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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dogs I've painted on T-shirts over the years.

I realised I hadn't put any art of Sally on my last post.  Sadly, I only have one painting I did of her, which was on a  T-shirt I did for Andrew for Christmas while she was alive.

Here's the t-shirt I did for Andrew with Sally, Tam and Buffy on it.

It was only while scanning it up that I realised it had Buffy's cute spotty front feet showing on the side there! 

While looking for the photo of that, since the shirt itself has long ago worn out (a definite disadvantage of putting your art on clothing!) I hunted out a little album I have of some of the art I've done over the years that went to other people.  I'd forgotten about some of these paintings I did on T-shirts for people, but I thought you might like to see them.

I think this Staffy was for a work mate of Andrew's.
I wasn't much in the habit of doing progress shots in those days, but for some reason we did take photos of this next one as I went.  Two more Staffies!  You can see I developed a technique on the dark t-shirts of painting first in white to allow me to really bring the work out at the end.  It stopped the later applications of paint from sinking into the fabric and disappearing.  Bit spooky really!   

One dog done!

Two dogs and background done.

Then I was asked to do a copy of this painting of Otterhounds on a t-shirt.

The original is a watercolour by John Sargent Noble, link for this photo here if you'd like a print.  :)

This was my attempt at a copy.  The dark t-shirt changed things a lot, but even looking back at it now, I think I did ok.

The lady it was for has Goldies now, and had Gordon Setters back in Scotland, but I never found out why she wanted Otterhounds!  I think I did her a painting of a Gordon Setter at some point too, and also she won a painting from me for a trophy for a retrieving trial once.  Ah yes, here it is!  I did their lovely boy Dante, though not on a t-shirt!

Gee, can't seem to find a photo of the Gordon Setter painting.  Wonder if I ever took one?

Funny how you can spend so long on paintings and then forget that you ever did them.  Lucky I kept photos of most of them!

In case you are wondering, my first two weeks of writing on my next book, Heroic Plans, has gone to schedule, as the word count as of finishing writing today was 11007.  It's fun to be back writing in the horse world, and I am enjoying being inside Tam's head.  Tam was a side character in Cunning Plans and this time she gets to have the spotlight.  There's a lot more going on inside Tam than I knew when I began!  Such is the experience of a novelist: Those characters take on lives, and thoughts, of their own!        

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Dogs of My High Pack: Sally

I nearly didn't do a post about Sally, because I knew it would make me cry, even though it's been more than twelve years. She wasn't yet two when she became separated from us on a bush walk and was hit by a car while we were still out looking for her, expecting her to turn up any second.  It was without a doubt one of the worst days of our lives and I'll probably never be totally over her loss. 

But then I thought, No, hang on, it's not fair to Sally to ignore her life, or to write a sad post about her either.  We called her our Sunshine Girl, and that's exactly what she was.  In her short life, she gave us so much joy, and we gave her so much joy too.  So, here is our lovely Sally, Sunshine Girl.

The first time we saw Sally, she was about six months old.  She needed a new home, and someone had brought her along to an Easter camping weekend for retrieving people to see if anyone might like to take her in.  We loved her.  How could you not love this face?

 However, we had our two GWPs, who were only one and two at the time, and we really didn't need another dog, did we?  Anyway, someone else would fall in love with her and take her.  Except they didn't, and we heard she was still needing a new home.  Not that she was a rescue:  Her breeder had kept her but was now downsizing.  She had her papers and all and was in no danger.  Still, we couldn't quite put her sweet, cheery character out of our minds.

So, next thing we knew, we had a third dog!  We took the GWPs and Sally to the beach so they could get to know each other in a neutral place and tire themselves out a bit, and then we brought her home, still damp from the sea.

From the very first day, she had a way of getting the two Wires to play with her in a way they never did with each other alone, not before Sally or after her.

Chasey games, 

 and tuggy games.

She loved to swim like most Goldies, and in those days we were well and full of energy, so she got to go to all sorts of fun places every week.

She even went in a couple of novice retrieving trials, and we were training her ready for obedience. She had that lovely way positively-trained Goldies have of heeling while lifting their front feet up in a dancing step every stride. It's an adorable sight!

She came visiting with us and everyone loved her.

She was so funny and full of joy.

And she was a snuggler. Oh yes she loved to cuddle.

We called her Long Short Sally because she was indeed long and short!


She grew into such a beauty.

And she completed our family.

You know, I love the infinite variety of purebred dogs, but sometimes I wonder why we dog people don't all have Golden Retrievers, at least one!  They just radiate such sweetness and happiness, it makes you happier to be around them.  :) 

 I wonder if there might be another Goldie in our future?


Thursday, 23 July 2015

Music to Write to: Medieval Music

Image from a 14th C illumination of musicians performing.

I listen to a lot of medieval music, especially when writing.  Whether somewhat modernised or as authentic as they can make it, I don't mind.  I love it all.  Today I thought I'd show you some of my faves amongst the more authentic songs.

Estampie are one group who make music as authentically as they can. I say, "as they can," because we really don't know how the music would have sounded in the long ago.  All they can do is use the instruments that were used in those days, and read the musical notations as best they can with our modern understanding.

Estampie have quite a few songs based around Robin hood, but this is the only one I could find on youtube.  It's a sweet tune with lovely singing in it.   

We think we know so much about history, but actually we know very little, even from as 'short' a way back as 500 years ago.  Our slim knowledge of something as continuous to humanity as music shows us that.

My own current fave instrument, the Anglo-Saxon Harp or Lyre is, so little understood now that we aren't really sure how they played it, or even which way it was strung or tuned.  Peter Horn might have it close, though, at least to one way it might have been played. I'm still playing mine almost every day and loving it, by the way!

Owain Phyfe is rather a hero to medieval music aficionados.  It was so hard to find one song of his to show you.  This one is so pretty and peaceful.  "Since first I saw your Face," by Owain Phyfe and the New World Renaissance Band.     

Oh no, I can't stick at one!  This one is so beautiful.  "In a Garden so Green."

This one is purely voices that build and build.  Lovely.  It is "Laudemus Virginem - Cànon A 3 Veus (Llibre Vermell De Montserrat)" by Ensemble Micrologus & Capella De Música De Santa Maria Del Mar.


Who am I kidding?  I can't stick to five!  This is an Estampie, a medieval dance and musical form, from which the group at the top of the post took their name.  It is performed in this case by Istanpitta 2. It's a lovely bright, full sound, with many different instruments.  Can't you see the people in their gloriously-coloured garments sweeping about as they dance to it?  One of the things Andyroo and I loved most about the SCA was doing these sorts of dances.

And finally, the one that gives me goosebumps every time.  People who've followed my blog for a while might recognise this tune, because I posted a link to a video of Maggie Beth Sand and Serpentyne doing a more modern version of it.

This song, "Stella Splendens," is from the oldest extant manuscript we have that contains music, from the 14th C, called, "Llibre Vermell de Montserrat," the "Red Book of Montserrat".

In this case, it is being performed by Hesperion XXI and La Cappella Reial de Catalunya and directed by Jordi Savall (who is another big name in the medieval music world and who is also playing the Viele etc on the left hand side as well.)

If I had been a really-truly musician, this is the sort of music I would have loved to be able to join in on playing.  Watch their faces as you listen.  Talk about channeling the Divine!  Oh to be up there being a part of creating this wonder!

Bonus points for anyone who spots the Mr Bean character playing the sort-of-recorder!  :)  If you liked that video, you can go to this one and listen to that whole concert, bits of which can bring me to tears with beauty, but I'll understand if you bow out now.  :)



Sunday, 19 July 2015

Bonfires and firetrucks

I started writing again today.  Ahhhh, that feels better.  Gives my ratty brain something productive to latch on to. Heroic Plans will be my tenth novel, if you count Dog Slobber!, which at 30 000 words is more of a novella.  It will be fun to get back into the horse world, even if only in my head, while I write this one.  Amazing how the characters come back to life for me as soon as I begin thinking about them again.  I've got some new characters to bring in as well and a new mystery for them to solve.  Fun!

First reports on Bunyip Dreaming from my brave pioneer readers are that they are loving it!  Yayyyy!

We took the firetruck out into Wandoo country on Saturday with our intrepid First Lieutenant and his dog, Harley. 

It rained on the way up the highway but had stopped by the time we hit the dirt tracks.  Everything was still nice and wet though!

You can see some Wandoo trees on the side of the road there, and that's Harley's backside as he stands on my lap to get his head out of the window better. Luckily he doesn't stay there for long and was soon sitting beside me having a cuddle again instead.

Wandoo is a locally native ghost gum. For some reason, just ten minutes up the road, you can find areas in the forest where it is the main tree.  Lovely.  In some areas the trees are nearly white, and in some other areas they all shade to apricot and pink.  Evolution in action!

This is very like what we were driving through.  Photo linked from here.

The pinker areas looked more like this.  Photo link from here.

The country is more open than the Jarrah/Marri areas, with many grass trees and plenty of kangaroos.  We stopped in the middle of nowhere and had a go at locating ourselves on the map using the GPS.  Must admit I wish I'd noticed the set of reading glasses on the dash a bit sooner.  I'm getting to that age where you need to start carrying your reading glasses about with you!  :)

It was lovely to be back out there.  More than twenty years ago (Could it be nearly thirty years ago?  Yegods!) I lived very near this area and used to ride my Sherry out there with my dogs beside me.  I loved it then too.

They use 1080 baits out there now to fight foxes and feral cats and 1080 is lethal for dogs, so I no longer go out there for walks.  We were very careful to keep Harley in the truck. It was nice to have a reason to be out there once again.

It was a frosty walk we had up the block the other morning.  Droplets weighed down all the webs in the paddock and silvered the ground.

The sun was only just poking up his head.

And lady moon was yet to go to bed.

It was good to see that the Wavy-leafed Hakeas were in full flower, smelling mildly and sweetly of honey and waiting for the bees to get up to come sip at them.


I'm very pleased with how well the Hakeas we've planted over the last five years or so are going up there. 

The Flinders Ranges wattles have been flowering for a while now.  They were early this year.

It's bonfire season here now, and we've had our first one.

Will it go?
Yes it will!

Cyrano loves it when we do outside things at night. 

But Rosie felt that it was time to inside and get dinner.  She was right!

We had a lovely meetup yesterday with some fellow Druids from Perth in a delightful cafe, The Bodhi Tree Cafe. Andyroo and I shared a piece of raw chocolate and beetroot cake that was particularly delicious and that I would definitely recommend trying if you go there! The atmosphere was great too, and it was the perfect place to meet a bunch of new and interesting people and do a lot of talking and laughing.  I love Druidy people.  They are so open, friendly and intelligent! 

It was good to be meeting new people and very good to be feeling well enough to manage it.  Take that Lyme Disease!  I'm getting my life back!  Rarrrr!     

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Mum and I and the Dogs go to Noble Falls

Saturday afternoon was a totally beautiful winter afternoon. The light was golden and slanting, the air was crisp, the sun was a little warm if you stood right in it.  Andyroo was off at his amateur radio club, so mum and I got the dogs into the car and went off to visit Noble Falls.  It is about 25mins from where we live.

Someone was a little bit excited to be getting a bonus walk! (The same someone who is excited quite a lot of the time.)


Mum walks Angus on a Halti because he is a little bit strong for her aging joints if he takes it into his head to suddenly lunge. He sulks a bit but he behaves himself very well while wearing it.  Usually he only wears it while they walk to and from the bush or training so he was horrified to find he had to be on lead for the whole walk this day.  There is a busy country road nearby to this falls and when he and Tuppence get together they are inclined to range too widely.  Better safe than sorry!

Angus doing his, "I hate my Halti but I'm a good boy," face.

It's a really pretty spot here in winter. I usually try to get across here at least once each winter.  In summer the Wooroloo Brook dries up so it's not so nice then.   The water is pretty low for this time of year, actually.  Sometimes that little fall you can see at the back of this photo and behind mum in the one below is spread right across that shelf of rock.

This is a very short video I did four years ago when Tuppence and Angus were just a twinkle in my mum's eye.  This was Rosie, Buffy and I, and you can see how much more water there is going over the falls.  I was sitting a little left of where mum is standing in the above pic.

 We walked along a little walk trail that goes beside the water for a while. I usually come in the morning so it was lovely to see the way the late afternoon sun shone across the water.

After we had a little walk we sat on a rock near the falls and soaked up some negative ions.  The dogs would have preferred more walk!

But once they realised we were stopped for now. They sat and enjoyed the sights as well.

Sweet Rosie, happy as ever.

Tuppence.  I don't often get a smiling photo of her because when she is smiling she is usually also on the move. 

It is a great place for paddling but some places are very slippery so we got to enjoy watching a kid inevitably fall into the water (sorry no photo).  When did I turn into the person who was watching instead of the person falling on her arse in the water?  Not sure it is a good thing, but then no way was I going to try to skate round on the slippery wet rocks while being towed by two Labradors!

The site of best slippage and wet bums.

Instead of going paddling, we sedately sat and enjoyed the peaceful water.

  Then we went home, feeling happy.