Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Yum!

Lordy. We went to Tetsuya's last night, a wedding present from my sister and her boyfriend, and we ate and ate and ate. And then we ate a lot more too, as is required when you're eating 13 courses over the space of four and a half hours, or however many it was. My recent semi-hospitalisation/illness may have left me with less of an appetite than is ideal for such an even, but bravely I struggled through ...

... and it was totally super. My favourite course was the Tetsuya's signature dish, a confit of trout with fantastically yummy stuff (daikon and konbu, apparently, and some really great salt) on top. Mmmmm...


The rest of the menu was very seafoody, ocean trout and caviar and scallops and crab and more crab and some really amazing barramundi, and then we moved on to the meaty courses (quail and then veal) and the sole vegetarian course (lentils. Unless you count the sweet corn soup at the beginning, but of course it wasn't really a course) and then about a zillion types of dessert. There was a lovely summer berry pudding and a chocolate thing of some sort which was sooooo very chocolatey and some excellent petit fours. I also had a really scary espresso in the most excellent little cup, which happily failed to keep me awake for hours after the meal was over.

Oh, and apart from the food, there was also the controversy of the art on the walls in the toilets. There was nothing particularly noteworthy in the women's, but apparently the walls of the men's toilet were adorned with lots of semi-nudity (of the female kind) and possibly a metaphorical picture of a clitoris. Sadly I can't be more specific here, because the conversation was kind of vague, and I don't think it was the kind of establishment where one pops into the men's toilet to clarify things. Although my sister did try, but somehow she failed to see the picture in question.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Happy Birthday, Caitlin!

Possibly this cat is more Christmassy than birthdayish (that looks like a Christmas tree in the background there) but he definitely has the celebratory vibe. Which is what we're going for. Have a super day!

Trapped!

Eek! I opened the door to go out to the back yard this morning and a bloody great spider fell down from above and landed on the screen door and now it seems to have taken up residence. I shut the door and have been peering nervously out from time to time, but the spidey really isn't moving. One of his legs seems to have fallen off (it's on the ground next to the door) and I don't know if that is likely to make Mr Spider less scary (he can't chase me as quickly) or more scary (he might be full of leg-losing anger). Either way, I don't like it and I might never go outside again.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Boo For Saturday

And then this morning one of my least-favourite things happened when I ended up, after a night of coughing and suffocating and complaining, lying on a bed in the local hospital coughing and suffocating and complaining. Sigh.

I got a cold on Thursday, and as these things tend to go with me it was all very speedy progress from sore-throat stage to snotty stage to coughing up mucous stage, but then last night I found I could hardly breathe and I kept my shiny new husband awake all night coughing all over him and making him look distressed, and then my entire family (with whom I am staying at the moment) panicked a bit when I got out of bed (fair enough because I was looking fairly appalling and coughing up all sorts of vile globs of blergh) and, on finding out that all the doctor's offices in town are shut on a Saturday, whisked me off to hospital. Happily it was nothing like other hospital experiences I have had, and instead of sitting around waiting for 6 hours in the emergency ward, I was zipped straight in to see the doctor, diagnosed with this mysterious asthma that I got once about 6 years ago and that no one has seen hair nor hide of since (strangely it only seems to appear when I have a bad cold. Hmm ... I have a bad cold and can't breathe properly because of all the cold and the mucous and stuff, and ventolin helps. It must be asthma, mustn't it, because bronchodilation couldn't possibly be of assistance to someone without asthma who happens to have their *&^#*%ing bronchioles or whatever all chock full of goo, could it? Then again, what do I know? I just don't think someone happens to develop asthma mysteriously in their mid 20s and then only get a recurrence of it when they are having breathing issues anyway. Grr.) and then zipped back out again.

And so now, armed with some stupid Ventolin and a bottle of "Chesty Mucous Cough" medicine (nice name), I am allegedly back on track again. Which is just as well, because I have some relatively high-impact socialising to do this week what with my imminent departure from the golden soil of home.

Yay For Friday

Yesterday one of my favourite things happened - Reto and I went to the movies and we were the only people there! This hasn't happened to me for aaaaages*, and apparently it has never happened to Reto before, so we both enjoyed all the loud talking and coughing and canoodling and so on enormously.

The downside, of course, is that we had to see a fairly crappy movie (Definitely, Maybe, which was just as full of precocious-yet-adorable kiddies and nauseating romance as those movies always are, and yet which still managed to be relatively endearing), but happily we needn't feel as gypped as the people in the previous screening that was held in that cinema, who had the place to themselves as well but were forced to endure the relentless tosh that is Fool's Gold.




* not the most recent, but one of the more memorable times that this happened to me, and when I was actually on my own as in all alone, I had gone to see a late-ish evening screening of one of the Scream movies. It was so scary!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Wedding Anecdote Number Five

We got Reto's brother to play an alphorn at the ceremony. How excellent is that?

Wedding Anecdote Number Four

Arguably the worst feature of our wedding was that, as a consequence of me spending the first half of the evening all a-jitter with nerves about forgetting my vows (which I sort of did, although not to such excellent comic effect as when Reto jumped in a bit too early with his "I will") and about making a speech, I didn't get around to eating anywhere near as much of the yummy food as I had hoped.

Reto and I had spent quite a while contemplating the menu and I was especially looking forward to the poached herby chickeny thing, which sadly I don't think I even noticed let alone ate. Happily though, I managed a few delicious oysters and some smoked salmon crostini things, and I was also extremely pleased to see various friends and relatives chasing down some of the waiters with the fancy-pants sausage roll things and also the prawn skewers. Aah for someone else to have a wedding there (or anywhere, really) so I can do all the eating and none of the fretting. Hint hint, anyone.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wedding Anecdote Number Three

After all the carry-on and hoo-haa was done, guess how much red wine was drunk at the wedding? Bearing in mind that red wine is the tipple of choice for the vast bulk of my people, and that there were about 60 guests.

...

Yes, that's right, a big 2 bottles!

We did a little bit better on white wine (3 bottles), but sparkling wine (19 bottles) and beer (108 bottles!) were definitely the winners.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Wedding Anecdote Number Two (really just a photo)

Our cake was pretty!

(there was a photo here but I have deleted it)

Wedding Anecdote Number One

You know it’s a good wedding when it’s gatecrashed by another one. Actually, if that’s true, I suppose it means that the Other Wedding was probably better than ours.

Our wedding was in the upstairs section of a restaurant. There was Another (much bigger) Wedding in the downstairs bit. When guests of ours arrived in the general vicinity there was some understandable confusion about which wedding was which, and I spotted several people I knew milling about with the Wrong Crowd. Designated people were sent to gather up all our stray guests, but not before at least a few people had been offered (and accepted) a pre-ceremony drink by the Other Lot, and had even been asked to offer some lovely advice and comments to the [Other] happy couple via camcorder. Which will no doubt make for entertaining/confusing viewing for them one day, wondering who these total strangers accepting their boozy hospitality are.

Later on, fortunately after our ceremony was over and we were only standing around chatting and doing a few photos, the Other Wedding party turned up, barged past all of us and started taking photos in the small, confined area where our ceremony had just been. Personally I thought the whole thing was hilarious until I later heard from a friend that when some of the bridesmaids had shown up, they had seen us there, hesitated and said “It’s another wedding!” and their photographer had yelled at them “Just keep going!”, apparently relentlessly determined to invade photogenic territory. How rude.

The Other Wedding

Monday, 18 February 2008

Hurray!

It's over! The wedding, that is, and in spite of all the long-simmering bridal rage it was really rather fantastic in the end. I'm sure there will be a post later, but in the meanwhile, let's just enjoy the silence ....

Happy Birthday Tawny!

Happy birthday Tawny! You get the crazy fire-danger cat in honour of your terrible but hilarious recent fire-related (well, smoke-related) social faux pas! Have a super day and a super party!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Grr Minus 24-ish

My advice to people contemplating getting married:

1. Seriously consider eloping.
2. Be more organised than me*.
3. Don't think that just because the worst drought ever has been carrying
on for the last decade that it won't suddenly break and that there won't be
buckets of rain** on the big day.
4. Don't make a speech. Don't memorise your vows. Don't do
anything that involves having to rely on your powers of mental
agility.
5. Blame everything that annoys you on your fiance (yes, the one who
refused to agree to elope, safe in the knowledge that you were always the
one who was going to do have to do all the hard work of organising the damn
wedding. Bastard, etc).





* Not hard.
** The forecast says "mostly fine" but I suspect I have my pessimistic hat on)

Happy Birthday Dave!

I thought you might appreciate the sciencey nature of the balloons sticking to the [birthday] cat. Learning can be fun! And birthday-ish.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy Birthday Kate and Mike!

Happy birthday to Mike and to Kate! I never know who actually reads this blog, and I suspect that I am wasting a lot of birthday cats on people who will never notice. I suppose it's the thought that counts, though, and also it goes to show what a FANTASTIC friend I really am. Or maybe it's just that I like to make people feel bad by remembering their birthdays* and thus putting the pressure on for them to remember mine. Hmm.
Anyway, I hope you two both have a super day over there on the cold side of the world!
* Really, once your birthday is in my diary it's likely to get transcribed across from year to year forever unless we have a terrible falling out. Which we very rarely do.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Sorry

Well, finally, after years of hoo-haa, backwarding and forwarding and outright refusal, the Australian government has officially apologised to the "stolen generation" (aboriginal people taken from their parents up until 1970 or so, with the aim of raising them in white society, so that they would be "better off" than they were with their aboriginal families. Needless to say this resulted in an awful lot of alienation and misery and disconnection, not to mention all the sexual abuse and the psychological issues that arise from this, and from being forcibly removed from your family as a wee young thing anyway, even without subsequent abuse. Not that it was necessarily entirely negative for everyone, of course, but for a bunch of people it was, and in an arguably very forseeable way). This apology comes with the new government (voted in a few months ago), after the last government (all 11 years of them) refused to say sorry because they were scared of paying financial compensation or because they thought it would admit personal responsibility on the part of people involved in carrying out governmental policy or because they were a bunch of amoral bastards with no sense of sympathy or empathy or humanity, or something similar.

Anyway. Hurrah, I say, and so say a bunch of other people too.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Grr.

Last night I had a dream that the wedding was over. It was the next day or so and I was thinking back on the wedding and wondering if I had managed to fashion my memories into something more appropriate than the pre-wedding rage/indifference that I currently have going on. As I was thinking back on it all I realised that I could hardly remember anything at all about any of it. I had a vague sense of actually being at the reception and I remembered saying hello to a few people, but I couldn't recall the ceremony, or any speeches, or eating anything at the reception. And then I realised, while still actually dreaming, that I must have been dreaming.

I can't tell you how disappointed I was.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Multiple Choice

Q: What's more annoying than your own wedding?

A: a) Everything! Your own wedding is the most wondrous event imaginable and you will love every second of it (including all the planning); OR

b) Everything, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a dirty cynic who doesn't deserve the joy and beauty of a wedding to call their own; OR

c) Nothing! Your own wedding is the most nightmarish event imaginable and you will be constantly annoyed through all stages of planning and execution. At least you can hope that when it's over you might be able to fashion your memories into something a bit more appropriate.

Oh, and then there's this..

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Ouch

Yesterday I had a tetanus injection and today my arm is really sore! I remember last time I had one (a loooooong time ago, after I trod on the world's biggest splinter (really, it was so big it was practically a branch and it stabbed right into the flesh between my big toe and my next toe. It really went a long way in. It was horrible)) the injection itself was really quite painful and I was fine afterwards. This time is the opposite. The injection was a doddle, but then last night in bed every time I rolled onto my left arm I would wake up because it hurt so much! This morning it feels like my whole upper arm is bruised, but of course it looks absolutely normal, which is no help at all when it comes to gathering sympathy. Sigh.

Hopefully I'll step on a rusty nail or something soon to make it all worthwhile.

We're The New Us!

We officially have permission for Reto to take my surname (aka our shiny new surname) after the wedding! Hurray! Not that anyone really thought that this permission would be denied us, but it's nice to have written assurance that me changing my surname wasn't in vain, and also something that we can take to the Swiss Consulate in Sydney after the wedding so that they don't make any trouble for us.

Anyway, now that I have spent the last few weeks posting certified copies of my brand new birth certificate all over town and getting my name changed on my frequent flier programme and so on, Reto has finally starting the process of being faced with actually changing his surname (which really was pretty weird at first for me) and of all the dull bureaucratic hoo-haa of getting a new passport, drivers license, credit card and so on, and he seems as tentative about it as I used to (which is not very tentative, but it really is quite an annoying process).

He also had a google around and found some article in a Swiss newspaper from a few years ago talking about how apparently the Switzies are looking into changing the rules about married names, so that the default position is that you both keep your own name, but that you can still choose to have a common family name if you want to. There were also, apparently, a few statistics in there about the number of newly married couples in the canton of Zurich who choose to take the wife's surname instead of the husband's (something around 200 out of the 7000 marrying couples in 2005, I think) and an article about how emasculating this must be for the men! For crying out loud! What a poor sad bunch of delicate flowers these menfolk must be.

Personally I think it says a lot more about the journalist's sense of self than it does anyone else's.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

SN-DTOMC - The Coast

Most of the rest of our trip went unphotographed, which does not really make for aesthetically pleasing blogging. Suffice to say that we had a lovely time in Brisbane for a few days, being very non-touristy (not only because Brissy is sort of lacking in exciting touristy things to do, but also because Reto and I were in relative slacker mode by then. Which is actually pretty much business as usual for us), doing a lot of mooching around with Tina and Bastian and their tiny new baby Leo and being rained on a lot. And of course whenever it wasn't raining it was so ridiculously humid that it may as well have been.

After Brisbane we headed back down the coast and spent a night in Byron Bay (which really is overrated but it is undeniably pretty and you can get a darn tootin' good cup of coffee there. And bircher muesli served on a plate*, apparently, as I discovered when we went out for breakfast. It was fantastically delicious, and so ridiculously filling that I had to get a doggy bag for the half I couldn't manage to eat. Who takes cereal away? Wacky!) and then the next night in Taree (a town with nothing to recommend it except, apparently, the Big Oyster, which we didn't see because we were busy hiding indoors from all the pouring rain. Actually, on the drive there we heard on the radio that people in Taree should be alert to the dangers of flash flooding, so we perhaps should have stayed somewhere else, but recklessly we didn't. Our token gesture towards flood safety was to stay in a motel on the other side of the road to the river, but as it turns out even that wasn't necessary. Anyway, here's a pic of the Big Oyster (courtesy of here) just in case there's anyone else out there who's never seen it:).










* As opposed to a bowl, the standard cereal vessel

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

SN-DTOMC - Ballina

The next day we zipped over to Ballina to visit the town where my parents lived earlier this century. That part of the country is a really nice place, but it was slightly less charming on this visit because the recent flooding in the area* means that all the fish in the river have died. And when I say all, I really mean all. Apparently most of the dead fish that were washed up on the shore were collected by the council over the last week or so, but there was still the odd deady lying around.

a dead fish. charming.


Apart from the stench of rotting flesh, though, it was all really lovely there. We drove to Byron Bay and went for a swim (which was weird. There was an extremely strong current in the area where we were swimming, such that in mid-thigh-deep water you could hardly avoid being swept away. Fortunately it was more sideways rather than out to sea, and it really wasn't that bad, so no one was in much actual danger of drowning) and we ... actually, we didn't really do much what with it being an arduous day of driving (8 hours or so). It was nice, though.






* Have I mentioned this? There are floods galore all over the place at the moment. Personally I am not very impressed with the fact that the minute I decide to get married here the worst drought ever ends and rain comes bucketing down. I read in the paper today that Sydney has almost already exceeded its annual average rainfall for February, and it's only the 5th! Grr. Reto is being all optimistic and saying that the fact that so much rain has fallen already means that surely it will have stopped by the time we get married (which is in a week or so), but I think he's living in a fool's paradise. Not that rain would be the worst thing ever (I am a big fan of rain normally, especially in these days of water restrictions) but I do enjoy the complaining.

SN-DTOMC - The Sky

One thing that was pretty constantly striking on the trip was how much sky you can see in the countryside. Apparently I have been spending far too much time in urban-type areas lately, because I had really forgotten that it looked like this.The stars at night were amazing too.

SN-DTOMC

The next part of the Surprisingly Non-Disturbing Tour Of My Childhood was the part where we went to the town I grew up in, which I haven't been to in 9 years or so. We stayed with another friend (which was really super) and we ate at the local Chinese restaurant (which was appalling, but Reto thinks it was great because he thinks it was very similar to Swiss Chinese food). We dawdled around on a tour of all the houses we lived in and the schools we went to and the places we frequented. We inadvertently got a bit caught up in some sort of religious procession, which seemed to be far bigger than it actually was because all the marching kiddies were being followed by a whole string of cars. As the procession arrived at the carpark behind the supermarket, though, it became apparent that most of them were full of people who were just hoping to get a bit of shopping done. I thought that going back there would have been more ... not traumatic, because my time spent there was fine, and not emotional, because I hardly know anyone who lives there these days and I don't really have much connection to the place, but more something, and it kind of wasn't. The town hasn't really changed enough to be different (new shops replacing old shops, and the fact that there's a McDonalds there now notwithstanding), and the day we were there was a Sunday, which meant that everything was closed and there were very few people to be seen. It was hard to get an impression of what the town is really like these days, I suppose, and apparently I don't feel enough sentimental nostalgia to really care.

SN-DTOMC - Tamworth

Well, I'm back. In case you didn't know or notice, I wasn't around for the last week. I was off on a Surprisingly Non-Disturbing Tour Of My Childhood.

The first stop was a night spent with friends in Tamworth, disturbingly enough at the time that the town's annual country music festival was reaching its climax. My friends there swear that they don't have any particular fondness for country music, but are adamant that the festival is super and that there's much more to it than just country music. Having harboured traumatic childhood memories of driving though Tamworth on the way home from Christmas holidays for many years (you couldn't get out of the car to buy a sandwich without being bombarded by yodelling buskers and people in unfeasibly large hats) I was always extremely sceptical about how much fun enduring two solid weeks of it could be. As it turns out, a single night isn't too bad.

We started in a bar somewhere, and after making the fairly amateurish mistake of leaving there after a few hours (the queue to get back in was surprising, but apparently not at all unusual) we went to see a band that was giving a free performance at another pub. As it turned out this was a band that my sister had seen in Sydney recently, and they were not country music-y at all. They knew their audience, though, and so instead of doing much of their own stuff, they stuck mainly to cover versions of Australia-heavy songs (this was also Australia Day. At one point some drunken dude on the dancefloor turned around and yelled at the semi-enthusiastic audience "Come on! It's Australia Day, it's Acca Dacca*, it doesn't get more Aussie than this!" which was a nice try but it didn't really result in anyone else embracing displays of unbridled patriotism) and they were super. Instead of ending on that high note, though, we stayed for the next band who we thought was some guy who was also not a country music band, but apparently he was on on a different stage** and so we accidentally watched a terrifyingly country bush band (with a guy in it sporting pyjama pants and the biggest mullet in the history of mullets) singing "click go the shears" and "give me a home among the gum trees" and that "I am, you are, we are Australian" song for 20 minutes or so until we managed to escape.
video

Unscathed but a little bit traumatised.



* Because they were doing a cover of some AC/DC song at the time
** The "stage" we were at was actually a truck that they had parked next to the verandah of the pub. I gather there was another room somewhere inside the pub and it had an actual stage. The inside of the pub smelt pretty strongly of vomit, though, so I'm glad we weren't too committed to the other band