Week 27/2021: the fabric of our streets

Week 27/2021: week of 5 July 2021

What did I want to do better this week?

I wanted to work on going to bed earlier, taking baby steps rather than trying to change everything all at once. So my plan was to try and shut everything down by 9.45 on four days this week.

So, how did that go then?

I succeeded with four days and, even on the days I didn’t shut down by 9.45, I had done it by 10.00.

The next part of the plan for getting more sleep was to turn my alarms off for a couple of weeks and see what time my body wanted to wake up. So the deal I made with myself was I no longer had to wake up at 5.30 but whatever time I woke up would be the time I got up. Unless it was ridiculously early. But if it was a time close to the time I would have set my alarm for, then it would be time to get up and go for a walk.

The first night I did this, I woke up four or five times during the night, the last time at 4.00 when I lay there until I got up at 6.15. I’m not sure if my subconscious knew the alarm was off and wanted to keep checking whether it was the right time, or what was going on.

Hint: no time starting with 12, 2, 3 or 4 is the correct time to be getting up.

This is an experiment in progress and I’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

Waves splashing over rocks on the beach
Afternoon walk

21 for 2021 update

Vegetable of the week (thing 2)

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavsky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

After a week off from this, I decided to make the Salt-baked Yam Tacos (page 310, aka Yacos). The reason for doing it this week is that there were yams at the shop, so it was time to take advantage of that.

According to Alice, you’re supposed to soak them in water for 20 minutes and scrub them with a vegetable brush before cooking them. I, of course, hadn’t read this section, and as the yams looked pretty clean I just rinsed them and scraped off any dodgy looking bits.

A selection of scrubbed yams
Little yams on the rock salt

She says that roasting them on salt “draws the water out and intensifies the texture so you’re leaved with the chew of chicken, with the lightness of fish”. Sounds intriguing.

I’m not sure how big the yams in the recipe were but mine were small and baking for an hour would have been overkill. I think I cooked them for about 45 minutes and they were very soft by then. Peeling them was impossible because the skins were so thin and when I tried, they just turned to mush. So I kept the skins on and that worked out fine. I wouldn’t say they were chewy though.

Baked yams on rock salt
Baked yams

The coriander and chilli mix added a nice zing to the dish and it was a really enjoyable, if light, meal.

Salt-baked Yam Tacos from the book In Praise of Veg
Salt-baked Yam Tacos

Annoying undone things (thing 5)

I am now into week three of seasoning the frypan, one of the things that has been on the list for more than 12 months. I completed the oven seasoning stage this week and now I have to burn the shit out of it to create the non-stick surface. (I’m not sure if that’s the exact instruction but it’s something like that.) It’s the bit that I’m terrified of getting wrong and ruining the pan, which is why I’d been putting off doing it for so long.

I deleted one of the things from the list because I’d left it so long it resolved itself. I like that. Progress without actually doing anything.

Kramstable’s videos (thing 8)

After adding in the segments Kramstable had noticed were missing last week and finishing up the fourth (?) final revision of the first video, I noticed something else I hadn’t included. Kramstable said I’d decided not to put that in but, on reflection, I thought it needed to be there. So I put that in too and made yet another final version. We took what we thought was the final version to show my mother on Friday.

It all went well until the credits, where we noticed a typo.

Back to the editing board . . . Again.

The first video is now done. Again. And I did some more work on the second one.

My mother’s story (thing 9)

This week I went through a bunch of my dads photo’s with my mum.

What I have is a heap of scanned slides that my mum has numbered and written what they are on a sheet of paper. Some of the writing is pretty vague so I’ve been showing them to her and asking what she can remember about them.

Most of the pictures we looked at this week were ones Dad had made before he met her so she wasn’t sure who the people were or when they were taken, other than in NSW. I thought it would be good to use some of them to illustrate his story but there doesn’t seem to be much I can use to link the photos to what he’s written.

It occurred to me after I’d talked to Mum that maybe Dad had had written on the actual slides some more details about what, where and when they were. I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me at first, because my father was something of a meticulous record keeper, so of course his slides are captioned. Not all thoroughly but most of them seem to be dated, which helps me work out where they fit into the story.

So next week’s work will be to pull out 400 or so slides individually and record in more detail than my mum did what they actually are.

The Compelling Frame course (thing 11)

I did some work on lesson 10. This was about looking at what gives a photo impact and how including too much in a photo can dilute the impact. This is something I know I do a lot.

Brainsparker (thing 17)

I didn’t do any work on this thing this week. I think I’ve somehow got a week ahead of the lesson release dates and, as the modules are released on Thursday and Thursday was my last day of work for the week, I didn’t have time to work through the new lesson.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 3 (1, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 5 (2, 5, 8, 9, 11)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 8 (4, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)

What else did I do this week?

The fabric of our streets

McCann’s Model World used to be at 137 Elizabeth Street but they moved out a while ago. Earlier in the year, while I was wandering up that part of town, I noticed that there was a development application notice on the shopfront so I decided to take a few photos of the streetscape in case there was about to be a dramatic change.

Former McCann's Model World shop 137 Elizabeth St, February 2021, with development application signs in the window
137 Elizabeth Street, February 2021

Since then, I hadn’t paid much attention to what was going on in that block until last week, when I noticed the entire shop had been demolished. Apparently it’s going to be another hotel. (Insert question about why hotels and university buildings are more important than addressing the housing shortage.)

137 Elizabeth Street, June 2021. The building has been demolished.
137 Elizabeth Street, June 2021

What I thought was really cool about this (if there can be anything cool about demolishing an unobtrusive little building) is that removing the McCann’s awning has revealed the previously hidden top of the awning next door at 135 Elizabeth Street. It’s currently Tradewear, but was obviously previously a Singer sewing machine store.

Old Singer sign on 135 Elizabeth Street revealed after demolition of 137 Elizabeth St
Old Singer sign on 135 Elizabeth Street

I have no idea how old the Singer sign is. In a very quick search, I found reference to 135 Elizabeth Street being a Singer store in 1950, when the shop was sold, along with the now demolished 137 Elizabeth, for the sum of 12,500 pounds, but I haven’t found anything earlier than that. At the time, 137 had been a butcher shop. There are earlier references to a Singer store at 80 Elizabeth Street in 1902. So maybe they moved up the road later on. Or maybe there was more than one Singer shop in Elizabeth Street. I will keep looking!

I’m glad I documented the shop earlier in the year. I find the history of these little buildings fascinating, the shops that everyone would take for granted, walking past them every day without knowing very much, if anything, about their previous lives. They are the places that make up the everyday streetscapes, the fabric of our towns and cities, with layers of history that can now only be uncovered in archives and historical photos. We lose them, one by one, as our cities grow, and we quickly forget that they used to be there, as grander, newer, larger buildings take their place. Often the buildings that are demolished have replaced even older buildings, some of which have only the sketchiest of records. Some have been lost to time altogether.

I love making records of our streets. I love being able go back over my photos, even though I’ve only been doing this a few years, and seeing what’s changed, and how things used to look. I wonder what changes this streetscape will see in the next ten years. I know I will still be photographing it.

What I’m reading this week

  • Gut. The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ by Giulia Enders
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
  • Fearless Writing by William Kenower

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 3): 3
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 5): I can’t remember.
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 4
  • Days I shut my computer down before 9.45 (Goal = 4): 4
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