Family gatherings are usually a delightful affair, abounding with a motley mix of people with unique stories to tell. Bigger families have singles and couples; different generations with their own views and perspectives; people with kids, no kids, even grown up kids, and then there are those that never grew up themselves. At such functions, there are the usually conversations catching up on the comings and goings, but invariably at some point the discussion is relegated to stories of old.
This is the gold and the heartwarming nature of a family and its history. Sometimes the stories are humorous, others to poke fun or simply to recall good times. Sometimes there are two or more interpretations of a story, depending on who was there. The stories grow with every retelling, becoming the folklore and distinctive bedrock that defines this unique circle of people. Cherish the stories and the community it holds together. Family is precious and so are its memories. Celebrate and remember.
This vision of summer with dappled clouds gives a hint of a breeze on a beautiful afternoon with softened sunlight. These are the times to be outside and luxuriating in the calm surroundings. It encourages you to stop and use all your senses to appreciate the present. A deep breath will confirm that all is real and worth pausing to admire. The atmosphere is relaxed, with nothing rushing past; not the birds, not the people, and definitely not the weather. Not even you.
When this happens a modicum of idleness is in order. These delightful moments are to be savored for the cooler months and the crazier times. As summer draws to a close this week, get out there and soak up some summer laziness.
This morsel of tastiness was an entree to a great meal courtesy of The Strand in Williamstown. The fat, juicy scallops nestled on a pea puree with a drizzle of grapefruit sauce were magnificent. They were sprinkled with a zesty toasted gremolata that provided another texture to the dish. This inspired offering was followed by a squid ink risotto topped with seafood, and a citrus tart with mango coulis and macadamia ice-cream. Beautiful quality food that left you enjoying the meal, but not overly stuffed by volume.
As decadent and delicious as this meal was, the celebration was to mark the success of a project at work. Big wins are to be acknowledged and reveled in. Reinforcing the great work with a sensory experience builds a lasting memory. Make sure that you enjoy and pay tribute to the moments of success, as it will sustain your energy and drive. Celebrate the victory!
This weeks’ indulgence was a trip to the Nova Cinema to see Ellipsis. I’ve always been a David Wenham fan, from lovable idiot in Gettin’ Square to tough and buff in 300. This time he is behind the camera as the director of a beautiful movie. A serendipitous meeting of two people and their awkward getting-to-know-you provides the merest narrative to this experimental work of visual richness. Jasper and Viv could be anyone and their stroll through the reality of Sydney is both whimsical and heart-warming.
A secondary story is woven in the background about a telephone repairman. His subtle story unfolds with minimal dialogue to tie in masterfully. The title was explained by Wenham in the Q&A afterwards, as an epiphany at a school meeting. An ellipsis is literally “…”, the three dots that move a story from one point to another skipping over the non-noteworthy, everyday mundane. But sometimes this is where the magic is found, the redemption and the renewal. Pay attention to the ellipses of your life, savour them, explore them but most of all enjoy them.
This week I got to swap a day of work for a day of play. I hung out with a baby which was lots of fun. Some think baby sitting is a chore, but see it from the baby’s perspective: someone new to play with, new adventures to discover, and boundaries to advance. The innate curiosity of a baby has them reaching for everything, tasting everything and doing the unexpected. If you want to see the world in a different light, choose a fresh frame of reference. Babies are always learning something new.
This particular little man was definitely into everything. The untrained [me] fell prey to grabbing the spoon and flicking food everywhere which was hilarious. Reading books takes on a whole new pace when someone else is turning the pages. There were even pauses where a flop on the mat gave a respite between adventures. Expanding family circles bring these unique opportunities, which just means there is more love to go around. Take the time to indulge your curiosity too.
It’s been a while since I drooled over a dessert in this blog, but this was exceptionally yummy! It was called a Hazelnut Charlotte crunch, from a restaurant in Southgate on the Yarra. The complexity of food in this day and age is amazing. Not just a chocolate mousse. There was a thin base layer of chocolate cake, upon which a milk chocolate mousse with a liquid cherry center sat. This morsel was then covered in a chocolate glaze with gold dust and crunchy bubbles of chocolate puffed rice. The plate also contained a smear of red velvet chocolate, chocolate soil and Persian fairy floss.
No longer is food cooked once and then served. No longer is a food served solo. Hours of preparation and stages of construction are involved to present a rich and decadent experience. The flavours blended well, along with the textures. The one curiosity – How something so delicate can be plated up without fingerprints or squashing of any elements? These desserts are something to be savored, so when indulging, take your time and experience all of it, even the mental stimulation.
The start of a new year finds us layered in a residual happiness from the Christmas/New Year festivities that should be nurtured and sustained. The downtime over this period lets us unwind and relax and gain perspective. This time of year is also heart-warming with renewal of old friendships and catching up with close friends and family. We get the opportunity to do non-routine things; whether it is a lazy breakfast with friends, baking festive foods, reading a book in bed or as simple as a relaxing walk along the beach.
I caught up with a couple of old friends for coffee. Three hours later we were still chatting in depth. It was refreshing to hear what they had been up to over the year as well as the escapades of other mutual friends. These snippets of conversation expand your immediate world that tends to narrow with the demands of life. We need to broaden our attention and keep a rich perspective, so savor your festive season bliss as long as possible.
As the year draws to a close, I note the last remnants of the stunning purple jacarandas that had heralded the start of summer in a glorious riot. This colour is in striking contrast to the vibrant leafy green tree that stands sentient through summer and autumn, and the devoid-of-colour stalwart that withstands winter and early spring. We, each of us, possess different mantles for various occasions, creating complex layered dimensions. Some more subtle that others; some rarely shared.
It was through wandering the local streets that I noticed the evening smells of summer. The gardenias and jasmine are especially powerful at dusk and early evening. They invoke the smell of muted colours for me. So have a wander, follow your nose and enjoy the soft beauty of your surroundings and reflect on which aspects of yourself will come to the fore in 2018, and what new facet you will share with others.
Some girlfriends and I went to the National Gallery of Victoria on a Friday night. Sounds like a boring option, doesn’t it! But the trip was actually well worth it. We saw The House of Dior exhibition. The historic fashion, the colours, the fabrics, the styles, there was a lot to take in. The elegance of the original Haute couture and the following 70 years of designs from 1947 to 2017. It was a visual feast of the beautiful and the practical, along side the weird and extreme. Some outfits were weighty – literally, others were delicate and simple. There were evening gowns, attire for all seasons, even wedding dresses.
The detail in this dress can easily be missed. Its simplicity has hidden grace. Look closely at the pattern of beading. The size of the repeating square pattern actually grows with the girth of the dress as it falls. Each row maintains the perfect symmetry of the square pattern. The number of columns does not change around the circumference of the dress. The meticulous attention to the intricate detail of this dress can be appreciated upon closer inspection. So pay attention to the elegant and simple things, as they have caught your eye for a reason. Look closer and see the perfection.
It’s good to be home. Sometimes we don’t see it, but home has so many everyday touchstones that we only miss when we are away.
To sleep in your own bed again is serenity. The pillows are just right, the sheets and doona are a known quantity, even the orientation provides a level of comfort. The sunlight in the house comes from the right quarter. The smells are identifiable. The freedom to relax and flop in your favourite armchair is bliss. Not only have I come back to a world which includes Vegemite and the metric system, but I have come home to accustomed flavours of drinks and dressings and recognisable food.
With fresh eyes, I notice the minute changes in the seasons as Spring takes hold. The bursting blossoms have given way to the feathers of emerging green. The overnight temperatures no longer require a nighttime beanie to keep my head warm (fashion victim!). The sun is up before I leave for work. The changes are subtle and distinct yet familiar, and promote thoughts of warmer days to come. We don’t see the routine things until they are not there. So open your eyes to your surroundings and enjoy the cosiness and sense of belonging they impart.