Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We saw Little Miss Sunshine last week. I'd been looking forward to it for a while. Had heard lots of great things. I think I was underwhelmed, but that happens when your expectations get too high.

Look, it was a very enjoyable little film and everyone in it was fantastic. But it was less than original and some parts were just too obviously derivitive. I could spot the big "finale" from about 5 minutes into it.

A great Sunday afternoon feel good DVD but I wouldn't rush out and spend real money on it.

I've also just remembered I missed seeing Clerks 2 at the movies; I think it lasted about 2 weeks max. Bummer.
Is it possible that a 7 year old and a 17 month old conspire to drive their mother certifiably crazy? I believe it is and I have proof, just come and visit my house around 5:30-6:30 pm each evening. You'll recognise me, I'm the gibbering idiot tearing my hair out from my foetal position in the corner.

All I know is that people who have like 8 or 16 children and appear to be happy, functioning humans are either much more evolved beings than I am or they just don't give a shit.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's been a crazy few days, well crazier...

* Thursday morning I got up at 4:20 am to get ready for the market tour I had signed up for. These are an annual event as part of Good Food Month and I had wanted to do one of these tours for years. Julia and I finally signed up for the tour with chef Giovanni Pilu. Apart from the early start the tour itself was fantastic. We started at 5:30 am at the Sydney Seafood Market where we got to see the early morning auction and then wandered around the flood taking a look at what was good, with gorgeous Giovanni explaining this and that, giving little tips. Then we all boarded the comfy bus (hard not to doze off) and drove to the Sydney Markets at Flemington. These are general food markets with all sorts of fruit and veg available, mainly in bulk for the restaurant/catering trade. This part of the trip was very inspiring; the sensational array of fruit and veg, so fresh and glorious, so unlike the dull, limp variety we overpay for at the supermarket. Again Giovanni gave us little tips and introduced us to some of his favourite provodores. As a bonus we were given little samples: a handlful of crisp asaparagus here, a crunchy fresh apple there, olives, beans, cucumbers, even a few kipfler potatoes. Our little bags were groaning by the time we were finished. The finale was a wonderful Italian coffee deep inside the treasure trove of the on-site Italian deli before boarding our coach for the return trip. A wonderful early morning adventure, very much worth the crack of dawn start.

* On Saturday (after Will's swimming lesson) Julia and I met up at the markets to recreate our own fruit and veg paradise. It was not to be. The peaceful market surrounds turn into hell on earth on a Saturday when parking rules fly out the window and insanity prevails. OMG! It was crazy. There were people everywhere, pushing, shoving, barging their way around with humongous trolleys overloaded with bulk f&v. I was on the verge of tears numerous times and so was dear J as I bumped into her shins with Marianna's stroller (did I mention I was stupid enough to bring Marianna along to this bedlam?). We may have snagged a few bargains (strawberries for 80c a punnet, $20 for 9 rockmelons [they were $7 EACH at Woolies that week]) but the emotional scars will last a lifetime. We're determined to try again but have retreated for the moment to work out a different plan of attack.

* On Sunday our family attended the Colombian Association's Children's Halloween Picnic. This was a smallish but fun gathering and it was wonderful to meet a number of Colombians living in Sydney. Quite a few of them from Medellin (Marianna's city of birth) and they were happy to talk about their city and to meet M. We consider ourselves lucky to have been invited along and hope to keep in contact. If only there was a Guatemalan Association in Sydney...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

That's right, that's me with my dear friend Gordon Ramsey. Just having a chat, kicking back, you know how it is.


Gordon Ramsey put his arm around me. He kissed my sister. He signed our books. He swore at us in no uncertain terms, numerous times. It was too good to be true.

Life doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Did I mention I'm going to see Gordon Ramsey on Monday?

That's right... me and Gordon "The F Word" Ramsey in the one room. It's mind blowing.

He's doing a literary luncheon, talking and signing books. I'm going with Julia and we both adore him and are both atingle with anticipation. Will he swear at a room full of middle-class, middle-aged fans in the ballroom of a five star hotel? Oh, I hope so!
Last night I went to see Merrick and Rosso with Julia and my friend F and her friend N. I've liked M&R for some years now, ever since they started on Triple J with their silly little show, writing letters to John Howard pretending their were an 8 year old boy. We saw them about 3 or 4 years ago and it was a great show and then we saw them at a pub a while later and Rosso was terrifyingly drunk or off his nut on something and I went off him a little (always had a soft spot for doofus Merrick though).

Lately I've been listening to them (as I flick round the morning radio channels on my longer than comfortable drive to work) do their show on Nova and they are still good. Not as good as in their younger days, but certainly good enough for an old, boring married mother of two like myself.

Last night however was good but slightly disappointing. Firstly their warm up act was Peter Hellier and I really like him, he's bloody funny... so shoot me. So their first mistake was having such a good warm up... hard act to follow. And they were really just too heavily into the poo, bum and teenagerish sex jokes for my personal liking. Look I'm as much a fan of those genres of comedy as the next person but a little depth and breadth wouldn't have gone astray. Loved the Fagg Nuts encore, great finish.

Dinner at the cosy little Italian place across the road with my sis before the show was lovely though. We talk shit a lot but rarely really talk.
I probably should mention that I spent last weekend at Golden Door Elysia in the Hunter Valley. At this point it seems a million years ago but it was wonderful and therefore should be briefly immortalised. The Golden Door is one of Australia's best health retreats (I'm going by their promotional material, my experience with health retreats is limited... to one). The weekend was a gift from my sister and myself for our mother for her 60th birthday.

I was undeniably anxious at spending any amount of "quality" time with my mother as this undoubtedly results in unnecessary stress and conflict. We're just made that way. But I was very conscious of making an effort to let things slide and thus lubricate the smoother functioning of our relationship. It more or less worked and apart from a tiny flare up here and there things did go amazingly well.

The Golden Door was really beautiful and luxurious... the things I need in a holiday. I always say one night in five star is worth a hundred nights in a caravan (well, it's almost pointless to say because I don't do caravans, tents or any sort of accommodation worse than my own home... yep, princess... yadda, yadda...). Everything about Elysia is superb... the grounds, the accommodation, the public areas. It is the attention to detail which is notable... from the fragrant oil burning in your bathroom when you return from dinner to the subtle water features throughout the resort to the fresh lemon water available throughout the day.

We indulged in gorgeous facials and massages which really are my ultimate treat (and much preferred gift if anyone is looking for an idea... hint, hint). But above all the biggest treat of the weekend was the food. It is all "health" food in terms of low carb, low cal, low fat, etc. but it isn't vegetarian (thank god, otherwise we wouldn't have gone). When you eat magnificent food like this and know how healthy it is you realise being a slim celebrity isn't all that hard if you can hire your own private chef to whip up this calibre of cuisine on a daily basis. The genius comes in the creative use of herbs and spices to add flavour rather than the standard butter, cream and salt and pepper. Also in the interesting way vegetables are heavily incorporated in each meal so that you are eating so much more than usual but not feeling like a rabbit.

The place treats alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as contraband (yep, you can actually get kicked out for having it on the premises). I must admit to missing coffee and a good cup of English Breakfast tea in the morning. But not being a drinker or a smoker I couldn't care less about the other no-nos. Especially when each evening we enjoyed yummy fruity mocktails before dinner.

The Golden Door really is a luxurious treat and one I would recommend to anyone looking to detox somewhat and to recharge. It certainly isn't as expensive as you might expect and being so close to Sydney we may need to look at making this an annual experience...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yesterday I went to Parramatta to visit, hopefully for the very final time, the Department of Immigration in relation to Marianna's citizenship. Parramatta is one of Sydney's major hubs, a busy commercial and residential centre.

It is neither one of the worst nor one of the best areas of our fair city. It has a great number of beautiful examples of colonial architecture and a lovely little regional theatre where I have seen some very enjoyable productions.

What is most notable is that it's an area where there are a disproporionate number of women whose waist measurement is considerably larger than their bust measurement who walk the streets wearing skin tight singlet tops with no bra.
The only benefit of having as much tv as I have over the past week is that I've seen some stuff which has really put my life and "problems" in perspective. There are people out there who are true heroes in the very real sense of the word. They make me so very thankful for what I have in my own life and doubly determined to help others in whatever way I can throughout my life.

Firstly I saw a story on an old Oprah episode about Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian doctor, running a clinic in Ethiopia for women who have developed fistulas during childbirth. The story of these women is absolutely heartbreaking but the story of this hospital is absolutely heartwarming and inspiring.

Then J and I watched an old episode of Montel (as J said: "Does 20% of the American population have their own talk show?" and I said: "Yes, and the other 80% are the guests.") about "unusual" families. It was the same old tripe but they did feature a family who had fostered 508 children over 26 years and had adopted 9 and had 2 biological children (in their mid 40s after being told they'd never have children). Maybe it was my weakend mental state but the tears were pouring down my face as I thought about this family and what a difference, big and small, they had made in the lives of so may children.

Finally, last night, we watched a documentary on SBS about Maggie Sister, a nurse from Broome WA, who has been working for over 15 years with a leper colony and an AIDS orphanage in India. Each year she fundraises and then goes to India for 2-3 months to work. Her own life has been quite tragic, with an abusive marriage and lung cancer as major features, but her dedication to the forgotten people of India is amazing.

What I know is that it is these people who are making a difference to the world. Not the politicians, not the media talking heads, not the teenage bloggers with the "Make Poverty History" banners, not the sports stars or the celebrities. It is these people who I look up to and admire.
It's Friday morning and I feel like I'm emerging, for the first time in a week, from a gastro induced domestic hell. It hit baby M first, then Will, yours truly and finally the big J. While mostly it's been a 24 hour thing the baby has suffered with five days of it and was a shadow of her former robust self. It was heartbreaking.

For future reference may I recommend bananas. Yes, bananas. After barely eating and drinking for five days and instantly ejecting anything that did pass her lips, she immediately improved upon eating a banana. Not only did her energy return almost immediately but all other symptoms eased and then stopped. Thank you to my dear friend Marg for that recommendation.

I am now faced with the prospect of getting a second job to keep her in the banana habit she's developing (at $12+ a kg it's no joke). "They don't grow on trees, you know," I tell her each time she points at the fruit basket and pleads "nana?".

Sunday, October 08, 2006

While my days, weeks and months normally fly by at the speed of light the last week seems to have lasted a year. It is seriously hard to believe that the awesome/terrible grand final was only one week ago. Possibly it's had something to do with children who have been sick in varying degrees of seriousness over the last four days. There has been a blissfly brief bout of runny nose/temperature which was only annoying due to it disrupting a day of expensive, school holiday tennis camp. Then there's the currently ongoing vomiting/pooing bug inflicting the baby (apologies to JB and other weak stomached readers). This has meant a very sad little bubba who has variously upchucked at the most incovenient times (e.g. driving on the M2 to my mother's 60th birthday party at the fancy pants Stamford at Double Bay - we're talking me wearing a dress here, that's who fancy pants it was!) and had green stuff filling her nappy and escaping to stain pants, car seat covers, etc. Oh the joy!

I'm seriously pooped and hope things improve sooner rather than later.

On a tangent, while I'm here, yesterday we watched a fun family film with Will. It was called "Nanny McPhee" and was quite enjoyable, as children's movies go. The pretty young girl playing the widowed father's romantic interest was perplexing, I just couldn't find a name for the familiar face. When the credits rolled I yelled (much to Jason's and Will's surprise): "Kelly Macdonald". The name brought back memories of her in a beautiful little Scottish film "Stella does tricks". I loved it so much and seeing her again made me feel a rush of need to see it again. I must dig it out somehow. Sorry, as you were.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Now for the nitty gritty:

1) I'll never fly JetStar again if I can help it. Many small reasons but mainly (this may seem trivial to some but I nearly blew a head gasket at the time) because when we arrived at Avalon "airport" (HA!) there were two normal sized taxis (which we couldn't fit into) so we had to get a transfer coach the tickets for which could only be purchased with CASH, there were no eftpos or credit card facilities. What the...? Who carries cash? On top of that they didn't even have an ATM in the "terminal". Luckily Tricia had some cash, otherwise we would have still been sitting at Avalon, twidling our thumbs, on Saturday afternoon instead of being at the game.

2) Melbourne is friggin', friggin' COLD. I mean it. They said it would be 20 degrees and sunny on grand final day so I was expecting a NICE day, what I got was a day so bitterly cold the marrow in my bones was frozen; I even bought a nice Swans blanket in desperation but that didn't help much. I should have taken Tricia up on her offer of lending me a spencer.

3) We had the misfortune of sitting in the last row of a block of Swans' supporters and having a block of WCE supporters behind us. That wasn't so bad per se, it was the fact that right behind us sat two fat old cane toads who were by far the worst sports I had ever encountered. Every time the Swans so much as touched, nay, looked at the ball, they yelled horrendous insults. I can't even remember the details except that it really made my blood boil. When the umpire tripped over at the end of the game they said "Hope it's a heart attack". That's just mean. I'm no fan of the umpires but come on, how spiteful can you get. I think it was their hateful presence which made the loss even harder to bear.

4) On Sunday when we returned to Sydney we picked up Marianna from my mum's and went to the SCG to cheer on the boys when they returned. It certainly wasn't a repeat of last year's hysterical mass gathering. This time barely 500 die hard fans turned up, which made me really glad we made the effort.

Will and Marianna waiting for the Swannies to arrive.

The slightly worse for wear Swannies take the stage.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced the pinnacle of the AFL journey - my beloved team playing in the Grand Final at the MCG. Maybe I'll even see them win one in my lifetime. But for now another AFL year is over and it's the usual mixed bag of emotions: relief, sadness and just a tingle of anticipation for what next year may bring. Right now I am happy to be living in a Swans free zone for the next few months. Summer is on the way, bringing all the social havoc which the warmer months entail and I'm ready to dive in. However, I know by February next year I'll get that itchy feeling again and I'll be counting down the days until April and the first siren of the new season.
Where do I begin? The weekend had so many parts...

I guess the main event first. It was a game of two parts: the first half which basically sucked, and the second half, which rocked but not quite enough.

For the first two quarters the Swans stood around like they'd forgotten exactly why they were there, it was heartbreaking. The second half loomed like a scary monster; exactly how humiliating was this defeat going to be. I even wondered if "we" were being punished for not going to our friends' wedding to be at the grand final.

But then in the second half the fire returned and the boys fought back. It was awesome. The adrenalin flowed and hope returned. We were going to come back, the joy. But the final quarter ran out just a minute or two too soon. A ONE POINT loss! Oh, the pain. I think the worst thing was seeing the boys sitting on the grass, defeated. I wanted to tell them it was OK, we still loved them, they'd tried their very best (well, at least in the second half). They had nothing to be ashamed of. Then there was the gloating Eagles to contend with... it's strange how ugly gloating is on other people, especially "the enemy", and yet so attractive amongst your own tribe.

It was a long and weary trek back to our hotel, the same trek which had been so joyous and possibility-filled that very morning.

Will, Bob, Tricia and moi outside the MCG before the game.

Trying to keep warm before the game.
Check out the West Coast cane toad behind us - he was one of fuckwits who ruined the game
for me.

The two mighty teams line up for the national anthem - a majestic moment.