Packing for Turkey

Undies, socks, shirts, better check the list. Getting organised for our trip to Istanbul this Sunday. Three and a half weeks, including a week of walks, some ballooning over Capadoccia, wandering through Ephesus and back to Istanbul.

Sunday morning in Castlemaine

Molly, our granddog, stayed overnight so it was up early, getting dragged up the hill through Kalimna Park, and back along Castlemaine streets to home, our duty done for the day. After toast, poached eggs from our three Isa Brown chooks, cofffee and reading The Sunday Age we walked down the hill to Farmers’ Market in Victory Gardens. There were heaps of people walking the streets and sitting at tables on the footpaths outside cafes enjoying their coffees, which led me to think back to the early eighties when the streets would be empty of a Sunday morning. Just goes to show what treechangers and tourism can do.

January 6 is one day short of January 7

Today a message arrived from facebook and I had a look for the first time in months and followed this up with¬¨‚Ćchecking this¬¨‚Ćblog, and it’s nearly one year to the day – Jan 7, 2008 -¬¨‚Ć since I last wrote an entry. Pathetic really or maybe just slack. No New Year resolutions about this.

I spent last summer holidays in New York, Ireland and Australia. This year Castlemaine and Airey’s Inlet, Victoria are where¬¨‚ĆI will be relaxing during the holidays. There is more than relaxing happening in my world as we have cleared out Danielle’s bedroom to paint and to turn into a study. Three days to do this before we leave for Airey’s. We have set up the old study as a bedroom for her to stay in when she returns to enjoy some parental love and food and wine. Besides painting the room, algae is my other pressing concern; the fishpond keeps turning green with algae so now I’m trying to fill the pond with plants to see if this works by cutting down the amount of sunlight received. There are a few other activities that are keeping me busy.

¬¨‚ĆReading is the most enjoyable time spending and relaxing holiday activity for me. I’ve just finished reading The Girl With the Green Dragon Tattoo; am in the middle of Bombs, Books and Compass, and just begun an Inspector Banks novel.

Our last walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, maybe


I love the Brooklyn Bridge, and walked across it regularly during our four years in New York 1999-2003. This has been my first return to New York since 2003 and as Pat and I leave the cold of New York¬¨‚Ćtomorrow for 40 degree celius heat in Castlemaine,¬¨‚Ć we decided that today we’d enjoy¬¨‚Ć another walk across the bridge.

We caught the Q train to Atlantic Station, changed to the 3 and onto Park Place, strolled to JR where Pat bought a memory stick and I bought DVD’s or the The Wire Seasons 1 & 2. Then after a coffee at Starbucks it was the bridge stroll. But on the way I bought a couple of pencil sketches from a Russian immigrant, “I don’t speak English very good.” The walk was great. “It always feels terrific walking across the bridge,” the good woman said.

After the walk along the promenade and through Brooklyn Heights where I shocked Pat by not stopping at the second hand bookshop, it was onto the 3 to Atlantic, down to the Q and home to Kings Parkway.

Gerry’s curragh


The local boat that islanders from Lettermullen, Ireland use is a ‘curragh’. Our friend Gerry O’Dowd had one made with the wooden planks imported from Europe. It required traditional skills to construct the boat. One sitehas this to say about curraghs or curachs:

Curachs are emblematic for Irelands maritime heritage: humble and ingenious little skiffs that have been cherished by legendary seafarers, countless generations of fishermen and most recently community groups like us. Simple and resourceful in their construction they offered an ideal pilot project to acquire basic skills and knowledge of boat building and handling.

Unfortunately¬¨‚Ćwe didn’t get to take a journey in Gerry’s boat as it is the winter season and the little curragh is resting snugly in the shed¬¨‚Ć beside Angela and Gerry’s house.

A Grand New Year’s Eve in Ennis


Our Irish-American friends, Angela and Gerry, invited us to spend the night at the Grand Hotel in Ennis with some of Gerry’s relatives and partners. As we entered the room a complementary glass of champagne was handed out. A few in the group don’t like champagne so Pat ended up with four glass lined up in front of her. Did she drink all?


After the champagne it was down to the business of eating, talking and drinking. Then out came the band. I expected traditional Irish music and instead it was ‘The Ring of Fire’ and “love¬¨‚ĆMe Do’ the three piece group played. However at midnight they¬¨‚Ćlaunched into¬¨‚Ćthe Seige of Ennis which we remembered from Irish balls in Melbourne in the early 1970’s. One young girl asked what you do and the fiddle player replied, “When¬¨‚ĆI say ‘go’, just go.” There should have¬¨‚Ć been more of the traditional dances.

I was into the swing of things when one of the young blokes dancing waved me into his group and off we went. Three brothers from Kildare and their girlfriends were enjoying the night in Ennis.

Kids from Kildare

Michelle, Lee, Anthony, Angela, Nora with Rob in front.

Seurat, Freud, Puryear and Klimt

Martin Puryear sculpture at MoMA 

I arrived in New York last Sunday with a terrible tooth ache which took me a week and organising by Pat to get to a dentist who prescribed antibiotics. I had to make sure I was okay before we got to our friends Angela and Gerry’s house where we spent Christmas.

The day before Christmas we caught the F train to Rockefeller Centre where I took the photo of Pat. Each year they chop down a 60 year old tree and bring it in and trim it for all to gogle over. then it was up 5th Avenue to MoMA to see the exhibition of Georges Seurat’s drawings, Lucian Freud’s etchings and fantastic wooden sculptures by Martin Puryear. The next stop on the wandering was at the Neue Galerie to gape at Klimt’s paintings.

A dazzling gold-flecked 1907 portrait by Gustav Klimt has been purchased for the Neue Galerie in Manhattan by the cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for $135 million, the highest sum ever paid for a painting.

The portrait, of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist and the hostess of a prominent Vienna salon, is considered one of the artist’s masterpieces. For years, it was the focus of a restitution battle between the Austrian government and a niece of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer who argued that it was seized along with four other Klimt paintings by the Nazis during World War II. In January all five paintings were awarded to the niece, Maria Altmann, now 90, who lives in Los Angeles, and other family members.

The MET was next.

New York without goldfish

My cases are packed ready for me to leave for New York tomorrow. The crucial items – Christmas cake, preserved lemon pickles and kasoundi ,all made by Pat, are packed, yet I have a nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something. Oh well, as long as I have my ticket, passport and credit cards I should be okay.

Of course I leave the goldfish for Zack to feed and the garden for him to water. I’ll give the pots a water before I leave today and hope the drought and heat abates.¬¨‚Ć I now see five huge bloody cockatoos in the fig and plum trees but it’s too late to put netting over the trees. Just leave and hope all survive.

Pat’s been in New York for three weeks working in a school coaching teachers in using guided reading while I’ve been holding the fort. Three weeks of holiday in New York sounds good to me.

Finished the job application

This morning I coached Bree Taylor at Castlemaine Primary School in using quickwrites and dictogloss to improve kids writing and this evening I finished writing a job application, which was a drag. I can teach kids to write and enjoy writing but when the pressure is on for me it’s a different story. then again you can’t exactly get enthused at having to write to fill selection criteria, which often seems wanky. this form of writing never seems to get easier.