Clouds - On a Cloudy Day / 2012-01-11T00:00:00Z 2012: My 'health and fitness' resolutions /clouds/post/2012-my-health-and-fitness-resolutions/ 2012-01-11T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>I’m not sure if it’s the first time I heard of new year’s resolutions, but I’m pretty sure it was the first time I made one. It was a hot evening; in country Victoria they almost always are. There was a pool and a trampoline and it was one of those parties where there were heaps of kids my brother and I had never met before. It didn’t matter because at that age things were pretty simple: new kids equalled new friends, if only for a few hours. Boys in one free-range mob, girls in another.</p> <p>As midnight approached some of these new girls and I snuck into the kitchen to help ourselves to second and third bowls of pavlova. Our hands were adorned with Cheezel rings. We ‘pigged out’ because tomorrow we were all ‘going on a diet’.</p> <p>I was maybe ten or eleven. Of course we didn’t ‘go on a diet’, we didn’t know how. But we already knew somehow that it was what we should be doing.</p> <p>As an adult my new year’s resolutions have had a depressing constancy. Under the influence of every ‘New Year, New You!’ magazine article I could get my hands on, they’ve gone something like:</p> <ol> <li>Lose 10 kilos.</li> <li>Join a gym and hope the financial outlay will guilt me into attending. Ignore the fact that I hate the gym.</li> <li>Don’t eat carbs/fat/anything at all after 4pm/6pm/8pm/whatever arbitrary time I’ve recently come across on a weight loss, sorry, ‘lifestyle’ blog.</li> <li>Lose 10 kilos.</li> <li>Feel bad if not losing at least one kilogram a week because sheesh, I don’t want to be on a diet forever.</li> <li><p>Lose 10 kilos.</p> <p>This is all kinda personal but I need to say out loud that living like that is bullshit. Feeling like you are valued according to the size and shape of your body is bullshit. Magazines and gyms and weight loss companies getting rich by feeding us insecurities is bullshit. It takes a lot of work to undo a lifetime of programming on this stuff but it’s worth sticking at. This year my resolutions are different:</p> <ol> <li>For the first time in living memory, I won’t buy Who Magazine’s ‘Half Their Size!’ special and spend days rereading it (in secret of course) comparing my body to those pictured inside.</li> <li>I will continue to practice yoga because it makes me feel strong and calm.</li> <li>I will delete interminably boring ‘lifestyle’ blogs—in which women (always women) log their eating, drinking and exercise several times a day, in scrupulous detail—from my reader.</li> <li>I will ride my bike because it is ridiculously fun and gives me a sense of freedom.</li> <li>For now, this is enough.</li> </ol> </li> </ol> Get out of town: Katoomba /clouds/post/get-out-of-town-katoomba/ 2010-07-26T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>We took the train from Central (Sydney). A two hour ride and kind of a world away, it was a trip down memory lane for Joseph and I was glad to share it.</p> <p>I gather Katoomba has always been a holiday town, so as well as some utterly gorgeous art deco buildings there are a number of big rambly old resort places with grand gardens and names like The Carrington. I could just imagine croquet in the afternoon, drinks on the patio at five and dancing into the night. The nearest comparisons I can think of are Kellerman&rsquo;s in Dirty Dancing (oh stop, you love it too) or the chalet at Mount Buffalo (sadly closed at the moment) only there&rsquo;s not one, there&rsquo;s a town full. My favourite was the seen-better-days Clarendon in its neon glory:</p> <p><a href="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/3363e21c/IMG_1384_post.JPG" title="IMG_1384" rel="lightbox"> <img alt="IMG_1384" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/3363e21c/IMG_1384_post.JPG" title="IMG_1384" /> </a></p> <p>Fortified by a $15 bottle of red between us an an excellent pumpkin and lentil pie, we wandered away from the main drag, past the wonderfully-named Cat Defence op shop, and with all due respect to the Three Sisters (we didn&rsquo;t make it out there) found some real treasures off the beaten track:</p> <p><a href="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/d04c1c2a/IMG_1382_post.JPG" title="IMG_1382" rel="lightbox"> <img alt="IMG_1382" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/d04c1c2a/IMG_1382_post.JPG" title="IMG_1382" /> </a></p> <p><a href="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/538e32ca/IMG_1381_post.JPG" title="IMG_1381" rel="lightbox"> <img alt="IMG_1381" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/538e32ca/IMG_1381_post.JPG" title="IMG_1381" /> </a></p> <p><a href="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/21df132b/IMG_1385_post.JPG" title="IMG_1385" rel="lightbox"> <img alt="IMG_1385" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/21df132b/IMG_1385_post.JPG" title="IMG_1385" /> </a></p> <p>Sure, it was cold and it drizzled all day, but somehow up there in the mountains winter made sense.</p> Winter idyll, 1984ish /clouds/post/winter-idyll-1984ish/ 2010-07-23T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>My brother and I look to be having a lovely time here, don&rsquo;t we? This is one of my favourite photos ever.</p> <p><img alt="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_5-57-01_PM" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/a26a9511/Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_5-57-01_PM_post.jpg" title="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_5-57-01_PM" /></p> Signs of life /clouds/post/signs-of-life/ 2010-07-15T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>A garden is a great pleasure, and I actually think winter is a lovely time for gardening. Sure, there are no glossy tomatoes or eager basil plants offering up daily harvest, but it&rsquo;s nice to spend time preparing, tending and waiting. Plus, there&rsquo;s plenty of rain.</p> <p>In late autumn I spent an afternoon planting bulbs. The clever little things must have noticed the days slowly lengthening, because yesterday I was wandering around the garden and found myself buoyed by these signs of life:</p> <p><img alt="IMG_0988" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/0739384a/IMG_0988_post.JPG" title="IMG_0988" /> Hyacinths! Absolutely my favourite bulbs; their fragrance is divine and I love the way they just burst from the earth (or potting mix, as the case may be).</p> <p><img alt="IMG_0994" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/7f47a78d/IMG_0994_post.JPG" title="IMG_0994" /> Here come a couple of cheeky daffodils.</p> <p><img alt="IMG_0995" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/1ce51c67/IMG_0995_post.JPG" title="IMG_0995" /> Not bulbs, but aren&rsquo;t these pretty blooms on the primulas and snapdragons?</p> <p><img alt="IMG_0996" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/d2ee8399/IMG_0996_post.JPG" title="IMG_0996" /> This pot of ranunculus (my second-favourite bulbs, if those spidery pod things count!) and sweet peas is going to be gorgeous.</p> <p><img alt="IMG_0997" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/af4fd991/IMG_0997_post.JPG" title="IMG_0997" /> Um. Things aren&rsquo;t going so well for my winter vegetables. Turns out the chickens like broccoli and cauliflower rather a lot. Oh well.</p> Gumboots. /clouds/post/gumboots/ 2010-06-29T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>Since the arrival of the chickens, and their droppings, I&rsquo;ve been thinking rather a lot about gumboots. Galoshes. Wellingtons. In fact, I have become positively fixated on the Hunter boots currently in a shop window nearby my office. Oh, they&rsquo;re <a href="">lovely</a>.</p> <p>I haven&rsquo;t owned a pair in years, and perhaps this is one of the reasons I&rsquo;ve turned against winter so. I have only happy memories of these practical, unfashionable boots and the winter days that required their service.</p> <p>In primary school we were allowed to wear our gumboots to and from school, changing into slippers for the classroom. It was BRILLIANT (and certainly made for a quick transition to important after school activities).</p> <p><img alt="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-43-58_PM" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/9cd64bfa/Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-43-58_PM_post.jpg" title="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-43-58_PM" /></p> <p>Gumboots also got me through weekends of camping, rockpooling, mushrooming and even tobogganing with toasty dry toes.</p> <p><img alt="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-45-19_PM" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/5071f6bc/Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-45-19_PM_post.jpg" title="Donica_Scanned_23-07-2005_2-42-07_PM_23-07-2005_3-45-19_PM" /></p> <p>Happily, I never was surprised by spiders scurrying out of one of my boots at the beginning of winter, though friends' horror stories kept me on my guard.</p> <p>I NEED the Hunters. Right?</p> Souper! Cauliflower Cheese. /clouds/post/souper-cauliflower-cheese/ 2010-06-26T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>The cauliflower is truly a winter champion! There are so many nice things you can do with it, but my discovery this winter has been cauliflower soup.</p> <p>The one I&rsquo;ve been making is ridiculously easy, basically a gussied up version of Stephanie&rsquo;s (which she in turn attributes to her friend &lsquo;Muff&rsquo;). Today I sauteed a leek in olive oil, then once that was looking soft I threw in a whole, roughly chopped, cauliflower and four cups of (vegetarian) chicken stock. I cooked it until the cauliflower was soft, maybe half an hour. Then, Stephanie&rsquo;s secret ingredient: a small teaspoon of Vegemite (no really you should try it!) I blended it with the stick mixer and, finally, stirred through a splash of milk and a loose handful of grated tasty cheese.</p> <p>Served with some fresh pepper, a sprinkle of parsley and some crumbled blue cheese on top:</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1309" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/274a38fa/IMG_1309_post.JPG" title="IMG_1309" /></p> <p>Because we woke late, and so breakfasted late, we ate this weekend lunch late enough for me to have a big glass of wine alongside. Joseph had a <a href="">porter</a>. Yum.</p> #spill. /clouds/post/spill/ 2010-06-25T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p><strong>Or: Why It Matters To Me That Julia Gillard Is A Woman</strong>.</p> <p>There was a moment during my bus ride yesterday morning when it hit me—it <i>really</i> hit me—that before the day was out, we would have a woman as our Prime Minister. I fought back unexpected tears. Fought back, too, the compulsion to grab the nearest person and ask, <i>Can you believe it</i>?</p> <p>So I sort of pulled up in surprise when I stopped to grab a coffee and the conversation at the counter went something along the lines of, <i>what does it matter that she&rsquo;s a woman</i>? Similar sentiments were later bouncing around online. Of course, in an ideal world it wouldn&rsquo;t matter that Julia Gillard has a vagina. But this is far from an ideal world and it matters to me a whole lot.</p> <p>It matters to me because the majority of women I see in public life, popular culture and the mainstream media are there for decoration, even in 2010.</p> <p>It matters to me because I look around my industry and while I&rsquo;m surrounded by women the fact remains that most of the companies are run by men.</p> <p>It matters to me because I&rsquo;m unmarried, childless and sometimes I don&rsquo;t have any fruit in the house, and people need reminding sometimes that women can and do have more to offer society than a ring finger and a uterus.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll always remember how I feel today and for better or for worse, that is extremely proud and hopeful. Go get &lsquo;em Julia.</p> <p>P.S. Think I&rsquo;m exaggerating about women in the media? Take a look at this screencap from yesterday&rsquo;s Age. Top right-hand corner. THAT is what we&rsquo;re up against. THAT is why we need to celebrate what Julia Gillard has achieved. Honestly.</p> <p><a href="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/4a83c4eb/women.tiff" title="women" rel="lightbox"> <img alt="women" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/4a83c4eb/women_post.tiff" title="women" /> </a></p> Julia. /clouds/post/julia/ 2010-06-24T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>Mum suggested a couple of weeks ago that we name one of the chickens Julia. Dominant rooster had better watch out, she said. Prescient!</p> Cobweb and Mustardseed. /clouds/post/cobweb-and-mustardseed/ 2010-06-12T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>It was a drizzly, grizzly day. Especially so at Woodend, where we&rsquo;d travelled to collect our much-anticipated Belgian d'Uccles pair. Terry met us at her farm gate, shaggy dogs trailing her. She was no-nonsense, Terry. At one point, leading us into the yard, she turned around to assess my footwear and noting my altogether impractical white sandshoes simply said, &lsquo;well, you&rsquo;d better just keep to the path&rsquo;.</p> <p>And there they were. Deloused (ew), wormed (eeew) and waiting for us! Before our eyes Terry took the birds outside one at a time and unceremoniously clipped their wings with a pair of scissors. Then, to their waiting chariot:</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1274" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/329ce4f9/IMG_1274_post.JPG" title="IMG_1274" /></p> <p>Welcome, Cobweb and Mustardseed! Our wintry backyard just got a whole lot sunnier!</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1277" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/f4c22662/IMG_1277_post.JPG" title="IMG_1277" /></p> Naming rights. /clouds/post/naming-rights/ 2010-06-08T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>Any day now, we will be welcoming two chickens—hopefully Belgian D'Uccles—to our wee suburban terrace backyard. Joseph built a coop with his bare hands! Apparently hens of this breed are very companionable and will often try to sneak inside the house and sit on your lap. SOLD.</p> <p>Without any actual chickens to play with yet I&rsquo;ve amused myself by thinking about what I, oops, <i>we</i>, might name them. Unfortunately Joseph doesn&rsquo;t agree with my general philosophy that pet names should be hilarious. Here are some of the excellent suggestions that have been vetoed so far:</p> <p>Charles and Diana <br/> Kylie and Jason <br/> Corey Haim and Corey Feldman <br/> Ellen and Portia</p> <p>OK, looking at that list I perhaps haven&rsquo;t hit the jackpot yet, but it is diverting to imagine arriving home and calling, <i>Corey Haim! Corey Feldman! Dinner!</i></p> Getting my Goat on. /clouds/post/getting-my-goat-on/ 2010-05-26T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>You don&rsquo;t necessarily think of beer as a winter drink, but a trip to Mountain Goat&rsquo;s rather lovely brewery in Richmond might change your mind. It&rsquo;s only open on Wednesdays and Fridays, and for mine Wednesday is the night to go (it&rsquo;s much quieter). It&rsquo;s in a gorgeous old building tucked down a residential street near the Yarra. The beer hall takes up maybe a third of the space, the rest is the brewery itself (I think they do tours if you get there early enough). Although cavernous, the place feels cosy; there are heaters and couches and just a general sense of care that makes it a nice place to be.</p> <p>On this particular visit we were hoping to sample an advertised double IPA, but for whatever reason it wasn&rsquo;t available. We consoled ourselves with pints of the regular IPA (RIP the six packs, those were the days) and a couple of pizzas from their short but pretty good menu. Here&rsquo;s mine, with haloumi, lemon, olives and rosemary:</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1226" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/e41ed60e/IMG_1226_post.JPG" title="IMG_1226" /></p> <p>It&rsquo;s so easy to become a hermit in winter, heading in to the office with the sun barely up, scuttling home in the dark and holing up in front of the heater; I was really cheered by this mid-week outing. And anyway, if you <a href="">go</a> on a Wednesday you can expect to be home tucked up in bed at a decent hour. As the place wasn&rsquo;t that busy we found ourselves being packed up just after nine.</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1229" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/8cf048b3/IMG_1229_post.JPG" title="IMG_1229" /></p> Souper! Green Minestrone. /clouds/post/souper-green-minestrone/ 2010-05-24T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>So I hate winter. You know that already. When pressed to admit it isn&rsquo;t all bad—<i>Come on, there must be something you like about winter</i>—my stock response is a list of exactly two things. The first is football, more on that later. The second is soup.</p> <p>Thick stew-like soups with doughy dumplings plonked in towards the end; steaming stocky, noodly Vietnamese or Japanese soups; steadfast favourites like roast pumpkin or potato and leek; the possibilities and pleasures are endless. When I got in tonight, damp from top to sodden toes and chilled through, soup was clearly in order.</p> <p>Inspired by some basil we had hanging around, I fashioned up what I&rsquo;m calling green minestrone. Now, I don&rsquo;t know exactly what the rules are for calling something a minestrone, but this contains vegetables, pasta and beans so in my mind it qualifies. Basically I wanted to make a soup that would welcome a whole lot of fresh herbs chucked in at the end.</p> <p>Into the pot, in order, went: leek, garlic and celery, potatoes; about six cups of vegetarian &lsquo;chicken-style&rsquo; stock (don&rsquo;t tell Michael Pollan), zucchini, the chopped stalks from a bunch of broccolini, a bay leaf; a handful of macaroni; some vermicelli, cannelini beans and the broccolini florets; shredded baby spinach and rainbow chard. Finally, a squeeze of lemon and heaps of freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley and basil. Here&rsquo;s a terrible photo of what was a rather good soup:</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1222" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/89172fd8/IMG_1222_post.JPG" title="IMG_1222" /></p> The heat is on. /clouds/post/the-heat-is-on/ 2010-05-16T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>Today we turned on the heater for the first time this year. Boo.</p> I went to the Dachshund U.N. /clouds/post/i-went-to-the-dachshund-u-n/ 2010-05-15T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p>There&rsquo;s just something about dachshunds. Perhaps it&rsquo;s that the very name dachshund translates as &lsquo;badger hound&rsquo;. Badger hound! Certainly it&rsquo;s their low-slung bellies and industrious little legs. More than that though, it&rsquo;s the sense that—with their elegant posture and proud chests—they have no idea how small or how funny they are. I gathered my motley crew together to tell them I was off to the Dachshund U.N. They were pumped!</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1199" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/4d9095b6/IMG_1199_post.JPG" title="IMG_1199" /></p> <p>The Dachshund U.N. is exactly what it sounds like, only more awesome. As part of the Next Wave festival, Bennett Miller has installed a scale replica of a former U.N. office in between the Melbourne Museum and the Exhibition Building. It&rsquo;s quite something.</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1200" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/75b44b4a/IMG_1200_post.JPG" title="IMG_1200" /></p> <p>On Saturday afternoons between 2–3pm this &lsquo;office&rsquo; is occupied by a series of dachshund representatives. The result is out-of-this-world wonderful. When the first representative took up its position (Nigeria, a distinguished miniature who remained composed for the full forty minutes we spent pressed against the fence) delighted laughter spread through the crowd. When Cameroon appeared, as heroic as any teenage-sailing-around-the-world-girl I&rsquo;ve ever seen with its two wheels instead of back legs, there was a collective <i>Nyaaawwwww</i>. Strangers exchanged observations: <i>Oh Madagascar is totally bored</i>; <i>Looks like Chile and Finland are in talks</i>; <i>Burkina Faso just won&rsquo;t shut up</i>! When the Secretary-General decided he&rsquo;d had enough and bolted across the front of the installation I struggled to keep what little composure I had.</p> <p><img alt="IMG_1210" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/3cd1921d/IMG_1210_post.JPG" title="IMG_1210" /></p> <p>By the time we retired to Southpaw (SouthPAW!) for refreshments (hush PUPPIES!) my cheeks ached from smiling. Sunshine on a cloudy day doesn&rsquo;t come close to describing these guys. <a href="">Go</a>!</p> So, winter. We meet again. /clouds/post/so-winter-we-meet-again/ 2010-05-14T00:00:00Z Donica Bettanin <p><img alt="winter" src="http://ONACLOUDYDAY.ORG:80/static/files/assets/11780b14/winter_post.jpg" title="winter" /></p>