Saturday, February 19, 2005

I dream of vinyl

One of my ambitions in the near future is to get my turntable set up so that I can get my record collection (or more rightly, vinyl survivors) up and playing. Bumblebee thinks they are big CDs; Best Beloved once met a salesboy who were amazed to find that they could be played on both sides.

I'm not making any claims about my records; I wasn't one of the cool people who have a pristine collection of 70s and 80s classics. I started buying records in 1980 when living in England and continued through a very middle-of-the-road adolescence in Townsville and Orange (hence the Christopher Cross albums and a few really daggy compilations like Full Boar) until I met a man at uni who seduced me and took my recording tastes in hand. So there is a lot of shite, all of which has sentimental value with a stiff drink or five, and a lot of really good things, few of which I have replaced on CD. I really miss all of it.

The tricky thing is that I have an all-in-one stereo ('hiss' go the die-hard musos) with an extra component -- the turntable -- which sits on top. These days, the top of the stereo holds the video player, the dvd player and the broadband set-top box, and the latter can't have anything placed on top of it because it will then overheat. We put them all there so that the tv sound can run through the stereo, which works a treat. Unfortunately, that leaves no room for my beloved turntable, so it has been put out to graze the last few years. What to do? Nothing, has been my attitude for ages.

However! My determination has renewed its vigour because everytime I pop in to crazybrave's house, she is playing vinyl delights which arouse much envy in me. Usually they are records I don't own, so I just enjoy, but last week she pulled out Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. That album accompanied a lot of my adolescent angsting, along with Janis Ian. (I do not apologise for the dagginess of my musical taste, it was very important in making me the dag I am today.) I came home desperate to get creative with my entertainment area to try and get my Fleetwood Mac album under the needle.

I figure I'm just going to have to build some sort of rack over the set-top box which will support the turntable, but it will have to be fairly solid (or padded) otherwise any romping on the wooden floor will bump the needle. Oh, I'm just not into contruction. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mental Freak Day (girl talk warning)

I'm not working today. I'm having the opposite of a Mental Health day. I'm lying on the bed doped up with mild anti-inflammatories and heat packs trying not to freak out everytime I feel a gush between my legs, mentally chanting 'it's ok, it's only a period' repeatedly. I can't believe how nervy I am about this. I have taken my course of progesterone like a good girl. The doctors told me that my chronic bleeding should stop a few days into the course, and when the course finished, I would have a 'normal' period, which would 'jumpstart' my womb into normal cyclical behaviour. Sounded great. Except that my other bleeding only stopped on the 9th day of the 10-day course of pills, which gave me a whole day to enjoy undies without a pad. I am feeling optimistic about that one whole day, as it is proof that I can stop bleeding. But this 'normal' period isn't as 'normal' as all the cycles I've ever had in my life; it is more like the start of the last cycle, which the doctors euphemistically termed an abnormal period. So I am feeling a bit low and scared. At least this time I have kitties to sit next to me giving me love-slitty eyes and purring.

Taking a break from the bed (which is why I'm blogging), I had a cruise through the 'chick-blogs' I like to visit occasionally, and found this ripper of a post for new mothers. If you know anyone who need some reassurance, or just some validation of your own time as a new mother parent, have a read. It certainly made sense of my first couple of years as a single parent, a time I still flashback to like a bad acid trip.

Ok, time for lunch, a reheated wheat pad and lashings of kitty-love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Happy Valentine's Day

Best Beloved hasn't had a lot of experience with romance and women -- being convinced of his inner and outer freakiness, he had no teenage girlfriends, a few short but torrid flings (not enough to have had a broken heart) and no long relationships until I finally looked long and hard at him and decided that he was actually a bit of alright (and so emotionally unscarred, for an over 30 y.o.! With definitely no sign of freakiness). Mind you, it was a tortuous couple of vascillating years for both of us. I had a crush on him, to no avail, then he finally had one on me but I was over it. I remember telling him over a lunch that a mutual love of The Goodies and Harry Potter wasn't enough to base a relationship on, and his response was a blunt 'why not?'. At that point he knew what he wanted (me) and in retrospect I should have known that resistance was futile, especially when it involves a Taurus.

Anyway, this was BB's second conscious Valentine's Day. Last year we were too busy painting walls to care (once we fell in love, who was going to waste time? We dated for 6 months then moved in together, with Bumblebee's blessing). I sent him an e-card yesterday and then waited for one in return (we decided on no presents as we're not that much into such a blatant merchandising exercise, but expressions of love are ok). Nothing. I dropped a not-so-subtle hint and he confessed that he didn't know how to find an e-card, let alone send it. This is someone who does a fair bit of internet research as part of his job as a Pubic Servant (sic). Disgraceful. So I taught him how to find a fun card and send it, which sort of takes the fun out of getting it, but at least I know the seeds are sown for the future.

He is a fast learner, my lad. When he came home (late evening, sweaty from riding his bike across town after a function) he called me into the loungeroom. He'd put some old music on, opened his arms to me, and danced with me slowly around the loungeroom. An effort like that shows such promise (mind you, I could have done without the sweaty bike-riding shirt). Expression of love! That was above and beyond, with his supposed dislike of dancing. Can you see why I tied the knot fast? I know a good one when I see it (having experienced a lot of duds!). He's everything I ever wanted in a man, including the ability to grow and change (or at least give the impression of doing so... :) ).

If you're into that sort of stuff, I hope your Valentine's day was fun. If you're not, good on you, keep up the good work.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Remember to breathe

Plums by the ton

Canberra is in the grip of a plum plague. If our tree is anything to go by, there must be people all over the Territory of the Free asking their neighbours and workmates if they'd like some plums, to a consistent response of agonised groaning. Ask crazybrave. Apparently soon after we brought over a big bag of our plums (in return for a box of jars), her aunt brought over about a ton more. Normally the fabulous Zoe would respond with her inimitable foodie flair and cook up a plummy storm, but I fear the lack of day sleeps for Sage may have stonkered that this year.

But! Best Beloved has got the bug this year, and has had a wonderful time discovering his inner Nigella (or, more accurately, his inner Stephanie, since she wrote most of the recipes he's used. But he's sexy enough to be Nigella, at least to me, which is what counts, n'est pas? Since I married him. Fuck, what an aside. Apologies). He has made plum jam, plum sauce, plum 'topping', which is an optimistically-viewed runny plum jam, and masses of plum preserves (see picture) and today another batch of plum jam (jury's out on whether it will actually be jam or topping). Even with all that productive plum using and giving away, the tree looks like it hasn't been touched. Traditionally my neighbours descend, but this year they're staying away. Why? Is it the painted car? Are we now officially the neighbourhood weirdos?

Anyway, we walked past a deli in Belconnen Mall today and saw three big boxes of plums just like ours marked 'organic plums, no spray, $2 a kg'. What a laugh.

Oh -- we were at Belco because we went to see 'Ray', the biopic on Ray Charles. Highly recommended, if only for the awesome digital cleanup of his early recordings. I was in heaven.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Disaster strikes

I can't find my fecking tweezers! Now I'm going to have to brave the world with a whanging hangover (thanks to crazybrave and friends for an awesome end to a binge started at Tilleys with old artschool friends) AND a hairy chin. Oh, it's not going to be a good day.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Shared Rooms: Four Poems by Anna Akhmatova with Translations by Natalie Staples and Imitations by David Campbell and Rosemary Dobson

SharedRooms1, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

In the 1970s two notable Australian poets, David Campbell and Rosemary Dobson decided to further explore their mutual interest in Russian poetry. Starting with Mandelstam and progressing through a number of lesser-known female poets, they met at the ANU and 'studied' a different poem every fortnight. With the help of skilled translators such as Robert Dessaix, Olga Hassanoff and Natalie Staples, they would each take home the literal translation and return to the next session with their own 'imitation' of the poem, which would be discussed alongside the original. Two publications emerged from this project, Moscow Trefoil and Seven Russian Poets, both in small editions, and both now out of print.

Produced as an Honours work, this book uses some of the working papers from the Russian translations project (stored in the National Library of Australia) and celebrates this fruitful collaboration between writers. Anna Akhmatova was a celebrated Russian poet persecuted by Stalin. The translator for these four poems was Natalie Staples. Shared Rooms was designed to allow a simultaneous and non-hierarchical presentation of all four states of each poem: the original Russian, the literal translation, and the two 'imitations'. Accompanied by relief monotypes, the book design evokes the concept of a drawer of correspondence between old friends, kept safely for future readings.

This work is part of the exhibition "'How I entered there I cannot truly say': Collaborative Works from the ANU Edition + Artist Book Studio", soon to open at Artspace Mackay as part of their '2nd Focus on Artist Books Forum'

Shared Rooms: the making of...

SharedRooms2, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Did you read the label text above? What do you think? Just a sample of what I've been slogging away on for the last few days, for very little money, but for massive perks. You see, this book is made by none other than moi, l'il ol' Ampersand Duck, in my serious artist incarnation. And I have two other books on show as well, so it's in my best interests to make this exhibition look good.

I loved making this book. I planned it for two years, and spent a year making it. I stumbled across a drawer of papers at Rosemary's house while helping her sift through a few things and recognised the seeds of a beautiful concept. I helped her sort the papers, made notations all over the sheets of the anecdotes she told me, then we gave them to the National Library. When I actually got around to making the book, I had to get permission to view the papers in the Manuscript Room. It was very weird being told not to mark the papers, when all through my research I was reading my own hand-written notations!

When I look at these photos I yearn to have so much time to devote to one project again. Everything I've done since has been in time snatched between work duties, parenting duties and sleep necessity. Student life is such a luxury! If you're indulging in it, make the most of it, that sort of mental space doesn't come around often. I think I'm just going to have to take a sabbatical from my life for a while and start something else of substance.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Office Pussy

I am trying to do an amazing amount of work at the moment. I am singlehandedly writing all the signage for a major exhibition opening in Mackay in 10 days (my boss is a wizz with visual imagery but couldn't write a decent sentence to save her life)...

Le puff, le pant!

But how is a girl to concentrate in the face of such overwhelming cuteness?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Double the pussy

double the pussy, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

The amount of pussy in our household has increased dramatically today (that's just upped my (temporary, and disappointed) visitors, I bet!). Meet Mr Pooter and Mr Padge, our new family members. They are almost identical -- Mr Padge has a small white patch on his tummy, but that doesn't help when you're glancing at them, so they have different colour collars.

We went to the RSPCA to get one cat, something to break the doldrums in our house, and came home with two, which makes me feel like someone who goes to the hospital with tummy pains and comes home with a baby without knowing they were pregnant. Suddenly the house is full of life and movement and the dog being scratched (he learnt pretty quickly who is boss, and it sure as hell ain't him) and we're all watching where we walk. It's fun. And very therapeutic.

I know it's not right to have favorites, especially this early, but Mr Padge is taking to me very quickly, and I him. Mr Pooter is much nervier, and tends to hide in corners unless his brother is nearby. Mr Padge keeps looking for me, and doesn't seem to mind the dog so much.

I'm such a cat person. I'm so happy. My old cat died about a year ago, and I've been looking forward to this day for a fair while. Hooray!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Out Standing in His Field

If you want a taste of your average American, read this and weep. And all I did was press the "next blog" button on the top of my screen... hello neighbour. It's so much like the Magic Faraway Tree! "Quick, get back to the ladder, or we'll be stuck here forever..."

Cheering thoughts

Best Beloved has been sending me URLs to cheer me up, the most successful one today being the Little Britain website. I love that series (which is returning next week), and the website also includes snippets of the original radio series. They do a lovely little number about
baby names which complements the crazybrave blog on the same subject . Which reminds me of the site I found whilst blog-surfing called Baby's Named a Bad Bad Thing which has zillions of pages containing the most horrific names and name combinations.

One of Bumblebee's new classmates is called Dakodia, which is not her fault, but it certainly is a mouthful when you're trying to remember names whilst throwing a ball around a circle, as they were doing on the first day of school to 'warm up'. The kids had to call out a name in the group and then throw the ball to that name. Most of the kids have known each other for 3 or more years, but poor Dakodia (it's probably not spelled that simply, maybe it's Daykowdyya or something, knowing how much people like the letter 'y' these days) was brand new, and there was a lot of hesitation before throwing the ball to her, more out of confusion than anything else, because she looked so nice and friendly. The other new girl, Hayley (see, the 'y' thing again), got the ball a lot more. Now there's a good argument against choosing odd names!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A good word for clutter

A big fat raspberry to that/those pigfucker/s who rifled through my car this morning and walked away with a damn good selection of CDs.

Now, this is probably a common occurrence to all you Big City dwellers, but here in relatively quiet inner north Canberra (with the occasional teensy-weensy break out), I resent the thought of having to lock my car at night. I still harbour dreams of my neighbourhood being innocent and friendly, like an old country town. I also have a pretty non-materialistic stand on things. If you like your stuff, don't leave it lying around in the open. Bumblebee has learnt this the hard way, as his dog chews his way through toys left on the ground. We now have Stumpy Luke, a Star Wars character who is a total amputee, and thus (my Pollyanna-ish nature shines forth here) can fit really well into the spaceship capsule. I try very hard not to leave valuables in the car, and keep a small CD case with only home-burnt CDs in it. Unfortunately I did put a couple of original CDs in last weekend for our trip to the Blue Mountains, so they are now Gone. Along with a friend's sunglasses that I'd dropped into the centre console to pass onto her if I ran into her. Well, she was too lazy to come and get them from me, so c'est la vie.

Whoever did the evil deed was of course in a hurry. I think they baulked at rifling through the back seat of the car because of the deep litter method of storage we have adopted: layer after layer of toys, old newspapers, empty softdrink bottles and icecream wrappers. As it was, as I got in the car, the door was slightly open (odd, I thought), the centre console open, the glovebox open... you see what I'm saying. All laid open and very little gone, because there wasn't much worth taking. Ha! I hope they're deeply disappointed to find most of the CDs are of little commercial value. I do hope, however, that they look after my Baterz disk, because he was so special and is no more, and the disk is wonderful and doesn't deserve dumping under a bush in some park.

Best Beloved, a Sydney boy, disapproves of my open-door habit. To his credit, he was remarkably restrained when I reported the theft, refraining from the more satisfactory 'I told you so' and merely commenting 'Maybe we should start locking the doors from now on'. No! I say. Then the buggers have won. No, better to just keep valuables out. At least with an open door they won't smash the windows to see if anything is there.

But I will miss my Baterz CD. Even if I buy a new one it won't be the same, really, since I bought the old one from him personally. Tragic.