Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fedeterranea Not Forgotten

I haven't forgotten Fedeterranea... I snapped these two yesterday. The concrete walls that line the lane in the top photo warm up during Summer, and when I walk Sailor in the evenings they're still radiating heat. There is a beautiful Summer of photography coming up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All booked out

I sent the book off last night. Phew. Gee it's hard to find a picture of champagne that isn't absurdly phallic. Not that I'm anti-phallus, totally, but really... anyway I diverge. The book is done! It is now in Oxford sitting on my editor's desk, and she's already emailed me about some tiny changes... why don't you have a glass of something and think of me.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Everyone knows Con

This is Con. He loves trains. I mean he really loves them. I've seen him rocking back on his heels and clapping with excitement when one arrives. Lots of people in Marrickville know him and you've probably seen him if you ever catch the train from Marrickville station. He's a very polite and helpful person and will always tell you when the next train to Bankstown or the city is coming (he's not always right). His voice is very deep and raspy. Next time you pass him, why don't you stop to say hi?

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Christmas Cupboard

This is the secret Christmas Cupboard!
Family members read no further!
I mean it, have a bit of restraint.
I trust you.

Christmas is coming in case you hadn't noticed. Last year we were so poor (I didn't have a proper job and my scholarship $ had run out) that all we gave people were cheap frames with photos of Ruby in them (beautifully wrapped). They were appreciated, I know, and Ruby is totally gorgeous, but nevertheless I'm really looking forward this year to being able to spend more than $6.00 per person. We have a lot of people to buy for... when Richard married me he got in-laws galore. My parents, siblings & their partners, my 3 remaining grandparents, and Ruby's father's family too... (in an unheard of development that side has decided on a Kris Kringle this year). Our family has grown recently too, with Hugh now with us and Richard's son Griffin born in March (Griff and his mothers are visiting us from London in January - we can't wait to squeeze him!).

I decided to get all my presents in Marrickville, then realised I'd be a little restricted so extended it to the Marrickville LGA to include Enmore & Newtown. We can't buy anything really big, as most of it has to be taken down to Melbourne in plane luggage.


I've got a bunch of things on lay-by at M.A.D. This shop sells work made by artists using materials from Reverse Garbage, and lots of it is really beautiful. Dad's getting an Alex Noble lamp (to go with his Danish Modern furniture), Mum's getting a milky-purple Jane Alexander necklace, Dorian & Laura are getting the thing I really want myself - not pictured on the website - a deep red, round carpet made of really soft fabric with a nap about 4 inches thick. Helen is getting a Chandice satchel with a big H on it (what a find!), Julia is getting a necklace by Jason Bell (not pictured on the website - a small bright yellow & silver oblong pendant).

We've got little Griff a blow-up thing to float about the sea baths in, shaped like a hippo (what does a baby know?). For Hugh I'm thinking the new Scarface computer game, or a Fight Club poster & DVD, or a new skateboard. Ruby, I really don't know... I'll have to wander along King St & see what pops out. Grandpa - socks of course! The two Nannas I don't know about yet either... But I reckon I'll get my brother Gareth a copy of The Present History.

I almost forgot Richard... me & the kids are going to get him a crumpler backpack.

I might order everyone a dear little badge from prickie, or even use the badges to decorate presents in lieu of ribbon... one of the best things about Christmas is the wrapping. One year I wrapped everything in black tissue, then put a handful of glitter & foil stars on top, then wrapped it again in clear cellophane. They were like snowdome presents. This year I'm thinking of getting metres & metres of ribbon from one of the Bollywood shops at the Paris end of King St... ho ho ho

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The beast book; or "all poshed up and no way to phone"

The beast is getting tamer... it is down to about 94,ooo words. I've deleted all the big chunks I think I reasonably can without having to adjust the arguments. I've chucked most of the bits that say what I'm going to say next. A whole lot of footnotes have gone to God. Now I'm just scrolling through it at random making sentences shorter. Limit of one adjective per sentence.

Anyway onto more pleasurable things: yesterday was our 2nd wedding anniversary so Richard and I treated ourselves to dinner at Forty One. It was partly chosen because they have a lot of vegetarian options. I had the "potager" which is a vegetarian degustation meal of seven small courses. Everything was beautiful but there were two highlights. One was the truffled organic creamed eggs, which combined the high comfort of scrambled eggs and that deep truffle flavour that always makes me think of moss. The other was the tiny beetroot jelly, which had a perfect thumbprint on its glossy purple surface (I think that was unintentional, and I wouldn't even have seen it if the light had been slightly different). It was glorious being so high above Sydney... we had a window table & watched the harbour getting slowly darker and all the city lights coming on.

Although I really enjoy them I always feel a little out of place in posh restaurants, coming from Marrickville in my 1985 Honda. I look around at the other people there and wonder if it's a special occasion for them too or just a normal night out. Do they live in mansions? Do they drive Porsches? Do they holiday in the South of France and shop on Rodeo Drive? I identify more with the waiting staff (I was a waitress for years) than the other clients and probably say "thank you" too much. I head off to the toilets to check out the flower arrangements and the little rolled towels for drying your hands. I savour every sip of champagne. Last night I would even have called the kids from the mobile to tell them all about it, except that I had no credit in my pre-paid account as all the cash was going on the dinner!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The humble dinner

I've just read a great post by Laura over at Sarsparilla about, in part, dinner parties of the 1960s. They don't sound that different to the dinner parties we hold now - consisting of similar levels of stress about preparing something fancy, scrubbing the bathroom, looking nice, worrying about who will talk to whom, buying the right alcoholic beverage, etc etc... in short, usually resulting in a host or hostess too tired to enjoy their own party.

Last night we sort of did the opposite - my wonderful parents were visiting from Melbourne so we knew they'd be here for dinner. Richard just felt like cooking (actually, he always feels like cooking) so he spent the day preparing an Indian feast of sambal, rasadar aloo, chana masala & paratha... we also had rice & lots of condiments. Then Hugh asked if his friend Tristan could come for dinner... then Ruby announced her friend Jo would be here, then she added in Chris and Brendan and Deon. So there were ten of us! Amazingly, there was plenty of food for everyone, and then leftovers too (which we're having right now). And because of the way it unfolded there was absolutely no stress involved.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pet Blog

"A blog is like a pet rock. You promise to always cherish and nurture it, and then you do not." This is a quote from David over at Lorraine Crescent. Anyway I've been thinking a bit (usually at about 4am when I can't sleep) about changing the focus of Marrickvillia slightly... so I can cherish and nurture it a bit more. The girly swot in me doesn't like not doing things properly and sometimes I just don't have time to do what I want on Marrickvillia by way of photos of places in Marrickville and interviews with people.

So I figure, it's my blog, and I live in Marrickville, so why not write about myself? I know there's nothing radical about that, actually it's what everyone does on their blogs! I am my own biggest resource, and I don't have to go out and interview myself to write something, so you can expect more about me from now on - including the two teenagers (daughter and nephew), all the pets, having had cancer, my gorgeous husband of nearly 2 years, my writing & research interests, my work at UTS, my clothes, what I'm having for dinner, my 10 month old godson (who is my husband's biological son and the child of our dear dear friends in London), my headaches, my garden, etc etc...

What's on my mind at the moment - I'm cross that Hugh's skateboard has been stolen. He left it on the front verandah. I forget that he's a country kid and we need to actually tell him stuff like "don't leave things on the verandah". Anyway it's gone now, along with the 2 phones, the ipod and numerous small amounts of cash that he's had stolen this year, mostly from out of his bag at school. Maddening!! The other thing on my mind - I did a word count for my book yesterday (it's a cultural analysis of cosmetic surgery) and realised I need to cut 13,000 words out of it. It's currently 103,000 and has to be 90,000 before I send it to the publisher next week. How to do this I'm not quite sure. Remove all adjectives? Delete entire sections? We will see, and back to it I now trundle...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update - Various

Ok, I know I've been neglecting Marrickvillia a little lately. But I have a good excuse - the manuscript for my book about cosmetic surgery is due in on December 1 (actually I'm aiming for the end of next week) . So, a few updates, without photos I'm afraid.

Hugh recovered well physically from the attack but did suffer some anxiety about seeing the kids wot done it on the street. I can't write the details here but let's just say that one of them was picked up by the police and after a lengthy process "has been brought to Justice". There was also a completely unexpected and spontaneous apology - I think that was what finally put Hugh's mind at rest. We took him to a martial arts class & he did seem to be into it, but then wasn't keen to go back. I don't think the vocalising and bowing were really him. We thought a skateboard would give him a bit of speed and confidence in the streets of Marrickville so my brother sent him skateboard wheels (and something called a truck?) and we took him to Fox Studios to get the board (it's called a deck)... It was interesting for me to witness the very blokey business of choosing the design (some of them are amazing works of art).

Vegie patch - lettuces have gone to seed, cabbages got attacked by snails (the insides are still ok) and we have tomatoes galore. We put in a "Black Russian" which will be beautiful I think. Corm and sunflowers should be tall soon.

Beer!! The second batch was a huge success and we're planning the 3rd.

Chooks!! We're on a waiting list for 2 chooks and a portable chook house. This is necessary for protein as Ruby and I no longer eat meat or bought eggs (I wrote about it at Sarsaparilla).

Fish!! The sad and lonely goldfish has a friend at last. They swim about next to each other.

Ratties!! Getting tamer by the day. They come out of their penthouse & sit in my hands. Their long delicate whiskers twiddle around all the time. They have lovely round dark eyes.

Sailor!! Snoring.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Shop of the Week - Danas

Danas opened in 1962 and for forty years was run as a specialty Greek delicatessen by Agatha and Dimitrious Danas. They raised their four children here, living in the apartment above the shop. When I first moved to Marrickville in 2000 this was my local for fetta, olives, taramasalata and dolmades. My only problem with the area was that there was nowhere really close by for coffee - I had to walk up to the Post Cafe on Marrickville Rd, which despite its many awards I find a bit impersonal. So I was really pleased when I heard in 2003 that Agatha and Dimitrious' two daughters, Tina and Olga, were planning to renovate the shop and turn it into a cafe. However, I was a bit sad about losing the deli.

I've ended up with both cafe and deli. With some clever interior design the deli remains intact in the back half of the shop while the front has become a charming cafe space. The girls didn't go for anything trendy or slick in the redesign - instead there's lots of Fedeterranean blue - including the crockery - and Greek flags and posters.

Dimitrious still looks after all the fettas, olives, oils and other Greek specialty lines. He also distills his own vinegar and red wine from fruit he grows on vines in the backyard. "I get a lot of pleasure from making the vinegar" he tells me, "looking after it, watching it ferment. It's a natural medicine - it reduces cholesterol and clears the veins." I left there yesterday morning bearing gifts from him - a bottle of his homemade red wine and one of the vinegar, which is the most amazing ruby colour.

Agatha still cooks pasticcia, spanakopita, soups and pastas to sell in the cafe and the two daughters run front-of-house. They serve great coffee, beautiful fruit salad, a fantastic dips platter, Greek salads, etc. The deli section has five different fettas - Australian, Bulgarian, skim milk and two Greek ones, Peperati and Dodomi. I'm not sure which of these are made from sheep's, goat's or cow's milks but I know they sell all three. Dimitrious cuts them with a piece of fishing line. There are nine types of olives: the tiny ones from Samos, three different sizes of Kalamata, green cracked ones, the round fleshy ones from Volou and those salty dried ones from Thassos. The jar of olives is unheard of at Danas - they're kept in big metal tubs of brine, strained and scooped out to order.

Danas Grocer and Cafe
416 Illawarra Rd Marrickville
9591 1589

Friday, November 10, 2006


My daughter used to announce "I'm going to do womit!"

I've written a little piece on vomit & its cultural significance over at Sarsaparilla - have a look & add your comment. Although I've previously blogged chewy in Marrickville you may rest assured I have no intention of doing the same for the pavement pizzas occasionally spotted along Illawarra Rd on a Sunday morning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bless the Beasts & the Children

I heard on ABC news radio yesterday that a 14 year old girl had successfully fought off an abductor in Dulwich Hill in the morning. In Herbert St he had grabbed her around the waist and tried to drag her into his white utility vehicle. She escaped and ran to a nearby school. It turns out she is in Hugh's class...

Teach your kids, especially the girls, to fight dirty with whatever they've got - teeth, nails, fists, feet - and to go hard for his balls & eyes. Teach them to scream "Fire!!" and then scream and keep screaming. Teach them to be on the lookout. What else is there to do?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Farewell Dero Dog

The RSPCA rang this morning to tell me that Dero Dog has been assessed "not suitable for adoption" as he's shown signs of aggression. He will be put down today. I feel sad about that and will think of him all day. But I'm happy that he's been given antibiotics, pain medication and a warm place to sleep for the past few weeks. Perhaps he wouldn't agree? Maybe he'd rather be free and alive. When I put it that way there's really no question, is there?

The RSPCA is really wonderful. The people there did their best to find his owners - via a breeder's tattoo inside one of his ears - but with no luck. They spent a lot of money on medication and housing for an ancient dog that they knew would probably end up being euthanised. And they kept in touch with me and were very understanding about my feelings that they told me have a name - "rescuer's bond".

Good Dog.