Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We spend the days jumping the waves – 'jumping sharks!' my daughter shrieks. Together we collect shells so tiny they disappear into light.
I watch her sitting in the waves, telling stories to the mermaids who gather to listen. Her stories involve castles made of ice-creams and cats of fire. Precious moments and tales, I press them in my mind, dangling like silver charms to reflect upon when the skies turn grey.
At night the stars are so luminous, so brazen. We are not used to the stars flashing their bodies – in the inner-city stars are modest, only ever half-glimpsed through the pollution.
But it is the innocent blue days that present the serious baking challenges. Sandcastles, jellyfish and crabs admire our efforts as we spend hours baking cakes for mermaids.
Monday, September 28, 2009
This is one Monday post when I shouldn't really have to say anything except two words - Johnny Depp – and, like the Buddha holding up a Lotus leaf, we all nod and just get it.
However, I'm a tale peddler and words are my passion and joy. What inspires me about Johnny Depp? There are times I wish I didn't love him so much as it seems the entire world shares my feelings and I'd like to be original. Whether I am talking to grannies, schoolchildren, preschool teachers, males or females - mention Johnny and people light up.
To me he has the charisma and presence of the old-time movie actors like Clark Gable. I can honestly say that if George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise walked into my house (such an unlikely scenario I feel confident swearing to this) they wouldn't rate a second glance from me. I'd politely usher them out the door and go back to my book.
But Johnny looks like a person I'd love to hang out with. I'd like to see bands, discuss parenting, talk poetry and silly stuff. I'd like to see him pursue his creative passions like painting, writing and music as I think the results would be really interesting. He's a family guy. He loves his mother, his wife and his children. He has substance, humility and a purity of spirit. He's not some boring pretty-face male actor attending premieres, puffed out with his own ego.
No, Johnny has artistic integrity, choosing films that appeal to him instead of relying on mass-market crappo films or a pretty face and playing the Hollywood game.
And he's a humanitarian. Our hero gives a lot of money to charity whilst insisting his contributions remain private. His kindness on set to all the 'underlings' has often been commented upon in the media.
And so for Magnificent, Marvellous Mighty Monday let us reflect on the Magnificence of the quirky, softly-spoken, talented and super cool Johnny Depp! May the example that he gives us by being true to himself inspire our own craft! Hurrah, Hurrah for Johnny Depp!
I'm shy, paranoid, whatever word you want to use. I hate fame. I've done everything I can to avoid it.
Friday, September 25, 2009
How is your week? I've been hectic but still have found time to listen to the birds and make up pixie stories with my daughter.
Daisy's bedroom is coming along well and the horrid, drab blue is now a lovelier shade of pink. I'll post some pics soon. Here are a few things that I've found fab and fun this week:
Cath Kidston: I've been in a state of trance going through her latest catalogue. I imagine heaven must be decorated with prints and fabrics by Cath. I just have to convince the Scribe that wallpaper is a good idea in a house we have to resell...
Country Style: Loving this fab issue of Australian Country Style with the very fab Allison Jones of Lark. It is great to read behind the scenes of how Allison and her husband Paul decided to move from their 16th-century house in Cambridge (UK) to Daylesford, a pretty village near Melbourne (Australia). I love Allison's style with her vintage-inspired furnishings.
Revlon Red: There's something so retro to me with Revlon nail varnishes. They are terrific value for the depth of colour and last longer than a lot of more expensive brands. As a teenager I thought my Aunt was the height of glamour when she was painting her nails with Revlon. Revlon Red is my favourite for toes at the moment. Hope your weekend is relaxing and fun. We will still be travelling between two houses with ballet and two birthday parties but I'm planning to spend some time with my Cath Kidston and Country Style.
Thanks to all who popped in this week. And I'll leave you with the image of how the backyard looked when the dust storms hit Sydney on Wednesday,
image of nail varnish:
image of Allison Jones:
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
We were awoken around 6.30 am by our daughter peering out the bedroom window. "Oh, oh guys. Something's up," she said chirpily. Something was indeed up. Overnight the sky had turned to mustard yellow and outside the world looked like Kansas when the tornado was about to whirl Dorothy away to Oz.
It is a strange feeling to see the city you know so well transformed overnight by Mother Nature and the biggest dust storm the city has seen. You feel awed at the power of how quickly she can leave you vulnerable. In 24 hours Sydney has gone from a stifling 30 degrees to below 20 as a wild storm approached – thunderstorms and gale-force winds with gusts over 100 km/h.
State Emergency Services advised to keep children indoors away from windows. I didn't need their recommendation as I didn't want to struggle through the world of dust and disrupted services. Daisy and I stayed home to do craft, read fairytale books and hold birthday parties for her toys. The sound of the winds was soothing and womb-like although the world had become slightly eerie.
And recently in Glebe (boho suburb where the Scribe and I shared a one-room bedsit when I was art school) a 1.8m bull shark was spotted in a park canal. Glebe and the word 'shark' don't normally go together but there it was - swimming nonchalantly along as people gathered to watch.
Mother Nature is playing tricks with Sydney Town this week.
Wizard of Oz image source:
Glebe image source:
Monday, September 21, 2009
Completing my tribute to Agatha Christie, it would be remiss of me not to mention another of my favourite characters: Ariadne Oliver.
Based on Agatha herself (as Agatha admitted in interviews), Ariadne is a fascinating insight into Agatha's own thoughts on the crime-writing genre and her fictional characters.
Eccentric, flamboyant, feisty and opinionated, Ariadne is worlds away from Miss Marple but is good friends with Poirot and assists him (in her bumbling fashion) to solve crimes with her (frequently misplaced) 'feminine intuition'. You get the feeling Agatha had a lot of fun writing this larger-than-life character who closely echoed Agatha's own thoughts and feelings on the craft of mystery writing.
My imagination conjured a large and rather dowdy woman when I was reading the books and so I loved the more glamorous interpretation the recent Poirot episodes brought to the character with Zoe Wanamaker wearing thirties-style dresses and exotic hairpieces.
Ariadne is a lovable, very human character who reveals Agatha Christie herself to us with twinkling eyes. When Ariadne berates the fans who write to her about trivial mistakes, or shrieks how much she hates her creation the Finnish detective Sven Hjerson, we can enjoy the joke.
And so three cheers for middle-aged mystery novelists struggling with weight gain and apple addictions, having to deal with the demands of publishers and over-zealous fans whilst they attempt to wrestle with plots and murder most foul.
Three cheers for Araidne Oliver and three more for the Queen of Crime herself - Agatha Christie!
“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely
miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite
certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
image source Hallmark channel:
Friday, September 18, 2009
We have now reached a truly exciting stage of the renovation in our Little Brick Cottage: Daisy's bedroom. Until now Daisy has been sleeping with us and we've used the front bedroom as an office. I've loved having her with us for this extended time as I am a Mother Hen who enjoys her family all together under my wing, but Daisy is now ready for her own room.
While the interior is painted and the floorboards finished we’re houseminding by the sea. Over the last few years we’ve been fortunate to be able to do this whilst Ma and Pa enjoy their trips to England.
Here is a photo of Daisy in her bedroom-to-be. I bought some vintage fairy print curtains from my EBay which, along with a little French china poodle, the chandelier and vintage children fairy tale books, are forming the inspiration for how I want the room to look. The shabby blue paint job was by the previous tenants and I can't wait to get rid of it. We are fortunate in the small cottage to have good bones in that the ceilings are very high and every room has original features such as fireplaces or leadlight windows. We took the other doors back to the original wood with the exception of the bedrooms. As we are most likely going to be reselling in the future we don't know if it's worth the expense as lovely as the old doors look with the original woodwork.
Because of the massive moving and all the to-and-fro between two houses there hasn't been a lot of writing happening this week. I miss it terribly and cannot wait until life settles down a little so I can do more. I hope you have a lovely weekend and get to relax and do wonderful creative and fun things with people you love. xx
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Life has been chaotic the last week. We are now in the last stage of our renovation, houseminding at Ma and Pa's whilst they are in England.
At 6.30am my daughter woke me, holding a beautiful little trinket box that we had made together for Ma last Mother's Day. We had laboured for a couple of weeks on this box and I had enjoyed myself speculating what Ma would keep inside it. A lock of Pa's hair? Precious jewellery? Her children's drawings?
"I want to show you something, Mummy," Daisy said as her little hands struggled to undo the container. How sweet, I thought. The mystery was about to be revealed.
Then all hell broke out as my daughter shook a large huntsman spider onto me.
I don't think I’ve ever screamed so much and moved so quickly at that hour of the morning. I ran from the room in a panic, my daughter following me yelling, "It's alright, Mummy! It's dead!"
She then told me that Ma kept the spider for her and that she played with it when she came to visit. "Uncle put it in my hands," she blithely told me.
I don't know what was worse. The fear that shot through my arachnophobic body when the huntsman fell onto the bed or the knowledge that Ma (who up to this point had seemed so sane) kept a huntsman in her Mother's Day special box. Is it any wonder that I have so many grey hairs?
I'll write more about the renovation when I post on Friday.
image source of Miss Muffet
Monday, September 14, 2009
Although Miss Marple remains my favourite Christie detective, Hercule Poirot the Belgian detective gives the spinster a run for her money. He is everything I am not - organized, methodical, with a tendency to use intellect over heart and emotions. Add his wonderful, immaculate Art Deco apartment (no dust! Perfect symmetry). I long to be Poirot at times, living in such an orderly world. I suspect we do however have a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in common. The Queen of Crime may have tired of her famous creation, finding him 'insufferable', but I feel his popularity is a testament to Agatha's skill in creating characters that we can relate to. I remember weeping my way through Curtain: Poirot's Last Case; even the New York Times published a front-page obituary for the little detective. In a recent poll at the official Agatha Christie website, Hercule Poirot topped Miss Marple.
And it goes without saying that David Suchet is my favourite Poirot of all time. He is Hercule Poirot!
And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday, let us throw our top hats into the air, polish up our intellect, ensure all items around us are placed in pleasing order and give three loud cheers for Hercule Poirot and his little grey cells!
"I am Hercule Poirot and I know."
Death in the Clouds
Friday, September 11, 2009
To build our shed we had to sacrifice one of the large palm trees in our courtyard, a decision we didn't take lightly. I'm a person who finds it difficult to pick flowers; the thought of taking out a tree which we had planted from a teeny pot was anathema to me. I agonized over this for a couple of years and it was one of the reasons we had put off building the shed despite badly needing the space.
We even had an arborist assess the situation. He thought we were mad to worry and bluntly told us to 'pull the bloody thing out, they grow like wildfire here and it's ruining your tea-tree at the top.' We also have the loveliest native tea-tree in our little courtyard, which attracts a lot of bird life. Finally after much weeping, gnashing of teeth and - I'll whisper this bit, 'talking and apologizing to the tree' - we cut it down.
After years of the emotional build-up it was amazing how it was far easier than we had expected. We did manage to save a part of the tree to replant and hopefully he'll live on behind our shed to grow just as big and strong. The tea-tree looks happier already now he's not in a duel with the palm and all is well at Little Brick garden. Here is a photo of Daisy posing on the stumps of the palm.
And - the beginnings of the shed! Yes, it still has to be painted and prettified, but we have electricity and a structure happening. There is a shed.
It's odd how some things in your life assume a massive importance and you worry and fret over them for years and then it turns into nothing. In my experience, it's the things you don't worry about that tend to reach out and grab you by the throat when you least expect it.
We have had a massive few days moving half our house to our beach residence whilst the Scribe's parents are on holidays. We will stay here by the seaside whilst the painting and floorboards are done in Little Brick.
Enjoy your weekend and I hope that it is a creative and restful time for you. xx
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thanks for popping in. We are frantically busy this week preparing to move to our summer location for six weeks whilst the remainder of our renovation work is done on our little cottage. I had to mention amongst all the packing, de-cluttering, and madness that Tale Peddler has won another award! Thank you very much to my lovely UK Blogging pal, The Curious Cat (who looks rather fetching in a shower hat) and who has presented me with the Honest Scrap award.
The award tradition is that I now list ten honest scrap things about myself and pass the award to ten other Bloggers I love. Big breath and here we go:
1/ All the characters in my fantasy trilogy had parts of myself, but the one I related to the most was the Winski who records the story of his tribe. My friends often think it was the soap-star wannabe actress (huh!) but it was the Winski who was my alter-ego.
2/ I am phone-phobic and hate talking on the phone.
3/ I attend Catholic Mass on a regular basis and I collect Mary statues. My witchy friends don't understand my interest with the church. But you can't please everybody.
4/ I hate making small talk and I'm hopeless in social situations (the Scribe totally disagrees here!).
5/ I live in the inner-city but at heart I'm a country girl and could happily live in the country if the Scribe could get work there.
6/ I am borderline Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by my own diagnosis in the way I like to clip newspaper items that interest me. The Scribe forced me to throw away a lot of my 'interest' when he put them all together and they took up a quarter of a room. I have a lot of interests. But I do get loads of story and book ideas from newspapers and magazines.
7/ I am a total homebody. I love being at home pottering around and have to be prised out.
8/ I believe in ghosts. I have seen a ghost which convinced me of other realities.
9/ I love writing crime and mystery but also fantasy and I'm often torn between the two. I have so many stories going in my head that it really is overwhelming at times.
10/ I started Tale Peddler to distract myself from a situation that is happening in my life. So far it hasn't worked but I've met a lot of fabbo people and made good blogging pals.
And my ten Blogs to pass the Honest Scrap Award to are:
1/ Owl In The Dark - Totally magical, transformative and beautiful. You have to experience it rather than have it explained! The little owl who keeps it sees ghosts and talks to furniture. Visiting her is rather like entering a beautiful, strange fairytale. She also has an extraordinary knitting blog.
2/Bookish Blonde- I always get a laugh from Sharon with her musings on men, life and writing.
3 What Kate Did Next- Terrific Blog which combines art, writing and motherhood with beautifully written posts.
4 Chez Pinry Another mother (of twins no less, and a four-year-old). Has lovely crafty posts and pics. Well deserving of any award and medal in my book.
5 The Machinist's Wife- Helen blogs about her family, interests and setting up a pie shop in a small Australian town. Being a pie lover, I love Helen.
6 Beach Vintage- Simone is a bit of a legend with all her Bloggy awards but she deserves every one of them. If you like vintage, beachy posts then Simon's Blog is sure to delight. Best of all: she includes tips on how to achieve her brilliant ideas.
7 The Lark - The lovely Allison, a very clever and crafty lady, blogs about her vintage-inspired business and her family from her pretty country town of Daylesford. Allison's collection of vintage Ladybird books is enough to make me fall in love alone.
8 La Belette Rouge - Thoughtful, intelligent, stylish and literary Blog with a variety of topics about life in LA. Definitely worth a visit. Another one to experience rather than explain. I recently contributed as a guest blogger to her Home section, writing about our Little Brick Cottage.
9 The Daily Connoisseur- Lovely Jennifer has a very stylish Blog with an arty twist. Another mystery book lover with beautiful manners and style. Jennifer's blog is about living your highest life possible.
10 Suzy's Vintage Attic- A new Blog to me which has totally captivated me with its charming and nostalgic feel. I think Isabelle and I have a lot in common with our love of vintage and Miss Marple. I adore Isabelle's posts which contain mouthwatering photos of England, her lovely home and charming daughter.
And there you have it! Quite an eclectic mix. Hopefully you will find some new friends and inspiration amongst these fabbo and lovely people. Do pay them a visit and let them know the Tale Peddler sent you! xx
Monday, September 7, 2009
The 13th to 20th of September is Agatha Christie week in the UK, which coincides with the Queen of Crime's birthday. There is a host of things happening such as John Curran's wonderful new book, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks. And most exciting of all, actors in period costume will act out a murder on the Orient Express. To celebrate at Tale Peddler for the next couple of weeks, my Monday posts will feature my two favourite detectives from the devious mind of the Queen of Crime.
Jane Marple has to be one of my very favourite literary characters of all time. I admire the surreal juxtaposition of the frail, seemingly helpless old lady who conceals her razor sharp mind and acute grasp of human psychology under her seemingly genial, aged veneer. I love the way St Mary Mead becomes a microcosm of the macrocosm and how Miss Marple from cool and careful observations of her maids and neighbours can see the dark heart of those foolish enough to commit murder near the spinster.
I have long harboured a desire to be Miss Marple. If she didn't enjoy detective work so much her analytic nature would have made her an excellent writer. She is a feminist icon to me. Fiercely independent and rising above the mindset of age, she beats the male professionals surrounding her at their own game. She defies all stereotypes; another trait I admire.
My very favourite actress who portrays her is the wonderful Joan Hickson.
What's not to love about Miss Marple? She knits, she has a pretty face, a romantic heart, she's cozy, keeps an immaculate house and loves her beautiful garden - when she's not pruning her roses she solves murders most bloody and foul in an always genteel, dignified manner.
And so for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday let us raise our knitting needles in the air and click them madly giving three cheers for Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Marple!
Friday, September 4, 2009
In Australia we have entered one of the loveliest seasons: Spring. The goddess Persephone is rising and with the maiden comes fresh new life in the form of nature and hopefully new creative ideas for us.
My warmest thanks to all the lovely Bloggers who sent Spring sunshine to me in their comments and support after the events of this week. I have only been Blogging for a short space of time and still have many tweaks and improvements to make to Tale Peddler - it is wonderful to have the support of so many noble, creative and fabbo people from around the globe.
I'm in love with the recent Spring edition of Australian Country Style magazine. The cover, the pretty tea-towel giveaway, Belinda Seper's Southern Highlands cottage and the young Swedish couple Nicklas and Jessica’s gorgeous Swedish cottage made this issue irresistible.
I love the quote of Jessica: "It's an important task we have been given. To be able to manage and take care of such an old cottage is a blessing."
That is exactly how I feel about little Brick and old houses in general.
The other photo is not very exciting, is it? But don't be fooled, gentle reader. That image shows the space where we are at present building in our small courtyard garden. I'll report on the progress as we go. This is the beginning of our lovely shed.
Enjoy your weekend and embrace this time of new beginnings as you let go of what no longer serves you.
Country Style image source:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I was on a crowded Sydney train when my mobile went. Fifteen minutes before I'd set out for my one day a week 'real job'. It was the Scribe. I could tell by his voice something had happened. "I think you had better come home," he said. And then, "I don't know how to say this."
A few seconds passed before I heard with shock that my Grandfather had died. My reaction was a very loud bursting into tears whilst the entire carriage of commuters sent silent sympathy as they did the usual Sydney thing of pretending nothing was happening.
There are times you feel guilty for mourning one who lived to such an advanced age as my Grandfather. But he is the source of so many childhood memories. A man of his time and generation, who spoke an Australian slang that you don't hear much anymore. He was snow, childhood rabbits, pine-trees, mice and guinea pigs, toast cooked in front of the fire on toasting forks. Not a perfect man; he had a snappy, crusty veneer at times which housed a very soft heart. I would watch with disbelief when he would cry over the deaths of his favourite birds. This was the same man who would behead his own poultry in the backyard without flinching. I'm sure I inherited my weeping genes from him. Forever generous and always trying to press money upon me. He was always concerned if there was enough food in my pantry. If you had a pantry full of food you were abundant. He had lied about his age to fight in World War II, and raised eight children in a very modest sized house.
His last couple of years were painful to witness. He lost his wife and then his leg, amputated due to smoking - a ghastly operation with just a local anesthetic due to his age. One can imagine the fear my Grandfather went through. He managed to stop smoking for awhile but soon resumed it. "What the bloody hell have I got left?" he would say.
He was quite a character and known throughout the Midlands. When I phoned to order a wreathfrom a neighbouring village and said his name, the funeral director said, 'Aah, it's for Rattler."
I can see him now going around the lake in his electric wheelchair, beret on his head, doggy companion Tess by his side (a dog he was always threatening to shoot if he wanted to waste a bullet).
I regret very much that for a couple of months I had thought I should send him a proper letter and photos and artwork of Daisy's. Somehow there was never enough time in my busy life - but there was always time for Facebook or the Blog.
On the day he took his last breath, I took this photograph of Daisy in our yard. "I'm going to send it to Granddad," I told the Scribe. I asked him to print me a copy of it on Monday.