Sunday, 27 February 2011


The day began with a bowl of strawberries. I washed the floors, I wrote quite a lot and liked it when I read it over. I went for a walk in between showers. A lovely Sunday.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

bees and butterflies and dogs

There haven't been many bees in the garden this year. I 've seen clouds of butterflies and masses of dragonflies but very few bees and not many blow flies.

I live near a very large park and most springs I see a swarm or two of bees - in the park and even settling briefly (and a bit scarily) in my front garden. Not this year. The lavender, which should be abuzz with bees, is full of butterflies instead. Perhaps the weather has been too cold and too wet for bees?

I wonder if the reason I haven't had any plums, peaches, apples or almonds this year is because there have been so few bees?

Berries have been good though - I grew lots of blackberries (the approved non-weed kind),  loganberries and wrested a few raspberries from the birds - or the dogs.

Paddy loves fruit and will scavenge fallen fruit and steal it from lower branches. He got most of the feijoas last year. The nectarine tree did well this year and so did Paddy.

Perhaps you can see the fragment of a nectarine at his feet. The Kitty dog is much more conventional in her eating and usually leaves the fruit alone, but this year she followed Paddy's lead and began to eat ripe nectarines too. Here she is watching Paddy eat his nectarine.

Now she's off to find one too.

Sneaking behind the lemon tree, and sniffing around for fallen fruit.

Then she looks up  - yum!

She looks a bit ragged and un-sheepdoglike as I have just given her her second summer haircut.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


 'Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig'


When I saw the Gaelic words in the Old Ballarat Cemetery last Sunday I remembered a poem called Hallaig by Sorley Maclean, a modern poet who writes in Gaelic as well as English.You can find Hallaig in both Gaelic and English here on the poet's website.

There are still deer around and about Ballarat - these ones were at Mt Egerton - but I don't think any families here still speak Gaelic.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sunday walk

This Sunday I spent all afternoon wandering around the Old Ballarat Cemetery. It started in the gold rush and filled up quickly. The New Cemetery was begun in 1867.

I was mostly looking at the Chinese graves. The cemetery is a peaceful place on a warm afternoon. Lots of insects, grass and trees as well as rusty iron, marble and bluestone.

Lost languages, as well as lost people, are remembered here.

Cooking tools

Whenever I've had a spell of inertia, the first thing I want to do as I liven up is to clean and to cook. I cleaned the kitchen and then I made bread, a custard and cherry tart and pesto.

My measuring cup and ceramic baking beads, my favourite cookbook when I want to make something I don't know by heart,

the grater that is 'just right' and my mortar and pestle.

None of my kitchen tools are electric.
The recipe books that I've looked at lately assume that their reader will use an electric-powered machine to mix and blend, whip and puree, or even to knead the bread. 
But I really like to use my hands and simple tools to cook.
I like to use as little power as possible.
I like the magic of creating complex food with very simple means.

I was just reading this blog and was fascinated and impressed. I try to live a conscious and ethical life, but I am not so focussed. Cooking with hand tools is a start...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Taking a breather

Last night I sat up glued to the TV and the net in all forms - Twitter, ABC news, Bureau of Meteorology - full of dread that seems silly now. My elder son was in Cairns, not in an evacuation centre but riding out the cyclone in a beachside area threatened by both the massive winds and a storm surge of a possible 5 metres.
Yasi veered south and  hit other places hard, and by early morning I had a cheerful and relieved phonecall from him.  Despite the destruction and ruin of towns and crops no lives have been lost. Miraculous yes - but a tribute to the common sense and community organisation that swung into place during the emergency.
The year of the Tiger ended today and the Rabbit is hopping along in its place. I'm taking a breather and I'll be back after New Year.
Happy Year of the Rabbit!