Monday, 26 June 2006

le weekend

mum and i went for a drive yesterday. we drove to austinmer, down through stanwell park, along the seacliff bridge, which is just a gob-smackingly beautiful aspect. you're on this windy road, down the side of the mountain, surrounded by rainforesty terrain, then you come around the corner and suddenly there are these ragged cliffs on one side and a huge expanse of water on the other side, and the bright curve of the bridge just kind of suspended over the water. (i wanted to find somewhere to take photos when i was at staff conference down there recently, but it seems you have to park and walk and even then you probably wouldn't get the same aspect that you get from the road (jodi wanted to see if she could get down underneath the bridge to take photos; we didn't think so). i went for a drive one day on my own, stopped at coledale and took some pics of the rocks and the water, but they weren't fantastic and i felt like a bit of a gumby because there were these workmen across the road doing a running commentary of me getting out of the car and wandering around, so i didn't take enough time. i was also feeling kind of weird and lonely that day anyway, which may have been a contributing factor.)

anyway, yesterday the day seemed to suit our mood - kind of cloudy and cold, but with streaks of brilliant light and choppy seas. we listened to three requiems (mozart, faure and verdi) and had coffee and cake at the fireworks cafe in austinmer that stacie had tried to take me to a couple of weeks ago (it had been closed). i had an orange and almond cake with yoghurt and mum had pear and ginger cake. all very satisfactory; i would trust any food recommendations that stacie gives, by the way.

stacie came to stay on friday night as we were going to the good food and wine show at darling harbour on saturday. i came home after kids club to find her lying on the floor in the dark, huddled around my heater (my flat is very cold at the moment) and watching high fidelity. we chatted about what a good movie it is, slung a few quotes around, then went to the spot for arthur's pizza. afterwards we bought lots of gelato and returned home to watch almost famous and a couple of episodes of gilmore girls (i wasn't sure whether she was into AF or not, but when it finished she sighed and said "there are just some movies you don't want to end", which is also how it makes me feel, so that's good).

the good food and wine show was fun; we basically adopted the attitude that if they didn't have a free sample to eat or drink it wasn't worth our time. i had escargots for the first time (interesting, but nothing i'd kill for), bought some incredible strawberry and lavender jam, and finally got to taste some bluetongue alcoholic ginger beer (which is very yummy). actually it all has kind of blurred into one long day of pushing through crowds and eating random gourmet things smeared onto bits of bread. by about 2.30 i was totally over it and wandered home to watch some more DVDs, drink my newly purchased chai and eat some chocolate.

now i'm getting hungry. is it too early for lunch?

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

outward steps

we had a tribes and nations morning at church last saturday. this is a great fair trade project run by a couple who used to be CMS missionaries in tanzania, and who saw that we can directly influence the lives of people in third world countries by making certain decisions about what we buy in the west. from their site:

Mignonne saw possibilities for change in the Tanzanian village she visited twice weekly: “I got the mothers’ group a sewing machine, material and thread. They taught themselves to sew by unpicking and examining a garment! Thus began a micro industry – their enthusiasm was fantastic and vision boundless.”

“When we gave one man flower and vegetable seeds, he gathered old milk containers, planted and grew them. Soon he had a small nursery, and was known as the village expert! He had never seen results from his own initiative before this!” explained Grant.

After much hard thought and prayer, Tribes and Nations was born. Based on fair trade principles, we seek to be a market bridge between income generating projects and the global community.

We are delighted to see co-operation between the producers we source from and the ‘west’ in terms of design, style and colours. We have been humbled by the quality of their products.

We desire the global community to know ‘the poor’ don’t always want a handout. The vast majority want to stand equally with us, shoulder to shoulder, earning an income that allows them to move forward.

they source stuff from all over the place, and i'm especially impressed by their coffee (from east timor) and chocolate - really yummy good quality stuff, reasonably priced, and something i'm likely to buy on a regular basis (as opposed to, say, the beautiful silk scarves). the coffee and chocolate is also available in some coles supermarkets - if you buy fair trade stuff wherever you can, it's more likely to be stocked. apparently the fair trade movement is very big in places like the UK where there are all sorts of free trade foodstuffs available at the big shopping chains like tesco's - mignonne said we were about 5 years behind in australia; it's about time we caught up.

you can also buy fair trade coffee from toby's estate.

on saturday we were also treated to a performance by the a capella choir that rehearses at our church during the week. they sang some gorgeous african and palestinian songs about peace, as well as beautiful arrangements of 'four seasons in one day' and 'throw your arms around me'. it just sounded like so much fun, and they seemed like a lovely group of people. so i have just sent an email off to the director to see if i can join. i've been feeling quite creatively stunted lately, and especially as my love of choral singing was rekindled during the requiem experience, i know i just have to get out there and do things and not be hampered by my feelings of insecurity and fear of the unknown.

we'll see what happens.

Monday, 12 June 2006

day off

seeing as it's the queen's birthday long weekend and her actual birthday is on the same day as mine (21 April) i think i can safely claim this as my personal long weekend also. i do have a list of honours; i need to get myself a governor general type lackey to give them out. if i manage to get that sorted by the end of the weekend, those who will be receiving medals will hear from him in due course.

it's sunny and blue skied for the first time in about a week. i absolutely love rainy weather, but the fact that it's still cold and sunny at the same time is kind of pleasing.

i've had an interesting weekend. mum and beth and i have been at the opera house singing the Mozart's requiem in the Sydney Philharmonia Choir's 'Big Sing'. basically you get sent the score and rehearsal CD a few months before the event and you're supposed to practice on your own. then on the actual weekend you have a sectional call on the saturday for about 4 hours (tenors and basses in the morning, altos and sopranos in the afternoon). on the sunday the entire choir rehearses with piano from 10am to 4.00pm, then with the orchestra and soloists for another hour - a looong day - and then we perform the work at 6.00pm.

i don't think there's anything quite like this event anywhere else, and although it was expensive (though thanks to our generous friend beth we didn't have to pay) i think it's worth it. there were around 1200 singers this year, which filled two thirds of the concert hall. there were stacks of people who weren't from sydney (mostly interstate as opposed to elsewhere in NSW), and a handful of people who weren't even from australia, which is kind of cool. the majority of choristers had never sung the requiem before, so the fact that it actually sounded pretty good was amazing! (and it is such a gorgeous work too) although some sections were than others, some bits were incredible. the dies irae was big and powerful, the lux aeterna lines brilliant and majestic. the fugues even kind of worked in parts, though there were bits where i just stopped singing rather than add to the muddy mess. but so much fun! claire was playing cello in the orchestra and afterwards she said the orchestra was in the green room looking quite surprised and saying that it actually sounded halfway decent.

claire and mum and i then went out for dinner. we went to the spot to vino vino, a restaurant that used to be quite good but seems to have changed owners and was disappointing this time around. the menu was boring, the food okay but not very interesting, the prices tending towards expensive, and the service kind of...weird. anyway mum and i were so tired and hungry by that stage it didn't matter so much - we just needed to eat - but we probably won't go back there again. i walked up the road to the sugarplum cafe and bought a 1 litre tub of gelato (tiramisu, almond, macadamia, hokey pokey, some biscuitty crunchy thing, and black sesame), which we took home and devoured. i felt like staying up all night watching movies, but watched the end of guys and dolls and then suddenly felt rawther weary, so went to bed.

now i have this whole bright blue day ahead of me and i'm not quite sure what i'm going to do with it. i was thinking of heading into kinokuniya to wander around and look at books, which i haven't done for a while, but there is always the downside that then i will end up spending money i don't really have. still, i haven't wandered around the city on my own for a while, maybe it's time to do that again.

for the moment, i think i'm just going to have breakfast and play the piano for a bit.

Thursday, 8 June 2006

you say anti-social, i say misanthropic, let's call the whole thing off

i'm in a mood. have been for a couple of days. it seems to affect my ability to interact with other humans; things keep happening where i am filled with the desire to kick the person i'm talking to in the shins and yell at them.

not including getting unreasonably cranky with other drivers, two things have made me want to stab people with forks. specifically:

1. the courier
got 15000 brochures printed in melbourne, that were freighted up to sydney. i need them for a conference next week. a couple of days ago, the courier turns up, holding a bit of paper and looking vaguely perplexed.

Courier: I've got a 200kg pallet downstairs.

Me: Okay. [long pause while he looks at me, then his bit of paper] So...what do you want me to do about it?

Courier: Well I'm not going to break my back bringing it upstairs.

Me: I'm not either - it isn't my job.

Courier: It's not mine either.

I'm sorry - this person is a courier. Is it not his job to deliver goods? Yes a 200kg pallet is a big delivery - so wouldn't you think that they would have worked out that you would need at least a trolley, if not someone to help you get it off the truck at the other end? He flat refused to do anything but take the brochures back to the depot. I haven't heard from the printers or the couriers, and I think my brochures are going to be forever languishing in a warehouse somewhere because apparently the job description of a courier these days doesn't actually include delivering anything.

2. the harridan next door
the flat next to our office has been vacant for some time. it's not the world's most salubrious address, and the building itself is in a terrible state of disrepair. there is a locked room next to the back door of the flat that has a toilet and a laundry tub in it. previous tenants have used this as a laundry, but ever since i have worked here (4+ years) we have had a key to this room and we use the toilet facilities, such as they are.

someone has just moved in to the flat. as i was heading down the hall this afternoon to use the amenities, she came beetling out of her flat. an older woman, with a long greying ponytail and glasses perched on the end of her nose.

Harridan: excuse me, are you from the front offices?

me: yes.

H: this is our private laundry, you know. the agent said it was for our exclusive use.

me: it's also our toilet.

H: no, i was told that it was for our use only. i've also been told that a washing machine was stolen from in here.

me: well we always lock the door.

H: well, the gentleman [don't know who she was referring to] told me that the machine was stolen by someone with a key. [looking pointedly at the key i was holding in my hand]

me: [very terse] well we have been using this as our toilet ever since we moved into this building, for the last nine years.

H: nine years? well, why would the gentleman tell us it was ours then?

me: i have no idea.

H: well just to let you know we will be doing all we can to secure our property so i'll be taking it up with the agent.

me: fine. [walked in and closed the door on her]

if there is one thing i can't stand, it's being condescended to like that. the words above don't describe the tone this woman was using, like i was a recalcitrant child daring to disagree with her. or like i was something she had scraped off her shoe. and it's not like this place is the taj mahal (which i guess is probably why she's being so narky about it). that kind of thing just goads me into being more stubborn and sarcastic, and unfortunately that type of person just doesn't respond to the sarcasm, they just keep ratcheting up the attitude.

such trivial things! how they provoke such rage in me!

okay i have to revise this. i don't hate all people, and certainly don't hate all couriers. another courier has just arrived to deliver my brochures, with a trolley, and a big smile, and is bringing the boxes upstairs without a trace of grumpiness. see? it is possible to interact with me and not make me want to kick/stab.

jury's still out on the harridan, though.

Thursday, 1 June 2006

aaaaaaani - with absolutely no hyperbole, i promise

thanks to karen who always manages to find the weird and wonderful on the net - in this case the sublimely wonderful. you can hear tracks from ani's 'official bootleg' carnegie hall 4.6.02 at the Daily Planet, featuring two brilliant tracks, 'gratitude' and 'self-evident' (which i found extremely moving). or, actually, you can just head here to listen to the whole album streaming on quicktime.

i wish she'd come to australia more often. i think somewhere between her and ben folds is perfection in a live show.