You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2011.

It’s gray here, super cold and rainy.  So I’m channeling sunny thoughts and thinking about how beautiful spring is going to be.  To encourage Melbourne weather to get on the same wavelength, we have a new header! 

(do you think Melbourne weather has an RSS feed to my blog?)

Despite the gray and rainy weather, we took off for the coast this weekend and spent the day on Mornington Peninsula.  Kelly & Adam had suggested lunch at Montalto Vineyard, which has received an Aussie “chef’s hat” (the equivalent of a Michelin star) for its restaurant concoctions and has an award-winning Pinot Noir available at its cellar door.

So on Saturday we rented a car and headed down south of the city.  First, we dropped in on the T’Gallant winery to stock up on a few of our favorite wines for the impending visit from the (in-law) Whites, then we spent the afternoon tasting, noshing, and traipsing around the muddy Montalto grounds.  Check out the full pictures here.

Moving from the center of American politics (Washington D.C.) to literally the other side of the Earth has it’s advantages.  My barista doesn’t ask my political affiliation (or maliciously spike my coffee with sugar if I answer incorrectly).  I can be blissfully unaware that inability of two-party system to compromise is driving us into potential economic default until the uncertainty slams the brakes on all transactions I’m working on, and I’m forced to eduate myself as to why 3 deals disappeared in a week.  (Turns out, the potential default of the world economic power has a skittish effect on U.S. and global capital markets).

It has it’s obvious downsides too.  Friends look to us to explain U.S. politcal drama, bizzare political personalities, U.S. foreign policy…   We often find ourselves trying to explain the nuances of the political system Americans hold so dear to people who receive only highlights of stupid political ploys on the evening news, and are rarely able to engage in the same spirited debate that was a weekly occurance at happy hours or dinner parties in D.C.

While, at first, I attempted to keep up with U.S. news, I now find I know more about the carbon tax debate and national broadband proposal in Australia than I do about the Republican candidates for 2012!

So I am trying to tune back into American politics.  And hoping that “Washington” doesn’t create another GFC out of this debt ceiling mess.  Then this afternoon, reading one of my favorite columnists for the NYT, I stumbled across this gem from former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson:

If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”

Do you think if I asked nicely they’d let me stay in Australia???

So that they don’t forget me miles away, I have to occassionally post pics of family and friends.  After waiting 4 months for any photographic confirmation of her birth, finally the Tara pictures have arrived (all 198 of them!).

Here’s my favorite of mom and baby girl:

What I love the most about this picture is the “old” quality of it.  It has that distinctive yellow hue that colors all my childhood photos – softening and humanizing the subjects.  Sometimes I find the bright crispness of a “new-age” photo is just too glaring.  But this picture is just perfect…

Here’s a common refrain in my life:

Mel: <<So Steve got trapped in an elevator today, huh?>>

Me (astonished): <<Well, yes he did.  But how the heck did you know that??!!>>

Mel: <<Facebook, duh.  When are you going to get with the times?>>

For anyone wondering, no I don’t have a Facebook account and yes, Steve is OK and has been freed from the elevator.  I mean, it was a 10 minute ordeal during which he called the building department, called me to tell me he loved me (just in case), and apparently told the whole world of the calamity that had befallen him via a Facebook breaking news alert.

I agreed 3 months ago to join Facebook, when my sister was holding pictures of my niece hostage in virtual reality.  Which I haven’t done (yet), because my sister is now using her smartphone to seamlessly distribute pics and video of Elenor via email, a 21st century technology I jive with.  Now, social media technology is invading not only all aspects of my personal life, but my work space too!

Here, hot from the presses in Australia, is the latest infiltration of social media services – legal advice via Twitter.  A leading Australian law firm, Minter Ellison, just announced that it’s been testing a private version of Twitter as a means to electronically distribute advice to clients.  Apparently driven by a desire to bill more, the partners sat around at the monthly partners’ meeting and thought, “hey, what about that Twitter thing my kids are doing?  Bet we could do that and rack up a few 6-minute increments of billable hours.”  Confidentiality, nuances of legal analysis and that warm and fuzzy handshake relationship with clients be damned.

Now, not only can hours-strapped associates bill for the 10 minutes they spend checking their blackberries each morning (semi-conscious, and in bed), but they can bill for the 2 tweet replies they fire off before hitting the shower and another 6-minute increment for advice rendered while riding the tram.  Soon law firms will start introducing abbreviations like PTAL (Pursuant to Applicable Law), PAOTBFBFM (Preliminary Advice Only to be Followed by Formal Memorandum) and BTF (Bill to Follow).

Jeesh.  Not to sound like an 85-yo granny or anything, but what is this world coming to!

(Editorial note: this is in no way to suggest that my 85-yo grandma would say such a thing, since I long ago came to terms with the fact that she is actually more technologically advanced than me. I bet she even has a Facebook account.)

(Post script: Dad has pointed out that Grams is actually 88 (and confirmed that yes, she does have a Facebook page).  Maybe if I follow my dad on Twitter and join this new fangled Goggle thing I can be as cool as my grandma.  Probably not though…. )

As previously noted, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of time a lot in Australia.  This is partly because I find myself with more of it on my hands, and everyone is so darn far away there’s not too much to fill it up with.  It’s also partly because we live with the constant tick of a clock, marking the minutes, hours and days until we leave this great continent and return home.

As I’ve been trying to live more in the present, I’ve realized that my pets are an awesome guide to this kind of life.

Take my daily walks with Bentley.  No other time in the day do I get 20-30 minutes to just wander around outside and clear my mind.  Bentley’s walking habits are totally impulsive – he stops at street corners and mailbox posts to investigate interesting/offensive smells, he lunges at the birds in the park, he glances back at me occasionally (as if he couldn’t tell by the tug of the leash that I was still back there).  Without our walks, I would have never noticed a 30+ flock of white cockatoos swooping over the streets of Richmond and settling into an enormous pine for a morning snack.  Or the bright pink and red camelias in their defiant winter bloom, bursting to life in the thick of winter and brightening up otherwise dead and decayed home gardens.

And without Smokey, I might otherwise go about my weekend duties and not stop to enjoy a warm winter morning.  Cats are incredibly adept at enjoying the little moments in life (and well-known for their sun-basking abilities).  Here’s Smokey and me, enjoying a little apricity and relishing in the present.

But with good taste in wine at least… While attending the Melbourne Good Food & Wine exhibition, we got talked into a Wine Selectors sampling.  After all, who wouldn’t love 12 wines from different regions and states of Australia delivered to your doorstep every 3 months for the low price of $140?  Not me, loved it and signed up.

It’s officially the Fourth of July in (east coast) United States.

Oh to be eating corn off the grill and sweet sticky BBQ right about now…  For our part, we’re having apple pie this afternoon at the office (freshly baked by our latest ex-pat addition, Kelly) and singing the national athem quietly inside.  Happy Fourth to all back home!

This weekend, I dedicated myself to some long-over due jewelry making.  It started with an early night at work on Thursday, leading to the blown-glass creation pictured below. Then late night on Friday, I finally finished my project from our trip in March to Freycinet Park, Tasmania, and strung up my purple seashells.  And the trifecta:  on Saturday, after a few hours at the bead and gem stores on Smith St., Fitzroy, we settled in for a night of movie watching and beading! (well, I played with beads; Steve concentrated on movie watching…)

We watched 4 movies, so I guess that means I beaded for around 7-8 hours.  I’m feeling creatively-spent, but at least I have some pretty things to show for it…

blown-glass beads with swarovski crystals

I found these gorgeous blown-glass pieces at a bead store that was going out of business, and scored the lot for about $5.  Pair with leftover swarovski’s and viola, a shimmering adornment!

turquoise and red coral lariat

The necklace is doubled up here in the center to fit in the frame.  It’s a long drapey necklace, with a flexible swing but rigid and defined turquoise collar.  I’ve been meaning to do something in this color family for awhile, and I totally love it.  I think it will be perfect with the traditional Melbourne fashion – all black.  Brighten things up a bit!

carnelian drop necklace

for $10, I signed up for a VIP membership at this gem and semi-precious stone store on Smith St, Fitzroy.  Which was so worth it, as it gave me 50% off right away on these beauties – teardrop carnelian. Don’t they look like little dinosaur eggs?


black and white twist-up

This one is a collaborative effort.  The beads on the left were left-over from one of the only custom jobs I’ve done, for a friend of my good friend Lisa.  After I finished the commissioned piece, I had some extra of the swirly marbled beads, so I kept them until a new idea struck me.  A few months ago, a woman riding the tram had a twisted necklace like this, and I loved how simple yet elegant it looked.  So when I found these black lava beads this weekend, I knew just what to do!

purple shells from the clear waters of Tasmania

Handpicked for me by my loving husband when we were at Wineglass Bay in March, then painstakingly hand-drilled to make suitable for a necklace.  Its like my own personal piece of the sea.  Love it.

painted glass beads with rose quartz

I dig the contrast of the diamond white and black glass swirls, painted with delicate little pink roses.  I had a bunch of rose quartz already in my inventory, so I thought these were perfect to pair something new with something old.

Dogs for one.  Unless you are starving and can find no other form of sustenance, you should not eat dog.  Goat, turns out, is another one.  At least when I cook it.

We purchased a small goat shoulder from Prahan market on a whim.

Steve’s whim to be correct, as he was feeling adventurous and, I think, wanting to challenge his wife’s cooking skills.  After doing some reading into how exactly one cooks goat shoulder, and ruling out the most popular methods (since Steve hates curry and all forms of Indian food), I settled on a simple roast with spiced rice.

Complete failure.  Steve browned the shoulder and vegetables, and we roasted the goat for 2.5 hours, crusted with sea salt and fresh herbs (tarragon and rosemary) and swimming atop a chicken broth and white wine basting sauce brimming with leeks, carrots, onion and garlic.

We made $15 sundried tomato flavored rice we’d also purchased at the market, which was so bland I had to add half a bottle of Nando’s roasted tomato sauce and additional sliced sundried tomatoes to even make it edible.  Mixed with goat, served with roasted carrots on the side, and 15 minutes later we were both shoving the concoction around our plates and into the far corners, thinking we’d better just stick to beef next time.

An hour later, still hungry, we made quesadillas.  That at least is something I know I can master….