Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Listen, America

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine

Monday, September 29, 2008


I have just finished WASHING the cameras, receiver leads, lens caps, on and on after a day of harvesting and then the crush at the winery. We got some very close shots if you get my drift - actually the cameras got the drift of grape juice, sweet, sticky dark grape juice from precious Pinot grapes. All over us.

And tomorrow and tomorrow, since rain is forecast for Thursday, and I couldn't be happier for the sake of my garden. Scrambled up onto the roof to put the last touches on the skylights, just in case it is true.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Photos

Tim, Siena, Angela, in the loggia.

from Siena's bon voyage - Tim, Norma, and our mum.

First Skirmish

The raccoons have found my fig tree, muddy footprints up it surprisingly high. The branches are quite slender, and so laden they bend way down, no challenge at all for my opportunistic neighbours.

In retaliation I have slung a rope from the fence, around the main branches, keeping them together and upright. We shall see what happens tonight.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Clancy's Reply, 1897

I just discovered this, from the real Clancy:

Neath the star-spangled dome

Of my Austral home,

When watching by the camp fire's ruddy glow,

Oft in the flickering blaze

Is presented to my gaze

The sun-drenched kindly faces

Of the men of Overflow.

Now, though years have passed forever

Since I used, with best endeavour

Clip the fleeces of the jumbucks

Down the Lachlan years ago,

Still in memory linger traces

Of many cheerful faces,

And the well-remembered visage

Of the Bulletin's "Banjo".

Tired of life upon the stations,

With their wretched, scanty rations,

I took a sudden notion

That a droving I would go;

Then a roving fancy took me,

Which has never since forsook me,

And decided me to travel,

And leave the Overflow.

So with maiden ewes from Tubbo,

I passed en route to Dubbo,

And across the Lig'num country

'where the Barwon waters flow;

Thence onward o'er the Narran,

By scrubby belts of Yarran,

To where the landscape changes

And the cotton bushes grow.

And my path I've often wended

Over drought-scourged plains extended,

where phantom lakes and forests

Forever come and go;

And the stock in hundreds dying,

Along the road are lying,

To count among the 'pleasures"

That townsfolk never know.

Over arid plains extended

My route has often tended,

Droving cattle to the Darling,

Or along the Warrego;

Oft with nightly rest impeded,

when the cattle had stampeded,

Save I sworn that droving pleasures

For the future I'd forego.

So of drinking liquid mire

I eventually did tire,

And gave droving up forever

As a life that was too slow.

Now, gold digging, in a measure,

Affords much greater pleasure

To your obedient servant,

"Clancy of the Overflow".

Very Strange

A stray pig called Bruce has been terrorising the little town where my brother lives, Uki in Northern Rivers. This is his mug shot, from the Gold Coast Gazette.

Not a lot of news out of Uki.


Jesus cursed a fig tree...

Cissy reminded me that she saw this tree in the dump pile at Home Depot. Can I buy it, I said. No. Can I take it? No.

So I stole it, and it has paid me back many times over.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gran and Grandpa Rose in 1945

The Duchess of Duker

I have the clearest memory of standing in the kitchen telling Stefan that the Duchess of Duker von Meyer (which sounds like the perfect beginning to a music hall song) was the wife of a man who was ennobled after the Battle of Waterloo, with personal intervention of the Duke of Wellington.

I know I must have dreamed it, but it doesn't feel like a dream. Were the Germans involved anyway? (see the depth of my knowledge?)

Triggered by receiving a photo of the Duchess's necklace from a Schmelitschek cousin, Rowley Foster, whose mother wore it on her wedding day. I think she is to be coaxed for further memories and family tales.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back Home

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house—a house of my own—
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fairmont, San Jose

Well, this is whole lot better than the fleapit at Salt Point a few weeks ago!

It was a long, busy and successful day, good fun working at Cisco, I am enjoying it.  And the luxe.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Nothing quite like tripe for breakfast.

We got back early as one doctor was not quite as cooperative as our producer had hoped. Terrible to try to get across the Mexican border on a Friday, lines of cars in miles of fumes, so we walked with all our stuff, feeling like something from a 1940's movie, Casablanca maybe, inching forward with our suitcases piled with gear - all we lacked was a live chicken. We caught the train on the other side (as there wasn't a rental car to be had either). I enjoyed it all tremendously.

A fantastic meal over the water in San Diego, watching destroyers and jetskis and yachts, one fishing boat and one tug, then we sauntered into the airport and caught a flight within thirty minutes and were at home on the Bay just before dark.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We leave for the airport in twenty minutes so I have sent the last few email and uploaded some photos to this blog. I am looking forward to the vitality and chaos of Tijuana again. Packing focuses the mind more pleasantly than other things.

The only thing I haven't done on my list was planting cuttings of lavender and salvia. Unless I remember something on my way. and yes, this time I took the penknife out of my handbag.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Often in My Fancy There's a Vision still...

This little dog is called Trooper, but he is a dead ringer for Clancy. It brings a tear to mine eye.

Awake Again

It may be Sad to take a photo of your fridge, but I want a record of it clean.

Breakfast: a black fig fresh from my tree, with yoghurt, sesame seeds and honey.
4am snack: leftovers, standing up.

The fridge is now making a noise like those old-fashioned country instruments, home-made from a box with a long neck attached, and a string to be plucked like a double bass. There's gratitude for you. It originates in the ice compartment but stops when I open the fridge door.

I have sucked the ancestry thing as dry as I care to, but had one thought. The Jabaz Gutteridge born in 1856 in Barton, Beds, brother of my many greats grandfather and spelt various ways : could he possibly have been saying 'James' to the census taker through heavy adenoids? After all, I found the Rodmans in the 1881 census purely by chance, as someone had spelt them 'Roadments'.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Colour of Today

I started by donating to Barack Obama, out of sheer fear of the Republican ticket -
I will bath Suscipe, who had three severe fits in the course of twenty minutes, bit me, and peed all over herself, me and the floor. I hope she dies before we have to have her put down.
I will clean my kitchen, thoroughly, even the fetid depths of the fridge.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Casting in Concrete

My leaf casting was not a success - as I picked up the biggest the edge gave way, and the whole thing seems very friable. So it is either back to the drawing board or giving up, and I'm inclined towards giving up. Where would I have used them anyway?

I am far more excited about the driftwood row of hooks for my bathroom, really just the stumps of branches but they all face upwards. I had been thinking how to make a little jig to put it through the table saw. but suddenly considered the planer which has done an excellent job, making the back flat to fit along the wall.

I have a headache, probably from the three and a half hours of expensive dentistry yesterday. The shoot is off for today but we have two starting later in the week, one to Tijuana and one to San Jose for separate clients.

I have been reading about Durkheimian values and the failure of liberals to appreciate Republican values of hierarchy, structure, and purity/sacredness. Read here: http://edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Small Thoughts

A long hot bath has done a lot to soak out the caked grime of the last week. I remember Sheila saying how in summer it was impossible to keep your feet clean if you walk freely and enthusiastically, and I find myself often thinking: she is right!

It has gone a way towards eliminating all the little black points on my hands, since I fall upon the thorns of life with regularity. William helped me lever out one which was festering, but the others just sit under the skin, providing plot.

In Girl of the Limberlost the weathered old mother comes to her senses, stops mourning her lost husband and slathers herself in some folk remedy (which would make her fortune if she marketed it) to reveal pearly, glowing skin. She then re-enters the world of genteel drawing rooms and marcel waves, when her deeply alternative and empassioned life before was infinitely more interesting. The world of fiction. It holds up a mirror to us all in our folly.

It feels unnatural not to be setting off at this hour, hence the blogging.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

3am start - oh merciful heaven! I realised when we got back before noon that we had already put in a seven-hour day. A glorious nap just naturally happened.

This week has been packed, working Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday and now Monday, when the weather changed and for the first time we had the mists rising through the vineyards, and cool, damp conditions. We are more than delighted with what we are getting (apart from an upset stomach from the grapes).

The jack-rabbits are fascinating, far better lines than a standard English rabbit, more like a gracile, heraldic hare, but with translucent ears and a grave, alert presence. I love them.

Yesterday Carolyn and I walked along the bay to the brick-works to collect driftwood, far too much to lug home so we left it in a pile to come back with the car. On the way back we bumped into new-Mary so she came home with us, and we practiced Cajun zydeco dancing until Stefan pulled up with the car. I love this neighbourhood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zydeco

I built my driftwood fence straight away despite the sun, a shelter for the barbeque and aesthetic screen between us and the next house. Two planks had actual barnacles, two were from a smashed boat with remnants of blue paint, and all of them were deliciously weathered and holey. I made a gas bottle cosy in black to make it less prominent and I am very taken with the whole effect, while at the same time realising this is an acquired taste. sigh.

William gave me The Artist's Way for my birthday so I have started it again, last time was twelve years ago so I am probably too sane now, and totally creatively unblocked. It is fun though. And in the name of justice I record that Felix came over with a pie and lit candle, singing, with flowers, and Cissy and I had a formal hanselling picnic in her office garden.

Dentist tomorrow, loose crown, discovered through the excessive sweetness of the grapes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Precious Cargo

Up at 5.30, shower had no hot water in the fleapit we were staying in; leftover pizza is our breakfast. The harvest has begun!

I have never seen anyone work harder and faster than the Mexican team cutting the grapes. We were not loafing ourselves and we got some wonderful stuff, especially following the truck on twisting roads for two hours to the winery for the crush, me clinging to its tail like grim death as Stefan continued shooting, through high banks where the trees were hanging on by their nether roots with their gnarled front ones exposed, over spectacular sheer drops, dry golden grass, dim redwood forest, and then hair-pin bends for miles hanging over the spectacular Pacific coast, all spume and rocks and surf and precipitous cliffs.

So I didn't exactly have a birthday yesterday except for a wonderful mad romp over the Albany Waterfront, which used to be a dump and now is full of sculpture made of the wrecks and scraps left behind. Carolyn orchestrated it, and breakfast in Berkeley. We were meant to have dinner with Cissy and George but had to make our way up the coast.

The boys came for lunch on Monday but it was hardly a birthday celebration - just food, no flowers, cake, presents or singing. At least they came.