Locals night. Lots of meat.

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Someone to watch over meat.

It’s taken me months to put this post together.  Actually, I tell a lie.  It’s taken —days.  Strike that.  Hours –  across many days.  (It’s taken some time for me to come to grips with my feelings, ok!?)

But.  I had to tell someone out there in the universe about this episode in my life, at some point.  Someone… outside the rest of this town.  (Let me tell you: the townspeople know).

So.  This is a story about meat.  (Consider yourself: warned).

Just as well the tenuous grip that I had on the roof-racks that looked like a freight train headed to Vegetarianism… slipped a little while ago.

Technically: this meat came in the form of a meat tray.  Of the kind you win when you participate in a meat raffle.  (That type of event spectacular that unfolds with a high degree of frequency all around the plenty and many pubs, clubs and variety shows that have infiltrated Australian culture).  If we’re taking a good long hard look in the streaky mirror of honesty here, we (us, all of us,) would surely have to confirm that the meat tray is as much a dominant Australian sub-culture as 30/40somethings fangirling Khe Sanh (or anyone who sings it) each time it makes an appearance at a similar venue.

I digress.  (Well, that’s… new?)

The meat tray wasn’t actually won by me.  Technically.  That’s what SOMEONE would have you believe.

But.

The money that was handed over to the two nervous youngsters selling the raffle tickets did come out of my broken down purse.  The purse that was on my person, people.  (Inside my broken down, red-wine stained WSDPP handbag – cos Fair is Fair).

Sure, that money may not have been hard-earned by me.  Figuratively speaking.

Still.

What goes around comes back to my purse and therefore me, I say.  I am not keeping a ledger that clearly shows the balance of probability that the money belongs to one side of the equation or the other.

Enough of the petty penny counting though.

This meat tray was there to be won, and I was party to winning it.

I would like to insert some MeTube footage here to show you what happened when the winning took place.  This is a thing that cannot be happening though.  There is no footage.  None.  (It’s not like Mike Moore – cool kid – finds my life interesting enough to follow me.  Despite the persistent fan-mail I address to him and his greatness).

I will describe it though.  (Because I would like you to feel like you’ve had your eyes gouged out every day for the past two weeks).

Ah, feelings.  One of my top 10 favourite things that exist (existentially or otherwise).

I felt:

Overjoyed.  Surprised.  I also felt like the Gods of the land of Good Lady Luck Land had finally…. finally… taken a good long hard stare-face at me (and the other party who was party to winning) and thought:  “Let us amuse ourselves here for at least a good ten seconds”.  (I am only remotely amusing on a few pints of Bulmers.  No more, no less.  No doubt you’ll agree).

Cut to scene setting:

The Farmer’s Arms Hotel, Daylesford.  (A fabulous place with fabulous hosts and a fabulous menu).  A cluster of volleyball medals hang around the neck of a stuffed stag which hangs upon the wall above us.  We (someone who I know fairly well and I) sit at the bar chatting to new acquaintances Alison and Paul (part-time residents).  They are to our right.  To our left are new friends Marty and Geoff (we know them through Sal, who we met through The Farmers Arms gals).

Surrounded by all of us, we are led to believe, are a swarm of locals.  (And I reckon that could be correct, because some of them are starting to look pretty familiar, people.  Pret-ty fam-i-li-ar).

A number of these locals, including us, are here to be competitive about the meat raffle.  (Maybe other stuff too.  That’s not the point though.  Is it, now?)  The thing is: I was amongst those of the locals that rushed there just that little bit too quickly at 5.30pm sharp to get bar seats.  (Or the dress circle as I like to call it.  Best seats in the house to watch the raffle go down).

I can’t totally remember what the raffle was in aid of.  It’s the pints of Bulmers, you see.  It could’ve been for the benefit of Daylesford & District Municipal Band Inc.  (I hope so.  Otherwise my non-hard-earned $10 has gone to a couple of kids with a sneaky sense of humour).

Whatever, whatever.  There are 3 facts important to your vocabulary and memory with regard to what on Lady Luck Land happened for the meat tray to be won and taken back to the house of Hepburn that I live in.

1)      Add em up:  The 2 hours and $10 plus $80 odd spent at the bar on Bulmers and an astonishing looking/tasting tasting plate played a big part in earning le household a whole-lotta-meat.

Value is the watchword here.  (This value extends to the notable fact that the tickets were only $1 each.  I mean, what else can one get for 100 cents these days?  Not a lot, right?  Not a lot.  And, not even only that fact.  When anyone threw 10 bucks at the youngsters, they gave you the eleventh ticket FREE!  Caaa-ching!  And since SOMEONE’s own personal lucky number is eleven/11… well… I think the term is:  Sold! To the lady with the star on her back…and the over-eager one sitting next to her).

2)      Some things are certain in life:  We (the co-winners) were convinced we were going to be winners.  There is good, solid evidence for this.  Don’t try and tell me there wasn’t.  You weren’t there.  Were you?

This evidence would hold up in any court of legal stuff.

Example: Just one week before this particular event we were seated so close to the winner (of the meat of that week) that we could practically touch it.  Not that I did.  That would be weird.  Right?

Well.  It was right there.  And I’m from the school of thought that says: a brush with destiny is not good enough.  You’ve got to go back and get it for yourself.

So.  We did.

We had no questions in our head asking:  “Do you really think you’ll be a winner tonight?”

No.  Our inside voices were merely saying: “Can’t wait until we take that meat tray home tonight”.

High fives to Plato, dudes.  Appetite, Spirit, Reason: those guys were all on the same page in my mental faculties for once.

3)      It was time:  You know what I’m talking about here, right?

It was time to put our mark on this local, this town, these people.

(This is what winning a meat tray can do for you).

I mean:  Whatever, whatever.  I guess I could go gangbusters about the place with other making marks options:  clever street art, tireless volunteerism or soap-box protesting right outside Coles spring to mind.

But.

Those aren’t really things that capture the essence and spirit of me being able to convey my emotions and feelings amongst a large group of people who are congregated together for the mere sake of –

Well, sake of: being together (and together with their pints and hopes of winning the meat tray).

Anyway, anyway.

To cut an even longer story short:

Barrel draw, winners of 6-packs, cheap bubbles and what not.  Those things went down.  Then comes the meat.  And…wait for it…

Our names were not on those tickets. Apparently.

(What?  What??)

But.

Turns out winner winner chicken dinner was actually someone who does not own a fridge in this town (read: out-of-towner).

So.

Amidst shouts of redraw, redraw! We knew that fate, destiny and Good Lady Luck were finally, finally in-da- house.  Yeah, yeah.  Our time had come.

(The situation was perhaps most eloquently stated by friend Crispen Pants as “the Steve Bradbury of the Meat Tray World”.  Thanks to Facebook: We like that one).

A squeal from me (and I can be loud – I’ve done it before).  Yelps from the co-winner.  Cheers from the crowd.  Jealous gasps from new friends.  Arms flailing about by all of us.  All the while of course, the stag stared down at us in – well, probably in wonder.  After all, this was joy in its most overwhelmingly delighted state of affairs.

Suffice to say (and to wrap the story up): Winners are grinners.  We got lots of offers.  We could have made our life-time quota of friends right there and then (it’s something we seem to be trawling for regularly on Friday nights).

Such a shame the BBQ didn’t fit in the U-haul.

Anyway, anyway.  Instead of taking up offers and inviting all-comers back to the house of Hepburn for some ribs and snags, we settled for feeding ourselves for the week.  Lots of meat.  Local style.

——–

Epilogue:

To make up for the lack of hospitality we vibed the locals that night, we promptly hurled about dinner party invites over some days that followed.  This.  This you will hear about across multiple episodes.  Spoiler alert: We really need to go panning out in them there hills for some etiquette, I say.

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No Rush. Really.

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Career criminals: Exhibits 'A' and 'E'

This.  This is what I did not watch last night.  Despite the fact that it had infiltrated my mind (and soul) many other Thursday nights.  (Hey, hey.  I watch The Slap on ABC net, ok?  Besides, I went into that one knowing we were intense and short-term only).

Decision makers at Channel 10 might as well have stabbed me in the heart when presenting the fact that last Thursday was the final Rush ever (ever…ever).

Catherine McClements.  Gone.  Rodger Corser, Jolene Anderson, Callum Mulvey, Samuel Johnson, Nicole da Silva and co… nary a goodbye wave between them.

(silence)

…..

I have been told that when it comes to engaging with those people and situations speaking at me from within television sets and what not, that I am “fussy”.

Well.  Get this straight.  I am.  With a capital freaking F.

Don’t get me wrong – we are not talking the type of Fussy that needs: high quality scripts, thoughtful performances, award-winning direction and flawless editing.  Sometimes.

Sometimes I need some of those things.  But when you take a good long hard look at the stellar list of my “must watches”, you will see that this….  this is not always the case, you will see.

(You don’t think I’m going to present that list right here at this very moment, do you?)

Silly!  That would detract from many other inane blog posts that I could be making on other days!  You will see (soon enough) that the tele-box (and associates) are quite often like my own form of gravity.

So.

Rush.  (One show that fulfilled many of the Fuss).

There is none.

Looks like we’re done, huh?

It will be months before I can talk about you.  Dissect our relationship (and my feelings about you) properly.  I will, however, say this:  any tv show that can bandy about the term vagina cologne” with such aplomb should be kept on and in the air until I am buried.

That is all I will say on that matter.

Looks like I’ll just have to revert to the endless list of other copsfluff shows that I fawn over.  But.  If you think I’ll revert to popular opinion such as NCIS, Law and Order (any departmental type) or other nonsense… Well.  You have got another thing coming.

No, siree.  I am way classier (and stuff) than that rubbish.

Stop pretending you don’t know what class is when it comes to cop shows.  You know what it is.  It is copsfluffclass is what it is.  The kind that seems to be dominated by the Canadians for starters: Rookie Blue! Flashpoint!  Castle! Or the other type that relies on the serious business of being serious, or seriously melodramatic: Criminal Minds! Prime Suspect! Chicago Code! (They canned that one too, but I’m not above repeats).

And with things so dire on the Aussie front, I’ll bust out the VHS for Cop Shop if I have to.

Whatever.  Whatever.  One woman’s trash is another ones treasure.

Anyways.  It’s not all terribly, bad, me-needing comfort news.

I have real life cop action happening right here in my backyard main street, I do.  Huh!  It’s tantamount to me and my dogs being central to a reality tv piece, actually.

Actually, it is.

Just two days ago, no later than 3pm, me and the pooches were stopped right dead in the middle of Main Road Hepburn by the D-squad.  (The Daylesford cop shop is right near the Neighbourhood Centre.   I’ve booked in for an excursion next week).  We were innocently on our hell-bent way to our wonderful local fruit & vege shop Tonna’s.  (Re-stock for salad days on the busy agenda).  All things innocent soon turned a frown with impending dramatics though.

It was pretty dramatic.

Seriously, if you are not sitting down, I suggest you do.  You’re going to need to be seated is all I am saying.

The drama came in 3 waves.  (As these things do).

1)      It was odd.  Perculiar, even.  I have seen the D-squad vehicle with police decals only one other time in the history of my almost three months of being here.

I let out a gasp, people.  A gasp.

The excitement of seeing them with their RBT kits and three witches hats guiding the three car strong traffic queue (that was the total traffic in the street, people) had me giddy.  So giddy that I was clutching at straws and seatbelts trying to remember if I had had a drink with alcoholic content in the past 24 hours.

I had not (is what I finally remembered when I came to my sensibilities).

2)      I realised (when my senses were in the place they were originally), that I was, in fact, already breaking the l.a.w and order.

Der-Der (Insert Law and Order scene break music here… not that I’ve watched it or anything).

Technically speaking it was not me breaking the law.  It was Evie and Augie (the dog-children).  But I (the good mother that I am) take full responsibility for them and their actions.  (Mainly).

Do you want to know what they were doing?  (Actually, what they were not doing).  No?  Well, you’re going to hear about it anyway.

They were not wearing their doggy harness-seatbelts is what they were doing (or not doing, whatever the case may be).  In fact, I’d left the house scoffing at the harnesses – Essentially thumbing at them.

Here’s what went down then:

I looked at them (the dog-children, patiently seated together in the front passenger seat).  And they, in return, looked at me.  I then (cautiously, I might add) looked at the one car in front of me and took a sly sideways glance at the police officers.  (The dogs were still looking at me).  Contemplating a quick, illegal u-turn and getaway, I instead opted for the sane option:

I proceeded to yank the (human) seatbelt over the dogs.  (Dogs still looking at me).

That’s right, I pulled the seatbelt over them.

To say that I may not have been thinking as clearly as I thought I may have been thinking is probably an understatement here.

The crooked smirks the dogs were giving me jolted me back to the situation at hand though.

I quickly pretended the aforementioned action I had taken – did not – in fact happen.  I merely (with some panic) unclasped them from the (human) seatbelt.  I then chuckled to myself about how ridiculous I was being and said to the dogs: “I’d rather go down for the seatbeltless dogs crime”.  What’s more, I pondered “This would be as bad as things could get”.

Wrong.

3)      I carefully, quietly, and (with extreme caution) approached a safe position alongside the pleasant lady police officer person.  I bit my bottom lip and kept my foot on the brake.  Forgetting other safety precautions such as putting the car into neutral or levering the handbrake on, I simply looked at her (somewhat bemused) face.  (My subconscious speaks loudly at the best of times.  In this case I think it was preparing to do a runner).

Pleasant police officer looks through the window and smiles at me – and then smiles at the dogs.

Ok, so things were looking up.

But.

With some pleasantries aside and without bothering to check my licence (or road laws concerning unharnessed dogs apparently), nice police lady sticks the tube toward me with a look on her face that suggests she wonders how many Pimms I’ve had today.

Then.

All hell breaks loose.

Augie, it appears, is rather protective of us girls.

Especially when there are blue people in powerful positions peering down at us sticking (what could be contrived as a thin, white, tubular gun) in my face.

He growled.  Loudly.  Guttural to boot.

And.  Then.  He lunged.

I tell no lie.  He lunged (wish I had them buckled in after all) toward (probably now not smiling) police officer lady and barked at her.  Loudly.  Teeth bared, I might add.

I caught him though.  In the nick of time.  Thank the gods of Good Lady Luck land.

Somehow…somehow… I managed to keep my foot on the brake, dog in my hands and a smile on my face.

“Sorry” (or, at least that is what I think I might have said, if anything did even squeak out of my dry vocal cords).

(You can pipe in if you think this was not an adequate approach).

Well.

Quite frankly, after what ensued, I will be forever cheering on the girls in blue – at least in this town anyway.  After some tentative chuckling and off-handed comments about “fierce beasts” and “not going to get my hand bitten off, am I’s?” (especially after Augie barked and lunged for the second time)… the good lady police officer merely let me have my three awkward attempts at blowing in the bag and then…

Said “Have a good day”.

And she let me go.  Didn’t even need to post bail.

Now, that – that, is impressive policing work, I say.  Catherine McClements: this lady did done you proud.

….

Not a dramatic enough ending for you?

Well, Rush exited without blazing gunfire too.

Caffe? I walk the line.

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EM - hanging out with Pimms Cup at Perfect Drop

A good coffee, people:  A good coffee.

This morning I have made one.  This I am proud of.

It’s not even – well, just – I normally don’t spruik my own wares too much is what I am promising you.

Back to the beans though.

Let me clarify exactly what I’m talking about with the coffee:

Latte.

Because we (all of us included) need to be specific.  We need not to delve into the expertise of others;  blacks (short or long), “cuppa cappucinno” (as my mum likes to call it), or anything else.

Latte is endgame.

Maybe not for you?

It is for me.   Except on random occasions where I (and my feelings) suddenly decide espresso on the rocks is the only creature on the planet that could ever really understand where it is that I come from.  (That could be true regardless).

So, according to research (including mine) a good latte needs: correctly frothed milk (keep the pitcher cool people), good fresh beans (not talking baked here), an eye on thermometers (no need to burn baby burn) and, a well maintained machine…

BUT.  Let’s take a step back then and look at that evidence.

Now…

Let’s throw it aside and forget pragmatics are necessary.  Because: they are not.  Ok, there are a lot of reasons (for sure) why the pragmatics get good coffee happening.  But just to humour me (and let me have my humour), pretend there are some things that just go above and beyond these pragmatics.  There’s a lot o’stuff that goes on in this world that doesn’t jump on the bus all stops to Pragmatic (and even those that do: some don’t pay the fare), right?

Taste.  For example.  We all have it…. well, ok, debatable.  And I don’t mean to be offensive to those who suffer Dysgeusia.  (Pretty please Karma, do not be a bitch).

I, for example, seem to like a good hard kick-in-the-teeth (sweet-bitter-sweet) coffee flavour (I could munch on beans like they were a packet of Supreme Cheese Doritos – I quite like them, is all).

Second to this, I like a bit of chocolate to my flavourings (pattern emerging here – I like chocolate, like… ok, chocolate and I may need some relationship therapy soon because obsession is not completely healthy.  Not in technical terms anyway).

Chill…

I am not here to dole out lectures on how to make a good coffee.  (For those of you interested in wasting some time on the web of the wide world today – learning some tips – the following could be up your spooky, cold, dark alley: Coffeegeek.com and Radified).

Anyways, learning from those that know, be damned.  My ability to turn out something worth drinking can be put down to 3 plain and simple pieces of the reality of what it means to be me.  (I still think all good things come in 3’s).  These are the difference between me personally creating coffee nirvana or, alternatively, creating a latte that looks and tastes like it’s straight from a Tim Burton fairytale:

1)      Fluke.  You can call it Celestine Prophecy if that’s your thing, but: right place, right time is probably the safer option for this topic.

2)      Coffee Kudos.  Ok, ok, we all have to probably recognise the fact that mean bean=mean ends.  I’ve tried a few.  Mmkay, a LOT.  A lot of beans is what we have tried over the course of our existence with a coffee machine.  And before that?  Well, I have been drinking coffee ever since Nescafe tempted mum with the free Shaker deal (young: I was shorter and a whole lot lighter than I am today).

So.  Skipping all the ones that may not have crossed my life-path and destiny to date, and the ones I won’t talk about (because, even I fear litigation), there are, for me, two standouts:

Coffee Basics.  These dudes are my new local roasters and I love them.  You should check them out too.

Atomica.  A friend-fellow-fan rec.  I’m not sure what the full story is to the growing, roasting and what not.  But you can figure it out for yourself by visiting Atomica Cafe in Fitzroy.  Whilst you’re there, get one of their breakfasts.  (I insist).

Also, I asked the bean question to the Book and Twitter today.  Sneaky survey purposes only.  (Shits and giggles behind all that).  Responses?  Well.  Well, what did I expect?

“Anything Fair Trade!” claimed B from the Central Coast.  Wholeheartedly supported with a thumbs up by J from a similar place.

(Yes, I’m hip to that, because Fair is Fair, and Fair is one of the best things to happen if we are ever to save this world from the slippery slope it’s on).

Cousin C from Bathurst: “Fish River Roasters

(Proving a point that you can always rely on family to be helpful in times of need.  Although:  trust my dad to throw in some random comment clarifying his passion for Maccas coffee.  Not helpful).

Peaberrys” piped in G-R.

(More helpful.  And she’s a dancer.  So, you know.  I’ll know where to turn if I want some extra kicks. ‘Like’).

And:  A comment from M from Morpeth leading me up the garden path about some joint in Manly that she couldn’t remember the name of.

But.  (BUT).  At least M made an effort.  Way to go team.  390 “followers” (and I know I’m not Jesus, but JEE-SUS) on Twitter, and 655 so called “friends” on FB and not even – not even 1% of them can be bothered to watch my every move and comment on it?  I even posted at 9.30am whilst I was sipping the latte (feet up, back deck, nice view).  What gives!  Give it up!  What?  Do these people that I know (mainly know.  At least 10% of them anyway) have work to do or something?  Whatever dudes.  Don’t come crying to me when you think I should have publicly commented on your latest change in relationship status.

Move along crowd.  (Me included).

3)      Pushing the red line.  I like to use the analogy: going for broke.

Despite my adventures as a smaller Darls (riding pushbikes with no brakes, jumping bareback on horses that didn’t belong to me, hurling myself off ladder swings, throwing rocks at school windows on a dare…), I am not what many would describe as an avid risk taker.  But.  But, I can surprise those that even think they pretend to know what I’m all about.

To be technical about this in coffee making terms:

Imagine me.  Imagine my kitchen (the one with the flies).  Imagine my beam me up coffee machine (yes, it’s a Sunbeam).  Also:   Imagine a couple of accessories that help me make my coffee.

Now, here’s the thing.

Accessories are crucial to me pushing the red line.  Because.  (This is what happens):

I just like to shove a whole lotta ground coffee (and press it down as tight as my pathetic muscles will allow) in the thingy that gets shoved up into the thingy.  Then – well, all hell breaks loose.  That is what happens.

I press the button that says it is “manual” (whatever that even means in this context), and then I grin maniacally whilst jumping up and down when the dial on the beam machine for beans goes beyond it’s sunny gold and heads where pragmatics would tell it:  it just shouldn’t head.

Red line.  (It’s not even a thin one).

I get off on it.  Every time.  (I won’t dare use analogies here).

Look, this is enough talk about me and pushing boundaries.  Time to finish up.  But before I do…

Quickly let’s just touch on two other important things, shall we?

One is something that I’d love to be able to do: I get hearts and stars in my eyes when it’s presented in front of me.  The other is a relatively new revelation to me – something I think I could marry, should this country ever truly embrace the term “marriage equality” (up yours Jules and Abbottface, I see Green):

1)      Latte art.

Come on peeps – you know what I’m talking of.  And don’t tell me you wouldn’t smile a little bit if you were served up a latte etched with the image of a baby seal (or one of these things).

And the like.  Let’s keep it simple yet complex – “Beauty:  Appreciate it.  Red hot technique: big applause.”

Summary: I like a bit of art on my latte.  (My own attempts are still a little like Leunig on Speed – just, not in a good way at all).

2)      Espresso Martini.

I know, I know, not latte.  Still, this is a factual point worth stating that needs to be said and shouted from the roof tops to share with all coffee lovers of the world.  (Unite!)

You are looking here at someone who digs cocktails deeper than some of the excavation action happening in W.A and every other beautiful place on the planet (not cool, people, there is only so much dirt in this world).

My “first time” with my new love was a gentle, but thrilling experience at Perfect Drop.  (Deliciously perfect wine bar in the magical land of Daylesford).  Not meaning to be slutty or anything, but I backed it right up a few days later by spending some time with EM (that’s what we’ll call her now, ok?) over at Horvat’s (another wonderful great wonder of Daylesford town) just a few days later (hey – that dirty little martini called me, people – she called me).

(Latte side note: if you are in this place of all great wonders of the world there are some good cafe coffees to be had.  Just sayin’.  Hot tips: Breakfast and Beer, Ego’s Culinaria, Frangos and Frangos, and The Gourmet Larder to name just a few… hey, only been here a little while, will try everyone’s eventually.  Because Fair is Fair.)

Back to your direct needs though.  If Jo down at your local R-y refuses to put in the time and do you some action that results in Espresso Martini, I reckon you should do it for yourself.

There are a few versions apparently, but for starters… See here.  And see what I’m talking about:  Take action.  Trust me, you’ll never look back.

Don’t care for me dishing out plugs for Absolut?  No worries, do your own Google dude.  Heh, maybe EM is old news to you (an ex-lover even)?  Sorry, I can be a bit slow on the take-up of uptakes.

Will try harder, better, faster, stronger next time.

Yes my friend(s) (if that’s what you profess to be), push the red line is what I am prepared to do for you.