Thursday, November 27, 2008

Back Home

Home to blessed rain and a clean and orderly house, and a little cat with no time for games who ran to greet us. She gets as close to us as she can.

I woke this morning to a misty world of liquid silver and sepia, everything reduced to uprights and horizontals against the shining of the water. I feel more at home here, at last, and I think the reasons are political, or maybe I am just reminded how easy it is to hop across the wide Pacific to visit my ever-expanding family.

Definitely feeling like a musing morning, despite a twenty pound turkey waiting for me, quietly and patiently. It was the smallest I could find. I might walk down to the far corner of the bay to see what the tide has brought in before the boys arrive for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Black Mountain

Getting out of the car at Leura was a shock - colder than the air conditioning, which I had been tweaking as we drove inland. I ducked into a smart kitchen shop and was told it had snowed twice that day already, where are you heading? Oberon - that'll be colder.

Quite large flakes of snow dance outside but don't settle, and a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos swoop but don't settle. All the trees bend and sway like a field of wheat. Yesterday evening we watched Bob's cows kick up their heels in a mad gallop across the paddock to the trees as if they had all decided at once it was too cold and blowy for them. We lit the fire and drank whisky, and ate delicious coral trout from the Fish Market at Darling Harbour a world away.

I bought a plastic octopus there too, because it is the most lifelike I have seen and I have been looking a long time for an octopus image to blow up and print out. Now I have the makings.

It is so cosy sitting up in bed with Norma's cashmere shawl around me and Stefan's laptop (snaffled early since he is not a morning person). I was too late to save the fire from last night so we will have to start again, but there is plenty of wood. Mary is coming up today; she had to stay at the gallery.

There is no landline or internet here in the upper house so this is in Word. We will go for a bracing walk if I can raid enough of Mary's warm clothes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Road Trip

We set off yesterday morning from M'bah, me with my head all expansive from Michael's wonderful epic, Moobah - the Movie.  See it on Youtube now!  It is so touching to see a record of our wonderful and eventful reunion, a great joyful bubble rises in my chest every time I think of something, or remember the songs we sang (or more often, the ones we forgot to sing.  Nothing from Wait a Minim!  No Sixteen Tons!)

I get another Great Joyful Bubble when I remember the the regime change in the U.S. is under way, and I long to do something to further it.  How can I help?  I have invested $25 in in honour of our President-Elect's mother, which feels very seemly and satisfying and I am sure he would find it appropriate, maybe even touching, and is forwarding and practical.

The third great joyful bubble comes from seeing Pinot the Movie take shape.  I have seen very little of the footage since we shot it, so it is fresh and new and wonderful to me.  I say to Stefan we are in danger of falling in love with our own farts, but I can't help it.  I am so happy and fortunate to love what I do, and my wonderful family, and to no longer have the dread of living in a country which I really believed was turned to the Dark Side.   We drive down the Pacific Highway in a soft rain, through lush countryside, past the most beautiful beaches, through solid wholesome little country town, cuttings of ancient sandstone so different from California's exuberant and young volcanic swirls.  I saw some kangaroos and more pas-de-roos (we do sometimes lapse into French for silly jokes).  We called in to see Diti for the first time in thirty years, in her beautiful century-old mountain fastness looking over the whole coast down to Byron Bay, then arrived late at night at Eric and Cathy's wonderfully crafted house in Port MacQuarie and woke to the most wonderful birds - one was saying "FruIT BAT!  FruIT BAT!", there were whip-birds and cat birds, rainbow lorikeets and so many others in the cacaphony. We all had breakfast in an 1820 pub on the bend of the river, watching dragon-boats practicing which definitely improves the bacon and egg.

We stayed with Stefan's cousin Peter and his wife Donna at their alpaca farm, and have cuddled and petted alpacas and border collies to our heart's content.  And wireless access so I can write it all down, because sadly I would forget if I didn't, my mind being more sundial than steel trap. 

I am undermining my own belief that I - one - is the product of all experience, so preservation of the specifics is unnecessary.  Memorabilia.

Friday I did so many things I wanted to do. First thing I went swimming with Paddy and Sheila, then coffee with Sheila, then morning tea at Norma's with Paddy and Mona so they could meet up again after forty years and are all currently living within blocks of each other, and all avid readers of course. Next came afternoon tea at Minty's new flat; I hadn't seen it before and was busting to. Funny thing is it looks utterly like Minty, yet totally different from the Tiverton house and Boston.

Stefan then indulged me in a walk around Double Bay, calling in to see Louise, then up to Orson & Blake, which was iconically smart but had nothing that really tempted me. Then back to Norma's, sitting chatting and sewing on the loggia while the sun set and the osso buco simmered.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Further Adventures

I won't spare Brian: how many years at sea? and sailing? But he fell into the water at Clarrie Hall Dam, off a HobieCat. A HobieCat. A bit like overturning a barge.

Yesterday mum and I saw 57-59 Tumbulgum Road, beautiful houses on the river just up from the rowing club and Norma, built with a very Young Urban Professional sensibility. They have been on the market for well over a year, and now I know why. Urban, in deep country. Large enough for a family, but deeply unsuitable for children and old folk alike. Perfect for rowers, but only rowers with a lot of rowing friends to stay. So they are not casting a wide net.

All the structural timbers and floors are magnificent reclaimed hardwood, dark and matt, and I loved the priorities and sensibilities (no granite counters! Yeah!). But I would rather buy an old cottage with wide verandahs with my copious-free.

Tim and Angela are celebrating their thirtieth anniversary in the deep peace which follows a family visit. Mum and I are having lunch today with Helga (Angela's mother), over from Connecticut for her six months on the blue Pacific. I have arranged to visit Diti, formerly Annabelle, now a music teacher in Mullumbimby, and I hope to meet Rick and Cathie for the first time at Macquarie, and at last can thank them for their hospitality to Felix. Then on to cousin Peter, and Sydney, at which point we will become very social.

Stefan has been editing all this while, only coming up for air once a day but pleased with his progress.

Souvenirs to date: fetching board shorts for Stefan, a monster jar of Vegemite, and ti-tree deodorant, spelled correctly.

I have issued warm invitations to everyone to stop over in San Francisco on their travels, just not all at once.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We Sang

We sang, we ate, we laughed (Lachlan and Tim are wicked), and now are starting to disperse, Colin, Judy, Jess and Lachlan back to Victoria yesterday, Nom and Mike off early this morning, Brian tomorrow to continue his world tour.

We will hire a car today, look at a house on the river (research, you understand), and try to cure Stefan's sore paw. Probably lunch at Coolangatta.

We had an extensive photo-shoot yesterday so I hope to have some to post. I am missing my dear children.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mountain Thunder

Twelve of us are at Tim and Angela's, working off lunch in the hammock, garden and on the verandah, before embarking on dinner. We went rowing early in the morning, four of us in a quad with Tim as the largest cox in captivity, the the day became oppressively hot until it broke in a spectacular tropical thunderstorm, a tarantella of rain on the roof and rolling stereo thunder. Now the rain is easing off, the air is rich with gardenia, honeysuckle and jasmine, the hens are in a nervous twitter, and thick mist like smoke is rising off the mountains, fold on fold.

Colin and Brian are back from the mountain, Judy, Lachlan and Jessica back from the surf, and despite the amount we have eaten already, dinner is a very attractive idea.

I hope we can row again tomorrow - or maybe go out in the Hobiecats.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


We had thought we would not know the election results until we landed in Sydney, but we were just through security at SFO when I saw a crowd in a bar and ran, just in time to see McCain's concession speech. Had no idea it would be so decisive a victory the result would be so soon (think of the last time). Sat and watched Obama's acceptance speech, couldn't have cared less if the plane were waiting.

We are in Murwillumbah now after twenty-four hours in Sydney. Dinner at Norma's last night with Paddy, Brian and Ned, lunch at Uki today with Tim, Colin, Norma and Michael, mum and Brian - other family were at work and the beach. I am dazed, but it is good dazed. The jacaranda trees are magical.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Change in the Weather

The rains have come at last, gentle and persistent here, horizontal lashings on Spring Hill.

We went up to film hay being spread over the new seeding on the site of the future vineyard, and ended up with footage as bizarre and primary as any. The men were in Don't Look Now yellow slickers, and Karen in bright red and blue all-weather suit. The lens was instantly covered in drops no matter how often I wiped it, and through them we could see highly coloured figures leaping about throwing bales of hay, armfuls of hay, lumps of hay into a whistling wind. It was magnificent.

Home to the comfortable tameness of a fire and a tumble-dryer, and the week's washing, but something inside me is still soaking wet and hilarious in a newly seeded field.