Tuesday, December 22, 2009

happy Solstice

In the early hours of this morning, the sun slipped into the sign of Capricorn heralding the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere. While North America and Europe has turned white with snow and the inhabitants face their longest night, we enter our longest day.

My intentions had been to do a ritual on waking this morning. I like to gather some greenery from the garden, infuse water with herbs, take a crystal (a remnant from my brush with the new age last century) and light a candle. At a makeshift altar I’d meditate for a while and then give thanks for all that I have in my life, let go of the feelings I’d like to discard and clean the slate for the new year.

Instead I woke with a head full of mucus and began psyching myself into the final countdown (30 hours) before my entire family arrive for their first Australian Christmas. I’ve had a number of Christmas’s with my siblings, though this is the first with my parents too.

I am a bundle of contradictions, I know, believing in no god (or gods) but love a good pagan ritual. I quite like a Buddhist Puja, the serenity of an old church and the mystery of meditation.

For now I have to drag my weary bones off to a modern temple of sorts, the supermarket, to fill the house with edible cheer. I will get my moment of reflection when my head is clearer.

Hope the season is treating you well, whatever your spiritual beliefs (or lack of).

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

stormy afternoon in Richmond

During the week I trekked across town, braving the achingly slow traffic on Hoddle St/Punt Rd, to Richmond. I mercy dash to get a little treat for my sister's upcoming visit.














The shop I was after lay just a few blocks away from her first home in this city almost 30 years ago, off Swan St. If you leaned out on the balcony and turned your head at an awkward angle you could see the clock on top of Dimmey's.











Wandering through the side streets of this corner of Richmond I'd forgotten what a charming place it is. Dotted with quirky shops, proud old buildings and a sense of history.













After my errand I scampered up Lennox Street to Bridge Road while the grey sky thundered and managed to duck into the Tofu Shop before the clouds dumped their load. Just as I finished my last mouthful of tofu, tempeh and vegetables the rain stopped and I headed back on the streets once more and submitted myself to the pre-Christmas traffic mayhem, singing Found Objects anthemic "Punt Road" (oh if only a copy of that song survived - Frank whatever happened to the Found Objects back cataglogue?).

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Monday, December 14, 2009

#best09 11 & 12*. best new place/new food

Best new place and new food all rolled into one.

Thanh Nga Nine in Victoria St, Richmond (Melbourne) . Don’t forget to try the crispy “pancakes” with coconut cream and sweet chili sauce – my dish of the year.


*best 5-10 night out, conference, blog find, moment of peace, challenge, album hmmmm too much brain fog for those right now!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

was crying, now ranting

I did find something to top the TAC video for weepies shortly after my last post. In one of those yuletide (yet totally sober) moments of stupidity I managed to stab the side of my index finger at full force with the point of my scissors. There goes the homemade solstice cards...and a heck of a lot else. While the actual laceration was relatively minor and the bleeding got under control in a reasonable time I appear to have damaged one of the nerves in said finger. The result is numbness (all the time) and odd moments of excruciating pain if I am silly enough to extend my finger. You'd be surprised how often I perform that action, as if a little bit of finger action is all that keeps me balanced as I go about my business.

It didn't stop me from going to the Xmas gig of My Friend the Chocolate cake though (said accident occurred shortly before we were to leave and when asked by the NB whether I wanted to go to hospital instead I shouted "Noooooooooooo....want Chocolate Cake").

Frequent doses of brandy helped.

Three days on still have the numbness to one side of my finger above the stab wound and the acute pain above the wound elicits a fair amount of swearing and reasons to not do the washing up.

On the ranting front I have yet more complaints about Telstra which has a monopoly on high speed broadband in this suburb (due to problems with our inner city Melbourne phone exchange). The supposedly high speed cable has been suspiciously slow in recent weeks. With the NB now away and only one computer running it hasn't solved the problem. This occurred around the school holidays last summer, which no longer seems a coincidence as it's happening again. I checked my records. We finally spit the dummy and contacted Telstra in the first week of January and it took them FIVE WEEKS to respond to the complaint. The whole thing was laughable. Tried to ring them during the time but there are only so many hours of your life you can wait on hold to get connected to an Indian call centre. By the time they looked into the problem things were miraculously back to normal.

On the upside, have you been pissed off with the pesky video ads that keep popping up on The Age site, or is it just me? Really annoying and chews up unnecessary bandwidth. I've found a firefox ad on that blocks the ads here. Have run The Age site for the past hour and it's blocked over 40 fairfax generated ads already. Not a peek of advertising has snuck through. Magic.

Have been making stuff but can't say more just yet til my sister, who will be visiting for the festive season, promises to stop reading the blog til her holiday or she'll have no surprises.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

things that made me cry this week

There was the dead brother's birthday and that little bit of (still unresolved) business stress.

Then I watched this:



I don't watch TV at the moment so I miss the good, the bad and the ugly of public service announcement. The latest TAC tribute made me flinch and cry.

Am hoping tomorrow is a day without tears, where silly little real estate matters can find resolution with ease and all is well in the world.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

a small legal/property issue

A quick aside for my stomach churning thought for the morning.

Any readers have any commercial property expertise? Err, rather urgently? Exactly 1 month before my three yearly lease is about to expire the agents are trying on a massive 25% price hike. I am a long term tenant (more than 10 years) and there has been annual price rises built into the lease over that time equal to or above inflation. I've dealt with the agent before and he's not a nice person. Let's just leave the descriptor as that.

Though I'm guessing there is a glut of rental property in the Melbourne CBD, our building is consistently at high occupancy.

I don't want to be too high handed, I do want to stay where I am but considering the climate I think what they are asking for is unreasonable.

Oh and they know I want to stay, it was me who reminded them to renew the lease.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

not forgotten



The silly bugger on the left would've turned 50 today, if he hadn't gone and got himself a brain tumour in 1993.

Happy Birthday big bro.

Thinking of you.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

#best09 4*. best book

“Every patient tells a story” by Lisa Sanders. She’s the diagnostics nut behind House’s weird and wonderful medical detective work. I wish every doctor would read her work, to get back in touch with old-fashioned skills like listening to the patient. It’s a great read for anyone with the slightest inclination towards the fascinating workings of the human body.

*3 – best article? Read too many but the sock-blowing-offness of each was only transitory. Each jiggled my perception for a while but the moments passed.


You read anything good lately (Susie Orbach's "Bodies" was a close second).

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

#best09 2. best meal

The last dinner in Malaysia was an authentic Thai experience in the lush surrounds of one of KL’s finest hotels. Every dish contributed to this being the meal of '09 to die for but rather than make you groan with envy slavishly recreating every course, I’ll give you a taste of the first dish.

The setting
The streets are steaming after a tropical thunderstorm, raising the humidity to energy sapping highs. In 4 short blocks we walk from a pocket of the city where the homeless sleep on flattened cardboard boxes and street vendors sell chicken feet and dumplings, to the world of Parisian designers, glitz and glamour. In our sweat stained clothes we’re more at home amongst the old men firing their woks on the roadside than here at the Marriott but we’ve got ringgit to burn and we’re splashing out on the best food the region has to offer for our last night in Asia. We slip into the rarified, deliciously airconditioned surrounds and dine like kings.


The dish
Meang kum

Beetle leaves, shrimps, toasted coconut, ginger, mouth-numbingly-hot chilies, crispy shallots, cucumber and a piquant sauce.

Under the harsh light of the camera flash the ingredients may look a little bland, yet each imparts an intense unique flavour enhanced by their freshness. As for the bird’s eye chili – even a mere hint of this herb triggered a fiery cascade of endorphins.

The place
Mythai Restaurant
Lower ground, 7 Starhill Gallery
181 Jalan Bintang
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

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#best09 1. best trip



We headed on a whim to Malaysia, to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. Just 9 days, no real plans. Vaguely we thought we’d be backpacking for a week or so somewhere hot and steamy. It took a lot of convincing the Not Boyfriend to book our first few nights in a comfortable hotel, with no risk of bed bugs. For less than the price of a 2 star room in Lorne, we got air con, quirky Malaysian TV, a modern bathroom and a king size bed. A sumptuous buffet breakfast, free wifi and the perfect location in historic Melaka sealed the deal.

We ended up staying a week – eating chendol, gorging on assam curries, having massages, hanging out at the night market, encountering boiling pots of satay flavoured lava,meeting wonderful people, being enchanted and doing all those things couples are meant to do on holidays.

I've been living in Australia for over 20 years and I'm only just realising the wonders of having Asia in the backyard.

Where to next? Thailand? Vietnam? Laos? I did mention to a certain food loving friend that perhaps we should consider a cooking school sojourn - now that's a fine idea!

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behind and ahead

I’ve been thinking about goal setting lately. There are some lumps on the 2010 landscape that are of unknown magnitude at this point in the journey, I’m thinking if I get my head clear on the things that are important to me in the here and now, it may help me navigate this unknown topography.

One of the standout personal issues to be unearthed thus far is my relationship with fun. Aside from a friend dying, two elderly parents (one whose had cancer, the other slipping slowly into the arms of dementia) and the prospect of my partner (he called me his soul mate the other day) planning to up and leave to another state in the new year…there are rich joys to be celebrated in my life.

I’ve tried to keep this blog less focused on the personal but as the delightful Frances from The Librarians says, “My blog (country), my rules” – so I’m going to break code for a while. I’ve always found breaking the rules fun.

On a whim I signed up for Mondo Beyondo in January. The women behind the course, Andrea and Jen, ask “What happens when you give an unspoken wish a place to become a dream come true? How do you gather the courage required to help a new found dream soar?”. Right now my dreams are buried so deeply it’s going to take some strenuous digging to relocate them, let alone get them airborne. But why not give it a go?

Sometimes to move forward we need to acknowledge and farewell what is behind us. So in the spirit of finding my fun mojo again I’m going to play with Gwen Bell’s The best of 2009 blog challenge.

The guidelines to #best09 are delightfully fluid. To reflect on the year that’s almost gone you can do one or all thirty-one of the a prompts, from a short post, a photo to a 3,000 word essay. I’m a few days late starting this but what the heck.

How’s your year been? What’s 2010 looking like for you?

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