Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Forgotten Era

Period costume and feminine fashion through the ages have always fascinated me. This oil paining of an era past, high lights a time when hats formed an integral part of every women's wardrobe.

Except for a few brand labeled caps, used for protection from the sun I don't have a hat in my wardrobe any more and certainly cannot remember when last I wore one as a true fashion accessory, I think it might have been my daughters wedding 20 years ago.

Anyway I just loved this picture, the original was a black and white photo of who knows, so I decided to add some colour and see how it turned out. I hope you like it.

The move to NZ has been a bit more difficult than I thought. On the way over some thief decided to open my suitcase and steal some of my belongings. We are advised at Oliver Tambo airport (the new name for Johannesburg International Airport) to shrink wrap our luggage so the thieves don't get their grubby paws on our belongings.

I knew there was a lot of theft going on at the airport but assumed as I was not flying SAA this would not happen. It seems SAA handle the baggage for all the airlines though, so if you are flying in or out of SA then you need to make certain your baggage is adequately protected.

It was wonderful to re-unite with my daughter and grand children after an absence of two years, it was also very sad to leave my mom behind but I know she is in good hands with my sisters.

Coming from Durban we are used to an almost perpetual summer, Auckland so far has been freezing, wet and miserable, apparently their worst winter in about 30 years. Fortunately all my clothing from Ireland came across when my daughter immigrated here 3 years ago, or I certainly would not have had the sort of winter clothing needed to cope with this weather.

On my first visit to NZ the South African Rand exchange rate was about R3.80 to one NZ $ which seemed to me like the cost of living between the two countries was similar. Now the rate is 6 to 1 and I find myself comparing prices by converting to rands first and thinking how expensive everything is here.

Having looked at the negatives it is just wonderful to be in a country where to my mind the crime is low. We don't have to worry about locking up everything, switching on burglar alarms and looking over our shoulder for muggers when you take a walk down the road. People are not living in self imposed prisons and the streets and suburbs are clean and neat.

I finally have my own adsl connection and will hope fully be able to do posts more and answer mail and comments regularly. Thankfully I have been able to use a friends Internet to do my card drops since I have arrived. It would have been too much of an imposition to do any more than what was absolutely necessary from day to day while finding accommodation and getting settled.

To all you entrcard droppers I must say a huge thank you for your loyal support during this time. Thursday was a record for me with 515 drops, my dilemma now is how to cope with all the drops, I feel awful when I cannot reciprocate all on a daily basis. I try to make certain I get to each one at least every second day as I don't work from a list or bookmarked sites, I simply rely on my inbox and support those who drop on my site.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Malachite Kingfisher

The Malachite Kingfisher is one of about 13 kingfisher species found in Southern Africa. This water colour was painted from a photo I used as a reference. At first I was not sure which of the kingfisher species it was because of the black beaks. The adult malachite has a red beak and after a bit of research I found that the juveniles have black beaks. So these must still be juvenile birds.

These small birds are fairly common around slow moving water and generally sit on low perches with their beaks down watching for fish or small crustaceans. When a fish is spotted it drops head first into the water and surfaces again immediately with fish in beak and devours it while sitting on its perch. They can also hover just above the water in a stationary position and then dive into the water to catch their fish. Their nests are normally tunnels in sand banks not necessarily close to water.

Other than the Kiwi, the Tui bird and Kia parrot I don't know much about NZ Birds and it will be interesting to photograph and research some while I am there. The medium will probably change to oil painting again as I left all my oil paints there on my last visit. Airlines seem to get stricter by the day when it comes to weight and the 20kg allowance hardly allows for much more the the clothes I will be taking with so all my art material will be staying behind.

Hopefully I will have time for one more post tomorrow and an opportunity to reply to the many comments and emails I have received in my absence, then I will probably be off line for about a week while I get organised on the other side.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Time to Mourn

I know I have been rather conspicuous by my absence this past month. And I must say a big thank you to Graham for doing all my card drops in my absence. I know there are many unanswered messages, recommendations and other emails I have not replied to.

We were supposed to leave for New Zealand a month ago and here we are still in Durban.

When I returned to South Africa from New Zealand a year and a half ago to be with my elderly parents. My dad, who at 85 was still active and independent, driving his own car, and going for walks on the beach every day, started showing signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Within 3 months of returning to SA he was no longer able to drive and started suffering from other ailments like heart disease and prostrate cancer as well. He took a turn for the worse just before we were supposed to fly out and we postponed the trip as I was worried I would never see him again.

After a scare and a week in intensive care he seemed to recover well but my mom was not longer able to provide him with the care he needed and had to place him in an Alzheimer's clinic where he could receive proper treatment.

It was hard to visit him as he no longer recognised us and even got a bit aggressive when my mom touched him and told her to leave him alone. I could not believe the rapid deterioration in so short a time.

Sadly he passed away shortly after being admitted, I was devastated as we were a very close family. Fortunately my younger sisters have rallied to help take care of my mom and I will finally be flying out to NZ on Tuesday.

I had heard that Alzheimer's patients can live for a long time with the proper treatment and care but the speed with with which it incapacitated my dad was unbelievable.

I feel terrible leaving my mom behind but I also have to spend time with my daughter and grand children. I know my mom is in good hands with my sisters and feel torn between her and my kids. When your family are twenty thousand kilometers apart and your grand children are growing up not knowing their grandmother then it is just as difficult to decide where you have to be.

As a result of this I have done very little painting and even less blogging. To the EC community who have continued to drop on my site and leave your wonderful comments, my apologies for seeming like I don't care and my heartfelt thanks for your support.

I have a painting or two that I will try and post tomorrow, I am not sure when I will be online in NZ so if I disappear for a week or so its simply because I am trying to get set up on the other side.