Friday, April 29, 2011


I think I've killed all the mites, and the antihistamine is working most of the time, so hey ho, it's off to work today, after two weeks of uni break and no pay. I love the way I usually get ill when there's time to be ill. This is why I rarely take holidays.

The cats are going to the vet today for annual injections and their first major teeth-scraping, so have had nil by mouth since last night's dinner and no toilet outing this morning... I have very naggy, angry, yowly cats wrestling each other all over the house as I type. Hilarious for now, but in a few moments I have to wrestle them into their cat box, and in the process I'm pretty sure I'll gain a few more skin problems :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The rest of Easter

Firstly, may I just say how DISGUSTED I am about the BBC's decision to press the ABC to axe The Chaser's coverage of the impending royal wedding. Since Channel 7 is still allowed to air its wedding drivel and Dame Edna isn't being stopped, obviously the Palace is targetting this edict at REAL satire. Bugger, that was the only thing to look forward to about the event. I won't be watching any of it now, out of protest; actually not a hard task. I'm sure there will be much rehashing in print and other media.

I've been sulking today. My skin complaint is turning out to be much harder to treat than my doctor predicted... I've got scabies, you see. Horrible flesh-eating mites that have been burrowing under my skin for weeks without my knowing about it, and over the last week, since a proper diagnosis, have been itching like billy-o and have NOT been succumbing to the supposedly easy treatment prescribed to me.

All of you who have been in contact with me, don't panic. They're not as easy to catch as popular tales tell. We'd have to have been rubbing up & down each other nakedly at length to really transmit the buggers. Luckily Best Beloved and I have been so tired & cranky while moving house that he's going to have to be very unlucky to get them from me (although I am going to treat him tonight just in case).

And how did I get them? Best bet is from the possum that broke into the house just before we moved in, and I was unlucky enough to pick up a fresh mite in the move. It takes a few weeks for everything to reach an itching frenzy.

So EEEEERRRGGGGGGGGG. I was misdiagnosed for a while: told it was Athlete's Foot, then Dermatitis. The creams prescribed for both of those made my skin tough and brown, and then the scabies oil that I had to paint ALL OVER me (twice) just made everything go wild. So now I'm utterly miserable and about to try a new cream, as well as taking strong antihistamines to help with the itching. The soles of my feet are ragged and bloody. My hands are flaky slabs of ouch. It's not too publicly ugly, most of the yuck is under my clothes, but it's really painful.

Sorry, that was probably too much detail.

When I went to the Folk Festival I rugged up and wore gloves and didn't touch anyone. I got a few odd looks for picking up cups and plates with latex gloves on, but it was better than having things spilled on the ouchies.

I'm hoping this next treatment works tonight. If it does work, I'll be a happy duckie tomorrow. Tonight I'm grumpy. I've just reached the end of my capacity to be philosophical about it. All day I've been teary. I cried on the phone to the doctor, who was amazed that the first treatment didn't work. I almost lost it in the chemist when the girl behind the counter looked at what I was buying and said sympathetically, 'oh, they're really hard to get rid of'. And I tried not to cry when I ran into byrd and his little boys, but he could see I was trying really hard to hold it together. It's the itching, you see. Even when I've killed the greeblies, the itching will continue for a few weeks until everything sloughs off. It's driving me crazy and it's very hard to stay positive.


Anyhoo, I hear you say, shut up about the itchy shit and tell us what happened at the rest of the Folk Festival.

Well... I went back only for the evenings of the next two days, because I discovered that when I was moving around the studio fully occupied and happily making, I didn't itch. So I did lots of printing and playing with paper.

When I did get there, I watched these people play:

They were fantastic. They did a cover of 'Sweet Transvestite' from the Rocky Horror Picture Show that was FABULOUS, all slide guitar and sexiness. Noriko was in fishnets and a mini-kimono and moved like one of the women in Robert Palmer's 'Addicted to Love' video. Combined with George's accent, I haven't enjoyed Japanese-flavoured music so much since Shonen Knife.

I also, as you may see over on the right in my Twitter stream (I only twitter about five times a year, most of those during music concerts), went to see Don Walker's late show. He was doing one at a morning session, but I knew he'd do a better night show than day. He was introduced as 'Don Walker and the SF', and he started the gig all Jimmy Webb-ish, singing Khe Sanh accompanied only by his organ keyboard.

That was a clever move, getting the Cold Chisel fans off his back before launching into 45 minutes of NickCavesque grungy delta blues with a kick-ass band that he declared to be named, 'now that it's late and we're all adults', Don Walker and the Suave Fucks. Yee haw! It was a very male, very wry, very Aussie session.

That, and the divine mulled wine that is made by Troubadour Bar, and a group called the Sweet Lowdown that I only caught the last ten minutes of, and the company of Mummy Crit and her lovely little boy Eric who was so utterly obsessed with a 'Big Monster Raaaabbbbiit' that it's now firmly entered the lexicon of my extended family, was all for the Festival for 2011. I rode my bike home (past, bizarrely, a big dead rabbit on the road) and moodily sat in front of the telly with a huge chocolate rabbit to eat and itched.

I hope to report back tomorrow or the next day much more happily. Hopefully Bumblebee will get back after ten days with his father and will have missed all the boring itchiness.

I hope you all had a lovely Easter in your own beautiful ways.

Oh! And a big hello to Roslyn, who is too shy to delurk online, but had the courage to approach me in the bike lock-up of the festival and say lovely, lovely things to me. It was such a buzz, thank you.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter, day 2

I went to the festival quite late today. I didn't get to the studio. My health is a bit erratic, funny skin things happening. I will go tomorrow, by hook or by crook.

Today's festival highlights (I forgot to take my phone, so couldn't twitter my fun):

A duo called Bygone Errors, who played innuendo-stuffed music hall era songs and told very bad jokes (Why does a bike not stand up by itself? It's too tired (two-tyred). Boom boom!) They were very funny, and there were a lot of older people in the audience who knew the songs, so much jolly singalonging ensued. BB's parents arrive tomorrow, we're going to take Grandpa to see them, he'll love it.

Watching the Fiddle Chicks play a superb rendition of Frankenfurter's song 'I'm Going Home' in the Infinite Rocky Horror tribute heat. It had deep shades of Ultravox's 'Vienna'. The Rocky Horror theme isn't working very well this year. It's hard to camp up something already so campy, and straight or soulful renditions don't work that well either. Most of the acts are playing 'There's a Light (Over at the Frankenfurt place)', which, I've worked out, is because it has the most life-affirming hippy lyrics (There's a light // in the darkness // of everybody's life). Blech.

But the Fiddle Chicks made it work.

And then, the piece of resistance for me (although I've come home to bed way before the night is over) was Shane Howard (from Goanna), his lovely daughter and his guest vocalist, Amy Saunders from Tiddas (not Martha, Crit!). It was a superb session of original new material, finishing with a fabulous rendition of Solid Rock with a guest didge player, William Barton. I must have heard that song endless times on the radio, but it brought tears to my eyes tonight... whether with joy or nostalgia, I don't know. Barton's didgeridoo playing was spine-tingling.

OK, time to go to bed in anticipation of Easter Eggs! As I said on Facebook, I did the wife-of-a-busy-man thing this year and bought my own egg. But I made damn sure that it's bigger than his. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter, day 1 (post 1300!!!)

I rang the RSPCA about the white kitty. They got me to ring Domestic Services, who came & picked up the body and took it away to be scanned to try to notify the owners.

Anyway, my regime this Easter is to go to the studio in the mornings and to the National Folk Festival in the afternoons. Today the plan went well, except that instead of waking up early and bouncing off to the studio then going to the NFF at lunchtime, I lolled about in bed drinking tea and eating homemade hot Om buns (like hot cross buns but with an Om symbol drawn on them) made by Best Beloved and then going at lunchtime, ending up at the festival around 4.

I still got a lot done.

These are a couple of knitting pattern book images I inherited from one of my type purchases (when you buy presses or type you often have to take the rest of the crud the printer or his family are trying to offload). They usually come in sets of four: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK (CMYK) but I only have the yellow and blue blocks. So it's a two-colour print.

I spent a bit of time playing with ink, to get the right colours (I mixed a geranium red with silver and a dark green with silver):

to make this rough idea:

for a print folio called 'Freaks of Nature', curated by artist Rona Green.

Then I set the type for it:

I flipped it around for you, but for those who can't make it out, it says

Cherylneezcha dreamed of that day
when she would be crowned

The finished product will be cropped to make a bleed print (where the colour goes right off the sides) and each print will have a gold or silver crown stuck onto her head (a proper, acid-free scrapbooking sticker). Fun!

(Since taking that photo I changed the name to Sherylneezcha. I'm striving for something quite clarsy but unique, like every contemporary mother. It had to be phonetic, and involve at least one Y and a Z. I also wanted it to be a strong name, and thought incorporating Nietzche might help her get through life with the right attitude.)

I also planned my flip books for an upcoming Megalo book show, and started working on my next Book Art Object piece.

And being at the studio and getting all this done made me very happy, so I could then really enjoy the bits of the NFF that I caught. While I was eating my dinner there I watched a documentary about Bill Munroe, the 'father of bluegrass' in a room full of people who really cared about all the teeny tiny details of who played with him when and how many times he scratched his mandolin front to make it less fancy. One of the aforementioned players, 'Chubby' Wise, played his fiddle like Barry Morgan plays his organ, teeth and smile and half-closed eyes and all. It was heart-warming.

I love Easter. I rarely get interrupted because everyone else is on holiday and most shops are closed, so I can just get on with things.

I hope your Easter is just as satisfying.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ceiling Cat

Oh my lovies, such a sad thing.

Last night our family from Kyogle came for dinner, after setting up their stall at the National Folk Festival down the road. These are the same relatives we visit when we attend the Woodford Folk Festival; they have a market stall selling lovely Asian clothes that they've designed themselves.

We (them and us, plus friends byrd & K) had a lovely dinner: vego curries followed by a caramelised fig, orange & walnut bread & butter pudding, and then sat around talking in a jolly manner for a while longer.

Finally, it was bedtime for bo-bos, so out the front door we all stood, lingering, when a small white cat came through the dark garden and said hello. It was all white with a single black spot on its head, young and whippy, with a lovely long tail that we all remarked upon admiringly. It said hello vocally, staying for a pat or three, and disappeared back into the night. Best Beloved said 'can we keep it?', as it didn't have a tag and had a lean and hungry look about it, but I didn't answer for some reason.

E & S started their car, byrd walked off into the night, and suddenly there was a bang noise. byrd yelled back at me that the white cat had been hit by a car.

We live on a service road of a larger road, with a large bit of tree-filled park between the two. As I walked across the park towards byrd (and E&S switched off their engine), I could see a white wriggling shape on the main road. byrd got onto the road and kept the cars from hitting it again, and the car that had hit it had stopped up the way, but by the time the young -- and shocked -- occupants had got to us and it, the cat was dead.

It was unmarked: no blood, no signs of struggle. It had made a couple of quick heaves to breathe and then stopped still. The poor little thing.

I felt sorry for the driver and his mates -- they hadn't been speeding, just driving along when the cat bolted across the road in front of them with no warning.

As I said, no tag, no indication of anything. The driver of the car picked it up and put is under a tree in the park. I suspect that it was a stray, but I am going to ring the RSPCA today and report its death in case anyone rings to report it missing.

E&S were as shocked as I, maybe more so since they had been the first to pat it and have a chat. We all went our ways, but not as merrily as we'd intended.

I went inside and hugged my cats for a while. We never let them out at night for many reasons, but visibility is one of them. If a clear white cat can be hit so easily, what chance do jet black ones have?

Poor little thing. Thank you for our brief encounter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time not only flies, it throws crap in your face

Colonel Duck couldn't resist scanning the photo mentioned in the last post:

Oh, youth is indeed wasted on the young. This photo makes me feel quite crusty.

One of my hands and both insoles have broken out in dermatitis thanks to something stoopid lurking in the carpets that only emerged when I tried to clean a few spots, and I have an inflamed Achilles tendon from standing wrongly at the press too long, which behaves itself when I walk on smooth ground but breaks out in flame if I tread any path rougher than concrete. I walked across the tanbark from my studio to Nicci's studio today to say hello and spent the next hour saying OW. Ow ow ow.

Sigh. Judging from watching my Aged Poet deal with extreme old age, it's all just going to get worse, so I might as well enjoy the fact that my eyes are working and I have all my own teeth, even if I do have these annoying aches and itches. At least I don't have a womb anymore. That's one bodily adjustment I'll NEVER regret.

That purple bracelet is actually a hairband. Looking at it completely connects me to her, 22 years later. Be prepared, but in a nice way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

class duck

I wish I had my jaunty graduation photo from my first degree to scan and put here as an illustration, but it's at Colonel Duck's place on the sideboard with all the other precious family photos. I'm wearing purple, with long bright red (henna) hair and a smug look on my face, mainly because I'd finally finished something everyone wanted me to do. [UPDATE! See here for the photo.]

At that point it was expected that I'd be a teacher, and I was set to go to do my DipEd the next year. Then I went to do a stint of work experience at what is now Bumblebee's high school (heh) and the experience was so awful that I changed my mind and cast around for some more study to do. I ended up going to ADFA as a civilian postgraduate and doing an MA, which introduced me to letterpress, which got me where I am today. Thank you, awful year 8 LHS students.

Why am I bringing this up? Firstly because last night I had to attend B's parent/teacher night. From the stories that Bumblebee tells and from the frazzled, overworked looks on some of the teachers' faces, I am profoundly grateful that I didn't become a high school teacher. There's something about the high school culture and the age of the students that screams UNWILLING. The kids don't, on the whole, want to be there, and the teachers are asked to do much more than just teach with their working time.

I do enjoy teaching, but I made a vow that I'd only teach people who wanted to be taught of their own free will. Art school students and adult workshops fit into this category. So do small children, who love being around fun things to do.

I found out in the last week or so that I'm one of five ACT artists to get a residency in a primary school for 12 weeks to undertake a collaborative project with the children and teachers. YAY! I'm having my first meeting with the school today, and we're going to start the negotiation process about the actual project. I haven't got a project in mind (although I have lots of ideas), because I want to hear what they are thinking about first, and then we'll wiggle along with ideas and plans and see where we get.

It's very exciting! That's going to eat up a chunk of my year later on, so now I'm pushing myself to finish a whole heap of stuff that's been bubbling along in an attempt to clear my desk and brain.

One thing on the boil is a PhD proposal, something I'm ambivalent about but I thought I'd give it a shot... lawdy, looking at all the paperwork and scholarship thingies and rules makes my head spin. I'm also putting together a proposal for another class in the Book Studio, a typography class, so that I can have a separate Book class and Letterpress class. I have to jump through lots of university hoops to get it going, but I have high hopes that it will happen, since the Book class is always full to the brim with people on waiting lists.

Other things that are more fun are prints for various shows & projects, and some flip books for the next Megalo members' show. Add to that the National Folk Festival at Easter (I just typed Eater... maybe that's what more secular holiday punters can call it) and I have a full dance card for a while.

Did I say last year that 2011 might be a quiet year? Yeah, right...

Oh well, there's always time to sleep when I'm dead, as it's been said.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

wot i dun lately

I've been a bit busy. I really, really miss having a decent camera, and I haven't really made enough money to warrant buying a new one. Want to help me buy a new camera? Visit the Duckshop! Sigh.

Anyway, what follows is from my iPhone camera. It doesn't have a flash.


Breathing, on the front step late one afternoon, sucking back a cold one with a mate. Cockies flew raucously overhead. Good times.


Watching and listening as legend Professor Jack Golson talked up legend Professor John Mulvaney at the launch of Prof Mulvaney's new book of memoirs. I used to be Prof M's secretary, and am very proud to be excellent friends with him and his lovely wife, Liz. It was a launch stuffed to the gills with interesting people, and the stoopid Coop Bookshop only brought one box of books along, which sold out within minutes. Prof rang them the next day, enraged, and demanded that anyone who requested one in the next couple of days got them at the Launch discount price ($10 off). I went in to order one and lo! they did so. Heh.


I've been working on a catalogue design for Thomas Middlemost of the Charles Sturt University Wagga art collection, for a print folio exhibition called Fair & Square. Due to all sorts of printing house bumbles, the printing & binding was completed on the morning of the opening, so I had to spend Friday morning sticking on enough of the custom-printed letterpress ampersand stickers to get through the opening & initial mailout, then I picked up the boys and we personally delivered the catalogues to Wagga CSU (we were going to the opening anyway, but hadn't planned to be couriering the boxes!)


There were 14 different ampersands used for the stickers, so choosing a copy was a bit like a personality test, great fun at the opening itself.


All the boxes in the boot of my car. And that's the last photo of the event that I took! I forgot to get my camera out the rest of the evening... It was a Rona Green-organised print folio involving at least 30 printmakers, with some of them at the opening, and then a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Magpie Nest. Rona gave us all badges at the opening, so we felt like a real gang.

wagga gallery redux

Next day I visited the Wagga Regional Gallery where I saw the excellent Recycled Books travelling exhibition (not to be missed! Probably coming to a regional gallery near you) and then was shown the aftermath of their flood damage. They have to replace the floor of the entire main gallery... ay ay ay!


And then we did some op and antique shopping. Bumblebee found a dinner suit that fitted, I found a few old books and tins, and Best Beloved bought a vintage apple peeler and corer.

We only stayed the one night. Apart from the few days I spent being born there, that's the longest time I've ever spent in Wagga. It's a nice town. It has almost as many roundabouts as Canberra!




Today, Bumblebee and I learned how to make rice balls, thanks to this post. We fell in love with them in NZ, and you can't get them at Canberra sushi shops. They are such handy lunches.


At the same time, the cats helped BB with the washing.

I went to the studio and caught up with a printing fellow I met in Dunedin, John Holmes of the Frayed Frisket Press (in town for a medical conference), and then played with the wonderful wood type that I asked printmaker Ros Atkins to engrave for me:

RA wood


Apologies for the quality of those last shots. I really miss the macro bit of my camera.

I also rearranged some of my type from large loose cheap typecases to nice condensed cases within cabinets, in a desperate bid to declutter:

24pt Tudor (old case)

24pt Tudor (new case)

Tomorrow I'm teaching my book class how to make a hardback sketchbook in one four-hour class. Normally it's a tight but do-able class, but I've got a very large class, with a few dreamers, so wish me luck...