Sunday, 28 December 2008

Well, I meant to post on Christmas Day and wish you all a very merry Christmas, but events got in the way!
Lily arrived safe and sound on Christmas Eve, just three minutes before midnight. We were all very happy and relieved to have her home — almost as relieved as she was to be here.
We all had a wonderful Christmas Day, with lots and lots of food, great wine and fantastic company.
Lily, Halina, Grace and Pelham took off this morning on the first leg of their road-trip, which will take them to Las Vegas tonight. Eventually they'll end up in Oklahoma City for a New Year's Eve concert.
On Monday, David, Will, Dace, Max and I are all off to New Mexico for a few days, so in case I don't get a chance to post again until we get back:

Happy New Year!
— and let's hope 2009 is a very good year.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Blizzard We had a call from Lily this afternoon. She was in Seattle, after what she described as a scary drive from Olympia in the snow.
She was about to head back to Olympia, which has already had more than twice the annual average snowfall, with more expected. Hope they won't lose their power at their house as more storms hit.

Seattle and most of the Pacific North-West are in the icy grip of a 'storm of the century'. So Lily and Grace will definitely postpone their drive down to San Diego, and if the weather doesn't break soon, they may not even make it home in time for Christmas.
It may be that on Monday they'll feel confident about starting off. We'll see. For the moment — down here in sunny but chilly San Diego — we're keeping our fingers crossed.

:: The pic is of Lily being intrepid at Crater Lake in beautiful Oregon, the winter before last. It's about five hours south of where she lives. (Click it for a bigger pic.)

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Snow in the distanceWe've had some really cold days and nights, and earlier in the week we had lots and lots of wonderful rain, so up in the high country to the east of us there's been snow.
I took the pic above (click on it for bigger view) about lunchtime today as David and I were driving home from Del Mar on the coast. The Pacific is behind us, and there's snow on the peaks in the distance. That's Southern California! Beautiful!
I'm happy to live with snow in sight and a good drive away — I like it cold, but just couldn't live with snow any more.
In March last year I went to stay with my friend Sue in Chicago, and I've never felt cold like that. — it took my breath away whenever we stepped out of her warm and cosy house. But oh! It all looked so gorgeous!
And just in case any of you haven't seen it yet (I trot it out every winter!), here's the wonderful photo I borrowed from the San Diego Union Tribune's website, showing the city of San Diego with snow in the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east.There's been lots and lots of snow up in the Pacific North-West, even on Vancouver Island in Canada. Lily's friend Grace arrived at Seattle airport and freezing weather after having left Buenos Aires and 40 degrees (104 F)!
Fingers crossed for all our friends in the north-east, with all the huge snowstorms forecast.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Everybody's doing itBlogland is full of clever people making coasters, so, inspired, I thought I'd get on the bandwagon and rustle up a few for some friends.I used some of the reds I've put aside for my Big Red quilt — recognise that little-schoolhouse fabric, Laura?
:: I've been baking as well as making — ginger cake and cheesy bickies, all baked, packed and frozen ready for when the troops arrive. Lily and her mates should arrive on the weekend, and Dace, Max and Halina get in at LAX on Monday.
:: We had the carpets cleaned yesterday (our rented house has white carpet from the stairs up — can you imagine anything so ridiculous?), and in order to ensure a thorough job, Will emptied his bedroom.
He found 43 socks in his room. Not all of them dirty.
From those 43, once the yucky ones had been laundered, we made a measly six pairs.
Where can all the odd ones have gone?

Monday, 15 December 2008

GrottoThere's a meme doing the rounds about the contents of bloggers' handbags.
My handbags are all boringly organised and tidy. I have several, and shift contents from one to another, so I carry only the absolute essentials.
My desk, now ... that really is another matter.It's no longer just a case of vaguely cosy clutter.So, there's nothing for it.I shall have to clean up.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Dodging a bullet(Click on the pic for a bigger image.) We gasped when we saw this sign yesterday, stuck in the window of a store in Little Tokyo, in downtown LA.
But we forget this is a gun-totin' country.
In the early hours of the morning, there'd been a shoot-out on the 101, the Hollywood Freeway. No-one was killed, thank heavens, but the freeway was closed for about eight hours. It must have re-opened just a couple of hours before we whizzed blissfully along it on another fab day up in the big smoke. Lucky we missed all the drama, let alone the traffic nightmare ...
The Big Smoke was an appropriate term for LA yesterday.
As you can see from this pic I took on the outskirts, it wasn't a good-air day.
But it was still fabulous.
I finally got to see the stunningly beautiful Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.It's my third Gehry building (I'm collecting them!), after the open-air concert shell in Chicago, and the Experience Music Project building in Seattle.I reckon it's time Perth had one! Imagine how good it'd look by the river ...We took in the big exhibitions of Louise Bourgeois and Martin Kippenberger at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, then walked a few blocks to the Geffen Center at MOCA, which was a little underwhelming and ever so slightly disappointing.
Then we were off to the Americana centre in Glendale for dinner, and ate at Katsuya by Starck, a sort of Japanese-American restaurant where — we heard in a neighbouring store — Britney Spears had been dining only the night before and told off for smoking.
And we pinched ourselves when we ended up here ... for a preview screening of
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the hot new Cate Blanchett movie. It was okay, but oh! so long — almost three hours. Weird, considering it was an adaptation of a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But Cate's always a treat to watch in action, and Brad Pitt, her co-star, is always just lovely!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Morning conversation with an 18-year-old — Are my jeans clean?
— D'you know where my belt is?
— Have you seen my other jeans?
— Well, did you take the belt off to wash them?
A few minutes later:

— Where'd you put all those clean socks?
A few minutes later:
— Have you seen that letter from college with all my info on it?
A few minutes later:
— Where'd I put my iPod?
— Have you moved it? I'm sure I put it here with my phone — where's my phone?
A few minutes later:
— Is it Thursday today?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

It's a small worldGot up yesterday to find an email from Fairlie, one of my favourite Australian bloggers, who is on holiday in Los Angeles. And as I was heading up there with Will and David (to organise Will's new passport at the consulate), we arranged a get-together. Wonderful!
It's weird meeting people for the first time after having been virtual friends for a while. Perfect strangers you feel you know. But the weirdness was over in a nano-second and after we met up in Beverly Hills, we squashed both families into our car and headed off to the Grove, and food.
Over lunch, in Los Angeles, on another continent, on the other side of the world, in the other hemisphere, we discovered:
• Fairlie's husband, The Poolboy, went to David's old school and meets David's former best school friend quite regularly in his business.
• Fairlie and The Poolboy used to live just a few doors from the newspaper office where I worked — while I was working there (and so did M and her husband!).
• Fairlie and The P owned a house in a street just two streets away from where we lived in Subiaco. And ...
• Fairlie, M and I all have identical cameras!
We were also able to have a lively chat about the pleasures and perils of returning to Perth to live after a few years away. We shall see ...
It was a fab few hours in brilliant company.
Next time in Melbourne!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

ChrissieWe went to Wayne's Tree World yesterday arvo and bought our tree.I tried to find a fraser fir, as was recommended by Jen, but settled in the end for a gorgeous noble fir that is just short of 2.5 metres (eight feet) and just the most perfect shape.
Then I spent the rest of the day trimming it, with help from David to put on the lights.
I love Christmas — as I blogged about last year.
Every year I try to find a little new something for the tree. This year it's a couple of dozen Polish crystal glass raindrops ...... I love them so much I'm tempted to go and buy a whole heap more.
It's chilly today and we're going to light the fire! Yay!
:: A friend of mine mentioned choral music yesterday — on facebook — and I've been listening to a Haydn mass non-stop ever since. Perfect for this time of the year.
I also love Sufjan Stevens' huge album, Songs for Christmas. It's just so beautiful, and he gets such a distinctive sound with all the old familiars. Do you have any Chrissie music you love?
:: We're having a day in LA tomorrow. Will's passport expires in January, so we're off to the Australian Consulate in Century City to get him a new one. Hoping to get in a couple of hours at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art as well.
I shall so miss LA when we're back in Australia!

On Friday we'll be back there again, as guests of the organisation, Australians in Film, to see a special preview screening of the new Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's at the Warner Bros studios in Hollywood, so I'm excited!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Flashback FridayJen always does a Flashback Friday post, and this week M has done one, too.
I normally just read these, because all my family photos and family memorabilia are back in Australia under lock and key.
But today, M was talking about the eighties and I remembered I had my wedding photos here!Here we are, in April 1983, in the backyard of Dave's old family bungalow in Dalkeith. I had a jawline and didn't wear glasses except to read. That little tacker peering over the edge of the picture is my son, Simon, who was six, and just a few days earlier he'd got himself ready for the big day by cutting his own hair!
Of all our friends, we were pretty nearly the first to get married at home, in a civil ceremony with a registrar.
Dave was working in rock and roll then, so a couple of his beefy roadies came by and rigged up some very flattering pink spotties in the jacaranda to shine on us so we looked gorgeous while we were taking our vows.
As soon as we were wed, the skies opened and it absolutely bucketed down, so everyone fled into the marquee. And as my mate Dace said, according to the Latvians (she's one), rain is good luck on your wedding day!
I was never one for the most extreme fashions of the eighties, though there are obviously a sturdy pair of shoulder pads in my lovely silk chiffon dress by George Gross. The hat was made for me by one of the lovely Kailis women, who owned the store where I bought the dress. Roxy in King Street. I had Mum's pearls on and my grandmother's old gold watch.
We had a fab day — we had a harp and flute playing during dinner, and , when the party started, a jazz band.
There was one major drawback to having the wedding at home, though — during the afternoon, my sports-mad in-laws, en masse, disappeared into the TV room to watch Robert De Castella run in the Rotterdam Marathon.
Which, like an awful lot of the marathons he ran, he lost.
I still have my dress — in fact, my hat is here — and Dave still has his suit. Though these days, Will has claimed the wedding suit jacket and waistcoat for himself:
Need some gift ideas?The NY Times' Style section suggests this selection of eccentric gifts — like the $100 sea urchin pencil sharpener (above) — for the sort of people I'm glad I'm not buying for.

Friday, 5 December 2008

HostThey got their wings tonight.Some of them got crowns and halos and a few other odds and ends to finish them off.They're still really spooky.I didn't intend to use butterfly wings, as they're a bit hackneyed these days. But these actually looked okay. The one below has wings of bubble-wrap.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wintry loveliesWinter here means crisp blue skies, hummingbirds, sunshine, and strelitzia. Lovely!
:: I don't rave about it enough, but here's a completely irrelevant shot of part of the interior of our San Diego restaurant, the Bondi, so you can see how absolutely bloody gorgeous it is! Proudly Australian, with jarrah and steel and Sydney bluestone and iron-ore rock. You beauty!
:: David is making a very big deal of the fact that on the FedEx website he can track the journey of the Christmas present he has bought for me.
It started its journey in Kunshan, in China, at 7.23pm last Saturday and went from there to Subic Bay in the Philippines, then to Anchorage Alaska.
And right now he's chortling as he tells me that it left Anchorage last night.
What can it be? He's still laughing ... (he's getting three pairs of socks from me). (And some very daggy, saggy, baggy Y-fronts.)
:: I ought to be doing housework. But then, why is this so? And why is this so for me and not for David? Hmmm?
I'm going to quilt instead. So ya boo sucks to Mr Dyson (have I ever told you how much I loathe my Dyson vacuum cleaner?).
:: I've posted lots and lots of family pics on my facebook page, and you can have a look — even if you are not a facebook frequenter by clicking on this link— and then clicking on each of the photos to read the captions. Only if you're interested, though!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Sunday round-upDecember 1 tomorrow! Do you have an advent calendar? I love them — though now the kids are older, we've tended to go without these last couple of years. However, I bought this rather arty-farty one in New York, and I won't open it this year but will save it for next year when Mack can open all the little doors.
See the dog-walkers? You really do see them in NY — here's a pic I took at Central Park in April. A dog-walkers' convention!
We always had an advent calendar at Christmas when we were kids. It was such a big part of the Christmas build-up. I just love them — the naffer and more glittery and sentimental the better.
:: It's cool at last — we even had more rain. Breathe a sigh of relief. We've stopped needing a fan in the bedroom at night, and we may even consider a second blanket on the bed. The picture above was the view from our bedroom window this arvo — it's been a misty moisty day all day. God, that's a dull pic.
:: I'm getting in holiday mode thinking of all the guests we're going to have here over Christmas. Dace and Halina and Max arrive from Tokyo on the 22nd or 23rd, around the same time Lily arrives home from college with two of her closest mates from Perth. Grace has been living in Chile this year, putting the immersion theory of learning a second language into practice. Pelham has been studying at the University of Illinois. They've both been here before, so it'll be fun to see them again. I think Nick is coming down for some of the pre-Christmas excitement as well.
There'll be bodies everywhere, and I'm on the scrounge for spare mattresses and air-beds. This afternoon I checked out how much bedding I have and washed, patched and mended Will's old quilt, which was getting a bit tatty.
I made it for him about eight years ago, I think, with help from Laura in the planning, basting, binding and colours — Will wanted a quilt in Dockers colours. Love Freo, but those colours are a challenge ...
:: Will's been bringing home some of his artwork from college. This is a little carving he made, working with dried-out clay.I'm looking forward to a whole lot more of these.

Friday, 28 November 2008

It's Thanksgiving today — so happy turkey day to my American friends!
:: It's been a week since my last post ...... and I've been productive. I've got Christmas well under control, with parcels ready to go, and Christmas cards all written and ready to post.
Lily was home for a few days, and we had family dinners at the Bondi on two nights. I'm happy to report it was jumping both times, and the new winter menu is just sensational. If I do say so myself!
At home, David got cooking and I got baking, and Lily and I got stuck into her quilt and have finished piecing the top. Yay! So now I can relax and get it layered and quilted.Lily has planned a post-Christmas road-trip with friends of hers from Perth, tying in with our visit from Dace, Max and Halina. She still has the cast on her leg, and we're all hoping she'll be in good shape for her trip, which takes in the Grand Canyon and Oklahoma City for the Flaming Lips' New Year's Eve concert.
I was devastated when she flew off back up north: I'll see her just a couple more times over Christmas and the New Year and then David, Will and I will be off home to Perth.
It's been raining — oh the very sound of it dripping on the big leaves outside our bedroom window at night ... soooooothing!
We've been to the movies — last week we saw the wonderful and widely acclaimed British film, Happy Go Lucky, which I heartily recommend. Last night, we saw Australia, which was a truly entertaining three hours if a little dodgy on dialogue and music. And with a week and a good pair of scissors, I'd be more than capable of cutting a good twenty minutes out of it. But definitely worth seeing. The first Baz movie I've liked. But why the grandiose, all-encompassing title? A great film to see at an early session so you've time for lots of talk about it afterwards.
I've been sorting out my 10,000 photos stored in iPhoto, and updating my visual diary, which is definitely one of those jobs best done when there's no rush ...
... and I've been making a few bits and bobs out of papier mache for Christmas. These have turned out strange. I have doubts. They are weird and very spooky, and eventually they will get wings and then be weird and very spooky angels. The jury is out until then!
There are a few less subversive-looking birds made with the same technique, but I neglected to photograph them. Next time.
:: Horrible, horrible reports from Mumbai. And an Air New Zealand training plane down in the Mediterranean. And an Australian killed in Afghanistan. Grim times.