UTS sunset

I worked at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) for around eleven and a half years. During that time, I learned a lot about myself, the institution’s operations from faculty and central student administration perspectives, and the higher education sector.

It holds a special place in my memories, as the University took a chance on someone, a migrant, looking to change career direction.

The serenity of a Winter sunset, reflected in one of it’s buildings contrasted against the bustle of Broadway mirrors my mind as our move interstate looms.

Count down

28 days from now we will have:

  • Been to the Weekend Transfer Station (tip) to dispose of a king sized bed;
  • Donated to Vinnies;
  • Sorted the garden and plants out;
  • Had many farewells with friends;
  • Seen Mission: Impossible – Fallout;
  • Celebrated a 31st birthday;
  • Exited work;
  • Finished packing up the house in Leichhardt;
  • Travelled 927.7 km (576.45 miles) north;
  • Stayed one night at the Colmslie Hotel; and
  • Slept two nights in our new home in Morningside.

I first used the clock and calendar picture, early in my blogging career; you can read the post, from 2012 here: Life Through Time.

Food service in restaurants

The other evening we were watching Bitter Sweet, a Starz television series, set in a fine dining restaurant. One of the themes of this episode was the heroine earning the accolade of being able to carry three hot plated meals, without a waiter’s cloth.

This got me thinking of how much food service in restaurants has changed in the 36 years since I was trained in silver service.

My studies demanded work experience. Being the embodiment of bathos, I had three jobs: function waiter at the Raven Hotel; hall porter at the Chateau Impney Hotel; and counter hand at Neptune’s Pantry, fish and chip shop.

Even at banquets with tables of ten plus people, everything was silver served. Runners, myself included, would lead by gathering a pile of superheated plates from the hot cupboard in the kitchen and stagger to the table, under the weight of the china.

The stack sat on the left forearm with one end of a folded waiter’s cloth underneath. The right hand, using the other end of the cloth polished and placed each down, from the left, in front of the seated guest.

One of the many Boadicean characters who had honed their craft year in year out followed with a silver flat of sliced meat and sauce. Behind came another runner serving vegetables. If you were unlucky the two compartment silver dish contained mashed potato in one and peas in the other. I am sure you can imagine the gloopy white and green nightmare that results from serving one then the other repeatedly, using a spoon and fork in one hand while carrying the dish with the other.

The shift started with the meat being plated then kitchens became more visible. Culminating in the presentation of the food being the signature of the chef.

Six years ago, during a sojourn in Sorrento, we were delighted to experience the drama of Crêpe Suzette in the restaurant of the Hotel Grand Excelsior Vittoria. The sauce was prepared and cooked from scratch at the table. The flambé echoed Versuvius’ antics, across the bay. It was reassuring to see that the theatre of food in the hands of talented wait staff was not dead.

Transition

My epiphany for this week is the realisation that going with the flow of transition provides opportunities to enjoy new or seldom experienced tasks like:

  • Working as a team
  • Planning the adventure
  • Reviewing oneself
  • Stretching to meet new challenges
  • Being present
  • Thinking about short and medium term goals with an eye on the vision

As the stars align and things start falling into place, the panic recedes, leaving space for calm.

On Thursday, we arranged for the real estate agent to give notice to the tenants in Brisbane. This is the second step, after electing to take redundancy.

Morning Moon

Waning Gibbous Moon 99%, perfect for letting go. The decision has been made, we are moving to Brisbane; my last day of work at UNSW is 31st August 2018. Today, I have drafted my first application for a new role. Aiming to shift my career focus, I am looking at school manager positions in universities.

925 km or 575 miles north.

Excitement and trepidation reign in our house, this weekend.

Bassey dreaming

In the cool darkness of morning, just before awaking. The intertwined tentacles of dreams slowly slipped away. Leaving behind memories of the words “it’s impossible”

My subconscious had melded the lyrics and melody of two songs. Perhaps it is the distinctive delivery by Dame Shirley Bassey that assisted this mind mix.

I remember a series of lines starting with “It’s impossible to dah dah dah” to the tune of “Never, Never, Never”.

My attempts to recreate the conglomeration yields a most unsatisfactory product. Looking something like the following:

It’s impossible to tell the sun to leave the sky

It’s impossible to ask a baby not to cry

It’s impossible to keep the ocean from rushin’ on the shore

It’s impossible for me to not ask for more

It’s impossible to stop the stars from shining high above

It’s impossible to live without your love

Should I go or stay?

Every seven or eight years something major seems to happen in my life. I have reached that point again. The choices are to take voluntary redundancy or stay in the place I have worked in since 2010 and try for a new role.

The first option is nicely summed up by the the number zero tarot card, the Fool. I would somewhat blindly be taking a leap of faith. The latter is reflected by the fifteenth major arcana card, the Fool. In many ways my go to position where I feel trapped by the material world. A bird in a gilded cage of my own making.

One is much more riskier than the other and has the benefit of potential growth. The other offers some new challenges in a familiar environment.

I have been wrestling with this conundrum for the last two years. It has taken until now for the workplace change to be officially announced. I have just over one week to decide. What makes it more challenging is that I enjoy working here.

Argh!

Why the picture of kitchen tools, you ask? This is a black and white decision. It needs to be made for balance and harmony to be restored; peace of mind.

Perfect late lunch

One of many, Stan interludes, between courses.

A sunny Saturday afternoon in Autumn, perfect for sitting out front of Capriccio Osteria and Bar, Leichhardt (http://capriccio.sydney). As the sun moved around, there was no hesitation from the owner, Michele, bringing out an umbrella to provide shade.

We enjoyed antipasto of saffron arancini, green bean salad, tomato, basil and mozzarella, prosciutto – all beautifully fresh. The frangipane and fig tart was divine, and the cheeses, delicious.

The star of our meal, for me, was the squid ink pasta with the most tender crab, I have ever eaten. The light sauce was a perfect balance of chilli and garlic.

Somewhere over the rainbow

The KLM flight landed just after 6am at Kingsford Smith Airport, twenty years ago, today. The morning was very much like the one today, around 17oC and a huge blue sky.

We had spent the previous month in a heightened state of anxiety; a mixture of panic and excitement. We had packed up our home, shipped it to Australia, furnished the apartment we were letting out, and farewelled our dear friends and family.

The final scenes in the UK are etched on our memories. Friends sat waiting with us until the last moment when we needed to go through passport control and security at Birmingham International Airport. The usual chatter felt somehow constrained by what was about to happen.

This prelude culminated in a long walk of goodbye, amongst tears flowing freely, while carrying more hand luggage than a pack horse would carry in its lifetime.

The relief of taking our seats on the plane to Amsterdam, where we were to pick up an international connection to the Far East, was overwhelming.

Time has dimmed the memory of the stopover in Singapore and the flight to Sydney.

Why is it significant to mark this milestone? It is an opportunity for us to reflect on our choice to make the journey over the rainbow, to become immigrants and aliens in a foreign land. The fact that we have lived over 54% of our adult lives, to date, in Australia is an indication of commitment, at least.

We plan to review our decision over dinner, this evening.

Excerpt from the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, lyrics by Yip Harburg:

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I have heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Way above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow why then oh why can’t I?

Post extraction

It will have been a week, on Christmas Day, since tooth #16 was extracted. This first molar in the upper right side had caused me excruciating pain during the previous week. X-rays did not help in explaining the symptoms. A bit of bashing around with a seemingly metal implement, followed by a “does that hurt?”, identified the offending, not so pearly white. The cause could be due to the nerve dying or a fracture. Root canal surgery would fix the former, while a crown would sort out the latter. The monitoring period, when I planned to work out which organ I would need to harvest and sell to pay for the procedure was short lived.

On the following day, a sliver of dentine on the inside of the tooth was behaving like a bottom hinged window when brushed gently with the tip of my tongue. Another visit to the dentist quickly cleared up the mystery. It had fractured down the middle, below the gum. With not unpleasant memories of wisdom teeth removal, while asleep, over thirty years ago, I happily agreed to a tooth pulling. To take place there and then with local anaesthetic, although “it will not be an easy one to get out”. Four injections later, what seemed like an eternity of rocking the ivory back and forth and a great deal effort, it was out, despite exclamations of “your bone is dense”. Isn’t that a good thing?, I silently asked myself.

When the anaesthetic began to wear off, I took ibuprofen with codeine for the pain. A sleepless night and limited relief resulted in the dentist prescribing panadeine forte. Migraine like headaches and earache followed for the next two days. Another visit to the dentist revealed I had a dry socket, the pain was due to the jawbone being exposed. After an uncomfortable rinsing with saltwater, a rather pleasant clove tasting concoction with analgesic properties was packed into the wound. Yesterday was my first pain killer free day. This morning the cavity is throbbing. I call upon the Universe to allow me the enjoyment of being able to partake in the upcoming feasting, even with using my left hand teeth to chew.