February 12, 2009

Come together, right now

This week has been all about the bushfires. They are apparently the worst in Australia's history; there have been more lives lost than in any other disaster in Australia. There is a town where residents cannot return until the forensics experts have been through and cleared out all the dead bodies because they estimate that 1 in 5 of the townspeople died there.

There are no words to say how awful this is. How guilty and useless those of us not directly affected by the fires feel. What is interesting to me is how this makes people react: a friend is holding a sausage sizzle for his car club tomorrow night; the craft community is collecting donations of handmade goods for survivors, donating income from sales, holding fundraising auctions. There has been an outpouring of community spirit, many tales of everyday heroes, inspiring stories of survival.

What a shame it takes something so awful to inspire people to look after each other.

February 4, 2009

An open letter to the office fridge patrol

Dear fridge patrollers

It's not that I don't appreciate your efforts to stop our communal fridge from being declared a contamination zone. I do, I really do. I remember with shuddering vividness the chickpea salad that festered on the top shelf for 3 months, the avocado half that started to sprout from the seed, the leftovers that bubbles out from their container menacingly. So I applaud your diligence in keeping a watchful eye over things and making good on the threat in your clip art-laden poster to throw out anything that looks dangerous.

What I'm not so keen on is the criteria you seem to apply to decide what stays and what goes. Imagine my surprise when i went to get out my tub of homemade hummus, desposited in the fridge only that morning, to find it was gone. GONE! And imagine my even greater surprise to spot it in the rubbish bin, nestled among some mouldy noodles.

At first, I thought it was just a case of you being overly thorough. But then I noticed that mine was the only container that had been thrown in the bin. The kitchen counter was piled high with coloured tupperware and lunchboxes that had been emptied of their festering remains and left to be claimed by their owners, but my trusty little non-glamourous container obviously hadn't made the grade. I don't think you even opened it to see what was in there (for surely if you'd gotten a whiff of my deliciously fresh hummus you would have immediately known the error of your assumptions).

So my message to you is this, fridge patrol, don't judge me by the quality of my lunchbox. And keep your hands off my lunch.

Timewasting with the tailor of a cat

I was supposed to be spending this afternoon doing some kind of plotting for the Second Book, which I've recently been told is due next May (which seems a long way away and scarily close all at the same time, so I figure I'd better get off my bum and start writing). But of course as soon as you (I) decide that a task must be completed it is the subconcious's cue to procrastinate. And there's nothing like the interweb to allow you to spend two hours avoiding what really has to be done. (The interweb is my enabler, I tells you.)

In my nostalgic travels through my favourites list today I:
  • remembered how much I lovelovelove Cat Prin, the tailor of a cat. Not only for its earnest Engrish ('it is fact which will become dearer than former if a cat has clothes on' - er yes, sure) and photos of pissed off cats dressed as frogs, rabbits and Anne of Green Gables, but also because the site acknowledges that cats hate being dressed up and every outfit comes with the resassurance that velcro closures mean you can get the outfits on and off FAST, before your cat shreds you, just as you have shredded its dignity.
  • wished that Tavi had been around to offer me fashion advice when I had enough time to go op shopping but came home time and time again with nothing but nasty polyester Osti shirtdresses in size 20.
  • felt even more guilty about procrastinating when I could be contributing to Handmade Help (hopefully this guilt will propel me into action soon - am thinking my scarf knitting skills could be put to goood use with the cooler weather only a couple of months away).

And now I really have to get plotting.

Bally good show, Bendigo!

We try to go away for our anniversary each year (or at least stay at a hotel for a night), so to celebrate the big one-two we headed to Bendigo last weekend.

Now I must admit that I had and ulterior motive for wanting Mr Fantapants to visit Bendigo - I fell in love with the place on a work trip late last year and ever since have been harbouring a not-very-secret desire to move there. Why?
  1. It has some beautiful buildings and houses - being established during the gold mining boom really helps a town's aesthetics, some parts of it feel almost European (if you pretend it's not 40-something degrees).
  2. It has some great places to eat and drink (not to mention great local wineries).
  3. The people are friendly, but not in a creepy I'd-like-to-eat-you way.
  4. It's big but not too big and small but not too small - less people, less traffic, less attitude, but not so cosy that everyone knows your business.
  5. It's only 90 minutes fron Melbourne, if a trip to the big smoke is in order.
Sounds perfect, right? Except that we only moved to Melbourne a few years ago, and Mr F, having none of my big city phobias, is pretty keen to stay here. Or at least he was until he too fell for Bendigo. Even the heatwave couldn't dampen (dry-en?) the city's charms.

We stopped in at the art gallery which is showing a fantastic couture exhibition from the V&A museum in London. For a sewing and textiles nerd, this was heaven. Unfortunately they have to keep the lighting low for preservation reasons, which made it hard to see some of the details of the clothing, but it was still incredible to see the skill and innovation of some of the construction techniques. Mr F did his best to look interested, but I suspect what he was most taken with was the gallery's subzero air conditioning.

We stayed at Hunter House, a beautiful Victorian mansion that's now a hotel and restaurant. Our room was spacious, with a lovely high ceiling and even a gas fireplace that I'm sure would be very cosy in the cold months. Even the en suite bathroom, which was obviously a later addition to the house, was roomy enough for two.

For dinner we went to Whirrakee, recommended to us by a friend of a friend. It's in an old bank building, overlooking Bendigo's over the top fountain. The food was great - quite innovative and with plenty of lighter choices for such a hot night - but it was the service that really made the night: friendly, welcoming and professional, such a pleasant change after having a few 'special' dinners ruined by waitstaff who really couldn't give a toss.

The next morning we had breakfast in our room and then pootled back to Melbourne at a leisurely pace. I felt so relaxed by Sunday night, it was as if we'd been away for a week instead of just a night - stark contrast to the two-week break at xmas that felt like a long weekend.

Perhaps I can convince work to let me telecommute from our Bendigo office...