A funny old weekend where nothing of consequence was achieved and yet a strange sense of relaxation and calm pervades…A 5:30am Saturday start in the dark with Ash to the Kilmore footy ground wearing snow gloves and layers of clothes. A car heater turned up to 3. We took tripod shot after shot and hoped liked crazy it would all be worth it, and that the sun would show. More driving to Kyneton after watching reluctant “I’m freezin” workers at the Lancefield Bakery put Lavazza Coffee barriers up “for the smokers” outside – whoever they were. Ash took photos of an odd little eating house next door to the Kyneton Mineral Water factory, only to be accosted by a chubby lad in a stained T-shirt who thought we were out to rob his clientele. An afterthought of a diversion to Mt. Macedon on the way home saw us in fields of snow and joyous toboganning by youngsters. We nervously spun our wheels through the slush and escaped. I suspect we both slept well that night after the early start and the dramatic Godspeed CD’s that featured heavily.

A death in the family

At 11:01 we fronted up late for my nana’s funeral. It’s only a 10 minute drive to Heidelberg yet we got our timing all wrong and speculated about the evil looks we’d get from mum for not sitting in the front row. After being shunted into a side wing we relaxed in the low-key feeling – fully visible to the priests and speakers, yet away from the main crowd. Everyone was wonderful. They gave tributes that were well thought out and generous; reminded us of her phrases like “I’m only a girl” and told stories of her puritanism and love of euchre and football. My favourite part was when Joy referred to her ability to emotionally blackmail people – I had long thought my mother must have learned her craft from an expert. It was a tiny coffin, and at the gravesite in Kingsbury they had it down in a jiffy as the rain was coming in and umbrellas were being turned inside out. Most people threw in a few rose petals, had a few quiet tears and it was all over – really a lot more straightforward than I thought.

What a perfect day

Woke with a splitting headache after a bottle of Abottsford Invalid Stout and a night of baby talk at a Bentleigh housewarming – Jack and Gills. A rare outright lie to a family member meant I didn’t need to attend ANOTHER DAMN BABY EVENT and could do what I like with my Sunday. We speculated what’s caused my frequent headaches in recent years and made a list of 3 in order of likelihood. One goes to dehydration because I never drink and our ducted heating is making a sultana out of my body. Two goes to glare – why else would I set my screen backgrounds to grey and feel bad the night after driving or painting in full sun. And LAST OF ALL IS MALT. Malt because it’s in scotch and stout in large quantities. And they seem to give me the biggest blinders. Moving on – tablets duly downed we shot through to Carlton and split up. Kim went for the fashion and I hunkered down inside Book Affair on Elgin St., buying 5 and scaring myself because the “To-Reads” are now a bigger pile than ever before. So much pressure. No wonder Kim just gallops through her books. All new writers for me: Meades, Ozeki, Williamson, Jones, Colapinto – it could be my pitching squad in Fantasy Baseball for all they mean. We bought tickets to “Touching the Void” at the Nova and wore extra clothing because of the snow scenes – I remember seeing a film about Iceland years ago and leaving the cinema totally frozen. IT WAS TIME TO GET SMART ABOUT MY FILMGOING. We both liked the film, the salmon focaccia and the exotic seedy loaves at Browns Bakery across the road afterwards. It was sunny, mostly still and the Tour De France was starting on SBS when we got home. A perfect day.

No changes to the Tramrider lineup

A few weeks ago a Telstra Surfboard arrived on my porch in a crisp box with a friendly note telling me to install it and to dispose of my old modem thoughtfully. I let it sit for awhile before being spurred into action by emails and phonecalls that preceded cutoff of the old service. I’m glad I waited until the Americans had gone before doing this because I was off the air for 2 days and it felt like more. Instead of being liberated by this chance to do other things, I spent small chunks of the days wondering how my Fantasy Baseball team – the Preston Tramriders on Yahoo were going. Since it is my long term wish to trounce the yanks at their own game, I have been micromanaging this team to the point where barely a single player is left from the original lineup. And I’m still only a few places from the bottom. Now. How does one dispose of an antiquated DOCSIS cable modem thoughtfully?

Things you find in foreign trees

With the Americans in tow, we have driven all over Victoria in the past few days – up into slush country at Stanley and along the top of the northern lowland slopes west to Bendigo. Maybe we were too busy talking about the bleak weather, but you could count the birds we have seen on a couple of hands – a White Winged Chough or 5, a couple of Kookaburras and a small magpie lark that careened off the windscreen on the Midland. As I left for work this morning, an Eastern Spinebill flitted amongst the foliage of one of the only non-native shrubs on my property. I have dreamed of this event for years and when I saw that flash of buff and the twisted curve of a beak, it was my natural high of this week.

The dome is dead

Once again I find myself stuck in the synthetic world of the Telstra dome – with Dave on my left and Dad on my right – a man who lets out regular whoops of joy when Carlton score goals. And he whoops a lot tonight. In one of the few positives, maybe it’s my imagination, but the ads on the scoreboards have been lowered in volume thesdays. And suddenly the Roar meter has gone – maybe we’re so bad they should have a boo meter? The Tigers got flogged again and it was depressingly familiar – I think just to make things interesting I should try sitting in a different part of the stadium next time. And at a different level. Why do I sit in the same forward pocket every time? Or I should go back to wearing Richmond jocks again like in the mid 90’s – we won a lot of games back then. Hardly a success in the bedroom, but they got results on the field.

Tullamarine and Northcote Plaza

Today I chaperoned some tired Americans around some of Melbourne’s biggest landmarks, such as the Northcote Plaza and CeeBee Motors in Oakover Road. We shopped for food, bought some Cheezymites and bravely sought out 6 bottles of Hobart’s finest light beer. Dave told me that the northern suburbs reminded him of Hamilton, Ontario – and I’m not sure he meant that in a totally flattering way. The dogs have been civil; the day held just enough sunshine to give a favourable impression and the mechanic asked all the right questions. A great start to the visit.

The Americans are coming

Yikes, they arrive in 12 hours and there’s still dog poo all over the back deck. I have suddenly discovered how hard it is to wipe off 2 years of dust that sleeps on the fridge. The dogs have been trimmed and washed so our visitors won’t hate them and their spoilt ways. I have told them to be civil, to only speak when spoken to, and if in any doubt, to drop and obey their one great master. The Kenney’s have already brought joy to our household because they MADE ME PANIC ABOUT HOW CRAP MY HOUSE IS, and so I painted a wall, fixed a toilet and a car (indirectly), and did all the things Kim has been telling me to do for years. I feel great about this. I should invite more visitors to stay and next time it will spur me to do something crazy – like adding on an upstairs extension or moving to a new house so they could enjoy a change of scenery.

The pampered ones feast

Tonight the dogs got short shrift and were guiltily left at home with a choc-drop each for their trouble as Kim and I visited the wind tunnel that is New Quay for a feed. It was a modern glass fishbowl called Live Bait set right on the water with an entrance atrium made of a thousand oyster shells glued to raw cement sheet and it looked just terrific. Despite 300 degrees of glass surrounding us, it was almost overly warm and yet the food was terrific – we talked the usual things: life in an apartment in the city, just how good was this olive oil and bread, why Rutherglen’s bakery is overrated, how funny it sounds when Kim makes Fergus imitate a coyote. The oysters were soft, the vegetables hearty, and the Riesling to die for. We paid $135 and felt it was good value. For something different, I had a Tokay instead of dessert and it was smooth and smoky.

Once again Preston parts the blue wave

I’ve been anticipating this baby for 4 days. Reading the forums and learning from the 19 year old experts on Weatherzone. And believe me they are experts. It rolls in with a magnificent wash of magenta and yellow bearing East, ready to float my house down the street like on December 2nd. And then it dropped away as if the northern suburbs just weren’t good enough. I could hear my Native Frangipani sighing in disbelief from the front bedroom. I’d had a couple of wines so I dropped a few expletives as I waited the 10 minutes between each radar update. It never occurred to me to go outside and look and listen. [More]