Friday, November 30, 2012

Steve's Private Wine Cellar

It was pretty damn impressive!  I knew it was going to be as, when we walked down the stairs, the first thing to greet me was a few dusty MAGNUMS (not bottles) of Grange!!  After this sight gave us a lovely excited glow - the rest of the vista was nothing to be sneezed at either.  Lining the walls were floor to ceiling shelves laden with wooden (note the word wood, not cardboard) boxes with a stamp of the winemakers mark and filled with bottles of precious red (and white) liquid. 

On the vast floor area were rows of free standing shelves, cradling individual bottles of wine, from all over the world, and places in time.  One row was missing, and in its place a long table, with chairs and dinner settings.  This was where we were to have our special end of year dinner.  I was very impressed and now am kicking myself I didn't take photos!  All the photo's on this page are from Steve's own website. 

Mr K is a member of a business group called TEC and this was our end of year get together.  This group is very social and all the partners came along so it made up quite a big (and noisy) group.  Over the years we have been members, I have come to know them all, and really do like them.  All the women had the same comment - 'damn, we only bought our little teeny, weeny, going out clutch purses' (you know room for a lippy, a tissue, maybe a mobile phone) but definitely no room to smuggle a magnum of 1995 Grange out!  Between you and me, I think the staff were watching us closely!

The meal was satisfactory, as good as a set menu for a big table can be. Pretty hard to serve that many people, especially as the poor staff had to walk down a big flight of stairs, carrying plates, into a cellar.  The service was excellent. 

Anyone interested in a function, this was a unique and excellent venue. 

Steve's of Nedlands

The only down side, is the original old hotel has been dwarfed by high rise apartments and the new part which is where the restaurant and cellar are.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ageing Aquarius

I have always had a yearning to be a hippie* but in my own way.  This yearning is a whole new blog post, but for now its safe to say that I identify with the hippie ethos - well most of it anyway.

This post is about what came out of the first writing workshop  -  the idea for a whole book - about Hippies.

I even had the name of the book come to me, which often does not come until the whole thing is written. Having said that, I may yet change it, but for now, its called -

Ageing Aquarius.

Have you ever wondered what happens to old hippie's?  I guess it hasn't really been an issue up until recently as the hippies of the sixties and seventies are still relatively young.  But what about a baby boomer, born in 1934, so she is 35 in 1969 when the Woodstock Festival brings the hippie sub-culture to the light of the rest of the world?  In 2012 she is 78 years old.  What happens to her then?

It came to me when we had to write a short piece describing a persons physical description to tell a story about who they were.  I think I wrote something about wooden bangles and flowing skirts, but not on a young fresh body, but an ageing, wrinkly, paperthin body.  It got me thinking - what does happen to an old Hippie? We always think of them as young and carefree, with no responsibilites and freedom. 

This is the premise of the book I want to write.  So in preparation, I am reading all things Hippie, which is very dangerous if you are married to me,  It's evoking all kinds of mid life crisis, probably a lot like the Hippie movement itself.  I want to shuck off all the contraints of affluenza, run naked in life, with no burdens. 

Maybe after I write my book, I will have come back down to earth.

* The word Hippie comes from the word Hipster.  It was used to describe a sub-culture of people in the mid 1960's on the west coast of the USA, predominately around San Francisco. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beautiful Noise - Gin Wigmore

I am in the office today. It's humming with servers, buzzing with the sound of techs on phones, people talking out in the showroom - nothing at all like when I work from home (when I get squealing girls, blower vacs, angle grinders, dogs barking!).  I used to work in the office 5 days a week.  It was fine.  Now, I only come in on average once a week - and I notice all the noise and humbuzzing.  These computers and servers sure make a racket.  From my little corner of the open plan office (right next to the server rack), I am just surrounded by modern noise.

I must really be becoming a grumpy old women.  Officially I can't use this title for another 18 months when I turn 50, but I am getting into practice early. I am going to be SO good at it when I turn 50.  Once upon a time, noise did not worry me at all.  Now, I am so sensitive to it, I can hear it everywhere.

I think I might just plug my earphones in and listen to some music to stop all this noise.

Yes, that's better.  A nice deep bass, bad ass drum beat, a gravelly voice, a screaming guitar.  All that bad noise gone away.

I am listening to a very talented Kiwi singer, who I have been following for a while now.  So thrilled to see she is getting the airplay she so deserves.  I believe too she has a song on the new James Bond movie, along with another favorite female singer, Adele.

So who is she?

Gin Wigmore (and no I didn't discover her because of the Gin connection)

Gin Wigmore Website

This video is not one of her big hits but I like it a lot.

And this is another favorite.  Killer bass beat.

Hope you get to have a listen - she has an awesome voice, and I just love the mexican guitar and deep bass notes. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I learnt this weekend

As the silly season gets a good grip on our lives, we are pulled from social event to social event, in ever increasing frequency.  This weekend we were out Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.  All good fun and worth the effort, but also tiring.  So what did I learn this week?

  • Grumpy really does start at 50.  Uncle J turned 50 on Friday.  In true form, he didn't want to do anything but smoke his cigar, drink and moan about the world.  Being his special day, we indulged him, but when he started to say that Shakespeare was a pretentious twat, I drew the line.

  • I never knew I was so passionate about Shakespeare (I am not really, but it is fun to bicker and argue with cranky, middle aged men)

  • Sheep poo doesn't feel so nice squished between your toes.  I was helping Son#1 with a little garden project, and we had emptied a bag of sheep poo on this garden bed a few weeks before.  It was now wet and breaking down nicely.  I had stupidly not worn suitable shoes for digging in (I thought we were just going to do the fun bit, like shopping for plants at this stage) so had to wade in barefoot.  It was all very Bohemian.

  • Watching a lone bagpiper play a traditional song moves me to tears.  We went to watch Son#2 girlfriend play in her brass band (she is a very talented trombone player).  It was held at the Salvation Army hall in the city and it was a huge crowd.  The theme was very British, and very moving.

  • We have now renamed our little part of the world Bas Vegas.  Mr K spent the entire afternoon putting up blue lights around the pool.  Its all very Flamingo 1950.

  • Don't mess with a proven pastry recipe.  If I do say so myself, I make a pretty good apple pie.  My mum makes one to rival it.  I have her recipe, but like all offspring, we try and make it better, make it our own.  Over the years I have tweaked, and changed and perfected my own recipe.  Except yesterday, when I was asked to bring an apple pie to a Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to experiment with my pastry.  Fail.  Back to the original.

  • When you put out your rubbish for bring-out-your-dead collection, and a lot of it is good stuff that you hope other people will take - it will rain like it hasn't done in months and ruin the stuff you have kept dry and safe.

Well that's about all the lessons I can stand for one week.  The week coming up looks like a doozy too. 

What did you learn this week?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jackass Spiders

I know it's a recurring theme and maybe you think I am part arachnid, or perhaps that I was a spider in a past life?  Either way, you would be right in assuming that a) I am obsessed by spiders, or b) I am a terrible house cleaner and my home resembles an abandoned house - complete with spider populations.  Both are correct.

The Jackass Spider Gang

But the spiders in my bathroom seem to be a unique bunch.  I think they must be teenagers.  Daddy long legs is their nickname (common name) but if I was a showoff I would call them Pholcidae as their family name. 

They seem like nerds, not very strong, fragile, certainly not athletic at all.  If they were school boys in the school yard, then I could imagine them being the boys who liked to read, or do science or maths.  Brainy, nerdy boys. 

Except these dangly legged spiders may not even be that smart.  They do the all the dumb things (thanks Paul Kelly).  You may recall my tragic bathroom legless incident?  Daddy Legless Spider Well, the offspring of our alcoholic, accident prone daddy spider, are just as reckless.

So, I am standing in the shower, having a lovely clean time, when this spider bungee jumps down from the ceiling into the area where I am standing.  Right in front of me.  What makes a spider do that?  I can only assume that it was a dare.  That up in the corner where the other spiders were hanging out, bored, one of them says


'Hey Steve!  I dare ya to drop down and scare the human' 

'Right, you're on Johnno.  Bet ya a big fly I can do it!"

So Steve gathers up his bungee web and launches himself down into the abysses.  I stand and watch, amused.  As he nears the steam and water, he starts to feel a bit giddy.  His web cord is swaying about, a few drops of water hit him and he starts to curl up and think that maybe this wasn't such a smart idea. 

The lads in the corner are all shouting at him.

'Oh ya wuss, scare her!'

'Come on Steve , go all the way'

Poor Steve the Spider is just trying not to faint from the steam.  He tries to climb back up the web, but its swinging about wildly.  His pride and his life are on the line.  If he lets go, his weakling body will get washed down the plughole and another spider tragedy will be on my hands.  I turn off the shower, the water and steam stop and Steve can get a better grip.  He slowly starts climbing back up to the corner of the ceiling.  His head is down, he is embarrassed in front of the lads. 

Did I imagine I saw one of them videoing this with their mobile phone?  Will it be on facebook later?  I hope not - my naked form on a Spiders facebook page might go viral - and not in a  good way.

I've done all the dumb things.

PC and Kris Kringle and Employers

As one of the owners of the business, and one of only two women who work there, it always falls at my feet to be the Christmas Fairy and make magic happen for the staff.  But every year it gets harder and more fraught with gotcha's.  Gone are the good ole days when you could just tell the staff to turn up, have some fun and leave it at that.  Noooo - now we have regulations about bloody everything.  I try and make it a bit fun, but really, in these days of the employer being responsible for every little thing and litigation, well it kind of sucks all the fun out of it.

So I sent this email to all the staff to try and make light of the PC Christmas Grinch, while being a 'responsible' employer.  It still probably won't be warning enough if Worksafe got hold of it, but really, who wants to read a whole lot of strict rules just to attend your work Christmas party?  Some workplaces also make the staff sign that they have read and understood all the rules.  Talk about PC madness.
Dear Enablarians
For the benefit of the people who like to be super organised, or to give a heads up to the new boys, or to remind the old boys – here is a rundown of the Christmas traditions at Enable.  We respect all your personal beliefs, and this is not really a Christian celebration but just the end of the year 'thankyou'.  It gets called Christmas party as this is when it happens.
(note - I can say 'boys' as all the staff bar one is a boy, and she likes to be one of the boys anyway)

*      December 15th is the Christmas party.  Starting at 1pm. Partners/kids are invited and very welcome.  There is a pool, so if you don’t want to get thrown in, in your clothes (SB) then bring bathers.  And a towel.
(oh this one does my head in - the lads all want to play, and throw each other in the pool.  I run about and stress and say things like 'careful'and 'gently', all to no avail of course.  I even got thrown in myself one year for being a mother hen)

*      At the Christmas party Santa gives out the Kris Kingle gifts – see below. And kids get a present if they have been very good (T, you are too old now for Santa, even if you think you have been very good - sorry)
(tricky when you have a family that don't give gifts at Christmas)

*      All food and drinks are catered for – if any of you or your guests has any dietary requirements please let me know.  There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks - please drink in moderation - otherwise stupid pictures of you hitting on the secretary will appear on your facebook - we won't be responsible for the fallout.
(I hate having to tell the staff how to behave at their end of year party.  We spend all year telling them to do things - I would like to think we employeed sensible people.  Surely I dont have to keep telling them how to behave?)

*      Mr K will give a speech (oh nooooo!) But don’t worry, it’s all about you!  If anyone has any dirt on their fellow workers, then please send Mr K a confidential email – but remember – it’s all in fun and good taste – unless it’s about Mr K then you can send it to me and no holds barred!
(tricky one this, we are not allowed to make fun of, or tease anyone - but they all love to relive funny/silly things that happened over the year - humour is the key)

*      Enable loves you – so please ensure your own safety and arrange for a safe journey home if you plan on drinking.  We do live on the train line (well not exactly ON, but next to J) and we will provide taxi vouchers home for those who wish them.  Or con your girlfriend or mum to drive you home.
(This is a big one.  The party does not end until all the staff are safely tucked up in bed.  One year, all the lads got on the train and headed into the city to keep on celebrating.  Technically, we were still responsible for them.)

*      Kris Kringle – for those not familiar with this tradition.  Firstly, it is not compulsory to join in.  I will be going around getting the numbers soon.  Secondly, there is a strict price limit of between $10 - $15 dollars (or if you are a clever shopper less!).  Thirdly, just keep in the back of your mind that there will be children watching the opening of presents and we don’t want to shock them J (too much anyway).  OK.  So it works like this.  The people who are participating all put their names in the hat.  Then we all draw out a random name and keep it a secret.  We buy that person a gift – within the limit – and something that is unique to that person.  Wrap the present, put the recipient’s name on it only and give it to Santa’s helper – J – prior to the 15th.  We all then have a good time opening them!
( I had to bring in the rule about buying 'nice' presents as the lads got more and more risque (think AdultShop).  Again, we have to have a safe work environment, free of any unsavory things. I use the kids as an excuse for them to buy appropriate things)

*      Closer to the date, I will get final numbers for catering.


*      We close the doors on Friday 21st December.  If it’s quiet, early.  We will have a few Xmas drinks and nibbles in the PM to bring in the festive season.  Again, if you plan on having a drink please plan your trip (safely) home.


*      Work (for those not on further annual leave) starts again on Wednesday 2nd January 2013.


*      There are 4 days of compulsory annual leave in the break.


I think that’s all.  If I think of anything else, I might tell you, I might not ;-)


Cheers J


PS: Anyone who draws me I the Kris Kringle – remember that I have a fondness for blue bottles.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Permission to talk to yourself

This was a very interesting exercise I did in writing class yesterday.  The idea was to write a piece of dialogue between yourself and a topic (which we had already workshoped as the topic of our short story).  My topic is the house where we will live one day, on a farm, where I dream of spending retirement, writing.  It sounded weird at first, to talk to something other than a human, but its really a great way to get ideas and form your writing piece.  We only had to write 2 pages, but I could have gone on and on!

Below is my example. How about any of my readers who are writers trying this?  See where it leads.  Share it on your blog.
Dialogue with My Topic – The Writing House (WH)

Me: Why are you called the Writing House?

WH: Because that’s what I am, a house where you can write

Me:  But what makes you different from any other house, could we not write there?

WH : Because I am special

Me:  In what way?

WH : Well first my location.  I am not a city house, but a country house; I stand alone, not part of a crowd.

Me: How alone are you?  Does that make you sad?

WH: I can’t see any other houses from where I stand, and no, I like being the only one here.  It makes me feel closer to the people who live in me.

Me:  So who will live in you?

WH:  You, and perhaps your husband.

Me: And when will this happen?

WH : When I am built.

Me: What will you look like?  How will you feel?

WH: I will be a house set into the side of a hill.  The biggest hill on the farm.  So I will have the best vantage spot.   I feel proud about that.  That I will be above everything else.  My back will nestle into the hill, supported by earth.  But my front will be balanced up high on metal stilts.  Kind of like a canter lever.  I will be made of wood and glass and welcome all that come to visit me. 

Me: Who do you think will visit?

WH: Your family, your friends, neighbours.  But not all the time.  I like my solitude like you.  You and your husband will live here, but only your heart will be here, his wont.  Maybe it will come to live here after he has been here for a while, we might then capture his heart.  But yours will be here as soon as I am built.  Before even.  I can feel your heart with me now as we talk.

Me:  How do you known that?

WH: I can see it in your face as you talk to me, see how you long for me to be built, your clear vision of me is what has made me real, what has enabled us to talk this way.  You think if you had not created me in your mind that I would exist?

Me: I guess not.

Me:  Will there be other buildings around you?

MH: Yes.  There will be a shed, that’s where your husband will likely spend most of his time.  I think too there will be stables, and I might have to share you with them.  But you will always see me as the most important.  You will walk the paddocks and look up and there I will be.  This will make you smile, and it will always feel like coming home. 

Me: Tell me more about how you will look

WH: My front will be your favourite place.  It will be timber floors that reach out into the decked area. Seamless.  The break between the two areas will be a glass wall that can be slid back when the weather is fine, or closed up when its bleak. I am very protective of my inhabitants and will always be warm or cool for you.  You will be compelled to set up your desk in from of one of the large front windows, so you can look down over the paddocks and see all your animals and your pasture. 

Me: What will I do at my desk?

WH : You will write of course!  That’s why I am called the writing house.  I will give you all the inspiration to be creative and write every day.  I will take care of you so that you can fulfil your dreams of writing.  I was built for this very reason. 

Me:  But will you ever get built?

WH: Yes. 

Me:  How can you know that?  You are just a house.

WH : Because you have dreamt about me for so many years, you have planned me over and over in your head, I exist in your head, therefore I exist. 

Me : How many years until you are built.

WH:  Ahh. Now that question I can’t answer you.  You will have to ask your husband that question.  He holds the key to you and I being together.  If his business finally becomes a success, then I will be built.

Me:  So until then, I guess we can still go on talking, there is no harm in that?

WH : Precisely.  We can still plan and tweak and I will become the best house ever built.  By the time you get to buy the land I will sit on, I will be perfect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All I want for Christmas ...

All I want for Christmas ..... is two months away, alone, completely alone.

Utter solitude. To travel back in time would be nice too.
Georgiana Molloy (1805 - 1843) - isn't she beautiful?

I read a lot of old diaries and biographies of pioneer women, or women who lived on farms or in the country. Women of centuries ago who sometimes had no choice but to be on their own for months on end. Like Georgiana Molloy (1805 - 1843) who in 1829 came with her husband to live in Augusta, Western Australia. Her biography, written by Alexandra Hasluck, (Portrait with Background: A Life of Georgiana Molloy - Melb, 1955) is one of my all-time favourites.

She lamented the isolation and filled it with writing letters, her journal and collecting botanical samples to be sent to Captain James Mangles, who was a keen botanist. I love reading of her day to day life - but what resonates with me, now more than ever, is the calm, slow pace of life. It's like a balm to my stretched, hectic, over-full one.

I know there were tragedies, children were lost, life was physically tough, but surely she felt a calmness that life was settled, it was predictable, there was a slow, yet deliberate rhythm. When I read of her walking in the bush every day to collect seeds, or sitting down to write, I feel a yearning for that part of her life. I know she would probably envy mine, my household gadgets that make every day easier, but I wonder too if she would want it to slow down?

I guess it is the minimisation of external stimulation that appeals the most. No TV. No phone beeping or flashing to say the world is contacting you. No cars, or trains, or planes or sirens. No emails, or the double edged internet - with so much information to seek, yet so overwhelming. Back then, you actually looked forward to visitors, not dread them like today.

Berringarra Homestead - build in 1882

Many years ago, Mr K took the boys and I up north to stay at the station that he had worked on as a teenager. (He was also conceived at this station, but that’s a whole new story!). He still loved this place and was excited to share with me why - the rammed earth station house with wide veranda's and wide walls, the bower shed where the jackaroos slept in the midday heat, the red, red dirt and blue, blue sky. The river gums, white and majestic, the dry river bed that belied its strength, the eagles and wild goats and bungarras. I saw what he saw and fell in love with it too.

We found out that it was for sale. I dreamed of buying this isolation. This life. It was to be a fantasy played out over many, many years and still, if all of the planets and stars lined up, and Mr K said come on we are going to live there, I would be packed in a heartbeat. By outback standards its not that isolated - only 660km from Perth, the nearest big town is Meekatharra a mere 170km way. The historic town of Cue 180km.
But like all fantasies, would it lose all it's lustre in real life?  I still would like to try .. even if it was just my Christmas present for two months.


Bloody smoke detectors!

Was woken both yesterday morning and this morning by our smoke detector going off at precisely 5am.  Yesterday, the ear piercing (and now I know that's a real state, my ears were ringing) sound made both me and the little old lady dog jump out of bed.  Not good for her, she is old and blind and arthritic, and not good for me as I am just unfit and not nimble anymore.  Poor little girl, she hates high pitched noises, so there she sat shivering and shaking while I tried to find my dressing gown.

Of course by the time I did (find my dressing gown), and opened the bedroom door, the alarm had stopped.  Did a quick check for smoke, of course nothing.  The detector is hard wired into the ceiling but has a back-up battery that obviously needed changing - so like a very loud baby it let me know.

Mr K?  My knight, the man of the house, my protector?  He was sound asleep - the sleep of the dead!  So really great device this - it goes off when it shouldn't, and doesn't wake half the occupants in the house.

Mr K did redeem himself however and went down the shops to buy a new battery (and a spare one for next time).  He fitted it and all was well.

Except ... it went off AGAIN this morning.  Same bat time, same bat channel!  Same two people (well one people and one fury wanna be people) who were dragged out of slumber by the bells of smoke detectors.  I got the step ladder, climbed up to the wicked little white dome and pressed my finger in hard to its little button.  The noise stopped - but I was now rendered deaf. 

What?  Deaf I said.

Guess who was again sound sleep?

If it goes off tomorrow morning I am ripping it down from the ceiling, taking the plaster with it if I have to, and dumping it on Mr-sleeping-ugly-K - that ought to wake him.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Staff camping weekend

Well of course I ended up enjoying it!  Always, it's the same.  Anxiety, trepidation, worry - all wasted emotions as when I got there it was all fine.  What did help, a lot, was busying myself taking the photo's.

It was tiring, hard physical work at times, some parts a bit uncomfortable - all totally over ridden by great company, a laugh, some fun, good food, good drink, awesome views.  There are lots of stories to tell but for now I think I will let the pictures say the 1000 words...

Mr K - pretty pleased that we had set up camp and he finally had a beer in hand

Young tech who scored a 'day off' on Friday to help set up camp! He too was pretty pleased with the fact he worked out how to put his tent up!

The camp before the entire team arrived.  The tarps were a nightmare to put up - only 3 of us and a gale force wind!

The moonscape where the camp spot is - in the lee of a sand dune.  The other side of the dune is pristine ocean

The genny - gave us light and powered the fridges - who says we 'rough' it

The old lady 'princess' of the camp.  She was not amused here that she had been put down on the sand.  She did the rounds of everyones lap.

Tom Dog - he waits for his love ... waiting ...waiting

Great white fishermen .... just as well we had steak and chops for dinner as we sure didn't get any fish

The Team - with only a few missing

A boy and a dog ... priceless

Awwww puppy love.  This is Tom Dogs girl.

Love the colours



Pumping up the tyres and a sad and weary goodbye ... well until work tomorrow anyway!