Thursday, December 01, 2011


I'm sitting in my clean, re-instated lounge room: furniture back into place, floor vacuumed, surfaces uncluttered.

[Quick! Somebody scrape Colonel Duck from the floor & give him a stiff drink...]

Down in the studio, Jon is working on the press for his Broadside residency. He's been on a steep learning curve, having never printed with type before, and as a painter, he's been resisting the hard edges of the task (like working in blocks and straight lines), but today he's decided to commit to one matrix, and is locking wood type up in a chase so that he can concentrate on playing with the inks in a painterly way. He comes on Thursdays, and Helani comes on Wednesdays, and they both bring lunch to share with me, which is lovely and a ritual I enjoy very much, especially for the conversations we have.

I'm sitting here enjoying the clean space, because the last week has been slightly chaotic - in a good way.

First, of course, we had Thanksgiving: the real deal, because of Julia, my American neighbour and her fun-loving landlord/flattie Lisa. As real as we could get it, anyway. I moved my outdoor table into the big loungeroom and moved the couch out to the other room, and we made one big dining area, with masses of spray roses from the back yard and candles.


Lisa prepared an ENORMOUS turkey that was cooked in my oven through the afternoon:

Turkey queen

Julia made pumpkin pies, pecan pies, sweet potato with marshmallow topping (meant to be a savoury!) and an amazing gluten-free stuffing involving cranberries & nuts and yummy things.

Mummy Crit, who was invited because her partner is a very homesick American (and also the fact that she's good company), made a mushroom-bean casserole and brussel sprouts cooked with bacon, plus many tins of root beer (yum!).

Bumblebee peeled 4kgs of potatoes, which I then diced and cooked and mashed, but Crit took over the mashing because I slightly undercooked them and they needed her touch to be perfect. He also made a kick-ass salad (he's getting very good at salad!).

Other people, who were mostly friends of Julia's and hence were either ANU linguists or anthropologists, brought fruit, cheeses and such stuffs.


By the end of the evening the turkey was the only thing that wasn't stuffed anymore. Julia was very happy.

Julia carving

More photos here.

The next day I cleaned up, but decided to leave the tables where they were until Best Beloved got home from the US (while we were celebrating Thanksgiving, he was losing that particular day from his life!). He got home at lunchtime, without his bag, which was lost in transit! Noooooooooo! No presents!

Well, almost no presents. He still had the duty-free bag. Two big bottles of Bombay Sapphire gin (at $25 each!) and a heap of maple syrup flavoured things like biscuits and chocolate. And a wee little Day-of-the-Dead present for me of a little guitar-playing skeleton lady in a matchbox that fitted into his checked luggage.

Poor bugger, he had to travel to NZ on Tuesday, and all his work stuff was in the bag. He hassled and hassled and talked to his airport contacts (that's his public servant special subject) but for ages we weren't sure if he'd see the bag again, or if it would be lost in the great mosh of lost luggage that haunts the world.

So we decided that we had a window of opportunity with the giant dining room and his travelling, and we called up a bunch of people he hadn't seen for a while and we had a bring-a-plate curry meal on Sunday night. We didn't get maximum numbers, but we had enough people to have a very fun night. And all the leftovers and cleaning up afterwards. Mind you, I wasn't sick of the chicken biriyani BB cooked after eating it for three days.

On Monday I had a visiting day: I went {shiver} across the lake! And all the way down to Condor! I visited my dear friend Narelle, who manages the ANCA studios. We've had many catch-ups around my turf, I figured it was time to visit her in hers. It was great fun, with lots of yummy food and talking. On the way back (I hate making an 80km round trip without batching a few things) I visited Elephant's Child, and we had a cuppa and swapped good reading books. Then I dropped in on the Aged Poet for a while and read her some of her own poetry (best thing about a failing memory, you like to hear about your own good work), then headed home, completely talked out.

And then on Tuesday the heavens opened, and lo, thunder and lighting was all around. Tuesday night was a bout of incredible weather, and if you were in it too, I hope you were safe and warm. BB went to Wellington, NZ, but while he was sitting at Sydney airport waiting for his flight out, his luggage was sitting there to, waiting for a flight to Canberra. The poor courier delivered it in the middle of a downpour, with lightning flashing overhead. The bag is now sitting patiently in the corner, full of presents and dirty washing, waiting for its master to come back to it on Saturday.

We couldn't sleep for the lightning, so I let Bumblebee come out of bed and we put a couple of comfy chairs facing the window and we watched the show through our wonderful front window. It was awesome, in the true sense of the word: horizontal lightning, vertical lightning, great growls of thunder.

We reminisced about the story I used to tell him when he was little and scared during storms. I made it up after a visit to Vinnies when I found a weird stuffed toy that was a lion in a safari outfit and no tail; it looked like Steve Irwin as a lion. I used to have a little bag of fresh toys in the laundry cupboard as a distraction if we were having a hard day. On this particular evening, it was thundering wildly and we were sitting on the kitchen floor eating popcorn (making and eating popcorn is another great fear distracter) and I told him that the thunder is actually a giant lion that lives in the sky, and every now and again lightning would hit his tail and he would roar. The poor grumpy lion! we exclaimed together as the thunder grumbled again. And you know, I said, there's only so many times a lion can get hit on the tail before his tail falls off and he doesn't want to live in the sky anymore, no matter how beautiful it is. Poor grumpy lion! And I pulled out the lion toy and said that this lion had come down from the storm and wanted a nice place to live where no one would make fun of his having no tail. Poor grumpy lion! I'll be his friend! B exclaimed. He called him 'Funky' and he still has him... out of sight, but not very far from his bed.

We laughed about the story and did that wonderful thing you can do with teenage boys, which is talking sideways while they think they're doing something else. I learned a lot, and then we staggered off to bed, aware that there was school etc in the morning.

The 'etc' turned out to be my annual chance to go to the art school to have a preview of the graduating show and pick out a couple of recipients for next year's Broadside Residency. I'm looking forward to meeting the two that I picked (I can't reveal them until Friday, when I give them their 'award' at the exhibition opening (I'm also going because Robyn Archer is opening the show!). Exciting! It's a good exhibition this year, I recommend a visit. It's a wonderful thing when the whole school becomes an enormous gallery.

And then last night we had my fortnightly Scrabble-dumpling soiree; fortnightly because it coincides with byrd's child-free weeks, and he and his lovely lady are the staple ingredient of the S-D nights, which have been happening in many shapes and forms since he was camping in our back yard when he had a homeless stint. We used to just drink beers in front of Spicks & Specks, but over the last few months it's transformed into something that is so much fun I haven't even missed S&S. Food used to be a bit of potluck until we hit upon the plan of everyone bringing a packet of frozen dumplings to steam with my big double bamboo steamer and we gobble them with chopsticks and various dipping sauces. Much easier.

We started the evening with an impromptu visit from neighbour Lisa's a capella group who gave us a taste of their repertoire before they do their first public gig later in the week: Java Jive, Boogie-woogie Bugle Boy and Love is in the Air. It was fantastic!

Then a few of us played Exquisite Corpse, the Surrealist parlour game where you fold a paper into four strips, and one person draws a head (leaving neck lines into the next section), folds it over, and the next drawing is of the torso to the waist (leaving lines again), then the next is the pelvis to the knees, and then the lower legs and feet. Sometimes we got a bit confused about direction, so things ended up having feety things at both ends! And we also had to add a little bit of text to make it fun.

Here are a few examples - the scans do no justice to the colours! Hoon (byrd's lady, and an old friend/housemate of mine) did some colouring-in of the drawings through the rest of the evening, when she wasn't dancing to Jeff Buckley, something I've never seen anyone do, but then she's someone who is always gorgeously different.

Exquisite corpse 1

Exquisite corpse 3

Exquisite corpse 4

If you look closely, you'll see an upside-down portrait of me done by byrd, and Bumblebee's 'love lightning'. It was a lovely evening. I fell off the wagon (only one day early), and we all drank wine and played Scrabble until far too late.

Hence the reason why I'm sitting quietly, having finally put the big table outside, finally done a big vacuum and put the couch back, and put the umpteenth load of dishes in the dishwasher that has been working very very hard this week.

And this is why I'm not entertaining again for a little while. At least until next fortnight, when the Scrabble board starts to rattle in the cupboard in excitement around lunchtime.

1 comment:

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh wow. Busy, busy, busy. I already cherished your visit and now I cherish being squeezed into that week even more. Have started reading (gobbling) your books. Jazz was terrified in the thunder. Cried and hid under things. I am not a fan either. Jewel doesn't give a rat's behind.