Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Final Handover

This is me with my mum. The most restraint I have ever shown in all my 32 versions of a year has finally been achieved by me, valiantly waiting for Christmas day before handing over Mum's present, the felted writing paper wrap. When you have been pouring all of your thoughts into a gift for someone, it is such a bang when they open it, you can almost see little wish birds pouring out of the wrapping paper into the sky. I sat there contemplating that image for a little too long just then, back to the old type writer Kate.

We have moved on from my dad and step-mother's house to my mum and step-father's farm where Christmas was celebrated the way our family does and with great maturity exhibited by all, resulting in an absence of family scandal. I will go into greater detail (of the day, not past scandals) when I return to New Zealand.

At the moment I am in that strange curtain where fatigue meets with creativity and the light becomes a little blocked. Two weeks of not being project oriented has loosened me and the untethering is always a bit (get ready for my new word) uncertaining.  This morning I was lying in bed and started to visualise the way I feel, recognising that this state is usually a prelude to a new surge. All of a sudden I pictured myself in translucent green sea-water with a gigantic rock beneath, jutting up from the bottomless bottom. I could see myself plunging down towards it with my broad, splayed feet ready to grip onto its weedy surface and push with all my might upwards, towards whatever direction this rock-bottomed source of all inspiration chose. Ready to burst up into an unknown and brilliant sunshine.

Creativity, it's not a path but a place and even when you think it's gone, it drags you back, turns you around and suddenly lifts you up into an idea so seedless it is an instant new world.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Australia has received it's little Christmas present, the Bruning family. Yes we are extremely tired from the ticker tape parades but we are so very happy to be here that we haven't minded the paparazzi intrusion. The boys are swimming in my parent's pool with Jonno and I am catching up on my favourite blogs. Hugo and Archie are thoroughly enjoying seeing my dad and step-mother (Fafa and Granny Lou-Lou), so much so that Hugo crept into see Dad during nap time and convinced him to rest with him in his teeny-tiny toddler bed.
This morning kicked off with a rush of creative inspiration (funnily enough, coming from all of the fruit and vege displays), visiting the Boneo Market. More photos to come but I had to add the Archibald Honey... Archie couldn't believe it. By the way, I just overheard Jonno asking Archie if he was having problems diving to the bottom of the pool. Archie explained, "It's because I'm floatish".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Patient Bundle of Paintings

All the paintings are lined up by the door waiting to see who will be chosen. It is an anxious moment for them.
See how patient they are though, no shuffling or muttering. I hope the boys are like this at the airport tomorrow.

Archie brought home this cushion he made at school. I think it is so divine and am looking forward to resting my head against the angel's sky blue wings.

We are hopefully nearing the home straight. Our last kitten has been given away - bless you Captain Snow and may your life be filled with love and mice. We have shown our house-sitters around and explained that while the lamb does occasionally come inside, we don't encourage it. Suitcases are surrounded by highly organised piles and bedtime beckons like a... well, like a really comfortable bed might if it had arms and fingers and the ability to move them. Goodbye and I will sign off from my blog for a couple of weeks - if I am near a computer I will do the odd post. Lots and lots of love and a big happy Christmas and New Year to you all. xxooxxooxx

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Favourite Christmas Decoration

This is it, my favourite decoration, the shy blue one with golden patterns and little Australian flowers. Every year it waits patiently in the bottom of our green cardboard box, warmed by tinsel and entertained by the chandelier droplets that languidly release their tales of debauchery. I really like that they have a life when I am not using them.

Another Christmas Glimpse - a picnik collage

A little window of peace in an entirely ridiculous week. Australia is looming large on Thursday and so, rather than knitting and sewing, I am weaving in all the loose tails of our life, trying to make sense of everything in order to leave the house ship-shape for our house-sitters. Of course it is all metaphorical and my mind is having a good sort too.
Presents are now all done - next Christmas is definitely going to be completely hand made even if I have to opt out of a few Kris-Kringles, however, there are still a few presents that have sprung forth from my eager hands. Tomorrow, a few of the felt brooches pictured above will be distributed to willing breasts as will writing paper and felt pockets as mentioned a few posts ago.

I still have a little bit of painting to catch up on but I have to admit inspiration is wearing thin. All I really feel like doing is eating rich food, drinking lots of alcaholy stuff and reading really, really good books where you become lost on another continent or if you are lucky, an entirely different world. Sounds like a holiday....

Monday, December 15, 2008

(my smaller self and Lucy)
Well, that sums it up - Happy Birthday Lucy, I hope every birthday forever after kicks this birthday in the bottom and that it starts to get better as the evening slinks its way toward you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Felt Pockets and Wraps

Whew - I have finished four Christmas presents. It feels good. I am so used to being halfway through so many projects (I do work better that way) that it is just sheer, giddy heaven to be wrapping them up. I put toggles on the teachers' presents this morning - once again, surprise if any teachers are reading.... and finished the wrap below with a flower corsage I knitted a few weeks ago. After the holidays are over I will post a tutorial on how to knit one.
Better get the paint brushes out and complete a few more presents.

The Funniest Christmas Play

Hugo had his pre-school play on last night and was given the role of ladybird. He did a wonderful job but must have felt he deserved more and so.....

he ran back on stage and wrestled the shepherd for control over our lamb chewy, subsequently taking over his part as well.

After a little while he must have felt secure enough in his new role as the shepherd to suggest they could share the role.

But with Hugo as the lead....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Green Hut

This afternoon I pruned the lower branches of the plane tree. Archie does a lot of hut building at school and so, being a professional, set straight to work, building a cosy snug at the bottom of the garden. After the rain, all of the grass and leaves were the most vivid green.

A few more colours - Archie being one with a lilac hydrangea....

and Hugo gripping the irony of an orange Mexican lime.

Morning Light

This is the morning light that wakes us up very early in our house and this is the cup of tea that wakes my soul up.

And this is the painting I finished last night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Summer Knitting

I am laying a tribute of green knitting amongst the grass to encourage verdant pasture for Jonno over Summer. It was either that or sacrifice a virgin and I am really not into that.

It really is Summer and so, I have fled the hot indoors and am now sitting in the golden evening light with Jonno while he programs his new phone ("I'm not sure I like it" and "Hmmmph") and I am making the most of having a laptop by typing away to the off-key chorus of braying cows. Little midges are flying in illumination and the peeping things are peeping. The time of year we dream about for the rest.
The boys are celebrating the change of season by doing what all small children do and have been dancing under this millennium's maypole, the sprinkler. Thank god we live in a country with water..... Admittedly they did have a fight over who controlled the water at one stage but considering all of the full grown politicians in Australia are currently wrangling over the same issue, I shouldn't be surprised. Or in fact, maybe the surprising thing is that they (the small children) resolved it - take note politicians of the arid world.
A good day today, lots of painting and getting ready for Christmas. I love the legitimacy that Christmas brings to the world of crafting. I was just speaking with a friend today and she said how many headbands she had left to knit. We both ended up admitting how much we love it when all of a sudden crafting becomes the household imperative in the drive toward saving yuletide money. Although I have to admit there is always a strong household imperative toward art and craft at any time of year in this house. I am starting to cool down so I may begin my slow creep back into the house to my paints.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Steady Rain and Gluten-Free Biscuits

Here is the teacup in which I store hope, peace, quiet and a hint of caffeine.

Finally some sewing has happened, writing paper folders for the children's teachers - please avert your eyes if you are one of them. I am still in the process of finishing the writing paper.

And the chooks.... I caught them discussing the day they scratched over all of my heirloom seeds when they innocently sprouted like little time capsules encountering their given moment in the future.

Another quiet day at home today. Jonno has recovered well but is still looking a little gaunt, thankfully his sense of humour is bouncing again, he puts up with me so grown-uply when it is intact. Archie however, had a very unsettled night with a sore throat and aching body and stayed home for the day. Hugo had pre-school so Archie and I huddled inside while the steady rain pattered companionably against the windows.
I had lots of Christmas sewing to catch up on and Archie snuggled on a neighbouring chair, listening to a children's podcast. Very 1940's-style comfort. We even had gluten-free vanilla, muscovado biscuits baking in the background. Quite Christmassy when I think about it.... I might just leave it at that.
Here is the recipe:
Gluten-Free Vanilla and Muscovado Biscuits

185 grams softened butter
1 cup muscovdo sugar
1.5 cups tapioca flour
1 cup brown rice flour
2 small eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Mix all ingredients in processor than refrigerate as it is quite a sticky mixture. When stiffened, shape and cut as desired (do I hear anybody wincing). Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Defense of Naps - by a passionate advocate

The other day I was wondering in the new age section of the library when my mother-in-law's familiar face suddenly popped around the corner with a cheery grin. I think I must have been a bit tired because it took a couple of minutes to place her, so startled was I in my post weekend haze. Fortunately Hugo said "Gran-gran" and I gathered my thoughts together to form a fully functioning brain and could indeed recognise Maureen as Jonno's mother and my M.I.L. for the last eight years. Maureen, I am sure will testify that I looked extremely vacant at the time. Anyway, she handed me an article saying I needed to read it and I politely nodded then put it in my bag.
Of course I forgot about it for a week until today when she began to say intriguing things linking back to the article. Once again I nodded politely then ran home to read it, thankful as I plunged my hand into the darkened nether regions of my bag that it was still neatly folded, ready to yield its knowledge like a pearl in its clammy house. Hopefully that wasn't too graphic for any potential readers.
As I have written many times, I am an avid napper. I would say it is my main hobby (my crafts and book reading are classified separately under life purpose) and I am very, very good at it. I have been practising religiously for years and taught my family how to do it as each member was born. The fact that Jonno was already a napper from a family of nappers was definitely in his favour. And this luminous newspaper article clipped from the NZ Herald on Wednesday, November 26 was titled, "Take a nap, it's good for you". Hold me close, I whispered.
Maureen very kindly underlined the most salient (I love that word, it is just how I felt back in the womb) points, and so my eyes under her mystical guidance were drawn to the writer's loving murmur that "taking a nap may boost a sophisticated kind of memory that helps a person see the big picture and get creative". I always say that I wake up from a nap with my best ideas and a sudden comprehension of how to achieve them. So much more effective than spending hours at a drawing board nutting through a problem and also probably why it has been so many years since I was last gainfully employed. Apparently, when you are being paid, it is not on to say, "Just let me nap man, I will have it sorted. Now, where can I lay my mattress". I think that is also why I like kindergarten and my first year of school, there was scheduled napping time... I don't think they do that any more.
Jonno's theory of, well let's call the creative evolution of an idea an epiphany (or as they say in Wales, epiphanway) is strikingly brilliant. He feels that there is a strong correlation between losing a thought midstream and the random, unexplained implantation of an epiphany to be strongly linked. He has noticed that when he goes for walks, he picks up all sorts of thoughts and has started to wonder if he is collecting the lost ideas of others. As though they are hovering in the air waiting for a freshened mind to catch them like an unwitting butterfly net. Something to ponder or collect.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Preparations - Picnik Collage

We are back in Australia for Christmas this year and decided a tree would not be worth it. So instead we made a "Santa trap" although it is a very safe one as there will be no Father Christmas coming down our New Zealand chimney this year. Although we will have Swedish house-sitters so we should give them some warning to perhaps clear the fireplace door. Mind you, I have no idea how Father Christmas enters Swedish houses so it may be fine.
The kittens think the decorated fire guard is heaven and have been pouncing on the baubles all day. Glancing over to the fire place now, I think maybe it should stay like this forever.

A little picnik collage of the preparation that went into such an amazing Christmas flurry of decorating. Jonno is sick this weekend with a terrible tummy bug so he lay on the couch keeping us company with the softly turning pages of his book. Poppa popped in conveniently at popcorn time and it all felt very festive. In fact, it is a bit of a consolation prize weekend, we were supposed to be down in Whakatane picking strawberries which I am sure we will do next year...
Well, off for a nap, we are a very tired and dare I say cranky family this weekend so a good rest will be better than therapy for morale.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Writing Paper and Hijinks

More writing paper from last night, a crafting evening with Christel. We watched a free Christmas DVD that came with the Women's Weekly - a little bit daggy but just right for a girl's night in. Good food, good drink, ridiculous conversation and the music of clicking knitting needles - just like we are seventy. My soul is warm.

Hugo was feeling a little fancy this morning.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Writing Paper

This morning's project of hand colouring Archie's bird stamp and then playing around with some water colours for writing paper. I have run out of fine line pens so made do with pencil - a trip to Warehouse Stationary is beckoning.

Last night when Hugo was sleeping I lay next to him for a while and quietly drank in his breath. He smelt so good and hopeful and it reminded me of how, when little, I used to bound out of bed, excited to just be awake, not thinking of the day in its entirety, just concentrating on the first burst of wakefulness. Instead when I wake up I have trained my brain to think of the day as a whole, lying in bed with my feet still warm and silky, my mind, already rushed and in the kitchen planning lunch and dinner, pick ups and naps. No wonder I don't jump out full of bounce. I think there is a lesson in there somehow.

I was chuffed by the boy's joy in seeing each other this morning and loved hearing Hugo say to his older brother "It's a good day Archie".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Hand Printed T-shirt.

Hugo in a t-shirt I printed a couple of years ago. So satisfying to pop it on him this morning.

Just a little post tonight as I have a big run of Christmas presents to do. I took my camera to Archie's school today so I could photograph his new painting hanging on the wall. I can't wait to bring it home. More warm weather thank goodness, I think summer really is here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Felted Writing Paper Wrap

Today I lay down in the heat of our driveway, legs against stones and shoulders meshed into the bitumen. These weeds that tower above our mail box, strutting to the sun so boldly and yet sheltering the grass with their new millennium lace are so completely human with their two distinct faces. And the way they glorify themselves in hot dusty weather, becoming so alive in the summer, well, let's just say I am not the only one whose blood changes rhythm when the sun strides its way into our life again, expecting no forgiveness for its behaviour during winter. On reflection, I am sounding dramatic, but when lying down on a driveway with sweat pouring from one's reddened brow, a little bit of drama does seem appropriate. If the postman (Elwyn) had driven up I would have declared "This is what I am willing to do for my art" - but I would have said it as though art was in capital letters. A big thank you to Christel for acting as my spotter.

I had another serious round of felting last night, I haven't had much of a chance since my first lesson with Lucy so it was quite good to flex those muscles that have been lying dormant ever since. I did notice that green wool is much better to felt with than pinky-red as it comes out looking much less like placenta.

After wondering what to do with my finished piece I thought why not a letter writing wrap as a surprise Christmas present for a very loved, loved one. Perhaps not such a surprise anymore.


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