Monday, February 28, 2011


Well, maybe buds.   Last day of February.   Standing on New Brunswick station platform, waiting to meet visitor off train, and trying to kid myself that maybe it smells of spring.   Surely those tiny - what would one call them? - nodules at the end of these branches might be called buds?

Really, there's something sublimely dull about this photograph, but it was a very full day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


One can hardly argue with the text: language is used to conquer the silent and the unknown (interesting that this should come first - one could argue that shouting, or playing loud music, or miaowing would do just as well); language allows us to express and control emotion; to reveal and camouflage our thoughts and emotions; it lets us make and avoid contact; it permits us to assert social and community identity.   Hmmm - I guess I'd have said first that it allows us to communicate (if only with ourselves) - but this is a pretty good list - leading towards the fact that it allows us to control and be controlled by the world (and yes, the page goes on).   The page, indeed, goes on, untorn, and unblemished.   But it's lying on its own, like an individual performance of linguistic virtuosity, in the middle of a Rutgers carpark.   I wish that I could report that someone was lying around in wait behind the parked cars, videoing people who stopped and read it - surely that would have enacted some point about language's power?   But alas, it was lying orphaned and unloved: a discarded, lost, stray text.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

reflections on Manhattan

Hanging in La Guardia Gardens, just south of Washington Square, this large shiny ball looks far less Christmassy in reality than it does here.   It was a quick dash to NYC, with an errand to carry out - I couldn't really stay longer because of having to head out and buy flowers for tomorrow's house showings (yes, I know that they sell flowers in NY, but I couldn't really face carrying increasingly droopy armfuls of them on New Jersey Transit).   But as it was sunny I ignored the subway as much as possible, and walked back to Penn Station from Chelsea, thinking the whole way how much I love the city, and have done since I was first electrified by it in 1979.

And it was full of its usual quirkiness - the man bicycling down 5th Ave. with two hockey sticks; the red-tailed hawk lazily circling round and round over Washington Square looking for pigeons; the manic leafleting by representatives of Jews for Jesus.   And then there was the phenomenon of "Staying Alive."   I first heard the jagged sounds of the Bee Gees as I stood waiting to cross at some lights - apparently coming from a cab that was stationary in traffic.   A little further up, from another cab - which seemed to me weird, that they would both have the same radio station on - but coincidences happen.   And then, I became convinced that it was wafting up from underground - a Saturday Night Fever fest on the subway?   Then, the tune was coming from a Fed Ex van.

It was quite some time later that I realised that the iPhone in my pocket had jammed on, with "Staying Alive" on endless repeat in the form of a YouTube video (quite what that was doing on my iPhone at all is another problem).   I have a nasty feeling that a number of people who passed me may well have consigned me to the role of NY eccentric: someone who can't walk around without broadcasting the Bee Gees to anyone who happens to be in the vicinity.

Friday, February 25, 2011


A bug.   A bug in a mug.   Not snug in a mug - oh, enough, enough.   I just wasn't very happy to have this fly onto my office desk when I was tidying it.   It's not a coffee mug - more a paper clip mug, so it wasn't too disgusting, but I think it's yet another example of Union Street wildlife, of which there was plenty today.   Since the temperature hit a wild 59 degrees, the squirrels were up and scampering in the walls (I always pretend that they're racoons, and indeed occasionally they may be, only at the moment they sound fairly small - just energetic).   It's one of my favorite mugs - an Oxford Women Students suffrage mug: one that always makes me think that I was born out of my time, and that really, it would have been better spending one's radical youth on this, rather than occupying the Examination Schools in the determined attempt to make the university give us a student union (tidying papers in the basement last weekend, I found the roneoed days' programs for that - evening disco and all).   

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yes, it's another flower picture.   Yes, it's another example of what one comes up with when one's tired and headachey after a day's teaching and one hasn't been reading or thinking about the visual, except in the contexts of administration and grant writing and the like.   And yes, it's a comment on the fact that once again, early in the morning, there's a house showing, and everything has to be shiny and dusted or hidden away, and flowers have to be prominently arranged in every room, and the right lights left on, and Lola's favorite stuffed sock hidden away in case a prospective purchaser treads on it, and the bathroom mirrors shined, and the trash taken out, and the litter tray raked and groomed, and the kitchen floor swabbed, and the towels straightened, and all the other rituals.   None of the above (apart from the turning on of lights) will help the fact that it's going to be a wet, windy morning in late February - hardly NJ at its most seductive.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

cats, eyes, flash

Today's problem is not one of how to fit two cats comfortably on a radiator (for that has been solved by picture 2), nor how to finish re-reading Our Mutual Friend for class tomorrow, given that it's already 11.05, and that problem may have already been consigned to the realm of the insoluble ... no: it's back to the strangeness of cats' eyes in flash photography.   DandeLion's eyes are notorious for their spooky orange stare: tonight, I find that Lola (as befits the nautical emphasis of OMF) has eyes that seem to be fitted out like lights on board a ship: green on the starboard side, and red on the port bow.   Very peculiar.   LucyFur, sensibly, has three-quarter closed hers against the glare.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

stair window

A new year ... new beginnings ... new etc etc.   So there's also something slightly valedictory about posting an image of the evening light falling on the stairwell of the Union Street house, suddenly transforming its crumbling and peeling self into something very tranquil and beautiful.   I do feel sorry for the house, and hope that it's rescued before it crashes to the ground like something out of Little Dorrit - but I was most encouraged that someone had at least come and done something about the dangling guttering and the flapping flashing that I'd called in last week.  

Monday, February 21, 2011


It seemed very unfair to the beautiful calla lilies to comment on their beauty, and to fail to give an image of them ... this one looks extremely like a crocus unfolding, and my parents assure me that in Wimbledon, there are snowdrops and crocuses and daffodils and all manner of springtime flowers.   Here in central NJ, it snowed again, albeit in a damp and half-hearted way.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

destroyed notebook

Back in the basement, with renewed vigor when it comes to tidying and sorting and throwing out and generally feng shuing every last corner.   Only I'm a long way from any Last Corner.   I am, though, just about through every last cardboard packing box that was carted here by the sadistic and threatening Russian Movers back in 2005, and am making considerable headway in discarding things.   This notebook had to go.   It's a handsome notebook; it has very few used pages.   It also seems to have black mould.   There's a whole little cluster of things with black mould, indeed - or there were.   I've ruthlessly bagged them.   A Blue Guide to Northern Italy (alas); a guide book to Indonesia; a clump of notes for my dissertation (good bye, D. S. MacColl and his views on Degas's L'Absinthe -  and a mouse seemed to have got to those ones, too).   This particular notebook - though stationery, not print - seems to  be pointing auspiciously towards my Book Destruction paper, given the fact that's it's binding is covered with ruins (and I'll be making much use of Ruin Theory, if there may be said to be such a thing).   It's good to have things that I know unarguably have to throw out - and indeed, it's very consolatory to take photographs of them.   There is, surely, a certain category of things about which I don't really care too deeply when it comes to their physical presence, but I don't, on the other hand, want to forget that I once had some kind of connection with.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

flower heads

One of the very few shops that I will genuinely miss in Highland Park is Robert's Florals, which not only is notable for the obvious - flowers - but for all its other little high-end treats by way of vases and soaps and little notebooks with birds on them, for their handsome brindled boxer Sophie, and for its displays of Things - like heads, and tall vases ... We have, of course, been feeling as though we're keeping them in business the last five months - Flowers for House Showings (though admittedly it's Stop & Shop carnations on weeks when we doubt that anyone will come, and Whole Foods when we're not sure).   Today, of course, was the purchase of birthday flowers doubling as house-showing ones - and then coming home to find a very very pretty gift for Alice with the same provenance ... the (return) viewers must have stepped round and/or over them.   We also hope that, once inside, they did the same with the discreet mound of up-chucked kitty kibble, the (dried) flower that had been removed from the vase on the dining room table and worried onto the floor, and the medium-sized, perfectly formed turd two feet outside the litter box.   Sometimes we swear that the cats do it deliberately.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I was so very happy to pass by my favorite building on campus today and see that it was being restored.   I've worried about it for years: it looks to be peeling and crumbling, and judging by the junk that's being pulled off the back roof, these repairs don't come a moment too soon.   This Observatory was built in 1865, costing - together with the equipment in it - around $6K, and supposedly it's a masterpiece of Romantic Neoclassicism, modelled on the Tower of the Winds in Athens.   Inside it was "a six and one-half inch equatorial refracting telescope, a meridian circle with four-inch object glass for transit observations, a sidereal clock and a mean solar clock.  There was a chronograph, repeating circle, and other instruments, and the Observatory was in telegraphic connection with other observatories" (Allen B. Robbins, A Brief History of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers, chapter 4).   I doubt that these are still inside it ... but I certainly would like to see inside, somehow - it's never been remotely open when I've been near it.

Tower of the Winds or not, it did strike me today that in fact, as befits this campus's heritage, it looks remarkably like a squat Dutch windmill, minus the sails.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

hansel and griddle

Strangely unvisited by me is a little hole in the wall cafe - a word that probably implies sit-down - a food outlet called Hansel and Griddle, which I went to a couple of times my first year at Rutgers and promptly more or less forgot about.   It tends to me curiously unstudenty - it's where fire fighters and paramedics call in and pick up their lunches; where local construction workers stuff themselves on wraps and burgers and things (so if it looks empty, and one thinks one will get served fast, one is living an illusion - people know exactly how long to leave before dropping in.   I barely had enough time to order and eat a quesadilla today between class and meeting, and rather wondered, subsequently, whether a tuna salad quesadilla didn't smell rather oddly like fancy cat food - but I was very glad to go back, if only to patronize one of the best culinary puns around.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Re-re-re reading Lady Audley's Secret - for the something or another time - is a very non-naive experience.   Whereas re-reading To the Lighthouse is always a huge pleasure - there's a different angle, a different set of words that become visible each time, depending on what one's been reading or thinking about previously - LAS never changes much.   What one can never re-capture, either, is not-knowingness.   The text now seems stuffed full of obvious clues - repeated obvious clues - how many times can Braddon mention WELL in the first couple of pages?   And since they now scream attention to themselves, is it ever possible to reconstruct the potential for overlooking them?

After a while, an unsold house becomes rather like Braddon's novel.   Why haven't the last couple through - through twice - who even asked to see the disclosure form - made an offer?   Is it the occasional crack or filled-in paint bubble on the wall?   Is it the mysterious small dents on the door of the dishwasher?   Is it the pale water stain on the bedroom floor?   Or something even more beyond our control, like Squirrels?   Not, perhaps, entirely beyond our control - we've just paid out $450 to the squirrel catcher to trap cages and cages of them and let them loose in a park three miles away - and then block up the hole that they were getting comfortable in.   But I suspect them of scampering back from three miles away, since our animal lover neighbor (and I won't knock him for a minute, since he is a Cat Rescuer) puts out generous portions of fruit for them ... this is no edenic post-party scene, but apples chewed by squirrelly teeth.   And they clearly glisten, green and red and golden, in full view of potential purchasers, who can probably read the scuttling implications behind such clues.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


LAX was empty, and so, relatively speaking, was my plane.   I could probably have stretched out and slept the entire way back - oh, dream on.   As it was, I finished my grading just as we were dropping into Newark.   Curious how setting a weekly response paper for an undergraduate class seems like a really good idea, pedagogically - but one then has to live with the regular consequences.   But they are (mostly) writing!   And they are (mostly) writing well!   And I also finished re-reading To the Lighthouse - which I would think that I knew well - hell, I even, once upon a time, did an edition of it - but it squirms and shifts and becomes a different text each time that I read it - and this week, re-reading it straight after The Waste Land, I became very conscious of how the novel echoes the poem - not just the obvious stuff like anxieties about finding form and unity and at the same time realising that everything is shifting, but the rather awkward and failed attempts at demotic speech and thought, and the way in which myths and (in the case of Woolf alone, I think) fairy tales are appealed to.   So I know, at least, where tomorrow's class will start ...

Monday, February 14, 2011


Indeed, I would rather be spending Valentine's Day with my valentine - especially when everything around one is red and pink and pulsatingly determined to make one feel Romantic - though I have to say that people who have delivered coffee, dinner etc to my room at various points during the day have managed to wish me a Happy Valentine's Day in a pretty sardonic voice.   The Los Angeles Omni always does wonderful flower displays: the ones on the front desk (deep red lilies with prominent pistils submerged in vases of water) are quite parodically pornographic (and happily my images of them are slightly out of focus, the lens clearly recoiling and self-censoring in horror).   These vases, opposite the front door, are doing their best to overwhelm: what I particularly like about this image is that it looks as though they're being reflected in some shiny table top, but not so - they stretch on further down below the frame.   And yes (when not off seeing people) it's been a superbly hard working day.   

Sunday, February 13, 2011


This is more or less in homage to the Magrittes in the Menil Collection (see yesterday): I have a very conflicted relationship with Magritte, since I find him very slick (both technically and intellectually), yet always compelling to look at.   This is outside the back of the Omni in LA, between it and MOCA - which I wasn't visiting for any cultural reason (shame, shame), but to pick up some salad from the branch of Lemonade there, and bring it back to my room for a hard working evening (we won't mention the caramel fleur-de-sel macaroon that also found its way into my purchase).   I'm not sure what it says about one's life when one's idea of bliss includes some quiet time in hotel rooms just catching up with everything ...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I'd certainly never realised that Houston is such an attractive city ... and one of its gems is the Menil Collection, housed in a stunning building designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop - all simple grey and white lines, and girders, and wavy strips of ceiling louvers that let in the light in slanting ways.   The collection was put together by John and Dominique de Menil from the 1940s onwards, and is a wonderful mixture of surrealism and Abstract Expressionism - big Rothko try-out panels for the Rothko chapel just up the road in medatively sombre crimson and black; a couple of rooms of early Vija Celmins work - "Television and Disaster" - hands shooting pistols, a forest fire, burning planes - all in dull dark grey and light beiges; a handful of Max Ernsts, with birds perched in odd corners; a Magritte that I don't think I've ever seen reproduced, "La clef de verre," from 1959, showing a huge boulder balancing in a shaley mountain landscape; and a great room of variegated things that actually did inspire, or might have inspired, the Surrealists, including a whole shelf of optical entertainments - a phenakistoscope, a camera obscura, a phantasmagoria, a stereoscope, an anamorphoscope, a thaumatrope, a zoetrope.   Wife to husband: "so ... what are they?"   Husband, confidently: "They're old cameras."   Wife, tentatively: "Ummm - I'm not sure ..."   Husband, recognizing (probably a rare occurence), that he might be wrong: "Well, o.k., that one might be a kaleidoscope ...".

And then, just up the street, was a whole pavilion - all light and white walls - devoted entirely to huge Cy Twombly canvases.

Friday, February 11, 2011

book cat

I'm just starting to think properly about a new paper that I'll be giving at a conference on Book Destruction, to be held in London on April 16th - I'll be talking about the aesthetics of book destruction (everything from the inappropriate beauty of photographs books wedged in post-Katrina mud, to deliberately mutilated volumes, cut into swirls of printed paper).   So I'm always, these days, on the look out for examples, and was absolutely delighted to find, in Rice University Library, a whole collection of book sculptures ranged round the building.   They compose a permanent exhibit by Mike Stilkey, "When the Animals Rebel" - and there are, in addition to this cat, far taller pieces that include a giraffe, and some rats, and opossums on flowery trees.   I didn't spot any owls, which is strange, given that their simulacra appear all over the campus.   We were trying to think at dinner if Dickens wrote significantly about owls, and couldn't come up with any examples - though I've subsequently found that he did refer to himself, rather endearing, as having an "owl mind."   At least, it would be endearing, if Bob Patten hadn't told me, earlier in the day, that apparently owls are not - in the avian world - in possession of the brightest of minds.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

another day, another hotel room

and I am mighty glad for room service at the Hilton in Houston.   I'd planned on taking myself out to T'afia, up the road, and run by someone who's a friend/colleague of Kim Muller, at Real Food Nation, and which looks as though it serves and promotes wonderful organic and healthy food ... but instead, my head swaying just a little from yet another flight (during which I re-read A Handful of Dust for the first time in twenty five years or so, and am plunged in doubt that it'll be a good choice for this semester's class - and in fact, I may just ditch it, and move all the texts along some, and slot in some more short stories near the end, when everyone is tired of reading and howling with panic over papers), and with a 7.30 a.m. start, and some urgent bits of admin - instead, I've settled for iceberg and blue cheese and pecans and cranberries, and surprisingly tasty it was, too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Yes, it's Bitzi - aka DandyLion, the Cat with the Scary Eyes again.   But what's unprecedented is not the closeness of the focus - after all, I have a perfectly good telephoto lens - it's what this picture doesn't show: the fact that she's sitting on my coat in the front hall, trying to prevent me leaving again.   Of course, she won't succeed - the word Airplane figures in my life tomorrow, once more - but I am exceedingly touched that after two and a half years of ferality, she's starting to demonstrate a few - a very few - domestic tendencies.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a very long Tuesday

I know, of course, that the Very Long Tuesday is the flip side of the non-Friday ten days ago - all the same, it's mind-bending to think that this was the view from our balcony, overlooking Coogee Bay, this morning - followed by fruit salad and yogurt and muesli and honey and cappuccinos at the Barzura, followed by a van ride to the airport with the radio playing "Mrs Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and inviting Mrs Browns who happen to have Lovely Daughters to call in - something that put us in a complete time warp.   Followed by 13 hours flight to LAX (lots of prime teaching-prep time), then a cancelled flight (thank you, yesterday's power outage at EWR), so I had to come back via DFW - and then a light new snow covering and a freezing cold wind at Newark, New Jersey Transit and a bizarrely cheerful East European cab driver ...

Monday, February 7, 2011


One of the most dated-seeming aspects of Australia is the way in which school children still wear school uniforms - the girls in plaid skirts or striped dresses (and white ankle socks and clunky black shows, which gives the older ones a decidedly unusual edge), and boaters or straw hats, and the boys in shorts and blazers (and, in the case of the Christian Brothers school in Adelaide, some black or navy hats straight out of around 1890, too).   These boys, from the King's School in Parammatta, founded in 1831, and - according to its web site - then "the most significant school for young gentlemen of its time in the colony" - has a uniform that includes some very striking red epaulettes, and looks suspiciously as though it mightn't have changed a whole lot since the school's inception.   This group were being marched at a fast pace through the Art Gallery of New South Wales.   The one on the right appears to have morphed, in the process, into a rather futuristic sculpture ... itself a counterpoint to the Archibald Fountain (1932) just a few minutes' walk away, with Apollo surrounded by various mythical figures.   By Francois Sicard, it resulted from a bequest by J. F. Archibald (best known for founding the Bulletin) and supposedly commemorates the co-operation between Australia and France in WW1 (Archibald was a great francophile).   It can hardly be a surprise that the area round the fountain was for a long time a gay cruising area - supposedly in the 1930s and 40s the figures here, and on the nearby war memorial, were the only male nudes on display as public statuary in Sydney ...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

sydney sunday

Australians seem to fall into two categories: the very fit (running past this poster for a missing ... oh, we were disappointed: it turned out to be a soft toy, but probably no more able to fend for itself than a live one would be around here), or the decidedly overweight (Australia is very full of pie shops, and cake shops, as well as the healthy fish/fruit/yogurt kind of establishments we've been more or less frequenting, though last night's lentil burger (me) and beef/avo/bacon burger from Moo's were something of an exception).   So they trot around the beach and headland,

or go swimming in the sea or the pool attached to the Coogee Lifesaving club, in the path of the gathering (and quite spectacular) storm, or at the very least they amble, like us, round the Botanical Gardens,

where there are some very large and Dracula-like fruit bats flying around, and lots more water lilies, and I was confidently able to identify the outdoor ones that I met in Adelaide as Lotuses, although without Buddhas sitting in the middle of them.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

wash day

This has been a meltingly hot day in Sydney - the thermometer reached 42 C this afternoon, which translates into something like 107 F.  So although I did take one or two pictures from our hotel room balcony of people cramming themselves into the sea on Coogee beach to keep cool, and although once it was dark it was just about bearable to walk around, it was not exactly a day for prowling with a camera.   It was, however, a good drying day - if one turned one's head in the other direction from the sea.   Australia is a great country for outdoor clothes drying: so very many suburban and country back yards have a national icon sitting in the middle of the coarse grass - a Hills Hoist rotary clothes line, spinning gently round and round.   Here, however, some rather Italianate straight lines have been stretched across for the pegging out of clothes - which can't have taken long to dry, at all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

water lilies

I was so very glad that I made time to go into the Botanic Garden in Adelaide - full of parrakeets playing their own specialized Angry Bird screeches - and also home to some tremendous waterlilies.   The two images on the left are especially appropriate to a Victorian conference: they are Victoria Amazonia, handsomely housed and happily spreading in their new water-lily house.   The ones on the right are the common or garden variety, growing in their own dense lake, with mid-pink flowers curling up like giant camellias.   

Victoria Regia - as she was once known - was, of course, first grown really successfully in England by Joseph Paxton - for the Duke of Devonshire - who used coal-powered boilers to get the temperature to the right swampy consistency (given the hot muggy air in Adelaide, the glasshouse, indeed, seemed a bit superfluous ...).


Paxton posed his daughter standing on a water lily leaf (I'm not sure whether these ones would hold anything much heavier than a large cat, though).   I should have tried for a more underwater angle, since the formation of ribbed stems on the underside of the leaves of this plant -  "like transverse girders and supports" - formed the inspiration for the structure of the Crystal Palace.   Here, however, the structure of this particular building is reflected, indicating much more rectilinear lines - architectural counterpoint, rather than mimicry.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Is it a radiator?   Hardly, in this heat.   A black picket fence?  An aboriginal painting?   Closest is the last of these - this is a fountain outside Adelaide Art Gallery - that is, the Art Gallery of South Australia, which not only has some wonderful contemporary aboriginal art inside it, but a small but stellar collection of Victorian paintings - a real indication of taste Down Under in the late C19th.  These include one of my favorite sentimental social realist pictures, Thomas Kennington's 1891 The Pinch of Poverty (I'd never previously noticed that there was a uniformed policeman in the background, standing under a shop awning); a ridiculously melodramatic Forgiven, by George Harcourt (peasant girl returns, on knees, to her peasant lover - does the presence of a sheep and lamb in the background suggest that she went off somewhere to have a baby, or ....?); John Charles Dollman's The Immigrants' Ship 1884 - just what it sounds like - Waterhouse's Circe Invidiosa - very sinister, like a Marie Corelli illustration - and a very striking, melodramatic history painting, Herbert Schmalz's Zeobia's Last Look at Palmyra (1888).   Plus there was a 1929 huge, almost expressionist Walter Sickert of The Raising of Lazarus - originally painted on wallpaper - a Bloomsbury table, and a couple of stunning Vanessa Bells, which count as next week's teaching preparation.

Adelaide's (other?) main Tourist Attraction is the enormous covered central market - which, if less smelly, apart from some excellent local cheeses - is very reminiscent of markets in Malaysia or Indonesia - and it has sculptures of a different and more organic kind ...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Down here in dry, non-windy Adelaide, we continue to muse on signage, as we did in Northern Queensland.   Lettering on advertisements of all kinds - placards, shop fronts, hoardings (not that there are nearly as many hoardings here as in North America, or even in the UK) seems (and not unlike quite a lot of the fashions, or should I say clothes, in the stores, to be stuck in the 1950s or early 1960s, without any apparent conscious style-irony.   And some of it dates back further ... here's the frontage on a furniture store on Rundle Street.

Alice has just asked me what "hoardings" are - other than what squirrels do with nuts, I presume ... hmmmm - didn't know that doesn't work as a US word ... ah, BILLBOARDS.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

before the cyclone ...

... which is most scarily bearing down on Northern Queensland right at this moment.   As we left our hotel, they were starting to batten down and cover up - here they are trying to protect a big painting above reception, using nets and ropes from their Cyclone Preparation Box - but given the magnitude of the winds that are already starting to blow, I think that they might do better to take it down ... driving into Cairns, there were huge long lines for gas, and the supermarket parking lots were overflowing.   There weren't any spare seats on the planes leaving the crowded airport (which is now closed); and the Red Cross were flying in.   We have been extraordinarily lucky in our timing (now safe in hot and dry Adelaide), just as Queensland is extraordinarily unlucky to be facing a cyclone the size of Katrina - or worse - the Prime Minister, on TV, has just said this is likely to be the worst cyclone that Australia has ever seen: maybe even worse than the one of 1918.   Windgusts of over 300 kmh being forecast, and a huge potential tide surge.

This is what the beach looked like in the morning: strange hazy dark clouds.