Citified Exhibition

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Rosy Wilson’s debut exhibition was held at the niche Anvil Design Studio in the hipster hub of The Hamlet. Sadly this well-loved nook has been bookmarked for development ‘upgrades’ which will see Canberra’s alternative crowd yet again bumped…but don’t worry, it’s so good, it’s reincarnating.

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Rosy’s Citified focuses on the fashion capitals of the world, New York, London, Milan and Rome with Sydney, Venice and Wellington also getting a look in.

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As an architect Rosy’s interest in cities is natural but her paintings veer away from merely harsh, architectural lines by involving a human element through figures in the motions of daily life, softening the built environment and drawing the viewer into the action of city life at eye level. In her cities life is good, the sun shines and buildings are resplendent in the acrylic coating she has given them.

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Favourites are the glint of light reflected off a passing London cab, reflections in the glass of a New York office block, the azure of a Wellington sea with tiny figures enjoying a sunny day and the relaxed atmosphere of a Sydney waterfront.

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One can not help but feel somewhat cheery and optimistic after seeing cities beautified in her paintings. They are clean, friendly and assertive. It is refreshing to see an artist with such lack of pretension and obvious talent drawing our attention to what is positive in the world.

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You can see Rosy’s work here and connect with her on Facebook or Instagram to keep abreast of upcoming work and exhibitions.

 

The Wife Drought {Book Review}

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I have finally read the luminous Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought. Annabel Crabb is an utterly reassuring person. What she contributes to our collective, Australian psyche is hard, I think, to overestimate. The fact that she has also reproduced (both the paper kind and flesh-and-blood kind) gives me hope in our collective future. She is the new kind of Aussie Character, taking over from the “Aussie Battler”, smart, energetic, witty, well dressed and so, so nice with her self-effacing grin softening every probing question.

How could you not totally adore her.

I have long loved her via Kitchen Cabinet, that rare gem of good television (thank you, ABC, you little ripper), and this book firmly entrenches Annabel (let’s not defer to last names here) as my number three celebrity crush. (Adam and Hugh are alongside her in equal ranks. Adam because, like Annabel, he effuses a new kind of Australian: eloquent, engaging and erudite. Hugh because as much as I like to see upandcomers do well it’s also good to see a nice British toff get all environmentalist and reformist, though I’m sure he makes a bit of cash off the back of it. Nevermind. I like him.)

So, I guess you can see, I rate the book. I do. She offers stats, data and interesting little anecdotes supporting the need for more help for women wanting to get back into the workforce. She relates to our common humanity, my favourite line: “My definition of breaking point is when you communicate exclusively in shrieks and can only work while drunk.” Oh yes, you get us, don’t you, Annabel! You know what it is like to be totally and unshakeably human. She does not downplay the challenges in living a balanced, or even unbalanced, life in Australia. She knows the statistics tell personal stories. She knows these matters are complex, and often personal, so she gives them careful treatment in all their shades of grey.

Not least she skirts very close to something I have long held questions about. That is that, yes, people do need the fulfillment of meaningful work, people do need to invest in their super so that they can retire without having to go dumpster diving (though some might enjoy that…aging hipsters?) and yes, careers can be fun but…men too need lives…and so she flirts with the unstated question: Do women actually have it pretty good in being (culturally acceptably) able to take several years off work (notwithstanding what that does to one’s professional life), but are men, therefore, missing out? So, perhaps then the single thing keeping women out of boardrooms is not just inequality of opportunity (i.e. no wives). The opposite side of that coin is that, well…maybe women don’t want to be competing in the workplace, not because it’s too difficult, but actually because they’ve got it worked out: family life is the good life! (If only it paid Super)  It’s the unasked question that Annabel doesn’t utter. And in uttering it myself I can happily say that I gladly “took time off” to raise kids (eight years in fact) and didn’t doubt myself or utter curses at the universe in the process. I wanted to do it. I would do it over. It would be nice if someone had contributed some super while I was doing it but…it was worth it. Many of the other mums I’ve met on the giggle and wiggle circuit feel the same. When I’m still working at 70 I’m sure it will still be worth it, because I’d rather work then than then, if you know what I mean. In fact, now, spookily mirroring the words of this book, my husband wants a turn. Having Annabel’s words cheering me on and validating this new turn of events is giving me the confidence and empathy to, why not, let him have it! It’s time for me to move over and let a man have a go, to switch the terminology around.

Despite only fully unpacking one side of this coin, Annabel moves between stories like mine and national statistics (or lack thereof) taking us along on a rollickingly good ride with herself as the compere. She does a bloody good job of it and by the end she has us all convinced (not that we weren’t already) that yes, women do need wives! And also, yes, men need lives! I’m all for her advocacy of a little bit of switcheroo happening in the spirit of give-and-give so that we can all ride the merry-go-round together in a spirit of sharing the load, whether that’s domestic servitude or corporate slavery, power broking or block building.

The ten months between here and there

Well, Here I am, back again. A lot has changed since my last post here, now currently living in Canberra and ten weeks pregnant with our third (and last – I say, hopefully) child. We’ve never planned our kids. In fact, mostly, we’ve planned not to have kids, but each time they have surprised us and we are thankful.

Becoming pregnant sharply adjusts my worldview. I become more inward focused and I begin to want to do craft and create things. So, apart from the bags of wool surrounding my bed, this has turned my thoughts toward our dear bus. Oh bus, dear bus! Scrolling back through the archives of this blog has been rewarding me with remembrances of the hardest of times pushing through each build challenge and finally getting to the end of it to simply be faced with another. I guess in the end each relentless challenge was too much and we broke down a little there. Of course finance was an obvious hindrance. With Henry having to work more he found little energy for bus building. Gardening and chicken coop building projects also found their way to help us procrastinate, though the results were unsatisfying and should have served as a reprimand for not focusing on the main thing! Chickens were mauled or died from mysterious fits and diseases and veges died in Young’s wilting heat, though we did get some small harvest which was a joy.

So, all this to say, does anyone want to sponsor us to finish this goddam project!? We love our bus and with Henry’s engineering background it is proving a true work of art (see previous post – with the ceiling now painted it is looking better than ever, that is under the six months worth of dust!)

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With all the tiny house hype that is around our bus is a showcase for what can be achieved through the use of Sikaflex (the toughest glue on the market), Alucobond (Aluwell), aluminum framing and bog! No hefty plywood walls for us thank you very much. We have spared no detail: the roof painted with Thermoshield, each window tinted, the walls fully disassembled and insulated, new frame welded where necessary, total reconditioning of the water tanks, the interior design maximising room to move as well as storage space and a sense of openness, ceiling bogged and sanded to be ultra smooth and ‘invisible’, polished wood finishes next to slick Alucobond walls, door made to disappear into wall cavities and made as narrow as possible to maximise space, solar power installed, the back window painfully constructed to open wide up, trims where trims are needed, oh man, there is nothing that has not gone unnoticed or untouched on this bus!

If no sponsors arise we are, like the rest, forced to rely on our own ingenuity and juggling skills to figure out how we can finish the job with the resources available to us, as we will.

Meanwhile we are enjoying Canberra’s milder weather and abundant treescapes, looking forward to Autumn when I can take advantage of Canberra’s top mushrooming spots and now fitting a baby into a plan which was not.

Bus update

Once upon a time we thought this project would take us 3 months, no longer, and we would be on the road. Kind friends guesstimated 9 months, ‘what! Are you kidding!’ I cried in alarm. Time proved us all wrong and two years later we are still here. I can’t imagine this boat of a bus being finished at any stage, but looking back It would be safe to assume that we are over the half-way mark at least and while we have no immediate plans to leave this town which we are quite happily making a home in, it could yet happen…or we could at least be living in the bus while parked on some land, which is also a long term dream.

This building project has taught me a lot. Most importantly to let go of life a little. Ambition is a very temporal thing and the process of becoming is much more fun than the bore of achieving.

Here’s where we are up to so far. Some very kind and supportive and encouraging friends were up on the weekend (for the third time), helping us build. Doctor Carl (his actual title) will be deserving of a keg of the finest whisky when we finally celebrate the end of this bus-build! …that is going to be one hellavu party!!!

Bus Web (1 of 19)We stripped the apricot paint off the outside and the roof, painted the roof with a thermoshield paint for insulation (insulation has been a big consideration all round on this bus!) and matched the rest of the exterior with a similar colour. You can see the edges of our four solar panels on the front half of the roof….here are a couple of before pictures.

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Bus Web (3 of 19)This front area is still totally unfurnished. Still, there has been a lot done here. We stripped the interior, took off the old wall panels, pulled up the floor which has now been sanded and painted three times. Then we insulated (after removing old, itchy pink batts) and installed power cables under the roof panels. The walls are now clad with ‘Aluwell’ which is aluminium bonded to plastic, making it fairly flexible and also extremely durable. They are matt white walls, it’s hard to see it now in all it’s glory, but the walls are waiting to be unveiled under the plastic. We’ve kept as much window space as possible, but have had to build the walls up part of the way to make room for our kitchen benchtops. The red area at the back will become our pantry cupboard and also space for a water heater and plumbing into the shower. All the walls you see were put in ourselves.

Here’s a before pic from the day we bought the beast. We took out everything you see in this pic! The decaying and terribly itchy, yellow acrylic carpet on the roof, every single wall panel, the white ceiling, the lights, the grills, the walls, all the cupboards, the passenger seat, the table. We stripped it right back to an empty shell.

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The boys moved the stove into the bus on the weekend. Starting to feel more like a home! You can see here how we’ve built the wall up so that the bench is not sitting right up against the window, however, so that we didn’t lose that little bit of window above the bench, Henry custom made a panel which slides up out of that wall and covers the top window section. Like I said…bespoke everything!Bus Web (4 of 19)

This is the cupboard in our bedroom, which they started on this weekend. In another moment of designing genius Henry constructed part of the cupboard under the kids bed which will hold shoes etc. The rail for hanging clothes (currently sitting on the floor) sits just under the aluminum tube about halfway up the cupboard and there will be shelving above.

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This is our bedroom. Another thing which looks minor, but was major, is that back opening window. Initially this window was fixed, but we realised that in such a small space there really needed to be a way for the breeze to come through and so Henry designed and made this window you see here, using the same panel of glass but building the sill so that it was waterproof and also fit the newly clad window. These small things take the longest of time, but will be so necessary for when we are actually living in the thing. Not if…when! Also, you can’t see the ceiling here, but Henry took a very, very long time, panelling, bogging and sanding the ceiling so that it is actually seamless and ultra smooth. Many bus-homes keep the rivets or attach lights to the roof, but we wanted a seamless, vast feeling roof, as in actual fact it is really quite low.

The aluminum frame is the box for the drawers which will hold our clothes, the drawers are push to open, which means no handles to catch yourself on. These have all been made, but not installed yet. Bedhead and bed base are yet to come. The base will sit on the drawers and on top of the step you can see behind the drawers. Henry is making this room modular so that it can be turned into a man-cave once we’ve finished traveling. We will actually have quite a bit of floor space in this bedroom, enough for me to do yoga! All the doors (all three: bedroom, bathroom and the little corridor) all have sliding doors which push to latch and push to open and hide inside the walls which are as thin as we could possibly make them by using aluminum framing and ‘Aluwell’.

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Below is the other corner of our room, opposite to the cupboard corner, and a spare wall! This kind of thing is a miracle to find in a bus-home and it’s only because of Henry’s excellent design that we managed to do it!

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This next picture is from our bedroom looking out to the back of the bus. Between the large living/kitchen area and our bedroom is a bunk for the kids and a bathroom.

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Here’s the top bunk, again, thanks to Dr Carl for helping us with this one! We’d never have been able to do it without you!!! I wish you could see the lights on this thing. Strip lighting hides along the top, internal, wooden edge and glows beautiful along the slope of the ceiling. There are no shadows. It will be the perfect reading environment for Soph.Bus Web (9 of 19)

The bottom bunk here, which will be Gunther’s cave. He too has strip lighting along the top, internal edge of his bunk, but it doesn’t quite glow as beautifully as the top bunk. Below the bunks will be covered with a door and baskets for toys and clothes will be under the bed.

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From our bedroom now, looking in through the bathroom door. The sliding door is not yet attached for this one, but it’s very easily done and all ready to go, so no problems there. You can also see in the top middle section of the picture the corner edge of the hatch which leads up to the roof. We climb up the bunk bed ladder to get up there. The dream is too put a deck up there…but first things first!Bus Web (11 of 19)

A confusing photo, perhaps, but this is me standing in our bathroom, reflected in our mirror wall. The room is white with a mirror wall on one side (the toilet and sink side) and a red wall on the other (shower) side. Planning on a composting toilet which is currently half built, but not installed.Bus Web (12 of 19)

This red square will have a red back and become our shampoo/conditioner/soap holder. Taps have been installed for the shower.Bus Web (13 of 19)

We have sunk the shower floor down to give us some extra head space and also to allow for a bit of a bathing area for the kids. This is an earlier photo:

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Looking from the bathroom into the corridor:

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And here we are at the front of the bus again:Bus Web (15 of 19)

You can see here the Aluminum angle which separates the wall and ceiling. This runs on both sides along the length of the front of the bus (and is also in the main bedroom) and will have LED strip lighting as uplights and downlights, these will be dimmable.Bus Web (16 of 19)

Our most recent achievement (and when I say ‘our’ I mean Henry with a little bit of help from me…he is the real brains and brawn behind this. I often just feel like a cheerleader…but apparently I am absolutely crucial in that role! So he says. :)…anyhoo. Solar power. Solar power has long been a dream of ours as environmentally conscious human beings and so installing this on our bus has been a great feeling…now just to get on the thing and use it!

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Building a Chicken Coop

In order to manage a little procrastination on our bus we have filled our time with lovely home projects. One day Henry picked up the tools, found some wood and managed to build for less than $10 a chicken coop which is quite cosy, well insulated and ventilated, easy to clean and barely portable.

Our neighbour, who is very friendly (everyone seems to know eachother on this street, and there are some characters…including us perhaps…but they are all quite lovely), had a connection who had a few henpecked chickens which needed a new home and so we adopted these. They are a little flighty, but not aggressive, this could have something to do with their breed, the Anacona.

Our friends in Canberra also passed on two little bantams, who are just the sweetest and cutest and very friendly with the tiniest of “crawcks” and a Chinese Fighting Bird which sounded very exotic and dangerous to me, but turns out it’s just a tough little chook with great thighs, a meaty little thing (but not for meat just yet, we’ll see how we go with that one!).

I don’t really have an instructional post here, but our coop may give you some ideas.

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Blogging. Why Blog?

I’ve had a couple of people ask why blog, isnt it just like keeping a journal? And if it is like keeping a journal, surely it’s better to just keep a journal and have all this stuff private?

True and true.

I’m not sure why I started blogging. I just really wanted to blog. I really wanted to blog for years before I actually did blog. Now I have had 3 blogs all up and blogged for about four years. This has been my main one. I don’t make money. In the blogging world my blog is teeny tiny. I do it mostly for myself and I get a buzz when like minded people connect with me (there have been a few of those over the years).

I love the pressure to write well…or at least write a little better than my sloppy, emotional journal writing tends to be.

I love to share the things I am passionate about. I also find blogging about these things allows me to back off of my hobby horse in real life a little bit. It’s already out there so I don’t need to bark about it so much (I notice this when I haven’t been blogging for a little while!).

I am slightly concerned about anonymity etc. I’m not sure what to do about this. I’m backing off having the personal photos online, but at the same time there are some absolutely beautiful people online who share – guts and all – everything! Photos galore, they have huge followings and say the community is 99.9% fabulous.

There are lots of mummies online and I was/am one of those. I found that blogging absolutely saved me when I was in the middle of the baby brain blues. It was my outlet, my chance to have some adult thoughts. It may die off as life changes a little, and that’s okay.

The internet is a virtual neighbourhood. People come and go. And what a neighbourhood, hey! You might as well be in the defining feature of our age, the great WWW!

I’ve found my blogging change to focus on what I am actually passionate about, in fact I think I found what I was passionate about through blogging, things like the environment, beautiful photos, real life, philosophy, sustainability, backyard farming, health, healthy eating, naturopathy, the DIY movement (but with a sustainable edge – please!), repatching, rehashing, remaking and fixing.

Blogging has been a fantastic tool for sorting out my interests, it does take a little time, it has helped me be consistent with taking lots of photos all of the time of my family and our life, and we all know that if you don’t have a photo of it then it hasn’t really happened. And I love that I have recorded part of our lives through the years.

Blogging can be a great thing, there’s lots of positivity online and there are great movements (such as the slow food movement) which are gaining momentum and a sense of community through online platforms.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do this if even for a small section of my life. I love to find great, new blogs that are along similar lines to mine. Do share if you’re getting one going!

The bees, the business and the bus.

Hello! Hello!

I’m still here, just so you know.

Been busy as a bee buzzing, speaking of which I was getting very worried as I hadn’t seen their furry faces around our garden much all Spring and then suddenly last week the large acacia tree in our backyard sprung into a glory of pink blossoms and their comforting buzzing sound descended on our garden.

I JUST LOVE THE BEES.

(Do you know that they are in danger – worldwide? Three causes: 1) differences in climate: our climate is changing rapidly worldwide. Shifts are occurring everywhere. Wild weather increases. The drought really knocked our bees around in Australia over the last several years. 2) The Varroa Destructor Mite. Sounds ominous, like something Dark Vader would have come up with. Well, turns out he did. This thing is deadly to the bees. It has basically eradicated the European Honeybee from America. The only way to control it is through chemical means, I’m guessing the bees aren’t too happy about that. Finally 3) Neonicotinoid pesticides. I’ve only learned about this one recently, but all the bee fans are buzzing about it. Basically – watch what you put in your garden!)

Some people scoff at this kind of thing. I say to you: If you are living on this earth then you have a responsibility to look after it. That’s all.

So…lately we went to the Living Green Festival at Albert Hall in Canberra, raising questions of population and veganism. I’ll review that (loosely) soon.

Henry built a chicken coop and, yes, I did take some photos and I will go through these with you soon too.

We are gardening like crazy (and loving it even more crazy!). I’ll take some pics and run through these too. Henry is a bit of a gardening wiz, turns out (actually I already knew that), except that I have to defend all of my flowering (“useless”) plants.

I am loving life here in Young. I’ve landed on my feet and to me it’s just an example of God’s grace. We’ve sunk a lot of time and money into our bus project and were getting a little burnt out, but all is well and if we are content and doing well then I am happy to take it as it comes.

A sound house, a place to garden and contribute to creation and a bunch of good friends makes for a wholesome life.

Can’t wait to get back here on this blog. I have one last bit of uni assessment on Friday then I will be back in the business!

Good night to you all. Sleep tight.