Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Floral Tour of Chez Flinthart

This was a bastard of a post to manage. My surly satellite connection dropped out twice, and I could only load two images at a time or the whole system overloaded and fucked up on me.

Okay: first, to everybody in Briz I didn't manage to contact over the weekend -- all I had was a flying visit. I tried to call a friend about lunch in town, but in the end, even that didn't happen. I had time to do wedding-related stuff, and bugger-all else.

The time is definitely coming when I have to bring the family north for a proper meet-and-greet Briz holiday, I think.

Second: I took a slow walk around the property this morning, by way of resting a bit. And I carried the camera. I don't plant much by way of showy flowers, except for bulbs -- Natalie liked daffodils and jonquils and irises and tulips. Much of what flowers here is edible. And yet the place is still alive...

Bay laurel. Yes, the kind you cook with. The tree is about 8m high. The flowers look like shit, but they smell great and the bees love 'em.







Blood plum

A daffodil

Bugger. I've doubled up. This was meant to be the Snow Pear. They look similar.

I have no idea. I think it's a weed.



Russian comfrey, I think


Wee little daisies

Purple magnolias

White magnolia

Dunno this one. A native of some sort, and a real bee magnet.


JOnquils. You can't tell, but they're smaller than the daffy earlier.



Oh! There's my snow pear


Dandelion with afro


Quince, I think



Slightly Tired

Friday: organised the kids outta bed and off to school and daycare. Swapped cars with Natalie. Made it home, grabbed my bag, zoomed off to the airport in time for a DeathStar flight to Briz. Why? Simple -- the wedding of my old drinking/smoking/moviemaking companion Daryl Sparkes, and the marvellous Deb Marshall. What with having been in and out of trouble with and around Daryl for more years than I can legitimately lay claim to recall, once the wedding invite arrived, it was a no-brainer. I went.

Landed in Briz, and failed to catch up with the Valkyrie of Snark - you know who you are! I do believe she opted to flee to some kind of secure rural retreat once she heard the wheels of the Party Machine being oiled up. Fear not, o Valkyrie: the fallout was limited to Tarragindi, Coorparoo, and certain areas of the inner city.

I caught an unbelievably expensive train from the airport to the city -- $14.50 one way, folks. Brisbane's public transport is just as screwed up as it was when the Lord Mayor abused me for saying it was screwed up back in 1995 -- and noodled around the Valley for a while, purely to take a look at the Old Town. I sent a few postcards to the kids, then gave up on trying to work out which bus might get me to Tarragindi, where my friend and crash-supplier Julie lives, and just ponied up for cabfare.

Question: what happened to all the fat, sleazy, balding white guys who used to drive Brisbane's cab fleet? I caught three cabs over the weekend, and every one of them was driven by a friendly, polite younger gentleman of Asian subcontinental origin. Not that I'm complaining, mind. I'm just wondering what happened to the thousands of sweaty fat balding white guys that used to squeeze their beer guts behind the wheel? Is there some kind of Epically Horrible Retirement Home for the Terminally White-Trash Racist that I don't know about?

I know: I'm generalising. But don't forget -- I drove cabs in Briz for about five years, and I met those guys everywhere. It was like there was some sort of special Fat Horrible Bastard farm designed to churn out creepy cabbies.

Times change, I suppose. Some things really do get better. Not one of the three drivers tried to tell me any gross, racist or sexist jokes by way of 'passing the time'. I count that as a huge improvement.

Anyway. I found Julie's place, and the key she'd left, and let myself in. It was hot, as Brisbane is wont to be in late October, but Julie's found a decent spot with a forested gully behind her. If I was actually capable of nostalgia, I might even have spent a few moments recalling endless summer days, cicadas singing, gum leaves rattling in fitful breezes, the iron band of summer heat clenched around your chest as the sweat trickled down the backs of your knees... nahhh. Hell with that!

When Julie got back, we ducked out for supplies. The official pre-wedding "Buck's party" was at her place, so we had a few things to get in order. I made a smoked salmon pasta salad, a melon and ginger salad, and a large guacaomole. The rest of the watermelon went into a vodka punch, which was more like a Mike Tyson left hook, to be honest. Tasted great, but it was wayyyy too easy to drink on a hot Brisbane night.

And then I caught up with a few old friends. Hello Simone! Hi, Caitlin! Thomas, yes, you too. Pat Stewart, you eternal goddam hippie! Mick, you useless bastard! Yvette, yes, sorry ma'amselle, but you joined this menagerie of your own accord. Lawrie Mullins, looking like a streamlined hood-ornament version of himself. And Daryl... yep. Check. All present and accounted for.

Missing in action? Oh, there were a lot of faces I'd have liked to have seen. But you take what comes, and it was a good night. Good enough that I managed only three hours of sleep after walking Simone back to her residence through the danger-bestrewn Mean Streets of Tarragindi...

Sunday, therefore, was not my finest hour. But I managed. Got into my specially-chosen wedding garb in plenty of time, with the aid of ibuprofen and watermelon and paracetamol and Brisbane's God-beshitted so-called "water supply". (Anybody like a little water with their industrial chemistry?)

The official dress code for the wedding was "cocktail lounge". For some reason, most of my male friends took that to mean "funereal". I haven't seen so many black suits outside a mortuary. Points to Brian, who was actually wearing a natty grey charcoal grey pinstripe job which he admitted he'd inherited from an expired relative... dead man's suit! Cool!

The wedding went off more or less okay. Tom handed me a groovy camera, so I drifted around, looking for good photos. Got one or two that I liked -- a particularly nice one of one of the bridesmaids, who happens to be Daryl's 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. I hadn't seen young Emily in many a year, so it was nice to meet her as a real, live, adult-type person. She did a good job in her role - must be kinda challenging to do bridesmaid for your father when he's marrying someone other than your mother, but I get the impression that Emily and the bride get along very, very well, which speaks well of all concerned.

The wedding was a bit Godly though. Lotta Catholic stuff with responses involved. And singing. I didn't know the goddam words or the music, though, so I beat-boxed instead. Personally, I felt that the whole "alleluia" business was far, far better off with a bit of ghetto rhythm behind it, but apparently the people around me weren't quite so sure.

Oh! And then there was this bit where the priest was blessing the couple, holding his hand up like a sort of half-arsed Hitler salute, and encouraging the congregation (we were a congregation? Who knew?) to do likewise. I have to admit, I felt that a Godly blessing from me would be complete bullshit, so I curved my hand into a claw, aimed it at Daryl, and intoned "I find your lack of faith disturbing" instead.

Didn't work, though.

So we finished the wedding, and ducked into the city for the reception. Had to hang around an hour or so, sipping drinkies, before it kicked off, but that was okay. I caught up with more old friends, and made a couple of new ones. (Hi, Sue!)

The reception was very fine. Everybody was in a good mood, and the food was mucking farvellous. Seriously good cuisine. And there was wine, and booze, and lots more conversations, and possibly a bit of bread-roll hurling...

... but I had an 0700 flight to catch, so I pulled the plug a bit shy of midnight, and caught another cab to a pointless little hotel near the airport. I managed about five hours of fitful sleep before it was time to jump up and grab the final cab to the airport proper to board the plane for Launceston and home. I grabbed a copy of Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld book to keep me company - having slashed my way through Paul Haines' "Slice of Life" and Deborah Biancotti's "Book of Endings" on the previous flight. Discworld is good aeroplane fodder, and Natalie likes the series too, so it seemed a good idea.

Got in, grabbed my bag -- oh, and here's a big thanks to Brown Banana Lady, who tried to smuggle an elderly and rather unappetising banana past the Quarantine Beagle. Couple-hundred people trying to get off that damned flight, and we're all standing there, jammed shoulder to shoulder while you and the dog-handler went grubbing about in your onboard baggage in pursuit of a banana which frankly, any self-respecting chimpanzee with rabies would have violently rejected... jeez, lady. If you're going to piss off that many people, couldn't you at least have done it for a halfway decent piece of fruit?

But the weekend wasn't done with me. Not yet. Nope.

I made it home. Natalie reminded me I had to go and visit Historian Mike. And then she got me to wipe down the high bathroom walls with bleach. Shortly after that, I loaded the kids up, and went to Mike's place.

Mike particularly wanted me to meet some academic chap from the university's English department. Tired though I was, I felt it politic to agree. And lo! In one of those unbelievable Brisbane/Tasmania coincidences, the academic in question turned out to be the director of a comedy revue I'd been part of in UQ about twenty years ago. So instead of a meeting, it was a friendly reunion, and what had been a vague plan of some kind of project on my part has now swung firmly towards the near-certainty end of the scale.

But I was dead on my feet. I had a couple of desultory arguments with passing philosophers... and I'm afraid I was tired enough to laugh hysterically when one of them (Jamie) spoke firmly of "getting the truth out of" the other (Graeme.) I couldn't help it: it just seemed too much like a set-up for a Monty Python sketch - one philosopher interrogating the other in order to "get to the truth". Do philosophers use waterboards? Or do they simply subject one another to Existentialist poetry?

Still not over, though. Because Natalie wanted to go into town for her weekly music session, so I had the reins for the evening. No sleeping permitted! I fired up the chargorilla, cooked sausages, hamburgers, and a truly wonderful roast chicken stuffed with many good things. Then I threw the kids in the bathtub and washed their hair. We retired after that to watch Pinky and The Brain for a while... and honestly, I don't remember a whole lot after that.

I do know that it was damned hard to drag myself out of bed at 0700 this morning, though.