Sunday, June 28, 2009

Christmas Carols in June? Must be "Aumas"

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of Christmas. Now, that I live in Australia I have to be a bit more flexible. I used to have very set traditions, and rules that went with said traditions. I always bought and decorated my tree (live of course) the day after Thanksgiving, and I made hot toddies or egg nog (vegan, extra rum), I held Christmas Eve. in a hotel bar, with a fire and piano if possible, and with a nice bar menu that featured cocktails with a Christmas theme such as; Rudoph the red-nosed martini.
Christmas in summer, is an adjustment. Now, I make pina-coladas with fresh fruit, and I have a vintage aluminum Christmas tree because it sparkles in the sun and the sun doesn't set on Christmas until about 9:30 p.m.
I am straying from the topic at hand though, which is Aumas. A Christmas celebration held in the winter time in the Southern hemisphere. We had one today at our Croquet Club, a bit of fun and a bit of a fund raiser.
I made the mulled wine. I was unhappy with the mulled wine until I remembered a Zok adage "Rakia will fix anything",and after I added an entire bottle of Malceski Plum Rakia, the mulled wine was much, much, better.
I ate 'nut loaf' an English sort of traditional vegetarian dish, which was surprisingly tasty. Also of note were the mince pies (fruit mince) smothered in brandy cream sauce (!).
I have learned to love a few English Christmas tunes such as Wizzards 'I wish it could be Christmas every day' and a ditty called 'Lily the Pink'.
But today I learned some Australian carols such as 'Aussie Jingle Bells' (sung to the usual tune) but with the following modified lyrics;

'Engines' getting hot, dodge the kangaroos
Swaggy climbs aboard he is welcome too
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summer's day
Jingle bells, Jingle bells
Christmas time is beut
oh what fun it is to ride
in a rusty holden ute'
or Deck the Shed with bits of Wattle
'Deck the sheds with boughs of wattle
Rippa bloody beauty bonza mate
slice the cake and tip the bottle
rippa bloody beauty bonza mate
don we now our swimmin' cossies
rippa bloody beauty bonza mate
sunburn cream and stuff for mozzies
rippa bloody beauty bonza mate'
Well you get the idea, actually all quite funny when one has dipped into the mulled wine.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Let's not worry about the things we can't control, c'mon girl while the night is young; let yourself go..."

I have quite a few memories involving Michael Jackson. I saw him perform live during the 'Bad' tour, because I worked at a marketing company that was handling the record for Epic. The show was the first large, theatrical music show I had ever seen, choreographed, and HUGE. I don't mean it was a spectacle like ELO or Alice Cooper, but a tightly run, Broadway sort of production. Of course others acts went that way-The Rolling Stones, U2, or Madonna.
That memory is a sort of aside really, I clearly remember going to several stores in Sacramento to buy a copy of "Off the Wall" because a couple of stores did not have it. I had to take a bus all the way downtown from a suburb in South Sacramento where we were living. I was actually very into, Lou Reed, Van Halen, and Aerosmith but Michael Jackson was always what the industry calls a 'cross-over' artist. He was also one of the very first to cut himself a better deal. He had a higher percentage of profits than his contemporaries, well I am sure there was an argument that he didn't actually have contemporaries. He survived the transition from child star to adult super-star, and from the machine of recording other peoples songs to writing his own material. These are not small feats.
I also remember the first time I heard 'Enjoy Yourself' on a dance floor. Henry a popular L.A. DJ and co-owner of Vinyl Fetish record store played this tune. I had loved the song since I was small, and somehow it being played seemed like a small miracle to me. Because many of us who really care about music, spent some chunk of years thinking we were alone. (Yes, readers this is before the internet).
I might also mention here that the ritual of 'Dance Party USA' as performed often in my kitchen, is a highly cherished ritual which MJ has often been party too. The music industry can be an ugly place. A complicated snarl that no child should be envied to have grow up within. I am not stating that I have some sort of pity for MJ, I am just saying I feel the loss, and although not fanatical I think he deserves respect not jokes.
Lastly, I have a 'be careful what you wish for' superstition, because after the last book of a certain series, which I will not embarrass anyone by mentioning here- I felt the need for a new anchor as it were. An event to look forward too. I came up with the tell all book I expected one of the Jackson children to write. Sadly, no, Michael taken from life early, too early for my wish to be fulfilled and yet eerily giving me a feeling that I should stop with the sarcastic quips. I mean yes, I meant my comment about the book, but one perhaps should not joke about anyone's death, even if it is to get some incredible tid-bit such as "No more wire hangers!".
*Poor Farrah, pseudo-science loving blonde thing-dead, and still over shadowed!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

non-conformist flowers

Apparently some plants in a Tasmanian garden, choose to flower under a cloudy covered, gray sky. They are analogous to derby girls, as they are out there even though they will be battered and perhaps bruised by the harsh weather. The rain is pouring down. I had to hustle in the wood that thankfully was already on my porch before it all got wet. Last night Zok already mentioned 'looking into flights' which means that our experiment of my staying here all winter may not work out. I do feel a glow of love, that he misses that much. He is not one to really talk about love, but he is good at expressing love, and that is enough to guard me from the gloom of today's winter storm. Hopefully, the flowers have something to protect them as well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Tasmania was Van Diemen's land

There is another large concentration of people here on the island, up at the top in Launceston. There is basically one straight route to get there by car, the midlands. Stating that the midlands is a highway is basically calling the coastal Rt. 1 of California a highway. Launceston has a roller derby team, and together our state comes under the moniker of 'The Van Diemens Roller Girls'. Some of the girls from each team met up, in the center of the state, in a town called Oatlands. This meeting was for the officers of the committee to meet and for all of us to have a bit of bonding and skating. I love that Oatlands has always been considered the center-a base for organizing and assigning convict labor, as well as the military hub.
My back was (is) bothering me so I stayed and skated inside the town hall, but most of the girls took to the quiet streets of the historic town, shaking up the locals and scattering the sheep.
The town have residents that probably number about five hundred (not counting the sheep), and is filled with lovely, Georgian, convict built, sandstone houses. There are nice churches and a great mill built in 1837, with a formal garden and windmill still working. The non-committee members, myself included had a nice wander around the town. During the time of Tasmania being Van Diemen's land this was the center of the action both geographically and literally. Not that one would find this apparent from my photos but the midlands is suffering a drought which has had a huge negative impact on the farming community that remains.
Roller Derby participation continues to have its unforeseen perks, as I have always wanted to stop in this town, but I was either rushing to get to the ferry;
or exhausted and rushing to get back home again, so this trip was great. I rode up with Injure Ninja, and Eliza Hornberry and although we left hours before the sun came up, I had a nice time. This is saying a lot because I do not like to wake up before sunrise unless Mickey is involved (this means a trip to Disneyland people). But I have to admit I continue to be pleased by the lovely place I have landed. I am also realizing just how happy I am by having conversations with all these new people. I understand why people who have grown up here would wonder at my choice to come here, but of course one of the only drawbacks-the whole 'small town' everyone knows your name (misdeeds and failures) doesn't apply. Although I really did feel pretty closed in by the industry I worked in, and sometimes Seattle felt really, really small. To me this says that larger things need to be important, such as the feeling of quiet and happiness that permeates my world.
My winter continues busy though. I can't believe July is almost here. I have two classes, yoga and sewing which insures that even if everything else were to stop tomorrow, I won't be allowed to sleep through winter, tempting as that may be.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mount Wellington on a rather warm day in June

As my day progressed I could no longer ignore my sore throat. When I first got up I gargled hot water with salt, and then swigged a bit of really putrid, alcohol ridden cough syrup from the Piggly Wiggly of Wales (Well the store reminds me of a Piggly Wiggly but perhaps that name is on my mind for other reasons).
Now all the jokes made about swine flu are even less funny as we have girls out due to being quarantined with suspected swine flu. Who is laughing now? The pigs? Do they not know that I do not eat them? Well I am going to have to get out the hard core treatment; that is correct ny-quil. Sometimes I say thanks out loud for Zok's shopaholic tendencies which is why even here, at the end of the planet, I have decent cold medicines.

...bleaching your teeth, smiling flash, talking trash under your breath...

The week has been whirlwind. So whirlwind I don't even have photos to post. I have never had such a week during winter, normally this time of year I am piling on coats to sit on my porch and watch the milky way come up in front of the house. Star gazing is definitely on my list of things to do but it hasn't happened yet. After I watched Zok get onto the plane I came home and started cleaning. Then a few set backs happened like water coming through the ceiling in the office, which involved calling a plumber (I know, I know, but this is Australia) to patch a bit of the metal roof.
I did get the house in order in time for Betty Bamalam and Ref Fink, our guest coach and referree who came from Victoria to train us up a bit for three days.
I had a great time, Betty and Ref were great house guests, amazing considering I had never met them. Roller Derby's reputation for comradely behavior between all derby peeps has not been over exaggerated. Betty (who I like to think of as "Betty Knows Best") has literally gone all over Australia and beyond to help train girls and help leagues grow into competing teams. This time is given freely, and she is one of many in the world of Derby that do the same thing. I found this extraordinary. Having company was nice, and even if they were only being polite they both laughed at my sideways humor, as well as ate my cooking (Roberto Breakfast Burritos!).
Beyond all that, I have a new focus on which skills I need improvement on.
I think our fledgling team has been given a nice shot of motivation.
We skated so hard that only this morning (Day four, morning after I saw Betty and Ref to the airport) did I notice a bruise SO LARGE on my (fairly large) backside that I started to laugh out loud. I mean sure I noticed it hurt to sit down but I thought that was you know muscle fatigue from all my hard work, not a bruise from my 'whoops-a-daisy' skating style!
I hope to see both Betty and Ref skating with their current league 'The Geelong Roller Girls' in the double header coming up in Victoria.
Now, I am woefully behind on my Croquet Club duties...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Then the party started and it was all a blur..."

Last night the Convict City Roller Girls, had a open night, part demonstration, part recruitment of new girls, and (please oh please) hopefully some referrees. I felt a bit like a cheater, knowing such few people (Thanks for coming; Andy, Karlo, and Heidi!) my embarrassment level is very low. Hobart is a small place and I am sure the other girls had more on their minds, I certainly didn't have to worry about anyone from my school days coming by to have a laugh. Plus my part in the planning was small. I think some of the girls are frustrated by not being able to really compete yet, and so this event perhaps was a bit much being as we are close but not that close to competing.
I am just having a really good time, and of course, I really want the team to get to the level of competing, and yes I spend time and expend energy helping out and trying to become a better skater but as far as I am concerned my relationship with Roller Derby is pretty good, and I don't need it to change-well at least not today, I mean winter is here and we spend more time indoors. I am happy to watch skating movies while sitting on the couch next to a warm fire. But I am not selfish, I don't need to keep Derby to myself, alone, and I was happy at the prospect of new girls, with all their individual skills and potential showing up.
I was pleased as punch when suddenly there seemed to be more people than we could handle. The perfect 'party moment', in that one breath, as the party hosts are saying 'Oh well if no one comes will just do this or that', then in the very, next breathe they are saying 'Hi, welcome, are you here to skate?'.

I was working the room like a frenzied sorority girl, bent on getting the most girls she could into her Derby house. We had a good turn out of our own though so there were plenty of Derby girls that the new people could choose from to ask their questions or take their spin around the rink. At one point I found myself chatting up a girl who turned out to be a visiting team member of the Victorian league, one of the girls I saw bouting when Zok and I went. But even that did not really cause me embarrassment because I was too rushed trying to ask her about her experiences, what wheels did she favor? What advice did she have about avoiding serious injury?
Suddenly Ruby or Latrina were blowing a whistle and then, it was as if no one was at the rink watching. This was great because my fear was immediately dispelled that I would be unable to ever compete in front of people. All I could see was the blocker next to me and the jammer skating to get through the pack. Too soon, the night was over-and I could feel the sensation of a first date-will any of the new girls call or show up on fresh meat night?

After the skating ended, many of us went to a pub called 'The Brisbane Hotel' which of course the locals call 'The Brizzy'. There seemed to be a sentiment that people probably just wanted to see a bout (an actual Roller Derby game), but this is early days, Sarah aka Ruby Ricochet and the girls on committee have been working really hard, and the year mark is still months, and months away. All I see is determination, excitement, and people having a good time. As usual, I have woken up without a voice, I seem to lose it on the rare occassions I go out, luckily I can use it up all at once, because as far as I know I will not be required to have any long conversations until my next Derby event, which is training by one of the Victorian League women-Betty Bamalam on Tuesday. When I think training I think 'Yes! Less bruises! Yes, to be able to GIVE bruises!' and sometimes I think 'Jump over things!!!'. These are my simple goals. Also looking over photos taken by Andy-my skating stance in reality is far from the stance I think that I have, and this of course, just makes me want to skate more and work harder.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"M is for Maud who was swept out to sea"

I love the rain, I have always loved weather, living in Southern California where there are more sunny days than any other days, made me depressed. I felt a pressure, an actually physical pressure to constantly be doing something because 'it was such a nice day!'. The only time I really felt right was when the Santa Ana winds kicked up. If you are unfamiliar with these hot, dry winds that come from El Salvador, I won't try to describe them here when so many gifted writers have already done so. Seattle weather suited me perfectly. As I watched other Californian transplants hide away for most of each Seattle winter, I would go racing about in my rain gear. Okay, there was always a point, say at the end of maybe an entire month of rain, when I started to think that my old car had mold growing somewhere, mold which might never dry out, but that didn't squash my enthusiasm for the season.
Besides I appreciate, and even need, a few bad weather days to excuse myself from society, to be able to just loll about reading and watching movies, eating popcorn for dinner and nipping into the good whisky (yes whisky with just a y, I am talking Scottish here).
So, here the rain is coming down steadily (with the added bonus of coming down onto a tin roof that amplifies the sound) and has been for the last fifteen hours. Rain in Tasmania is regarded a bit differently than I am used too, because this is a place where many people have only rain tanks to supply their houses. We are on town water, just on the edge of the houses that are not. I like to take a hot bath after a hard skating practice, but when I said that out loud after practice one night, (forgetting as I do), the response was a conversation about the level of each girls water tank. Ahhh, yes, even a hot (and apparently indulgent) bath, shows my American side.
As I have written about ad nauseam, Tasmania does not have a lot of heating. So I was stoked that Zok's friend Nadia sent me a package from Eastpak, I got a bag that holds all my skating gear, a really warm hoodie, shorts, and a cute skirt both in a thick, durable material. This is great because we are basically skating inside of a concrete shed with a tin roof, no heating. Which is fine as long as you are in motion.
Zok is less than a week from leaving, so the house is in an upheaval.
Poor thing, he will be going into summer while I get enjoy winter.