Monday, April 20, 2009

A week's worth of post

Wow, where did that week go?!!

It seems like every time I sit down with the intention of writing, an email arrives asking me to do something, or a real life distraction captures my attention. I think I'm only going to catch up by using the dreaded dot points...

-- Bumblebee was very excited about going to his grandparents last week. He kept himself busy for the ten minutes or so that we were in my (poor, under-utilised studio) with one of his favorite toys, the whiteboard:

yay board

-- And so went to Bega, where I discovered that Colonel Duck's new satellite internet connection is only marginally faster than his old dial-up, except that now their phone line is freed up when they're using the computer. So checking my emails took ages, and I just couldn't be bothered wrestling it to get a post through. So there went my resolution to write something deep and meaningful. Instead, I lost my self in Byatt, various trashy mags and op shops.

-- While in Bega, I persuaded the local museum (a.k.a. my mother) to formally lend me their wonderful trays of woodtype in return for an annual poster:

lotsa wood type

colour type

(If that last photo looks vaguely familiar, it's because when the trays were donated abandoned on their doorstep (as I've mentioned before), I was asked to help them sort it, and I took some photos that with a bit of Photoshoppery became my current blog header!)

The coloured bits are coloured because whomever used them last didn't clean the ink off their surface. Tuh. Still, very pretty, no? Anyway, I got them not a moment too soon, because they were dying in a dusty backroom, wrapped in plastic and going a tad damp and whiffy. Using the type is the best way to keep it alive, and I'm more than happy to use it for the benefit of the museum whenever they ask me to. Goodness, I'm so happy, my heart keeps leaping with joy at the thought of all that woody goodness, saved from a dusty death.

-- And then, still in Bega, I wandered into the Regional Gallery to say hello to Megsy in her bright new shiny job, and was pounced upon by Gallery (and Library) staff who had 'only just been talking about me the day before'! I was asked to give a public talk and a weekend workshop about artists' books and ways to incorporate them into an artistic practice, to coincide with this year's Meroogal Women's Art Prize. Wow, how cool is that! It'll be happening in early June, so if you're interested, I'll mention it again closer to time, or you can contact the Bega Regional Gallery for details (although they haven't been finalised just yet!).

-- STILL in Bega, it was Bumblebee's twelfth birthday on Thursday. I get a little lump in my throat just thinking about it, and impending doom as he hurtles towards his teenage years. He had a lovely birthday, wot with the archery set given to him by Colonel Duck (along with a target fashioned out of an old trampoline) and a long romantic silver velvet cloak given to him by myself and my lovely sister-in-law (from the Folk Festival, of course). He spent the next day or so dressing up and stalking around posing with the bow and long hours at the target, practicing his shooting (and getting better each time!).

The Silver Arrow, close up
Feeling dramatic and romantic...

The Silver Arrow, shooting
...undermined a tad by the green crocs. The day before he'd been in all-black, with black boots and the cloak, and wishing he hadn't cut all his hair off. But I forgot to get out my camera that day :)

The Silver Arrow
Note the target in the background. It was fantastic when he hit the centre, but if he hit the sides things got a bit weird.

He also made his own cake, with the help of Colonel Duck, since all the women had scarpered off to town to talk about important things like wood type.

birthday cake

They had a lot of fun with food colouring. The outside was yellow with myriad colours.

cake slice

The inside, as you can see, was red and green. We invited some friends over with their delightful children to share the cake (and the latest gossip) and discovered that the cake was actually really yummy.

We had more friends over for dinner, making our own pizzas in the home-made pizza oven, washed down with copious amounts of wine, and ended up in fits of laughter while B shot his arrows down the driveway with sparklers attached to the ends of the arrows. Kept him busy, kept us happy, and only one arrow lost in the dark.

-- Back to Canberra, to find that if the house wasn't cleaned very soon, my marriage was going to implode. So Saturday was spent channelling Annie.* The thing I hate about cleaning -- REALLY cleaning, not just giving the place a once-over -- is the fact that when you look hard at something you try not to look at, it grows exponentially. I wanted to vaccuum, for the first time in ages. But I thought I'd better clean the kitchen benches properly, so that if things fell on the floor, I'd get them with the vaccuum. And then I needed to wipe the shelves above the benches, and then I noticed the windowsills, which led to me cleaning the windows. I moved across the benches and picked up the toaster, which meant I had to clean the toaster. Oh, ecetera frigging ecetera. Finally, late in the afternoon, I managed to vaccuum, and then demanded that we go to the movies so that I wouldn't notice any more dirt. There was plenty around, but I knew that if I broke the obsessiveness, I could go back to just walking through the house blissfully NOT seeing.

-- So we went to see Good. And lo, it was good. And put me back into a mind for thinking about things I really WANT to think about, like memory triggers, and the way music can take you places you've forgotten about, or even into books you want to read.

Have I mentioned how much I loved AS Byatt's The Children's Book? Oh, how I loved it, let me count the ways. It's the book I've been wanting to read for a few years now. Stuffed with facts and references to an era that intrigues me, it is nonetheless extremely readable, and very hard to put down. It is set in the thick of the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th century in Britain and Germany, and takes you through to the end of WWI, over two generations. She is such a clever puss, she keeps the subject firmly in that time, but evokes such pertinent parallels to Babyboomers and Gen X as she does so. I can't really say more than that, since the book isn't released until next month, but I highly recommend it when you get the chance. I came out of that book in a spell which housecleaning absolutely trashed, and felt that I needed a voice of reason to snap me back into the world. I settled upon a re-read of Helen Garner's The Feel of Steel, which has formed an excellent buffer between Byatt and my next book, Tracy Crisp's Black Dust Dancing -- managed to get a copy today! Hooray!

-- On Sunday we entertained the still glowing newlyweds from Sills Bend, fresh from hanging out with obsessive Regency dancing obsessives. We love entertaining in the morning, it's when your friends are looking their best, all freshly slept and hungry. Best Beloved does a marvellous brunch menu of Eggs Benedict (or Florentine if our guests are vegos) followed by fresh coffee and cranberry crumble muffins (whole cranberries and a sweet crumble topping). It's pretty delicious. Zowen** came too, bringing as an offering an amazing mushroom/tofu baked dish with a zingy relish. Food heaven. Then I gave Laura & Dorian a tour of my still sadly-neglected studio, and then we went and mocked a lot of portraits for a while, which was excellent fun. I haven't had so much fun in a gallery since Fluffy and I mocked a whole heap of steel engravings in Melbourne a few years ago. Dorian decided not to take his faux top hat home with him (he would have had to wear it on the plane) and donated it to Bumblebee's hat collection, which made my young'un very happy, and it was in fact used today for his holiday learn-to-be-a-clown workshop.

-- And finally, there's only weeks to go until the opening of my bookbinding exhibition at Craft ACT. All the books are pouring in; I gave a pretty early deadline because I knew there would be stragglers, but also because I wanted to see the work properly before I started writing the room brochure essay for the show, and now we'll be able to install slowly and carefully. So I've been getting lots of exciting parcels, like this one:

parcel thonging

Bugger brown paper packages tied up with string; this one was wrapped in softly shining gold paper, and then a package tied up with soft leather thonging! very lush, and indicative of the gorgeous book within. I'll save that for a future post, when I can showcase some of the books together. How excitement!

When I first put the exhibition idea together, I fully planned to not only include the edition binding of Poems to Hold or Let Go, but also to create my own individual binding. But time and opportunity have rushed past, and I resigned myself to just being the 'provider' of the book, rather than a contributor in my own right. But the other day I unearthed a box of materials that I'd stashed, and came upon a stack of beautiful momigami paper that I'd made as a student. WIZZ! went my mind, and now I'm determined to make a special binding of my own. I think I've nutted it out; I'll document my progress and show you when it's done. And when I do, I'll tell you what momigami paper is. But for now, I'm posted out, and you've probably had enough too! Good night!

* Evoking the spirit of my late Grandmother, who was a dedicated and obsessive cleaner.

** The easiest way I know to say Zoe and Owen and their two sprogs.


Bwca Brownie said...

A Warrior who can also bake a cake is indeed a wonderful thing.

genevieve said...

ooh, bloody cleaning. You've made me come over all 'hiring cleaners' all of a sudden.
Perhaps you and BB should make a deal on that? for me, it's cleaning or gardening, can't possibly achieve both in one lifetime.

genevieve said...

and at present neither are going well anyway.

I love the look of the Meroogal gallery place. Lovely!

Bernice said...

The momigomi paper is beyond beautiful. Its its its almost byatty in its perfection. I wanna shirt made out of it pleaz? Will vacuum for shirt.

SCB said...

I wasn't previously aware that your dearly departed Grandmother was so closely related to my dearly departed Mother, in the cleaning department at least. I loathe cleaning AND being able to see all the damn dirt AND being the sort of person who has to clean the window sill, the wall tiles, the counter top and everything within reach when all I really wanted to do was wipe down the cook top and get back to something much more interesting. Thanks for the Clarice Beckett comment, by the way. Lovely!

TimT said...

Oh, I love the look of that Rosemary Dobson volume. She's a great poet.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Someone should have told me to have afternoon tea before reading this. Can't decide whether I want the cake or the mushroom/tofu business, but gosh that sounds like a luscious week.

Annie said...

How unbelievably cool that you got custody of the wood type. It's stunning. Marinade in it and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love this post. Love to Bumblebee I missed him when I rang Colonel Duck's. Jenny and I love the "channelling Annie". Also congratulations on the cake Bumblebee, Colonel Duck's baking the cake with you would have been in the genes from "Annie". She was a mean cook in her time. Love to all West Aussie