Thursday, 23 April 2015

Missing you every day....

I lost my beautiful Dad
on Friday, April 10th, 2015 at the age of 82.
He was my rock! 

Dad was born  in September of 1932,
in the County of Cavan,
in the Irish Republic.

He was the second eldest in his family
and had six sisters and two brothers.

Dad joined the British Army just before he turned 18.
He was on active duty during the Malayan Emergency.

Dad pictured here in the Cameron Highlands 
when he was stationed in Malaya (which included 
only the States of the Malay Peninsula).  
He would have been around 21 years old in the photo.

In 1963, Malaya joined up with Singapore, Sarawak,
and Northern Borneo (renamed Sabah) to form the
Federation of Malaysia.

Dad was a jungle scout for the army 
and would sometimes guard the food convoys (as above), 
Raub District, Malaya, now Malaysia. 
He would have been around 19 in the photo above.

Dad met my Mum in Malaya
as her Father also served in the British Army.

 Pictured in August of 1955, on their wedding day in 
Port Dickson, Malaya (now Malaysia).

In 1959, the year I was born, Dad left the army
and they lived in England for a while.
In 1963, Mum and Dad immigrated to Australia
with their four young children,
Caroline, Serena (me), Billy, and Angela.
My youngest brother, Wayne, came along later in 1967.

Dad adored his wife and kids.
He was a very hard worker.
At times, shuffling two full-time jobs,
one was a day job; one was a night job,
all to make a better life for his family.

In his late thirties, Dad took up a keen interest in photography.

I remember helping him develop photos
in his Dark-Room at times.
On one such occasion,
Dad asked me to pass him scissors so, out of reflex,
I switched on the overhead light to find the scissors.
Ooooops....sorry, Dad.
After much panic,
I think he managed to save those photos from ruin.

Mum and Dad - approx. 1989

Dad loved dancing the Waltz and the Fox Trot.
 Everybody loved to watch my Mum and Dad dance.

And even in later years (2012)

He enjoyed a good laugh too. hehe

Dad always liked regular fishing but, after he retired,
fly-fishing became his main hobby interest.

Above - Fly-fishing in a stream in New South Wales. 

He even made his own flies for lures.

Above, Dad teaching Beau, my son, how to cast...

Dad was always there to support his Grand-kids
in any endeavours they undertook and
he was so proud of each and every one of them.
He was very much a father figure to my own five kids,
as their father did not play a big role in their lives.
They have many happy memories to go on with.

Dad and Mum at Bradley's (my eldest) graduation in 2002

Mum and Dad in 2008

Flanked by my wonderful parents at my surprise 50th birthday party!

With their first Great-Granddaughter, Mikayla.

Dad had been a fit and healthy man all his life but,
around the age of 78,
his health started to decline.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and,
in 2013, we nearly lost him to life-threatening surgery
when his gallbladder turned septic and burst.
He suffered a couple of strokes around the same time
which left significant paralysis down the right side of his body,
also affecting his speech.
As his physical dependency and medical needs worsened,
we made the heartbreaking decision to place
Dad in an Aged Care Home in September 2014.

The two lovebirds! hehe

The Aged Care home became like
a home away from home for us
as we visited Dad frequently.

My beautiful granddaughters, Mikayla and Madelyn,
enjoying a treat while their Poppy sleeps peacefully in the bed beside them.

The staff at the Aged Care home were wonderful
and they developed quite a bond with Dad.
They loved that he always
gave them 'high-fives' and hugs.
Even they cried on the day of his passing.
We couldn't have asked for better care for Dad.
We will miss the staff as well as
some of the Dementia pod residents.

It's impossible to give a concise story
of my Father's life in just one post.
There is so much more to this amazing man....

but what stands out to me
is the undying love Dad had for his family.
I felt safe and protected
  when my Dad was around.
He was so proud of us all, his family.
He was always there for us and
I just can't imagine life without him in it. 

I will always be grateful that I was able to spend 
a very special and love-filled day with him 
before he passed away peacefully.

Early in the day,
 Mum, my brothers, sister, spouses, Bradley, and I reminisced
about the good, old days with Dad.
We played his favourite oldies via our mobile phones,
One of Dad's favourites.
'After all these Years' by Foster and Allen.

linked from YouTube - After all these Years

We shed many tears.
Dad was surrounded by love.

Our family came together, 
united in our love for Dad
and then, our grief at his passing.
My heart continues to ache...
but I know Dad is now at peace
and no longer suffering.
I know he is with us, his family, in spirit.
I feel him around me even now.


Don't worry about Mum...
I will be there for her always.
THANK YOU for being such an amazing Dad!
 You will be missed deeply and
you will forever hold a special place in my heart.

 'til we meet again...
May you rest in peace. xo

Anthony Eaton  
Born: September 19th, 1932
Died: April 10th, 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sketches, a spider, and a couple of roos...

 Has it really been over two weeks since I last posted?!

Doctors, specialist visits, medical tests,
and family birthdays, including my own, were in there somewhere. 
My niece also gave birth to a beautiful 9lb baby girl 
who now shares the same birthday as my own daughter.
Doctors, specialist visits, and tests were more to do with my Mum 
who is dealing with some health concerns right now. 
Life can sure get busy fast around here.

I have managed a few sketches here and there.

One of my favourite cereals is the Be Natural range.
It's low in sugar and has no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives
 unlike so many of the supposed healthy cereals out there. 
I love mine best with soy added sweetener!

 I decided to use up the blue water-soluble ink that came with
my Lamy Safari fountain pen by doing some pen and wash sketches.
I didn't think I would but I like the variations with the LAMY blue ink.
I added some definition to Jack with some permanent black ink.
Sadly, for Jack, his skin condition persists
and I am now trying a natural, home-made pest repellent that
includes five aromatherapy oils mixed with water.
I spray it on him every morning before he goes outside to go toilet.
I'll keep you posted on how effective it is.

For the selfie sketch, I sat in front of a mirror
and sketched directly in pen (LAMY Safari; EF nib),
then used a water brush to wet and shade.
You might notice that my hair is now much shorter...
Yep, one morning, the scissors found their way magically into my hands
and, before I knew it, I was chopping away at my hair.
A whole 10" or 12" gone over a spur of the moment decision.
That's how I roll when it comes to my hair.

I didn't intend to go that heavy with the lip outline
but hey, when working directly with pen,
you have to accept and love the mistakes too.


OH, and for those wondering how things went with Charlotte
I did go out to look for her the next morning
and was very happy to see her and her web
glistening in the sun.

The view from side-on in the shade...

And just to show that spiders aren't the only creatures lurking around these parts,
I spotted these kangaroos grazing at dusk on a street two suburbs over.
The photos aren't great but I didn't want to get too close
and frighten them off.

 Nature is painting for us, day after day, 
pictures of infinite beauty 
if only we have the eyes to see them.
--- John Ruskin

Sunday, 8 March 2015

For the love of spiders

I like spiders...

and they seem to like me. 
I think spiders are handy to have around because
they help to keep the bug population down. 

In some Native American cultures, 
 A 'Spider' is seen as a symbol of Creativity. 
No surprise there considering the magnificent webs they weave. 


As for me, I can't bear the thought of killing a spider and,
if I do so accidentally, I can feel very guilty about it for hours afterwards.
Normally, I will safely relocate them to our pergola outside.
Growing up, my kids always knew to call for me
if they spotted a spider indoors.
Killing spiders is a taboo in my household.
That said, if a Red-back Spider crosses my path, 
I do help them get to spider Heaven quickly,
considering they are venomous.
After all, I also have an affinity with wolves
and a she-wolf fiercely protects her cubs and pack.

I have been seeing a few different spiders over the past two weeks.
A Golden Orb Weaver took up residence 
not far from my bedroom window under the house eaves.
I named her 'Charlotte'! 
No guessing required to know
where that name came from. hehe
Every morning, when I let the dogs out to do their business,
I'd pop on over to her web for a visit.
Yes, I sketched her too.
I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

The real Charlotte, pictured below, in all her glory.
Note that she is missing a leg, poor thing.
I have no idea how it happened.

 A partial profile view of Charlotte, below.
She has quite a bulbous body in full profile.
You can see my bedroom window in the background.

And, below, a close-up of her trail of debris...
Yes, these spiders actually keep a graveyard for their victims in their web.
No, it is NOT a deterrent to other unsuspecting bugs,
unfortunately for them.
Note the yellow colour of her webbing,
hence the name Golden Orb Weaver.

 This morning, I had to carefully relocate Charlotte to our corner garden
because Aaron wanted to Gerni the eaves
and was quite cavalier about poor Charlotte's possible demise.
Believe me, I was not impressed with him!
I hope Charlotte will be happier and more safe in her new place.
She has moved out of sight for now but
I will be checking first thing tomorrow
hoping to see her radiant, golden web on display once more.

At our other back door where we pop out to the clothesline,
there are a group of St. Andrews Cross spiders.
I snapped a picture of this one yesterday.

This group lives happily among the snake plants.


Then, two nights ago, Bradley woke me up close to midnight
to inform me that 'a big, black bug' was on his bedroom wall.
Bradley is legally blind and didn't realise it was actually a Huntsman spider.
I was very relieved that it wasn't a nasty cockroach.
Being night time, and considering my sleepy state,
I didn't get a photo but this night-time 'visitor' was about 4½" across.
My biggest concern was whether, or not, I'd be able to house him
inside the disposable container without harming any of his legs.
My heart was aflutter I can tell you!
Lucky for me and him,
he cooperated and, once housed,
I was able to slide a Manila folder
underneath to form a rather loose seal.
Then I took him out to the pergola
where I hope he will be much happier....
considering there are way more bugs to feast on out there.


I've relocated a few different, but smaller, spiders over the past two weeks
Ones which had found themselves lost indoors.
In a way, I'm kinda relieved they find their way to our house
because, at least, they are given a second chance at survival.

Many may classify me as some weird Spider Lady but hey,
that's the way I roll....
or should I say 'weave'? 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sketches and new fountain pens!

Aaron, my baby, reluctantly went on his first ever school camp.  The camp was mandatory and it was a case of GO, or don't get graded for Biology. It was only an overnight camp but I still worried about him nonetheless and we missed him. They weren't allowed to take mobile phones or electronic devices so there was no communication at all.  I was very glad when he arrived back, safe and sound. Did I mention that Aaron is now in Year 11 at high school? hehe  My other four range in age from 26 to 31. I can't help it...I worry about them too. 

Sitting in the car, awaiting the return of the Biology students from camp,
I sketched my thermo-coffee-mug.

The next day I sketched the shoes I bought to wear to my daughter's wedding. 
I walked her down the aisle in these babies back in 2010.

The finished sketch

Poor Mister Jack has had a terrible time of it with severe skin allergies over the past four months. I've had him to the vet numerous times.  They even took a blood sample to check for hormonal imbalances.  The results were clear, thankfully.  

The vet and I did a Sherlock Holmes and have narrowed it down to the neighbourhood cats.  You see, we have lived here for eight years without incident and I've never seen a flea on our dogs because I treat them regularly.   However, over the past four or five months, we've had a few new people move into the area bringing their cats with them. The problem is that their cats seem to love our yard and the vet feels that the cats may be dropping fleas.  It only takes one flea bite for a flea-allergic dog to have a severe reaction. Even though the flea/s will die and drop off because I treat Cody and Jack, it doesn't stop the allergic reaction.  Jack's body develops clusters of pimple-like lumps and pustules that look so red and sore.  They cause a lot of pain and itching which naturally he will scratch and bite at.  I feel so bad for him.

Don't get me wrong, I love ALL animals but I'm not too keen on irresponsible cat owners who allow their cats to roam freely, to not only wreak havoc on our native wildlife but also, to poop and drop fleas in other people's yards.  Early one evening at dusk, I looked out my window to see THREE cats lounging in our yard.  Another morning, one was stalking a bird in our yard which I promptly stopped. We are constantly shooing cats out of our yard! Not happy, Jan!! It's not fair and I make no apology for my rant!  I have spent a lot of money trying to rectify the ongoing damage their cats are causing my dog.  Poor Jack has been miserable and has suffered horribly.  He has scratched and bitten himself raw in areas to the point of bleeding and causing secondary infections.  He has lost large areas of fur and his overall body hair has thinned dramatically. He has been on three rounds of antibiotics and cortisone treatments which have given temporary relief only.  I hate to see him in so much discomfort.  At the vet's advice, I have now started him on Comfortis which is a monthly oral treatment recommended for dogs with flea allergy.  I pray it makes a difference.

Poor Jack is not amused either!
Lucky for you, he is showing off his good side,
the other side of his body and his rump look ghastly, poor thing.


On a happier note, my fountain pen collection is GROWING!!! 
From the top:
White LAMY Joy with EF nib; contains permanent black ink
Neon Coral LAMY Safari with 1.1 Italic nib; contains permanent black ink
Yellow LAMY Safari with EF nib; contains blue water soluble ink
Platinum Carbon Pen - very fine nib - contains permanent black ink
Aren't they BEAUTIFUL?!!!  

This week, I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

some sketching...

Thank you all so much for the kind and caring words you left on the last post, and via email, regarding my Dad.  I appreciate it so much. Dad is doing much the same.  Morphine with sedative when required.  It continues to be a difficult time as it's so hard to see my Dad deteriorate like this. He is bedridden and sleeps a lot but we visit often. I'm going to pamper him with a manicure when I visit him tomorrow.  He enjoyed the last one I gave him.

I haven't found a lot of time for sketching due to visiting my Dad so much but I have grabbed pockets of time where I've been able to.  I'm not overly happy with the following sketches but I'm happy that I sketched something, at least.

On December 4th, Brad had an appointment at Vision Australia to register and become a member. He and I went crazy in their gadget shop for the visually impaired! I bought myself a magnifier lamp which has already come in very handy on my art desk.

Before Aaron went back to school after the Christmas holiday break, we took a drive out to the new Wyaralong Dam near Beaudesert.  It was lovely!  We will definitely be visiting again although, next time, we will take insect repellent!  I managed a very quick sketch of  my view before it started to rain, forcing us to head home early.  It was a nice day out regardless.

I've been taking Liz Steel's 'Sketching Now' online course which has been fantastic. Twelve weeks of fun and learning.  Liz is such a good teacher and puts so much time and effort into covering even the small details.  She is very in-depth and explains everything so clearly.  I've read and watched the videos each week but, as my free time has been limited, I'm only just starting to do homework where I can. Thankfully, the class material will remain available for at least twelve months which should give me plenty of time to catch up.

I created a colour mixing chart from my palette thanks to this very helpful post on Jenny's blog - How to make a watercolour chart. I had so much fun doing this that I'm sure it won't be the last colour mixing chart I do.

Another online class I registered for on Craftsy was Sketching People in Motion by Marc Taro Holmes.  Oh my, another gem of a class!  Marc is an amazing teacher and I'm keen to put some of his techniques into action.  I've actually been enjoying quite a few of the courses on Craftsy of late. Their classes are quite reasonable in price and they give life-time access...can't complain about that. 

I was one of the lucky backers who helped to make The Perfect Sketchbook a reality.  It was the brainchild of Erwin Lian Cherngzhi.  This sketchbook is gorgeous and a little bulkier in size compared to the Moleskine pocket watercolour notebook. I feel privileged to own one because I'm not sure that they will be produced again. It was a one time thing, however, Erwin did mention that he may attempt it once more for an A5 sketchbook.

I was very excited to receive my order for a carbon pen and cartridge from The Goulet Pen Company on Friday!  It was beautifully packaged and they even included a little treat.  I'm fairly new to sketching with fountain pens.  I only have two so far...notice that implies that there will be more. Me thinks I'm developing an addiction.  I LOVE sketching with my Lamy JOY and now this Carbon Pen.

To add a lovely end to my week, I had my two beautiful Granddaughters come for a sleep-over. Their Mummy and Daddy went out for a Valentine's dinner and a movie.  We had a great time with Mikayla and Maddy and I'm sure they enjoyed their visit too.  They have not long left to go home, bless their little hearts.  I miss them already.

Today, I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches HERE.

Until next time.....
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