Local Heart, Global Soul

July 16, 2018

The Houses Of Our Youth…

Filed under: ART,Kaikoura & Region,LIFE,My Reference Library,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Houses in the New Zealand of my childhood consisted of two main varieties. The first were brick, such as the house my grandparents lived in and the second was the wooden weather board home, often in the form of a villa.

There was a semi-standard form to the villa: a veranda at the front, a dining room, living room, on occasion in the larger ones a formal lounge, a long central hallway off which the rooms branched left and right, and a varying amount of bedrooms.

The size of each of the rooms often depended on the age of the villa, then a kitchen located at the rear, a laundry and shower often located off the kitchen.

These buildings were always for some strange reason rather poorly insulated so could be pretty cold in winter, but were cool in summer. In stark contrast with houses in Europe the roof was not tile, but painted corrugated iron.

I shared accommodation with other girls in several houses such as these when I first left home, and villas could be seen set back from the pavement with their surrounding gardens all along the street at the time.

One of these villas where I was “flatting” (sharing accommodation) in Colombo Street, Christchurch, New Zealand, the home dated from just after 1900, had belonged to a Doctor who had his practice at the front and his residence at the back. It had enormously high ceilings, large square rooms and a central hallway so wide and long that you could park two station wagons end to end in. It was an amazing space (usually- dance floor) for parties but a serious pig to vacuum.

The pipes in the kitchen threatened to freeze at the faintest hint of chill every winter but the back yard behind it had enough space for us to play volleyball in. Add to that, it was cheap. For two girls in employment and three university students it was perfect.

Five females in one residence was a balancing act when it came to the shower but we worked out a system and a cooking rota and it worked. One of the girls had a brother, who shared a house with three other guys about a half kilometer down Colombo Street from us. They were rather haphazard cooks so our cooking rota got torpedoed rather often when her brother would pop in rather conveniently just before dinnertime, and often several of his flat mates would be with him.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They could clean out our fridge by standing in front of it with the door open and inhaling.

Many a weeks grocery shopping disappeared shortly after they arrived.

On the upside, they were all working and more cash than we did, so would often turn up with a fish and chip feed for everyone as a sort of Thank You.

Since I hung out with the girl who had the brother the most, we would often both be “shouted” (treated) extra’s like KFC when she and I were out together with them as well.

This girl and I were good friends and after habitual hassles with the students getting behind in rent, eventually went off together to a smaller “flat” nearby, where the fridge continued to be emptied by her brother and his mates, but they would also bring large volumes of ingredients if we would cook them roast dinners, so all in all it was a case of swings and roundabouts. Needless to say, the “boys’ flat was also a weatherboard villa, but one a lot smaller than ours. After more than a decade away from New Zealand I wanted to show my husband the place where I had spent several happy if chaotic years. To my shock, it was completely gone and in it’s place stood set of small modern brick retirement homes.The large parcel of land had obviously been too valuable for some developer to want to keep as a single residence. These weatherboard villas are either being done up to high spec, insulated and modernised inside, or, more often, being torn down.

The row of them in the central city, one of which was my home for several years too, also demolished. I think that only one stands today out of the entire row. In their places are modern concrete block and brick units, I am sure the heating bills are far reduced but so is the character and charm. In Kaikoura I happened upon one of these old villas, and it bought back a zillion memories. This one is in a rather run own state, it’s probably rented for a fairly low rent as the landlord gets the last mileage out of the place. Eventually it will meet the fate of thousands of other villas as the age of the “new build” takes over. In their heyday these were fabulous places, maybe not always the easiest of living but they were the places where thousands of students and kids with first jobs made their first forays away from the parental nests, and as fledglings learned together to make their way in the world. For this reason the villa will always be something special in my heart.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 2, 2018

Step-By-Step: How to Speed Up YouTube Videos…

Filed under: LIFE,Miscellaneous,PHOTOGRAPHY,This Blogging Lark — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some of us embrace technology, other of us stumble in techo-trembling through all of the maze of short-cuts and gibberish-like instructions we do not understand.

It is unfamiliar territory, either you seize upon the newest electronic gadget or try and stick to your rapidly getting older favourite computer, laptop, tablet or phone until the computer company decides that feeding it’s technological offspring updates is no longer viable and forces you to update.

If you are like Himself, he hates getting to know his way around a new phone, all he wants is a few basic functions and the old phone provided that, so why bother with an update?

YouTube is popular for showing videos. It’s a curse and a wonder. You can teach yourself plumbing, problem solve that tricky algebra question with the professor on your screen, or get roped into the scrolling videos on the right hand side of your screen, you know the ones: “10 airports with most difficult landings”, or “watch kittens trying to work our how to catch a fish on a tablet”.

Unbeknownst to me, YouTube does have quite few tricks up it’s sleeve. Thanks to Little Mr.  (but delivered with an exasperated sigh, and incredulous “didn’t you know that?”) I learned that you can play YouTube videos at more than one speed. Playing at 2x normal speed does of course do weird things to the accompanying music and makes any commentary unintelligible but in the case of the “Lengthening Interislander’s Aratere Ferry ” video, all I really wanted to see were the pictures anyway. Here is a short step-by-step tutorial about how to change the speed of YouTube videos… easy, …once you know this function existed!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 23, 2018

What My Little Hobbits Required…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

Just before the New Year of 2018, Family Kiwidutch were sitting in the car waiting to board the Interisland Ferry to travel back to the South Island.

It’s early evening, the kids have grown impatient and seized upon a bag of snacks in the back of the car.

There is the usual “pass it here, but I’ll give it back, ok?” type of conversation but time passes and we are still waiting so eventually I twist around and ask for a cracker too please.

There is a rumble of disapproval from the rear of the car, “but these were for us weren’t they?”

“No, they are for everyone”… silence for a moment, then grumbles,… “ooookaaay“. Then another pause, some rustling from plastic and a few giggles before I hear a tentative: “but Mama, they are almost op’.

This is a classic Dutchlish (Dutch /English) mixing of words in sentences that our family is completely used to. ‘Op” in this instance is the Dutch interloper into the English sentence and means “gone / finished”.

Wondering just how much of a dent they have managed to make into it, I demand that they pass the package over for inspection.

The inner tray slides out, two tiny fragments rest in one of the empty tray segments.

The rest if the packaging is completely and utterly empty. I’m amazed that they managed to eat all of these so quickly.

Little Mr starts to giggle: “These are good Mama, can we please buy some more?”

The response is that of course we can

By special “permission” from my children I get to “finish the rest of the packet” which of course sounded like they were being more generous than they in fact were.]

Once on board they tucked into fish and chips with gusto, and this is after having an “early dinner’ of sorts back with our hosts earlier in the afternoon!

Apparently it’s not just a second breakfast that my little hobbits require, it’s most out of character so I can only put it down to the sea air!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 5, 2018

Christmas Dinner Kiwi Style…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch spent Christmas 2017 in Wainuiomata, a suburb of Lower Hutt,  just outside of Wellington, New Zealand.

We have some amazing friends there, but one of whom is terminally ill, so we want to spend as much time with him as possible whilst we can.

It’s the reason we’ve made the trip north. Every visit we can make here is a bonus.

The weather in Wellington seems to turn to rain every time we visit, so apart from two days of our five and a half day stay, the weather was rather damp.

There was however absolutely no dampness in the welcome we received, warm smiles, high emotion and long hugs.

Then of course the catching up, done so much better in person than on Skype or  What Sapp or Wee Chat.

Despite our late arrival the evening before we were all prepared for Christmas Day, and our hosts laid on a fabulous Christmas Dinner as always.

It might have been raining outside but it was far from cold. The temperatures back in Christchurch were a very warm 28 C (82.4  F) due to the influence of the Southern Alps, but here in the lower North Island we got a cooler 23 degrees C  (73.4 F) which is still respectable for December and the beginning of summer.

It was still tee-shirt weather and over the entire country the Kiwi menu has evolved to make Christmas dinner more suitable for the Summer climate. We enjoyed cold chicken, cold honey glazed baked ham, and salads. Side dishes were not all cold though, boiled potatoes, roasted pumpkin, peas and gravy rounded out the main course. Pavlova, fruit cake and fresh fruit ended our meal on style. The best accompaniment to our meal though, were the jokes, stories, fun and laughter. These good friends count pretty much as “family”, in that precious way that happens to you are lucky sometimes in your lifetime. We have several of these friends so are lucky indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I might not be a fan of fruit cake but custard… Who can ever refuse custard???

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 21, 2018

Abandoning A Child Not Once But Twice!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst taking photographs of the information board at the “Safe Stopping Spot” in my last post, I was joined by Kiwi Daughter asking of she could please get a photo of the board, with her egg.

Yes, you did read that correctly: “her egg”. A soft cuddly toy? Nope, a very real, hard boiled egg.

One that she had been looking after since the previous afternoon when we visited a friend and had to make an awkward request: “Could we please have an egg to take with us?”

You know you have real friends when they instantly say “of course!” and jump up to get it before even asking what on earth we need it for.

Naturally we explained. Kiwi Daughter is doing Psychology at school and they were covering a unit on children.

The class homework was to have each of the students look after a hard boiled egg for a week. (i.e. their “child”).

Our friend wouldn’t even let us boil it at the Meadowpark unit, she insisted on doing it then and there as we visited.

The students had to photograph their Eggs in various locations throughout the day, meaning that they needed to carry them with them at all times.

The exercise started a day before we left for New Zealand. We first boiled an egg in the Netherlands and it made the journey to Singapore before we thought it through and realised that New Zealand has a strict biological quarantine policy.

Kiwi Daughter’s egg was never going to make it though customs and being frequent travellers, we were not willing to face a strict fine for attempting to do so in any way illegally.

Egg got left in Singapore. Thus the request for a new Egg in New Zealand. Kiwi Daughter made numerous selfies and I was set a challenge: to get a photo of the Egg with it in focus but various beach locations in the back out of focus. I think that the general idea was to try and get the beach just enough in focus so that these shots could be jealously regarded by classmates still in school, in the wintery Netherlands. (We had permission to take the kids out of school early).

I attempted to complete the brief, but think that the background was a tad too fuzzy. Later on, whilst in Wellington, Egg accidently sustained some unfortunate “crush injuries” and after days in hot cars, lets say, hard boiled or not, I didn’t blame her when we found out that she had ditched it. We decided that with more long car journeys ahead, a third attempt was probably not going to be successful.

Kiwi Daughter submitted her sad failure to complete the challenge and apparently her Egg got written up as “Abandoned”, which even more sadly statistically fits the pattern for a percentage of children in the world in real life. Her part in the task was therefore successful as far as the over-all class effort was concerned. Let’s just say that I have full faith in my daughter to make a far better effort when her real children eventually arrive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2018

Drama Of The Sort I Could Do Without…

Filed under: Canterbury & Region,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch at visiting New Zealand, and two days after our arrival we have a little “incident’. Well one of us did at least.

We had already had a busy first day, Kiwi Daughter got a mosquito bite on her ankle in Singapore which got infected, by the time we arrived in New Zealand it was looking even more swollen, red and painful.

After trying their luck in the night, at the emergency weekend clinic and then finding out that there was a likely three hour wait, Himself and Kiwi Daughter decided that they needed sleep more than the clinic and returned back at Meadowpark ready to try again in the morning.

They set off about 9;00 a.m. and only had a 40 minute wait.

Armed with antibiotics and some cream they returned, and the four of us set out for Northlands mall where Himself and I had to update our bank cards for our New Zealand account. That ended up taking close to two hours: we had to go through all sorts of administration and checks aimed at preventing money laundering, our accounts put up red flags in the system because we transfer money to NZ from our Dutch account but as far as the bank was concerned it was money from thin air and we had to account for it. Then inside the mall we got four sim cards for our phones so that kids could still log onto internet and we could still make calls without having racking up huge bills in the Netherlands.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Housework” done, we went on to the first of two family and friends visits for the day, then had a separate dinner invite in the evening, so it was a busy day, but we felt better then we expected to so we thought as far as jet-lag was concerned, it was going well.

Day two had more family and friend visits, plus the visit to the Christchurch gondola, short nap, a visit to another friend to collect a house key we would need later, and then back to Meadowpark to cook up a meal in our little unit kitchen.

When checking in I had gotten a package which gave us a half hour in the Meadowpark hot tub.

Since we had done all of our driving for the day, Himself indulged in a few glasses of wine with dinner.

We were all tired, so an hour or so later thought it would be good idea to make use of the hot tub to relax before attempting a bedtime on normal Kiwi time. Little Mr, Himself and I were the only ones interested in going, the outside temperature was 27 C  and it was just on the other side of Reception so we just went in our swimming attire and took only towels. The water in the tub was hot… at least 39  degrees and it was steamy inside the little hut that the hot tub was housed in. All was well, we chatted and laughed, when the thirty minutes was up and we got out, Himself said he felt tired. In order to keep my boot dry I sat on the bench a little part from the boys and was busy with my boot when suddenly Little Mr cried out that there was something wrong with Papa.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He said it with total panic in his voice, so I immediately rushed over to see what was wrong. Himself was sitting on the bench with a spaced out look in his eyes, he was looking right past me and not registering my voice.

He tried to speak to me but all that came out was a strange mumble, the colour had drained out of his face and he could hardly hold himself up. I held him upright and kept talking to him in the hope that he would answer.

I knew he couldn’t be having a heart attack because he had had palpitations in recent months and had finished with an extensive set of tests and trips to a cardiologist just weeks earlier.

He’s training for a marathon and apparently has “runners heart” a condition where one chamber of the heart becomes enlarged. The cardiologist said that this condition was very common amongst people who do a lot of sport.

There was even one tiny anomaly in the first tests and they checked that further too, it turned out to be ok in the end. Himself’s face was now looking ashen, he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer and he slumped onto me. Little Mr was looking on with a face of sheer terror. I told him to go out and ask an adult to phone an ambulance. He disappeared quickly, and I kept talking to Himself, telling him that everything would be ok, and I was there. I looked nervously at the clock on the wall, I knew when we got out of the tub, Himself had been in this state for six  minutes already. The muscles in his face had now relaxed to the point that he looked twenty years older, I worried that he might be having a stroke, thoughts of deep vein thrombosis went through my head, we had after all just completed several long haul flights.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We wear compression stockings against this though. My first aid training kicked in, keep the airways open, I had a constant check on his heart, just for safeties sake. 

I couldn’t get him from his slumped sitting position on the bench to the floor, so that I could get him into the recovery position without likely dropping him, I didn’t want to give him a head injury.

It was another four long minutes before Himself stirred, he opened his eyes and looked surprised. he didn’t quite remember where he was. For a minute or two he was quite confused.

When I told him where he was he wanted to stand up and go back to the unit and was a bit surprised when I wouldn’t let him. The ambulance crew arrived at this point and the first thing he did was tell everyone he was fine.

The colour was flooding back into his face and he was starting to look normal gain. When I told him that he’d been out for a full ten minutes he was shocked, he had no idea something had happened. The ambulance pair told him he had to keep sitting and started taking his blood pressure and asking both of us a list of questions. I told them that Himself was the sole driver in the family and we needed to drive to Picton tomorrow, so I really wanted to be sure that he was safe to take the wheel. They agreed and wanted to more tests to make doubly certain he was fit.  
It turned out the Himself had simply fainted; the combination of jet-lag, a few glasses of wine, dinner an hour earlier, the hot evening, busy day and the heat of the hot tub had been combination too much and he’d flaked out.

I have never been so relieved in my life, to say Himself had given us a scare was an understatement. A short wait was required and then sit down tests followed to make 200% sure he would be ok to drive the next day. Luckily he passed everything but received strict orders to take it easy for the rest of the evening, and believe me, I watched him like a hawk to make sure he did. Needless to say he vowed to not go near a hot tub any time soon. Drama I can do, but I can do without this sort of scare. Of course, during no part of this did I take any photographs… so I’ll just put in a few of New Zealand scenery instead.

January 8, 2018

An Easy Solution For An Irritating Problem…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My New Zealand Grandmother always said that: “someone was either a Cook, or a Baker”.

She meant that when you turned your hand to creating wonderful food in your kitchen, you either excelled naturally at making things like great roast dinners and beautiful stir fries or you were a wonder at making huge, light, airy cakes that would be the envy of many.

I think she was right, she was 1000% a Baker, and living during a time when few women worked and a “bought” lunch was unheard of, she would pack my Grandad an amazing lunch every working day.

She baked three to four times a week, more if guests were expected or  there were family Birthdays, Easter, Christmas and any other special occasion. There were always a minimum of four or five different cakes, slices (bars) or biscuits (cookies) in her baking tins, more on the aforementioned special occasions.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Scones were not even counted as “baking” they were almost standard in the house, like bread. There were metal tins in her kitchen cupboards of various sizes.

Long before the days of plastic containers, these metal tins with their tight fitting lids kept everything fresh and crisp. Very large ones were for cake, the medium sized ones were for slices and the smaller ones were for biscuits. There were even large tins that had recessed lids, similar to the sort found on paint tins today and my sister and I would squabble about who got to open these with the end of a spoon and discover first what was inside.

None of the tins were see-through of course so every opening was a surprise but as kids we all had our favourite biscuits so it was extra special if we discovered that one of our favourites was on offer.

My favourite was Grans Shortbread, and since sadly her cookbook went “missing” after her funeral I never got her amazing recipe.

Choosing one thing from the tins was allowed, you only ever got two biscuits if you were especially good but I discovered that if you were alone with Grandma in the kitchen, helped getting out the cups and saucers for tea, and dried up and put away any dishes that she had washed, then she would take a quick look around to make sure my mother wasn’t close by and then slip me a third as a special treat.

Often she would pass me a piece of shortbread that had broken in half saying with a smile: “Oh dear, a broken bit, quick, finish it up”. Sometimes there were no broken pieces of shortbread so she would break one in half and then do the “broken bit” joke and it was a little secret that we kept to ourselves.

At least as a kid I always thought that, but looking back she may have done did that with all the grandchildren.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If we were staying over and baking biscuits together then she would let me ice (glaze) them and I loved poking around making that I imagined to be intricate patterns in my decorations, but in reality they were probably a lot of messy squiggles.

Sometimes my own children have the “baking” urge but don’t really want to go to the effort of actually making something, they just want to decorate.

Actually the bit they really don’t want to do is the cleaning up afterwards, so I just take some plain shop bought biscuits and then mix up a small batch of icing so that they can decorate the tops.

The ingredients are: Icing (powder) sugar, melted butter if I’m feeling decedent, water if I’m not, and whatever colour food colouring the kids desire as their first choice.

Invariably they ask for five colours each, to these requests the answer is always “No”. Four or five colours for our Christmas Gingerbreads is the most I will ever do these days.

Life is too short to be giving in to the extraneous whims of children when I am the one doing all of the work making the icing and cleaning up. For biscuits they get one colour each with the advice that should they want more they are more than welcome, but they have to make it themselves.

To date they have never taken me up on this. I used to use plastic sandwich lunch bags as icing bags but they are too thin and the bags often split if squeezed too hard or if the icing mix is too warm. Cleaning up after split bags is way too much extra work (can you sense a theme of laziness here?) so I quickly found that commercial icing bags are worth the expense.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing is difficult though, the icing cools quickly and gets more and more solid as it does, so if piping with a very small hole then the hole can get stopped up after a short time. Since opening the bag and messing with the contents is again more work I started to look for quick and easy ways to fix these annoying little clumps of hardened powdered sugar.

If you have a daughter who has long hair then you will always have hair-ties on hand somewhere. I keep a stash of unused ones at home for the inevitable “Mama, I’ve run out of hair bands and I’m going out / doing sport/ the bus is coming for school in two minutes !”.

These are always dramatic howls and I have to have the “right” ones on hand. Just the right circumference and thickness, not just any old hair band will do. Needless to say I also therefor have a stash of “ew no, not those!” hair ties and now I also have an excellent use for them: Tying up icing bags.

There are hair bands that a joined with a small metal connecter, I can’t use those, but if you hunt around then you will also find some without the metal piece.

These are perfect. When your icing is getting too clogged up, a simple remedy of ten seconds in the microwave usually does the trick. Ergo the need for ties that have no metal connectors.

Rubber bands would also work of course but we use these so rarely that they get brittle and break as soon as you try and stretch them. Hair ties don’t break like this and being smaller they are easier to tie around the bags. It’s an easy solution for an irritating problem.

Decorating biscuits with icing always brings back fond memories of my Grandma, and the conversations that are special between kids and their grandparents. I hope that the times spent decorating biscuits with me will also one day be special memories for my children too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 27, 2017

Having The Patience To Decorate Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Winter is never my favourite season because I am somewhat allergic to short days, long dark nights and cold temperatures.

If Himself and I were to believe in incarnation then I’d hazard a guess that in a previous life I had been a tomato.

Himself was probably a chili pepper, and we are well suited to one another because we would both choose a tropical getaway over a skiing holiday in a nanosecond.

My current situation does not lend itself to getting out and about much, so to kick me out of the house and have some fun my best friend organised for us both to attend a cake decorating workshop in the Hague early in the year.

I have the patience to decorate cakes, providing there are no serious time constraints, and there are not kids underfoot, since I have “Been there, Done that” and can sincerely say that it was not in any way a success, at least on a practical level.

It’s beyond frustrating to see one of your offspring squeezing the last of the icing out of the bags into a puddle on your dining room table just to see how the colours mix.

Of course those exact bags were the ones you had set aside to finish the other half of the big cake you were working on, everything had started well but now you have run out steam,  exhausted, and to add insult to injury the kids have  disappeared leaving you with a kitchen and dining room table that look like a bomb went off in a food coloring factory.

The extension was in the table so that everyone had enough place to work in, now icing is solidifying in the crack between the table sections, the food colouring trail leads as far as the door handle and goodness knows how much further beyond, there are splatters of icing on the floor and you are so tired that you feel like sleeping face down in your incomplete cake.

In the kitchen looks like you used every dish you own (probably did) and the sink is filed to overflowing (my pet hate) so it feels like a day’s work to get it empty let alone start the washing up.

In contrast, in years gone by I could wait until the kids had surrendered to their early bedtime,  then start in peace, all the bits and pieces I needed set out neatly on the dining room table. Then the kids grew big enough to “Help” and chaos ensued. To make matters more complicated, if my offspring were not stuffing their mouths with cake or biscuits (cookies), they were singing the praises of the experience: “This has been great fun‘, “Can we do this again next weekend?”,Mama, I love you, You are the best!”, although to be fair, this bit generally takes place after the wreckage in my kitchen and the carnage on the dining room table has been eradicated by the parents. They know how to choose their moments, my kids. Of course you have to remember too the most frustrating thing of all: I said I had the patience to decorate cakes, .. I didn’t  say I was any good at it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 26, 2017

Interesting To See Where This Might Lead…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Recent posts have taken an Arty turn, so I thought I might throw in one more so that you can see that no matter how much of a beginner you may be, anything is possible if you are willing to learn.

Himself and I have been helping a friend get through a difficult domestic situation in recent years and since she has no money, but was unhappy that I would do this for free, so we worked out that in return she helps me around the house with tasks I can not manage.

When she has appointments (lawyer etc) and it  not appropriate for her young daughter (“M”) to be present, I look after “M” after school.

“M” is six years old and was always asking to draw something so we arranged that in return for this help, I would fill some of these babysitting occasions with simple drawing lessons.

I am by no means a qualified teacher, so I had to get help from the internet on the topics that my young student choose: cats, bunnies, flowers, Space (I found a rocket, which was approved) … and other things like horses, which she will have to work up to later when she is older since they represent a way too difficult level for her at this stage.

I bought her a small, cheap book that has blank pages, a larger one for me and we got to work. We start with learning to draw circles and ovals as softly as we can with an HB or 2B pencil.

We make a hard lined circle in her book and put a sad face next to it when we try and rub part of it out, but part of the line still shows, and a happy face next to the one we did softly that disappeared when partly rubbed out.

Leaving space for some practice exercises we draw more circles,  I first go over what we will draw, step by step in my book, then repeat again in her book as that she can refer to it at home.

Then she has to try and replicate the drawing at home. Since she is very young and I do not want her to get frustrated, feel like she failed, and want to give up, I draw  guide circles into her book to help with her home efforts.

Luckily I found some good examples on the internet to start her off  on her chosen topics and we begin to draw. Of course she has major difficulty to replicate the image at this age without my guide lines but the idea is to have fun and not gaining perfection. Since these are not paid lessons and we only babysit when needed, sometimes quite a few weeks goes by between our sessions, so I want to try and keep her interest over time. I wrote her and my name on some of the pages so in the interest in privacy for us both I have edited this out of several of the photographs. We aim to keep going whenever the occasion arises and it will be interesting to see where, for each of us, this little arty exercise might lead.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 25, 2017

I Can At Least Dream…

Filed under: A sketching Journey,ART,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m continuing with the arty theme of the past two days with a post about “long, long ago”.

When I was sixteen and studying practical art, we could choose between two areas for our exam portfolios.

One area was “General” and involved things like life drawing, still life, sculpture, photography (and other things that I now forget) and the other branch was “Graphic Design” where various mediums were explored to complete packaging designs, posters and advertisements, gift wrap (and other things that I now forget… it was a while ago after all and my memory is muddled with medication).

The added bonus, at least in the design course was that you could choose to specialise in a specific genre to achieve these tasks, and I choose Printmaking.

During the course I did lithographic and intaglio printing techniques which encompassed; woodcuts, linocuts, screen printing, lithographs and etchings. In later years whilst I travelled I put my things in a storage facility, a change of manager of which saw most of my things (and those of the other clients), and the manager in charge of it all go walk-a-bout (missing).

Back in 1996 when Himself and I were back in New Zealand and had our first opportunity to see the communal pile of what had been left behind, I found by chance a small lone folder containing a few pieces of my artwork, everything else in my larger folders having completely disappeared.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We found one tray and almost nothing else of all of my possessions. I bought these few art pieces back to the Netherlands and dug them out earlier this year. These were the first of a series of etchings, the first that helped me become familiar with the techniques.

I was shocked when Kiwi Daughter did an “etching” at school, yes, I suppose it was in the letter of the word but in my eyes not in the spirit of it.

She showed me a perspex sheet into which she had scratched lines with a needle: gone was the zink plate, gone was the “ground” which was a concoction of all sorts of things, including petrol, gone was the acid and the feathers used in the acid baths to pick up the plates and gone were many of the ‘old school” minae that to me make up real etching.

I was shown the correct handling techniques, and a grave respect for the materials and machinery we were using was drummed into us.

It’s like keeping sharp knives: teach respect for them and your kids can learn to use them at a surprisingly young age. This etching was done with a zink plate and the final print is a compilation of four passes through the printing press. The first pass is a light print of the drawn/scratched image into the ground which is then etched in the acid.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The acid eats into the area exposed, the ink later collects into these etched scratches and is drawn back out onto paper under the pressure of the printing press rollers. Ground is then applied to the plate and more drawing / scratching takes place, cross-hatching and the like.

A second round of etching and printing and darker areas are applied in areas where shadows etc are wanted.

The third stage is a Mezzotint effect, not using the rocker technique (I did that later) here but another one where a bag of powdered resin was gently shaken over the plate resulting in grains of various sizes falling down and shielding it from the third etch. Solid areas that were not to be mezzo’ed were painted out with ground.

The resulting third print gives texture, in this case to the bricks. The last etch and pass through the printing press is another one for the darkened areas, putting in the final touches like the mortar between the bricks and shadows around the windows.

That is at least everything I remember, of course some of the extra details have gone. This is the only  remaining art piece from my teens, everything thereafter is gone but it gives you a tiny idea of the detail I used love. It’s what I aspire to one day get back to, if at least we can get my pain levels back to manageable levels and concentration can return. I can at least dream about the distant past.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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