Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A mini break ... and the flu

Unusual for me not to post for ten days, but I have a reason - well two reasons really - a nice two-day mini-break in Adelaide, and then the worst flu I have had in a really really long time. Not covid (we all had it, and all had multiple negative tests) but such a bad flu; three days in bed with fevers and breathlessness and no energy even a week later. Apparently there are some very bad bugs going around, enjoying the lack of immunity from two years of shut-in, and we all copped one. I am a bit annoyed because I had my flu shot the week before, but it probably didn't have enough time to kick in. Maybe? Is that how immunisations work? I really have no idea.

So I'm working from home at the moment, they really don't want me hacking up a lung and I just about didn't make it from the car park to my desk yesterday when I tried going in. Pathetic. My husband worked from home all last week for the same reason (which was lovely because I was bed-ridden and he could bring me drugs) and number one - who had it first - has just gotten back to full activity now. Awful. 

Anyway I will post more about Adelaide because luckily I didn't get properly sick until the last night. Dragging yourself home when you're crook is the absolute worst, and Virgin helpfully cancelled my direct flight so I had two one-hour flights with three hours in Melbourne airport in the middle ... aaargh. Anyway enjoy the photos of my husband with the gang gangs, that have came back for their autumn food, and are super loud and super friendly. And isn't our Manchurian pear lovely this year?

Friday, May 6, 2022


My drawing and painting adventures have gone done an unexpected rabbit hole as I have been sidetracked by maps. I think it began when we went to the National Portrait Gallery and saw the Shakespeare to Winehouse exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery in London ... which I haven't mentioned and which was AMAZING. Not just because of the quality of the art, and the incredible range of subjects, but because it had some of the iconic portraits that I have always known about but never really thought I would get to see in the flesh. 

The Shakespeare one is probably the classic but they also had the Bronte sisters portrait done by Branwell, which is reproduced in every single one of the biographies I have read ... my husband didn't quite get why I stood in front of a pretty bad slightly ripped up portrait for so long, but I was just fascinated. 

And a sunny Saturday afternoon in Canberra meant basically no-one there, so I could visit with the pictures as much as I wanted, and as close as I wanted! Heaven. But we always pick one out to take home, if we could, and decided we would most like the Charles Dickens. No-one offered us our choice of picture to keep, but we like to have our answer ready to hand, just in case. 

Anyway the link to maps is Grayson Perry's A Map of Days which was in the exhibition, and fabulous, and worth the time we spent in front of it looking at all the detail. It made me think of those maps in the front of fantasy novels, which I have always loved, and of course the road maps we used to do as kids, and how much fun it was.

So I turned to the internet which is unsurprisingly STUFFED FULL of people who like to draw maps, and share their maps, and use their maps for games, and scan old maps which is perhaps the biggest rabbit-hole of them all! I figured the best way to start was was just to start scrawling whatever was out there in my sketchbook while watching Netflix. And that is where I am at the moment - although I have started a Domestika course on how to draw isometric buildings, which is awesome, and when my isometric graph paper arrives I will have a go at that. Yes, this is hyper-fixated neurodivergence. Or, as my husband and I like to call it, Having A Hobby. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

It's autumn

Do I post pictures of Canberra's autumn leaves every year? Yes I do, and I will continue to do so, because they are very pretty, and there have to be some upsides to living in one of the world's most boring cities. We have trees. Lots of trees.

I went for a long walk on a beautiful autumnal day on Sunday - admired the leaves, listened to some podcasts, stretched my legs. Saturday was spent turning out a cupboard that hadn't seen the light of day for a while. 

Here is a photo of one shoe - these shoes appeared in a previous blog post back in 2013 and almost the very next time I went to wear them I could only find one shoe. How can a single shoe disappear in my house? I searched, then waited, expecting it to show up. I know I wore two home, I'm not in the habit of leaving them in nightclubs or slung over phone wires. So I have been waiting for this shoe to show up for 9 years and it is time to accept it is never coming back. I threw the single shoe away on the weekend... and I am writing about it here on the blog because we KNOW what is about to happen. Let my prediction be recorded.

Back to something a bit more photogenic, more autumn leaves. Life is a bit quiet at the moment. I tried to see if anyone in my local Buy Nothing group wanted my belly dancing coin belt and no-one did!!!! There must be some middle-aged lady taking up a new pointless hobby. Buy Nothing groups are the circle of life: finally get rid of your baby gear, finally get rid of your lego and k'nex, finally get rid of the stuff you bought for those hobbies you tried for six months ... 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Another long weekend

I dropped number two at the airport on Friday lunchtime - I thought the week went very quickly, he thought quite slowly - then headed off to the beach after work. I'd been doing my bosses job for the past two weeks while he was on holiday, so felt entitled to a bottle of bubbly and ice-cream for dinner, which is always a good way to start a weekend. It was sad to wave him off, but he was looking forward to getting back, which is good ... and already had things lined up for that evening! A social whirl. 

I'm still swimming in the sea even though it's starting to get a bit cooler... water temperature is lovely so as long as you stay mostly underwater and avoid the chilly wind it is very pleasant. And then in the evening cold enough for slippers. And the other half of the bottle of bubbly and perhaps melted cheese. And ice cream. 

Number one had a dozen or so people over for a birthday party on Saturday night which I was quite happy to miss (to be honest I don't think I was invited) and we had already gone out for family dinner. It went very well apparently, board games and lots of food. And perhaps a jam session - one of the birthday presents was a proper electric guitar case for our little rock star to take to rehearsals.

I sewed a bit down the coast but made two absolute disasters on day one so gave up and just read books. It was material that had been sitting in the stash for years (and I think was a remnant from someone else's stash even then) so no great loss but still very unmotivating. And then back up the hill to a week of a zoom conference which I am struggling to concentrate on. It's hard not to get distracted.  

Yes Dad, you put the masking fluid on with a brush - it's quite gloopy so you use a cheap brush but if you rub the brush on a scrap of soap beforehand it comes off really easily. And it is quite difficult to see, especially when you put the correct thin layer on, and not my usual dolloping blob. You have to kind of tilt it to catch the light, and even then you can't really tell (as evidenced by my missing bits). My husband has some purple stuff that he uses for painting his models which would be better but we did an experiment and it leaves purple residue on the watercolour paper. Hmmmmm.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Adventures in masking fluid

In the last set of classes we have been learning how to Properly Use masking fluid. Apparently beginners can be overly reliant on masking fluid, which is one of the (many) things that make their paintings look like amateurish shams instead of the glorious masterpieces to which we all aspire. We did some exercises in masking fluid that were quite fun and then a painting of spring flowers.

The flowers and stems are masked off, then the background painted, then remove the masking and do the shadow on the flowers and the detail of the leaves and stems. There is salt on this as well, for the little star burst flowers.

For homework I did another one in different colours and slightly different shapes. There are a lot of blotches, missed bits, scrappy bits and general errors in both of them, but the possibilities are intriguing. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Folk Festival is back!

After cancellation in 2020 and 2021 the National Folk Festival is back at Easter where it belongs, and I had a season ticket, and it was wonderful. The weather was perfect - hot during the day and cold when the sun went down - and I listened to music, ate from food vans and sang along with the sea shanties. 

To be honest it was only really two-thirds of a festival; there were fewer performers, no international acts and  the venues were more spaced out from each other, which meant there wasn't as much of a buzz. I'm not sure what ticket sales were like but I suspect there were a few people staying away because of the lack of headliners, or possibly because they didn't want to get covid. It did seem a bit like a superspreader event, if we have those any more. Lots of singing and playing wind instruments and cosying up on close plastic chairs. 

I was a bit worried that my lack of crowd-fitness would be a problem, and I ended up only going for three days and staying home on Monday to have some quiet time. But my husband came with me for the day on Sunday and we did 11 hours of festival concerts, which is not bad for us. Our tastes don't 100% overlap but that is fine, we can do our own thing. Funnily enough neither of the children were interested.

Number two is home for the week from uni, which is lovely. We have heard all about it, and seen the photos, and taken him shopping ... he has admired our pantry, and appreciated our cooking, and thanked our cleaner for keeping his plants alive (she banned us from touching them, they were dying from overwater). His little surprise was a new beard .... it is very very ginger. He says he is aiming for scottish jesus but it is a bit bumfluff at the moment. Frankly after a term at drama school a ginger beard is the least of our worries, I am glad it's not a tattoo or some hideous piercing. It is very nice to have him home, even just for a little while.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Another Parliament done

Monday was the end of the 46th parliament - which is good because it means a more predictable workload for a while, but bad because it means the election campaigning has started. And is there a voter in the universe that enjoys an election campaign? Endless haranguing on every side. 

The dissolution ceremony is one of the least spectacular in the parliamentary calendar. Basically the governor-general's official secretary stands on a podium and reads out a couple of paragraphs. No flags, no fancy cars, no speeches and no snacks. Nonetheless, it was a glorious late summer morning so I wandered out to the forecourt with other public servants and enjoyed the sunshine.

We had to stand well back because after the proclamation there was a 19 gun salute. Several of the guns kept misfiring, which meant they had to go round a few more times than they expected, but they got to 19 in the end. Good thing it was just ceremonial and not firing at Russian tanks rolling up Anzac Parade. But we enjoyed it, it was loud and smoky, and then got back to the office and on with our day....