Monday, January 31, 2005

Wholesome Relic

The Pancake of Shrek, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

You've heard of the Shroud of Turin, the Nutrigrain of E.T., the Tortilla of the Holy Virgin, now meet the Wholesome Pancake of Shrek...

I only thought to photograph it after I'd added the sauce, but I shit you not, this cheese-and-corn pancake really did look like Shrek when I flipped it. I guess it goes without saying that after adoring it for about 10 seconds, my son wolfed the lot. So there goes my e-bay fortune. It was worth it to see him eat something with gusto!

Remember to breathe...

Agapantha for Zoe, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

...especially when the air smells like victory!

Congratulations to crazybrave for deservedly winning Best ACT Blog in the recent Blog awards. And also for being a champion chick. And a awesome mum. And for just being around when we all need her.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cents and Sensibility

Poo Bum. I was going to put up a few fun pics to relieve the boredom, only to find that my photo server is "having a massage", which is techie funspeak for timeout for servicing. Fair enough; don't we all need it?

I am having major "consequence issues" with my soon-to-be-eight-year-old son at the moment. Last year, I've come to realise, was the "Year of Us", in which Best Beloved and I woo'd, wed and nested, and Bumblebee's schooling and discipline went a bit to the dogs. This year is the "Year of Him", when I do my best to make him understand that he is a bright, brave, confident youngster who can achieve anything if he believes in himself enough. At the moment he is a whiney, unfulfilled, unable-to-finish anything little monkey who is too scared of the dark to get out of bed to pee and consequently wet the bed. It breaks my heart how full of fear that kid is. I love his imagination, and the fact that he can make an exciting game out of a piece of stick and someone's snapped-off shoelace, but when it takes him 6 hours to not pick up anything in his room (I'm still incredulous), even with mummy coming in and offering helpful hints about how to make the job fun (you could have a book army, and a t-shirt army, but first you have to gather together all the troops), I just feel utter despair. I don't want to be picking up after him for the rest of his life! At one point he yelled from his room "You said you'd give me pocket money if I did these jobs and so far I've never seen a thing". My response was, of course "That's because you've never finished a job yet!" I am quite happy to dish out the moolah, but not for nothing.

Ah, actions and consequence. Or, non-action and consequence. So far we've come up with the rule that there is no Dr Who unless the room is reasonable and (when school starts) homework is done. This was greeted with gales of tears, because Dr Who is not a treat, it is the air we breathe. It may just work. Next on the list for me is getting him doing confidence-building things -- cooking with me, riding his bike to school more, maybe even (and this shows how desperate I am) joining the local Cubs. Apparently Cubs have moved on a bit from the old swearing allegience to the Queen and God thingy, so it might be worth a shot. My buddhist brother-in-law swears by it for his restless son.

I guess the trick is to be consistent. It should be easier this year with back-up. In my 6 years as a single parent, I'd make great resolutions and they'd all go to mush when I'd get home exhausted after a long day's work and have to deal with a nagging kid. Cross fingers, this year will succeed. If not, I predict year of girlfriends (or, quite happily, boyfriends) cursing my poor mothering skills. Ay yay yay, worse than bad karma.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Adding mental exhaustion to the mix

I just spent a hell of a lot of time reading in order to vote fairly in the Australian Blog Awards. Phew! There's a lot of talent out there. And that's only the blogs with followings who know about the award. Only a couple more days to vote, as it's being announced on Australia Day.

I was one of the patsies who couldn't work out how to register to vote until the penny dropped when I read the comments -- ahh! you copy over the email address and remove the word REMOVE. Duh. Never mind. I blame the lack of blood getting to my brain. Literally. I'm still bleeding, and almost ended up in hospital again yesterday, second time in a week. A bouquet (I will find a picture soon) to crazybrave for being on childminding standby.

Unfortunately the Chinese herbs haven't done a thing. I was sorely tempted to pop the emergency pill yesterday. So I'm looking a bit pale and feeling a bit wan; I spend a lot of time lying down. It seems to be working, as the torrent yesterday has slowed today. Best Beloved keeps feeding me things with high iron content, and I'm drinking lots of fluids -- anything to keep myself out of hospital! My poor left hand throbs just thinking about another cannula. I'm seeing a specialist tomorrow, and my fear is that they'll have to operate again. Still, I'm catching up on my rest and my reading, and Bumblebee and I are ripping through the first Deltora series.

And, of course, every few hours I get to sit up at the computer and read blogs! So much more fun than any of the crap on tv lately. So good luck to all involved in the ballot... I'm looking forward to the results.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Ewww, I feel disgusting, all slimy from the overuse of 'freedom' (25 times) and 'liberty' (17 times). And that was only the ten minute Radio National summary. The only saving grace was the champion who screamed 'boo' or some such collection of vowels in a clear carrying voice throughout Bush's inauguration speech. Onya.

Enough. Sometimes you just have to look out of the window at the gorgeous silvereyes flitting through the banksia tree and think of nicer things, like 'I wonder what crazybrave has mounted last night (besides O)?'.

I am feeling a bit despondent about my fertility prospects as my inner regions continue to hurt, and am encouraged by sites like uncommon misconception and a little bit pregnant which are wonderful sites of witty women who have been through many many trials, far worse than anything I've come up with and have come out the other end (only recently) with a little wriggler. It seems like a lucky omen that I only discovered them on the upswing (their archives are heartbreaking). I am sure that I too will prevail, but right now I'm in the Big Black Void where all is just blood and tears.

So I have a good six months at least where I have to not think any of this women's stuff, and I can get into making a few books and pints -- woops, prints (although I can see a few drinks on the agenda too, once I get off these dratted antibiotics). I'm going to Mackay in February for the Second Australian Artist Book Forum, so hopefully I'll return all fired up and feisty, ready to churn out poetry with lead. I think the first step is getting hold of the nipping press offered to me by Lawrence of Gallery 451, which makes my mouth water to think of (it will help me bind my own books and postcards by pressing everything nice and FLAT). Is it sick to be so turned on by metal objects?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Join in

bushblackout_5, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Not Taking the Piss

Sorry to those who were enjoying The Woodford Files -- and to anyone who wanted to read about letterpress printing! I am determined to blog a bit more on the former and a lot more on the latter ASAP, but first I need to have a whinge.

I have just spent to last two days back in hospital thanks to what was finally diagnosed 'an abnormal period'. Let's just say that my insides have always been abnormal and have recently been rendered more so by the slip of a knife and be done with it. That's not what I am whinging about.

What I am whinging about is fucking ultrasound operators (right terminology? ultrasound administrators? Oh hell, let's not mince words. Let's call them TORTURERS) who think it is acceptable to fill a woman's bladder up with water and then not allow her any relief while making her wait more 45 minutes over the scheduled appointment time. I was in this position, begging for a quick pee (I know how to let a little bit out, I've had plenty of ultrasounds in my abnormal life) while my bladder distended to the point of absolute agony. There is something about being in nothing but undies and a drafty gown and sitting in a wheelchair that strips me of my authoritas, and no matter how I tried to sound angry, it just came out as pathetic. By the time the cunty bugger operator started the session, I was in such pain that the slightest touch of the jelly-covered thingy made me weep. I lay there with tears running down my face, trying not to wish horrible experiences upon him in return. The words 'you can empty your bladder' rang out into an empty room -- I was already there before the 'ooo' of 'you' had left his lips, and I poured enough liquid out of me to replenish the Murray-Darling with ease. AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Seriously, it is one procedure for which no-one should be made to wait. There is a circle in Dante's Hell waiting for anyone who works in radiology who thinks people are just crossing their legs sweetly in waiting rooms. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh, as a quick postscript: I have decided that Western medicine sucks, and am putting all my faith in ancient Eastern herbology. My wonderful Aunt, who is a Chinese-medicine healer, has prescribed me herbs which promise to cure incised wounds, gun-shot wounds, and various forms of women's blood problems. In each pack of capsules there is one little blister with a tiny red pellet, which is the special first aid for a gun-shot wound! Auntie has always wanted to be able to break open that pocket and feed it to someone, but no-one has ever come to her with a fresh gun-shot wound, not even in the little red-neck town her clinic is in! I think it's only a matter of time...

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Woodford Files: 4

Street Art, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

This is what makes Woodford a fun place to be, outside the music venues. The Street performances are usually fun, if you can overlook the morris dancers and the sword fighters. I loved this woman's 'fat tattooed lady' suit. One of my friends partook in a troupe of 'Daggy Dancers', who all dressed in white with 'Choose Life' on their chests and 80s hairstyles (a-la Olivia 'let's get physical' filmclip) and danced their way aerobically around the festival site, inciting (sorry) passers-by to join in. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo of them. Another favorite was the pair of fluorescent aliens that roamed around at night, one on stilts who looked like a weird blowfly, coming up to sniff you from above, and the other, quite short, who would come up beside you while you were distracted by the first one. They would have made great pick-pockets. That pair did a LOT of people freaking.

Another street amusement was the 'Dave & Terry' stall. Dave & Terry sat in their stall with a computer, printer and ironing board, making odd t-shirts and undies (with maps of Tasmania on their fronts for the girls, tyre skid-marks on the back for boys). One of their favorite things to do was to go out on the street in front of their stall with two stuffed fluffy dogs and offer people 'shitzu' massages, or with a garden rake to offer 'rake-y' sessions, amongst other things. They're a regular Woodford fixture. I think they have a shop in Brisbane somewhere.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Woodford Files: 3

Vince being blue, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

I sat in a big fucking circus tent for over an hour to get a front row seat for Vince Jones and it was worth it, even despite the COW sitting behind me with her family who professed to be Vince's BIGGEST fan and yet couldn't shut up long enough to hear him sing, which made her his LOUDEST and most ANNOYING fan in my and everyone close by's book(remember to breathe).

This man is fabulous. I apologise for the fuzzy photo, I had misty eyes for the whole session. I came out on a complete high, and couldn't hear anything else musical that evening. I've been playing all my records and CDs of his constantly since then.

I had another wonderful experience watching Stringmansassy in the concert tent. They do a cover of Sting's 'Fragile' to die for, and they performed it in the context of mourning for Tsunami victims. I went back to my tent and blubbed for ever so long.

It was great, because I'd heard and read all the reports feeling shocked, but fairly calm. I think the magnitude was/is just plain numbing. But Stringmansassy made it all real and I couldn't get over the powerful sense of grief that hit me. I think the Woodford Tsunami response tripled after that particular concert.

And Finally from the Tiny Top...

All Aboard!, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

All Aboard!
For a Train Trip 'round The World! Toot! Toot!

This was probably my favorite of all the small acts. Oskar sat at a table with an electric toy train engine (Brio) and four pieces of wooden track. He started the train and moved the track around so that the train never ran out of track... and then passed the track to the audience and got them to try and work together to keep the train from derailing.

It was a brilliant study in human relationships. He talked us through the fact that we'd all have to stay calm and work together. Of course, no-one could. In fact, the kids handled it better than the adults, who tended to panic and fluster. Crash!

The Syrian Sword Box of Death
A Man Will Escape From a Locked Box in 10 Seconds.

Accompanied By A Very Pregnant Assistant Who Looked Like Something Else Would Escape From Her Locked Box At Any Moment.

Turpintime with Jeff, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Turpintime with Jeff
Large Head, Fashion contortion, Cantar d'Amour, etc

Highly amusing man.

Other Woodford Tiny Top Acts

Mercury Girl!, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Mercury Girl!
Escapology! & The Brazilian Back Somersault

Jess Love, aka Mercury Girl, pulled out an audience member to aid her contortions, and it was that dear fellow Conan the Bubbleman. She tied him up in knots, which was quite amusing. (Bumblebee said to say, in case Conan ever reads this, 'Conan, you rock'. And you indeed do.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Finally, just as everyone was starting to twitch and mumble, she returned with no moth. She went through the routine, and at the end, lifted her skirts to reveal an enormous moth on an underskirt. She flicked it off, stamped on it, and then pretended to piss on it, using a hidden bladder.

Bumblebee thinks she was disgusting! (which is unusual for a nearly-eight-year-old boy) I assured him that no real moths had been involved, but he didn't care. I think he would have rather she stomped on a real moth than pretended to piss on a fake one. I found a plastic butterfly the other day and have started walking around the kitchen with it taped to my finger, which always gets a good reaction.

I just loved the set design, all the little pictures in frames. I'm a bit of a sucker for that kind of thing.

Lady Moth, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

The teacup would get more disgusting with her spit and toothpaste, and her reaction to the ever-larger moths would be more and more (silently) hysterical.

She repeated the pattern at least 6 times, by which time the children were getting restless.

Lady Moth

Lady Moth, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Asleep or in a trance, she floats and eats a moth or two.

This was a very odd act. amd it freaked out Bumblebee a bit. Lady Moth would enter the room in trance, with a flapping 'moth' on her finger. She would go through a set routine of cleaning her teeth (her toothbrush was attached to her hair by elastic) and spitting in a teacup from which she would later slurp the toothpasty mix (ewww). Then she would go to open a tealeaf tin-type of box and suddenly notice the moth. She would jolt into consciousness and attempt to violently dislodge the moth, which would end up with her struggling out of the room. Then she would return in a trance and go through the whole routine again, with a slightly larger moth.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Strong Lady

The Strong Lady, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

One woman. One Hundred Pound of Pure Beef.

She was gorgeous, but very similar to the transsexual in Little Britain in her insistence upon being a Lady. "I have the strength of my father and the grace of my mother." She did a mean fan-dance to demonstrate the latter, and a number of weight-lifting stunts for the former.

He OR She? You Decide!, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Actually, my 9-year-old nephew came out quite confused by The Strong Lady. I refrained from telling him that any person with an arse that sexy and jelly-like couldn't be a male. She was very good with hula hoops, spinning lots at once, which really wowed the kids.

The Half Man Half Woman

Or Otherwise Known as The Monster Elegant. He OR She? You Decide! Beauty or Burden? You Decide!

This was our first of many glam hostesses in the Tiny Top. This one, however, transformed into...

The Woodford Files: 2

The Tiny Top, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

This is where I spent a lot of my time, The Tiny Top. It was a very small venue, as it's name suggests, which was most refreshing after venues packed with hundreds of people.

The Tiny Top had little 15-minute shows ('all-natural acts') every half hour from about 4 in the afternoon. It held no more than 50 people, most of whom would have to stand at the back behind the seats. You would have to line up outside in a roped-off area for 15 minutes while they stood on the stage and regailed you with jokes, songs and general loudspeaker spruiking, and then you were let in for whatever show was slated on the blackboard. After 15 minutes of excellent entertainment, you were let out to either wander off and find something else to do, or line up again for another 15 minutes of al fresco entertainment until the next snippet of exotica. Most of the people performing would do longer shows in other venues through the festival, so it was like a very intimate sampler. We went so much that they would treat us as part of the act outside. I think of the 12 varieties of act offered, I only missed 4. Examples of their acts follow above...

The Woodford Files: 1

yes, we are there now., originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

We woke at dawn's crack on Boxing day to get a decent camping spot at Woodford (only a 40 minute drive from my girlfriend's house in Redcliffe) and still had to camp a full 5 minute's walk from the gates. I heard today of someone who had to park their caravan over a km from the festival site. It was an enormous festival this year.

Note the car in the background (SubyRuby), which is the only photo I've managed to take of it since it was painted by a Canberra graffiti artist (Byrd). We gave him the cans of paint, he got to have a play on a clean 'canvas' and also got to keep the rest of the paint. Now everywhere we go people wave at us. All good, everyone happy.

Anyway, this is the point of arrival when Bumblebee was whinging, Best Beloved was being grumpily industrious setting up the tent, and I was still recovering from hospital, so I spent my time trying to amuse them both, but it was hard as the scene was so much like the camping days of my childhood! I eventually SMSed my dad, and described the scene, to which he replied 'Bliss'. I think he was happy that it was my turn to go through it...

We had a terrific spot under a tree which managed to shade all the important bits of the tent at the right times of the day. We are all very grateful to that tree, and tried to demonstrate some gratitude by sponsoring some more trees for future campers. BB said this site used to be just open paddock, so the trees are really making a difference.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

I love driving down the highway from Sydney, coming around the bend and seeing the Brindabellas snuggling around Canberra, with Telstra-yama sitting in the centre. The Brindies never fail to put on a show, whether it's mid-morning or sunset.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. The bed smells right. The shower-gush is perfect. The toilet smells familiar. The roar of Summernats in the background reminds me that it's January, and I'm home, a block away from the action. No need to give any kind of comment about Summernats, as crazybrave, in her inimitable way, has done a ripper of a job. Suffice to say that as Best Beloved and I drove down Northbourne Ave past the showground, we got cheers from the onlookers for the fact that we have a painted car. Hooray! I don't think I've shared the car with you yet; the sad fact is that I haven't bothered to take a good shot of it yet, but I do have a photo of it from Woodford, which I'll mount in a mo.

Have you worked out that I'm happy to be here? Even having buckets of work to finish isn't worrying me now that I'm dust-free (only on my body; my house is constantly protected by a fine layer of dust, and if I remove it I'm sure something dire will happen. Well, that's my excuse anyway.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Kyogling around

Having survived Woodford, I am now near hot and sweaty Kyogle, minding my niece and nephew while my sister and brother-in-law attend a Buddhist teaching at the local Gonpa. The reason I was avoiding the H word in the last entry was because everyone at Woodford gets highly offended when the word 'Hippy' is mentioned in any and every write-up of the festival. Mind you, the woman drifting through the Chai tent wearing nothing but a reversed loin cloth and bit of feather and horns did a lot to dispell the hippy image (What's wrong with her bottom? S said; I asked why, and he replied that it was the only bit of her that she felt the need to cover). She certainly attracted a fair bit of attention.

So here I am, sweating from every pore, even though I've been to the pool and seen a movie in air-con today. We're waiting for a thunderstorm to hit. The clouds are there, we can feel the tension, now hopefully will come the rain. Meanwhile we suck on a few cold beers and play endless games of Karum (sp?), an extremely addictive Indian board game a bit like finger snooker.

I've finally stopped bleeding! Hooray, feeling human again, and for those who give a shit, we've finally managed to consumate our marriage.(Too much information, I know, but we have been married for almost 2 months, and it does make a difference!)

Stay tuned -- this weekend I get home and I can offload my camera (unless one of us accidentally deletes everything). Happy days, y'all.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Woodford without the H word

Hello from sunny, happy, hot, throbbing and not to forget dusty Woodford! I have ten minutes left of my internet cafe time, after checking my bank account to make sure we haven't given every dollar we have to the various tsunami funds and can afford petrol for the drive home, plus checked my webmail which is completely constipated with letterpress webgroup daily digests...

Before I forget: HAPPY NEW YEAR. I have high hopes for this year. I think everyone else here is just hoping they are high. It is the biggest Woodford ever, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Last year it was a record attendance for New Year's Eve, and this year, every day has the same numbers, except last night, which had double again. No venue was big enough, no toilet unoccupied, and the queues abounded. And why the hell aren't there twice as many women's toilets as mens? Huge queues for girls, when obviously the men can pop behind the tents and water a tree. Makes me want to emulate Bronwyn Bishop and learn to piss upright (but that's the only thing she does that is worthy of emulation!)

Woops, three minutes left according to the Cafe Frau, and I haven't even mentioned the wealth of talent I've seen. Actually, I'e taken lots of photies, so I will blog a stack of reviews on my return on the 8th. Highlights: Vince Jones, The Kransky Sisters, The Tiny Top, and Martin Pearson and John Thompson's breakfast show. I'm in heaven.

My health is improving. I haven't stopped bleeding yet, but the cramping has gone and the flow slowed until I'm feeling like there's an end in sight. I've done no dancing but a lot of laughing.

have to go.
PS The H word is Hippy.