Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at www.marianneplumridge.com

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Location: New England, United States

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Space Shuttle...Eulogy for a Dream

I wrote this back when Shuttle Columbia tragically exploded on reentry to Earth's atmosphere. I don't have anything new on the subject, but these words are still as strong today as when I wrote them. I hope you like them...

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Eulogy for a Dream

By Marianne Plumridge, (c) 1 February 2003


I am a child of the 1960s. Born into that turbulent decade which oversaw so many changes in the world. War, peace, civic awareness, the awakening of racial issues, the cold war, burgeoning freedoms on many levels, and personal freedoms formerly restrained by the overworked images of the previous decade: the American Dream; the perfect society; the unquestioning roles formed for us by government and church. Into all this turmoil though, came an idea whose seed was planted in the closing years of World War II: spaceflight. It started out as a whisper, and became a dream. The ‘what if we could put a man in space?’ became ‘what if we could put a man on the moon?’ Despite the personal troubles of the ‘everyman/woman’ around the globe, the world watched in awe and joy as humankind achieved its ultimate goal: flying a person to, and landing on, another cosmic body across the void of space vacuum, and then safely returning him home.

What happened to that dream?

The ‘everyman/woman’ got bored. They could not see where this ‘space travel’ would take them. After all, only a chosen few could go into space, and that didn’t include them or even their children. And NASA’s careful, methodical machinations for each flight, did little to ease the restlessness of an increasingly ‘instant gratification’ propelled populace. The funds spent on this expensive experiment were brought into question. The populace required that more important things closer to home, like health care, education, social issues, be addressed and the ‘wasted’ funds for the space program be redirected to them.

So it was, that following the near tragedy of Apollo 13, the Apollo space program was cancelled after only a few more flights. NASA concentrated the ensuing years of the 1970s into developing a reusable spacecraft: the Space Transportation System (STS), commonly called the ‘space shuttle’.

Whatever dreams still held by the few who still wanted to go into space, whose childhood heroes were astronauts instead of a transient celebrity, were redirected to the space shuttle. It would be several more years however before those dreamers realised that the shuttle was only ever going to be used for low-Earth-orbit flights, that we weren’t going back to the Moon, or any other planet, any time soon. But the space shuttle was an answer in itself. It wasn’t Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, although the test model was christened that, and it wasn’t the elegant pointy rocket ship that filled the pulps and movies in the past, but it was close. Sleek, white, majestic, powerful: it shone brilliantly in the Florida morning sunshine and it was ‘real’. To some, it must have felt like we were on the very verge of ‘going out there’.

Those children eventually grew up to become the normal, everyday ‘Joe’ or ‘Jane’ whose attention was now held by the day-to-day matters of a job, marriage, children, etcetera, while the space program learned to ‘walk’ using the space shuttle, following the 1960s headlong desperate ‘run’ to the Moon. An admirable trait really: learn what you need to know first before any more lives are lost or put at risk, and make it more inexpensive if you can. Learn to walk before you run.

Over the years, the shuttle flights seemed to lose their mysticism and most of us just followed them with half an eye or ear. We’d grown complacent yet again because lifestyles were becoming more complicated and technology more commonplace. I continued my life: joining the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at seventeen so I could be part of the future in some small way. Life in an enclosed community in the coalfields north of my native Newcastle, NSW, wasn’t really going to do it for me, so I joined up. Learning and growing came next. Throughout it all, I continued to write my stories and poems, and start developing my artwork, and to dream.

One day in 1985, I wrote a line of words on a blank page in the middle of an almost empty exercise book, and then promptly forgot about it. In January of 1986, I went looking for some notes and found that line again. Everything else was forgotten while I gazed at that page: something in those words ‘spoke’ to me. For the next five days I feverishly worked that opening line into a four-stanza poem. On the last night, I copied the poem out onto a fresh sheet of paper, dedicated it to all the men and women who would inevitably lose their lives in our pursuance of life in space, then popped the sheet into an envelope and addressed it, sealed it and put a stamp on it - ready go out in the morning mail at work to a fanzine editor. Feeling pretty satisfied with my creative output, I went to bed. I awoke the next morning to the radio alarm blaring the news: ‘Shuttle Lost’. It was the 29th January 1986 (In America, it was still the 28th) and the space shuttle Challenger had exploded just after liftoff. My world reeled, and I looked at that sealed envelope in horror. The poem I had written was about space, and I had called it ‘Shipwreck’.

Like most, my days following the Challenger disaster were ones of shock. Endless questions arose over it, with one being topmost on everyone’s lips: “How could this happen?” Everyone assumed that because the flights seem effortless, NASA had somehow overcome all the problems from the past. The world found out that this wasn’t so. The erroneous thought was a mistake on the part of the public, not on NASA’s. Complacency had hit home again. We mourned. Found out what went wrong, fixed it, and moved on. But we never forgot. Those of us who dreamed for a better future for the human race never forgot.

The shuttle began to fly again in 1989.

It’s now the New Year in 2003. I have recently been corresponding with someone in the astronaut office at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. My husband and I promised that we’d find a teeny, tiny Godzilla figure for a member of the crew, who was a big fan, on an upcoming flight. The box we sent was acknowledged received late in the month. We exchanged emails a few times, and I shared some memories from 1986 about the Challenger. I also sent a copy of my prophetic poem, or thought I had. The piece I forwarded was the wrong one: it was one I’d written about the exhilaration of flight, called ‘Pilot’. It was a poem of freedom and hope, and thinking it was appropriate to a new year filled with new promise, I didn’t send the other. The circumstance got me to thinking though, about ‘Shipwreck’ until I was reciting it in the shower of a morning. In the end, I typed it up, along with a new dedication to the Challenger crew, and sent it the editor of our monthly newsletter for the Rhode Island Science Fiction Club. My tag line on the letter was “it seems appropriate, somehow.”

My husband and I woke this morning to the news regarding the space shuttle Columbia. After a sixteen-day flight, the shuttle re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on the return journey and exploded 200,000 feet above Dallas, Texas. The debris fell to earth in devastating finality. All aboard were killed. Another shuttle had been lost 17 years, almost to the day, after Challenger. The newsletter with my poem, ‘Shipwreck’, is issued today, and I am devastated.

The world around us is seething with massive threat and the impending war in the Middle East. People are scared. I am older now and the RAAF is many years behind me. The shock I felt along with so many others back in 1986 for the Challenger isn’t as intense with this current tragedy – even though I am still moved to tears. My husband points out that the horrific events of September 11, 2001, a scant 140 miles away, and more recent events have immured people against more tragedy. Perhaps too, back in 1986, my contemporaries and I were young and had many aspirations and hopes still before us. Losing Challenger back then was the first blow to the trek toward space within our generation, and probably the harder to bear.

How did it come to this?

Within hours of Columbia’s demise, I heard a television interview with former Apollo astronaut, Buzz Aldrin. I was disgusted and disbelieving when the anchorman asked Mr Aldrin if he “believed that the monies spent on the space program could be put to better use elsewhere, like healthcare and education and the economic crisis”. I couldn’t believe my ears. The self same argument that got the Apollo program cancelled nearly thirty years ago was being trotted out for inspection. Contrary to popular belief, the education system, healthcare and the economy didn’t visibly benefit back when Apollo was closed down – the money was just shuttled into other political agendas because narrow-minded officials couldn’t see past having won the race to the Moon. “Why should we continue? We beat the Russians.” As if that ended the argument. The opening up of the space program and other related industries like mineral and ore testing within our solar system would have brought many benefits back home to Earth. Not only that, but give the youth of all countries a goal to aim for: something higher to aspire to – together. The youth of today seems aimless as the world gets smaller every day and the choices of career and life become narrower. The opportunities for work and career in future space industries would be boundless. Also, the Russian space program hums with activity and successes with even less of a budget than that of its American counterpart. And the Russian economy is on a much worse footing than the US. Perhaps because the struggle is all the harder for them, the vision and opportunities of space are more clear. If America ever decided to abandon their program for space exploration, other countries would continue to leap forward. Air, or space, superiority would no longer be the domain of the United States of America. The people who lack vision and who suggest that America “should forget all this foolishness” must needs remember this. I don’t think I’ve met an American citizen yet, who liked to be classed as an ‘also ran’.

However, don’t despair. Shuttle Columbia is a tragic loss, but the American space program will endure: perhaps even stronger than before. The space societies of many countries of the world have been working in peaceful partnership for the last decade to go into space together. If only the troubled few would follow suit and raise their faces to the stars. We live in hope.

This hope will endure amidst the pages of the speculative writings of many authors, and the fantastical illustrations and paintings of artists who keep the trek toward space in focus for the rest of us who look up. They share the dream and will continue to inspire us.

As for the crews who crossed over without ever touching earth again, they are already home.

Apollo 1 - Challenger – Columbia
Per ardua, Ad astra
(Through adversity to the Stars)
Lest We Forget





SHIPWRECK

Once, upon a silent ship,
no sound of tread was heard.
life no longer strayed there,
through corridors obscured.

Past, upon this gloried ship,
a loyal crew once served.
Alive in pride and harmony
til tragedy occurred.

Struck a mortal blow without,
the valiant ship defied
the engulfing forces, crushing,
and in the darkness, died.

Nigh, ajar to starry space,
the static wreck appears,
a ghostly apparition
observed throughout the years.





PILOT

I have sought to sail on open sky
across the arc of blue
and harness the forces
which drive my craft
and bend them to my will.
I would soar the path of eagles
and shoot up far beyond
- till the starkness of the sun
would burn its fiery image
in the corners of my mind.
Or set a course in the ebb of night
on a tangent to a star
and skim the rim
of its bewitching light
and follow it’s path afar.

Marianne

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna...a review

“MICHAEL SWANWICK’S FIELD GUIDE TO THE MESOZOIC MEGAFAUNA”
by Michael Swanwick

Featuring the British Science Fiction Association Award-nominated “Five British Dinosaurs”


February 2004 – Tachyon Publications; ISBN 1-892391-13-9; 32 pages; Price $8.95
Available on Amazon.com


I first viewed this booklet – for booklet it is – when I received my very-well laden membership tote bag at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, Halloween weekend in 2003. Initially, I had tossed it aside with the other booklets containing sample excerpts of novels and didn’t look at it again until I was packing to go home. A closer look proved that it was, in fact, a very short anthology of even shorter short stories. And such was my first introduction to reading Mr Swanwick’s prose. I chortled or smiled my way through every one of the eighteen stories: cameos of clever wit and imagination, mostly less than a page each in length. Better yet, they were about dinosaurs. So it was a very nice combination. Also, I managed to finish the book on the flight home. Considering that this was a forty-five minute flight, and I only spent thirty of those minutes reading…well, you do the math.

Anyway, to the meat of the matter: “ ‘ Mesozoic Megafauna” is a delightful collection of dinosaur stories exposing dinosaurs in a myriad of highly improbable, but entertaining situations. Michael Swanwick is an absolute master of extremely short fiction, who can pack quite a lot of story into just a few words, or even just a scene. Mr Swanwick is a multi-nominated award-winning author and I, for one, am looking forward to reading more of his works. In the meantime, why don’t you check out “ ‘ Mesozoic Megafauna” just to find out what the “…old theropod-in-a-rubber-tenontosaur-suit trick…” is; the dangers of dueling with Mosasaurs; how the west was really won; and that proving hypotheses can often be hazardous to health and machinery.

What I want to know is: What happened to the Woolly Mammoth stories? Maybe they’ll appear in the next short short-stories collection. I wish.

Marianne Plumridge

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cosmic Greenman...a new painting

Cosmic Greenman
(11x14", Oil) Price: $750.00
About May of last year, I was hit with a burst of inspiration to return to my fantasy painting. A transition from my Celtic art series to my roots in marine fantasy painting. This clash of ideas resulted in something cosmic, hence the title of the painting. However, it took a long time to push aside the busy travel we did last year to finally getting around to finishing it. I achieved that two days ago, and here is the final product. I used up the left over paint on the palette to paint a little flamingo - you can see him over on my painting-a-day blogsite, 'Daub du Jour'. See the links in the sidebar.

Meanwhile, I have been working towards finishing another incomplete canvas of 'waverunners' - wavetops that look like horses heads. I'll put that up as soon as I get it done.

Thanks for stopping by.
Cheers
Marianne

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Monstrous Regiment...a review

And now for something completely different...but first, the painting of the day...

George and the Dragon
(9x12", Oil) Private Collection
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I've always loved Terry Prachett's universe. His writings always remind me of the British 'Carry On' movies of the 1950s and 60s. And being Australian, Britian has infused my upbringing with humour and the odd in-jokiness that I find most refreshing when faced with the current onslaught of bland American sitcoms and 'Reality Shows'. More honest, somehow. Anyway, these are my thoughts on 'Monstrous Regiment'...




“MONSTROUS REGIMENT”
By Terry Pratchett

2004; HarperCollins.
Massmarket Paperback, ISBN 0060013168; 461 pages; Price $7.99

Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – (c) February 2006

In a slight detour from the normal shenanigans going on in, around, and sometimes as far from, his usual haunt in Ankh Morpork, author Terry Pratchett has gained new territory in the sublime. The novel in question is his ‘Monstrous Regiment’.

According to the known historical archive of many countries throughout the world, women participating in wars has been a known, but little spoken of, fact. For the last several thousand years, women of all walks of life have dressed in the garb of men – sometimes flouting strict social morals, religion, and laws to do so – and gone off to fight alongside their male brethren in armed conflicts. Their reasons are many and varied. Some have performed heroic feats or held posts of extreme responsibility; others have slogged along as foot soldiers and batmen beside husbands and brothers. Sometimes known, sometimes not; sometimes coming home, sometimes not. It’s a fascinating study.

The ‘Monstrous Regiment” of the title is taken from Protestant Reformer, John Knox’s treatise “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558), an effective Middle Ages rant and condemnation against governments run by women. There seemed to be a plethora of female rulers at that time in history; among them Bloody Mary (The Catholic Queen Mary 1 of England). In Scotland, the Roman Catholic regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise, ruled as regent for her infant daughter Mary, Queen of Scots. It appears that, being full of religious fervor and social outrage, the ire, and perhaps the fear of women, lead Knox to aim his written diatribe at the Queens Mary in his native country. “Women in control” has been a constant fear of the male half of humanity for many centuries, all over the world. One has long wondered why: perhaps they just ‘don’t like to share’ or are afraid of the unknown or what they don’t understand. Perhaps it’s all three. Mr Pratchett deals rather neatly with these occurrences in the novel – the ‘awkwardness’ of men in dealing with the ‘women dressed as men, bless their silly little hearts’ is palpable, and satirized nicely without being hurtful to the ‘image’ of men.

In ‘Monstrous Regiment’, Pratchett takes his usual good-humored prod at the whole situation. A girl cuts her hair very short, pulls on men’s trousers and runs off to find her brother Paul, something of an idiot-savant, and save a family situation and her future. All of this occurs with more than a passing nod to Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, and the British comedy movie “Carry On Jack”, both in theme, misrepresentation, comedy, and bawdiness. It’s also very hard not to hear the strains of the standard from the ‘Pirates of Penzance’, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General”, when reading about Lieutenant Blouse.

In the story, Polly, a barmaid in her father’s famous Duchess Inn, realizes that without her brother to inherit the inn after their father dies, Polly will be left to fend for herself and lose everything she is entitled to. Even if those entitlements only amount to running the family business and a roof over her head. The law states that women can’t own or inherit property or variations thereof. And since Paul has joined the army and disappeared, it’s up to the entirely capable Polly to go and find him and bring him back to hearth and home. After studying the soldiers frequenting the The Duchess’ bar, she masquerades as a young man in her brother’s borrowed clothes and joins the army as a private. She’s actually very good at it. Things get stickier from situation to situation as the novel progresses, tongue firmly in cheek, with Polly and her fellow ‘soldiers’ finding confidence and freedom they’d never previously known: saving the day, as well as their country, and standing up for its dignity. Whether they get found, out and how they deal with it is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. Far be it from me to spoil the ending for any reader or any of the fun along the way.

A reader might also detect a fine waft of relevance to the world’s situation of the conflicts, and their overwhelming imbalances, between powers fighting in the Middle East today. Not to mention every other political conflict that’s involved fighting or the promise of fighting over the centuries. A fine ‘waft’, mind you. It’s thin, but it’s there.

With all of Mr Pratchett’s usual cutting wit and elegant turn of comedy, the novel is still underlined with a subtle pathos that isn’t usually detected in the author’s previous works. One wonders if in his secret heart of hearts, Mr Pratchett is also secretly rooting for the ladies successes and subsequent confounding of the men that they encounter. His understanding and ready sympathy of the plight of women over the centuries is recognizable, no matter how subtle the subtext. Perhaps he prefers just fairness in answer to the world’s social imbalances, or making sure the underdog gets a voice.

Getting ‘kicked in the socks’, and ‘thinking with one’s socks’ has definitely taken on whole new volumes of meaning for this reader. “Monstrous Regiment” is definitely a great read from the pen of the brilliant Mr Pratchett. He hasn’t managed to disappoint this reader yet, over the many years of encounters with his undeniable savvy social commentary and facetious humor. “He’s a ‘wag’ is our Mister Pratchett…”

Very well done…

Marianne Plumridge

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chameleon Banana Bread

And the painting of the day is...

Dragons in the Sink
(Oil, 2000)
I thought we might need a kitchen theme for this one!
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About 20 years or so ago, I clipped a recipe out of an Australian Magazine and pasted it in my recipe journal. A few years later, I began to extensively change the recipe to reflect a lighter, healthier lifestyle. The result is the final version below. However, I use this base recipe to make several different cakes as the occasion calls for, or using whatever I happen to have in the pantry or fridge. The basic straight Banana Bread can be varied by changing: the sugar from white to brown, or raw; or using a complementary flavour of yogurt, soy yogurt, or goats milk yogurt; or use crushed Macadamia nuts, pecans or pistachios for a different taste combination. I’m still experimenting with different fruits and flavours, but this is what I’ve documented so far…

Basic Recipe:

BANANA BREAD

2 medium-large sized bananas, mashed
1 6oz or 8oz (1 cup) tub of vanilla yoghurt (or any flavour, really)
2 1/3 cups Self Rising Flour
1 2/3 cups sugar (white, brown or raw)
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup oil (I usually use Grapeola or Canola)
2 eggs (1/2 cup of Eggbeaters)
2/3 cups chopped walnuts (or other nuts) (you can even add raisins or chopped dates as
well)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Beat well. Pour into two well-greased loaf tins. Bake in a 350-375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into middle comes out clean.

This cake keeps well for about a week as long as it is in a sealed container. It freezes well too.

OPTIONAL ICING:
2 cups of Confectionary sugar
2-4 tablespoons of hot water
few drops of orange liqueur (optional)

Mix well together until reasonably runny. Add a little more water if not. Drizzle over cake and then let set for 20 minutes until not sticky anymore.



VARIATIONS ON A THEME:

Pumpkin Bread:
Replace the mashed banana with 1¼ cups of mashed pumpkin; use dark brown sugar instead of white; add, approximately 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice; add two tablespoons of Molasses; and replace the walnuts with raisins or chopped dates.

Mango-Banana Layer Cake:
Requires two tins of Mangoes in syrup (this also works with peaches).
Reduce the mashed banana to one banana; mash the flesh of one tin of mangoes, combine with the banana - reserve the mango juice in a small saucepan. Use white sugar. Cook cake as per instructions, but use two round sandwich tins instead of loaf tins.
While cake is cooking, add contents of second tin of mangoes to reserved mango juice in saucepan. Bring contents of saucepan to boil, while stirring and mashing mango flesh to pulp. In a glass, mix one heaped tablespoon of Cornstarch and two tablespoons of water and stir until smooth. Add to contents in saucepan, and let boil for one more minute or until mix thickens heavily. Let cool.
When cakes are cooked and cool, slice both cakes into two. Spread cooled mango pulp between four layers of cake. Top with drizzled Optional Icing (recipe above), or cover with cream cheese frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
¼ cup (2oz) cream cheese
¼ cup (2oz) butter
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 cup Confectionary (icing) sugar

Combine all ingredients and beat for 5 minutes, or beat with an electric mixer on high until well combined.
Note: Double this quantity to cover layer cake.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Mystery and Aunt Dimity...

I discovered a new author last month: Nancy Atherton. While running an eye over the bargain tables at the local bookstore, to see if there were any unknown authors (unknown to me, that is) that I could try without spending huge scads of money. My gaze came to rest on a red cover with inset artwork. Incongruously, the artwork had a little pink stuffed bunny in it. That made me smile - a tough prospect lately, what with numerous life situations causing difficulties. Then I looked at the title and groaned inwardly. "Aunt Dimity". It had to be one of those cute and fluffy 'cozies' that seemed to be churned out by the dozens. Curbing my criticism and admonishing myself not to judge before I looked at it, I picked it up to peruse anyway. Hmm. Set in England - great; puzzle and history involved - even better; and that pink bunny - so I'm a sucker for cute! I took it home - maybe I needed something fluffy and cozy in my life about then.

The book was called "Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin". And it wasn't a murder mystery, which is a change for me. It's more of a puzzle - a quest if you please - with history and a hint of scandal and secrets. Nothing suits me better than digging through history conundrums; I was hooked.

The protagonist was a woman named Lori Shepherd who was not only flawed, but intriguingly so. Behind the strong-willed, curious Lori is a heap of the usual insecurities, underlined by an earlier life of hardship, deprivation, bitterness and desolation. In the first book, "Aunt Dimity's Death", Lori is more or less 'rescued' from her old life by the death of a beloved person whom she knew only as a character in a story. In a combined legacy left by her dead mother, Beth, and the disturbingly real Dimity, Lori undergoes a quest of sorts to solve a two-pronged mystery/tragedy that dates from World War II and intimately involved both Beth and Dimity. With the help of both junior and senior incarnations of the Willis & Willis law firm in Boston, Lori journeys to the village of Finch in England. With Willis Junior (Bill) in tow - he has a quest of his own - Lori has an unlimited expense account and someone to butt her stubborn head against. Constantly at loggerheads, the two discover the answers to the puzzle and an unlikely love. And Lori makes some realizations about herself along the way - and the two women who loved her, who reach beyond the grave to help her find redemption.

Oh, did I mention that being dead doesn't stop the inimitable Dimity from taking an active role in Lori's activities? Her spirit infuses the cottage she leaves to Lori, and she converses with Lori via the blank pages of a blue-covered journal. Oh, and the pink bunny is called Reginald - and he has his own history, not to mention the odd adventure of two. It's quite an achievement to instil personality into what amounts to an inanimate stuffed animal.

Throughout all eleven books (soon to be twelve), Lori is on a progressive journey. She has a huge heart, a loving husband, and eventually twin boys of her own. But before that gets too cloying in a 'cinderella' sense, you also find out that Lori also has "a wandering eye" when it comes to "wounded princes", the "patience of a gnat", and an indomitable spirit and enthusiastic curiosity that knows no bounds - or fear.

I fell in love with Lori's world. Enough to trot my coupons over to the bookstore and plonk down money for more of Ms. Atherton's books. I also received more for Christmas. I sat up until 3am of 26th December after hearing of the death of my Uncle Keith on Christmas night. The books brought me a comfort I didn't know I needed. So I read one every evening until after the funeral in Australia the following Friday morning. They stopped me from feeling too hollow and bereft because I couldn't be there. I found a little bit of me in Lori, and the funny things that happened to her - masking the very real tragedies that lay beneath the humour. I also found a fondness for the unforgettable characters that infuse her life. As she found her soulmate, so did I.

My wombat - ingenuously named Wombat - is no match for Reginald, but he's just as cuddly and comforting. So's my husband, Bob.

Thank you, Ms. Atherton, for sharing Dimity, Lori, Bill, Reginald and all of the rest. I have only one thing left to say..."Keep writing"!

Oh, did I mention that each book comes with a recipe that is mentioned in each narrative? I recommend "Lillian's Lemon Bars" and "Miss Beacham's Raisin Bread". Bob just LOVES the raisin bread. You can find more about Dimity, Lori and company at www.aunt-dimity.com . Recipes too.

So, dear reader, till nextime...
Marianne

Friday, January 05, 2007

Painting a Day!

Sentinel Roses
(9x12", Oil)

No, no, I didn't paint this today! But the gargoyle figurine I used in this painting last year, now appears in another image I painted today. Talk about found objects! I was wondering what to paint today, when I spotted this little guy lurking behind my table easel - still there from the last time I used him.

Well, this is an announcement that I have joined the ranks of other artists who are taking up the challenge of doing a 'painting a day'. I'm currently on Day 5, so look for the gargoyle in a couple of days. Right now it's up on my 12" easel, drying. You'll be able to see that, and my other experimental images on my brand new little blog, called 'Daub du Jour'. It will showcase the good and the bad of my sketchy oil daubs. If you're interested, the link is off to the left, in the sidebar, of this page. Details of each painting can be found there on a daily basis, and the reasons why I'm doing this.


Cheers
Marianne

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

And the first painting of the New Year is...

'Flaming January'
(10x10", Oil)
There's been a delay in my postings this last seven days: I wanted the post about my Uncle Keith to reach family members and be available to them until after the funeral in Australia. The second delay was that I didn't want to risk posting anything new and then lose it whilst trying to change over from Blogger to Google. I'd rather cross over under my own steam and control, than let someone else do it for me and lose stuff.

Well, it's all done now. I've made a successful (I hope) transition.

Now, back to creating...

This painting was one I did last January for the 'Fabulous Fakes and Forgeries' exhibit at the 'Spring Bull Gallery' in Newport, RI. The premise was to copy an existing master work or paint a parody of one. I chose the parody line because I hate copying from anyone elses work - no matter who they are. Anyway, I decided to combine my koala fantasy paintings with one of those by Frederick, Lord Leighton. Considering how sleepy koala bears are, I thought that his 'Flaming June' painting was just the thing. However, since the seasons are reversed in Australia, I felt fully justified in calling my version 'Flaming January'.

This painting won the 'Best Humorous - 2006' award at the show. My first real gallery award ever. I was most impressed.

Meanwhile, I have to get cracking on working on my new entry for the same show next month...

Cheers
Marianne