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A fave cartoonist

I say “a fave” rather than “my fave” because in fact there are several cartoonists whose work I love — Gary Larson, Leunig for instance, but today I’m writing about an Australian cartoonist called Judy Horacek whose work I really love.

But first some context. Some of you might know that I write on and off in a writing journal. It’s just a blue A5 spiral bound notebook, and I’ve been writing in them since 2007.  When I start each new journal, I stick a different picture on the front to make it individual to that year(s) (and blot out the company logo on the front.)

Usually I search the internet for a picture that speaks to me, then I print it off and stick it on the front cover. And sometimes I put a different one on the back cover.  However I haven’t yet set up my printer because I’m waiting for the bookshelves to be built so I can then set up the study properly. Since I write on my laptop, having access to the printer is not urgent.

Now I’m about to start a new journal — my 11th, it’s not the sort of journal that has pre-set dates in it— and finding a picture to stick on the front is part of the pleasurable ritual of setting up the new journal (and yes I know it’s procrastination but I like it.) So  I was looking through an old stash of greeting cards and postcards that I’ve collected over the years—usually I choose a pretty picture—but this one made me snort when I saw it again.

 “Unrequited Love #49”  is by one of my favorite aussie cartoonists, Judy Horacek, who created the wonderful “Woman with Altitude” card above. 

That’s the card on the left, now stuck to the front of my blue journal— I took a photo of it.

You can read more about Judy Horacek here, and buy some of her cards on line. I think you’d really like her Christmas cards, too. Here’s one of my faves.

Do you have any favorite cartoonists? And do you keep a journal?

Rainy Days

In the last year or so, Australia has had masses more rain than usual —we’re generally a dry continent— to the extent that some towns much further north of me have been massively flooded several times, and now they’re reeling, exhausted and almost destroyed.  Here in Melbourne we’ve had more rain that usual, and several floods in different parts of the city, but nothing like the poor folk to the north have endured. And if the forecasts are to be believed, there’s more to come.

And today it’s raining again, and though it should be conducive to writing, I’m a little distracted. Last night as well as very heavy rain there was hail thundering down on the roof in the wee small hours, so this morning first thing I did was hurry outside to see whether my little tomato seedlings had survived — and they had. Though some bulb flowers were now in shreds, alas.

So here I am, sitting on my bed, writing, with constant drizzle pattering against the window. That’s a fig tree you can see through the rainy blur, growing new leaves again after winter, and it looks so green and fresh it makes me smile. With any luck it will grow good figs as well. I love figs.

A friend of mine used to have a wonderfully prolific fig tree, and, since she didn’t much like figs, I used to pick heaps and as well as eating masses, I made jam. My favorite was a fig, lemon and ginger jam, and there’s no point asking me for the recipe, because I made it up, combining a basic fig jam recipe with a basic marmalade recipe and adding ginger. If I say so myself, it was delicious, but I haven’t made it for years because my friend selfishly moved house, not considering me and my beloved fig tree at all! (Honestly! Some people!)  In any case, these days I don’t eat much jam, so unless this tree gives me a bumper crop, I probably won’t make jam again. 

Yesterday it was yet another gloomy, wet, drizzly day, and to cheer myself up I dropped by my local market and bought myself a bunch of flowers. I looked at the bunches of tulips and other gorgeous seasonal flowers, but chose this bunch with mostly native Australia flowers, which apart from being attractive, generally last a  long time, and in this case also have a slight fresh fragrance.  The dark red flower is a waratah (which is the New South Wales state floral emblem) the other red ones are proteas, and there are several other proteas, as well as the various “fillers,” most of which I can’t name.

The plan was just to buy flowers at the market — it’s a local market and open 4 days a week and  I normally buy my vegies and fresh fish etc there, but my fridge was already well stocked, so the flowers were just a whim, an indulgence. But of course the atmosphere is so enticing, with all kinds of wonderful things on sale—not to mention wonderful aromas—and I got sucked in and bought a slice of pizza (capricciosa, my favorite) and an almond croissant for later.

I consider myself incredibly disciplined to have got away only buying three things! Markets are addictive.

The Possum

One of the things my dog, Milly, likes about this new house is the possum.

Not that she loves possums — quite the contrary — she considers them her enemy.  And who doesn’t like to have an enemy that you can bark at from a distance but never have to actually confront? It’s really a “play-enemy” of the sort we used to have as kids.

Australian possums are nothing like American possums — they’re small and fluffy and cute and shy. And they don’t have lots of babies — generally just one. Like kangaroos, the babies are called joeys, and are kept in a pouch until they’re old enough to ride on their mother’s back.

I said they’re shy, and that’s true — they only come out after dark, and though plenty of them live in the city, near parks or in leafy suburban areas, most people rarely see them. They do, however see the evidence that there is a possum visiting, because possums love fruits and flowers.

The first evidence I saw that we had a visiting possum was when the lemons on my tree had their peel eaten off. Just the peel, not the fruit. See the photo on the left. The lemons were still hanging on the tree, the entire peel carefully nibbled off.
And the first gorgeous flower of the wisteria disappeared overnight. I was glad I’d taken a photo of it (see below right) because otherwise there was no evidence that the vine had begun to flower.

Possums are protected in Australia — it’s illegal to harm them or keep them. (In NZ it’s a different story, as possums are an introduced species  there and have become a pest to the NZ indigenous creatures, so NZers kill possums and use their fur, generally mixed with wool, to make soft, warm clothing.) But here they’re protected.

They’re generally very shy, but when cornered or threatened or their babies threatened, they can be quite fierce and make this very scary noise — and that’s what sets Milly off.

And now, every evening after dark, there’s a small black dog sitting motionless in the back yard, gazing up into the trees at the back, waiting for the enemy to emerge . . . (Black dogs don’t photograph too well in the dark, so you’ll just have to imagine the sight.) 
If there’s a frenzied eruption of barking, I know the possum is there and sometimes I hear the possum growling back. (Don’t worry, I always bring the dog in before 9pm so she doesn’t disturb the neighbours.)

There’s a short video here of a possum in a suburban back yard tree and you can really hear the scary sound it can make. Normally though, they’re utterly silent..

And here’s a video of a baby possum, looking for its mum.

Do you get wildlife visiting?