Today a message arrived from facebook and I had a look for the first time in months and followed this up with¬¨‚Ä†checking this¬¨‚Ä†blog, and it’s nearly one year to the day – Jan 7, 2008 -¬¨‚Ä† 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¬¨‚Ä†I 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.
¬¨‚Ä†Reading 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.
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¬¨‚Ä†tomorrow for 40 degree celius heat in Castlemaine,¬¨‚Ä† we decided that today we’d enjoy¬¨‚Ä† 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.
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¬¨‚Ä†we 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¬¨‚Ä† beside Angela and Gerry’s house.
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¬¨‚Ä†Me Do’ the three piece group played. However at midnight they¬¨‚Ä†launched into¬¨‚Ä†the 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¬¨‚Ä†I say ‘go’, just go.” There should have¬¨‚Ä† been more of the traditional dances.
I was into the swing of things when one of the young¬¨‚Ä†blokes dancing waved me into his group and off we went. Three brothers from Kildare and their girlfriends were enjoying the night in Ennis.
Michelle, Lee, Anthony, Angela, Nora with Rob in front.
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.
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.¬¨‚Ä† 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.
Our banksia rose arbour fell over recently and I had to cut it up, and we decided to buy a replacement. Pat visited Tait’s ironwork shop in Castlemaine and returned with a “good idea”. Instead of an arbour to hang a rose on, why not buy a sculpture? There was the small difference in price but why not!
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.
This afternoon I’m driving Pat to Melbourne and tomorrow morning we are to be at the Northern Hospital at 7am where she is to have an operation. She has a couple of small lumps on her ovaries. ¬¨‚Ä†Things sound pretty good but after having breast cancer you never know what is around the corner. I thought I was pretty relaxed about it all but underneath I think I was more stressed than I let on.
I’m writing this looking out into the garden which at this time of the year (spring in the southern hemisphere) is green with the red,¬¨‚Ä† pink and white camellias swaying and parrots nibbling the wisteria flowers. Maybe you can eat wisteria flowers as you can with nasturtiums. I think retirement is looking good.
Yesterday I visited Cults Primary School, situated in the heart of the affluent area of Aberdeen. The reason for the visit was to talk about the school’s eco-school status, specifically the wind turbine constructed as a result of an idea from students. The size of the grounds amazed me – on three sides there are trees, lawn, play areas,¬¨‚Ä† a huge sports ground and on the fourth boundary is a woodland.
¬¨‚Ä†It’s funny being on your own after spending 10 days with friends, Steves Carroll and tobias, talking, working, walking, talking,¬¨‚Ä†exploring, eating, drinking, talking. I’m being creative:
In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.
¬¨‚Ä†One of the words I introduced the boys to is flaneur to wander the streets. They latched onto this and we flaneured Aberdeen, Inverness, and Edinburgh.
The term “Fl?¬¢neur” comes from the French verb fl?¬¢ner, which means “to stroll”. A fl?¬¢neur is thus a person who walks the city in order to experience it. Because of the term’s usage and theorization by Charles Baudelaire and numerous thinkers in economic, cultural, literary and historical fields, the idea of the fl?¬¢neur has accumulated significant meaning as a referent for understanding urban phenomena and modernity.¬¨‚Ä†¬¨‚Ä†
This afternoon it’s return home to Australia. Twentytwo hours in the air with more in airports which I don’t mind as long as I have a book I’m happy.