Tuesday, 9 May 2017

On a creative ride!

Its ok i am allowed to be using a spray can in this photo! I was under supervision. Those fumes from the paint were a whizz. Dunno how i got home that day. Only joking, we were wearing the standard issue face masks to protect ourselves from harm and HIV at all times. Look of course I have to take it one step further...

Yep this is the "before" shot, taken on the first day of my Certificate in Art and Creativity at the Learning Connexion. Me wearing my old lab coat ready to get down to battle with the paints. This lab coat could become a work of art itself at the end of this course as the scientist gives way to the emerging artist within me! The whole left brain right brain battle is in full swing I can tell you. One of the projects we did in the first term was to make a cast of our own faces and use it to make an alter ego of ourselves in the form of a paper mache mask. Here's my sweet little oddy of a face:

And heres my alter ego... Its "Fe man" the Iron Lady...

I have totally immersed myself in this course. THe first term started in February and finished in time for Easter. We spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in a class learning to draw and paint in various styles (impressionist, expressionist, cubist). We painted indoors and outdoors. We"d draw and paint 12, 15 pictures a day. We had live models to draw in charcoal and to paint with a palet knife. We did an environmental sculpture project outdoors. It was full on! Here's some pictures of what Ive been creating in my first term. This is more to document future progress rather than blow my own trumpet. Many of these pieces have stories of pain and self loathing attached to them! As it is when you are learning to do something for the first time - there's a strong pull towards the ladies loo for a meltdown now and again. But I stood tall and bold and big and brave and thought to myself, I am Serena, the Iron Lady, I have no fear. And thought who actually really cares anyhow if I fuck it up? 

Then there was the project called The Travelling Egg. The brief was to create a package for a raw egg to travel in a A5 courier bag and to reach its destination intact. We had to work on a theme for the egg based on a brainstorm session. So I did my brainstorm and could only come up with mainly food related egg links, like omelette, pavlova, fertilization (ugh?), etc. Wasn't feeling very inspired by any of those. SO I asked J what he thought of when he thought of an egg. And he goes, Humpty Dumpty. Yes! Good old HD! Sweet. I'm thinking walls, horses, men. So off to bed all happy. Then 3am, bingo! I'm awake. The egg, the egg, how am I gonna do the egg? So not able to sleep I'm on FB checking my posts. Come across one of my crochet group posts, a link to a pattern for Donald Trump in crochet! Hahaha! Funny. Then I'm like, hang on a minute, what about "Trumpty Dumbty"???? Yes Trumpty Dumbty and his frickin Mexican wall! Oh yeah! And Putin and all his men! That's it! Woohoo! All excited now! We're on trend with Trump its all go. And I do love a bit of crochet me. So I made him a wall and added some graffiti art to it. I painted the egg to be his brain. Made a crochet head along with a flip top yellow fringe for easy access to his brain. Packed it out with fluffy stuff. And voila! One travelling Trumpty Dumbty egg.... perfick

About halfway through the term I did a weekend course in beginners jewelery making. Two days hard labour with a hand saw and a Naked flame was enough for me to realize I ain't gonna be a threat to Michael Hill (for non-kiwis replace this with H.Samuel! Stay with me, focus now!).  But I still managed to make a chain from copper wire. Each link was painfully made with love for my hunny J. Here's a pic:

I like a process me. I love a problem to solve. So when it came to the end of the term and we had to choose a course to do for a whole week, thats not just the first 3 days, but 5 days total focus on one medium, I got to do "Hot Arts". Ok settle back down, calm yourselves. I may have spent a week in a barn in the middle of nowhere with some hot knives and a vat of wax but it was far from Kinky Boots I can tell ya! It was From Wax to Bronze. The "lost wax" art of bronzing. I you tubed the heck out of that and didnt find a huge amount of inspiration. But I did find one video of a female artist who was doing something really special. So I used some of her stuff as inspiration for my wax carvings. Remember all this stuff is totally new to me and to be honest we had 3 choices to put on the form for this block week and hot arts was 3rd. So I really didnt hav high expectations especially as I had heard that Hot Arts was about making a knife. Nice. Without going too much into the details, cos I dont really know them anyhow, what you do is make a thing out of melted wax which then solidifies and you use this to form a mold which is used to pour molten bronze into at like 2000 degrees. This obviously melts the wax and fills the mold with bronze which solidifies to form a thing that will be here for hundreds of years to come. Technical eh? Ha! Here's a few pics...

 I started a 3D version of this lady which is bigger and should stand on her own rather than be placed on a wall like this piece will be once Ive cleaned it up a bit. Gives you an idea anyhow. I loved building the figure with the molten wax. Awesome. 
Ive just finished the second block week which was in Oamaru stone carving. I absolutely loved this whole process. The best bit was working out where to cut into the stone and working through the puzzle of the design. Loved it. Going back to do more of this I think....

Well its the start of Term 2 and Ive done my first class in 2D to 3D. We started by making a skull out of plasticine. I'm looking forward to playing about with different expressions with other skulls. Happy with my first attempt...

I also have a Drawing it! Class and a Painting class this term. I have been trying to practice both media during the Easter break. Here's what I came up with...

Well I can say with confidence that this has been one of the very best things I have ever done and I am totally immersed in art and creativity. I am loving it. Challenging at times but what a great feeling when you can work through it or actually decide that nah, this ones not for me, move along! 

Hope you enjoyed the update!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Art ninja

One week at art school and I'm a street art ninja of the night.

Making connections with my community is one of the goals of art school for me. This "yarn bombing" phenomenon is out there go google it up or Instagram it and see a couple of really awesome crochet street artists, London Kaye and Olek. They are inspiring!

St valentines seems as good a day as any to heart bomb the streets of silverstream. I have tried to upload a video but if it's not playing then check it out on my FB post. Note to self - well done on editing 20 mins of dark and drizzly video down to under 2 mins! It's amazing how attached you can become to your art hahahaha! Oh and the constraints of a 3 min max upload limit for FB!


Thursday, 12 January 2017

A year on ... 2017

Well I couldn't let this day go by without a post could I? It would be rude not to. Its been a whole year since that day in January, that Thursday, the longest day for J, the shortest for me (gotta love those air heads they sure know how to fool ya into thinking you've only just closed your eyes!). The day of surgery, dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnnnnn! It feels really good to look back and smile a year on. We've had a true rollercoaster of a year, ups and downs, our hardest yet as a couple but we've grown even closer and have renewed strength and hope and sheer f*ckin JOY to be here today, a year on.

We've been doing alot of, "babe do you remember this time last year... " over the last few weeks. The weeks before Christmas 2016 when it all kicked off and we were terrified into silence, not able to talk about what we were facing to anyone but each other. We held each other up during those weeks. We held onto each other in the weeks that followed. But that day, D-day (check the post, Jan 14th), we were each alone. We each had a job to do, a fear to face, an unknown that day. We still held each other up right until we parted, right until i walked that walk down to theatre, without him, without my rock. I left him behind. I left him. I left him to cope alone, without knowing whether I would return to him. Without knowing whether I would survive. I left him. Leaving him was the hardest part. It broke my heart that day.

The BESTest part was waking up in ICU and not believing that it was all done, that intubation was a success and I had got through the operation and it was a success and i was not dead. Yes ladies and gentlemen, THAT was the bestest bit. Of course I had to get the OFFICI AL OK from J, cos I'm not gonna believe the expert nursing staff! Ha! No way baby! "Awesome!"

Funny how some stuff sticks with you for a lifetime and other stuff you just flick through in that memory book in your brain. I was clearing out my photos on my ipad this week and low and behold there is a whole series of shots of me and flappy covered in caramel glug - the eruption from the infection! All caught on camera. Yuk! Seemed really relevant at the time as I sat confined to bed in the Plastics ward showing the Docs on the 7.45am ward round. They must've thought I was a freak man. A geek freak for sure.

One thing I have learnt that I hold onto and try to remind myself everyday is that one day I will not be here. When you die you are gone. You and your beautiful mind and your funny ways are gone. I know that sounds obvious but I really dont think too many people actually feel what that is like. Its a thought that totally stops me in my tracks and I actually feel it. That loss. That sense of OMG I wont be here. I wont think anymore. I wont exist. I know it sounds obvious but it shocked me!It shocks me each time. I get in the car and Im like, I could die and then I wont ever be here again to hug, love, laugh, talk, dance, sing (badly), annoy everyone. Anyhow, maybe its PTSD from having to face potential surgery failure/death/meet your maker and then SURVIVE. But its definitely a thing I have and it does help me appreciate even those shitty days we all have when we really dont wanna talk to anyone and wanna watch SUITS all day long. Which reminds me, I am Still only on series 1 so I reckon I'm owed at least 12 duvet days to catch up!

Anyhow, think on brethren, take it from me, live each day like its your last. Love a little bit more, be kind, smile. Do that thing you've always wanted to do ...

Which is what I'm doing right! So im enrolled at The Learning Connexion, even got myself a Scholarship to part cover my fees, BOOM! Im all set for February 7th. Heres where you'll find me;;;;

In the meantime, me and my beautiful niece hit it hard with ...

And that elephant in the room got a makeover ...

So 2016 was a hard year and we were happy to see it go. But there were some beautiful moments last year that I will always remember...


There are many many more memories from 2016 that I could share but really, do you have the time?
After all, time is the most precious gift we can give so dont go wasting those lovely life seconds reading this old shite! Get connecting people! Lets shake the hell out of 2017 (oops! Delete delete delete!!! Reference to earthquake ugh! Thats a whole other post baby!). Seriously, keep making the most of these days we have, whatever they end up looking like, there's good in each and everyday we just gotta take the time to feel it.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

To be a writer you gotta write

Blimey has it been THAT long? Just read last post from mid-July, me going on about needing to write huh? Me not writing a blog post in 2 months? Huh? What must you be thinking? Well I've already had  one concerning message so i think i better re-group with you guys. You have been in my thoughts believe me and i have been meaning to blog to keep you up to speed on my short comings and goings.
So firstly, significant date coming up tomorrow. 9 months since flappy was conceived. Flappy is well and truly ready for this world. Ready for a new name i think. You know how a baby is given a pet name while its still hibernating in the womb? You know, like peanut or womble or baby? Then baby gets a real name when born. Well i think im at that point with flappy. I think flappy has outgrown, matured and no longer suits its flappy name. No, its flappy no more! Flappy is part of me, like stretch marks, part of me, a beautiful part of me. (Did anyone else pick up the Shirley Valentine line there?). So.
I almost forgot about the metal! Sticking out of my neck! I wondered why my scarf got extra attention going through security at Frankfurt airport recently. One of those Docs actually staple gunned me can you believe it? First i knew about it was frickin 6 months after my op and im in the shower and my scrunchy gets caught up on flappy! What the actual F? So i take a closer look in the mirror and would you believe it there's a pointy bit of steel poking out the front of my neck! I give it a bit of a tug and it comes out a little but then stops. Doesnt budge. Well that ain't going anywhere! Mmmmm. I remember then that the doc said a staple might show up at some point but to "give it a tug with some sterile tweezers" Er, yeah right Doc, Ill pass on that if you dont mind cos Im not too sure if that thing is connected to a major blood vessel and with me not having completed 7 years of medical training, forgive me but Im not feeling too confident on performing this procedure. Ok? Move along please. Thank you!
Fortunately, the experts at the dressing clinic whipped it out in no time and i was in and out of that hospital car park without having to pay any parking charges! Winning!
Here's a few pictures of what ive been upto lately. I've been so long away Google stole my photos from Picassa and I had to breakdown their firewall to get these shots uploaded onto here. The top shot up above is the latest in headbands from Sassy Roo. Loving the mustard colour there. Here's a couple more from our Sassy collection:

Me and J headed back to the motherland in August for a catch up with family and friends. It was one of the most relaxing holidays we've had back in the UK. Lovely to see everyone looking so well. We stopped in Vancouver on the way over and were lucky to see the Picasso exhibition on the women in his life, phew what a life he had. Brought back memories of the time we spent in Antibes, South of France in 1994. We sat on the beach looking across the water at Pablo's house there. Eating canned tuna, french baguettes and green olives washed down with $1 bottle of cheap red wine. Heres Pablo in action in a movie filmed at that very house in Antibes, not by us of course, hahahaha!


York for a day!

Back to NZ for a weekend in Wainui bay in the Coromandel. Beautiful spot and a wonderful weekend with lovely people. Helped us beat the post holiday blues and the jet lag! 

So thats me! Me and my beautiful sassy niece are pumping out products for a few market stalls we"re doing in the next few weeks. Looking forward to getting out and seeing what everyone thinks of our stuff. Exciting times.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

6 months post surgery update

Life is a roller coaster you just gotta ride it! Lovin a bit of Ronan when you can't sleep! I'm all itchy in my head it's like I'm wired on too much caffeine but I know I've not overdone the lattes today. I had like, one only, and that was at midday. I've had this before, this feeling. I am insomniacal from time to time but it's usually when I'm stressed or got too much on my mind. But I'm definitely not stressed. I'm wired. Like I've got something I need to say but can't get the words out. I have definitely felt this before. And I overcame it with a good ....... Writing session. Yes! I needed to write! When it happened before, that feeling of itchiness in my mind, I blogged and couldn't believe the relief I got afterwards. It was such a release! Oh man! Woman and child! But I couldn't really say that out loud that it was the writing that I needed to do, cos that would mean I think of myself as a writer, and I don't, well I don't want to say it out loud. But it's what I'm beginning to think I might need to be. A writer. Oh god, there, now, I'm going to have to have seven years bad luck or something! It's ok, nobody's reading this shite anyhow. 

Anyhow back to the blog. I've been meaning to write but I've been upto my ears in beanie making! You wouldn't believe how popular these beanies are! We've had to launch adult size beanies now! Matching beanies are trending on Instagram as I write, there's whole families of them, mom AND dad joining in the beanie craze! Once bitten by the beanie bug they're coming back for more, in different colours! We also have a stockist now, "Little Haven" in Pinehaven, they have some very cool things for sale in there and do lovely coffee. It's awesome! We're loving it! 

I was so busy with the beanie buzz I almost let my 6 month post surgery date slip by without sharing with you. July 14th was actually a Thursday too. I quietly let it creep up on me and wallowed in it the whole day thinking "this time 6 months ago....". It was mine to own. Without anyone else being brought back into that world of uncertainty and worry that was my life back in January. I just sat on it. Reflecting. Feeling. Comparing how I feel now compared to how I had felt before the surgery. Way before the surgery. Like years and years before. I still get "ghost" feelings. Still occasionally feel like I have a patch over the holes in my neck. It's a weird sensation. A reminder. But I have never felt that I should have done this year's ago. It still honestly feels like it was the right time. All the ducks in a row, everyone on board, focused, ready. January 14th 2016. Reboot. Switch me off and on again. Upgrade completed. 

So what did we do to celebrate 6 months? We took flappy out to our favorite Italian restaurant, Fratelli's and I ate a bowl full of the fluffiest gnocchi ever! Soft clouds bobbing about in a four cheese sauce with tomato salsa and a smidgen of Italian sausages. Mmmmmm mmmmmm. I'm not even gonna think about what I was eating 6 months ago but it wasn't freakin homemade gnocchi! Seriously, Jamie Oliver when are you gonna sort the hospital food out?!?!?! 

Oh there goes the first serious yawn! I must be reaching the bottom of the writing pool reserve for tonight. Well I'm glad I reconnected tonight. Better to get this all down in black and white rather than leave it spinning around in my head. At the very least I can look back on this post and see what I ate for dinner on Friday night hahahahaha hahahahaha!!!!!!!! 

One more thought to leave you with.......

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sassy Roo

So this is what I have been getting up to when I'm not blogging about myself! You thought I had been a bit quiet lately, eh? No news is definitely good news! I couldn't be more happy at the moment with this new venture that has me and my niece on the ceiling with excitement! We are Sassy Roo and we make beautiful, warm and cosy beanies for babies upto 2 years old. Come and check out our Facebook page (search for Sassy Roo) or see us on the "felt" website click here: Sassy Roo on Felt website

It's been a hoot! The best bit is me and my niece get to spend a lot more time together and that can only be a good thing! I LOVE crocheting. Its becoming an obsession. I need to walk away from the hook now and then otherwise I get "crochet eyes"! It's like my lenses are fixed on an object 20 cm in front of me all the time. I do actually resemble an addict. Slouching round the house, looking for my next fix of wool. I just can't get enough of it! But hey, I know it can't possibly last. I'm not gonna make a million making beanies. Ill always be chasing that first fix. I'll have to come back to the real world at some point. Or maybe this is just the beginning of the story?

Doing what you love with those you love is the ideal job I reckon. I really think this comes through in the product too. I love every one of the beanies I make.  I guess thats why we call ourselves Sassy Roo made with "love"!

We have been "live" for one week today and have over 200 likes on our FB page. Thank goodness for the young and social media-savvy generation! We'll be compiling a flyer to send out by pigeon post for everyone else! To celebrate 200 likes in our first week were doing a giveaway on FB so check it out if you're on Facebook.

Well I better get back to the wool and hook. Its calling me!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Sign off!

Today was a pretty special day. A full circle day. An opportunity to thank the surgeons and airheads (anaesetists! Cannot spell this word even now!) and nursing staff who cared for me, and who cared for J it has to be said. D-day was 5 months ago already! It feels a lot longer. I have really come a long way in this short time - it's incredible. It is so easy to forget the journey once you get back into the grind of the everyday life. Once you've stopped living from one nap to another!

Look at me now, I'm not blogging half as much! Must be feeling better! Don't need this anymore do I? Far more interesting things to be doing is it? Too much Tipping Point and Coronation Street if truth be told! No that's not true. I've been creating. But more on that later. Back to today...

So this afternoon, me and J had what turned out to be our final outpatient appointment with Dr Griff Rhys Jones at Plastics, Hutt Hospital. We were loaded down with bottles of Pinot Noir and chocolates galore and lovely cards filled with thank you and You're awesome! As we waited the obligatory hour we reflected on how wonderful it was to be there without those pesky butterflies in our stomachs. The waiting room was packed and I felt a fraud, as I usually do, looking around the room wondering what these people are having to deal with today. The little toddler not much older than our great nephew, the middle aged ladies, the younger lads, the older couple, those on their own at their first appointment. What will their journey involve and how long will it be? What support do they have? What will they have to face? Then I thought about my own journey. Well this section of it anyhow. I am so glad I started this blog. Cos I'd never be able to really remember the details of how I felt at the time. It's like when you go on holiday. You live it at the time but it gets condensed into a little pocket in your memory. If you don't take pictures you won't believe you were even there! God help us all when we hit the dementia years! It's bad enough now!

Dr GRJ was a little emotional when we gave him his present. Maybe he doesn't get too many gifts from patients. He had already given me the once over in terms of flappy. I said do you wanna have a  look? And he remarked, "Not wearing a scarf today?". Nice he noticed cos it was a big deal for me to let flappy run free as a bird. It was bloody freezing today so the scarf was in me bag! Hahahaha! Don't want flappy catching a cold. "Oh there's a couple of staples that might work their way through". Mmmmmm he's looking for an excuse to see me again. "Well if you can't pick them out with a sterile tweezers pop some betadeine on and a dressing and come back. Well take them out under a local anesthetic". Right you are then, cos sterile tweezers are things I normally have in me bathroom cabinet. Blimey the district health board is really under the pump if they're pushing DIY plastic surgery! Best pop to Bunnings for some supplies!

We said our goodbyes and hoped we'd ne'er meet again! You know what I mean. I bet we keep bumping into each other in the supermarket. Can't imagine him doing the weekly shop though. Or DIY for that matter. Well he'd have the perfect excuse wouldn't he? Maybe I should've got him a voucher for a manicure! Nah, that's all a bit "Nip n Tuck" and he's definitely not US TV serial material. Well he'll always have a place in my heart and I'll be forever grateful for this man walking into my life.

So what have I been upto lately? Well June has been a busy month with both our birthdays. We went to Nelson for Queens birthday weekend for the Ceol Aneas Irish music festival. We usually take our instruments and do the music workshops. This year we just wanted to relax and mooch around. It was a great weekend. Weather was amazing. Really love Nelson. Then we had a weekend in Wellington which was gorgeous and filled with good food, lovely waterfront walks and shopping. Winter is truly here so we've been cooking lots of yummy soups and J has been mastering his baking skills. Oh boy his cakes are amazing! He's a natural! They all rise! Banana cake, rhubarb cake, ginger cake and the latest is chocolate cake with chocolate sauce! Awesome!!! You'd think with all this cake I would be the size of a house but I'm not. Still struggling with my weight. I'm mainlining protein shakes now. Ah well maybe they liposucked me when they relocated my abs.

Creatively speaking I finished the mosaic mirror I was working on. Here's Woody doing the final quality checks...

And for my birthday I got my first power tool!!! Very exciting! A twist-a-saw. Does everything like sanding, cutting, engraving. Looking forward to getting medieval with that little puppy. No not a REAL puppy, you know what I mean.

But the project that has me all excited and busy is something me and my lovely niece have been conjuring up. But you'll have to catch up with me later on this cos it's way past my bedtime!

I really wanted to blog today because this is a huge milestone that we've reached. And with ensuing normality it is easy to overlook days like these. So here it is, in black and white, in Reeniesblog - CLOSURE. That's a good word for it. CLOSURE.