Sunday, April 27, 2008

Counting the beat

Last week while the boys were away I launched a major assault on my &Duck website, adding a lot of my artist's books and a few of my design jobs (I haven't finished putting them all up yet, but I got a fair way in). In the process, I pulled down an archive box marked 'books' that had been sitting on top of a cupboard for the past five or so years, and discovered a treasure trove of things I had forgotten about. I'd assumed the box was old books I'd stashed, but in fact it was my storage box for student work and stuff I'd made in Bumblebee's infancy.

And down the bottom was... gasp! This:

Countdown cover
Bought in England in 1979, this innocent notepad became my weekly obsession. I unpacked it in 1980, in steamy Townsville, where Colonel Duck was posted. Each Sunday evening I would sit cross-legged in front of the tv, and turn on Countdown. In the last ten minutes, I would scribble down the top ten as they were announced. I did this from September 1980 through to June 1981, when I ran out of room. I didn't start a new pad, instead I think I got a boyfriend sometime around that period, and therefore got the start of a life.

But it makes me all misty-eyed to look through the pages... what follows is merely a selection:

Countdown 800907
One of the things I love about these lists is the mix of music. None of this separation between mainstream and indie music that you get these days. I'm sure the lead singer of MiSex (who, BTW, my mother nearly ran over once in Townsville when he was supporting Split Enz, to my teenage awe and embarrassment) was trying not to vomit as Gavin announced this choice run-down of hits.

Countdown 801123
Check out the humour in 'MONGO ROCK'. I couldn't tell you if that was deliberate -- probably not, knowing the wide-eyed kidlet I was -- but it's ironic, because if I were asked to nominate the worst Australian performers of the early 80s I would, without hesitation, say Ross Wilson and Pat Wilson. And I only pinpointed in my mind why this afternoon as I was driving Bumblebee back from Cooma ahead of wild weather: smugness. They acted like they knew what Australians SHOULD be listening to, and bestowed that music upon us as if we should be grateful. And I hated them for it. They're probably very nice people, but I loathed everything Mondo Rock released, except 'State of the Heart'. And Bop Girl is going to pop music hell hot on the trail of Oh Mickey. BLAH!

The Leo Sayer Hit is actually More Than I Can Say, but I fluffed it and obviously never went back to it. That's always been my way... onwards, onwards, time for picking up the mess later (*snort* says BB and my mother).

Countdown 810201
Classic young teen, I flirted with coloured pens for a while. Can you believe the Slim Dusty number 1? It stayed in the top ten for a long time, as did Joe Dolce's Shaddupa you face.

Countdown 810215
But peoples, beware of using coloured pens for your precious documents, for this is what happens to the back of the paper!

My mother nearly fainted this week, with Dr Hook on the show. The only other time she swooned like that was when Shakin' Stevens was hosting. I can't remember this Abba song: On & On & On. Let's have a listen, shall we?

Oh yes. Frida's had better hair days. Not one of their best hits, is it? They sound as synthesised as that Cher hit a while back.

Countdown 810329
I love the way I keep writing Molly Meldrum in as if there could be a chance he wouldn't be there the next week. No wonder my parents thought I'd be a librarian. And -- *swoon* -- Suzi! I'd started spending my pocket money on singles around this time, and my collection closely correlates with many of the songs in this book. Well, the only other way of hearing new songs in Townsville was some horrible American relay broadcast on the local radio station on Saturday nights, running through the top 100 hits for that week. I didn't discover the cool stuff from this period until I got to university and got to plunder everyone else's record collections.

I can't begin to tell you about the thrill I got when I rediscovered this little gem. I thought I'd lost it, years ago! I think I'll make a proper solander box for this. Sigh!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lest we lose sight of this

Dear RSL,

As much as I respect and honour the efforts and sacrifices made by our soldiers and nurses during the various conflicts our governments have wantonly entered us into, I do wish you'd get your hand off it regarding what is and isn't appropriate on ANZAC Day.

The idea of hot air balloons being offensive to the memory of Our Dead Boys is ripsnortingly absurd. Surely it is a perfect metaphor for the amount of hot air that arises when debating matters of war?

I popped down to the shops today to use an ATM machine and noticed that while many shops were closed, all the cafes and fast food outlets are open. Surely the idea of being able to buy fries with your poppy is more offensive?

And while we're at it, surely the pubs should stay closed. I can't think of anything more offensive to the memory of the Revered Dead than a bunch of people getting completely whacked on such a sacred day, can you? Especially now that the government is clamping down on binge drinking.

I personally think that many things are appropriate on ANZAC Day, since surely being joyously alive and enjoying yourself freely is a fitter tribute to a large amount of people who tragically lost their ability to do so so that we could do so...

Yours respectfully,


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ooh, ooh, oooooh

Bumblebee watched Grease the other day, and it reminded me that I haven't finished showing you my Folk Festival collection of Grease covers.

This is a lovely effort, and one for anyone who likes bands like The Audreys and The Waifs. It's the Ellis Collective, who decided not to do a campy corny cover, but to transform one of the campy corny songs from the movie into something gorgeous. And it worked. I've been singing this in the shower ever since the concert.

Also my camerawork had improved by this stage of the concert. It's still crap, because it's my little digicam, but at least you don't have to twist your neck this time!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Regaining momentum

My days of glorious solitude are up. Everyone came back, including Bernice Balconey and her brood of one, enriching my life with light and laughter. I do like days and nights of being alone, but only, I suppose, because they are precious and few. Mind you, I think the cats feel I'm short-changed when I'm alone, because they brought me presents of rats each day. They don't do that with a full household.

While they were away I cracked my printing problems, and the world is shiny and lovely again. I was in a bit of a rut for a while, which I tried to conquer by keeping busy in a chore sense, but nothing beats the thrill of solving an overwhelming problem. Makes me all light-hearted, which gets me through the manic obsessiveness of print production time.

It helps to have something I can listen to obsessively as well. I've said repeatedly that I print to the eclectic sounds of Machine Translations, but even they have to be given a break occasionally; a couple of years ago I was hooked on Kate Bush, last year it was The Postal Service and DNTEL, and now it's Joni Mitchell & Herbie Hancock and Eleni Mandell. I discovered Eleni on eMusic, and downloaded her more recent country-style albums (Miracle of Five, Country for True Lovers) and fell in love. But then I tried her first two albums (Wishbone, Thrill)... they'll all be on high rotation for the next few months. She's got a marvellous voice, sort of Lucinda Williams without the angst, and she's heavily influenced by Tom Waits without being Tom Waits, and I'm completely hooked.

Having a constant musical companion whilst printing is like having a studio cat, without the chance that it will jump up on the press and get mangled. It's soothing and stimulating simultaneously, if it's the right music. It has to have a sense of sitting in the background, but always be there with something interesting to offer if your mind happens to tune in for a moment. It's wonderful when you find something that works.

Here are some pics of my efforts over the last couple of days (when I haven't been kid-wrangling, like today):

Ravines - sketch
This is a placement sketch to help my imposition (which way up poems go on the page, as I print four at a time, with another four on the other side of the page, to be folded down into a book section).

Ravines - print
This is the poem, printed. I love this poem. For many reasons, one of which is that it mentions balloons. Hold that thought for a minute. (Apologies for the distortion in the scale of the type. It's photographed from an angle, not scanned.)

polymer stack
Because of the length of the book (over 40 poems), it would be impossible to set by hand unless I bought some new type overseas, and I can't afford that. So I'm printing the book using photopolymer (or Nylar) plate. This is what a whole book looks like, which gives a whole new meaning to the word STACK.

polymer, inked
And this is what the plate looks like, on the press, inked. It's essentially a relief plate, like a lino or woodcut plate. It's soft plastic that is UV-hardened through a negative. Looks very similar to letterpress when printed... very similar but not quite the same to the trained eye.

print racks
Aahh... there's nothing better than a stacked rack -- of prints.

Today I spent the day with Bumblebee and his mate, making the most of my one full day between his arriving back from his dad's place and his going to Colonel Duck tomorrow for a few days. Everyone wants a piece of him in the holidays. he's never been to a holiday program.

We tried to attend the annual Balloon Festival (there's that balloon thought -- quick, catch it!), and got there about 8am, which is late in balloon terms, but not THAT late. We arrived to emptiness and nothing. BOOO to the new organisers of the event. There was a poor lassie singing on a stage, all miked up, singing to nobody, and no balloonists in sight. So the boys resorted to using their brand new phones. I enjoyed the nice reflections.


Later in the day we saw 'Horton Hears a Who'. I love the philosophical bent of the book, but they buggered the movie up with reactionary kangaroo plots and other stupid Hollywoodnesses. The animation was excellent, I have to admit. I wanted to poke my finger into Horton and feel it sink in, and my favorite character was Katie.

Afterwards I felt that the boys needed to run and jump and play, but all they wanted to do was loll and flollop.


So I gave up and took them home where they spent the rest of the afternoon adoring the cats in the garden and loungeroom while I worked. Sigh.

Tomorrow I drop B off in Cooma and head back to the studio to keep printing. I have to maintain the momentum now, or the book will never get done. And then I can spend the rest of the year practising the gentle art of bookbinding...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

take note[s]

I know that some of you are authors. Or at least aspiring to be.

Read this.

And if you have any time or energy, do share links to favorite corny author photos.

Catching up (ladybits alert)

I'm sorry to leave you hanging... this is the first chance I've had to get back to the blog since the last post!

Bumblebee is away with his dad, Best Beloved jumped a plane to Devonport (for work) at dawn this morning and I've now got three days to myself... which I will hopefully put to good use. I am planning to be in the studio printing, and going home via the movies. No cooking, just leftovers and takeaway, no cleaning until the very last moment before everyone gets back on Tuesday afternoon (bringing with them Bernice Balconey and her offspring for a sleepover).

I hope.
I'm in the BookStud now, finding my makeready (the work you do to set up the type and press to get a good print) extremely frustrating. Lots of eeny-weeny measurements that seem perfect one moment, and completely out the next. GAH! So I am going to take a blood-pressure break and tell you about Bumblebee's birthday.


Because I dangled it in front of you, I'll give you a quick overview of B's actual birthday.

I'd gone to the obstetrician that morning, and it was a week before his due date. He made a joke that if B turned around, I'd be right for a natural birth. Not having prepared for a natural birth, having been told all the way that it was going to be very tricky if I did, what with my weird insides and masses of fibroids, I reacted quite violently to this suggestion and told him that if he left me to have a natural childbirth at this late stage I would personally wrap the cord around his neck. He laughed nervously and said 'see you in a week!'.

2nd ultrasound 061202
Here's the little tucker in utero, looking just like himself, except with a touch of the deep-sea creature about him. They did a few of these scans, to make sure he was ok amongst the fibroids, but at no point picked up that he had a dicky heart...

Anyhoo, I came back from my appointment, and went for a walk with a friend to the local secondhand bookshop. While we were looking at books, I had a contraction. I'd had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions, so it didn't bother me. All afternoon, though, I kept having them. My mother was my planned birth partner, and she was ready to drive up from Bega. My father was staying with me for a business trip. (I was a single almost-parent already, by choice. I only wanted one child in my life.)

I rang the hospital, but they weren't fussed and told me to hang about at home. Colonel Duck was getting nervous -- he's licensed to shoot people, but the idea of birth makes him go green around the gills. He tried to distract me by buying fish & chips and putting on a video of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (borrowed from the local library, and complete with subtitles for the deaf: 'Music swells. Bird goes tweet'). It was quite fun for a while, until the pain ramped up, and the hospital said come in for a check.

CD bustled me into his Little Red Ute and we drove to the hospital, with him nervously sucking and clacking his dental plate all the way. We rang Lady Duck, but we couldn't tell her to come yet because everyone seemed to think it wasn't time. I begged to disagree, and after an hour of people faffing around me and a whole whack of indecisiveness, someone finally checked between my legs properly and discovered that the baby was trying to shove his knee through my cervix. Oh! Emergency caesarian time!

CD rang Lady Duck, who jumped in the car. Unfortunately two hours of driving wasn't going to get her here in time, so I told CD he'd have to come in and hold my hand. He nearly fainted at the thought of it, so I asked him to ring my friend (M) I'd been shopping with that morning. She took 15 minutes to get there, by which time I'd been given an epidural and I'd yakked fish'n'salad (I couldn't hack the chips earlier) all over the nurse.

M did a sterling job, holding my hand and making jokes. I was shaking violently, scared that I'd feel the first cut, since the epidural had masked the pain but not the physical sensation of cramps. I asked them across the green sheet if they'd started, and they said 'yes, we're halfway through!' so I started to relax a bit. Then there was the most extraordinary sensation of a huge weight lifting off me, and I heard a squalk... OMFG, I've had a baby.

They passed the baby over to M, and we both sucked our breaths in, as he looked EXACTLY like his father, and neither of us thought that was a particularly good thing at the time. Then I said 'oh, it's Bumblebee', and the moment was broken and we fell in love.

It took ages to sew me up and do all the things they have to do, and I forgot to send word out to Colonel Duck, who was pacing a rut in the corridor. By the time I did remember, Lady Duck was there, and they had first cuddles as we emerged.

He wasn't a well baby -- he'd tied true knots in his cord, and was starving and eating his own brown fat, which is why he'd gone into distress. He was also jaundiced, and small.

B coming home
On the way home from hospital -- tiny! I had to cut off the cuffs from his little home-dyed babyskins to make them fit.

But he was/is mine, and he's a bloody trooper. We hoped he'd plump up once he got home, but he didn't thrive, and it turned out to be his heart. For that story, go here. That kid has been close to death so many times and survived that I've stopped fretting.


You can see why Bumblebee is utterly indulged by his grandparents and I. He's not spoiled, mainly because we don't have enough money to give him everything his friends get, but he keeps up enough.

So. He got a mobile from his grandad this year. It's not too fancy, with enough credit to let him ring me if he needs to, but not too much so that he can learn how fast it runs out. He messaged me yesterday to tell me his dad had taken him to Sydney. I love knowing stuff like that.

His nanny made him a cake for his party:
Isn't it lush? Choc sponge layers with fresh cream and sliced strawberries between, topped with all sorts of nice things.

It was a Lasertag party. I've never seen so many happy boys in one place.

This is the geekboy demonstrator showing off the new equipment. Flashing lights and noises... they were in heaven.

He gave a few of the teams some strategic tips, but only if they asked the right questions. The place was pretty scraggy on the outside, but once they got inside...

interior was the place of their (electric) dreams.

team red
Team Red. Note extreme seriousness. Gawd I hope he grows out of this phase... I prefer swords to this stuff!

I love all the names they were given. They also got scorecards at the end with statistics on who shot who.

Once geared up, they ran around a darkened maze, shooting each other and the bases. I stayed outside and watched the screen, but I could hear the music and the yelling through the walls.

They emerged from each game red-faced, adrenalin charged and shouting constantly. For anyone planning to have one of these parties, take these tips:

They really only want to drink water and light fizzies. They guzzle down chips, but don't try more elaborate party fare because they're not interested, just needing a quick snack so they can keep yelling and pumping their fists. A slice of cake, another drink, and they're off again. Take earplugs. Have a Bex and a good lie down afterwards.

It was, perhaps, the easiest birthday party I've ever hosted. But I was still exhausted afterwards, from the noise and lights and testosterone levels.

I went to see 'Lars and the Real Girl' a couple of days later, and it was the perfect antidote. Highly recommended.

Back to the makeready. Wish me luck...

PS -- JUST FOUND, thanks to Helen. Heh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Toymaker

When I was researching my origami and pop-up class, I stumbled upon the delightful world of The Toymaker. This person loves to draw, and loves to make, and has built a website to delight even the hardest cynic.

If you click her link above, you'll find the page of free downloadable paper toys, to be printed in colour and constructed. I'm going to make the Tyrannosaurus Rex one for Bumblebee for his birthday tomorrow (not enough time to make an original card, am still wrapping presents and constructing party bags -- paper bags, very sick of plastic bags chucked the instant the lollies are eaten). He's having a LASERZONE party, ten boys running around a darkened maze with all manneer of weaponry, pretending to slaughter each other. Sigh. I hope he's not too old for a dinosaur card.

Apparently The -- American -- Toymaker is travelling or has travelled around Australia recently. She has a charming map that she's drawn to show her destinations. I've included it because I love 'Glandstone', a very sweet typo.

Bumblebee got his first salon haircut yesterday. He picked out a photo in a men's hair magazine and the hairdresser made him look EXACTLY like it. Today, of course, it looks utterly different, and he was a bit disappointed. Welcome to my world, I said to him. Mind you, it still looked fabulous. Can't go wrong with a bone structure like his...

Ahh, birthdays. I never knew until I had a child that children's birthdays involve a certain amount of the parents reminiscing about the birth. Have I ever blogged B's birth? hmm... I'll have to check the archives.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Remember to breathe (and soften)

An hour or so after writing that last post, I caught up with a mate and listened to his problems. I can't go into them, but think of a marriage breaking up, include all the work and childcare commitments involved, then invert the usual male/female dynamic and you have his life at the moment. And he's coping really well with it. It gave me time to sit and think about something else for a while, feel something positive like sympathy and empathy, and by the time I rode over to the dinner party I was feeling almost calm again, or at least less obviously angry than I had been earlier.

It was quite a jolly dinner; the food was fabulous, thanks to BB, and one guest had brought her 12yo daughter who entertained us all with amazing, skillful and absolutely straight-faced card tricks. I wish I'd have that much self-possession at her age. I quelled the residual anger with LOTS of wine, and spent the night in a fitful, drunken sleep, waking with a dry mouth and sore jawbones from a mega-grinding night.

So today I have been breathing. My mantra is from my yoga class: soften. Every time I feel my jaw clenching, I say 'soften' in my head and it all drops loose. I don't think it enough, but it's helpful.

Here's some nice pictures:

golden leaves
The trees in my yard (I really can't say it's a garden anymore) are turning glorious colours. Aren't they clever?

autumn red
The ant seems to be enjoying itself.

skull bracelet
This afternoon I went to a four-year-old's birthday party and ate lots of chocolate crackles washed down with a hairy dog champers. I came away with a pirate skull tattoo bracelet, which delights me no end.

sewing press
This one is for Colonel and Lady Duck, who bought me this bookbinder's sewing press when they were in New Zealand a couple of years ago. For a long time my family made jokes that it was another of my dust-catchers. But! See! It works! I'm using it! I can sew eight bookblocks at one sitting! And you get lovely photos like these:



uncut tapes

This last one is what the books look like when you take the sewn pile off the press. The next step is to separate the individual book blocks out and cut them apart, hoping that you haven't vagued out during the day and sewn them to each other.

Anyhoo. I hope that softened your jaws a bit as well... hoo roo.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My head is reeling

I was having a glass of wine on the front step last night with Zoe and mentioned the ball of anger that sits in my chest like a permanent fixture. It swells and subsides, but it's always present, has been for most of my life. It's waiting. I can see it erupting later, when I'm not so committed to having a productive life.

But there's days when it sits in my throat, like this morning while reading the papers, and this afternoon when I tried to sew bookblocks whilst listening to Radio Eye. It was an hour of stories about abuse to women of various forms (honour killings, sexual abuse). I'm so angry, and I don't know what to do with it.

I'm going to a dinner party tonight. Best Beloved is catering it as an Indian Feast, his wedding present to a couple of good friends. I've cooked some of the food, and I'm meant to be dressing in my Indian gear and contributing to the feast by serving the food. I'm scared I'm in the wrong mood. I don't know if I can be jolly, let alone even civil.

What do you do with a throbbing ball of anger?

I am full of questions, and the overwhelming one is this:
How can anyone think that a woman escaping an abusive marriage is a worse shame to a family than the shame of a community knowing that you are a family that kills a family member?

I have to breathe deep. I need some equilibrium.

PS. My ball of anger is, I think, why I love Helen Garner. I relate to her angriness. I loved her novel. It's not for everyone, but it was a good couple of hours for me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Catching up

I haven't spent all my time since the last post playing Scramble, no no nee no.

Busyt busy busty. Gawd, I don't think I'll correct that particular typo, because it's eerily true. My left boob has been large and hot (in the non-sexy sense) for at least a week. But you don't want to know things like that! You want book sexiness and cooking loveliness or some such thing. OK!


sorrel omelette

Let's start with Sunday breakfast. This incredibly dodgy photo (my hands are definitely going -- my typing is crap and my photography is shaky) is a gorgeous sorrel and potato omelette with rocket on the side. It's become Best Beloved's latest scrummy Sunday breakfast offering. He cooks potato chunks in the microwave, then sautes them with mushrooms, butter and fresh sorrel leaves and puts the mixture inside a thin omelette. Ohh, the lemony tang of the sorrel is delightful!

We've been buying our vegetables more often, rather than just once a week at the Growers' Market, because there's a new local shop that sells local produce for local people (hello, hello, there'll be no trouble here). It also stocks produce from further afield, but the proprietors always mark the food miles on the labels. Some is organic, some is not, all is fresh, and the prices are very reasonable.

It has a fancy name, and someone may be able to translate its obviously relevant, caring and beautiful meaning to me: Choku Bai Jo. Unfortunately the only way I can make myself remember it is by thinking 'Chokos by Joe', as if it were a weird rural fashion label.

They stock lots of lovely Asian vegetables and herbs like fresh sorrel, but we're so hooked on sorrel that we've planted at least three batches in our wild back yard, having been told that once it's there we'll never get rid of it. Well, anything that can survive extreme neglect apart from two avid weeks of gardening at the beginning of spring is alright by us.

If you're interested, Choku Bai Jo is at the NORTH Lyneham shops (not the Lyneham shops), and they are open during decent hours for workers: 3-8pm weekdays, 7am - 12noon on Saturdays.


I don't know about you, but a new Helen Garner book (let alone a novel!) is on par with a new Harry Potter book for me. I finally managed to get to my COOP bookshop this afternoon and buy a copy, and I'm already 40 pages in. I hope you realise how much reading time I'm missing out on by writing this post! Most excitement.


The other fun thing that's been happening is the institution of a formal chance for me to allow people to release their inner book... the studio I maintain at the Art Skool is tucked in a quiet corner, and no-one except my once-weekly book design students and the printmaking students know it's there. At a recent staff meeting I heard that someone suggested the studio be used as the 'sick-room', since it's being under-utilised!! Someone who has obviously not been up there since the old regime of being out-of-bounds to undergrads (three years ago!).

So I decided to be pro-active and slightly cheeky, and announced a weekly drop-in Book Clinic for Honours and Postgraduate students from all workshops. For a few hours of two days a week, people can drop in and get ideas, tips & tricks, help, a cuppa, and help to keep the space relevant to the entire school.

Yesterday I had four people dropping in, and it was great fun. It's amazing how many people love the idea of making books, no matter what art they practice. Each person came in tentatively, with a vague idea of what they'd like to do, and left completely keen and enthusiastic. I'm keeping a log of visitors, so that I can throw the statistics around next time they're needed...


I'm finally at a stage where I can promote my Nan McDonald book, and I've printed 300 letterpress brochures to put about a bit. I'm compiling a couple of lists for my press, one virtual, one snail mail. If you'd like to get emails from me about my publications etc, please email me on ampersandduck[at] My snail mail list is for serious buyers and supporters, and if you want to be one of those, email me with your mail address and I'll put you on the list.

Meanwhile, here's a bit of brochure:

Transmigration brochure

I will make it into a PDF and send it to the Australian Artbooks email list. If you want to be part of Artbooks, go here. It's the best way to know about artistic booky activity around our country.


Mr Padge is healing nicely after blowing out my credit card. His head looks scarred but presentable, and his tail is, well, curly. It doesn't seem to bother him much, but he's always been a pretty laid-back cat. Mr Pooter is on my lap as I type, an when he sleeps his little top fangs creep out over his bottom lip like a buck-toothed vampire. Uber-cute.

Have to go. Just itching to go back into Helen's world, fall asleep to the tone of her voice. Love that woman's writing, no matter how crabby she gets.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

popping up again

Having a papercut/origami/pop-up session tomorrow with my book class, and while doing a bit of research came up with this choice morsel:

Paper Toy - Celebrity bloopers here

I love the puppeteering at the end. I can't wait to see if I can get the whole class to do it...


I blame Pav.

I didn't know about Scramble until I read her post. I tried a few live games (too scared to challenge Real People yet) and discovered a few things about myself:

-- my keyboard skills let me down. I know that you know that I let typos through on my posts and comments quite a lot, but it's not just hasty reading back through things. I used to be able to type fast and accurately -- not touch typing, but my own special herbs & spices method -- and I seem to have lost this art. Now when I type, my brain thinks one thing and my fingers type another, and I am often quite shocked by what they've come up with. Room full of monkeys be damned, my fingers could write Shakespeare whilst I'm trying to write a Letter to the Editor.

Let me type that para again and fight making any revisions:

my keynoard skills let me down. I know that tou know that I lot types through on my posts and comments quite a ot,but it's not just hasrt reading back through things,=. I used to be able ti tip quite fadt tthe acudratey -- not touch typing,m but my iwn special herbs and spices methois -- and I seem to have lost this at. NOiw when I type, by braub thinks one thish and my fingers type abothers, and I am often quite shockes by what they've cone up with. Room ful lof monkys be damned, my fingers fould write Shakespeare hildt I;m trying to wrie...

you get the idea. It's increasingly hard word [see! WORK] for me to type, and Macintosh making their latest keybort flatter and more laptop-like isn't helping, doods.

ANYHOO,* my fat old fingers are not my friends when trying to play Scramble.

-- I can't see words over five letters. I can when they're in a line and I can shift them about, but not in a block, to save my life.

-- I hate time-based games. I'm not good against a stopwatch, unless it involves food. I'm a VERY fast eater.

-- WTF with the dictionary? Some of those words are NOT rational. I have been writing very blue comments after my live games, to the consternation of some of the more princessy types in the top ten who are obviously idiot savants or have purloined little computer macros to help them.

In other words:
GAH! It's frustrating. And I'm no good at it. But I can't. stop. playing. it.

I blame Pav.

* Did anyone hear the Book Show on Radio National on Thursday? They talked about Masterworks from the Web, an anthology of blog stuff. 'Anyhoo' is apparently come into common usage thanks to bloggers. Heh. They also covered Mandy Ord's graphic novel, Rooftops.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Ample Sanity always comes up with fun things. I always feel envy for people who have the time to cruise the internuts looking for fun, but I'm also very grateful for sites that present the cream of the crop, like AS and BibliOdyssey.

This find is disturbingly fun and extremely therapeutic.

Anyone wanna throw rocks at boys with me?

Rite of Passage

I just saw Bumblebee off for his first School Camp. They're heading to Cooba (not Cooma), just out of Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains, for three days of orienteering, rope fun, mud pits and dirt buggies.

They looked so grown up, all the year fives. And the year sixers! I don't even want to think about it.

I started to get lumpy in the throat, started to fuss over B as he was milling excitedly with his mates.

Luckily I was brought back to earth when he and his seat buddy got on the coach, snaffled the very front seat (it's always been as cool as the back seat for B, who likes to see where the action is), and then gesticulated wildly at me.

I went up to the door and asked what the problem was. He & his friend looked at me desperately.

'We've got nothing to do! What will we do???!!'

What could I say?

'Talk to each other. And look out the window.'

They looked at me blankly, as the teacher behind me started snorting into her list, desperately trying to maintain some kind of composure. I winked at her and walked to the car.

Photos, as promised:

Bumblebee, glowing with excitement as he told me about the things he hoped they'd be doing at camp...

running excited that he couldn't stop running, hopping, fidgeting, all morning.

cabin buddies
And this is Bumblebee with his mates, the ones sharing a cabin with him. I hope they're still this jolly by the end. A couple of them have wicked tempers!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Conquer in Comfort

"Examining affluence and national identity in modern Australia"

conquer in comfort

Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Gorman House

April 5 - May 17

Bernie Slater, Tess Stewart-Moore & Akira Akira

Opening this Friday at 6!

I love Bernie's work. It's always punchy.


Our usual vet scoffed at the idea of girlie hormones for Padge when I dropped him off (in the pink cat box we use for individual trips, as opposed to the big blue double cat box) to have his head siphoned.

I left him for the day, and tried not to think about it.

When we went back to pick him up, the vet was contrite. He'd shaved Padge's forehead, but kindly left him a ridge of eyebrow, which gives him a slightly Neanderthal look. He hasn't got a drain, just a very large open weeping wound.

'See these white marks all over his head?' the vet said. 'They're masses of ancient fighting scars, the ones that didn't get infected. I checked all over his body, and they're everywhere, lots of tiny puncture and scratch marks. Do you still want the hormones?'

Yes, indeed-y do, thank you very much!

I decided not to put a photo up, because a cat with a huge weeping sore on his forehead is not a pretty sight. And he's too cranky to sit still and let me take a photo, because he wants. to. be. outside. NOW.

It's sad. He was such a gloriously beautiful cat, and now he looks like a retired boxer. He's still lovely, just a bit battered. All he needs is a bitten-off ear and he'll have the complete set. Let's hope the eunuch pills work.

Today when I got to work, I turned on the computer as usual, and tried to boot up Firefox. But it wouldn't work. It tried to tell me that it was already up, thank you very much. So I rang my IT man, Simon, who is pretty jolly and is the only person in the vicinity who has seen me wearing medieval clothes and hanging out with the excellent For Battlers near Yass. He has forgiven me for hanging out with the Evil Sydney Lemmings when I could have been hanging with my homies.

Anyhoo. I was talking to Simon on the phone about the Firefox problem, when he said 'hang on, I'll just work my magic. Watch this.' Watch what? I thought, and kept working on the email I was composing (about running a Book Clinic. More on this later). Then my mouse arrow started moving of its own accord, and folders started opening and closing. I couldn't help it; I gave a little gasp and said 'Simon! Is that you?'

He laughed, and said, 'sorry, I should have warned you properly. Some people find this really disturbing.'

I did find it really disturbing. Intellectually I could grasp that my uni computer is on a network, that it's not my exclusive territory, that it makes sense for the IT guys to be able to fix my problems without having to come all the way over to my office...

But it was ICKY. It made me realise that I use the screen like an extension of my brain, to help me organise my thoughts and my day, and having someone moving around in there outside of my control was like having a stranger lurking in my brain. I found it extremely invasive, and it sort of made me feel violated in a small sense. I wasn't offended, because the intellectual part of me won over, but it was certainly a shock.

Simon was experienced enough to recognise my reaction (apparently there are two common reactions: repulsion and amusement) and was nice enough to teach me how to know when he or anyone else is in my head on my screen. And he promised to warn me each time he does it, which I assured him he didn't really have to do, but he's obviously an ethical ITer, and I like him for it. Even if he's on the dark side (he hates Macs, loves PCs).

He's off-screen now, but I can't shake that feeling of somebody watching me...

PS: Ooh! Forgot to mention that the glich in Firefox was a funny little file buried in the bowels of my applications support, and it's name was PARENTLOCK. Oh, how we roared.