Monday, 30 December 2013

Roll on 2014 .....

Well, the year is drawing to a close and I, for one, am happy.  I will be very pleased to see the arrival of 2014 and it won't have to do much to be an vast improvement on this one.

I really hate this time of the year; the rest of the year I have no problems being and living alone.  But the Christmas/New Year time seems to accentuate the fact that you are alone.  Things are geared for doing with others even more than any other time of the year.  I gave a sigh of relief when Christmas was finally over.

New Year's eve is next on the list - I intend to go to bed and sleep through the whole after dancing naked through the kitchen.

My Photo-a-Day Facebook group has been a challenge this month as it was geared toward Christmassy things.  I managed to post a photo each day without anything seasonal in them.

Struggling to think of what to do for tomorrow; the prompt is - Celebrate - I am celebrating that it (the season) is over .... lol.

Todays prompt was - You - and we had been dared to take a selfie without makeup, no sunglasses, no photoshopped touch ups, etc.

This is mine .... lol.   Over 64 years of laugh lines, no make up, hair not done ....*cringe* ... dimples showing ....

Still it was a very empowering challenge and a lot of the group have taken the prompt to heart and posted untouched photos.

Making good strides with my novel; already written over 65,000 words - will probably end up with around 70,000 - 75,000.

Whether it ends up shoved in a drawer or gets published remains to be seen.  Who knows - maybe this is the start of a new career? ...... rotfl.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Auction, Writing, New Year ....

Big Dog Rescue on Facebook has an auction of one of my paintings .... only a couple of days left to bid (finishes on 29th Dec at 8am).

This is a great organisation who do wondeful work without funding.  They work on donations so please consider bidding.   (27cm x 39.5cm [10.5" x 15"]  Watercolour monotone)

Well after all the excitement of last week I have settled back down into my normal routine - well as normal as anything can be for me.  The last few weeks I have done a lot of babysitting as my eldest DIL get her clients up to speed before the break (she run's her own very successful Bookkeeping Service), really tired ..... lots of fun but it is exhausting!

She and her hubby are finally taking a break, although my son also runs his own business (Builder) and has a couple of small jobs to do during the break.

Haven't done much painting; decided I would actually finish one of the many fiction/novels I have started over the years.

Really excited, have completed nearly 40,000 words - that equates to around 140-145 pages.  Have a couple of people reading bit and one person reading the whole thing as I finish a chapter to gauge interest and so far it has been positive.

Of course, writing it is one thing but getting it published is a whole different plan.  Just have to wait and see once it is completed and all the loose ends tied up.  There is always the self-publish route that I can go down.  I looked into it before (have a non-fiction actually finished just needs tidying up) and you can actually do it through Amazon.

You can either let them assign you an ISBN number (cheaper way) or purchase one yourself.  If I did self-publish I would purchase my own as you have more freedom; Amazon sort of holds you if you use their assigned one.

Anyway, have to finish this one first and then do the editing and tidying up.

Looking forward to the New Year, 2013 was pretty rotten as far as I was concerned.   Nothing nicely memorable so 2014 won't have to do much to exceed 13; still it ended on a positive note with the Councils decision.

The only other positive was I haven't heard from the guy I broke up with in Dec 2011 since he rang & emailed in July so think either he has finally left me alone or else he is still sending emails but my provider is marking the as junk and deleting them.

Had enough to deal with this year without the added stress of someone alternating telling me they wanted to see me, they missed me then telling me I was psychotic, rude and disgusting for saying no   Just what you need when you are recovering from major surgery and related stress.

So roll on 2014 - not one for resolutions .... far too easily broken but I do want to finish my novel and have it published either by myself or with someone.  Also looking forward to 2014 for my 'doggie pal for Fozzie' search, hopefully I manage to find one easily.

Other resolutions .... none really?  Well I would like to get out a bit more; been saying I would go out at least one a month but it hasn't eventuated so 2014 hopefully I manage it  ..... lol.

I want to explore some new areas for painting ideas .... I tend to go to the same places so some new ideas are needed.

I also want to go back up to Bilpin and pick some apples - Delicious variety will be available very soon (late Jan I think) so I may take a drive to Bilpin, get some apples and then continue on to Mt Tomah Botanical gardens.  Each time I have headed up there something has stopped me driving all the way.  Last time it was road works, the time before rain ..... fingers crossed I actually manage to reach it next time.

..... and naturally I will be stopping at Pie in the Sky on the way; impossible to drive passed them.  Their delicious fruit pies - yum!  (Not to mention their wonderful fresh

Christmas all organised, well the shopping part.  Did 95% online, perfect for someone like me who hates shopping.  I have them all wrapped and ready for Santa to pick up and deliver.

Don't bother decorating or putting up a tree - no-one to see it except Fozz and the cats and I don't think they really care .... lol.  Mind you one of the presents is for Fozzie and I have had to move it.

I have no idea how he knows but know he does.  He kept trying to get onto the table to grab it; so I have hidden it away and out of reach.  The cats aren't the slightest bit interested in theirs; although Spotty has gone absolutely crazy with a piece of wrapping paper and twine.  The paper ended up shredded into a 1000 pieces and he ran through the house a few dozen times carry the twine in his mouth.

He does go crazy for paper ... attacked my waste paper bin in the studio the other day and I ended up with paper from one end of the house to the other but he did enjoy himself for over an hour.  He managed to beat that paper into submission.  I did try to take some from him but, as you can see, the claws were out, there was much growling and fierce eye stares so I decided discretion was the better part of valour and left him to it.

Oh - and just for Ms/Mr Seven Hills/Blacktown/wherever ..... new hair colour; do wish you wouldn't remain anonymous.  Why not be brave and send an email introducing yourself.  After all these years you know me but I have no idea who you are ...... rotfl.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Stay of Execution ...... Plus an Update for Dec 9th -

Well, I started the year on a very horrid low note with the very real threat of cancer hanging over my head for the third time; major, major complications during surgery and post operatively, what should have been a simple overnight keyhole op & 1 weeks recovery turned into major surgery, being stuck in hospital for 8 days  -then 5 months recovery.  During all that drama the Council decided they were going to rezone my house from Low Density (R2) to Public Recreation (RE1) and placed it under an acquisition order under their LEP (Local Environment Plan) for 2013; they also wanted to put in a through road (I live in a cul-de-sac amid two others and two no through roads) at the bottom of the cul-de-sac.

Panic station amongst all the locals - there were a over 800 homes that would be affected if the plan went through intact - and so we all went into protest mode.

After months of protests and submissions the Council have today,Nov 30th, released a revised LEP and .... joy oh bliss .... they have decided against rezoning my street at this stage nor are they going to put in the through-road.

In their 2036 Masterplan they have earmarked the street for Public Recreation but that was drawn up in 2012 and I am guessing they will issue a revised one or else leave it to show their ultimate goal.

There were a total of 488 properties in the area that were to be rezoned for Public Recreation but that is now down to 93; while a total of 64 were for roads and now it is just 1.  This will be a big win for the locals if this new plan is adopted.

Mind you this is just a stay of execution but at least it means if I want to move I can sell on the open market or I can stay here in the knowledge that my house isn't going to be knocked down in the next few years.  I should be safe for at least the next five years.

I will have to now seriously think about whether I will sell & look for something else - or stay and hope that in 5 years they (the Council) have a change of ideas or a change of members.

Of course all I have to do is win first prize in the Lotto then I don;t have to worry and I can build myself something special, somewhere nice with a great big Art Studio like this beauty......

 ...... or find some rich sugar daddy who loves older BBWs ...... and let him build it for me.

Any multi billionaires reading this who wants to donate their money to a quirky crazed older artist (only 48 shades of grey though) please drop me an email - all offers seriously considered ...... ROTFL!!!

Meet up with some of the local ladies in the Facebook, Photo-a-day group for a Christmas lunch.  It is amazing really, the group is worldwide and has over 10,000 member; yet there are over 100 who live in Greater Sydney.  Pretty high percentage if you think about it; and if you were to spread it to NSW the number is very high.

UPDATE - Council meeting tonight (9 Dec) it is open to everyone in the Blacktown Council area.  Their intention is to vote on the new changes but they are giving two hours prior to residents to speak.  Our street will be going and I have written our speech/submission for another resident to read.

All we can do is hope for the best; a 5 year reprieve at this stage would be much better.  Then we can regroup and fight when the next plan comes out if we are impacted again.  Will let you know the results of the meeting.


The Liberal and Independant counsellors wanted to defer voting AGAIN but the Labour members said the public had the right to get this over and done with, one way or another.

Labour put forward a motion slashing another 66 homes from the aquistion list plus a couple of other issues.

Headed debate between both sides of  the Councillors, with the Residents making it very plain what we wanted from them.  Labour Councillors once again put forward the amendment to the revised plan asking for a vote on it; finally the motion was put to the floor and passed with a majority of one (not a big one but we got through).

Then came the final vote and it was PASSED!!!!  The Council Chambers erupted as that final motion was passed including slashing another 66 houses from the acquisition list!

So happy with the results. I came home with a thick document of over 1000 pages and have gone through it carefully.  They have given two maps that show my area, a 5 year one and along term and in both there are no changes earmarked although it does look like the houses in my area (including mine) have been marked to be rezoned at some point as Medium Density (R3) which doesn't worry me as much because I would still be allowed to sell on the open market if I ever decided to move.

Just shows you what people power can do; I think the council was amazed by the level of protest against their stupid rezoning changes.  So from over 800 houses needed by council I think the figure is now around 100.  That 488 needed for parks is now down to 27.

As aside note - the Council admitted that there are still homes required for RE1 in the 1988 BLEP that have not been purchased because Council does not have the money.  One Councillor, who was against the revisions, actually admitted that there was no way Council could pay for the houses under acquisition in this 2013 LEP so why the hell bother put us through all that stress?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Weather, Presents, Pups and Psychics ...... .

Trying to decide what colour to go when my next hair appointment comes up mid December ....  I'm thinking purple where the pink is - been bright pink now for the last few months so I am thinking a change of colour is in order.

Lousy photo (not that I can ever take a reasonable one ..  )  - just realised .... no makeup, horrid angle and old painting gear on ..... rotfl.

Would have loved to have been one of those beautiful women who seem ageless, are unforgettable and have beautiful features - but still I am happy with who I am and maybe being a little quirky and looking slightly different is my thing ...... ROTFL!

As I have mentioned in previous posts we have not had much rain in the last 6 months and the ground was dry and brittle.  The last few days we have had a couple of thunderstorms and, amazingly, there has been around 25cm of rain in that time over Blacktown.

I say amazingly, because for some weird reason we tend to miss a lot of the rain.  It can rain heavily a couple of kms away but often we get nothing at all; so to actually have a enough to give the ground a reasonable soak is really good.

Back in December of 2007 we had a terrible hail storm that cut a narrow swath through the area and, unfortunately, I was in that narrow band.  Every house in my street was damaged; in fact there were so many houses damaged in the area that the SES was swamped with over 6000 calls for help.
This was AFTER it had melted a bit

Luckily my two sons were able to come and put tarps on my roof as well as helping out other houses in the street.  The damaged to the area exceeded $200 million - the damage to me was over $60,000.

Next door's roof getting covered
The hail was enormous!  I grabbed a couple as they melted then shoved one in the freezer so I could take it's picture

My roof was almost totally destroyed, the solar panels for my hot water & electricity were broken as well as the hot water tank.  Every roof panel  (about 20) on my outdoor area was damaged and the garage roof and walls were full of holes.

 Damage inside was restricted to the hall, my bedroom and the kitchen but there was a lot there plus the stuff I had stored in the garage roof suffered lots of water damage.  My car was under cover but still took a lot of damage on the back. There were a number of cars in the open and all had all their windows smashed as well as dints on the body.

Christmas is fast catching up to us all who celebrate it; I give gifts to my family but haven't bothered with decorations for a number of years. I just don't see the sense of it when there is no-one to see them but the dog, cats and me; plus being a Buddhist, it has a different meaning for me than for Christians.

In fact Christmas hold sadness for me as I lost my Mum during the season and even after 17 years it is a reminder to me of precious things lost.  I suppose if I had someone to share the Season with it may not be as sad and filled with memories.

Still it is nice to see the grand children's faces when they receive gifts and the excitement they have is infectious; not sure what is happening on Christmas day but on Boxing Day I will visit my late husband's mother, I usually take my eldest grandson with me and we generally spend the day laughing about everything and nothing.  I can't believe he is growing so fast - 11 already!

I have been thinking of getting another dog .... Fozzie always had another dog to play with but for the last year and a half it has been just him.

If I do get another it will be from a Rescue shelter but it is hard to find one that will fit in with us - it will have to like cats and, of course, Fozz will have to like it.  I figured another female would be the way to go as his previous friends have been girls.

Was tempted with a lovely mastiff recently, she seemed perfect for us but some one beat me to her
Photo of Tully

I am not a fan of little dogs, love big clumsy oafs ..... rotfl.

I like this sweet girl but they say nothing about her reaction to cats so will have to wait till they have had more time to assess her  .

I also absolutely love Boxers - have had two of them and they are such characters - been scanning rescue groups in case on comes up.

But as I said the main thing will be - firstly if Fozz likes her and secondly - if she likes the cats.  So in the new year I will actively look for some cutie.

I recently won a 30min psychic reading from Cameron Bayliss and, although over the years I have had quiet a number of readings, I found this one to be rather accurate.

One or two things were incorrect but not in a way that was screamingly wrong.  I am not going to write what as said but it was personal to me and very revealing - some things mention were what the reader could not have possibly know - the final outcome was I felt things that had never been closed now were and I was emotional stronger because of it.

To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet : "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I don't think we can dismiss the unknown just because we don't understand or don't believe ....

Anyway, I enjoyed my reading and will wait and see if any of the other remarks made come to fruition.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Memory Lane Trip .....

21st 1969
I bought a gadget that converts slides and negatives to jpeg to save on your computer; I have around 3000 old slides and been slowly going through them all.

A lot have deteriorated, lots are sooooo boring but some bring back lots of memories.

These few were taken between 1968 and 1973.

Some of the slides I couldn't remember at all and yet others I remembered people, names, places and emotions .... looking back at my 21st - the love of my life Stuart Smith sitting there; I had forgotten how much fun that night was.

Sailing into Tokyo 1969
The ones taken in South America and Japan were filled with vivid memories - did I really take myself to all those places by myself?

Standing at the Peace monument at Nagasaki Peace Park - filled with so much emotion.

The amazing Easter Island!  Machu Picchu!  Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman!

I remember being caught in Chile during the Allende Coup - I had flown from Peru to Chile to change planes for a flight to Tahiti and then back to Sydney.

Peace Park Nagasaki
Instead when the plane landed all the passengers were taken off and told there would be no flights in and out indefinitely.

Chile 1973
Machu Picchu 1973
So I was stuck in Chile for just over a week while the coup d'etat was happening; funny at the time it was exciting but looking back I was bloody lucky.

Gunfire, teargas, water cannons - ducking behind buildings so as to not get shot; the pain and burning eyes from tear gas and getting knocked off my feet from the water cannons.

The photo is of a demonstration that was taken from the Hotel Crillon ... there were hundreds of people coming from all directions and marching through the capital (Santiago) and I had heard that the military knew so I retreated to a high vantage point.

Start of a demo Chile 1973
Water cannons were used on the thousands around the area trying to make them dispurse before they got to the main destination.  There was also tear gas used which wafted up to where I was hanging out the window .... it didn't hurt as much as it would have for those on the ground and in direct aim of it.

I know this for a fact because one day I turned a corner and there was a mob of people chanting and protesting; the water cannon tanks and police came up from behind me and I got caught in the whole thing.  My eyes stung for what seemed like ages; luckily I got water from the cannon and sort of breathed through my wet shirt.  I bathed them as soon as possible and washed everything I was wearing.  Think it took a few hours for the symptoms to subside.

There was a shortage of accommodation but a nice guy who worked for Lan Chile airlines (Gustavo) was able to get me an apartment of a friend of his who was away from the capital.  It cost me $10 US for the week I was there.  Had to go shopping and there were lots of shortages - I lined up for toilet paper for a few hours - but he knew the best places for everything ..... lol.

Chile & Gustavo 1973
The funny thing was everyone sort of carried on as usual except people learned to run the opposite way when you heard gunfire or tanks.

Finally the planes started flying again and off I went back home; with an overnight stop in Tahiti, and filled with great memories that I would never forget.



Halloween on board "Canberra" 1969

"Canberra" 1969

Monday, 21 October 2013

Waiting ........

There is a thick pall of smoke over Sydney and the air is strong with the cloying smell of smoke, it is almost still and there is a sense of fear and dread, we are all holding our breath waiting.  It is 35c and the temperature is still rising; we have 38c predicted for today and 35c Tuesday and Wednesday with those NW & NE winds predicted.

There is a very real risk that the 3 fires in the Blue Mountains will join together and give birth to a mega-fire. Weather conditions for the next few days are perfect for creating a monster. NSW Emergency Service Minister Mike Gallacher says northwesterly winds could push the large fire at Bell into two others - and towards more populated areas like Katoomba and Leura, and western Sydney.  So we wait and we pray and we send our thanks to those selfless heroes striving to protect.

The view from my backyard - visibility is greatly reduced; it is like a foggy winter's morning except for the smell. It is so still so the smoke is just laying like a blanket across Sydney; but the wind is expected to pick up late this afternoon.

So finger's crossed Mother Nature takes pity and decides to send rain instead of wind.

So what to do?

No use going out anywhere - the risk of fires is everywhere so better to stay out of everyone's way and paint. But what to paint?

Sketching out a few ideas but nothing really takes my fancy; my last piece was this giraffe and her/his mum.

A couple elephant babies and their mum were the two before that.  

Got some good photographs from the Photo-a-day group; asked the photographers for permission to use them and each one has said yes.  One was of an old egyptian gentleman, another a giraffe head and one was different from my usual in that it was of an old door with a rusted lock & ivy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Friends, Fires and a Firey Comet ......

Well my long weekend with my friends has been and gone and what a great weekend it was.

They arrived just after lunch time on Friday and left at a similar time on Sunday; we started talking as soon as they arrived and the conversation only stopped for sleep .... lol.

They shouted dinner on Friday night at the Royal Cricketers Arms (my girlfriend had read in one of my blog postings about me loving it) and it was absolutely delicious.

We had some Deep Fried Camembert with a cranberry dressing - oh my!!!  It was one of the most delicious entrees I have ever had.  We all agreed if we had known how good it was going to be with would have one each instead of sharing one.

Mains were a crumbed chicken breast, toad in the hole and an old fashion English beef and mushroom pie.  For dessert we each had something different and shared - so Banofee pie, Lemon Posset and a meringue and strawberry dish that was similar to an Eton Mess.

The remainder of the stay was spent with us sitting around the table talking, talking and more talking ....rotfl.  Just the perfect 3 days!

Been a busy week babysitting my 2 grand daughter's as my DIL had to travel to Queensland for business.  So a full on week.

Time to relax and put my feet up, have a latte and watch all the Doctor Who episodes I had missed.

NSW (my state) is a tinderbox; the state is so dry, it has been such a long time since we had rain.  Not sure how long it has been -we had a brief shower overnight last week and prior to that there was a day with a little drizzle but proper rain that made puddles on the ground and made you run for shelter - well my area has had only a few cm since March, in fact nothing was actually recorded for the area since March.

Unfortunately this Spring has erupted with bushfires, the first week of September we had our first taste of what this season would bring.  Then this Thursday the lower Blue Mountains burst into flame along with 100 other bushfires in NSW.  Lives and homes have been lost and even though the weather has improved Friday and Staurday; Sunday and Monday look to be in the high 30s.

On Thursday night the sky outside my house was amazing - I took this snap just to show how weird the sky was.  It looks as if the sun is setting behind the trees but in actually fact the photo is facing south; there were clouds and the sun was hitting them and bouncing off brighter.

Something else that might light up the sky in a much smaller way is seeing Comet Ison - of course the big questions is how it will go once it travels round the sun.  There is a chance it will be visible during the daytime on 29 November but of course, it could just be a fizzer and nothing to see.  On November 28, the Comet ISON can be easily spotted with the naked eye as well as the first week of December when it will be at its peak before making a close approach to Earth on December 26.  Sydney Observatory has a great piece written about it.  Just what we get to see from the Southern hemisphere remains to be seen but I will certainly be out there looking upwards .... lol

Arvind Paranjpye, director of the Nehru Planetarium, shared: "With its present positioning, it seems that the comet will be bright and visible towards the end of October. Having crossed Mars in the beginning of the month, the comet will start getting visible over the eastern horizon around October 30 and one can spot it through the telescope about 40 minutes before sunrise. As it progresses, the comet will be visible through binoculars between November 4 and November 9 and later, around November 19, it will be visible to the naked eye."

The Hubble telescope site recently released a photograph of Ison.