Sunday, March 30, 2008

Broadband - on a wing and a prayer

from w, Did a mouse kick the bucket and lie on a cable inside the wall? Did someone object to my writing about Fiji politics and creep inside the computer and stop the traffic? Did the error about daylight saving NOT starting today cause some error? It certainly did with mobile phones and our other computers were demanding that we change the time, though it’s not until next week that we get up an hour later.

These questions were in my mind this morning when the third light on the modem would not light up. Was it that Peceli touched something he ought not, after listening to the Fiji Radio news this morning? By midday nothing seemed to be able to fix the connection, pulling things out, typing words in. I phone iprimus and talked for about with a patient man in the technical department who said, just do this simple thing… . this simple thing was about 30 things to do. Hmm. Not so simple. Still wouldn’t work. He rang back two hours later and asked for a mobile phone so we could pull out all the plugs on our ordinary phone etc. etc. Another 15 minutes of his patient instructions. No, still not working.

Peceli put everything back into place and the modem lit up like a battleship! But I had fiddled with the connections and lost Broadband by then! Hmmm.

I went off to a book club meeting still frowning, and returned after 4 p.m. and Peceli was happily working in the back garden and said, ‘Go and check the computer. It’s working again!’

How did he do it, I do not know and he won’t tell. Maybe a prayer?

(twenty minutes later): I went out to the letterbox to pick up today's mail and there was a letter from iPrimus. 'We are making changes etc. etc. You may notice a brief interruption to your internet service..... On the morning of 31/3/2008.' Which is today!!!! The letter was dated 26th and arrived rather late, don't you think! Also, why wasn't the technic guy informed before he patiently, very patiently, took me through the steps to fix up the 'perceived' problem?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

During Earth Hour we watched a movie

From w
We went to see the movie ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ – there wasn’t much offering, but I thought a slice of English history might unmake the notions of royal family history drummed into me at high school. It was entertaining and occasionally moving - about sisters - but our own Oz actor Eric Bana, as King Henry was a comic surprise. One reviewer from International Herald Tribune didn’t think much of the film at all, but I thought it was worth watching – and the theatre was crowded. Other people in Geelong turned off their lights for Earth Hour. Street lights even off in some places. As we drove home I noticed the town was still rather dark even at 9.30 p.m.

The review:
Rival sisters duke it out for the passion of a king By Manohla Dargis Published: February 29, 2008

More slog than romp, "The Other Boleyn Girl" tells the salacious story of two hot blue bloods who ran amok and partly unclothed in the court of Henry VIII. Best known for losing her head to the king, first metaphorically, then literally, Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman, saucy), along with her sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson, sedate), entered the court of the king (Eric Bana, brooding and glowering) when he was still wed to Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent). A man of considerable and changeable appetites, the king yearned for a male heir and anything in a frock who wasn't the queen. His sexual wish was their command.

According to this oddly plotted and frantically paced pastiche — written by Peter Morgan, directed by Justin Chadwick — the girls were more or less the Paris and Nicky Hilton of the Tudor court.

In the film's version of the Boleyn family saga, based on the novel by Philippa Gregory of the same title, they were pimped out by their scheming, ambitious father, Sir Thomas (a spidery Mark Rylance), who sought to advance the family on the backs of his daughters while Mrs. Sir Thomas (Kristin Scott Thomas) clucked darkly from the sidelines.

Forced to compete for kingly favors, the women were soon rivals, a contest that, in its few meagerly entertaining moments, recalls the sisterly love in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

The story of Anne Boleyn may sound as if it's been cut from classier cloth than that delirious Robert Aldrich film, but history tells a juicier story. One of Anne's biographers, Joanna Denny, writes that while at the French court Mary got around (she was "passed on from man to man"), which I don't remember from high school or public television. Instead of letting the story rip, though, the film plays it safe and predictable by dividing the sisters into the bad brunette and gentle blonde, thereby displacing the courtly intrigue onto two warring women.

The Boleyn sisters were the kind of trouble that can make for bodice-ripping entertainment, but they were also the kind of unruly women who sometimes risked burning.
Many of the scenes seem to have been whittled down to the nub, which at times turns it into a succession of wordless gestures and poses. Given the generally risible dialogue, this isn't a bad thing, despite Morgan's previous credits (notably "The Queen"). Portman's eyes, Bana's hands and Johansson's chin all receive vigorous workouts.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Hard Yakka Boots

from w
These are boots that I won't be puttin' on! Our son's working boots that are chucked near the door about 7 p.m. each working day. Very hard to draw the laces as I have little patience for details.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

An obsession with shoes

from w
I can't understand why people buy so many pairs of shoes, I really can't! Though for the moment I do have an obsession with drawing shoes! One sketch here and variations. I decided the background was too dark so added some white pastel to soften it. It's still my clumsy style though. One pair of sandals was given to me but I don't wear them, one is anybody's flip-flops, one is Peceli's sandals which I sometimes wear though they are rather large!

When I bought some flip-flops at a Newcomb op shop I told the guy why I wanted them and he said - one man was walking along a city street and met a man wearing one shoe, so he said, 'I notice you've lost a shoe.' The one-shoe man replied, 'No. I've found one.'

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


from w
A friend is collecting thongs for homeless (presumably also shoeless) men in a shelter in St Kilda. Thongs meaning flip-flops. It got me thinking about shoes and my poor old favourite shoes when I go walking. And the Islanders rule about never wearing shoes inside a house. And I thought of Peter Brockelhurst who was once a cobbler, then an opera singer, and now he's back to mending shoes in Little Malop Street, Geelong. And other things such as a poem I wrote some time ago and had posted it on this blog last year I think.

At the station they line up.
‘You really are minimalist’, says Lefraques.
Thong answers, ‘So what? I don’t care!’
Lace-up stands up proud and shiny,
Prim and proper, self-esteem intact,
Nearby lethargic Desert Boots leans
Against a pole as a dog lifts a leg.
Sandals backs away in fright,
Bumps into Blandstones without a ‘Sorry’
And eyeing Jellybaby’s bright luminosity
Winklepickers kicks her hard.
The whole line becomes a brouhaha
Then with a cat-like grin, xenophobic
Brogues smirks at the disarray.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Confessions at a Church near Drysdale

from w
Down past Drysdale on a road amidst wineries is a little white church, once Uniting, now a cafe. They call it Confessions at a Church and the owners have done up the buildings beautifully. Polished floors, large windows overlooking the fields. Nice ambience with paintings around. Friendly staff. Highly recommended. Peceli and I had coffee there a couple of weeks ago after noticing the sign on the main Portarlington Road and we guessed it was the church where a couple of friends were married a few years ago. I did one sketch and Peceli took a couple of pictures, and as usual I messed around with the originals. Click to enlarge pics.

I asked the owner why he chose the name 'Confessions' and he said, well friends meeting in cafes often produce lots of intimate talk, that's why. Okay?

Now, my confession. If you start with a crude drawing and try to fix it with more and more colour, it just ain't gonna fix it!

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Bollards creator

from w
I was surprised and sad this week to read of the death of the creator of the Geelong bollards, sculptures that are scattered along the waterfront of historical characters and create a lot of interest for visitors to the region. Jan Mitchell used the wooden bollards from a disused pier to create amazing sculptures.

Geelong bollard icon dies
Adapted from story by Danny Lannen 18Mar08
GEELONG'S bollard lady Jan Mitchell has died after a short battle with cancer. The creative artistic force was 68. She leaves a distinctive legacy in her adopted city after having created more than 100 sculptured and painted bollards lining Geelong's waterfront. Mrs Mitchell received an Order of Australia medal for her contribution to the waterfront transformation.

Roger Grant said. ``Jan used to get angry when people said Geelong was an industrial town with no culture and the history of Geelong very much captured through Jan was one which was in fact sophisticated in arts, or innovation, or through its public gardens. There was a real feeling that Geelong was a go-getting place, Jan certainly captured that.''

Jan Mitchell started creating the series of 111 figures with the help of wood carver Pieter Roos and artist John Starr in 1995 and finished about 1999. Bollards pointing to her waterfront parade are in Geelong Botanic Gardens and at Melbourne and Avalon airports.

From the local Arts Community Bulletin:

Vale: Jan Mitchell

The Arts and Culture Department sadly acknowledges the passing of Jan Mitchell, the artist who created the Baywalk Bollards. Jan passed away on 17 March 2008. After a period working as a graphic designer in the British television industry Jan returned to Australia in 1984 to continue her career as a designer, illustrator and print maker. Few artists can claim to have had such a strong influence in their city as Jan Mitchell with her unique artistic style leading to the development of Geelong's bollards. The concept for the bollards emerged when she led an 'Artists in Schools' program in Barwon Heads and approached the City of Greater Geelong with an idea to document the history of Geelong through a series of bollards that would populate the waterfront. Jan Mitchell was a dynamic and passionate advocate for the Geelong region and the Baywalk Bollards will remain as a fitting memorial to her vision for the city she loved so much. Jan Mitchell was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in June 2006. She will be sadly missed in the arts community.

Pictures of some of the bollards can be found on this website.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

from w
Today has been a reflective day, being Good Friday. We started with hot cross buns and coffee in the little lounge Peceli had set up after renovating part of the garage a few months ago, reading from ‘Love to the World’ and asking who was Mary Magdalen because many church traditions get her confused with an unnamed woman.

Then we drove up to Altona Meadows but were delayed at the Point Cook turnoff as the car in front broke down. We stopped and helped the two Tongan people push the car into a car park. But we still got to the church in time for the English language service led by Leonie, the minister, who dressed in black T-shirt and pants. People are informal here. It was a beautifully reflective worship for a gathering of people of all ages in the modern church space.

A table full of objects was in the centre and one by one the purpose of the objects was made clear as they were passed around the congregation. Coins. Thorns. A sponge with pungent vinegar, Petals. Fragrant oil. Two points in the service were dramatic – hammering nails into wood, and ripping a cloth into many pieces. We sang, we prayed, people read from the Friday narrative including a girl and an elderly woman. Words and photographs from movies up on the wall using a data projector. We didn’t have coffee afterwards as the usual custom on Sundays but left to go our separate ways.

We went to the home of Sailosi and Tau in Wyndam Vale, had toast and fried chicken then watched videos of a recent trip to a small island in Lau. A young woman going for the first time to the village of her father. Village life in Fiji is so distant from the wrangling and tangled web that goes on in the politics of a military dictatorship. Going fishing with nets, baking bread underground, church services outside with a ceremony to cleanse the village and start anew, polotu singing, round shaped rooftops in the Tongan style, lengths of cloth and barkcloth spread over a grandmother’s grave after hacking away the encroaching jungle with cane knives, lots of laughter, kids everywhere.

It was a splendid video made by Lutu on her trip earlier this year. Peceli and Sailosi drank a little kava as we yarned and made plans to send goods to this island.
We came home by 6 p.m. stopping on the way to eat at Hungry Jacks. Okay, I thought everyone closed for today, but they were open. Now it’s time to rest, but there are two mice in the kitchen, our son says. Maybe the cool weather brought them in search of warmth. Haven’t seen any for six months. And some of the little ants are still about. ‘All things bright and beautiful’ doesn’t extend to mice or to ants.
Anyway, have a lovely weekend and a holy Easter Day on Sunday.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Easter - a time for sentiment or hard questions

from w
This morning I went to the Wesley Church Floral interpretations for Holy week, did some sketches and took photographs, but regarding the latter, there is a copyright on the reflective pieces, so I only posted two so have a quick peek but do not copy!

The problem for many people I am sure is whether sentiment or strong images are right for the journey of Jesus towards the Cross. Hymns and floral decorations etc. tend to make it pretty and easy, but really it was a terrifying time, a brutal time, a murder. But if the ministers used their data projectors to show segments from that movie, 'The Passion' there might be vomiting in the aisles! The 14 'scenes' at Wesley were tastefully made up of objects, flowers, colour schemes as a reminder of the different stories during Holy Week to trigger an imaginative and prayerful response. I realise my drawings are pretty weak, but when I tried to make stronger images with photo-edit, the pictures just didn't work! Only one worked!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ants in the pantry

from w
Well, actually I don't have a pantry but with the drought the little blighters are coming inside, getting into the Nutrigram cereal, the brown sugar and creepy crawling everywhere. Spray only is a temporary measure. They are thirsty, they are hungry and even sit around the bathroom soap so at least they are clean ants. They are having a sleep-in this morning as it is only about 28 degrees but when it's 39 later they'll make their follow-the-leader lines inside again. A lot of my friends are also complaining about the tiny ants intruding into their homes. The picture of the labouring ant with the biscuits isn't mine. I DO NOT leave biscuits out on the bench for them! This ain't Christmas!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Mainly negatives with Photo-edit

from w
I darkened one of my sketches of the selloum trees, then took the file to my other computer which has photo-edit and I played mainly with negatives of it. It seemed to turn into 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' and become quite spooky. I guess it just needs Adam and Eve to make it a strange version of Eden!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Seloum - dabbling with paint

from w
Spicks and specs of paint added to the pencil drawing but I really need to just look at shapes, flatten them out and create a pattern. Anyway I did get out the paints - watercolours with a lot of white added.

We've done two hours work along the fencline cleaning up ready for the fence-maker to arrive. The bulldozer is still clearing up hundreds of branches cut from our trees along the 'line'.

Accidentally cut some leaves from a plant which is a relative to the seloum! Now I have to get back to chopping out some of the ivy that has rooted everywhere. As I chop I'll think of some of the stupidity that is going on in Fiji at present!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The sketchbook is out, the pencils sharpened but

from w.
the neighbours have knocked on the door to say the bulldozer is knocking down the ivy, the fence, and our trees on the fenceline have to be chopped back. It's about 3 p.m. So lucky Peceli didn't go to golf today. He's out there now with a chainsaw massacring some of our trees to be flush with the 'line' and chopping at a fence - attached to our house - to the fence in common. I put drinks out on the verandah table for them all and now I can post Peceli's photographs taken at the Geelong Botanical Gardens of the selloum trees although I can't yet do the neat, meticulous botanical drawings that I intended to do today!

(later: I had a go at a pencil sketch and a pen sketch - still not botanical in style with details though. I will try and paint one later. I used the photos to help with the shade and light, etc.)

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Picking the Archibald winner

from w
There were two paintings the judges argued about in the final count of Australia's prestigious Archibald Portrait Prize - has to be of someone of note, not just ordinary joes and janes. Anyway the two top contenders were (a) a self-portrait with her two children by Del Kathryn Barton of Sydney and (b)a triple portrait of Heath Ledger by Vincent fantauzzo of Melbourne. Can you pick the winner?
(pics scrounged from the internet from Oz newspaper websites)


Saturday, March 08, 2008


from w
I discovered the name of the strange plant by googling 'aerial roots' in images and racked it down as a kind of philodendron so it's a relative of a plant I have near the back door with holes in the leaves! I also found an interesting website of photographs of leaves.

And about the Philodendron selloum (Split Leaf Philodendron)
Family - Araceae
Genus - Philodendron
Species - selloum
P. selloum is a climbing plant that has long aerial roots that grow from the stem. They have dark green leaves that are deeply lobed and finger-like and branch off in all directions from the stem. They can grow as large as three meters and their leaves can grow up to 2 feet long. Under good conditions their leaves bear little white flowers that resemble Calla Lilies. The split leaf philodendron is a tropical mesic plant that originated in South Brazil. They grow wild in tropical America and the West Indies and can be found growing outside as north as Phoenix, Arizona. They can also grow in homes and greenhouses.
Peceli took some photos at the local Botanical Gardens of this strange plant and I'll post them when I can, then get back into drawing and painting the tree with the correct shapes and colours. And the trunk is not orange or yellow - it's mainly white!