Picnic at Sandgate

The Redcliffe Peninsula has been a glorious place to live for the past few months … clear blue days, gentle breezes, sparkling tranquil sea. On just such an idyllic day, in early August, we met with friends for a picnic at nearby Sandgate. These are friends we’ve known for 30-plus years, since our children were babies. Life is so busy nowadays that we rarely see them, so the occasion itself was bound to be memorable.

And so it was.

It was also, if I remember rightly, my first hatless/scarfless/beanieless outing with my post-radiation hair. I don’t think it’s ever going to grow any longer. Some people say they like it (people are polite), but I hate it. Just look at that receding hairline! It looks worse from the front—the high forehead is too much contrast to a now-narrow jaw. For most of my life I’ve worn a fringe, which looks like it will never be possible again. If the hair were on someone else I probably would think it’s alright, but it’s just not me! I suppose I should consider this the least of my problems … at least it will save me money on haircare.Image

We whiled away several hours chatting about nothing in particular and fondly watching the ‘young ones’ enjoying themselves on the beach.ImageImage

Adding to the magic, a surprise visitor arrived in the form of a butterfly (I think it was an angel), which hovered with apparent curiosity around just one person then settled in front of her. We suggested she extend her finger to see if it would land on it. Instead, it did this …Image

It stayed on her sunglasses for a couple of minutes, then fluttered to a nearby wine glass and sipped on the rim.

We felt blessed.

Why I gave up housework

(I’ve been slow getting back to this blog because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to write about. Then I remembered that I used to be able to write lots about absolutely nothing, so decided to give it a whirl. I won’t be offended if you decide to skip it.)

In the early years of my marriage I acknowledged that I would never be a good housekeeper. I mentioned this in a letter to a good friend in the USA. She replied, “Well, I’ve never heard any of my friends say they loved their mother because she was a good housekeeper.” That was good enough for me. I passed the comment on to a friend whose husband had been complaining about her poor housekeeping habits. I also suggested she challenge him to name one fascinating woman who had a tidy house. He couldn’t. I’m sure there are some fascinating women with tidy houses, but I doubt there are many … especially if you turn up unannounced. If you think you’ve found an exception, check for the possibility of paid housekeeping help lurking in the background.

I blame my mother for my poor housekeeping habits. She was a meticulous housekeeper, and my sister and I had to help with the housework. The two of us always did the dishes , made our beds and kept the room we shared tidy, swept floors, and I’m sure there were other tasks I’ve now forgotten, Our two brothers were exempt from all this, which I thought grossly unfair. (I can’t recall their helping Dad with outside work either, but perhaps I just didn’t notice.)

My ‘special’ job was to dust the ledges once a week. This was extraordinarily boring because there was never enough dust to make it worthwhile. Once a month would have been more than often enough.

Some children emulate their parents, others take the opposite path as soon as they are able, which for me was as soon as I left home. During my single years I was fortunate in sharing with other girls who weren’t fussy housekeepers either.

(Aside: I also blame my father for my becoming a ‘late person’. He always caused us to arrive at destinations so early that we had to twiddle our thumbs with boredom for ages.)

I don’t want you to think that I have a disgustingly untidy, dirty house (though A-class housekeepers would probably disagree). I’m pretty good when it comes to bathroom and kitchen where cleanliness is important. It’s not that I don’t like clean, tidy houses either, but I’d rather someone else kept them that way.

So that things don’t get completely out of control, we make sure we invite visitors now and again, to give us an incentive to do a general cleanup.

Such an occasion occurred about a week ago. Guests were coming the following day and I suddenly noticed the kitchen floor was decidedly grotty. My husband, who has taken on a number of household chores (bless him) washes it intermittently, and fairly ineffectively (but it would be petty of me to complain). It’s one of those vinyl floors I’ve only encountered in rented houses—the kind that has a sort of indented textured surface, which (I suppose) is intended to make it unslippery, but which captures grease and dust in such a way that it is completely resistant to normal cleaning. In the olden days a woman would have got down on her knees with a scrubbing brush. That was out of the question, of course, but I found some heavy duty cleaner, spread it on the floor, and attacked it with a hard-bristled broom. This worked, but only with great effort. And then I had to mop the floor 3 times with clean water to remove all the soapy scum. Hours later, exhausted, I had a clean floor.

For a few moments I regarded it with pride. Then I realised that, if I were to die the following day, I’d be really annoyed to have spent so much of my last day house-cleaning.

The guests, needless to say, didn’t notice. And my son didn’t give me a big hug and tell me I was a wonderful mother. He has told me on a number of occasions, however, that he’s glad he has such an interesting mother.

Probably I should have just gone to the beach …

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Lovely, typical winter sea at Scotts Point

More experiments with beach stones (and a few broken shells)

About this time, The CAN Company engaged in a photographic exercise on the theme of ‘white on white’. I liked the results so much that I decided to shoot a series of white-ish stones on a plain white background. As luck would have it (had to be luck, because I didn’t do it on purpose) I noticed a spot in my haphazard ‘studio’ where the light for most of the day was bright, but softly diffused. In a rare moment of industry, I cleared a space, found some white card, and set to work.

For a period I became a minimalist. Image
Once more I created a series of cards. I had enough material to keep me going for years, if the Bright Shiny Object syndrome didn’t intervene. It occurred to me that I could make other ‘designer products’ using the stone and shell images. Putting the cart before the horse, I designed a brochure to promote them …
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I even visualised a small exhibition, using the cards, framed images, altered stones, and maybe even ‘sea spirit dolls’ (I’ve long been flirting with the idea of making artist dolls, but like so many other good ideas it remains in my head in the ‘one of these days’ corner).

I haven’t given up on this idea, but it’s been pushed aside for a while.

Where can I acquire creative energy and motivation?

The source of the beach stones: an interlude

Sometimes my best work is done ‘on the way to work’—in other words, when I don’t think I’m working at all.

Late one afternoon, when the tide was very low, I walked down to the small cove where I had gathered the most colourful stones. My intention was to explore the area and determine some suitable spots to set up my ‘altered stones’.

The light was lovely, long soft shadows falling across the sand and drifting across the water. Absent-mindedly, I began aiming the camera. Excitement grew, as everywhere I turned the viewfinder sand and water ripples called insistently ‘take me!’  For the next hour or so (I lost track of time) I was lost in a magical world of light and shadow and reflections.

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Later I created a series of cards, printed on watercolour paper. I couldn’t decide whether I preferred the images in black and white or colour, so produced a series of cards in each.

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I’m not often satisfied with my work, but I really liked these images and cards. There was something particularly pleasing about the combination of slightly textured ivory-coloured paper teamed with kraft envelopes. I thought I might even have bought them if I’d seen them in a shop, created by someone else.

For the first time in ages I felt I had a ‘direction.’