Weekly Photography Challenge: Oooh Shiny!

One of the attractions of photography is trying to capture those Oooh Shiny! moments for posterity, or perhaps to share with someone else who would have been equally distracted (and still can be, thanks to you and your camera).

Yesterday morning I had plans in place to wash walls in preparation for painting…but there was ‘good’ frost, so the plans went on the backburner for a while. I had to go and feed my son’s cat, and I kept my focus long enough to feed him before I got waylaid by icy cactus spines, dewdrops (almost gave up on that one, the camera wouldn’t stay focused…) and violets that looked like they’re frosted with sugar.

I finished my painting this afternoon, so I didn’t get distracted for too long…

Weekly Photography Challenge: Opposites

Curiously, when I went looking for images for this weeks Photography Challenge, the word in my head was “contrast”,  not “opposites”.  Almost the same, but not quite!

Is “spiky” the opposite of “pretty”? I’ll claim it is with these cacti – and the real ones are opposite of the crochet ones I made for my cactus-loving son, Simon. He grew the real ones when he was a school boy, planted a cactus patch, then left home for uni, leaving his cacti behind…He does come and clean it up when he can, but he lives at the opposite end of Australia from us, so not very often!

Here’s another “opposite” with crochet – a living tree’s smooth bark in contrast (I did it again!) with the textured yarn. The last pic is of regrowth on a eucalypt after fire went through months earlier – young growth being opposite of the dead burned roadside. We are getting lots of rain this winter (unlike last year), so that roadside is now lushly covered in green growing grasses.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Future

I feel like I’m blowing my own (future) trumpet with this post, which is an activity not encouraged for women of my age and culture. So I’m doing it anyway…

On the left, my photo of a spinning top in a patch of rainbow, on the right, that image applied to a ladies…top.

On the left, a magnificent epiphyllum flower, and that image on a sleeveless top.

A highlight of visits to Perth, Western Australia, is watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean – our Western Sea – and that image on a silk “men’s pocket square”.

I’m inveterate collector of…interesting things. Here are some of them in a heavily edited photo of the little grid of shelves in my kitchen window – now available on a silk scarf.

I was lucky enough to find a crochet bedspread in an op shop/thrift store – all it needed was a good soak and an afternoon on the washing line. I think it makes a gorgeous and witty print for a silk cashmere scarf.

All these designs -my collection-so-far – are available to order from VIDA. As the pieces are printed and made up to order, they are all existing “in the future”, and may look a little different from the digital prototypes. The best bit of Vida is that the makers are given access to literacy education as well as being paid for their expertise- brightening the future for them and their families.

I Believe…

IMG_6874 (Large)

Not exactly a poem, but a poetic piece of writing, sparked by the words “Believe in Yourself” printed on the front of the notebook, a memory of a bible quote, and a quiet afternoon at the Art Gallery where I volunteer. And a pinch of Fairy Story…

“You believe in yourself. Believe also in me”, Teddy said with a smile.
And taking my hand, he pulled me onto the dance floor, and for once I let him lead.

“I believe, Teddy”, I said.”I believe you will wash the dishes tonight, and sweep even in the corners.
I believe you will change the sheets and do laundry, and pull weeds before they flower,
and do a hundred things I have not yet thought of.
That is what I believe.”

He paused, standing with his arms still raised in a sort of arabesque.
“Okay”, he said, “yeah, okay. I believe I can do all that.”

The photos are recent ones from around our garden. I have lilies, and cacti, and visiting cockatoos…

Weekly Photography Challenge: Door

We had a weekend away from home, and having read before I left that this week’s Photography Challenge theme is “Door”, I made sure and took photos of some along the way.


My historic doors are brand new compared with Mike Hardisty’s, but in Australia, they are quite old! The first pic is of the tiny Savings bank in Avoca, followed by our whole family in the doorway of Cactus Country at Strathmerton. Then there are the door of the water tower and an old pub in Nathalia, plus the door of our room for the night. All 11 of us stayed at the motel – it was for our eldest’s 40th birthday. He’s been a fan of cacti since visiting a display garden with his Grandpa when he was 11. The next three are in Castlemaine – the venerable looking door of my brother’s passion project, Tonk’s Bros Second-Hand Centre, and the Mechanic’s Institute in Barkly Street. Last but not least, the driver’s side door – complete with mechanical ‘indicator’, of my Dad’s old Commer truck, which is quietly rusting away in their back yard.

Friday Poem: Summer

This is from the vault, but it’s summer again, so I though I’d share it. After the big fire two weeks ago, we have had more than 30ml of welcome rain, and some really cool days – so the landscape is not so very dry just now, thankfully.bird bath

Grey sheep on the grey bank of a dam
In the summer landscape.

The shorn paddock lies
Bleached and drying in the sun.

Blue bowl of sky,
Dirty with clouds at the edges.

White hot sun floats
Higher by the minute.

The land is hot and thirsty
And the heavens bare and dry.


The ‘shorn’ paddock in this photo had also been burnt a week or so before I took the photo. Now that we’ve had some appreciable rain, a faint veil of green is appearing from the bare earth. If the weather turns hot and dry again (as it well may) the new plants might not survive, but for the moment, they are a very welcome sight!cactus

This cactus, a forbidding denizen of my eldest son’s old cactus patch, is not bothered by hot and dry, or cold and wet, and stays green all the time. It just stands there looking handsome but unfriendly all year long…

Weekly Photography Challenge: Warmth

It’s been a busy week, since we’ve had lot’s of visitors staying with us for our delayed cactus-themed Christmas celebration. Having a lively fifteen-month old grandchild in the house certainly keeps everybody on their toes and occupied for all her waking hours! This week’s Photography Challenge theme is “Warmth”, and it’s going to be warm here today – around 40C, which is 104F – so it seems appropriate to post it today!

My daughter Lucie made cactus Christmas crackers with help from Alex, and I supplied them with a variety of flowers. I’ve been saving stray artificial flowers from my volunteer job at an op shop/thrift store for some time, with a view to making a flower crown, but for Christmas, they crowned the cacti with their warm and pretty colours. We know it’s warm when the cicadas emerge to sing in the sunshine, and I was lucky enough to find this big fellow last week while he was low enough in the Allocasuarina for me to get some photos before he flew off. We had a BBQ tea one night, 8 adults and 1 Juniper around the table in the garden on a warm evening, with bunting fluttering in the breeze – and us fending of the hungry mosquitoes…After her bath one night, Juni was sporting an excellent Mohawk hairstyle, with a game of cricket on the TV in the background. Warm summer days go together like…warm summer days and cricket!

I wish everybody a healthy and happy New Year, even though it’s hard to believe that another one has come around again already!


Opuntia 1“Living in a state of psychic unrest, in a Borderland, is what makes poets write and artists create. It is like a cactus needle embedded in the flesh.”

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua,

“Borderlands/La Frontera”Opuntia 2

If creativity is like a cactus needle in the flesh, I presume she meant by that that it is something that must come out, sooner or later, no matter what. A cactus needle hurts when you press it, and festers if you leave it. Not an attractive image, but apt!

The idea of the creative process as birth is  more familiar .There is the image of conception, of something growing , unseen until it is ready to emerge into the light of day. Again, there is an urgency, an inevitability at getting it out. Maybe the creative process can also be brought forth too soon, and needs to be nurtured – put in intensive care even, before it is ready to be taken ‘home’.

There is a common belief that an artist must suffer in order to be creative, and that if life is flowing too sweetly, no poems, songs or pictures will be generated – or none worth having. Maybe it’s true that the artist or poet must have gone through some experience of grief, exclusion or trauma in order to have the creative urge.  But given that background of suffering that allows for a different viewpoint, must one necessarily  continue to suffer? Does getting one’s shit together spell the end of a creative life?

I don’t believe so – although the tenor of what one creates must necessarily change.packed pages

If art making is a therapeutic activity (and it is), then one will grow and change because of that process – and also move on from whatever problem started it. Even if the same old issue is driving the art, it must be from a fresh perspective and bring new light. Some creatives can be intensely and unconsciously driven, and for them the matter may not be resolved through their art. For myself, I hope that a creative life leads me to a fresh understanding of myself, if not life, the universe and every thing.

And if the products of my creative life bring some joy to others, then that’s a bonus.

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I do not write poetry;

Poetry writes itself through me.

It becomes what it is

In spite, as much as because of me.

In the same way I birthed my children:

Though I sought them

They came of their own volition,

And they became what they are

Despite and because of me,

Just as poems do.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Day lily stamensPapa Meiland rosebud

Cactus bloom

Day lily -here today, gone tomorrow.

I suppose flowers are a bit of an obvious choice for ‘delicate’, but that’s because they generally are. The rose is more of a stayer than the day lily or the cactus, but even they are soon shriveled on a hot, windy day. Day lilies get their name by lasting just a day, and most cactus flowers are so fleeting that I often miss them altogether! They are there to attract pollinating insects, not us, and once the bee, wasp or moth has done its task, then the flower is finished.