Wednesday, December 15, 2010

13 December

I went for a run after work today, observing things in a quirky amusing way to share later with my online friends, when I came over all queer in Federal Park and could no longer give a stuff about flowers, houses, street names, schools and how my personal history and current sensibilities intertwined with them all. The Story of a Run must wait for another time, for which I'll save up my Wry Musing Powers and Pow! like a slap in the face, you'll be quirked and bittersweeted until your eyes pop out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 December

Clare's in a much better humour: her exoskeleton of control has grown back after being cracked by the surgeon's silver lobster-mallet on Friday. I picked her up from her place at 7am - she was sitting on her front step in the sun, playing her ukulele. "You'll do!" I cried as I pulled up in the car - and we went for a drive down to La Pérouse and swam in the chilly water of Botany Bay.

Afterwards I went to Michael's and took him to buy a Christmas tree from a grocer's on Regent Street.

Laine's wife died this morning. In the afternoon I met Neil and lent him my car to go down and help out.

I ate a chicken burger "meal" for dinner, and started drawing the picture for my Christmas card.

That was my sprawling ungainly Sunday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

11 December

Today I opened my painting - it came to work yesterday in the post, and I carried it home. That made my hand numb. It had a little rest at the chicken burger place, where I dined, then it came home with me and spent the night, packaged, against the wall. I wanted to see it first in the clear natural light with which my charming boudoir is bathed on sunny summer mornings. It is lovely - the painting - much brighter than the photos showed, but I am nervous of it. I have never possessed a painting before. I feel like a virginal husband with his new bride.

I had pasta for dinner tonight, made with cherry tomatoes from Laine's garden, split and fried in anchovy and garlic-flavoured oil, and tossed with fresh basil from my garden, and flakes of romano cheese. This is the first meal I have cooked since my birthday, and makes a change from those chicken burgers down the road.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 December

Work Christmas Party: the line for the hot food marquee was way too long to countenance actually standing in it, I thought. There was other food, and bottomless glasses of champagne, but no one to talk to. I went back to the office and posted some photos to Flickr- later on at home I watched Don's Party on DVD.

Poor Clare. Her 8 months of planning was spectacularly derailed today when her op was bumped to next week. She wept with vexation for the next 18 hours. It didn't help that her Mum, who'd sprung the "I'm coming to drive you to hospital and waiting until you wake up" gambit the night before - infuriating Clare, who'd been going to catch the bus - it didn't help that her Mum suggested, diffidently, that Clare might profit from learning some relaxation techniques.

9 December

I spent the evening with my friend Clare, drinking warm gin and watching our stories while lolling on her brown vinyl Jason Recliners™.  Thursdays isn't Our Night - that's Sunday - but Clare's going into hospital for "a minor procedure" tomorrow and my coming over tonight was part of the culmination of her (8 month) plan. We ate Thai and had our usual fascinating discussions: How Clare Spoils the Upstairs Cat (or, How the Upstairs Cat is Brutally Neglected by its Lowlife Owner); Raisin' Chillun; and Remote Control Skills, Lacks Thereof.

Friday, December 10, 2010

8 December

I had the afternoon off, and what did I do? Let's see: I scanned some old slides from my trip to Japan in 2005; I made an invitation for Laine's birthday party in January and sent it to him; I watered the garden and pulled out some potato vine growing in amongst the fading vines of Mrs Collier; I visited Michael who was sick at home, and ate a bowl of his chicken soup and watched the beginning of a "Bionic Woman"; I visited my friend J in Neutral Bay and borrowed a book from her; I went to JS's and we saw the latest Harry Potter at Castle Towers in a blessedly almost empty cinema; and I got home and to bed at 2am. Actually I didn't water the garden, but I probably should.

7 December

The Caesar salad I had today (with Nicole) was pretty good. But...

There's always a but. ALWAYS A BUT. This one had great cos lettuce, crisp and fresh and young and dry - the best cos lettuce I've ever had in a Caesar salad. BUT - the egg wasn't poached - it was delicious, the soft-boiled halves of 2 small eggs, but it wasn't a poached egg. The parmesan was ok, probably padana, shaved. BUT - the croûtons were little toasts you can buy in a packet, soaked in oil and baked, I think. They crumbled, so could fit in one's mouth, BUT - too oily, and too crumbly. And shop-bought. The bacon was great! Thin prosciutto, fried crisp, tasty and salty. That was good. BUT - the mayonnaise came as a "side". It was a generous serve, and deliciously anchovy-flavoured. BUT - the dish was dressed with not a single anchovy.

BUT - it was pretty good. One day I'll make one of my own. AND - there it is, my first New Year's resolution.

6 December

I clean forgot my lunch date with Nicole today. I went swimming instead. I haven't seen Nicole in 2.5 years! Though we both work at the University! It so wasn't subconscious punishment for her ignoring me.

5 December

I went out on "Quest" today, with Laine and Neil. After they did a couple of hours handyman maintenance, and I did a couple of hours of laying in the shade of the boom, we sailed on a lovely close reach to Quarantine Beach, and dropped our anchor. We sat in the sun and ate our lunch, and I swam in to the beach. I found out later that my friends S & M were there, I must have just missed them. I also missed the guy in speedoes who'd looked so good through Laine's binoculars.

4 December

I woke up at 3.30am, as you do when you drink six pints of beer the night before. When I didn't get back to sleep, I got up and went to Canberra, just as Dawn's rosy fingers waggled over in the east.

I have about 50 cassette tapes which I never use but haven't parted with. In an effort to winnow them, I'd picked out half a dozen to listen to on the trip with an idea of splitting them into "keep/find on CD" and "chuck" piles. (CD! I mean find on iTunes don't I?)

Sizzling Seventies, a double-cassette, was just as good as I remembered it. No really. I remember every single one of these tracks. Easy Driving Music, which Michael and I got on our US road trip in '98, was pretty bad, but it did have Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby" on it, which made us get a Helen Reddy Best of, and we used to while away the time on the road, making up compilations of Mad Woman songs. (Helen Reddy was a heavily featured performer, with Cher a close second.) My friend Alex, who makes music under the name Ollo, had sampled some of us a decade ago and mixed it up for a birthday cassette one year. That was funny.  "Woodsmoke" refers to something I once said, a carful of us were driving in the northern suburbs one winter's night years ago, and I smelled smoke from a wood-fire. "There's a hint of woodsmoke on the air" I remarked with delight, and with delight everyone in the car died laughing at my quaint turn of phrase.

My brother Andrew had made this mix tape for me, he made the cover-drawing as well. I quote from the inside sleeve: "I worked long and hard on this; selecting, editing and perfecting it, just for you. I trawled my collection for what I thought you'd enjoy..." and I did enjoy it, from Side 1 Track 1 - Hugo Montenegro's "Moog Power" onwards.

So I'll be keeping these four.

Monday, December 06, 2010

3 December

I bought a painting today, I bought it for real cash money. Quite a lot of real cash money, but it's money I might not have had (that's another story), so buying a painting seemed like a good use for it. One of Nancy Mitford's heroines bought jewellery with windfall money, it's that kind of thing.

The painting is in Japan, drying in a wintry fire-warmed Japanese loungeroom in an icy northern harbour city. It's green and blue - the painting, but also a lot of that island. It's a painting of a shed, an honest, stalwart sort of thing, that my friend who painted it really likes. She can see it from her little place on the coast, and she doesn't tire of painting it.

There are little sailing boats scored into the background, they're for me, because I like sailing.

I put the real cash money in an envelope and dropped it into a post box. It was the best way, my friend told me. It's her own fault if it gets lost, she said. The bank fees are crazy, she explained. I told her I had the horrors when I dropped it in, and felt queasy afterwards, but actually I didn't, I just let it happen in a moment, and then that moment was gone.

My painting

Friday, December 03, 2010

2 December

I had a look at my garden this morning. I found some ripe raspberries on the vine, and I picked a bunch of the last of Mrs Collier, the white sweetpea, and took them to work. A woman at the coffee shop struck up a conversation with me on seeing them. I knew she would. She had that look in her eye.

Mrs Collier sits in a wine glass on my window sill. The skies have begun to clear and the louvres are open, and all I can do is enjoy Mrs Collier's perfume wafting in on the balmy zephyrs.

After Christmas drinks I was going to go straight home and watch that tv show, really, but instead I went for a walk around the shores of Glebe Point. On the way down to the water I found the first frangipani blossom of my summer, already fallen. At the water I watched the dragon boats training, and wondered what motivated those teams, with all that sweating exertion and the bellowing of their coxswains. I saw a young guy settling in for the evening on his ketch in Blackwattle Bay, and shared the path with joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers. Sometimes I caught their gaze and tried to imagine them. The breeze was blowing from the huge bridge towering across the bay, and I hoped that when people looked into my eyes, they saw clouds scudding across a silver sky before a cool north-east breeze.

When I got home I lay down for a moment (I had eaten 300 semi-fried dumplings at drinks) and woke up three hours later, the frangipani blossom crushed somehow beneath me.

1 December

Heavy soaking showers came in great waves all day today. I went for my swim at lunchtime, and all that rain had cooled the water, and made it taste sweet, and chased all the people away.

People don't go swimming when it rains. Once I saw a woman get out of the pool, and as she ran to the change-room she put her kickboard over her head so she wouldn't get wet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Question #187

I recently did an online personality profile, one that was linked from a reputable daily paper. I know the go, I know which way the questions tend, I know what kind of person I am. This one had lots of questions about humour and spirituality which led to my two strongest personality traits - I like humour, and I don't believe in God.

But what really startled me was Question #187: "Do you take risks when establishing new relationships?"
Publish Post

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sweetpeas 25 weeks 3 days later

About time! Thank goodness I didn't make this a weekly update, as I'd anticipated!

I have three types of sweetpea in my garden - a light blue and a dark blue, both from Mrs Broad in Queensland; and a white one called Mrs Collier. Every year I plant them, and they flower and die, and I collect the seeds to plant the following year. Mostly I plant the same colour together - all dark blue, all white - but one end of the sweet-pea patch is better than the other, and last year dark blue was at the shady end. That's why you don't see any dark blue here - I only got a couple of vines this time. It's also why there are only 3 types - I used to have a fourth, Painted Lady, the original variety, an intensely scented pink flower (like all ladies that paint are). I miss Painted Lady.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tomorrow is my birthday

When I imagine the march of time, I think of one of those typical one-page calendars that has 3 months across and 4 down. When it's February, I'm there in the middle of the top line, May I'm floating in the middle, September I'm 3 down and 3 across - it's how I place myself in the flow of time. Which is why October is so trying, the dark dingy bottom left-hand corner, tucked away, dusty and dim, the beginning of the last row, cramped and awkward, the weight of all those other months on top and still a whole row to traverse before the end. It's an exhausted  month, a dispiriting month. After spring days promising sunlight and warmth, it's  wet and cold and windy. If a year were a lifetime, October is mid-retirement when, no matter how healthy and happy you are, you can start expecting to die any second.

Which is probably why I never plan anything for my birthday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Jasmine Thief

One Monday night in early September, I go on what looks like my usual run. But this is a ploy. I am not going for my usual run. I am casing the Inner West for blossoming jasmine vines...

Jasmine gelato, gelato di gelsomino. I read about it in "Midnight in Sicily"; searched Sicily for it before lighting on it in a gelateria in Trapani; Michael-my-ex got a recipe for it on the net and makes it every year. Except this year he was sad for he had no jasmine flowers.

I jog, I sweat, I negotiate busy roads, I keep an eye out for jasminum polyanthum. Not just any - they must be almost in full bloom, large, and hidden. There's one in Forest Lodge: front fence on a busy road - too open. Here's another in a garden on a quiet lane-way in Annandale - bit small, may do in a pinch. This one on an overgrown bank below some flats, on the same lane - perfect.

Next Sunday morning, just after six, I take my shopping bags and scissors, and head to Annandale in my car. On the way I see more jasmine, in Camperdown: a front corner fence hidden by bushes. Is it too out-in-the-open? Does that old man going for a walk suspect what I'm up to? I do U-turns and crawl along the street, and cross the intersection again, looking for a place to park that's close (for a quick get-away), when I see the perfect froth of jasmine, cascading over a back fence in a quiet lane. I boldly stand there, snipping off full heavy bunches of the flowers but I find using my fingers is easier. No time for plucking single unbruised blossoms - I grasp the blossoms with my fingers and drag them off the vine.

The Annandale laneway is productive too, the blossoms here bigger and sparser. The smell is divine on the cool morning air. I don't take too many, and I cull from all over the vine. There's plenty left to scent the lane-way, and please the eye of passing joggers.

I wonder if I have enough, and hope I can get some more out West, where I am heading to visit my Dad. Maybe Rookwood, that vast glorious necropolis, might have some. Maybe around my old suburb, though so many of the old weatherboard bungalows and their gardens have gone. Maybe if I can find no more, what I have will be enough?

But on my way out west I pass the biggest bank of the stuff I have ever seen - on a busy road out the front of some flats in Stanmore.

I stop. I am bold. I also calculate that the traffic goes by too quickly to take an interest, and that people in the flats are still asleep. Plus there is so much. Pluck, pluck, pluck. My hands are sticky with flower-dew and my car smells like heaven.

Later that day I got to Michael's and surprise him with my mornings work. "Yay!" He is so happy - he'd given up hope of jasmine gelato this year. I plan my next hunt...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thrift #1

Last night I sat in front of a DVD, drank cheap red wine, and darned socks.

I darn well... never said I darn well.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A wry smile played on his lips.

Last week an ex (I have 2) - let's call this one X  (the other one is "Michael") - sent me a Facebook friend request. We'd defriended ages ago because his husband worked in a high security job and they weren't allowed social media accounts (plus... there'd been jealousy) but I'd noticed a while back that X was back on, so it was nice to get this request. I clicked Accept, and wrote a short message saying thanks, nice to hear from you, but haven't had any communication back from him. That was a few weeks ago.

On Monday, on my News Feed, this update from him:

X would like to wish his husband a wonderful and happy 2nd wedding anniversary. xxxx

2 years! 2 years he's been married, THREE years since I was still involved with him, 3 and a half since we met!! I couldn't believe it'd been so long! [Or that that part of my life had been dead ever since - but, another story.]

Anyway, I was watching Good News Week that night, and that young indie singer Megan Washington sang a song as a clue for part of the quiz they play - and it was Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, which was "our song".

As I listened and watched, a wry smile played on my lips.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


The bunch of clivea in the Vice-Chancellor's Garden, the soft warm air, a good night's sleep, a couple of deadlines met - was it one of these?

The reed-warbler in the pond, come south to nest; the run I did the other night, the first in ages; the new scent of jasmine on the air that night; the gazes I met of runners and bikers as we passed: one of these?

Or is it just Spring? Today I feel like I'm young again and I don't know why.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I went to the gym at the pool early one morning, the first time in weeks. After 15 minutes on the treadmill I thought, "What in blazes am I doing!? Surely there's something better I could be doing?" So I had a shower and headed up to the office for an early start. On the way up I saw a feather on the grass. It was an ibis' flight feather, long and narrow, white with a black tip. That feather has been sitting on that patch of grass for maybe six weeks, maybe longer, hasn't blown away, hasn't moved. How, why, what does it mean? I thought when I saw it today "If it's a message it means flight, take flight," but I don't see messages in things, and imagined beings on another plane looking down, trying to send me portents, and despairing.

When I got to the office, another message: online Scrabble was down for maintenance for the day. So much for doing something better... I suppose that ibis feather could also have meant "Eat garbage" or "mow the lawn". It's difficult to know.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It's the middle of winter, which means the leaves have finally fallen, and camellias are in bloom.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things I have learned this week

  • Children don't listen.
  • when swimming freestyle, pull your arms out by the elbow once your hand is directly below you - it makes for a more powerful stroke.
  • I feel bad when I don't give the barber a $2 tip. And worse when I spend it on a pain-au-chocolat instead of eating my muesli.
  • Kipfler potatoes are delicious when chipped and deep-fried.
  • How to turn a pictClipping file into a jpg.
  • Someone at the Sydney Theatre Company spells Atreus wrong, and that they correct it when told so.
  • How to pronounce Jordi.
  • Jordi is George (Jiri is George too, how come English has the stodgiest George?).
  • 23 year-olds haven't heard of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
  • 8 year-olds haven't heard of Gwen Stefani.
  • Cornflower-blue eyes and guinea-gold hair DO exist outside the pages of Georgette Heyer!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The late 31 May

Today I got the newsletter out on time! Unlike these last 31 posts, each of them meant to be posted on the corresponding date in May. I think maybe 3 actually were. I was posting in solidarity with my friend jaci who had undertaken to do it. She has better reasons than me - an audience, for one.

Now for June.


Colette's in town for the weekend, to watch Eurovision with Jason, her Eurovision date for the last 15 years. She invited me along too when our breakfast-date was hijacked by a hangover.

The apartment was elegant, in a modern interior-design way, spacious and uncluttered, everything white, grey or dark, stained woods, expensive. I hadn't seen Jason since he was a shop-assistant at DJ's - now he's some high-powered exec at DJ's, who owns a swank apartment. He and his partner of many years also split a few months ago, in Melbourne, and here Jason was, in his flat, with his job, and a beautiful, simple, sweet young neighbour leaning into his side on the comfortable white leather lounge, while we marked our scores for Belarus, Cyprus and Germany.

As Colette sat next to me, eating Maltesers, I wondered why I wasn't Jason.

Sweetpeas: Two Weeks Later

Tintin au Congo

King Ottokar's Sceptre was the first Tintin I read. One of my little brothers, I think, got it out of the local library.  But they didn't have them all, so on my visits to the City library, catching the train into town every few Saturdays, I would keep an eye out for them too, as well as new Asterix books.

Hergé was still alive and writing them in those days, and once we'd got through the back catalogue, we had to wait for Tintin and the Picaros, his last one. The Broken Ear was an old one that was translated about the same time.

We had three more to go, I knew from the back of French-language editions. Le lotus bleu, Tintin en Amerique, and Tintin au Congo.

Tintin in America was the first, and it came to our place from the library. Years later, much lusted-after, The Blue Lotus came out, and I bought it, to add to this collection. It was actually very exciting, even though we were all teenagers by now.

I stopped collecting these before Tintin au Congo was translated into English.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Collection #2

How many Weet-Bix does this collection represent?

It would have been more if I hadn't let my brothers collect/lose most of the car/truck sets.
In the early days I used to get rid of the doubles once I'd filled the project posters - crazy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Ruth finished up at work today. Smart, beautiful Irish woman temping with us, but going home in a couple of weeks. We had chocolate cake and red wine for her, and gave her a jar of vegemite with a red ribbon on top. People from the other office came in, too, which dampened the atmosphere. We don't like outsiders in our office.

Ruth often worked in the other office but she still drove us mad these last two weeks singing Abba's "I have a dream" I believe in angels...  I bought it off iTunes and played it while we ate and drank today. I liked how she talked, everything was mad or savage or deadly. We used to amuse each other speaking cod German and Italian, too.

I was fond of her and she, she announced at her farewell, was glad she didn't have to deal with my moods any more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green Bower Bird

from the work-desk of mickmccabe

bad boy

Got home late tonight, after a few beers with Stephen. There was no milk in the house, and the shops were shut - I had to go to bed without my cocoa, like a bad boy!

Sunday 23 May

Today I didn't go to the writer's festival. There were three reasons not to sleep in, to get out of my snuggly warm bed and go:
  1. My friend J was going and I was going to meet her there - I haven't seen her in ages. Ages! But then I found out she wasn't going.
  2. My friend D was speaking on a panel. But then, I wasn't interested in the panel's topic.
  3. I might bump into a handsome young man. But if I was going to bump into a handsome young man, I'd much rather be in bed.

Saturday the 22nd

I stopped at the liquor shop on the way home from the gym this morning and bought a bottle of pinot noir to take to dinner tonight. I bought pinot noir because I watched "It's Complicated" last night, and that was Meryl Streep's character's tipple. I turn my nose up at merlot, too, since I saw "Sideways". I reckon that this means I know nothing about wine.

I planted bulbs in the garden (pots) this afternoon. I had to put my blue raincoat on to keep dry. I planted tulips, freesia, ranunculus, hyacinth, grape hyacinths and violets. I wasn't going to splash out on bulbs this year, but I just went a bit kwazy at kmart one day.

Dinner was at Michael's, and was delicious. And the pinot noir was a hit.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I went to the pool at lunchtime to do my laps, and was up to #13, or #15 (I always lose count around #8), when I heard a whistle, just before my tumble-turn - I looked up, and the guard, in red and yellow, said, We've seen some flashes of lightning, we're emptying the pool for 15 minutes. Oh ok, I said, and dragged myself out. It was the deep end, and I walked around to the shallow end where my stuff was, and took it to the change-room and showered and dressed, as I would be late back from lunch if I waited.

I came outside to put my socks and shoes on as a young guy played the intermezzo from Swan Lake on the piano and the dark clouds rolled by, muttering and rumbling. As I left, the cold swimmers, arms folded and towels draped, still waited to go back in the pool.

Art Gallery

I went to a friend's opening tonight - she's an arty photographer. I'm going to post about this, I thought before I went, I could write the post now, I know exactly how it's going to be!

Version I: I got there about 6.30 and went inside. There weren't a lot of people around. Said hullo to Maree, and looked at her stuff, and John's stuff - he's a friend of hers who she's showing with, and a third person whose stuff I've seen before. I had two glasses of red wine, and worked out my favourites, and admired the technical aspects of Maree's and John's prints, then left without saying goodbye, Maree was busy with people. A handsome man unexpectedly smiled at me. There were lots of tossers.

Version II: I got there about 6.30 and met Jenny, who'd given up the gym to come with me. We went inside - it was packed - and eventually found Maree. Of course they knew each other, from clubbing! We both had a couple of glasses of red, and looked at Maree's stuff, and John's, which is beautiful. Jenny remembered him from Blinky's where we used to work, he used to come in and get his photos printed, and I had a crush on him, he was very handsome. Robert Rosen was there too, and Jenny had a long chat with him about Blinky's days. We both had a 3rd glass of wine, and maybe a fourth. Jen and I went out afterwards with everyone, we ate at The Prophet and ended up at Palms! I didn't get home until 2am - and I wasn't alone...

I saw these shoes on my way home. Nice new pairs of Converse. It's meant to mean that a drug house is nearby, but how would you know which side of the road?

Extinct birds of New Zealand

People laugh when they find out I have a book called "Extinct Birds of New Zealand". People laugh at me?

Queen who

One night at my parents' house, a few months ago, we were all having dinner - a family affair. Conversation had got onto the Royal family, not just ours either but other Kings and Queens. Cathy, who was quite a keen Royal-watcher once, hadn't been listening to our end of the table, but pricked up her ears at the sound of "queen". Queen who? she asked earnestly, and I started laughing. Mum told her but I couldn't stop laughing. I kept laughing, and my laughing went quiet and tears came out of my eyes, and everyone looked at me and smiled, and laughed a bit, but I kept on going. Eventually I caught my breath, and wiped my eyes. Queen who? I quoted, and started laughing again. I still laugh about it. Queen who?

17. random picture

Last time I thought of posting a random picture, I really did pick it at random, and I didn't want to post it, and I didn't.

This time, not everything is different...

This is an Ekka Cake. Michael's mum used to make it once a year, for their picnic lunch when they went to the Ekka. Never at any other time. When Michael grew up and moved to Sydney, she still made it, and cut it in two and kept half and sent him half, every year. I love this cake and a couple of years ago, she sent the recipe to me, via Michael's Xmas card. Last year, for the first time, she couldn't make the cake. So I made it, secretly, and took it around to Michael's on the last day of the Ekka, and surprised him.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

challenge! #fail

I feel awful when I fail a challenge, awful while I'm doing them, and not that great if I actually get one done. I remember finishing my first (only) novel - my first (only) draft anyway. I didn't feel exultant. I felt tired and as pleased as if I'd mopped the kitchen floor #fail.

When they have time limits they are worse because the challenge grows as time passes. New Year's resolution: read 6 French novels this year! Two months for each one, easy! down to 5 weeks for each #fail. I'll save $15000 this year! With careful budgeting, I have plenty of spending money and some leeway in reaching the target... can't afford to buy coffees if I still want to make it #fail. I'll make a scrap-book for Stephen! - we travelled together when we were at university, I have photos and my diary, I'll type it up and lay it out and get it professionally printed and bound! It's going to be ready for the 20th anniversary of the trip.. for his 40th.. for his 41st.. for the 22nd anniversary of the trip.. #fail. Jenny Smith, I asked my friend Jenny Smith, who is a writer, will you encourage me to write another novel? Will you be my mentor? Sure! she replied, ten days ago, how about 30 pages, in my mailbox in a month.. might still get it done #fail

I, too, in solidarity, shall blog every day in May! I said to my friend Jaci, who is a writer and who is blogging every day this month. #fail?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

sweet peas

These should have gone in the ground by Saint Patrick's Day, 2 months ago. I had put them on damp kitchen paper to soak the morning before, as Michael's mum had told me. She prepared her bed with rotting guavas that had fallen from her tree, but I must make do with some fresh potting mix.

I have three colours - an old-fashioned white, a dark-blue and a light-blue. I used to have a pink variety called Painted Lady but none sprouted last year.


I'd found a listing in the phone book for a Children's Bookshop at Beecroft, and was excited there was a whole bookshop devoted to children's books. I caught the train out there one day, on a search for Joan Aiken novels, but couldn't believe it when I saw they had two or three Arthur Ransome books - and in the same editions I knew, not some scrubby paperbacks. I greedily bought them and asked if they were expecting any more. The nice ladies said they would order them in for me - and they did, for the next three years. I made my last trip out there in 1985 for "Swallowdale".

I went to the Royal Easter Show for the last time this year, too, and greedily bought this poster. The Show was still at the Showgrounds, where I have been many times since and enjoyed myself much much more.

In May 1982 I read seven books, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, Robert Heinlein, Clifford D. Simak and John Christopher - sci-fi and fantasy. I don't have a single memory left of any of them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Voiceless alveolar lateral affricate

I had a fun kinda irresponsible day phonetically writing names in a list of people graduating tomorrow morning at 9. This was a favour for someone in Graduations - who'd been asked by the Dean who was to read the list out. There were some doozies! Lots of Chinese, a few European (I could do those), Arabic and Indian and Thai, and some unusual ones - a Basque name, Finnish, a Botswanan name - lots of fun googling and working out how a voiceless alveolar lateral affricate is best rendered into English (I decided, best left out). It was pretty easy, especially as I knew if I got it wrong, it wouldn't be any worse than if the Dean had given it a go himself.

#12 Book club

This is my second book club, and this is the third book I've read with it, and it's the first time it's been at my place. Last week I dusted all my book-shelves and straightened the books; on the weekend I vacuumed and got as much junk as possible out of the lounge-room; on Monday I bought booze and olives and ingredients for things; Tuesday after work I stripped naked and cleaned the bathroom - even under the washing machine, and cooked - I didn't get to bed until after midnight; and today I got a haircut, bought some nice loo paper, turned the heater on and finished reading the book.

Tonight 5 of my old friends and the 2 people who I only know from book club, came. Four of us are scientists, four of us aren't. We sat in a circle on two lounge chairs, three camp stools, an ikea chair and two cushions on the floor; we ate, and drank champagne, and ate, and drank, and caught up on people's travels, and gossip, though some people were silent.

Then we compared the covers of our copies of the book, and every single one was different. Then we discussed the book intelligently, and everyone brought up different points, and we agreed on its strengths, and on its strange weaknesses, and of course the narrator was gay, though in 1908 he wouldn't have known it; and then we gave it a mark out of five, and A took notes, and D rambled on, and then at ten o'clock everyone had gone.

And I was glad that no one had heard the neighbours or smelled the raw sewage.

Legs 11

Once upon a time when my auntie Margaret was visiting Sydney from Tasmania, she and her three sisters - that's my mum and my aunties Norine and Pat - went to play Bingo at the parish hall. They were all novices, playing a couple of games each, while the addicts, old ladies with periwinkle hair, fags in mouth, had a dozen games going at once. Two fat ladies, me and you, Heaven's gate, legs eleven - the night went on, the sisters laughed, auntie Norine cried out "Bingo!" once but of course was mistaken. The last game was being called, someone got it - and in twenty seconds flat that huge parish hall was empty, save for 4 shocked sisters, laughing in their seats.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

9. Mother's Day

I grew up near a huge old cemetery, overgrown with old roses and hoop pines and coreopsis, and I go there to wander around, get lost, take pictures and look at birds. There were traffic jams today, and crowds around the flower stalls. People sweeping and cleaning and having picnics. Very little solitude.

I dropped in at home afterwards to wish Mum a happy Mother's Day, but she was in Tasmania. So I wished Dad a happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

8. Off balance

Many years ago - I was maybe 22? - I drove a friend of mine back to her home way out in the suburbs of this great metropolis. I can't remember what we'd been doing but she was quite pleased to have the lift, and I was happy to drive and chat. It was my first or second car, a 20 year old Galant, I think, which still had miles on the speedo, and multi-coloured panels from different bits of work. It was dusk as I drove through Castle Hill, and was pulled over by police - the little siren behind, flashing headlights. Two young police officers came out and started finding defects - I think it was practice for the rookie. The senior one leaned in at my window and told me that one of my brake-lights wasn't working, and I shouldn't be driving. Where was I going? I replied, dignified, that I was just driving my lady-friend home, she lives nearby.

Last year G and her girlfriend A were in Perth, visiting G's old auntie. They'd taken her out to the cafe near her nursing home and looked at the menus, and G had gone to the counter to order. Oh, we don't have those today, sorry. Oh, okay. Well, what about the pasta? Oh no, we're out of that. I could make you some sandwiches. Well, said G, I don't know! I don't know whether my luncheon companions will want sandwiches. I'll have to check with them!

Michael's workmate Waz is a salt-of-the-earth bloke, middle-aged, bearded, likes his cricket. He and his missus were out shopping one day, he needed a new pair of boardies. They were in Quiksilver or Surf Dive n Ski or somewhere like that and a beautiful willowy young man had come up asking if he needed help, and smiled. Waz said he didn't need help, thanks very much, he was just looking for a swimming costume. His wife laughed.

Friday, May 07, 2010

6. Living the dream.

After dinner we went to the Great Southern for a beer. I ordered two beers from the barman, who was short and bald, in a young and groovy way. He had a pair of spectacles, which he put on as I ordered. They had thick black plastic rims and the glass was also quite thick, but I suspected it wasn't optical glass. As he pulled the beers he asked "How are we? Living the dream?"

Living the dream! I didn't know how to answer him. I didn't even know where to start thinking about it. Living the day-dream, I joked with Michael.  But am I living the dream? Could I? What would it be, the dream?

Many hours later I realised I should have said "We're having a beer at the Great Southern, what do you think?"

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Collections: #1

The farmer

Mum was giving out duplicates of old photos she had the other night. I picked this one, from January 1973, according to Mum's handwriting on the back. Glen Davis. I'm six. The road to Glen Davis is narrow and Dad had pulled into a paddock for lunch. But he'd had to open a gate with a "No trespassing" sign on it.

Dad remembered the day. He laughed. "You were in a state" he said, "terrified the farmer might come. 'What if the farmer comes? What if the farmer comes?'"

I remembered it then, after Dad's story.  I forget so much. It was strange remembering that strong feeling, something I would never have recalled on my own. It was strange to hear Dad telling a story about me, I'd never heard him do that before. Never remembered, anyway.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Monday 3 May

Monday was my jogging night in one of my more recent periods of attempted self-improvement, but when daylight saving ended I thought, oh well, there's no time to run after work on Mondays any more. But I was walking home tonight from work and noticed all these people jogging in the dark. In the dark! I wondered if I could do that, go jogging in the dark. I decided I *could*, but would I like it? I don't think I would. Usually when I jog/jogged, I would make sure my route would go past as many friends' places as possible, on the off chance that they might see me running, and admire me, or at least admire my fine genetically inherited legs in my shorty-short running shorts, and that just wouldn't happen in the dark. But *could* I jog in the mornings? Who would see me then?

When I got home I had to go back to work to get my key. I'd left it on my desk. So I caught the bus back, got my key and walked home again. This time I looked in shop windows to see my reflection, and I thought about people eating dinner alone, and if that guy with the glasses and the shopping bags was going home to his girlfriend, and if that other guy in the shorts and tats walking ahead of me would get violent if he thought I was ogling him.

If I had had to walk home a third time I think I would have just stopped at the pub.

Sunday 2 May

Sunday nights I always go to Clare's and we watch our stories. Our regular one at the moment is Dr Who, though it used to be Supernatural on Mondays. We also watched an episode of "Eureka" *lame* and the first hour of "From Russia With Love", which I loved but, like all things I love, I fell asleep in front of it. I blame the Jason Recliner™. And the champagne. And the day I'd spent out sailing on the Harbour with Jo, Kat and Andrei, a new member in the sailing club, with the whitest teeth I have ever seen, blue eyes like the blue in the paint box you painted blue eyes with at school (does this sentence need work?) and glossy thick wavy chestnut hair. He is just learning the ropes but knew how to fold the sails, which I didn't. We don't fold sails on my usual boat (Quest) so he showed me up there, which checked somewhat my nascent admiration.

I pointed out to Clare her striking resemblance to #3 in "From Russia With Love". She was pleased, admiring #3's dedication and methods, which are much like Clare's own with her students: "If you cannot immediately sing for me a faultless harmonic minor scale, you will not leave this room alive!"

What a glorious day though! After the race, when we and some other club boats anchored in Athol Bay for a late lunch, I went swimming, visiting my crew mates on Quest, and saying hullo to Doriana and Snigga. I could also have admired Andrei in his swimsuit, but see above.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

This is my 1st May clog.

I wrote something mildly interesting but I don't have the internet at home, so I couldn't upload it, not when I wanted to go to bed more than anything. This is the view from my bed ... and goodnight x