Thursday, November 24, 2011

So tired

My cats are gorgeous, granted, and they are great studio companions,

but sometimes I could brain them with a bookbinding hammer.

Mr Pooter (named for the main character of Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith) is living up to the POO part of his name: he has a bad habit of not wanting to poo in his litterbox at night if Mr Padge (named after a minor character in the same novel) has been there first. So he will walk around the house yowling, and if we're too dead asleep to do anything about it, he will either poo in the bath or keep yowling until we do something about it, like cleaning out the box in a zombie-like fashion (a zombie with Tourette's Syndrome) or we kick him outside and he can bloody well take his chances in the dark with Alpha cats and cars.

Last night was one of those nights.

Add that to Padge stomping all over the bed constantly because he'd decided that the snap cold weather means that he needs more food to cope with it, even though he's so fat that he can't fit on our overly-generous window ledges

and you end up with one tired Duckie.

Add to that the fact that it's been a week of homework emergencies (why do teacher make all their assignments due the same week?!!) and flat batteries in cars (OH! IS SHE PREGNANT? lisped the charmingly Hispanic NRMA battery man when he saw Padge) and that teaching and marking has finished, and I guess you can surmise that I've crashed at the end of a big year.

My evergreen and never-ending TO DO list (it's now a book) has been set aside while I have just slumped in a corner and pretended to move piles around while I play Facebook games. It helps that Best Beloved is off in North America running through as many museums as he can fit between meetings, it means that I only have to operate on a teenage level -- and the kitchen reflects that.

In fact, I'm only really writing this post to procrastinate from the mammoth task of cleaning and preparing for tonight's Thanksgiving Dinner, being held for my lovely homesick yankie neighbour Julia. There's a lot of people coming, but there's twice that many dustbunnies dancing across the carpet in front of my bleary eyes, and a big sack of potatoes waiting to be peeled in the kitchen (mashed potato is apparently very important for a successful TG).

And I'm so CRANKY after watching the end of Spicks and Specks last night. I absolutely adore Adam Hills, before last night he could do no wrong, but did he really think he could wind up an iconic Australian music show with a half-arsed band fronted by a talentless loser like the Uncanny X-men and engender any form of nostalgia from the audience? I hated Brian Mannix in the 80s, I hated his every appearance on the show (and I'm sure I'm not alone in that), and to give the UXM a plum tv opportunity like that smacks of something bad smelling: maybe their promoter offered the ABC a lot of money, or maybe Mannix knows something about Hills that he shouldn't... or maybe they just got it horribly, horribly wrong, and it truly is time for them to stop. Whatever it is, I went to bed very grumpy last night, and that five minutes of ending will be the only bit of S&S I will never watch again.

Sorry, peoples. I just needed to vent. I guess it's dustbunny attack time. Tally ho!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Best Beloved has been away this week. He's gone off to northern America, skipping through various parts of the US and Canada for work. Most of it is meetings, but he gets a day here & there to see things, and he's an expert speed tourist, so he'll cram a lot into a day. Last weekend he went to the Getty Museum in LA, and last I heard was looking forward to the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

I took Bumblebee back to Colonel Duck's farm to see Lily the lamb, who is nice and fat these days.

Lily is fatter

The tree that they are sitting under is very typical of the area, it's an apple gum (I think, from memory) and they cover the slopes here. When the wind blows (and it blows A LOT), limbs come down, so I don't tend to spend a lot of time under them, having been emotionally scarred by poor Judy's death in my childhood.


Back at home again, there's been no real food in the fridge, since I've been away from the markets for two weekends and I don't count Woolworths as a provider of real food. Nearly every night has been a non-cooking night:

Monday I had to assess over 40 students for their complimentary courses of either book, etching or screenprinting (we three teachers combine as a panel and do all of our students together), so I was absolutely buggered and couldn't do anything but buy fish & chips.

Tuesday my lovely Dr Sista Outlaw was in town and staying with me while she attended (for her work) the opening of the National Museum of Australia's heartbreaking Inside exhibition. Her job at the moment is working on the NSW arm of the new Find and Connect website. So at the end of that day we went around to my local yumspot, Wilburs, and had pizza and wine (well, she drank, I'm off grog for the month or so) and caught up with Zoe.

Wednesday was a bit of a lost day, spending most of it with Dr SO and an old friend of hers, and then hosting my regular fortnightly scrabble-dumpling soiree. It's a great night: people bring packets of frozen dumplings and whatever they want to drink, and eventually we play scrabble, or not, or read poems, play chess, watch Spicks&specks, whatever the dynamic of the night wants to do, as the mix of people is always very different, depending who I've talked to that week or who gets brought along. This time we had a couple of fellows at the start, but they had to run off, so we ended up with seven women who all wanted to play scrabble and have a good natter at the same time, so we put two boards out and pooled all the letters and had a big single game. It was very civilised, really. You could choose either board in your turn, and both boards were used quite equally. Lots of dumplings steamed & eaten, lots of good conversation.

Thursday was again a not-studio day. I yearn for the studio, but sometimes it just has to wait its turn. I had to ride my bike into the city to meet up with the other people involved in the ArtsACT Artists-in-Schools Residency this year. I rode because most of the city was pretty chaotic with the visit by POTUS (or Barack Obama to you non-acronyming non-Canberrans) whom I completely missed seeing, because I'm never at the right moment at the right time for anything like that. I was in Bega when the Queen visited too. I did hear all the planes and helicopters yesterday, but that's as close as I got to the action. The meeting was great fun - we all got to tell stories of our early childhood teaching encounters and give feedback about the grant stuff.

After that I went home and did some intensive gardening, pulling out a small tree (I'd noticed the same tree in other people's gardens around the corner and NO WAY was I letting it get that big, ever) and doing lots of weeding.

Oh -- and throughout most of this activity was the ongoing stoooooory (in Muppet tones) of Bumblebee's homework. More like SAGA. He had has two major assignments due, and the first finally got done (it was like pulling teeth), with the second one more enthusiastically tackled when suddenly we discovered a THIRD one that had been forgotten and was a day overdue when remembered. ACTION STATIONS. We (WE) got it done, and now he's back to researching the Samurai era, which is much more fun than creating a travel brochure for Rwanda (DON'T GO THERE, he put on the front, after looking up DFAT's current travel advice for the country :) )

So, Thursday. Oh yes, in the evening I went to Megalo's African Famine Fundraiser night, where lots of very good art was for sale to raise funds for CARE, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Aust Govt. The speeches were amazing: Jon Stanhope, looking very well and fit, talking about Human Rights and the Arts; a speaker from CARE, who realised she was banging on a bit by about the 6th page of her talk and cut it down quickly, but I was actually completely engrossed in her statistics and facts... more people then the entire population of Canberra living in one refugee camp, among other shocking things. And then another young woman (I am SO BAD with names) speaking really eloquently about our capacity to engage with these events when they are ignored by mainstream media, and how to incorporate a charitable sensibility into your everyday life without giving in to periodic guilt (in other words, how to help consistently, rather than reacting to emergencies). She was amazingly good. I hope Megalo made a decent amount for the fundraiser. I bought an Alison Alder screenprint, called Drought, which seemed very fitting.

Today... I have to run around some more, but I'm hoping the weekend will be studio-based. The cats keep nagging me to go in there, because they like to watch me work (eyes like whips, the two of them). Actually, poor Pooter hasn't been 100% well this week. On Sunday night he came down with a raging fever, all limp and droopy and off his food, with red-hot paws and ears. I put him on the bed beside me, and slept lightly, checking on him, and by morning the fever had broken and he was bright-eyed and demanded FOOD, and lots of it. Phew! I was all gooey over him until yesterday, when he pooed in the bath. Charming.

Friday, November 04, 2011

All Hallow's Sugar

That's better... a bit of sleep was all I needed. I've been having weird stomach pains and bloating (sorry, TMI, I know, but I guess if you've been a long-term reader, you'll have read worse) so I'm slowly testing out what might be the cause. I'm off alcohol for a while, and I'm trying to cut down on sugar (I don't think it's the culprit, but now's as good a time as any) so I think I had a low sugar moment last night. Best Beloved is praying I'm not gluten-intolerant, he loves his bread and pasta. I just want the ache to end!

It's been a pretty sugary couple of weeks, drinking with family and friends and then the heady rush of Halloween. I was invited to a couple of Halloween parties, couldn't make one because of visiting family, but I did get to the other, handily situated next door. I've never been into celebrating American traditions like Halloween, Valentine's Day or Thanksgiving, but it's different when you live next door to a lovely American and she's homesick for her fun.

It was a small but faithful party, complete with costumes and activities. My favorite cake-maker, Sam of Amore Cakes (at the Farmers Market), had made a batch of Witch's Fingers, pale shortbread fingers with almond slivers for nails, and I bought some for Julia, which went down a treat.

Here she is as Athena, complete with owl companion and our gift.

the bad apple
This is Lisa, Julia's housemate, originally from Tasmania, dressed as The Bad Apple. Scary!

Here we are, dressed in our Folk-Festival-bought masks, using them to be the Sad Cow and the Zombie Country Mouse.

We carved pumpkins,


ate devils on horseback and bobbed for apples.

bobbing boys


The apples, once wetly won, were cut into chunks and dipped into caramel, or 'carmel' as Julia's north-western accent makes it. Yum! That, plus all the 'candy' and the exquisite pumpkin pie with maple cream, shows you how sugar-loaded I've been.

Bumblebee wore a cloak that I'd made for him on the weekend. His old cloak had been given to a smaller body a few months before and he really missed having a black hooded cloak. I seemed to have a 'free' day on Sunday (actually, when you're self-propelled, no day is a free day, but I felt I needed to spend some actual time doing something for him) so I proposed we shop for material and make a cloak.

Blimey, that was a tough day. Note to self: NEVER GO TO SPOTLIGHT ON A SUNDAY. We're both still rolling our eyes at standing in a 4-metre line to buy 6 metres of cheap black poly-cotton. Then my sewing skillz proved to be quite rusty, so I spent much of the afternoon unpicking and resewing, and was still up at midnight and then up at 6am the next day to finish it in time for that evening's party. That made Best Beloved roll his eyes, but I felt great when I saw him wearing it with a variety of masks.

So I had two fails during the week. One was as a sewing queen, and the other was at bobbing for apples. Here's something you probably didn't know about me... I hate putting my face under water. I've battled it for years, and I'm much better these days, can duck down in the pool and stuff, but I tried shoving my head into that wheelbarrow to get an apple in front of a crowd and realised that I was just not very happy about it. I don't have a problem with losing face, so I just stood up and confessed that I couldn't do it, and thankfully it was a nice group of people who didn't call me a wuss etc. Apparently there were people hiding in the house to avoid even having a go, so that made me feel ok. And they even let me eat the carmel-dipped apples :)

I did carve a pumpkin, so I did make some contribution to the evening's festivities!



(and this is what happens when you put pumpkin scrapings near my husbang.)

This weekend I'm attending The Gathering, a local conference for bookbinders from all over Australia and even a few from overseas. Should be fun... but first I'm going to a movie tonight (by myself, because BB will be flying back from business in Cairns): Anonymous! Yum, eye-candy galore. That's the best kind of sweetie.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Checking in


It was only when Colonel Duck nagged me on the phone tonight that I realised how long it's been since I blogged. I feel light years away from the calm of the farm (say that out loud), pictured above. I have got some more photos, as promised, here.

Since then I've been... hmm, what have I been doing? I've been sucked into my lovely studio space, that's what I've been doing. I've been doing all sorts of interesting things, like helping people print their book pages, and starting my two broadside residents off in their new printing adventure, and teaching a book class at Megalo with an excellent bunch of people, and having lots of people visiting and staying and playing. It's been good fun, and it's actually my work. How lucky am I?

Sorry, I'm keeping this short, mainly because I've had a long day and I can't remember most of the things I wanted to blog. When I can remember them, I'll check back in!