Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dear You - Sundays

I remember when Sundays had a certain melancholy attached to them. Before I was old enough to appreciate nights by myself, it was the night a long-ago boyfriend worked. It also heralds the end of the weekend, of course, and one prepares, as best one can, for the onslaught of the working week. As I work largely from home, this hasn't been particularly relevant for many years. The Accountant has retired and Mademoiselle Rouge works in hospitality, so Sunday isn't weighted with any significance (except that Miss Rouge may be welcoming her weekend!)

Despite this, I still feel as though there needs to be something to look forward to on Sunday evening. For a long time we had the fam bbq. But with most of the fam moved out, that's no longer so relevant, either - although we do announce one every so often and they are always fun in a stressful kind of way.

Today I worked at making my room more ordered and more habitable, but before I did that I marinated a chicken - in orange juice, chermoula, honey and mustard to roast this evening. I knew we'd be gardening up at the Mothership's so I wanted something easy I could fling in the oven and forget about. I also cooked sticky ginger parkin - my go-to cake which is darkly delicious and not quite cake-like.

So I felt I could take an hour and shop for suitable chaos-ordering objects like lever files, a box file ( who knew they still made them!) and the like. I'm going to work over the next week at filling these with appropriate printed material. But the best thing I purchased? A roll pencil-case, for storing knitting needles when I travel. Seriously good!

Little compartments for needles. And my Knit Kit fits in the larger zipper section. I just love the sound of velcro!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dear You - Bread and Marriage

Dear You,

I’ve been thinking of the old-fashioned letter and how we hardly ever send or receive them anymore. How much delicate, passionate and truthful writing is now lost? An email is never the same. The reply can be too swift. It’s more like a conversation – indeed, increasingly like a conversation given that we now spend so much time texting.

Today, out of something like loneliness, I decided to treat some of this blogspace as a letter, a letter to you  - lost friend. By the time you’ve lived half a century, you’ve lost some friends along the way, either due to a falling-out-of -friendship, change of geography or a blow-up argument. I’ve lost friends to all three of these – and to a kind of disinterest that can settle in like dust. Let’s say you were lost to geography – a kinder reason than the others.

I have a new room. It’s my step-daughter’s old room. My daughter moved into when she moved back home but an infestation of some minute mites – unidentifiable by the naked eye – forced us to change rooms. I had been in her old room, a pale blue room decorated with the occasional green turtle wall decal and with a pale blue dado frieze she chose when we first moved in. I loved that room. The window was easily visible from the desk and just outside I’d put a birdbath that is always heavily used by different birds ranging from the too-large currawongs who balance carefully on it, to the tiny handfuls of wrens who flick in and out.

I’m now in a room that was painted a bright almost-apple green. The window is sideways to the desk and looks out, through a large tree, onto the blank side of my neighbour’s house. Birds come to the tree and I’ll put a birdbath in on this side before summer.  I had hoped that moving from one side of the house to the other would improve my internet service for audio things like Spotify and Skype, but it hasn’t. It’s the only room that hasn’t yet had wooden blinds put in, but at least the curtains are new and clean.

I’d feel hemmed in and sad if the room wasn’t just that much larger. In summer it will be unbearable – it’s one of the warmest rooms in the house and it will be like working in a sauna. I’m not looking forward to that. But, for the moment, I’m enjoying be able to spread out and introduce yet another bookcase into the mix.

But I didn’t really want to tell you about all that. I wanted to talk about bread. Specifically, I wanted to talk about sourdough and marriage.  I’ve been making sourdough – which generates quite a bit of floury mess in the kitchen, if you’re aiming for the correct hydration. Then there’s a sloppy mess of dough that needs to be pushed around, rather than actually kneaded. To clean your hands after pushing this around for five minutes, you use white flour and rub vigorously. Bits tend to fly around.

The Accountant is uneasy about this activity.  First he hovered. Now he tries to absent himself from the kitchen. Afterwards he cleans up my cleanup. He joyfully eats the baked bread. It’s just the initial stages he resents. He doesn’t enjoy cooking. Left on his own, he survives on a mixture of take-away and camping meals – sausages and mash, scrambled eggs and chops. A satisfactory meal for him is one composed of protein and two veg, one of which, at least, has escaped being burnt.

Today I took my dough mix outside, onto the deck, and moved it around where I would make least mess. Did he notice my effort to maintain harmony? The bread, rising now in its little cane basket, is a spelt loaf. I wish you were coming over for dinner. We could cut it, still warm, and eat it with the oxtail stew the Mothership gave me.

The Accountant won’t eat oxtail, but I love the glutinous flesh, falling from knuckled bones. It was one of the first things I learn to cook when I moved out of home. I think I rang my mother from a pay phone to get her recipe, which I then tweaked over the decades. A pay phone – STD because I was living in Toowoomba and she was in Brisbane. That was back when we wrote flurries of letters and checking the mail was a daily excitement.

Dear you, I hope your kitchen still smells of garlic, ginger and lemons and that you have paused in your dinner preparations to half catch at the edge of memory, a meal shared years ago.

Friday, August 29, 2014

In the depths of the cold

Well, a cold, rather than 'the' cold. Melbourne has warmed up and yesterday was a balmy 20 - 20 Celsius. The morning was wreathed in fog - I drove in early for a school visit which required an 8.15 start - but when that lifted, the day was heart-warmingly gorgeous. A good thing, too, as I've caught the devil of a cold and am surviving through the judicious use of medication, rest and Hercule Poiret videos. Oh - and spontaneous online purchases such as this - one of the cutest teapot cosies I have seen.

I've attended one offering from the Melbourne Writer's Festival - a seminar on romance writing conducted by Rachael Herron on Romance Writing. I don't write romance, but I have had a bit of writing slump lately. So , I thought I'd go and learn a little more about plotting. (I also wanted to see what knitwear Rachael was wearing.)

What I really didn't expect to do was to walk out of the seminar thinking I should try my hand at romance writing! But that is what happened. (Oh, and it was a very fetching green shawl, by the way.)

So, I'm using Write or Die to write roughly 2000 words a day - not on school visit days, which is wimpy of me, but that might also be because I'm deep in Congestion land and need to sleep at regular intervals.  With the siren call of romance and NaNoWrimo beckoning, I'm romping through the finish of my current novel - and enjoying it. I knew I would. Eventually. It was just getting there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Too exhuausted...

to post a Tuesday poem - but, don't worry - not all the Tuesday poets feel like this and you can read the poem at the hub and from there navigate a world rich in poetry. This week's featured poem, 'lost and found on the b train in winter'  is by Walter Bjorkman, guest edited by Michele Elvy.

This week I feel more lost than found and definitely wintry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Greensleeves'

I'm watching 'The Tudors' - sort of like Game of Thrones without dragons, wolves or eunuchs (well, certainly no actual dragons...). Hence this posting! I've always loved this folk song and particularly so when I discovered that it was attributed to Henry VIII. As a youngster, I became fascinated by the Tudors after reading Jean Plaidy's account of Elizabeth - and I've only just realised this very minute (thank you Wiki)  that Plaidy was the pseudonym  of Eleanor Hibbert who also wrote as Victoria Holt and Phillipa Carr - my goodness, what a prolific output! I believe the attribution to Henry VIII has been discredited but I still associate 'Greensleeves' with Henry and the doomed Anne Boleyn.


Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves.

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.


I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.


If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.


My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.


Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.

When you've done a little pavane here - trip the light fantastic over here where Tim Jones is this week's editor, bringing a poem, 'A whimper after the bang',  by Melbourne-based poet, Emily Manger.  If you'd like to hear more of Manger's work, click here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Tuesday Poem has been interrupted

by an impromptu office move. Sorry people - but check out the Tuesday Poem hub here - 'Agnus Dei' - great poem by Marty Smith brought to us all this week by guest editor, Janis Freegard. From the hub, of course, you can freerange other Tuesday poems. Have a lyrical week. I'm moving furniture, conquering bird mites - the usual stuff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Poem


This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed... Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see... Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place. 

 by Edna St Vincent Millay

As soon as I cut and pasted this poem, I questioned it. I'm leaving it up as my Tuesday Poem choice, but the issue of privacy is far more fraught for women! When you've contemplated what you'd do for a room of  your own, check out the Tuesday Poem on the hub. Today's poem, 'News from the Island' by Tracey Sullivan is a tribute to the art of weaving (appropriate after visiting the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show!) - or any art, really. I love the fact that the weaver offers news of the coveted weaving - as though it is (as it is, I guess) a mutual friend. Thanks to Claire Benyon, this week's editor, for showcasing the work of Tracey Sullivan.

I'm currently reading Candia McWilliam's memoir, What to Look for in Winter. Wonderful and sad. I keep meaning to blog quotations from what I'm reading and I so rarely manage that. We'll see what we can do later this week.

Today I ate yoghurt soup - so delicious, even in the middle of winter. I think it will appear as a staple on my summer menu!