Happiness as Anarchy #64: Absinthe

I do like a little sip of the Green Fairy from time to time. I first tasted it with some travellers from the south of France, who talked about their grandfather and his friends and the ritual that is followed when drinking absinthe – first the absinthe is poured into the glass, then a sugar cube balanced on the special slotted spoon that rest atop the glass, over which one slowly pours water. The water dissolves the sugar and when the mixture hits the absinthe it becomes cloudy, like a strange green alien milk. The flavour is heavily aniseed with a hint of mint, and combined with sweetness it is dangerously smooth and easy to drink. Although modern absinthe is not as crazy as the 19th brew, I still limit myself to two glasses as it does give me trippy dreams, and I am loathe to live the madness of an absinthe hangover.

For the history of absinthe and the story of bottles hidden on mountain paths, head over to Atlas Obscura’s article on the Green Fairy.

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Happiness as Anarchy #63: Ruby Grapefruit

One of my favourite fruits is Ruby Grapefruit. Grapefruit is an accidental hybrid that originated in Barbados when the sweet orange cross-pollenated with the pomelo. Apparently the ‘grape’ part of the name refers to the way the fruits hangs in clusters. Like many, I always thought it was a terribly bitter fruit until I learned that if you remove all the membrane you also remove the bitterness. Thus, there is serious commitment involved – it takes a good ten minutes to segment and remove the membrane of a grapefruit (significantly longer than it takes to eat it), but it is a surprisingly satisfying task and worth the effort to have a plate full of jewel-like segments bursting with flavour, zing and citrus juiciness.

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Happiness as Anarchy #62: Colander Bird

The rare and beautiful colander bird is found in a small area north of Bendigo. It lives in low grasslands near the North Central Catchment Management Authority building in Huntly, where it feeds on small pieces of discarded metal from passing traffic. Identifiable by its unique colander-like head and star-shaped markings, the colander bird is particularly impressive glinting in the afternoon sun.

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Happiness as Anarchy #61: Decorative Cabbages

Yes, you read it correctly. It definitely says Decorative Cabbages. These many layered pink cabbages are a cheery addition to the streetscape. I spotted a planter box filled with them in Hobart last week. After the first sighting, I then seemed to see them around every second corner. Some white, some pink, their frilled petals contrasting against the rich green leaves of the background. And if you ever get super peckish, you know you can nibble on a leaf. In truth these are Ornamental Kale, identified by their serrated leaves, but I like the sound of Decorative Cabbage better.

Happiness as Anarchy #60: Big, old trees

In the centre of the central Victorian town of Guildford there stands an enormous, old River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). I saw it for the first time today on my way back from Bendigo. It is, in the true sense of the word, awesome. Estimated to be somewhere between 500 and 1000 years old, it has a circumference of over 9 metres at the base, and has a number of limbs that have curiously fused together. It makes me think the people making decisions to remove the giant trees at Buangor for a highway have never seen the trees in real life. If they had, they would surely understand what incredible living beings they are.

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Happiness as Anarchy #59: A Sunday Kind of Love

I been listening to Etta James this week (I’ve had a request for At Last for next month’s gigs) and am quite enamoured with A Sunday Kind of Love. It’s a great song written in 1946 by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima. There’s a lot of space in the melody, which I like and it gives someone like Etta James a lot of room to make it her own. The chords changes are straightforward, but peppered with lots of gritty chord extensions that give it a bluesy feel. And the lyrics are fabulous – embodying the grit of everyday life and what one really needs in relationships:

And my arms need someone, someone to enfold
To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold

Here’s Etta James’ version – it’s hard to go past it and you’ll find or a whole list of others here.

Happiness as Anarchy #58: Sorting

With the threat of moving house looming large over my head, I cleaned another shelf this evening. Now I have a neat little box of papers and notebooks a quarter the size it was, ready to trot off to the new place. In amongst the sorting I have come across beautiful little memories – my great Aunt Amie’s memorial booklet, a heartfelt card from a dear friend, a little letter from an ex-student, and all kinds of odd notes to self. There is much more to sort, and thus many more little forgotten treasures to find.

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Happiness as Anarchy #57: Fun art

I love being able to touch the art. I adore the different textures of things – marble, stone, brass, glass, sand, fabric, water, tile, wood. In the forecourt at Mona there is a big trampoline which has not only interesting things to feel, but you’re allowed to jump on it! For texture there’s the familiar scratch of trampoline mat and the rough maritime ropes as a barrier; the lines of the trampoline create endlessly fascinating pathways for the eye; and the bells animate the whole sculpture with unexpected sound. The big bells are very big and deeply resonant and the the little ones (you can see them if you look closely) tinkle over the top, mingling with children’s laughter and trampoline squeaks. (I didn’t engage my sense of taste of smell by licking or sniffing it, but I’m sure if I did it would have its own peculiar characteristics.)

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Happiness as Anarchy #56: Travelling by boat

Travelling by boat is a real joy for a girl from land-locked central Victoria. Moving on the water has a different feeling from rolling wheels on solid roads. It was chilly on the deck of the ferry to Mona as we pushed up the Derwent this morning – there’s snow on Kunanyi / Mount Wellington – but the waves and the sea air compelled me to stay outside. Perhaps it’s the freedom of sea travel that appeals to me, the absence of lines and boundaries and traffic rules. For the short time of the journey there is a sense of limitlessness and unfettered possibility.

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I took this photo from the Mona ferry. The little red and white ferry is one of the Hobart ferries.

Happiness as Anarchy #55: Bird Breakfast

Birds are fascinating creatures and so compelling to watch. I find it intriguing the way they bob about in little jerky motions on the ground, but are so graceful in the air. These galahs (and a big bunch of their friends) were completely unperturbed by my giant presence observing them this morning as they hoed into their breakfast. Whatever they were digging out of the grass with their beaks must have been absolutely delicious, judging by the enthusiasm with which they were going about it. Perhaps it was a seasonal special available only briefly, the galah equivalent of white peaches.

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