Sunday, March 29, 2009

All happening

It's been a big, noisy weekend around these parts. The footy's back, which drew hordes of people to the MCG, and the Formula 1 Grand Prix screamed its way to the chequered flag just the other side of St Kilda Road from my place.

Even though I sometimes have a little whinge about being crushed on a tram with sports fans or having the bejesus scared out of me during fireworks season, I do love being in the thick of things. No way would I swap it for a life in the suburbs (and yes, I have lived in the suburbs).

Today we were blasted by the sonic boom of a fighter jet flying over the grand prix circuit, followed by a couple of hours of high-pitched squeal from the Formula 1 cars, and then The Who fired up for the after-race concert.

I love the buzz in the city during a major event - even if I don't care much for the event itself, but as it happens, I am fond of both AFL and the grand prix. Yes, I admit it. I like fast, noisy cars. I find the rumble of a V8 engine aurally pleasing. I was socialised that way, having grown up with a rev head father and brother and been carted around various motor racing events in my childhood. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Note fad and gay uncle giraffe

I wonder if Craig has started some sort of note-posting fad? Today I got to the tram stop to find the sign above taped to the shelter.

It's not very clear (I was rushing because the tram was about to take off) but it says -

"Hey You!! Have you done a random act of kindness today?? A young man called Ben has turned 24. He needs a friendly call or text to let him know that people actually do care. If you can spare a few cents, please send a short message to..."

I actually did sent a message, but Ben didn't reply. Oh well.

Fruity giraffe

I added another member to my little herd of wooden giraffe today. He's taller than the others, so at first I was thinking he could be father giraffe, but he's um...kinda fruity looking with his green and mauve legs and neck, so I decided he's the gay uncle instead. (Yes, he's also a little cross-eyed.)

Here they are -

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cookin' the books and the wallabies

Did you know that the International Edible Book Festival is coming up on April 1? No? Well, now you do.

I got an email about it from the Athenaeum Library the other day. Apparently this "ephemeral global banquet" is held every year in many parts of the world. Bookish types get together to whip up culinary delights that either look like books or are inspired by a book. Then they take photos of them, judge the winner and then gobble them all up.

You can see some photos here. I like the Clifford the Big Red Dog one (2007), partly because we had a Clifford book when I was a wee one.


I was up earlier than usual this morning and although I can't lie and say I liked getting up before 7.30 (go on, scoff!), I did enjoy seeing the sun trying to burst through the clouds on the horizon and the sight of three hot hair balloons drifting in the misty sky in the distance.

I'd forgotten about the hot air balloons that float by in the early mornings (though not usually on drizzly mornings like this). It's a nice way to start the day, sitting on your couch eating breakfast while watching hot air balloons. If I could just get out of bed earlier more often...

Once one went right over the top of my flat and was so close they probably could have seen what I was having for breakfast.

Speaking of the sky...

Check out this website, Sky Watch Friday, where people can send in their own pictures of the sky. Make sure you scroll down a bit and see the picture of the winter sunset over Riga. How spectacular is that?!

Coincidence of the week I

I rang the Blood Bank the other day because I hadn't heard from them in relation to an appointment to donate. It had been six weeks since I lodged my details online and I wanted to make sure they hadn't been lost. But then when I got to work later that day, I found they'd emailed me late the previous night to tell me they hadn't forgotten me! They read my mind.... (They've been inundated with donors since the bushfires, you see).

Coincidence of the week II

The Infamous Mrs Blueballs left a comment on my Myspace page today telling me about the Taste of Australia cookbook she picked up while she was visiting, which has recipes such as Yabby Bisque, Emu Slithers on Pumpkin Scones, Kangaroo Pot of Gold Pasties, Wallaby (gasp!) Savoury Crepes, and Quandong and Peach Melbas. Then tonight I caught the tail end of The Cook and The Chef on the ABC in which they were cooking with native foods, including quandongs!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Canna Lilies in the Botanic Gardens today

Here is a treat for those of you who love books and libraries and old buildings as I do. Check out Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries from the blog Curious Expeditions.

How jaw droppingly magnificent are those libraries! Not only are they stupendously beautiful buildings - they have books in them!

Of course, I was very pleased to see the State Library of Victoria got a mention, even though the photo doesn't capture the magnificence of the domed reading room. It's a bit hard to squeeze so much magnificence into one photo, I suppose. No doubt all the libraries have to be seen with your own eyes to fully appreciate them.

I was directed to Librophiliac by Errata, the blog of the Wordie website.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More on Craig and adopt-a-word

I was down Windsor way today and I kept my eye out for Craig's quirky and amusing notes. Even though he's been outed as a mere imitator, I still wanted to see them for myself.

I spotted a couple of what looked like remnants of his signs and was thinking perhaps they'd been ripped down by disgruntled former admirers, and then I spied this intact one.

And clearly I'm not the only one captivated by Craig's amusing (if unoriginal) whimsy who thought of flushing him out with a note of their own. If you can't make it out, the writing at the bottom, it says, "Craig we love you like we love our battered saus[age]. Call me....".

Maybe this person ripped down the other note that someone stuck underneath, hoping to have him all to herself?

I also saw this note - which looks like it might have originally been accompanied by a bunch of balloons - on the post box where one of Craig's signs was.

PS Don't ask me who BNE is, but they was everywhere along Chapel Street today.


I have just discovered (via The Happiness Project) a cool site called Save The Words which allows you to adopt your very own word. (OK, it's cool if you're a word nerd like me). You can even get your adopted word printed on a T-shirt.

When adopting it, you pledge to use the word as often as you can, to try to save it from lexical oblivion.

I haven't had a good look yet, but, as an avowed word lover, I really should have one all of my very own to love and nurture. I just have to find the right one... This is not a decision to be made lightly. A word is not just for Christmas, you know.

I'll keep you posted. Let me know if you adopt one.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mrs Marsh is back (and not just on my blog)

Gadzooks, people! A couple of days after I blogged about the old Colgate ads from the 80s with Mrs Marsh, I just saw one of the old "just like liquid gets into this chalk" ads on the telly!

Maybe Colgate is trying to skimp on their advertisiting budget by getting Channel Ten to run the ads as a "retro break"? Whatever...I am very pleased by the coincidence. It's possible they have been running the old ads for weeks, but I don't watch much commercial TV so it's new to me.

Actually, now that I think about it, I saw a snippet of the above ad on the promo for next week's episode of The Gruen Transfer, so now I know what it's going to be about.

And speaking of coincidences this week, just after I blogged about Cookery the Australian Way, reader Jayne's daughter rang up to request a recipe from their copy of the book.

Aaaahh...I love a little coincidence.


And finally, I was very pleased to see that the recent rain has given a nice green tinge to Melbourne's parks and gardens. That's the hill at Birrarung Marr above, which just last week was an unappealing yellow-brown mound. But now - green grass! Yay!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The domestic arts

My trip down memory lane continues.... Anyone else remember the home economics textbook, Cookery the Australian Way (CAW)?

I have kept my copy of it from high shool all these years and find it really useful when I need to know basic stuff I have somehow managed not to learn before now (how long to roast a chicken?) and how to make traditional dishes, such as pavlova or scones (which probably also fall into the category of basic stuff).

I've referred to CAW twice in the past three days. In fact, I probably refer to it more than any other cookbook I own (save for Friendly Food, the recipe book for my allergy elimination diet, at the moment).

I'm really quite fond of it, partly for its usefulness, partly because it taught me the basics of nutrition, and partly because it's a culinary and cultural time capsule. I have the third edition, which was published in January 1980. Australian kitchens and diets - Australian society - have undergone huge changes since then.

Bits I love about CAW -

* Three of the four editors have Diplomas in Domestic Arts. Domestic Arts!

* The use of the term "home-maker", which I suppose was quite progressively gender-neutral for the times, but seems so quaint now.

"The purchase of food is generally the responsibility of the home-maker, who should always endeavour to prpvide the family with nourishing and palatable meals."

* The advice on dinner parties, including

"Arranging flowers for a party table may take some time and should be done early, when the matter can be given undivided attention."

* The pointers on table manners, which include

"You can add to the pleasant atmosphere of the meal if you contribute to the conversation with interesting topics."

* The parade of "classic" dishes, such as

  • Tuna or salmon mornay
  • Hamsteaks and pineapple (although it omits the glace cherry garnish, which frankly is a glaring gap in the performance of the domestic arts, if you ask me)
  • Scotch eggs
  • Sweet and sour pork casserole - yes, it has tinned pineapple in it
  • An array of offal recipes, such as fricasee of brains, which requires the home-maker to acquire "2 sets brains" and simmer and strain them before removing the membranes and blood vessels. Gak!
  • Macaroni and ham salad
  • Junket
  • Blancmange
  • Sago
  • Flummery
  • Golden syrup dumplings, which I love. We ate them a lot when I was a kid. It was the only dessert my mother knew how to cook when she was first married. Later came chocolate self-saucing pudding....mmmmm.

Needless to say, I'm pleased to see Cookery the Australian Way is still in print. That's the latest edition - the seventh - above, which is a special 60th anniversary edition, including special comments from people who have "fond memories" of using the book over the years. I think I might get me a copy.

I'm also pleased to see doyenne of the domestic arts Shirley Cameron is still in the CAW kitchen. She must be getting on a bit now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tough teeth, Mrs Marsh

I got a clean bill of dental health from my dentist today, which I only mention here because it made me think of the "Tough teeth, Mrs Marsh!" line from Colgate ads in the 80s.

So for nostalgia sake, I googled it, and found a clip on YouTube and then, as often happens on the interwebs, I found a whole bunch of other stuff.

Thought I'd share so we can all have a hit of nostalgia (well, those of us of a certain age who live in Australia at least).

Gotta love a lame segue, hey? Gotta love YouTube too.

Craig update -
Sadly, it turns out that Craig is merely an imitator....dang.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brussels sprouts and porridge

You know what I like? Brussels sprouts. Yep, those little baby cabbages that most people turn their noses up at...I love 'em.

Even the smell of them makes me go "Mmmmmm...yum". I can eat a great big pile of them. Before you think I'm quite mad, let me point out that most people's brussels sprout experiences have been ruined by overcooking, which makes them smell and taste bitter.

But if you steam them until they are just soft, and serve them with a little butter and salt, I reckon you'd change your mind. (Unless you're one of the fussy britches who eats no vegetables except potatoes, peas and corn kernels like an ex of mine.) They don't taste bitter at all - nor do they taste like cabbage, thankfully - and they have a nice nutty smell. Try it.

I had some for dinner tonight with the roast chicken my flatmate cooked. Yum.

While I'm singing the praises of foodstuffs, how ace is porridge? I know this isn't news to a lot of people, but I have never liked the stuff, although now that I think about it, I only recall eating it once on camp when I was a Brownie and campfire cooking is probably not a good yardstick.

Anyway, recently, for reasons I won't bore you with, I tried it again, that stuff is delicious! I cook it in the microwave with milk and then add a little sugar and maple syrup (these are allergy elimination approved ingredients).

I think I owe porridge an apology because prior to my discovery of its creamy delights, I had on occasion used "porridge" as a synonym for bland and boring. Sorry, porridge. I shall make it up to you by eating you a lot.

Ooohh! Funny little coincidence! I wrote about Golden Gaytime icecreams in a post last week and tonight I saw an ad for them on TV for the first time in...forever.

And yes, the photo obviously has nothing to do with Brussels sprouts or porridge or Gaytimes. It's just my cloud obsession...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rain, glorious rain!

It's a big, wet day in Melbourne. Not only is there a crowd of 80,000 people at the MCG for the Sound Relief bushfire and flood benefit concert, the heavens have opened and dumped the first decent rain we've had all year. Well, most of the rain we've had all year.

Nearly 19mm of rain has fallen since 9.00 am today, bringing the total rainfall for 2009 to 26.44mm. I can almost hear our poor dehydrated trees and grass and gardens slurping up the moisture. There was even thunder and a few bolts of lightning this morning. It's awesome.

When I was coming back from doing my grocery shopping, a wide bank of ominous dark grey clouds came creeping up over the city. As I stopped on Morell Bridge to take photos (of course), the clouds had stretched right over the top of me, almost enveloping a helicopter hovering over the MCG. It got very dark and the wind whipped up off the river. It was fantastic. I almost wanted to get caught out in the rain but in the end I just got in my front door as it started.

Here's some of my photos -

Clouds gather over the MCG

Cloud bank

Eureka Tower shines like a beacon in the gloom

The view from my loungeroom. Now you see it... you almost don't as the rain comes down.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nerd and birds

From Dr Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo.

I also like the bit where Gerald McGrew says he will use a bait of "three chicken croquettes made of library paste" to catch the Natch that no other hunter has been able to catch.

I had a bite to eat (no, not library paste) at Southgate on my way home tonight as I was too lazy to cook. I had a host of cheeky sparrows groaking at me while I ate and I teased them by placing crumbs right in front of me to see how game they were. They were very brave. Or very hungry.

As I walked home, I saw two ducks having a nap half way up the river bank, with their heads turned and tucked into the feathers on their backs.

A little further on I saw an old nest that had fallen from a tree.

"Cover me! I'm goin' in!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fountain of glee...and a gay time

My heart leapt with glee today when I saw that the fountain in the Carlton Gardens was spouting water. Hurrah! The water spurting and sparkling in the sun was a beautiful sight as I walked up a shady avenue towards the Exhibition Building.

The last few times I've visited the gardens, the fountain has been a still, murky puddle due to the ongoing drought and water restrictions. I don't know what's changed, but today its was back to being a glorious fountain, not just a wonderful piece of sculpture. It made me so happy. (According to one website, the fountain only operates five hours a day - maybe I've just never been there are the right time before).

The Exhibition Building (the first building in Australia to be World Heritage-listed, in 2004) and the fountain were built for the International Exhibition in 1880. I love the platypuses and frogs around the edges of the second and third tiers of the fountain (and I love the word platypuses, even though platypus is an acceptable plural).

I was at the Exhibition Building as part of my continuing self-guided Walking Melbourne tour. I did manage to get out of bed in time to wander the streets, but I've still only visited and photographed about 60 of the 235 buildings/landmarks.

I also visited the City Baths, which the Walking Mebourne guide describes as an "exuberant and much-loved Edwardian structure" with (I love this bit) a "riot of turrets and domes". As the name suggests, the building was once a public bath house but it's now home to a modern fitness centre, of which I am a very lazy member. I like its riot of turrets, but it makes me feel guilty looking at it.

I had a Golden Gaytime icecream on my way home. Mmmm, biscuit bits. Remember Golden Gaytimes, Aussie readers? Can you believe they still make them? And that Streets hasn't relaunched the product with a different name? They're like the icecream equivalent of the Pollywaffle chocolate bar or Sunshine Pine soft drink. Which is, of course, partly why I like them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The birdmen plungeth

Two of the Three Businessmen who Brought their Own Lunch

I headed to Moomba again for the Birdman Rally today but, after a lengthy and unplanned sleep in, I didn't get a very good spot on the river bank, which was choked with people. I missed the first few birdmen, but it was still a fun bit of piss-takery.

There were contestants clad in parrot costmes, Astroturf capes and Inspector Gadget get-ups. There was a vampire calling himself Count Batchelor and a bunch of cavemen. There were "aircraft" made of feathers, cardboard, Styrofoam, clingwrap and tinfoil. As usual, there was a lot of jumping and plunging, not much flying.

The winner (Click here to see some more pictures - The Age photographer had a better vantage point than I did.)

The same guy who won for the past three years was victorious again. I think he's an engineer or something. Boo hiss. That's like when people who can actually sing hog the karaoke stage. Get orf, already!

Later in the day I sat on the grass in the Alexandra Gardens and listened to the Swing Patrol belting out some toe-tapping tunes while a posse of swing dancers from the Shuffle Club did their thing on the dance floor, along with a bunch of little kids. Everyone was smiling their heads off. It was quite contagious. People seem to have got the Moomba memo (i.e. - "let's all get together and have fun").

Book crawl

In between those things, I did a bookshop crawl. I picked up a couple more Dr Seuss at one shop, then I bought the follow up to Foyle's Philavery and Reading the OECD at another. I also bought a handbook for my camera since I'm still something of an ignoramus at using it. I don't know which book to start first. So much for belonging to two libraries, hey? Some books you just have to own.

After all that, I had a choccy injection at Chokolait - creamy, thick Belgian hot chocolate and an icecream sundae. Mmmmmm.... I walked about 13 kilometres today so I earned a treat, I reckon.

Weeeee! Public holiday tomorrow. I was going to continue my Walking Melbourne tour, but will see what time I get out of bed.

Sunset tonight

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bread, Wagons and Moomba

Gee, I love bread. Not the bland, Kleenex-bright stuff that comes uniformly sliced in plastic bags from the supermarket, but the nice rustic sourdough-type stuff, the sort you buy as a whole loaf from a bakery and you hack slices off it yourself. (Slices that are twice as thick on one end as the other, if your loaf-slicing skills are anything like mine.)

I bought an organic sourdough from the French bakery on Swan Street today and ate several slices with nothing but butter. Soft and a little rubbery on the inside, chewy and crusty on the outside. Yum.

Of course, it's also a guilty pleasure for me since I'm gluten intolerant, but ya gotta live a bit, right? (Gluten free bread just isn't the same.)

On the band Wagons again

The Wagons set at Moomba last night was great. How can you not enjoy an hour of songs about death and murder and Willie Nelson, I ask? There might have been one or two about love as well.

They played on the same patch of grass where I first saw them last year. I may have told you this before, but I have a little crush on the lead singer, Henry Wagons. Yeah, he looks like a myopic hobbit, but he's funny and I love the music. He's not the most unlikely crush I've had...

Moomba was a burst of sound and colour, cheap stuffed toys and overpriced crap food last night. Well, crap except for the poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes) with lemon and sugar. Yummy.

When I was walking home flying foxes were flying low over the river, reflecting in the black glassy water. One landed high up in a tree and hung upside down in a little batty clump.

I have the flat to myself this weekend. Ah, just like old times...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More silliness on the streets

The above thoughtful courtesy note is one of a dozen quirky/crackpot signs that "Craig" has affixed to light poles and post boxes around the streets of Windsor, in inner Melbourne.

So says an email that was sent to me today by a friend, anyway. Here's some more of Craig's delightfully deranged signs -

Of course I love them. I love him and I have no idea who he is or why he's doing this. I asked Google, but Google pretty much shrugged its shoulders.

I have to know, dammit! I wonder if I turned up at one of the alotted times (although there's no date) would he be there waiting in his half-pirate/half-clown get up or whatever? (I wonder if anyone did show up?) Could I lure him out with an offbeat note of my own?

And why didn't I know about this earlier? Windsor is kinda my stomping ground...well, I stomp around there at least twice a month anyway, including past the places where Craig has stuck his notes. Am I walking around with my eyes shut?

If you want to see the full set, email me and I'll send them to you (address is on my profile).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Moomba, Wagons and flying foxes

Melbourne is heading into another major event this weekend with Moomba kicking off on Friday night. OK, it's not exactly the AFL Grand Final, but I still love the sense of anticipation.

The water skiiers were out practising their jumps on the river this morning and the carnies have slowly been unloading and setting up the rides and sideshow alley at Birrarung Marr in the shadow of the Skywheel (above).

And the platform for the Birdman Rally is all set up, ready and waiting for all the men and women who are willing to take a plunge in the murky Yarra River in pursuit of 15 minutes of dubious fame.

The Birdman Rally is probably my favourite part of Moomba - people dressing up in silly costumes, climbing aboard ill-conceived home-made "aircraft" and launching themselves into the air in a bid to "fly" the farthest distance. Usually there's more plummeting than flying, but that's half the fun. It's total silliness and ya gotta love total silliness.

I also discovered today that Wagons, one of my fave bands, is playing a free gig for Moomba on Friday night. Yay. (And I just found out just then looking at their myspace profile that their new album is out next month. Double yay).

It's also a long weekend this weekend too. Woohoo.


Tonight while I was lying on the couch watching Spicks n Specks, a procession of flying foxes flew past my window on their way to the gardens.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Getting organised

I spent hours on Sunday afternoon giving myself a repetitive strain injury and a numb bottom while re-organising...actually, make that just plain organising...the thousands of photos stored on my laptop.

Sounds dreary, I know, but anyone who has read previous posts about my love of list writing and decluttering probably won't be surprised to learn that I got a little buzz from going through every folder and transferring the photos to a portable hard drive where I filed them according to subject. I also deleted some boring/blurry ones, so now I can pretend to be a better photographer than I really am.

Not only will it be much easier to find a particular photo in future, but I've freed up a lot of space on my laptop and it's working faster.

Now all I need to do is go through every subject folder and create sub-folders...maybe a bit of cross-referencing....or is that taking things a bit far?

Speaking of list writing, organising my photos is on my List of 101 Things to Do Before I'm 40 and it's been on my weekend to-do list for weeks on end, so I'm glad I finally got a fair whack of it done.