August 31, 2008
On a carless Saturday, I set out to walk to Paddington and was pulled into a passing station wagon and taken off to Toowong to have crepes for breakfast. Cheryl kindly took me back to Paddington afterwards, and we had coffee and fine English chocolates and in an vintage shop I found a basket of antique photograph postcards: a young couple in a buggy, a distinguished Edwardian lady, a girl with a startlingly horizontal hairstyle and a young woman with a sweet haunted face that looks like she should feature in a Tim Burton film. Apart from the young couple, who had written a letter enquiring after the health of Bert, there was no clue as to who they might be.
When I took the cards to the counter, the elaborately eccentric proprietor (pearl chokered and velvet hatted, with fabulous eye makeup and all her cash in a large embroidered bag) asked me what I planned to do with them – frame them and pretend they were my family? I confessed I hadn’t decided and she said that is what she does, and her walls at home are covered with other peoples’ wedding pictures and she creates a family for herself of all those images of people forgotten but not gone.
Comments and critique are always appreciated – I am still learning many things, including how to balance light and dark when working in scratchboard!
August 30, 2008
Or, “Pining for the F(j)ords”.
This is the Google Maps street view of my house. It was probably taken this year, because you can see I’ve come up in parking hierarchy (that’s my car on the right), but early in the year because the house on the right is about three metres lower than it is now (houses in Brisbane levitate occasionally, and sometimes even do a midnight flit).
This is also the only photo I have of my nasty little Nissan, the car which was acquired as a stop-gap measure after my last car was stolen. This one came with a dead wasp on the back dashboard which I carefully never removed (by not vacuuming the car) because I couldn’t find anyone to laugh at my joke about it (“So there’s this dead wasp on the back dashboard, and I’ve left it there because I can’t work out if it’s a feature or a bug”).
And this is the only sketch I have of it:
At 6.30pm on Thursday I left my house to go late-night shopping, turned right out of my street, and a horrible metallic fluttering started up. With creative application of brake, accelerator, handbrake and gears, I got to the side of the road, called the mechanic to let them know I would be there soon, and drew the car (to the consternation of people coming home from work) because there was nothing else to do in the dark on the side of the road. RACQ arrived and made muttering noises, then called a tow truck, whose driver spent his days off cruising around south-east Queensland on his Harley and taking photos of wildflowers. He took me to Indro, and the mechanics drove me back, and I was home by eight, in time to catch the end of Inspector Rex.
The next day I discovered the engine is not worth repairing or (given the car) replacing. So I have to work out what to do with a defunct 1986 Nissan Pulsar and what to replace it with. Everyone says to get a new car, or at least something younger than 20 years. The trouble with having savings, though, is that I am very reluctant to spend them.
Well, that and I have spent the last few months swearing that (a) I wish I had a station wagon and (b) I will never buy a new car.
August 28, 2008
The Semi-Secret Project (aka CoL) progresses. I am alternating between writing new stuff and typing up the scraps of paper I have stuffed into a plastic sleeve. There will be a lot of excess.
The artscaresyou auction is over – congratulations to everyone who got the books/marzipan noses/dalek art they were after. I don’t know yet what the tally is, but my little villain went for $50! So I hope that pushed the total up a little.
August 27, 2008
The artscaresyou auctions end tomorrow night (local time). If there is anything you want, take action! (Bidding info here - you don’t have to be a livejournal member).
A list of all items is here . Notable items include a steampunk necklace, original Shaun Tan artwork, an autographed Good Omens, a Pendlerook Mary Shelly doll and some marzipan noses.
There is also my original framed pocket villain paperdoll (currently at $30, and postage included).
The fundraising effort is 90% of the way to its goal – Bid now! Bid often!
Villain, with another paper doll for scale.
August 27, 2008
Posted by tanaudel under poetry
| Tags: aircraft
, john gillespie magee jr
, judith wright
, travel journal
|  Comments
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s sonnet “High Flight” begins “Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…”.
I’ve known the poem for years, but never really understood the first line until we took off from Port Vila in the De Havilland Twin Otter, reputed to be very reliable, but the smallest plane I have ever paid to be in (I went up in a Cessna once, and saw a rainbow come down in the centre of a paddock, but that was a long time ago).
The airport in Port Vila is a large industrial shed divided in two: the domestic and international terminals. That’s the domestic departure gate on the right in the picture above.
Through the gate and on the tarmac were two very small aircraft. When it was time to board, our little group of passengers (laden with assorted luggage – bags and woven mats and cooking oil and bundles of fresh peanuts with their stalks tied together) walked out between the two. One had the reassuring words ”In Emergency Cut Here” painted on the side near a dotted line. The pilots of the planes were leaning out talking to each other across the tarmac. A passenger ahead of me asked which flight was our flight number. The pilots looked blank and we milled around between the two planes until I called out, “Are you going to Tanna?” to one of the planes and the pilot laughed and said “Yes, that’s the right question!”. So we clambered up the stairs.
That’s the interior of the plane on the right. It seats 20. The stairs fold up into the plane (see the wriggly line about two thirds up the right side of that page? That’s the handrail of the stairs). There was no pressurisation. My elbow was pressed against an emergency exit door and cold air came in around the edges of the door. Cold air coming in around exit door pressed against elbow. From the back seat (where I was) we could see into cockpit. See the left-hand cockpit window? I’ve drawn the windscreen wiper there.
Twin Otters don’t need much of a run-up to take off. We leapt up and into the buffeting island winds. I could feel the plane strain and toss against the pull of the earth, and was very aware of the size of the plane and the wind whistling around the door. And then we pulled free and the engine didn’t seem to labour as loudly, and we were up above the island and the reefs and sandbanks, each circled by concentric rings of coloured sea.
“Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…”. The words of ”High Flight” suddenly made sense, and kept going through my mind, together with these lines from Judith Wright’s poem “The Idler”:
The islands ran like emeralds through his fingers
(Oparo, Manahiki, Tubuai)
till he turned truant, cleared the heads at dawn
and half-forgot the seasons, under that sky…
(Part 1 here).
August 25, 2008
Posted by tanaudel under On writing
| Tags: CoL
|  Comments
Is 90,000 words ambitious? I can do the words, but we will see if the story sustains it. It’s just a ballpark figure.
(Meter from Curious-Device, for future reference).
August 25, 2008
My father refers to himself as a “high maintenance husband”, so for this week’s Illustration Friday topic “routine” I showed my mother giving him some routine maintenance. Not, as one of my housemates thought, being tortured.
I haven’t used scratchboard since the last time I used it for Illustration Friday (Worry, in May). It was easier this time (and this is a very small image: 5.5×7.5cm), but there are many things I will do differently next time – especially the shadows and outlines. After using pen and ink so much, scratchboard is an exercise in negative thinking.
Here’s the sketch:
ETA: One of the comments made me realise that there are two possible misinterpetations: the torture; and that my father makes us wait on him hand and foot! He has MS and needs assistance to do a number of things now, including cutting his fingernails. But when he was up and about, he was anything but demanding :)
Comments, critiques and further possible misinterpretations welcome. I can learn!
August 21, 2008
Posted by tanaudel under vanuatu
| Tags: art
|  Comments
While in Vanuatu, I went on two jaunts by myself. On both occasions I expected to be thrown in with an existing group of tourists, and instead was alone with a guide. The first was a Saturday rainforest trail ride through some of the prettiest cattle country I have seen. The second time, I went to Tanna to see the volcano.
When I was little, a combination of factors (to wit: living in a wooden house with a wood-burning stove; living on a cattle property in a drought; growing up on novels of the Ash Wednesday fires; a well-read National Geographic with pictures of Mount St Helens; a children’s encyclopaedia which described in sufficiently lively detail the tale of the farmer in Mexico who found hot rocks popping out of his paddock and a week later the farm was covered by a live volcano; and my family’s general inability to get out of the house in a timely fashion) gave me nightmares about fiery pits and infernos for years. And then I read Isabella Bird’s accounts of climbing up and looking into volcanoes on Hawaii, and generally being Victorian and fabulous, and decided that I would quite like to see one. Her descriptions were awe-inspiring.
I did very little research before I went to Vanuatu, partly because I do fly by the seat of my pants and partly because I didn’t expect to be doing anything on any other islands. But then K and B washed in on the tide bearing tales of maritime adventures and videos of the volcano and I realised that I was right there, in Vanuatu, only a few islands away from a Real Live Volcano.
The rest of the group were kind enough to encourage me to go (and then give me a hard time later about skipping out on work), so when I went to the markets to buy cucumbers and pamplemousse, I kept walking to the thatch-roofed tour agencies and found an overnight trip to Tanna, including everything except dinner and the fee to enter the volcano area, for only a few hundred dollars. One of the shiny shop-front agencies offered a trip for over a thousand, but that did not include flights. The next day I collected my tickets, and the next morning I worked, had a quick lunch and caught a bus to the airport.
August 19, 2008
Posted by tanaudel under moleskine
| Tags: art
, travel journal
|  Comments
My poor maltreated Moleskine. It is held together with duct tape now (on the inside, so I can’t pass it off as industrial punk) and has been soggy and dirty and flecked with volcanic ash and had a near miss in the Port in Port Vila.
But it survived and the picture pages are scanned and up as a set on Flickr: Vanuatu 2008 Moleskine.
This sketchbook has fewer receipts and brochures and tickets than the American one (although there are one or two pages of receipts and boarding passes I didn’t scan in), and is better scanned and – in the drawings at least – more colourful due to my acquisition of more markers. My handbag was (is) full of markers (and pencils, erasers, sharpeners, gel pens, blending pencils, etc).
But next time I will carry the book in a ziplock bag. Just in case.
Now, so far I only have one question to answer about Vanuatu, and my answer is: no, to the best of my knowledge there are no longer cannibals in Vanuatu; that doesn’t stop the tourist trade trading on that piece of history; and from time to time startled linguists have been ’discovered’ by anthropologists searching for cannibal tribes.
Any other questions?
August 18, 2008
I have been writing. At least 100 words every day. I’ve even managed to start my mother doing the same (!). Until recently my WIP has been a recalcitrant story which has been boring me (I can’t even liven things up with explosions, which means it’s really bad).
But now I have started a story I am (just a little bit) excited about. I know, for a change, how it begins and how it ends, and the tone and the teller. The heroine is trying hard not to be a villain, the hero is inclined to be a sociopath, and I am playing very fast and loose with history and myth, but I think I will be able to drag all three into line (well, maybe not the hero: I think he was a sociopath). It’s also been reason to acquire Gerald of Wales’ History of the Kings of England, Fraser’s abridgment of The Golden Bough, Child’s Ballads, and Woodham-Smith’s The Great Hunger (actually, that last has nothing to do with the story, but I was caught up in the moment – Kate, this is all your fault) and to retrieve a biography I’ve been meaning to read since glancing at the (very awesome) introduction. The story is episodic but less episodic than some of its inspirations and hopefully less romantic as well. It is not set in Queensland (sorry Aimee – I will get to that one!), but it’s not exactly in England either, and its still fun (at the moment). I even have a working title, and may not have to blow anything up at all.
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