Friday, June 29, 2007

The Motherload

I feel quite content with my progress this week, ending with painting again today, just the little hall off the bathroom, all the filling and sanding is done, and the walls, and the woodwork can be done tomorrow. I bought and installed all new door handles and locks too, the old ones were always ugly but I must have become used to them, and only galvanised myself into action spurred by the example of Norma and Paddy getting their places ready for sale and wondering why they didn't do it years ago. This is very good motivation.

For fun I watched Stephen Colbert, he was interviewing an author on what makes us happy. I gather we don't know.

For further fun I have The Diana Chronicles to read, we filmed Tina Brown yesterday so I am agog to read it, Mary had bought it. And we are going out tomorrow, and I promised Felix I'd help him garden too. Plenty to do.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Angry Buddhist

Angry people tend to be tedious, but here is one I can take:

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Great Grandmother in 1934

It just goes to show how family resemblances can persist - I think both Cissy and I look very much like her, Cissy more so because of the colouring. It was 1934, so I think she would have been in her sixties.

My mother said she was a cranky old thing who only ever read her Bible, but then she had a lot to contend with, and her story is the seminal one of who we are as a family, and reads like Catherine Cookson.

Point Reyes Station

For reasons I won't go into we came away from lunch rather richer than we arrived, so I felt like giving some back to the community and bought this beautiful Indian basket at Toby's Feed Store. It reinforced for me once again that if I could buy a second house anywhere it would be at Point Reyes Station. It is just poised for takeoff.

A luffly day. We ended up delivering the Pomo Indian DVDs to John in San Francisco and stayed for a drink and chat with Lynn and John, then Felix came over to spend the night as he is working with Cissy this morning and they had a 7.30 call. This is life in its myriad manifestations.

Point Reyes

Zenned out at the Olema Inn, after champagne and oysters, then cherries straight from the tree.

The Family Photo

Ma Boys

Felix had a dinner party at his new digs and invited us all on Friday night, and it was just lovely. I came home in a daze of maternal fulfillment...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Busybusy Whoopee

So, I moved the aerial from the pergola to the roof, cut a hole in Felix's headboard to accommodate a power point and transferred it to my bed (so comfortable!), unpacked and moved Stefan's bookcases and cleaned behind them, moved the orchids, put the tent on Craigslist, swept and garnished, costed out the new bathroom, and cut Stefan's and Felix's hair, mine next. I am loving my daily yoga class.

Stefan bought me the Rado Ceramica watch I have lusted after for eight years, for my birthday! I had tried it on in the airport, then my old watch stopped completely once I was back home so we got the Rado via the internet. It is all black, very scratch resistant which is a distinct advantage for me, and has the numbers 1, 5, 7 and 11 in the corners instead of 3, 6, 9, 12, which tickles my mind when I look at it. Bliss. A little early for my birthday to be sure, but that is fine by me. It is EXACTLY what I wanted.

Lunch with Felix for Father's Day today at Pacific Catch, just perfect, I sat admiring Felix's new haircut and wondered why miso soup is so satisfying. I told them more about Australia - I was a bit out of it on Sunday. No jetlag, rather I have been full of restless energy. Delighted with On Gold Mountain by Lisa See which Norma lent me for the plane, we filmed her for the Kidney Foundation and she spoke very well, so I had been intending to read the book. It has a wonderful directness.

I used my credit at Marshalls to buy a cast iron skillet for tarte tartine and a wonderful lidded witch's kettle for making bread, as one of the reasons it was so successful in Sydney was the heavy cast iron pot, I am sure that is what creates the delicious crust, and the lid causes the bread to be steamed for the first half-hour - then you take it off. Alas, I made another cowpat. Maybe the flour is different, or the sun too cold and the heated pad too hot, or maybe just not enough dough to fill the bottom of the pan. I shall try again once this one is eaten. We enjoyed such triumph, such a build-up at Norma's that I am chastened.

I got an email from Dee saying she has detected two rotting boards in their deck, one loo whistles and the oven spontaneously hums and sings until you open and close the door several times. what interesting living conditions. I did ask her to make sure her vegetable tubs were over the piles as they are heavy and the deck, while of industrial strength 13" by 2" boards, is old.

More hot dry wind today, my clematis is slowly desiccating and there is not a thing I can do about it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Work Here Is Done...

...and I am back in California, summer after flooding gales in Sydney after the four year drought. I am very pleased with what we managed to to do in just three weeks, and so enjoyed hanging with my sister and family. Mum came down, I saw Paddy, Siena and I moved furniture and Ned and I made bread just about every day.

Too jet-lagged to be comprehensive, and I haven't touched on the beauties of Vaucluse House, the wonderful walks, all the fun and talking. Later. It's good to be home.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Have just finished making an enormous Moussaka, as Paddy is coming over tonight to watch Monsoon Wedding. I have been sewing too of course, and baking bread, two batches today, and Norma and I had a wild windy walk across Rosa Gulley to the MacQuarie Lighthouse, past our old house; such heavy seas the spume came right up the cliff. It is quite different from Californian Pacific, the water is bluer and of course it is simply familiar to me, the number of times I have watched the sun come up over the sea, and now I watch it set there!

Ned was so bored I offered to teach him Gap folding, but he couldn't handle that amount of fun. I think.

We did manage a madly effective shopping expedition. Ned went to get the technical stuff, car charger for mum's cell phone, new XBox for himself, and Nom, mum and I got the definitive charcoal roll-necked skivvy for mum, and socks, all in one swoop, no Greek Ships, no waiting, all back to the car and out of there within about forty-five minutes. Divine intervention, I am sure.

This is a long weekend with a Dr Who special, very strange for me to watch an English programme in Australia with a Californian sensibility. Even the ads are low-key and commonsensical to my Americanised consciousness. And the clothes are classier - in the shops I mean.

It is still very stormy, the trees shedding branches all over the place but visibly greener, flocks of rainbow lorikeets damp but as noisy and bright as ever. And we saw a perfect rainbow over Double Bay, and as we watched another one formed behind it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Mothers Squared

Today we had our planned outing with mum and mum - Ann and Jean - to view the new house, then go by light train to Chinatown for dim sum, delicious! Only thing not in the plan was atrocious weather (though Sydney is grateful for the rain, 4"), umbrellas inside out, trees down, very exciting. Then back here to sew.

Did I record the Scottish Inquisition last night? Mum met Siena's boyfriend Nick for the first time, we had a wonderful dinner interspersed with stretches and exercises as Ned was sore from his workout and we each had our own remedies. The meal ended eccentrically with fresh bread (I hadn't knocked it back quite early enough) which tasted different AGAIN. Nick and Siena want to try the recipe too.

Norma has been scanning a century's worth of photo archives from many sources (thanks Stefan!)into mum/gran's digital frame. Hard work, but exactly the sort of thing one never gets round to doing. In a way it's part of her great tidy-up before the move.

I wonder what is happening back home. Will, Felix, Claudia Margaret?

Monday, June 04, 2007


Re-cut the 'armpits' of the sofa this morning before Norma and I set off for a merry jaunt to de-barnacle - get rid of the encrustation of to-dos on the mental hull. I find it slightly un-nerving to drive with a four metre boat on the roof-rack but Norma is used to it, we collected it, de-rigged then attempted to take it to the shipwright, amid other tasks like collecting microwave and new lights. We didn't get any coffee! Not in a good coffee area.

We also took back the rugs we had collected on approval from Cadry's, fixture of my girlhood. They have some spectacular Tibetans, but the most interesting were plain patchwork Turkish kelims in luscious soft colours. Filed away for later.

I am reading a biography of Georgette Heyer, very interesting, very restrained. Maybe the degree of cooperation involved would have been jeopardised by a sharper view.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Norma and I spent all day at the Regatta, she rowed three times and brought home two silvers! Celebration at Tropicana with Mike, Nom, Ned, Siena and Nick.

It was a lovely day, walking back and forth to the river, sitting by the tent with the other rowers, reading dreadful Sunday newspapers I will never touch again, then driving back from Penrith and opening the boatshed, lying on the pontoon waiting for the trailer and boats, watching the sun go down and spotting stars as they came out. I stayed out of the way for the unloading, complex business, I just brought trestles whenever I heard a cry of anguish.

Colin rang when we got home so I caught up with my big bro. "When are you coming down to Melbourne?" he asked, but I explained Norma owns me.

Am staying in touch with home via email of course, trying to micromanage the domestic disasters I left, but it leads to exchanges like this (aabout the fridge):

"Do you know how to ring Sears? It's on a magnet on the fridge.
I'll do it first thing on Monday.
I am seriously worried about tomaine.
He's ok."

Apparently there is Much Junk rustled up by the reorganisation. Should occasion a big clearout - after all if something has been sitting under the bed for five years, we probably don't Need it. On the other hand, that is where the snorkels etc live, and we will need them for Hawaii in September, unless of course they have perished in the meantime.

Friday, June 01, 2007

White Rabbit White Rabbit

Spent the whole day in my burrow sewing and have the body of one sofa complete except for the hem and gussets. Relaxation was eating so I am waddling a bit now, Bronte my constant companion as someone with food in hand is her Best Friend. So here I am, clean and slathered in Creme de la Mer - getting fond of the stuff - ready for an early night as Paddy and I go to the fish markets at 7. I might bake the bread at 4 as I did this morning, the uses of jet lag. This batch was mixed by Ned as he enjoyed the last lot, and it was best ever, I think the cast iron pan is a necessity for crisp crust.

Maybe Felix will make it in his digs to impress his flatmates? Sudden horrid thought - will he take his espresso machine?