Thursday, November 24, 2022

Spring abundance

My garden gets ever more colourful as Spring progresses. It is full of self seeded butterfly flowers and poppies and the cuttings of all the other plants have grown as well so there is a spring abundance. I planted some kale in the middle of all this but I had to harvest it early as it was suddenly full of caterpillars. There was probably not enough air circulation amongst the masses of flowering plamts. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

COVID ups and downs

My blog has had few posts since Covid  made travel difficult but I just read my post from November last year and realised that I should be post a bit more often, if just to help remember our  progress through this pandemic. Also, Musk has just bought twitter, so who knows what happens to that site if he fires as many people as he has threatened to do. We may all return to blogging.

Australia is at the end of a Covid wave but as the epidemiologist Prof Crab points out, the baseline prevalence of virus is still high. There is a lot out there so I am not the only one with friends suddenly sick. 

In the meantime people are adapting. I bought an air purifier when a trip to the dentist became unavoidable but the reaction of the dental assistant (not the dentist) was to mock me. I went back for a second appointment this week and there was no hint of mocking, so either they have decided they will lose customers if they mock them or they have become better informed. I imagine it is the former because you have to seek out Covid information if you want to know it's prevalence. 

It is extraordinary how we have adapted to a high and continuing death rate and long Covid is not yet getting the attention it deserves. Australia is not dodging it though so one day we will be forced to pay attention to the increasing numbers of Australians who are now too sick to work. Maybe after the coming NSW and Victorian State elections? 

In the meantime spring has sprung and since I have replaced almost all the small lawn patch with flowers, my garden is even more colourful than last year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A visit from the Prince

I have a visitor, a cat called Prince, who was with me while his owner was on holiday for a fortnight and continues to visit while his owner gets rid of a flea infestation. Fleas can last more than a fortnight without a host, and they did. 
Prince is a pretty little animal and very friendly. He is most comfortable when sitting on his human or as near as he can get and is very persistent. Start something on a table (breakfast, painting,sewing) and there he is, wanting to take part. 
I won't be sorry when the flea problem has been dealt with and I can bid a fond farewell to my house guest. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Sweetpeas, spring 2022

Spring has sprung, though you'd not know it from Sydney temperatures. It is cool and wet, but the sweet peas are happy that there are no hot days to kill them off. These are plants from red and pink seeds I collected last year. I avoid deep maroon flowers as they are barely visible in the garden, but they seem  to predominate in bought seed packets. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Queen's Funeral

I watched the funeral of the Queen on TV yesterday. So much pomp and so many inherited arcane rules but the choreography was wonderful. Not a step out of place in all that ponderous marching. I noticed someone complaining online that there hadn't been a eulogy and that 'it could have been anyone'. I don't think they realised how funny their remark was. 
The chair of the ABC is reported to be a royalist and to have fitted well into the Murdoch newspaper world where she worked for years. I guess the twenty seven (27) ABC reporter in London for the Queen's funeral proves at least the former. I wonder what their brief was though, as the ABC funeral coveral was taken from the BBC.  I was grateful for that, as at least one of the ABC staff has been acting like a swooning teenager in London and I don't think I would have wanted to watch her commentary. The BBC reporter didn't recognise PM Albanese but kept a dignified silence, not like channel 9 reporters mistaking PM Truss for ' Minor royalty'. Oh the pitfalls of live reporting. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Vale Merran Esson

In memory of Merran Esson who died prematurely last week

When I applied at the National Art School in Sydney in 2010 I was asked to bring work to an interview at the painting department. 
I took my work and showed it to two  interviewing staff who looked very bored and who, after listening to what I had to say, said there weren't any places anyway and they had no idea why I'd been invited. I was dumbfounded but then asked if I could apply for the ceramics department instead. Oh if you want, they said and I went back outside to sit once again in the queue on the benches. Eventually I was asked in to talk to the ceramics staff, one of whom was Merran Esson.  

What a difference. These staff were bright faced, enthusiastic and supportive. They knew of the work of the Dunedin ceramic artist Jim Cooper with whom I had studied at the Otago Art school and invited me to join their student intake. 

I'd really only applied as a way to reintegrate into Sydney life after several years away, but I had a ball in the ceramics department, worked like a beaver and took home all sorts of ceramic objects despite primarily seeing myself as a painter. 

The people in the painting department didn't seem to be very happy, so I was pleased I'd been diverted to the ceramics group. Merran was instrumental in making the department a happy place to be. Thank you Merran. Vale. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022


This summer has been cloudy, or rainy or stormy and after so much wet the water has nowhere to go. This morning's photo is similar to any I could have taken over the past four months. 
I feel so sorry for the many who have had their homes destroyed by the floods and who are having to wait such a long time for help from our tardy governments, state and federal. I live on a hill but even here we have had an overflowing stormwater drain that is causing problems. The drain is broken and blocked, probably ever since the NBN was installed. My neighbours tell me the pit was open for months and now the storms are here that is the very place causing problems. 
I've been washing the stones my predecessor put along the wall. They had become slimy and smelly in standing water. I left an empty bucket outside last night with stones in the botzom - it became a sort of rain gauge.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Sydney.

Its a lovely day at last after all the rain but the city is awash with Covid and people are staying at home if they can, unwilling to take our new Premier's advice to go out on the town. 

He thought getting rid of masks and letting it rip would help the economy but instead small businesses are closing down for lack of trade. Frightened people don't go shopping. Where have the Premier and his advisors been these past two years that they have remained so blinkered? 

Just like you, we'll be watching the Sydney fireworks on TV. As you watch, let them remind you that putting your fate in the hands of people who don't understand science is not a good idea. Climate change needs urgent action this year, choose your leaders wisely.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas


The little gum tree I planted when I arrived here two years ago has burst into flower just in time for Christmas. 

May you have a year of joy, peace and health. 

Thursday, December 02, 2021


My morning walk takes me down a set of  stairs to the bottom of the hill, then around the corner and up the hill again along parallel streets.
On the stairs this little testament to tenacity is doing its best to brighten our days. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Spring garden colour

Spring has sprung and the garden is a riot of flowers, at least as much as a garden can be that is on slowly-improving soil. Thankfully the builder here put a layer of earth over the clay ground many years ago when the place was built, but it has previously only hosted grass and needs a bit more compost to be really friable. 


Friday, October 29, 2021

New beginnings but all masked up.

Today I went out for the first time (apart for my two vaccine shots) since May, to the post office and chemist. I have been so isolated that I somehow thought that life was back to normal outside my four walls. Lockdown ended a couple of weeks ago and our new in-a-hurry NSW Premier announced that masks were no longer needed outside or even in the office.

I thought perhaps I'd be the only one masked up but everyone else I saw was wearing a mask too, with the exception of one woman. It looks as if people, at least in my area, have decided for themselves that the Premier is being a bit gung-ho. 

Meanwhile, the sweet peas are flowering with abandon. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Two Cockatoos and a Little Bird

 Lots of dawn activity in the trees with two sulphur crested cockatoos chasing a little bird.

Sulphur crested cockatoo with little bird disappearing
to the right

Second cockatoo (enlarged below) turns cartwheels as the dawn sunlight creeps over the rooftop. 

Monday, August 02, 2021

National Tree Day

We are in lock-down again in Sydney and the online sketch group I joined in 2020 has started to organise  online exercises again. On Saturday we all drew trees as it was National Tree Day.

New growth

The small gum tree I planted on the verge at the front of the house in February 2020, just before Covid came to town and changed our lives, has some bright pink new growth leaves.  It took me a while to find my watercolour box, unthinkable in normal times, but when I did I painted the new growth leaves.

I realise now that this is the first time I have painted this year. I had been too busy writing up the interviews with German women.

No wonder I feel the painting itch.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Too windy for cacti

It's been so windy here in Sydney that the tops blew off a neighbourhood cactus. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Out of darkness 
Covid lockdown bears all sorts of fruits. Music by a talented young mate of mine Girl Platoon.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Women, War and the Third Reich

When I arrived in Germany in 1973 I had no idea I would spend the next couple of years collecting oral histories but that is what happened. I suffered from culture shock in Germany and my response was to collect oral histories of the women I was living amongst. I asked them about their wartime and postwar experiences. 

It was hard work emotionally for both them and for me as they had often been traumatised by their experiences and had buried them as a way of coping.  My questions brought it all back.  Many women said they had not even told their families about what had happened to them and we wept together as they recounted their stories. 

It turned out to be the best medicine I could have wished for and over the course of those two years I learned to love my adopted home. Several of the women offered to help me publish the stories and I did find a publisher but unfortunately it folded before the book was out and by that time I had enrolled in a science course didn't have time to pursue it further.

The box of interviews (and the research I did in the Wiesbaden public library to help me understand the period the women were talking about) were put in a big box and have traveled with me ever since. I felt, and still feel, indebted to these women and wanted to make sure their voices were heard. I also wanted to publish them to help show how a country can descend into fascism, but we have seen other examples since then and the process probably no longer needs explaining.

So here they are, the voices from times past. Fascinating reading, even now, or perhaps particularly now as the women of this generation are mostly no longer living.  I didn't know whether to publish as eBook as well as paperback. Does anyone read such books on a screen? (Dear reader, if you would read it online, please let me know!) 


Available from Amazon and other outlets. Here are the Amazon links:






Friday, June 04, 2021

Time is relative

Can it be June already? It is! 

The 4th June is almost over as I write, the 4th day of winter, although the past two weeks in Sydney have been pretty wintery. 

Covid isolation seems to have changed how we register time. It has made time collapse for me. Or is it just because I have been busy finishing my latest project? (More soon.)

It is the reverse effect to the lengthening of time that sometimes happens when you go on an action packed short holiday and return feeling as if you've been away much longer. I had a four day holiday in Cairns that felt like two weeks about 15 years ago. The effect was so extreme I've not forgotten it. I wonder if, in 15 years, we'll look back and remember this time-collapsed period as vividly.  

Monday, April 26, 2021

Wagner Roses: Parsifal and Tristan/Isolde

On my way to Bayreuth (pre-Covid) to hear Wagner's operas Tristan and Isolde and Parsifal I stayed with friends in Hamburg. Sitting on their veranda surrounded by climbing roses and honeysuckle, I read the librettos for the operas, painted the roses and dreamt of the feast to come. Both images below are available to download and print on canvas or paper at


Parsifal: Ich schreite kaum ...

Tristan und Isolde: Nie erwachen

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Changing White roses

I hang my work around the house in an ever changing art show. Some paintings I never tire of, others are favourites for a while then take a back seat.   One painting that never seemed to fit anywhere was  'white roses', painted about a year ago. Something about it didn't work.


Finally a few days ago after a long painting hiatus while I learned Wordpress and rewrote my website, I picked this white rose painting up and put it back on the easel. It currently looks like this. We'll see where it ends. 


24/6. And now like this