Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tears before Bedtime

I woke early dreaming of being a jolly serving wench with fistfuls of tankards, so started painting the kitchen siding singing everything I could remember from "The Student Prince" in a warbling soprano. I examined my soprano prejudice from the inside then, and found it valid, so many of them are in love with the notion of a single transcendent voice soaring above the choir. Transcendent means loud, right?

One is never simply painting.

I might have bitten off more than I can chew at the moment. The living room is ankle deep in sawdust, the kitchen counters are cleared for action as first the backsplashes must be secured before the siding goes up. My books are still out on the deck but at least I have the second coat on the bookshelves, as everything has to go back before I can paint the other side of the room. but wait! I want to have order, reference books together, poetry together, hardly the Dewey system but not random. Everyone knows that sorting books is fatally slow, so I shall be in half-painted chaos a while yet, and we are off to Toronto and Connecticut on the weekend. The ordinary business of watering plants and feeding pet and people doesn't stop, and I feel panic rising in my gorge.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Preparations for the day

I am trying to remember what Elly does in Aups on hot days. Of course her walls are stone and she has shutters, but everything she does has a reason, from closing the curtains to cross-ventilating.

I watered my plants in the cool of the morning (74 degrees) and cleared the sawdust in case a wind springs up. I am thinking back to the Southerly Busters of my youth in Sydney, how the temperature dropped in minutes, the weather equivalent of the cavalry. There doesn't seem to be the same mechanism here, just the usual freshness from the water. It must be like an oven inland.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Too hot to think, back from Mexico last night and it is worse up here! 110 degrees.

We had a wonderfully productive week, and I know more than I used to about stem cells and Tijuana. The Hospital Angeles there is state of the art, the Lucerna hotel palatial with the best hotel breakfast I have had - Mexican dishes, fruit and traditional stuff. Gustavo introduced me to a tripe dish that was heavenly - yes, for breakfast! I was the only one who would eat it, and it was their loss.

The big and unexpected news is that Stefan received stem cells for his asthma, I filmed it while he directed me from his bed of discomfort. Let's see what happens, I am keeping a detailed diary with his PFM and reactions. He seems tired today, but we did work hard on this trip. I loved it. I was disappearing up my own backside with painting and rearranging domestically.

Felix kept the cat alive and watered lavishly so all was green and thriving except my cheapo swing seat, which cracked in a stiff wind. I shall miss it. Loved seeing how much the vine had grown, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Chicken Point

We have received an invitation to a community potluck supper on Chicken Point, which has chickens again - I can hear them clucking from the deck. It is a heart-warming sound, and the potluck is heart warming too. Will chicken be de rigueur?

Our little stretch of houses was nicknamed Tidetown in the fifties, which enchants me so much I begin to wonder if it is cute. I love it de todos manjeres.


I have to give this dyspeptic review of 'Dopamine' in its entirety:

"Product of Sundance, from ground up. Fashionably unfashionable, geeky, replete with doe-eyed cyber metaphor. At heart, boy meets girl, but with lots of trendy complications and distractions, including gratuitous pseudo-intellectual overlay of old argument between reductionistic positivism and faith. Dopamine is supposedly the neurotransmitter of love -- a little knowledge, science in the hands of non-scientists, is a dangerous thing. San Francisco narcissism, this town's never-ending parochial smelling of its own butt: postcard views of the bridges, fog, etc, unrelated to action, tossed in. Music-video moodiness betrays commercial substrate.
Ironically, in this trendy, youth-culture, altie-indie romance, gender stereotypes preserved: Boy = mathematical, cerebral, software engineer. Girl = instinctive, arty, kindergarten teacher. Throw in baby given up for adoption and a mother mummified by Alzheimer's for drastic maudlin love-lost effect. Film not even ashamed to use kindergartners for cutesy wootsiness.
Decent dialogue and acting (Sabrina Lloyd) surface occasionally, only occasionally."

I started this morning with the lovely careful business of peeling a pawpaw, cutting the half in half, and half again, then running my best and sharpest little knife under the bumpy skin only halfway, and up the other side to complete an even, single rind. Perjinct. The pawpaw tastes the better for it, and lemon of course, I didn't have a lime.

My untried Spanish is trembling in anticipation of Mexico, we leave tomorrow by way of Los Angeles and San Diego. I am excited. When we come back I hope to be a complete bore on stem cells.

Yesterday a joint in my hand caught between a rock and a - rock , and is swollen and coloured like an unripe sloe. I'll have to see if it gives me trouble. We have made some refinements in the packing of the new equipment, velcro closures for the Dedo light bags, cable ties, but we will know more after the trip. I love our new bags, bright orange inside so you can clearly see black cables, lens cases etc. against the colour. Inspired. The kit is lighter, too, than the Ould days.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Mercutio, Portrait of a Lady (the rosebud), a glancing blow from a careless talon. I am trying to work out why sometimes chance things matter so much, when maybe at another time we wouldn't even notice. I am saying my pride is hurt and it takes all the pleasure out of my projects. It wasn't even a criticism of the standard of my work, but I seem to be taking it as such. It feels like a mortal blow, to know that someone holds what I hold dear in contempt.

The one other time this happened was when we got a report from some subcontracted surveyor for the Crown when we were at Park Village, saying our front garden was "over-planted". I still don't know what it means although at the time I said a lot about small suburban minds and 6" of bare earth between the lobelia and the petunia. I dearly loved every inch of my garden and while the front hardly featured, I found it handsome and satisfying with its black railings, cream paint, fastigiate yews flanking the windows, solanum climbing the narrow trellis around the French doors of the little balcony, and dark ivy as ground cover. And yet reading that report was the moment I knew I would sell the house, it suddenly just wasn't mine.

I have put in the new double doors to my closet - straight at last after some pointers from Steve, and I have the first experimental coat of paint in there - it is a serious step to paint wood panelling, so the closet is a test for the rest of the room. The house is knee-deep in sawdust and I have my chop saw, the circular saw and reciprocating saw set up, clothes piled high on the bed, and here I am demoralised. Can't go out because Stefan took my car.

I think I will eat chocolate.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


It struck me that Johnny Depp is to this generation what John Lennon was to mine. I shall think further on this.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More on Lissapol-N

The good thing about those days was that we used to wash up together, and that promoted family harmony, which is a bad pun because we really did sing while we did it. We sang in the car too. Disharmony happened when the washer was sloppy and left nasties on the underside of the plates for the dryer to smear.

I still get an echo of those complex-simpler days when I contemplate that all my dishes match, that I buy glasses by the pack and they line up in abundance, matching, and that I am now liberated from the need to drain the last ounce of goodness out of everything (my mother once asked, "What is it you EXPECT from your teatowels?")

Would it be more productive/comfortable not even to have that internal dialogue? I'm never going to save the world one teatowel at a time, and if I have to find fault with my darling self, it is that I have no vision. Maybe I have no vision because I am still sawing the sawdust.

Friday, July 07, 2006


My mum has reminded me of the dreaded Lissapol-N which my father brought home in industrial quantities for us to use instead of normal Palmolive like normal people. It was an industrial detergent, unscented and so strong we used only DROPS so the damn stuff never ran out. To this day I feel perfumed, coloured, runny washing-up liquid is a luxury and use it stintingly, so it's a good thing we have a dishwasher.

I stint on all sorts of things -soap in amount not quality, water (Australian childhood), HOT water (Daddy again) and oil in cooking (that's my mum).

I knew, I felt, I wallowed in being really rich in the Molinare days, when I would walk down to Dickins and Jones to buy ten denier all sheer tights by the dozen. Oh, the luxury of it! and getting a taxi when I really wanted to, although the buses and tube were so good I didn''t often, and within Soho I just walked, like a sensible person. A good week was when I had lunch at San Lorenzo's more than once, and Annabel's was the only nightclub I'd go to.

Ahhh. I have lived.

My tastes are simple. I am always satisfied with the best.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Retread

It takes so much longer to groom myself now than it did say, twenty years ago. Not that I'm sure I even GET there any more, but after a good week of olive trees, sewing expensive material (no creams or makeup) gardening and just plain rebellion, I needed to catch up if I ever want to reenter the civilised world, and we do have shoots from next week. So much work, so many products, it's no wonder I go AWOL.

I could simplify (if that's the word) by patronising a mani/pedicurist etc, but that is not the Exile's way - oh no, I have to do it myself, wilful waste making woeful want otherwise.

However, here's a conundrum: my hair colour seems to be regenerating. All that cod liver oil? Just the sideburns, but they are resolutely brown while my parting silvers. Thinks.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hearing Voices

The big bottle of dishwasher gel is running out, which calls for effort to get the last precious slurps between shuddering intakes of air. It sounds like a stage villain, and now I understand what it is saying: "Die, inglese."

Hazards of Research

A chance name came up in our conversation yesterday - quite a salon, 4th of July, fireworks from Tiburon to Berkeley - so I Googled. Oh dear oh dear, the taking little boy I remembered is now sporting a double chin and a toga, Nero to the life.

He did crack Balliol so maybe this is a generation thing.

My chief memory of his family is that his mother always wore tennis shoes no matter the garments, and I attributed this to her being American (in NW1, in the 80s). Looking back, I think she was Depressed, real depression with occasional rage. Maybe she simply didn't like me. It certainly was prudent to be wary of her.

Happier Memory Lane: Natalie's wedding photos show Liz and Patrice in fine form, degeneration is not inevitable.

Also Lachlan's graduation pics. God Bless the Internet. Scritti Politti.