Thursday, 25 February 2016

New Home for Nic

This blog has moved to

Please come visit - there's a cute caravan and everything.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

That Winning Feeling

Best winning face on the internet

At about 9pm last night, I began to get a feeling. That winning feeling. Kinda how I imagine you would feel about half way through seeing all your lotto numbers come up.

Well, I never buy lotto, so that exact scenario is not likely to happen to me, but being a scrutineer at an election count is a pretty cool way to get close - especially when you are representing the candidate who is winning in a landslide. That candidate was my friend Timothy and he worked damn hard to be that winner last night. His prize is the honour of serving as a local councillor for the next four years. 

I have been support crew from almost the day I met Tim, so I feel qualified to dissect the insides of a good win. Let me tell you, it was freaking painful getting to election night. Politics is a blood-sport, and the egos that compete are gigantuan. At least all the egos housed in middle class, middle-aged, portly white man bodies. The women, the skinny conservationist types still in their hiking gear, the any-colour-other-than-white candidates (of which there were, er...maybe two for the whole city?), they all seemed to have some humility tempering their egoes. 

Which is why I have no story about overcoming the nice people to win, obviously.

Tim was up against 3 other candidates for the same area. One was the incumbent councillor, one was a local businessman and another was a person thought to be on "our" side, but then, inexplicably, decided to run against us instead. Do I need to mention which body his ego is housed in? 

Didn't think so.

Anyway, in the age of Facebook Pages and cheap shirt printing, one can go to town on their campaign. Many did. But Tim, with a budget roughly rounded up to 0, did not print anything except colour postal flyers and the lists of streets he would need to visit in order to door-knock the ENTIRE suburb. 

Tim spent no time agonizing over which font looked best on a t-shirt, oh no. No time was wasted trying to get Facebook likes for a page with a 6 week lifespan at best. Oh no. Tim's weapon of choice was his two really really long legs. He was a one man door-knocking machine.

I came down to Perth from Dowerin to help one weekend. I almost had to jog to keep up. No smokos, no coffee break. We ate lunch at his favourite Chinese food haunt (he gets given the chinese menu without asking for it, if that's any indication of the waiter-customer rapport he's got going) and kept slogging away well in to the afternoon. The day I helped out, I think we covered about 150 houses each.

Door knocking is a rather intimidating activity for the beginner. I mean, I hate being interrupted by Jehovah's Witnesses as much as the next person, so the thought of that hatred being directed at me was very distressing.

Luckily, I did not encounter a single horrible person all day. I even had some great conversations with nice people. Most importantly for Tim, we made an impression on the people we did speak to, and that translated in to votes.

Remember - there were no ads, big or small, in the local paper spruiking Tim as "A great bloke", he didn't even have placards out on the streets with his mug smiling at busloads of voters  (not a bad idea really since I personally love defacing political posters of all persuasions). Just two legs, three weeks, and lots and lots of talking.

So, back to last night. 

Well actually, it's probably important to mention the night before last night because we did go out and get pretty drunk in Freo and dance like crazies. Hence Tim was very relaxed/hung over leading up to the vote count the next night. This was a brilliant move in hindsight, because he didn't feel like getting very excited or anxious due to a slight seediness persisting

I was anxious though, because I hadn't scrutineered before and I hadn't met these other candidates before either. You just don't know who is on who's team at these vote counts. One minute you are innocently making small talk with the person next to you, the next you are on guard because they have revealed they are working for the ENEMY and you are worried they are trying to tap you for information. I was an Intello you know. I'm on to this stuff.

Personally, I was suprised there were no punch-ups in the hallway outside the vote counting room, but I guess democracy is good at putting you in your place - the results are projected on to the wall 2 metres high for everyone to see.

Alright, so let's go back to me getting "the feeling" at about 9pm.

As a scrutineer, it was my job to be a busy body and watch over the shoulders of the counters as they put the votes in the right piles. If I saw anything happen that was wrong, I could raise my concerns with the head of the table and get them to check again. It also meant I got a good idea of who was winning from the get go.

The first vote counted was for Tim, so I took that as a good omen. He was sitting in the roped off area talking to other spectators, so it was hard to catch his eye. I wanted to flash him the thumbs up about every 30 seconds after it started, but he was deliberately avoiding looking at me. 

Within 10 minutes of counting, it was clear that Tim had a lot more votes than any other candidate. He was number 4 on the ballot paper, which usually isn't a good thing, but the counting went something like this:


I then looked over the shoulder of the other counter:


That's a lot of 4's in the first 10 minutes.

About 20 minutes in, the head of the table separated the officials in to two groups: sorters in one group, counters in another. All the votes sorted for Tim were collected together and given to one person to count. All the votes for everyone else were collected and given to the other counter. It was about then that I had a seriously good feeling. Tim still wouldn't look at me and I had to fight the urge to run over and say "You're killing them!" Half the table was counting his votes, the other half was counting everyone else's.

Eventually I did run over and say just that, but I waited until after the projector had updated the running total twice. By that stage he had 48% of the vote and needed only another 50 or so to win. I felt that I could leave the scrutineering to the others and celebrate - if this was the Federal election, we would have declared victory!

After it became apparent that Tim couldn't be beaten, Mr Not-actually-on-our-side was overheard by moi (he was standing behind my chair) telling one of his supporters that he didn't mind losing to Tim, as long as it wasn't the incumbent. He'd also said, before the vote, that Mr Incumbent was his only real competition for the role as the other two candidates hadn't done any campaigning. Please, forgive me, but I couldn't help myself at this point. I piped up in my cheery voice, "Oh, I just came back from the table and I'm pretty sure Mr Incumbent is actually going to place second." The results on the screen showed Mr Not-on-our-team was currently running second to Tim, but I knew how many votes had not yet been updated and was pretty confident in my estimate.

Sure enough, the next update saw him drop to third. 

Told you it was a blood-sport.

Kids, there are three morals to this story:
One: hard work wins over flashy advertising every time.
Two: Talking to people and being nice pays off.
And three: being a little bit hung over is sometimes the best way to deal with stress.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Dowerin Week 6 - So Australian

There's something about small Australian towns; out here, the words strewth, cockie (the bird) and sheila don't feel so out of place. I went to Perth this week, but before I left I took my camera for a walk around Dowerin. 

Please enjoy the overt Australian-ness seeping out of each photo.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Insult me

I wanted to write a really funny rap for you this Friday.

It was going to be about the coffee machine at the roadhouse. I was thinking about rhyming 'a large cappuccino' with thafuckdotheyno. Or possibly "don't know lattes from elbows". 

But not today. 

I can't. 

I have too many feels about racism. 

Funny frothy rap about burnt milk was not sufficient fodder to quell my need for a cathartic, vitriolic explosion of words.

I'm still going to write a rap, because rap music and lyrics have become a largely accepted way for black musicians to vent their frustration. Let's say this is my attempt at standing shoulder to shoulder in support with everyone who has ever been belittled, abused, disregarded or overlooked because a white person didn't like the way they looked, acted, spoke or paid homage to their heritage.

You say you're true blue, you're Aussie through and through
But you think first people should just shut up and let you boo

You make my white skin crawl, with your racist drawl
But my fair skin ain't making me your complicit fool.

Peel off my privileged skin, watch me hand it in
See this happy traitor freed from her disgraceful kin

So insult me now, Abo-loving leftist cow?
Can't go back no place else, I'll stand and fight this, pow!

Your misspelt facebook trolling got me ROFL LOLing
How many Reclaim member likes is your dribble polling?

Why did you not get taught, to speak like you ought?
Did you mother, brother, sister grow up listening to News Corp?

Gonna take that power back, see my country live more black,
Hell I wanna see a spear dance, haka, tango in my christmas sack

So Goodes you just play hard, let us deal with the 'tards
Coz I know I ain't the only whitey handing out red cards

Share and like this rhyme, if you got the time,
If we let the racists win it's a freaking national crime

We used to be so great, now I'm screaming, mate
Stand with us, be the biggest, don't let Australia rhyme with hate.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Week Two - Foody

It's Friday morning, and I kinda feel like I'm cheating writing my blog post now.  I've been so excited to write Week 2 that I am out of bed on a freezing cold morning to start, when my blogging conscience is saying "uh uh, Friday only just started, you have to wait til Friday afternoon!"

Well, I am rebelling.

Plus, I am going to Perth again this afternoon, and blogging while driving is not recommended.

Ok, so now I can share THESE AWESOME PHOTOS with you.

I call these 3 images: Men carrying things to do with football

A beautiful head of hair; iconic almost.
Lots of this

We won - in fact we killed them. Go Tigers!

There is something truly special about country AFL. There's passion, there's pies, there's a whole lot of old men standing around in front of the bar yelling encouragement in the most ocker fashion possible. It's all there, friends.

Now, I must confess I did have a little scheme up my sleeve when I set out for the footy last weekend.  I had it by a reliable source that the club was holding a reunion of sorts that day. I decided this was my opportunity to make myself known in Dowerin. The plan went something like this:

Step 1: Dress in your best op-shop jumper, preferably a nice bright colour that no-one is going to miss (I chose lush lawn green).

Step 2: Just happen to have your whole camera arsenal with you as you stroll to the footy.

Step 3: Buy a sausage roll.

Step 4: Mention to the canteen lady that you noticed they are having a function, and enquire as to who is running the function.

Step 5: Eat sausage roll.

Step 6: Go and prop yourself in a conspicuous location somewhere along the fence line and take photos of the footy with the longest lens you have. Look like you know what you're doing.

Step 7: Find person running event and offer your professional services, since you happen to have all your gear with you.

Step 8: Refuse all payment, except food and drink.

Congratulations, you have successfully become the official photographer of the Dowerin/Wylie reunion celebration of 2015 in under half an hour!

Being the new girl in town, alone at a country football match, is not a fun situation to be in. However, being the ordained club photographer who has a legitimate reason to talk to people makes breaking in to the scene a whole lot easier.

First I met Scotty and his wife Wendy. They duly asked about me and how I happened to be there. I informed them of my reason for moving from Brisbane, where I was staying and why, and carried on.

Next I photographed a rather large man and his wife, again regurgitating my story and moving on to the next shot.

After an hour or so, a funny thing happened. The conversations started sounding more like this:

"Hello hello, you're that new girl who moved from Brisbane andz house sitting the Heard's place, arncha?"

Introduction no longer required.

Small town grapevines get information out better than any mass text message ever could.

I made lots of new introductions that evening, and even made a friend! Sonia is the wife of the club president and we arranged to 'do coffee' sometime later in the week. I headed to her place on Wednesday. Maynard, her gorgeous little 6 month old boy, is a fan of Sia. I was suitably impressed.

Music connoisseur Maynard 

Other highlights this week include:

- my first shift at the roadhouse

- my second and third shift at the roadhouse

- having the pedal on my bike fall off 2 kms from home, and then deciding that riding a one-pedal bike home was still better than pushing. This caused an awkward knee-and-ankle angle to occur that was not sustainable for long. Luckily it was mostly down hill. I thought of the saying "In the world of the blind, the one eyed man is king" as I was making my way home, but somehow I couldn't quite adapt that saying well enough to pedals and bikes...

-  The very nice lady at the resource centre sent me an email with a link to an awesome job she thought I would like. Aww.

- Teegan, the other nice lady at the resource centre, called me to let me know netball training was cancelled. I have no idea how she got my number (grapevine? I don't remember giving it out??) but I was grateful all the same.

And so caps off Week 2 in Dowerin. I do have a few more stories, but I can't give away everything in one go.

Oh, and Elmo says hi. He has been finding it tough to adjust to the cold, poor darling. He likes the fire, blankets and my bed with the electric blanket.

Ok, off to organise myself for Perth.

Happy weekend!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Week One - The Farm

It's just past dusk on a Friday night; rain is smattering the pavers outside the window of the office. Nothing but the dull drone of AFL commentary wafting from the TV and my little cat to keep me company. Life is oddly perfect.

Welcome to the first weekly instalment of my new life in Dowerin, Western Australia.

I arrived last Saturday night, earlier than expected but still very welcome. Jan and Graham are the most gracious of hosts and I was made a part of the family straight away. The farm, as I have taken to calling my home-on-loan, is ridiculously gorgeous. I adore the garden, the farmland scenery, the fireplace and my 91 year old neighbour Trudy.

Dowerin itself is tiny. Yesterday afternoon I ran a circuit around the edge of the town and was all done in 20 minutes. 1km x 1km. Population is 350 people, give or take. An IGA, hairdresser, roadhouse, Mitre 10, school, post office, butcher and bakery make up the guts of the main street.
Of the 1km square that is not residential, the rest is mostly taken up by the field days site and the football oval.

I have already been to Perth twice since Saturday- and already I am so glad to be out of the city for a while. The horizons out here just go forever.

Dawn over the side fence
Looking down the driveway as the sun creeps up

True to form, I have already secured work. I start at the roadhouse as a cook/cleaner/checkout chick on Monday. I was handed three black and orange polo shirts with Dowerin Roadhouse embroidered on the right breast after a 2 minute interview this morning. Not having any black pants to wear, I headed in to neighbouring Goomalling to browse the op shop. A neat pair of size 10 black pants were the first thing I spied. A heavy green knit jumper, stripy Ben Sherman jumper and a lovely coat were soon added to my try-on pile. The pants were a bit of a squeeze, but do-able. Deciding to take all four items, I headed to the counter and awaited a price. $8. Total. I couldn't decide what was the better bargain that day - the clothes or the sensational haircut Peter had given me for $30 an hour beforehand.

Life for me is looking up. Elmo, on the other hand, is only just coming to terms with his new surroundings. After 6 days in the car, he was in no mood to explore anything but the underside of the pillows on my bed.

He stayed like that until about Wednesday.

Eventually he felt up to taking a few selfies.

Right now he is under the desk, in the bed that belonged to Jan's dearly beloved (and sadly departed) chocolate labrador Tammy. He looks like a toddler in his parents' king size bed.

Elmo is by far the more popular of Dowerin's two new residents. Trudy, Jan's mum and my new neighbour, snuck in to the house when I was in Perth and fed him gourmet cat soup. I didn't even know cat soup was a thing. So far Trudy has not brought any gourmet person soup over for me. Elmo is definitely the favourite.

Luckily, Jan and Graham's friends are great cooks and have invited me to drink and eat with them every Thursday. They all descended on the farm Tuesday night to farewell the travellers and meet me - the stand in.

Look at all the fooood!
This is Trudy, my new neighbour. She is 91 and ridiculously fun. 

Tomorrow, I go to the local football. AFL of course. No other type of football exists out here. I may just wear my brand new op shop coat.

Until next Friday my friends,


Monday, 29 June 2015

Far from the madding crowd

And so my move to Western Australia is complete.

Please enjoy the vistas from my week of traversing the continent.