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So it’s T-minus 1 week til our “furry kids” depart the U.S. and start their journey to Australia. It can’t come soon enough.

Our house is nearly settled, but it doesn’t really feel like home without Bentley and Smokey. We’ve got Bentley’s bed all set up at the end of ours in the bedroom, complete with a new stuffed toy for him to rip apart in excitement and scatter its fluffy innards all over the place as soon as he gets here. I’ve been trying to think of places Smokey will take her afternoon naps (we don’t have a bay window ledge like the old place, her resident spot), and setting up various areas with soft blankets for her.

It doesn’t help (at the moment) that our new ‘hood is extremely dog friendly. Our new fav place for brekky was selected by a combination of winning factors: terrific cappuccino; fresh baked pastries and breads; and a dog under every outdoor table on the sidewalk. It’s gotten so bad that (1) we’ve started fawning over seriously fuggly dogs (like Pomeranians, yorkies and pugs) and (2) we are bordering on stalking other peoples’ pets to get a pat of fur and an adoring appreciative look from a canine. Steve actually pretended to be tying his shoes (for like, 8 to 10 minutes) so that a reddish brown dachshund 2 blocks down the street he had spotted with big ears flapping in the wind and a sweet goofy smile could catch up to us, and get molested.

Only 1 more week to go til we can give them a good hug at least at the quarantine (before they’re locked up for a month in anti-rabies jail). Man, December can’t come soon enough.

We’re headed to the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday!

Medda: And, I put on my best (Newsies: I put on my best!)

Medda: Oh, and I stick out my chest (Newsies: I sticks out my chest)

Medda & Newsies: And I’m OFFFFFFF to the races again!

Melbourne Cup is a week-long extravaganza for the biggest annual horse races and fashion. Women wear outrageous headpieces (I mean seriously, downright, outrageous – thousands of dollars made by professional milliners, 2 feet in height, bright colors, feathers, flowers, these hats and fascinators have got it all…)

We’ve got the day off (it’s a national holiday) and are planning to go general admissions (most people vie for VIP spots in a marquee or car park) in our finest, with a picnic blanket and some cheese and other goodies, and camp out and watch the festivities.

If you’ve got recommendation on how to pick a good horse, let us know!

***
OK, so I’m WAY too excited about this whole horse racing thing… Maybe it’s because we’ve spent the last three weekends feverishly unpacking boxes, making multiple trips to target and IKEA and otherwise assembling, straightening, cleaning and setting up house…

Or, maybe its the fact that “real” Melburnians have all taken a long weekend, as evidenced by the dozen out of office replies I got today: “I’m out of the office. Tuesday is a public holiday in Melbourne, and I will have limited access to emails.” Read: “I’m out getting pissed. Try again Wednesday.”

Whatever the reason, I am delighted at the idea of a leisurely brekky of poached eggs and mimosas, and an afternoon sipping champagne and sitting in the sun. Oh right, and watching horses run around in circles. Here’s a sneak preview–my fabulously flamboyant hairpiece.

***

So, for those of you sitting on the edges of your seats for fashion photos from the Cup…. we didn’t go.  Let’s just leave it at that.

But, so I don’t disappoint with at least a few factoids from the 150th Emirates Melbourne Cup:

– main race won by a truly global horse named Americain — bred in the U.S.A, trained in France, owned by Aussies.  She won a recent local cup, which was a good precursor of the win today, but nonetheless upset the “King of the Cup”, a local Melbourne trainer looking for his lucky 13th win with So You Thought who came up third.

– fashion coverage on TV wasnt quite the same as the real thing, but showed a penchant for the dramatic for sure.  What I hadn’t realized was that men dressed up in crazy fashions too – bright yellow suits, 8-man band in matching patent leather blue straight from the 1950s, 24″ top hats… you name it, it was there. 

– on the female side, a few ridiculous statistics: apprx $6 million spent on hats and $6 million spent on shoes.  Seriously.  Not a typo, millions.

– level of corporate sponsorship = staggering.  Emirates (airline) was the big hitter, with the Cup Day named after it. Lavazza (coffee) and Myers (department store like Nordstroms) were also big players.  Probably a function of my viewing venue, it was impossible to go more than 30 seconds without hearing one of these three corporates names.  I guess though, with races only 90 seconds long, there’s a lot of air time to fill.  

Stay tuned for the 151th Melbourne Cup, live from this blog in November 2011.

The movers came bright and early today (6:45am! Which is quite an ungodly hour for a corporate lawyer, especially one who hasn’t yet had coffee and made even more ungodly by the fact that I’ve been coming home from the office at that hour a few times this week.) The upshot was, we finally get to move into our new apartment!

When we got to Hosie street the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was so true. I hadn’t seen the apartment since the first viewing weeks ago (although Steve had) and might I just say, this place is awesome!! Its twice as big as our old apartment and has so much character (in a good way, not in a “this house is run down so let call it “charming with character”) Pictures to come once we’ve unpacked some of the boxes!

So I finally took the good doctor’s advice. It’s 10pm, on a Thursday, and I’m just off work. I am headed to a bar. That’s right, its mid-week (end-ish) and I’m drinking alone after work. Keep reading and I think you’ll agree, I deserve it after the past two weeks. After passing a few places that looked as if you’d get shived for wearing the wrong colors, and a few places with nothing but old men and young ladies in dark corners, I found the spot–a corner table outside (it’s a lovely 20 even at night today) at City Wine with views of the parliament building.

Where to start? Work I guess, since that’s always the most time demanding constraint on my life. Last week, a seven day marathon of 2-3hrs of sleep from roughly 6am to 9am in an effort to finish an offering document for a large (think B not M of $$) issuance finally finished up on Saturday afternoon, for which I was tasked to turn the offering document each day through the commercial printer and act as liaison with a client who thought it was perfectly acceptable to send 100+ pages of edits at midnight and expect a new version available at 8am.

After one day of “rest” (during which, in a frenzy of residual adrenaline, we unpacked 75% of the boxes littering our new apartment so we could actually walk around without a knock on the shins and spent $800 at IKEA on a new desk an assortment of other $20 things that somehow always seem to add up to hundreds of dollars), it was somehow Monday again.

My task this week bright and early Monday morning — a form check of a 80 page SEC form against a company’s Australian disclosures to determine what additional requirements would apply if the registered with the SEC. At least the client seemed pleasantly surprised today at the “extremely thorough job” when I handed him a 100 page detailed chart of the differences / similarities.

For those of you blissfully outside the corporate lawyer world, these two tasks involve (1) decent penmanship necessary to transcribe 100+ pages of comments in 25+ one-liner emails from clients and other counsel by hand onto a master markup for the printer EVERY DAY (or should I say night) and a reasonable level of judgment to reject the occasional immaterial or just plain wrong comment from opposing counsel, and (2) menial monkey skills to match up section to section in separate documents and perform endless control+F key term searches, an appreciation for Where’s Waldo pictograms, and a whole lotta time.

Add to this:
1) 3.5 hours and two trips to Richmond midday for a literally 5 minute, $60 “doctors appointment” to get a script filled;
2) Four trips to the bank to try and get a certified check to pay the security deposit on our new apartment, culminating in me withdrawing $4k from the ATM, walking down Collins in apprehension, and using Westpac (NB: we bank with Citi), my stern lawyerly tone and a hint of desperation to get the job done;
3) hours on hours of continued unpacking;
4) a house with over 27 light-switches, including 5 automatic timers switches that tick constantly and sound like rats scratching and running up the inside of walls at 10pm; and
5) the magpies. Magpie — n., a type of bird as common as the pigeon in Melbourne which has a cackle that sounds like a cross between fighting ferral cats, a dying opposum, and a distant chain saw. The magpie is most active and vociferous between the hours of 2 am and 5 am, and nests en mass in a tree directly behind 1/10 Hosie Street, Richmond. 

No surprise here, two glasses and one exquisite tasting of cheese down and audience-less ranting complete, and I’m already feeling better. Just what the doctor ordered.

Or, more to the point, my blog has no purpose. In an effort to make it appear more purposeful (since let’s face it, I like random ranting and topical focus would likely reduce my posting frequency), I’ve given the blog a minor facelift. Like it? Interested in feedback on the appearance / functionality of the blog, esp. the use of tags.

ahh, to breathe the sweet smell of spring… 

Spring has finally sprung in Melbourne, and it was a beaut of a weekend.  Sunny, bright blue skies, warm (nearly blistering sun), crisp but sweet breeze, ripe with the smell of pear and cherry blossoms.  We had planned a Sunday afternoon excursion to the Yarra Valley, but after a series of mishaps we opted to stay in Melbourne for the afternoon and spend a lazy afternoon relaxing on the banks of the Yarra River. 

 After a leisurely and late breakfast at Picnic, we strolled up to the river and towards the CBD, plopping ourselves on a particularly sunny knoll with views of the CBD in the near distance to the left and soft reflective waves of the river in front of us.  It was the perfect day for reading, gazing, reflecting, talking and general relaxation.  After some time in the sun, we wandered down into the CBD to grab a snag (sausage) and a beer under the Flinders St. bridge, and sit back on the banks and enjoy a nibble.

 Then, it was back across the river to the southside to find a spot of shade in the Royal Botanical Gardens.  We flipped our books back open, and resumed our leisurely laziness. 

Utter and total perfection for a Sunday afternoon in every way.

OK, so Steve is going to kill me if I don’t cease my indecisive ways and just settle on an apartment… especially since our stuff arrived in Melbourne today and is hopefully speeding its way through customs and back into our welcoming arms (and we’ll need a place to put it all since our 600sqm temporary apartment sure isn’t going to cut it).

So, calling anyone who’s actually listening and reading this thing…. what should we do?

(1) expensive place in beach town (St. Kilda) that’s brand new (++); 3 storey tall and skinny (neutral); has wall-to-wall windows in the living room and master bedroom (+) that looks out over a crummy brick apartment building with laundry and other accoutrements hanging from the rusted balconies (double -); price: expensive.  commute: 30-40 mins to CBD

(2) expensive place in quirky, inner suburb Richmond that’s two-story, open and cohesive (+), older (-), has a private terrace, complete with “plunge pool” (jacuzzi), and upper “breakfast” balcony  (++), quiet but only a block off, and centrally located to, the main strip in the neighborhood, and less than 2 blocks from a butcher shop, the famous Richmond larder (++), and a bi-weekly farmer’s market (+).  price: so far, most expensive option.  commute: 15-20 mins, and two tram line options into the CBD.

(3) two potential expensive places in South Yarra (house on the edge of Faulkner Park) and Prahan (house just off Malvern/Commercial), yuppie town on the “right side” (South side) of the river, where there’s a healthy dose of clothing options for 60-year-old females and pregnant ladies (-), a number of markets, including the famous Prahan which is open every weekend and some days during the week (+), Faulkner Park and the Royal Botanical Gardens nearby (+) and less than a 15 minute walk from the river banks for those sunny Sunday afternoons.  price: expensive and more expensive.  commute: 20-25 mins.

clock is ticking… so help a girl out!