Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet Chamomile Tea Kind Of Day

Today was one of those days that just sort of slips through your fingers without it feeling like you've done all that much. I had a bit of a big night last night, out drinking with the boys to celebrate the retreat of my chesty cold. So I had a bit of a sleep in (for me) until about eight, and then futzed all morning. Pottered. Noodled.

I did have a To Do list for my day off though, and given that it was bright and sunny I added Laundry (inc. bed linen) to the top of the list. Once that was out on the line, I headed out to the Post Office to pick up a parcel of books from The Book Depository.

Despite the fact that the Post Office only left the parcel pick up notice for me during the week, I arrived at the post office depot (which annoyingly, is about a 20 minute walk further away than my nearest actual post office) only to find out that it ceased trading on Friday. A notice kindly informed me that my parcels could now be collected at another post office, not closer to home but nearly a kilometer further away. No map on how to get there on the door, just the helpful information that it's located 850 meters away.

And the horse you rode in on, Australia Post.

As it turned out it was a nice walk anyway. Today was cool but sunny, and so long I walked in the sun it was quite pleasant. Once I'd collected my books from a tiny little post office in Annandale, with surly staff ("ID! Show me some ID!") and a queue all the way out the door, I quite enjoyed the stroll back.

And that almost covers it. I've futzed some more, gave the super cute vintage 2 tier side table I rescued from the street the other night a good clean (it might end up as a window prop in the new Newtown store some day methinks), web surfed and spent ages re-acquainting myself with Kwannum Chu's gorgeous photographs. I've just made myself a chamomile tea sweetened with honey, and I'm thinking about heating up a small tin of baked beans and making some toast.

One of those sorts of days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Recharging - Do Not Disconnect!

Yesterday it struck me how much of my life is forever on recharge. I say 'struck me' because getting on the bus to go to work yesterday I discovered that there was no juice, no life, no anything left in my mobile phone, or my iPod. Ugh. (The real armageddon comes not with the fall of civilisation, but a couple of days later when nobody can listen to the latest Kylie through their earbuds.)

Toothbrush. Beard trimmer. All on the recharge list. If I was any butcher I'd probably add a cordless drill to that too.

So I'm on recharge this morning (in more ways than one). The phone and the iPod are plugged in and I'm doing my own recharge with a coffee, some web surfing from the sofa and a bacon butty. My cold of the week previous turned into the past week's chest infection, and coupled with an insane week at work, meant that by the end of this week I was running out of juice myself. As I said to my boss on Friday, this sale is breaking my spirit.

Oy vay. May you live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse supposedly goes. The last week of our big four week Winter sale coupled with having a class to teach yesterday (due to a scheduling snafu, we don't normally hold classes during our sale) and a mostly unrelated, but cascading series of resignations at work, made for a rather busy week.

That's understatement, fyi.

The previous week saw the resignation of our general manager and inhouse designer, who took a job in the fashion industry. Then our shop manager resigned, to take a job in the finance and banking industry. Then our Melbourne store manager (who is only 19 years old) decided she wanted to study, and resigned. Then one of our casual staff (and a favourite of mine, boo!) resigned because she can't keep pace with working for us and finishing her medical degree. Then my arch nemesis resigned, without even bothering to show her face and do it in person...

So, mostly bad.

After the required reeling, my boss and I were galvanised into action and we've already got two potential candidate's for the shop manager position in the main Sydney store. It's also allowed us to think about some restructuring of the Melbourne store, and to think about how we want the staffing of the Sydney store. I'm currently wading through many (frequently laughable) applications for the shop assistants positions we advertised. Seriously, would it kill you people to read the job description, and at least make some attempt to write English/address the job criteria/include a cover letter/use a spell checker?

Not all change is bad, and although it means some short term scrabbling I think it will allow us to make positive changes in the store and reinvigorate the place. Get some new juice back in the batteries, to risk overstretching a metaphor. Time for a recharge, indeed.

A New Love Affair

I've always been a big fan of the pop group Sugababes, ever since I heard the cool laidback rhythms of their first hit Overload (here's a fab live version from Top Of The Pops). Part of the charm for me was Siobhan Donaghy's lead vocals on the track, with an edge that I found really appealing.

Well, after four years with the group, still being a 17 year old teenager, and coping (by all accounts) a pretty tough bullying from fellow band member Keisha Buchanan, Donaghy was depressed and climbed out of a window while on tour in Japan, ran away and quit the band. Other band members would feel the wrath of Buchanan and her fellow band mate Mutya Buena, and the Sugababes history would be one of line-up changes. Last year Buchanan, the only original band member left, was sacked for bullying the other two current members Heidi and Amelle after they both threatened to quit. Buchanan has since been replaced, but the group has come under lots of scorn in the UK for bearing little or no relation to the group. (Which I think is a little harsh, given that Heidi has been with the group since Donaghy's departure in 2001.)

Anyhoo, I was following video links on youtube when I discovered that Donaghy had released some critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful, solo albums. I listed to a track from her first second album "Ghosts" and now I'm hooked! Her style is much more indie and edgier than the work the Sugababes would go on to do, with some interesting production and world instruments.

"Don't Give It Up" - Siobhan Donaghy's first solo single from the Ghosts album

I just downloaded the Ghosts album from itunes, and these are my two favourite tracks so far:

"Ghosts" by Siobhan Donaghy (unofficial video made by a fan)

"Halcyon Days" by Siobhan Donaghy (video made by the same fan as above)

She hasn't had all that much commercial success, as I mentioned before, but it's really a shame that she hasn't. Her sound sits nicely amongst other singers I'm a fan of, like Kate Bush and Roisin Murphy. I'm now a fan!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Kind Of Advertising

I love this. I know it's only a viral marketing stunt to sell more cars, but what the hell... I'd be down that slide in a flash! Watching the different types of people taking the Fast Lane option made me grin like a fool.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Husband Material

Every now and then, amongst a sea of black/grey/brown/navy menswear modelled by hollow cheeked 20 year olds with 28" waists, I'll spot something different that makes me sit up a little straighter and take notice. Anthony Keegan of the fashion label Commonwealth Utilities spiced up my morning when I spotted this trio of hockey player-thighed Fantasy Husbands he sent down the Fall 2010 runway amongst the bevvy of whippet thin 20 year olds.

I'm getting a Sunday morning just rolled out of bed and threw some socks and knitwear on over the long johns to grab the paper/let the dog out for a pee/put the coffee maker on sort of vibe.

With a bit of a honey, while I'm up do you want sourdough toast or a bagel? thing going on too.

Or maybe that's just me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rhinovirus And I. Not A Love Story

Blech. My second cold of the year. Yesterday a co-worker of mine shared her theory that colds come in three year cycles, and while I'm not prepared to trawl back through the past three years of blog entries for proof, I wouldn't be surprised if it'd been something around three years prior to this year since I had a streaming head cold. (Right now I'm too fuzzy headed to do any sort of maths, or thinking for that matter.)

So, a hellish busy day at work. Week three of our sale and I'm battling this cold and a serious case of Sale Fatigue. We were short staffed today on account of other sick staff, and I never had any less than two customers at the counter. One. More. Week. To. Go. I love our customers (at least about 95% of them) but I'm counting down the days until there are a few less of them, quite frankly.

So. Friday night. Nursing a cold and achey bones. Next on the agenda a hot honey and lemon drink, and then bed. I have to work tomorrow, but unless I feel better (or at least not worse) I might have to call in dead. In the back of mind though I know that that would mean a terrible day for the few staff left to serve the Saturday onslaught. Not something I would wish on any of them. Anyway, we shall see.

Now, to bed. Nighty night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One of my favourite design blogs Desire To Inspire has a weekly feature that is absolutely slaying me. Simply called "Pets on furniture" it does exactly what it says on the tin. There's pets, and they're on furniture.

But oh, the puppehs. (And sometimes, oh the furniture!)

Case in point:

"Here is my dog Baron on our Chesterfield. Sometimes I come home and see him sitting like that waiting for me! He's about 100 pounds at 18 months and cuddly like a teddy bear."
- Jeanette

I need to cuddle Baron immediately, once I've fetched him his pipe and slippers that is.

Popsicle Toes

I'm not sure why but I had the unusual problem of not being able to fall asleep last night. I've documented my sleep problems on this blog before, but normally it's only a question of whether I can stay asleep, falling asleep has never been an issue. FYI, 2.30am on a winter's night, sleeping single in a double bed, is a cold and lonely place.

I had been tossing and turning for hours, so after a long internal battle about the merits of getting up (the perceived wisdom that it's better and more likely to bring on tiredness) Vs staying in bed (the perceived wisdom that it's warmer, just for starters), I grabbed a blanket and headed to the couch and my laptop.

By 4am I didn't feel significantly more tired, but I was starting to feel significantly more cold, so I headed back to bed. Now, I often have cold feet in winter. Real cold feet, not the jitters. But by the time I'd been back in bed for 5 minutes I knew I had a series case of popsicle toes. Throwing on a pair of socks didn't seem to help, so much so that I spent a few good minutes considering whether you could actually insulate the cold in with a pair of regular socks.

At 4am it seems a real possibility. I was prepared to consider almost anything.

Toe wiggling didn't seem to help. Frantically rubbing my feet together seemed to have a short term benefit, but then raised my heart rate so much that I felt more awake if anything. I considered getting up and either firing up the heater in the living room so that I could jam my toes up against it, or boiling water to make up a hot water bottle.

But then the rest of me gave my toes a reality check and told them to just man up and deal with it, because frankly the rest of me was not prepared to countenance another trip out of bed. The harsh tang of mutiny was in the wind. To make a short story long, somewhere around 5am or later an equilibrium between tiredness and toe warmth meant that I finally fell asleep. Until the alarm went off at 7.15...

Oh, come on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Newtown Winter

Today was one of the mild, sunny winter days that Sydney seems to do so well. In the shade it was quite cool, but out in the sun it was mild enough to take off the jacket and get some sun on bare skin. All that, and a public holiday too. Thank you QEII, and happy birthday!

Golden Light

Winter sun through vine leaves

Grey Green

Grey green foliage in the shade

I wandered into Newtown shops, had some breakfast, window shopped and cruised through the bookshops looking for desirable second hand finds or bargains (and found neither), took these photos, and generally enjoyed the sun. Not a bad way to spend a slightly hung over morning, before heading home to... clean the bathroom. (Sometimes being an adult sucks, FYI.)


Just say the word




My town, Newtown

No the cute earlythirtysomething boy I was dancing with last night, and very nearly went home with, didn't call. But that's ok too.


Yesterday afternoon my friends John, Mark and David, and myself, headed off to Circular Quay (almost under the shadow of the Opera House) to the Sydney film festival. John had organised tickets for us to see the gay themed movie Contracorriente aka "Undertow" from Peru. [Official site]

Wow. What a beautiful film! I can't recommend it highly enough. The film maker Javier Fuentes-León (um, woof!) spoke briefly before the film, and then stayed for a short Q&A session after the film, which really added to my enjoyment of it.

I found it really interesting to hear him speak about the realities of making a film about a gay love story in a deeply religious Catholic country like Peru. About keeping some of the plot lines until the end of the shoot, out of concern for the sensibilities of the local villagers. Many of whom were extras on the film. He also pointed out that although some people clearly disapproved of the developing story, many were actually quite accepting and the economic realities of the work the film brought to the village were such that nobody interfered with the production.

The story is primarily about the love affair between the closeted married bisexual Miguel, a local village fisherman who is only about a week away from being a father, and an artist called Santiago who has a summer house in the village. Santiago has a long history with the villagers, although he is still clearly an outsider. Partly because he is less concerned about hiding the fact that he is gay, something he only appears to be doing to try and protect Miguel. The action takes place within a few weeks, but it's clear that Miguel and Santiago have been lovers for a while at least.

What really makes the film is the performances. Wow. The chemistry between the two male leads (Manola Cardona and Cristian Mercado) is natural and really lovely to see. You have absolutely no problem believing that these are two men who love each other, even though the constraints on Miguel's upbringing and situation make it hard for him to admit it (although his actions express it more clearly than he probably knows). It's not just about the sex, there is support and love there. All the actors turn in fantastic performances, including Tatiana Astengo as Miguel's wife Mariela.

There is a plot turn (which I won't give away here) which takes the film in an unexpected direction, but it works beautifully. It tests the love between the two men, and makes Miguel face some hard truths about his situation. Ultimately the film is optomistic and positive.

...and I think I'm a little bit in love with Manolo Cardona who plays Santiago.

Those eyes.

[Updated: There is a new review of the film over at After Elton, but proceed with caution because it hints at spoilers.]


I thought I might take advantage of Blogger's new design features, and give things a little bit of a facelift around here. A freshen up. Maybe a brow lift and some lip plumping.

It's actually winter here rather than autumn, but I'm finding it hard to let go of the golden ginkos. Anyhoo, I hope you like the new(ish) look!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

5 Things About Thursday, 10th June: Blockage Edition

  • Much of today I spent being mildly aggravated by my glasses, which seemed to be suddenly and inexplicably ill fitting. On the way home I finally took them off to see if one of the arms was bent or something (because the only other thought that crossed my mind was that my face was suddenly lopsided), and I've lost one of the little nose pad thingies. Bugger.
  • Of all the things I've loaded on my iPod, it struck me today that two 70s disco compilations are by far the two CDs that get listened to the most. You can take the boy out of the 70s, but you can't take the 70s out of the man.
  • I bought a set of digital bathroom scales on the way home tonight. I'm pretty certain that I've been packing on the pounds lately (or all my pants have shrunk), and I need to a) find out how dire the situation has become and b) start fixing it.
  • I haven't been able to bring myself to put the batteries in it yet. Baby steps, m'kay?
  • I arrived home to find a note on the crapper bog toilet lavatory from my flatmate. Part plaintive wail and part cautionary tale that the toilet was blocked and a plumber was required. Oh puny mortal, you underestimate my plunger-fu. Like so many things in life, 5 minutes of enthusiastic pumping and it was all over.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Bake Sale

I had a lovely afternoon this afternoon. I hied off to the Bake Off fundraiser for the AIDS charity The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation with my friend Judy, her son David and David's friend Kai. The BGF Bake Off is a long standing tradition, a bake sale on steroids (so to speak), where intricate cake creations compete for prizes and are then auctioned off for extraordinarily generous donations.

BGF Bake Off
Festive decor in the Paddington Town Hall.

BGF Bake Off
A cake creation.

BGF Bake Off
Anyone for a sticky date?

BGF Bake Off
One of my favourite drag queens, the clearly insane Joyce Maynge.

BGF Bake Off
Quiet please, there's a lady on stage.

BGF Bake Off
GaGa phones it in.

BGF Bake Off
Another of the cake creations, Christiano!

I hadn't been to the Bake Off for a few years and it was a hoot, even though it lacks some of the crazy wildness of the early days. (For example, years and years ago I remember a certain German Mr Leather in backless chaps applying liberal amounts of canned whipped cream to his anatomy, and selling licks for charity. A bad time to be lactose intolerant.)

It was a nice mild afternoon but by the time we left the venue it was sigh dark, cold raining again. After negotiating our way through the crowds leaving the nearby football grounds, I stopped by at my regular Sunday afternoon watering hole to see if any of my friends decided to go for a drink. Not surprisingly it was quiet as few souls braved the rain and cold to go out for a beer, so I caught a cab home for a nice quiet night in by the heater.

Winter Colours

I could have sworn these mushrooms growing on a tree on the footpath just outside my house weren't there yesterday! They're huge, the largest one is about the size of my hand across. I mean, I know they can grow fast, but can they grow that fast?

Like Magic

Like magic.

Friday, June 04, 2010

After The Boys Of Summer Have Gone

While all the weather forecasts here are full of stats about higher than usual rainfalls, and the days are steadily marching towards their shortest and coldest, all I want to do is think of the boys of summers past.

Wine Time

I just poured myself a glass of red wine and I'm sitting down to think about the (almost) end of a long busy week. And e-x-h-a-l-e. (I say 'almost end' because I have to work tomorrow, but it's hard to not think of Friday night as the end of the week.)

Last night and tonight I feel physically, achingly, exhausted. I frequently feel tired when I get home from work, but that's often as much mental weariness as anything, rather than feeling bone tired. Knackered. This week is making me feel old! We're on sale at work, as I mentioned on Saturday, and it has been insanely busy. We still have weeks to go but frankly by late today I was over it.

Well, mostly over it. I've had some truly wonderful customers this week, gotten some lovely feedback, had some fun conversations, and enjoyed interacting with people who have been on the most part pretty stoked to be getting a bargain. Today was the first day that I had a noticeable percentage of whiny customers, but I swear it's probably as much the weather as anything.

It's dark. It's rainy. It's really dark, and really rainy. All week it's been dark and rainy when I head off to work, and dark and rainy when I come home. Blech.

So, I just administered apple pie for desert and now it's time for a medicinal beverage. Maybe two. But no more because tomorrow we face the Saturday shopping crowds...

And the forecast says yet more rain.