Monday, March 28, 2011

Tea - Ocha

Day 37
I love Japanese tea
The green ceremonial tea is not really my thing, thick and powdery, but the endless variety of green tea hot or cold, is a great pleasure of Japan.
We may have a few shelves in the supermarket for tea but Japan has shops of it! As well as tea you can get food, often green tea soba, or green tea biscuits.
Tea in its many forms
 In the heat of summer cold tea is a great alternative to plain water; Speaks the woman who has trouble downing a glass of water! I like green tea jelly as well!
Tea , tea pot, small handle less cups in a covered tray is also available in most hotel rooms but especially in any Japanese inn.
Often with a rice cracker (sembe) or a sweet thin biscuit. Tea is often free as an accompaniment in many cafes
The beautiful floors of a shop in Kyoto

Over the last few decades green tea has been subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting that regular green tea drinkers have lower chances of  heart disease and some types of cancer.
good for you as well as delicious
My favourite is roasted green tea called Hojicha. A wonderful nutty taste and aroma.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 36

I have been preparing a slide show for a presentation  at U3A , University of the 3rd Age, for Wendy who is program co-ordinator or secretary or something equally energetic. It is titled The Appeal of Japan and as I was browsing my blog and photos from 2008, I realised  (again) that  I had never finished my 60 Days of Celebration.
This was  a daily blog of an item, place, event, icon that appealed to me about Japan. The 60 was to celebrate my 60th birthday. But as I came home suddenly in October I stopped at day 35.
So I thought I might do the last 25 over the next month or so.

Japan has huge plantations of cedar ( cryptomeria or sugi ) but with a decline in use of wood as a building material, demand fell so did prices so many workers in the forestry area moved away. Nearly all of the wood used in Japan is imported despite huge areas of forest covering 67% of Japan.

detail of carving on a Shoji screen in hotel room

fine detail on Inn gate

Huge gate posts at Meiji Shrine
An increasing demand by craft men to maintain past traditions of woodwork has meant an upsurge in interest in the wood and forests are being used again even for large pieces of furniture. 
Maybe not as big as these doors though!!
At a studio workshop  near Takayama called Oak Village Tadashi Inamoto works and developed some wonderful furniture all from two HUGE Zelkova tree that needed to be removed from the site of an old Sake brewery. Their work was inspired by a 'Living national Treasure Tatsuaki Kuroda, a reclusive worker but whose style influenced many. 
Kuroda's bench seat
There is nothing like the feel of your feet moving over smooth cool wooden floors !

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The egg

This must go down in my 11 Things in 2011 under Cooking! 
Today I achieved a beautiful (not perfect) poached egg.
I usually only eat hard boiled eggs, as I hate the runny yolk sticking to your teeth and mouth (like peanut butter) and god forbid if there is uncooked white!! So hard boiled eggs are safest.
But I have been coming round to the poached egg firmly cooked. I don't have an egg poacher (probably easier) but it has been a long search to get it right.
Lynne and Andrew showed me how they do it. 
Boil the water and when it is boiling, swirl it around and then lower (from a dish) the egg. The swirling water wraps the white around the yolk and you get a compact egg.
 Sounds easy? Well as is my wont I adapted this. 
My cooking style is 'variation on a theme". 
That is, I read a recipe and get the general idea, then adapt it to what I have in the kitchen. This technique arose when I was learning to cook in Halls Creek .We had very little variety of igredients so it was beef and beef in a variety of forms. So we would scour the Women's Weekly Cook Book and adapt the recipe using beef and probably omit some of the spices mentioned as well .
This style continues to this day, but I do use spices!.
Back to the egg. The first thing I did was ignore the advice to put the egg on a saucer and slide it in. The result of breaking it in meant the egg splashed into the water and bits of white splashed about.
It was edible but messy.
The next time when the water was swirling it didn't seem to be gathering in the white so I decided to swirl it a bit more. Result? Disaster, and I had to throw it all out. White / grey water with little bit of egg diffused all through it.
Other times I had the water too hot (if it was low it took too long!!  3 minutes .I mean how long can you watch a pot!) and subsequently as I put the egg in the boiling  slowed down (the cold egg hitting the water) and when I turned away it started boiling again, and what results is white foaming on top  (or over the top: I have done this several times) of the water and the yolk somewhere in the midst.
But today I kept it on simmer, slid the egg in, waited patiently(actually I cooked a piece of toast and put the dishes away) and the result was perfect in my eyes.
My breakfast egg.
A tidy white, a soft but not runny yolk and with a little ground pepper and a slice of bakers Delight Cape Seed loaf,  a perfect breakfast for my day off.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New venue

Judy dropped round some stuff last night and we were talking about a new(ish) development in kensington. Namely the  iconic 19th Century Younghusband Factory, in Elizabeth St, at the end of Arden Street at the flour mill.
The Young Husband Limited Stock building has become an important part of Melbourne's history. Built in the 1800's, the building is now home to a wide variety of well established and predominantly arts related businesses.
In 2005, William May and Malcolm Cooke saw the potential for a themed function centre within the old factory and the space was home to  'Number 12' Elizabeth Street, for five years.
In 2009 Revolt Productions took possession of the space, with the vision of creating an arts hub, the first of its kind in Australia. After lengthy renovations Revolt Productions is a venue focused on melding the ambience of this historical site with the joy of creative growth.
 Coming up is a performance of a cappella that looks appealing so might go to that.  Melbourne's female a cappella quartet, Ginger & Tonic will be sharing the stage with the 5 men from the Gold Coast's Vocaleez !!
The old factory facade
I walked past it on the way home tonight and there are several different things there
Deep in the Wood
One was the Deep in the Wood hand made Furniture place. It used to be down McCauley Rd somewhere but has obviously moved.
There is also a costume place that Judy said was FANTASTIC!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It was really hot today and I spent the morning trying to get rid of some of the ivy in the front garden A thankless and never ending task. Then I rested with a book (the Happiest Refugee Anh Do) Went and did some grocery shopping.
It is Michelle's (& Pauline's)  birthday today, so i gave her  a present when she got home. She had been  out late last night and stayed at a friend's and then had to get to work by 11am . The present was a book about shoe designers A-Z.  Went over very well!!
This afternoon was Di's Salon and today's project was felting. There were 8 of us there and Rosemary and Phillipa (both skilled craft workers) took us through basic felting. Di hadn't done it before so she was the student today We pass the time with chat, nibbles, and a glass of wine.  Di's Studio is in her back yard, purpose built and the windows look out on her herb and veg garden a very tranquil setting.

The Studio as we got started
My design with wool and threads
Rubbing the soap slurry on through wire mesh
This is the felting bit. Rolling it all together to mesh the wool
Rinsed, you had to grab it and fling it down 50 times !
The finished (shrunk ) product. May add some embroidery

Racing in perfect weather

 I worked in the Tower today as there was a real shortage of staff. Just Ray and me. Fortunately there were only 10 lasers sailing the rest had  gone down to McRae for a regatta .
Lasers have 6 numbers on their sails and if they are bunched up it can be a challenge to get them all recorded and the time as they finish so close together.
Thankfully it was light wind so they ended up spread out.
Running down to the last mark
A close race all the way
It was also start of the Jollyboat Championships. Light weather makes it less of a thrill for them as they are designed for 20knots! I was barracking for Bernard and he had a 1st and a 2nd, so they were very happy.
Some of the Green Fleet (Juniors)
The Junior Fleet had a good coaching session as well in the 4.7 small laser rig.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Hard to get a picture when he is so black!
Spencer has been very lively lately.
Now that my god daughter Michelle is living here while she attends RMIT Fashion Design, he has been pleased with the extra company.
When she first started coming and going he would bark and race around the side of the house.
A week ago she arrived home about 2am and I heard her open the side gate (went straight back to sleep) and he had not barked at all!!
Hence his laid back pose!!

Ethnic Dinner

It is amazing to realize how long we have been doing this group dinner but we developed the idea of eating at a different restaurant and became known as ethnic dinner. It is even written in the dairy as Ethnic Betty (or whomsoever turn it is)   It has been at least since 1982, but maybe longer.
I am not sure how it started but a group of 6 friends meet every 6 weeks (more or less depending on our ability to find a mutually convenient night, fitting in football, Bowls, theatre and music bookings we all have ) We take it in turns to book and arrange the next dinner at the end of each evening. The person responsible gives us an address a few days before the date.
We have a mnemonic to remember whose turn is next.
"C me get a BSc." Celia, Mich  Elaine Betty, Sue, Carolynn. This had to change when Celia went to USA and Wendy comes now so she is Celia's C.

Originally it was easy to find a different ethnic meal to explore. Melbourne is renowned for it restaurants and we have gone through every conceivable cuisine We had a fresh surge as each new migrant group arrives. We have covered A-Z including African  Argentinian all possible Asian and also their types of cuisine as well, Australian ( a pub meal) , Burmese, Cajun, Chinese (A standout was Li Li's Food of the Chinese Imperial Court FANTASTIC!)  Ethiopian, French Greek Hungarian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolain, Nepalese, Portuguese, Russian (memorable in the annals because of the magician!) Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, maybe not Yum Cha.And many others of teh alphabet.
When in a struggle for a choice we choose a variety of a cuisine type.
Beautiful Chairs at Quan Jude
Over the years I had not realised how bossy I am. I can't stand everyone musing over this and that, diverted by a question leading to a lengthy conversation, the waiter returning 2-3 times,  etc. So I would break in and say why don't we have  or order... Well in the last 2-3 years everyone just says "what are we having Mich" When waiter arrives with the menu they just make sure I have one and leave theirs on the table.
Now I do seek input, and I leave the wine order to Sue & Wendy but one evening I said I was not going to do it. Three or  four times I had to bite my tongue as my question/suggestion was dying to get out, So since then I have given up and order for us all.
On Queen St
The most  recent one was Quan Jude a Chinese restaurant that specializes in Peking Duck. 
A very successful evening.
Gone are the days when dinner cost us $20!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Speigel Tent

 one of the highlights of Summer in Melbourne is the Speigel tent erected in front of the Art Centre.  Lots of varied events music comedy cabaret, dance  and circus. It it's always hard to know what will be good, but one can always book a lemon (from one's personal taste point of view.)
Entrance to Speigel tent
I chose one called  Wildbirds & Peace Drums. Sweden’s mesmerizing Wildbirds & Peace drums make their debut trip to Melbourne.  Mariam Wallentin  and her husband Andreas Werliin  With an almost unclassifiable sound, the duo draw on blues, jazz, folk and soul music traditions to create powerful raw pop, crafted largely from drums and vocals. 
Inside the Tent
I should have read it more closely as the phrase "largely from drums" meant that there was a LOT of drum solos. My pet hate along with guitar riffs. So I hope my next choice is better.
Dick and Christa Hughes present 21st Century Blues Jazz, Blues, Cabaret, Boogie Woogie and Vaudeville. Join legendary jazz pianist Dick Hughes and his infamous singing daughter Christa (MGF, Circus Oz, La Clique) as they present songs from their 2010 ARIA nominated album, 21st Century Blues
But outside the tent was the tram (see blog Jan 25th) all set up as a bar Looking very festive and a tourist attraction Not sure if it will stay.
I was intrigued with a discussion Celia and I had had about how the development on the Maribyrnong River was coping with the floods. So I drove up to the area behind the Aldi store built on the old munitions site in Gordon Street. The views there showed the reclaimed area was not flooded so maybe the ponds, sorry lakes as part of the development is designed to cope with the floods.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Anglesea: Labour Day weekend

Andrew and family were down at Aireys for the weekend as he & Nick  were sailing in the Hobie State Titles at Anglesea.
Sunday Sailing is the boat in middle with green jib and top of sail
I decided to go down for the day on Sunday and see what was happening. They had had only one race on Saturday as the wind was so light.
When I arrived they were just floating around in 4-5 knots, but as they started the breeze picked up and they started moving along At one point I got a photo as they were in 5th place. 
I could walk out to end of the point
Spotted some seals who seemed to be fishing
Even when you are interested, sailing is not really a spectator sport esp when you need binoculars to see the activity.
Digging for ??
It was a beautiful day 28 degrees and sunny, and lots of people were taking advantage of the end of the summer weather. So I took some photos of the activity.
What a good sister!
Troops heading back
Lots of sun protection tents
Boat trailers. All in a bush setting.

So after a while i left and went on to Aireys Inlet to Lynne & Kate.I had lunch with Lynne and Kate, and Kate made me a coffee on the new coffee machine  which uses pods of coffee. Easy to use and a good coffee.

Kate and Lynne were also a great source of knowledge in the intricacies of my new Iphone!
Andrew and Nick arrived back about 230 as the racing had been canceled as the wind had picked up to 25 knots. Nick recounted how he had capsized the boat. 
Nick in His Hobie Assoc Shirt
When a catamaran tacks the crew needs to dash over to the opposite side  at the point of the trampoline to avoid  the wind getting under the Tramp. If you are slow the boat tips up backwards. Nick went sliding down the trampoline into the water! His first capsize and in 25knots Really initiated now!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seminar Day at PMYC

View from Window of the Yacht Club
Well the day arrived after months of planning. Understanding Infant feeding refusal. It was a new experience setting up systems that would make the organization easier; many lessons learned on the way!
Lessons learned.
1. Don't expect everyone to have your sense of timeline.
2. People forget!
3. Some people think I would know they wanted to come despite not having emailed me at all!
4. Technology needs LOTS of practice (all was OK on the day)
5. Beware the development of 2 lists of anything; The wrong one will always open first
6. Councils take a long time to pay
7. Use gmail for being able to find an email easily (great search system)
8 There are still computer illiterate people out there.
9 Everyone appreciates a great venue!
10.There is always one who is never happy!
The crowd and self (Note my banner on the small stand)
Bearing all that in mind it went well. I ended up with 39 people, one sick on the day and the arrival of the aforementioned person I had never heard of! The catering, and Adam who worked the day there was great and went smoothly. Never organised a conference or day when there was help, usually nurses do stuff themselves when it's small scale.
Breaks held on the deck
At lunch time many people commented on the georgeous day, and felt they were on holiday!
The videos worked well and I didn't have too much info or needed to pad any time slot, and general discussion & participation was good. Two constant 'yes but'ters in the front row, but manageable.
Feedback was good 32 replies, and only 3 negative "too basic" the rest very positive about everything.
The set up and view
One comment that didn't appear as I expected it would, was the table setting; I will do it differently for the next time. It was 'cabaret' style tables of 6 on 3 sides of the table. The people at the end of the tables (except the middle ones) had to turn to see me, though I did keep walking across so they were looking directly at me at times. Will need to set it out in straight rows next time. 
Also my slide background is pale with black letters and seemed a bit washed out on the transfer to a screen, so might trial a darker background so the letter contrast is stronger 
But all in all good. The next one in April is to be a workshop, so will need to develop some ideas on how to do this.  Feedback for the next one was a question, and many want to talk about the severe feeding aversion failure to thrive and NG weaning!!  So will adjust my plans for that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lane graffiti, sorry ART

I was heading in to the city to the Apple store to get a gizmo, a dongle I think it's called, to connect the data projector SCSI to my Mac, but I had mis-read when it was  open and had to wait for 30 minutes. As I crossed the road I saw people looking at the wall of  laneway opposite so went to explore. The lane is Hosier Lane and is covered in Artists' self  expression; unfortunately vandals have also had a say over some of the works.

Though I should not call it graffiti, it hasn't been called that for several decades I gather. Street art now is a postmodern confluence of art forms; ornate spray-painted pieces, stencil-graffiti and pasting, or paste-ups. Stencilling, spray-painting over a cut-out outline, or Pasting, glueing painted paper images to a wall.

The vandalism is the ugly, illegal practice of "tagging", the scrawling of nicknames on walls and billboards, is widespread.  I must admit I can't see the sense of that when I can seldom work out what the word is supposed to be. But maybe that's an age thing!! 

Stencil art, and the vivid canvas that somewhere like Hosier Lane represents, is why Melbourne is regarded as the street-art capital of the world. This has been recognised by the City of Melbourne and the City of Yarra, which sanction stencilling in some of their lanes, despite recent bad press about removing Bansky's mouse while cleaning up the graffiti, and tagging around it.
But the art is skillful funny, beautiful and imaginative. Even political as well.
I especially liked this one

                                                    Bulldog In Footscray, leaping over the Westgate Bridge.
                                                                          It covers the whole wall.

This lovely fierce bulldog is on the end of a row of shops near the Mall, and is obviously appreciated as Art as it has been there for 12mths that I have seen, and have no tagging or other vandalism on it.

Christmas Lights

While Brooklyn Victoria is not on the scale of Brooklyn New York a local street is becoming  the for Christmas lights So we planned a walk ...