Sunday, August 28, 2011

Glorious day

Gosh, you can really feel the sap rising in Canberra at the moment. It's days like today when you never want to leave the place: blue sky, fluffy clouds scudding by in the warm air, blossoms on trees everywhere, bulbs breaking out wildly in gardens.

I had a lovely day today, helped by having a great sleep on one of our pillows that until now I'd overlooked. I'd bought it for Bumblebee, recommended by a mattress shop as being good for young growing things. He used it for a couple of years until I bought him a memory-foam pillow and he discarded this other one instantly. It has a sliver of rubbery stuff through the centre of it, and I've been using it to prop myself up when I read, but only last night tried it as a sleeping pillow. Oh! The rubbery bit allows your head to move easily without any effort from the neck muscles; it's like floating on water all night. I'm hooked. Mind you, I did have a vivid dream about travelling around Greece and Turkey with Pavlov's Cat and Zoe: eating, drinking and laughing through some very odd scenes. But the sleep itself was FABULOUS.

So the rest of the day was spent lolling in bed for half the morning and then hoiking up the roller doors and pottering around my studio in the sun getting small but important jobs done, occasionally just stopping in the sun to sit with a cat for a while. I love those days.

Yesterday was spent being nice to strangers while I worked in the Book Studio for the ANU Open Day. So today had to be my whole weekend, and it did very nicely as such.

My residency is swinging along; I wrote another report about it here, including a photo of myself as Professor Snape. To make myself even more authentic, I wore contact lenses for the day for the first time in ages, something that makes me squint and scowl a bit, so I had that Snapey look down pat. I took them out when I got home with a huge sigh of relief... sure, I can see boundlessly, and colours look great without dust and scratches on them, but I can't see close up comfortably, and my eyes just feel nakedly naked. Glasses just feel RIGHT.

I would like to put on record here that I am very angry with Officeworks Online. I have been struggling with my inkjet printer for weeks (sorry, Book Art Object peoples, this is the big hold-up story) and finally, after endless cleaning of printheads and stoopid wastings of paper and ink, I got online and purchased a new printer. I thought that, since it said that the printer in question was in stock and I could pick it up from my local branch, that it would be quicker and more line-jumpingly easy to order and pay for it that way.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I went in, and was informed (nicely and regretfully by my now-familiar nice man in the Braddon store) that despite their having a FULL SHELF of the sodding things, he was not allowed to give me one because the order had to be processed by gnomes and stamped by fairies and the printer had to be delivered to the store from a 'central' warehouse and the whole process would take 'at least' two working days. This being Friday, that means, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD A BIG SHELF OF THE BUGGERS, Monday or more likely Tuesday before it would magically happen.

PREHISTORIC FRIGGING DINOSAURS. I am imagining the order being couriered by a unicorn ridden by puss-in-boots rather than instantly transmitted through the ether and hitting someone's computer within seconds.

I gave written them a very nasty letter and promised that I would whinge to anyone who would care, so this is that moment. I am CRANKY, and I will use my local people happily, but after this and the fact that I couldn't use their sodding upload file button a few weeks ago for their print service, I am abandoning any part of their online facilities. And so should you, unless you live in a regional area and can't get to a real redblooded sales person in a store. GAH.

{think of the clouds scudding today... breathe}

Bah, I think I'll go and resume my newfound relationship with this pillow. I wonder what dreams I'll have tonight?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

... and another thing

I forgot to grumble about the 'school reunion' I went to on Sunday.

I used quotes there (I used my fingers when I reported back to the family) because I was sorely disappointed by the whole thing, and being my father's daughter, I knew exactly how the event could have been better without spending any money.

I used to go to Campbell Primary School in Canberra in the 1970s, right in the thick of the Whitlam era, the epicentre of weird craft and red wine dinner parties. My main memories of the school are:

- The library. When you finished having both sides of your card stamped they would staple on a new one. By the end of the year my card was more like a thick book, and certainly didn't fit inside the little pockets at the back of the books.

- Being able to walk from the library to my open-plan classroom (the first in Canberra!) without looking up from my book.

- Playing on the oval that was shared by our school and the Catholic school on the other side. Most of the time we shared amicably. When the wind was up we'd have spats. Most of the play involved 'catch and kiss'. I was never one of the catchers or kissers, I had new glasses and wasn't very desirable so I either played 'photographer' or just went back to my book.

- Being given a week's worth of homework in the open plan set-up and either finishing it straight away & reading the rest of the week, or leaving it all to the last minute (reading the rest of the time) and finishing it all in a panic, a habit that has lasted a lifetime.

Halfway through Year 6 we moved to England, so I didn't get to 'graduate' or whatever primary school kids did then.

When I saw that the school was having a 50th reunion, I got a little bit excited, because I've bumped into old classmates here & there and liked them, and one whom I really, really like, but every time we see each other she gives me her card, which I promptly lose, and we lose touch again. (See sidebar for statement that I'm a hopeless friend.)

Meh. I got to the school on Sunday and it was just a glorified big fete. One small table of memorabilia, which was nice but... there was absolutely no attempt to make old students or teachers welcome (apart from a few general speeches outside) or even to distinguish them from current parents, so there was a big outside mosh, lots of stall to spend money on, and only one short tour of the school for the whole afternoon. I only ran into the old headmistress by accident, and she, in her 80s, was amazing.* I learned more about my old teachers from her in a ten minute conversation than anything else I saw that afternoon, and I was sad to find that my favorite teacher had not only been there briefly, but had left just before I talked to her.

I did go on the tour, and retraced my old steps from the library (which is now the staffroom) to the open plan classroom (which of course looks smaller than I remember!). They had a stall where you could buy a new book and donate it to the library, and it would have your name inside it. I bought Ruth Park's My Sister Sif, which is the least I could do for all the pleasure that place gave me.

But honestly, would it have been so hard to give any visitor a red dot to wear, or to section off places in the quadrangle for different decades so that people could stand there and meet each other? I came away feeling quite frustrated.

*Miss Dorothy Brown moved to Canberra in the 1960s to be near the snow. She skiied until she was 81, when she had to stop because she had a sore foot, but now she still goes up and walks with snow shoes! She must be about 87 now, and was very agile and alert.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Remember to breathe


I can't begin to remember the last time I did one of these... which shows you how shallow my breathing has been.

Today has been an odd day... I cut my bad finger AGAIN, from the side this time, just after teaching my class. I don't deserve having fingers, I'm so clumsy with them. Mind you, these are the first bad cuts I've had for ages, and now I'm nervous, because knowing me I will have another one to make up the three.

I had a last minute request from an old friend to be a pallbearer at his mum's funeral. I couldn't make the service because of my class, so it was the least I could do. She was so old, and he'd been away in the US for ages, that there were only a handful of us at the cemetery, so it was a bit surreal. I didn't know his mum, but I knew of her from the stories he'd told; I felt quite disconnected until the coffin started going down into the (very deep) hole accompanied by Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bridge over Troubled Water' -- who couldn't be moved to tears in a situation like that? Afterwards we went to the pub briefly and had a beer and talked about old times and how we wanted to be seen off when our time comes.

I felt ok this afternoon afterwards, but around dinner time my sinuses started exploding and I've gone to bed to loll about and try to stem the snotflow. If I'm sick tomorrow, I can't go to play with the children, and that would be sad.

Here's some more nice breathing pics:


The top one was a dusk from my loungeroom window. This one is early on a Saturday morning, walking from the car to the farmers markets.

Here's my first ever successful bulb planting, nothing like Elephant's Child's garden, but I'm all inspired now for next year.


I'm only mouth-breathing, but it's nice, nonetheless.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Catch chasies

Honestly, I always think I'm being busy and complaining about it too much, but then it all ramps up and I feel like the last phase was a bit of a holiday, really. I'm sorry about not blogging... I've left you with my press up in the air being held by a nice Samoan man, and then being hoiked into place in my new studio, but that's it.

Well. Since then I had a rollerskate in the old studio, and was joined by Bumblebee who thought it all looked pretty easy and decided, since he could just fit into my skates, to have a go himself.

Sorry about the giggle, I couldn't help myself. He did alright for his first time once he'd warmed up and fallen over a bit. Me? I had fun:

The wobbly bit is B being scared that I'd 'clip his feet' so he got up on the table. As if I would! Complete control. I was looking particularly Snape-like that day; it had been a long week of moving endless typetrays and boxes.

I haven't had time to unbox completely; the studio is now functional, I've done some printing and binding, but every time I need something, I have to remember where it was packed. I'll have to get it all sorted in the next few weeks, because I've promised my residency school that I will have an open studio one weekend!

Padge, of the two cats, is enjoying the studio. He's an excellent studio cat, but with a bad habit of flopping right in the path of my press walking as I print things. Will have to break that habit! Here's a few studio cat shots:

Studio guardcat

Studio Padge

bench Padge

The 'ramping up' bit is that I've started my stint as an artist in residence at a local early learning primary school. I've written about it at the Ampersand Duck website, but I'll give you all the really fun bits here...

Like meeting Constable Kenny!

I thought CK was Australia-wide, but it turns out that he's a peculiarly Canberran institution, and has been operated by the one man for over 20 years! CK is great fun, a growly koala who dishes out the knowledge about policing in the ACT, complete with his personal cop-car:

Best Beloved is miffed because I didn't know about the CK visit beforehand; he has a copy of 'Constable Kenny and the Drugrats' that he wanted to get signed...

I did get a Constable Kenny stamp on my hand and a pen.

It says

I think we should send Constable Kenny over to London, he'd sort those boys out.

Having that stamp made up for the fact that earlier that day, while setting up my printshop, I'd sliced off the tip of my nose-picking finger with a stanley knife.

Just the tip and a bit of fingernail, luckily no kids were around because it bled like nothing on earth, and when I came back from getting first aid, there was my little fingertip, waiting for me. I thought about giving it a decent funeral, or maybe flinging it to the chooks, but chucked it in the bin instead. At least it's the left hand, and it will grow back. The bandage was very good for warning the children about using the press without my supervision; I didn't tell them how I hurt my finger, but I didn't dissuade them from the notion that the press had done it :)

In any case, the project is going nicely, and I'm loving the fun and energy of the children and their young teachers. I come home without any energy at all, but I'm usually recharged by the next day. I haven't worked full-time for years... bring on the weekend!