Friday, 20 February 2009

Back in Perth with not much time to read or write blogs, but just enough to tell you how wonderful it is to be home.  The place looks amazing — so clean! On my first morning, I was awake pretty early and just loved watching the rising sun light up the trees across the road.I didn't realise how much I missed that green-gold light. Glorious. (This early rising was due as much to a slight case of jetlag as to the horrible daylight saving that has been enforced on Western Australia, so the sun rises and sets far later than feels healthy.)
The kids are loving being home. Lily and Nick are up in town for the weekend and have taken Will and a bunch of their friends off to a party.
Dave is on the couch watching Carlton play North Melbourne in a pre-season match, and Dace is away at a works do. 
On Sunday we're off to Albany — can't wait to do that amazing drive south, through Williams and Arthur River and Kojonup, with the low rolling hills of canola and the big blue sky. 
It's fab knowing we're here for some time, so we don't have to squash everything into a few days. I'm looking forward to ringing all my friends and arranging catch-ups, and just getting back into the swing of things.
:: The A380 was just fantastic, by the way. The more ergonomically-designed seats, that seemed a little wider than on the old jumbos, with maybe a few centimetres more knee room, made a great difference. Of course, these huge double-decker planes are slower than the 747s, and our flight to Melbourne was 14 hours and 40 minutes long. But I slept like a log from quite soon after take-off and dinner, waking up with only five hours to go!
All that talk of sleep has made me suddenly weary, so I'm off to my bed. I'll try to post some pics next time ... 

Monday, 16 February 2009

Last American post
This time tomorrow we'll be at LAX waiting for our plane — and I think we're flying the big new A380, which will be exciting. A few hours in Melbourne en route, and then straight through to Perth.
I had a few sad days, when the dogs left and we started packing in earnest. And I'm sure gonna miss lots of wonderful things about living in America. But now I'm all excited about being home again.
There are boxes everywhere. There's a mountain of stuff to go to Goodwill tomorrow, and another mountain to go to the tip. All the cupboards and all the drawers are empty. 
:: I have my beloved Mac back, complete with brand-new hard drive and a new operating system, so I'm very happy about that. It doesn't quite feel familiar, but I'll soon get that sorted once we're back in the lower hemisphere.
:: Lily's back in Australia! I won't have to climb on board that giant plane feeling that I was leaving her all alone in this great big country. Her boyfriend, Nick, is with her, and they're going to be staying on the farm down south, working as and when they can, and studying to finish their degrees over there. Both these brilliant young people have negotiated independent study contracts with their faculties, found sponsors, and packed up their house. Then they drove south to us for a few days and flew off. 
:: I'm exhausted, so forgive the rather disjointed news. Only one brain working at the mo. 
I shall have to sign off now — upstairs to bed for the last time in this house. 

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The dogs have gone — at least, we took them up to LA this morning, and they fly out tonight.
Then they have 30 days in quarantine in Sydney. I took them for a big walk in the park last night, and Nipper was a bit stiff in his joints this morning, so some warm summer weather will do him good.
The house feels really weird without them.
My beautiful, one-old-lady-driver computer, my sleek and lovely Big Mac, was making strange noises when I started it up this morning, and then I got a strange flashing question-mark icon on an otherwise blank screen. Almost three years to the day since we brought it home from the shop ...
This does not bode well. The nice young man on the Apple hotline said the hard drive either had failed, or was in the process of failing. Gulp.
We are taking it to see the other lovely young people at the Apple store this evening, in the hope I can at least save some of the thousands of pics I still had to shift to the external hard drive that has been sitting on my desk for weeks and weeks. To say nothing of all my music.
I am very sad.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

This week we start our round of goodbyes and get stuck into some serious packing — as in taking stuff off the walls, emptying the bookcases, rolling up the rugs, filling boxes.
We're eating everything left in the freezer this week: waffles for brekkie and an excellent chili con carne tonight ...
Anyway, as a distraction, here's a fun sort of meme I discovered over at the lovely Pondside. You list 10 things you love that all begin with a given letter, and post the list on your blog. Anyone interested can leave a comment, you assign them a new letter, and on it rolls.
Pondside sent me the letter H. So, in no particular order, here are ten aitchy things I love.
1. This hill (click and you'll see it better).
It's in Orange County as you drive north on the 5 from here to LA. I just love its row of lollipop palm trees, and the hillside dotted with shrubs — orange trees, maybe? They remind me of french knots on linen. From further away you see this hill silhouetted against a backdrop of higher mountains — though sometimes the air is hazy/bad and you can't see them. I take a photo of it every time we drive past it, intending to work the scene up into a painting. I have at least 30 pics of it now, in all sorts of air and weather.
2. Handbags. Life is a constant search for the perfect one.
3. Prints/collages/paintings by British artist Mark Hearld. I love his treatment of flowers and wildlife, and quaint country imagery that reminds me of my English childhood. Lovely soft palette as well.
4. Hacienda style. Shouldn't we warm-climate folk all live in a series of fabulously thick-walled rooms simply arranged around a central patio, with a leafy tree, maybe a little tiled pond, and big solid doors to keep the world out and the kiddies in? Fell in love with them in Spain, and am even more convinced as I get older that that's the house for me!
5. Hummingbirds.
When we first moved in to this house, this hummingbird (and/or its many look-alikes!) would perch on this leaf every morning.
6. Household cleaning products by Mrs Meyer!
Lily turned me on to these eco-friendly liquids and now I love using them. They're scented with essential oils and smell so darned good! I shall be looking for Australian equivalents later this month.
7. The Hollywood Bowl.
We've seen Garrison Keillor doing A Prairie Home Companion; Rufus Wainwright reproducing a Judy Garland concert from the 1960s; REM with Modest Mouse and The National; and last year's Fourth of July firework spectacular with Randy Newman and the LA Philharmonic. I love everything about it: the superbly organised parking, the army of people who rush about with picnic tables and delivering food, the signs you see on the way out that remind you that you are in a residential area, so please be considerate and leave quietly. It has history and atmosphere, and is in a serenely beautiful setting nestled among the hills in Hollywood, slap bang in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world.
8. Hymnal — as in White Winter Hymnal, by Fleet Foxes. Love those harmonies, and the weird lyrics. But more than anything I love the way these guys are paying homage to the Beach Boys, and the sheer brilliance of Brian Wilson.
9. Homes and houses. Love any and all programs or magazines about homes and interiors. Sometimes I get more engrossed looking at the scenery and sets in a movie than I do in the actual movie, especially if there are great interiors featured.
10. Going to bed with a hottie.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Hey, dropkick! I'm the customer! The customer!Memo to Perth real estate agents. Photographs like this (above) on your joint website are seriously off-putting.
At least take the washing in before you shoot — especially since it's hanging from the front of the house!
And move the yucky-looking rubbish bin out of the picture:I'm suddenly not a fan of Perth real estate agents.
Four of them have not bothered to answer emails I've sent them about properties.
Too cool, too busy, too important?
Too hungover?
Too up themselves?
This is the conversation I had with an irascible fifth, who did at least answer his mobile phone.
'Yeah? Tom here.'
'Hi — I'm ringing about the property you're advertising to rent at ... [insert address here].
'Can you tell me about the backyard? Is the outdoor living area under perspex or shadecloth — the website pictures don't ...'
'Shadecloth, love.' [Grrrrr ... from me.]
'I'm moving back to Perth from OS in just under two weeks, any chance you could email me with details of properties like that one so I can ...'
'You've gotta be kidding [snorts derisively]. I don't have time to do that. What? Email you individually? Just go back to the website and keep looking there. Not that anyone's going to let property to you that you've only seen online [another snort].'

I think life in the US has spoilt me.

Monday, 2 February 2009

More LAThis is another shot I took from the Getty Center last week, looking south-east across Bel Air towards Beverly Hills and Hollywood, with Century City in the right foreground and the Los Angeles CBD way over in the distance (click on it for a bigger view)
See that high white block of flats on the low part of the Hollywood Hills, about a third of the way in from the left? It's the Sierra Tower, and Elton John has the penthouse. Imagine the views!
:: This is what you can look forward to this month at UCLA — disregarding completely everything that's on in the rest of Los Angeles.

Wed-Thurs Feb 4-5: Tango, Historias Breves — Guillermina Quiroga Dance Company. The internationally renowned Argentinian dancer and her company offer a captivating program that combines some of Argentina's best poetry, music and sensuous dance.

Fri, Feb 6: The Master Musicians of Jajouka, led by Bachir Attar. The '4000-year-old rock'n'roll band' [William Burroughs] brings its enthralling, trance-inducing music to Royce Hall.

Sat, Feb 7: An Evening with Edward Albee. The three-time Pulitzer prize-winning writer discusses his work, including the masterpiece, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Sat, Feb 14: Sparks perform Exotic Creatures of the Deep, and Kimono My House. The LA natives perform two landmark albums in their entirety to be followed by a selection of assorted Sparks favorites.

Fri, Feb 20: Werner Herzog. The pioneering and controversial director of more than 60 films — from Aguirre, the Wrath of God to Grizzly Man — discusses his larger-than-life films and strange-as-fiction life in a conversation with Paul Holdengrabeer, followed by an audience Q&A.

Sat, Feb 21: Munich Symphony Orchestra, with Philippe Entremont, conductor and pianist. Wagner: Siegfried idyll. Beethoven: Piano Concerto no. 1 in C major. Webern: Funf S├Ątze. Mendelssohn: Symphony no. 4 in A major.
Not bad, huh?