Monday, January 31, 2011

Caretaker mode

Week two of caretaker mode, where we have to be careful about how much mess we make in any part of the house and garden. For people like us, who trail grunge as we walk, it's excruciating. Moving into our next house will be like releasing your overfed gut from a tight belt or taking off a tight pair of shoes and walking barefoot on a cool wooden floor.

Actually, even though I don't wear tight shoes as a life philosophy, walking barefoot on the cool wooden floors of this house is just sooooo good when the weather is this hot and sticky. Since the next place is carpeted, I'm storing up the nice feeling while it lasts.

Lots of sniffs but no bites as yet. We're having another open session on Wednesday, and we might have a bit of something fun in the Real Estate section on Saturday if my agent gets her indominable way. She's a fighter, I tell you.

Yesterday I got to spend the whole day in my lovely cool studio... sigh of relief. As those of you know who hang out in studios, or even with a kitchen table, you can't just plunge in to being creative, unless you have something burning to be done. I'm feeling a bit disconnected, so I decided to do something that would just take a day, and be completed by the end of the day... doing with a sense of purpose, such a good feeling.

I made jam labels for Best Beloved's produce:

Jam labels

I decided to play with the cats as an identifying symbol of our household, and so created the 'Two Tails' motif. I'm probably going to make an Ex Libris for us out of the label design on the far right. They're a tad clunky, it's my first play with linocutting for ages, and I printed them using my nipping press. Still, it was a happy day's work.

Bumblebee gets home today after four weeks of only being home for two days at a time. He doesn't start school until next week, so we can have some fun together this week (as long as we don't mess up the house!). I took him to see the Space Invaders show at the NGA last week, which we both really enjoyed. He was very impressed at seeing byrd's work in there. It's a great show, only running for a few more weeks if you like a bit of street art.

I'm teaching a few times next month (as in February, tomorrow): a one-day class at the Belconnen Arts Centre on Asian Stab binding (and will be back there in March for a day of Altered Books) and a 2-Saturday class at Megalo doing a broad survey of simple bookarts bindings. Both classes will be a lot of fun, so if you fancy a bit of making, come along. At the very least I need to earn some money! New houses aren't cheap :)

Ergh, time to go outside again. Why can't we just skip February and head straight into Autumn? I adore Autumn, it's the most glorious time to be in Canberra (besides Spring).

Oh -- went to see Another Year (by Mike Leigh) the other day. At the same time, Best Beloved saw Black Swan. I was too chicken to go to it. We both came out wishing the other had seen our movies. So on the way home we told each other all about them. No spoilers for you, but both are really good. The Coen brothers' remake of True Grit is even better.

Do yourselves a faaaaaaavvvvooooouuur.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Down tools

Wow, it's my first day since the new year started when I haven't had to pack, patch, paint or clean anything. I'm also child-free till tomorrow. I've spent the morning catching up on some work I had to do, and yesterday I sorted my tax, so I'm toying with the idea of going to the movies. Or going back to bed with my Connie Willis novel (I just finished The Domesday Book, am rereading Blackout because All Clear is winging its way from the Book Depository). Tough call.

Apparently our open house sessions on the weekend were a triumph. I can't say for sure, because we had to be out of the way, and Mr Padge just can't seem to articulate clearly enough for me to make out more than FEED ME.

On Saturday there were 21 groups through, more than any other house in the area. At the dot of 10:30am the empty street was suddenly full of cars; they must have been lurking around the corner. We scarpered, and there was no sign of the cats as we left in the opposite direction. As soon as we disappeared, the cats came out and set up begging stations, one in the back yard (Mr Pooter) and one right inside in front of the front door (Mr Padge, of course), so that people had to step over him to enter. Our agent thought this was marvellous, so didn't shove him out of the way. 'A novelty,' she called him. We have other words to describe him when he uses this very familiar blocking technique.

Yesterday, Sunday, the agent expected around 10 groups. We got 12. The weather was gorgeous each morning, turning grey and ploppy later in the day. Lucky us! Padge stationed himself a bit further from the door, wandering in and out with the people, playing host.

Today he's sprawled near the door, looking outside wistfully, wondering who is going to come today for his pats. Thankfully, no-one. He can suffer in his jocks, spoiled puss.

So now it's in the hands of Ceiling Cat. We have another double-day weekend coming up, but anything could happen in the next few days. In the ACT you only have to get one builder's report, and this gets sent, with the contract, to interested parties to consider if they express interest. A much more sensible way of doing things rather than each group having to commission their own report. Whoever buys the house, pays for the report. So far 5 groups have requested the contract & report from our agent, and there have been a few requests for rental evaluations. Fingers crossed!

On Saturday we went looking at beds and furniture, just cruising the shops. I hate shopping, and so does BB, so we ended up quite cranky. We cheered ourselves up with a Hindi movie (I can't say Bollywood, because it was much more arthouse than that, with no dancing or singing, and only 2 hours long as opposed to the usual 3 or 4) called Dhobi Ghat, or Mumbai Diaries. It was great; if you get a chance to see it, it's very beautiful and quite engaging. We followed that with dinner at our favorite South Indian restaurant, Ruchi in Belconnen, where we treated ourselves to a Thali, Best Beloved's favorite way of eating. He had the meaty version and I had the vegetarian, which is excellent albeit a bit too reliant on coconut flavours throughout the dishes.

Yesterday we went to CanCon at EPIC and had a wander around, marvelling at the separate universe that exists to one side of ours. CanCon is the local gamers' conference, and there were three huge rooms: one devoted to board games, one to card games (like Magic, Pokemon etc) and the last to role-playing and figurine-based games (is that the right way to describe Warhammer?). Lots of amazing merchandise and fun people to watch and very funny t-shirts to read. We didn't play anything, but we did buy a few games to bring home.

I'm hoping to get into my studio over the next few days to do something more than just clean up the mess. I have a few workshops coming up, at Belconnen Arts Centre and at Megalo, so if you want to spend a day or so making stuff, come along!

I think the first thing to do is to go for a walk to my postbox. There's something in it, and it just might be the Connie Willis book, which will determine the rest of the day's trajectory.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The 'spot the cat' game

Well, I've done all the hard work, and the realtor's sign is hammered into the verge, signalling that the house is on sale. The photos are on a couple of websites, but BB has advised me not to put a direct link here in case Bad Peoples are reading.

I don't believe that Bad Peoples hang about here, do you?

Anyhoo, I'll respect his wishes, but I'm sure if you're one of my smart readers, you can find it for yourself, especially if I share some of my favorite photos with you.

Spot the cat!
Golly, our kitchen looks good. It hasn't looked this good since it was built instead of having a flashy wedding (by a friend who has excellent woody skillz). In fact, it almost looks better than then because he left us a few final jobs which weren't done until a couple of weeks ago.

Spot the cat!
I find this photo quite embarrassing. Our couches are really not that purple when you see them in situ. I was shocked when I moved one of them from the (tip)shop where it looked 'normal' to the car in the sunlight where it looked this purple. The photographer turned on all the lights and used a fancy flash, and lo! the couches are purple. In the normal house light they look a lovely dark purply-brown, sort of like what baby poo looks like after they've eaten beetroot.

I'm really not selling the couches to you, am I? Sigh. As I told our lovely real estate agent: up to now I've had pets and a small child. Who buys new furniture? Not anyone with a practical streak.

OK, next:

Spot the cat!
This one is a tricky one. Mr Padge was lying slothfully on the front step, and you can only just make him out behind the greenery. It's amazing how wide they can take the shot without making it all buggy and fish-eyed.

So there you go. There are other pics, but they are the cattiest.

Wish us luck... we're having viewing sessions on both days of the next two weekends. And crossing our fingers that someone likes our house's quirky charm, including Best Beloved's many fruity jam plantings (red currants, apricots, quinces, plums and grapes). We have to make ourselves scarce during the viewings, and are planning some jaunty escapades to stop ourselves from fretting.

And we're making bets about whether the cats stay and fawn over people or scarper as well. Do let us know if you visit and spot them. Extra points in the game :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Run, river, run

I'm lying on my old mattress, the one I used to sleep on before Best Beloved moved into my life, and it now lives at Colonel and Lady Duck's prickle farm. I'm down here to teach a bookarts weekend, which I've just done. It was fun, but really hot and sweaty. The mattress is great, and I have the whole bed to myself. Luxury!

There hasn't been much time to do anything else except teach and lie on the mattress, since I've also been writing the paper that I've been trying to write for weeks, that is due by COB tomorrow. Tomorrow I drive back to Canberra to finish decluttering the house in time for the Cleaners to clean, and then on Tuesday we're having our Official Real Estate Photos taken.

Gosh, I'm feeling so ruddy GROWN UP.

I think I've finished the paper. It's for the Impact 7 conference in September. They want the paper now, to be submitted and peer-reviewed, so I'm not too worried. I figure if there's something screwy about it, the peers will pick it up & tell me to make changes. And I will.

Before I left home on Friday, I finally finished all the painting of bits of the house that needed refreshing... nearly all of it, really.

Did I tell you that the goaty smell in Bumblebee's room wasn't actually teenage goat smell, but a school bag or two full of rotting uneaten lunches? EWWWWWWWWWW. My punishment is to not care that his new room has floral curtains when we move in. He can have black curtains and a Sith bedspread when he has proved to me that he can [a] make and eat his own lunches and [b] use a bin if he has leftovers. He's also been given the Monkey Painting to live with for a while.

The Monkey Painting is a special member of the family. Best Beloved, when he was about eight, admired the stuffed monkey of a family friend. So the nice old lady, instead of giving him the monkey, painted. a. picture. of. it. and gave it to him for his next birthday. WTF? It became one of his treasured possessions. So now we have a very odd painting of a stuffed monkey that stares at you inanely from the canvas. Up to now I have hung it in the loo, where it grins down upon you as you wee, and to avoid the stare you have to look at the Times Table poster underneath it. It's done wonders for our maths skillz.

But. Until he's learned his lesson, The Monkey Painting will live in Bumblebee's new bedroom, staring at him until he empties his schoolbag each afternoon. I think it's going to work. I hope so, and then I'll have to find another place to hang it, somewhere out of the way but suitably visible so that BB doesn't think I hate the painting. I don't, but it's slightly creepy in a 1970s clown-on-black-velvet kind of way.

Anyhoo, the title of this post celebrates the fact that the Bega River is running, the first time I've seen it with water in it for YEARS. It was so hot today that a couple of my class participants ducked off at lunchtime and had a swim in the river. I didn't join them because if I had, I probably wouldn't have returned to the class. We were in the Bega CWA Hall, a delightful venue complete with a caretaker living in the back flat, who had been living there for TWENTY YEARS. wow.

OK, bedtime for bo-bos. Tired. Verry, verrrry tired.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Almost there (ii)

Have resolved to stop feeling cranky about what I'm doing. My friend Jo's latest post and all the news that is around us about the flooding has brought it home to me that what I'm doing is absolutely minor compared to what is ahead of a lot of Queenslanders. At least my house isn't full of mud (although what was behind our kitchen bookshelf was quite alarming).

Bumblebee is back for his two days of home but isn't very useful (he's a tad cack-handed in a gawky teenage way) so is watching Stah Waz to stay out of the way and doing occasional forays to the shops for me. The car is at the garage and it's raining so we're stuck at home, a great excuse to try to finish all the indoor chores.

Better get on. I'm sorry about the floods, hope all my Qld friends are coping. I'm thinking dry thoughts for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Friday, January 07, 2011

House blues

Most of my friends will smile and nod when I say that I've always said I love moving house. And I do. I've done it a lot, I've always said that it's a chance to declutter and renew your sense of self, to start fresh and reinvent your life.

Up until now, every move has been from a rented house to a rented house. Pack, clean the walls, patch a few holes/cover up red wine stains, ring the service providers, move on. Brilliant. But...

Getting the house (lived in for a record 13 1/2 years, and thus much more cluttered than the usual 2-year stint) ready for sale in under three weeks while your partner is back at work, your son is commuting between his father and you every three days... is not fun. I try to make it so with a bit of Facebooking, but that just sucks me in to world of fun that I juts should be ignoring for a while. There's also the normal commitments to meet like a workshop in Bega to teach (booked before the sudden move decision) and a conference paper to write.

I have the building inspector coming this Monday morning, unfortunately just before the bathroom sealer person (the sealant had a 5-year warranty, and was misbehaving after only 2 years, so is being replaced, yay), then the window and carpet cleaner coming on Friday, Best Beloved will be mulching the garden while I'm in Bega, then the industrial cleaners coming on the next Monday, the photographers coming on the Tuesday, and then the house goes in the papers and on the interwebs.

Le puff, le pant, as Pepe le Pew's friend used to say.

OK. I'll stop whinging. There's a lovely big house up the road that is empty and waiting for me to sign the dotted line and move in. Without that thought, I'd be going crazy.

The good good news is that my cousins had their twin baby girls and are in Mumbai as we speak, living on similar nerves and adrenalin, aching to take them home and start a new life. So exciting for them! Welcome to the world, girls! (I couldn't help myself being pragmatic within my comment to them; when Bumblebee was in hospital having his first heart surgery at 3 months old, my mother had a cold, and she wore a facemask into the ward to protect him. She had so much praise from the doctors and nurses, because very few people think that their germs mean anything in a hospital environment. I hope J understands that I'm not being a party-pooper.)

Oh well, back to the sanding (I love my drill!) and the painting. And the Scrabble. And the helpful cats who bring me presents of mice and disembowel them close by to show me how helpful they are.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Procrastrination city

I've just wasted a couple of hours (how fast does the clock go when you're having fun??!!) building a quiz that you'll all probably hate.

I've been having an ongoing discussion about Bernice's Oztralyan Bounty of Books, and what I'd like to know is, of all these books that we get on reading lists and study lists etc, which ones do we actually like by these authors?

So I've made a very uncomprehensive list which will probably make people sigh, but maybe I'll make a better one when I'm not meant to be sanding and painting and dusting.

Here it is, in friendly quiz parameters, with their stoopid advertising and stuff, but I hope to get something interesting out of it, for no reason at all really. Feel free to share the link, the more the merrier.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

Welcome to my eighth year of blogging. I hope you're all enjoying the new year so far.

Our new year started with being woken by fleas in our bed.

Apparently fleas like a quiet house. I've had two tales told to me by members of each side of my family (old and new) of going away and coming back to a house so full of fleas that [tale 1] their feet were black with fleas as if wearing ankle socks and [tale 2] they had to sleep on a shelf of a wardrobe with the door closed to escape them. Apparently vibrations keep them (fleas, not both sides of my family) from wantonly breeding, but that sounds a bit suspect to me. Probably more to do with the lack of attention.

Anyhoo, we woke up resolved to do something about it. Going to Woollies at opening time on New Year's Day is now my favorite time to shop... so quiet! And all the people who are there are clutching their heads slightly. Almost as good as Best Beloved's mother who apparently went shopping while the whole world was watching the moon landing. Again, I'm a bit skeptical of that tale. Who was serving her?

We pulled the bed apart and cleared all the floors of the carpeted end of the house, kicked the cats outside, and set off some flea bombs. This, of course, meant that we had to go out for a few hours into the killing heat, so we went to the movies.

We saw The King's Speech. It was in Dendy's largest cinema, and there were no spare seats. The audience was vocally appreciative, laughing and cheering and at the end clapping. I think it's not only that the movie is excellent, with wonderful acting and a spiffing script; it does more to generate a sense of pride in being Australian than any Australian film could. I can't speak for any other audience member, but I related to Lionel's egalitarian spirit, his larrikin (sp?) streak, and his cheekiness. Colin Firth was his usual loveliness, especially when he swore. Sigh.

We came home feeling karmically unbalanced, having unleashed noxious gases upon hundreds of little bodies. But a solid vacuum and a bedding change later (plus a good cold shower), we feel much, much better.

Good enough to keep packing & cleaning tomorrow.

Photos are off, luv. I did lose my camera. Yes, I know that my iPhone has one, but it hasn't got a flash or macro. I'm officially in Object Mourning.