Monday, May 29, 2006

The move, continued.

Cleveland, February 2005.

OK. You’re sitting down, right?

You might want to sit down.

Remember all the strain and stress of the move? The bent-back thumb? The waking at night all a-panic? The sheer tonnage of stuff?

I’m moving again.

The whole shebang: the trucks, the gantry crane, the $$$. Clearly, I just can’t get enough of it. It’s possible I have some kind of moving Munchausen’s, or perhaps just your garden-variety masochistic streak. But when I was looking for the freight elevator Tuesday (after Saturday’s near-calamitous breakdown), I found it on up on the sixth floor, back in operation and being loaded by a couple moving out of their space. I stuck my nose in their open door, only to be struck green with jealousy. The light! The view! The sink!

Calmly, I asked if the space was taken. They suggested I knock on their neighbour’s door, but nobody was in, so I left a scribbled note and an old letterpressed business card. We spoke that night, and I saw the space the next day. I conferred with my mover, who agreed that yes, I am insane, but so long as my money’s good, he’ll open a monthly account. A builder friend took a look to assess the possibility of installing a double door, and today, with my heart in my mouth, I gave notice to my second-floor landlord. Our conversation began with him telling me that yes, I had overloaded the elevator Saturday, and ended with him telling me that he understood my predicament. We do have a month-to-month agreement after all, but I’m sure neither of us expected it would last less than six weeks. My nerves are all shot to hell.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stay tuned

I’m tongue-tied this week. There’s something I’d like to tell you, but can’t just yet, pending notification of a certain party. It's not a big thing, really: I’m not pregnant, and I haven’t been signed by a publisher, but the situation’s made me think about this blog and the people who read it. I’m pretty clear about not writing anything that I wouldn’t want a particular person to find, but in the beginning this seemed about as remote as bumping into an ex-boyfriend on the summit of Mt. Everest. Now I know real people read this, some of whom I know in real life, and now and then I feel nervous. Not so much because of the salacious content (has there been any?) but that someone I know might think, golly, I really thought there was more going on in that paddock up there. Or, why am I hearing about this on her blog?

So I can’t tell you this one thing, but I’m dying to. Because I’m excited and nervous and unsure, and I know you’ll get a laugh out of it. Instead, I’m going to be like one of those tabloid news shows that keeps telling you over and over that the sizzling story about X is coming up right after the break, and you stupidly remain perched on the edge of your seat until the very last seconds of the show, at which point you realise it was all a beat-up anyway.

Instead, I could bore you with the story of how I came home the other day and couldn’t open the front door, because it was barricaded shut by the huge length of ornamental plaster cornice that had fallen off the ceiling.

Or I could tell you about my new mobile (cell) phone, that doesn’t really do anything except operate as a phone, something my old phone couldn’t quite manage.

Or I could just admit to you that I have a hard time with honesty. Not telling the truth per se (I hate lying), but the kind of honesty where I can be open about my needs and wants, even when I might disappoint someone in doing so. I’ll twist and squirm and spend wide-eyed hours in the middle of the night worrying about how to broach a situation, whether it’s worth risking someone else’s disappointment. My anxieties pick up speed exponentially, so that the smallest risk takes on catastrophic proportions.

I should make the phone call now.

But I can’t until Monday.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The move

Too tired to tell you the full story tonight. Just the salient points:

1. The move is almost done. Almost because, after two days of moving, the freight elevator died. Emergency phone calls suggested that either A. it was broken or B. it runs on a timer and was done for the day. Unfortunately, this happened with the last load on board, just as it seemed that the buggerisation was over (see below.)

2. Despite my purely supervisory role, I was the only one injured. Twice. (Bent-back thumb, little finger stubbed falling down stairs.)

3. I love my movers. Especially Linda.

4. In spite of the fact that my main press is circling Melbourne in the back of a truck, and that I wake at night with full-blown anxiety about whether or not certain items are lost or not, I feel very happy about the place. I went in this morning to meet a paper rep, then met Di for lunch. It felt like the first day at my dream job.

Friday, May 19, 2006


With the acquisition of a studio has come the realisation that soon, I will have NO TIME. I already fill my days to overflowing, and somehow, starting a business has to be squeezed in. So, rather than opening a business bank account or rejiggering my financials spreadsheet, I’ve turned my attention these past few weeks to a couple of projects that have been hanging over my head for, well, a few years now. You might imagine that I’ve finally learned hard plastering or re-grouted the bathroom, but no, I haven’t. The projects I’m talking about are of the kind so inconsequential that unless I tackle them now, they’ll never be done. Which is what I said when I first started them.

One of these projects is the result of hoarding too many magazines. Our move between Ohio and Australia was punctuated by a few restful months on Cape Cod. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to go through my magazines when we were packing up the Oberlin house, so they made the trip east. Why are magazines so heavy? I don’t think you could find a heavier box than a box of MSL back issues.

At first, I imagined a few hours here and there, tearing out articles and recipes that I couldn’t live without. Soon, however, I found myself putting in full eight-hour days working on the project: tearing out, cutting down, categorising. Had I known, I’d have offered Mia a summer internship. I was imagining a cloth-bound binder from here, but quickly saw that my collection would require multiple, cheaper binders. Weeks past, and I was still not done. If you’ve tried, you’ll know that a page from Martha Stewart Living doesn’t easily fit into a letter- or A4-sized plastic pocket, nor does a recipe torn from the NYT Magazine. In the end, I packed the torn-out clippings without pockets or binders, with the idea that I’d finish the project in Australia.

Which is where I am now. Eighteen months later, with boxes of heavyweight plastic pockets at hand, I recommenced the project. Sometimes, I couldn’t work out what I’d intended to save: surely not the recipe for roast pork crackling? But I trimmed and filed and sorted. The first binder “Thanksgiving, Autumn and Fall” sits nicely on the shelf. Slowly though, doubts developed. Where were the Christmas clippings? And what about the Mason jar pin cushion project? Surely I kept that? It was only as I made my way toward the bottom on the pile that it finally dawned on me: the desserts are missing. Either there is another box, as yet unpacked, or it is lost. I cannot tell you how despairing I find this fact, although I keep this to myself.

I have my fingers crossed that when our storage unit is emptied this afternoon and delivered to my studio, I’ll find the box containing Isaac’s unpublished manuscript and the one containing the best of Martha’s desserts and holiday extravaganzas, 1994-2004, as torn out by me.


For all you lucky ones with your Martha archive intact, Maitreya’s Marthadex is an invaluable public service.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I don’t know why I haven’t told you about this before now. At first, I was anxious not to jinx it, or, as they say here, put the mozz on. I have a new studio, in this building. I found it the day I told the real estate agent that I wasn’t going to go ahead with the other space. It’s a shared space, but my area (a former gallery) is almost completely separate. The natural light isn’t great, and the bathroom is down the hall, but when I can quell my anxieties about suppliers and moving equipment and selling work, I’m very excited about it and hopeful that this is the place I was supposed to wait for.

I’ve had the keys for almost a month, but my mover has been on holiday. When we met at the building for him to assess access, he assured me that despite initial “buggerisation” all would proceed smoothly. I hope he’s right.

Monday, May 15, 2006

port (x3)

I was in Portland last weekend. When I announced my trip, Isaac asked hopefully, Oregon? Maine? The answer was: No, Portland, Victoria.

I have ambivalent feelings about long drives. On the one hand, I love getting away: the anticipation, the newness, the roadside snacks. On the other: I’m convinced I’m going to die in a head-on collision. (See? My very first blog post and I’m writing about this fear.)

Portland, Victoria is close to the South Australian border, about five hours from Melbourne by road. We were headed to the Portland Bay Press, a public access print workshop similar to the one where I work to hang a show of works by our artist members. We stayed overnight, woken late by teenage hoons doing burnouts down the main street. The hotdog and felafel van set up in the carpark across the way made sure that no-one went hungry whilst waiting for his turn to peel down the main drag at 200 km/h.

By the time we left late next morning, I wanted to move to Portland. Friendly people, a shopfront studio, the most beautiful beach in the world. And the squid boats! I fell in love with the light bulbs strung across their decks: when I asked a local where I might obtain one of these bulbs (thinking I might hang one in my laundry shed) I was gently disabused of my city girl fantasy. Each bulb draws about 5000 watts, I was told, enough to plunge a whole street into darkness. (Writing this now, I’m wondering if perhaps 5000 watts was somewhat of an exaggeration, but I’m still guessing it wouldn’t be wise to plug in.)

The long drive provided ample time to knit. I’d almost given up on my lollipop sock, but I was able to push through the gusset, down to the home stretch. I’m still doing something wrong (purling and purling away on the wrong side) but the concentrated car knitting sessions renewed my interest. My back-up knitting (more baby shoes) didn’t get touched.

I don’t think Portland, VIC can rival Portland, OR or Portland, MA’s crafty populations or Powell’s Books or relative proximity to New York City. But visit if you can. There’s a camp high above Bridgewater Bay that’d be a perfect place for some writing or winter knitting.

By the way, have you heard mav’s design*sponge podcast interview? I expect we’ll hear a lot more from other Portlanders in the near future. (Have I mentioned how much I love podcasts?)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My niece, Eden Summer, is one week old today.

These are her shoes.

(Same trusty pattern, in Rowan 4 Ply Soft.)


By the way, look at these lovely baby items! Made by Shescrafty in New Zealand. They sell patterns too. (Thanks Sarah!)

Monday, May 08, 2006

The argument for school uniforms

In my usual fashion, I was one of the crush of procrastinators at the State Library of Victoria yesterday for the last day of the National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries exhibition. There were a number of craft items of note, including a hooked hall runner commemorating the 1956 Olympics and Ned Kelly’s helmet, fashioned from a iron plough. But the item that really caught my eye was a convict uniform. It was a woollen suit, hand-sewn, with a Mao collar. But rather than the usual black or brown, this suit was black and yellow. Half the jacket front was yellow, half black. The fronts of the trouser legs were yellow and black, the backs black and yellow. It was curiously snappy, like something a high school marching band might wear, or a mid-eighties’ groom looking to make a statement. For a moment, I thought I might have to revise everything I thought I knew about the austerity of the convict experience.

But no. Turns out that wearing the bi-colour suit was a punishment so feared that the threat of it was a stronger deterrent than corporal punishment. Imagine! Stronger than being beaten by guards, manacled or immobilised in the stocks. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: when required to wear a tie, Isaac pulls and contorts as if it were the hangman’s noose itself. And the threat of a handknit sweater: that’s enough to strike the fear of God into his knit-phobic soul.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Give me 100

I’d like your opinion.

A while back, I discovered that Pure Baby have a wholesale showroom in a lane behind my house. I’m the type of person who enjoys prowling about semi-industrial neighbourhoods, peering into partially-open doorways and through security door slats. I’m a Class-A stickybeak.

So when I saw the door open at Pure Baby, I stuck my nose in. Rather than shooing me away, they graciously invited me to sign up on their mailing list, which is how I knew about their clearance sale. I regret I wasn’t there the morning they opened their doors on the first day of the sale: Pearson Street is extremely narrow and one-way, and the showroom itself is on the tight side. According to a reliable source, 9 am on the first day of the sale saw the street lined with abandoned baby carriages, many of which had suspension systems superior to that of the average car.

It was a great sale. Pregnant women were throwing their weight around, bulldozing their ways through to the $5 and $8 items, piling up their male partners like downtrodden Sherpas. I’m sure that many women blew their $3000 baby bonus at Pure Baby, buoyed by the irresistible force of a really good sale.

I kept picking things up, putting them back, picking them up again. Childless, I was no less impressed that this was a good sale, and a good opportunity to stock up on baby gifts. One the one hand, however, I am partial to the handmade gift, usually of the knitted variety. On the other hand, I am way behind on the bootie production front and facing an onslaught of newborns in the next couple of months. I decided that this was a chance to take the middle route.

I bought white shirts, short- and long-sleeved, in sizes 00 and 0. These seemed small, but not too small. I bought transfer paper, the kind that you can use in an inkjet printer. I chose photos I like, and printed up some transfers. Still without an ironing board, I fired up the iron at Mum’s place and was amazed at how quickly I embellished eight shirts.

My idea was to stitch around the images with a simple running stitch. I finished two shirts, which I gave away before photographing. But I’m beginning to have my doubts about the stitching. Isaac likes them without. Part of me does too, but I also like the contrast between the slickness of the image and the wonkiness of the stitching. I’m wondering too if I’m resistant to leaving them without the stitching because it’s just too easy, and doesn’t seem like enough effort’s been invested; effort commensurate with the birth of a new baby. But then again, maybe this is just my ego talking? I’ve linked to this before, but I love the This American Life piece (Episode 192) where David Rakoff visits the craft department at Martha Stewart Living and describes how, for the craft geek, giving a handmade gift is as selfish an endeavour as a fitness freak bursting into your living room, dropping to the floor for a 100 push-ups, then jumping up yelling, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I’m usually quite clear on my aesthetic choices, but I’m feeling muddled here. What do you think? Stitching or no?