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Talking Frames

The other day a friend and I spent ages on the phone discussing frames — picture frames. I know — thrilling isn’t it, but hey! that’s my life at the moment.

She was having trouble deciding how to frame an original print she’d bought. And since she lives in rural Australia, there wasn’t a lot of choice. And some pictures she’d bought already framed, but the framing chosen actually detracted from the picture instead of highlighting it.
Hence the long discussion, with various photos flying back and forth on email as we talked.

I have quite a few paintings and prints in my house. Some were bought back when I was a student, and I was lucky in that a good friend of mine worked part time in a picture framing business owned by his family. He framed all my prints and paintings in his spare time, for the cost of the materials, and he did it so beautifully they have stood the test of time — I still love them.

I also used to spend a lot of time poking through junk shops and found a number of old picture frames. The one above on the right I found in an old shed in the country, full of junk that was for sale and I bought it for a few dollars. It was filthy and coated in dark oily grime but I could see it had real potential —it was hand carved from a sold slab of wood. So I scrubbed off the oily grime  and then scraped out every little carved indent with a pair of nail scissors.  And it came up a treat. I found a pencil drawing in a magazine that reminded me of a photo of my mother as a school girl, and popped it in the frame — where it remains to this day.

Another old frame I found has a beautiful decorative border. The glass is also slightly wavy, which means it was made back in the days when glass was rolled out. I got it very cheap because the corner was damaged and also it was really old fashioned but not regarded by the seller as an antique — just junk.. I loved it and I don’t mind the damaged border — it adds to the frame’s story. That’s a bit of it on the left. I used it to frame a Gauguin print of two Breton girls, and I think the frame suits it perfectly.

On the right and below is another old frame I bought years ago. It’s beautiful and quite large, and I love the  gold highlighted acorn pattern around the edge. You can see a close-up of it below.

The frame is still in very good condition, but for some reason I have never found a picture for it — no idea why. But since the discussion with my friend I am now on the lookout for the perfect picture to go in it.

What about you — do like to scour junk shops in search of  treasures? Found any you especially love?

Happy New Year

Happy Chinese New Year, that is, or as some prefer to call it,  the Lunar New Year.

I grew up with it being called Chinese New Year even though I know some other cultures have different names for it. But there has been a tradition of celebration and a dragon parade here dating back to the 19th century, starting in the Gold Rush towns, where there were large Chinese populations. (Photo by Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

In the state of Victoria, where I live, there was a very impressive  Chinese procession in the town of Beechworth in 1874 — you can see the engraving  here (scroll down).

And the city of Ballarat has one of the oldest surviving Chinese Dragons around. It was purchased in 1897, and paraded each year until the 1960’s, when it was retired to a museum and a new dragon purchased. If you want to know more about the history of the celebration in Australia, there’s a good article here.

There’s always a big celebration in Melbourne for the Lunar New Year. When I was in high school, my friends and I often used to meet up at a Chinese restaurant in central Melbourne’s “Chinatown” to celebrate several  friends’ end of January/early February  birthdays. A couple of  times the dragon entered the restaurant and cavorted around our table, much to our delight. And when my parents lived in Malaysia, I was lucky enough to be there for Chinese New Year and be part of a big, noisy, exuberant fun celebration.

I have another, quite personal reason for celebrating Chinese New Year — two years ago, I bought my new house on Chinese New Year, 2022, and it had been the luckiest purchase for me. Ever since, I have displayed a Chinese good luck token hanging on the front door, which is painted red (though not by me) a lucky color, )

I have more tokens hanging in the entrance.  And as you can see from this photo of my living room, I am partial to a bit of color. I even had my old brown lounge suite recovered in red, though not for lucky Chinese reasons. Everything in the house was beige, light brown and pale grey where I bought it, and though I know that’s probably fashionable, I like some color. I debated with a friend about a teal blue covering for the lounge suite, and this red, and though I loved the teal, we decided that the red would go with my rugs better. The bright cover on the couch is a length of fabric I’ve had forever, and I love it.  The cushions I also had before I moved. 
That’s Milly, in her favorite position, keeping watch out of the back door, in case a bird or a cat decide to attack me.

There was so much I want to say about Chinese New Year that I think I’ll blog about it on the Word Wenches on Monday. So I hope you forgive me if there’s a bit of repetition. 


Paperbacks of The Laird’s Bride arrived in the post this morning.

I was dreading it, because I’d made a real boo-boo in the setting up:  I’d accidentally chosen “right-to-left layout” — which is the way books in Arabic and Japanese and some other languages work. Even when I checked the file, and it was laid out backwards, starting at the end, and going through to the title page, I thought that was some peculiar part of the printing process, so I didn’t change it. 

In my defense, when I first started making the little adult literacy books I make for my former employer (over 100 titles so far), the layout (before printing) looked weird — page 1 was opposite page 16, page 2 opposite page 15 and so on. But in the printing they came out perfectly. So I just thought this backward text was the same kind of thing.

Later a lovely bookseller alerted me to the problem, pointing out that the paperback cover displayed on some sites was in fact the back cover of the paperback. See pic below. (Thank you Rosemary!)

So I hightailed it to the Print-on-Demand website I used to get it fixed. Which is when I discovered that the text was also backwards. More than a week later, and several Helpdesk tickets — and MUCH angst and fretting on my behalf — I got the correct version uploaded this morning — or so I thought.

In the meantime, a week ago, I’d ordered 6 copies of the paperback. So I was expecting that I’d have to throw all 6 copies into the recycle bin because, of course, they’d be printed out backwards. So today, when my parcel arrived, I opened it with great trepidation. 

And to my great delight and HUGE relief,  I found that the paperbacks had been printed perfectly, and looked beautiful. So PHEW! I don’t know which clever person at the Print-on-Demand company spotted my mistake and fixed it, but I’m hugely grateful. And now I’m smiling at my little paperbacks and stroking them, and getting ready to order some more. 

The paperbacks can be ordered through most bookstores. I don’t sell them from my website, but I will be bringing some to sell at the ARRA book signing at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney in August.