up up and away

Twas a cool, dark morning one year ago, almost to the day. The morning of one of the most exciting and exhilarating adventures I have ever ever experienced. The morning that I rose at 4.30am, wearing my neckerchief and leather flying cap, and cycled maniacally through the dark Fitzroy streets, avoiding end-of-the-night revellers – drunk and stumbling onto the road, pashing wildly in alley ways, looking for cabs, looking for fights, looking for souvlakis – in the pre-dawn light.

I met Wa, my bestie, on a street corner near Gertrude Street (similarly attired in cap and scarf) and from there, we cycled through the slowly lightening morn to a hotel in East Melbourne.

No, it was not for a sordid 4 star hotel BFF tryst. It was not so we could arrive first at a neckerchief and leather flying cap convention. It was the morning we were taking a birds-eye-view of Melbourne in a hot air balloon.

We arrived at the hotel, and entered a foyer filled with people wearing polar-fleece and baseball caps and tracksuit tops, their necks weighed down by large SLR cameras. Balloon pilots were scattered about the place, with balloon-branded jumpers and clipboards and “If you fall out of the balloon we do not accept responsibility” forms for us to sign. Wa and I were herded into a minivan with six other eager adventurers (none had gone to quite the same effort as we had in the dress stakes) and we were off. Well, off to an oval in Prahran, soon to TAKE off in our gas-filled bag and basket.

When we got to the oval and our basket was lifted from the back of the van and the balloon laid out and the burner unit fired up, our pilot gave us a quick spiel on safety and landings and helped us all into the wicker basket. He attached a flashing beacon to a helium-filled party balloon and set it loose into the dawn sky, to see which way the wind was blowing (reassuring – I did NOT want to end up soaring across Port Phillip Bay) and to get a vague chart of our flight path.

Weirdly, it wasn’t until I was in the basket, with my elbows resting on its wickery side, that the following important points occurred to me: a) we were going to be up very very high, b) we were going to be up very very high IN A BASKET, c) we were going to have a large propane burner mere centimetres above our heads, and d) hellooooo, fear of heights, anyone???

I pondered these facts (with mild anxiety) as I gazed out across the park, distractedly taking photos of the other balloons slowly lifting off the ground, taking photos of Wa, taking photos of the trees, taking photos of the treetops – hang on – what was this? We’ve already taken off? We’re already above the trees, and the streetlights and the tram tracks and the hospital and – oh me, oh me – we’re floating high above the park now, actually too high to leap from the basket to the safety of terra firma and green grass. There’s no turning back now.

Lift off, we have lift off

Over the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Tennis Centre, and the Fitzroy Gardens, the Freemasons Hospital, and over Gertrude Street, over the street corner I’d met Wa on a few hours earlier. Over my workplace. Over Brunswick Street. Over friends’ houses. Over MY house! I actually leaned over the side (not too far, mind you) and called out to Gus as we floated above my backyard, in the hope he’d run out and woof at the hiss of the burner, but no such luck.

Anyone for tennis?

O Melbourne, you luvverly city...

In the ayer!!!

Over familiar streets and shops, and then… into unchartered territory. Past the familiarity of my local hood and over Brunswick, and Coburg. Over a park with a lake full of ducks. Over backyards with crazy woofing dogs, running madly in circles. Over joggers. Over men in their dressing gowns, peering up at us from their driveways as they collect their Saturday paper. Over the drive-in, its huge empty screen looming large. Over factories, roofs passing underneath so low I thought we’d come to a stop on a square of asbestos-ridden tile. Over a park and an oval and, actually, no, we’re coming down. Our pilot tells us to brace, and we all lean against the side of the basket, as we were shown earlier that morning.

'Burban Streets

At the movies...

Wa + Wem = Besties 4 Evaahhhhhhh

And after three heavy bumps, we were on the oval and clambering out of the basket onto the dewy grass.

A trip in a hot air balloon is not nearly as terrifying as I had thought. In fact, it’s the opposite of terrifying. The silence, the gentle drift, the occasional roar of the burner – it’s calming and peaceful and slow. The world as it is seems to be all about how quickly you can get from A to B, and how instantly we seem to ‘need’ (and receive) information, and how everything needs to be mapped out and planned. Not knowing where you’re going to end up is exciting, and fun, and kinda highlights that we should focus more on where we’re at now – on looking around and learning and drifting and laughing – and less on our final destination. Don’t you think?

i’d rather be crocheting…

So I mentioned in my Melbourne to-do list that I had just partaken in a crochet class. And I think I told you that it was pretty good. Well, it was actually AMAZING because it has awoken a long dormant crafty MONSTER* in me, and now I Cannot. Stop. Crocheting.

This is the start of something big(ger than the little green round)

My first few sessions (a usual ‘session’ consists of about 8 straight hours where I don’t really do anything else) were a labour of love. There were dropped stitches. There were double stitches that seemed lacking in knotty goodness. There was a poor choice of wool colour going on.

But then, as my confidence grew and I spent rather a lot of cash at the wool shop (stocking up on a BEAUTIFUL array of colours, that were on sale and are very stunning), I suddenly entered – The Crochet Zone.

So many colours....

The Crochet Zone gets more and more alluring the closer you get to it (and you are only assured entry by doing those initial stupidly long sessions) – suddenly you can multi-task. You can crochet while watching a violent Australian film (although I don’t recommend doing this, because it can be quite traumatic). You can crochet in bed while your partner tells you about their day. You can crochet ON DOG WALKS!!! Yes, The Crochet Zone enables you to take your wool and hook to dog park and whip up a granny square in a matter of minutes (well, around 60 or so….).

So far I’ve made TEN delightful granny squares, that will soon become a beautiful rug. Soon being in about 7 months. But I’m on my way!! Hurrah!

Doing a craft like this is SO extremely satisfying as well – you’re producing colourful, cutesy, patterned squares of loveliness. Secretly I like to put my squares one on top of the other and just look at them. And I like to hold them in my hand like a deck of knitted cards. And I like to lay them out on my bed and imagine what they’ll look like as a blanket…. I do it with wool too. Place it randomly, yet systematically, on the doona and picture it as a crocheted jumper… Or crocheted cushion cover… Or crocheted dog outfit. I also like to take photos of my squares and wool. Lots and lots of photos. Sheesh, I hope I’m not turning into Crazy Craft Lady!

Imagine this multiplied by 1000 and that's mah rug, bee-arch!

Artistically placed squares and wool

Do YOU crochet? Or knit? Or have a craft that you are a little bit addicted to? Tell me about it!

*Monster, in capitals, may be the wrong choice of word here. I fear that my family now think of me as a monster though, as I knot and loop through episodes of Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad, but really? It’s better than doing nothing, right? I mean, it’s not like I’m smoking, you know? Honestly, I don’t have a problem. I AM NOT A MONSTER!!!

the write stuff

Handwriting stuff, that is! I love writing (with a pen) – the feel of the pen in your hand, writing on a nice squashy piece of paper, flicking through a word-filled notebook… Tis pretty nice. I can NOT handle a scratchy pen though, OR writing onto ONE piece of paper straight onto the table  – bleck!

This was on Meet Me at Mike’s on Friday, so I had to get on board. And I love a little meme too (especially when it’s an easy one like this!):

You should do it, if you’re keen. It’s nice to step away from your computer for a few minutes, dig out a nice piece of paper, find your favourite pen (under a pile of wool and paint samples on the dressing table, and write a little summin’ summin’…

  1. What is your name?
  2. Blog URL?
  3. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
  4. Favourite quote?
  5. Favourite song? (at the mome)
  6. Favourite band/musician/singer? (at the mome)
  7. Say anything you want
  8. Tag 3-5 bloggers

Let me know if you do this! Hurrah!!

sloth sloth me do

This is possibly the greatest thing I have ever seen in my whole life.

I love her ‘scale of emotion’ ratio she chats about with Ellen; I have that too. I often have to stop watching YouTube clips that are too cute because I start crying. Which is OK when I’m at home – alone – but not OK when I’m at work or on the couch with the girls. Not that I’m looking at clips of animals while I’m working or anything.

I’ve never really thought that much of Kristen Bell and/or Dax Shepard, but seeing this makes me want to invite them over for dinner. And not just because I’d want them to bring a sloth. But because they seem like all-round nice peeps.

But secretly I’d be hoping they brought a sloth.