Category Archives: Waffle and Nonsense

For Carmen and my foot

Carmen has spoken. What has happened to the blog? I’ve never met Carmen. I’m sure she exists, although I suppose it is vaguely possible she is my father’s imaginary friend. Either way she wants to know, what happened to the blog? Hmm… I think I do too. I could write a post about what’s been happening in my life since April 25, or I could give you a stream of thoughts from just this morning.

The day started with pondering the connections between children’s songs. I know. You all wake up wondering how Old Macdonald links to the Wheels on the Bus song. This for me is a sure sign that work has infected my brain temporarily. It’s not an infection that you need the serious antibiotics to be rid of. More like when you have a cold and your voice gets gravely and people notice. It’s there, it’s different and you just have to wait for it to go away.

My boss has asked me for an inspiring presentation for Wednesday. I know that inspiration is not going to come from Old Macdonald – possibly one of the most annoying children’s songs of all time. If I were free to choose any topic I like I’m sure that I could unearth some inspiration somewhere. Sadly, I am not. I need to make a quality framework sound inspiring. Galumph and humph to that. The strange thing is that at times I have been inspired. Um… scratch that. Not inspired… fired up, emotional and passionate. If I can find that, perhaps I can meet his challenge.

Meanwhile my foot is starting to groan with pins and needles. On top of my foot (besides my leg) is my cat. (times 2). They have actually lost weight. Saffron is now a cool 5.5kg and Licorice an even 6 but with both pancaked on top of my crossed leg, my poor left foot is…. VIBRATING AND SINGING… oh that would the iPad with Andrew wanting to FaceTime.

I has unearthed the iPad from under fat cats, blankets and legs.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Writing a blog post?’

‘Oh. That would the first of the year?’ [Cheeky grin]

‘Nope, the first since April 25th if you must know.’

‘And what are you doing?’

‘Reading about the legacy of pragmatism in the element of design’

‘Of course.’

Suddenly Quality Frameworks have an instantaneous appeal. They are far more lush and enticing than a 25 page orgy of academia on the construct of ideas in art. He did tell me the title of the article; I can’t remember it exactly but if I were to call it the ‘permutation and liberation of design from post modernism’ it would make just as much sense as the real title.

He read me a paragraph. It reminds me of sentences created from word salad fridge magnets, except not nearly as much fun. Certainly a long way from the TED talk I watched this morning which is promoted as ‘lyrical origami’. Only after watching the video could I truly appreciate the accuracy of the description of ‘lyrical origami’. A truly delightful, witty and mellifluous talk. Here it is for you to enjoy for yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m

A pear-shaped cheese and cracker

Somedays I feel for the humble pear. Here it was, hanging on a tree as nature intended, when someone decided to associate its curvaceous frame with ‘things going all awry’. I’m not sure what the pear did to deserve this treatment by the English language. You don’t hear of something going Apple-shaped, turnip-shaped, banana shaped or rambutan-shaped, do you? Now if ever a fruit were worthy of slander I think the rambutan is it.

While I’m contemplating the English language’s abuse of food… what’s with the cheese which slid off the cracker? Andrew said this to me the other day and I turned around and said ‘you made that up!’

‘No I didn’t’, he protested. So what did I do to settle this difference of opinion? I turned to Dr Google. We don’t need a marriage counsellor (well we’d have to be married for a start… but you get my drift). Whenever we have a difference of opinion, such as what year was Martin Luther King killed, we turn to google to find out who is right.

He was. It’s usually me. How very disappointing.

Playing with fabric

Design as you go quilt (foot not included)

Design as you go quilt (foot not included)

‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ asks Andrew. I think I should reply something sensible. Buying cat food. Tidying the house. Doing the Christmas shopping (my mother has already finished – GROAN). But I don’t feel like doing any of those things. I feel like playing.

Isn’t it odd that a child who doesn’t play is considered peculiar, weird, ‘at risk’ of developing life’s essential social skills, yet playtime as adults is something we sneak into the crevices. If we can disguise our play as having a physical or social benefit, then that’s ok. None of my play does. There is nothing physically strenuous about mixed media painting, or sewing (aside from stabbing myself unintentionally with pins).

I started to write this post by taking the photograph of the partially completed quilt top to the left. I then hopped across to the daily prompt at WordPress to check out the theme. It’s a daily prompt that I use maybe six weekly! It was playtime. It surely must be a sign from the internet gods that it’s ok not to do all the things I should be doing today. (Why are your cats going hungry? Because WordPress said it was ok!)

Some people would consider Christmas shopping ‘playtime’. For me, it is when I’m inspired… but right now I’m out of ideas and that’s the problem with a deadline. My creativity doesn’t work to a deadline and I suspect many others don’t either… otherwise they wouldn’t have invented the gift card.

The quilt above has been an on again / off again project. It has been interrupted for at least 3 other items. It has one flower / mushroom / leaf / [insert whatever you call that thing here] to go. Unfortunately it must have 55 strips, using 13 different coloured fabrics. It was my dressmaking teacher who started this fibonacci number lunacy and now I am almost there I cannot skip out on it now. This will be my first – and last – fibonacci inspired effort.

I can see why people make quilts to patterns. Of course there’s the obvious benefit of knowing what the next step is, yet, I was thinking more about fabric planning. Throughout this quilt I find myself rummaging through my sewing bag counting up small strips of colour in an effort to ascertain how many more strips I need and of what colour.

Of course my squirrelling, resource hoarding brain is already planning what I can do with the leftovers. I was painting the other night and had collaged on a woman with a ‘fright’ plastered all over her face. As the only other thing in the piece was a butterfly, I felt this looked rather stupid. Andrew face-timed me in the middle of my pondering. (Is face-timed a word?).

‘I can’t find what I’m looking for… I want a gargoyle I think!’.

Seizing this opportunity he says to me – ‘See, you have too much stuff.’

‘No! I have not enough!’

Who's afraid of a butterfly

Who’s afraid of a butterfly

The postscript to that particular story is that I found a dragon, only to have a paper transfer failure. (See that mottled dark patch between her and the butterfly… that is the failed dragon. More like a decomposing dragon… hmm… wouldn’t that be smelly???)

Hmm… now I have lost my train of thought. What is a train of thought anyway? I’ve got an image of a freight train carrying alphabet soup in each carriage… ok… I think I’ve lost it now. Whatever piece of sensibleness this blog post had at the beginning is now truly up the creek with a beetroot and ham sandwich! It’s time to play for real instead of with words.

Oh… and buy cat food.

Ernie goes to university

Ernie in his LENA gear

Ernie in his LENA gear

Wednesday evening and I’m boarding a bus carrying a child sized Ernie doll. I get surprisingly few weird looks. I did try to stuff him in my bag but he didn’t fit. I’m not sure what’s a worse look… openly carrying around an orange limpy doll or a head emerging from a bag looking like he’s close to suffocation.

I’m doing part of a university lecture tomorrow. I approached my colleague who who will be doing most of the lecture, carrying Ernie under my arm.

‘Is it ok, if I bring him?’ She of course said yes but gave me that strange look.

It’s all a bit crazy really. I’m going to lecture a bunch of Speech Pathology Masters Students with a woman who has over 35 years of experience and a PhD and I have no qualification relevant to my working life and a stuffed toy.

For the doll I must give credit to a former colleague. She gifted him to me when she left. ‘Use him for training’ she said. It’s all her fault.

Of course staring at the back of his head on the way home I realised that Ernie has an issue. He doesn’t have a hearing aid or a Cochlear Implant. Unlike some of the other ‘props’ at work, Ernie is unaided. The bus turns the corner into Marrickville and I’m silently cursing my former colleague for Ernie’s poor device compliance. Maybe I can craft one up? Someone at work made a Baha (a type of hearing aid if you like), using an egg carton and some velcro. Then again… maybe not.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about what I know about LENA devices (the thing in Ernie’s lap). This device I once heard described as a language pedometer. They can be used with children to capture a ‘language sample’ over the period of a day or so and then, once plugged in to some whizz bang software, have that language sample analysed to give indications of how much meaningful speech the child may have heard (speech that was loud enough and without significant background noise); how much distant speech, how much noise and how much electronic sound (such as TV). It tells you how many adult words were said and how many times there were conversations between Ernie and his carer. The technology still does my head in. It’s a tool which has the capacity to show parents of children who have a hearing loss that their child how many words each day their child is hearing and saying and how they – the parents – have the capacity to grow their child’s listening, language and speech by increasing how much they speak to their child during everyday activities and how much of that is in close proximity so the child can access the sound.

It got me thinking about my childhood. The device counts ‘adult words’. I’m not sure how it does it – some mathmatical algorithm I expect. I wonder what it would have made of some of the books my mum and dad liked to read me. Books with words such as ‘scroobious pip’, ‘moppisikin floppsikin bears’, ‘pobbles’ and ‘jabberwockies’. No wonder as a grown up I do slightly offbeat presentations inclusive of ridiculous props. Let’s hope the uni students have a sense of humour. Wish me luck.

My favourite children’s (nonsense) books

A friend of mine is having a baby; a baby which will no doubt be read many, many books during its childhood as its mother is an Auditory-Verbal Therapist. I was discussing my favourite children’s books with her today (the mother, not the baby). I took in my old and fox-marked copy of The Scroobious Pip by Edward Lear. ‘Can you still get it?’ she asked me. I envisage some searching of ebay ahead.

It got me thinking about some of my favourite nonsense books. I decided to write her a list and here it is.

  • The Scroobious Pip, Edward Lear, Completed by Ogden Nash. Illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, 1968. A delightfully nonsensical tale of The Scroobious Pip and the only book I know to feature the word ‘buzztilential’ – a cracker of a word if ever I heard one.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll, 1865. (I’m sure none of you guessed this one would be on my list!)
  • The Pobble Who Has No Toes, Edward Lear, Illustrated by Kevin W Maddison. First published in 1877, my copy is from 1978 and it’s showing it’s age with the dust jacket stickytaped back together in places. I think they should stop calling them dust jackets. Rip jacks would be far more accurate!
  • The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, Edward Lear, 1876.
  • The Jumblies, Edward Lear, 1863
  • The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits, Lewis Carroll, 1874

and just in case you thought all my favourites were written in the 19th century:

  • The Tin Forest, Helen Ward (Author) and Wayne Anderson (Illustrator), 2001. Not really nonsense but a children’s book just the same. I just love Wayne Anderson’s illustrations.
  • The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery, 1945. A true classic that continues to delightful many well into adulthood.
  • The Tale of Custard the Dragon, Ogden Nash, 1936. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger 1995. The story of Belinda and her realio, trulio but cowardly dragon called Custard. Personally I think any animal named after food has got to be good!
  • Jeepers Creepers: A monstrous ABC, Laura Leuck and David Parkins (Illustrator), 2003. A delightfully dark take on the traditional A is for Apple. Of these 26 monsters, it’s hard to pick a favourite, so I give you E through H: “Ed’s hair smells like Sauerkraut, Freddy’s two front fangs fell out, Gert wears crawdads in her ears, Hal’s head often disappears.” The illustrations are wonderfully wacky.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein, 1974
  • It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, Jack Prelutsky, 1993
  • My Dog May Be A Genius, Jack Prelutsky, 2008
  • The Sticky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith, 1992. It’s odd and quirky. There’s nothing else to say on the subject.
  • Grimericks, Susan Pearson, Illustrated by Gris Grimly (of Boris and Bella fame), 1992.
  • Revolting Rhymes, Roald Dahl, 1982. No nonsense book list would be complete without a little Dahl!

What’s your favourite nonsense book?

A few spoons short of a dinner

Ok, so it would seem no one wants to confess how many lipsticks they own… or it will take too long for you to count them. If you want a quick counting item, then I vote go the teaspoons.

I don’t know where they go. Teaspoons have an amazing habit of disappearing in my household. I live with 2 cats. I ask you, what would two fat torties want with my teaspoons? They could be with the lost socks… which one would expect to find in the laundry… only I don’t have one of those.

Perhaps it’s because the teaspoons are so desirable. I can’t quite understand why when they sell sets of cutlery, you get knives, forks and LARGE spoons. Of the latter, there appears to be two types. Those that are usable – (should all the teaspoons be missing) – and those which are just physically too large. Despite this I haven’t managed to part with the spoons. I look at them and have the ‘but I might need them one day’ thought. The same goes for that pair of socks which are too tight around your calves, or, worse, the pair that have lost their ability to ‘stand up’ and they shrivel like the Wicked Witch of the West around your ankle. Of course, no item holding the title ‘deserving of the rubbish bin but never quite making it’ would be complete without mention of the granny undies. These are the undies that are just that bit too big. That bit too uncomfortable and in my case, if this is not too personal a confession for the web, even that hideous beige granny undies colour. I can’t recall what got into me that day. I remember going to buy white underwear. There was no white. I must have had a lapse in judgement and thought… the beige ones aren’t too bad. Hmm. Wrong.

What is it about beige that is just, well… beige? I blame Billy Connolly. Before he started on it, beige was just a synonym for cream.

If you are starting to wonder whether there is any real point to this post, then you are clearly an inexperienced reader of my blog. I often wonder whether there is any point to any of them! For this one, it’s a case of being in a reflective mood about the really important issues confronting the world. I’m sure that you will agree, that teaspoons and granny knickers sit right up there beside poverty and global warming. Do you not concur?

PS: How delightful. My ‘tag’ suggestion list includes ‘undergarment’. Not undies, or underwear. Nope. ‘Undergarment.’ How very Victorian!

The lipstick manufacturer’s conspiracy

186I’m the daughter of a 3 lipstick woman with a floundering 4 lipstick philosophy. In my youth, I decided that only 4 lipsticks were necessary. 1 that was pinkish. 1 that was brownish. 1 that was reddish and 1 that was dark reddish (think red wine). With 4 lipsticks, a girl couldn’t go wrong. It was an advance on my mother’s lipstick collection, which I’m not sure even totalled 3. Mum is the kind of woman like the kind of men who wear one pair of shoes until they wear out. Mum had lipsticks that ran out… or at least I recall that she did. My lipsticks have gone ‘off’ because they have run out. I think this is because I am not a lipstick everyday girl. I choose make-up when I feel like it and the rest of time I go without.

But back to the floundering 4 lipstick policy. It seemed a good strategy. Nice and logical. Except for 2 things. The first, I cannot blame on any cosmetic company. It is quite simply my lack of organisation. A while ago we had a function at the Australian Club. It’s a gentleman’s club – and not that sort where they stuff dollar bills into girls knickers. It’s an old style polished establishment. A great venue for a charity to have an intimate evening with its best supporters. I made myself a dress. I knew exactly what I had in mind. Something conservative while being a little elegant. The afternoon of the function arrived. It was time to get changed in preparation for the dusk event. Wrong lipstick. I had to go to the chemist and buy one. I just couldn’t bring myself to wear a brown-ish red lipstick with an eggplant coloured dress. It was just plain wrong. (And this after I’d forgotten my shoes and my mother had diligently ferried them from my house to my workplace.)

Fast forward several months and picture me in Los Angeles. Complete fish out of water – a non-clinical person at a clinical conference. The only database person in a hotel full of Audiologists and Auditory Verbal Therapists (aka Listening and Spoken Language Specialists). What have I done wrong? Brought the wrong lipstick of course! I already had to visit a chemist since the airport confiscated by toothpaste for being 10ml over the allowable amount. I could have argued with the woman that the tube was a quarter used and as it was a 110ml tube that there was less than 100ml left in it and I hadn’t broken any of their liquid rules… but she didn’t seem the type to argue with. Easier to go buy new toothpaste… and a new lipstick.

But that only accounts for having 6 lipsticks on a 4 lipstick policy. How is it that I’ve come to have more than that. In fact, I think I’ve hit double digits. This is where the cosmetic companies come in. Should you find a lipstick you like… one that will serve you perfectly well in a 4 lipstick philosophy, if you aren’t in the habit of wearing lipstick every day of the year, there will come a time when your lipstick has gone manky. It’s hard to describe this unless you’ve experienced it. The lipstick acquires a strange taste and smell and while it’s not likely to turn into an unexploded bomb, you know that the time has come to part with the lipstick.

The logical, albeit sometimes forgetful, person that I am says I just need a replacement. Of course the cosmetic’s companies have considered this scenario. Some marketer has decided that ‘Starlight indigo’ was so last season… and ‘Rum n Raisin’ is far too predictable. And if it’s not annoying enough that you can’t buy the colour you want, you have to cope with all the ridiculous names while hunting for an approximate. Who decided that ‘bitch pink?’ was an appropriate name for a lipstick? Or ‘Berry Alluring?’ Oh, my ribs ache at that pun. ‘Rose Serenity’ sounds more at home in a funeral chapel than adorning my lips… as does ‘Enduring Iris’ and ‘Faithfully Tan.’ But best of all is ‘Raven’s Pout’. I ask you, when was the last time you saw a pouty Raven and thought, oh yes, I’ll have my some of that as part of my daily make-up routine?

I’m sure, dear blogging friends, it will come as no surprise to you that I still have my manky brown lipstick. I hold on to it – this rare beast with a logical name of cocoa – in the (probably vain) hope that I shall one day find something that approximates it. In the meantime, I have acquired myself several ‘imitations’ with ridiculous names.

And that is how the daughter of a 3 lipstick woman, came to have a floundering 4 lipstick philosophy.

How many lipsticks do you own? Leave me a note!

Rusty Paintings

The Fish CrownIt’s been a while since I posted an artwork and certainly not one with a fish on my head before.

The base of this piece is all newspaper from last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. I bought the paper thinking that I would do something else entirely. As I flipped through it there were a number of articles on bushfires including photos. I picked these out and then started to select any photograph that had a warm ‘glow.’

After creating a background, the piece hung around for a few days before I decided to draw a woman with a fish on her head (based on a blend of two drawings from a Dover Pictorial Archive book of 1930s Spot Illustrations). Unfortunately I’m very rusty. The fish was fine. The woman’s head was not.

And so it was that I fell back to my collage materials to find a head that would fit under the fish… which as it turned out was mine!

I did make some attempt to blend the photo in to the background with paint but my ear and hair remain untouched.

I wouldn’t call it a great piece, but it’s finished just the same. I of course had cat assistance throughout. This time mainly from Saffron who seems to think the art table is her table (photographic evidence below to support this accusation). There’s so much junk on the art table it’s a wonder that she fits at all.
Art help from Saff

Budgie Smugglers

budgie‘You might have to explain to your international readers what budgie smugglers are’ says Dad upon me entering the house.

Oh. Oops. Didn’t even think of that.

Then again, I know that my international friends seem exceptionally well read and would probably know what they are anyway. I on the other hand am still occasionally stumped. I had to write to Isobel (of Isobel and Cat fame) recently to ask whether ‘cream crackered’ was a term familiar to her, or whether it was well known. Cockney rhyming slang it turns out. Last week, I learnt about ‘Pinkertons’ on the back of watching Ripper Street. (There are times when wikipedia is really indispensable).

So, back to the budgie smugglers. In case anyone isn’t familiar, it’s a slang term of men’s speedos / swimming costumes and seems to be used often in reference to our now current Prime Minister given his fondness of sport. It takes a man with a good body (think well built surf life guide), to be able to get away with wearing budgie smugglers without looking pathetic. It’s something about the way they droop with water… the swimming costume that is. I refuse to even contemplate Tony’s actual anatomy. Ew. Sick. Now.

So dad reckons I need a glossary of terms for my blog. Really, there’s only a few you need to know to follow the plot. Here they are:

edward_lear_and_his_cat_foss_1885
The Scroobious Pip.

That’s me.

Sometimes people ask me what exactly a Scroobious Pip is, I just reply – ah, that is the question! The story was a childhood favourite, written by one of the two great masters of nonsense – Edward Lear, an epileptic depressive who had a great love of his cat Foss.

IMG_2061Andrew. 

My unconventional partner / boyfriend (depending on your preferred terminology). (Andrew associates partner with gay cowboy movies, I associate boyfriend with sounding 14 and temporary). Unconventional? Well, we don’t exactly fit the traditional model. We live separately. I work full time. He doesn’t. He’s domestically competent. I’m domestically challenged (except for light bulbs, I do those). I think the only thing traditional about us is he takes out his own garbage. My mum always taught me that men should do tyres and garbage.

Definition of Andrew? mischievous, Naughty. A 4 year old trapped in a 40-something year old body. An extremely talented artist (if only we could convince him of this) combined with a largely gentle soul. I say largely. He isn’t known for being a placid calm driver – especially if you take a disabled parking spot and you have no disabled parking permit.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle.

The oldest of Andrew’s two cats and the most like him in personality – bloody naughty!

Andrew always said that if he couldn’t have a dog he didn’t want anything. Then after a while he decided a cat would be ok. As long as it was a girl cat. And black, or tabby.

So he adopted a ginger boy who certainly lives up to the tag Ginger Ninja. Andrew wanted a dog… well he’s doing his best to mould Pickle into a dog. Surprisingly, Pickle is mostly complying.

Recently, an ambulance officer referred to Pickle as a ‘caramel cat’. This has earnt him the title of ‘o Caramelle’ (said with a ridiculously corny French accent!)

Andrew and Gesso

Andrew and Gesso

Gesso.

Named after the white primer used in painting, Gesso has developed his own fondness for paint. While every other cat has stood in the paint just once, Gesso has done it at least three times… if not more.

Gesso is medium haired and deaf.

He makes you work for his affection but strangely we just seem to love him even more for it. When he actually lets me cuddle him for a little while, I feel that I’ve won a great battle / been included among a privileged few.

Gesso is frequently also called ‘the white cat’ (with the emphasis on THE), or squirrel.

And that’s half the fur family…

Licorice and Saffron

I don’t think it’s quite right for me to write about the two separately, for they really don’t separate you see.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

That’s Saffron (8) on the top and Licorice (11) on the bottom. Two undeniably fat couch potatoes of cats with an everlasting number of hugs and smooches to give.

Licorice hates the vacuum cleaner. Licorice hasn’t figured out that each morning when I go to the fridge to get the food, she doesn’t need to follow me as I am just coming back with it. (Saff waits patiently in the bathroom). On the whole, Licorice is the gentle giant; except when at the mothership and it’s time to go back in the cat cage.

Saffron on the other hand, is reasonably ok with the vacuum cleaner but scared of all things new. Strangers / Visitors – check under the bed and you’ll find her.

PS: Mothership = home of my mum and dad a.k.a Cat Hotel.

So there you go dad. A glossary. Complete with pictures. Have I forgotten anything?

20130131-082713.jpg

I couldn’t resist including one more picture of Pickle. Cheeky Pickle.

Once were brushes

A wing-nut plastic item with a sliver coating has been rescued from the jaws of Pickle. What on earth is it? ‘Pickle, where did you get it? What have you broken?’ questions Andrew. Pickle, not surprisingly, doesn’t respond. ‘Bloody Pickle’, says Andrew, ‘he’s always breaking things’.

Yes, you all know what’s coming next. Not bloody Pickle at all. Bloody Andrew it would seem. I picked up the hair brush – now in two pieces. The silver wing nut piece, fit perfectly over the handle. Hmmm… how did this come to be broken Andrew? (Naughty school boy look). It turns out that Pickle was being naughty and Andrew was trying to make a noise to distract him by bashing the hair brush on the table. End of hair brush.

This isn’t the first time Pickle has brought us mystery objects. I found a small metal piece a while ago… well didn’t that cause a flurry in the house. We had to check all the nuts on the wheelie walker, two wheelchairs and then any other metal item in the house.

I’m not sure why Pickle feels the need to collect these things. Perhaps he is really a bower bird in disguise. A bloody big bower bird, without a passion for blue, or yellow…

Meanwhile, Andrew has cajoled Gesso into his arms and like a white flag unfurling, his little head has tipped back and the eyes are closing, sleep is near. My advice, Gesso, is don’t go to sleep. Andrew is in one of his mischievious moods. I wouldn’t be surprised if you woke up and your tail had been painted with rings of squid ink to make you look closer to a lemur. This is Andrew for you. I think he’s really aged 4.1 not 41.