Monday, November 30, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Gold Sneakers

When I grow old, I want to have a face like any of the three women above. A face lit with the flames of creativity. Breathe their essence in.
That is beauty. Truth and spirit. And a slash of red lipstick doesn't hurt!
I used to see an old woman in the city streets. She wore her white hair in a top knot. Her face was filled with sweet smile lines. She was always dressed beautifully and on her feet she wore bright gold sneakers. She was cute and she knew it.
My Botox will be writing, art and fairytales. I want to grow old with a smile on my face and gold sneakers on my feet.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Fab Swimsuits and Time

I'm not a fan of summer. But I am slightly consoled by my new Prue Trollope bathing suit. I've never suited modern swimsuits and have always had to buy vintage bathers to look half-way decent. At times I did tend to look a bit like Grandma on the beach but that was okay. Then I discovered my lovely swimming suit from Prue Trollope's online shop. It is everything she claims it is: the perfect cozzi. Mine is the black version of the one above. I think I'll also buy this red one. When my Pink Princess friend came to Sydney recently she visited Prue's shop and like me fell in love with the bathers once she had tried them on. And so don't say I never share the good stuff with you. If your body type isn't suited to modern day sizing, then here is the costume that will change your life and summer!
Enjoy your weekend. It has been so stifling hot in Sydney. I can barely breathe in the inner-city and think longingly of cool water, parasols, a ride in the Snow Queen's chariot into cool dark nights.
Time is flying away from me. It is terrifying. The days are spinning me around and every time I look at my daughter I get a shock at the little girl who has replaced the baby. Time is speeding towards Christmas. So much to be done!
May you hold time this weekend and make every second precious and appreciate the unique beauty in your theatre of life.
Thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and The Ballet Class

There was a time in my life when I would have baulked at the thought I would be the shortest and dumpiest in any class. But with age comes fearlessness re what others may think. And so this Monday I survived my first adult ballet class.
I was awfully proud of myself as this group has been dancing all year together and were rather professional. It was surprising to me how well I was able to follow some steps (yes, even twirls and spins). The teacher said, 'You catch on quickly, Jo' and the class applauded. Probably more in relief that there was something dumpy and hopeless amongst them!
Lest you think me a total braggart let me quickly say that I was even more pants at the stretching at the barre work than I could have ever imagined. I was like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. In fact, I got myself stuck on the barre whilst my teacher pushed, pulled and screamed encouragement, breaking both my hips and pelvis so that I could be more flexible in the following lesson.
I was terribly stiff from years of sitting hunched over a laptop. I left the class 'floating on air', as they say, but the following day I woke up in agony. My muscles had suddenly realised they were alive and weren't happy about the fact.
I shall return next week if I can find the strength to walk there.
And yes, that is me above as a young ballerina in Lae, New Guinea. How I wish my legs were as shapely as that now! Still, it was my Inspiration post about the lovely Juliette Binoche that spurred me on. If she can take up dancing in her forties then it's good enough for me!
Hope your week is going well. I am still unpacking boxes and living in chaos and clutter. Renovation is such a slow and horrid business. xx

Monday, November 23, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and 'Poets Cottage' inspiration

This week I thought you might be interested to see a few images that inspired my current book in progress, 'Poets Cottage'.
On our last trip to my home state of Tasmania, we treated ourselves to a week in the sea-fishing village of Stanley, renting the historic Captain's Cottage. I'm a big lover of sea-fishing villages and Stanley in many ways is like entering an Enid Blyton book. The town is filled with historic cottages, dramatic seascapes and a large gothic cemetery by the sea. The magnificent Regency-style mansion Highfield has thousands of tales brewing inside it, including a very tragic story of the daughter of the original owners, who was killed when her pet dog dragged her into a fence while leading her around in her toy buggy. And I fell in love with a beautiful Georgian-style house that looks a little like the Bronte parsonage.
My book 'Poets Cottage' was born as I chatted to locals and walked the beach. All the visual elements surrounding me, sheep grazing in cemeteries, cottage-style gardens, the ocean, large houses filled with screams of grief, ghosts that wouldn't rest. Family secrets. Tasmanian devils. Bohemia. Sea-changes. The 1930s. A town where crime never happens... until it does.
My characters were so vivid it was as if they materialized and introduced themselves. And the theme of the book – family secrets and lies, memory and truth – was always there.
The book came quickly. The first draft flowed easily and my agent was happy with the chapters. I’m now working through another draft. I hope you enjoy these few early holiday inspiration shots that inspired Poets Cottage. I shall post some more inspiration photos next week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fabbo Friday and French Flicks, Kirsty, Donovan and Santa's Magic Cave

We braved the searing Sydney temperatures to visit Santa today in his Magic Cave and admire the annual David Jones window display. And so I could get fitted for ballet slippers (gulp, I'm getting serious here).
It always makes me feel a little more in the Christmassy spirit to see those singing pinecones and Manger scenes. This will be a very busy weekend with more work on the house, ballet and swimming.
My lovely neighbour and friend leant me the wonderful French movie happily ever after to watch. Have you seen it? She knew I’d be interested as Johnny Depp makes a cameo appearance. It is a really charming movie and Charlotte Gainsbourg is beautiful. So slim and so much like Serge and Jane, her fab Mamma and Papa. The only defect of this movie is that Johnny's part is so small. What you see in this picture is about it. But as usual, he plays the role superbly.
On the topic of fab parents, RED magazine for October featured the King and Queen of fab, Donovan Leitch and Kirsty Hume, with their lovely daughter Violet, in a gorgeous fashion spread. And also the fab UK writer Sadie Jones (of The Outcast fame) in her home. For the benefit of overseas readers, October RED has just arrived in Australia. I don't buy the air-freight magazines as they are so expensive.
RED Magazine, spanking new ballet slippers, French films, Johnny Depp are all soothing to the soul when you've been inside Santa's Magic Cave.
I hope your weekend is filled with magic, beauty and the odd singing pinecone. Thanks for visiting me. xx

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and Damn right I'm a ballet mum!

I was chit-chatting with a mother during an outing at a local park and I mentioned my daughter took ballet classes. The effect on the mother was startling and instantaneous. She pulled her neck out like a swan and hissed in a disgusted voice: "I can't believe you're one of THOSE ballet mums."
I saw myself through her eyes, dragging a little girl to classes filled with pampered children in pink spangly costumes being put through their paces to be a STAR whilst I waited in the wings, screaming encouragement, pulling my hair out when my daughter faltered with tears in her eyes, begging to go play in the sand-pit.
Of course all this is nonsense. I studied ballet at a very basic level when I was young. I firmly believe ballet or dance studies encourages discipline, teamwork, co-ordination, self-esteem and a sense of achievement.
My daughter occasionally grumbles at having to get out of bed early on a Saturday, but always loves seeing her friends in her dance class. We have one of the best ballet teachers I could imagine. She is adored by many and is a firm disciplinarian of the old school but with a heart of gold. I am grateful my daughter has received the chance to train under her for a period of time. When my very ill father and mother travelled to visit us, our lovely ballet teacher broke her rule and permitted them to view the class and treated them like royalty. My parents also fell under her spell and often refer to their brief meeting with her.
I’ve observed how well my daughter has begun to carry herself. She is very tall and I know the ballet is helping her posture. In fact, I’m going to sign up myself for a series of Adult beginner classes in the hope of losing some weight and improving my dire posture. I am still amused by the shocked expressions on the Scribe's and Daisy's face when I announced this. It is time to set our dancing expert a real challenge.
Yes, damn right I'm a ballet mum and proud to be one!

all images taken from we heart it

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and MAYA DEREN

It was the Scribe who first introduced me to the avant garde filmaker Maya Deren. Maya is a bit of a legend and when I was at art school I was totally smitten by her surreal, trancelike film Meshes of the Afternoon.
Like Jean Cocteau, who I've previously written about as an enormous inspiration and influence, Maya managed to make brilliantly innovative, challenging dreamlike short films on a shoe-string budget. She is quoted as attacking Hollywood by saying, "I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick." She also said Hollywood "was a major obstacle to the definition and development of motion pictures as a creative fine-art form."
Her Meshes of the Afternoon is hailed as one of the most influential avant-garde films in America. Other works of Maya's include At Land, Ritual in Transfigured Time and The Very Eye of Night. Maya was a tireless self-promoter and distributor of her own work and toured America doing lectures.
Later in her life, Maya became interested in Voodoun and travelled to Haiti where she filmed and participated in many rituals. Joseph Campbell edited her work for Divine Horseman: The Living Gods of Haiti.
Sadly, Maya died very young at 44 from a brain haemorrhage. The following is a plot summary from Meshes of the Afternoon. It will give you an idea of the dreamy, surreal rhythm to Maya's work. The source of this plot summary is to be found HERE
A solitary flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a phone off the hook: discordant images a woman sees as she comes home. She naps and, perhaps, dreams. She sees a hooded figure going down the driveway. The knife is on the stair, then in her bed. The hooded figure puts the flower on her bed then disappears. The woman sees it all happen again. Downstairs, she naps, this time in a chair. She awakes to see a man going upstairs with the flower. He puts it on the bed. The knife is handy. Can these dream-like sequences end happily? A mirror breaks, the man enters the house again. Will he find her? Written by
And what more could I possibly ask as an artist than that your most precious visions, however rare, assume sometimes the forms of my images. - Maya Deren
portrait of Maya image source:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fabbo Friday and Fab Mary Poppins and Niki

One of the very best things about Blogging is not only the chance to celebrate all the everyday moments of life, but also to celebrate and embrace all the incredibly talented people in this mysterious universe.
Two of those Blogging friends recently helped to save my sanity in the move back to Little Brick. Mary Poppins (from whom I ordered a personalised bunting and two Parisian Lavender pillows) sent me the prettiest and best smelling parcel all the way from Mary Poppins country this week. Mary is a very talented stay at home Mummy with a lovely Blog, adorable children and her pretty wares are always in demand. She is living proof that a few spoonfuls of pink and pretty sugar is the best tonic when life is a bit tough. And I loved the little freebies Mary was kind enough to enclose, the pretty shopping list and a card with one of my favourite sayings: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.
Thank you Mary for being such a wonderful blogging friend. You really put a smile in my heart that week and Daisy was so over the moon with all the pink hearts Mary enclosed in the parcel! It is a pity I don't have scent transmission on my computer so you could smell how divine this parcel was with the lavender pillows. I half-expected a few bumble bees to fall out dazed and wondering where they were. You can find Mary Poppins at her wonderful Blog here.
My other adorable parcel arrived a few weeks back from a Blogger friend that many of you may already know - the incredibly talented Niki from Nostalgia at the Stone House. Niki's Blog is filled with dazzling images of her beautiful home, life and art. She makes incredible dolls and wonderful gifts with a real English theme to them. My eyes feel as if they've been reborn when I visit her!
If you love pretty vintage fabrics, nostalgia and all that is fab, glorious and British then visit my lovely Niki in her Stone House for a big dose of nostalgic prettiness!
This is my gorgeous vintage brooch holder I purchased from Niki. She even sent me a brooch to help the collection. When I first came back to Little Brick, I hung this lovely lady on my door to cheer my spirits every time I looked at the chaos. I love the vintage fabrics, colours and prettiness of this holder. You can find Niki at home here.
Thank you Niki. It is always uplifting to visit you and drool.
Enjoy your weekend. We were hoping for our shed to be painted but the painter has cancelled again and so hopefully we will get more of our Ikea storage installed this weekend to lessen our chaos.
Thanks for popping in. xx

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chit-chat Wednesday and life was easier in my mother's day because

My mother didn't have to go through the excruciating business of selecting a school for her offspring. I think Mum would be amazed if she saw the knots some of us are going through (as in my good self) in trying to choose a school. Regular readers may recall my daughter was offered places in two excellent although widely different schools.
One is a public school with a brilliant emphasis on the arts. It’s a small school which is wonderful but the drawback is that after three years she would have to transfer to another school (the reason I have doubts).
The other school is a traditional Parish school also with an outstanding reputation in teaching literacy and numeracy. This one is in walking distance and has a lovely nurturing environment - and the advantage of Daisy being able to stay put for seven years.
For many weeks I have turned myself inside out trying to come to a solution. Spiritual discipline and academia versus creative dramatic fun and play. It is not as easy a choice as it sounds, the more you reflect upon it. You feel you are holding a soul's destiny in your hands.
My mother, however, would have had none of this nonsense. She just popped us into whatever school was nearest. I don't think she would have wasted a nanosecond agonizing over the curriculum, quality of teachers, discipline policies (discipline? Just cane them all!). I think Mum's eyes would pop if she saw some of the women I know describing the agonies they have gone through for schools. Women in tears in the principal's office (this isn't me but I can relate, believe me). Plus all the antics regarding waiting lists, the bitching about who got into where and the frantic race for babies not even conceived to go onto lists of overcrowded schools. It is a jungle out there in the modern day Sydney school system.
Some days I wonder if I should homeschool and try to escape the madness, although the Scribe says it would kill me. The weekend papers ran a story about five being too young to start kindergarten which opened another huge can of worry worms.
When I spend the entire day fretting over which school is best for my darling daughter, I think of my mother how she would enrol us in any school and think nothing of pulling us out to take us to New Guinea.
This leads to thoughts of how I often feel I failed to achieve academically in life (I left school early) and how I don't want my daughter to make the same mistakes I did. I have made lists, meditated, spoken to a wide range of people and still have to make a decision. Like a decision right now as time has run out.
Life was easier in my mother's day.
And some good news for us is that my beloved Scribe's wonderful non-fiction book, Tour To Hell, has been picked from a field of 165 books to be shortlisted with five others for the 2009 CAL Waverley Library Award (The Nib). The winner of the $20,000 prize will be announced in a couple of weeks. I am so proud of him and his amazing book.
Thanks for popping in. xx

Monday, November 9, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is one of my favourite writers. I really became lost in her historical novel Sepulchre, one of my favourites.
In a week when I've been very despondent about not being able to write due to our renovations, it was cheering and uplifting to read her recent article in the September issue of Writing Magazine (UK) about the hard work involved in writing.
She advises people to write every day, no matter how limited their time. "Five minutes a day - every single day - is better than no minutes a day."
I also loved her description of characters. "I think, rather than standing there with your hand in the small of your character's back, pushing them forward saying do this and do that, as if you are the conductor of the scene, you need to have a character who turns around and holds their hand out to you and who says follow me and write down what I do. That is what you are aiming for."
And so for this Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday post where I feel totally overwhelmed by renovations and chaos in Little Brick, it's important for me to remember I can't always meet my own high standards and write for several hours minimum.
Sometimes five minutes is all you can achieve, but it's important to seize that five minutes and get something down. Thanks, Kate, for the inspiration. Her new book is The Winter Ghosts - such a lovely title and a book I can't wait to read.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tale Peddler Moving

The spiders have taken over my garden. They have woven webs so thickly we are like a brick cottage version of Sleeping Beauty. And for my miniature Sleeping Beauty there is much work to be done.
We need to unpack bags, clean the mess from the last renovation, weed the garden and paint an easel. Assemble a hundred Billys, two wardrobes, craft organiser, TV unit, CD shelves and arrange the 'pretty finishing touches' after we wallpaper. A shed has to be painted and office papers culled.
Major decisions have to be made quickly on schools and books have to be written. Prints have to be framed. A long overdue post-office visit and dentist arrangements booked. Curtains have to be hung, chandeliers cleaned and a geriatric, incontinent dog cared for. Did I mention the Scribe and I are sleeping on a mattress on the floor as we threw our bed out before we left and somehow never found time to buy another one?
It is raining softly in Sydney and little Brick Cottage is filled with the activity of a home being made. Tale Peddler will resume normal transmission next week if all is well. I hope to find time to visit my dear Bloggy friends this week and say hello. We are happy although chaotic and drowning in mess and activity.
I miss my writing. I ache for my book.
And we all miss the sea.