Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And... we own a house

Yes, we own a house.  Picked up the keys at 4.30pm.  Bought celebratory wine and treats, dumped them at the rental home then my son and I shot straight to the new house. By 5.15pm when my partner arrived we had already pulled down the net curtains (design crime), emptied the letterbox of 6 months of mouldy junk mail and lifted 50 square metres of vinyl.  Tasty. Back tomorrow to remove the vertical blinds (some people are racist, some are sexist.  I hope I'm neither, but I'll admit to being an unrepentant blindist.) and some gorgeous jarrah shelves that are currently affixed to a brick half-wall that is soon going to heaven.

Pictured above is a before shot of the hallway flooring.  Oh and that is also an after shot.  That is one of the few things that won't be changing.  Interwebland may be awash with fools on renovation forums swapping tips on how to lift that particular type of flooring but I'll have none of it.  I know what I like and I know what I loathe and that flooring is firmly affixed to my like list.

Let the fun begin.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Decisions, decisions

Desperately trying not to count my chickens before they are hatched, but we are seconds away from taking possession of our own pile of WA sand and our own double-brick 'n' tile, alu window, 3x1 with auto retic, side access, evap aircon, solar HW, powered shed and alfresco.  Like how I've mastered the local lingo?

Basically that means we have bought a cheap, tired little puppy of a house in the city that a few years back was deemed to have some of the least affordable housing in the world.  Our new house is certainly no mid-century modernist dream-home; soon after starting the househunt here I realised that that simply wasn't going to happen in Mandurah.  So we have formulated a new plan: we have bought a house that is well located (walking distance to school, beaches, shops etc), ripe for a style makeover (it has every shade of brown decor you could ever hope for) but structurally sound.  However the main attraction of the house is that it is also an ideal candidate for a sustainability makeover as it has a good basic layout - and that took some finding.

My job over the next few months will be completing the first phase of turning this sow's ear of a house into a silk purse - and with the sort of budget that some folks round here use to cover the carseats in their his 'n' hers Hummers.

I've already been weighing up the priorities and making lots of decisions:  water-saving toilet vs a few more metres of marmoleum, Bosch Activewater dishwasher vs Cloth fabric curtains, roof space ventilation vs Featherston chair, induction cooktop vs custom-built hoop pine ply bookshelves, PV solar panels vs Trippen shoes from Ricarda (OK, that last one is a fib but I'm still allowed my dreams).  Then the big decision will choosing an architect to help us achieve the next phase of the plan (recommendations gratefully accepted).

But there is one decision we are all happy not to have to make.  When the four of us head to Perth for a grand day out and get peckish, two people inevitably suggest "sushi!" and the other two suggest "dim sum!"  Thankfully we don't need to arm wrestle over it as we have found a place that serves both.  On a conveyor belt.  Yes, robo sushi on the high road and robo dim sum on the low road, trundling past with no tricky decisions required.  Edo Shiki, we love you. 

If only all my decisions were that easy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Please go even slower

Usually I am a big fan of slow living.  But these school holidays the children have discovered the joys of watching TV online, have used up our monthly internet allowance and as a result our internet access has slowed to a halt.  I am not a big fan of slow internet.  It makes me put my capslock voice on and shout the words on my favourite badge (by Neil Thomas from William Topp courtesy of Gumbootgirl): CHOP CHOP!

So until normal service is resumed here is just a wee sequence of signs from the outing we went on today.

And a couple of pics of the place we went to today.  This is Lake Preston in Yalgorup National Park.  I think it looks prehistoric, just like the show the children were watching (Primeval) and also somewhat like our antiquated, soon-to-be-extinct internet plan.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Handmade heaven

I have a theory.  Actually I have many, but one is that any shop that calls itself a "shoppe" is sure to be as grim as a very grim thing.  For a sad period of not-too-distant history the same could have been said of any market with "craft" in its name.  But only folk with their heads in holes won't have noticed that this is no longer the case.  "Craft" is no longer a C-word.  Whatever you call it, the resurgence of the scene where individual people design, make and sell stuff, especially where they sell it themselves at markets, has been one of my favourite aspects of recent world history.

So after leaving behind New Zealand's thriving scene, and having also shopped at fantastically tempting design, handmade and contemporary craft markets in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, I was very keen to check out the Perth scene.  I have not been disappointed. Here is my pick of the local markets.

Perth Upmarket (above) is something of a phenomenon.  This quarterly market has grown to the point where it now has 150 stalls.  The location is the lovely Winthrop Hall and the grounds of the University of Western Australia.  I attended the most recent market not as a shopper, not as a stall-holder but as a stall-holder's trusty assistant as my friend Denise was a first-time Upmarket stall-holder selling her Lulu Tissu wares. Perth Upmarket also now run various pop-up and themed markets at other locations.

Unwrapped pops up at various events and locations around the city. Unwrapped says it aims to provide a platform to showcase new, undiscovered design talent. They currently don't have any upcoming events listed but I hope they do soon as their mix of stall-holders is fresh and interesting. (The picture above is of Shaggy Mafia's P50 T which is my son's favourite top.)

Bazaar (above) is an annual pre-Christmas market in the grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre.  Now some of you will know of my dislike of markets that charge an entry fee as another of my theories is that the higher the market entry fee then the grimmer the goods will be. You may also know of my dislike of outdoor craft markets and extreme dislike of markets with centralised payment systems.  Well I had to take a deep breath and just get over myself as Bazaar has all three.  The outdoor thing wasn't an issue as summer weather here is quite a reliable beast.  The quality of the goods on offer meant that it was worth forking out the entry fee (only $2). A couple of my favourite sellers were Eucalypt Homewares and Old Grey House textiles.

However I did find that the centralised payment system meant that I simply didn't make all my usual small impulse purchases, especially as I was there with my daughter.  There was no way I could sneakily buy presents for her by lingering at a stall where she had admired something, and for many other small purchases I couldn't be bothered with the hoohaa.  Even so I'll still definitely go back to Bazaar again this year.

Made on the Left describes its aim as "to support all creative designers and events showcasing independent labels".  They do this through running regular markets but also by writing an excellent blog covering all sorts of things of interest to local artists, designers and makers.  Their blog is a great place to find out about other markets, pop-up shops, exhibition opportunities, calls for submissions and a variety of miscellaneous interesting goings-on.  Although their market is smaller than some of these others, it is the one I've ended up spending the most money at. One time my haul included two hen's teeth items: T-shirts for a girl who doesn't wear pink, purple or anything flowery, but isn't into boys' clothing and who doesn't wear anything with a visible logo. Both T-shirts were huge hits (Lisamax's "For today I am a robot" pictured above) but that jolly girl keeps growing.  She and I will be shopping at Made on the Left again this coming Sunday to say hi to Denise and to hopefully score some great gear. (Made on the Left, Sun 10th July, 11am-5pm, at one40william)

One thing I have learned about the markets here is to buy stuff I like when I see it as many of the stall-holders are pretty tricky to track down later online.  In New Zealand it was a doddle to track down sellers on Felt, Toggle, Endemic World or Clever Bastards, but I haven't found it quite so easy here.  Some local designers sell on Etsy,  Madeit, or Indie, but many more just sell online through their own websites or not at all.  Like so many things around here I wonder if this is actually a problem or an opportunity....  Either way, I now know to go to Perth markets with one pocket stuffed with cash and the other with a notebook as there is certainly plenty here worth buying.

Pic at the very top is of Tim Whiteman's Protea lightfittings which I spotted and admired at Bazaar.  At the time I had no need for them, but I am about to attempt to prove another of my theories (that it is possible to turn a sow's ear house into a silk purse house) so happily now I do.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Soaking it up

While I haven't written much on here lately, I have actually been doing lots of writing for a project I'm working on (but that is a story for another day) and this morning I've been trying to write an actual snailmail letter but am not getting far as I keep getting email interruptions.

These interruptions are of the very nicest sort. My partner keeps sending messages with information about various theatre, dance and music shows in Perth with the words "wanna go?" attached.  I then check my diary and wherever possible I answer "yes please!" then make a note to sort babysitters. (Pictured below is a promo image from Black Swan State Theatre Company's current production of Tim Winton's first play, Rising Water.) 

Much as I love all these various jaunts to soak up the local culture, I still find that nothing beats filling my boots at home.  The Mandurah Performing Arts Centre presents a wide range of shows to cater the the very diverse tastes of this community.  There is the usual range of popular touring musicians, comedians, tribute shows, illusionists etc, but the centre also has a variety of other programs.  My children and I regularly look out for and attend shows and workshop sessions in the Splash! holiday program.  Diving in the deep end is the centre's creative development program producing new works.  Making Waves is their education program and the innovative Riptide program provides young people the opportunity to work with emerging and professional artists in the Performing Arts Industry

But it was with great pleasure that I recently clapped hands on their program booklet for their first ever subscription season, immerse, as this is the program that speaks to me, and what it says is "Lady, you're going out!".

Tonight our whole family is off to a musical showdown called Loop the Loop.

Next week the luckiest children in Mandurah and I are going to a gorgeous show called The Man The Sea Saw, which happily coincides with their school's teacher-only day.

Over the next few months I'll see some theatre in the form of Ninety from Black Swan State Theatre Company,

opera in the form of La Traviata from Oz Opera,

at least one of the Shakespeare productions on offer plus a couple of perfect Chicks' Night Out shows like Often I find that I am Naked pictured at the very top of this post. Phew!

I recently heard a retiring venue manager state that whenever he was asked what sort of shows people like to see, he answers "Crap".  He said that it always amazed him when people stayed away in droves from the top quality, beautifully written, superbly acted, moving and original works offered to them, yet would swarm to some piece of rubbish.  Sadly I do know what he means.  I've long suspected that staging an intentionally craptastic extravaganza (think The Producers) starring Elvis-impersonating, ventroloquist, hypnotist, aging TV-star comedians where they manipulate the contents of their pants on stage would be a huge money-spinner.  There is no such crap in the immerse season program and I intend to soak it all up.