Saturday, July 30, 2005

sheep etc.

Friday morning dawns early. Well, truth be told, Friday morning dawned the same time it usually does these days, but this time, I was up in time to see it happen.
Lured by an offer from Georgie to go out to the farm, I roll out of bed at 6am and (having been out with Kiwi the night previous) literally crawl into the bathroom. After a shower I feel vaguely human again. Finished with the motions of the morning I turn to the day ahead of me. It's now 6:45; I have to be at Georgie's place in Ballarat by 10:30. Still a bit bleary, I pack a couple things into a backpack and with REM 'DI'd to my brain, (through my 'bloody massive' headphones) head out the door to catch the 7:02 train into the city.
There is a different breed of traveller on the train before quarter to eight. They are quieter, less stressed out and (most importantly) fewer in number. I enjoy the relative spaciousness of the train, lay my bag on the seat beside me (this is completely unheard of anytime after 7:45 when commuters begin to play the sardine game) and doze the trip into the city. I pause to grab a black coffee and croissant to go from a kiosk in Flinders St; my head has realised a new day has begun and I can feel a dull pain growing behind my right eye. A short walk through the cold morning air and I hop a tram to Spencer st. Like a seasoned travelling pro, I walk into the station, grab my ticket, calmly walk to platform 7 and board the train with two minutes to spare.
The coffee flooding through me neutralizes the headache, but keeps me from sleeping. I watch the city slip away and tuck into the lonely planet guide to while away the time.
The train arrives in Ballarat on time (very surprisingly) and I opt to walk to Georgie's place. In three short months, I have fully forgotten how far it is to walk from the station to Stewart St. I arrive at ten after ten, a little out of breath. Everyone is ready within a few minutes and then we (Paul, Julie, Georgie and I) are off!
There has been a fair bit of rain since the last time I was at the farm and everything is greener. It's kind of weird to be somewhere where everything gets green in the winter and dies in the summer. The four of us wander around and play with the dogs. We check out two of the shearing sheds and an aloe vera plant (a little different than I expected). The exploring gets put on hold and we head into the house to have lunch. Sue (Georgie's mum) does hot lunch for the shearers and farm hands so we sit alongside them at the table and felt very country-like. After lunch we go to another shearing shed where Michael (Georgie's dad) gives us a grand tour and demonstration. Not feeling too keen on fresh leg of lamb for dinner, I opt to try grading the wool instead of having a go with the shears. Finished in the shed, we head back to the house and the day gets taken to a whole new level.
Out of ideas for entertaining things to do, our attention focuses on the farm truck. A 2004 4WD Toyota HiLux Ute with the farming package: 'roo bar, extended suspension, roll bar and (most importantly for us) a flatdeck. The hill behind the farmhouse is the outermost hill in the 'hilly country' that the farm sits on. "We could go up and look at the view." Someone suggests.
Georgie climbs in the cab with one of the dogs and Paul, Julie, a dog and I hop on the flatdeck. The weather had been hit and miss for the whole day, but as we take off across the pasture on the truck, the sky clears to brilliant blue sky and sun. As Georgie 'manoeuvres' up the hill, we all hang on for dear life, but gradually gather enough courage to stand on the deck and hang onto the roll bar. With the wind re-styling our hair and the sun warming our faces, we reach the top of the hill. Paul, Julie and I gaze out at the view. With no more hills to block our view, the patchwork of farm fields and gum trees stretches to the horizon.
"Wow!" Paul comments, "This qualifies as spectacular."
I'll admit, it is an amazing view. We snap a few photos and then Georgie revs the engine. Cameras are stuffed in pockets as we scramble to grab hold of the roll bar and then we are off, careening across the pasture... It was one of the best experiences yet.

Back in town, I have coffee with Andy and take his car. I have Chinese food for dinner and pass out on the couch. Around 11 Andy calls me to pick him up. I do and we chill out till after one when Andy goes to bed. I follow shortly after...

Thursday, July 28, 2005


To be honest, I wasn't feeling guilty at all about not posting in a week (and a rather important week at that). But I (foolishly?) went and read four very well written, in-depth blogs from people in three very different professions and now I can feel rumbles of inadequacy that are sure to grow louder if I don't do something about them. I'm out of a Job. Thank goodness for that. The last few days at work proved to be a tad more interesting than I had banked on. With the head chef still on holidays, the winds of change (which have really only amounted to a bit of choppy water in the past) began to blow a bit harder. In the space of three days they progressed from breeze to wind, through line squall, tropical depression, and tropical storm before ending in a full power Cyclone (in Australia hurricanes are called cyclones because it is a different hemisphere or something like that). The Cyclone culminated in a 3 hour meeting between the remaining head chef, his sous and the owner on Thursday night. The meeting didn't finish until well after service had begun leaving a crew of four scrambling to cover 7 stations for the first 90 covers. Once the meeting was done, the sous chef calmly walked back into the kitchen quietly whistling the chorus from "Dreaming of a Revolution". He took his section opposite me, looked at me and simply said "We won."
"Effective when?" I asked.
"About five minutes ago."
And just like that, the restaurant had a new executive chef.
The night seemed to stretch forever.
At 10:15 the useless manager sat a table of six 'VIPs'. They order starters first and opt to order mains later (see the post titled "I Was Wrong" here for more detail on this phenomenon). We send the starters. The mains order arrives: 5 steaks (2 well done, 3 Medium well) and a fish and chips. Great! VIPs with no class...
We begin to pack up the kitchen around preparing their food. By 11:30 we are all out in the bar having a farewell drink for me.
The drinking of farewells progressed into the city where a wild night on the town unfolded. Shaun and I (the last ones standing) shared a cab home; I fell into bed sometime near seven am.
I slept all day Friday. Saturday I ended up abandoned at a crazy house party. Sunday I hopped the train to Ballarat. Andy and I spent two days hanging out. I got to see a bunch of people that I hadn’t seen in a while which was really cool.
Tuesday through Thursday were spent in Melbourne swimming, eating and catching up with people I used to work with.
What a way to fill a week...

Thursday, July 21, 2005


brightly the day dawns
the beginning of an end
this lad is smiling

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


there's 48 hours to go, oh I wanna be sedated...

It was so hard to get up this morning... I don't imagine that tomorrow will be any different. These last days are painful. It's so close I can nearly taste its' sweetness...

Sunday, July 17, 2005


lots to say, but it's late and I have to work early...
so, um, happy 7 months to me?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vive la République

Happy Bastille day y'all

I don't have a whole lot to report.
As of today, I have one week of legal and bonded employment left.
I got two days off this week (what a relief) and used them wisely; doing laundry, sleeping, playing on Simon's X-Box and drinking water.
Yes, I have a rip-roaring lifestyle, I know...

Plans for a trip to Queensland are gathering steam but no dates or itineraries have been finalized. I'm thinking that a traveling companion might be a not bad idea, but I know noone here that could fill that spot. (however, a certain close confidant has suggested randomly asking hippie-ish girls...)

My knives are already sharp (Tuesday night was slow enough to let me sharpen them during service) so I'm chilling out in front of the TV with the volume turned down and 'Vintage' Chemical Brothers playing (I've discovered that australian "dramas" are much improved when viewed using this method). It's seven thirty and I'm already yawning so I think early to bed will be the order of the evening.

oh, but before I go...
I'll leave you with something I saw last night.
I was walking past a car dealership after dinner. It was about 8:30 at night and the dealership was well shut, but the showroom lights were still on. There was a lady standing in the middle of the showroom wearing black spike-heeled boots, black fishnet stockings, a rich red dress and a white fur shawl.
she was mopping the floor...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

the end is near

half way through dinner service, Damo took a call and got to tell the kitchen that there had been bombs in london. We all have friends or family there so it was a bit of a sobering moment. Thoughts and prayers went out to those we care about who are there.
We finished service early and were packed down by 10:30.

Just after we were done, I had a brief discussion with Chef during which I resigned effective two weeks today. It went more pleasently than I expected, perhaps best that I got him while he was really tired. I'll be out of a job in two weeks, and I couldn't be happier.
I just have to survive the two weeks....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The insanity ensues

Wednesday I had a glorious day off. A quick trip to a new gym in the early afternoon to see if I liked it. Picking up drycleaning. Eating fruit. For dinner I met Alison (andy’s sister) in the city and we went to Chinatown. Down a dodgy little alley in Melbourne’s Chinatown there is a dumpling house. It is crowded and noisy. The chairs are spilling stuffing through rips in the upholstery and the carpet is worn. The menu is sticky from a spilled drink and there is a blood (yes, blood!) spatter on the roof of the bathroom. They are the best dumplings I have ever had.
After dinner, we grab a cup of coffee and as we are sitting there, my phone rings. I excuse myself and answer. It’s Nick calling from work. My alarm bells go off instantly, why would he be calling halfway through dinner service??
“look mate, I’m really sorry. I hate being the messenger but, Chef needs you to work tomorrow”
“my day off?”
“yeah, I’m really sorry mate”
“yeah… what time?”
“all day mate” “WHAT?”
“*sigh* ok, see you at nine, tell that asshole to have cash waiting.”
“I’ll let him know, see you then”

I finished coffee with Alison and made my way home do do a load of laundry and ponder what I'm going to be doing over the next couple weeks.

So, I work tomorrow. So much for that day off…

in review

Whew, its been a busy week! Lots has happened since Canada day. Well, lots of work has happened anyway… Starting last Thursday (I don’t think I mentioned this before) I moved from the larder section to the fryer section. I’ve traded my Salad bowls and chilled seafood to be Chef de Croute. I’m now in charge of a bank of three high power deep-fryers. And I mean high power; not the prissy little fryers you would find in a fried food heaven like Mackers or Dairy Queen. These things are nothing less than high power blast furnaces with 20 liter oil pots welded to their tops. Needless to say, several new burns decorate my forearms.
Saturday was a fairly busy day, but was nothing next to Sunday.
Sunday lunch was a 3 hour kick in the crotch. Nick had called in sick so the (already skeleton crewed) kitchen was a man short. Marc (who was partnered with me on fryer) got shunted to cover Nick’s station leaving me naked on the busiest lunch of the week. The orders came off the printer like water through a dam. First just seepage and easily controlled, then a trickle, then the whole dam blew open and the orders poured out unstemed. I didn’t have a chance. Among other things, I moved over 20Kg of snapper in just over an hour. All my prep was gone by the end of lunch service and I had to change all my fryer oil. I prepped all afternoon to make sure I’d survive dinner and then squeezed in a half hour break.
Monday morning, I arrived at work to find a completely new prep list sitting on my bench. Clinton had decided to bring in a new menu and kitchen structure by Wednesday night so I had prep for two menus to do in the time that I normally have for one. Much earlier in the morning, I had gotten a message from Jane saying that her boyfriend had broken up with her and kicked her out so she might be a bit late for work. She showed up only 10 minutes late but was a complete and total wreck. She survived lunch service but had to leave in the afternoon leaving the kitchen shorthanded for the second day in a row. I got shunted to larder to cover Jane’s spot and we survived the night with only minor mishaps.
Tuesday was similar to Monday prep-wise, and had the added bonus of being over-staffed for a change. The night looked to be ending early and we got a last table call at 9:30. We got the food out and then began packdown. 15 minutes later, a two course docket for a table of nine chattered off the printer. Nick had a heated exchange with the manager, we finished off the order and then finished the packdown.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

canada day

The maple leaf was flying proudly over Fed Square in Melbourne today. Hurrah CANADA!

Work was pretty ordinary ('ordinary' is an aussie term meaning 'bloody awful') today; I nearly quit on the spot but my bloody mindedness prevailed so I'm in it for another day at least.

I am very tired these days. Case in point: i've just gotten home and have to be back at work in six and a half hours....