Thursday, July 30, 2009

Short 'n' sweet

Drawing 551

Drawing 552

Drawing 553

Drawing 554

Drawing 555

I was contemplating another rant, this time on the subject of impatient drivers and the lack of courtesy on the roads, but three rants in a week is a bit much. Another time, eh? I'm sure good manners aren't going to make a comeback anytime soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bamboo socks

I'm working on a large shawl for a friend, with lovely yarn, but it's a long project and occasionally I feel the need for a change in my knitting diet. Usually I knit from stash yarn, in the interests of saving my money for essentials and also with a notion to using what I have rather than buying new stuff (I have enough stuff to keep me going for years).

I ducked into the yarn shop on a whim, "just for a look". Um, yeah. I managed to resist buying on the day, but the pretty colours and luscious textures of the sock yarns niggled away at the back of my brain. Never having knitted with bamboo yarn, I succumbed to the call of the new, made a return visit the next time I was in the vicinity and came home with 100 grams of "Happy", 75% bamboo, 25% nylon. It looked more variegated on the ball and I wasn't expecting it to knit up into stripes, but I like the resulting socks. They feel rather cool to the touch, rather than warm like wool. The yarn itself tends to be a bit "splitty" and slippery, but I got the hang of it as I went along (the second sock is better than the first), and I have enough left to make a second pair, I think.

But not just yet. Back to the shawl for a bit.

I've also discovered that the viscose process used to make bamboo into yarn is not environmentally friendly, so while this was an interesting diversion, I don't think I'd buy bamboo again. I must stop thinking about the (non-bamboo) Kaffe Fassett sock yarn...

What I did today

Drawing 546

Drawing 547

Drawing 548

Drawing 549

Drawing 550

Bringing my drawings to another nice round number :)

I must be in a rant-ish mood this week. Someone ruffled my feathers with a comment about being unemployed like being on paid vacation and how it must be nice to just sit around at home. Yeah, it's so nice having very little money, reporting to the government on an all too regular basis and grovelling for my pittance, in a state of near constant anxiety over whether I'm going to make rent and pay the bills this month. While the luxury of time is great, I spend a fair proportion of it hunting for a job, which is not so much fun. As to sitting around, I thought I'd make a list of what I did today, for instance:
  • Got up at 8am, gave myself an insulin shot, got dressed
  • Fed myself, the cats and the magpies (not necessarily in that order, the beasts are demanding)
  • Read a section of yesterday's (Sunday) paper with breakfast
  • Unloaded the dishwasher
  • Spent a frustrating half hour on the phone with the phone company trying to solve the problems I've been having (the phone rings once, then the caller gets the engaged signal. Or the call goes straight to voicemail without ringing. Or nothing happens at all. This is not the first time, or the second, I've reported the fault but apparently this problem is all in my imagination because the company claim it doesn't happen, in fact couldn't happen. Hah!)
  • Phoned a friend who wants me to make new cushion covers for her outdoor furniture, discussed the project and made a time tomorrow to take measurements and sort out what fabric she wants
  • Cleaned the bathroom and the kitty litter trays
  • Made my drawing-a-day
  • Donned my apron, mixed paint, and put a background colour on a canvas, cleaned the brushes and the palette (a grandiose description of a takeaway container!), cleaned me, de-aproned
  • Loaded new dirty dishes in the dishwasher
  • Put away a basketful of clean laundry from yesterday
  • Emptied the water buckets from the shower onto my plants(apart from irregular rain, this is all the water the garden gets with water restrictions)
  • Drove to the mail sorting centre to collect a registered letter (erk - notification of a rent increase, could've done without that) en route to lunch (I try to make one outing in the car serve several purposes, if possible)
  • Collected a friend, drove to lunch (mmm, Chinese style bbq pork & veg), dropped friend back at her work
  • Raced inside the house as spits of rain fell on me whilst exiting the car, hurtled out to the clothesline to rescue the dry sheets and towels before the heavens opened (which they did, just as I beetled up the steps to the back door)
  • Whipped back outside as both cats whined at me for a piece of grass (our usual routine when I bring the washing in - a blade of grass for each feline, unless Pye has had a "walk" outside on the leash - there's not so much walking, more grazing with me pushing him on, then some intense sniffing of bushes that must have been sniffed a hundred times before)
  • Put some of the towels away (not an activity I can tolerate for long, I'll do the rest later. Maybe)
  • Leafed through my folder of drawing-a-day looking for inspiration for the next drawing in my artist's book. Selected several, put them aside while they percolate for a bit.
  • Read a chapter of "Fatal Voyage", by Kathy Reichs. I finished one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series last night, and I have another (good and thick!) of the same series but resisted starting it just yet. Don't want to burn out on one author.
  • Took photos for this blog. Edited those photos.
  • Read my email
  • Checked out several job websites, downloaded promising position descriptions, made notes of closing dates (I'll work on typing up applications, and tweaking my resume, later when I'm offline)
  • Blogged
Phew. And it is now just after four pm. Miles to go before I sleep :)

Yep, I just sit around on my arse all day, reading novels and eating bonbons.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I feel a rant coming on...

Drawing 541

Drawing 542

Drawing 543

Drawing 544

Drawing 545

I hate mobile phones. I'm not too fond of phones in general, but mobile phones are worse. Not only do people have no manners regarding their use of a mobile in public (my pet hats: loud personal calls, answering the phone in the middle of a conversation, having the phone glued to an ear whilst ignoring a shop assistant, etc, etc), but not having one's mobile turned on CONSTANTLY is becoming an issue. For me.

My mobile is only turned on when I'm using it to make a call. It's there for my convenience, not for that of anyone else. Recently I've endured lectures from my Job Network Provider (or whatever they're calling themselves at the moment) and from an employment agency about the absolute necessity of a) having a mobile (often I'll lie and tell people I don't have one rather than explain why it's pointless to give them the number), and b) having it on at all times and being available 24/7.

I don't WANT to be available or accessible 24/7. I've consciously limited my accessibility (not for jobs, but for external things impinging on my time) and I resent the modern expectation that we should all be on the end of a technological device like some sort of aural umbilical cord. Want to talk to me while I'm out shopping, or in the garden, or driving, or in a movie? Tough! Try the landline (though I may screen if I don't feel like talking!) or email me. I will get back to you :)

Maybe I'm a phone luddite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Artus interruptus

Drawing 536

Drawing 537

Drawing 538

I was feeling a little uninspired with 538 and 539 - I think it shows. Ms Mermaid has a rather sour expression. I don't mind the patterning below, but it was more an exercise with this one than it's been for a long time.
Drawing 539

Drawing 540
Feelin' better with this one :)

There were a couple of (false) starts in the past few days. I bought a nifty spray device from Bunnings that attaches to any screw top bottle, then you pump the plunger to pressurise the bottle, set the nozzle to spray or stream and press the trigger. I was hoping that it would give me a nice even paint coverage on a canvas, but no go. To get it to spray properly, I had to dilute the paint to the point where it was barely a wash. Yuck. I may just have to accept that an airbrush and compressor is the only way to get the finish I want, but it's so noisy (and a pain to clean). I put the canvas in the naughty corner to dry and paint over later with something better. Then I pouted and took myself off to sulk, thwarted.

The pressure thingy will be useful in the garden though, and it was only a couple of bucks.

I had another semi-disaster with impasto medium. I want to use it to make an outline "drawing", then paint over it in a solid colour so that the "drawing" is revealed in the light and shadow of the three dimensional shapes. I tried using the impasto in a makeshift piping bag, a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off, and yes, the stuff will pipe, but the operator needs a LOT more practice in order to control the damned thing. Squeeze gently - curses, blurt, blob, more curses, thick, thin, louder curses, air bubbles make gaps, really loud and colourful curses, then I bit my tongue. Literally, because I had it poking out the corner of my mouth in concentration, and cursed a bit too vigourously. Scraped the mess back into the piping bag, now a scrunched and wet mess, and tried again. Slightly better result, but not what I was after - it was still too variable. Perhaps I should practice icing cakes for a while until my technique improves! But not that day, I scraped the canvas back again, put it in the naughty corner to dry, pouted and took myself off to sulk. Thwarted again.

I also tried painting on a book cover, which has turned out okay but next time I want more detail, even though I mixed the paint with liquidizing medium so I could use a tiny brush and make it detailed. Paint and I still have a troubled relationship, it just will not do what I want. Hmm, impatient operator lacking the necessary skills, again? Probably. Perhaps next time I try a book cover as a canvas I will return to my beloved ink. No books were destroyed in this enterprise, the cover is one I rescued from the bin last year at school. I do like that this piece will stand up on its own, no need for a frame or a stand. Photo to come, I didn't finish it till dusk today and the artificial light does it no favours.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Little fishies

Drawing 531

Drawing 532

Drawing 533

Drawing 534

Drawing 535

Friday, July 10, 2009

A mixed bag

Drawing 526

Drawing 527

Drawing 528

Drawing 529

Drawing 530

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quoth the raven

Drawing 521

Drawing 522

Drawing 523

Drawing 524

Drawing 525

I had another raven encounter yesterday. Returning to my car at the shopping strip, I had to duck two low flying ravens at about head height, one in hot pursuit of the other. I'd just shut the door when the lead raven returned for an ungainly landing on the roof of the car in front of me: he came in too fast, folded his wings early, and SCREEEEEEEEKed across the duco, talons out for braking, looking surprised at the lack of traction on the shiny paint. Once he came to a stop, he began to whack the hell out of something gripped in his beak, not sure what but there were bits of gore and flesh flying everywhere. If it wasn't dead when he landed, it was well and truly deceased after the first couple of whaps. Pause. The car's owner approached and came to an astonished eyelevel halt with Mr Raven. Both bird and human froze.

"Get off my car!" The raven fixed the car owner with a baleful glare, gave his prey a couple more whacks on the windscreen (already liberally smeared, and I suspect he also landed a couple of hits on the human), and leisurely flapped away. Hah!

Perhaps I really should take up studying birds.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Naughty birds

Drawing 516

Drawing 517

Drawing 518

Drawing 519

Drawing 520

The corellas were busy in the park again, this time hanging off a pair of conifers outside the Heritage Centre, busily showering passersby with chewed up seed pods and bits of tree as they (the birds, not the passersby) bounced on the springy branches like so many naughty children. I really must remember to put the camera in my bag. And there was a pair of swallows looping across the lawns at warp speed, inches above the grass. I was dizzy watching them, the flash of blue iridescence on their backs sparking in the wan sun, a rare sight on a day of clouds and rain showers with fragmentary moments of clear blue sky.

Of my visit, the reason I was walking across the park, to the Job Service Provider (who, in seven months of having me on their books, have sent me NO job referals. None. Not one. Nada. Zip. Zilch), I shall say little. Except: frelling government.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Drawing 511

Drawing 512

Drawing 513

Drawing 514

Drawing 515

Overheard on the train on the way to work last week (preface: there is talk that the government is going to retire our five cent piece, as it did the one and two cent coins some years ago):

Her: Yeah, they should so get rid of the five cent, it's useless. Hey, know what else? They should make a one hundred cent coin!

Him (rolls eyes): They do.

Her (patronisingly): Nooooooooo...

Him: Yeah. The one dollar coin.

Her, (looking blank but with less certainty): Nooooo--ooo-o

Him (also patronisingly, and slightly triumphant): How many cents are there in a dollar?

Silence for a few beats while she digests this.

Her: Oh.

I tried not to smirk.

Friday, July 3, 2009


How can a little black cat, who weighs barely 2.5kg and has a brain about the size of a golfball, outwit me every time I try to catch her? I got the cat carriers out a couple of days before the planned capture, as the sound of the cages rattling send both cats scurrying for cover. Pye is easy to catch, he just scrunches down in the hope I can't see him and goes into the cage with a minimum of fuss. Bel does a disappearing act each and every time I so much as think about trapping her, no matter what precautions I attempt. I thought I'd sussed out all her hidey holes, but there's a new one and she planted herself in it the other morning, nowhere to be found.

Until, about an hour after her brother had been ignominously carried off to the vets, she thought the threat was over and made the mistake of reappearing. I pinned her to the ground, scooped her up and she was in the carrier before she could squeak (though there was plenty of squeaking during the journey).

Perhaps she opens an interdimensional portal and simply sidesteps off this plane of existence for a while. Since I looked EVERYWHERE, that's the explanation I'm going with...

Been working - and getting paid!

Drawing 506

Drawing 507

Drawing 508

Drawing 509

Drawing 510

I spent the last week and a half in paid employment - woohoo! Unfortunately, it was a temporary post and ended on June 30 with the financial year. Still, it was good to get paid, and interesting to be in an office environment again, but the work was rather brain numbing; it needed doing, and will be useful, but it was the kind of work that would be okay for an hour or so in betwixt a variety of other tasks. It takes on the aspect of the story of Sisyphus (pushing the boulder uphill only to have it roll back to the foot of the slope and having to start all over again) when undertaken for eight hours a day. But paid is good :)

In further bird news, my raven corpse is now a raven teabag (no disrespect intended). It appears that laundry liquid with enzymes will process proteins other than that on your dirty clothing, so Nevermore has been inserted into a mesh onion bag and is soaking in a solution of soapy (or should that be detergent-y?) water in the hope that at least some of the flesh and feathers will be removed. On inspection, it is only slightly stinky and the enzymes appear to be doing something, if slowly. This would likely be a faster process if it were summer instead of winter.

Yesterday, returning from picking up some artworks I entered in a Small Works exhibition, I encountered the flock of corellas in the local park while walking back to my car. They were busily excavating the lawn - once I saw them head and shoulders deep in holes they'd dug with their beaks and claws - and fighting over who got to drink from the people drinking fountain. Until a little wattle bird decided the invaders should go, now, and started dive bombing the corellas. For birds about four times the size of the attacker, those corellas sure are cissies! Much screeching and retreating, attempting to land on the overhead power lines - several miscalculated and ended up dangling upside down from one foot, flapping crazily. I wished I'd brought my camera. Perhaps I should take up birdwatching :)