Sunday, 25 June 2017


Leonard was making a paper plane this morning and shouting 'Jet' so I put on Band on the Run. Haven't heard it in a while - and got enough sleep last night to be feeling cheerful this morning - so I was amused, again, for perhaps the fiftieth time over twenty years, by what a dark night of the soul feels like when you are a stratospherically rich, adored and pampered popstar:

If I ever get out of here
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity
Oh god I love it. Drop out, shed your material wealth and all the spiritual burdens that go along with it, but make sure the loot goes to a registered charity! Get a receipt for tax purposes so your accountant can write off your gifts against your expenses! I can just so relate! Lyrical expression for the ages.

I'm listening a lot to LCD Soundsystem's This is Happening because it's beautiful. But I'm afraid that this fail of a grammatically correct utterance (from 'All I Want') really shits me

All I want is your pity
All I want are your bitter tears
 Shits me to tears, in fact. What's the point of writing and recording an otherwise wonderful piece of music about desire, separation, compromise and regret - about love, really - if you can't get basic subject/verb agreement right? Or is that a symptom of why the relationship was doomed from the start? Anyway I don't appreciate being distracted into grammar resentfulness when I'd rather be getting lost in the lines and loops of sound.

While I'm here I might also just say that I am a big fan of Sufjan Stevens and I listened to Carrie & Lowell every day for months, but towards the end of that time I began to be disillusioned by a sneaking suspicion that most of the lyrics don't really make any sense. With some distance now between me and that particular auditory obsession I am ready to say that I was right and they don't.


Saturday, 24 June 2017


Right. I missed the last craft camp because I thought we were going to take a family holiday instead, on the long weekend - but then tickets were inadvertently bought for a jazz festival show on the Sunday night - which turned out to be not so immensely wonderful that I could suppress a pang of regret when I saw my friends' photos of their blissful weekend away.

Quite apart from the not getting away, hanging out with friends and relaxing my head off, I haven't really sewn anything since the March craft camp. One green silk camisole, one pair of irretrievably Tintinned culottes, and that green spotty skirt. I just haven't been able to get started. But winter's here.  I'm perpetually cold. The weather forecast for the coming week says 'top of 13.' So I'm going to approach this thing like it's craft camp and just go for it. Got a heap of fabric and a pair of scissors, I'm alone in the house for a while, I have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and I'm wearing sunglasses.

1: bronze silk/cotton voile with a white leaf print. My favourite dress ever was made of this fabric and I wore it until it got holes, patched the holes, it got more holes, so I went and got more fabric to make another one. This was in about 2009. I might actually do it now

2: ink lurex/denim for a straight skirt with kick pleats

3: Liberty silk twill for a shirt

4: Wool /elastane suiting, lilac, sailor-type pants

5: black and white wool boucle, 1960s coat

6: wool / elastane suiting, beautiful stuff, dangerously close to too nice to cut, I've had it for a while now without managing to decide what to use it for. Pants or a dress, probably. Help me please someone I need help badly.

7: silk seersucker for a tea dress

8: Another piece of Liberty silk twill for another shirt

9: Petrol blue wool suiting, going to be the most awesome pair of trousers ever

10: wool / silk / lurex brocade, was bought for a top, considered a skirt, probably going to be pants.

11: Navy wool / elastane suiting with royal blue pinstripes, a jacket

12: not pictured, I've already cut out black wool voile for a flippy a-line skirt


 How's your day been? (I'm only pretending to ask, of course, because this isn't really a conversation is it. Not even marginally. I "ask" about "your" day in that entirely token fashion which is only a preamble to telling the listener, at unnecessary length and in needless detail, how one's own day was.)
My day, and my week, were heavily awful in so very many ways - leavened a little with one or two really good stretches that kept me going, along with plenty of judicious and tactful assistance from the old Yes/No Tarot which somehow knew not to mess with me this week and wisely just told me exactly what I wanted to hear  - but it's been a slog and so I am very relieved to be here waving listlessly to you from the middle of Friday evening. Although,* I can't just leave it at that, I have to also feel annoyed because a social event that was slated for tonight fell through and I could have done with a night out (although although, it was very unlikely to be an unmitigatedly enjoyable occasion anyway, so ultimately no great loss) and so I'm at home on the couch by myself (everyone else is in bed), drinking a gin and tonic and wondering why I'm again noticing that feeling of restlessness which dominated the first months of 2017.

Like jam and avocado, restlessness and weariness don't go together well. If it was summertime I don't think I'd be here on the couch. I'd be out, hooning up and down the main Yarra bike path until the need to rest won out over the drive to cover as much ground as possible. But here we are, just past the solstice, and it's cold and dark and wet outside. Can't race away from the difficult and unpleasant things - got no choice but to sit with them.


For weeks I've been meaning to blog about the overwhelming excellence of the exhibition currently on at the Ian Potter centre - Patrick Pound: the Great Exhibition. I didn't know anything about Patrick Pound beforehand and I was just wandering around the city with Leonard on the day I saw it. As we walked through the different rooms of the show I felt increasingly and overwhelmingly full and of love and surprised wonder. You know how sometimes people (in books?) say that someone or other, some writer or artist, saw into their souls? Trite as, right. But that's sort of how I felt. This show explained to me, with good humour, gentleness, energy and grace, why it is that I (and you - you're the same) collect things, why other people's collections are so interesting, why it is that objects are such objects of desire and why it is that the desires they awaken will never be fulfilled.

The show is collections of objects and photographs and it's about collecting. It hums with ideas about objects, things, and how they stand in for intangible phenomena, and how they can be made expressive in the aggregate and when placed in relationships with each other. It's funny, haunting and beautiful. The first thing you see is a wall of snapshots where the photographer's shadow falls into the image. This long, shadowy case is just one in a room full of similar cases full of found photographs arranged by theme: the photographer's hand, someone has been removed from the image, there is a lampshade in the picture - etc. The effect is beautifully Oulipian - rather more beautiful that oulipian word games, for my taste, because the found nature of the materials gives them an element of dignity and gravitas that's missing from the relatively smooth and frictionless medium of words and letters.

The showpiece room is full of glass cabinets displaying objects that are somehow about something that's not there. The array of ways that an object can do this is kind of astonishing. Absence, in this aggregate, is not a hole or a gap, it's a fullness. It's like the air is charged with electricity or full of unheard voices. It's a wonderful, inventive menagerie of implied relationships. Walking around the cases becomes a kind of game, being delighted and spooked by the next variation.

this one is from the NGV website.

Much later in the show there is a collection of dusty pine knife blocks with yellowing varnish, clearly retrieved from op-shops where they would have been the ugliest, most graceless, abject, forlorn and unwanted objects there, but here, together, lit and displayed, they look like art. They are art.

I am really tired and must stop but if you're in Melbourne you should go and see it before it closes on July 30.

*If this blog had a name that wasn't SASB, it would be 'although'

Thursday, 22 June 2017

national Go to work accidentally dressed as Tintin day


The most fucked part of this is that I had the wrong date - national Go to work accidentally dressed at Tintin day is actually next week, not last week which is when I took this picture. God, it's lucky that by the time I went to the hairdresser's in the evening I had forgotten about Tintin or I might have done something very very rash.

The ever-present risk of getting to work and discovering that I've only brought clothes that add up to some sort of ridiculous cosplay aside, things haven't been great at all at work recently. But I've taken steps to make sure that the problem is dealt with, and I think things have a good chance of working out all right. I know I express a wide range of feelings about therapy, including irritation and frustration, but when things get difficult its value is proven to me every time. In the current instance, the same circumstances a few years ago would have been intolerable. Now, I find the situation bad but I don't feel hopeless or despairing. I know what I need to do and I've been able to find the strength to do it.

The inner reserves aren't inexhaustible, though. I'm tired. I've been sitting on the couch writing this for three-quarters of an hour. I keep pausing to think about why I haven't successfully gotten myself started on the big and fun sewing project which I planned out a couple of weeks ago and then left sitting on the table, and in between those pauses and writing a few more sentences, there are heavy waves of drowsiness.

I'm just trying to stay awake long enough for my tea to cool down so that I can drink it, then I'll wake up a bit and I'll go cut up some fabric. I just need to not feel like all I did today was go to work.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Basil's bath

In theory it is perfectly possible that there's a person reading this blog who doesn't know that I used to have a cat called Basil.

Basil was also called Baz and he was the greatest cat I've ever known. He was amazingly smart, kind, tactful, loyal, pragmatic, brave, resilient, interesting and determined, he didn't suffer fools gladly but he did suffer them, he always knew what he wanted and he always met your eyes with a frank, steady gaze that was full of knowledge and awareness of what it means to look like that into someone else's eyes.

We got Basil in 2000 - he was about two or three then and he'd previously been called Lester.  He died in 2014 after wasting away with a degenerative kidney condition. His ashes are buried in the garden under an apple tree and some roses and herbs.

We have Vinnie now which is not at all the same. Vinnie, well, he's OK but he has a lot of problems and I just don't have the inner resources, at this juncture of my life, to sort out a cat's issues; dealing with my own is enough of a challenge.

I've finished grieving for Basil, but last week when Facebook produced this June 2011 picture of him and me I was startled and upset.

Basil never liked being bathed, and he always protested, but he would submit without losing his poise. He came and went inside and outside as he pleased so he was never one of those super soft and clean indoor cats. When he got bathed, maybe four times a year, he would be so lovely and clean afterwards.

In this photo Basil is being washed not in the laundry trough but in a baby bath filled with water that's cloudy because it contains QV Baby bath oil. Lenny had been washed in the same water a few minutes previously.

I look at myself in that photo and I see a very vulnerable person. There's a vein bulging in my temple that I never see unless I've been exerting myself on a very hot day, and my breasts are pushing forward in a way they never did before or after breastfeeding. On 12 June 2011, Lenny was 43 days old. I think it must have been about then that I suddenly remembered I hadn't always been like this. That realisation brought a feeling of panicked loss mingled with hysterical and overwrought efforts to immediately fix the broken stuff, ie everything, which stayed with me until it was finally dissolved about eighteen months later, in another cloud, one created with pharmaceuticals. What this photo shows is me asserting to myself and to Basil that I did still care about him now that I was so consumed, in such a groggy, surreal, shattered way, with the new baby. Basil was very neglected in the early months of Lenny's life. He was fed and watered, but he wasn't played with or cuddled or hung out with. I didn't stare into his eyes. I barely noticed he existed.

This photo seems to be the only one I put on Facebook but at least thirty were taken on this occasion. I got Dorian to take a few and I took many more. There are such a lot of pictures because almost as soon as I thought of giving Basil a bath in Lenny's bathwater, I also thought I could probably parlay the exercise into fodder for an autobiographical-yet-scholarly essay about identity shifts and having a baby, and I wanted pictures for reference and for illustrating the finished thing. Meanjin is what I was thinking. Yeah I know how that sounds and I am cringing pretty fucking violently over here right now. But it was the same basic urge: oh shit what the fuck is this? I used to think and write, oh shit, I have to do that again, If I don't/can't then what? This forever? And you know, now that I really think about how all that felt and what I tried to do about it, what makes sense of it is something my doctor said to me recently about what my own babyhood seems to have been like: being seen (and loved) couldn't be counted on, and what helped was being as good as possible and doing things as well as possible.

You find your way into becoming a parent by drawing on what you saw and felt in your own childhood. You're a parent suddenly and there's this baby. You make sense of the incomprehensible baby by drawing on your own long-ago experiences. That vulnerable baby in front of you wakes up your own vulnerabilities. But you're standing where your own parents once stood. You patch your new self together from bits of your child self and bits of your parents. I just wanted to know that I hadn't irretrievably lost myself and to be sure of it, I needed to be seen. (With hindsight, it would have helped me if I'd done more things with friends during maternity leave.)  So in the complete sequence of photos is dirty Basil, wet Basil, then fluffy clean Basil who has been dried using an old bath towel onto which I'd written his name, with a black texta, in fancy lettering beside a drawing of a cat food tin, to echo the big white towel embroidered with a dinosaur and Leonard which we used to wrap Lenny in after his daily bathe on the kitchen table.

Basil never quite got his old position back. It was terrible when he died, because he was really unwell before the end. We still have that embroidered Leonard towel. I never wrote my brilliant essay for Meanjin but I did get Dorian to take this photo of me and I put it on Facebook. That's being seen. And I'm thinking and writing now. And I'm still here.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

My empirical weekend

I used a lint shaver to de-pill just one side of this numinously ridiculous cardigan to see if it is possible to tell which side is before and which is after

I have been wondering for a while now if the nasty sore little patch of zits that I get on the side of my chin every now & then might be triggered by ovulation. I got around to googling that today and it turns out that it is. I tell you, if I could get rid of this little blotch of pimples I would have nothing at all to complain about. Other than the zits things are really good at the moment. They are the only thing that is bad. They are astoundingly bad however, so on balance it's about 75% bad (pimples) 25% good (everything else.)

It's like four degrees in the mornings now and I am feeling the chill all day and I need a decent coat, so I spent two weekday evenings and one whole afternoon today on sewing a flimsy little green silk camisole, entirely unhelpful in the cold, but pretty. Matches my biceptual decorations.

Lenny has been getting in bed with us very frequently of late. It's nice to be cuddles by a warm six-year-old but I don't sleep well after he gets in; he snuggles up to my side and I can't turn over. I'm often sort of poised on the edge of the mattress. He wriggles a lot and throws off the blankets. Around sunup he will start whispering, alternating 'I love you' with 'is it morning yet?' I am only ever one bad night away from severe sleep deprivation and for a couple of weeks I've been in this state where I can't eat much at lunchtime unless I know I'll be able to move around in the couple of hours afterwards, because the draining of blood into the digestive system makes it an ordeal to try to stay awake.

There you go! Absolutely nothing at all about what I actually did on the weekend, but no doubt there is plenty here to remind me of what it was all about, if I happen to reread this in ten years time (assuming there is still electricity and internet in 2027.)

Friday, 2 June 2017

of note

It is way too cold now for the Canning St median strip hedonists but that very same cold weather is flushing out the masochists. This afternoon on the median strip I saw a man jogging citywards, badly. This jogging behaviour in and of itself is evidence of severe illness but he was doing it his special way: he'd taken off his shoes and was running along barefoot in the icy cold wet grass. He had one sneaker shoved onto each hand so he looked ridiculous and weird as well as incompetent, pitiful and exhausted.

He is everyone in the whole world.

Monday, 29 May 2017

What happened today + shifty footwear blog

Blogging eh? Strange thing to do really, and after all these years I definitely don't understand the impulse any better. After a couple of frenzied weeks of posting every day, I had two weeks off, just like that. Now I feel like blogging again.

Baffling, but not in a way that I feel needs to be solved. It's all fine: blog, don't blog, whatever, it's alright. The thing is, I know it helps me. I think that's because I can control it, I decide how it'll be. It's not so much about the content (though that isn't irrelevant) it's the act of not writing -- or of writing -- in the voice I choose right now, about the topic I choose right now, without obligations, without standards, without cost, without anxiety about outcomes, without purpose. It's cool. I can't think of another thing I do that is quite so free. Well, maybe there is something similar. Thinking, perhaps: probing, reflecting, ruminating, fantasising, puzzling, imagining, daydreaming, there is even greater freedom there. But thinking doesn't leave a trace and sometimes it slips away too easily. This writing exchanges a little bit of freedom for a lot more substance. It works for me.

So, two weeks first it was because I was intensely preoccupied by things happening at work that I can't write about here, not ethically or pragmatically, and which I've needed to think through and, I hope, sort out in a practical way. But then I just sort of forgot how to do it (blog, I mean). Hence, I guess, the above, in all its dim and I-hope-not-too-awkwardly-self-conscious glory. And so I wanted to jumpstart myself here again, and what better way of doing that than paying a visit to my doctor, and discussing with her my most intimate and private feelings?

I did have a very personal conversation with her -- sometimes, like today, I want help from her about something so I talk about that thing, but I try not to do it directly, because it's just too embarrassing, even after five years of these sessions. And at those times she has this amazing and terrible ability to cut through the evasions and get the truth out of me; today I think she was helped in this operation by her shoes which I couldn't stop staring at and thinking about. They were great all right - burgundy clogs with a closed toe and an ankle strap - these, in fact.*  But it wasn't the niceness and desirability of her shoes that distracted me from the effortful labour of trying to know myself better and become a more capable and decent human being, it was their obviously very well worn condition. How did her shoes get dirty and rubbed? Makes no sense. After all, I have seen all her shoes from when they were new right up to the present day, so where did these come from all of a sudden? Also, she has no existence outside of that room.

My own footwear today, on the other hand, I should have photographed and I feel both dishonest and improvident** for not having done so - but instead I will reuse an earlier image

These are R.M. Williams boots, and by god, I love these fair dinkum true blue Aussie boots. Look at them. Can you see why. At the time of their purchase they were the most expensive footwear I'd ever bought and the horrific expense I was about to incur made me take exceptional care to choose the right shape and style, and I've also been very careful to keep them clean and shiny, and in good repair. These also make me taller than necessary, but I don't care because incredibly good looking boots. Not very easy to ride a bike in, but worth the hassle. Anyway, back to this increasingly useless account of my afternoon from 4 to 4:45 pm.

The other disturbing thing that happened in today's session was that I noticed we were sitting in mirror images of each others' posture. Aargh! Stop it! And as I have mentioned elsewhere online, she seems like she might be embarking on the process of getting rid of the hair dye and going naturally grey, which upsets me immensely. Can't you just ask her if that's what she's doing, said Dorian. No I can't ask her that. If I find out anything at all about her normal person existence, the spell will be broken.

* Now that I've gone and found the clogs on the clog shop website I'm going to have a hard time not doing what the posters on the forums in the mid 90s used to call 'lemming', i.e. becoming like a lemming rushing suicidally over the edge of the cliff in the headlong desire to possess some article that you see somebody else in possession of. Even though I am already the ashamed owner of four pairs of clogs, none of which I wear much, despite the high comfort and visual awesomeness levels, because they make me too tall to carry on normal interactions with many of the people with whom I associate, and also its just a pain when you expect seat and tabletops etc to be at a certain level relative to your body, and all of a sudden they're seven centimetres lower than they should be.

** this sort of emotional shite is why I am still in therapy.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Mothers' day

Leonard was so exquisitely sweet to me yesterday morning.

He seems to have discovered what a pleasure it is to plan and do something nice for somebody you love. He had bought me some little gifts at the market at school on Friday, and he and Dorian also presented me with a pair of bike panniers and a pair of cycling gloves (which I was so grateful for this morning, in the damp and freezing fog at 6.30 am, although my hands were still feeling like they were plunged into a barrel of ice) and I got my current favourite breakfast* brought to me in bed. It is traditional that Lenny gets in bed with me and eats his breakfast in my bed too. So he did that. And while he was doing that he was cuddling me and whispering nice things to me, and just looking so very, very happy about the whole exercise. But I think he got to a point where he felt that gifts of things are only able to go so far, and what he wanted to do was make a bigger gesture of affection - something that he knew I wanted very much, and which would cost him something to give. So he said, Mummy, because it's Mothers' Day I will do everything you ask me to do, the first time you ask me to do it. And, more or less, that's what happened. A couple of times late in the day I had to remind him of his oath, and each time he clearly struggled for a few minutes but the solemnity of the promise won in the end.

*This is the dish that I ate for breakfast each day at craft camp - the utter luxury and bliss of cooking something delicious for oneself and eating it alone, at whatever time one feels like breakfast, well, let's just say that being a parent has many nice aspects but pleasing yourself with what you eat isn't one of them. I can't think how I overlooked blogging the recipe. Well, here it is in case you ever need to know what to cook for my breakfast. For instance if I fall off a cruise ship and it is your trawler that plucks me out of the ocean. Cook me this so I feel better.


Beat up three eggs with some milk or even better with cream if you have some. Put them in a pan with lots of molten butter and let them cook very slowly and gently. Don't shove them about the pan. You're poking them too much, stop it. Just leave them alone FFS would you. Cripes, just let them set, then flop them about a bit until it's all cooked but also all very tender. DO NOT LET THE EGGS DRY OUT. If this happens you will have to scrape the lot off the side of the boat into the sea and start again (with a clean pan).

Get some delicious, soft, tangy goat's curd cheese and break it up into lumps. Pick a small handful of flat parsley leaves. Put the eggs into a bowl and fold the cheese and parsley gently through. Now pour at least half a bottle of green Tabasco sauce on top. Poke some little holes in the egg biomass so the Tabasco runs into the middle. That ought to do it. NO TOAST! toast is for the weak. Some coffee too please. oooooooohhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, 14 May 2017

pictures that might each have been the nucleus of a blog post, but fortunately for everybody concerned I decided to do this with them instead.

the weekend beckons

Pressure cleaning outside SLV but also...STONEHENGE
Leonard's dinner. Tuna burger.


just an empty seat on the tram
Someone Marie Kondo'd the wreaths but didn't actually chuck out the not ok ones

also the may bes
140 white gloves

lord of the flies

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Time for a shallow and narcissistic rant about dressmaking!

I told you how the green pencil skirt with polka dots is, quote, 'a tentative foray' back into the colourful and feminine sartorial territory I once had thoroughly colonised, well, just take it from me and never underestimate the triggering power of a spotty green skirt especially one in which you aren't really able to walk and certainly cannot run away. It was extensively discussed at work, from the wholly innocuous 'I like your skirt' to 'I love spots' to 'can I touch it' right through to a borderline unacceptable conversation between three elderly men for which I was very much present but referred to throughout in the third person. But, less annoyingly and much more interestingly, this little bit of colour has sent me off the deep end chromatically speaking.

One minute it's that muted green, the next this five-metre-high poster on the exterior of the Gucci shop in Collins St has me screeching to a halt and mesmerised with lust:

But then I walked round the front and saw the same jacket, scarf, beads and shirt actually there in the window, and it just looks like bad fancy dress.

Still, there's that mind-blowingly lovely crepe de chine dress next to it. Pff, I could make that, I thought (once upon a time the problem was finding nice enough fabric, but now there are lots of Chinese fabric sellers on eBay and you can easily get amazing silk prints for not very much money) and in particular I could make it without fucking up the side zipper in the way that whoever made this dress has done - the fabric is torn at the zipper base. So, a gorgeous and completely impractical print dress is on the to-sew list despite the fact that it is now about 8c in the mornings and only going to get colder.

I am still really tempted by both the blue jacket and the silk twill shirt. The jacket is very obviously inspired by the turquoise suit Bowie wore in the Life on Mars video and which Kate Moss has since worn and looked predictably amazing in. Being neither David Bowie nor Kate Moss, I need to think about it some more. But a silk twill print shirt with a gigantic 70s pointed collar is very much what I shall need if I am to go on living. A quick rummage in stash yielded this pile of good stuff
the bottom one is fluoro pink & white poly brocade
and these phenomenal patterns
Oh yeah! Look at her in the pantsuit! She's even got a bunch of keys in her hand! I am 44 but I am going to make and wear that dress, and anyone who doesn't like it can just faaaaark off.

I look at that stack of fabric, and actually what I want is to wear it all together all at once. Now that is clearly in the realm of crazy person dressing. A good outcome will be less extreme but definitely on the spectrum: not a print and a coordinating solid because that is tasteful which is really not my thing, in fact tasteful makes me sad, but maybe two prints and a solid which does not match either one.  

But because dressmaking takes time and I don't have a lot (I have to keep stoking this freakin blog, for one thing; I do not know why, or what will happen if I ever stop feeding it, but I do) before I get started on the carnival sideshow helper's wardrobe, today I needed to finish work in progress that was begun ages ago, and is as boring as sewing gets:



To drag out the stitching-up of these even longer I put in welt pockets into the back. 

The Fletcher Jones tailor who supervised me when I did work experience there in the mid eighties taught me how to make a welt pocket, and I feel confident in saying that I have very seldom if ever been so clearly and efficiently taught a manual technique, and I can't think of another thing that somebody showed me how to do when I was a young person that I still do the same way now. Other than various sexual practices and the making of a roux for bechamel sauce. I have finished the pants except for sewing on a couple of trouser bars to fasten the waist. What will happen now is I will wear those pants to work three days out of five in a week and I won't get around to cutting out any of that lush and crazy fabric currently sitting in a very touchable pile on the dining room table. Eventually I will put it all back into stash to macerate for another twelve years.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Canning St rollerskater


Her skates are red suede and she was having a great time.