Sunday, February 25, 2007

Penrith and Beyond

Norma said to use her computer so I am, as it seems cruel to separate Stefan from his laptop for even half an hour.

We went to Penrith to watch Norma race, but the regatta was halted by a spectacular thunder/lightning and hail storm, we had to shelter under the trees to protect the car. Nom drove back in hr soaking rowing gear but it wasn't cold, 37 Celcius. I am beginning to see the great attraction of rowing, and few of the women look like super-young athletes apart from Carina.

That night we had another big family dinner with Siena, Nick, Ned and Laura beofre the young folk went onto a party. Sunday I took Bronte for a walk over Cooper Park which is so beautiful and wild I wished I had a camera, then we went to Bob Kersey's exhibition and had lunch with him and his wife Mary.

They have promised to come to SF, but the oddest thing was that Bob told Stefan a story about him which was half true, half changed - the 'Australian Lighting' one, but hadn't a clue who had told him! It was set in Australia, not Wales, and Rosemary was with him not me but it was the same story all right, and one which hasn't yet been published. Stefan was amazed and delighted. A legend in his lunchtime!

We rounded off the weekend with dinner at Paddy's, good gossip and spectacular fireworks which she modestly brushed off. It is such a big house, she has most of it packed but it is a mammoth task. I wouldn't wonder if she wanted to live on a houseboat after this just for light relief.

Today Norma and Michael have a meeting in Canberra so have kindly given me the keys to the Volvo, and we are having lunch with Virginia in Walsh Bay.

Felix did sterling detective work and has found the booking number (and the carrier!) for our flight on Wednesday.

I am wondering how my offspring are fairing, wondering that I feel so at home here though it is SO expensive, way more so than Marin. I love the lack of branding, the low-key advertising after the screaming vulgarity of billboards, television and papers in the US. The young women look so healthy and assured and un-tricked-out. The gardens look personal and well-enjoyed. It is hard to explain.

Incidentally as I was sitting in the pavilion in Penrith I suddenly remember the name of the woman whose husband was head of the river - it is Jenny Clegg. I obviously needed the boats in front of me to remember it, some months later. Longest senior moment I have had.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


We have just come back from coffee and a paddle at Bondi, it is too late in the day for a swim because of the heat (for a Pom). Yesterday we visited Garry and Judit at Bundeena, the last time we had seen him was in Paris and had never met Judit. It is so good to meet up with old friends like this.

As Norma drives over Sdney ghosts of places rise before me and I will suddenly say,"I know this" and it turns out to be Anzac Parade, or O'Dea Street. We drove past Tina and Penny Currie's house, the same gigantic fig tree in the front but all the land sold off round it which diminishes it. It was the first beautiful colonial house I was familiar with.

The girls look so lovely here, healthy and unselfconscious.

The first night we were here we had a wonderful family dinner at Jean's place in Finger Wharf, under the shadow of the QMII, then walked over to the other side for the fireworks. We will meet Siena again on Saturday.

I just melt in here like butter. I had forgotten how difficult it is to put makeup on when your face dews up between one eyebrow and the next.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Best Sheets

My mother rang at 4am her time with Linen Anxiety - the sudden contemplation of the linen closet at the prospect of guests. She says I freaked her with my Virgoan rolled single use guest towels in a little wicker basket.

The point is not the state of our towels and sheets, but the impossibility of doing anything about it at 4am. I don't think Stefan would notice unless he found a horse's head between the sheets, and she reared me so I follow what she taught me in the first place. These preoccupations are simply the hostess' lot.

It was my mother who told me the story of the best sheets in my grandmother's house. They were bought in Glasgow through the agencies of a friend? cousin? - who infamously said to the saleswoman "Quote retail" so she got her cut. Back they came to the linen cupboard at Naroma where they stayed, right up until the time I went up to clear the house when Aunt Jean was incapacitated, some fifty years later. I took them, along with the old bread bin, my grandmother's poker, her "Wonder Grater" and other odds and ends back to Midhurst, sore at heart at dismantling a place which was so dear and constant in my life. I got home past midnight but reverently opened the wrappings, stripped my bed to make it up with the Best Sheets - and of course, they were too small.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Best-Hydrated Cat

Suscipe is a great proponent of Living Water, won't touch her bowl of water which often looks unappetising I admit, with a layer of dust on top, whether cause or effect or feedback I don't know. I DO know we let her out a dozen times a day onto the front and back decks where she stares intently at the water and calls loudly, before drinking.

She might be trying to drink her way down to the little mosquito fish who keep the water clean, and we do have frogs too. It certainly keep her occupied.

In the city yesterday, so called in at the Botanic Garden dome for a blissful hour wandering Lowland Tropical Forest, Highland Tropical Forest, and Water Plants, the steamy smell and lushness very satisfying. i will be in real Tropical Lowland in two weeks, with real sunsets and real surf. Can't wait.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

8 of Vultures

A grim sight - vultures impatient for their turn at an egret corpse just off Mary's dock. Because of West Nile Virus we have to notify bird deaths so I did, but they said there was no point in coming out as the vultures would soon be finished, and they were. they hung around for while just to cheer up the landscape, one on top of the mast of the Oscar Romero, one wings outstretched on the mysterious pole twenty feet out in our water. It reminded me of the time when Joe was dying and ravens came to sit in the blasted oak opposite until it was over. Strange landscape this.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My Ute

I just love my car. I don't know how people get on without a pickup truck, everything goes in the back, and it feels good to be sitting up just that bit higher. It is a constant blessing.

With all the Global Warming news I have been making a list of things we can do, or more accurately, things I have already done, and things to be done. Very edifying, but I wonder if there would be enormous variation among individuals, with some actions unthinkable to one person yet perfectly obvious to another. There must be a forum on this.

I just finished a long banner for Caroline, all bias cut, beaded panels, silk lined, complex but it just flew, compared with the painful silk velvet bedspread I am making for my only 'civilian' client. I must remember: only work for professionals. It is so unrewarding without a common language.

On Sunday we drove down to Fort Baker to see the QMII scrape under the Golden Gate Bridge, a jolly community affair which clogged the roads to such an extent that traffic didn't move for ninety minutes afterwards. It was a tolerant, laidback atmosphere though - some people abandoned their cars to go and have a drink, little children played together, so all in all it was refreshing. We get to Sydney in time to see it dock there too, isn't that funny.

I am hosting a viewing of 'The Ground Truth' on Thursday next for Move On. I wonder who will come.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


We have taken to very gentlemanly hours and have just finished breakfast (scrambled egg, smoked salmon, "English" muffins for the men). We are a freelance family, but should I feel bad about this? I have seen to my correspondence, had my splendid coffee and read the papers online but feel vaguely exposed in my dressing gown at 10:30 a.m..

Really it is all about the luxury of choice I suppose. Yesterday I went for an early morning walk along Beach Road to the end of the point, then to the start of Richardson Bay, breathing in the blossom before the storm we are promised tomorrow reduces that wonderful clean fluff to mush. Gardening at 8 a.m. is a luxury too.

Norma emailed me about the public voice of this blog which is true, it is a open forum, so no confidences or breach of confidences. I have read quite a few other blogs and find the most tiresome tone is righteous indignation, and the most diverting is candid on-going small stuff like a family letter, with allowance made for happy pride in good things, even outright boasting.

I thought of this following a string about children misbehaving in public places, because I was always so proud of my children, enthusiastically eating Tripes a la Mode de Caen and Plateau de Fruits de Mer and sitting happily and quietly at table. In Cogolin another diner, Ray Still, assumed we were French because, he said, the children were so well behaved. Hmmm.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I hope this is heavily edited:


The Dilemma

We had a wonderful time last night at the Wildcare Ball, a table of congenial people, and the table settings (heaven knows I pay little attention to such) were so beautiful I was quite stunned. I like being stunned. I want to be stunned more often. We even danced.

This morning upon impulse I cleaned the stove, bin and various bits, lamenting the state of my housekeeping all the while, and admiring those who still entertain. I haven't had guests for a long time, and mainly because I go weak at the thought of the work it entails. Maybe if I had a cleaner it would be different, in fact I think it would be very different. Maybe if I hardened my heart against judgement, became a more jolly, open person, I would have wonderful dinner parties again. As it is - it just seems like a lot of work.

"Clean the house- they will come."

So I cleared the kitchen and the big room completely except for the long table, then swept, mopped and polished, and did the same in the bathroom and hall and it all smells beautifully of geraniums, since I have expensive eco-friendly Mrs Meyers' cleaner which I love for the smell alone. I think that is the very best sort of extravagance.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Stray Thoughts

I have noticed a problem in the few blogs I follow: hijackers, barnacles, mistletoe. In other words, someone who uses 'comments' for their own ongoing saga. Presumably these are blood kin or close friends one wouldn't want to offend.

Maybe One could suggest they create their own blogs? They lower the tone something chronic.

At twilight I saw an unfamiliar bird on top of the mast of the Oscar Romero, and with binoculars identified an owl! I had seen pellets on the ridge but never the bird itself so I hooted to it but it wasn't very interested.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Dream of...

We have just finished a most unlikely double feature: Gene Krupa, and X-MenII. Only bettered by the notorious double feature in the Rose Bay Wintergarten The Virgin Spring (Bergman) and I'm All Right Jack (Sellars).

I was delighted to see the Krupa compilation because we have been on a Krupa kick which started as we drove home from the Kidney Foundation Gala and I played Koop Islands for Stefan, in which track 4, 'Forces', starts with homage to Krupa in 'Sing Sing Sing', and also reminded me of the club sequence in The Mask so we watched that again three days ago. I love the way these things unroll.

Driven a little bit crazy by Stefan dithering that Gene is pronounced Jeannie, no matter how often I say it isn't. I suspect a corrupt early childhood influence. Unedifying marital tit-for-tat has escalated so I now refer to Ben Goodman in retaliation. And Lou Armstrong.

Strange Times

I have a cold and whether through discipline or laziness, I am lying low until it is over. No point in playing the martyr and thereby extending it and infecting other people. So, I have pulled the tv out of the cupboard and watched some interesting stuff - must be some with 62 channels - but nothing that prompts me to install it permanently again. Strikes me over again how brainwashed we are to tolerate commercials. The only consolation is the mute button.

I choked by sipping tea with the bag still in and slurping up the string. Small things put me in my place, and small things amuse me. I have had a small Kathleen Battle fest, made a perfect poached egg just to keep my hand in, put up Mary's trousers and scoured some pans. Taught Felix how to conjugate verbs whether he wanted to or not, and added "Spanish Word a Day" to my desktop, a very good idea as anyone can memorise just a few things at a time. And it is still just 10.45 am.