Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dr Skyring in the library with a Powerhouse

The Powerhouse is one of those lovely old buildings where you feel the presence of the people who were in it originally. If these walls could talk they'd tell stories of gruelling work and noise and smoky air in the time of the original power workers. The era that saw it used as a graffiti producing, homeless sheltering, rave venue may have experienced the same- noise, smoky air and challenging logistics. How did they ever get up to those high wall tops to make some of that graffiti?

It seems you can now go on a tour of the Powerhouse which is well worth the visit. There is a treasure trove of amazing artwork hidden in the non public spaces of the building. Some are backstage, others are in mouldering corridors in the basement. How dark and creepy would this have been when it was an abandoned building? Did they have torches, generators, exorcists? There is, of course, a ghost story which is gruesomely industrial and lots of other little secrets that you don't normally see.

This tiny door is high up in the building and was used for managers to keep an overseeing eye on the workers down below. You have to love a secret door especially in ghostly green. This one would look quite at home in any horror movie that a sneaky 13 year old might try to watch with his friends in your house on a Saturday night. (Just saying....I know what you've been watching, Fish Boy.)

Creepy clowns are also present while we're touching on the whole horror genre. This is an enormous example of Anthony Lister's work. It is high up on the roof where they have now incorporated a stunning terrace with views across the river to Bulimba. It can be hired for functions. I'm thinking my Dad's birthday next year if I win Lotto or inherit from a long lost relative. 

Meanwhile a mere ferry ride away there is this little gem of an exhibition on at the Southbank library.

It shows so much of what is quirky and special about Brisbane and it's development in the mid- 20th century. There is a selection of lovely furniture, much of which is on loan from local collectors. I could have enjoyed a few devils on horseback and a martini in this mock up living room quite easily. Perhaps a mid century snack bar could be incorporated next time. 

The most mouthwatering part of the exhibition for me was the drawings though. Long before CAD and digital graphics were around, designers used paper and pens and paint. The examples of these plans are mouth wateringly lovely to look at. There are huge books with drawings and plans of once futuristic buildings, exquisitely rendered. I think this one was once the main admin building at Queensland University. Maybe it still is. It's been a while.

Imagine a time where plans for a building or landscape portrayed not only the features of the space but the personalities of the clients. 
Note Dr Skyring's casual yet stylish group of friends conversing about music, life and a perfect world with nary an iphone in sight. There is a water feature and modern sculpture with the ladies sitting together and men slightly apart. Particularly note Uncle Eric marching into the frame in a jaunty fashion in the top left corner!!! Dr Skyring may well have been a Bond villain given the luxurious features and his name.

Another favourite was this design for a single bedroom. The little details are delightful. There are the cutting edge features like Sputnik legs on the furniture, an innerspring mattress  and a light switch on the desk. Perhaps most telling though is the fact that she has a dedicated, mirrored make up applying area with a token letter writing shelf. All a girl needed really.

The accompanying screen prints are tempting too. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Far Ma

Excuse the crop on the photo but we have a new farmers' market in our neck of the woods and it is GOOD!
I've been a little off farmers' markets since the last one I went to whilst heavily pregnant with number 4 and three toddlers under four trying to get on the pony while the big fella went to look at some tools.
I ended up perched on the curb holding them by their shirts in the dust. It has taken me years to recover. Sunday, a friend summoned me to the new local ones. The trick, it seems, is to go later when it is less busy and amazingly cheap.

So this year we are wagging the Ekka*. Once upon a time the school took the kids for us but those days are long gone. The youngest two offspring are Ekka-neglected. However, as far as Shorty Divine and her friend No-no go, they have been to something Ekka-ish and it's all good.

At the market there were farm animals- baby ones to cuddle and large fibreglass ones to climb.

There was fabulous food and a generally orange theme it seems. These tangellos were such a big hit they were deemed worthy of brain break for Prep. We bought a bag for $2.

There were rides and games to play...

We also went to the local shops to do free craft activities as I love anything free/ crafty and Shorty was desperate to show No-no the medallion making area. (Commonwealth games related)
The rides at this sideshow alley were $2.

Then all that fresh produce got the baking mojo fired up again. This double batch of cookies lasted till breakfast this morning. They can't eat while they sleep.

Ekka schmecka. Too hard basket with the fivesome this year. Maybe next time.

*Ekka- The Brisbane Exhibition or show. Big, loud, noisy, expensive and you always get sick afterwards but it is FUN!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Lately there has been a little flurry of making going on at my place of work. There has been nothing in particular but lots of small demonstrations for different classes which make work quite a soothing prospect on certain days. Meanwhile, at home there has been not much more than the making of huge piles of dirty laundry followed by piles of folding and making the occasional batch of biscuits or pancakes. There has been:

. the making of a small snug away from the busy parts of the house. This room has had several incarnations over the years but is now a playroom and snuggery.

 . the making of graffiti with the boys at school on their dedicated graffiti wall.

. the making of Warhol pictures.

. the making of prep paintings.

 (This is the fifth and last time I'll be doing one...I think...)

. the making a nuisance of herself with the chickens.

. the making themselves at home in the new digs.

 . the making of clay monsters for the little monsters.

. making a grand exit. Always a favourite! (let it go, let it go!....)

. Making an effort to pop out a blog post once in a while now there are a couple of tentative toes back on the wagon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Random Things

1. The dog is slowly eating her  way through the house. She has eaten a chair, a family assortment of stuffed toys, a substantial section of the front door and I found her gnawing the corner of the building itself one day. She should have been named Pacman or Cujo or Fang. Stop eating us out of house and home, Dog!

2. What kind of front door would suit an old farmhouse of no particular style? Modern with glass slats seems all wrong although it would let in more light. A recycled older model maybe with a winding bell mechanism and round glass would be perfect but a lot of work to restore. A plain, solid, door from a door shop painted in a jolly, chi friendly shade of buttercup yellow might work. I must consult the dog as she has good taste in front doors.

3. Why is the hour before work such a maelstrom every morning. No matter how organised we are the night before, something will always go awry. They suddenly need $30 for an armband or can't find special undies or a sheet of music. Check with the dog, I say. Cough it up, Lola!

4. Somebody in this house is shaving something and it is not the big fella or myself. The safety razor was not where I left it leading me to believe it is either-
a. A tweeny twelvey having a go at the lily lolly legs before soccer tonight.
b. A man-child defluffing those sweet baby cheeks well before I am adjusted to the idea.
c. The dog has eaten it.

5. Tonight I sat in the car waiting for somebody to finish doing something somewhere and listened to a Mydoona song and contemplated the lyrics. I missed out on Mydoona back in the day. Probably busy listening to old musicals or Dad's Ella Fitzgerald records. So I never really got Mad-on-her but I like the "cherish" sentiment. Is this what happens when we get mummy-fied and show signs of liking anything that is twenty year old musack?

                      A family beach holiday or a cautionary tale of delusions brought on from eating bad seafood?

*These random thoughts are generally flitting through the brain whilst driving in a holding pattern around the burbs "picking off" childerbeasts. (Shorty's words not mine.) They have no usefulness or logic and no chillun were harmed in the making of them- much.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why we love the beach.

We love the beach. I mean this collectively as a family, as a culture, as a species. 
It is always special, magical and deeply restorative. I remember going on all those great holidays as a child often from way out in Western Queensland. We'd be sleeping all over the Holden station wagon, distributed across the front bench seat to the boot beside the basket with the baby/ies in it. Then the car would come over the last rise and the first call would break the restless boredom. 
"I can see the sea!" Mine still say it. I make them. It is the first tick in the box of nostalgic balm.
There are other important elements in this perfect holiday.

The cousins. 
They mooch and roll and bury each other and argue and laugh and throw sand and play footy on the same beach my cousins and siblings played on.

The Dad. 
It used to take my Dad a good week to wind down till he could really relax. This one is the same. They can't garden, tinker, work, build or mow. They walk. They sleep. They cook. It is good.

The sea.
We live in a part of the world that some old dears that you meet at posh functions call God's own country. The water is glassy clear and perfectly flat on one beach and waves on the other. There are fish and critters and birds. There was a python in a tree for the whole two weeks we were there. There are noisy gangs of rainbow lorikeets. One year there were dolphins out the front.

The childerbeasts go swimming in mid-winter and bask on the sand sheltered from the wind to dry off. They only do this with cousins to egg them on. Cousins are good that way.

We play games that only the girls play at home. It may be the relaxed atmosphere or the different team members. The absence of laptops and internet may have something to do with it. Bananagram, Bingo and cards played on a sheet or blanket. The glass table got the gong from all involved as it was too cold and hard to snatch cards up from.

Playing two pack cheaters' Hawaii


We like to bury ourselves in it, get it in eyes and mouth and nostrils, make it squeak when we kick it and put in in our brothers' beds as not so hilarious prank. It is  throughout the house and gets brushed off the feet at bed time and out of the sheets before you snuggle down to listen to the surf through the open windows.

This gets bigger every year as do the fish. The big fella and the uncle indulge the fishing needs. We throw every thing back but we draw the line at kissing fish. They can go on their own now, untangle snags, bait up hooks. One boy fished from 7 am till 10.30 pm the last day over several locations. Boys are nice when they fish. There is no u tube on a fishing line.

Every thing is a picture. Every moment seems marvellous. 

Even the rocks are photogenic. 

I got through three of them up there but didn't quite finish this one which I have read snippets from over the last nine years. It is the beach house book of choice. This time I tried to read it cover to cover. That's a good sea faring name if I ever saw one.

Sunset, moon rise, tide change, sunrise.
These happen at home but we rarely see them. We are sleeping or ferrying people between orthodontists and soccer and last minute grocery runs. It's good to just sit and look at it and soak it up slowly.

They always taste better at the beach- on the beach. Always.

 Lying down. 
I don't do this enough at home. I certainly don't lie down in the middle of a walk through the shops or into work or over to the neighbours. For some reason it is acceptable on the beach to just stop, sit and then lie down to doze off if you wish. I like that.

 Rock pools.
Abundant, treasure troves of goodies, they never disappoint. The big boys were still as entranced by dead wobbygongs, sluggy things spurting purple ink, starfish, urchins and crabs as they were the first time they found a dead inflated puffer fish- every day for a week. It was quite whiffy by the end.

They are happy, free, unburdened by homework and uniforms and getting up early. They run and roll and generally behave like joyful, exuberant kids are meant to. 

No wonder it never gets old. Sorry this was a long one if anyone is even still out there. These are the days worth recording and savouring- like old forgotten questionable wine from your brother's kitchen cupboard. We relive our memories and they make new ones with us in blues and sandy yellows and it is always good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Years ago when we first settled back down to real life after travelling for several years, I saw a photo in a local paper of one of David Bromley's paintings. He was selling them for around $400 and I really wanted to go and buy one. Unfortunately, at the time we were focussing on getting jobs and paying for things like a bed and food. Looking at what his work goes for now, I may have missed the small, wooden boat there.

His paintings were nostalgic, painterly reproductions from old children's books illustrations but what appealed most was their use of the lighthouse image. It's such a beautiful one. 
They remind me of childhood visits to the beach and books we had read about smugglers and caves. They are strong and tall and dependable and take care of you when you are most in need. Even when they are not needed they are there- like a loyal friend or good parent.

Other lighthouses crop up from time to time. This one was up on the wall at my brothers' house at the beach. Seems he likes them too. 

About a year ago, we were on holiday at the beach when I found an interesting ring in the local gift shop. It was made from an old souvenir spoon handle. Of course I got all, "I can just find one of those spoons and make it myself".
But I didn't. I looked a few times but, really, what were the odds. 

This year when we went to the same place, I asked the shop keeper if she had any more of those spoon rings from last year. She replied that they no longer stocked them but they had some others. So I had a look. There, amongst all the new resin and plastic and glass, was my lighthouse ring. The one I had snubbed a year ago. It was still there- waiting for me. 

So I had to buy it.  It is frequently on my finger to remind me to stand strong, to know that there will always be a light when it's a little stormy and that some things are just meant to be.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Waiting for Bloggo

It's been a while.

Not that I haven't been thinking of you...

The bluebird of happiness- apparently
It's become quite difficult to get near a computer at our place and I've been on the medi-go-round again too.
Finally a cup of tea in bed, a day nap and the "opportunity to explore new experiences".... 
The chillun are growing hard particularly the Fish and the Short One.This morning there was a wardrobe malfunction because they are all rather tall suddenly and were bickering like seagulls after a chip over the two locatable sports shirts. It was a breakfast round of musical shirts a la Peter Allen and the midriff brothers. Why do they like to dress in the kitchen? Why?

It's been a big week. There have highs and lows.

Here's a high. A darling brother o' mine has been renovating and is in cull mode. He gave me an 2008 bottle of wine out of his big, high cupboard. It could have been vinegar or nectar. Hello! It was the latter! Lucky dip!

This is medicinally necessary as the big fella is away with Lala this week in a snowy place- dare I say a Frozen one.

I also got smelly cheese. Yes, Iain. I bought a cheese. I haven't indulged in either lately. I like wine and smelly cheese.

Here's  a low. The dog got something in her eye. Ex-squeeze me! Yes- a teeny mote which cost us $105 for both a consultation and a tiny tube of Danish magical goop to put in her eye each night. Why don't we make magical goop in Queensland at $45 for 10 mg. Clever old Denmark I say.

Questionable high/ low point. We went to a Frozen party. It was contagious. She has caught the bug. Is it part of AKARA because I swear she caught it at Prep? I played it on the way up the coast to irritate the big boys after they made us late. They loved it. They asked for the volume to go up and for certain songs to be replayed. Would it be wrong to show a 15 year old lip syncing "Love is an Open Door" without his permission? Perhaps. Would it be wrong to use the same footage to get the dishwasher emptied? Perhaps not.

Let it go. Let it go! This phrase has become so multifunctional. You can use it when the dog eats yet another doll house citizen, when the boys won't share the sports shirts nicely or when they refuse to step away from the laptops. I sing it to them but I'm really singing it to me. The Short one sings it anywhere, anytime.

Do you wanna build a snowman? OK. Bye...

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