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Vintage turquoise necklaces, Asos shirt, rings: vintage and Rejoice the Hands.

Things I loved in January:
Fireworks from rooftops Δ quitting drinking for a month Δ driving lost through bushland listening to Alabama Shakes Δ surprising a wedge-tail eagle drinking from a roadside pond Δ new soles on my Harley boots Δ more Millie Savage silver Δ finding new local florists vs. stealing flowers from gardens and roadsides Δ Tom Robbins autobiography (Tibetan Peach Pie) Δ this cute Lykke Wullf shirt Δ forcing Weenie Mutt to swim in icy southern waters on 40°C days Δ ginger ale (sans whiskey) Δ banjo playing and my black Tanglewood beauty Δ painting native Australian birds and plants in vibrant colours Δ re-watching Arrested Development episodes Δ these coconut goods Δ B52s and Jackson Five Δ long floral 90s dresses with chunky boots and Harley tees Δ crisp summer mornings in southern Australia Δ new Three Arrows Leather goods made of the softest magical leather Δ daydreaming up plans for our future home of wood and glass and solar and plants …


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Volcom 'Granada' bikini; Reef sun products; necklaces: Ishka, Spellbox, Quick Brown Fox, vintage; rings: Rejoice the Hands, Coyote Negro, Millie Savage Silver, Lo and Chlo Jewelry, vintage; Keith Haring book.

My sister and I used to skip classes during the summer months – this was once I was a bit older and we got along OK, and she had her P-plater licence and would sometimes drive my dad’s truck to school.
She would drive us out to the nearest beach town; just not the one with the bay, not the one with the easy, gentle white sand dunes. We’d go to the one where you had to clamber down the rocks and it wasn’t so good for swimming, where people parked their cars on the headland, and where you couldn’t see who was on the beach from the carpark.
I don’t know about my sister, but I was always nervous on the drive out there. We lived in a tiny valley, and it was just as likely we’d run into someone who knew our parents and would dob us in. But once we were down the rocks we were safe and hidden. Never mind that our dad’s truck – parked alone in the headland carpark – was instantly recognisable to anyone who knew him. It was, and still is, I suppose, the kind of town where you know everyone else’s number plates.

But that was our summer mischief. We’d spend the afternoon swimming and lying in the sun, talking and occasionally flicking through study notes so we didn’t feel so bad about skipping classes. Because that’s the kind of badasses we were – lucky ones, beachside skipping school with study-guilt. 


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Today in Melbourne it is kinda cold and drizzly, and I'm sticking to my challenge of not drinking for the month of January. So today I'm finding myself even more out of step with our national holiday than usual. 

For those of you not attuned to Antipodean goings-on, today is Australia Day. This is an occasion usually marked with standard ocker practices like drinking beer, hitting the beach, frying in the sun, being enthusiastic about cricket/tennis/whatever, and barbecuing some stuff while listening to the wireless (radio, that is). 

It's also slightly troublesome because it celebrates the day white people landed on the continent, which, for our country's Indigenous people, doesn't mark the happy anniversary of our country's foundation, but is actually the starting point of decades of genocide, racism, dislocation, and attacks on their ancient and enduring civilisation. 

As a beneficiary of our country's sad history -- i.e., if not for white settlement in Australia, I'd probably be anywhere in Scotland, Ireland or Germany -- I'm in two minds about this day. I'd like to celebrate this incredible land that we are so, so lucky to live on, but perhaps not today. Not if demonstrating our love for this country comes at the expense of respect for the traditional inhabitants, who themselves understand and love her much more than we ever could, and who today have every right to mourn.  

So, today I'm going to stay inside and draw some more, I'll think about all the things I love -- from gum blossoms to weird birds, wide skies to wild oceans, horse dust to Akubras, VB tins to seventies-era Holdens -- and remember at just what cost I get to love those things. 


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Having a relatively short attention span when it comes to ideas and preoccupations, I rarely draw 'studies' for paintings. I'm never really that well prepared, and am usually just hoping things will turn out OK. Mostly, the image is making a kind of faith-based jump from my mind to the page. 
And, unsurprisingly, it rarely turns out how I'd initially hoped it would. 

So I'm trying to form a habit of working on studies; familiarising myself with what I'm trying to produce. Here's a couple from the weekend, which, as so often happens, just deteriorated into me painting gum blossoms. 

Also, a time-lapse video of me drawing is up on the Volcom blog here. 


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Rings by Rejoice the Hands, Coyote Negro and Southset (now Of Earth and Stars); Volcom pants; Jo Mercer shoes; Cait Miers Washed Elegance photo book. 

So, I acquired three really excellent things last week – a car, a banjo, and my Harley boots back from the re-solers – but I have none of them actually here. To wit, the banjo is en route from the supplier, the car is back at the farm approximately 2000km away, and I had to take my boots back to the shop because the glue didn’t take properly in one spot.

These kind of occurrences are totally indicative of my life in general … happy – occasionally disappointing and frustrating – but mostly happy, and forever in anticipation of something good in the works, which isn’t quite here yet. 

ALSO, there was one more excellent arrival in my life last week ...
When we were moving house last year, we found a weird, tentacle-y, potted succulent in our backyard, hidden under a bush. As with anything vaguely interesting that I stumble across, I took it with me.
Then last week it sent out some unusual looking shoots, and I started to second-guess my assessment of it as a benign alien-plant.
It was up to something. 
But, as it turns out, it was just flowering; producing one perfect, five-petaled bloom. I've been told it's a carrion flower -- Stapelia -- which is kind of gross, but the stink is definitely outweighed by the weirdness and beauty. 


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Sketchbook pages December 24 - January 4, vintage necklaces and dress (underneath sketchbooks), rings from Coyote Negro and Rejoice the Hands.

Right now I'm feeling a little put off by everyone starting the new year with great health-and-fitness plans and super-new-work-ethics and every kind of world-dominating resolve that comes with a two-week break mostly fuelled by alcohol and too much food. 
Because all I'm starting the year with is some kind of throat/chest infection and I've spent the last three days sleeping/whingeing/watching bad TV shows.

So I'm just hoping that that old new year's adage -- that how you spend the first day of the year is a portent for how the rest of the year will be -- is totally untrue (although, if it were true, wouldn't most people just be hungover all year, which … well, never mind). 

Anyway, I'm not one for new year's resolutions -- or even life goals for that matter. My plan is, as usual, to stick to working hard and see where that takes me. Last year, at least, it took me some pretty interesting and memorable places. 

The only thing I'm highlighting as a possible resolution is to take better care of my health, and to stop pushing myself to burnout. Last year was probably the worst year of sickness and collapsing immunity that I've ever had. It was also the year that I pushed myself the hardest and probably also drank too much, too often. So that's my one thing this year, to try and circumvent that kind of behaviour.

Oh, and I'm buying a banjo. That was one of last year's resolutions, but, whatever. 
When it comes to banjos, I feel like any time is a good time. 


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Just before midnight, we carried a ladder down the street and up the ramp into a nearby level parking lot. A group of maybe 20 people, one after the other, climbed up onto the roof, avoided the thin skylight panels, and stepped over to the edge. From there, we could see the fireworks all across the Melbourne skyline, from one strange outlying building to the heart of the CBD. 
We were laughing and chattering and drinking and half-watching, but we were soon forgetting it and trying to work out how to get down the ladder and move on to the night's next concern, whatever that was. 

So, now I just hope the rest of this new year is full of more moments -- however brief -- that are bright and unexpected and unusual. 

Wishing you magical wonder vibes for the year ahead.


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