Saturday, December 22, 2012

Follow your star.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The postman always rings...oops!,sorry wrong title,

Yep my life is not nearly as exciting as Lana Turner's in the movie of that name and my dear Prof can rest easy as I have no plans to bump him off unless........
When the mail arrives at our house there is not the usual reluctance to take the long walk to the box to collect it, bills are outnumbered by etegami these days. What a joy to open it and see that someone, whom you know only online, somewhere, it could be anywhere, (try Iceland for instance) has thought of you and sent their precious work to you. Doesn't get any better than that!
I try to acknowledge the cards in my other blog, Etegami Inbox but I thought it would be nice to show some of them here.
Quite a few of the cards are still hanging in the exhibition at John Hunter Hospital, they have been there six months, longer than most pictures hang. The curator explained to me that they provide a welcome distraction to patients and visitors who stop to read the captions and enjoy the colourful painting.
Here I am with Buster, (he thought this photo was for Facebook and he doesn't approve of FB. so he covered his  eyes) surrounded by my riches.
Happy (and safe) Christmas everybody.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Life gets in the way of blogging.

Which is as it should be I suppose. Friends often chide me for "wasting time" on the internet but they don't know my secret! The secret is that I have  MORE friends on the internet than in the real "world" and they never, ever chide me for anything, so there!
Second son came from Singapore and went last weekend, all in the space of a few hours as he made his way to see his favourite band (Devo) twice.
Today was my last visit to the hospital to have my porta cath 'tuned' up until the new year, I am very grateful that I have not had to have it accessed for over 8 months, i.e. no hospital admissions. The year got off to a shaky start with three admissions but by following a strict regime of inhaling antibiotics, hypertonic saline and using my various machines, all of which takes up hours of my day, I can be thankful that the inevitable has been delayed!
The garden is riotous, the pests are thriving,  the first few goodies are being harvested and I have been busy sending out etegami to my online friends to wish them a happy holiday season.

This etegami is the last one I will share on the theme of the Year of the Snake which is coming up all too soon.

I know, bad puns, what can I say?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My "Hole in the Bucket" list!

Unaccustomed as I am to thinking, I have been thinking  lately about "the list" that many of my contemporaries speak of, "The Bucket List" which was popularized by the eponymous movie.
I use capitals to emphasize the fact that even to speak of things undone at this stage of life is to somehow express dissatisfaction with what has gone before. I have no such regrets, but it struck me that these lists always seem to include activities that rather than enhance life can seriously endanger it.
Being a risk averse being  my "Hole in the Bucket"list would include many of them; skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding, eating Krispy Kreme donuts, you get the picture? Happy to let these things drip out of my bucket. Perhaps it is because I manage to live so well in my imagination, a skill I think forced upon me by a wan and listless childhood.
To be surrounded by the people I love, flowers, pets and diversions I can enjoy at home, those are the things on my List.
Which brings me to the most dangerous activity I indulge in, a drive to the garden centre!

Friday, November 30, 2012

How I plan to survive Christmas.

Yes it is that time again! Retailers seem to anticipate Christmas earlier every year, pretty soon we will just have all our "gifting opportunities" rolled into one mega day on January first every year. Come to think of it that isn't a bad idea, perhaps I should take out copyright on it! On second thoughts, local websites linked to a monster online sales event recently had so many hits that the whole thing crashed with such a thud it could be heard in outer space.
 Online shopping is sooo easy now that if it were not for the joys of being part of a mass event, rather like living through the Blitz, (I know, don't be flippant about awful events in history) I would never leave my desk.
This first etegami  is for those overseas folk who must be greeted a little earlier than the locals so I do have a reason for jumping the gun a bit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gone "Troppo"!

Yep, that was me in Singapore, the heat and humidity really does bring on a kind of mental fug and general torpor.
What's that? Singapore you say?, well yes, I finally dried out my recalcitrant lungs sufficiently to fly to Singapore to visit our son and his family. Those who know me will breathe a sigh of relief that I have finally achieved my goal as I have been boring them rigid for the last three years rabbiting on about my desperate longing to make the trip "When I am well enough"!
The journey was relatively painless in the lovely big Qantas A380 and it was well worth the money to fly business class, more space and fully reclining seats.
There were minor hiccups both outward and inward bound, cancelled for a day going and put on a different flight coming home. Unfortunately the homeward flight to Sydney was on a 747 and that was not so pleasant but only six and a half hours flying time and we got to get our snouts in the trough in the Qantas lounge while we waited!
Apart from a few forays into the tourist world in Singapore we spent most of our time with the family and that was wonderful. I did manage to do quite a lot of etegami and sketching so be prepared to be bored, not by my holiday photos, but by some of my holiday etegami.

On second thoughts I will bore you with one holiday snap.......


The fish did not seem to mind that I was having a bad hair day. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No comment.

Thank you Andrew, just what I always wanted a rubber chicken handbag, now to 'cluck' up the courage to be seen on the street with her, Poulet, a French name because there just seems something so chic about her!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm okay, really I am.

Anyone looking at these two etegami might think that I was having a bit of a dark spot in my life, not true, it is just that having taken up the challenge to make a year of the snake etegami it just snowballed.
Then, up came Halloween so that begged this Mexican themed card.
I have always been fascinated by Memento Mori and this card which has that theme, was sparked by the gift of a skull necklace from my granddaughters when they returned from California. I made the stamps and impressed them using acrylic paint, this allowed me to colour without bleeding of the black and yellow as I am still having trouble sourcing waterproof stamppad inks.

The snake refers to new year's resolutions where we strive for perfection, hence the Enso, and inevitably fall short of the mark. Better perhaps to have more modest goals?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Etegami call, Year of the Snake.

Some etegami in response to Debbie's call for traditionally drawn cards to mark the year of the snake (which is coming up all too soon).
Debbie has kindly pointed out that the the characters on the first one are not correct, the last two make up one character and should be side by side. I was trying to say "Enso" which is the Japanese for circle but the word embodies much more in the world of Zen and embodies the idea of completeness. I try to allude to this idea in the others by citing the Ouroboros (a snake swallowing it's own tail) which in western iconography occupies a similar place.

The gold, traditional on New Year's etegami does not show up very well in the scans, I really like this subject, so much more fraught with meaning and lore than the wishy washy rabbit or many of the other signs of the Oriental Zodiac.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Takin' it greasy...

Recently some of the members of the etegami Fun Club have been using a grease pencil to draw their cards. It acts as a kind of resist, the paint floating over it. Using a pencil makes drawing the image a lot more fluid and direct than the wobbly lines of the brushed on sumi ink.
I thought that I would try this method on a few different cards and the result is not too bad, satisfyingly direct and dark but it is only another weapon in the arsenal to achieve the "perfect" etegami.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Yes my inherent Scottish thriftiness has reared it's ugly  head again and I have eschewed 'store bought' goods for something a lot cheaper, free in fact.
A trawl 'round the internet alerted me to the fact that some folk have been making stamps out of the styrofoam that comes as packaging for many of our foodstuffs these days. What better than to use them to make etegami where the nature of the imperfect line they print suits the genre? The line is almost as wobbly as that made by my increasingly unsteady hand!
Anyway, the weather has turned cold again and this was a great indoor project to distract me from the sound of weeds pushing their heads above the soil in my garden.

 And my ever present obsession with cicadas...


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Closing the circle.

I am by nature, a rather tidy person, not necessarily where housework is concerned but I do like what is popularly called closure.
A couple of days ago I did an etegami for Fumiko using a blank fan shaped card sent to me by Debbie. So now in order to close the circle I am sending one to Debbie on a handmade blank card from Fumiko. I am content!

The cards are super absorbent as they just inhale the ink, lovely to work on. I did another drawing of a cicada (you can never have too many cicadas right?), enjoying the flow of the ink from the bamboo pen.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Yep, after a few nice mild, "wow isn't it great to be out in the sunshine" days, the hot weather has arrived and with it a general lassitude, nay, more of a torpor. I don't do well in hot weather and my creative juices dry up. Consequently I do fairly mindless repetitive tasks (No, not housework) like knitting bunnies or filing my nails, and etegami is neglected. A big shame on me as I owe heaps of people cards in response to ones they have sent me.
A very nice surprise this week was a wee package full of lovely handmade goodies from a new etegami friend "Blorgie" who runs an interesting blog and who lives virtually next door in postcard-sending terms. The package contained a cloth decorated with Sashiko (Japanese stitching) and a delightful funky keychain dangly thingy. As you can see from the photo I couldn't wait to get my keys on that thing fast enough!
A big thank you Carolyn. Sometimes I think that I must have been through all my beetley, crawley reincarnations already as so many nice things happen to me and I am getting so much good Karma.

Time to dig out the fans and cool off so I can get down to some serious stuff!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pass it forward.

That's what I intend to do with this card. Debbie from Hokkaido has sent me a few fan shaped etegami cards. These cards are unobtainable in Australia, add to that the complexities of ordering them online from Japan, which would defeat me, and this makes them a welcome gift. I was also given some handmade cards by Fumiko from Kyushu so in order to form a perfect circle I hope to make one of them into a card for Debbie..neat?
Fumiko is a big fan of purple, it pops up in her etegami constantly and lately it has popped up in her hair! Not a wishy washy mauve or even a jacaranda but a very decided purple. So, the pinky, purpley card says in Japanese (courtesy of Google translate and with fact checking by Debbie ) "For the use of my dear Lady Murasaki", The Lady Murasaki was the purported writer of "The Tales of Genji" which is considered to be one of the first novels ever written. The play on words in the card is that in Japanese Murasaki means purple, so an appropriate name for Fumiko who is also very much a lady.
I feel a bit like Big Bird on Sesame Street.."let's all co-operate children", won't that be fun?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Movie Star moment.

Every time I put on my sunglasses I think I look years younger (did I mention the scarf around the turkey neck as well?).
I love my sunglasses, yes, they are prescription lenses but nobody needs to know that.
Heavy black frames, hair pulled back, and for a moment I am a young slim Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffanys" and not a skinny wrinkly greying 67 year old with a vividl imagination! As they used to say in theatrical circles if it looks okay to a horseman riding by.... and even though the horseman would have to have severe myopia as well, I prefer to keep my fantasy.

Dream on!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A deadly sin?

Covetousness is a sin, perhaps not a deadly sin, but maybe just a "not nice"sin.
I hold up my hands to being guilty of it though and I am gripped by it lately every time I walk the dog. My neighbours neglected and overgrown garden boasts several very lovely hybrid cliveas and I have been trying to think of something I could offer as a swap for one of his "pups". Now this guy is a musician and something of an ascetic so maybe the idea of a cake would not be appropriate, wine ditto. An offer of a bit of gardening? Maybe not as it seems not to be high on his list of priorities. I did think to offer never to sing in his hearing and I am sure he would appreciate that but it is a bit of a copout as I never sing in anyone's hearing, yes my voice is that bad!
In the meantime I have decided to send him a version of this etegami and just lay it on the table!
So neighbour, there it is, I lust after your cliveas!

Another version done on watercolour card.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cupboard love.

"Cupboard love.
noun (Brit.)
affection that is feigned in order to obtain something."
No, no, no, not that kind of cupboard love, I mean I love a cupboard!
More specifically a particular cupboard and I definitely do not feign my affection for this little beauty.
Now I do like furniture (yes, weird I know but I can tell a Mies from an Ames from a Stickley from a Shaker at a thousand paces). However what I do like is Miniature furniture (did you know that  "minim"  is a red colouring used by the ancients and later used as a ground for miniature portraits and is actually calcined lead? but miniature comes from the Latin 'minima' meaning smallest, pedants may correct me as I am too lazy to check the facts!).
I digress, bear with me, I was expounding on my love of miniature furniture. I do have quite a collection of dollhouse pieces but what I really like are the oversized pieces which look charming mixed in with correctly scaled furniture. This long winded preamble brings me to the subject of this Birthday Present!
Number one son who shares many of my strange interests found a beautiful homemade Depression era cupboard painted that ubiquitous green  and knew instantly that I would love it and I do! Along with the cupboard came a set of china, again wildly out of scale but in my favourite stripe pattern (have I mentioned my obsession with stripes? I am nearly cured of it thank goodness but these are wonderful). The piece was clearly homemade for a lucky little girl at a time when money didn't grow on trees (or in the pockets of the wealthy even).
Without further ado, Ta Da!

The lemon inside is for scale.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scents and Sensibilities

Here I am banging on again about the wonderful flower perfumes of Spring. Current favourite is the orange blossom.
We do have an orange tree which every year promises much with a snowstorm of delicately scented blossom. Does it deliver on those promises? It does not!  In five years of cosseting this tree it has returned exactly five oranges, nice oranges to be sure, but five?
I have resigned myself to growing it for the intoxicating scent which conjures up visions of Spring brides (orange blossom is traditionally worn as a headdress for weddings).
Usually the trees here are abuzz with a small army of droning bees but this year not, so I may have a go at hand pollinating and see if I can do better than them in getting the fruit to set.
While peering into a blossom I was struck by the difference it makes seeing something up really close and that led  me on then to thinking how we often hold opinions without really scrutinising  the opposing view, yes, my brain synapses misfire in this way occasionally. This kind of thinking is possibly a  natural follow-on from my helping daughter in law hand out how to vote pamphlets at the local municipal elections on Saturday. (She won a seat on the city Council by the way, yay Steph). I got a chance to talk to others handing out leaflets and they were actually quite nice people, no horns or pitchforks to be seen. The dyed in the wool arch conservatives however did not engage in any friendly banter and stood with faces like sucked lemons. Soooo, while I may examine my beliefs, I have decided there definitely is a line I will not cross!

A fairly obscure way of introducing this etegami but there you go!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Look Ma, no drugs!

Each time I look up through the tangle of flamboyant Spring blossoms on our wisteria vine, the lyrics of the song "Purple Haze" run through my mind. The heady, heavy fragrance messes with your brain, enveloping it in a fog of purple, mesmerising and soporific.
Jimi Hendrix has been quoted as saying that the song did not refer to an acid "trip"but was about a girl he met and loved but then in the 'sixties you did not come right out and admit to drug taking did you?
Poor Jimi, he did some good stuff.
The etegami I drew can only hint at this all enveloping experience, just a taste (or a sniff).

(Disclaimer: This etegami was made using no artificial stimulants besides iced tea)!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A collaboration.

A little while ago Fumiko my etegami friend from Kyushu sent me three of her clever cut paper flowers, an art she is very proficient at. My task was to use them in an etegami and I have tried to use them to celebrate the ethos of etegami, friendship being the basis for our communications even though few of us have met in the flesh.
I hope Fumiko is pleased with how I have incorporated them into my etegami!

Friday, August 31, 2012


I know I keep warbling on about happiness, what is it? how do we get it? how do we sustain it?
Always looking for ways to capture that elusive feeling of uplift, better than any drug.
Seeing this little Blue Wren made me happy. He battles the odds, is beautiful and feisty and is not much bigger than a dandelion head. Unlike the lilies of the field he does toil and is always alert and aggressively protective of his mate.

"Somewhere there's a Bluebird of Happiness". Keep looking!

Friday, August 24, 2012


A haircut for Katie our houseguest this weekend. Katie is a Shitszu but at the moment she looks like a bewildered Pug. Katie is a sweet gentle creature who lives with seven cats and two other little dogs, we love having her as our visitor when her 'Mum' goes off to cat shows.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


By definition 'precious' describes an object of great value. The value may not be intrinsic but of a sentimental nature and thus it is with this small trinket given to me by my grandchildren. I have very few items of jewellery  but it was no contest when I needed to illustrate one in an etegami for day 7 of the "Everdaymatters" challenge. I really cherish this little fish brooch and even though it wasn't an easy subject for etegami I had to use it.

A postscript to yesterday's post. the Tawny Frogmouth returned today and perched on the verandah once again seemingly unruffled and in good health, it really is a blessing to be treated to a close up sight of this nocturnal beauty with it's comical wide gape.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A visitor and a whiff of Spring.

A worrying visit by a Tawny Frogmouth who sat for several hours on the back verandah. I worried that he was ill but he seemed quite happy there on my table sheltering in the sun and out of the furious wind. He flew off at last after a small snack of dog food, leaving behind a small present of a regurgitated pellet of cockroach parts.

The wind today has played havoc with the garden but the freesias are blooming and the ones I have cut for indoors are perfuming the house, a pleasure I look forward to each year. It is said that those afflicted by a serious illness learn to appreciate their surroundings but I fear that if this should happen to me I would be overwhelmed  as I cannot imagine appreciating the beauty and wonder of  the Earth any more than I do now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mesmebryanthemum madness.

A card for the other plant breeder who visited us  Friday. Not altogether happy about this one but still, etegami rules say it must be sent so, thanks for the visit John.
A little explanation for the words, mesembryanthemum comes from the Greek meaning Noon Flower, probably owing to their habit of opening only in full sun, but as every plant breeder knows you have to be up mighty early to beat the insects who can ruin a perfectly good project by 'doing what comes naturally'!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Succulent etegami.

All etegami are delicious but by succulent etegami, I mean an etegami of a succulent plant.
The Prof and I were delighted to have lunch yesterday with a couple of old colleagues of his who he has not seen for almost a decade. Both of the men are engaged in plant breeding and their current project involves a particular variety of succulent hence this etegami which I have made to send to them. Plant breeding is an art and a science rolled into one and to follow the discipline you must be very disciplined indeed. From the first idea to a finished product, be it a new wheat variety or a horticulture specimen can take many years and many failed attempts. The rewards can be great but the disappointments many. so I hope our friends succeed in their latest project and manage to create some hysteria for their gasteria!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Etegami calendar.

I have it in my mind next year (if I am spared..don't worry I have just been re-reading Dickens) to do an etegami calendar. My very first etegami exchange with a Japanese lady was with a sweet person named Hatsue and she sent me a calendar she had printed up consisting of 12 cards beautifully boxed in a clear case. Sadly, Hatsue fell very ill and we no longer correspond but I still remember our first tentative connections and would like to make a calendar to celebrate our "meeting".Rather than wait until the new year I decided to get into the calendar mood with this card of a rather grumpy Water Dragon (in this year of the Dragon) expressing the sense of disbelief that we all seem to share as adults at how quickly time is passing. Where has the year gone?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Etegami, Colour, and the words of Van Gogh.

On my morning walk I was confronted at almost every turn by this rambunctious vine, Pyrostegia venusta or Brazilian Trumpet creeper. This enthusiastic late winter bloomer is a jarring sight clothing many drab tumbledown fences, draping them in brazen colour,  livening up the otherwise gentle tints of spring. Brazen it may seem but on a blustery cold day it does lift my mood. The dog only blessed it in his usual manner and passed on.
My present preoccupation with the letters of Van Gogh helped to  find a very apt quote to go with my model, a snippet I stole from a neighbour, an unknowing patron of the arts!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vincent again.

Another etegami celebrating the wisdom of Vincent Van Gogh and the coming of spring.

The whole quote is "There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" but here it can also encompass nature something which moved Vincent Van Gogh to make some of the most wonderful works of art 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Now, I'm not a cat person, but

Sometimes I look at the cute photos of kitties 'littering' the internet and I  momentarily forget that I am a dedicated dog person and fantasise about owning a cat. Our family did have a cat once, a white cat named unimaginatively Simba for the cartoon character Simba the White Lion. On one of our sabbatical trips overseas Simba was left in the care of a neighbour who lived on a rural property where I thought he would be safe but he was not happy and went feral,  by the time we returned a year later his health was failing. Sad story but we made his last days happy when he was able to come home again.
Cats are among the most popular subjects for etegami so I thought I would express a little about what I felt about them.  I have plenty of cat loving friends who will be happy to have the cards.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A purply, mauvey kind of day.

Interesting fact about the dye colour  mauve, it was the first of the aniline (artificial) dyes to be invented in 1856 and gave ordinary folk access to a colour previously restricted to royalty and extracted at great cost from the murex shellfish. All of which has little to do with this post today except that it is interesting to note that like almost every other good thing, nature thought of it first. I have been noticing a lot of purple tints appearing in our late winter/ early spring flowers and fruits.
The Lillipilli is a subject almost begging to be etegamied, those luscious mauvey, purply, reddish fruits that while not the most tasty of fruits, are generally edible and look for all the world like strange coloured cherries.

Another pale pink almost mauve flower anticipating spring is the lovely star magnolia which looks so fragile but which withstands the wintry weather for a few days at least to cheer us up.