Monday, December 27, 2010

Achy breaky tummy

I seem to have (sob) lost my camera, so I can't share any pictures of the last couple of days. The company and the food has been amazing.

We had a collective effort for Christmas Day: fresh oysters from Tathra, prawns and ocean trout from the Sydney fish markets, ham from the Bega valley and turkey from... somewhere. Lots of salads, too, you'll be pleased to know. We ate and drank so much that dinner was missed, but not missed.

Yesterday the food splendiferousness was all due to my sister-outlaw, Dr Naomi and her new fellow who bears a passing resemblance to Shaun Micallef, something that might make Crazybrave Zoe jealous if she didn't have her own fellow who bears more than a passing resemblance to Keanu Reeves. My fellow bears a passing resemblance to Captain Haddock from Tintin, but I'm very happy with that.

The short part of that digression is that quasi-Shaun is a very nice fellow, and after a very delicious lunch of crayfish, barramundi, Vietnamese salads and sticky rice with mango and then after an extremely drunken game of Scrabble, he proved to be a perfect match for Dr Naomi, and has our blessings, not that she needed them.

Today we are having yet another eatathon, on behalf of another branch of the family. I think my stomach is going to fall out of my body through my bottom, it's getting so overloaded. My head is only just recovering from this morning's hangover (we drank a lot of champagne with our Scrabble). I don't think I'll do that again today, although I've already played three games of Chess and two of Scrabble.

It's been raining like the billy-o, which makes me very glad I'm not at the Woodford Folk Festival sloshing in the mud like my intrepid niece and nephew. No, the worst bit about this holiday is the incessant cricket watching by Colonel Duck, but it's bearable because [a] they're leaving tomorrow, so we'll have a few cricket-less days and [b] the worse it is for Australia, the cheerier Best Beloved becomes. He's humming around the house as I type, happy in the knowledge that the newspaper is bemoaning HUMILIATION OF A CENTURY. Honestly, I would have pegged that as something from the Vietnam War, or even Gallipoli, not a frigging cricket game.

Anyhoo, hope your stomachs are recovering. See you again soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays for tomorrow

('Darwin Santa' from the Cool Cards blog)

I'm sitting in a gently genteel ramshackle house in the Blue Mountains, around the corner from BB's parents (did I ever tell you that he's the son of a preacher man? *And* a preacher woman? Both ministers!). It's grey and cool outside with a faint drizzle, and it's the closest and best thing I'll get to a white Christmas.

Other years we've spent today driving north, getting hotter and sweatier and preparing ourselves for a week of hot/humid/dusty/muddy randomness from the Woodford Folk Festival.

This year we're getting the Family Christmas out of the way; if we do it right, we won't have to do it again for another few years. Today Colonel and Lady Duck are wending their way here via the delights of Canberra's Brand Depot for a touch of last-minute shoppery, something I'm delighted not to do. They are sharing the house with us for a few days before returning to Lucky the Wonderdog. Lady Duck will adore this weather as much as I do. We both hate heat.

The best thing about this arrangement is that this house has not a skerrick of Christmas crap around it, whereas with a short walk we can be enveloped in the real deal: tree, decorations, presents, food, attitude, good cheer. And then we can return to the sanity of this secular space. Best of both worlds. Huzzar!

We exchanged contracts on our new house yesterday. It is a very traditional double-brick 1965 Canberra house with a triple garage for my studio and more storage space than you've ever seen for all of BB's jars and preserving and whatnot. Lots of wall space for books and art, and the only changes we'll need to make is to the curtains and colour scheme... eventually, when we've done everything else. I can live with peach tones and floral curtains for a while as I recover from the freefall of getting the old house ready for sale and resuming teaching etc.

So here we are, in an oasis of calm for a week, booked long enough ago to not be able to change our plans, and thus are forced to stop sanding and painting and cleaning and packing until New Year's day, when it all starts over again.

So raise your glasses and let's have a toast to a full and busy year: to Christmas 2010, here in a flash, what a year that was. Thanks to all of you for your support and friendliness, and I hope tomorrow is not too stressful for anyone. It's only a day. May it be a good one. Happy holiday!


Friday, December 17, 2010

terribubbly sad but happy too

To be honest, I didn't know that Ruth Park was still alive until yesterday when she died. She's three years older than the Aged Poet (who is 90), so she had a lovely long life (although I hope she enjoyed her Extreme Old Age more than the AP is).

We are huge fans of The Muddle-headed Wombat. I packed the books away yesterday so I can't give you an example of the wonderful writing. Best Beloved was reading them aloud to me when I was sick recently and he does all the voices so well. In our minds Padge is Wombat and Puss is Pooter. Secretly in my mind, I am Mouse, Bumblebee is Wombat and BB is Puss.

Her novels and autobiographical work are wonderful as well, of course, but if she'd only ever written TMHW, it would have been legacy enough. Thank you, RP, and RIP.

funny pictures of cats with captions

The most excellent news is that after some high-tension negotiation argy bargy, we got to a price we could pay on the house we like. We haven't exchanged contracts yet, so cross fingers for me that all goes well until then. The best bit of the agreement is that we will get access to the new house's garage between Exchange and Settlement to store all our boxes etc so that the old house can be clear and uncluttered for the Open House time! *big sigh of relief*

I was out last night, and I'd left a tense and gloomy household, because of the argy-bargy. They were supposed to be cooking dinner, but nothing much had happened by the time I left. Then I got a text saying BRING PIZZA AND CHAMPAGNE. Shazam! I happily did so, knowing that the world had just turned on its axis.

So I'm suspending my studio activities for a month (unless something really urgent comes up) and devoting my energy to packing, painting, patching, and what ever else comes up. Apart from Christmas, of course. It's going to be extra relaxing, because we know how much work is ahead of us. W00T!

funny pictures

Thursday, December 16, 2010


hai wassup nothin much k

I'm sorry, peoples, I'm turning on comment moderation for a short while in order to discourage commenters whose names are product names. More work for me, but I'm getting tired of reading computer-generated text that makes no sense, especially when some of it is a straight cut & paste from my own writing. Bugger off, trolls. Nice people, stick around.

Also -- if, like me, you're feeling a bit sad about the poor drowned peoples and some of the press that's coming out of the incident, arm yourself with this essential reading. Won't make the situation better, but you might feel slightly empowered with teh knowledge.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not Wordless Wednesday

Although here's a little snap that could be wordless:


Oh, it's all excitement here.


Not wanting to jinx the process (I'm a practical person with odd little superstitions), we've put an offer in for the house we fell for, and have had a fairly positive response, with a few little points to negotiate (like the actual price), so it's full steam ahead for gussying up the Private Jetty for sale.

I've been trying to meet all my normal commitments whilst furiously painting bookshelves and packing books and knick-knacks to unclutter the space. I packed four boxes of little bits & pieces and afterwards couldn't even tell the difference, which was a bit depressing. Boxes are arriving en masse today so I can start packing up the piles of books that came from the main bookshelf in the loungeroom (that I've been meaning to paint for seven years, since it was built) and then we can move freely in the space again. One of the terms we're negotiating is to be able to use the garage space of the new house (which will eventually be Studio Duck) between Exchange and Settlement to store our boxes while we sell this house. Thankfully that shouldn't be a problem, according to the agent.

On the weekend I was sugar-soaping a few spots in readiness for paint and decided to use the rest of the bucket on the window-frames. Every spot I touched seemed to flake off, and I had a spot of the wobblies. Poor BB came in from the garden where he was doing a sterling job of de-ivying and de-cluttering and I had my first meltdown of the process, which was quickly defused by the swift administration of a chocolate brownie. Phew.

Ceiling Cat, bless sugar soap.

I'm so glad I'm not a painter as an artist. I really don't connect with the medium.

Of course, there has been help. Colonel Duck is here doing a marvellous job on the garden with his magic whippersnipper and DIY skillz

colonel pergola
(that's the nicest view of his bum that I could get out of three photos)

I'm very grateful, and have been plying him with tea and fruit cake and risotto and wine, etc.

And of course, the cats are helping.


Mr Padge walked all over the (removable) shelves I was painting out the front and got white paddy paws, and Mr Pooter sniffed the shelves and ended up with a white Hitleresque moustache. All washed off now, but fricking hilarious.

Here's something to make *you* laugh. It made me laugh like a drain, and was a great way to bring ancient Egyptian history alive for Bumblebee:

(For anyone without access to pictures, like Thirdcat, it's a clip about Oprah Winfrey giving thousands of her most devoted fans the chance to be buried with her in a vast tomb called the Oprahmidion (built by said fans), along with all her favorite products to be used in the afterlife. Comedy gold.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

House hunting

More adventures in real estate. This is a whole new world, and one that makes the head spin.

Last weekend we saw some amazing places, and by amazing I mean the full spectrum of 'oh wow' to 'WTF?!!?'

Best WTF was a place down the road that was completely unrenovated and still furnished. Best Beloved stood for ages in the loungeroom, gazing open-mouthed at a reproduction of a painting of a man teaching his son to shave, witnessed by a beagle. Later he said to me incredulously, 'It wasn't just the subject matter that was awful; it's the fact that [a] someone decided to paint it in oils and [b] someone else thought it was good enough to reproduce it!'

Bumblebee ran down the hall, past the pink & green bathroom with lime green shag carpet, and called for me to come & look at the cupboard in the spare room. When I got there, he opened the door onto a whole other wing of the house with a 'rumpus room', cocktail bar and home office full of lion kitsch (the owner was a member of the Lions Club of Australia, judging by the number of certificates on the wall telling us so). So I quickly stood behind the bar and B called BB down and said the same thing, opening the door on to me doing my best 1970s housewife pose, asking, 'Hello dear, had a hard day? Would you like a cocktail?'

Given that we're not interested in any renovations, I don't think that was our dream house. It may be someone else's, especially if they don't want to renovate, but live in a retro heaven. You'd have to get rid of the smoker's fug, though, which lingers in the drapes and walls and shagpile.

The best house we saw I'm going to hug close to my chest, because we've shifted from what an agent called 'passive clients' to what they probably call 'emotional suckers' and I don't want to jinx anything. Suffice to say that in the past two days we've interviewed a few agents with a view to putting our house on the market after Christmas, and we now have a long and daunting list of things to do to our place over the next four weeks. These agents, they don't waste a second. They seem to work all hours, and their enthusiasm is amazing. We have a shortlist of two really lovely women to work with, and it's a tough call, because they've both got really good qualities in their own very different ways.

But the speed at which this is happening is doing my head in. If we don't get this house, we're ok, I'm sure something will turn up, but the whole family is in love with it, and no matter what else we find, this will always linger in our hearts as a ghost house. I'll tell you more as things firm up, or fall through... and I'm starting to declutter. I don't have the energy for huge tasks at the moment, but Best Beloved is a very goal-orientated person, and now that he has a concrete reason for doing things, he's powering along. I'm just going to move around the house putting things into boxes and doing little jobs like touching up paint scratches and repairing door handles etc. I think I'm going to tell the family that any help in lieu of Christmas presents would be much appreciated.

In the meantime, I've written a post at Book Art Object about the Claire Beynon piece I've finished.

folded the second part

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Oztralyan Bounty of Books

The marvellous Bernice Balconey has rightly pointed out that while the last list was Very Worthy, it's also Very British (well, it was a BBC list). My objection to it, upon contemplation, was the weirdness of it -- I mean, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, with Hamlet singled out? The Chronicles of Narnia and then The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe singled out? Bizarre.

Anyhoo, Bernice has gone to the trouble of making another list for a meme. It's called

Bernice's Bounty of Books: The Ozstralyan Way

Same rules: bold for read, italic for started/not finished/bits read. I won't do so well this time, but I'm still going to try...
  1. Fortunes of Richard Mahony - Henry Handel Richardson
  2. The Reading Group - Amanda Lohrey
  3. Coonardoo - Katherine Susannah Pritchard
  4. Dog Rock - David Foster
  5. The Transit of Venus - Shirley Hazard
  6. Voss - PW
  7. Children's Bach - Helen Garner
  8. Reports from a Wild Country - Deborah Bird Rose
  9. Jack and Jill - Helen Hodgman
  10. Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines - David Unaipon
  11. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow - M Barnard Eldershaw
  12. Carpentaria - Alexis Wright
  13. The Little Company - Eleanor Dark
  14. For the Term of His Natural Life - Marcus Clarke
  15. Tourmaline - Randolph Stow
  16. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin
  17. Peel Me a Lotus - Charmaine Clift
  18. The Acolyte - Thea Astley
  19. Cicada Gambit - Martin Johnston
  20. Fat Man in History - Peter Carey
  21. Seven Poor Men of Sydney - Christina Stead
  22. The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay
  23. Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
  24. Tirra Lirra by the River - Jessica Anderson
  25. Exiles at Home - Drusilla Modjeska
  26. Harp in the South - Ruth Park
  27. Letty Fox: Her Luck - Christina Stead
  28. Mr Scobie's Riddle - Elizabeth Jolley
  29. Eucalyptus - Murray Bail
  30. The Pea Pickers - Eve Langley
  31. From Little Things, Big Things Grow - Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly
  32. Merry Go Round in the Sea - Randolph Stow
  33. The Female Eunuch - Germaine Greer
  34. Come in Spinner - Dymphna Cusack and Florance James
  35. The Blue Plateau - Mark Tredinnick
  36. Lillian's Story - Kate Grenville
  37. Me, Antman and Fleabag - Gayle Kennedy
  38. Johnno - David Malouf
  39. Because a White Man'll Never Do It - Kevin Gilbert
  40. The Commandant - Jessica Anderson
  41. Just Relations - Rodney Hall
  42. A Difficult Young Man - Martin Boyd
  43. The Albatross Muff - Barbara Hanrahan
  44. Power Without Glory - Frank Hardy
  45. Pioneers on Parade - Dymphna Cusack & Miles Franklin
  46. City of Women - David Ireland
  47. Mother, I'm Rooted - Kate Jennings
  48. Five Bells - Kenneth Slessor
  49. My Brother Jack - George Johnston
  50. The Year of Living Dangerously - Christopher Koch
  51. Careful, He Might Hear You - Sumner Locke Elliot
  52. Fringe of Leaves - PW
  53. Death of A River Guide - Richard Flanagan
  54. The Spare Room - Helen Garner
  55. The Glade within the Grove - David Foster
  56. Mr Darwin's Shooter - Roger McDonald
  57. Bush Studies - Barbara Baynton
  58. The Electric Beach - James McQueen
  59. Beware of the Dog - Peter Corris
  60. I Can Jump Puddles - Alan Marshall
  61. A Million Wild Acres - Eric Rolls
  62. The Plains - Gerald Murnane
  63. Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French
  64. Nice Try - Shane Maloney
  65. Two Weeks with the Queen - Morris Gleitzman
  66. Paper Nautilus - Nicholas Jose
  67. The Lost Dog - Michelle de Kretser (heh)
  68. A Mother's Disgrace - Robert Dessaix
  69. The Seal Woman - Beverley Farmer
  70. Collected Poems - Gwen Harwood
  71. Maestro - Peter Goldsworthy
  72. A Long time Dying - Olga Masters
  73. Benang - Kim Scott
  74. The Lyre in the Pawnshop - Fay Zwicky
  75. I for Isobel - Amy Witting
  76. The Persimmon Tree and other stories - Marjorie Barnard
  77. Moscow Trefoil - David Campbell and Rosemary Dobson
  78. Caught in the Draft - Veronica Brady
  79. Weevils in the Flour - Wendy Lowenstein
  80. Vertigo - Amanda Lohrey
  81. Sugar Heaven - Jean Devanney
  82. Sorry - Gail Jones
  83. The Twyborn Affair - PW
  84. The Cry for the Dead - Judith Wright
  85. Schindler's Ark- Thomas Keneally
  86. Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living - Carrie Tiffany
  87. What a Piece of Work - Dorothy Porter
  88. Bobbin Up - Dorothy Hewett
  89. The Drowner - Robert Drewe
  90. Blue Skies - Helen Hodgman
  91. Ride on Stranger - Kylie Tennant
  92. Radiance - Louis Nowra
  93. Aunts Up the Cross - Robyn Dalton
  94. The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas
  95. My Place - Nadia Wheatley
  96. White Man Got No Dreaming - WEH Stanner
  97. The Drover's Wife - Henry Lawson
  98. Tasmania by Road and Track - E T Emmett
  99. The Aunt's Story - PW
  100. Come Back Peter - Joan Woodberry
Hmm, not too bad... quite a few gaps I'd like to fill! I would just like to say in my defence that there are a lot of writers in this list that I have read other books by.

There's a few I'd change or add. Like

The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan (although he's there, with a book I haven't read)
Gilgamesh by Joan London
and (this may be howled down) Monkey Grip by Helen Garner?

Although we could debate all day whether this is supposed to be a list of things every Australia SHOULD read, or a top 100 of what Australians HAVE read (which is what I think the BBC list is). Which would make quite a different list, methinks, stuffed with Bryce and Tim and Colleen.

How did you go?

Friday, December 03, 2010

A lot more than 100 books


It's been AGES since I've done a meme; I know I've done this one before, but I think the list has been updated. While I'm sitting here trying to decide if I feel well enough to hang around outside in the rainy damp in order to present my residency tonight or if I should sit in the relatively germy closeness of a cinema with my boys, or whether I should just go back to bed (I'm REALLY bored with that option), I might as well reminisce about the nice books I've read and see which gaps I need to plug this close to Christmas.

I got this version from Godard's Letterboxes:

And so it comes around again….

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.


Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.

Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. Lord of the Rings – JR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens (but I have it on my iPhone, waiting for a chance)

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma – Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (Oh, I'm so ashamed)

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazu Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Am tackling these on ebook right now)

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Phew, that's a lot more than 6! There are 15 that I've never tackled, which gives me a score of 85. Mind you, with all the sets, there's a lot more than 100 books on that list. Lucky I had my Thomas Hardy binge this year! How did you go?

Nice gaps, though. Gives me something to look for at the library for our Christmas sojourn to the Blue Mountains... we're renting a house around the corner from the in-laws, so that we can do the Big Family Christmas but still have some space. Board games and books ho! Last time we had Xmas at the BMs, it snowed! Mmm, that would be nice, although my Dr Sista Outlaw (happy birthday for yesterday!) might not agree.

* This image is a sculpture idea I have. It's called 'Book Club'. One day I'll make it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010



Here I am, venturing forth from my sickbed (well, sick house) to attend the ANU School of Art Patron's Day to pick out two interesting graduates for my Broadside Residency.

I'm standing in the main Gallery of the school, caught like a bug on a pin by Megsie from Glass Central Cenberra but the entire school is, for ten short days, a vast cornucopia of emerging art.

It's not a fabulous snap of me, but I thought I'd pop it here so that you can have a glimpse of the lovely little brooch that BB and B bought for my birthday. It's a tiny silver box with the sea inside it, beautifully modelled in perspective so that when you look in, you seem to be looking over the waves forever.

The brooch is by Jane Dodd, and we found it in a fab studio called Lure in Dunedin.

Straight after this I went home and had a nana nap. Looking at talent is exhausting.

Today I woke up to a fresh onslaught of head ache and sinus crappiness. I'm seeing the doctor this afternoon.

Two weeks out of the studio! What a waste of good free time. Bah.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I'm amazed at this lurgy I have. It just keeps shapeshifting. I suspect I picked it up at the local hospital. At the moment I've got weird neck discomfort, a sore throat and the headaches persist. So, I've been flopping on the couch with lots of juice and cherries and cool jelly, and watching DVDs and playing here on the laptop. I'm trying not to be impatient; it's only been a week, and I have to let myself heal properly, otherwise it will only get worse.

I watched Melinda and Melinda by Woody Allen. The attraction to this particular WA movie is that Woody Allen isn't actually in it and Radha Mitchell is. Strangely, though, when I didn't look at the screen and just listened to the dialogue, everyone sounded like Woody Allen. Is it mandatory, when you work with a WA script, to mimic him? Or is it inescapable? As I listened, I had this vision of everyone being WA, a-la Being John Malkovic. {shiver}

OK. Here's some really exciting news. When we were planning what we were going to do in NZ, we'd decided not to go to the North Island because we had vague plans to be there next year for a wedding. Anyhoo, while we were travelling around the South Island, I asked (sideways, while driving, as you do with males) if we were still going to the wedding.

'Hmmm, I'm not sure,' said BB. 'I think I'd rather buy a new house.'

I nearly ran off the road.

Some context: I've spent the first 30 years of my life living nowhere longer than 4 years. I loved moving house; it gives me a chance to de-clutter and reinvent. When Bumblebee was born, Colonel Duck decided to put some of his hard-earned babyboomer bucks into an investment property and rent it to me.

And thus I started living at The Private Jetty. And I'm still here, 13 years later. When Best Beloved came on the scene, we bought the house from Colonel Duck. I've been trying to either move or knock the house down for a long time now, but BB is a very sensible fellow and insisted that we pay off lots of this one before we accrued any more debt. Good man.

You see, it's not really the 13 years that I dislike, it's the house itself. Actually, we've made the house quite nice, with a fab kitchen and various enhancements (detracted severely by our shoddy housecleaning and abysmal gardening skillz), but the floor plan is just mingy.

We have the classic Inner North Canberra Ex-Government House. It's like a small shoebox, divided into 3 undersized bedrooms, a teeny tiny bathroom and separate toilet, and what used to be a loungeroom, then combined kitchen/dining area. Nothing special. It's the same house-plan I lived in with my sweet ex-husband, many years ago, so I've not just lived in it once, but twice. And so that's longer than 13 years.

I'm not being ungrateful, I'm constantly aware that I'm freaking lucky to
[a] have a roof over my head, and
[b] be a homeowner (thanks, Colonel Duck)

but the spoilt white middle-class educated brat in me thinks about all the interesting, even grungy houses out there with personality and sags. I love a bit of personality. I'm not afraid of drafts and mould. I don't even want high-end renovations. I abhore spas and pools and black granite. I just dislike how mean-spirited these ex-govt shoeboxes are.

And I'm itching to declutter and reinvent.

So. You can imagine my joy when BB said this. I've been trying to persuade him that while we dislike the house, we love the position (walking distance to school and shops, walking distance to cool people we love), so why not knock down and rebuild?

BB's position is that we are not practical people. When we had the kitchen reno done six years ago for our wedding, the workers left us a couple of finishing-off jobs to do. They're still waiting to be done. Gah. True.

So. He wants to move, but into the same suburb. Who am I to complain? YAY!

On Saturday we scoured the papers for the first time, and I managed to drag myself up and out to see a couple of places (and then went back to bed).

The first place was delightful, belongs to an acquaintance, and we fell in love with it instantly. We're wise enough to know that we can't be mobilised in time, but it's motivated us to get an assessment of our own place ASAP. It's got so many things on our wishlist:

-- renovated, but not in a posh way, just smart, up-to-date and liveable
-- bigger than our house but not so much so that we'd be swimming in the place
-- a low-maintenance garden
-- a backyard studio which is about the minimum I'd need, and could be made bigger.

Sigh. I don't think we'd be able to land this one, and I envy the people who do.

The second one was hilarious. At the moment it's stuffed to the gills with overseas students, and it was quite obvious when we went through that the number of mattresses had been culled to two per bedroom with the rest of the living spaces gutted of furniture for the selling period. We liked the underpants draped over the curtain rail in one of the bedrooms. The entire backyard was cemented over, and there was a garage between the house and an external 3-room granny flat that would have made an amazing studio if we could have coped with the yard and the house. Also, an external kitchen wot for making jams & preserves! Too much renovation needed, though, way outside our capabilities, and I fear that the house will just go to someone else who will use it as a student farm.

The best thing about the house was that when I walked into the 'sunroom', there was a framed Monet print. I showed it to BB, and said 'Happy Anniversary'. We both laughed.

So here begins our house-hunting adventures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Recovery mode

Best Beloved is spending two weeks acting in a higher position than his normal reasonably highish one. This means that he has an EA, or for those of you who, like me, have a dislike of acronyms, he has an Executive Assistant who answers his phones, which is quite disconcerting.

It is our wedding anniversary tomorrow, and I got this email a few minutes ago:

From: Linda
Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 11:14 AM
To: BB
Subject: You received a Phone Call, contact Your wife.

Hello BB

Your wife called. Can you please call when you get a monet.



Is that what you're getting me for our wedding anniversary?

Ah ha
ha ha ha ha hahhhahaaaaaaaaaaa

I don't think so. I'm getting him something better than old French art. I'm getting him brand spanking new Canberra art! But don't tell him that, I can't give it to him until Teffany's exhibition closes next week or the week after.

I did forgive him for the Harry Potter thing. Of course I did. The fact that I was on the brink of sickness that felled me like a hammer blow didn't help my mood that day.

I feel so much better today -- I went through last night like I was in a sauna, thrashing and drenched in sweat, and woke looking like I'd been swimming. But my head is clearer, like someone cleaned my internal windows. I'm as weak as a kitten, and still have to lie down a lot, but I think I'm through the worst of it. Byrd dropped around this morning and said that I'm 'carrot-coloured' but if that's the worst thing he can say I'm pretty happy. He's an honest, observant lad.

I was planning to go to Sydney tomorrow for the day on a mission to link up some artists and printers that I like but I've had to cancel; I just can't physically manage it. I think I can manage holding hands in a movie though. That would be a nice thing to do to celebrate six years (which means that I've also been blogging for just over six years. Yikes!).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm not ignoring you. I'm really sick, and can only spend about ten minutes in from of a screen before my eyes explode. I have a viral infection, and have been bedbound since sunday night apart from a brief attempt on Tuesday to do something quiet in my studio, an experience which resulted in a huge temperature spike and a hot/cold experience last night that I hope doesn't repeat itself today.

While I'm aching and sweating and bored out of my brain (there's only so much radio you can listen to), go over and have fun with the wonderful Pulp Fiction exhibition at the University of Otago Library, curated by my marvelous Donald-the-Special-Collections-Librarian and finally digitised.

Then come back here & amuse me by telling me which is your favorite cover or title and why.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I had the weekend to myself while Best Beloved and Bumblebee went to visit friends in the Southern Highlands. It was lovely. I had a few wines at a lovely ceramics exhibition by Teffany Thiedeman and then rode my bike to Dickson to get some noodlebox yum. I rented a few DVDs (looking at them the next day, I wish I had made some better choices, but on the most part they were good) and then bought a box of yum, put it in the back basket of my bike and rode joyously home through the night as is my wont when I've had a few wines. At least on that leg of the journey I remembered to put on my helmet.

When I got home I discovered that the box had fallen and opened and I'd trickled a Hansel & Gretel trail of spicy Nasi Goreng all the way home. Luckily there was enough to make a meal, but not the usual extra leftover meal...

So, I had a weekend of watching DVDs while I hand-sewed some envelopes for my Book Art Object contribution, plus good quality studio time. I'm making a type sampler which entails actually sorting through all the assorted typefaces I have. You'd think I'd have done this before, but no, there's never really been time. Now I'm making time.

Actually, there's lots of time in the day at this time of year, when the cats wake one at dawn's crack with pillow purrs and paddy pats on the face to be let out to catch the dratted wattle-eater that has been teasing them for years in the front yard. Sigh.

Best Beloved almost lost the right to that title this afternoon. He rang me at the studio to let me know they'd returned, and this was the exchange:

BB: I did something bad, I'm afraid.

&D: What did you buy? (This being the usual way he tells me that he's bought something large, expensive or frivolous, or all three.)

BB: No, worse than that, sorry.

&D: Did you sleep with someone?

BB: No, um, worse than that even.

&D: What?! What could be worse than that?

BB: Um...

&D: Spit it out, man.

BB: We went to see Harry Potter without you.

&D: [shocked silence]

BB: You still there?

&D: you utter BASTARD!

He's making me a nice meal tonight, has just given me some dark choc-chips to munch while he & B make muffins, and has promised NO SPOILERS.

I'm considering forgiving him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

String string string string

Anyone who is on Facebook and Twitter and is connected to me will be glutted with this information, but I promised the gallery owner that I'd do my best to promote it, so here goes. (BTW, I'm not being active on Twitter, I just found out that the Facebook Networked Blogs has a syndication option that automatically puts your blog posts on FB and T, so I get to spray the love even further :0 )

I've been playing with some of the offset packing from my latest Book Art Object piece as my contribution. I called my book Skyhooks:


Here they are being tested on a makeshift hanging line in Studio Duck.
If you'd like to know more about them, I've put up a post on my website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

biting the Apple that feeds me

OK, this is proof that letterpress stationery has hit a peak in popularity: Apple is surfing the wave.

There was a thread of discussion running through the NGA Print Symposium about the way that letterpress is marketed in the design world, now that its original purpose (printing everyday items of information) has been made obsolete. This promo ticks all the boxes:

-- the essential sideways shot of the final product so that you can see the physical difference to an offset or digital print

-- the use of creamy pastel colours, to appeal to the (mostly female) consumer base

-- the language used in the video and blurb, with all the right buzzwords:

centuries-old process
one of a kind
physically pressed
beauty seen and felt
elegantly crafted design
unique letterpress elements

The last two made me guffaw: elegantly crafted design... WTF does that mean?

And unique letterpress elements... the mere use of the word element suggests that there is more than one building block that can be chosen, which negates the word unique.

Note to universe: if it's unique, there can only be ONE of it. Something cannot be quite unique. Either it is or isn't.

There is NO WAY anything printed in multiples is unique. You can personalise it, but it will still only be unique if you only ever print one. Every time I see a site where you get to pick out pre-designed elements to put something together that is 'unique', I always think of that bit in Monty Python's Life of Brian:
Yes, we are all individuals!
I'm not.

I'm very interested in the emphasis on printing being physically noticable, as if embossing/debossing is a signifier of taste or cultural difference. A number of years ago, embossing was something tacky done to Christmas and birthday cards and then covered in glitter. There seems to be a deep need to resist the flatness of contemporary printing... or maybe the flatness of contemporary consumerism? That would explain the whole craft industry.

I cannot set myself apart from this trend; I take the sideways shots, I have been know to create deeply bitten surfaces, and occasionally I use photopolymer plate to print from. I'm also working on a line of cards to sell at exclusive venues in Canberra. I am part of this. But I've never been one to just jump in and join; I have to understand why it's happening, and to try to participate meaningfully.

Actually, the way I am different is that I'm not a design/craft studio, I'm repurposing letterpress towards printmaking rather than design, which is the other way that the equipment is surviving in Australia particularly. I don't make these exquisitely clean surfaces, because to me that would be no different to making a digital or offset print. I guess I use the ink in the way these printers use embossing plates -- to differentiate myself from contemporary commercial printing.

There is a conference in the UK about this on Friday that I would kill to be at, but I don't have the money to get there. I'm hoping to get the papers afterwards for a jolly good read. One of the reasons why I'm thinking through this stuff aloud to you is that I'm trying to write a paper on this for a printing conference in Melbourne next year. So any (constructive) discussion in comments would be most welcome :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanks but no thanks

As much as it's a thrill to be linked as Blog of Note on the Bloglines page, I'm not enjoying the sudden influx of spam commenters.

I love blogging, I love bloggers, but trolls, spammers and anyone who says 'Follow me' will be deleted from any comment stream they pollute.

You have been warned.

Genuine pedestrians, welcome. I hope you enjoy what I have to give, whatever that happens to be.

Today I am particularly enjoying the Canberra cloudlife, although I can't share because I still haven't found my camera cord (GAH). We are predicted to have thunderstorms later today and the clouds are going nuts out there. I found a cloud chart to tell me what they are all called (the most excellent one in the world, free to download, is here) but the names just don't match what goes on in my head when I look at them, so I'm not bothering to memorise them. Still, the cloud chart now lives in the loo with the Times Tables chart, so osmosis might just happen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Head space

"Thursday. I never could quite get the hang of Thursdays."

"I remember. I remember. I remember everything."

I had lots of time to sit and muse yesterday. I won't call it 'thinking' because it was too scattered. I spent a lot of time sitting around in strange, busy, lonely places as I ferried a friend from her Aged Care Facility (you just can't call it a Home) to a hospital bed.

Nothing too serious, just intervention.

Before I left I'd been stuffing my head and heart with Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy. On the way I stopped at my post office box and discovered the latest Meanjin, which I threw in my bag. You can't do that with a digital file.

Before the intervention, I'd tried to read her some new poetry by a poet I'd met in NZ, Brian Turner. He's a fab bugger, deeply entrenched in the heart of the southern island and its landscape. He writes poems that can rant like Lear on the moor and then go quiet so that you have to lean in. At his most succinct he does this:


If the sky knew half
of what we're doing
down here

it would be stricken,
and we would have

nothing but rain*

(My friend Pete and I like it so much, we have just received permission to make it into a broadside.)

I'd read a few poems to her, but quickly realised that she was incapable of taking in new material. So I turned to her own writing, and read her a poem from 70 years ago.

That's good. Who was that?


Oh, good.

It was good. I read them to her for a while, sticking to the ones that had background pictures for her to focus upon.

Later I wrangled her wheelchair with one hand, the other arm stuffed with supplies, and took her to the local (private) hospital, where we (I tag-teamed with another friend, and we negotiated our kids around her) waited over five hours for a drip to be connected to rehydrate her. She lay quietly on her side, full of mental pictures that I'd provided that she'd provided. I read Meanjin.

It's lovely when thoughts in your head collide with thoughts on the page.

Twenty... no, twenty-five years ago I had a friend who dressed as Paul Kelly. I remember when he walked back through my door, short back & sides with a slight quiff at the front, faded blue jeans, check shirt. He/we were so inspired by Kelly's music that it was the soundtrack to our constantly briefly-shared lives. I made my first adult trip to Melbourne to join him for a PK concert, then we walked the streets of Melbourne to his door, where he discovered his mattress out on the street because he hadn't paid the rent. He charmed his way back into the house, and we lay on his floor on the bare mattress for two days, full of Randwick Bells. We used to meet irregularly, in leaps and bounds. There were always others, and we never quite made anything work properly, but he was a major player in my 20s, as is Paul Kelly, and for that I'll always be grateful.

That's the way I remember it, he may have different memories. He's still in Melbourne.

I have rediscovered the tape deck on my studio stereo. I pushed my way into the back of my garden shed and dug out my old mix tapes. There's a lot of them, each with vestigal titles but the essential date of when I made them. They are mental time capsules, full of time bombs. Paul Kelly discusses the making of such tapes. So does Christos Tsiolkas in Meanjin. I thought a lot about music mixes and mental states yesterday.

I have moved to CD mixes over the last 15 years, and I still make them and date them, even though my ipod is easier to mix. I like the trace of thought and feeling. I need hard copy, even though you can't connect with them unless you have the equipment to play them. I wish I could make art like I make music mixes.

I had my annual asthma attack last night. Hospitals are stressful places, even when the patient is not in danger. I sat up late/early in my loungeroom, coughing uncontrollably, chest aching from the spasms. I read Pollyanna, which isn't as good as Anne of Green Gables for inspiring reassurance, but it was there.

Today I'm making a music mix. Here's what is on it, and I'm not justifying or rationalising any of them:

Don't get all psychological on me, it's just a head space.

*Brian Turner, from Just This (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2009), winner of the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Do not reproduce past this point.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Matters of economy

funny pictures-ME-OW-SIS*

Because Mr Padge keeps losing his collars and Mr Pooter doesn't, or rather, Pooter does shed them, but in places where they can be found again, Padge is now wearing an old collar of Pooter's, which means that they are now both black cats in blue collars. And even though one is very fat and the other very thin, sometimes, especially when they sit in the Roast Chicken position, it is very hard to tell them apart.

Except when they lie on their backs, as in this shot where Mr Padge tried his most helpfully to be a paperweight this morning as I worked in bed.

helpful Padge

Actually, the fact that Padge doesn't lose the crappy old blue collars makes me highly suspicious that someone in the neighbourhood is souveniring his own collars, which have traditionally been red. The last one was Barbie pink (I mistyped oink there, and was sorely tempted to leave it) as a joke on Best Beloved, but didn't work because his red-green colourblindness makes him impervious to shades of pink. Damn. Collars are expensive, and getting little tags engraved even more so. So for reasons of economy, Padge can be Pooter for a while in the wider world. If there's food involved, I suspect he'll answer to anything.

I'm writing this while I print out a little promotional flyer for my wares. With the time and energy and ink cannisters it's taking up, I might as well have handset and printed it, dammit. Up to now, I've been sending out an infrequent but free print newsletter to a growing mailing list. I got back from NZ to find that stamps had leapt to 60c!! Egads, people, snail mail is expensive!

So I've decided to regroup, and now want to offer to people the chance to subscribe to a regular (twice-yearly) newsletter/zine thingy for $5 a year. It will not be all letterpress, because that would blow it out of the water, but it will have a touch of it here and there. Anyone want to join up? I'm calling it SNAIL, since the last batch were called SNAIL MAIL. If you do, fling me an email to ampersandduck (at but I bet the spammers scan for (at) these days) and I'll let you know how we proceed with payment.

I've almost, but not quite, shaken off my horrid cold. It started as a sore throat, moved up to my sinus, and then settled happily in my chest. I'm hacking up all sorts of blah, which catch in my throat on the way up & give me a great husky blues voice that sounds very dramatic on the phone. This is one reason why I'm on Facebook such a lot, for those who care, and also why I'm working from home a bit rather than standing in my still quite cool concrete studio.

Mind you, I did find the energy to complete the printing for my latest Book Art Object piece, and it should be dry enough today to finish... huzzar! Then I can send it out, and then, only then, can I share some photos, because the whole point is for the recipients to work it out for themselves. It's a one-trick pony, but I've had fun training it.

Another thing I've been working hard on is helping to rebrand ANCA, my studio complex, with a new logo and website etc. I haven't been responsible for the actual graphic side of it, but as I'm on the ANCA Board, I'm getting my hands dirty in other ways, like making decisions, letterheads & party planning. If you're interested, save the date of the 9th of December for the launch of the new ANCA look. Very exciting!

That's also the date, as well, of the Christmas Party of the Canberra Craft Bookbinding Guild, so I'll be party-hopping. If you are interested in that, it's a Show & Tell, Bring & Buy evening, so everyone needs to bring something to sell or show. Or just come & chat & buy, all good.

Still inkjetting. Might as well get out of my pyjamas and have some lunch :)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Lucky indeed

I received an email today from my lovely Aunty Lou, who often comments here. She mentioned for the first time that her son, my cousin, has a blog that is documenting his and his partner's journey through surrogacy to have a family. I just sat and read it through from the start, and I dare anybody to read it and say that gay men should not have children or that they are incapable of having a solid loving relationship. Especially in this post; if I could write like this about my own marriage (and yes, these two are the most 'married' you could be), I'd be a lot more confident about my old age. Not that I'm not happy, it's just that you can feel the confidence palpably between these gorgeous and open-hearted men. I'm such a slack cousin; I need to be in touch more. And that goes for anyone in my family. If you're writing a blog, TELL ME!!!

This seems like a good moment to say how much I'm enjoying my new feedreader now that Bloglines has imploded. I'm now using Feedly, which compiles and presents all the feeds like an online magazine. It makes everyone's blogs look very important and glamorous, and I love the ease of reading everything! Just in case anyone out there isn't a seasoned blogger, feedreaders are the reason why you think no-one visits your blog. Using a feedreader doesn't show up on your visitor stats, so you might have lots of lurkers who don't comment reading you behind the scenes! I like to dip my toe in every now and again and leave a comment just so that people know I'm appreciating them :)

I'm working at home today, doing a bit of writing and trying to ignore BB's manflu whilst still managing to look after him in a very rudimentary way (tea, lunch, occasional cuddle). I taught a small and lovely bunch of women some book arts on the weekend, which was lots of fun, especially thanks to their enthusiasm. So today is a quiet day, with periodic treats.

Speaking of periodic treats, thank ceiling cat that Halloween is FINALLY over. Although I did go to a ripper Day of the Dead party on Saturday night, with everyone putting a lot of effort into their costumes.

And next time I have any money, I'm going to buy one of these:

An ampersandwich!

OOh! I just remembered that I have a bag-full of purple petunias waiting to be potted that have been sitting there for days. Poor things, I'll do them now. Ciao.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Booking myself

Wow, two posts in a day.

funny pictures-Everyone dies at the end. There, now you have extra time on your hands to pet me.

I actually haven't been reading much lately, apart from dipping into some ebook texts when I'm stuck out somewhere. Mostly I've been lying in bed doing 'Codecracker' puzzles -- BB and I have a book each from NZ. I finished the Barbara Hanrahan biography and just haven't felt like following through with anything, not even her books.

But today I read aloud to the Aged Poet the splendid article on Jessica Anderson by Susan Sheridan in September's ABR and felt the juices stir. Tonight I'll dig out my HSC copy of Tirra Lirra, and then I'll keep my eyes peeled for a copy of The Commandant, which sounds good.

As you were.

Except if you're Sophie Cunningham. Does the latest news about Meanjin mean that you're going to concentrate on your writing? Because I've been hanging out for that Leonard & Virginia novel for a few years now...

PS: OMG I just nearly wet myself:
funny pictures of cats with captions


Lazy Padge

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Passive aggressive non-art making

Wow, last weekend was exhaustipating.

I wanted to just be in the studio this week, binding a batch of Transmigration to fulfill a purchase order (only buying one copy, so there's a nice fresh batch if anyone's interested), but of course, life got in the way, so while I got the batch done, I didn't get a lot else done. Bumblebee's laptop died, 6 months after purchase, so luckily it's within warranty, but the kerfuffle getting it to the techos and then the extra kerfuffly kerfuffle trying to pick it up again hasn't endeared me to the magical world of PCs, no matter how much I love The IT Crowd (that link is to a fun TIC game). I should have bought him a Mac, the techos are closer to home.

Combine that with the Aged Poet needing extra attention, various chores I had to run and some extra argy-bargy when Bumblebee accidentally took my studio keys to school with him and I had to jump through hoops to get them back because high schools don't like parents just wandering into school to talk to their children (unlike Primary Schools, which think you're an anti-social weirdo if you don't pop in once a week... year 7 is a transition for parents as much as the kids), not much art-making got done.

[breathes in]

[breathes out]

Which reminds me of that fabulous Ben Folds Five line: all this breathing in, never breathing out... (from the song FAIR)

And then yesterday I spent the morning helping Bumblebee clean his room. Five shopping bags full of rubbish, two vacuum cleaner bagless cannisters full of crud and a number of plastic boxes full of toys deemed too young for him (one of which is scrawled over with thick black marker saying DO NOT THROW OUT DO NOT SELL), a window open and the removal of sundry dirty clothes (socks thrown behind the bookcase, etc) and fetid towels, his room has finally temporarily lost its goaty reek and you can actually see the floor.

It was with a huge sigh of relief, then, that I went to the studio yesterday, closed the door on the world, rolled my sleeves up and spent a few happy hours playing with type, paper and yellow ink.

You'd think it would be a simple task, but yellow ink needs very clean rollers to print clean and bright and not a dirty olive colour. In fact, the day before, I'd inked up Kitty the Press with said yellow ink, and been very disappointed, even though I'd cleaned the rollers and all the bits around them scrupulously. I decided to abandon the machine's rollers and went out to the local art store (Maureen's, not Eckers-crap, of course) and bought a brand new spotless hand brayer. It is now my Yellow Roller. Not a spot of anything else will touch it.

And thus I progressed from this:

dark yellow

to this:


And I hope you can tell the difference in brightness and clarity. I was completely inspired at the Print Symposium by Tim Maguire's amazing CMYK work, and am embarking upon a spot of colour play as a result. This particular piece is for the latest Book Art Object project. One layer done, five to go.

Today we decided to have a family day, so I stayed away from the studio, even though I'm longing to get back to play with magenta ink. We haggled all day over things to do together: no-one wanted to ride at the lake, all the good movies were over by the time we thought of it, with no afternoon sessions, and we didn't want to stay home and attack the garden. Then I remembered that the Old Canberra Inn, which is basically our local pub apart from anything in Dickson, has free pool tables on Sundays. Bonus! Within half an hour we were happily playing pool, helping ourselves to the free jukebox with its bikie-inspired playlist (I taught Bumblebee the informal and very rude chorus to The Angel's Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again, to BB's vaguely disapproving look, and fell in love over again with Ian Moss and Don Walker, wishing that Jimmy had choked on his own vomit sometime in the 80s), but still, in the back of my mind there was a 'I could be printing right now' sensation. I swallowed it, but it's slightly bitter as it goes down.

I came up with a wonderful music trivia question, and you're welcome to use it if you have to compose trivia nights or whatever:

What have these three songs got in common:

and you play excerpts of 'Bow River' by Cold Chisel (or 'Saturday Night'), 'Errol', by Australian Crawl, and a third one, which you can make tricky by adding your own third or you can make it easy by making the third one a Ringo Beatles song.

Answer? They are all songs not sung by the band's lead singer/s.

What do you think? Got any better or additional examples?

Sigh. Now Bumblebee looks like he's got some horrid throat swelling thingy, so I've dosed him up with garlicky chicken soup and am mentally preparing to not go anywhere tomorrow except the doctor. Sigh. I'll get back to the studio sometime. At least it's waiting there for me, patiently.

Next weekend I'm teaching a book class at Megalo, and there are spaces, if anyone's interested. I'm trying to rustle up participants, because the more people there are, the more I get paid, and I'm not earning anything regular until I start back at the BookStud next year. So if you know anyone that would love to learn how to make booky things, let them know. My bills will be most grateful.

Best Beloved just said goodnight, as he's having a Sleep Head-start (I've worked out a great system: if he goes to sleep solidly first, I can creep in and read an e-book under the sheets for a while, which beats him whinging at me to turn the light off), and as he kissed my neck he said 'mmm, you smell nice, what is it?'

'Hogget.' I replied. It must be, because I slow-cooked it all afternoon. It was delicious, cooked with green olives that had been marinated in preserved lemon & garlic. I guess there are worse things to smell of, but it's not very romantic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sharing the love


I think I've done my bit for the promotion of letterpress as a satisfying thing to do over the past couple of days.

Around the same time (give or take a day) that I was expounding to the printmaking audience at the National Gallery Print Symposium about the wonders of ink and type, New Zealanders were listening to me talking to Lynn Freeman on Radio New Zealand's The Arts on Sunday show. If you hit that link, there's a downloadable podcast of the interview. The NGA talk will be on their website sometime in the near future too, and I'll pass on that link when I get it.

Also, Print Big had around 900 visitors yesterday! Woo hoo! It helped that the weather was lovely and the venue is right next door to the Bus Depot Markets. I couldn't get back there until the exhibition was over, but the big monoprint that the public did looked FABULOUS.


So we had to take everything down. Demolition, after such a frenetic creation, had to be demolished. Well, not totally -- we took apart the panels & it's now sitting in pieces outside my studio.

It went from this

final, rough

to this


via this

byrd crowbar

and this


and this

Demo panels

with a little bit of this


and lots of this


oops, look at the time -- have to dash.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sigh of relief

I'm finally at the point where I can sit and relax for a few hours before going to the NGA Print Symposium dinner tonight.

final, rough

Here's the 'final' piece, taken quickly at the opening while there was noone in front of it, which wasn't often. What I enjoyed was seeing that people actually stopped and read for a while, instead of floating past it. So if it was difficult to make out the foreground/background areas, that is a good thing.

Here's a couple of crowd shots, taken during the speeches:

Print Big opening 1

Print Big opening 2

It was huge, with all the nice people from the conference, and lots of nice local arty types, and my parents, who seemed to enjoy themselves even though I couldn't hang out with them much.

At one point Colonel Duck was taking people around to the blank wall at the end, gridded up with pencil in preparation for the public monoprint project (that started today) and was telling them that it was his favorite piece in the show, cheeky bugger.

A bit later I turned around to see him in front of my work with Helen Cole, Rare Book Librarian at the State Library of Queensland and Noreen Grahame, Book Artist gallery Owner supremo, regaling them with embarrassing stories about my childhood. GAH! You have to laugh, at least he's taught me that much.

I got home latish and went straight to bed, but woke up extra early to finish my talk for the Print Symposium. I gave that today just before lunch, and it seemed to go down well. My theme (given to me by Head of Print, Roger Butler) was palpability, so I gave a 20 minute account of my passionate love for letterpress in the hope that my enthusiasm was palpable (I almost ran over, but ditched a bit to squeeze in; never mind, it will be published in full on the NGA website soon). It was; I had lots of positive feedback from people who felt the love in the air.

Other highlights (heh, not that I was a highlight :) ) were Luke from Sticky in Melbourne and Mini Graff, poster queen who gave us a lesson in intellectual property from the viewpoint of the victim whose designs were stolen from the web by a big US fashion company.

Oops, have just run out of time (between the last sentence and this I fed Shopping Sherpa's kitty) and have dressed posh for tea. Am waiting for my taxi to the Gallery...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Big Print Install 2


Wow, it's late already. I can't believe how fast time is moving.

Everyone went home a while ago, which meant that we could turn up the music. The space we're in, the Fitter's Workshop, has been tentatively promised to Megalo as a new home to form an Arts Hub with the Glassworks, which is next door, and the Bus Depot Markets, also next door. However, there is a sector of the community which is protesting the idea, saying that the acoustics are too good to waste on art, and that it should be kept for a concert venue. Apparently classical music sounds really, really good in here, and I believe them. Everything we've been playing has sounded superb, and crystal clear from any part of the building, even when the stereo is turned right down.

Right now it's turned right up, and we're listening to Massive Attack's Mezzanine. Earlier we had The Black Keys (OMG, the bass!) and even earlier some Radiohead, amongst other things. The working experience has been completely enriched by the sound quality.

But the space should still go to Megalo.

Anyhoo, things are progressing. We've managed to place the text in ways that enhance the total vision and adds extra layers to what it's trying to say. Byrd's still working on the collage phase, so we give ourselves tasks and do them separately, coming together to discuss placement, tone, and whether I should run out for more caffeine beverages or not.

I made him take the camera at one point, just to prove that I'm actually doing some work and not sitting around just taking photos and blogging.


I'm not sure whether the spraying part of the procedure will be tonight or tomorrow morning; depends on his stamina. We have the key, and have to go through an elaborate locking up process, and then have to be back early tomorrow to let the others in, so we might as well keep working then, and then there's a media launch at 10am, so we should be here then.


Megalo's been very generous, providing dinner and wine and water bottles and whatever else. The party tomorrow night should be ace, if I have any stamina left!

Hold that thought.

Of course, many more photos here.

Big Print Install 1

Hey ho

I'm sitting on the concrete floor of the Fitter's Workshop watching byrd do the underlayers of our joint work. I'm not very good at layered imagery, so it's wonderful to watch his mind at work.

All around me, exciting things are happening. John Loane has just been & gone, installing both his work and Mike Parr's. GW Bot is over the other side of our cube, hanging a lovely long linocut on tapa cloth. Diagonally opposite me, Annie Trevillian is working out how to hang her gorgeous screenprints on fabric.

On the cube next to us, Minigraff has a large screenprint, and around the corner from that, Julian Laffan has a fab series of woodcut blocks in the shape of tools.

This is what we have to work with:


And this is what it looks like so far:


It's just the underlayers, there's a lot to go. Stay tuned.

More photos here.

D-day for installation



That's byrd, doing his research on how to transform this


into a pair of pants and a set of sneakers, coming in or out of our constructed demolition site.

Megalo rang this morning to say that the wall is ready for us, but I have to take the Aged Poet to the hairdresser, and byrd needs to do a bit of paid work, so we can't start until about 1pm. And then it's on, and we have a lot to do!

That top print is fabulous, but it's still wet, because it rained all day yesterday! This is going to be an interesting experience...

I will live blog through the evening, because I've done most of my slog. Now it's up to byrd, and I'll just be his paste-monkey. So stay tuned, and if you're really keen, check the flickr set for more.

Monday, October 11, 2010

have bird, can loll


Padge didn't catch this bird, and I'm willing to bet that he didn't kill it, but he was happy to take the credit.


He also refuses to accept blame.

Pooter, on the other hand, scarpered, and refused to acknowledge whether he had or hadn't been in the general vicinity.