Archives for posts with tag: vacation


I am traveling into an area without cellphone reception and dial-up internet only. Wonderful! But only if it isn’t permanent, I have to admit.

I read the other day that 60% of the world’s population has no access to the Internet and we complain about dial-up!

feet up

Today is Sunday and even the little kitchen slave who has to make copious cups of coffee every day, has a day off and can have a rest. She found herself a nice little corner on the roof (where the servants hang out) and put her feet up high on a cushion. It prevents varicose veins she tells me, but unfortunately putting her feet up is a luxury for her. I looked at her well formed little legs and commented on how tanned they are. “Ah” she shook her head “that’s all fake.”

lartiste and mitzi

As Lil’Piggy and Farmer John decided to stay at the Depot Artspace, L’Artiste saw his chance for an outing. “Pick me, pick me” he called every time our paths crossed. “Artists need new impressions. You know this just as well as I do, don’t you?”  How could I say no, particularly as he is featured in the short film that is now showing on Waiheke.  I didn’t need to think twice about who I should take as his partner. I always knew I had to take two Dedes to give a good performance. As it happened, L’Artiste got himself a Lil’Dede cat recently, called Mitzi, and the two of them became inseparable very quickly. So Mitzi  was the second lucky one to come.

We started off in beautiful sunshine here, but by the time we arrived at the wharf a blanket of dark clouds covered the sky and we could see the rain coming down over our suburb in the distance. Pretty much all day we were just a little bit ahead of the weather. It was a pity because the threatening clouds seemed to keep people away and not much happened on the island. There was a busker in front of the gallery and L’Artiste danced his little heart out to the beautiful tunes, but he just couldn’t create much interest.

He was very quiet on the way home and when we finally arrived back, he didn’t want to come out of the rucksack.

devil on ferry2

Yesterday my friend and I went to Waiheke Island to deliver the Lil’Dedes to their temporary accommodation at the Upcycle Gallery. Here you see Lil’Devtoo on the ferry when he first spotted the island. He was really excited and proudly wore his new dress my friend had made. Doesn’t it look better than the tiger print dress Lil’Devil bought at the two dollar shop?

As skeptical as they all were in the beginning, I think they are very happy now that they have made the trip across. Nora, the lady who organised it all, is absolutely wonderful and loves them to bits (I hope she doesn’t spoil them too much). I am confident they will thoroughly enjoy their stay. I will go and visit them on the 7th when I have a talk at the Gallery about my work and my book.

lil devil in Berlin

I’ve got an email from Theresa with a brief report how Lil’Devil is doing. He is a bit shy and mainly sitting on her bookshelf reading books in English. Theresa says that with the speed he is churning through the books he will have to learn German soon so he can start on the German books. Learning German wouldn’t go amiss anyway. Otherwise he will have a hard time making friends. But then, most Germans speak pretty good English and are always happy to practise their language skills with a native speaker.

Last weekend they went to Gorinsee in the north-east of Berlin and I’ve been told he made quite an impression with his tiger-print dress.

I know, I’ve been rather slack lately about reporting what is happening in the Dede world. Nontheless, the Dedes are alive. I’ve got an email from Lil’Mouse who found a new home last week. He told me it is pretty cold where he is living now and everyone is wearing a tuxedo. So he went to a suit hire shop to get himself one too. He doesn’t want to stand out, he says. Can you spot him?


He then went to a photographer to have his portrait taken, to send to his friends he left behind. I think the tux suits him perfectly. I guess he still has to wear sunglasses to avoid snow blindness.

penguine mouse

snotty nosed prince

I just realised I haven’t written for a week. Oh, dear!  There isn’t much to report as I am busy tying up loose ends. I think next week the builders will finally move out. What should have taken four months took six. You can imagine what this did to the budget, can’t you? There is still heaps for us do do when the builders have gone. I am really longing to set my studio up and get back into creating.

Yesterday, Snotty Nosed Prince and I went for an outing to Waiheke, an island in the Hauraki Gulf, just 30 minutes from Auckland by ferry. I have been invited to show my work in a Gallery that specialises in art from recycled materials. Snotty Nosed Prince definitely has an issue with the connotation of being made from inferior materials. I had hoped that when I showed him all the other artworks he would become more comfortable with his roots. Gee, he is a funny chap. He just can’t stop pooh poohing everything around him. I assume this gives him a feeling of superiority. When we had a coffee he was constanly making snide remarks about the other patrons and the service. He couldn’t put me off though, I had the best panini in a long time. I am happy that it was a day trip only. There is no way I would like to spend more time with Snotty Nosed Prince. He would drive me up the wall.

Look at this. We went to the beach after lunch. It must be a poor person who can’t have fun at the beach. It was only when I told him a mermaid lived under the driftwood that he became more interested and picked up a few pieces to move them to the side. But fun he did not have! And the mermaid remained elusive too.

snotty driftwood

cal mel friend2

On our way to the workshop on Sunday, Calamity was very excited and chatted about what he would say and do with the workshop puppets he was about to meet. In his mind there was no question they would become friends. After all, they should have so much in common, they are all puppets. Little did he know that the Dedes are not the only type of puppet there is. He got a big shock when he first laid eyes on the pseudo-bunraku princess my team had created the day before. He instantly went all quiet. I believe he was intimidated by her sheer size. I had to laugh. He should have seen the puppets from the other teams – the princess was the smallest of the lot!

(Just a quick explanation: Bunraku is a traditional japanese puppet, operated by three people. The most experienced puppeteer operates the head and the right arm, another one the left arm and the third is responsible for the legs. When you learn to become a bunraku puppeteer you start out with the legs and it might take you 15 years before you move up to the left arm.)

cal mel work

In the end I had to encourage him to get a bit closer so that the princess could take a good look at him too. I believe her eye sight wasn’t the best. It’s a good thing the princess kept still (she had to, as this was before the course started for the day and there weren’t three people around who could have operated her).

cal mel friend

Needless to say, Calamity lost interest in making friends. After he had said his timid hello to the super-sized princess, he quickly ran to the corner and sat still for the rest of the day, happy to observe the goings-on.

I should have known it! Once we’d finished for the day and we were on our way to the train station, he became very critical about my performance during the day. He commented that in his view I was a coward and I let the others walk all over me in team presentations. He definitely thought I always had the weakest character and the poorest performance. He was adamant I should have taken on a lead role at least once and exposed myself to the critique of the facilitator. I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t worried about the critique at all, as I had a very good one the day before.  However, I didn’t want to compete with the others, as on this day the individuals felt comfortable enough in the group to let their usual character traits emerge. I attended the weekend primarily to learn how to work a puppet properly, what to focus on in a show and also to see an experienced puppeteer run his workshop. To my surprise I noticed that the structure of the course wasn’t actually too dissimilar to the structure of my digital imaging workshops, except that I don’t have any breathing exercises in my programme :). It would be worth a try!

“So what did you get out of it then, if you don’t want to become the best puppeteer ever?” Calamity asked.

“Ah, you know,” I shrugged my shoulders “you can’t become the best puppeteer in a weekend anyway! It was very interesting to observe the group dynamics, though.”

“Do you reckon you will be able to play us properly in future? That would be useful!”

“I certainly have some great pointers but I will have to practise a lot once we have the new studio space.”

“But nothing tangible has come out of it, or has it?”

“Oh, yes, it has! It will all be revealed in due time.”

“Tell me, tell me” he nagged, but I was too tired and I fobbed him off by saying I would make an announcement once we were back in Auckland and all the Dedes were assembled.

caL_mel yarra

Yes, Calamity and I are back from our short stint in Melbourne. You might wonder why we didn’t update you while we were there. Well, there’s two reasons: firstly I don’t own a smart phone and secondly there was absolutely no time to.

This little trip will be covered by a few post. There is so much food for thought and more and more stuff is emerging. Today I will only give you a brief run-down on what happened over the three days.

Friday we had to get up at 5am in the morning to catch the flight. It’s not my favourite time of the day, I can tell you! But it is amazing how much energy excitement can rustle up (Excitement is a puppet I don’t have yet!). It didn’t take long for Calamity to start embarrassing me. He showed up at the airport with a plastic bag for his spare robe and a large piece of bubble wrap as an extra blanket. Can you believe it? Doesn’t he know how to travel in style?

cal_mel leaving

He could have at least borrowed Mouse’s little pink suitcase. He said Mouse offered it to him but he didn’t want to be seen dead with pink. An exchange of words between us ensued which ended only when he wrapped himself up in his bubble wrap and rolled into the big plastic bag so he couldn’t hear me anymore.

Anyway, we arrived in Melbourne mid morning. This gave us the entire day together, as the course started at 6pm that night. I instantly fell in love with the city. It has such an amazing arty feel to it and it is just brilliant how you can get around by public transport. To top it all off, the weather gods blessed us with a mild, spring-like day. We just couldn’t get enough of looking around and taking in all the people and places. Calamity, though, felt a tad self-conscious. He had this nagging feeling people were staring at him. I had a hard time convincing him it was all in his mind.


But I think he never really believed me.

At night I went to the course. It was a weekend puppeteering course run by Gary Friedman, who is a very experienced puppeteer and holds courses all over the world nowadays. In the late eighties he was the instigator of “Puppets against Aids” in South Africa, followed by other educational projects such as “Puppets for Democracy” and “Puppets against Corruption”. If you are into puppets, his blog  Puppetry News is a treasure trove to rummage through. He also has a face book page, which he says is updated more regularly.

The course was brilliant, really worthwhile. I’ve learned heaps. It was very intense and started off on Friday night with the introduction followed by two days of full-on puppeteering.  I will write about the course tomorrow, but I can tell you, by Sunday night I was eeex-haaaaausted! Two full days without downtime makes my engine splutter big time.

Last night we had just enough time for a quick dinner before we had to head back to the airport and we arrived in Auckland at 5:20 this morning totally shattered.

But back to Calamity in Melbourne. On Saturday he was to explore the city by himself. Unfortunately, the weather had packed in and he couldn’t take many pictures. He hasn’t tired telling me of the wonderful time he had and how much he enjoyed himself. It’s a pity there aren’t any photos to prove it. I have yet to see one of Calamity with a smile on his face.

Of course Calamity was curious about the workshop and pestered me all Saturday night to get me to take him with me on Sunday. He was adamant he had seen everything there was to see in Melbourne anyway. Yeah right!  He is really annoying when he wants something badly and I caved in and took him. The verdict is still out about whether this was a good idea or not. I will tell you about this later as well.

For now I have to catch up on some sleep!


I finally made up my mind, but only because I have to leave soon and needed to.

I am going to take Calamity. Who in their right mind wants to have him as travel companion, you might ask? My reasoning is that when I take him with me it is very unlikely other calamities will happen.

He is a pretty grumpy chap and his glass is always half empty. But what do I care when he is exploring on his own. He can be as grumpy as he likes then.  It doesn’t affect me. When we meet up for dinner he will have to listen to me. With his big ears he seems to be the right sort of puppet.