Goodbye, ancient one

28 10 2022

We’ve had an old peppermint tree (Agonis flexuosa) growing on our property, likely for many generations. But it’s had, and has caused, some problems—the most recent was a tree limb snapping off without warning and landing on the driveway, and previous to that, termites, and branches overhanging the house. We’ve had the overhanging branches lopped several times and had treated the termites. This is the only tree close to our house and it’s many tens of thousands of dollars cheaper to lop a few limbs every few years than to replace an entire smashed corner of a double-brick house!

But with the latest unexpected branch drop, we realised it was time for the tree to go. Who knows what would happen in a big storm with gale-force winds coming from the north-west as they do? Or in a bushfire (the oil in the leaves is highly volatile)?

I contacted the people who’d previously done our lopping, but 2 months after accepting their quote, they still couldn’t give me a date when they’d come. I found another company and the owner came out the next day, gave me a quote on the spot ($400 cheaper than the first quote) and told me it would likely be done within 3-4 weeks. Two weeks later I get a text to see if 7:15am in a couple of days time was OK—sure was!

They turned up at 7am with ALL the regalia—about 4 trucks, a big cherry-picker crane, the wood chipper, a small piece of equipment that could pick up big logs and put them into the back of a truck, etc. By 7:15 they were into it, and within 2 hours they were all done, had cleaned up the site, and taken all bits of the tree away. They also poisoned the stump to hopefully prevent new shoots from forming. They couldn’t grind the stump because of its location on a narrow retaining wall at least a metre off the ground, and they couldn’t cut it down too close to the ground as the base of it was way too big for their various size chainsaws.

I was particularly impressed with their professionalism—using a cherry-picker crane to get to the high branches instead of shimmying up the tree with ropes and leaving chainsaws hanging in the air, using chains and a small loader thing to lift the large trunk piece, and cleaning up. The boss was also training a younger chap, and he spent time showing the young bloke the right way to do things. And they all wore the appropriate safety gear.

From beginning to end…

 





Testing acrylic paints

13 05 2022

I purchased a set of 24 metallic acrylic paints from Amazon (Ohuhu brand; link to the Amazon Australia site: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B08PPCCM2D/r) and decided to test them out on some sample popsticks.

The idea of using popsticks is that you have a ready reference for your colours without having to lift every paint pot out of the boxes you have them stored in (I saw this trick on YouTube!). I wrote the brand and colour name on each stick, kept one end ‘naked’, and painted the other end of each stick with black gesso because I wanted to see how the colours worked on a black background. Would the black bleed through or would the colours remain strong and opaque? Was there any difference in the colours? (in some of my early dotting, I’ve found that yellow can react badly on black and almost disappear, even when other paint colours from the same brand work well). After prepping my sticks, I ‘painted’ each end (using a dotting tool) with the same colour. Simplistically, this is what I did—the reality is that it took several days to create these samples while I waited for paint to dry 🙂

Well, the metallic colours of this set of paints are great. And the colour seems to give good coverage with no bleeding through. But, and there’s a big ‘but’ here… these paints are very thick and ‘goopy’. They aren’t suitable at all for dotting straight from the bottle. Some practitioners (via their YouTube videos) suggest the paint for dotting should be the consistency of runny honey. These paints are nowhere near that. You can see from the photos below that when you take the top off the bottle, the paint peak remains (green paint bottle). And it stays like this for ages. You can also see the goopiness of the (green) paint on the practice dotting tool, and later I dabbed the tool into the yellow and held it suspended for more than 30 seconds. The drop didn’t move—it stayed peaked like that. For dotting, it should form a drop within a few seconds, even if the drop doesn’t actually drop off.

But now that I know these paints are thick, I won’t use them straight from the bottle. Instead I’ll add them to a paint palette and add pouring medium to them to give me the consistency I need.


The peak remained on the paint for as long as I had the bottle open.

 


The dotting tool is very ‘goopy’ with this thick paint.


The dotting tool with a peak of paint—it didn’t move.


The full range of 24 metallic colours, on plain and black-painted ends.


The colours on black gesso. The coverage is good, but the paint’s thickness means that the coverage wasn’t even.

Some of the colours on the ‘naked’ ends of the popsticks. Again, the colours are good, but the thickness means there are a lot of bumps of paint.





Dotted coasters and magnets

8 05 2022

My latest foray into the dotting world had me dotting some plain fridge magnets (super quick!), and applying black paint to 10 cm (4 inch) wooden coasters then dotting them too. I started with one coaster a couple of weeks ago, then have slowly been doing the others in the same colourway. I finished the final two today. I’d guess I’ve spent 6 hours on the coasters, perhaps a bit more. The designs were all out of my head.

I still have to apply the glazing medium to the coasters but I likely won’t do that until I’ve put some sort of protective backing on them as they are raw MDF at the moment.





Dotted animals

3 05 2022

After doing several mandalas and other dotted art pieces, I decided to try some animals. The turtle is on a piece of 15 x 15 cm (6 x 6 inch) black paper, and the kangaroo is on a black painted canvas, which is actually a large fridge magnet (about 10 x 10 cm; 4 x 4 inch). I added a glazing medium to the kangaroo after I finished doing the dots. Note: The magnet is meant to be placed on the fridge (or hung) on the diagonal so that the kangaroo is correct in the horizontal plane.

 

Marine turtle swimming in the ocean

 

Paints used for creating the turtle

 

Partly finished kangaroo—final dots to be added, and the glazing medium

 

Finished kangaroo fridge magnet, with glazing added

 

Paints used for the kangaroo

 





Going dotty

24 04 2022

I’m still practising dotting art on black art paper. Yellows don’t come out well—they tend to turn green and I have to redot them after they are dry. I’ve yet to try a surface I’ve painted black—I would really like to use yellow without having to go over it every time. But I won’t try on those black painted surfaces until the set of dotting tools I’ve ordered arrive (I ordered them on 31 March, and it’s now 24 April and they still haven’t arrived… they first went to Tampa then to Miami [2 days], then it was another 5 days to New York, another 2 before they checked back in, in New York. After their holiday in New York, it took them another 4 days to fly to Japan [why Japan??? Australia’s borders are now open] where they had a mini holiday for 2 days before arriving in Brisbane. They left Brisbane on 20 April, but haven’t been checked in anywhere else yet. We have a long weekend this weekend, so I’m not expecting to see further tracking information until Tuesday. And this is despite paying $22USD for postage for a small parcel! Between them, USPS and AusPost are pretty bloody inefficient!)

The top two are a small gift card size; the bottom two are suitable for framing and are not made as cards. The bottom right one is on a 6 x 6 inch square piece; the left is slightly bigger and rectangular.





Trying dotting

15 04 2022

I’m trying dot art for the first time. My initial attempt was a few weeks ago, but I’ve learnt a bit more now (thanks YouTube!) and have practised some techniques. Doing these mandalas is very focusing, so it’s good for mental health. I still have to get the paint consistency right, but these were some I did yesterday and today. All are on one half of black card suitable for a greeting card. Some were still wet when I took the photos so the chalk registration marks are still visible—I’ll erase those when the paint dries, and likely add more dots on top of the existing dots. The one with the page fully covered is from earlier in the week, and I added more dots over the other dots, pretty much filling the black card. The hardest thing at the moment is getting that centre dot perfectly lined up. More practice needed there, as the position of the centre dot dictates how accurate the placement of the others dots is. At the moment I’m using mainly the ends of things I already have — various paint brushes, pencil eraser ends, satay sticks, and a set of dotting tools for nail art, which create VERY small dots. I’m waiting on delivery of a range of tools developed just for dotting, in a range of sizes, and I think I’ll mark registration marks on the bigger tools so I can centre more precisely. I’ve also been using some quilting stencils I have to get the shapes 🙂 And I haven’t yet put anything on canvas so it will be interesting to see how prepped canvas takes the acrylic paint compared to the mixed media black card

Update a day later: I’ve added photos of the updated mandalas after adding further dots and erasing the chalk marks, plus another non-mandala—a free-form one that I think of as a cell (it was still very wet when I took the photo, so I may have to go over some of the yellows as they fade into the paper).





My first house

10 04 2022

This was not the first house I purchased, but the first I ever lived in! I’ve recently been in touch with someone from the historical society for the Western Australian country town where I spent my life from birth to the day I turned 13, and she just happens to work for the local Shire and has access to old building plans. And she found these plans of the first house I lived in (until I was about 7 years old), which was commissioned by my grandfather to be built for my parents just before they got married.

These were certainly simpler times, as evidenced by the degree of ‘detail’ in the plans (just the 2 pages to get approval to build!) and the design of the house—a simple 4-room house. The price of 2000 pounds (equivalent to $4000) seems ridiculously low, but for the time it was a lot. However, using an online inflation calculator (https://www.inflationtool.com/australian-dollar/), that $4000 is equivalent to around $80,000 today, a vast difference to the cost of building a house in Western Australia today. That said, today’s houses have a LOT of bells and whistles—and rooms—and this one certainly didn’t.

Take a look at the materials used in the building—compressed asbestos board was used for the inner and outer walls of the timber-framed house! And according to Mum, lino was the floor covering of choice for the kitchen and later the living room. Lino in those days was full of asbestos too. Mum remembers the other floor coverings in the house too:

    • Kitchen – lino on the floor (more asbestos!)
    • Lounge room – wooden floors until my sister and I started crawling, then cheap lino; no furniture in this room bar a radiogram and my other nana’s treadle sewing machine, which mum would put the playpen over when she’d finished using it to stop us from crawling into the mechanism!; the fire surround was brick (likely red brick)
    • Main bedroom (front of the house) – Feltex carpet (very cheap)
    • Our bedroom – they think it was a wooden floor (and by wooden, probably not polished boards, but plain wood, perhaps oiled)
    • Bathroom – they couldn’t remember, but likely concrete
    • Laundry – red concrete; copper in the corner (the round thing in the laundry); back steps – no handrails
    • Front verandah – red concrete.

 

The same house after it was built and after I was born—I believe that’s me in the pram on the front verandah, so I was likely less than 12 months’ old, just a tad younger than the house.





Is my creative mojo returning?

7 03 2022

Is my creative mojo starting to return? I lost it for more than 12 months (COVID Blues?) and just couldn’t find the motivation to create anything at all. No quilting, no sewing, no art (not that I did much of that). But today I had an urge to do something. I created 2 small (A5 paper) colour washes then experimented with putting different sized white dots over them, in a nod to Aboriginal dot paintings. It’s a start…

They’re still drying, so I’m not sure how the white dots will look once they’ve dried. I used fabric paints for the washes and the dots, even though they were on paper.





Water purifier and softener system

19 02 2022

We had a water purifier and softening system installed earlier this week. Our water here is really hard and full of chemicals such as copper, calcium, and lime, which cause all sorts of scale issues in the pipework, the HWS and other appliances, as well as unsightly blue/green and chalky residue on porcelain, taps, showerheads etc. But you can’t just buy a system and install it—there has to be drainage for the monthly purge of the system, which meant a soakwell and a new drain under the concrete slab, plus all the pipework to route the water from the mains point into the house through the filtration and softening system, and a new electrical point for the pumps for the monthly purge. The plumbers and electrician did a great job in the stinking hot weather!

 





The great experiment is nearly over

13 12 2021

See most recent update, dated 21 Jan 2022 (below)

Our protected status is likely to be lifted soon (the actual date is expected to be late Jan/early Feb). From our state’s newspaper a few hours ago:

Mark McGowan is set to announce the date WA’s border will reopen to the rest of Australia and the world at 2pm. WA first introduced a hard border on April 6, 2020 – a measure described by Mr McGowan as “turning WA into its own island within an island” – meaning border controls have now been in place for 616 days and counting.

I hope someone does a case study of what our state did—we have 2.5+ million people living here (more than 2+ million just in the Perth metro area alone), yet we’ve only had just over 1000 COVID cases in almost 2 years, and fewer than 10 deaths from COVID in that same time. We’ve hardly ever worn masks, except for a few lockdowns when we went hard and fast to minimise potential exposure. Our hard borders have WORKED, and our day-to-day life within the state has been ‘normal’ for the past 2 years compared to many parts of the world. The time it brought for us was to get 80%+ of the population over 16 double-vaxxed, with single dose numbers up around 90%.

Our protected status will likely change once the borders reopen and COVID is allowed in. But with the vax rates we have, hopefully, the impact won’t be too dire.

Update: 5 February 2022 is the date we reopen to Australia and the world. From Mark McGowan, State Premier:

This is an incredible milestone for our State. We are one of the most vaccinated societies in the world and we have achieved this without having extended lockdowns, virus outbreaks or any community spread of the virus. We followed a different model to the others and it has worked. We have been able to get through the last two years safely because of the efforts of West Australians.

There will still be quite a lot of travel and large gathering restrictions around vaccination status, testing etc. But it’s a start.

And no, I won’t be getting on a plane to go anywhere in the foreseeable future!

Update 13 Jan 2022 from a press conference by the State Premier, Mark McGowan:

(from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/wa-expands-proof-of-vaccination-requirements/100754194)

West Australians will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access a wide range of venues and events from January 31, Premier Mark McGowan has announced.

Mr McGowan said proof of double-dose vaccination would be required for those aged 16 and older at hospitals, aged care facilities and all hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, taverns, nightclubs and where dine-in fast food is available.

The requirement will also extend to indoor entertainment venues including play centres, gaming and gambling venues including Crown Perth, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues.

Bottle shops, gyms, fitness centres, health studios, amusement parks and the zoo are also encompassed by the new rules, which already apply to events with more than 500 people, including music festivals and major stadiums.

There will not be many public places unvaccinated people can visit, but they will be permitted to get takeaway food and visit roadhouses and petrol stations.

Community sport and school-based events will also be exempt, unless at one of the specific venues listed.

Mr McGowan said life would become very difficult for the unvaccinated from January 31.

“No pubs, no bottle shops, no gym, no yoga classes, no gigs, no dancefloors, no hospital or aged care visits.

“If you choose to remain unvaccinated, you are choosing to put yourself at risk, you are choosing to put the people around you at risk, and you are choosing to increase the burden on our health staff.”

Mr McGowan said the proof of vaccination requirement would apply statewide and he expected the requirement would be in place “for years to come”.

He also flagged that he expected the vaccination requirement would be expanded to three doses in the future.

Update 21 Jan 2022: Our hard borders are to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Some conditions of entry have changed. On a personal level, I’m happy with this decision, but I know it will cause hardship for some industries and families. But then so would an uncontrolled outbreak of the Omicron variant, as evidenced at the moment in the eastern states where hospitals, supply chains etc. are under extreme pressure because of staff off sick. Full details: https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/mark-mcgowan-delays-wa-border-reopening-indefinitely-over-omicron-fears-c-5387219 and https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-20/wa-border-opening-delayed/100771492