Sunday, October 31, 2010


Some weeks just ought to be skipped. Yep, we should have a fast forward button & be able to forward ourselves right past them without the merest hint of acknowledgement. Or perhaps not.
As humans we hopefully grow from all that we encounter on our path through life & more importantly we learn from them.

I've always told my kids to try & find a career that they love. Find something that ignites that spark & inspires a passion within you & just follow it.  I can imagine few greater joys in life than to get paid for something that you really love doing, that you wake up & can't wait to get to every day. In fact I don't have to imagine it as I had such a job once. I actually got paid to be surrounded by wonderful original art & get to know some hugely talented artists during my 'work' day....imagine that!

I well know how blessed I was as it seems that so very few people that work for an employer feel that way & simply go to work in order to make a living enjoying some aspects of their job but not ever truly passionate about it as a whole. And that is where I am now...or rather was!

A week ago I was laid off, or as they term it here "my position was made redundant",  from my small part time job . I wasn't surprised, it is so quiet at work, but I was a little concerned & upset as to what the change in finances would mean.

Prior to this I had just learned that I need glasses. Don't get me wrong,  I've always loved glasses & have no problem with having wear them. I own 4 pairs of sunglasses & 3 pairs of hobby glasses, & dare I say it, but there have been more than just a few times in the past that I have thought I'd like to get some trendy frames & just have clear glass put in them to wear because they look so cool! I just didn't need the added expense right now & that was before being laid off.

To add insult to injury I went & sat at the torch for the first time since the earthquake & discovered that my kiln isn't heating up. Half way through my first bead I was already having ideas of what I wanted to do next....until I opened the kiln to put the bead in & realised that it hadn't ramped up. Somehow realising that my kiln wasn't going put everything else into perspective. 

Although I haven't really been called to torch since that little shake up & it's incessant aftershocks (read: a bit afraid), there is nothing quite like wanting to do something & not being able to do it that reignites that initial spark of passion.
Quite simply I realised what I am passionate about; creating & the process of creating. Whether it is melting glass, etching & bashing metal into shape, planning or planting a garden, knitting, needlework, painting,  doodling with intent (more on that later!!) - I need to be creating.

The truth of it was that I hadn't enjoyed going to work for some time. I didn't like working at the job just on a Saturday as there was no continuity & each week it was as if you had to start anew. I was uninspired by the job itself as there were no challenges. The worst part was that because I wasn't given the opportunity to utilise my unique skill set learned in my original gallery job, I was bored to distraction.
And I loathe the word bored! But there you have it. Passion certainly isn't found in being bored &, if I think about it, who on earth wants to get paid for being bored? It's just not worth what it does to your psyche.

So what have I learned from this?
If I live to create, then I can create to live.

While waiting to find out what is wrong with my kiln I've bought some air dry clay to play with.

Now all that remains is which spectacle frames I should choose - what do you think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Grass Is Always Greener....

I don't even need to finish that particular idiom. It's one I have heard many times during my life - usually by people that have mistakenly taken my expression of interest in something to be a desire to have it.

My answer, if I ever hear that again is going to be "No, it's just a different shade of green".

I loved this visit to Australia. I adored almost everything about the country from flora & fauna through to food & shopping. Without doubt the contrasts within the areas we visited had me spellbound & I didn't want to come home (much less back to shaky ground!!). Heck, I was even enthralled with the rain!! But the point is that I was there as a visitor.

So is the grass greener on the other side of the 'ditch'? No, it's just a different shade of green, but right now I'm still quite enamoured with that particular shade!

Kiwi Green

Aussie Green

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hey Dad

You would have been 82 years old today.
Imagine that, 82! Some how I can't, so you will always be 78 when I think of you.
Bet you couldn't imagine having a daughter that is closer to 50, than 40 either!

I think of you often.
Your serenity & peacefulness while you sat quietly or read a book,
or that positively wicked chuckle when you heard something that amused you.
The quiet but dry sense of humour, often slightly risqué,  that enabled you to deliver a one-liner that would have whoever was supposed to hear it trying to suppress laughter.Those that weren't supposed to hear, alerted by the laughter, would be begging you to share.
The ability to see the inner beauty that others had to offer.
Your enjoyment of all the grand kids & your infinite patience with them. Not to mention all the Japanese students that stayed with you & Mum!
The way you willingly went about helping out others, doing whatever had been asked of you & enjoying the process.

You were such a great role model to my boys & they were so blessed to have had you as a Papa for as long as they did.
Jeremy reminds me so much of you, that same dry sense of humour, the brilliant one-liners & the way he goes about things quietly with an attention to detail. He's a hard worker & puts his all into any task set before him, as you did. You & he always had such a lot of time for each other. I know he misses you so much.

If I could change one thing it would be that you had been around to see Kieran after his Basic Training in the Army.  He thoroughly enjoys the life & I've never seen anyone so suited to his choice of career as he is - it was the perfect choice for him.  He'd enjoy talking your ear off all about it too.
He & Kerry have just brought their first home & are getting married in December. Dad, you'd be so proud of him! I can just imagine the smile on your face.

Michaela is busy being a teenager, trying to find her way through the tumultuous teenage years, much like her Mother before her ;) 
Hopefully she will emerge relatively unscathed & a lot wiser. Sooner, rather than later would be good.
I know if you were still here that you'd just be there for her though, non-judgemental & your love unconditional as it always was for me. Wish you'd left some notes on how you achieved that! :)

Gabriela is doing well at school & starts High School next year! Bet that surprises you, because it does me.
She's a great kid & really hasn't changed that much in her countenance from when she was that happy toddler just cruising about with a constant smile on her face. Well, maybe sometimes she isn't quite as easy going & smiley - but hey, she is 13 now.

Mum is fine. She's been through a lot in the last 4 years, but that woman is stronger than I ever could have imagined ..especially for a little chick! She has a wonderful attitude, which has always served her well & it continues to do so. She amazes me sometimes, especially recently with this earthquake fiasco. Even  when facing uncertainty as to what will happen with the house she remains positive. But still ,without you walking alongside her it's like seeing only half of the whole.

Life has gone on, but we all still miss you....heaps. I know that my heart isn't the only one that has a big old chunk of it set aside for you.

So,  Happy Birthday to the Worlds Best Dad & Papa - Daddy Cool (remember that?). I couldn't have chosen better & I was so very blessed when you chose me.

Love always,

John Gardner Batten

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, To Be A Cat!!

A wonderful Monday spent pottering around  in the garden. It was such a lovely day, no breeze, a clear blue sky & warm, so wonderfully warm! I got out a deck chair & took a few minutes just to lay back & feel those rays on my face.

No sooner had I got up out of it & turned my back, than a certain Ginger Ninja made himself quite comfortable in it, thank you very much.....

A few minutes later & the heat had obviously gotten too much for him, & he took refuge in the shrubbery.

Soon he was joined by Bizkit, who positioned herself precisely in place for a Yin & Yang cat formation.
Polar opposites these two - so quite appropriate I thought!

Later when the sun started to dip & the patio got some shade, a certain lad thought the chair looked good for a spot of personal grooming after such a busy afternoon spent watching me garden!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Need Inspiration?

Or perhaps  you are just after your daily art fix. Either way you need look no further than DAM - DailyArtMuse

I stumbled across this website for the first time a couple of days ago & I was blown away immediately upon landing on the homepage. Of course I am most likely late to the party on this one & perhaps everyone already knows about it. But just in case there is someone who doesn't know I feel I must give it a mention!

Established in 2006 by Susan Lomuto, the website is an absolute treasure trove of talent, ideas & resources.

Images such as this paper and mixed media sculpture by Carol Cole met my eager eye within the first couple of scrolls of my mouse button.

A bit further down the page & I arrived at these breathtaking figurative gourd sculptures by Patricia Boyd

These are just the more recent articles; click on the artist names to go directly to the posts & see more of their work & read about them. With almost 3000 archived posts covering every craft imaginable, I'm sure that there will be something to delight or inspire everyone. Go, look, discover, enjoy!

If you are on Facebook you can join there as well  DailyArtMuse on Facebook

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Always Take The Weather With You....

or not! This was one impressive experience - but all I can say is that I am pleased it wasn't me behind the steering wheel!

4.36pm: I've just said "wow would you look at that impressive sky, I wonder what that yellow glow is...."

4.37pm: I can't repeat what I had just said here - but down it came & I had my answer! The wipers couldn't keep up!

4.41pm: It started easing off & had stopped by the time we got home.

4.54pm: We turn into the street we were staying in.... I'd say that sky was worth a bit of rain.
Of course I would say that since I wasn't the one driving ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Complete Contrast

There is something about the contrasts found in nature that strikes a chord deep within me. Whether it's textures, colours or environment it matters not as it always causes an intake of breath & puts a smile on my face.
Sometimes it's a matter of looking beyond what one was originally focussed on in order to see those contrasts, or perhaps just look a little deeper to realise that they are there.

Photographs, no matter how well they are taken (& mine aren't great on the best of days) always fall short of the reality. Perhaps it's just me, but they lack the dimension & depth that was enough to cause that first intake of breath. They do, however, serve as a great way to remind me of those moments.

These two Rhinoceros Iguanas at Australia Zoo captured my attention while they were enjoying an afternoon spent basking in the (incredibly bright & warm) sun on a rock.
Their skin had the appearance of dry, thin parchment & they seemed to belong in an arid environment.

To look further & see the wonderful contrasts of sub tropical plants, in particular the stunning green rounded softness of the Elkhorn Fern directly above them, struck that chord within me.

Info on these beauties: The Rhinoceros Iguana is native to the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and The Dominican Republic) and several surrounding West Indian Islands. These iguanas live in areas of open scrub, among rocks and cactus thickets. They can also be found in dry forests to subtropical moist forests. This species is primarily found near coastlines.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Kind of Juxtaposition

I love the colours in this Iris that I photographed the other night. Small wonder that I also rather like the colours Gaffers Chalcedony is showing in this bead I picked up to photograph today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Spotted earlier this evening whilst on a short excursion to take photo's of something else entirely!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Brisbane Backyard

Waking to the sound of bird call every morning has to be one the of best ways on earth to wake up.
One of the things that struck me during our time in Brisbane was the variety of bird calls. They ranged from the soft & gentle through to the loud & raucous, & it was all music to my ears.

I was however feeling a little disappointed that, although I had seen a huge variety of birds from a distance, I hadn't seen any of Australia's wonderful parrots close up enough to get a photo of any of them.

Late in the afternoon of the day before we flew home we visited John, a friend of Allan's, & what a treat I got! We sat out on a deck that surrounds the upper level of his home & watched as gradually the birds came in to feed. For me it was an 90 minutes of absolute bliss.

First the Ranbow Lorikeets arrived & hung out in a tree surveying the territory in order to make sure it was safe to go down & feed I expect.

Then came an Australian King Parrot, I held my breath as I watched him almost scared that the 'click' of my camera would scare him away.

No fear of that! He didn't waste too much time in surveillance & quickly went down to feed.

Next the Rainbow Lorikeets got brave & left the safety of the tree, scaring the King Parrot off in the process.

Meanwhile the Galahs had sent a scout to make sure the area was safe before the rest of the team came in to see what was on the days menu.

Every now & then something would spook the birds & they would all fly off, but up on the deck we had no such problem with a fearless & very curious visitor.

Back closer to ground level the bird restaraunt was positively humming with a rather diverse clientele of Galahs, King Parrot & Lorikeets.

Then a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo arrived!

When he went down there the Lorikeets took off...

Our friend up on the deck seemed to think he was special & entitled to a more personalised service.
He got it too! 

The Lorikeets gradually came back, bringing a Noisy Miner to the party with them. I guess they felt a little sorry for him - being so plain & all.

With the constant coming & going of the birds I'd almost given up hope of getting a photo of all of them together. Then.....

It appears that John is quite popular with the birds ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Damage Control

Last night after work we went to the movies. Dare I admit it, my choice was "The Sorcerers Apprentice". I needed something fun & light that I could lose my inner child (the one with the vivid imagination) in....& I kind of like Nicholas Cage.

Since returning from Australia I've found it hard to settle into any sort of routine, difficult to focus & concentrate on anything & I find that in itself incredibly frustrating. The continuing aftershocks haven't helped.

After all of the breath taking moments & utter beauty I absorbed in Australia I guess it's kind of understandable that I didn't want to face up to the destruction here again.

While every part of my being tries to shut out what is happening in this city & the physical me will take routes that circumnavigate the damaged area's, there comes a time when you just have to face up to things.
In recent years I haven't been hugely enamoured of the city I call 'home', yet it rips me apart to see buildings that have always been a part of the character of this place demolished or damaged.

On the way home from the movies we went past the Baptist Church. I decided that I wanted a photo, so we parked the car a little way up the road & walked around to get one. I'm so pleased that I did!

I was standing on one of the cities many bridges to take the above photo & thought to turn around. In doing so the sight of the tree lined Avon River greeted me & reminded me that there is still a lot of 'beautiful' here!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Wonder What They Are Thinking

As I spotted both cats sitting as close as they are ever likely to, both appearing to be enjoying the late afternoon sun, I wondered what they were thinking.
Perhaps, like myself, they were just enjoying the fact that there was sun even if there was little real heat in it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Etsy (& FireBird) on Sale

Earlier today I had a play with the "Etsy on Sale" app & put my entire Etsy Store on 20% off.

The app itself is great & makes things incredibly quick & simple to do. However there is nothing that shows on your Etsy Store to indicate that prices have in fact been reduced, people have to visit the Etsy on Sale website to see that.
Still, it makes life a little easier than manually adjusting prices on Etsy, or having to adjust invoices or refund via Paypal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Doesn't Get Much More Australian Than This

One of Australias iconic birds, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, sitting in a Eucalyptus tree. By our second to last day I was beginning to think it was something that I'd not get to see this time around. Then we visited a friend of the mailleman's & I got to see this beautiful guy & so very much more.
Are you ready for a photo heavy blog post? If so stay tuned!!

Can You Do This???

Nope, didn't think so!

I'm sure that is what Missy is thinking as she looks at me with those beautiful brown eyes!
Missy is my 'Grandpuppy'& just has to be one of the most beautifully behaved dogs I have had the pleasure to spend an evening with! Her Mummy & Daddy weren't to badly behaved either ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dance Like There is No One Watching

Do you dance like there is no one watching? I know I don't! Rather strange considering that I go dancing 3 times a week. But there you have it.

I wish I could lose my inhibitions the way others seem to do when I am dancing in a group. Perhaps I just need to gain a little confidence - at least that is what I've been told. It's of no great concern though as I enjoy the dance & when I make mistakes just laugh at myself & carry on.

I have to admit that I get an immense sense of fulfilment when I finally master a step or routine that has been eluding me. It is this, & the knowledge that eventually through repetition I will master the tricky bits, that has kept me going along every week.

So although I don't dance like there is no one watching I do dance in the rain.....

Our monthly Line Dance social was today & even though we are in the second month of Spring the rain was persisting down outside! ;)

Bet you can't guess what the theme was!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Star Performer

This little beauty has been performing on my patio since late April. It has flourished & put on a show all through winter & well into the middle of Spring.

I should deadhead it but I love the contrast of the faded blooms, the antique appearance of the washed out shades as opposed to the intense richness of the more recently opened flowers.
The deep rich wine that is apparent when they first emerge slowly evens out into the russet shades of burnt orange & terracotta with just a margin of wine around the edges before fading to the colour of old parchment & leaving the mere hint of a rich gold with wine veins towards the centre.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Noticed in Passing

I wonder if my passport is trying to tell me something. The date of the first time I ever visited Brisbane & the date of my departure this time are an exact match.

When we added two days onto our travel plans at the end to make up for the time lost by the flight cancellation on our departure date I didn't realise what time of year I had last visited Australia.
All I know is that I didn't want to leave either time....& 6 years between visits is far too long!!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Drawing To An End

As our time in Australia quickly draws to a close, so ends the day in a beautiful sunset.