Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If only

I have my erstwhile colleague vicki Grieves to thank for this.
I read it while filling my face with bread and vegemite.
I eat too much, and move too little. keep typing/editing/cutandpaste.
i've had eye strain.

Noone ever mentioned the side of spending 12-16 hours a day on a tome.... my feet swell up! I've had airplane ankles!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ring of fire

I feel like *such* a wimp.

Yes - 47 degree heat was soul sucking eyeball frying hell - but given that 130 people have died in the subsequent inferno - in ways I don't really want to think about - my little squirms and sighs feel totally pathetic. and they are.

still - I feel obliged to mark the occasion by blabbing my own insanely trivial navel gazing version of events.

All week - the weather predictions were getting hotter, and hotter, and going up - and EVERYONE was talking about the weather. The threat of impending heat smoothed the path of my dole diary submission, gave substance to chitchats at the bakeries on the north side of town, and broke u the interminable muzak in the Moreland Salvation Army store (which I swear, has the kitschest music I've heard this century)

I'd also had 3 days of cluster-ridden head pain, and was dreading the compound effect of real heat - not this pissy 33 degree stuff. I wondered how the weather would rise from summery to hell in a couple of hours, and return.

OK - friday was warmish - low 30's, but it cooled off to 24 or something in the afternoon - heading into a nice warm summery evening, with a bit of fresh air. the brunswick love shack is a top floor sunny flat. It's great being 5 degrees warmer than outside for 9 months of the year - but during the last fortnight it's been hell. In the afternoon, the water from the cold taps comes out at a scalding 50 degrees, and the study cops all of the western sun in the afternoon - which is handy since our oven doesn't work, but a tad impossible to work in. So on friday night we opened up the Bruwswick love shack to get as much cross ventilation as possible and ate on the balcony, and slept on the loungeroom floor, with all the windows and doors open.

On Saturday Renaissance girl woke me up early - so we could plan our retreat to the nearest bastion of aircon for the day. It was warm outside but not evil - yet adn We had a lite brekky of fruit, with our coffee.

About 9am a hot wind started blowing. We shut all the doors and windows and did a load of washing and filled the bathtub with cold water. We then had cold baths, soaked sheets and towels and hung them on racks near the windows and closed all the blinds. We left lets of water for the cat, grabbed some cold water and headed out.

The wind was already hurling at us, and I was reminded of a windstorm in coober pedy. We staggered across the road to the tramstop and waited in the shade for the tram. We're lucky to be near the trams. they are airconditioned, and mostly people have the sense to shut the windows and blinds and lock the heat out. We tram hopped to the NGV and Rennaissance girl showed me the best view of the stained glass ceiling in the great hall. bliss.

Now ideally we would have stayed there all day, gazing at Rembrandt and Rothgo, (melbourne is growing on me, OK?) and completely forgetting the time or the temperature. but alas no. Renaissance girl had a violin rehearsal southside and when the weather was predicted to be a mere 34 degrees, I'd booked tickets to go life drawing with a mate, also southside, and also mid afternoon. so - at 3pm - when the heat was peaking at an insane 47 degrees - insetead of enxconsing myself in the darkened airconditioned corridors of the NGV I was gasping at flinders street station with my friend, slurping down a slushy trying to work out a non-connex route south of the river.

Hot dry air doens't feel like a sauna at all. It feels scary and yuck. none of this muscle softening embrace - more like a scary lung compressing, eyeball baking blast. I don't like heat at the best of times, so have to force myself not to panic.

anywya - we did some tram hopping and shadow scuttling and eventually found ourselves in a dark 2 storey terrace - which was amazingly cool inside (without aircon either).

2 hours later, the cool southerly wind arrived from tasmania and swirled around the leaves, and skirts and everyone's hair, and the street umbrellas. There was no sign of the fires alll around victoria, no clouds, no smoke, no smell of burning.
the sunset was a regular orange peachy glow - and not the stunning red clouded ball of fireskies. By then we were at St. Kilda, feet in the water, feeling relieved and calm.

Renaissance girl and I later went out and saw an opera singer do a Johnny Cash number. It's in too poor taste to quote it here, but it matches the crazy cavalry painting I snapped at the NGV.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Gone To Ground

I think I'm meant to be in tomal lockdown at the moment. I feel like I've been in a hellish heat tunnel after last week's heatwave.

the *minimum* temperature was 30 degrees some nights. I kid you not.
we shut up the Love palace like a little hot cave, covering all the windows in wet towels and took the computer out of the study where we could smell burning plastic.Each morning, we filled the bathtub and the fridge full of cold water as each afternoon the cold tap released SCALDING HOT water

the last time I'd been exposed to anyting over 40 degrees was in MAdrid in 1998. I went mad, and skulked in the basement of the Prado, staring at goya's 'black paintings' doing obsessive scrathcy graphite transcriptions.

remembering spain, I decided to adopt a similar strategy. Each day, after soaking myself and my clothes in the bathtup, I skulked across the road to the tram, caught the tram to Flemington Road, scuttled along royal Parade and hid in melbourne uni library each day.....madly reading randoms bits of Australian art history, obsessively checking my footnotes, and rechecking, and rearranging my chapter and slowly going mad.... and just mindlessly gorging my eyeballs on words, trying to forget where I was, when I was, where i am now.... so damn close and so damn far, and really hating everything.

At 6pm, as the library shut I'd curse the furnace of heat as it hit my lips and baked my eyeballs and scuttle back to the tram, come home, scowl and sulk at Renaissance girl, and curse the city...

note to self: must spend next January in Northern Hemisphere