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