Faster, higher, stronger

The Olympics 2.0 in Japan have been a welcome distraction this weekend with Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide in lockdown. Protests not withstanding, I’d prefer to focus my attention on our fellow Australians competing for our country in the land of the rising sun. I was very proud of our swimmers today after watching the opening ceremony live on Friday night and second half streamed yesterday. While it was a different and more subdued event amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, I thought the fireworks, pictographs, live entertainment and drone light show were pretty amazing and a very fitting athlete in Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic torch.

Vintage Japanese print

Japan had risen to the top of our family bucket list before COVID-19 hit and it remains there now – we hope to visit when we can for all sorts of different reasons – the people, the food, the culture, the history, technology and landscape – I think there is so much to experience as this Traveller article shows. I’ve had family teach English there, while I worked for Japanese department store Daimaru when I was a uni student – way before the likes of Uniqlo, Muji and Daiso arrived in this country. Mr Rosanna and I have just finished watching Anglo-Japanese series Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) on Netflix – it’s been a real thriller. If you’re a lover of Japanese design, Mr Kitly and Provider Store sell some unique pieces, albeit more on the pricey side. Kaoru Rogers also sells her delicate handmade jewellery at egetal in Melbourne. We were lucky to pick up a vintage Japanese print (above) on our recent trip to the Mill Markets in Daylesford.

My Kitchenaid mixer

It’s not been an easy time for us in Melbourne and even harder for our northern friends in NSW who I fear have a long journey ahead of them similar to ours last year. I have friends caught up in the recent outbreaks having to isolate at home not even being able to go for a walk or exercise outside of their home and I’ve been thinking of them this past week. My work team was asked to talk about something that gives us a sense of momentum and moving forward this week but for me, it’s been more immersive experiences where you lose sense of time and place that I’ve focused on – yoga, cooking, walking, running and even washing my car have all allowed me to be still in the moment rather than wishing I was somewhere else.

Fornasetti wall plate

I had family contribute to a Kitchenaid mixer for my recent birthday so I got my bake on last weekend while my girlfriends bought me a Fornasetti wall plate (my favourite design featuring opera singer Lina Cavalieri sipping from a cup) – they are a collectors item and Mr R hung my plate last weekend in our kitchen, which has given us both great pleasure this week cooking at home.

It’s been helpful to re-frame thinking about lockdown and choosing instead to see this as ‘cosy time’. There is in fact a cosy collection exhibition using vintage wool being held by fashion designer Kara Baker next Saturday (above) and it’s Open House Melbourne this weekend which you can visit online. While we can’t go to restaurants or visit the library, I’ve been amused to see the owner of Italian restaurant Mr Bianco in Kew offering The Italian Job home delivery in his mini cooper and YPRL mobile library offering click and collect. I’ve been walking in my local area and it’s been lovely to see a street library book stand in a nearby front yard and another house giving away free lemons to passers-by. There is no shortage of Melburnians thinking of their fellow residents at the moment and it’s important to remember that this is by far the great majority of people as much as it’s not what the media reports.

Mr Bianco home delivery service

I’m gearing myself up mentally for another (hopefully partial) week working from home in lockdown – I’ve managed to progress ANZSOG’s alumni strategy and related operational plans but it’s been a slow process. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself as I think if you can simply put one foot in front of the other at this time – you’re doing a good job! Have a great week and fingers crossed there may be some good news for us all here in Victoria.

YPRL mobile library

A tale of two cities

It’s not London and Paris during the French Revolution but Melbourne and Sydney going through a very different kind of sudden and great change with the COVID-19 Delta variant unleashed in our communities. While I am hopeful Melbourne can get on top of this latest incursion, I fear it may take Sydney a while longer given the number of cases in their community. No one wins either way while borders remain closed and citizens locked down. I can only look forward to the time when Australia is once again open internally and externally.

Melbourne Connect – womin-djerring (come together) open air oculus garden

Prior to lockdown 5.0 I had been busy. I didn’t post last weekend but I was so proud to see Ash Barty win at Wimbledon to cap off NAIDOC week – she is an absolute star. I also watched Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra during that week – the incredibly moving story of the three Page brothers who created Bangarra Dance Theatre (now in its fourth decade). While I have posted about Indigenous Art Centres before, the Design Files have published a great list if you’re interested in supporting local communities and artists. With so much time spent at home this past 18 months, many of us are seeking inspiration in our home environments and a connection to our country and First Nations people.

Melbourne rooftop views from my office

The latest outbreak has indeed struck close to home with the Banyule City Council office and other locations in Greensborough now Tier 1 sites so it will be incredibly important to support our local community once we’re out of lockdown. I’ve been pleased to see Asian grocer In Plenty on Lower Plenty Road and had been interested in attending the Fable exhibition at Sanctum Studio in Greensborough featuring the work of artist Jessica Page (I have one of her original artworks from my time as publicist for The Light Factory Gallery) and photographer Melanie Faith Dove. It’s quite Alice in Wonderland and I hope they extend the show – it’s been inspiring to see such imagination at play.

Image credit: Banyule City Council (supplied)

There is a follow up Rediscover Banyule survey being run by my friends at council if you have time (don’t we all at the moment?) to complete by this Sunday – there are 10 hampers worth $100 to be won so a good incentive and you might just discover somewhere new in the ‘hood to visit. I hope this time passes quickly for you given how fast this lockdown came on – I don’t think any of us have had time to process it, which is probably a good thing – we just find ourselves here in all too familiar territory.

Mr Rosanna setting up at home

As for me I’m not taking the past few weeks since lockdown 4.0 for granted, we were able to go on a regional trip and some how, some way I was able to hold a private dinner party at home last weekend to celebrate my birthday after my actual day was a non-event due to family illness. Yes, that’s right – I had 10 of my closest friends and family over to our house where I had food by Luckman Catering who did an amazing job (although I did feel for the chef Brad who cooked everything outside under our carport in not-so-balmy less than 10 degree weather).

Me with some of my besties – Nik and Mylinh

Mr Rosanna and I spent last Saturday madly rushing around to Dan Murphy’s Alphington to buy drinks (staff provided excellent suggestions/advice), I picked up some beautiful flowers last minute from French Blue in Heidelberg and had ordered a cannoli cake earlier from Pelligra Cakes in Greensborough. Mr R was also on music duty helping me compile ‘Dinner’ and ‘Dance’ Spotify playlists in the 48 hours prior to my event which was well worth the effort in terms of atmosphere and given my girlfriends and I danced until after midnight. It all seems like a dream now and I feel incredibly grateful for having been able to sneak it in, especially given the amount of birthdays, weddings and other celebrations that many people I know had planned for this weekend.

Jules and I still dancing all these years later

I am a glutton for punishment as I had my second vaccination booked last Sunday morning which I couldn’t shift (and didn’t want to despite having a party the night before). I am now in the words of my Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO ‘older and Pfizer’ and while my side effects were minimal with the first jab, I was not so lucky with the second. I went down on Sunday night with a headache, aches and pains and general wipe out spending two days home unwell in bed. I did make it into our new office at Melbourne Connect on Wednesday where I got to marvel at the views from my desk, grab coffee from Wild Timor cafe (who also have an outpost in Heidelberg West) and ramen from Raku ZEN Simple Japanese for lunch before we went into our fifth lockdown.

We may be in lockdown but it’s important to exercise and socialise (virtually) if you can and try to keep your spirits up or immerse yourself in something creative/relaxing. My friend Nik who is a yoga teacher has sent me links to Tara Talks – some online guided reflection by Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. You may enjoy this one on ‘Savoring as a Gateway to Happiness‘. This time will pass (and hopefully quickly) – we are stronger and more resilient for it and I hope in future, we can look back on this extraordinary period and know we were part of history, including writing our own as people. We can’t change the who, the what, the when or the why, but we can definitely control the how and it’s the how that defines who you are as an individual and your character. All of us have been affected in some way by the pandemic – it’s how we deal with it that counts. Keep going my friends, keep going.

Party like it’s 1999

Well actually more like the early 2000s in my case. It’s me and my bestie Jules (pictured below) looking like extras from a 90s girl band having a joint birthday party way back when. My birthday plans this weekend were dashed by a sick child but the pandemic has taught me, if anything, about the need to just let go and go with things. My family went ahead without me and proceeded with yum cha at Crystal Jade in Melbourne’s Chinatown (food envy also below!) given multiple family birthdays in June and July so I’m glad I managed to have dinner with some La Trobe friends at Va Tutto bistro in Ivanhoe on Friday night, which does excellent food and service.

Me and Jules at our joint birthday party

There are a number of talented young chefs in new food spots in the north-east at Hope Street Radio, Florian and Public Wine Shop. Also love that the Pav Queen in Alphington now has a permanent home in an old butcher’s shop if you’re after an Aussie dessert. And speaking of food, it’s consultation time until 13 July regarding the Preston Market Precinct development which is facing the prospect of 2200 apartments being built on site where the car park is currently located.

Dumplings at Crystal Jade

Change can be tricky and I know artists and artisans located in the famous heritage-listed Nicholas Building in the city (my second favourite after the Manchester Unity Building) are worried about their creative space with the building currently up for sale.

It’s NAIDOC week next week which has reminded me of my voluntary work I’ve not progressed with Women of Colour Australia although founder Brenda Gaddi was mentioned in the media a few weeks ago as was ANZSOG’s Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO (my biggest boss) who received a Queen’s Birthday honour.

I was reading with interest about jobs of the future being broken down into ‘hearts, heads or hands’ and working in the NFP space is definitely the former. I think charity roles allow you to pick up valuable skills for use in any environment private or public. The fate of the higher education sector is still a vexed question and I am feeling for my ex-La Trobe colleagues who I feel have been left behind in more ways than one.

Cake Mail cake

On a brighter note, I was thrilled to receive a birthday cake (above) from my friend Martha courtesy of Cake Mail and a book of poetry (below) from my eldest son. That’s a lot of pink!