Friday, December 3, 2021


The lights we ordered back in July eventually wound their way by container ship from Denmark and the electrician put them up today! We were a bit nervous because spaces and sizes can be very deceptive, and did we like them after all when we got them out of the box ... but they are great and we are very happy. It is hard to see but they have a slightly textured pearlised finish. They came with a set of white cotton gloves to wear when you are putting them in, at which our electrician (that does all the work in our very very dodgy house and has for many years) laughed and laughed and did NOT wear the pristine white cotton gloves. I don't know what goes on in Denmark but Australian tradies take a more robust approach to fixtures and fittings.

They are LEDs and really quite bright. We removed the dimmer switch because it didn't work with LEDs and we never use it - does anyone use dimmer switches? That is what lamps are for. 

This is them turned off. They are quite low (although still seven foot off the ground, no-one is going to be banging their heads) but we can live with it for a while and decide later if we want to raise them. We also got extra big fluorescent lighting in the shed which is amazing and we should have done it ten years ago. BUT you can now see the level of shit we keep in the shed. It is reasonably clean but I think a good 80% can be chucked.

Here is the shot from the kitchen - it makes that room so much warmer and more welcoming than the gloomy broken track lighting. See the nutribullet air fryer on the bench? Absolutely legendary, we are still learning all the things you can do in an air fryer.

In painting news I did some more Ana Victoria copies, outlining with a darker paint instead of the white gouache. It looks good, although the problems with brush control and line thickness remain. 

She did a poster with different effects in circles, which is kind of cool so I copied it, but I don't know how much further you could take this.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Chugging along

We got our water bill yesterday - in the last quarter we used DOUBLE the amount of water that we did for the same quarter last year - so I think our hot water cylinder has been leaking for quite some time. It was certainly rusted through at the bottom, so we are very glad to see it go, and the new heat pump thingy installed outside. Unfortunately they had to reduce the water temperature to the legal maximum (outrageous!) so now the shower pressure is much lower, and it wasn't great to begin with, especially upstairs. Luckily I grew up in a house with the worst water pressure in any house I have ever lived in, ever, so I'm not too bothered (Dad you perhaps should not boast about your 1969 cistern, you should perhaps get rid of it....).

I have still been doing the good watercolour classes and learning how to actually do things properly. I'm not sure the results are much better but as an Australian teacher she certainly knows her way around a gum tree. The top one is the class task and the bottom one is the homework, loosely based on the local golf course. Too many mid-level trees, needs more contrast. 

The weekend was rainy and quiet. Both children have (separately) headed off with friends for mini beach holidays, at camp grounds or someone else's house. Number two is enjoying his retail job although five hours straight leaves him exhausted :) Parliament is raggedly bickering its way through the final sitting week. We haven't picked out an oven yet but air fryers are amazing!!!! So far everything we have tried has worked out amazingly. I am a convert.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Una loca artista mexicana

I finished up with odd looking rabbit and cat people - although I might revisit those backgrounds, I love the japanese-y feel but I was getting frustrated with how bad mine were - and have moved onto hippy style galaxies with Ana Victoria Calderon. She is Mexican and does a lot of illustration like greeting cards and things. Lots of flowers, but this course was about making galaxies to use as backgrounds.

So much fun. I had to go and buy some white gouache and some Indian ink, which was awesome, and then you drop it in and the strangest things happen! And splatter the gouache at the end with an old toothbrush, like little stars. 

There were a number of exercises leading up to the galaxies with strange jellyfish and flowers. She outlines many of her objects in either darker lines or white gouache. I tried to imitate the white gouache ones but I don't have the brush control ... or the control of the consistency of the paint. It has to be exactly the right amount of opaque, and mine is extremely variable, as you can see. 

This is a copy of one of hers that wasn't included in the course but I thought it was interesting - very Mexican! Number two son says it's not cultural appropriation if I have paid the artist as a teacher (which I have, just not exactly for this) and I'm not making any profit from it. He is my go-to ethical adviser on issues which may get me Cancelled. 

I cannot imagine doing a lot of galaxy paintings but the way that the ink and the watercolours work together is extremely cool. Calderon does a lot of typography with it - mostly inspirational sayings but hey - and I think perhaps a short course in calligraphy might be on the cards. Might have to buy a new brush.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Home ownership, such a delight

We had a damp and quiet weekend - drove the children around - went for a short walk between showers - did some slightly unnecessary shopping - played around with paints a fair bit - moved clothes between the washing machine and the dryer - read some books ... Very peaceful. Here are some kangaroos on the golf course refusing to get out of my way.

In a fit of over-achieving Canberra has managed to vaccinate 104% of its over-12 population so we're not interested in covid numbers any more, although people still have it. One of the local radio announcers asked Twitter why Canberrans think the vaccination take up was so high and my favourite was something like "we work in government and know that any global conspiracy is well beyond the capabilities of our elected representatives" which strikes me as both accurate and insightful.

This morning I was reading about soaring house prices in Canberra - and it is ridiculous, up 22.5% in the last year with a median house price of just over $1million - feeling smug because I have a house already ... so it decided to take its revenge in the form of the termite inspection man who came at 8.00 am and told us by 8.10 that we have two of the three species that exist in the ACT and he was looking around for the third. And of course we have to do extreme measures immediately so our house doesn't fall down, which definitely yes but at vast expense.

And during the course of the termite inspect we realised that the hot water tank (original, from 1976) was leaking. It lives in a cupboard in our dodgy and not-approved laundry (they just filled in a bit under the house, we knew it when we moved in) and sits on three inches of gravel, which should have been a giveaway. Once the leak was noticed I remembered that the laundry floor had been unusually warm lately, but I thought it was a hot water pipe (what? suddenly appearing where one hadn't been for fifteen years?) but it actually was nice expensive coal-fired electric hot water leaking across the slab (hopefully) or gouging out the dirt underneath the slab (not good). My husband also remembered the shouting at number two son for taking all the hot water, which given the size of our hot water tank (enormous) does seem a bit unlikely. In hindsight. 

So the quote my husband got over a year ago has been magically re-activated and they are kindly doing a rush job for us. And have I mentioned the oven? The one that came brand new in our kitchen renovation, that broke within a month and had to be replaced, that broke twice more and got fixed, and then broke again? I don't think I did mention it, because it was too disheartening. Anyway we went back to the store that sold it to us and said we weren't interested in getting it fixed or replaced because it was USELESS ... and they agreed and gave us store credit immediately, which was rather pleasing. Winning Appliances, if you're buying in Australia, they were great.

Unfortunately we got an unusual 76 cm wide oven so the options are quite limited unless we go mucking about with the benches, which we are not going to do. And unless we are willing to spend $12,000 on an oven (we are NOT, I don't even like cooking) there is basically one choice, which still manages to be a couple of thousand dollars more expensive than the one we had, so bye bye money. 

So basically the smugness I felt this morning about having a rapidly appreciating house value (theoretical money) is being squashed by the depressed feeling of having to actually fork out so much real money in fixing up house shit. Welcome to Monday.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Stink bugs

I did pick the stink bugs off the lemon tree at the beach - they are nasty little bastards all clustered around the lovely new shoots our lemon tree is gamely putting out. Despite the savage pruning it received. Here they are drowning in metho.

Brad said he picked off dozens before spraying, and I only managed seven, then sprayed again, so we should be winning against them. I tried to get a photo of the chewing they do, but I'm not sure if this is very clear.

I didn't fertilise the bamboo - don't worry Pam it is clumping bamboo not the spreading stuff. I wouldn't plant the spreading stuff! I don't even think you can legally buy it. 

The two at the end have definitely died but hey, more tomato stakes. It is a slightly strange thing to plant as a hedge but we love it - it is green, fairly low maintenance, doesn't need pruning, incredibly fast growing and it feels like a grass. We both really like the way it waves in the wind, and has a dappled shade, and lots of different shades of green. A hedge with movement ... perfect for when your neighbour builds a four metre high boat shed 50 cm from your back fence. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Long weekend away

I took a couple of days off work to make up for the September beach week I never had and spent it in wonderful solitude at the beach. I did think that November would be better weather than September... but NO. It rained and rained and rained. All up and down the east coast to be fair - not targeted at me personally - a few inland towns are still under flood watch as the waters meander their way to the sea. This photo is on Friday morning when there was a little bit of not-rain for half an hour.

Honestly the rain was probably the best thing. I was feeling extremely low energy, and did basically nothing the first couple of days, even sewing was too much. Luckily I had brought a couple of trashy books and I played Candy Crush and looked out the window the rest of the time. At the rain. But after a couple of good nights sleep I got a bit of mojo back; made a skirt, turned out some cupboards, went for a long walk and even a swim on the last day.

The first day after the rain it was a bit cold and blowy for me although the surfers were out in force (they are in there, trust me, in the distance where the waves are).

The next day was much sunnier but there was ZERO swell! Look at that, one inch waves at the absolute most. This is very unusual for our beach, and given that the air temp was about 20 degrees (cold!) I didn't think that bobbing about with no waves to catch would be enjoyable. But on Tuesday it was a bit more active and a tiny bit warmer so I had a very nice swim. 

This is the big beach. More exposed to the rain front (southerly) so a bit rough for me, especially outside of December / January when it's unpatrolled. Big beaches need lifeguards.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Using the small pieces

Last beach weekend I felt like doing a bit of sewing, but nothing too serious, so I found some of the leftover pieces and made small things. Not super small things obviously (because they are for me to wear, and I am large) but a pair of cotton shorts, and a couple of simple tops. There was a metre or so of rayon left over from the bow shirt, so I made a little top and wore it to work. 

Bad bathroom photo, but there's not much to see. One piece front and back, bound neckline and hemmed sleeve edges and hem. Comfortable, although a little bit short. Here is the entire ensemble, I thought a shiny silver skirt would distract from any sewing errors. 

And in other work-clothing related news, we had our annual all of department meeting yesterday so I used one of my fake tattoos. Did I mention the fake tatts? A lockdown purchase from a company in Adelaide, I don't know why, they are the water soluble ones and they have literally thousands of designs. It was an impulse random thing but I have put them on a couple of times and they make me happy. I ordered enough to get free shipping (to save money hahahahaha) so they could last me quite a while.

You can see about half of it in this photo, it's about 5 cm long. My children point out that I am an adult and could get a real tattoo whenever I wanted but OUCH and TOO MUCH COMMITMENT. I am happy with ones that last two to three days.