Monday, June 21, 2010

New House

Next weekend, we move into our new house. It is walking distance from Tom's work and is "pet friendly". It's bigger than our current flat (3 bedroom) and has an attached garage. It's only about a year old - nice clean lines, hopefully spider and roach free? I like the real wood floors. It has a central vacuum system - fancy, but we're wondering how well that really works?

Moving is a huge hassle. Tom is very busy at work and we have been entertaining a lot lately. This is going to be a hectic week. A nice thing about moving is that it does force you to clean, organize, file and arrange those pesky areas that get away from you. We had a dinner party over the weekend and apparently my Tupperware cabinet unleashed its fury on an innocent friend who was just trying to help put things away. The secret is to quickly shove the Tupperware in and slam the door closed. Her mistake was conveying vulnerability in hesitating.

Feels a little like going to the next phase of our immigration/adult lives. Talk has now turned to planning future events with friends "in the city" used to be a five minute train ride, now it will be about forty minutes to go downtown.

Sorry we haven't been posting much lately. Could be a few variables here: the theme of this blog was mostly about our immigration, discovering our new world, adventures in moving, etc. That's all pretty well been covered. We also wonder who are audience is and what you truly want to hear...we know everyone likes photos, so we'll try to keep those coming.

It's interesting that "news", in the traditional sense, is often bad news. By definition, occurrences that are newsworthy are going to be outliers in some form. But our blog seems to be just the shiny bits and bobbles of our real lives.

No one wants to know that Tom has taken to secretly packing and furling away the evidence after I go to bed because I didn't want boxes all over the place. Or are you guys really interested in things like my new fixation on how we're going to hang pictures in the new place when we aren't allowed to drive holes in the walls without written permission from the property manager? ***snore****

Maybe I should post a transcript of what I had to say to the phone company guy when they told me what it will cost to get our new service. It wasn't one of my most elegant diatribes, just very, um, heartfelt.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

swanston st drifter

This week's writing exercise was to go out with a classmate into a nearby fast food restaurant and pick someone to observe. We had about 20 minutes to write a "double tanka", an expanded version of a haiku (that's 5-7-5-7-7/5-7-5-7-7/-5 syllables per line). Here's what we came up with

In and out of doors,
drifting like a bird of prey.
Like a ghost he haunts,
muttering on silent lips.
His stare stretches a mile long,
his shirt a loose shroud.
An invisible burden,
his arms mid-cross,
not committed to the fold.
It's the season everything
wants to be inside.

Earlier that week I watched some metro workers replacing some of the rail lines. They do it at 3am when the trains aren't running.

Lit up by flood lights
working in the ink of night
tearing up the tracks
the cool hiss of hydraulic
yellow spiders march along

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grampian weekend continued....

To wrap up the big Grampian Mountain birthday weekend...

There was fabulous chicken wire around a shed on the Royal Mail campus...chickens are called "chooks" here.

We picked out some $6 commemorative cheese knives from the gift store that looks a bit like the chook wire, above. It also reminds of the great metal workers I used to work with in Portland. We can't remember the last time we went on holiday and felt the need to buy a fridge magnet or snow globe....that kind of thing turns into dust gathering kibble around the house. But we practically live on cheese and dips and have lots of hors dourves parties, so these will be well loved.

There were fun sculptures on the grounds. Here's some cute fauna frolicking in it.

The motel proprietor promised that kangaroos would come to our back door (or money back!) where we stayed on Saturday night, in Halls Gap. They're in the background. Nice cow though.

We eventually made enough new kangaroo friends that we stopped "recruiting" (slamming on the breaks and careening Winston, the car, to the side of the road to take photos).

Tom loves to find water stations. Sewers? Well...close. Circle of life, Baby.

Silverband falls: A waterfall that ends up underground. What a thrill to find actual cascading water in this drought.

Chilly and a bit rainy. Romantic I least a thrill to find a second waterfall, MacKenzie Falls. Can we go back to that 10 course restaurant now please?

Did some hiking. Tom claims this tree stump was hollowed out by lightening. Funny that, there were hundreds like this along the path.


While I waited in Winston and ate leftover garlic pizza while Tom took pictures of the water guages. A true win-win!

I can't stop thinking about the food at Royal Mail and are going to go sit vigil tomorrow until they let us feed again.

Grampian Birthday Weekend

After seeing Anthony Bourdaine's visit to Royal Mail in his show "No Reservations", I have been all aquiver to get a reservation here, a restaurant 3 hours north of Melbourne.

We finally got a booking and are here celebrating my 41st birthday. Tom keeps asking what I want for that so wrong that I just want to eat homegrown, organic, gourmet, Spanish / Australian food for four straight hours? It feels so right.

The town, Dunkeld has only 400 residents. I would have guessed 100. It's terribly quiet. Anthony Bourdaine says it's at the "ass end of No-where's-ville". True, that. He also calls it "quite possibly the best restaurant in Australia". So far, yes, tick that box for us.

Start watching at 2 minutes, 27 seconds...(email people click here).

Some of my favorite comments from Tony's bit here:
  • "I don't know if want to eat that or roll around naked in it." (Tony...lover of all things indulgent... food, booze, drugs, tattoos, travel ... and writing)

  • (Friend, Paul Wilson, local Melbourne chef) "And you're not a man who likes vegetables, Tony." .... Tony (in adorable, childlike voice): "I like pretty colorful things!!!" (and then he plays around in his flower salad...adorable!)

  • "You forget how good a carrot can be. You do. Did I say that or did I just think that? (Tony)

  • "Nothing felt constructed." (Tony) ...
    "Make it have a reason, and at that point, stop." (Royal Mail chef, Dan Hunter)

  • "It's so good it's almost depressing." (Tony)
It really was like a book you didn't want to end...I was sad as each of the 10 courses drew to a close. Luckily, I ordered the omnivore degustation menu and Tom had the we each got to try both.

Chef Dan Hunter designed the venue with "its own ecosystem" and "its own sustainable sourcing and food production". As we were eating the complimentary continental breakfast this morning, we saw a sous chef walk by with an armful of freshly harvested rhubarb from their massive garden ... I wanted to tackle/hug him.

How can one not wonder what leads up to toasting prohibition? Anyway, back to dinner...

Heirloom baby carrots in black cream, sardines on toast and mini pork sandwich.

Egg yolk, toasted rye, legumes and yeast with a broccoli paste. All we can think about is getting more. It's like we're chasing a sprout dragon now. We grilled the server for recipe details ... apparently we'd need a special immersion bath that keeps the egg yolk at an exact 62 degrees. This feels ever so slightly out of our skill range, notwithstanding kitchen cabinet storage capabilities.

Coral trout, brassicas (mustard greens), chicken broth and fried skin.

Fresh and dried berries, beetroot, black olives and rose petals.

The (above) strawberry and the sprout dish are among the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Fortunately, the venue also had a boutique hotel, so they only had to show us the door and pour us into bed afterwards.

I was going to ask for an I-pad ... maybe a tennis bracelet or a bike with a big rattan basket on the handlebars, but the memories of this marathon experience (and let's hope, not the fatness accrued) will last forever. No, gluttony is not good. But there is a lot right about this place and truly a thrill of my lifetime to get to be a part of it.

Even though we spent the rest of the weekend in other parts of the Grampian Mountain range, we are haunted by the flavors and determined to go back to their bistro on Sunday.

Fly away, you poor little precious quail we noticed on the ala cart menu ... TomKit is in route and hungry for more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Tom here again. This week's class involved more going out into the street and finding interesting scenes for about 20 minutes and coming back to discuss. He gave us a structured form to fit, and so here's some of the things I saw

She colors her hair
and gabs with the beautician
her man stands nearby
pacing near the door he looks
far too long in his wallet

A broken old man
hermit crabbed over yogurt
his spoon barely lifts
his mouth drops open slowly
lets it meander inside
then his eyes widen
his pace quickens near the end
he scrapes down the walls
intent on getting his fill
when satisfied he looks up
and lets out a silent sigh

(from a poster on the classroom wall)
cauliflower clouds
oppressive humidity
a featureless plain

Marge had the scrambled eggs
Ann had the mushrooms
Marge: "I don't think there's an end in sight"
Anne wondered if the wine bottles on the shelf,
arranged 3 deep, were in a particular order
alphabetical, by vintage, maybe even biographical.
"Nobody was prepared for it to go on for this long"
Anne sees a girl without sideburns
at the edge of her stool chewing too quickly
"You'd think nobody was in control" she clucked
A barista with coke bottle glasses wipes a spoon
with the edge of her neon pink surgeon's smock
"I think it's clear who should be responsible"
Anne notices an impatient blonde male behind the counter
biting his lower lip, he keeps his finger on the button
waiting for his shot to pull
The chrome coffeemaker rumbles on
his brow is the inverse of furrowed
A leather bracelet on one arm, she wonders why
his watch on the other is stopped, 3 hours late.