Monday, July 31, 2006

Loss of a dear friend

My old cat Gizmo died on Saturday. He had been very ill for a while with a tumour, lost a lot of weight and was hiding himself away most of the day. Our friend Mary, who has been his vet for most of his life, came to our house. We all said goodbye to him, and Elf took the boys outside to play. Mary gave him a sedative, then a final heavy dose of anaesthetic. He died peacefully in my arms. I am sure it was the right thing to do.

We buried him just inside the fence, in the backyard, where the boys will play and we will be gardening around him. (We made sure he will be safe from the earthmoving equipment that will demolish the house and reshape the front yard fairly soon.) We miss him very much.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A series of questions

A series of questions from Marcus this morning, over a period of about 15 minutes. (Leaving out eight or nine of the more mundane ones);

1. How do the wheels of the car roll when you are turning the steering wheel?
2. How does the car not roll away on its own?
3. Was god around when there were dinoasurs?
4. How could he make sure they did the right thing, when they are just animals?
5. What are the other pedals in the car for?
6. Have you ever done anything against the law?
7. Why are shop words on a hill, instead of on a shop? (prompted by Keens Curry sign below)

To which I might add from yesterday - a(i). How did Michael get conjunctivitis? (Michael has in fact got conjunctivitis) and a(ii). Who did the first person who got conjunctivitis get it from? The latter I have filed alongside "Where did the seed for the first carrot come from if there weren't any carrot plants before?" which, i will make the subject of my doctoral thesis, in retirement.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fencehopping - pics just back from the chemist.

The Mysterious Beyond - up the hill behind our house.

Marcus, Lily and Katherine swing. Grown ups attend. Out of shot, Michael sulks.

Piano Shop

I just found this drawing from last year. That's the corner of Elizabeth and Warwick.


We started the weekend with a party at Kidz Bizzzz (don't forget the 4 zeds) on Saturday morning, for Saffy's 5th. I hadn't been there before, but its new, clean, well run, and all the kids in it were behaving. Incredible. At one stage a young blonde woman arrived with four (or five) small blond girls. Three were dressed alike and looked exactly the same - triplets. The other two were dressed kind of similar and maybe one and two years older. We thought - hells bells, are they all HERS? Turns out they are her mothers. Oh.

After lunch we went up through the back gate and took our young neighbours Cameron and Adrian along with us up to Wellesley Park. It was a beaut afternoon, and we just mucked about up there until it started to get dark. The 4 boys combine and permutate in interesting and often very self-containing ways. Cameron taught us to play "Creep" which I think is the same as "Statues".

On Sunday morning Nick, Anna, Lily and Katherine came over, and we went up the hill again and had a picnic. We taught them to play "Creep" too. Anna's dad has brought her back a huge sleeveless sheepskin coat from Austria. Nick was wearing a tight leather coat with a large tweed cap. There were lots of pimp jokes. Sometimes they are so West Hobart.

On Sunday afternoon we went over next door to visit Lana, who was playing a complicated Tarzan DVD game, where the voice kept telling the kids to "go get those banannas". I managed to get them all out in the sun, as Lana's dad has a large spread-out woodpile, and there's nothing I like better than sitting on a nice log in the sun. After a while Michael and I went back over to our back yard. Then Lana and Marcus came over too - they are very proud that they are allowed to walk along the footpath three metres from Lana's front gate to our steps. Finally Elf and Sharon came over and we all stood around and enjoyed the sun, doing nothing in particular, until it was time for Sharon to drag Lana home for dinner.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Cameron next door: I don't like the Big Red Car.
Michael: That's impossible.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Michael (at 3am): What's those?
Me: Those are Mum's boots.
Michael: Hmm.... Not your boots. They are Mummy's boots. Or something.

Lost in the internet

Today I have got lost, in various places on the web, and time has washed over me. Aaargh.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Wooden Periodic Table Table

Yes, its really a table. If you like science, woodworking, ingenuity, crazy stuff, incredibly clever people or QTVRs, you must look at this site. (Photo © 2002 by Theodore W. Gray.) Its my favourite non-news website of all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Book designs

I have really burned the midnight oil to get this far. Patsy likes it, and is going to show this and a few other versions to the publisher. Fingers crossed for something similar to this to be in the shops by the end of the year.

Other designs can be viewed HERE. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Memo to monkeys: look out for parrots

Here is a quick 'n' easy ready reckoner to my weekend.

Friday night
- Started work on bookcover, caught a cold.
- Received first building quote (which took over two months). $60,000 over budget.

- Boys did some excellent bike sharing. (I have a small movie if anyone wants to try and view it, here are some stills).

- We visited our friends Jasmine, Cam and Sarah. I have known Cam for many years and now Jasmine and Marcus are in the same room at Friends, and get on very well. Had a lovely time.
- Went to see Dave Graney at the Republic with Dave Woodward, lawn bowls teammate. The room was dotted with other lawn bowlers. DG was great, shook his hand after. Will contact him later to warn him he is straying into lawn bowls demographic.

Update - Sent DG a message and got a quick reply, which just goes to show he is a consumate professional, although technically no longer King of Pop. I think now he might be Viscount of Boogie.

- Brunch with Rob, mel and Ollie at Salamanca. After initial misbehaviour Marcus settled down and played a loosely structured but well-mannered game of giant chess with an older boy.
- While discussing what different birds eat (eg insects, fruit, seeds, other birds) Marcus told us quite confidently that parrots eat monkeys. His rationale for this was densely argued and unfathomable.
- Looked at a beautiful house at Opossum Bay built by one of our prospective builders. Encouraging.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Do I want blips or bloops?

There are many free mp3 sound effects available on the web. I am looking for some little clicks and bips for an interface I am designing, and I have found that in the "Interfaces" category there are all the following categories:

Bangs (5)
Beeps (24)
Blips (16)
Bloops (7)
Booms (2)
Clicks (64)
Clunks (15)
Groans (4)
Knocks (1)
Pops (6)
Roars (2)
Saws (2)
Switches (9)
Tears_and_Rips (2)
Thwacks (4)
Zangs (5)
Zings (5)
Zips (4)
and of course Zoops (11)

A cover at last!

I have always wanted to design a book cover. Not for some fat document that will be distributed to people who will mostly chuck it out or file it. For an actual BOOK. Ideally fiction. I want to be able to go into Fullers Bookshop or Dymocks and see my work in there amongst the Faber & Fabers and Penguins and Jonathan Capes and Phaidons.

Patsy Crawford has asked me to design the cover of her new book of short stories called Blood of a Distant Island. She wrote a good review of a CD-ROM I worked on that dealt with similar landscapes and themes to her book. (see still below) I have just finished the manuscript and I am very excited about the job. I'll post some designs here when I get into it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A day on the mainland

I flew with my boss to Melbourne for the day on Friday, to talk to the Department of Veterans Affairs about a book and CD-ROM we are doing for them. Steve was supposed to pick me up at 5am, and hadn't shown by 5.30. I was waiting out on the front steps all that time, it was a very mild morning, but I was tying myself in knots worrying about missing the plane. I rang him and it appeared he was in some parallel time zone of his own. We made it, just. When the people at check-in know your name before you open your mouth you are in trouble.

At Hobart Airport when I am boarding the red-eye flight in the dark I always find it strange that when you have toddled out the door onto the tarmac, you are on your own. Your plane might be the one in front of you, or it might be 100 metres up the runway, you have to look at your ticket and the logo on the tail to make sure it's the right airline. And follow the person in front of you. When you have got out of bed at 4am your chances of getting it wrong are pretty considerable. When we did get to the top of the stairs of what was presumably the right plane, there was no-one there, so we ambled in and sat down.

It was a pretty uneventful day actually. I was totally exhausted when we got home, I think from spending most of the day in air-conditioning. I had a tiny little snooze in the meeting but only one person noticed.

Overheard Comment 3

"We had to get rid of our piano, because of the smell"

This is cheating, it was actually said directly to me but if pretend I overheard it I can avoid the tedious business of explaining the context which would just spoil it.

Taking Marcus to the footy

I had a bit of a mix-up with Rob. He thought he and I were going to have lunch and then go to the football. I thought he meant he and his brood would come to our place for lunch and then we would flick on the telly and watch whoever was playing. As a fix-up to the mix-up Elf and I and the boys met him at the pub for a counter lunch, then Rob and Marcus and I continued on to the football and Elf and Michael went shopping. It had been a lovely sunny morning, so we didn't bother taking any particularly warm clothes.

We watched the second and third quarters of a Clarence v Hobart game at the TCA ground up on the Domain. The weather turned bad, with an icy penetrating wind. It wasn't much of a spectacle, but then local football never is unless you know the players, particularly on a blustery day.

We sat up in the very top of the stand and shivered. Pigeons strutted and sparrows hopped about among blowing papers. It was so cold. Then: parrots! Beautiful rosellas appeared from nowhere, playing tag in amongst the rafters of the old grey grandstand. It was a very beautiful moment, totally unheeded (as far as I could tell) by the crowd, intent on the football. I have seen parrots about on the Domain many times, but never have they been such a relief.

We headed for home shortly before threequarter time as we were frozen, and Marcus can't stand the sound of the siren.

Italy 1 d France 1 (penalties 5-3)

I was having trouble getting Marcus to bed last night so I promised I would wake him before the end of the World Cup Final this morning. I made him promise to go back to bed after it was over.

I duly woke him to see the last 10 minutes, plus extra time, plus penalties. He then refused to go back to bed, and argued loudly, waking up the rest of the family. So, although I generally enjoyed the final, I think that little difficulty plus Zidane headbutting Materazzi spoiled it for me.

I did enjoy this though - at one stage Marcus said "I wish I was playing in this game - then I would be a bit more famous than I am now".

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Home-made hats

Marcus models hats designed and made by himself. This mortarboard-style hat (above) has a large A3-size surface and can be used for carrying other A3-size things.

According to the maker, this is a special hat for me to wear while singing "Tigerland" after a Richmond win.

Michael made this hat out of a porcelain bowl.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A big win for the good guys - Guantanamo

Great news for everyone who believes in fairness and the rule of law - the military tribunals to try the inmates of Guantanamo Bay have been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The do not match the standards the U.S. military would apply in trying its own soldiers, so they are unconstitutional. I am hopeful this means they will be given fair trials sooner rather than later.


I wear Bonds boxers, which are nearly all a nice grey marle, with a few black and one pair of blue. Marcus, on the the other hand, wears little undies in all colours of the rainbow. Sometimes at the supermarket I treat myself to a new pair, and the other night they were only available in 2-packs, black and orange. Well, it won't kill me to wear orange, I thought.

The first day I had them on, I was sitting on the toilet in the evening, pretty tired, when I looked down at the orange pants around my ankles and thought momentarily "Am I Marcus?" It was strange.

Marcus is creating hats at the moment. He is a haberdasher or perhaps a milliner, I'll have to look those words up. Some of his designs are ingenious - and he's doing it all without any urging from us. I'll take and post a few photos when I get some batteries in the camera.

Q. Do you love typewriters?

A. Probably not as much as this guy does. (Try link above for a truly staggering amount of typewriter info and pictures). I am doing some banners for Living Writers week, and for one design I have been looking at a lot of typewriter keys. They are beautiful things, and they often share a common font design, that I am finding very hard to pin down.

There are many sites offering jewellery and knick-knacks made out of old typewriter keys. I would like to get my hands on some (keys, not jewellery) but part of me worries that the trade in keys is compromising the work of typewriter restorers.

And another part of me thinks this is a very minor thing to be worrying about in today's world.