home sick

December 7, 2019

I’ve not felt well this week, so I’ve not swum, or gone to the studio, or bought fresh flowers, or walked into the woods, or sung a song, or talked with strangers. I haven’t done much at all, actually, outside of writing and watching television and drinking ginger tea. I really do believe that sickness is the body (and mind’s) way of forcing us to slow down and take stock. It started last Thursday with a horrible neck pain that by morning had travelled into my back. “I had to make you uncomfortable otherwise you never would’ve moved.” Forced to break with our routines, shift gears, we are left to examine the reasons we got ill in the first place. So yes, while sickness demands a physical reprieve, it does ask something of the psyche. Which is the whole point. Address the list from the comfort of your sofa. By Monday afternoon, a chest infection had come on that stayed with me all week. Five days horizontal. Anyone who knows me knows that doing nothing is not my forte. “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.” So, I wrote two-dozen Christmas cards and watched the Joan Didion documentary. Next week, I’ll be back to health, and swimming laps and making bowls and racing from one end of the city to the other with three kids and an armful of teacher’s gifts in tow. And what will I have gained from this break in regular programming? How will I have been moved? Sideways? Forward?


December 5, 2019

And because it’s December, and all the living things are coated in snow, here are some peonies, in my favourite shade. I saw peonies at my local flower shops last week, but resisted the urge. It felt wrong to fill the house with June flowers in December. Besides, it’s the amaryllis’ turn to shine.


December 5, 2019

I’m dizzy, too. But if we can catch our breath, and absorb the sheer playfulness and whimsy of this room, the dizziness may pass. With three different prints on the ceiling, walls and floor, it is a lot. And none of it makes sense. Until it does. And then it’s all positively delightful.


December 4, 2019

As a child and teenager, when it came to certain subjects, maths in particular, I never felt prepared, no matter how hard I studied. It’s hard to say whether this was because of the way I was taught –– my maths teacher was as exciting as his grey flannel suits –– or due to my attitude and aptitude. By the age of eleven or twelve, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was crap at fractions, and that I would never understand Pythagoras. My confidence was shot, which made learning that much harder. In those days, education sent children on either an arts or science channel quite early on, and it was unusual that you felt confident to move between the two. I was on an arts channel, eating books for breakfast, making collages out of old fashion magazines, and feasting on the details of the Battle of Hastings. Numbers weren’t in my wheel house. My best friend, Amy, cool and insouciant, was one of those rare girls who could whizz through an algebra problem, write a Haiku, and still have time to snog the cute boys at parties. I loved her confidence. To this day, my brain freezes when I’m presented with numbers to add or subtract. Like a six year old child, I use my fingers to make sense of it all. A few weeks ago, I was reluctant to challenge a taxi driver on a fare that didn’t compute in my head. My default, when it comes to numbers, is to assume that the other person is right, and that I am wrong. In this instance, I stood my ground and got my fair change. How many times have I been duped before? I can’t see myself taking a maths course, but I can see myself paying close attention to what my children are learning. Learning from them, I hope. And most importantly, speaking up when things don’t add up.

prints charming

December 3, 2019

I came across the work of illustrator, Janet Hill today, and it’s hard to not resist her charm, whimsy, sense of nostalgia, and play. I think her Christmas cards are delightful, and gifts unto themselves. Her art prints remind me of scenes from old, romantic movies; The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind and Mary Poppins. Have a look –– I think you’ll be quite smitten.


December 2, 2019

It’s an important step for an artist to show her work. There’s a legitimacy and validation in seeing her paintings, pots or textiles in a public forum, in receiving feedback from strangers, and in their being an exchange of money. It takes courage to put your work out into the world. For years, I wrote features for magazines and newspapers, but the writing was never meaty or personal enough for me to feel that putting a byline on it was an act of courage. It was always exciting to see my name in print, it still is, but never as thrilling as seeing someone walk away with one of my ceramics. Potters work hard. It’s tough on the body, there are so many steps involved, and we’re always at the mercy of the kiln. Most significantly, anything we make, is a small manifestation of our inner most selves. “I don’t care how heavy it is, I am taking it back to Australia,” said one lovely customer of a massive Mati piece she snapped up at our holiday sale this weekend. For every enthusiastic visitor like Christiann, there were at least half a dozen people that barely gave my table a sideways glance. That’s how it goes. “I don’t think my work is for everyone, but those who like it, seem to really like it,” I told my Mum after the sale. “There’s nothing wrong with having a general appeal, but more interesting to be unique.” Mums always say the best things.


November 29, 2019

I wear the same JCrew chino everyday; I have them in caramel, dusty rose and grey. Last week, I found a rip in the derriere of my newest pair. I’ve no idea how it happened, but thankfully I was at home when it did. When I took them back to JCrew yesterday, the manager didn’t flinch about getting me another pair. She couldn’t have been more gracious. It wasn’t down the seam, and they were purchased months ago, so I really wasn’t sure if they’d replace them. But they did. And as such, I will buy my chinos there until the end of time. Isn’t it nice when things go our way?


November 29, 2019

It wasn’t that long ago that I moved through the city –– from swimming pools to playgrounds to birthday parties and playdates –– pushing two children in a stroller with a baby on my chest. It’s kind of amazing to me that my little body was once able to do all that. These days, I can barely lift a sleeve of clay without doing my neck in. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I was a human tree to three orangutans, and I did my best to give, and to absorb all the love I could. Ten years into motherhood, and my children hang off my boughs much less than they used to. The littlest one has stopped wanting to be carried, and reaching into my top. They’re still always within a metre of me, but it’s a lot less physically consuming. Yesterday, I took all three to the doctor for an annual check up and our pediatrician commented on how rarely she now sees them all together. It reminded me of how often I and/or Jason was up there with the whole kit and kaboodle. In the baby years, they were very often all sick at once, or in need of a vaccination at the same time. What was lovely about yesterday, was how I was able to sit back and watch the three of them take care of themselves, and each other. Iole helped Luma with her wellies, and Antimo talked her through what to expect from her booster shot. “There’s so much love between these three,” said the pediatrician. It was the most heart-swelling thing I’ve heard in weeks. They bicker like mad, and they rarely hold hands or hug the way they used to, but every now and then, I too observe that deep rooted love between them, and it knocks me sideways.

about face

November 27, 2019

I’m amazed by how much expression some artists achieve with just a few lines. Modigliani, Picasso & Matisse were maestros at this. Alison Angelini’s squigly portraits are beautifully influenced by all three. This one here, with big lips and flowers in her hair, is a personal favourite, and I love the long nose and single chandelier on this one. I’ve seen a whole wall of them, each one with a slightly different expression on her face.


November 27, 2019

There’s something so beautiful and delicate about the tissue texture of poppy petals. My neighbour has some growing in her back garden, and every summer, they bring me such pleasure. Hers are enormous, and the colour of peaches. My Mum had a gorgeous dress made from moiré silk and those flowers remind me of that dress. She looked amazing in it.

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