I love borrowing a real, hardcopy book from the library. I like the feel of a book in my hands and the flexibility to read almost anywhere. Physically going to the library to find and borrow the book is also a pleasure. One stumbles across all kinds of fascinating books as the eye roves the shelves. Books that haven’t appeared in a catalogue search because the search terms weren’t quite right, or their title didn’t grab your attention like a well-designed spine might do. Today’s expedition to library for one book resulted in four.
My house is still a pile of boxes that need unpacking and sorting (it’s only been 6 months since I moved!) and I will confess that the mess is becoming more irritating as the weeks roll by. Mostly because I spend so much time looking for things. Small things, big things, old things, new things, important things and trivial things. I swear I went through every box (some of them twice) looking for my business cards and just when I was about to give up in a cloud of grumpiness, I found the magic box sitting quietly in a corner. In addition to finding the sought after cards, I found two hundred dollars in a pencil case. Hurrah for the joy that the chaos delivers!
I love the rumble of thunder, the flash of lightning and the smell of rain on hot earth. I could happily watch the show for hours. Is it the electricity in the air that jiggles all my atoms around? There’s a possibility that negative ions in storm, and interestingly in the shower, make you feel happy. In digging around, I found this interesting article on storms, ions and psychology in the science magazine Nautilus.
Wild Fennel grows taller than me in my backyard. It’s brilliant yellow flowers and green stalks stand proudly, reaching for the sky, and it release a wonderful liquorice fragrance when you brush against it.
It’s not blow-your-mind amazing, but the Luv-a-duck confit duck legs from the supermarket are pretty good as far as prepared meals go. Fifteen minutes in the oven and it’s ready to eat and quite flavoursome. A few sliced tomatoes with basil and olive oil in the oven at the same time is the perfect accompaniment. Et voilà, a proper meal for minimal effort when home alone. I ate it before I thought to snap a photo, so some cute ducklings instead.
What a surprising splash of greenery down a laneway amid the noise, bustle and concrete of inner city Melbourne. There’s something very domestic about the ramble of plants in pots and hanging off balconies, and the line of pots at the end of the lane. It gives the impression that it’s been done by plant-loving residents rather than as part of a business strategy. I’d love to see more plants in the city.
My morning walk takes me past a neighbouring magnolia. This morning I noticed the first few flowers had opened, the tree appearing as though it had been splashed with pink paint. It will be a daily joy over the coming weeks to watch the buds unfurl in all their colourful glory.
All the branding and marketing experts would probably say that under no circumstances should I tell you that I was gardening in my underwear today. I’m going to ignore them. It’s summer in Australia – the weather is hot and so am I. The plant needs watering and the tomatoes need tying up, so I put on my gardening gloves and got the job done. The evening breeze was quite pleasant and the chooks didn’t bat an eyelid!
What I will not do is post a selfie of the aforementioned activity. Instead I give you Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe, painted in 1863. Polite Parisian society was outraged by the casual nudity when it was exhibited in the Salon des Refusés the same year.
Gaby Moreno is a Guatemalen singer and musician who now lives in LA. I came across her while learning the 1947 song Quizás, Quizás, Quizás. You probably know the English translation Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, as sung by Doris Day. Only months after discovering her gorgeous sound – a unique blend of jazz, latin, folk, and 1960s pop – she toured Australia. I saw her perform in Melbourne and was pleased to find she is just as delightful on stage as she sounds in her recordings.
Here she is working her magic with a stellar band for A Prairie Home Companion concert.
AAh, the quiet comfort of mashed potato. The right variety of potatoes, properly cooked and mashed to a smooth, creamy texture with lots of butter and salt. The secret ingredient for super-creamy mash is whisking in an egg at the end. I learned this when I was living in England many moons ago and asked the chef in a pub how he made his mash so creamy. An obliging chap, he told me the simple secret. A French chef friend maintains that an equal ratio of butter to potato is the key, but in deference to my arterial health I go with the egg.