Sunday, November 30, 2014

The beauty of my life

I went to David Jones today. I love that store. My daughter and I were buying something and the saleslady took us to the Armani counter. She handed me a small bottle of fragrance "for my husband:". "I don't have one," I told her. "It's for your boyfriend," she said. "I don't have one," I said.
I have sprayed the said fragrance on me tonight and it is seriously "Come Get Me".

Who knew. If only there was somewhere in this Godforsaken town to go and attract someone, this fragrance may do its trick. Otherwise, it is a long wait until the dreams I dream manifest.

Book 'em Danno

I loved Hawaii Five-O, especially at the end when McGarratt would say "Book 'em Danno". This has nothing to do with television, or Hawaii, but books.

My lovely friend Alana House from has nominated me to answer some questions about books with this: "Now I’m supposed to tag two fellow bloggers to answer the same questions. So, despite the fact it’s not their normal genre, I’m going to pass the baton to Grasping Nettles and Paris Apple Hotel  …. sorry guys … but I know you’re bookish types and will do me proud."

The questions are official. These are my official answers.

Do you snack while you read?
No. I get so engrossed I have to stop and get something to eat or drink.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
This is a crime against humanity. I respect the work of the author too much to ever mark a mark in a book. If a really need to make a point of remembering something I'll read that section again, or I may slip in a bookmark or on a rare instance, a post-it note. 
Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
I love both, but I haven't read enough fiction over the past decade. I'm trying to get back into it now. I have a real thing for cookbooks as well. I have just bought Larousse Gastronomique, which I have wanted to own for about 30 years. If only my culinary output matched my cookbook collection.
Hard copy or ebooks?
The only thing I read on an e-book is Mystic Medusa's incredible Tarot readings. I look at a computer screen at work all day. I broke my last computer's screen by letting it drop to the floor when I fell asleep. Books don't break like that.
What is the last book you bought?
Bill: The Life of William Dobell. This is a fabulous read, written by my friend Scott Bevan. We worked together at The Newcastle Herald last century. Bill is about the fall-out from Dobell's 1943 Archibald Prize-winning portrait of Joshua Smith. I'm a third of the way through. One of my great aunts lived next to the lake at Wangi Wangi and always refused Dobell's offer to paint her portrait. Last year I met a new friend who is on the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. I'd love to have my works chosen for the new format Dobell drawing exhibition, Drawing out: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial. I've been learning to paint and draw since last year, so one day...
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Tim Winton. I love Tim Winton. I was a fan of Peter Carey years ago but Tim Winton captures my heart with every book he writes. I would like to meet him so we could talk about stuff.
Now I’m supposed to tag two fellow bloggers to answer the same questions.

My favourite bloggers are so busy I dare not load them up with more tasks. So I'm choosing two FB friends who live in Tim Winton country, WA. Over to you Tricia Matthews and Robin Ploof Delamont.

Friday, November 28, 2014

When Death Happens

Australia is in the grip of collective grief as we mourn the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes. He died after being struck by a ball, bowled to him during a Sheffield Shield match.

Now I happened to have grown up in the same town as Phillip Hughes, a few decades earlier. It was a town that loved sport over anything else, so he would have been considered quite the hero for his cricket achievements. He obviously had loads of talent, so this recognition was well-deserved.

No one deserves to die at work, whether they are a sportsperson or a journalist or a saw-miller or a builder or a truck-driver or a nurse.

The reason there is such an outpouring of grief is that Phillip Hughes was known to many people, way beyond Macksville, as the holder of Baggy Green #408.

I can have no comprehension of the grief that his family is feeling, apart from having a few deaths in my own family over the past 25 years. It doesn't really matter what kills people. When they are dead, they are dead. And it is a terrible ordeal for any family, but especially when young people die.

I hope in all the outpouring of grief there are no repercussions for the bowler Sean Abbott who was only doing his job. He must be feeling terrible, but this was an accident and is not his fault.

Phillip Hughes will long be remembered as a talented and plucky cricketer who arrived from the boondocks and succeeded. Let's never take that away from him. He obviously would have achieved so much more in his cricket career.

If safety equipment needs improvement, let's hope that happens. If people are made more realistic about the dangers of competitive sport, let's hope that happens. If his family need support forever, let us surely hope that happens.

God rest his soul.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When life happens

I have just spent two days in my beloved Sydney, catching up with friends on Sunday night then spending two days at a conference for work where I caught up with more friends and made new friends.

I love my life, especially when I get to mingle and meet new people. In the past two days I have met a professor, a member of the London Symphony Orchestra, many aged care workers, actors, musicians and artists.

My life is richer for meeting these people. Some of them I will probably never see again, but they have all offered me insight into their professional and personal lives.

The thing about the aged care sector is the people who work in it are compassionate and empathetic and truly remarkable.

Then I get to hang around on the harbour foreshore and meet a member of the LSO (by chance) and then when I got on the plane tonight I got to sit next to a lovely man.

I sat down and said: "It's your lucky day, you get to sit next to me".

We laughed and discussed silly stuff and serious stuff and swapped stories about all the famous people we have met - he won - he met David Attenborough on the Galapagos Islands!!!!!! and we had wine and laughed some more.

He asked me why national flags were reversed on the fuselage of planes. I didn't know and hadn't even noticed. We asked our chief flight attendant and a captain and they didn't know. No one seems to know. He also suggested Qantas should run a Frequent Flyer singles seating service ... as I told him I was always being seated next to gorgeous men  ... who are married!! Haha. QANTAS. Quality And Noticing The Attractiveness of Singles.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The G20 and other weekend activities

Galah, Watercolours on paper

The G20 Summit is being held in Brisvegas this weekend and leading the photography is Andrew Taylor. He has managed to get all the leaders looking at his camera for the "family photo" and lots of cuddly shots of leaders with koalas. If you haven't seen the images they are displayed at under Home>News>Photo Gallery

I'm encouraging Miss Bliss to show her teachers the short video of her dad directing the leaders of the free world to do as he tells them. Then they may have a little bit more of an idea of the type of family she comes from.

It's not that we are bossy, we just know how to get things done. No one is better in this world than anyone else, it's just that some have jobs with more responsibility.

Getting the leaders to look their best is a fairly big responsibility.

I'm cleaning up at home today. I have so many projects on the go. I have art supplies, knitting supplies and fabric and sewing all over my dining room table. There are places for all these things to be stored and every few weeks I need to put everything away so that I can make a mess again.

And in the middle of all of this I stop and read some of Scott Bevan's book Bill: The Life of William Dobell. Plus I really want to go for a walk up Red Hill. I haven't done that for a few weeks but I always seem to run out of time. Already the afternoon is slipping away.

Pictured is my painting from yesterday's art class. You can read more about my teacher Margaret Hadfield on her FB page: Margaret Hadfield Gallery/Studio

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My favourite things

This evening I enjoyed three of my very favourite things: books, art and old friends.

How lucky am I to have worked with so many wonderful people over my career? Many of them have gone on to great things (well, we all have in our own way).

One of the beautiful people who took me under his wing when I joined The Newcastle Herald as a young journalist, fresh out of a country cadetship, was Scott Bevan. He would take me to all the concerts as he was the rock writer and he figured I needed to get to know Newcastle.

Fast forward 30 years (we were five or seven when we worked together) and Scott has written a book about a famous Australian artist. Bill: the Life of William Dobell creates a portrait of the man who escaped from the Sydney art world and the controversy over his winning the Archibald Prize in 1943 with his painting of Joshua Smith.

Bill escaped to Wangi Wangi and Scott's book is based on Bill's life there. I am curious to read it as my great aunt Beryl (Bebbie) lived in Wangi Wangi next door to Bill and told me years ago that she had always refused his requests/offers to paint her portrait.

A year ago I met Charles Lloyd Jones (through work), who is a director of the Sir William Dobell Foundation (he took the place of his late uncle, Charles Lloyd Jones).

Is Australia a small place or do I just have all these coincidences and connections?

Whatever the reason, there is a line of Sir William Dobell resonating through my life (Terri Waller will understand this) and now my friend Scott has written this book, which I am looking forward so much to reading.

Miss Bliss and I went to the National Gallery of Australia tonight (I have finally become a member) and heard Scott in conversation about his new book. What a delightful event.

Scott asked me about my painting and said he would write a book about me when I'm a famous artist. I could think of no better biographer than him.

Bill: The Life of William Dobell by Scott Bevan Simon and Schuster

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Careful who you write about

I wrote a blog the other day about someone I used to work for. Guess who was in the Chairman's Lounge this afternoon? I said hello. Haha. I love my life.

Yes there is a certain amount of "vibe" in the air. Tomorrow, I'm going to the National Gallery of Australia to see my friend Scott Bevan talk about his book Bill: The Life of William Dobell. Looking forward to buying a copy of the book and getting the author to sign it for me.

It's free to attend but you need to register. Come along, it will be great. Scott is another overachiever from The Newcastle Herald. We are everywhere.

Up and away

I had to wake up at 4.50 today to catch a plane to another city. It's a day trip for work. We get to hang out in an airport for seven hours and fly home. Oh, work travel is all glamour.

I took myself off to bed relatively early but ended up having quite an intense "discussion" with the 17 y o. So I fell into a deep slumber and woke at 4.44am.

Having a cup of tea while the cat whines to get out. Oh stuff it. She can go out. I have no control over anything or anyone. Not sure why I pretend otherwise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not my monkey, not my problem

It's a funny old world. I worked for a particular politician for 8 months a few years ago and people still think I have some sway or influence over his utterances. This morning on radio he sounded like a d*head when he criticised the people who have fawned over the dead Wayne Goss (who deserves immense praise, if you ask me) and cheered the way he had saved Qld from itself. The Sunshine State had been under a gerrymander for many years and the white shoe brigade was in charge of development and there was no such thing as one vote, one value. But this particular politician interrupted his own interview on ABC radio to defend Joh Bjelke Petersen. Even when I was a little kid, we would joke as we crossed the Qld border that it was one hour and 10 years behind the rest of Australia.

Never fear. I don't give a fig what this person who is a Minister in the Federal Government says ... but people who know I worked for him think I should save him from himself. Why? There's nothing in it for me. I want to be an artist and a writer, not someone who saves politicians from themselves.

Sorry. I gave my pound of flesh and it wasn't appreciated. Life moves on. Get over it. I have.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A love story

In May last year I dreamt one night about meeting a man who I would spend a couple of nights with and then we would part for 12-18 months and then we would be together.

In November I met the man of my dream. He was the exact person I had dreamed about. There was something about him when we shook hands that I knew something would happen. And it did and then he wanted to keep in touch.

So we spent six months emailing and phoning each other. We saw each other twice, but only in a group and to have a couple of drinks and dinner.

As he said, it's hard to be the boy away from home when you are in your own city with a wife at home. After six months I told him we had to stop talking as he either wanted an outcome or a distraction, and I didn't want to be someone's distraction.

I meet lots of people in my life and I talk to them. If I'm in the mood for a chat I can befriend any stranger and ask them anything and everything. So in recent months I have recounted my man friend tale to other men - one I sat next to on a plane, another who sat at the photo printing machine at Officeworks, and others - the general consensus among married men of a certain age (40+) is that "as long as you don't take anything home", s*x with another woman can be just great. Not to single out men, I've been having similar discussions with married girlfriends, and they say similar things.

Normally I keep these things private but something's changed since my latest birthday. I like who I am and what I've done. I'm single and the teenagers spend most of their time with me. I get on with my ex. Sometimes my choices have made others uncomfortable, but everything I do, is out of love. Sometimes I can be a bit full-on and that scares people. There are so many people who live narrow lives and are suburban in their outlook and their lack of ambition, or they stay in what is obviously a tedious relationship for appearances and "for the children". Yep, that's always a good reason.

I don't want a house in the suburbs with a man I found on the internet. I know that makes many people happy and I have great joy for them but it would make me want to poke my eyes out with a hot stick. I'm not better than anyone else, I'm just different and it has taken four years of therapy, seven volumes of journalling and 18 months of art classes to feel comfortable to own that. I felt like an alien at school, and for most of my adult life as I tried to fit in with what the world around me was doing.

I've had so many bosses criticise me for not being "enthusiastic" and not smiling enough. Seriously. All the while my brain was churning with a thousand ways to make these people appear to be better at their jobs than they had ever been, but they didn't understand.

I have the most beautiful friends in the world. My closest friends are those who are not overwhelmed by me, they just accept me as I am, and drink lots of wine with me.

My friend returned in a dream about a month ago with another message for me. There's still a little bit of time for this to play out.

One of my dearest new friends (who I met this year) had a similar thing happen to her and she is now with the man of her dreams. Stuff happens. Good stuff, bad stuff, interesting stuff. Hope you are all enjoying the stuff you have made happen to you. I know I am.

As my friend Frank used to say "Come The Revolution, I don't want to be in your way". That time is drawing near, dear Frank.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The family Date Palm Tree

Today my Grandad Alfred Samuel Date turned 109. He really did, it wasn't just an anniversary of his birth, he was there, with family members to celebrate.

Last year at his 108th birthday he told me he wanted two more. Much has happened in a year. He has moved into full-time care, which I know frustrates him, but is the best place for him to be.

It may sound strange to most of you, but he really seems to have aged in the past 12 months. His brain is still as sharp as ever, but his body is slowing him up, a bit.

We all had photographs taken and when my children Bliss and Clancy sat with him for photos, he told Bliss he wanted a photo just with her. My Grandad has always loved the girls, in a really lovely way, and he loved having Bliss sit with him and have a photo together.

I'm a bit overwhelmed having my grandfather still alive. He is my father's father. My dad is 86. My mother died when she was 59, many years ago. So I have one side of the family that lives for a very long time and another side of the family that doesn't live quite as long.

Do I want to be 109? I've decided I'm going for 104. Which means I am exactly half-way and when I had my birthday a month ago my entire outlook on life changed. I have achieved much but there are many new adventures. There is more love to share, more people to have in my life, more experiences with the people I already know and love. We are so privileged to be alive and living in Australia. I am now ignoring all criticism of governments and elected officials of all parties.

We have won the lottery of life being born here. My grandfather's parents uprooted their family and brought their young children from London before World War I because they could see many difficult years ahead in England and in Europe.

The children all went to work at a young age, even though they were bright, but it was not the thing to remain in education when there were jobs to be done and money to be earned.

Thanks to my them, I have a grandfather who is 109 years old. That is a source of inspiration every single day. I hope he makes 110, but it doesn't really matter. Our family has this beacon of longevity, wisdom and intelligence and we will always remember that.