Sunday, February 28, 2021

Senior Life

 I'm writing this from a Writer's Retreat down the Great Ocean Road. 

Sunrise, this morning.

I have been skinny dipping this morning. 

It's just an amazing weekend, and with all this COVID madness, it is wonderful to be away from the city and entrenched with around 30 other like-minded souls. 

It's just ben fantastic. 

Questions, as always, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What is the farthest you have ever traveled?

I had to look this up - but it's a pretty even toss, distance wise, from Melbourne to Boston, and Melbourne to Galway in Ireland. I've been around the world, normally making multiple stops on those trips, but the furthest I've been from home is a toss up between those two places. 

2. Who did you date while in high school?

Oh gawd. He was gangly, he was spotty and he had greasy hair, but he was smart. His name was Simon. He was in the year about. That's all you need to know. 

3. What is one of the worst trips you've ever taken? What went wrong?

I haven't really taken bad trips. I did spend a few nights with some friends when I first went ot Greece in 1999. We had different agendas and budgets. It wasn't meant to be. We camped for a night. I don't camp. I was happy to go in a different direction to then. The trip got good after that. 

4. How do you like to spend a lazy day?

Oh, that is spent reading and watching telly from the couch, preferably with the heater on on a cold day with take out for dinner. Days like that are great.

5. How old were you when you found out that JFK had been assassinated? How did it affect you?

Umm, JFK died five years before I was born, so I think when I first learned about him when I was say ten or twelve (remember, I'm Australian - US Politics - who cares) that he had been assassinated and was dead was about the second thing you learn about him. 

6. Who has been one of the most important people in your life?

My Uncle John - who passed away in the middle of last year. He was my substitute Dad when I was growing up. I went and saw his daughter on Friday on my way down here. She's family. 

7. What is one trait you would most like to improve in yourself?

I'd love to have a bit more self-control when it comes to food. And making myself write. 

8. Did you date someone in college?

No. At uni, as we call it, I was single. I lived on campus so everything was done as a group at the time. I met somebody in my last year, but didn't see him properly until a year after that. 

9. What was your dream car?

I'd love a sporty Mercedes convertable - preferably an early model. They are just wonderful. My current car is my favourite car to date - a Mazda CX-3. It's sporty, not too big and I love the rear reversing camera. 

10. Did you have a family member you wish you'd gotten to know better?

I would have loved to know my paternal grandfather better. He died when I was about eight - and there are a lot of questions I would love to get some honest answers about. There is a lot about that side of the family which is swept under the carpet. 

11. Tell me about your greatest gardening success.   

The fact that I keep a pot plant alive on my kitchen windowsill can be classed as a gardening success. I hate gardening. 

12. What was your Dad like when you were a child?

My Dad changed when I was eight. He had an operation on his heart, died on the table and came back different. Before this, I remember him being a loving father who was jovial with many friends. After the operation he was different - and I don't need to talk about that at the moment. 

13. What is the best job you've ever had?

I had a job as an instructional designer for a power company. I got to run my own show for six months. Great people. It came after a period of instability, so it was great in may ways. 

14. What are your favorite songs?

I have too many favourite songs, this is my most favourite song ever. 

Nobody out of Australia knows it. I've got very eclectic tastes in music. The song of the day will prove that. 

15. If you could choose any talents to have, what would they be?

I would love to be able to sing and play the piano. I have very limited ability in both. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Notes from the retreat

I'm retreating.

There are too many people around and I'm not used to the energy. The draw to the chairs outside is great - just sit outside and look at the sea, Pandora. Go talk to the cows.


Talking to the cows is a great way to start the day. There isn't a monastery cat to talk to. It would have been great to talk to the monastery cat. I miss my cat. 

Writing poetry is our next task.

So here we go. 

Dancing in the Chapel

There is the stretch,
The reach, 
The grind and bump.
The releasing of tension as a skyward hand
Grasps the great unknown above
As the rhythms overtake the hips, 
Lengthen the sides
And jolt the pelvis this way and that. 
Legs akimbo, 
Bare feet rooted to the floor
The push and pull of the music
Encases the world. 
There is no order in this chaos. 
No guilt or shame
No blame or consequence
In the unrelenting, unforgiving beat.

A repurposed hall,
Bathed in autumnal half light.
A celebration of things to come,
A connection to an unseen life
Free from the orthodox rigmarole
Of former days. 

Dance early
Dance hard
Dance to forgive
Dance to forget
Dance to remember
Dance to release

For we rarely give ourselves this time. 

My latest discovery for the day is that there is nothing better in the world than fresh scones and cream. Okay, I'm not sure that the cream didn't come out of a can, but the scones were warm, fresh and pillow soft and I had three. Because I can. And despite the fact I've done little exercise today (other than dancing in the chapel at daybreak) I'm really hungry. Maybe it's the sea air. Maybe it's the company. 

Maybe, for the first time in an eternity, I feel like I'm allowed to be me for a bit. 

Today's Song: 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Who am I?

 I am here. 

Down the Great Ocean Road just out of  Apollo Bay at Catherine Deveny's Gunnas writer's retreat. This is the mothership. I'm surrounded by about 30 other like-minded people - mostly women, a couple of men who get loud, opinionated, free-thinking women - because you wouldn't be here if you weren't like that.

So far we've had a meet and greet, had some dinner - a lovely barbeque and now we're on our first block of writing exercises.

I'm settling into this retreat far easier than I did the last one. I know what to expect. I know I can sit near the edge of the room and be quiet. I know I can 

And the first question we were asked was "Who are you?"


Who am I?

The problem with these weekends is that the poet appears to come out  - which is as gratifying as it is scary. 

One of the reasons I come to these retreats, other than returning to the mothership for a sense of fellowiship, belonging and calm is for the ideas which the retreats generates. Just being out of your comfort zone is wonderful enough. 

But I am now pondering how to the question, who am I. It was either this or write aboyt my first experience with masturbation. Umm, nobody needs to hear about that...

God, help me. 

So here we go. 

Who am I?

I am Panda.

I am an introvert. And this is fine. This is good even. It's taken me forever to accept my introversion, but now, I wear it like a superhero cape. 

I like to think that I’m invisible, but I’m not. I should stop kidding myself. 

I am kind – I have always been kind and I always will be kind. Animals, children and old people are drawn to me. Again, it's like another superpower which is so underated. Why isn't kindness valued in our commmunity at large? Why isn't it valued by our government. It isn't a sign of weakness - far from it. 

I am a writer. And being a writer is what I really am in my soul. I don’t think I’ve ever really said that. I AM A WRITER  - and I should shout this from the treetops – but never do – because I am a writer and being a writer is hard and horrible and something you would never be if it wasn’t a vocation. 

I am a writer. I have to tell myself this often, because self-doubt is something that all writers feel and all writers know and all writers have a feel for. Sometimes it laps at your feet, other days the waves bowl you over, other times you’re carried out on the tsunami tide and you have no idea where you will end up.

For being a writer is hard. 

Okay, that was part of the first exercise. Everybody's gone to bed now. Part of me wants to go and find the full moon. A very small part of me wants to find a puff on a cigarette, not that I smoke anymore, but that second gin and tonic was on the strong side.

But I am at the mothership.

I'm free to be me this weekend. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Weekend Away

I'm going away for the weekend. It's the first time I've been away for nearly a year (not counting the two trips to Adelaide over December - January, and that doesn't really count as it involved 4 x nine hour drives). It feels strange.

I'm going away for the weekend and there are all sorts of things going through my head.

For somebody who has travelled extensively for work and pleasure, I'm fretting over all sorts of things. 

Here's my list of concerns.

1) How will Lucifer get on with Blarney and Barney?

I'm taking him over to Blarney and Barney's tonight. He will get the presidential suite at the back of the house. I know they will feed him and love him and look after him - but I'm not sure how he's going to get on with Kylo and Rey - their cats. He'll spent the first day under the bed anyway. And the Units will be nice to him, even if they think he looks evil. 

(How could anybody with this face be evil?)

2) When do I have to leave home to get to Colac for 12.30?

I'm meeting my Uncle's daughter for lunch tomorrow. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but with COVID restrictions, it's been too hard to do. As I'll be in the area, seemed like a good opportunity to catch up. From what I can see, it will take around two hours. Sure I can manage that, even with a sleep in.

3) Do I bring my tarot cards down the the writer's retreat?

I'm supposed to be writing while I'm down there... but...

4) What gin do I take with me?

In the weekend instructions it says that European style drinking is encouraged. Drinking like you're a teenager at schoolies, is not. I need to work out what gin to take. I've got the tonic in the fridge - I'm hoping the back fridges in the chapel kitchen are still there as they were last time as I really don't want to schelp down with and esky and go get ice. 

5) How much writing can I really do this weekend?

The great thing about this retreat is that there are six blocks of writing prompts over the weekend.  It takes you out of your normal writer's head and puts you in another place. I'm also wondering if I can take a texta and pack of Post-Its and do some planning. Post-Its are always needed for planning. I'm hoping I can snaffle a wall or window to put the said Post-Its - one of the downsides of communal writing.

Regardless of all these little foibles, I'm looking forward to a weekend away. 

Today's Song:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

I saw a fox

Driving home after masons, just as I was turning into my street in inner city Richmond, waiting for the  lights, a fox crossed my path. 

A fox.

Three kilometres from the city centre. Okay, I'm very close to the river and its subsequent parks, but you never see foxes here. In the deepest, darkest suburbs, yes, but not inner city Richmond near the council flats. 

It was a lovely fox - long and slinky, running across the road as the lights turned. 

I wonder what it means. 

They say that it's unlucky if a black cat crossed your path - unless you own a black cat. I'm blessed as there are another two black cats on the street that I know about - Bruce the Chonk, who lives across the road and bales you up on the way to the tram for a pat. There's also this complete princess who lives further up the road who demands belly rubs. 

But a fox?

According to

"They are often considered as symbols of shrewdness, intelligence, trickery, resolving problems, patience, camouflage, strategy, cunningness, adaptability, resourcefulness, action, energy, quick-wit, opportunism, protection, perfect timing, overcoming obstacles, swiftness, agility, persistence, determination, and focus."

And when a fox crosses your path:

"The fox is asking you to think well before taking some actions or making decisions, especially if they have anything to do with people you know you shouldn’t trust, or people you don’t know at all.

Gather all the information you can and try not to make rash decisions and choices.

The fox’s appearance in your life could coincide with periods of changes you could be experiencing in your life. The fox is asking you to embrace them as a part of your growth as a person.

The changes happening in your life might be inevitable but will certainly help you get closer to your dreams and desires. Trust that all is well.

Sometimes a fox could be a support to put in action and finish some projects which haven’t had a good start. The fox is helping you find the solutions to problem circumstances, and encouraging you to use all your hidden abilities to be successful in that.

A fox could also be calling you to strategize in some situation where you know there is no other way to get what you desire.

This animal appearing on your path could also symbolize some fortunate opportunities opening before you. The fox is asking you to become more aware of the things happening around you.

You don’t want to miss any chances that the Universe is sending to you. Be ready to act because there is no reason to waste your time anymore."

So things might be about to change.


Today's Song:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Why keep silent

I had a rather heated discussion with a friend about the travesties going on at Parliament House in Canberra on the weekend. Her view was that Brittany Higgins should have gone to the police there an then. She should have lawyered up then and there and took it to the police. Sod the workplace routine. 

(Nevermind that Parliament House has been trying to obfuscate the events, right down to steam cleaning the Minister's office after the event, and not handing over the security tape to the police until media scrutiny, two years later, made them do this (albeit begrudgingly))

I took a more pragmatic stand stating she felt that she had nowhere to go, it took a while to sink in just what went on and what happened, and being honest, the toxic culture at Parliament House is there to cover any actions by staffers, sweep it under the carpet, let boys be boys and just get on with it with no hoo-haa. 


Both of us work in corporate environments. I'd like to think that if anything happened like this in my place of work I could talk to my manager and the HR department and feel fully supported. My friend said that should wouldn't take it to HR as HR is there for the company and what would they do anyway?

Then the conversation went down the road of reporting and why she didn't do things sooner. The guy was going to get off anyway - it's a 'he said, she said' arrangement - and yeah, what can you do?

So my blood was quietly boiling away, as it tends to do when discussion the inequalities served out to Australian Women on the whole. Are things getting better? Sort of. Is it anywhere near where it needs to be? Absolutely not. Does it make my blood boil when I hear other women backing down on this? Shit, yeah. 

The conversation with me ended with the words. "Well, if I were you, I'd be teaching your sons about informed consent now. And I'd teach them not to rape." I'm not sure she liked what I had to say.

But I have my reasons. 

I'm one of the large percentage of women who've been sexually assaulted. Yep, I'm one of the #MeToo women. Far too many people I know are one of this number.

What can I tell you about it, and why I'm emotionally invested in this story? 

Well, from my own experience, it can take a while, a long while to work out that something has gone on. For me, it took about a year. A year when my behaviours changed, where I wasn't myself, where I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't place it. It finally came out when I was entering a relationship with another guy and I couldn't let him near me. And it was then that things twigged. 

This is a common reaction. 

Then you know after that you can't do anything about it. In my case, in the scheme of things, back in the early nineties when this occurred, there was literally no point pursuing anything. I wouldn't be believed. There was no evidence. I'd had no contact with the bloke since, and for this I was grateful. If I'm honest, it took me moving to England for eight years to wash the stigma, shame and self-loathing from my psyche. A bit extreme? It's better than self-harm or worse. 

But the fact that you've been violated resides in you. It's insidious. It seeps into your being and integrates with your psyche. It makes you distrust, second guess and doubt. It takes away your confidence and happiness. It saps you of your life essence - and you've had something taken away.

And unless you deal with it - and you need to deal with it in so many ways - through therapy, through talking, to doing everything in your power to eliminate this evil from your system. And it can take years. 

So I get it. I get the commotion. And I want change. 

It appears younger women are getting on board too. Another friend posted a link to a story about a petition started by a group of schoolgirls in Sydney. What's concerning is that it relates the stories of school girls being sexually assaulted by private school boys - the boys who are seen as the next echelon coming through the ranks. It's sobering reading. These are the boys who are growing into 'men' who will allegedly lead the country. Its this entitled and consequence free behaviour which is dragging us back in time. It's just like the outrage the Stanford Rapist caused. It is interesting to see that a boy with such a bright future is now living with his parents and barely earning minimum wage.

It's time that there were some consequences for these unwanted actions. 

Keeping silent never helps anybody - but you have to have it in yourself to speak up. 

Good on her I say.

And maybe, if you can, start the conversations about informed consent early. If you whoever you're with says 'No', or 'I don't want to do that', or 'I've changed me mind', respect it. Stop. Leave who ever you're with alone - because you really don't want to be a part of messing up somebody's life. 

Today's Song: 

Monday, February 22, 2021

MAFS is back

 And that is all I have to say.

MAFS? Married at First Sight.

MAFS is back - and my IQ diminished for the time it is on the telly.

MAFS is back - and I will have to find some other MAFs viewers with whom to talk to about it all. 

MAFS is back - and I'll be spending the new few weeks wondering why these people do this to themselves. 

Yes, MAFS is back on the telly - and there are more trainwrecks to watch for a while. 

And MAFS is back - and I start thinking do I need to get myself out there, or am I just far too afraid to every put myself out there in any way shape or form.

Yes, MAFS is back - and I can live vicariously through other people for a few weeks - and maybe this is why I watch it. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Coronavirus Questions

 So it's the weekend. I've had a day of putting stuff to sell on the internet as well as doing a heap of washing and othe houseword. It's been a productive Saturday. Now, I'm just craving chips. Ah well. 

We've got some more Coronoavirus questions. These should be interesting, particularly as we've been relatively lucky here in Australia and have had very few cases per capita, and may it remain that way. 

Questions, as always, sourced by Bev at Sunday Stealing. 

Here we go...

In the past year have you–

1. Gone without a bra (Plastic Mancunian & Bud may skip this one!)

Ah, no, unless you count the day I had really bad gastro (stomach flu) and I stayed in bed all day. I'm not flat chested. Bras are a critical piece of equipment. 

2. Skipped making your bed.

No, I do that every day. It's the first chore I do after having a shower and feeding the cat (thought the cat is the first person on my list).

3. Ordered groceries to be delivered

Ah, no. Not groceries. I've ordered in take out for delivery every now and then, but for the groceries I've gone to the supermarket. We've never not been able to go to the supermarket - though we've had to wear a mask to go there for the last six months. Masks are second nature now. 

4. Cooked a real meal

I do that regularly anway. Next. 

5. Spent the day in pajamas?

I've had one or two of these. For me, there have been a couple of 'active wear' days, where I wear my gym gear all day. It's comfortable and I don't turn my camera on at work very often so no biggie. 

6. Skipped shaving your legs

I don't shave my legs, but I do wax them. I went six months without a legwax. I'm glad I'm single is all I will say. I'm back to having them waxed regularly now. 

7. Spent hours on Instagram or Pinterest

I don't use Pinterest and only have a quick look at Instagram once a day - so my habits haven't changed. 

8. Eaten in a restaurant

Yes. Now that we're back to 'COVID normal' I've eaten in a restaurant a few times since November. It's great to be back again. 

9. Skipped washing your hair.

I get a yes for this one. Over lockdown I'm managed to take my hair washing down from every second day to every four or five days. It looks good until day three - day four is a ponytail day and I can get away with another one of these on day five (and I have nowhere to go other than the gym) My hair is liking this. It's a good thing. But there have been the odd times where I maybe should have washed my hair the day before I did.

10. Not folded the laundry

I can't not fold the laundry. It's a genetic thing. 

11. Worked a puzzle

I haven't done a jigsaw puzzle, but I have done my regular crosswords and sudoku puzzles. 

12. Had Zoom calls

My life is zoom. I think it will be zoom ( or MS Teams, or WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger) for a long time to come. It's become a preferred method of contact over the last year. 

13. Written letters.

Not, not really - but I have been reaching out to friends all over the world just to see how they are doing. 

14. Binge watched a TV show

Oh hell yeah. Other than having The West Wing on loop (to keep me calm) some of the things I've binged on over the last year include:

  • Doctor Doctor
  • Grantchester
  • Schitt's Creek
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Bridgerton
  • Virgin River
  • It's a Sin
  • Lucifer
  • The Marvellous Mrs Maisel
  • Gray's Anatomy
  • The Good Doctor
  • The Good Wife
I will say that I do work from home, my desk is in my living room and I often have these on in the background for company.

15.Gone barefoot

I love being barefoot around home anyway, so this is a yes - no difference here. My big change was buying a pair of ugg boots to wear in Winter - keeps my feet warm in the cooler months. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Movie Review: Long Story Short

Movie: Long Story Short

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Theatre: Hoyts Victoria Garden

Continuing my support of Australian cinema and the movie theatres is vital, as I love both ventures with all my heart, and being a warm night, with an even warmer flat, escaping to the movies just had to be done. Besides, I'd seen the trailers for Long Short Story - an Australian version of films like Sliding Doors and About Time which left me curious. 

And this was a good diversion. Not excellent, but really enjoyable. 

The film follows the story of Teddy (Rafe Spall) who, after meeting a woman in a graveyard who warns him about wasting time, finds himself gaining a year every few minutes, emerging on his wedding anniversary to Leanne (Zahra Newman) every ten minutes or so to find another year of his life has gone by, giving him a view of what life will be like if he keeps on the same track. Over this ten years of accelerated living, his child is born and grows up, his best mate has some issues and he divorces his long suffering wife - who are all completely oblivious to the predicament in which he finds himself.

It's a bit of a heavy-handed way of looking at life by living in the moment, and cherishing every second of time you have.

And it's an enjoyable, if somewhat laboured film. It's a bit sweet, a bit twee and it had a good moral to it - i.e. don't waste time - it's precious. 

Rafe Spall is affably annoying as Teddy, the man who is too quickly running out of time. Zahra Newman is glorious to look at and does her best the the average script, playing as his wife. Ronny Chieng is his very funny best mate. 

However, and this is the big however - the film was filmed in Bondi in Sydney and it shows the Sydney suburb with all it's charms. But I have a LOT of difficutly believing that two lowly paid office workers can afford a two bedroom flat on the Bondi foreshore - even ten years ago. And this is my biggest gripe about the film - it's already make believe, but this put another layer on the unbelieveablity. 

But, in the ilk of Sliding Doors and About Time, this does a good job. It's not as good as these other films, but it gives you a good two hours of entertainment. In these times, what more do you want?

Today's Song: 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Dear Cat

 Dear Lucifer,

I know the last two days have been challening. I know that you don't like it when I leave at 8 am, in neat clothes, make up on, my back pack on my back. I know you don't like it when I come back ten hours or so later,

I know it makes you fret when I leave you for a few hours at a time - heavens, you don't like it when I go out to the gym for an hour. Whenever I return, you're at the door demanding some attention - and normally some sort of libation - if it's near 6 pm, you get fed, if not, well, we can find you some treats. 

Of course, once I've come in, put my bag down and got a drink, of course you have to smell my shoes. Not sure why you do this, but it appears to be part of the ritual. Give me gentle kangaroo kicks - sniff my shoes. If I'm really lucky, you go into mouth breather mode... that's more for me, because you look funny.

But darling, seriously - as a part of my punishment, do you really need to give me cuddles at 3.30 in the morning? I love your cuddles, but seriously?

I will always come home. If I go to work it's becuase I am out there making money to pay for your cat food and kitty litter (and the yearly trip to the vet)

Just chill.

Love you heaps, darling,

Mum xx

Today's Song

Thursday, February 18, 2021

It's Mercury Retrograde again

 And here I was thinking that the world was berko. Nah. it's only just started. 

Mind you, with the Facebook Fiasco going on, my minor dramas are nothing. 

I think this meme, sourced from the Victorians for Satirical Memes on Facebook says it all.

But despite the country going to hell in a handbasket (being the day that the Libtards dismantled the High Court, along with victim shaming a woman allegedly raped in the Defence Minister's office...and... and... and) my own personal minor technology dramas had been front of mind.

Firstly yesterday, in the middle of our afternoon standup, while on the call, the power went out. Completely deady-bones - zip - nada. I managed to call into the last of the meeting, only to find that my boss was calling for me. Opops. After half an hour of battling with a small screen, hotspotting on my phone, I called it a day.

The power came back on at 6 pm. 

Then today, in a bit of a rush, climbed on the tram, tapped my myki, and thought everything was fine. Got to the train station, tried to tap on and the card said there were no funds. I was running lae. A train was approaching the platform. So back to the ticket machine I went. It took five minutes to do the top up  - heaven knows why. The next train was seven minutes away after that, making me later. Joy. God knows why my auto-top up dropped off the card. I never have thought about topping up the card manually. 

It's been two weeks of little things like this. Things not going through, emails getting missed, strange communications. Oh, and all the passwords which have disappeared despite being saved... that's been happenening a lot. Put on top of this the Victorian five day circuit breaker lockdown. 

And of course the clusterfuck called our Federal Government.

I'm glad Mercury goes direct early next week. Bring it on I say!

Today's song: 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reindert's Birthday Present

Stage Four Lockdown: Day Five of Five

Mood: Reasonable. Level. Glad we're coming out of lockdown tomorrow.

I'm out of the habit of buying gifts for people, but I do try when in comes to occasion birthday. For friends in Australia, it's often an experience present - a trip to a winery, dinner, a gin tasting, a theater ticket - something we can do together, as we all know, by the time you get to my age, you have most things you want. 

Then there is the dilemma of what to get friends who are overseas - and Reindert, bless his running socks, is turning 50 next month - and it is time to start thinking about what to get him for his birthday. 

For my 50th he bought me a number of books, all themed around my year of birth. There was the amazing The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - as Junot Diaz was born in 1968. There was the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners for that year and a best seller as well. It was a cool present.

So it is my turn to reciprocate. And as Amazon can ship to Yankeeland for free, even better. 

So what do I purchase for my dear friend in honour of his 50th birthday, which no doubt, he's in deep denial about?

So I'm sorting my cart at the moment, having a good think, knowing I have a while before his birthday, 

In the cart so far:

Elif Shafak's extraordinary Ten Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World. Elif Shafak was born in 1971. It is an amazing book, set in Istanbul. An amazing tale. 

Dominic Smith's The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. Written by an Australian author, an incredible book about art (and he like's art), but a lot of it is set in Holland, from where Reindert is from originally. A brillant read as well. 

Next on the list, The Lost Man by Jane Harper. This is here as it's a very Australian book, and it shows the best, and the worst of Australia. I'm not a crime reader, but this is very consumable. 

Of course, 1971 would not be complete without Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Reindert currently resides in Colorado, he's used to the bizarre nature of The States - I think a bit of Gonzo journalism will do him the world of good. 

And last but not least, there's Behrouz Boochani's incredible No Friend But The Mountains. That it was written by text on a mobile phone, and translated bu a friend from Farsi to English while Boochani was in immigration detention on Manus Island makes it all the more incredible. That it won the Victorian Premier's Prize for Literature even better. 

I hope he likes - I'll get them sent off in the next week or so. His birthday isn't until the middle of next month - but we do have to plan these things. 

Also to my lockdown challenge. 

I didn't do to badly: 

Let's see how I did. 

 1) 10000 steps a day.  Well, there are 49000 steps recorded on my fitbit, so I'll give that a good enough. 

2) Finish my book group book. Currently reading Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. Yes, that's finished, got finished this morning. Stunning book. Have just started Laura Jean McKay's, The Animals of This Country. Done. 

3) 500 words on the novel a day. I got 1000 words written - better than nothing.

4) Hoover the flat, mop the floors. The hoovering got done. I hate mopping. Half done. 

5) Clean my desk. Did that. 

6) Paint the doors. Nope. Really not feeling the painting at the moment. I think the weekend will be the time to get it done. 

I like these mini-challenges.

Right, to bed. Back to the office tomorrow. 

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Be the change

Stage Four Lockdown: Day 4 of 5

Mood: A bit miffed

A news embargo is on the cards - it's all doom and gloom and fucking idiots out there. But what can you do? 

You watch the first five minute of the Daily Dan, pretty much because once the questions start I have to drop off as most of them are so banal, stupid and aggressive - and we don't need to listen to that. I know what arsehats Peta Credlin and the Newscorpse tribe are like, I don't need that in my life. 

I get my daily does of modified right wing whining from the Today Show most mornings. Thankfully that spiteful cow Alison Langdon has been injured and is off screen at the moment (Not thankful she's injured, but pleased I don't have to put up with her gunning for people on screen). Georgie Gardner is a bit more patalable.

There have been a lot of chats with friends over the last few days - a lot of it about what's going on (or not going on) at Parliament House. The other chats have been abour writing and inclusivity. 

A friend sent me a piece to read on the weekend, asking for comment. It was set in a school. I identified what I saw as some weaknesses in the piece, as well as some other issues. The big one for me was that the peice was very 'white'.

Okay, maybe I've been working in IT in corporate Australia for too long - or maybe I've just had it drilled into me that diversity is a great thing and enriches not only your writing but the world at large. And when you're a writer, you have to embrace the world - especially when you write fiction. So if you're writing a piece about a school anywhere in Australia, you don't just have John, Jane, Andrew and Melissa (unless you're writing about a posh boys' school in an affluent suburb where you get Hamish, Angus, Rhys and Michael, with a token Chin Yuen thrown in for good measure). If you're writing about a school in Australia you'll have a Mustafa, a Fatima, a Preeti, a Florence and maybe a Gurri. Your kids will come from all sorts of backgrounds - and you make it known. 

I made this statement to my friend. 

He came back with "As to diversity I write what I see. Where you are, and maybe in parts of London, but only parts, there is what you would call diversity. In the towns and most cities here there is none, and it’s decreasing. The Asian community in the North and there is increasingly lots of it, is insular of its own choice. I recently worked in an environment where as a white male I was treated as a lesser being and it was ‘accepted’. As to the white women in that environment..."

And okay, I do get that. He's in the North of England and there are a lot of racial tensions up there. And I'm not saying that everybody not being equal is acceptable - but then again, as a middle aged white male, he's had the power for most his life. And has he put the shoe on the other foot and been on the receiving end of what 50 years of migration from the sub-continent, where being called 'Paki scum' all your life would be like? And I'm not talking about day to day life - I'm talking about a scene in a school - and a public school - probably in the 2000s (and not the 1960s) where there would be a diverse range of kids.

But he was having none of it. Emails went back and forth a few times. I countered with, "Write the change you want to see. "

He came back with, '. The racism I see is very much inverted as I said and as to our social structure! It's hard being the change you want to see when you are not part of the groups that now need to change.'

Funny, but I think that this is part of the problem. 

Maybe the change needs to come from both sides. 

For me, I'll continue to try to be inclusive. My characters will have surnames line Nguyen, Papadopoulos, Spinetti and Gurrawai. They'll have different skin colours and lunch boxes and various experience. I'll try and stay away from stereotypes. 


It's a good thing to do. I want to write the world I want to see. Besides, it feels better to be inclusive. It's the right thing to do.

Today's Song:

Monday, February 15, 2021


Level Four Lockdown: Day 3 of 5

Mood: Level - better for the zoom exercise class. 

Making my own hummus takes days. It shouldn't take days, but it does. It always takes me a day to remember I don't have any chick peas (or cannelli beans) in my cupboard. Then you need to soak the chick peas, then you realise you don't have any lemons, or you've run out of cumin, or the garlic needs replacing. Or the fact that you need to put the tahini in the microwave for 30 seconds so it's not the consistency of Play-Doh. 

Making your own hummus is a pain. But it is better than the store bought stuff - and you know what's in it. And it tastes better. And it costs about a third what you pay for the commercial stuff. And you can make it to your own preferred texture. And I know I like my hummus a lot more lemony and garlicy than the stuff you buy in the store. 

There's also the matter of hauling out the food processor, then cleaning the food processor. But as my food processer is only little, that's just the way it is.

But man, once it is made, life feels better. 

I made hummus today. It took three days. A day to replace the lemons and garlic which were too old to be used. A day to soak the chick peas. And a day to garner up the gumption to spend ten minutes making it.

But I now have a week's worth of hummus in the fridge - and this has been the one different thing I did today. I've been creative. It's cool. In a lockdown, it's the little things that make your day. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine's Day

 Stage Four Lockdown: Day 2 of 5

Mood: Middling, but fine.

 So tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Which is a Hallmark holiday and it barely registers on my psyche at all and I really don't care - particularly as we, in Melbourne and our state, are in Stage Four Lockdown until Thursday. So for the next four days we can leave the house, with a mask to do the following: Shop for essentials, exercise (for up to two hours), provide care and work if you are an essential worker. It's for five days, as a circuit breaker, after the U.K. strain of this bloody bug escaped quarantine. We're hoping we've got it in time. So far it's looking promising. 

Anyway Valentine's Day. I'll probaby be at my misanthropic best here.

Questions, as always, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What is the meaning of Valentine’s Day in your country/area? What happens on this day?

It's a Hallmark Holiday, there to make single people feel bad about themselves. Stupid day. 

2. Is Valentine’s Day more for men or women? Explain your answer.

It's there to guilt people out of their money - probably more for women to make them feel as if they are failing at life if they don't get a Valentine's Day card/gift/dinner. I prefer Galentine's Day, where all the single women get together, go out and get drunk while having a bitch about how awful men can be. That's a much better concept. 

3. Do you have any special plans for Valentine’s Day? What will you do?

Valentine's Day I'll be going for a walk with a friend as we are allowed to do this and I will be painting the doors I need to paint. No restaurants are open here anyway unless you get takeaway or delivery. 

4. Which traditional gift would you rather receive: chocolates, flowers, or a card with a personal message?

Sod them all. I don't subscribe to the day. 

5. Is Valentine’s Day only about romantic love? Or is it a good occasion to celebrate friendship as well?

I think Galentine's Day is a great day to celebrate friendship, but it is a knee jerk reaction to the awfulness of Valentine's Day, which sort of defeats the purpose. 

6. Do you like romantic movies? What is your favorite romantic movie?

I like my romantic movie with a bit of a twist to them. I really loved Secretary - it's an unconventional love story. They loved each other. They made it work. 

I'm also a bit of a fan of sappy romantic films, like Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and the After Sunset / Before Sunrise / Before Midnight  trilogy. Love the last scene of  Before Sunrise. 

7. Have you ever received a Valentine’s Day card or gift from a secret admirer? How did it make you feel?

The last time I got something for Valentine's Day was nearly fifteen years ago - and I was given some roses with no card - but I worked out who sent them pretty quickly. He dumped me a week later. These things happen. 

8. Is Valentine’s Day the most romantic day of the year? If not, what day is?

No it's not the most romantic day of the year. The day you make the most romantic day of the year is the most romantic day of the year. It's a Hallmark Holiday for pity's sake. 

9. What is the most romantic thing you have done for another person?

Hmph. Probably cooked dinner or arranged a picnic. I'm not associated with romance. 

10. Valentine’s Day is promoted by companies whose only interest is making money. Discuss whether you agree or disagree.

I agree. I just don't get it. It's just a money making exercise. Always had been. I don't go in for society telling me when to celebrate stuff. 

11. Describe your perfect Valentine’s Day date.

Somebody who asks me out. I've never been on a date for Valentine's Day so it would be as strange thing. Dinner at a good restaurant would be nice, but that would be nice any other day as well. 

12. How should a single person spend Valentine’s Day? What do you suggest?

Forget about it and get on with your life. There are better things to be worried about. Or gather your single friends, go out and have a great night with them. 

13. Do you enjoy playing cupid? Do you try to introduce people in the hope they will make a love match?

No - I'm not that sort of person. People can find their own partners. I don't want to be blamed for anything like a marriage. Ew. 

14. Some restaurants charge higher prices on Valentine’s Day. Are you willing to pay more to dine out on this day?


15. Is a romantic gesture more powerful on Valentine’s Day or on another day of the year?

I think romantic gestures are more romantic on other days of the year Mind you, I live amongst Australian men who are about as romantic as three day old roadkill. But I live to be surprised. 

Today's Song: 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Writing with Dev - Class Twenty

Stage Four Lockdown: Day One of Five

Mood: Good

I don't want to write about the lockdown, so I'm going to write along with Dev today. Then go for a nice ling walk with my two hour allocation of exercise time, stopping in at the supermarket and chemist on the way home. That sounds like a plan. 

So here we go. 

What do you do when you let your hair down? (Five minutes)

Oh, me letting my hair down is a bit disastrous as I am known as the friend who is mad, bad and dangerous to know. When I really let my hair down, you probably wouldn't recognise me, as I'm up for anything, and I laugh a lot and I get up to lots of mischief becuase that is in my nature. Against the odds, I love to dance. I look like a fridge when I dance, but I love this. I also like to drink, but this has to be done with an accomplice, as drinking alone is never a fun thing. Especially if I drink beer, and go to the footy - that is fun. But to really let my hair down I have to go on adventures and take myself out of my comfort zone - like going to Greece for a few months, or plonking myself in Ubud, Bali and ingratiating myself with the locals and thinking I could live there. Letting my hair down is often a portal into something far better - I just have to let myself do it and get on with it. 

Let's just say I can be a force of nature when I let go. It's fun, but a little scary. 

Conversation Menus: 

Tell your dinner companion a big secret about yourself. 

Well, let me see I'm not sure I have any big secrets. I have a current loathing that I can't clear this nail fungus found on my fingernail, despite whatever I throw at it. It's driving me up the wall and making me feel like a complete failure. Which is strange, as it is just fungus. 

List three things about a person which annoy you about a friend.

I won't mention the friend, as this is an amalgam of friends. 

1) Being rude to wait staff - I have one friend who is over the top objectional to service staff and god it gives me the irrits. I call this person on this all the time - but there is no reason to be rude. 

2) Indecisiveness - just make up your fucking mind and deal with the consequences. 

3) Overly observed right-wing thoughts and QAnon imbibers. Have a few of those on my facebook page. Blah. too scary for words. 

Which of your flaws would you want to be forgiven

Please forgive me for always being ten minutes late. I do try to be on time, but some times I can't be bothered and I know this is a bad thing. I turn up on time when it is critical, but most people know I will be 10-15 minutes late on weekends, just because. Most of the time I'm trying to get over my social anxiety which makes me late - and I do have bad social anxiety - just a lot of the time I don't give myself enough time to get through it and leave. 

Art Oracles (3 minutes)


I would love to go back to the Sistine Chapel. I would love to go back to the Sistine Chapel and have the place to myself and just gawp and what Michelangelo did way back when. I would love to lie on the floor of the Sistine Chapel and take it all in slowly, in silence, or maybe with a string quartet sitting in the corner playing Albinoni's Adagio or something similar. And I want the place to myself. I like taking things in by myself - like Vermeer's The Girl with the Pearl Earring, or Edward the Confessor's tomb. I want to see this for what it really is, without the people. 

Cards Against Humanity (3 mins)

I learned the hard way you can't cheer up a grieving friend with...

I learned the hard way you can't cheer up a grieving friend with talking. Well you can't cheer them up with your talking. You can let them talk, if they can talk, or want to talk, but there is no such thing as cheering anybody up when they are the midst of grief. You might be able to make them a bit more comfortable, or maybe make them smile for 10 seconds (I found cat and dog videos sent to my sister as my niece was dying was a decent thing to do) but whatever you say won't cheer them up. All you can do is stand with a grieving friend. Let them know you're there. Cook them dinner. Do the ironing. Bring the cat over. Go for a walk. But you talking, won't do the trick. It's a matter of being there and working with them through the grief. It's hard. The sooner you 

Write about space (6 minutes with prompts - six minutes)

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, explore the solar system, get out of the earth and find out what is out beyond the atmosphere, be that astronaut who discovered who knows what. I was always fascinated by the stars and planets. Learned all about them. Where some kids wanted to get to know dinosaurs, I was into space. Used to watch every NASA launch until the Challenger disaster. Wanted to find out what was on Mars, that red planet which is one of our closest neighbours. Strangely, I can find Mars in the sky without too many problems most nights. I'd dream of blasting off from earth in my pod. But this was all before the advent of the space station and where we are now with space. Hell, I remember when Skylab ditched in the Western Australian desert. I've always wanted to own a telescope - take it out into the country and just look at things. Who am I kidding, I still would love to go into outer space. Maybe in time there will be vehicles which can roam the moon - but manned ones - with running water and air conditioning. Who am I kidding, I'm far to chicken to go into space. 

Don't break the silence (10 minutes - for the novel)

We sit in the circle, waiting for somebody to talk. Nobody wants to break the silence, for that could be seen as a sign of weakness, or acceptance, something we can't be done doing - am I right? 

Silence is not the right word for it, as we sit in the draft hall. Outside, the tennis players are thwacking their balls about in the twilight. Somebody will moan to the groundsman to turn the light on soon. The urn is bubbling in the corner, giving a low rumble every now and then, before settling. The woman who looks like a racoon is shuffling her feet and picking at her nails. The flicking sounds are getting on my nerves. In his chair, Draenog is looking expectantly from face to face, trying to catch an eye to encourage them to talk. It's not like Fight Club. Just because it's your first meeting doesn't mean you have to fight, but you allegedly get more out of this support group if you do talk, and if you do make mention of your personal circumstances and try to work out just what you are going to do and where the hell you came from. 

Everybody has a story. Draenog brings his out every session. Killed by the market. A victim of market fluctation and a dodgy financial adviser. Fiona, racoon woman, gave birth to five kids. The last one was stillborn, dragging her into a fifteen year depression which took away her livelihood, and her life. And of course there's the divorcees, the gambling addicts and the sloth-ridden loners who never bothered to improving themselves. One guy, he's gone now, was a perennial academic, going from course to course, never finishing - until the debts got too high and he was thrown out of every institution in the country - with nothing to show for it. 

It takes all types in this group. 

Fiona clears her throat. 

Today's Song:

Friday, February 12, 2021

Here we go again

Stage Four Lockdown - Day 0/5

Mood: Level - Hopeful - Accepting

We're back in Stage Four lockdown  in an hours time for five days. They're calling it a circuit breaker. And I get it. Some person with a nebuliser in quarantine at the Airport Holiday Inn appears to be Patient Zero. This person is currently in hospital, very ill, so I'm not angry wtih him. It just goes to show how virulent this bloody disease can be. We have 19 cases in the state. The whole state has been locked down for five days. Who knows what will happen after that, but we've been plunged back into the draconian lockdown conditions where you can only leave the house for shopping, exercise ( for up to two hours a day), care giving or work if you are essential worker. You're not allowed out of a five kilometer radius. 

And this is until midnight on Wednesday. Five days. In Summer. Oh well. 

So far, the things I will be missing include: 

  • A trip to the Art Gallery to see the Trienniale
  • A visit to Blarney's to see the family
  • Monday night training at the gym
  • Wednesday night's masons meeting
  • Pump on Sunday in the gym
In the scheme of things, everything can be re-organised and re-scheduled. Five days is no biggie. 

But as with other lock downs, this is all in the mindset.And I know it's only five days, but I think having some task to do in this time will help keep me focussed. 

So here's my list of jobs to be completed over this five day lock down:

1) 10000 steps a day. It's part of this month's goals, but it is even more important during lockdown. 

2) Finish my book group book. Currently reading Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - it's sublime. I'm about a third of the way through. 

3) 500 words on the novel. I want this to be done, It's time. 

4) Hoover the flat, mop the floors. Weekly job, but I'm putting it down. It's a bit overdue at the moment. 

5) Clean my desk. I've worked out I've had this monitor on my desk for nearly a year - it was bought the week before I got Lucifer - time it was all cleaned properly, not just the cursory front bit of the table. 

6) Paint the doors. There are six panels to do. I just have to do them. As I can't really leave the house, there is nothing to stop me doing this. 

That will do. It's just a matter of keeping focussed for a few days.

I'm not thinking about not going to the Catherine Deveny writer's retreat in a fortnight. I have everything crossed that this will happen. I need it to happen. I want to go write and dance and go skinny dipping with other strange, like-minded souls. So everything is crossed that we gput this bloody virus back in it's box so we can get on with things. 

We got this.

Today's song:

Thursday, February 11, 2021


It's peaceful here on my perch. My desk overlooks City Road and I'm high enough up to watch over the building site down the way as the cranes transport who knows what to who knows where. Traffic rumbles along the Monash/Westgate link. It appears to be flowing well. I never thought I would relish being back here, bit it is  peaceful. No man with the leaf blower at 9 am on the dot. No having to listen to the couple across the way having a domestic. The sounds of my downstairs neighbours' daughter having her occasional three-year-old morning tantrum doesn't register because I don't hear it - with my obligatory eye roll and 'oh, dear' muttered under my breath.

I wonder how the cat is doing on his own.

The trip in was pleasant. The 8:14 from North Richmond is normally packed like a cattle truck. There was plenty of room, and everybody was masked up. Most people had four seats to themselves. There was nobody coughing or sniffing. I could get used to this new peak hour. It's a comfortable peak hour. Nobody was eyeing anybody with suspicion. Maybe there is some good to come out of this. 

I wonder how the cat is doing on his own. At home. Alone. 

Yes, we have to wear a mask while in the office. Yes, it's a pain. Regular coffee breaks, toilet stops and the odd fresh air breakhelp. Wearing a mask bracket under the mask helps - keeps the material off the nose and mouth, but it's fine. As as there was only four people in the office, it felt pretty safe. I'm not sure how I would feel if there really was 50% capacity in the office. But the city is still pretty quiet. And it feels okay to be there. 

And I start to wonder what the cat is up to at home, all alone. 

And now, as the day is over, I'm looking back on the day, and if I'm brutally honest, it's the most normal a day I've had in ten months. It felt great to be back at a desk, to be able to work without having a cat maul my leg at regular intervals. It was great to talk to people, other than my team - to see them, okay, with a mask on, but to actually be with people was great. Just seeing different people was wonderful - and I never thought I would say that. 

On arrival at home, I found a rather pissed of cat. It was the first day he's been on his own throughout the whole day. I was greeted with a purr. It seems he missed me, in his own, fully little way. 

And we'll do all of this again tomorrow. With a lunch and a coffee with a Sydney colleague thrown in for good measure. 

Today's Song:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Bargain

I feel like a princess today - all because I found a pair of shoes online, which needed to be bought. So they got bought. Not that I need shoes. But they had my name on them. 

Going back to work tomorrow, it seemed a good time to buy a par of shoes - not that I need them, but I wanted them. And good work shoes are hard to find at the moment. 

These were listed on Facebook marketplace last night. Size 9 (well, that's me - I'm a standard size nine in all but runners), black and white brogues. Lace up. Hand made. Italian leather. Small heel. Wooden sole. R.F. Page brand. Retail, I think I'd be payng a couple of hundred dollars for them. 

Bought them off a nice lady in Toorak second hand for $33. She was selling a lot of stuff - but these spoke to me. 

Lunchtime saw me navigating the back streets of Toorak to collect these charmers, slowing for dodgy drivers (and there are a lot of them in Toorak) calling a number and changing $33 in cash for these beauties. 

I would have paid a bit more. 

They fit like a glove (now that I've wiped them out wtih dettol and sprayed a bit of anti-fungal stuff in them).

They're precious. And will go with all sorts of thigns. And they're really funky. 

And now I am sorted with work shoes.

I'll be selling a heap of near new boots and shoes at the Camberwell Market in a few week's time. 

But tonight I'll go to bed happy. 

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

It's about the headspace

Returning to work in the office on Thursday, there are things I need to think about which I haven't thought about in nearly eleven months. 

This is what's going through my mind at the moment. 

1) Who is going to say 'big yawn' and other missives to the cat during the day.

I adopted Lucifer on 21 March of last year. Other than the month when he went to stay with my Mum, we've not been apart. I'll be leaving him in the morning and coming home around dinner time. How are we going to manage? Who is going to say, 'Big yawn', 'Big stretch', and 'Get off the sodding keyboard, animal!'

2) What do I need to take with me?

I discovered I had a heap of stuff in my desk drawers when I went in on Friday, but there are still things you need to take with you. Things like:

  • Office appropriate shoes - as Birkenstocks and runners are not for office wear - but they will be worn to and from the office.
  • AA and AAA batteries, because heaven knows, the batteries in my office mouse and keyboard are probably well dead by now. easier to have them on hand than source them at work. 
  • A new notebook - as the one I took home with me in March was filled months ago. Who knows what stationery is available.
  • Extra masks - as we need to wear one in the office. And mask brackets. Mask brackets make wearing masks a lot easier. 
  • My office headset - currently in a drawer around home. Haven't used it because I haven't needed to - used the computer mike and speakers instead.  
  • Lunch - as we have to eat at our desks, may as well get back in the habit of bringing in lunch unless I'm meeting a friend. 
This all feels like the first day of school again. 

3) When to do I go to work?

Do I go early, walk to the train station and be in for eight, or do I go later - and what does rush hour look like now? I think this is part of what is freaking me out - crowded public transport does not appeal

4) Who's going to be in the office?

Like I haven't seen these people in the flesh for eleven months. Will they still like me? Will they be friendly.

5) Oh, god, I have to brush my hair and wear make up. 

After nearly a year of living in Birkenstocks, trackkie dacks, t-shirts, ugg boots and jeans, they want us to look office appropriate. Like argh! Also, I just found out in the last weeks that makeup allegedly has a lifespan. It appears there is this little symbol on your makeup which tells you how long the makeup should last. It looks like this. 

All of my makeup is very out of date. I think I'll just forget I know this fact. 

As for brushing my hair, well - I do brush it regularly, but my Stevie Nicks mop has to be transformed into something a little more office appropriate. It was cut and coloured on the weekend, but even so

This takes time and effort. 

Maybe I should just work from home for a few more weeks...

Today's Song: 

Monday, February 8, 2021

The best thing in the school tuck shop?

 Today's facebook question. What was the best thing in the school canteen?

This is back in the day where fifty cents could get you a sausage roll and a Sunnyboy or Razz (which for those not in the know, was a frozen block of orange or raspberry cordial, sucking on one would last you most of lunchtime). These were the days when you wrote your order on the bag, placed your money in said bag, the lunch monitor took the bags to the office, and at 12.30, lunch, by some miracle, arrived in your classroom. This happened at both primary and high school. 

But if there is one thing I still think about, the one thing from the school canteen I wish could be sourced again, it would be Mrs Reed's double cut salad rolls from the high school canteen.

Mrs Reed was a bit of a legend. She ran the school tuck shop and it's army of volunteers for decades. 

I think double cut rolls are an Adelaide thing. You take a very, very fresh white crusty roll. You cut it into three or four slices, it's buttered and filled with grated carrot, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, gherkins (another South Australian thing - or maybe it was my mum force feeding me them as a kid), a slice of cheese and maybe a little bit of mayo. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Everything in the roll was extra fresh. 

And I remember these as the best thing you could ever have for lunch.

I wonder if you can still get double cut rolls in Adelaide. They really were the bomb. 

Today's Song:

Sunday, February 7, 2021

January Part 2

 It's my cheat blog day of the week, the day where I don't have to think about what to write. I'm still amazed that I'm keeping up with the daily blogging, but the practice is bearing fruit and I'm writing more easily. If only the novel would pour out of me with the same ease. Mind you, there is a lot of other stuff to do this weekend. This includes:

  • Painting
  • Going to the gym
  • Writing and submitting this month's Furious Fiction entry
  • The obligatory housework
  • Talking to the cat
  • Putting some clothes up on online marketplaces
So I best get on with this weekend's questions, provided, as always, but Bev at Sunday Stealing

1 .Can you eat with chopsticks?

Of course. I was taught this while I was at university. Very, very handy skill to have, especially as there is so much Asian food here in Australia. I really like eating with chopsticks. 

2. Could you tell real money from counterfeit?

I like to think I can. Here in Australia we have plastic money with a lot of failsafe features, such as holographs which make it really hard to counterfeit. We also very colourful money. Saying that, who uses cash now anyway. Most of our transactions, especially with COVID, have gone to electronic methods like EFT or bank cards. I know to look for the spelling error on the $50 note

Australian bank notes

3. What do you think about school uniforms?

Having never worn a school uniform after the age of eight, I was a little miffed about not having one as a child. I think school uniforms take out the choice and the brinkmanship you find when you wear mufti every day. We had school colours - royal blue, white and gold. It was really open to interepretation. You don't have to think about it. Coming from a family that wasn't well off, you're not made to feel bad if you can't afford the latest fashions if you're in uniform. Saying that, most Austrlian school do have a uniform code. Some schools are stricter than others about enforcing these codes. 

4. What ancient civilization would you most like to visit?

I'd love to go to Ancient Rome - so many things to wonder at. 

5. What would make a great new Crayola color?

I have no idea. I've not written in crayon for a very long time, though my favourite insult is to ask people who are acting thick if they want me to spell it out in crayon for them. 

6.If an art project is created with the intent of getting rich and famous, does that cast doubt over its significance as a work of art?

Absolutely. Art should be made for art's sake. Anything after that is pure luck. Saying this, I'm off to the Triennial at the local Art Gallery next weekend. We are lucky to be able to do this. The art gallery has been closed for eight months - I can't wait to get back there. The Triennial three years ago was astounding. Nobody is famous outside art circles. Love our art gallery. 

7. What do you get in trouble for the most?

 Speaking out when I probably should keep my mouth shut. I'm a bit outspoken. 

8. Do you blow your nose in public?

Yes, but I do try to turn my back to others and do it quietly where I can. Anything is better than sniffing, which drives me up the wall. 

9. If all the nations in the world are in debt, where did all the money go?

The money goes to all the rich people and corporations, who fleece us little people. Why haven't people cottoned on to this? Something like 0.1 percent of the population are in control of 90% of its wealth. 

10. Is it as easy to make you happy now as it was when you were a child?

Yes. Give me a cat to pat, food in my belly and a cuddle (and a place to swim or exercise) and I'm good. I've really been lucky in life. Easily pleased for the most part. 

11. Who knows, or your parents?

Hmm - I'd say we know about the same. We know lots about different things. That's called being diplomatic. 

12.What instrument would you like to be famous for playing?

I'd love to be able to play the piano. I know it's not to late, but I've got other things to do with my spare time. 

13.Would you have sex with a stranger for one million dollars?

Depends on the stranger...

14.Are you completely in control of your body?

I like to think I am. Then again, I can't control the grey hairs that I need to keep covering up, but that is what being in your 50s will do to you. I look after my body, it appears to be looking after me. Long may that remain. 

15.What is the coolest web site you know of?

This one. 

Okay, when I'm not sending you to a site about refrigeration, I'll send you the The Pixies website - because there is nothing cooler than The Pixies. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Movie Review: Penguin Bloom

 Movie: Penguin Bloom

Stars: 3.75

Theatre: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Okay, a confession. I hate magpies. It stems back to primary school, where during nesting season we had to dodge swooping magpies as we made our way to the toilets at the back of the school. I hate the fuckers. I'm scared of them. 

So going to a film about a magpie probably wasn't the most sensible of things to do. 

But I did, and I'm glad I've seen it, even if it was about a shitty magpie. But it was about more than that, and this was it's the film's redemption. 

Based on a true story, it tells the tale of the Family Bloom in the period after a tragic accident strips the mother, Sam (Naomi Watts) of her ability to walk and most of her sense of humour. Her husband, Cam (played by Andrew Lincoln of This Life and The Walking Dead fame, doing a spot on Aussie accent), tries to hold the family together, a family containing three boistrous boys and a depressed and disabled wife. 

Early on a in the film, the eldest son, Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnson) finds an injured magpie fledgling. The bird is taken home, named Penguin, as a young boys will do and adopted by he family while it becomes stronger. Sam is not happy about the new addition to the family, but the bird in its inimitable style, helps to heal both Sam, and the family, with a sense of humour that only a magpie can provide, it seems. 

Elements of this film reminded me of my most hated book Cleo, the Cat that Healed a Family, by Helen Brown. But this was  much better than that. For a film about trauma and grief, it is quite uplifting in the end. 

As the movie progresses, the magpie heals, as does the mother, partly as she has somebody else to focus on, and partly because Sam rediscovers her love of the water thanks to Gaye (Rachel House of The Hunt for the Wilderpeople fame - allegedly my doppelganger), a  kayaking coach. Oh, and Jackie Weaver is wonderful and Sam's Mum. We all know one just like her. 

The kids steal the show as Noah, Olly and Reuben, the three boys coming to terms with their Mum's predicament.

And then there is the magpie, who is cute annoying, funny, smart and all other things to all people. And it shits everywhere. And they cuddle it. They cuddle the magpie. It's a fucking magpie, people! It will take out your eye if you give it a chance!.

There's lots to like about the film. It's rated PG, so you can take your Mum and your kids. It shows the Northern beaches of Sydney in a lovely light, free from the wankers and idiots associated with the region. 

Also, thankfully, Naomi Watts gets to act her age. Nothing better than a film where a woman is allowed to have lines on her face. 

And for a movie about magpies, I ended up crying buckets at the end, which was sort of surprising as I really don't like magpies. 

I've had to mark this film down a bit because of the magpie factor, but it is a charming, slighlty schmaltzy, sort of formulaic film about people, and animals, overcoming adversity. Also, I'm making a concerted effort to support the Australian film industry, so this had to be seen. And I do recommend it as it is a great diversion for its full 95 minutes. Even better, when in the end credits, you work out they filmed the movie at the Bloom's home and you see how far the family have come. 

It's just a pity the film is partly about a shitty magpie. 

Today's song:

Friday, February 5, 2021

Going back

It was surreal. Going back to the office after eleven months was akin to opening a time capsule.

I started at my current company on 17 February last year. I've just signed a contract for a second year. The last day I was in the office was, on my calculations, 11 March. I know I popped into the other building in April for ten minutes to get my annual flu shot. That was back before mandatory masks, excessing hand washing, no hugging, no sharing food and all the stuff we took for granted.

This was back when I was going to Sydney once a month, just as I was about to start at Faber, back before this COVID thing was classed as a pandemic. 

On leaving the office, I remember talking to my workmate. We thought we'd be back in a few months. 

Yeah, right.

So we're making tentative moves to go back to the office. Two days a week from next week. Currently, if we go in we're going to have to wear masks , but that's a small price to pay for a change of scenery.

I went in to town, having an appoint first, collecting the mail, treating myself to a bubble tea, before walking over Coathanger bridge to the office. Oh, there might have been a stop at Mary Martins' book shop too. The woman in the store caught be looking at the pretty books. I told her I hoped to have my book on there best sellers shelves one day. She said Jane Harper used to do the same thing. Seems I'm in good company. 

Stopping in at our book group bistro, I went and said hi the guys. Lunch has been booked for next week with a friend who I haven't seen in over a year. 

Amazingly, my pass worked. I swiped into the lift, then onto the floor. 

There was only one reason to be there. Pack up my desk. Pack up my workmate's desk. Put stickers on things for the office move happening on Monday. Then go home. 

The view hasn't changed. 

It took a few minutes to find the things we needed. Boxes. Stickers. Marker pens. The desk and the drawers. Seems things have moved a little. 

I had no idea what I'd left behind. Eleven months is a long time. 

I was a bit shocked by the crap in my desk drawers. In the next one down there was a glass keep cup. Remember them. I wonder when they will let us start using those again. 

Once there were stickers over my stuff - screens, labtop hub, chair, drawers - once I'd retrieved a perfectly wonderful phone charger, I started on my work mates' desk, doing the same thing. 

Then the last of the stuff was boxed up, so after paying a visit to nature, I went home, walking through the streets to the tram stop via Degraves Street (hoping to run into my favourite gay Nepalese waiter) and down Centre Way, where my favourite noodle bar is still trading. 

And being so steamy, I got home, only to throw myself under the shower to cool down. 

I' just a little excited to see actual human beings at work a couple of days a week. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, February 4, 2021

And I am just like my mother...

Waking this morning, the weather report was scrutinised. 30 degrees, dry, becoming overcast. 


By 10.30, two loads of washing had been done - a solid half load of coloureds and the bedsheets, which would have been done on the weekend except it looks like rain, so better to get them done now. 

As my 'drying room' as I call it, is out of action, I've been hanging out the washing downstairs on the communal lines. This isn't something I like doing, as being in a large block, you don't know who's about the place. Also, being inner city, washing can go missing. Then again, the downstairs neighbours always use the lines and haven't had much trouble over the years. Still, I keep an eye on the washing, getting it off the line as soon as its dry. When the spare room is not filled with crap, the washing normally gets strung out there. 

It is a great washing day. 

It's now 2 pm and all of the washing is in. The underwear has been folded and put away. Working from home has its benefits. The rest of it is on the back of the couch, ready to be ironed tonight - duvet covers, pillow cases, a couple of pairs of cotton/linen trousers, t-shirts. And yes, I iron all this and will put it away. Duvet covers and pillowcases don't feel right if they're not ironed. The cotton and linen stuff looks better when pressed. Don't say I don't have any pride.

And you have no idea how happy this makes me. 

Looking at this, I realise that I am really just a clone of my mother in some ways. The is the main one. 

Today's song: