Tuesday, 21 January 2014

finding art in the every day - photography exhibition development

A quiet moment this morning gave me the chance to work on my photography exhibition.  I want to present my idea to the gallery owner over the next few weeks.  As ever for me, words and pictures are interlinked and I'd like both to have equal presence in this display.  Firstly, to connect everything together, I'm working on a photo book.  I'm using InDesign rather than one of the online companies.  This way I have control over the layout with a program I already know.  I won't print until I know it's exactly what I want - in the meantime, printing out drafts from home is fine.
Also, I'm not sure which images will make the final cut.  I'm working on about 20 pages for now, but who knows whether this will expand.  If I do this now, I've plenty of time to work out what I really like and what might make way for something else.  Hmmm, a tribe of elephants has been released into the house, breaking my concentration…  three kids and two dogs, no wonder I can only concentrate on writing one sentence at a time (one word?!).  Time to sign off me thinks and wait for another day!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

life in a heatwave: dreaming of shade and keeping cool

Keeping cool has become a full-time occupation.  Victoria's heatwave has been unrelenting, with temperatures into the 30s until late at night.  We've had a few days of over 40 degrees now and continuing until Friday.  We are lucky to have a reverse cycle air conditioning unit in our main living room.  We open the doors to the rest of the house and try to direct it around, keeping everyone as cool as we can.  Fans in the bedrooms are helping us sleep, although we only have two at the moment and tend to rotate them around (pardon the pun!). 
Long term garden planning is coming under scrutiny in the wake of this heat.  Although we can see major progress over the past 12 months (with a couple of before and after shots for your viewing pleasure!), we still have a lot to do.  We have two lovely large ash trees and an apricot towards the back of our block, providing wonderful shade for the trampoline and sandpit.  Closer to the house, we stand out like a pimple on a rock.  We've planted a few trees along the side of the house, but it's become clear we need more.
We need something of a tunnel of trees along this side bit of the house - towards the red garage door.  It's going to be a while until we can afford a verandah here, so we will work on a mix of trees, large shrubs and climbers to screen the house during these hotter months.  Keep an eye out over the next while as work towards budget friendly shading solutions - and please fill free to share your own ideas with us!  Every bit helps!

Friday, 10 January 2014

summer reading (and a surprise must read!)

Summer holidays have always been about the book - or books, in my case!  I've been sneaking off whenever I have the opportunity and losing myself in the literary world.  The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls could quite possibly have lost me altogether, however I had to stop reading in order that my own children didn't starve.  The trajectory of two young American sisters following their mother's disappearance will leave you breathtaken - it's up there with the best books I've ever read.  It was completely unexpected too - I haven't read anything of Walls' before and I will be sure to reserve her memoirs Half Broke Horses and Glass Castle on the strength of her fiction work.  It's hard to say too much about The Silver Star without giving away the plot line - just believe me that it's quite remarkable and give it a try, further qualifying as a Must Read, a label I don't give away lightly!
Gardening and landscaping books figure high on my reading list.  I held on to a few of these books for far too long - luckily our local library is having a fine amnesty this month, however I may be the exception to the rule and charged double for my regular misdemeanours!  I must say, though, that the books were worth it, particularly Jenny and Neil Delmage's 12 Gardens.  A mixture of coastal, urban and rural gardens was featured with designs specific to the harsh Australian climate (I must say that I think any climate in the extreme is harsh: think America currently suffering under freezing temperatures and the wild storms in Europe - we tend to give our own dear country a bad rap!).
This image about is from the Delmages' book - isn't it a delightful mix of colour and texture?  We have a garden bed running along the fence outside our living area.  At just under a metre wide, it's ripe for extension - something to do when the weather cools down.  Currently it's a riot of gaura, roses, sedum and geraniums in bloom, thickly planted as in this very image.  I can't wait until ours resembles this one in terms of its impact - it's just a matter of time!
I became a fan of Jamie Durie's when we saw one of his television series on DVD a few years ago.  I admit that his Manpower past had made me dubious, but The Outdoor Room left me converted.  I've since borrowed his books from the library whenever they've come in to publication.  Edible Garden Design could have easily become my own - beautifully presented and photographed, it makes not just a stunning coffee table book, but it's filled with useful and practical information.  In my dream world, my book shelf would be bulging with books such as this.

I'm currently reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I'm less than 100 pages in and have 400 to go - I'm delighted to say I'm enjoying it, which did come as something of a surprise.  I flicked through it when it came in from the library and had my doubts - but I'm pleased to say they were for nothing.  I'll let you know more in my next reading update...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

finding the art in the everyday

I've been asked to do a photography project for the end of the year.  It's an absolute honour to be involved, however my inner voice is shaky: what could I possibly exhibit?  It's not as though we've had a trip to France lately or even to Melbourne - my photographic library is somewhat domestic…  which gave me a thought - perhaps I could just concentrate on finding the art in the every day?  And there I think I have it…  photos of home, the modern domesticity.  Here are some of my first efforts today.  Thankfully I have the better part of a year to work on this - fingers crossed I get somewhere!


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

the pink edition: handmade

We've had a new arrival in the family - bet you can't guess it was a girl!  I've just sent a parcel of handmade goodies off to the little bundle, her sister and mother.  It was lovely to be able to crack open my vintage suitcase of things I've made and put together bit and bobs for each of them - a Gocco printed dinosaur, gingham kangaroo, Christmas stocking, brooches and gift tags.  A quick sewing job to close off the dinosaur where the stuffing went in and I was done.  Sadly, though, my supplies are running low…  Time to get back to making - but when will I find the time?!

Friday, 3 January 2014

the writer's edition: month 10 check-in

The sharp-minded amongst you will pause and think: where were the 8 and 9 month check-in posts - please accept my apologies for their absence!  They disappeared into the ether during my unexpected blog break - I will do my best to not let that happen again.  It's not very exciting, though, when I can't share my recent 1000 and 2000 word and more achievements when they're just not happening.  But I said I'd share the behind-the-scenes action of my novel and here it is, on hold until Jono starts kindergarten.
In realising that I'm not superwoman, I also lack the extraordinary self-focus required to sit amongst my family and write my tenderest, most carefully chosen words and turn them in to a best-selling (or even low selling) novel.  In the interest of better home living, we converted my office in to the sitting room it was meant to be, a place that now houses the television and witnesses our family down-time.  We relocated my desk in to the main, open kitchen-living area, which works well to a point, but doesn't allow for much quiet reflection.
Not wanting to sound like a martyr, I realised the needs of the family at some point actually did outweigh my own - an amazing realisation, you might say (!), but you'll be pleased to hear it's also been to my benefit.  We've moved the television from this main living area and in doing so, kept it from quietly mocking our children and reminding them when it's turned off - now, in the sitting room, it's out of sight, out of mind - a much better proposition.  It also means that I get a chance to walk away from this main, busy room around which my life pivots - that there's a quiet room away from here in which to retreat at the end of the day.
And computers being as they are - well this acts as our family computer and I don't like the thought of the kids being sequestered away from me, using it without supervision.  I'm happy to have technology central under my watchful eye - and it's actually easier, say, if I'm cooking dinner and the kids are doing homework, needing my help.  They're only a stone's throw from me and it's much easier to lend a hand.
I will get back to my novel writing in February, when Jono commences two morning sessions of kindergarten each week.  After I add in drop-off and pick-up, the time will probably condense down to just over 2 hours each of those days, but they will be 2 precious alone hours I haven't had for some time - and I can't wait!  Hopefully my boy will be just as enamoured of kinder as I will be of my writing time - fingers crossed.
The characters of my novel live on in my head in this fallow period.  I am wondering whether I should promote a very minor character to a more prominent position.  I have to start writing her to see if it's a goer.  She does have a very interesting story to tell and it could be woven in to Emily's story, I just have to work out how.  I started to write her part and managed 33 words before Sophie interrupted me to tell me the dogs wouldn't leave her alone.  My thoughts died mid-sentence and I reminded myself of the time to come in February - my quiet hours alone writing...