Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Patience, Grasshopper

I'll be making the most of tomorrow. At the time of writing, we have abbout 25 hours left of freedom before the second lockdown starts.

With any luck, these will ease in the last minute on the day of my birthday (19 August). Here's hoping. Hoping for a nice birthday present from Dan Andrews. And I'm glad we have Dan. Though not perfect, he's a good man in a crisis.

I'm glad I got to go to the cinema on the weekend. I'll review David Copperfield in the coming days. But I need to work all this out in my head. Six weeks of lockdown.

It's okay, it's six weeks. 42 days Lots can be acheived in this time.

I did a tarot reading for a friend this afternoon. My words were fairly straightforward  - as clear as I can be when I'm reading cards. The cards were all there. As I wrote up the reading, I took some comfort from the cards I'd drawn for my friend.

This is the universe kicking our arses. This is big, swift, unrelenting change – but it's needed. It’s time to take a more compassionate look at humanity. We’ve been put in the philosophical and universal naughty corner and it’s time for us to clear the way forward. Life isn’t going back to how it was, but it doesn’t mean we are going to come out of this worse off. It’s a time to look for the semaphore signallers for the way forward, and to get comfortable with ourselves, our lives and our realms. The High Priestess and the World again. We need to draw strength from ourselves first – and accept that things are changing.

Hell, I read like Jonathan Cainer...

Anyway, I'm taking a philosphical bent to these next six weeks.

Tomorrow I'm:

  • Going to a socially distanced team meeting at the pub. We were going to do this Thursday. It's been brought forward a day. 
  • Collect my mail from the city. There's a parcel waiting for me. 
  • Pick up cat food - the lad will be very unhappy if I don't have any grub for him. 
  • Go to the gym for the last time in a long time. I'm going to see if I can beg some pump equipiment off the guys seeing we returned it only on Friday. It was great having it in the house during the first lockdown. 
  • Get food - in particular go to the local butcher as Coles was out of meat tonight. I'm right for the rest. 
  • And do some work. I kicked a couple of professional goals today and I'm in the bosses good books. 
I'm lamenting a few things: 
  • The fact the gym is closing tomorrow night - it was great being back. 
  • That we've had to cancel the Hamilton night we were going to have at a friend's place. Maybe time to get that Disney streaming trial. 
  • The Gunnas Retreat is postponed until sometime in the future.
  • Teddy's birthday celebrations are on hold. 
  • Book group is being held on Zoom (not a bad thing, we can hear each other talk)
  • It's back to one on one with Cleo in the park. 
But very grateful for others:
  • I'm healthy.
  • I've got a job which I can do from the lounge room.
  • I can exercise one on on with friends - which means I can still walk with Kaz, Jay and maybe even Blarney every so often. 
  • You can still shop for essentials.
  • I've got masks and hand sanitiser. 
  • I've got a paid up zoom account.
  • I got to see a movie in a theatre before the lockdown.
  • I've got people who check in on me (and vice versa)
  • I can still exercise with Cleo, my trainer, in the park.
  • I've got catch ups with friends marked in the calendar over zoom at regular occurences.
  • There are enough books in my lounge to keep me reading for years. 
  • School is held over Zoom - and this is fine too. One of our class has fled back to Sydney (she went last week) so it's good we'll be all together. 
It's okay. I'll be okay. Lockdown is better than the alternatives of getting sick and having people sick and dying all around you. If anything, my head is in a better space this time.

And Mercury is coming out of retrograde in the next week (12 July).

I'm playing by the rules. 

It just feels a bit hard. 

And I have to keep reminding myself that lots can be acheived in 42 days. 

Today's song:

Monday, July 6, 2020

Attica at Home

As we're on the verge of going back into lockdown, and possibly a harsher lockdown than before, so celebrating our freedoms seemed to be a good thing to do this weekend.

I've always wanted to go to Attica. As a foodie, I love trying new things, tasting new things and just experiencing lovely food.

Attica has been on my list of places to go for years. It's often on the top restaurants of the world lists. It's got a reputation for being really out there in it's dish design, cooking ways and environmental ethos. Many of the herbs and vegetables are grown in the garden in the back of the restaurant. I know they have their own beehives. Everything is exquisite, right down to the service. I hope the dining room opens soon.

Anyway, the other week Jonella asked if I wanted to do the next best thing available at the moment - Attica at Home.

Attica is doing takeaway.  And it's reasonably priced.

Okay, you can do a full degustation for $380. We didn't. I collected our takeaway at 6.45 pm on Saturday night. We'd chosen the Attica Classics menu - $95 for two people along with the Sticky Pineapple  Pudding. Between the four of us, it came to $55 a head. For what we were expecting it seemed reasonable. It was more than reasonable. It was exquisite.

I also grabbed a spare bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne from the cupboard. I wanted to toast out my uncle, and really, a lovely meal needs to be accompanied by lovely champagne.

The three small dishes were perfect in every way.

The Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth it Was Grown was exceptional. A baked potato, baked in the ground, with roasted saltbush was the one of the best potatoes I've ever eaten. Light, fluffy, tasty. The meal got off to a good start.

The Dish That Saved Attica aka Spice Crusted Lamb Shoulder was divine. It was sort of like a lamb croquette, but better. Served with greens, a jus and a puree it stood the 30 minute drive from Ripponlea to Mordialloc. Gently warmed in the oven on arrival it was just divine. Thom, Jonella's partner did a great job of plating.

Then for me, the dish of the night, the Flight of the Bees trifle. Served in the contain it came in from the restaurant, this was 1000 times better than any trifle your nana makes at Christmas. I've never been a fan of the stuff, but I would eat this daily if I could. The honey tainted custard had just enough tang, without being overly sweet. The cake, the delicately flavoured jelly, the raspberries were all perfect. Every pot was scraped clean.

And then, just for good measure, we were served up the sticky pineapple pudding, served with butterscotch sauce and cream. See the video. It was as good as it looked. Light, inventive, sticky and joyfous. Just what we were expecting.

And although $55 seems a bit steep for takeaway, the stellar meal and the great company made for a wonderful night.

Will I do this again? Absolutely.

I just need to find something to celebrate. I hope this will happen soon.

Find in the instalink some photos of the food. Have a flick through. Thom did a good job as our waiter.

Today's song:

Sunday, July 5, 2020

How's the Weather?

Today is a productive day. It has to be. I have already changed the bed linen, gone for a walk, had breakfast and started on putting away 20 things (it'ts a thing, helping me keep the place tidy). And there is a lot more to do. As there is a good chance the state will be back in lockdown but the end of the week, I'm making the most of our limited freedoms. I'm seeing a movie in a bit - the first one since March. I'm doing this for me. Then I'll go back into my box, in support of the tenth of the state who pretty much can't leave their homes. Thankfully, in my part of town, things are nearly normal - but face masks and hand sanitiser are a must. Really, we're very lucky here.

Anyway, enough of the 'Rona. Here's some interesting questions thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. Have you ever had a vacation ruined by the weather or did you just work around it?

No, I'm a roll with the weather sort of person. I've had a few holidays where it's been too hot - you just find air conditioning or a pool.

2. What small changes do you feel people could make to give the planet a fighting chance against global warming?

There are so many things. Reuse, recycle, turn off lights, take a water bottle instead of buying water, look at traditional agriculture practices, stop buying crap you don't need, renewable energy... you'll get me on a roll - but we need to be so much nicer to the planet.

3. Are you adversely affect by the weather, such as SAD?

Not really - but I do need to be outside for at least an hour a day to keep myself happy.

4. How is the weather where you are and have you seen drastic changes in it during your life time?

It's the middle of winter. It's not as cold and wet as it used to be when I was a kid. Summers are getting longer. It's getting milder. But it is still winter. Which is not too far different to a London Autumn.

5. Do you think we can stop global warming or is it too late?

I really hope it's not too late, but we need a GLOBAL effort. Everybody needs to do their bit.

6. What could you do for an hour or so today that you would really enjoy doing?

I'm going to see a movie at 3.15 pm. I think I'll really enjoy that.

7. What could you do for an hour today that might improve your life in the future?

I could walk to and from the movie theatre - that will help save the planet. I will be writing for an hour, do some work on my novel. You never know, that could help my future if it is published and sells well.

8. What could you do for an hour today that could strengthen or improve a skill you would like to be able to rely on?

Writing, other than the blog. Writing is like a muscle - use it and it improves.

9. What could you do for an hour today that would make your living space more pleasant to live in?

Do the floors. I need to do the floors today. I hate doing the floors. Mops and hoovers are not my friend, but it is done regularly. I still hate doing it though.

10. What could you do for an hour today that would improve your relationships with loved ones?

Probably give them a call. I might do that later. Hard doing anything in a pandemic when your family is interstate.

11. Do you like, dislike, or pay no attention to the wind?

I dislike the wind as I have long hair and it gets tangled in the wind, but I don't mind listening to it.

12. Do you have allergies or sinus made worse by the wind?

I get a bit snuffly when it gets windy in spring and summer. Who doesn't?

13. Have you ever been caught in a big wind (not a hurricane or tornado)?

I've been in a couple of freak storms which have had scary wind - thankfully they were over in hours.

14. When was the last time you flew a kite?

I think I was about ten years old. It's been a long, long time.

15.Would you like to have the power of flight?

I think that would be awesome - it would save on public transport costs.

Today's song:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hipster Breakfast

A blessed bit of normality this morning.

I met Damo for breakfast, at a cafe. And it was wonderful.

Damo and I did our master's together. He's going down the PhD route, I'm doing Faber. We both get a bit stresseed, but we've been meeting for breakfast since early in the Master's program, no need to stop. During the main lockdown we'd meet over zoom.

Today we got to go to an old favourite haunt, Three Bags Full in Abbotsford. Due to the current restrictions, they're not talking bookings on the weekend. As we're both earlybirds and we both had a bit on, we decided to meet  at ten minutes before the cafe opened so that we were assured of a table.

It was a good move. A pod of MAMILs were waiting at the front door when I drove up (MAMIL - acronym from Middle Aged Man in Lycra).

This social distancing thing is still a bit strange. We gave each other an air hug from six feet away. It was just nice to see each other face to face.

And we waited with the rest of the hipsters. It wasn't bad. I don't queue for food - and I hate to think what the queues are like at Chin Chin or Supernormal now.They must go down the street and round the corner now.

As this was 7.50 on a Saturday morning, it was fine. Just strange, queuing with the other hipsters.

They opened before time, we were the fourth  guests to be seated (the MAMILs went first). They took our names and phone numbers, as required. A new requirement for eating out. It's not a chore or imposition. If it keeps us safe, then well and good.

Our coffees were ordered. My standard 'large wanker' (almond decaf late) didn't raise an eyebrow. It doesn't often raise comment in Melbourne.

 The coffee's came soon after. Normal things were spoken of. His dog. My cat/.Writing. Our jobs. His PhD. Family. How he has never heard of Sixto Rodriguez (Bloody Millennials). Alt-J. Faber. All the stuff we normally talk about except we weren't over zoom.

And it was bloody fantastic.

So were the patatas bravas I had for breakfast. Complete with an egg, it ws the best patatas bravas I've had out of Spain. Plenty of brava. Recommended.

And after an hour, it was time for me to go to the gym and for Damo to head on back to his middle-Northern suburb and all felt very right in the world.

It is great to be able to do this. It's great that the gym is open. It's nice to feel just a little bit normal for a while.

But the news today isn't great. Another two suburbs are getting locked down. A couple of housing commision towers are under lock down too. 108 cases found.

I fear we'll all be in lockdown in the city soon. Here's hoping not. It's wonderful to just have this little bit of normality back again.

Today's song:


Friday, July 3, 2020

Call Me By Your Name

Damn you,  Netflix.

Another slow, boring week. Another day of trudging through Jira tickets looking at development schedules, schemas, development tables and user stories. It's sort of fun in a boring, nerdish, soul sapping sort of way.

Which is where Netflix comes in. I've normally got the television on in the background on any given day. In the morning, it's often the Today Extra show. Don't hold this against me, but it's good for news bulletins and there are lots of infomercials you can turn off too. It's background white noise, not obtrusive and  it acts like a pseudo office environment (banal chatter, half wits and fluff without the lousy kitchen aromas).

The afternoon's a bit trickier. Finding something to have on in the background to work to without getting too distracted. Old favourites get played. The West Wing, Suits, Doctor Doctor... bland, banal shows that don't get in the way. I know the stories. I can put the telly in the background, work productlively and all is well.

Then, like today, I make a mistake an put on something I really shouldn't.

That thing was Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

I've only seen a little bit of this director's work. A Bigger Splash is his other film that made an impact. I love this film. I love Ralph Fiennes cast against type. I love Ralph Fiennes Dad Dancing. I love that Tilda Swinton is this director's muse.

Oh bugger it, here's Ralph Fiennes dad dancing. Everybody needs to see this:

What I love about Luca Guadagnino's films is that they are langorous. They shirk around he film like a hot cat, stretching, padding, looking gorgeous. They often take place in Italy in remote places which are as glorious as they are stark.

And his films look at human relationships at their most raw and vulnerable.

Which is how I come to Call Me By Your Name - a film which left me breathless at the end of it. A film which saw Timothee Chalomet secure his first Oscar nomination. Personally, I think Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer were robbed of Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations.

The story is quite simple. It's a boy-meets-boy love story - one of the purest and most beautiful I've ever witnessed on film. Chalomet plays Elio, the precocious son of a university professor (Stuhlbarg).  They are staying at the family villa in the North of Italy. Along comes Oliver (Hammer), an PhD student who comes to stay with the family and work on his PhD under Stuhlbarg's tutelage.

It becomes apparent early on that Elio and Oliver spark off each other. They try to ignore it. In  the end, they succumb. What ensues is a love story of the purest, most honest form ever shown on film.

I adore this film. I love it a bit too much. I love it so much that I will have to do a few hours work on the weekend to make up for me sitting in front of the telly gobsmacked, again, but the abject beauty of this film.

Set in the eighties, the film has a great innocence to it. There are little things I love - Armie Hammer's dancing being one of those things (at 6'5" he's all arms and legs and it's a joy to watch.).

And then there is Michael Stuhlbarg's final speech - the final sucker punch of the film.

If you haven't seen this (or his other wonder work, A Bigger Splash) hunt them out. Call Me By Your Name is on Netflix.

Just don't try watch it while you're working. You'll get suckered in, start crying, get all emotional because nobody has loved you like Elio and Oliver love each other and you end up a lump of custard.

Oh well - I'll leave the telly off when I do my catch up work on Sunday...

Today's song:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Barefoot in Barcelona

In my list of 20 things to clean, tidy or throw out I've started on the multitude of nail polish bottles I've got sitting around the place. What to keep and what to chuck. How did I get so many bottles of nail polish sitting around the place?  And why are some of the colours named with such a flourish?

Working in IT and technology, I often find myself surrounded by men. Occasionally, when a new woman starts in the department, a collective sigh of relief is heard. 'Can I talk nail polish and shopping with you?' I'll ask. Most of the time you get a smile and a nod in return. (Working with men, sometimes you will try to talk nail polish and shopping and all you get in return is a glazed look and the comment , 'Yes, dear'.)

But I'm looking at the colours I'm keeping, the ones that have survived the cull.

In my next life I'd like to name colours for a cosmetic company.

I've thrown a heap of bottles away - colours that I will never wear again. Colours which I look at and wonder how they have come into my possession in the first place - like an awful dark green and a strange goldy brown. Bottles where the lids were soldered on. Bottles where the colour had separated from the gloss and couldn't be mixed back together.

The colours I've kept are all a bit special to me. There's my three textured polishes which look great on my toes - Honey Ryder, Tiffany Case and Solitaire. They look sandy when they go on. Tiffany Case is my go-to toenail colour.

Smartologie: OPI Bond Girls Liquid Sand Nail Polish Collection ...

There's a creamy white gloss called 'Oh, So Glam". It's good for summer. There's a very glittery pink polish called 'Teenage Dream' which appeals to my inner Lizzo and magpie.

There's two red polishes. A bottle of 'Vodka and Caviar' which is my go to red nail polish - I wore it for a big birthday.

OPI "Vodka & Caviar" 05D – allthingsnails

(Vodka and Caviar - Photo courtesy of AllThingsNails.com)

And a bottle of China Glaze's 'Ruby Pumps. My friend Teddy put me on to this - love the colour, it's deep and sparkly and shiny and it feels like you can snap our fingers and be returned to Kansas.

China Glaze Pro Polish "Ruby Pumps" 54D – allthingsnails

(China Glaze's Ruby Pumps - Photo courtesy of AllThingsNails.com)

There is one Chanel polish in the group. Again, a friend put me onto it. A greeny gold that look brilliant on but awful in the bottle.

Chanel Le Vernis in Peridot

And of course, my favourite of favourite colours, Barefoot in Barcelona.

I think of going barefoot in Barcelona and I cringe at the thought of broken glass and old tapas lining the streets of La Rambla the morning after the  night before. But it's a great day-to-night colour, again, recommended from a friend, and as somebody who hates pink, it's the best neutral I've ever found.

OPI Polish "Barefoot In Barcelona" 05M

(Barefoot in Barcelona - Photo courtesy of AllThingsNails.com)

And then there are the three bottles of black nail polish sitting on my book case. I'm not sure why I hang onto them. I haven't been to a Rocky Horror themed night for years.

The daftest thing about all of this...I haven't worn fingernail polish for years.

But it's a girly foible that I find comforting.

Today's song:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Reasons to Wash my Car

Mercury Retrograde is hitting me hard - and honestly, I just want to get into bed and read my book.

I was going to do a best self card, but I don't feel like it.

I could write along with Dev - don't feel like that either.

My day has been a bit strange. I've had three rather long conversations where I've listened to colleagues rant. I spent a lot of time saying, 'Aha.....aha.... really..... aha....'.

My other big task was arranging the face-to-face, socially distanced team meeting. With two of us in my suburb, another inner bayside and one inner West, none of us are affected by the mandatory lockdown. So we're getting together to have lunch. We haven't seen each other for three months in the flesh. It's been sanctioned by our team lead and we're all a but excited about it. As long as we can stay out of lockdown.

I've also been thinking about the things I need to do.

Today I've also:

  • Been to the gym
  • Done my 20 things
  • Read for half an hour
  • Played with the cat - he was doing his magic jumping and sitting in his shopping bag
  • Made some notes for the novel
And I've found a job that really needs to be done. Wash my car.

It looks like it's driven across the Nullabor. Twice. On the back roads. It's no longer red, more a dusty brown. It needs to be taken for a bath at the local car wash. 

There are reasons I should wash my car:
  • I'm normally car proud
  • It's filthy
  • It might blend in with local mud puddles, and we can't have that
  • The neighbours cars are all cleaner than mine
Then there are reasons I shouldn't wash my car:
  • It's only going to get dirty again
  • The weather is not going to be wet enough to rinse off any dust
  • Every time I go past the car wash place, there's a lineup
  • I need change to wash the car. Since COVID-19 came about I've used no cash - it's all been tap and go. I don't have $5 in coinage to feed the car wash - and I can't split a $50 - the only note I have on me at the moment.
Maybe I could run it through the automatic car wash - I think you have to get a voucher at the servo next door - I remember my grandmother taking me through the car wash as a kid. I loved it. I loved it so much I opened the window. (In my defence, I was four-years-old).

In other words, I'm procrastinating.

Ah well. Eleven more days of Mercury Retrograde. At least, at home, I can't get into too much trouble.

Today's Song: