Melbourne.

Apparently a truck had a blow-out, the driver stopped to phone, and other trucks and cars collided. There were explosions and then all the traffic had to stop. Emergency messages informed people to evacuate their cars, leave keys behind, and go to the nearest exits. It must have been panic for many people with children, or disabled. Anyway the people are still waiting at the exits to recover their cars. The emergency services were there quickly, the sprinklers went on and the black smoke was sucked out.

All traffic from the West Gate Bridge, the tunnels and as far as Warragul Road has been halted, so it's a hard day for lots of people there. Three people have died, according to the ABC radio. Tonight the Avalon Air show is open to the public but I think many people in Melbourne will just not come.

We go through this tunnel sometimes, and the last time we did so was on our way to Bairnsdale and on to Bateman's Bay. I dislike anything claustrophobic and imagine things going wrong inside a long tunnel. Fortunately the emergency services in Melbourne were excellent in helping people after the dreadful accident today.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A leaf in drought

from w
We started the Geelong Visual Diary blog about a year ago and I posted some pics of pretty autumn leaves. This year the leaves so far are not pretty, but are brown with hardly any yellow or orange. This is one from a creeper in our garden. I did a pic of it but I couldn't get the leathery look. Today I paint to try and forget a sore throat!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Changing pics with a click

from w
Instead of repainting a picture with different colours etc. with a click I can change it. I tried out variations of colour and shape here of two recent small paintings though usually I find that the original is the best anyway. I use either Picasa or Photoedit is a way of testing contrasting tones, colours, shapes.

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Buckley's Falls before the drought

from w
This small painting I made today - A4 size - based on two photos I once used in a writing workshop on 'place'. Buckley's Falls is about 4 k from the centre of Geelong, a waterfall near an old paper mill. I reckoned the frog belonged there. Today though there is little water running because of the drought. The name Buckley comes from an escaped convict who lived with the local Aboriginal tribes for thirty years in the 19th century.

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A sunset after jet planes dance

from w
I find it difficult to capture clouds and skies but I did a quick pastel pic outside tonight as there were colourful streaks across the sky at sunset. I wondered if the jets at the Avalon Air show nearby affected the shapes. The foreground is just a bit of watercolour.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

What's good for you - on Buteyko

from w
For a week I've been crook with congestion in the bronchial tubes and a bad throat - driving me crazy, wanting to stand upside down and cough. The doctor prescribed Ventolin (which I didn't take as I am suspicious of medicine) and antibiotics. (I've been prescribed Ventolin twice in eight years but never even tried it.) After seven days I was no better and desperate. The chemist gave me some expensive cough medicine so I guzzled that. Anyway Peceli said I should trust the doctor and try one puff of Ventolin, so I did, though I think I did it upside down. I felt quite strange then, and suddenly drowsy and then slept and slept! Today I feel fine. Was it the Ventolin, the cough medicine, the good sleep, or just time that cured me?

Anyway last night the TV program 'What's good for you' included a segment on the Buteyko method of breathing as an aid to asthmatics. These are notes taken from their website:

Asthma — does the Buteyko method work?
More than two million Australians now suffer from asthma. It's usually controlled with drugs but we're going to look at an alternative treatment — it's called Buteyko, which is all about learning to breathe… Practicing the Buteyko method does look silly, but the key thing is learning to breathe through your nose. Why is nasal breathing so important? You take in less air and breathe out less carbon dioxide.
"The more carbon dioxide that we retain in our lungs, the better it is for our health. Because that facilitates more release of oxygen from haemoglobin in our blood. So we get oxygen to all the cells of our body," O'Connell says. But it doesn't come naturally so Butyko students have to learn to reduce their breathing even while they're active.

The good news is that Buteyko helps asthmatics significantly cut down on medication and it helps relieve those debilitating symptoms.

While doctors might not think it's a miracle cure, if you're one of the growing number of Australians seeking relief from asthma symptoms, then Buteyko method might be worth a try.

Asthma is the most common chronic condition in Western society. Would you know what to do if someone had a severe attack in front of you?
What should you do if someone has a severe asthma attack?
• Make sure they take reliever medicine.
• Keep them calm and encourage them to breathe slowly.
• Don't let them lie down as this constricts breathing.
• If the reliever medicine doesn't help within 10 minutes or they're struggling to breathe, then call for medical help.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

An amateur tries tai chi

from w
My son said I needed lots of sunshine to shake off a cough and he said, 'Mum, do some tai chi, then ride the exercise bike.' Hmmm. So outdoors it was, on a sunny morning, instead of going to church, I hung out the washing, (and that is usually tabu on a Sunday) then started the exercises.

Well, the breathing part was alright, but the inelegant moves probably frightened away even the once feral ginger cat and certainly the doves and magpies who at present are still desperate for food and drink. Then I looked up non-medical treatment for asthma and found Buteyko which I thought was a kind of drama in Japan, but it's a breathing exercise.

Now I wonder if I should have performed kabuki or noh in the garden. Perhaps that two year old medicine from the Nasekula pharmacy is causing me to imagine too much!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pot plants in a drought

from w
Soapy water has kept succulants going and they are getting huge, but the orchids look desperate. We still cannot open our outside taps and use hoses. It was 37 degrees today here in Geelong and it rained in Melbourne this evening. So far, not here though. The picture is A5 in size, in a small sketchbook.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thomas Merton, the doctor, and a handbag

from w
I'm debating whether to see a doctor for a touch of a kind of night asthma, or go to a Lent study of Thomas Merton the monk, and I think the monk wins. I'll just add my bottle of Brondecon Elixer prescribed at the Naseakula Pharmacy in Fiji by Dr Jhinku a couple of years ago. It seems to work okay.
Herein is some of the contents of my current carry-all bag. No lipstick, no comb. Only going for two hours.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saw Notes on a Scandal

from w
Last night we went to the movies to see Notes on a Scandal. What an engrossing film it was, but it was not about love, but really about obsession, crushes, manipulation and betrayal. Very Shakespearean. It was very realistic, though I haven’t exactly met anyone quite like ‘Barbara’ or ‘Sheba’. Peceli said it was a very good film, though I though he wouldn't like it.

Notes adapted from Peter Bradshaw Friday February 2, 2007 The Guardian shortened - a cut and paste job.

It's a psychological thriller about an ageing history teacher in a north London state school with a sinister, obsessional crush on a younger colleague. There is some tremendous acting from Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, with many blue-chip supporting contributions….

Dench plays spinsterish Barbara, a teacher nearing retirement, with the pinched, dyspeptic expression of someone determinedly swallowing down her disappointment with life. Her general disdain finds a focus in the person of a new art teacher called Sheba (Cate Blanchett) who excites Barbara's silent fascination.

Sheba has charm and Barbara, lonely and needy, finds herself being charmed, too. With pathetic schoolgirlish yearning, she cultivates a longing to be Sheba's new best friend and indeed something more than that. When she discovers a sensational secret in Sheba's sex life, Barbara has the means to blackmail her into a hideous parody of intimacy, while at the same time deluding herself that they really are great friends - a delusion that builds to a horrible, violent climax.

Notes on a Scandal is about something deeply unlovely in human nature rarely explored by poets, or novelists, or film-makers: the explosive combination of desire and social envy.

Sheba lives in a wonderfully grand house with her elegant, donnish older husband (Bill Nighy), together with a teenage daughter and a younger son who has Down's syndrome: a problem they manage with exemplary candour and calm.

There is an unreliable narrator and her diary entries and a lot of voiceover, especially at the beginning. when we need to be introduced to Barbara's haughty, plaintive personality. Her observations have a painful, neurosis-fuelled precision. When Barbara takes direct, destructive action, voiceover takes second place to a disposition of dramatic scenes and the pace really picks up.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

A story of three dragons

From w
(story adapted from article in “Multicultural Victoria 2007)

A story of three dragons

The Chinese community are a significant group in Australian society and at least twice a year there have been parades in Melbourne and other provincial towns in Victoria which included a great dragon, from as early as 1867 with dancing lions, firecrackers and musicians. Sun Loong was imported from China in the 1950s and paraded for over twenty years at Moomba Parade in March.

When a new dragon was needed, some representatives from Melbourne’s Chinese community visited Foshan, the traditional centre of dragon making of Guangdong Province, China, but most people had forgotten how to make dragons. Not since 1949 had a dragon been made. Anyway the Arts and Crafts Institute agreed to help and samples from Sue Loong’s scale were sent to China, and over four months a hundred men and women created a new dragon to be paraded at Moomba in 1979.

As a result the Melbourne Dai Loong Association became responsible for revitalising the age-old art of dragon making in China with processional dragons being made for China as well as other places in Asia, America and Europe.

Later in 2003 the third dragon was created, the largest processional dragon in the world. The picture here is of the Millenium Dragon.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Is it bad manners to wear shoes inside?

from w
Our family custom is always to remove shoes at the door and never wear shoes inside a house, but of course in Australia many people just leave them on. In the South Pacific islands, I guess because of mud and rain, people are always barefoot inside a house. The other evening we were sitting yarning at a kava party - some sat down, some sat up - and I noticed C's strange socks with eyes staring at me. I couldn't help myself - I just had to draw them. So, is it rude to draw people's feet when the conversation starts to repeat itself and go in circles?

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Art in the Park - Geelong

from w
This afternoon I strolled through Johnstone Park in central Geelong for the first Art in the Park. Lots of tents were filled with paintings, sculptures,lino-cuts, monoprints, glass, jewelry, odds and ends. It was good to see the local artists showing their work and selling some. I quickly drew a pic of the sculptor Jacinta Veitch talking with a passerby about her limestone carving, then coloured the pic at home later.

There were giveaway postcards from the Geelong Gallery such as Gail Buckis 'Bandstand Johnstone Park' and Richard Collis's 'Learn o take a dive'. Maybe next year Peceli and I might book a tent!

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Kitsch at Smorgies in Geelong

from w
After three hours sorting and labelling boxes for a container to Fiji for flood relief, we were starving so had a $12 lunch at Smorgies on the pier of the Geelong Waterfront. Eat as much as you like. I chose Chinese food mainly then some Greek vine leaves, tabouli etc. It was quiet until about seventy Greek tourists from Melbourne arrived. They didn’t pick Greek food items but fish, chips, roasts!

In between serves, I did some rather awful sketches of the rather awful kitsch statues which periodically become animated and talk or sing. Salty the seal is one. King Neptune is another. There’s a thunder and lightning effect as well. I really dislike statues and fake coral but I guess it is for the kids. The message from Nepture is apparently about the marine environment. I don't know what the Greeks thought of it!

Some of our friends do not like Smorgies as it's a help yourself to the food sort of environment and lots of people poke at and peer at the food as they select, but we find it fine as it is good to feed Islanders. The view too is lovely as Smorgies in Geelong is at the end of a pier with lots of great views of sea and foreshore.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Music and me at forty!

from w
A farm family in Hopetoun were moving to the city so wanted to sell their piano. They were members of our parish. A lovely upright Beale and they only wanted $100, so it was a kind of gift to us. Anyway for six years in Hopetoun I got back into music and played for CWA (Country Women's Association) items, Rotary concerts, Music Hall, church plays and concerts. One week when there was an almighty dust-storm, I accompanied two performances of a selection from Handel's 'Messiah' - one time using an organ, the other time a piano.

In a small country town, everyone is needed in community groups to help the town progress (if possible) so we joined in lots of sports, cultural and social groups. In a city, you can be invisible and do not have to contribute, just look after yourself!

Music and me - at twenty-two and later

from w
Rock my soul and so on in Bendigo. Captured the religious spirit and wanted to shake the world with an evangelical zeal! Then a few years later on, had to leave a piano behind in Dilkusha when we moved to Labasa to the family cane-farm and beach bures.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Music and me - at eighteen

from w
She rides a borrowed bike
to nervous piano lessons in Alma Street,
practices in the hostel lounge
annoying others with obsessive Bach fugues,
scales minor rand augmented.
They leave her alone, go laughing with friends
as she plunges into Rachmaninoff
frightening the dust motes and mice.
One day the television arrives,
is placed solidly into the corner.
Residents watch a blur of snow
and occasionally patches of face.
The piano stilled, she crouches behind viewers,
strains at the back of the crowd
to see what they are seeing.

At the hostel for trainee teachers, the music student practices Bach and Rachmaninoff for an exam while most of her friends go out and have a good time. She walks to a different drum-beat focussed on music as well as art studies. I've made her a blonde this time!

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Music and me - aged sixteen

from w
High school assemblies were out in the hot sun - hundreds of boys and girls while the staff stood in the balcony. The singing of the National Anthem was obligatory every Monday morning and the school pianist had to peer through a doorway for the cue as she sat in the music room on the corner of the quadrangle. Days of 40 degree heat and dreadful uniforms. Music teacher's pet? No, this girl was bored in the classes and was talkative. Sorry, Miss June Beckman!

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

City walls and recycled buildings in Geelong

from w
I have been interested to paint an old wall at the back of the National Wool Museum, but someone else beat me to making a picture of it! I saw this photograph on flickr and there it was - exactly the spot with the textures and patterns left after another building had been pulled down. The wall has looked like this for many years and there's a huge hole in the block in front while people work out what to do with the space.

Geelong's waterfront has changed over the past fifteen years with the old wool stores recycled as part of Deakin University, new high rise apartments, a flash hotel - Sheraton I think, and so on - sometimes blocking the view of the sea for others.

I really like the Deakin campus though, recycling these old buildings by keeping their fine wood and spaces and even smells that remind me of the wool bales that used to be sold there. (My father owned shearing sheds and there is a sentimental reminder of my childhood when I go into these kind of spaces.)

Also the plan to put a bridge over Yarra Street is going ahead (despite our protests)- Westfield - big business of the capitalists seems to dominate these days. Meanwhile they will close the only large supermarket left in the city for six months while they renovate. Good - we will go elsewhere!

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Self-portrait aged seven

from w
Though playing the piano has nearly always been a joy to me, there was the initial slog of learning scales. I was first introduced to the piano by my grandmother who lived with us at the time. I still remember though how awkward it was to perform in front of people, such as a Rotary 'do'. I was probably about nine and playing 'The Merry Peasant' in a concert. I panicked, started to cry, and had to be comforted then I valiantly sat on the stool and played the darn thing. I still do not like 'performing'. The pic is approximately what my mother's lounge room looked like when I was seven.

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Definitely not Gauguin

from w
A picture just for fun, untitled.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Across each continent and island

from w
Today, the World Day of Prayer is taking place all around the globe, perhaps starting with Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand and then every hour throughout the day. This has been the custom for many years now. Each year the service is prepared from different countries, this year Paraguay. I went to Wesley church in Geelong city today and it was excellent service with prayer, song, a powerpoint presentation about Paraguay, knowing that we are part of a world-wide network. The theme was based on a kind of craftwork called nanduti which is lace/crochet cloth using a weaving framework like spider's web.

The song closely associated with the World Day of Prayer includes this verse -
Across each continent and island
as dawn leads on another day
the voice of prayer is never silent
nor dies the strain of praise away.


Effect of the drought on a backyard tree

from w
It was sad to chop down this tree which was in the centre of our backyard, a small tree sheltering the barbecue, but it just died because of the drought. A tree usually covered with a thick foliage of green leaves. The leaves all died and the seedpods cracked open. Our citrus trees are surviving...just.