RE: A Letter of Complaint from an Illustrator, to her Genes.

Dear Cardiovascular Genes,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure at your recent work performance.

You see due to your very VERY poor work performance, I have experienced an extremely unpleasant (and can I say, unexpectedly dramatic) issue with my lower anterior descending coronary artery – otherwise known as my “LAD”. Or, as the medical profession has nicknamed it (somewhat tactlessly can I  just say), the ‘Widowmaker Artery.’

I would be pleased, therefore, if you could read my story below, to ensure that this situation does not occur again in ANY OTHER ARTERY IN MY BODY.

So, here is my story, dear Cardiovascular Genes.

(I shall from herein call you CGs to keep things simple for you…)

(OH, and you may want to make yourself a cup of tea, or coffee…or poison …and find a chair to sit in as you read, as its not entirely a NICE story.)

Ok, let me begin…

About 4 weeks ago,  my gorgeous 12 year old daughter was chewing on her Vegemite toast whilst propping her cute  chin on her hand like she always does over our breakfast bench every morning. (Yes, dear CGs, I am the mother of 3 offspring, having also given birth to 2 equally gorgeous sons.) 

“Mum,” my gorgeous daughter asked me. “Could you have died?”

“Well, yeah. I could have sweetie,” I had to reply. 

My daughter and I enjoying time together at the Caloundra Markets. I am drinking a fruit smoothie. She is eating a deep fried curly potato on a stick. We shall be working on her diet…

You see, CGs,  I love my daughter ( and of course my sons) SO MUCH. She is smart (note: – you may want to take a page out of  the book of your much kinder Genetic siblings- “IQ Genes”- at this point CGs)  She is smart, as she so already knew the truth, because she unfortunately had watched me go into hospital for heart surgery as  a rather quiet and shaken person  one day and a day later, seen me come out of hospital a rather battered and bruised  person. NOT, what you want for your children. And something you may want to consider as you yourselves reproduce….

ANYWAY, Crapola Genes,(yes, that is what I shall  rename you henceforth), I knew that my smart 12 year old girl was just verbally processing the trauma we had  ALL been through as a family in the 2 weeks prior.

And this is my point.

This all occurred due to your wanton and careless disregard for me – your customer and, indeed your HOME.

I don’t know if it’s possible for you, but humour me anyway now and  imagine how I felt when I had found out 2 weeks prior, that I  was inches from death due to a 90% BLOCKAGE AND BLOOD CLOT IN MY LAD!! My body was a time bomb – ready to pop off this earth. And I had no idea.

( At this point, I do have to commend you on your Ninja- like stealth CGs.)

( In fact, you may want to consider another career as members of the MI5, as sneakiness is obviously where your talents lie) 

CGs, You are like Futoshi the NINJA, from the book Juno Jones Word Ninja.

But I digress…

Back to my story ….

2 weeks before this breakfast conversation with my daughter, I was sitting in my art studio, mobile phone in my right hand, listening to Dr Hadi, my cardiologist ’s voice echoing down the phone line.

Sandra – I have your results.” 

I was, at this point, completely and  totally oblivious to your machinations CGs. I was, instead, happy and snuggly and warm and gazing out the double glazed windows of my art studio   (which were , by the way doing THEIR job well, of keeping the heat inside the house and the cold outside the house. Take note of the good work ethic…) I’d just returned from my CT heart scan downtown.  A migraine that I’d been struggling with for a few days had finally cleared. And so, there I was sitting, with my feelings of lightness and excitement  and anticipation about a big yummy day ahead of art and illustration and not worried at all about any CT scan.

You see, I’ve always been a super-dooper-active-healthy girl, dear CGs. 

As a kid I hated cake and chocolate. Don’t believe me? Ask my mum,  because IT’s TRUE

In high school I would buy a tuna and salad bread roll instead of a sausage roll. 


I kid you not.

I LOVED walking for miles and miles with the soul mate man of my life-  Nige,  and I jogged regularly up and down the hills of our 5 acres with my Domino the Wonder Dog.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a real fish and swum laps of the pool for fun ( I know – weird … Apparently when I was a toddler, I freaked out mum and dad by running excitedly into a deep pool, jumping in and sinking to the bottom, only to promptly bob right back up again to the surface, floating and laughing like a little pink cork.)

And in 1984, I came 1st in the Newcastle Highschool Year 7 Paddle Tennis Competition.

Anyway, I digress…

My point IS…


But, my reverie of happiness bubble popped like a kiddies birthday balloon when I heard the following words from Dr Hadi.

“ You have a significantly blocked coronary artery,”

“ How soon can you get to a hospital for an angiogram and possible stent?” 

I finally spoke.

“Oh, oh , are you kidding?”

(It sounds rude now, but that’s actually what I said in my state of shock.)

“ No – I’m not Sandra. I’m going to try to get you into Lingard Private Hospital Newcastle with Dr Andrew Boyle as soon as I can. In the meantime, if you have any pain, ring 000 , start taking aspirin and don’t do any bungy jumping or marathons .”

(I have to confess, CGs, that at this point, I actually giggled nervously. I loved that he was being “doctor” funny. That’s SO my way of dealing with trauma. So, as some consolation, CGs, you did manage to bring some semblance of weird black frivolity in this whole horrible matter.)

But, as I hung up the phone, I lost my bundle.

How could this happen??!!

To me – a 47 year old children’s book illustrator and occupational therapist,  mother of 3, and wife to my soul mate of 32 years!!!

I’ll tell you how it happened!


I shall tell you your history, your background, just in case you didn’t already know Crapola Genes.  Honestly, when you hear this, you will hopefully realise that  you really should have known better than to keep propagating in other unwitting people. 

So…listen carefully.

In 1976, my paternal grandfather – Jock Stewart, aged just 66, died in his sleep of a massive heart attack. After 40 plus years of service in the Australian Police Force, having served our country not only as a policeman but also as a trainer of possibly thousands of NSW policeman – he passed away. And he, and my Grandma Stella Stewart had just started their retirement trip around Australia in a caravan. So very sad. My dad and his brothers followed in his footsteps with heart disease and have also had to have surgery to keep themselves alive.

Here is a picture I drew a while back of Grandfather Jock and Grandma Stella. Don’t they look happy? And since this tragedy occurred, my Dad and his 2 brothers have since found they also have heart disease and have all had to have surgery before the age of 65. Such an extremely poor long term performance and dreadful lack of Future Proofing on your part, can I just say.

But, wait there’s more…

…let me tell you about my mother’s side of the family.

My mum’s Aunt Greta died of a heart attack at the ripe old age of .. wait for it…32!!! Great Aunt Greta was a mum of 3 children – just like me!  Tragic!!! But did you care? NO! Nearly all of Aunt Greta’s siblings as well as my mum and  my 2 maternal uncles have  been diagnosed with heart disease  and have had to have heart disease related surgery.

But despite you and your lack of adherence for best practice exhibited in spectacularly awful fashion through your wanton disregard for my LAD artery, I am actually THANKFUL.

Yes, you heard me, I am THANKFUL.

Me and my Border Collie, Domino the Wonder Dog, looking thankful.

Have you drunk that poison yet, CGs? I hope not, because I want you to hear what I’m about to say…

Despite your pathetic attempt at taking me off this mortal coil, CGs, God, for some reason, has spared me from death – for now.

And I  am thankful that for whatever reason, I believe God has given me this second chance on life. He doesn’t always do that. He doesn’t always spare us humans from suffering and pain and death. 

That is why the death rate for the human race is 100%.  And why my mum has Parkinson’s Disease, and my grandfather and great aunt died way WAY too young.

So, although this I am writing in order to impart to you my extreme dissatisfaction, I actually want you to know, that I realise..

 .. that it’s not your fault that you are so hopeless at your job.

You can’t help the way you are made.

Our world, sadly, is not perfect.

And, can I just tell you, that I’m not giving up on your boss – your Maker – AKA – GOD.

God has given me so many things I love – like my soulmate Nige and my 3 children and my drawing and my chance to work as an Occupational Therapist. But that’s not why I’m not giving up on Him.

I’m not giving up on him because, as despite all the anxious times that you have caused me, CGs,  I have felt  God/ Jesus’ love. He really is my Father. And as my Father, he has been SO close by! I have had this crazy deep desire to read all about him and what he was like as he walked the earth – about how people just wanted to be around him and how crowds and crowds followed him everywhere.  And how He was kind and compassionate and healed people and spoke words of truth and words of love.

 And I kind of  realised, that even though you are “Crapola”  dear  CGs.  I knew my spiritual heart was with Him. In the middle of the night, as I lay in hospital attached like a robot to an ECG machine and and IV pole and a blood pressure monitor,  I was a  NOT a picture of tranquility. But even so, CGs, I had hope in my real heart- my spiritual heart. No matter what the outcome- life , or death. 

So, as I finish off.

I want you to know.

That I forgive you, Crapola Genes.

You’re imperfect… just like the rest of the world.

But I can deal with that.


( You might want to revisit the Mandatory Training Manual for Genes, page 1 section 35 on “ Keeping Your Human Being Alive” .)

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Much appreciated.

Sandy Flett

Illustrator, Writer, OT, Artist, Mum of 3, Wife, Blocked Artery and Crapola Genes Survivor.

Men , hair and the 52 Week Illustration Challenge.

I like to draw.

Correction- I LOOOOOOOOOVE to draw and paint and illustrate and create and , well, you get the picture .

I’m addicted .

Its a fact .

And because I love to draw, I started drawing for the Facebook  52 Week   Illustration Challenge  . And , the  theme for this week was to illustrate something about “texture.”

So what the heck , (I hear you say dear reader ) does all of this have to do with the Men …and Hair?

Let me explain .

 I like blokes  (  dictionary definition – Aussie for “men”)  . And I do believe that many of the male  species or “blokes”  in the world get a ” bum rap ” these days . ( bum rap : dictionary definition- Aussie for unjust accusation, verdict, or punishment for bad behaviour)

And it is true , some men deserve to be  justly accused of said “bad behaviour “.


Most  of you blokes don’t deserve this “bum rap ” . And that’s not nice . In fact , it sucks ( let’s not mince words here)

So in today’s blog post , I celebrate the blokes of the world .

Let me explain , again .

5 days ago , I sat bemused , perplexed and uncertain, contemplating ” How on earth am I going to draw for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge something on the theme of “texture ” ?? I turned my head and gazed around my household, whereupon my eyes rested on the noggins ( dictionary definition : Aussie for “heads” ) of the 3 gorgeous men in my life – my 17 year old son with full thick locks cut in the current trend of a brush held upside down , my 19 year old son with the makings of a small beard and clean shaven jaw , and  my gorgeous , long suffering hardworking 47 year old childhood sweetheart husband who is … well , let’s not go into details , but let’s just say , his hair has changed somewhat since we met in 1986… ( as has my waistline …)

And as I gazed at the 3 delightful blokes and pondered the theme of “texture”,  my brain went ” BINGO !'”

I’ll let my illustration explain the rest …

Much love to all my readers

God bless,



Miss Condobolin, 1978

Dawn Phyllis  McGinnis was born and bred in Condobolin, the delightful western New South Wales country town , alongside the family flock of Merino cross Poll Dorset sheep , to Scottish migrant father – Percy ( who prefers for obvious reasons to be called ” Jock”) and 4th generation sheep and pig farming mother , Peggy ( who prefers not to be called by her birth name -Bertha)  McGinnis .

The  Miss Condobolin winner of 1978 , has  now evolved ,  like a butterfly from its chrysalis ,  into a rare and unique Australian treasure .

After several sittings , which necessitated copious servings of tea with scones , lamingtons and Arnotts Tina Wafer biscuits , I managed to capture her portraiture.

Dawn Phyllis McGinnis – this is your time to shine …