Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Summer, city, concrete, graffiti.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A new label

Check it out at Letitia's lovely blog Freefalling (she has several great blogs on the go). It seems that tapophilia is the art  and pleasure of pottering about in cemeteries. 
I think that the best cemeteries must be at least a little worn and untidy and softened by time.

This is the homely Chinese section of the Old Ballarat Cemetery. The simple headstones all face south, and it is tidy, but gently so, not too manicured and rose-bushed.

 So I am a tapophiliac.
I knew many other people love cemeteries and now I have the word.
Thanks Letitia!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cutting up lino

I didn't have time to make Christmas cards. This often happens and I  don't panic, I just make New Year cards and send them off before Chinese New Year.

I love cutting the soft, thick  lino.

It's fun printing off dragons and whispy clouds on bits of paper. Not quite enough fun to do it too often, however - I never make Christmas and New Year cards both in the one season.

Holy goats and blood plums

First we bought a box of blood plums from the cooking fruit stand at Wilsons.

Then we went to Daylesford, where we ended up in the Aladdin's cave that is Cliffy's, and after tea and cake, bought a cheese from the goats at Holy Goat and tiny olives from Mt Zero and went home and feasted.

Blood plums arrive in high summer. I will put up with the heat for the joy of fresh and, better still, stewed blood plums. (Sorry, but I grew up with stewed blood plums - inelegant term for a delicious dish).

On the right (click) are 4 cakes of locally made soap - sandalwood, mandarin, rose and goat milk, lemongrass. Almost good enough to eat, and so lovely to wash with this is now the only soap I use.



Friday, 6 January 2012

Water dragon

 This is the hazy, moody sky on the very hot evening of  Tuesday after Christmas. We'd just had the first heatwave (4 days) since last summer, and I was desperate for a cool change.

The temperature stayed in the thirties, but it got a bit sticky and some rain fell briefly, and just as the dogs and I were pottering out the gate for an evening walk - too hot to walk them earlier - over the gate glowed a double rainbow.

 Such a beautiful beginning to this year of a watery dragon.
The dragon - in fact the water dragon -  is my birth year in the East Asian astrological cycle.

 The real  New Year of the dragon doesn't officially begin until the end of January. Then there'll be a big bash with Yin's family and lions dancing among the fire crackers in Little Bourke Street. 

It's about a month between our two big family occasions, and these few weeks between Christmas and Chinese New Year are a quiet space out of everyday life. The frenzy building up to the 25th of December has lapsed into reading and making and dreaming a bit. Then after a bit of craziness with drums and gunpowder and yet more feasting, I return to work and real time.

Water dragons bringing a little rain and rainbows.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Plum sauce

Jake pruned the vegetation back, cleared the gutters and cleared away the heaps of twigs and branches and dangerous vegetation ready for summer.
He picked the cherry plums before pruning them  back.

I made tangy, spicy, home-made plum sauce.


Beware. This is a very self-indulgent post. Read on only  if you can tolerate reminiscences of times past. Otherwise skip this - it's really just for me.

When I went book shopping in Melbourne after Christmas, I wandered around Carlton and took some piccies of places I knew as a uni student, in my first shared house.

Here it is. I paid $4 a week rent for a room at the back of the left-hand terrace. Half of it was taken up with files from Student Travel.
Later I moved upstairs to an $8 room. It was worth the extra for privacy - everyone used to climb in through the window of my downstair room when they'd lost keys etc.

There were Op shops, butchers, potters and other low rent shops in Lygon Street, not just restaurants, clothing and knicknack places.

No Cinema Nova, no Brunetti's, but  Otto Pace made exquisite gelati and cakes where Donnini's is now.

There were gum trees, not plane trees, along the road.

Jimmy Watsons wine bar.  This is a real oldie - my Mum used to love JWs when she was a student in the 1930s at what used to be the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (not a university then - RMIT was 'the working man's college'. My Dad learned to be a lab tech at RMIT, Yin's uncle became an analytical chemist there).

The house where I first learned to cook rice properly - that is, not boil it into a soggy mass. It was a household of science and engineering students from Hong Kong. They used to have me in to dinner, teach me some cooking and let me try out my Chinese conversation. Lovely, patient people!
  Just at the side was Johhny's Green Room  - good for late coffee and company.

The Bughouse - cheap, grungy seats and great films.

Apart from the hospital and the university there was nothing built higher than two stories, now new buildings close the streets in.

Summer laneways all round the inner city used to blaze blue under great heaps of  morning glory. It seems to have been wrenched out everywhere. Tidy and bleak.

Having helped Jess look for housing around here a few years ago, I think that the out-door dunnies, old gas stoves, hot water only available from gas heater over the kitchen sink or from a copper in a back wash-house have all gone from these spruced up houses.

 So, ready to begin anew now. Summer and a new project.


Christmas was hot. Nights bright with stars and loud with crickets.
Both my boys came home and we had a good time.

Cherries are my favourite Christmas fruit.
I've loved the Cherry Tree Carol since I was a child because cherries and roses, not snow, are Christmas delights here.

Of course there was a lot of Christmas baking and eating.
Mince pies, pudding, cake and shortbread as usual. No, the heat makes no difference. I will bake at Christmas.
There was a brief outbreak of Australiana and all the gingerbread bikkies turned out as wombats this year.

Tinsels and glass and glitter scented with pine,

and the company of dear friends.