August 22, 2012

As I wondered around looking for the ‘ideal’ subject, I recall a quote from Cezanne “One had to immerse oneself in one’s surroundings and intensely study nature or one’s subject to understand how to recreate it.” (Paul Cezanne)

Before I place my pen on the paper:

I often found myself sitting watching scenes before me unfold and change with different people, cats, dog, birds, narrow lanes, collection of roofs, small porches, washing, groups of people with interesting and expressive body language etc



Each location had its own unique charm

Carrara with marble gutters;  small hill town such as Altore where we were entertained by the infant class dancing and singing songs; the Cinque Terre each with their own combination of colourful buildings, cats, fishing boats and friendly locals;

Pisa’s Museum of the Sinopias captivated me with its remnants of past frescos; Pontremoli with its castle containing pre- Etruscan figures; Florence and Sienna where every turn is so filled  with visual stimulation; Petra Santra with its medieval walls and guitar music; Lucca surrounded by its Ancient Roman wall and filled with winding narrow street, churches and markets;

San Gimignano where at night wandering through the narrow cobbled lanes lit scarcely, you are transported into a medieval time and during the day as with other towns every corner turned, reveals fascinating views;

Bargo narrow winding streets between houses of yellow, pink and orange and our last town was Bagmone with its ancient bridge leading up to the 981 BC castle from which a breath taking panorama unfolds.


Inspiring Travel

August 10, 2012

Sketch book filled with drawings of Italy

One of my greatest pleasures is traveling, viewing and experiencing the many different cultures and scenes on offer. Many of my trips have been with University groups or as a volunteer teacher; both creating interesting possibilities and greater deeps of experiences.

Before each trip I construct my own sketch book (using a multi section format). Then as I stop to sip coffee, water, wine, listen to a guide or appreciate the panorama in front of me, I draw. Attempting to capture scenes, for future ‘trips down memory lane’ or ideas for a painting.

This section of my blog is an opportunity for me to share some of my drawing and experiences

I’ll start with my trip with a group of artists to the Tuscany region of Italy, where we would be delivered to a small hilltop town or a larger town to spend the day as we wished. This for most of us was an opportunity to walk through the streets and find that special view to capture. The usual problem was we were spoilt for choice.

Over the coming blog I will share some of our experiences

August 9, 2012

I feel as an Australian proud of our athletes no matter where they come. The dedication they have demonstrated and perseverance is admirable.

However, 2 aspects I find distressing

1… people complaining of the lack of medals, in the big scheme does it really matter?

2… the suggestion that more money should be provided for the athletes. In a world where there are so many people without adequate house, food, medical care and education.

I ask the question what the Olympics are really about or should be about


For our nation and others where are our priorities?


My current paintings

August 2, 2012

My current painting project is depicting scenes and the children of Timor Leste (East Timor), with the hope of selling my work to raise money for Education in Timor Leste

Though I went there to give assistance, I found I receive a great deal from the people in return.

I recommend the experience.

Here is a painting of one of the small children

July 27, 2012

Dyslexic blog 1

I did not read as a child, as I have dyslexic problems and reading was a nightmare for me.  So, I will apologise now that I am very likely to mis-spell words etc Since I had such horrible experiences at school  (especially in English classes) I feel I need to learn what I could not then, well at least try. However, I am now a bookworm and usually have a couple of books I am reading at the same time.

I have a head full of stories, some general others to share my experiences with dyslexic and places/experiences I have had travelling (eg Timbuktu) and as a volunteer teacher (in Cambodia and East Timor).

Recently I started an online writing course with the Sydney Writer’s centre and with great trepidation I submitted by first writing tasks, see below

I anxiously awaited the tutor’s response, my mind filled with previous negative feedback from teachers/tutors.

I feel I must share with pride (I even rang my parents and read the feedback to them to make up for all the shocking reports I brought home) and humility as it is only very early writing days.

So here is a little of the feedback and I hope this is some encouragement for other dyslexics who are told that they are dumb.

“Your first post is very powerful, and extremely evocative. You’ve captured your physical senses extremely effectively—especially the visual, which is not surprising, but also the physicality of the ill body is brought vividly to life. I like how you also make the reader experience what the child is feeling in a very understated way—as soon as you mention the sickly sweet smell of the other girls’ food, we know exactly how she will respond, and we feel the nausea ourselves.
I enjoyed the second piece as well—being a cat fan!—  you’ve got a nice, cheeky, believable voice for young Oni, and you’ve captured a very different mood and tone for the two pieces as well. There’s a very nice, natural feel to your writing,”

My submissions

The pain is so intense, that I am not clearly aware of my surroundings.
I know sick bay very well, the smell of disinfectant and the white bare walls.
But now I have been told that I have had more than my fair share of the sick bay bed. That the bed is needed for another student and that I will have to wait outside for my Mum.
So I sit on a hard cold step outside sickbay, where I wrap my arms around my knees and slowly rock back and forwards. In between the waves of pain, I hear class mate’s voice and laughter; birds chatting in tress above and a dog barking. As I rock I stare ahead in a trance, seeing but not focusing on a variety of greenery. However, I do notice that there are no flowers, no splashes of non-green colours; just endless green like the endless pain in my ears.
A bell goes and my friends come and sit beside me eating their sweet smelling food. I am offered a bite, but turn away hoping they do not see I am about to be sick. Then suddenly, they all at once competed to tell me about what a mess Tom made and how Ms Smith got really cross and then Tom started to cry. “He’s such a baby” they said in unison.
After a while they became bored by my lack of response and leave me to my hard cold step, with just my throbbing ears for company.

“Oni! No get off”
“Oni! No you can’t have that”
“Oni! You are so greedy”
This is all I ever hear
The pain in my stomach is so intense, they don’t understand that I’m growing. I get hungry, VERY hungry.
The other cat Phoebe, well she lived here first, she’s old like 5 or 6. She likes to eat her food slowly, eating a bit, walking away and coming back later to finish.
So when I arrived having been used to competing with brothers and sisters for a limited amount of food. I did what any self-respecting kitten would do when they see another cat leave a bowl with food still in it. I raced in and ate what was left.
Well from then on I was feed separately and kept locked in another room. Close enough to be able to smell Phoebe’s unfinished food. I would sit near the door washing myself in an attempt to distract my grumbling painful stomach. Staring ahead, in a trance and listening to plates scraped and imagine all the fat from chops dropping into the bin.
Sometimes the little girl would come and sit on the floor next to me. She would then dangle a piece of string in front of me, expecting me to play.
After a while she would became bored by my lack of response and leave me to sit by the door, with just my grumbling painful stomach for company.


Writing group

July 19, 2012

Recently I did a creative writing course, at the end of the course most of us decided we would like to continue to meet and support and encourage each others writing. I had the first meeting in my home where we shared what we had written since the course and any other events/ issues related to writing. There was one amoungst us who had been brave enough to submit her story to a publisher.

Well tonight is our second meeting, it will be interesting to see what others have been doing.

I plan on reading a piece that I have written for an online course I am currently doing with the Sydney Writter’s center. I am both keen and anxiouse to see their responses.

For now I must feed my 2 hungry cats

I’m Anita Howard

July 17, 2012

I am a work in progress, moulded by varied experiences, from cancer, gifts of dyslexia, child rearing to exploring Timbuktu. The progress is ongoing to where I do not know and have learnt not to presume.

A friend suggested that some of my experiences might be of interest to others, so earlier in the year I set off bravely into a world I had never entered before. I had problems….

  •  I tried to set up my blog on an ipad (which I was still attempting to understand and master!)
  • People I work with and my sons would tell you that my brain does NOT naturally work well in ‘the land of IT’. I grew up with my parents regularly saying “Don’t touch that; you’ll break  it”
  • I started to create my blog, but I was interrupted by a telephone call

As a consequence of the above, out there in ’the land of IT’ there is an incorrectly spelt blog title with a simple one sentence and there it will remain as I have no way to capture it, to tame or delete it.

So I have (wisely) started a blogging course with the NSW Writers’ Society, under the very patient guidance of Will Kostakis.

Andy Warhol (an American Pop artist) once said ‘everyone will be famous for 15 minutes in their life time’. I will be happy for 3.5 minutes of fame when someone reads and responds to my blog, and then returns to read more.

I should add that because of my Dyslexia, there may be at times some creative spelling, but one thing life has taught me is that I cannot let this ‘gift’ stop me.

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