Sunday, May 26, 2013

The crafty biker

I'm not going to tell you about my Sydney adventure in this post because l'm having laptop issues, and l don't like writing posts on my phone.
The only reason l'm posting from my phone at all is because l have to tell you about the man l saw on Swan Street today. He was 60-something and sitting at a table outside a cafe, wearing motorbike leathers. His motorbike was parked on the footpath near his table. And he was knitting! KNITTING! How awesome is that?
I couldn't tell what he was knitting because he'd only completed a few rows. It was burgundy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spruced up, delightful company, score!

On my way to meet Bertie and Lauren for dinner last night I noticed the GPO was sporting a festive new look thanks to red lighting in its windows. I'm not sure how I didn't notice this before because I work on the opposite corner, although I do look down on the building, so that's probably why. I did notice the clock appears to have emerged from the building's recent refurbishment with a new face - or has it always been blue around the outside? Maybe it's just brighter and more eye-catching now. (Hard to see here.)

Bertie, Lauren and I ate at Ca De Vin, one the the restaurants in the alley beside the GPO. Sounds unsavoury, but it's not. It's quite lovely, and warm thanks to lots of overhead gas heaters. 

 The entrance

The view from our table 
(Camera phone = not very good pics)

There are quite a few old signs from the days when the GPO was an actual GPO (general post office) and the alley was a laneway servicing the GPO. I took some photos, but the lighting was very dim further in where the best ones were. I'll have to go back during the day. 

Oh, the dinner. The food was tasty and, as always, the company of my former work colleagues was delightful. I really miss working with people I'm genuinely fond of - people I consider real friends, not just work friends.  Sigh.

Today I ate a mandarin, one of those ones with two or three pips per segment. I dropped a pip on my desk and it bounced along it, fell off and landed in my bin. 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Televisual ESP, cheesy, musical inspiration

Yesterday evening, for reasons I know not, I felt an urge to re-watch Amelie. A little later on I was flicking through the channels and there it was, showing on SBS One. Is it one of those movies that gets shown every two months, like the Back to the Future movies on commercial TV?  It was about half way through, so I didn't watch it then, but I will soon.


Luke bought some marinated artichokes during the week which didn't end up getting used, but I didn't want them to go to waste (they came from the deli, not out of a jar). This morning a recipe popped up on Pinterest using marinated artichokes - a baked chicken dish with garlic, tomatoes, cheese and basil - so I made it for dinner (with some added spinach). It was so quick and easy to make, and very tasty. Is it possible for anything topped with golden, slightly crispy cheese to not be tasty? It was perfect Sunday night fare. 

Musical inspiration

I haven't bought any new music in months and was lacking inspiration, so I asked Twitter for suggestions. Jane (Gleeful reader, logophile and writer of the Six Degrees of Sir Thomas Urquhart blog) suggested this song, which I like very much, and not just because it has our name in it. 

The song was performed and filmed for Radio National and was on a playlist of 39 songs and interviews uploaded to Youtube by the broadcaster. I spent most of the afternoon listening to and watching them - such a wide variety of performers, most of whom were completely new to me. I liked Paul McDermott and his band singing Slow Ride, the work of Tuba Skinny and Moriarty, Gordon Webster and Friends with Every Day I Got the Blues, and watching RN Drive host Waleed Aly trying to play the kazoo, using a kazoo made by the world's only kazoo museum. (Can you believe that? Only one!) 

A few other Twitter people made suggestions too, but I haven't looked them up yet. Feeling much more inspired now. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Monet's garden, mint, here to help

After we finished doing all the boring stuff we had to do yesterday, Luke and I walked up to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the Monet's Garden exhibition. The air was brisk, but the sun was warm. The path was lined with autumn leaves. The trees have been really holding onto their leaves, but it's finally looking more like autumn now. 

There was a quite mesmerising art installation in the foyer of the NGV consisting of a pool of gently moving water and a flotilla of shallow ceramic bowls of all sizes. The bowls tinkled and chimed as they drifted into each other. So simple, but quite captivating. I made a short video of it so you can hear it.  

I enjoyed the Monet exhibition. Like many people, I was most familiar with his water lily paintings, but didn't know much of his other works, or of his life. We were amused by his description of his labours in a letter to his first wife Alice in 1894:
Think of me getting up before 6; I’m at work by 7 and I continue until 6.30 in the evening standing up all the time, nine canvases. It’s murderous and to think I drop everything, you, my garden, all for this …
I suspect there would have been many late 19th century workers who would have been delighted to swap places. 

Apart from the water lily paintings, Vetheuil in the Fog, was my favourite, which is probably not surprising since I'm very partial to a foggy landscape photo.

My Impressionist-style photo of a deer made of 
glass orbs (taken through the NGV's water wall) 

On our way home we ventured into the Queen Victoria Gardens and King's Domain.


Unexpected duck discovery (ducks on right)

This pond is near the Sidney Myer music bowl

The city, also from near the music bowl

The Tan track in the foreground

It was very chilly by this stage. I was very happy to get home to our warm flat (the heat is back on).

Baby mint

A few weeks ago I cut a long shoot off our mint plant and put it in a glass of water on the kitchen window sill. It's grown roots. I'd better plant it. 

Here to help

When I was buying my lunch today I overhead a man ask the sandwich shop people if they had gluten-free bread. They didn't, but before I could tell him that the shop next door did, he was off. While I was waiting for my toastie to toast, he walked past again, still sans lunch, so I walked over and told him where to get the gluten-free bread. I threw in a bonus tip on where to get a gluten-free muffin nearby.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eye test, new specs, surprise sign

I had my eyes tested today. I like visiting the optometrist, although I don't enjoy it as much now that the goggle-machine is computer-controlled. It was more fun back when the optometrist had to manually switch all the lense testing things. I don't know why. Something about the noise. 

I wasn't going to get new glasses, but then I spotted some frames with black and white striped arms. They shall be mine soon.  Yes, my obsession with B&W stripes has reached new heights.

While I was in the waiting room at the optometrist overlooking Little Collins Street, I saw a ghost sign. 


This is the back of the Royal Arcade, which was built in 1896. Baths?? That's weird. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have learnt that this part of the arcade once housed Turkish baths! There was even fainter writing on the left of the building, but I didn't bother to take a photo of it because it was too hard to read. I have to go back to the optometrist for another test next week, so I'll have a look to see if it says 'Turkish'. 

I'm not working tomorrow. I have a day off for an appointment and I have a bunch of boring but essential stuff to do, but yay! A day off. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Now for something different

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, usually when someone who reads Gleeful connects with me on Twitter or Facebook. It doesn't happen often, but when it does   I worry - a little, not a lot - that they will be surprised or disappointed to find out what I'm really like. 

If you only 'know' me from Gleeful, you might think I'm always cheerful and upbeat. I'm not. If you've read the little blurb in the sidebar you'll know I didn't start this blog because I was always super-happy and felt I had a duty to help make the world a happier place. I started it to lift my spirits after the end of a relationship*. I am generally happier since I started the blog, but there have been times I haven't been happy at all. In fact, for some of the time I've been writing the blog, I've been treated for depression. 

The blog is genuinely me, just not all of me. The bits you don't read about here? I have a short temper, especially when I'm exhausted, and I'm never not tired; it's just a matter of degree. I have very little patience. I'm often oversensitive. I'm moody. I'm a sulker. I can be judgemental. 

I have a veritable menagerie of pet hates, and a very low tolerance for people who exhibit the behaviours that annoy me.  I quite often have a low tolerance for people in general. I not only think mean thoughts about people, I often share them online. I complain about my job and the people I work with. I complain about people who complain too much. I swear quite a lot. 

What you'll get on Twitter or Facebook is a more rounded me. I'm not Pollyanna. I'm just normal.

* Gleeful has lasted a helluva lot longer than that relationship did.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

That old treadmill, desk decluttering, fab freebies

I'm slowly making my way through Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness. I think this passage is just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it 80-odd years ago:
It is very singular how little men seem to realise they are not caught in the grip of a mechanism from which there is no escape, but that the treadmill is one upon which they remain merely because they have not noticed that it fails to take them to the next level.
He was writing specifically about the competitive lives of businessmen, but these days it applies to most adults at least at some stage. If people in the 1930s thought they were caught in the grip, people these days must feel as if they are being crushed. 

Desk decluttering

I spent a few hours this morning cleaning out and organising my workspace, particularly my two desk drawers. The top drawer contained a mass of rubber bands and about 300 bulldog clips, and in the bottom drawer there was a pile of assorted envelopes that I had to shuffle through every time I needed to post something.

The drawer chaos has been driving me nuts for months, but I've been busy with actual productive work so didn't get around to sorting it out. Things were on the quieter side this morning, so I finally got to it. Most of the bulldog clips back went back to the stationery cupboard and the envelopes are now neatly divided up in suspension files. I also went through my "doesn't need to be filed, but I don't want to throw it out" tray and threw most of the stuff out. My mind feels less cluttered now too.

Fab freebies

A skincare product I ordered online a couple of weeks ago arrived this morning. The company also sent me two freebies - a Calvin Klein gel eyeliner and a lipstick (both full size). They must be hard-to-sell or last season's colours, but I like them. The lipstick is perfect, in fact - the exact colour I've been looking for, but unable to find. Just as well!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spoiled for choice and off to see The Reverend

I can't believe I didn't already know you can design your own sneakers online. What rock have I been under? Nike offers the service and so does New Balance - no doubt there are plenty of other sites that do too. You pick an existing style and then choose materials and colours. You can even have a personalised logo and your choice of words on the heel. 

I mention this because I have a lot of trouble finding decent casual sneakers in colours I like. I'm quite particular. There's often too much yellow, orange and pink and pastel shades in women's ranges. Not my style. I bought a pair of men's Asics Onitsuka Tigers in purple, black and silver a few years ago because I couldn't find anything I liked in the women's range. Sadly they've just about had it and I need something more cushiony  underfoot this time. 

I think I want a pair of Nike Cortez, their original running shoe which came into the world the same year as I did. Trouble is...what colour? Maybe red or green. Or navy. Or royal blue. Too much choice now! 

I discovered on Facebook that psychobilly legend The Reverend Horton Heat is playing in Melbourne on 31 May. Mojo Juju (formerly of The Snake Oil Merchants) is one of the supporting acts. Since I started writing this post, I've bought tickets to go. Woooh!

Did I mention I'm seeing Wagons again in June? They're previewing songs from their upcoming album. Can't wait. I'm off to Sydney to see Mark Forsyth in two weeks too. Lots of exciting things to look forward too. That's the way life should be. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Warm, Tour de France, Bach

I got my gloves out on Tuesday morning in anticipation of a chilly week ahead, but the last few days  have been glorious. Today's top was 25 degrees, just a few weeks away from winter. Twenty-five!  Yeah, I guess this is global warming at work and we do need rain, but it's hard not to enjoy an unseasonably warm spell when you're expecting the mercury to drop. The morning sun streams through my window at work, which always lifts my spirits. 

I've been struggling to get myself to the gym more than once a week for months now and I haven't had the energy for cardio, but tonight I did my best workout for ages and I feel better for it. I did 30 minutes of cardio, including 15 minutes on one of the new bikes that offer a range of Tour de France courses. I cycled through French countryside and high up on cliffs. 

A woman at the gym had two vinyl albums in her locker. One was JS Bach. I don't know why, but it made me smile. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy news, relief, the bird is back

One of my online friends shared some wonderful news on Facebook today. We're separated by sea and have never met in person, but her news made me genuinely happy. Every time I read a new comment on the thread, it made me happy all over again. Is it strange to feel so affected and uplifted by the happy events in the lives of someone you've never met? We've been friends online for a few years now, during which we've each been through some ups and downs, so I don't think it's odd. I don't really care if it's odd. I think it's one of the lovely things about the internet.  

I had an ergonomic assessment of my workspace yesterday in the hope that it would ease the pain in my back. It only took a couple of adjustments to bring some relief. Aaaaaah. 

The white-faced heron is back! I saw it this morning and yesterday morning creeping along the  water's edge with its eye on a fish (I assume), but as usual I was in a rush to get to work so couldn't stop to watch.  

There was a praying mantis on the front steps of my building when I got home tonight. I nearly stepped on it. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Absentedminded, feathered friend, glassy

I thought it was pay day next week, but it's not; it's two days away. Oh, the joys of absentmindedness. 

I saw the* Nankeen Night Heron snaffling a fish or some other tasty morsel as I walked under Swan Street Bridge on my way home from the gym this evening. It was dark, but I recognised its little hunchbacked form in the gloom.  (* I know it isn't necessarily the same bird, but I like to think it is, as if we have one of those relationships that sometimes develop between people who see each other on the train platform at the same time every day.)

There wasn't even the slightest puff of breeze as I walked home. The river surface was  still, black and glassy. It was chilly despite the lack of wind. I think it's time to get out the gloves for my walk to and from work. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Massage, book bargains, The Dude

I had a Thai massage after work Friday to ease the tight, sore muscles in my upper back and shoulders. It was AMAZING! Easily the best massage I've had. The pressure was perfect - hard, but not too painful - and she hit all the sore spots. I'll definitely be going back. 

Luke and I went into the city yesterday. We visited Embiggen Books, but left empty-handed, which I was actually a little relieved about since I already have too many unread books. But then we couldn't resist the pull of The Book Grocer on Elizabeth Street. We left with six books - four for me, two for Luke - for $50. A bargain, yes; but all those unread books... My four books are  all about words and books.  

I'm currently reading Bertrand Russell's Conquest of Happiness, which I bought at the op-shop for $2 a couple of weeks ago. Last night I read the line: Man is perpetually toiling, and matter is perpetually in motion, yet nothing abides, and I immediately thought, 'The Dude abides'! That's because I saw The Dude's costume at the Hollywood Costume exhibition yesterday. The Dude is the main character in The Big Lebowski. Definitely not the flashiest costume there! 

It's a gang, street art, random oddities

It seems I'm slowly building a ghost hunting gang. As well as Jess, the friend who told me about the Robur sign in Fitzroy North, another Twitter pal told me about one in the city which has been revealed by the demolition of the adjoining building. 

Corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets

Celebrated specialist!

I had seen a photo of this sign (I think on Finding the Radio Book), but I didn't take note of where it was, and I like to see and photograph a sign myself. So thank you, Cherie! 

I think Jess has caught the ghost sign bug. She tweeted me photos of two other signs today, one of which she jumped out of her car in traffic to photograph! She tweeted:
Becoming slightly obsessed with spotting #ghostsigns in Melbourne for @FriskyLibrarian. It's kinda fun.

As well as the ghost sign photos from Anzac Day, I took photos of some other amusing, strange, quirky and cool things I encountered on my expedition. 

 Teeny weeny house!  It's near where Cromwell Street
 turns into McCutcheon Way in Collingwood  

As you can see from the plaque above, it's old and heritage-listed. I can't get over the fact such a small house was designed to house workers and their families - it's smaller than my bedroom! - and that people lived in until 1977. Wow. 


This place  - the People's Market on Stanley Street in Collingwood - looked cool. Music, food, art and markets stalls...but unfortunately I came upon it the day before it closed down. Maybe it will pop up again somewhere else.

   Homage to the Beastie Boys


Giant concrete spray can

Collingwood...Wellington Street, I think 

Same artist. Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy Street

The bell at the front gate of a house on Queen's Parade, Clifton Hill

A dude in North Fitzroy 

Pointy building on Brunswick Street, 
completely covered in street art 

This was one of my favourite non-sign discoveries of the day. It was in the window of an old shop - possibly now a residence - on Brunswick Street, just over Alexandra Parade. (Apologies for poor photo quality.)

I had to stretch up to take this shot (yes, that's my forehead) and the last bit is hard to read. It says: The octopus has 3 hearts, yet no skeletal system. They can fit into tiny spaces + love a lot.   Of course I greatly approve of sharing octopus facts, though I'm not sure what they're getting at with the "love a lot" bit.  

The best part of this is that several people have taken up the offer to educate the occupiers. Apart from the octopus facts, there was one about beer and a list of which countries have nuclear weapons.  

Just off Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy

I ended up walking all the way back into the city. I spied a group of workers taking a break in an alley behind a Gertrude Street restaurant, with the dome of the Royal Exhibition Building in the background. 

I arrived at the Carlton Gardens at the perfect time. The Hotchgurtel Fountain and the Exhibition Building were aglow in the late afternoon sun. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Anzac Day sign hunt

Finally, here is my haul of ghost sign finds from last Thursday. I originally planned to use the public holiday for a gym session, but a Twitter friend had told me about a sign she passes on her way to work, so I decided to go and have a look at that instead. I travelled on foot to capture other signs on the way. I ended up walking for about 5 hours almost non-stop. It was an expedition

Unfortunately, my supposedly fully charged camera battery expired very early on in the piece and I'd left my spare at home on the charger, so I had to rely on my phone camera. Better than nothing, I suppose. Anyway, here they are:

Bridge Road, Richmond, near Hoddle Street intersection

Stark's Manufacturers. Spotted from Hoddle Street, 
Richmond, behind Hungry Jack's carpark

Islington Street, Collingwood. Not a painted sign, but it's old

At first glance I thought James was a Malteser
Maltster is still amusing. You don't meet maltsters
 at parties these days

Further along Islington Street

A closer look at the right end of the above sign reveals 
another old sign* - SHOE

And again...'manufacturer' or an abbreviation thereof

Islington again, but only a fraction

This is the Robur Tea sign that started it all, on the corner
 of Michael Street and Park Parade, North Fitzroy

Close up. Dairy Produce on the top left

The Robur Tea sign was a great find (not that I actually found it), and a little further along I came upon this gem on the corner of Albert Crescent and Grant Street. How easily I could have gone down a different street!


Also a two-in-one - T Peters made some other kind of shoes. 
Were basket shoes a thing? 

This one is the side of a building on Queens Parade, which I saw from (I think) Grant Street. There was a high degree of difficult in spotting it - it was a 'blink and you'll miss it' thing. It looks like it says BLAND. 

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North (the bit north of Alexandra
 Parade). Not sure what it says

A closer view...Looks like 'Chek....y'  and second word
 ends in S. Any ideas? 

This is in Fitzroy...I forget which street

Collingwood (forget where...I did take note of street names, 
but not which sign was where. Der) 


Collingwood again

Also Collingwood (Vere Street, maybe?)

Collingwood yet again

Wattle Poultry, I reckon.  Alexandra Parade,
 I think near the corner of Wellington Street

This was Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North again
 (Yes, my photos are out of order and I'm too lazy to re-order them)

Corner of York Street (obviously) and Brunswick Street -
the same building as the one above 

W Parkin & Co Engineers, Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy 

Independent Hall, also Fitzroy Street

Strath Knits, Manufacturers of Fashion Knitwear. 
I think this was Collingwood too

* What I've been calling a two-in-one sign, other ghost sign hunters call a 'palimpsest', but I'm not sure I want to go there...