Monday, December 20, 2004

Clotts and Flourishes

A wee update on my lovely belly piercing -- and thanks for the comments!

I broke into heavy cramping yesterday which felt a lot like labour pains, and started passing large fleshy blood clots (sorry, it will get less graphic from here!). Lucky me, apparently the doctors left a bit of placental material inside me (actually, it was probably hiding behind my 6cm fibroid) and I started the miscarriage which I was supposed to have a few weeks ago. Charming, I must say. So, on my GP's advice, I had a hot bath, took some mighty strong painkillers (thank god for the modern age of medicine), padded myself up, then sat up into the night watching Quo Vadis on Turner Classic Movie Channel, distracting myself with Peter Ustinov's fabulous Nero-tic caperings in front of a burning Rome.

About 2.30am I started feeling relatively normal, and today I'm almost a new girl, albeit fairly tired.

I have high hopes for the success of our trip to Brisbane on Wednesday. I should have finished the antibiotics by Friday, which means that there is a large bottle of red wine waiting for me on Christmas day. Then to Woodford! I can't wait to see Vince Jones performing in the Big Top on Monday night. He comes to Canberra regularly, but I very rarely catch him. If it means I have to travel 22 hours to see him, so be it. Other highlights I can spot so far on the schedule are The Happy Sideshow (things.... just.... get... better!), Rumpel the Clown and Stringmansassy. Yay!

If I don't get back here before Christmas, I wish you and yours all the best (and good health -- gawd knows we all need it).

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I'm having fun today

You Are From Saturn

You're steady, organized, and determined to achieve your dreams.
You tend to play it conservative, going by the rules (at least the practical ones).
You'll likely reach the top. And when you do, you'll be honorable and responsible.
Focus on happiness. Don't let your goals distract you from fun!
Don't be too set in your ways, and you'll be more of a success than you ever dreamed of.

Magic Merry-Go-Round in Space

In my quest for distraction, I just pressed the 'Next Blog' button onscreen. I thought the next blog was a permanent sort of thing, like Blogspot has a list that is static and we have proper next-door neighbours. But no! It's more fun than that. I don't know why it's taken me this long to work it out. I suppose it's because I tend to roam through people's blogs like a long chain letter, from familiar to new, rather than use the magic button on my dashboard. The first time I ever did it, way back when I set up the blog, my neighbour was a very sweet but utterly boring Christian minister, which put me off pressing the button again.

Today I thought I'd see what he was up to, only to find a porn video site offering me views of Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline rutting like rabbits sans the personalised tracksuits (I presume!) and loads more, like Paris Hilton and anyone who moves. In amused shock, I clicked back to my own blog, and then clicked forward again to see if I'd seen right, only to find a Spanish weblog! So I've missed out on a squizz at Kev & Brit, although I suspect they'd be pretty easy to find again if I had the inclination. What fun! I'm going to have a random spin thru cyberspace, which cheers me up no end. I'll let you know if I find anything worth mentioning.

(I know a lot of you will be going 'duh' at this point, but I'm not a habitual websurfer; I tend to use it in place of a ciggie break, five minutes at a time, now that I have taken on a healthy-lung lifestyle!)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Holey Moley

Warning -- girlie inner bits discussion.

One of the reasons why I've been lying low in my bolthole is because I have been pregnant and very sick with it. It was a complete surprise to discover that I'd fallen pregnant -- only a week after consulting my gyno about fertility problems. But the pregnancy was trouble from day one. I felt about 50 years old, and I kept bleeding all the time -- even on my wedding day, which was the only small blemish in an otherwise perfect event. Still, if it was going to get us to parenthood, I managed to keep my chin up and hope.

Alas, this week it all went completely wrong. We discovered that while my body thought it was 10 weeks pregnant, and the gestational sac was still growing and sending me hormones, the embryo itself had died at 6 weeks and 1 day (so specific!) which means the bleed I had 2 days after the wedding was the culprit. Bummer.

So I went to hospital on Wednesday for a supposedly straightforward D&C. Unfortunately the doctor perforated my uterus -- not one, not two, but three times! He then did a laproscopropy to check that he hadn't perforated any other organs (thankfully not), so between that and the numerous holes made by sticking cannulas in lots of veins that kept collapsing, I have more holes in me than a piece of lace. The doctor said it was his first perforation (and you know that the first time always hurts!). Lucky me.

So I feel like shit. A laproscopropy involves blowing up the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas and sending a telescope through the navel. The gas side effects make your neck and back muscles freeze up for days and your navel gets restructured. I was very fond of my neat little 'inny'. I wonder if it will be as cute after the stitches heal... My gyno had put me on the waiting list to have a laproscopropy, so hopefully this one means that I don't have to do it again. I'll just get the two doctors comparing notes about the beauty of my inner organs.

We are meant to be driving up to Queensland next week to camp at the Woodford Folk Festival. I'm hoping I feel up to it. Best Beloved has assured me that we won't leave unless I'm able to travel. I want to go only because I'm so sick of being sick! I need some fun. Badly. I'd rather be sore in a car looking at Big Things (Prospectors, Prawns, Oysters) and then sitting listening to damn fine music than staring at the mess in my house post-builders. So by hook or by crook I'm getting to Woodford. Watch this space.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Remember to breathe...

...especially when you're too busy to blog.
Sorry folks, back soon, I promise.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Impossible to blog daily at the moment as I am back in Canberra with the house in chaos as my lovely builders transform everything. Next week I will post before and afters. I am sitting at my computer with piles of crap all around me; I can't get through to my printer, but the keyboard is clear. I have work alarmingly backed up, so I feel guilty blogging... but I just have to register my utter utter disappointment in David Stratton.

While we were unable to get into the house on the weekend, Best Beloved and I sat in Belconnen Mall and read the papers, then saw a movie. We decided upon Team America: World Police, as we are both big South Park fans. While we were waiting, I read David Stratton's review of it in the Review section of the Weekend Australian (4-5 Dec, p. R22). I have an SBS/ABC watcher's innate and longstanding respect for David and Margaret; I don't take sides with either, preferring (as a Libran) to consider both sides. Until now. Oh, David!

This is what he has to say at the start of his review:

"... A sharp dose of political satire would be rather welcome at the moment, but Parker and Stone have come up with a movie that makes South Park look like an exercise in sophistication and maturity. To start with, there's the questionable decision of featuring string puppets (the strings are plainly visible) rather than animated characters; the puppets are ugly and comparatively clumsy, and decidedly off-putting..."

Oh, David... Der fucking DUH!!!! I can't believe how completely you missed the point. Team America is so obviously a homage to the Thunderbirds in every sense, from the plethora of flying/underwater craft to the dashing square-jawed heros to the hidden base camp in a major American domestic tourist destination. The use of these 'unsophisticated' puppets is a perfect metaphor for American foreign (and internal) affairs. They are, actually, quite sophisticated; the strings may be visible but the faces -- and special effects -- are computer-animated. Wouldn't it be wonderful if strings were always this visible? Then we'd get a clear view at the sort of control multinationals have over political issues. I'm sorry David, but you've lost any skerrick of review credibility for me. From now on, I'm with Margaret.

I don't want to ruin the story for anyone re. Team America, but go in with an open mind and a strong stomach. There is a lot you can do with string marionettes, especially if you stuff them with cat meat. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, especially the fact that, unlike many other movies bent on selling soundtrack spinoffs, every lyric counts. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh lovely pussy, oh pussy my love...

The wedding was perfect. The weather was superb, the site stunning, my outfit a little bit loose due to a bit of inadvertent weight-loss. Bumblebee said 'The Owl and the Pussycat' without a hitch, Best Beloved said his vows with a glint in his eye, and I had to stop myself from laughing out loud from sheer joy. The food afterwards was just right (mounds of prawns, a fabulous whole blue-eyed cod, marinated beef and lashings of salad). The cake was one of Mum's experiments, one that worked: bottom level was mandarin semolina, the top level chocolate almond. We sat around all afternoon in the shade, looking over to the beach. None of the kids threw up, nor any adults. My lovely old Nana got progressively more pissed, saying odd things every now and again about how wonderful we all were.

At the end of the day we all wandered down to the beach where the rising full moon was a stunning pumpkin-orange in the inky-blue sky, and Best Beloved danced with me on the edge of the sand. This meant more to me than the whole day put together, because he is morally and physically opposed to dancing (not anyone else, just his own body), and I love a good sway/bump/grind/pogo. So when he started to dance me around on the sand it took a moment for me to realise what he was doing, and I held my breath (or breathed very shallowly) until we stopped. Magical! Better than magic.

So a few days later I am sitting in an internet cafe in Bateman's Bay avoiding the heat and waiting to go in to the cinema to see Bridget Adams 2. The cabin we are staying in has a fabulous view of Depot Beach, just across the road. We have been feeding parrots and kangaroos by hand, and eating good food, and rediscovering the joys of cryptic crosswords. Two more days till we go home, and it is flying by far too fast for my liking.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Last Chance to...

...Blog. In a few hours my home office will be filled with brand new appliances and the house full of demolition dust. My computer will be inaccessible.

First thing tomorrow we will be getting up and hitting the road to the south coast to be wed -- Hooray! Bumblebee is at school today, thank goodness, because he's getting very excited and bouncy. Last night I went to a wonderful Hen's Night (thank you, girlhens) which may or may not be related on crazybrave's site today if she has enough braincells to share with us. Much chortling and pizza eating and making over of faces and nails. The obligatory edible undies are now in my bag ready for the wedding night (not just edible! Gummy! Should I have a Brazilian first?!).

One side of the house is almost empty, ready to be gutted and remodelled. Will go around and take shocking 'Before' photos to show people what a change has been wrought on our ex-govie. I used to hate this house. Whoever designed these shoeboxes did so with a meanness of spirit which shall return to them tenfold with any luck. I should explain. I am an Army Brat, and therefore have moved around a lot in my lifetime. When I left home I still had the bug, and spent my first ten years in Canberra moving almost as many times. I have lived in some stunning houses, and some shitboxes. This is the shittiest box of all, but it was bought by my parents years ago as an investment property, and they sold it to Best Beloved and I for only half the retail value, so this will be the last time I complain. It may be crappy, but it is all ours. And it is about to be transformed, so I will hopefully be in love with it in ten days. I'm certainly in love with living with Best Beloved, so how can it go wrong?

And only two sleeps to go.

Wish us luck. We are embarking upon an awfully big adventure. Here be dragons!
I will write again on Saturday week...

Bouquets to...

wheat, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

I'm giving this one to Jean Mulvaney again (sorry, no trackback, scroll down). I went to her funeral a couple of days ago, and got my facts straight about her epic bicycle ride. It was in 1946, with three other girls. They started from Melbourne, and no one gave them a big farewell, because they thought they'd give up within the month. One did; another stopped at Adelaide. Up at 80 Mile Beach in north WA, Jean and her friend had to get off their bikes, leave their gear, carry the bikes to the other end of the beach, then walk back and get their gear. The two young women worked their way around, taking on all sorts of jobs. At one point Jean worked for a couple of weeks as a crocodile shooter. Her friend stopped somewhere in the NT or the top of QLD, having met and fallen in love with someone on a station. Jean wasn't daunted by the lack of company. She kept going, working and riding her way down the East coast alone until she made it back to Victoria. The whole trip took well over a year. Her family and friends know good chunks of the story, but she never thought it interesting enough to write down in great detail, and so the whole adventure dies with her. And that's only one small part of an incredibly rich and purposeful 81 years. Can you see why I'm going to miss her?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Take a big deep breath...

Four (4!) sleeps to go until the wedding of my lifetime (always want to write 'weeding', which I guess is rather apt, as I have weeded out a lot of wrongies from my past). Just as one aspect of organising not just a wedding but also a major renovation (sorry, no backtrack; just scroll down aways) comes under control, another rears its ugly head. Stress comes, stress goes. So many waves of stress that I feel like giving up and giving a faint wave as the tide drifts me away into the deeps.

One source of underlying worry, so to speak, has been (mal)lingering for a number of weeks now. It concerns a missing pair of undies. I have been visiting outlaws and own parents over the last couple of months and at one point I've come home undie-less. Yikes! I wouldn't worry if they were just normal undies, even if they were my oldest middle-of-a-period scungies. But these are not just any undies. They are my apple-green boy-leg Bonds undies with the words 'Sweet Cunt' emblazoned on the front in glitter. Extremely comfy, and ever-so nice to wear underneath the straightest of clothes. Not something I'd buy for myself until now, now that I've experienced the fun of secret undie messages. These were given to me as a trade by the fabulous Fairy Shop at the National Folk Festival in return for downloading the emails from their laptop.

Once I realised they were missing, I had to think back as to where I could have left them. With my mother? She could cope, unlike my dad, who would turn purple at the idea of his daughter wearing the 'c' word (but would never, ever admit to seeing them, like the good ex-Catholic boy he is). No, my mum would have returned them with a giggle. With my soon-to-be Inlaws? They are both open-minded people, but also both Ministers of the Uniting Church. Well, it could account for the slightly pursed lips on Mother Outlaw when she came to Canberra a few weeks ago. But would she have returned them?

These sorts of thoughts have been running through my mind at 2am when I wake and can't get back to sleep. Today comes the anti-climax. I pulled down my backpack to start packing for the coast (yay! 3 sleeps to go until we head down the highway!) and when I looked through it (again... believe me, I looked at other times), I saw a hint of green on one of the side compartments. I have never been so relieved to see a sparkle in my life. So what was the pursed lips thingy about?

The best thing is that I can wear them under my wedding outfit. Huzzar!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bollywood Bliss

I was just cruising through Blogland reading various accounts of the Sydney Grogblog, when I stumbled upon Agent FareEvader's mention of the Bollywood Marsala International Film Festival 2004 which is hitting Melbourne in a couple of days. Canberra has just hosted this festival, and it is such good fun. I'm kicking myself that we only got to catch 2 of the films, but they were absolute beauties.

Best Beloved has spent a fair bit of time in India, travelling and studying, so is always keen to partake of a bit of Bollywood. Our DVD collection is getting pretty colorful as well. His theory is that it's not Bollywood without a Wet Sari Scene, a theory which held up quite well for the two very different films we saw, Chameli and Main Hoon Na.

Chameli is not classical Bollywood, although it has a lot of the elements. The storyline is almost Pretty Woman; prostitute meets rich man and changes his perceptions about the trade and they fall in love. This is a classier version. It takes place over one night, and the set is used very dramatically, almost like a stage production. It is set in monsoon season, so it is constantly raining, which on one hand provides the curtains for the 'stage' atmosphere, and also allows a manditory wet sari scene. I loved this movie. I highly recommend it.

The other movie we saw in the festival was a classic Bollywood production: Main Hoon Na (2004). Set in gorgeous Darjeeling, it had the baddest (and cheesiest) of baddies, the goodest of goodies, the most beautiful of beauties (and a wet sari scene) and the most fabulous costumes. It had a touch of Grease to it, especially at the end. Lots of humour, excitement, special effects, singin and dancing. The script is written and directed by a woman, Farah Khan, who pays homage to traditional Bollywood, and injects it with very a modern sense of fun and politics. There are a number of Matrix-like effects, including a brilliant spoof involving mucus. If you only get to see one film in this festival, I think it should be this one, although I have to warn you that it is over three hours long (not that I even noticed).

When I say 'we' only saw two movies, I should add that Best Beloved went to a third by himself, which was Ab Tak Chappan, a gritty police-based thriller, which he really enjoyed.

If you are in Melbourne, go along to the festival, and tell me if you can understand a word said by the sponsor of the festival in his pre-film blurb (no peeking at the programme)! If you know anyone in Melbourne, tell them about it. And check if the festival is heading your way, because it's too good to miss.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday brunch

Again, I'm having a break from printing my wedding announcements (last pass through the press! 6 sleeps to go! yay!) and thinking about the day so far. Best Beloved and I just had brunch with a bunch of friends at a certain cafe in Belconnen (I know, a long shot, but stick around...) beside the lake. One couple from the bunch walk to this cafe every Sunday for breakfast, but they are moving next weekend so we decided to all go as a farewell gesture. J mentioned that she'd booked an outside table as we all have babies, dogs etc. we rocked up, and were shown to a table inside. No, no, we said. She'd specifically mentioned outside. Hesitation on the cafe's part until J arrived and insisted that we be seated outside. Room was found outside, but in full sun, which was nice for the first 5 minutes, but was quite painful as time went on. Even the waiter who took our order had tears in his eyes from the glare, which may go partly some of the way as to why our order went askew. When some people in the shade moved on we leapt up and spent a good 5 minutes rearranging the tables and seating so that we were much cooler. We had five kids (including 2 babies) and a dog, and it was almost slapstick for a while, including a number of annoyed waitpersons hovering around us trying to deliver the wrong orders. My order was fairly simple -- I wanted the poached eggs with mushrooms, bacon and spinach on thick toast, which was a standard menu item, and I requested a dob of hollandaise sauce with it. This seemed to confuse them utterly. They probably wondered why I didn't just have the Eggs Benedict. But! I didn't want salmon, I didn't want just ham... was it really so hard? It took them 3 goes to bring me the right combination. At least the eggs were firm, as I requested, although I suspect that was more to do with the to-ing and fro-ing than the cooking time. We did have a good time, apart from these and other minor glitches, like the usual coffee fracas (who is having the decaf latte? No, we ordered a three normal latte). But by the end we all heaved a big sigh, as I'm sure did the staff. Almost a good thing it was the last of the regular sundays!
Back to the press.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Blog yer pet Friday

Snout out, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

No, this is not a muppet. This is Lucky, our extremely inquisitive family mongrel. We know he is part Jack Russell and part fox terrier. We think he is also part whippet, as he has very long legs and a whippety chest, and he's the fastest dog I've ever known. Let's just say he's not anywhere near a pedigree dog.

However, he is a wonderful family dog, great with kids large or small, and has a ball obsession. No joke. This dog can play ball until he drops dead of exhaustion, and even then he'd try for more. He also likes sticking his snout where it's not welcome.

He is meant to belong to Bumblebee, but of course he imprinted on me, so I am Ruler of the Universe, which has made me sway away temporarily from my preference of cats. I've never been so unconditionally adored. It's addictive. I feel like I'm betraying my late beloved cat, but what else can I do when my little furry mate just sits and stares lovingly at me all day? Throw the ball, of course.

C*nty camera

Fuckaduck!, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

I am so sick of my digicam dying. I bought the bloody thing duty-free on the way to Korea in June and it did a beautiful job until the second-last day of my trip, which was the first day of free time to look at all the gorgeous palaces and art districts. C*nt! I cried, in between squirts, as this was also the day on which I contracted a lovely case of giardia. I still made it around some beautiful areas, and saw most of the toilets in north Seoul, but I have no photos other than those my colleague took.

Anyway, sent the camera back, and it was returned with the message that they couldn't find anything wrong with it. Annoyingly, it did work when I opened the parcel. For a time. Then it died again. So I sent it back with printouts of the photos it was taking, like the gorgeous self-portrait above. This time it was returned after being 'fixed'. Yeah, well, if my dog was fixed the same way I'd be the proud owner of a daddy dog by now.

This time it lasted less than a month and died again. So this time I have demanded a new camera or my money back. I mean, I have not mistreated the camera! I kept it nicely padded, downloaded the photos scrupulously to the directions, lavished love and attention on it. I also mentioned to the company that I am getting married next week and I am disappointed that I won't have a camera on my honeymoon. You can all vouch that I am not scamming this company. If they don't respond honourably to that I am going to be naming names and going to my local consumer rights people.

So no more nice pics until the issue is resolved. Maybe I'll start plundering my archives. Maybe now is the time to mount some Korean snaps. Hmmm...

Text du jour

Remember!, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

These are the most basic things to remember when playing with letterpress. This blackboard entry has not been touched for a couple of years (along with the magic number 0.918), and nor shall it be while my mind continues to operate like a kitchen thingy with lots of little holes. No one could even accuse my memory of being a steel trap. I blame all that dope in the 80s with a healthy whack of genetic demensia.

Anyway, for anyone who cares, whenever I'm swearing at a proof and wondering why the text has a little white shadow on one side, or is only just grazing the page, I look at the board and try to nut out the problem.

Just in case it is illegible thanks to the original low-res quality of the image, let me lay out the law, just in case you're interested...

1. pressure - rollers (inking)
- packing (paper)
2. paper - humidity
- texture
3. viscosity (ink) - too thin
- too thick

Considering any combination of those factors saves my arse every time. A bit of press tinkering, and all usually runs smoothly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Remember to breathe

roses, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

This bouquet is for Jean Mulvaney, one of the kindest, sweetest, strongest and most inspirational women I have ever met.

When she was 18 she rode around Australia on a bicycle with (I think) 5 other young women. Most found husbands along the way, and Jean and one other were the only ones to finish the trip. I'm talking late 1930s. Fantastic.

I met Jean properly quite late in her life, when I worked for her husband, Professor John Mulvaney. She looked vaguely familiar, and we laughingly worked out that she'd been the Girl Guide Commissioner for Canberra when I'd been a Brownie in the 1970s (!) and I'd shook her hand at a jamboree, or whatever those things were called.

John and Jean were complete opposites: she loved dancing, swimming in the sea, eating exotic foods; he disliked all of it. She would be playing on the beach with the kids, jumping in the water, and he would be fully clothed and shod, on the sand (in the shade, if possible) reading the latest book on history -- or, more likely, writing it. Nevertheless, they were a close couple, extremely devoted to one another.

Jean was highly intelligent, had a fabulous sense of humour and a warmth and interest in humans that extended past her 6 children and umpteen grandchildren. She volunteered for many social duties, including aiding nursing mothers and visiting people in jail. She was a jail visitor for so long that she often laughed at the fact that she was visiting generations of prisoners from the same families...

Jean died on Saturday, and my thoughts go out to John and the family. She died at home, and peacefully, but after a long period of complications arising from a botched operation. She will be deeply missed by many many people in the Canberra community, and our area is the poorer for her passing. I only hope that she gets some sort of public recognition for her efforts over the years.

RIP Jean Mulvaney.


lush, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Material Girl

So hard to blog from home these days! I don't know what the technical glitch is, but my home computer plays favorites at the moment. I can get into my own blog but I can't add a post; I can read anyone's blog except crazybrave! If it doesn't sort itself out I will take an axe to it and stuff the expense. Maybe I should treat the motherboard to a nice glass of red wine.

Anyway, I am at work, recovering from my weekend of moving art out of my huge metal map-drawers, getting Best Beloved and friend to shift it into the Horrible Decrepid Garage (HDG) and then putting all the art back in with great trepidation -- will the drawers keep the damp out? Will the mouse who lives in the corner cupboard find its way into the drawers and nibble my life drawings? I am on the lookout for a set of drawers that can fit in the beautiful new design for our lounge, preferably in wood, but until then all is banished to the HDG.

Meanwhile, 11 sleeps to go! Builder friend came over on the weekend with colour swatches and design ideas for the kitchen. Very nice, I must say. The cupboard door are to be made of frames of recycled timber with a centre panel of what looks like black cast glass, but on closer inspection turns out to be common old steel panels that trucks use as ramps! Very solid, very noice, unusual, different, yers. Feature panels, including on the lounge-side floating arc-shaped bench/breakfast bar, will be colourbond 'mini-orb' (I think he called it) which means metal with very small corrugations, in a deep blood-red, and the benchtops will be a stone-grey glossy melamine. A bit funky, a bit traditional. Hard-wearing, because I am the world's shittiest housekeeper.

Best Beloved and I went shopping for appliances and hated every moment, because frankly, we'd rather be having a lie-in with a hot cuppa and a good book (have I ever mentioned that most of our wall-space is now bookshelves?). We found a dishwasher fairly quickly, thanks to Choice Magazine. The stove and cooktop took a bit longer; we wanted gas everything, but after looking at lots of options, we ended up with a gas cooktop, electric oven, and a separate grill. We found that all the ovens with inbuilt grills made the space too small, and we didn't think we could grill and bake at the same time (the salesperson assured us we could, but she didn't look -- or sound -- like much of a cook). We already have the uber-fridge, which is so large that the kitchen space is being modelled around it, and a small microwave, and that's probably all the gizmos we'll need, apart from the small plug-in ones that rapidly accumulate. Did I mention that my sister-in-law in giving me us a pressure cooker as a wedding present? Yay! No more tinned chickpeas (rarely have time or the forethought to soak).

So this is my materialista rave. So many new things, so much to do and think about. Map-drawers done, now to pack up kitchen appliances, take down curtains, finish the bloody wedding announcements, pick up beautiful wedding clothes (and Best Beloved's ring) and try to get some sleep. Yay!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Afternoon musings

On the quick march uphill to wedded bliss (17 sleeps and counting), I'm too exhausted to be excited yet. Too much printing, too much anger about the country and the fuckwits who are leading it astray, too much furniture moving and cleaning. For now we are having our dream kitchen built while we're away getting married, which means that we have to pack up everything, eat everything in the fridge, chuck out all the crap and somehow get my plan drawers full of art out of the house and into the garage. I can't tell you how much I wish I could go to sleep tonight and wake up in a month.

The kitchen is being remodelled by a friend of ours who is a master-craftsman. We asked him just to give us some ideas on how to organise the space in our tiny Private Jetty, and he offered to do the job. We then gave him a small budget, and he is planning to do wonders with it, including knocking out a wall, pulling out a chimney, putting in a skylight, making all the cupboards himself. I feel so lucky, grateful and in awe all at once. What a wedding present!

I feel so blessed that I feel like doing something for someone else. Best Beloved and I were discussing whether to buy each other a wedding gift to give each other on the day. It's something my ex and I did and it was a lovely thing. But we're getting so much, and spending so much on ourselves, that I think I'd rather decide on an amount of money that we would have used for the gift, and give it to the charity of the other person's choice. that way I won't feel so self-indulgent when I come home. I don't know about Best Beloved, but my pet charity is Catherine Hamlyn's fistula hospital in Ethiopia. If you've never read or heard about the women she helps, have a look.

I can't stop yawning, and it's only mid-afternoon. I try to blog at night and on weekends, but it seems to be high-traffic time, and my blogs never make it through the mosh. I figure that gives me licence to blog at work. I don't smoke, don't drink coffee, so how else can I take a break without someone asking me to do something for them? Sit on the computer with a 'just give me ten minutes' look on my face, that's how. And curiously, it works.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Quest to Sprog (cont.) & a footnote about Abortion

Currently taking a break from printing 185 wedding announcements by letterpress (not invitations!). Didn't choose a new easy design that lets me whip them through the press twice, once for front and once for back, did I? No, had to choose one that means each one of the 185 goes through no less than five times, and have to be left to dry overnight inbetween prints. Sigh. Serves me right. Anyway, I'm 3/4 through session number 2.

I went to the gyneacologist the other day (the same one who said, while examining me with my legs up in stirrups, 'I think I was at the birth of your son'. I kid you not. What else could I say but 'Why, does it look familiar down there?'. She had the decency to blush and laugh.) about my fibroids and the lack of pregnancy therewith. Apparently I have to have a laproscoscopy (I think I've spelled it right) which is a horrible invasive procedure which puts a telescope through my navel while my abdomen is pumped up with gas. Thank goddess I am to have a general anaesthetic during this. So I am on a waiting list, since I refuse to pander to Government blackmail about private health insurance.

Meanwhile my fabulous aunt, a Chinese-Medicine practitioner, has prescribed four different pots of herbs for me to drink through my cycle. One is for my bleeding days, the next for the days between my period and ovulation, another for the three or so days around ovulation, and the last for the days until I bleed again. Auntie has a great reputation in her country NSW practice as a baby-maker. She is trying to make the fibroids less dominating, and trying to enhance my fertility. I tell you what, they taste foul, but anything is better than a telescope whacked through my navel.

So I will persist, and hopefully something good will happen. We are giving ourselves two years to try everything, even IVF if needs be (but only with our own components, i.e., eggs and sperm), and then we are just going to stop and get on with having a happy life.

And for the record: I have had an abortion, way back when I was too young to be able to cope with a young child; I have also given birth to a child who turns out to have been a complete miracle and maybe the only child I will ever have. It doesn't make any difference to my attitude towards abortion.

I support, and always will, the right for a woman to choose what she does with her body. Abortion is something which women will always seek if they have to. It has been around for as long as Humankind has been. When abortion is illegal, women have illegal abortions. Far better for them to have access to safe facilities than to die in unsafe environments under dirty tools with doctors (if they are lucky) who are terrified of being caught. The only difference between legal and illegal abortions is the rate of death -- with illegal abortion, more women die.

But don't just ingest my little morsel on this debate -- take a great big mouthful of crazybrave's sensitive polemic.

The War on Consciousness

I'm so sick of this government already. Aren't you?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Big Pussy

Puss, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

This is not my dearly departed cat, Karma. This is Mystery Kitty, sent to me by email ages ago. I'm a bit late for Blog Yer Pussy Friday, but I do love this lap-crusher.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Remember to breathe

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
This still life is a bouquet for crazybrave. I can't wait to see you back on screen! I keep checking, because I know the laptop returns today.

I love this photo. Makes me think of Vermeer.

I can't believe how much rain Canberra is getting. The view from my study window is lush as lush as lush, with little pink camelias nodding at me in the rain. Some smooth jazz coming out of the speakers and I'm ready to do some boring rainy-day financials. I hate the way the Government has made me play tax-collector as well as all theother bloody things on my plate. When I rule the world I will make John Howard eat my tax records, page by page.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dropping pennies

Apparently the Albatross* has been told I'm getting married, and he's a bit grumpy. Well tough titties. I didn't tell him in person because:
1. It's none of his business (i.e. it doesn't change any of his access or legal rights)
2. I'm sick of him making snarky comments about my personal life when we're alone. He never does it when anyone else is around, which proves how much of a coward he is.

He's probably grumpy mainly because I haven't told him in person, but I think a good chunk of it may be the realisation that I didn't reject him while pregnant because I'm a lesbian (as he has postulated to me a few times) but because he's a fuckwit. At last! The penny drops!

At least he hasn't expressed any of this negativity to the Bumblebee, who came home saying that his dad seemed pretty happy that we were getting married, but that they did have a bit of a talk about how Best Beloved isn't really his dad, and you can only have one real dad. Duh. We have no intention of downplaying Important Father Role in Child's Life. Unless Important Dad does something really stupid and dangerous like go senile (perfectly possible, since he's the same age as my dad who is starting to have lost moments).

Still, 24 sleeps (and counting). Nothing's going to spoil my fun.

*See glossary on sidebar

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Duck Wedding

As my esteemed colleague, crazybrave mentioned the other day, I have upcoming nuptuals. Very upcoming nuptuals, actually. I have been telling myself that they are a couple of months away, but with the start of November yesterday I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have only 3 1/2 weeks left.

This is my second wedding, and Best Beloved's first. Neither of us are very taken with the idea of a big wedding, we just want to wake up one day and be married. Unfortunately, to do that, you have to go through some sort of ceremony. In the Territory of the Free it is not possible to just stand in front of an official desk and do the bare minimum. Apparently they no longer have a dedicated room for ceremonies. So in Canberra the bare minimum is hiring a celebrant. We did look across the borders, but to have a registry wedding in Sydney involves starting with an appointment during office hours just to set a date, and neither of us have time to visit Sydney during the week. Civil wedding facilities in sunny Queanbeyan involve standing in the foyer of the courthouse with a Judge between 4 and 4.30pm on a Thursday afternoon. Not really to our taste, especially as you had to take a chance as to who would be in the foyer with you, waiting for their hearings. And every time I rang someone about having a simple registry wedding, the vibe on the phone was "Why don't you get out there and do this properly, you tight twats?"

There's a very simple answer to this vibe. Because I have better things to do with my energy and money than spend at least $20,000 and over a year of planning on a day that I won't even enjoy due to anxiety that I'm not doing it right. Best Beloved and I like buying books, eating and paying off the mortgage on our tiny little house. We don't need masses of white fabric, scads of flowers and a limitless bar tab. We have a friend who is getting married in October next year, and she's already been planning it for over a year already! We have a sweep going on how much she's spending, and the general consensus is not under $40,000. It's a number that takes my breath away.

My first wedding was a simple affair (and a fantastic party, thanks to my terrific friends) but it will look like Charles and Diana's wedding compared to this second one. We decided that if we had to get a celebrant, then we might as well have a celebrant marrying us somewhere we liked being. So we are going coastal. We shall stand on the beach, barefoot and splendid in something nice to wear, and say our vows in front of our immediate family. Bumblebee will get to participate in the ceremony by holding rings and saying a po-em, and then we shall sit down somewhere shady with a case of champagne and a bucket of prawns. Divine. Friends are grumbling, but hell, it's our day. I'm sure we shall celebrate with them some other way.

OK, I've cheered myself up and distracted myself from impending American doom. Everyone send good thoughts into the ether tonight to boost Kerry's voting appeal.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Printing Gloom and Doom

I've just had a great afternoon printing on the letterpress. I'm working on a print edition for the Gallery 451 Political Print Exchange and I think I've finished it. Unfortunately the gloom that is sitting at the back of my brain thanks to the impending US electoral farce has oozed all over my creativity and the print is pretty sombre.

I dunno: it's raining, I've got some bluesy jazz on the studio stereo, and all I can think about is whether Americans are going to shock me and show some sense or if they're going to be as cowardly as most of Australia and stick with a horrendous Government just because a change is too scary. The afternoon has had overtones of a cliched Hollywood movie, but at least it's been productive.

Oh shit. I just remembered that I left my bike light on the bike all day and it's probably going to malfunction on the way home, which means a wet and dark ride. Nothing like a sustained mood, eh?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Warning: Full power ahead

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
I composed this image today while thinking about the gallery 451 print exchange project. It didn't really work as a print, but I thought it had merit as a digital image. If anyone would like a high-res version of this (about A4 size) let me know and I will send it to you. If you use it, mentally attribute it to me (no need to physically acknowledge me anywhere).

Remember not to breathe

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
This is the downside of letterpress printing, even if we do have low-odour solvents these days.

This was a beautiful colour, a mix of silver and mapping brown.

The press is a Graphix proofing press.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sick Fun

I thought blowing up John Howard was the ultimate in rage control and procrastination fun, but now I have foundPresident Bush Drag'n'drop! Click on Bush and lift him up, try to click and catch him as he falls for points. If you smash him against the wall and catch him again, your points are doubled! The bloody crunches are highly therapeutic. I am also trying to beat my personal best to keep a staggering German drunk upright and walking is excellent therapy. Highly recommended. Apparently the record is 82m! My PB is 69m. Remember not to click your mouse once he's walking...

Sometimes it's fun being sick with access to a computer (poor crazybrave, my heart goes out to you!)

Take the o out of mucous, it's still mucus

When I was in high school my best friend and I had a game we used to play while getting drunk on her mother's cooking sherry and smoking illicit fags. Remember that song by the Motels called 'Take the L out of Lover and it's over'? That's the game. Take a letter out of a word and see what you come up with. Stupid song, great wordplay fun. Of course, you have to say the line in a tragic voice to match Martha's peerless musical whining.
Decades later I still catch myself doing it. I stumbled onto a goodie the other day as I was setting type:
-- Take the I out of Married and it's marred.
A serious little number, non?

I'm feeling like shit on a plate today. Head-cold city. In fact, after flirting with the idea of working on my computer by testing myself on a blog entry, I think it's time to crawl back to bed and to a good book. I'm reading Jonathon Strange and Mr Norris at the moment, which takes masses of energy only because you have to hold the bloody thing -- such a thick book! If they'd just reduced the leading a bit (which would have suited the ye olde worldy style the publishers were trying to achieve) it would be a lot lighter. A reviewer called this book Harry Potter meets Charles Dickens. Pretty fair assessment so far, but with the worst of each, not the best. I'm enjoying it so far, but there's a fair way to go and I'm wondering if Susannah Clarke can sustain the (casual) pace. A pretty good book to read during the Canberra Slow Festival.


Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
Caption at top: "May God bless this type-room and all who print in her."
Caption at bottom: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This has been on the studio wall for longer than I remember. My favorite anecdote about this picture is about an open day a few years ago, when lots of people come through the art school and ask all sorts of fun questions while you work. A woman came in, walked around the room, looked up at Liz, did a double-take, then glared at me and walked around a bit more. At first I thought she was just an affronted republican, but she kept wandering back to the image and seemed to be getting more and more agitated.
Finally she sidled up to me and said 'You realise she's a fake, don't you?'
Thinking she meant that it was a poster not a photo, I said 'oh yes, but she's been here for ages.'
She replied 'Nobody realises that she's just standing in for me. I'm the real fucking Queen Elizabeth!'
Uh oh.
I looked at her and said something like 'Is that right?'
She spent the next ten minutes telling me a terrific story about how she'd organised a double so that she could lead a life of plebian freedom, but now Liz was really fucking her off by taking the whole thing too seriously, and she was beginning to doubt that she'd ever get back to the throne. At this point (just when I was quite getting into the whole thing), a security guard came along and gently removed her from the building.
It turned out that this woman was a regular on previous open days and the school had a restraining order out on her! She apparently had the potential to be violent, but I'm sure Liz kept her (and I) engaged enough to keep things rolling along amicably.
I like the idea of the Queen being an imposter; makes reading Royal reports in crap magazines all the more fun.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
This beautiful object is a type-cleaning brush. It was given to me yesterday by a happy client after doing a very small and easy design job for her. It's such a fantastic present (for me, anyway)!

The circle on the end is a lid which unscrews to allow kero or turps to be poured into the top half of the brush. When the lid is done up it becomes a solvent distributor; you brush the ink off the type, pressing the little button on top when you want a shot of solvent, rather like ironing with steam. The metal is brass, a bit tarnished at the moment, but I intend to shine it up and just gaze at it for a few years until I can set up my home printing studio.

I haven't felt this pleased since I found a brass typesetting ruler at a garage sale and the fellow offered it to me for a dollar because he had no idea what it was. I gave him $2. I love a bit o' printing paraphanalia, me. I'm always on the look out for wood type, if anyone knows of some...

Text du jour

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
I found out yesterday what the difference is between a virtual journal and a paper one -- a paper one doesn't block your entry and deprive you of the chance to vent. Blog deprivation is a disconcerting feeling. Managing to get on today felt so good I fear for my soul...

This lovely piece of letterpress was done by a student lost to the annals of time. I've put it on the wall because it sums up much of my life experience. The trace of poster above it is a photo of good Queen Liz blessing the typeroom and all who print within it. Actually, I may blog that too, later.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Setting break

Taking a short break from setting type, and since I don't drink coffee nor smoke the evil weed, thought I'd share a couple of the things told to me over the years by salty old type-dogs, things that endear me to playing with dirty letters:

-- only tighten the quoins with the key until your knuckles spread slightly, not until they whiten.
-- adding black to a colour saddens the colour.

These are things of no relevance to a computer. In fact, they probably mean very little to most people. But they resonate for me, and of all the things I forget and remember on a daily basis (and believe me, there's a lot of the former), these two snippets have stuck with me, along with anything played on Countdown between 1980 and 1982.

I'm sure there's more pearls of wisdom stuck in my head somewhere, and they may flounder to the surface sometime, but for now: that'll do, pig, that'll do.

John Hunt is a Coward

Yes, this can be found on a t-shirt. I've been cruising the blogs, picking up on ever so many fun things. This site sells a few valuable fashion items for our lamentable situation. The culprit is a hoot, which, combined with the fact that his hometown is my mother's hometown, endears me to him somewhat. If I had more expendable income I'd buy a few things from here, but can't decide between the Johnny shirt and the 'axis of evil' shirt. Be warned! If you are squeamish about sodomy, shut your eyes as you tiptoe around the site.


Doubled over in a mixture of mirth and abasement at some of the excellent political discussions arising post-election.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Weekend jollity

I've had one of those weekends where there's been no time to blog. This is a good thing, because it means I've been off the computer all weekend, and my neck will thank me for it. Yesterday I finished my poetic square spiral. I looked at it, proofed it, and with the classic decision-making skills of a female Libran, decided I didn't like it, so pulled it apart and make a different configuration. I didn't have my digicam with me, so the technical brilliance of that particular creative endeavour is now lost forever. Never mind, I fully enjoyed the moment and that is what counts.

After this intoxicating day of creation and destruction I chuffed off to the elegant surrounds of the Canberra Polish Club with Best Beloved (Bumblebee was visiting the Albatross for the weekend) to get wonderfully pished (decided to beat the non-baby blues by falling gracefully off the wagon for a couple of weeks) in the company of Martin Pearson. If you don't know this fellow, get acquainted, especially if you happen to like the Lord of the Rings trilogy (both book and film). Martin, a most irreverent folkie, does a wonderful and very loving parody called The Unfinnished Spelling Errors of Bolkien. Every year after each film came out he would perform the latest instalment of the parody at Woodford Folk Festival. He recorded a version of the three episodes after Easter at the Polish club which was made into a CD, and I am in the audience... I'm going to listen to the CD later in the week and see if my trademark laugh is audible or if it has been fuzzed out by the sound technician. I'm not terribly proud of this laugh, and can usually keep it controlled, but Martin tends to snap all the restaints.

Last night he launched into one of his favorite monologues, on the weirdness of the plane trip that he'd just taken to get to the gig. I don't think I can do justice to this one, but it involved him walking up to the check-in staff at Virgin, placing his bag on the conveyor belt and saying helpfully "There's nothing flammable, sharp or explosive in my bag." The woman said immediately "I'm sorry sir, you're not allowed to say the word 'explosive' to me."
Martin replied "Why aren't I allowed to say the word 'explosive' to you?" She pointed to the sign which says that jokes about security threats would not be tolerated. He told her that he didn't say the word 'explosive' as a joke, but to be helpful. She got quite flustered and just repeated that he wasn't allowed to say that word. He asked what would be the consequences of saying 'explosive', and she replied that he would have to be inspected for traces of explosives on his person and the manager would be called. Then she asked him if he would like an aisle seat or a window seat.
"Hang on, just go back a bit," said Martin. "I haven't quite finished with this topic... Why aren't I allowed to helpfully say the word 'explosive?" (He didn't mind being inspected, he was there an hour and a half early, nothing better to do, and this was just way too much fun.) ... and on it went, until finally the manager was called. Martin explained his helpfulness, and she explained her position. Martin estimates that by the end of the interlude, he had managed to say 'explosive' around 21 times, she had said it 11 times, and the manager had said it 3 times. Fun with airlines!

I had a few ciders through the night (I have to drink cider with folk stuff) and because I haven't been drinking much, well, at all, lately, they went straight to my head. And the more pished I got, the funnier Martin got, or seemed to get. Then I thanked him profusely, got on my bike and rode carefully down the dark bike tracks (with Best Beloved, who usually rides very fast, doing his best to ride as slowly as I) of the Inner North. At one point I pointed my wheels towards the (quite wide) pedestrian space in the middle of a traffic island and missed. I hit the slopey kerb of the island instead and got quite a rude shock which unleashed a torrent of giggles most of the rest of the way home. Not very dignified, but who wants to be on a Saturday night?

Today I had to entertain my soon-to-be Parents-in-Law. I wasn't worried, until Best Beloved woke at 6am and got up to clean instead of lolling around in bed as is his usual Sunday wont. They weren't arriving until 6.30pm, so I got the hint that he'd like the usual pigsty transformed. But you can't make a silk purse etc. etc., so I managed to disguise the really objectionable bits and place Mother with her back to the Wall of Crud (a mound of boxes and future-useful-things that doesn't look very suave) while she ate, and I think I got away with it. I cooked a pretty cool chicken lasagne to use the lasagne dish she gave me for my birthday (!) and also tried out a chocolate-beetroot cake that turned out very nicely, especially with a side-dish of honeyed farm cheese. Bumblebee came back from the Albatross still dressed in the clothes he was wearing yesterday and when asked if he'd changed them at all replied that his dad hadn't bothered to bring his bag of clothes in from the car! Unbelievable. I guess he's also giving him lessons on how to scratch his crotch in public and open his beer with one eyeball.

Best Beloved wants to sleep, so I'd better stop (if I don't go to bed early, I don't catch the worm, so to speak!).

Friday, October 22, 2004

Remember to breathe

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Text du jour

Find out for yourself

Well, don't bother because the link doesn't work anymore. Bastards moved the page to their archives and I can't be bothered delving to find it. Basically it was about a fellow in the 19th century who established a museum in England (as rich men with large collections tend to do) and now the museum staff are having trouble sending emails and maintaining a website for the museum because of its name.
'What is the name?' I hear you cry. The HORNIMAN Museum. Apparently spamblockers and web censors are going crazy every time an email from this place hits any server. Fabulous. I'd love to hear of any other names having problems with this sort of modern dilemma.

HP Source

When Best Beloved moved into my house (now OUR house) he brought his extensive book collection to merge in with my extensive book collection. Our house is tiny, and nearly all the wall space is now taken up with vast built-in shelving. Normally you'd think we would have a few boxes of doubled-up books to take down to the next school fete, but Best Beloved tends to read non-fiction (a lot of books involving: cults, sundry weird religions, Chick tracts, the CIA, India, and freaks. He has a love of all things kooky) and I'm hooked on all things fictional, so the only things we doubled up on were the Harry Potter series and Salman Rushdie's Fury.

We have become HP afficionados. We have read all the books privately, and out loud to Bumblebee; we've got four of the books on CD, and they are listened to on long car trips as well as when Bumblebee eats his breakfast (Stephen Fry does an excellent job, although I'm getting to the point where I may have to lock the cds in a cupboard for a few years); plus we have the Gameboy HP games, the videos of both movies, and various articles of HP costumery, including a wand that makes lots of magical noises but has only one spell (which is to drive me up the wall).

Best Beloved also has a fancy Google search to winkle out interesting facts about JKR and the upcoming book/s. This reports back every morning like a malformed lab assistant crowing about the latest gravedigging triumph. The latest choice tidbit postulates that JKR may kill off Cho Chang in the next book. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if she did. I have a lot of respect for her ability to kill off people and introduce new characters far later than other authors would. And I wouldn't mind seeing the back of CC anyway. I'm rooting for Ginny. But I wouldn't place a bet about it. Don't people have better things to do with their money? I'm sure someone in Sudan would like 100 pounds to see if they live or die.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Best Beloved

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
Gorgeous, ain't he?

Someone else's head space

Sometimes I feel completely out of touch, and grateful for it!

Text du jour

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
A bit of spray adhesive would have made this a lot more plausible. I dunno, art students have good ideas but they need to pay attention to the fine details. Still, it lasted a couple of days before being ripped down.

Printmakers unite

Very exciting, all this blogging. All sorts of connections wiring up. I'm now promising to be involved in what sounds like a damn exciting venture involving the noble art of printmaking. Lawrence Finn has launched a gallery in Sydney called Gallery 451 Printermakers Artist Initiative. Makes me drool just thinking about it. Well, there's lots of galleries who show prints, but the difference is that this one is political! Vibrant! Encouraging discussion! Fabbo. As I said to Lawrence, all I have to do now is get off my BFFA (maybe I should start a glossary in my sidebar; hmm, good idea) and make some work. Work for myself, that is. I'm always making work for others.

Oh -- and thank you Zoe, for the encouraging words. I'm glad to hear that dirty letters can be entertaining!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Still (f**ked-up) Life

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
I've had a really shitty day. Actually, it would have been a really enjoyable day except that I made a big mistake early on, and it fucked up everything. There's no other way to describe it. I made a mistake that potentially ruined a four-year artist book project, and didn't only because a solution around the problem eventually appeared, but it still means a lot of deviationary work over the next few weeks. I'm not going to go into it here because I think yesterday's letterpress entry was a boring enough excursion into my world of dirty letters.

Instead I want to share one of my weekly pleasures, which is visiting an elderly friend for a few hours to help her with anything she can think up: shopping, writing, changing lightbulbs, you get the picture. Anyway, she has a lovely way of arranging her house and the things in it, and each time I visit she's set up another little still-life somewhere. I've started taking my camera over and creating my own still-life shots of these little 'moments'. This is one of my favorites so far, not the least because there's a spunky little bookpress in the background.

I often find myself envying the amount of space she has to work with, but then I pull myself up and remember that she is alone in a big house; her husband died, and her 3 children have grown up and moved away. I'm sure when she was my age she also lived in complete chaos with books and clothes everywhere, toys to trip over and pets underfoot.
So I just enjoy my trips to her house. It's like an oasis of serenity amidst all the crap I wade through daily. And believe me, today I needed to look at this.

Text du jour

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
As usual, very hard to make out the text, so I'll help. Lovely menu. I particularly like the 'Screambled Eggs'.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Moving the furniture

Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
This is a very early stage of my poetic spiral. Everything that is not lettering is furniture. The type area is about 10cm across. I'm taking photos as I go, partly so that I can see how well I'm going, and partly because there's every chance that I'll finish it and drop it on the floor on the way to the press! Cross fingers against that...

Twisted sister

I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to set a poem into a square spiral. This little act of insane creativity is quite easy to do on a computer, as I proved to myself whilst doing a mockup in Indesign in about 15 minutes. Everything is quite easy on a computer. But I don't seem to like easy. I mean, I do like easy, but for some reason I keep finding ways to do things the hard way. I'm setting this poem in lead type, 8pt lead type, to be specific, which is very small. It's taken a fair while so far, at least 6 hours.
I set the type in a straight line first, then proceeded to work with tweezers and a bookbinding awl to layer the lines around a central block of furniture. Furniture is not a nice leather poof and a bit of a bookcase in letterpress. It is slabs of metal (either in bars or blocks) which provide stability to your set type. I actually finished my poetic spiral, and got it to the point of being able to lift it off the desktop (not a computer screen, a piece of furniture -- but not the metal block kind. Am I making sense yet?), held together by quoins (a kind of clamp, a great Scrabble word) in the chase (a metal frame). I proofed the type, which involved hand-rolling some ink on the type and printing it on some scrap paper, and looked at it. It was a bit disappointing, in that I'd overestimated the spacing, and there were the usual errors (not surprising, seeing that I'm setting it upside-down and back-to-front).
So I've had to redo the whole thing, and move all the letters closer and adjust all the leading. Leading, on the computer, is the amount of white space between the lines. You can have 10pt type on 12 pt space, and if you want to change it, you just type in a new number. But in letterpress, leading is actual thin strips of lead which sit between the rows of letters, and if you want to change it you have to use a lead cutting machine, a pair of tweezers and a lot of curses.
In fact, everything to do with letterpress takes a lot of cursing, but I get a kick out of doing something that I have to wrestle with to get right. I met someone else yesterday, a nice woman from Townsville, who has the same urge to play with filthy letters, and we got along swimmingly. So rare to find type nuts in Australia.

Monday, October 18, 2004

F***-a-Duck 1

I just have to share some of the pap Best Beloved sends me when he's pretending to be Very Busy and Important in his Public Service job. I can't believe this crud gets passed on as news. It makes me grumpy when I read stuff like this in newspapers, mostly because it's the sort of stuff I like to read in crap magazines and I think newspapers should be saved for more serious things. A time and a place for everything, don't you think?

I have no objections to crap magazines. I get a lot of chortles out of them, and they allow me to discuss reality shows and sitcoms with friends without actually having to watch the shows in question. I don't watch a lot of tv. I do however ingest a lot of crap, mixed into my basic diet of classic and contemporary fiction. I just like to read. I also like to play computer solitaire games (see below), so I can sympathise with JKR. They do substitute for a smoking break quite adequately (I managed to ditch the evil habit totally only last year, after many years of kidding myself that I'd stopped). I find minesweeper too nervy though. The fact that she uses it to relax helps to explain how she can comfortably kill off endearing characters without too many qualms. I've got my money on her popping Harry off at the end of the series so that his life can't be trailed out in endless sequels, best-ofs and reunions. She's already hinted at this.

While I'm on this topic, I must mention that I'm really enjoying being part of the generation that has to wait with bated breath for the next instalment of the Harry Potter saga. It will be too easy in ten years just to pick up the whole series and read it in one long orgy of sensation. Having to wait makes the eventual reading so much more exciting. I know a lot of the hype is really annoying, and all that queuing up in bookshops is dumb when we all know that they printed enough books to supply everyone and their pets, but the feel of a new HP in your hand is a thrill that I'll hold on to long after the event. It's a feeling that brings back the thrill of Christmas morning when you're 5. There's not enough of those innocent thrills for adults, so I'm treasuring it.

I guess what I'm saying is that while I'm hoping that JKR doesn't play too much minesweeper between sentences, I'm nevertheless waiting happily for whatever emerges from the explosions.

Friday, October 15, 2004


This is so much more fun than playing umpteen different versions of Solitaire when I can't be arsed doing any work.
Let's try this pop quiz:
You work from home. You take a few moments to clear your brain between computer chores. What do you do?
a. Do your physio exercises
b. Play some cards on-screen
c. Hang out the washing
d. Do a quick batch of washing-up
e. Write your Blog

In the past, my answer would have been [b.], which would place me in the category of Lazy Computer Bint. These days, however, it's generally [e.], which salves my conscience and makes me feel like I'm doing something useful. Actually, I only know of only one regular reader, so I'm really only doing this for myself, which puts me more in the category of PCB (Procrastinating Computer Bint). What I need to be is Wonder Woman, which means that I would do [c.] and [d.] while incorporating [a.] but then needing a good lie down before I could do any more computer work. Yeah, like that's any fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.
Nothing like a bit of wood type to make my mouth water.

Goin' dahn

Oooh, I'm going to hell for the lies I tell my physiotherapist.
She pokes my back and neck and asks me how they're feeling. Fine, I groan, even though it kills. You see, I'm supposed to be doing exercises daily, to build up my alternate muscle strength, to allow the pressure to come off the bits that creak and groan and ache every day. I want to do the exercises, of course, because it's my only chance to improve a very painful situation. I come away from each session resolved to spent the time every day, to remember and act upon the pain that nags me the way old Mrs Brilliant used to poke me with her finger in 5th grade. I go home, do my exercises for a couple of days, and then somehow they get lost amidst the flotsam and jetsam that is life around my Private Jetty. They sink below the morass, lost among dinners to make, brochures to design, cartoons to draw, clothes to be picked up, loungerooms to be vacuumed, child to be talked to, lover to be loved. The pain also rises and falls, and I'll do bits and pieces of the stretches, just enough to get by (with a bit of help from Nurofen). And then I notice as I turn my diary page that I have a physio appointment late that week. Then the exercises rise and bob persistently at the plimsol line in my brain, and I do them, just so I can recline on that couch with my head stuffed into a hole lined with tissue and lie that I've been a good girl. Well, I try to be.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The quest to sprog

I have been trying to get pregnant for 10 months now. My Loved One and I laugh when we think of how careful we were with contraceptives pre-sprog attempt. I have been warned that it isn't so easy when you're over 35 (or well over, in my case).

Mind you, I'm not your average ageing-egg sour graper. I have the honour of having such weird insides that when my son was born a-la emergency caesarian, there was an audience on the medical side of the green sheet, all straining to have a squizz. Yes, I have managed to sprog once, but that had less to do with the conception than with the absolute tenacity of my son's will to be born. It really had nothing to do with me.

Maybe I should be a bit old-fashioned and pay attention to narrative. I spent years trying to get pregnant with an earlier partner, to no avail. Then, after we split up for various reasons, I became accidentally pregnant to the rebound bonk. This is when I knew god was a man (I use 'was' deliberately). You know, of all the bonks, in all the world... why that one? Anyway, I had a rough time with that pregnancy, discovering all sorts of wonderful things about myself along the way. Like, I had fibroids. And a bicornuate uterus. Que? Instead of being pear-shaped, it is heart-shaped. Mutant city. Apparently the combination of factors means that the foetus has to compete for a reduced amount of space with a couple of growing balls of knotted flesh which feed on hormones and blood. Charming. How my boy managed it is beyond me. People used to pat my baby bump and say 'Oh how cute, I can feel his head', to which the answer was, 'No, that's one of the fibroids. He's using it as a soccer ball right now'.

So when I decided to try the process again with someone I actually love (don't get me wrong, I adore my child; it's his Albatross of a father I can't stand), I was told to check my mucus (eww), take my temperature each morning (before my cup of tea too, most uncivilised), and stop drinking (that's the hardest bit of all). Oh, and have lashings of sex. Very early on I learnt not to tell Best Beloved when I was ovulating, as it tended to freak him out. Now I just mention the fact later, over breakfast or something. Too much information isn't very sexy.

Alas, nothing is happening so far. The latest thoughts from Above are that I will have to have the lumps surgically removed before anything will happen. That made me pick up a glass of wine, I tell you. Watch this space (between my ears -- I mean, do I really want to go through all that again? I've only just got my life back from the last one!)

Monday, October 11, 2004

what goes around...

The One I Love has sunken deep into the realms of despair, thanks to recent events. Funnily enough, this makes me progressively more determined to keep my mind on things less annoying. I tend to get cheerier as people I love sink lower, which is a lucky habit that has quite often kept me away from suicide (mind you, it often drives them crazy).

Today I focused on enjoying things that politics can't touch, like the sunshine on my face as I rode my bike along the glorious bike paths of inner-North Canberra, even though I was for much of it stuck behind someone who really shouldn't have been wearing lycra (especially black lycra with white undies underneath). Birds, flowers, light breeze, sunshine and trees. It really is the most beautiful city.

And then! I work at the art school, and had an opportunity to drive their crappy white van around town on some errands. I turned on the ignition, crunched the gears into reverse, rolled down the window, and turned on the radio. Some shite radio station came on, playing all the worst of the 70s and 80s, but it was exactly the right time and place. Ah, the mindless bliss of revving an empty van around endless roundabouts in the sunshine, crooning to something you'd never listen to in your right mind. Talk about therapeutic.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Images from the War on Consciousness 1

I'm cheering myself up by posting some images exhibited earlier this year. The little heads at the bottom of the poster are detachable and can be mixed & matched on the bodies.

Images from the War on Consciousness 2

These images are by Bernie Slater, Australia's Official War Artist in the War on Consciousness.
It's a shame the text is illegible. Keep your eyes out for Bernie, he's doing a great job out there.

Emerging from the cheesecake

I'm hungover and depressed, like hopefully lots of other people (but not enough to make a fucking difference). My hangover is a sugar low after the huge amount of cheesecake I wolfed down in front of something really fluffy on video late last night in a desperate attempt to block out the smug face of that CUNT. What else can I say? That air of democratic duty I mentioned yesterday turned out to be the haze of desperation of a population of scared piggies in the middle. If I wasn't so in love with a man who likes Canberra, I'd move to NZ. Give me time to work on him.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Waiting Game

Just done my civil duty and voted -- not just once, but twice. None of this stretching-things-out-over-two-weeks-if-you-live-in-Canberra bullshit, no sirree. Popped into my local primary school and voted nationally, then wizzed on the bike over to the ACT Legislative Assembly and voted territorially. Far fewer people on the second stop, of course, which made it a pleasure. Next weekend I can just sleep in (in Tumut, mind you). I hate election day. It always smacks of righteousness, especially as you walk out of the polling booth. Everyone has done their democratic duty, whether for good or evil, and off they go, feeling good about themselves. I tend to sit outside the door for a while, wondering if I have any grasp on the mood of the country or not. The last election spooked me. I was so hopeful for a change. This time it's deemed to be a closer call, but how many scared people are there? How many closet Liberal voters? It consols me slightly that while the people of Canberra have to host all the dickheads that make up our government, they tend to vote fairly progressively. There was a huge rash of 'Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him' bumper stickers on the streets of Canberra after the last Federal Election, and I'm sure they'll reappear in force if the bastard gets in again. Oh, it's too depressing to think about. I've been off the grog for a few months (tryng to sprog, but more on that another time), but if the Liberal Party get ousted tonight I'll be celebrating in style, I promise.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Conan's Bubble

Conan's Bubble
Originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Inside a bubble

Just went to see Conan the Bubbleman at the Street Theatre. One of the best things about having kids is being able to go to fun things and watch their minds and faces open with pure joy. Actually, it is easier to do this with one kid than a large family, for obvious reasons. Live theatre is not cheap, nor, as we all know, are movies -- but let's not get me on a rant.

Conan was fabulous, as usual. He made what I think is the biggest bubble I've ever seen him make on his light table. It rose and rose and rose and then he made it undulate and pulsate, which was the sexiest sight. I have seen his show over and over and never get sick of the sight of an enormous bubble rippling up through the dark air like a rainbow jellyfish, looking like I could catch it in my arms and squeeze it like a stress ball. Then it bursts and the reality of its fragility catches my breath. Another moment I love is when he has a double line of fishing line strung down from the ceiling, dripping bubble mix, which he eases apart to make a flat reflective skin of bubble. As he turns slowly, in the moment before he moves the string to sway out the bubble, the skin looks like a portal, something Conan can leap through to travel... well, anywhere.

If you want a virtual Conan fix, check out his website, above. However, nothing beats the real thing. Above is also a photo that I took at an earlier show. Nothing like the images on his website!

Duck the First

Welcome to yet another space on the web. Just looking around the other blogs is mind-numbing. I mean, who has the time? Still, I seem to spend more time on my computer than in front of my diary these days, so I've decided to embrace the idea of a virtual journal. At least I'm not alone there!