Sunday, 5 January 2014

Books and Berries Over Boots

I’m one of those girls that dresses fairly well and current but hates going clothes shopping.  Any invite from my fashionable girlfriends is met with NO I hate it.  I usually regret the loss of money spent on my clothes and get annoyed at the amount of room they take up.  And yes they take up a lot of room.  One look at my bedroom and you would never believe this post.  I have shoes lined along the floor, dresses hanging from the walls and two closets full of “stuff” eek what a waste.  I’d much rather these closets by full of fairy tales and adventures.  This objection to shopping is not equal for all things though you see.   Invite me to a fresh food market, spice bizarre, winery or boutique bookshop and I’ll be happily lost for hours and spend all the money in my banana shaped purse. 

Nothing brings me greater pleasure then sitting down with a beautiful loose leaf tea and reading a book.  Or musing over my latest read with a glass of wine some cheese and a friend.  Both of which I would happily do naked. 

I feel more nourished and fulfilled from books and beautiful foods.  A trip to the markets leaves me elated and excited.  I can never wait to get home and pour over some cook books.  I love fresh food and being a vegetarian means my fridge and cupboards are full of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Nuts and good chocolate are a must and if there are no lemons in the house I go into a panic.  A dollar parted with for delectable food is a dollar well spent.

The same is said for books.  Being that I move every year and love to travel an eReader is most practical, but I need both.  The tangibility and smell of real books still wins over the chicness and convenience of a Kindle.  So I take it in turns, reading one novel on the eReader then a real book.  Each nourishing me more than any sale at Sass and Bide could.

I get that clothes can be beautiful and yes practical but I could never love them for as long or as much as I love stories.  Clothes you buy, love for a month or so then donate to a charity or friend.  I would never abandon a book like this (well not a good book).  The stories stay with me for life.  The experiences of the characters become my stories.  I go around in a daze for days, expecting to see gypsies flying carpets, and magic among the streets.  Listening for exotic languages, cries of murder and looking for detectives carrying snuff boxes.  Sometimes coming back to reality after being immersed in a fantastic world can be hard.  But that’s the amazing thing about books; you can visit them any time.  Be transformed into a lover, a man, a mother, a soldier, a pirate, a drug addict after just a few lines.  Visit any time period and country.  Feel sorrow and joy.
The memories and experiences from books can also be aroused by food.  Eating baklava brings back my memories of  the hot streets of Istanbul, a beautiful Sangiovese makes me think of my time spent in beautiful Florence and watermelon reminds me of my lovely childhood.  The smells, sights and tastes of food bring back cherished memories and create new ones.  Signature dishes and flavours become part of our personality, how delicious.  

Eating and drinking brings people together, it’s social and enjoyable.  Hunting for new hidden gems in the city you love or trying to attack a dish you have never cooked before are pleasures that should be indulged in daily.  It nourishes the body and soul.  The colours, smells, tastes, cities, worlds and characters of my vices treat me well.  I will never part with the loves like I would an old coat.

 I could write thousands of words about my love of food and books but I’d rather get back to One Hundred Years of Solitude and my punnet of blueberries.  So for now, all I shall say is I will always take books and berries over boots.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Who are you?

It's come to my attention that the first thing someone asks you after an introduction is "so what do you do".  Now it would be nice if they were asking on a personal level.  Asking do you cook, run, love, volunteer, sing?  Are you a cat or a dog person?  Are you team Nigella?  But it's never that.  They are asking what do you get paid to do.  Which in my humble opinion is as obnoxious as asking “how much do you get paid?” or “can I get anything out of talking to you?”  Now I’m not trying to start of the year cynical and I appreciate unless this is the start of a long illustrious friendship then small talk at the party is key.  But honestly if one more person this holiday season can only think to ask what's your job I’m going to bop them on the head.  Beyond the fact that you might learn something interesting about the other person, it’s highly amusing to watch people react to a more personal question.  What are you reading?  Do you like to travel and so on. 

This view of course doesn’t mean that no one wants to speak about their job.  But a lot of people are not in their dream career and you asking them to explain why can be as rude as asking what size are your pants.  If someone wants to talk about their job trust me they will bring it up.  I love speaking about my writing job but my financial one not so much.  So when I’m asked about this stupid question I usually say “two jobs, one at the bank and one writing which I love”.  But of course I’m always met with ooh which bank?  And another thing if someone adds a "just" before their job title they don’t want to divulge either, I’m just a bartender as opposed to I’m a sommelier at this great place...see?  So this year try asking people who they are, not what they do and I can guarantee the conversation will be more enjoyable for both parties.

If you don't want to know anything detailed about who this new person is you can always just spice things up by asking who they voted for.  Screw politeness.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Touch My Yogi Fear

Yoga changes your life; I became stronger and more aware.  Breathing became a conscious thing and how far apart my toes could be spread was more important than the old t-shirt I adorned.  Yoga is not just about health, or being lean or flexible.  There are no guidelines of who can take part or who should stay away.  In yoga studios there are no mirrors or pumping beats, you are in a room full of people but alone on your mat.  It is hard to explain the feeling of calm that comes over you before you start your practice.  The breath slows but awareness heightens, and prepares you for a battle. A battle with your own mind that is about to commence. 

The battle is not to bend yourself in-half, that will come.  The battle is staying aware for the whole practice.  The trick is to not let your eye wander to your chipped toenail polish or the yogi with the perfect headstand in front of you.  It’s to not think about the day you just had or what groceries to buy later, training the mind is harder than training the body.  When your mind is focused your body can achieve great things, anything…almost.

Stretch, hold, release *crack*!  It was like the most exquisite yoga class combined with the most intense deep tissue massage.  I was on a table, the body that I tried to worship and treat like a temple had broken.  The body I indulged with yoga, walks, plenty of sleep, a vegetarian diet and sex had in an instant turned against me.  The nervous system was my downfall, a pinched nerve in the hip will bring down the most toned healthy body and it was horrendous.  The pain is outrageous and the posture destroying painless position I worked myself into was mortifying.  Drugs were not my answer; either was resting awkwardly in a bed for days.  I had to get proactive and find a natural health solution, one which would be effective but kind to my body.  I did not want to numb my pain I wanted to understand it; my answer was going to the Chiropractor.

On a warm table I was pushed, prodded rolled and cracked.  My limbs were realigned and massaged.  My sockets had the bones pulled out and pushed back in, I was just letting myself be arranged but it was a work out.  It didn't always feel great but I could feel my body easing into it.  It wanted to be straightened and put into place.  It was evident that the yoga I did in the evening wasn't undoing the damage I was doing in the day; my fabulous work heels, love of literally curling up with a book and outrageous/ jarring dance moves on were playing havoc with my joints.  My temple was not happy, and this made me unhappy.

I have a love for my body I accept and treasure it, but even the most aspiring yogi has a downfall.  My chiropractor told me that a pinched nerve especially in the hip area was likely to keep happening, all the strength work in the world wouldn’t combat a sudden slip or knock.  But he also had a beautiful way of viewing health.  He said to be healthy is to be normal.  Our body wants to be healthy and fit and happy, it shouldn’t be a distant goal but a constant sense of being.  Even if I feel sick, sneeze or vomit it’s a sign of my body readjusting itself.  It is working.  My chiropractor really understood to the roots of his practice.  He was inspired by Daniel David Palmer who created chiropractic care.  

“I desired to know why one person was ailing and his associate eating at the same table, working in the same shop was not. Why? What difference was there in the two persons that caused one to have pneumonia, catarrh, typhoid or rheumatism, while his partner, similarly situated, escaped? Why?”

This was a revelation, it’s better to focus on the person with the disease then focus on the disease that the person has. 

No pill would fix my hip, I needed a personal touch, someone to physically touch me, feel my body and tell me what was awry.  I only went to the chiropractor twice, after that my nerve problem felt eased and I was free to get back to yoga, love, walking my pup and everything else I value.  My body felt aligned and fresh, so did my soul, but I had a new awareness of how tough and fragile I was, that what gave me so much pleasure would also harbor pain.

I was back on my mat the next week but it was hard to still my mind, I felt a subtle ghost pain in my hip and I could feel myself holding back from some poses which usually I would dive into, fearless.   Yoga will help get my confidence back, as soon as a can quieten the battle in my mind and be free to stretch into myself.

Me in Thailand-Taken by the beautiful Polly

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wine and Walls

I’m definitely a part of this foodie wave and I love it.  I have always eaten food for pleasure not fuel and my move to Melbourne last year cemented this passion.  I love dining at all the newest and hottest restaurants, but also take solace in finding grungy bars and hidden cafes.  In my apartment I have more cookbooks then novels and my salt is the prettiest colour pink you ever did see.  My obsession with all things delicious has developed and blossomed and now instead of just focusing on the aroma of the dish laid in front of me or the ‘legs’ of the wine poured into my glass I also take note of the stool I’m perfectly perched upon or the couch I’m sleepily laying on.

It’s not a new idea that your surroundings affect your perception of a new experience and place.  The room you are in can make you feel elated, bored, happy or depressed, just like music can.  So it makes sense that it would also affect your dining experience.  Earlier this year I went to San Telmo in the CBD with a friend and we sat at the bar, I was enjoying everything immensely until one detrimental swizzle of my bar stool.  This natural movement left with me with splinters in my knee; I was jaded by the blood dribbling down my calf.  Instead of leaving the restaurant musing about the food I went home and searched the bathroom cabinet for some tweezers needless to say I won’t be returning.  On the same note I have fallen in love with Commercial Roads latest gem; Tall Timber (not a splinter yet).  The white wooden interior reminds me of a beach house and the minimalist theme keeps you focused on the fresh treats on the counter as opposed to the busy street outside.  The whole place makes you feel warm and happy and ensures my return as well as spreading the love about this new hotspot.

Business owners need to take into account what their decor reflects and whether the vibe they are trying to portray is being received.  It’s not just the more obvious decisions either, i.e. a lounge in Coda would be a debacle, but the little things that make a difference as well.  I love that Cumulus Inc., CBD, has bag hooks at the bar and Casa Cuiccio, Fitzroy, has coat racks by the door.  These little touches make the whole dining experience more pleasant.  As far as the sourcing of the products goes I’m no snob to the hipster, recycling approach either, I am a greeny after all.  I love the used sofa and grandma’s crocheted cushion (given that it’s clean) as much as a sexy, sleek new stool, as long as it sends the right message and reflects the soul of the establishment.

As a future bar owner (one can dream) I’m starting to fantasise about stools and bulbs as much as I am the tapas menu and cocktail list.  I take real note of what does and doesn’t work in the places I dine.  As a result of this new interest my online shopping has turned from blazers to furniture.  My eye is drawn to bright and unique products to feature on a simple backdrop.  The feeling of the place would be fresh and colourful without being clinical. There would be flowers and champagne alongside new stools with vintage cushions.  One thing is for sure and that's where I will be shopping, Relax House.

Sunsets over share houses

Nothing reinforces the pleasant realisation that you have left those crowded, messy share house days behind and moved into a grownup home like having a gorgeous garden.  A space that is not full of beer bottles and someone’s old bicycle but with flowers, light, birds, an outdoor setting and if you’re really lucky a water feature.  I’m not quite there yet, about half way I hope.  I’ve left the smelly share house of 4(!) boys behind and moved into a slick apartment with one boy (two if you include the dog). In the share house our yard was damp, full of cigarettes (I don’t smoke) and broken glass (also not me), generally just really an unpleasant area to be in.  But now with one small step of the ladder rung I have climbed to a clean balcony.  The garden of my dreams is a still a little way off but I do have a space to call my own and it does delight me with the most beautiful sunsets. 

Sunset from my apartment.

In this tiny, yet glorious, excuse of a balcony I have managed to squeeze one table and two delightfully vintage (street) chairs, a chilli plant (with no chillies) and some bamboo, because, well who doesn’t love some bamboo?   But this doesn’t exactly leave much room for outdoor dinner parties especially once the dog and his bowl are out there, thankfully there is a doggy door.  There is only just enough space for two people to share some bubbles, cheese and soak up some rays which is all very lovely, but not exactly practical. 

This in-between apartment is defiantly a step up from the environment of a house where everyone fights over the last clean fork.  But I would like enough room to grow some plants, a lemon tree and maybe lay out my yoga mat, so I will need some dirt too.  My lease runs out soon and I would like to continue to rise to a level where I have the space to turn my white thumbs green, and stretch out, physically and mentally.  This leads me to yearning for a house again.  But not a share house…

I like my little wolf pack so will hunt for a small house with a nice yard.  It needs space, light and a place for everyone and everything.  I don’t want messy street parties but nice dinner parties, apparently with the evolution of my living situation I have also matured.  I think the yard reflects what is in the home, the energy of the people living there and whether they care about their environment, immediate and global.  There is also the issue of how much love and energy to put into a space that is not yours.  I’m not going to be buying soon so I need a rented yard that is already nice so I can just add some small, cheap, touches to keep me happy in the meantime.

Until I continue to go up the ladder of mediocre to fantastic houses I will simply have to fantasise about what can be.   One thing I’m already certain about, besides the lemon tree, is the outside, newly purchased seating I will have from Cosh Living, and yes I will show you the picture.  Until then my unfruitful chilli bush and street chairs will keep me happy.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The pup hates technology.

Now this may seem odd, but it is most certainly true.  My ridiculously charming schnauzer hates technology.  The TV doesn't bother him too much, there is not enough interaction required which could get in between him and I.  The computer he is not crash hot about, if we are the only ones home, and I sit at my desk to write then I here a ridiculous sigh and he usually goes to the other room to sleep.  I kid you not, but this is still nothing, his true hate lies in the kindle and the iPhone.  He truly hates them, or more to the truth, hates what they do to me.  Whenever I sit/lie down with my kindle he knows I'm out for at least an hour.  Which he has figured out means no walk, food, pat or play.  Needy much?  I can not tell you the amount of times I have put it on my bed, gone to make some tea and come back to find it on the floor and him curled up looking sly where it was, if its not on the floor, he is sitting on it.  Now of course he doesn't know what it is or does, but he has most certainly made the connection that when I have it, he gets less attention.  What a brat.  This act is still nothing compared to his reaction and action to my iPhone.  This ALWAYS ends up on the floor, under the couch/bed or under his butt.  I actively have to keep it away from him so he doesn't destroy it.  I try play words with friends, tweet, read, text, whatever and he carries on like a pork chop.  I get the sigh, leaving of the room, if he can he will cover it with his face or just straight up sit on it if its on my lap and if he is really feeling neglected he tries to attack it.  Ok by attack I more mean just paw at it until it is out of my hand.  If this all does not work he usually just sits on me starring very intensely or goes to his toy basket proceeding to take everything out, bringing it to me one by one to see if I will play.  As I type this he is leaning so hard on my hand to make me pat him every sentence is a struggle, lucky I didn't get a bigger dog.  For now I find it humorous and quite funny that he is opposed to technology, bright hey?  But it also makes me more aware if I have not walked him yet or am not giving him enough attention, he is a boy after all.  My retaliation is simply trying not to leave anything where he can sit on it or fling it, and not get too involved in mind dulling activities, not including the kindle of course.  In a way his hate is a good thing, stops me from being too...boring?

Marvin the schnauzer

Thursday, 11 July 2013

What happened to the friendly neighbour

Ever since I have moved to Melbourne I have wondered why all our neighbours are such A**holes, honestly, Melbourne I love you but somehow everyone missed out on the good neighbour memo.  Now I realise that long gone are the days where you could borrow sugar or just pop over to say hello, but this  angry neighbour act is getting to me. 

Last night my lover and I arrived home just after 11. We had been out for dinner and drinks with a friend and were in quiet a joyous state.  The lady in the apartment next to us apparently didn't appreciate our happy giggles.  She stormed out of her apartment and started banging on our door screeching that she had to get up and 5am and us and the dog were always keeping her up.  Now I understand being constantly woken up can be frustrating but why did she think that coming over to abuse us would cause any sort of resolution, it just made us angry, screaming back which in turn brought other tenants out of there apartments telling everyone to shut up.  Real pleasant end to the evening, what bugged me the most is we have lived here over 6 months and this women has never once said hello, introduced herself, been nice to us.  So why where we suddenly expected to shut up because she had to get up early?  In Canberra I had fantastic neighbours, both had been their my whole life.  There was love and respect, and no screaming, which is how it should be.  But this women gets my blood boiling.  After realising she wasn't going to win the fight she started to swear at us in French before storming back to her room.  Now my well travelled lover also knows French and returned her insults whilst adding more.  This sent her crazy and she called to cops, that's right the lady who came to our door and scream at us then called the cops on us, what the hell is the world coming to.  To make matters worse they came about an hour later, woke EVERYBODY up and told us she claimed "the male" had kicked her door.  Ahhhh utter nonsense, no one was impressed and the policeman just said "look, love your neighbours." 

I agree with this but am still fuming today over the incident.  What happened to common decency and kindness, I'm a super happy soul and hate any sort of negativity.  Why cant people just say hello and show common courtesy?  And what is going to happen now, the next time we see her?  I hate it, why are people so horrible when there is already enough evil in this world, just be a friendly neighbour or just a kinder person, and maybe you will get some respect from those around you, but for now I do want to kick her door!

This is not even the first incident in the building, there is a letter writer, oh yes, these are the worst.  Somebody who anonymously writes letters about an issue they have with a tenant and feels the need to share it with everyone else.  In this instance it wasn't about us but it was the same "you are too noisy" speech, but this person was trying to lobby the building to have people kicked out...bullying much? I didn't want to take part of that or any other kind of negative vibes in the building.  We are not living in the country or even houses, we are living on top of each other in a Melbourne apartment, its not going to be silent or serene but it could be pleasant and friendly, if everyone just stopped screaming.