Saturday, 31 May 2008

the game
Originally uploaded by Lesley (Z).
The flickr game
I saw this over at Craftapalooza this morning, and Suse at Pea Soup has also done one.
Unfortunately, I'm not technic enough to be able to get it bigger n this page, but there you go. If you click on it, you'll be whisked away through the ether to flickr stuff and my photos, so you can see it better there.

:: The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.
The questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favourite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favourite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favourite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favourite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name
El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles** The Village of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels — the beautiful old Spanish name which has long been shortened to LA.It was a lovely clear evening when we got to Hollywood last night — in the picture above you're looking across to the Hollywood Hills from the 101, the Hollywood Freeway. We're on our way to the Hollywood Bowl to see REM.
We'd left San Diego shortly after 3 pm and by the time we hit LA, it was well into peak hour, so the 101 was pretty slow.We took the Hollywood Boulevard exit, and drove west until we got to Highland Avenue. Hollywood Boulevard looked lovely in the soft light of the early evening, with jacarandas (they call them 'yacarandas' here!) flowering among the palm trees ... ... and lovely shadows across the Spanish-deco facades of the buildings, some of them a bit shabby and down at heel these days.The centre of Hollywood is a weird mix of extremes, with hints at the glamorous hard up against lots of the grotty and tacky.
Here's another example: the cream building in the background, below, across the road from the star-map seller, on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, is the multi-storey shopping centre which houses the Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars.While across Highland Avenue from this there's a strip of low-rent shops that looks like it's come straight off Scarborough Beach Road, Mt Hawthorn!Hollywood is also home of the really, really strange.A little way up Highland and parking starts for the Hollywood Bowl. The venue is the US's biggest concert amphiteatres and holds 19,000. As well as normal concert-type seating, and lawns right up the back, there are terrace after terrace of picnic boxes (we had one) where you sit on folding canvas chairs and an attendant brings you a table that clips on to the side of the box so you can eat your picnic dinner in style and comfort as the sun sets.
Or you can picnic near the carpark:Do I need to elaborate on the concert? Can't you just imagine how utterly wonderful REM was? That and more.
I wish I weren't such a goody-two-shoes. If I know a venue doesn't want you to take a camera in, I never do it. And yet there were flashes going off all around the Bowl last night, and loads of people taking pics.
Anyway, REM was supported by two wonderful bands that neither Dave nor I knew much about, but both were SO impressive. The better-known of these was Modest Mouse, a big beefy-sounding band from Washington State with a powerhouse lead singer backed by a very tight line-up which included two drummers and two bass players. Loved it.
But for me the very first band, The National, from New York, was even more impressive, as much for the fact that they had to start playing while everyone was filing into the Bowl, even before the sun had set. But they put on a great performance, with a densely rich and layered sound and a brilliant lead vocalist.
the show finished at about 10.45 and then we had the long drive home — but getting out of the Bowl among 19,000 people, and teh carpark, took almost as long as the drive did! We got home about 1.30 am. So tired ... byee!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Parcels of loveliness!
There've been a couple of great deliveries here at Schloss Zed.First to arrive was my set of mini-moo cards (above, and click on it for a bigger image) — these are perfect little calling cards, about half the size of boring, formal old-style business cards, and ideal for someone like me who doesn't have a business (sort of) but would like something to give all the people I meet so they don't have to scribble my phone number or email address down on an old napkin, or the back of one of their own cards.
These were made by the clever people and robots and software at from my very own photographs (and an odd one by Will and Simon here and there) uploaded on to flickr. I did it all in about half an hour on my computer screen, in three or four really easy, foolpoof steps. They arrived in their own little plastic box (top right), a hundred of them, beautifully printed in full glorious colour on good-quality stock, with my contact details on the back.
I also ordered the white card-holder you see on the top left of the pic, which fits on my keychain. Neat-oh. Cheap, too —check it out. And quick — I had these in my hands in less than a week, and they came all the way from London.
Dave was so impressed that he's ordered some himself. Will too. We reckon this is a little company going really, really far in a big way.

:: The second parcel contained this:
It's another book for me to read and review, this time Shirley Weller's biographical Girls Like Us (Atria Books), which is all about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon and their lives and careers, with emphasis on the 'stormy times of the '60s and the early feminist movement'. Looks brilliant!
I'm very fortunate to be receiving these great books, so I think I'll pass them on when I've finished them. If you'd be interested, just let me know. I'll enclose one of my mini-moo cards as a bonus!
:: Got to get on my bike ... we're pedalling to REM's greatest hits in readiness for tomorrow's big night at the Hollywood Bowl. Yay!
Oh ... and Monday night's Police concert was just plain bloody wonderful. Incredible. Sting looked spunky, beard, tight shirt, Doc Marten's and all. I sang my little heart out ... and did the time-diff sums and thought of you all in Australia, at noon Tuesday and later in The Eastern States, working away while I was rocking under the Californian night sky, somewhere down near the Mexican border ...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Monday weigh-inWith lots of the above, almost every day, I've lost 2.2 kg (4.85 — oh, let's call it 5 lb) in three weeks and four days. I've lost 800 g (1.7 lb) since last Monday's weigh-in. Yee-ha!

:: Off to see The Police tonight — I'm so excited! Though I can't work out whether I'm as excited about tonight's concert as I am about Thursday's ... when we're off to the Hollywood Bowl to see REM! Oh I do so love living in California!

I have joined the 'Play it Forward' exchange, from one of my daily blog reads, Kotkarankki, written by Ulla from Finland. Here's how it works: I'll send something I've made myself to the first three people to comment saying they'd like to take part.
I don't know what it will be yet: it could be some sewing...

.... or a painting ... well, maybe not a whole restaurant window ...... or anything quite as big as this one ...... but maybe more like one of my butterflies, which are about 30 cm by 24 cm (12" by 9") ...... or perhaps you'd like something knitted, or a couple of skeins of hand-dyed wool ...... or something from one of my new projects, which I'll be posting about soon. And I won't send it this month, or even next month, but I will send you something in the next six months — I promise! What you have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. So just let me know!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Two of my boysCouldn't resist showing you this fantastic pic Will took of himself and Nipper on Wednesday arvo. Nipper's winning the hairy chin comp!
:: It's chilly and rainy today — wonderful! I love it. Summer can take as long as it feels like to get here, as far as I'm concerned. I had a fire last night as I phoned Mum and Dad back home (Dad's miraculously recovered and back home, phew!), spoke to Dace about her trip back to the US in the autumn, and watched the last lovely episode of Cranford; and we even had the heater on this morning when Will and I got up.
:: Dave's away still, but he gets back tomorrow night — yay! He's in New York today and keeps taunting me by ringing me every hour or so as he works his way down, floor by floor, through the Whitney Museum. 'I've just finished the fifth floor — Hoppers, Rauschenberg ... ' Oh shut up! Later today he's off to watch the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium, which is due to be demolished soon and rebuilt.
:: Will has been excellent company this week, and he's stuck close to home to study for two tests today and to complete his senior paper on Schwarzenegger's proposed $4 billion budget cuts for education for the state of California. Now there's a big spanner in the works ...
:: Nothing more to write home about. Before David left on Saturday, I made a mental list of all the projects I'd accomplish while I had the house more or less to myself. Result: nada!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Booking through Thursday
Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?
Books and movies can offer entertainment on such different levels. The one can be instant and short-lived, the other far more enduring.
It's a funny thing, but I rarely, if ever, read a book if I've seen the movie first (except for Jurassic Park), but I'm quite prepared to see a film version of a book I've enjoyed.

It's quite good fun — isn't it? — to pick over the film version and compare and contrast it with the book, and to see how your interpretation differed from the film's, and if the main characters looked the part, and discuss what bits were left out and why! Disappointments are infrequent.
I qualify all this by saying that now I've watched on telly the recent BBC adaptations (let's count these as movies, for the sake of this week's question) of Cranford and North and South, I'll probably read both of those — I haven't read Mrs Gaskell.
Film versions can also give you a way to familiarise yourself — even superficially — with a book you may not care to read. Or can't be bothered with! Like the Harrys and LotR. I so wish the films had come out before I hauled my way through these two!
It's a big mistake to expect a movie to be everything that a book is. The two are very different, but complement each other so well, and we're lucky to have them both.
There's a hell of a lot of dross out there on bookstore shelves — a lot of books should never have been published: do you reckon there are as many movies in that category?
My Idol
David just rang from Baltimore — which he says is a brilliant and very attractive city, but more on that later — to say he'd been watching the final of American Idol with some of the people he's been to meetings with, and now they're about to start an American Idol karaoke contest ... and Dave is playing Simon Cowell! Well, at least he doesn't have to sing, I guess ...
Apples and Oranges
This is writer Marie Brenner's intimate memoir about her brother and their incredibly complex and fraught relationship. I find myself overwhelmed with admiration for Ms Brenner, not only for accomplishing the sheer task of getting this book down, laden as it is with generations of family history and scientific and psychological research, but also for the intense struggle she documents as she attempted to forge some kind of common ground, an essential connection, with her very strange sibling.
As the title suggests, Ms Brenner and her brother, Carl, are not at all alike. Chalk and cheese, in fact.
She's an investigative journalist, highly intelligent, happy and successful. He is similarly smart and successful, but also anal and controlling, a cold fish who sends his sister a tray of fruit from his orchards every year with a note that says: 'I picked them myself. Don't give them away.'
A right-wing lawyer from Texas who has in his mid-life moved into growing apples in a big way in Washington State, he has always kept his younger, more lefty, liberal-intellectual sister at more than arm's length. It seems he has no love for her, and his attitude towards her and her smart, New York life is obnoxious and condescending. And really weird. 'You always have to show off and tell us what you know, Carl said.'
Anyone of us in the same boat, faced with such a dour character and such direct put-downs, would be forgiven for turning our back on him. Yet she doesn't cast him off as a bad egg or a black sheep, but instead, when she discovers he has cancer, she puts her life on hold and moves across the country to go into bat for him, hoping to find a way to save his life, and also to spend their last few months together and fix what ails them both.

It must be said that she probably does this as much for herself: in many ways her opinion of herself seems coloured a little by this blighted relationship:
'Why can't I just be easy with my brother, the way I am with my friends? That we are not close seems a badge of shame, a personal failure, a mark of my inabilities, bossy nature, and tendency to exaggerate. Carl thinks of me as the human flaw.
'I'm going to give you a quiz.
'This is how Carl starts many of our conversations.
'I wish I were kidding.'

Since she is a journalist as well as an author, she digs deep to get to the bottom of what ails them.
'A research study on siblings breaks down the percentages: 52 percent of all brothers and sisters have a close relationship, 12 percent have no relationship, and 21 percent are something called "borderline." I am a borderline, defined by and against my brother, locked into some ancient and immutable feud. There is a moat around our conversations. Why? Why did we spend years locked in struggle with each other? I had to believe there was a chance that some of the answers could be found in the past, in letters and facts and research, in new interpretations of patterns held up to the light. I was operating with a strtict sense of Freudian principles, that the past could yield insights and applicable truths, if only one understood the sexual rivalries, the aggression, the scant affection. I could spin out a sound bite that might make you think I knew what I was talking about, had read the experts on nurture and nature, birth order, peer influence, mirror neurons, attachment theory, DNA.'

The story of these two is a good enough by itself, but what makes this such an extraordinary work is all the other ... stuff .. that she packs into it: information about siblings in modern psychology, about her complicated family, about apples and the entire US apple industry, and about medical science.
It's also touching, a deeply moving book. I loved it.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Monday weigh-in
Late posting to day — I had a day out with my Perth friend, Adrienne, and got back late this arvo — but when I weighed myself this morning, I had put on 220 g (0.4 lb) since last Monday! Crap! Obviously need to cut back on the peppermint patties ...
:: I have two movies to recommend, both of which I watched over the weekend. The Constant Gardener, starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz (first time I've liked Ralph in anything), is a taut version of the John Le Carre novel, and gripping from start to finish. Really excellent.
Also Dan in Real Life, which I may have mentioned before. I watched it with Will last night and it really is a gem. It stars Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook, and is set in Rhode Island.
::On telly, I'm loving Cranford, the BBC serialisation of the novel by Mrs Gaskell. And on the strength of that, I ordered North and South from Netflix — it's fantastic. I wanted to watch it all over again once it was finished. So good.
:: I'm still reading Apples and Oranges, by Marie Brenner, which was sent me to review. Lucky me! I'm really enjoying it and have nearly finished, so I hope to be writing about that one soon.
That's all folks!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Cabaret Ralph's
I can't tell you how irritating it is when you're in the supermarket, trying to get together the ingredients for minestrone from memory, and the invisible pianist is belting out Oobla-dee Oobla-dah. I love the Beatles, in fact, I always thought I'd marry Paul, but I can't stand instrumental versions of their songs. Actually, I can't stand Oobla-dee even when they 're singing it.
It is seriously weird. It plays music all by itself. The keys are moving but nobody's home. It's been there for weeks now — and why surround it with a display of wine? There are brochures on its music stand with information about how you, too, could own one of these magic pianos.
Last week it was playing Roundabout, from the 1970s Yes album, Fragile. Can it get any weirder? I've had enough.
At least at Nordstrom, over at University Towne Center (yes, that is Towne with an -e), in La Jolla, they have a real live person playing, instead of all this jiggery pokery. UTC has an ice-skating rink in its food hall, too, so you can watch precociousness in tights as you eat your tacos.
Shopping here can be an other-worldy experience sometimes!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

The OC David and I spent the morning in Laguna Beach yesterday, in LA's Orange County. It wasn't a very bright day, though it was warm and sunny, but there was a bit of a marine layer about, which made everything a bit hazy. But it was still very beautiful.
Laguna is one of the Beach Cities of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area; it has a population of about 24,000 and is about an hour away from downtown LA. It's also just an hour away from us, so it's a great place to visit!

It reminded us both very strongly of Noosa, particularly its tree-lined side streets ...... and its mix of quaint little cafes and restaurants, surf shops, summery boutiques and galleries. But it's quite a bit bigger and busier, and a lot of its restaurants have a distinctly Mexican flavour. Plus it has Pacific Coast Highway (PCH as they call it here) roaring through the middle of it.It has been a thriving resort town since the early days of the movies, and has been home to Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. It has a great old cinema just across the road from the beach:I love the old-style letters they still use for the film titles and session times!
We had coffee (well, I had a peppermint tea) sitting in the shade near this,
watching the volleyball players and the passing parade on the boardwalk, which included this family of strange little T-shirted dogs ...... I think their owner said they were Chinese crested hairless terriers. The sort of dogs that only a mother could really love — and here she is ... ... being proudly pushed about in her very own little doggy stroller.
Then we went for a stroll in and out of some swish little galleries where there seemed a preponderance of kitschy paintings of dolphin-infested seascapes, English cottage gardens, and big-eyed women in diaphanous nightdresses. These sorts of galleries are really for the tourists — Laguna has had a reputation as an artists' colony since the first half of the 20th century, and has a couple of big art festivals in the summer months that are a lot of fun. I think the 'more serious' art will be well away from the seafront, or more likely it finds its way into the cooler, more chi-chi spaces of Los Angeles.

We popped into a fabulous children's clothing shop ...
... and picked up a few lovelies for grandson Mack and our youngest nephew. Not one of these, though ... ... and especially not one of these! Then there was time for some fantasy real estate browsing. Here's the entrance to a cute little cottage we fancied — right on the beach. Some of the blue you're seeing through the lower branches of the tree is actually the Pacific Ocean!
And, of course, were this one not so completely OTT, it'd do quite nicely!
This house, at Aliso Creek Beach, just south of Laguna, is known locally as the Gucci Mansion. I can't find any hard facts about why this is, other than because it's supposed to have been designed and decorated by Tom Ford who worked with the Gucci studio. As you can imagine, it's a famous party house — and apparently there's a lot of gold leaf work inside. Figures!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Miscellaneous businessIt's been a quiet week here in Schloss Zed, though industrious.
So here are a few random pics to fill in the gaps in the news!
Above is David, being irresistibly drawn into the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, NYC, which is underground, and accessed through this glass cube. This is him again (below), walking along a rainy Park Avenue in New York last month.He's been busy preparing for a trip next week, visiting Chicago for the National Restaurant Association convention, then on to Cleveland, Baltimore and New York, all on Bondi business.
:: Will, seen below in the Joshua Tree National Park in February this year (doing his impersonation of the young Bob Dylan) is preparing ... ... for a couple of school tests, putting together a paper, organising an internship for next week — helping teach art at an elementary school — and getting his work and portfolios in order for the looming end of the school year.
He is also planning to move up to San Francisco, to share a house and go to city college there (like TAFE), with a view to using that as a path into art school. This will be a h-u-g-e step for him, so we're having lots of discussions on how to do this, where he's to live and so on. At the moment Will has three friends who are all keen to share a house and go to college together, and on Monday night we met one of them, Stephanie, and her parents, to talk about it all.
It will also be a huge step for David and me — our youngest leaving home! My Will! For another city ... gulp! Especially as there's a possibility David and I may return to Australia in the New Year.
But all will be well and all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
:: Lily, seen below with a sunburnt nose (tsk tsk) and gorgeous boyfriend Nick, when they were hiking in Utah during spring break ...... is quietly working away in Olympia, with faculty evaluations in a few weeks as her current unit of study — political economy and social movements — draws to an end. She's also deliberating on future units, and whether or not she can negotiate a private study contract that would get her out of the Pacific North-West over winter. She loves The Evergreen State College to bits, but finds the long, wet, cold, grey months of winter a bit hard.
:: We have Perth friends, Adrienne and Barry, arriving in San Diego today for a conference, and we're having dinner with them at the Bondi tomorrow night. Adrienne and I were at Claremont Art School together a decade ago, and I'm hoping she'll have some time over the weekend, while Barry is conferencing, to catch up. They stayed with us a couple of years ago, before the Bondi was open, so I'm excited to hear what they'll have to say about it now it's pumping!
:: Concerts
Last month, in NYC, we went here ... to see Paul Simon in concert with a host of stars, including David Byrne from Talking Heads.
It was an amazing show, an absolute treat. A humdinger.
Monday week we're off to the local Cox Arena, here in SD, to see Elvis Costello, who is the warm-up act for The Police. Yay! And we've got fantabulous seats that cost an arm and a leg and then some — but after decades of living in the wilderness, concert-wise, we consider it worth the splurge. Especially for Sting and the boys — who knows how many chances there'll be?
Next month we're driving to Arizona to see Tom Waits in Phoenix, and in August, Lily and Will are between them going to about six Radiohead concerts between here and Seattle. They very kindly, and genuinely, offered to get me a ticket and take me with them to see R at the Hollywood Bowl, and I was touched. But I was very strong and declined. I mean, I'd have l-o-v-e-d it, but who wants to go to a Radiohead concert with their mum?
The next big concert plan for Dave and me, though, is to see Nick Cave in Portland, Oregon, in November.
And, speaking of Paul Simon, which I was a minute or two ago, here's a shot taken from the taxi as we left Manhattan for JFK — over the 59th Street bridge!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Monday weigh-inFor scientific purposes, I've researched the calorific values of a York Peppermint Pattie (delicious peppermint cream dipped in dark chocolate) and the Weight Watchers equivalent (spelt 'patty'). Not a ha'penn'th of difference. They're probably the same product, let's be honest. Anyway, two of these are my daily treat.
I've lost 1.1 kg (2.42 lb) since last Monday's weigh-in. Though I did have my glasses on when I was on the scales, so it may actually be quite a lot more than that.
I'm up to a 30-minute ride on the bike, which takes me — or so it says — about 11 km (7 miles). My first days in the saddle were really hard on the bum and boring, and the whole thing seemed impossibly hard work. But now I can see even this tiny result, I feel a lot better about it.
My bike time, with a good music selection, is great thinking (and huffing and puffing) time.
Here's some inspiration from the Sydney Olympics ...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Happy Mother's Mothers' Day!Have a great day, all you lot down there, where it's Sunday already.
And take lots of pics!
There have been busy hands at Schloss Zed.

To begin at the beginning, on Friday morning, I had to go here,
to the local stationery store (like Officeworks) to buy an ink cartridge for the printer. Then I noticed that there seemed a lot of nice cars in the carpark — a Bentley, a Jaguar, lots of Mercs and BMWs — and a bit of a rush on to get into here: Marshalls, just a couple of doors away from stationery heaven, is an institution in these here parts. It's a chain of fashion discounters, where you can pick up amazing designer labels for seriously ridiculous bargain prices, as well as accessories, toiletries, luggage, manchester, kitchenware and so on.
When Dace and Konrad were here with their kids in December '07, Marshalls was almost a daily destination for us, especially when the whole family needed snow gear for winter in NY and Maine. But you have to be lucky and get there on a good day. Some days it's full of crap, and on others, it's heaven on a stick.
Well, Friday was very much in the latter category. Summer had arrived! With clearances! Two and a half hours later, I had my entire summer wardrobe: four gorgeous dresses (the most expensive cost $29.95, but one original label was $240), four tops (the most expensive was $16.95, with an original price tag of $89), a three-quarter-length lightweight Calvin Klein trenchcoat (original label was over $200, I paid $39.95), and a Dana Buchman jacket ($49.95).
I also snagged a couple of cheap handbags.
This is one of them. I'm a sucker for the black shiny wet-look stuff. It must be because of the pull-on boots I had in the 1970s that I loved so much, or because of the genuine fisherman's oilskin jacket I bought for thirty bob at Norwich market in 1969, which I used to wear with great panache teamed with a pair of genuine Royal Navy sailor's woollen bell-bottoms, 9/6 from the same stall (I was only 15 and it was the sixties).
What the hey — I love the shiny black stuff. This bag cost me $12.99. It opens up to be roomy, and has handles long enough to wear over my shoulder. Its only downside was a very thin yucky black cloth lining, very a la Shanghai sweatshop.
So yesterday, I ripped it out — in fact I did so quite carefully, so I could use the fraying pieces as a pattern — and made a completely new lining ...
... complete with recycled phone pockets ... ... and a new lined zipper pocket for which I recycled the bag's original zip. And I put a reinforced bottom inside, before I sewed up the lining, because I do like a bag that stands up when you put it down. It's still a tacky black shiny placky bag — but I do love it!

:: I'm also knitting this cardie/jacket from the Rowan Classic Cafe pattern book.
It's the same alpaca and silk yarn that I used for my clapotis. I bought it online, and it was so cheap I bought lots, so there's plenty to knit up this cardie for summer.