Random thoughts

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The post about my prostate cancer diagnosis was written and saved for several weeks before it was eventually published.

No harm done – but it was a mistake.

Whatever the reasons for my prevarication, when I eventually clicked on the “publish” button, the relief was immediate and substantial.

The responses from friends and readers – often they’re both! – was truly moving.

But beyond that, the act of writing and blogging and telling my story through Consider The Sauce has long been a big part of what makes this blog tick.

And – duh! – doing all of those thing should and will be important in helping me deal with the challenges of the now and the challenges ahead.

Of course, starting and then persevering with a blog or website is an act of outing, of making oneself a public figure.

But there are countless degrees of how much and how far individual bloggers are prepared or comfortable to go.

I hope we haven’t overdone the “selfie” aspect of blogging.

Nevertheless, I am entirely comfortable with how CTS has become – on top of everything else – a sort-of family album for Bennie and myself.

Earlier this year, while attending a media event involving other bloggers and journalists of various kinds, I was rather brusquely instructed by another Melbourne food blogger: “No photos!”

Fair enough; it was a request with which I was happy to comply.

Once a blogger steps out beyond strictly online realms, the ability to retain such control and oversight lessens.

In the early days of the CTS Feasts – when the food was free, numbers were restricted and applications were by email – I could have vetted the applicants and discarded anyone with whom I was uncomfortable.

No that I ever did!

These days, the Feasts are commercial enterprises or – in the case of fund-raisers – effectively so.

There may be some way of vetoing applicants through the trybooking website.

But again, I’ve never felt the need to discover if that is the case.

I count myself lucky that I’ve had only a couple of readers who have wished to leave comments I was not prepared to have published.

In those cases, a bit of email argy bargy ensued but that was as far as it went.

Long may such a profound absence of ill-will and trolling continue!

Since its earliest days, CTS has patiently, slowly built up a significant base of email subscribers and Facebook “likes”.

I don’t take such commitments by readers lightly – in fact, I treasure them immensely!

So when, as inevitably happens, people choose to pull the plug – so to speak – on CTS, it hurts.

No that there’s ever massed unsubscribings or anything like that.

It’s more a matter of four or five steps forward then one step backwards.

And I understand.

Like everyone else, I regularly find myself “unsubscribing” or “unliking” blogs or pages that no longer serve my purposes.

But one thing I have noticed is this:

The number of email subscribers or Facebook “likes” regularly takes a small dip when I post about something like a community festival.

Or post a think piece or rumination about – oh, I don’t know – paid parking in Yarraville or mobile phone hassles.

So I understand why people expecting a Melbourne food blog to concern itself only with reviews of restaurants and cafes do, sometimes, eventually say “seeya later, CTS!”

I hope the many for whom CTS is a “keeper” come what may will be happy to know those departures will never, ever alter the CTS approach.

It’s taken me a long time to learn that the raw numbers data provided by WordPress – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tallies of page views and visitors – tells only part of the story.

Likewise with the comments that I love so much and to which I so avidly reply.

For starters, no doubt many of my email subscribers choose to read new posts as emails without clicking through to CTS itself, thus not showing up on the WordPress stats.

And just because readers choose not to comment doesn’t mean they are not engaging with – and moved by – CTS in their own way.

I love them anyway!

Can anyone guess the famed late-night Melbourne diner at which the photo at top was taken? Hint: It’s not in the west!

Who wants to join the Greater Footscray Liberation Front?

8 Comments

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The recent post about Buckley Street – a walking tour thereof and commentary upon – drew many comments.

It also unloosened much curiosity and speculation about the Footscray, Middle Footscray, West Footscray, Tottenham, Seddon and Yarraville – and the seemingly flexible borders that separate them.

So this a follow-up post.

I am specially indebted to the sleuthing of CTS pal Juz.

I figure there’s folks around who may have a much more soli handle on this than I – perhaps at the Footscray Historical Society.

But I get a kick out of looking at this stuff anyway.

I hope you do, too!

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Wow!

The above map from 1870 – trackled down at the State Library – is of what is now Yarraville.

It talks of “very desirable” allotments in Stephen and Sussex streets – in Footscray South!

According to the wikipedia entry on Seddon, “The Original State Bank of Victoria in Charles Street, Seddon used to stamp its Bank Account passbooks as Footscray South Vic”.

However, wikipedia also maintains that “Seddon Post Office opened on 29 September 1908 and closed in 1976. Seddon West Post Office opened in 1924 and remains open”.

 

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The State Bank’s annual report from 1982 lists a Footscray South branch.

At Australian Surname Geneaology, there is reference to labourer Jack Rodney Lane living at 8 Hamilton Street, Footscray South in 1954.

Hamilton Street is, of course, part of modern day Seddon.

 

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On the other hand, in 1955 a Cadbury’s milk bar had struck a deal (above) with signwriting company Lewis & Skinner to “clean off and repaint” the shop’s pelmet. Thanks to Melissa for this one!

This family history site twice lists Pilgrim Street as being in Footscray South.

A final question: Will the headline of this post find the electronic gaze of the spooks focusing on Consider The Sauce?

I kinda hope so.

After all, spies gotta eat as well!

Footscray’s bleakest street?

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It’s a well-known if rarely utilised fact that you’ll always see more walking somewhere than by driving – or even pedaling.

So it is that I park and check out Buckley Street on foot for the first time in at least a decade.

Buckley between Nicholson and Victoria has remaining vestiges of earlier times, decades and uses.

But there’s a reason why it’s such an inhospitable stretch of street, and why there is little or no street life, and why the very little retail or business activity is heavily weighted towards tradies and the like.

That reason is traffic – lots and lots of traffic.

And lots of trucks.

The reason, in turn, for that is that this stretch of Buckley is a gateway, in one direction, to Sunshine, Geelong and Williamstown.

And in the other direction, it’s a gateway to Footscray Road and, less directly, Dynon Road.

All that traffic, and all those people in hurry, makes the intersection of Buckley and Victoria (above) one of the most accident-prone we know of.

Barely a week passes that we don’t see the aftermath of prangs, mostly caused we presume by cars and trucks barreling towards Melbourne having unpleasant interaction with those heading in the other direction and turning right into Victoria to go under the railway line.

Be careful here, folks!

But let’s go for a wander, hey? Down one side of Buckley and up the other?

 

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On the Seddon corner at Victoria, what was for a long time a Vietnamese pool hall is undergoing refurbishment that will see it reopened as a “convenience store”.

 

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The application posted in the window doesn’t generate much optimism that this will be good stuff for Consider The Sauce and its readers!

 

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A little further along, what seems like it was almost certainly a service station many decades ago is now home to West Suburban Taxis.

 

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It was unveiled as such by the then premier in 1995.

Heck, there must have been an election in the wind!

 

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Then comes a block or so of double-storey terrace houses, some done out nicely, some looking rather tatty.

I wonder who lives here.

 

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The business activity among these older properties ranges from electrical …

 

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… to the spiritual.

 

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Moving a bit further towards the CBD and we come across one of the very few newer structures on the street – a block of apartments.

 

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The empty, large block right next door could become home of even more apartments – if a buyer is ever found.

 

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From there, and before we cross Buckley and head back the other way, there’s a bus depot … and then the university.

 

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OK, heading back the way we came, but this time taking in the other side of the road …

The Belgravia Hotel is no more.

And nor is its colourful array of, um, “entertainment”.

This too is destined to be a site for apartments – and going by the sign, those plans do not include use of the existing structures.

 

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Next door, what was once the home of the Hot Shot pool hall and coffee emporium is uninhabited. We never made it in for a game or a taste.

 

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Moving past Paint Spot and across Albert Street …

 

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… what once housed an arts supplies outfit is now home to a recruitment agency …

 

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… while the arts supplies outfit itself has moved a few doors away to a more utilitarian property.

 

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Now we’re moving into spaces and places with which Bennie and I definitely have a shared history.

I once bought him a paint set at West Art Supplies.

And we spent a lot of time at the swimming pool.

It was nothing like the gleaming edifices to be found at Kensignton or Highpoint – rough concrete floors were all the go.

Rough, clammy concrete floors … but the place had a water slide and we liked it.

I presumed this property, too, had fallen into disuse – but I spot a pair of slippers through the frosted windows so walk around the side.

Surprise!

The whole place, including ancillary buildings, is now a Salvos aged-care establishment.

 

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The brick building next door, once home to child-care activities, is these days used by a handful of community service groups.

 

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And one of the rooms is, on the afternoon of my ambulatory inspection, being used for a grungy metal gig!

 

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Moving right along …

What was once a florist/garden/homewares business morphed at some stage, and briefly, into all of the above plus coffee and rudimentary eats.

And now it’s nothing at all.

 

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Next in line is another surprise – what was once a display home, now fallen into ruins and dereliction, has another, older house – also a complete wreck – behind it.

 

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The once-was-a-display-home still has floor plans with “sold” stickers on them!

 

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The cheap meat place is these days called More Meat.

We once shopped there quite regularly, and I know people who still do so.

 

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Moving closer to Victoria, there’s a Japanese bookshop with residence behind … which is right next door to …

 

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… a Chinese medicine place, which is right next door to …

 

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… another shopfront with, rather mysteriously, no signage and matting in the entire window space.

 

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Finally, right on the corner of Buckley and Victoria is the purveyor of all things canvas that seems to have been right there forever.

So is this stretch of Buckley … Footscray? Seddon? Both?

According to Google maps, it is both.

But I have a friend, a decades-long resident of Charles Street, who maintains the Buckley-as-boundary concept is a scam fostered by real estate agents eager to see more properties included in Seddon with a view to higher prices.

According to him, Charles Street was – and still is, in his opinion – the boundary between Footscray and Seddon.

Groundhog Day, Samsung-style

12 Comments

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In hindsight, it seems clear my first year with my first mobile/smart device was charmed.

I’d got into a groove with it, had it doing what I required and was not particularly fussed about not knowing what else it could do.

Still, when it effectively died it came as something of a shock – not that technology fails, but that Samsung does so little, in a fiercely competitive world, to placate customers waiting for devices being serviced to be returned.

Customers they presumably want to keep …

A staff member at the Highpoint Samsung shop informed me, after I had resigned myself to the fact my phone would be gone for a week, that they once issued stand-in phones but discontinued the practice.

So the message was rather blunt: Tough – you’ll just have to cop it.

Nevertheless, I was excited and happy when my serviced phone was returned to me this morning – right on schedule.

After mucking around for a few minutes, I quickly came to conclusion that I needed some friendly prompts in order to master the procedures of once more setting up my phone.

So off I went to the Samsung shop at Highpoint – again.

On a precious day off …

Some friendly help from a friendly staff member and I was on way. As I charged the battery, I got my machine back in order right there and then, uploading and installing app after app – gmail, wordpress, Facebook, Urbanspoon, credit union, etc etc, as well as wallpaper, volume and various other settings and arrangements.

Then it was off to Flemington for a well-earned lunch.

But as I was walking to my chosen eating house, I was aghast and crestfallen to discover that my phone was emphatically not in full working order.

In fact, and much worse, the same fault – a general, all-round unresponsiveness – was still very much present.

Which meant, I assumed, it had not been properly fixed or had not been fixed at all – whatever else may have been done to it.

So off I went to the Samsung shop at Highpoint – again.

On a precious day off …

I managed to keep my cool.

And the staff member who “handled” me kept his, too.

Funnily enough, he was the same dude who handled the paperwork for me the previous week.

So it definitely had a touch of Groundhog Day about it – same personnel, same paperwork, same outcome.

With a twist – in this case, and to the staff member’s considerable credit, he took my case, and my phone, to his manager.

But it made no difference – it seemed even the manager had no discretion whatsoever to offer me either a new phone, even if a different model, or a refund.

So I returned home frustrated and wondering if I’m actually getting back a penchant for this degree of unconnectedness.

But even if I am not, I am in no way convinced this saga is going to attain its denouement any time soon.

O, Ye Of Little Faith?

Um, well, No Faith At All, actually.

I also reckon I am in the process of becoming a former Samsung customer.

So what’s the hot tip – Apple, Nokia, Sony, other?

And, perhaps, just as importantly – how does your chosen phone provider go with keeping you in action when there are technology hiccups?

I suspect some do a whole lot better with this than appears to be the case with Samsung …

 

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Sunshine Mosque – a personal touch

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Open day at Sunshine Mosque, 618 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9363 8245

Consider The Sauce would like to believe our dismay and disgust at the recent weeks’ deliberately inflamed anti-Muslim hysteria is universal across the land.

Sadly, though, having read much in the press of all kinds, on social media and various websites – luckily I am pretty much completely out of the loop when it comes to talkback radio – I know that is simply not the case.

But while these events have been unfolding, a thought bubbled up: “Why have I never been to a mosque?”

At very much the same time, the Cyprus Turkish Community of Victoria started publicising its “everyone welcome” open day – and we are only too happy to accept the invitation.

Predictably and joyfully, our visit is a whole lot of fun, full of friendly people with big smiles.

And, of course, we have our fill of the food on hand.

 

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The cheese-and-spinach gozleme I enjoy is as good as it gets – hot of the hot plate, fresh and wonderful.

But the coolest event of the day has an unexpectedly personal note …

 

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We have been on the mosque grounds just a matter of minutes when I run into my Star Weekly colleague Yasemin.

I’m surprised to see her, and she I.

But we shouldn’t be … after all, I did know she’s a local; and she, in turn, knows of my foodie/multicultural adventurer persona.

Yasemin is very busy selling tickets for the kebab operation but we nevertheless squeeze in some conversation.

For me, this is the western suburbs one-degree of separation at splendid work and a valued opportunity to see a colleague with whom I have in the past year finessed numerous stories as something other than a reporter to my sub-editor.

And for Yasemin, I hope (!), it’s a chance to see me as something other than a cranky, demanding, nitpicking pedant – perhaps as an openminded foodie blogger with untold curiosity and as a father.

That latter description being, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, very much how I see and define myself these days.

This is Yasemin’s mosque.

I ask her if she pretty much grew up here.

Her answer is: “Yes!”

 

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After my savory appetite has been satisfied, I enjoy a super strong and sweet Turkish coffee with a deep-fried dessert called sam isi.

It’s filo pastry encasing semolina, and like so many treasured desserts from that part of the world, is sweet without being overly so.

 

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I stop and have a yarn with Tammy of Stylish Sisters.

Tammy refers to herself as a “convert”, her husband being Somalian.

And, yes, she knows all about our favourite Union Road destination.

I love the name of her business – in my opinion, which in this context is worth no doubt very, very little – many of the “sisters” do indeed have style to burn.

 

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Eventually, the presence at the event of a flagrantly mustachioed dude with a busy camera having been noted, Ekrem Fuldagli introduces himself to us.

Ekrem is the chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Community of Victoria.

It’s a busy day for a busy man, but he makes time to escort us into the mosque proper and patiently answer my questions.

Ekrem has been in the chairman role for about a year.

He tells me it’s a challenging but rewarding role, involving as it does issues and projects both within the mosque community and its interactions with the wider world.

He describes the mosque community as very mainstream and relationships with the neighbours as just fine

The domed mosque interior itself is truly beautiful and, yes, it has what I would call a “spiritual” vibe.

Ekrem tells me the dome itself has no religious significance.

Rather it is all about acoustics and the oration requirements of the pre-electricity and pre-amplification times.

Sadly, other commitments mean we are unable to linger for the scheduled Q&A session to which I have been eagerly looking.

Maybe next time!

 

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Gosh

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“You have prostate cancer.”

Not the gladdest of tidings then … but not unexpected given the anxiety and tests of recent months.

It’s surreal hearing that verdict coming from the mouth of someone I have known for less than half an hour.

“It’s low grade …”

That’s good, isn’t it?

“Yes, it’s good …”

My life changes …

I feel very, very grateful to a very good GP who sent me off to a urologist. She may have saved my life.

And so I become a member of the Cancer Club, yet prostate cancer is so common as to be almost banal.

In some ways I feel empowered, with an early diagnosis and a fighting chance.

Like countless souls before me, I am blown away by the way complete strangers open up and tell me their stories, offer their wisdom and friendship.

I am grateful for the support and love of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

The medical and support staff who are already becoming a big part of my life are marvellous – and I am happy to be telling them so whenever the opportunity arises.

Boy, does that make the nurses, doctors, technicians and all the others smile – so giving, but all they often get are cranky grumbles.

But there are downsides …

The waiting rooms and on-hold telephone calls – so time consuming and tedious, and destined to become even more familiar as I become a more full-time player in the health system than I or any of us desire.

The already tangible financial worries – also destined to become more acute.

Presently, the most challenging thing is attempting to get on top of and (hopefully) intelligently filtering an overwhelming amount of information and often contradictory advice.

Some time in coming months, difficult decisions will have to be made regarding treatment.

How all this will impact on Consider The Sauce, I have no way of knowing or even guessing.

Very little, I most fervently hope!

In the meantime, I intend to summon up the courage to continue to live well and laugh often.

 

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Yarraville/Seddon paid parking protest – a super effort

12 Comments

pro19pro21

 

When news first broke about Maribyrnong council’s intention of instigating paid parking in the villages of Yarraville and Seddon, Consider The Sauce initially assumed a somewhat uncharacteristic half-empty outlook.

OK, I figured, there’ll be some grumbling … but what council wants, council will surely get.

These days, I’m not sure about that … at all.

Truth is, the campaign against paid parking – and the community anger that fuels it – is gaining impressive momentum.

It’s well organised, too, with social media activity, a petition and an online survey.

 

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Today’s protest and march from Yarraville to Seddon was also an impressive display – a lot of people and many, many dogs (far more than covered in the pooch gallery below).

What I reckon were a couple of good points were made during the speechifying.

Namely …

That traders have a legitimate fear that many of their customers will shun paid parking and go where parking does not cost – particularly, though not entirely restricted to, Highpoint and Yarraville Square.

And secondly, if Yarraville and Seddon, then why not West Footscray?

On the rare occasions we have difficulty finding a car space, it’s just as likely to be in West Footscray as anywhere closer to home.

By contrast, the council’s case for paid parking – and I’ve read a lot – seems utterly wishy washy.

 

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Of course, you’ll be unsurprised that have yet to encounter a resident or trader actually in favour of paid parking.

Yet the council, it seems to me, has as yet fallen way sort of being in any way persuasive in demonstrating the desirability or the need for its plans.

We shall see …

In the meantime, and once more donning my half-empty hat, I see a possible outcome being the shelving of the paid parking plans – only for them to be rolled out again a few years down the track.

 

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The bloke on the right appears to have been partaking in the Koolaid …

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