Monday, June 29, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and TIM BURTON

What isn't there to love about Tim Burton? His quirkiness, his originality, his casting decisions make him a giant amongst other pygmy film-makers in my opinon. Who wouldn't want Johnny Depp in all their films?

I love his wife Helena and to me Tim, Helena and Johnny form the Holy Trinity of bizarre, eccentric and cool of artistry.

Tim represents all of us introverted outsiders. He shows us that being different, strange and weird can also be creative and liberating if you're true to your visions. It doesn't matter if you have trouble articulating your words or if you're shy and awkward as long as you keep creating!

I could have lived without his monkey picture but movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow are like beautiful dark fairytales.

You can already feel the anticipation building amongst his fans as we wait for his trippy, colourful Alice In Wonderland.

And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let me present Tim Burton! May his dazzling creative genius inspire our own creative efforts this week.

Celebrate the introvert and the outsider in yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to be bizarre, slightly twisty and to live, think and dream outside the box!

Friday, June 26, 2009


We woke at dawn (not easy for this family) so David could take Daisy to a special event at Sydney Aquarium featuring a cartoon called SpongeBob. I spent the hour-and-a-half they were inside sipping a coffee and watching the scenes at beautiful Darling Harbour.

As a long-term resident of Sydney, I'm not used to thinking of Darling Harbour as 'beautiful'. Frenetic, bustling and colourful maybe - but beautiful? It's odd how the pre-peak hour rush casts a different glow on familiar city sights. It really is the best part of the day. It wasn't perhaps the most peaceful place on earth. The monorail went over my head every few minutes and the occasional plane circled (no doubt with delighted passengers getting an incredible harbour view). But even the throng of commuters rushing to work couldn't diminish my enjoyment of the scene.

I've lived in Sydney for many years and I've had a love/hate relationship with her. She's a city that has been very good to me and continues to amaze me with her fascinating, beautiful and surreal sights.

Like the sight of several large cartoon characters spilling out of the Aquarium to delight a large group of passing schoolchildren. I don't know these modern cartoons. I'm more used to Porky Pig and Tom and Jerry. As I was watching, two glamorous television personalities holding their children in arms that looked as if they could snap (they were both very, very thin) and teetering on clog heels, rushed to the event, obviously late.

When you see Darling Harbour so built up with its multiple tourist attractions (Imax, Aquarium, etc), it's difficult to imagine when the land's original owners living and flourishing along the harbour. They were the Cadigal people, and they knew Darling Harbour as Tumbalong, meaning where seafood is to be found. Tragically, within a few years of the First Fleet arriving more than half of the Aboriginal Cadigal people were dead from viruses from the outside world.

It's heartbreaking to read William Bradley's journal entry: “From the great number of dead Natives found in every part of the Harbour, it appears that the smallpox had made dreadful havoc among them."

And this from another journal of the time: "It was truly shocking to go around the coves of this harbour...where in the caves of rocks were to be seen men, women and children, lying dead."

Nothing could be further from those horrific scenes on this morning with happy children dancing and posing with SpongeBob and company as I sit waiting for David and Daisy to complete their tour.

Sydney seems as bold, surprising, eccentric, bright, outrageous and kooky as she always does. Although she swishes a dark history under her glitz and finery.

And Sydney shines her brightest in the early hours - if you can drag yourself out of bed early enough to watch her awake.

Hope you have a brilliant weekend. And I hope you spend some time nourishing the child within in your life and creative play.

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
Pablo Picasso

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Since I recently started Blogging, I've come across loads of Blogs with fascinating people and their interests. One in particular is Lark( the Blog of Allison Jones who shares my passion for vintage children's books). Allison far exceeds my humble collection, her collection of vintage Ladybird books nearly bought tears to my eyes. I do love vintage books. I love vintage Enid Blytons, I love Donna Parker and I love old annuals. This is my latest find which I thought I'd share. It's a great Collins Girls' annual. I actually used to have this when I was young. It has some super stories including The Day the Lion Got Loose which my daughter loves hearing. It's actually quite a tense story that one!
I'll post more of my favourite old books in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday Oatlands My Home Town!


Thanks for popping in. I thought you might be interested in my photo of the historic town of Oatlands in Tasmania. I spent a lot of my childhood here when we weren't in the tropics of Papua New Guinea.

My parents still live in Oatlands (population 500) and I visit as often as I can as I love it. The Callington Mill which you can see in the photograph was built in 1837. I spent many happy hours as a child playing there, making up stories. It’s where my notorious 'Perfume Club' was formed.

Oatlands is a very pretty town and has the largest collection of Georgian-style convict-built buildings in Australia. For some reason it's not as popular with tourists as Ross or Campbell Town but I love its character.

Oatlands was once home to one of Tasmania's most feared hangmen, ex-convict Solomon Blay. He was so dreaded that nobody would give him a lift to Hobart and so he had to walk there to carry out his gruesome, thankless job.

To me Oatlands will always be home. It's where the first convict Pennicott (Adam) made his home. Hopefully I'll get to revisit Oatlands soon in the near future as I'm often homesick for Tasmania.
The Scribe often laughs that my family have lived in most of the houses in the town and we have lived in quite a few. My favourites were a couple of tiny stone cottages.

My love of stone houses (we live in a brick house in Sydney), dry stone walls, history and cold, cold weather comes from Oatlands. And yet part of my childhood was in the steamy tropics of Papua New Guinea! I truly had the best of both worlds.

I've been working on a short story that I was invited to submit for a magazine. I'd been uncertain about whether I would have time to write it but luckily I did have a dream that is suitable for the subject content and so I've used my dream as the basis of the story.

And I'm also beginning the process of editing and redrafting Poets Cottage. Never one of my favourite tasks as I like to just create new stories rather than return and polish but polish I must!

I also had another dream last night where I really, really, really wanted to write some more fantasy. I woke up longing to do some imaginative writing and so hopefully in the future I'll make time for that !

If you're flying on a Qantas plane this month, check out the Scribe's interview with Peter FitzSimons. He did a lovely job with the article and I was most envious that he got to interview Peter at his gorgeous home that I've lusted after for years via magazines.

Gosh, I really long to move over the harbour. Must do some more culling of my office at the moment. I'm in the process of clearing and culling papers; an awesome task! Two writers living together collect an unbelievable amount of paper!

And I have forgotten to mention that I am actually teaching myself to crochet! Yes! It's true! I have worked out how to do a chain stitch and slowly figuring out how to do a Granny Square! I can't actually believe I'm as excited as I am about Granny Squares but it's good to keep stretching yourself into other areas of life.

Crochet and Granny Squaring are all the influence of Pip from Meet Me At Mikes! who tends to somehow get you to embrace your inner Nanna. I had never realised until Blogging how many crafty, talented people there are out there.

Enjoy your week. Stay chirpy and be creative, creative, creative! xx

Monday, June 22, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and MIRKA MORA


I'm sitting at the bus stop as trains have been cancelled due to track work (how unusual for Sydney). My bus also looks as if it's been hijacked so I'll grab these precious moments to write about an artist I've loved for years. Who could not love Mirka Mora? When I hear the word 'bohemian', Mirka is one of those people who instantly come to mind.

Stunningly beautiful at every age, Mirka still loves to utter her mischievous statements to the media. In an interview to promote her autobiography, Wicked But Virtuous: My Life, she asked the reporter if he liked foreplay. She was 72 at the time and so age hasn't dimmed her cheeky spark.

I ran into her when I was an art student at COFA in Paddington. I was in the nearby art shop buying brushes and standing right next to me was MIRKA with a young man (it could have been her son or lover). I was trembling with excitement. Now if it had been Brad Pitt or some other movie star I wouldn't have been so worked up but artists and writers always leave me awed and 'star-struck'. I longed to scream, Mirka! And throw myself at her but in true Sydney 'too cool for school' style I looked right through her as if to say, 'Mirka who?'

A mischievous impulse came over me as I watched her paying for her items, I looked at my paint brushes and I wanted to rub them all over her! Absorb her talent, her genius, her whimsical joy for life. I wanted to saturate my brushes with Mirka's essence and then run to my studio and paint angels and dolls and colours that were prayers on my canvas.

But I merely sneaked one last peep and left the shop. Some days I regret that I didn't follow the impulse. Mirka might have approved if I did.

And so for Magnificent Monday may I present the luminous Mirka Mora. The people of Melbourne are fortunate to have her living amongst them. She must elevate that city closer to the angels with her presence. She makes me smile, she moves me with her joy and stimulates me with her intellect. People like Mirka make this planet a more joyous world to inhabit. Mirka Mora brings us closer to the artistic wisdom of children, saints, poets and the language of flowers. Whether she's cutting holes in her clothing for her nipples to poke through to enliven a dull party or asking an interviewer if he likes foreplay, Mirka has never lost her love of being outrageous.

Mirka's art and life has the power of a small child's prayer in the darkness. She is not afraid when she expresses herself and there her power lies. She has the innocent soul of a child. An inspiring, enchanting artist and mother, she survived the Holocaust (her family narrowly escaped being sent to Auschwitz), cancer and a breakdown but still retains her joy and passion for life.

If you would like to read more about this charming, eccentric artist then I highly recommend her autobiography, Wicked But Virtuous: My Life. It's one of my favourite art books and is loaded with terrific Mirka quotes and sensational photographs. I'm still trying to hunt down her second book Love and Clutter as I feel Mirka and I would get along very well with our ideas on home interior design. Her small cluttered house has become legendary, filled with books, dolls and artworks. Inside Out did a feature on her home a couple of years ago, an issue I treasure.

I hope one day to be affluent enough to buy an original Mirka to hang on my wall.

I love Mirka not only for her inspiration and art, but for her red lipstick, her affirmations that she spends money on good skin care rather than food (it must have worked because she has truly beautiful skin) and for inspiring quotes like this one:

"I'm greedy with life; every minute is special. It's your life, you can never get that minute again.

And so for this week I'm going to aim to bring the joy of the child into my creativity and days. I took my daughter to preschool this morning and wore bright red lipstick in homage to Mirka. On the walk home I looked around me asking how Mirka would view that walk. It was a fascinating exercise. Hope you have a joyous, creative and fun week and I'll be back on Wednesday for a quick chit-chat!

Be Happy, Kind, Play Safe and Stay Creative. xx

Friday, June 19, 2009


Hello! I've had a bit of a face-lift as you can see. I'm no longer in my blogging underwear. In my dreams I’d love to have the skills and time to construct my own Blog design but I have a book to edit, short stories to write, a house to renovate and a four-year-old girl to entertain and so for now I'm happy to take advantage of the talent and generosity of others in the Blogosphere.

I've been enjoying the cozy, rainy chilly Sydney weather with my daughter at home. We've been baking biscuits, doing craft and reading The Far Away Tree and Pinocchio stories. I always enjoy our days at home when we don't have to be out and about in the world rushing from one activity to the next.

We're in the process of obtaining quotes for completing our renovations, although Daisy informed me today she "doesn't want to live in this stupid little house anymore! She wants to live in a big house and call it Daisy! Unless we win the Lotto this week that big house called Daisy hardly seems likely, and so in the meantime it means a trip to Ikea so Daisy can have a bedroom.

That was a really stunning photo I posted of Kahlo on Monday, wasn't it? She looks so young and so determined. I think to succeed in writing you really have to be as determined as Frida. It takes a lot of grit to start and finish a book - and that's just the beginning - because then you have to navigate what can be a publishing minefield.

Aspiring writers often ask me how to get an agent. This can be the most frustrating and challenging step. Australia has only a handful of agents and it's really difficult if you're not a known 'name' to get onto their books.

I'm fortunate to be represented by Selwa Anthony who has looked after me for years. When I was frantically agent-hunting I had my heart set on Selwa who I had seen in a magazine article. She doesn't list her contact details which makes finding her extremely challenging to say the least.

I know this sounds like a sequence from The Secret but I became totally determined to find Selwa somehow and she would be my agent. I really felt it would happen with every degree of my body. Perhaps not overnight but I believed that no matter how long it took - I would end up on her books. It was a totally different feeling to wanting Selwa and desiring an agent. It was a total knowing that I would have her as my agent and I was prepared to wait years if I had to. Okay, cue the soundtrack to the Secret and flash to a scene of the pyramids being built.

After I had reached that 'knowing' stage I had two different people come to me with her contact details. But I already did have a publishing company interested in a book I had written at art school and so there was a product to show Selwa.

That is the sort of determination you have to possess. The determination that sees you through a billion rejections, heartbreaks, closed doors and to keep going knowing inside yourself it will happen.

We all know those stories of writers like Robert M. Pirsig and his book Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that was rejected by 121 publishing houses before he was finally picked up and sold millions of copies worldwide. I just love those stories! You have to ask yourself if you would have had the spine to keep sending that manuscript out for the 122nd time? I've got to work on my own determination as I think I would have given up on the fourth attempt!

We may never hopefully have to endure any of the agony that Frida Kahlo did for her art but we can hold onto her grit, imaginative brilliance and determination to sustain us through the bleak and frustrating times that we all go through as creative artists.

Enjoy your weekend. I will be taking my daughter to ballet and hanging out at home trying to cull the excess of papers in my office. Hopefully I'll have some time for the garden.

I have now completed the first draft of my mystery Poets Cottage which came in at 120 000 words. It's now time for the editing stage before I can give it to my agent.

Thank you to all who gave positive comments here and on Facebook. Your support is deeply appreciated.

Hope to see you here next week. See the sacred in the everyday mundane moments. Stay jolly be kind, play safe and create, create, create! . xx

One of the marks of a gift is to have the courage of it.
Katherine Anne Porter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Words and Pictures - Rose

This is a little writing and image game from the wonderful Pip Lincolne's Blog Meet Me At Mikes! We are given a word and have to come up with a little prose piece or produce an image. This is my first week at playing. The word is ROSE

Life on Rose Street

Rose Street emerges from the pages of children's ancient fairytale pop-up books smelling of musk sticks and we all chant together. Boys wear blue and girls wear pink.

The scent of legends, crushed petals and right next door to me Betsey Johnson is smiling as she cartwheels, revealing her rose and yellow tutu.

Further down the street behind doors covered with green briars, Victorian maidens pinch life into cheeks with nervous fingers whilst more modern damsels in distress paint roses onto their pale cheeks from Benefit Benetint bottles. They jostle each other for a better view of their beauty in the only mirror they share.

Three doors down in the toy-block gaol which has been recently painted pink, the inmates calm down as they wait for storybook happier endings. The centrefold in their magazines has rouged her nipples and wears a Victorian mourning brooch made of child's hair in the hollow of her throat. The inmate who has no name (his crime was a crime of passion) pricks his finger on the brooch and a drop of blood like a precious tear stains the magazine. The blood drips slowly down the women's naked form. The other inmates howl their fury. He will live forever. Do not despair. He will live forever.

My partner wears a rose pink shirt to the office (he's so masculine he's not afraid to do so). "Let the wolves howl," he says. "Nothing ever really dies in Rose Street."

"My daughter says she wants to go home and live with you," a mother confides to me at Rose Street Preschool. "Daisy's mother lets her wear pink tutus and Daisy's mother wears bright lipstick!" She sniffs in disapproval at my bad influence on a developing mind. Her daughter looks at me sadly as I leave the school. My daughter flies ahead of me, her immense pink fairy wings glistening through the bare winter trees.

Rose pink -she is so seductive that men and women fear the smiling fatale.

Boys wear blue and girls wear pink.

Rose Street - where neighbours make dreams and peg them out on tiny pink plastic pegs to dry. And where even the oldest fairy tale princesses live forever.

Chit-chat Wednesday Follow the Artists!

Thanks for popping in. I'm frantically typing this whilst Play School is playing in the background and my daughter is recovering from her day at preschool.

I've spent a lot of time this week trying to come up with a header for this Blog. I'm so not technical and so this is a total PAIN for me. It will happen but you may have to be patient as I work out which fabbo header I want to adorn this space.

I have been working on some fairy stories for my book Poets Cottage which has been the most enormous fun. I would really love to write for children one day! I get so much out of re-reading all my old childhood favourites to Daisy.

It struck me this morning as I walked her to preschool how very different her childhood is to mine. I grew up in New Guinea and Tasmania and I had a very outdoor, magical childhood with lots of imaginative game playing and heading into the bush to explore for an entire day at a time. I'm often wondering how healthy it is for children to grow up in the inner-city. The Scribe however did grow up in Sydney and so he doesn't suffer from the same questions and nagging anxiety that I do. Children seem to grow up so quickly these days and I want Daisy to stay a child for as long as possible.

This morning it was pouring with rain and I enjoyed a very long cuddle in bed with her. Yes, I knew I should have been up writing but I feel these precious times won't be forever and I want to hang onto them as much as I can.

When we first moved into our little house the Scribe was still working in television production and I was an art student (We were different people then. I was definitely blonder!) This area was also very different. It was filled with bohemians, artists, Goths. You would walk down our street and it would be covered with syringes and there would be drug deals taking place in the house next door. I don't miss the syringes as we've watched this area gentrify seemingly overnight - but I do miss the creative funky vibe that used to permeate the suburb.

I know there are still artists working in our area as they have a few warehouses rented around here but they are getting scarcer. I think I see a Boyd walking around with his beret on (I'm too shy to ask but one day I will summon the courage)

I have a real-estate theory that I settled on at artschool - FOLLOW THE ARTISTS. I saw it work in Paddington and Glebe. The artists move to a cheap area in Sydney and start working in their studios. They begin to sell their works and create a 'funky' vibe. The doctors, lawyers, IT folk sense the vibe and like it and move into the area. With their arrival, the prices are forced up and the artists disperse quietly to cheaper areas to work again. Meanwhile the areas they have vacated gentrify and gentrify.

I used the FOLLOW THE ARTISTS theory when we bought our current little brick house. We bought it at a very low price for this area and have been slowly renovating it since Daisy arrived. Prior to that we were too busy jaunting away to Paris and Venice and other incredible destinations to worry about renovation. It has been incredible to witness what was once a unpopular inner-city suburb transform into what they are now flogging as ' the boutique suburb'.
I'm not sure if my FOLLOW THE ARTISTS theory applies overseas as well or if it's just a Sydney thing.

But for now, I'm looking around my up-and-coming 'boutique suburb' and wondering where the hell did all the artists go?

I'll be back on Fabbo Friday if you would like to catch up. Cheerio xx

Monday, June 15, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Frida Kahlo

I'm sitting on a crowded train en route to my one-day-a-week ‘real world' job. It's just started to rain and it’s wonderfully chilly outside. In other words - a PERFECT WRITING DAY. Life seems filled with frustrating moments like this!
I've left Daisy and the Scribe at home playing dress-ups together. If I wasn't home writing, I'd love to be playing with my family today.
At times like this, it helps to give myself some perspective by meditating on something marvellous and inspiring. And for my very first Magnificent Marvellous Mighty Monday post, I've selected Frida Kahlo for pretty obvious reasons.
Frida was never one of my favourite painters at art school but her spirit is so worthy and mighty that I feel Frida is the first person I thought of to adorn this post. I often moan about the amount of operations I've had in my life. Well Frida had around thirty-five operations and yet continued to paint and create despite extreme pain.
I know a lot of us have jobs we don't want to be going to when we feel like expressing ourselves. My ultimate fantasy day is to wake up in my Jane Brockett, uncluttered, spacious by the beach home. Daisy is smiling and jolly and playing happily, amusing herself whilst I look serene and like an actress from Mad Men with my hair done and nails perfect as I type a bestseller and bluebirds sing songs of praise and glory to my greatness outside the window.
I saw a t-shirt in Newtown that made me laugh. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR BLOG. I had always vowed I wouldn't attempt to Blog despite lurking on other people’s Blogs for years. I am quite addicted to reading them (see my favourites list in my About Me). But I was too busy writing to Blog. I already have a brilliant website which gets updated with the seasonal changes. I have a Facebook and MySpace and I thought that was enough for one person in a lifetime. I felt a bit like the Wizard in Oz with his megaphone as it was and Blogging would make me even more like that little man!
I was finally inspired to start this very pink and humble Blog by a wonderful English writer and her blog called What Kate Did. Her marvellous Blog with its mixture of writing and art and parenting posts showed me what was possible. And also I have to mention Pip from Meet me at Mikes who has a Blog that has that chatty retro quirky twist I love. Her Blog was also another influence on getting me started.
I'm not technically minded and so I don't have a Blog with a lot of bells and whistles. My website has more than enough of that. This is just my little corner where a few times a week I can post thoughts and images that motivate me and keep me going through the crumbly times. It's my thoughts on art, writing, motherhood, renovation and trying to keep sane and jolly amongst it all.
I hope it will be a cozy place where I can refresh my spirit and get myself focused and stay on track. Hopefully I'll meet kindred spirits along the way - if not I'll have to talk to myself. And buy one of those T-shirts to wear
I conceive Tale Peddler as being very pink, chirpy, quirky, slightly surreal, whimsical, stimulating - and as cozy as a knitted Granny rug on a cold day. A bit like Barry Humphries meeting Dame Edna for a sewing lesson and a whisky in a pink Paris cafe.
Of course it could evolve into something totally different but that's the original plan. If you enjoy visiting me please leave a comment so I know that you have called. I can pop the kettle on for when you next return.
Bless you Frida Kahlo for your courage and determination. Despite all your pain and suffering you kept your art flowing and created works of great strength, beauty, fire and power.
Thanks for dropping in to visit me here. It was lovely to catch up. I'll be home Wednesday if you'd like to call back.
Ciao xx