Monday, April 7, 2014

illustrated by wayne

On Saturday I needed to get a Wedding card....and yes, everyone had told me to make one but I hadn't got around to it, okay??? In a desperate-last-minute-wedding-outfit-and-card-buying-dash, I ventured to the city. Outfit issues were quickly sorted(i.e.girdles on sale) but as for the card...whoa! They were hideous!!! Then walking through the Bourke Street Mall, I saw Wayne with his cards laid out neatly on the ground. 
Wayne was hunched up on his haunches and doing his best to hide under his hoodie. I was stopped in my tracks by the artwork and so relieved to see him there. I pretty much gushed all of that and more. He lifted his head up and smiled when I told him how much  I loved his cards and how much more interesting and lovely they were than anything in the shops. 
He told me how his mum used to have a peacock in the back yard and he based his painting on the memory of that bird. And I told him how superstitious my granny had been about peacocks - how once my Mum made her a table cloth with a peacock on it and when Granny and Grandpa later had a fight with the table cloth present on the table, Granny blamed the peacock and threw the tablecloth into the wood stove and destroyed it! (Yes - I am descended from a very strange gene pool...)
This tree through the seasons  was the perfect image to celebrate a marriage, don't you think?
Wayne's cards are 4 for $10  and I stocked up. Wayne was working on an intricate painting as he sold his cards and I look forward to seeing it in print. Best of all, my loud lauding of his skills seemed to draw more customers his way.
If you see him in the Bourke Street Mall have a look and support a lovely artist.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Enviro Stall Wonders!!!

Under the guidance of Kasia (pictured below) the Enviro Stall at our school fete went gangbusters. Kasia is the most avid recycler I have met - and also one of the most creative and innovative thinkers I have come across. In fact I suspect she is a genius.

You can see some of the recycled t-shirt bags hanging up in the photo - quick simple and very handy. Behind Kasia is the craft table we had set up for the day where parents and kids could come and play with plastic rings, recycled jumper felt, wool, bottle tops, old cds and all manner of fun stuff.

 (photo from make it a wonderful life blog)

We sold kits ro make your own recycled cd tree decorations for scaring off birds. A great tutorial here on Make it a Wonderful Life.
Kasia wrapped wool around plastic lid bits while I didn't have the patience and crocheted around mine.

The day was HUGE and really busy - too busy for snapping photos. But let me tell you - there were bottle top snakes, melted record bowls, tetra pack wallets  show bagswater saving shower roses, re-sew-cool kits, sushi fish earrings, beeswax candles and all in all too much fun and excitement.
It was a glorious Autumn day in Melbourne  and the fete raised squillions of dollars for educating the youngsters. Hooray!

And if you are as keen on recycled environment craftiness then check out mine and Kasia's pinterest page for the Enviro Stall NEXT YEAR...we can't wait!

Friday, March 28, 2014

School Fete Enviro Stall!

With the Autumn sunshine predicted for Melbourne tomorrow, the Merri Creek Primary School fete is looking like it will be a ripper! And it needs to be. The funds we raise at our school fete are really important. For a start, it means that the school can afford to keep and maintain our wonderful elm trees. And then there's all the other stuff like educating the youngsters...

I've had a great month getting involved with the environment stall. In fact I've been so busy plarning* and pom pomming and plastic-creating that I've had no time to be here, in blogland. Who would have thought that plarning, pom pomming and plastic-creating would be so labour intensive? (Oh, I must admit I have had time for tennis. And goodreads. Please don't be jealous bloggies! I promise you are my first and only true love.)Hello blogland! 

When I catch my breath after tomorrow, I'll post more about what we've been making. The Enviro Stall coordinator, Kasia, has been - please excuse the daytime-tv-gushiness - an inspiration with her innovative approach to recycling!Stay tuned....

*plarning is turning plastic bags into yarn for crocheting/knitting etc.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: Australian Women Writers Challenge: Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith

Whisky Charlie FoxtrotWhisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, by Annabel Smith is a novel about identical twins Charlie and William Ferns. Significantly, the unfolding tale is built around a chapter structure that follows the phonetic alphabet- alpha bravo Charlie delta echo etc - a code the boys used with their walkie talkies when they were 9 years old and the origin of William’s nickname, “Whisky”.  The chapters are essentially vignettes from Charlie’s point of view, from childhood to adulthood, from the UK to Australia. Interspersed are chapters in the present day where Whisky is in a coma after an accident, resulting in an emotional collision in Charlie’s life.

The use of the phonetic alphabet structure is limiting and distracting from the story at times. It was hard for me to switch off wondering how much of the story was invented for the chapter title (for example, Lima – so Whisky’s wife comes from Lima) and how much of the story was bent to comply the alphabetic framework. There are some chapters where the title alphabet code is woven into the narrative with great elegance and others that are extremely clunky. Despite this, Annabel Smith manages to maintain a narrative drive throughout. In fact, the book is meticulously structured, both the parts told from Charlies past and the present day chapters about Whisky in a coma and how the family cope with this.

The structure of the book, often introducing a new element to the story with each chapter, meant that Charlie and Whisky’s world lacked intricacy and depth for me – it does skip along in jumps and tangents and zig zags. In contrast, the parts about the hospital are detailed, descriptive and, at times, moving.

The biggest difficulty I had with this book was attaching myself to the characters. Overall I couldn’t stand Charlie. And the book is ALL ABOUT HIM. He was immature and basically, excuse my French, a dickhead. As a child and teenager he seemed quite lovely but the adult he grew to be defensive, closed, rude, insecure, cowardly, proud and judgemental. Continually.  At every juncture. And Whisky, as an advertising go-getter-jet-setter didn’t hold my interest very much at all. Shallow as a paddling pool really. They were not people that interested me at all. What kept me going was warmth and the affection I felt the author had for the characters; the empathy there.

There seemed to be many inconsistencies in the story which I wondered were the influence of the twist and turns required from adhering to the alphabetical structure. Sometimes Charlie was closed, even to his girlfriend Juliet, but later the book suggested they always talked to each other before sleep and were open with each other. Charlie disliked poetry – yet earlier he recognised an Emily Dickinson quote. And Whisky marrying a girl from Lima after a week of knowing her just seemed too ridiculous – although the character of Rosa was a lovely salve of truth for the repressed Ferns family. A great counterweight.
The central idea that Charlie has to deal with his relationship with his twin brother and therefore himself before the rest of his life can click into place, worked well and rang true. The block for Charlie was understandable – it was a big block – a big chip on his shoulder.  The sibling relationship is intensified with identical twins, always looking to the other instead of himself.  (“Comparison is the thief of joy” and all that.)

The real achievement of this book is sticking with the structure while managing to maintain a strong narrative drive. Some of the chapters are well crafted like a delicate short story and there was certainly many creative uses of the phonetic alphabet chapter heading as springboards. I couldn’t help but wonder if the structural “trick” was removed, would the story be worth it? Strong enough? Would it be more interesting if the point of view changed between the characters? Unfortunately I just found it difficult to immerse myself into the story, found the characters annoying and found the structure distracting and a little too ever-present, laboured, literal and in the foreground.

“Whisky Charlie Foxtrot” certainly is a crafted book and the hard work gone into it is evident – a bit too evident at times. For me, I just wish the characters that took me on a journey through the phonetic alphabet had some more maturity and depth to them. Roger that. Over and out.

View all my reviews
This book is part of my challenge to read more Australian Women authors for the Australian Women Writers Challenge.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March playlist

 A new month has dawned!
Here's what I'm up to, in general, some of the time, this month...

Making: Many things for our school fete!* Every scrap of fabric is being whipped up into peasant dresses and tops!

Reading:  "The Secret River" by Kate Grenville  - for my new book club! I've joined a little book club comprising of a few mothers from the school. Kate Grenville is an acclaimed Australian author and this should be a cracker of a book to kick things off with and one I have wanted to read for some time.

Listening to: Latest Mavis Staples album

Watching : True Detective (isn't everyone??)

Wearing: tennis dresses...

....on the court - for ladies tennis!

*there will be more posts on the school fete making in due course!!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Camels are the new donkeys (foxes, owls...whatever..)

 You heard it here first! Camels are the new donkeys.... Well I made that up. But why not? Why can't I be the arbiter of international style trends? I'll put it out there and see what happens....and if you start seeing camels everywhere.......... then remember you heard it here first!

I've been playing with camels for the Materialized exhibition at Gleaners inc - part of the cultural program at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

For this exhibition, Liz Jones, curator, and hostess with the mostess (and all round creative maker of all things in recycled linoleum) gives each participant a swatch from the same fabric.  Here it is!
You can use it (or in my case, lose it!D'oh!)in any manner - for inspiration, colour, pattern, incorporated into your piece or not.

Word was going out that it was a bit Morroccan or Arabic in design and I started thinking about how we as westerners interpret other cultures through our very "white" western lens...about our sense of what is exotic?

So I wanted to use very common craft techniques and materials - crochet and tapestry - to make "exotic" emblems....and I thought about the camel....and then added that other "exotic" cliche...
...the pineapple! 

Then I kept going....

Because camels and pineapples go together like...well....camels and pineapples.
Materialized exhibition is at Gleaners Inc,2 Ballarat St. Brunswick. Opens 7th of March and runs through to the 23rd. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

tears, tunes and tartan taffeta.

Do you remember your high school dance?

When Kylie, over at Lucy Violet Vintage, wrote about her year 12 social with a photo of her resplendent in a tartan taffeta dress, well I couldn't believe my eyes! Because Kylie was "that girl" - you know, the sort of girl you wished you could be. I wished I could be that girl with that frock and those friends at my year 12 school social.

Instead, I attended my high school dance as a quietly belligerent 80's punk. I wore a wedding dress which I had cut up and sprayed with splashes of black fabric paint, accesorised with leopard print leggings and lace up boots and hair standing 6 inches up off my head. Yes! I was that girl

But wait! That's not all! The afternoon before the dance, I also dyed my hair electric blue. No big deal these days - but back then in the dim dark 80's, I had to get my sister in the city to buy the hair dye and post it to me - the parcel arriving on the day. Okay so I know I was looking a bit different but thought there was a level (a low level but a level more or less!) of acceptance of me and my funny clothes and sticking up hair within the school community. (Yes I know the girls told me I couldn't do my deb because I would ruin the phots but they were joking right?)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you fall into a ravine? When you're like Wylie coyote in "Road Runner" and you've stepped off a cliff but haven't realised it yet? And you're running in the air, just before you plummet? Well that was me, arriving at the dance. I thought everyone would go, "Oh look! There's Julianne looking freaky as usual". I didn't expect the gasp followed by the silence. Me running desperately in the air before I started the rapid descent! 

I hid in the toilets for some time but I could hear other people at the sinks talking about me in there too. So I was dragged out of there by a friend and managed to have a good time....up until my high-school-drop-out-ex-boyfriend gate crashed the dance, drunk, and caused a kerfuffle. (And yes, dear reader, I married him! Needless to say he is now a very successful professional and I am no longer married to him).

But thanks to dear Kylie at Lucy Violet Vintage - I was able to re-live my high school dreams, cast away the nightmare past and feel like the bell of the ball in this, a pure silk tartan taffeta designer dress from the 80's that arrived as a sweet soft parcel in my letter box last week. Kylie found it at the op shop and remembered my comment about always wanting such a dress! What a gem, right?

Has anyone seen the episode of Bob's Burgers where Bob's wife encourages him to re-live his disastrous school dance experience  - where he was dumped by his date and didn't even go - by being chaperones at their daughters dance? And then to complete the experience his wife gets drunk on peach schnaps and pukes on him? Well, fortunately, my night out on the town in my high-school-dance-dream-dress was nothing like that.

In fact, I wore it to see Dolly Parton in concert! She was a shining super star that night who warmed the crowd with her generous  angelic voice and stories of her hillbilly youth as one of 12 kids. And yes, I shed more than a few tears because she still manages to crack open my heart.