Monday, October 31, 2005

More birds in the Bush

One day I'll get slapped down for posting this sort of stuff, if our Prime Minister has his way, but I just can't resist. Don't click here if you're at work, but if you are somewhere safe and soundproof, click away. It's a short film, and very funny. I especially like the post-it notes in bed. Must try it for one of my ghost-writings.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Frankly, m'deah, I don't give a damn

Darling, it seems that you belong in Gone with the
Wind; the proper place for a romantic. You
belong in a tumultous world of changes and
opportunities, where your independence paves
the road for your survival. It is trying being
both a cynic and a dreamer, no?

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Look at moi, look at moi...

Remember poor old Lenny, a friend's cat who became tragic road pizza? Well, this is Mia, Lenny's replacementsuccessor. She is helping to ease the pain of Lenny's demise by screaming for a few days then settling down to loud purrs, with the help of lots of love.
Mia's nickname is Epponnee-rae. She must purr in a very Aussie accent!

Welcome to the world of cat-lovers, little dude. Stay away from the road!

Swallowing my pride and prejudices: spoiler alert

The AP and I went to see Pride and Prejudice this afternoon. We picked the right movie session -- at 1.30 in the afternoon, the place was half-full, mostly with white permed heads looking like a cotton harvest above a red velvet field of seats. As we came out at 4.00 (yes, it is a long movie, but it doesn't feel it) there was a ticket line stretching out into the street!

Gentle reader, I tried to go in with an open mind! I tried to keep the BBC version well back in my consciousness, but it was hard. Don't get me wrong -- I think this is an excellent film, but it's hard not to think about how people played their roles in both versions. BBC Lydia was superior to movie Lydia. Much as I love Tom Hollander (especially in Bedrooms and Hallways), and thought that he captured Mr Collins well, I just can't go past BBC Collins for utter sliminess and obsequiousness. I prefer the BBC Mrs Bennet, and Mr Bennet. There was way too little movie Wickham, and he had hardly any twinkle or charm.

Of course, there's only so much a movie can fit in, and a full drama tv series has the luxury of being true to the length and detail of a novel. The movie had to play with time, settings, pace and tension, and I think it did a pretty good job. It was very lush, the settings were edible, the costumes beautiful but not too self-indulgent. I don't think, as had been reported to me, that the Bennets were banished to dramatic squallor. I do think it was a more faithful rendition of rural England of the time than other prettified period pieces.

Keira Knightley was good as Lizzie -- although, of course, too skinny, but that's to be expected in this day and age. However, it was pretty obvious that she'd watched the BBC version, because she seemed to model herself upon Jennifer Ehle, and one or two times I could swear she'd stood in front of a mirror with the BBC playing next to her and a remote control and mimicked Jennifer's Lizzie until she got it right.

And here's the bit where I swallow my pride. Matthew MacFadyen was a terrific Darcy, once you got past the first few garbled deliveries. Not as much eye-candy as You-Know-Who, but I thought he was pretty close to what Jane Austen was describing in the book -- not overly handsome (he does grow on you, though), quietly proud, and excruciatingly withdrawn around unknown people. My heart bled for him over and over, as he wanted to get to know the girl, but kept holding back. The scene where he is around his sister is so true to the novel; when he smiles it is almost shocking how much his face changes. And what I respect in the film, for all its faults (and there are a lot), is that unlike most Hollywood garbage (in that once the surly hero shows his 'inner' self, he is transformed instantly to a gushing, likeable dude for the rest of the film), that is actually the only smile you get. He stays serious and intense, right to the last drop. Worked for me.

I guess I'm giving it a thumbs-up. In fact, I know I am. It acts like Austen and looks like Bronte, at least in the drama of the camerawork and settings. I kept thinking that MacFadyen would make an excellent Heathcliffe... when I looked him up (no photo, bummer), I discovered that he had been in the BBC's Wuthering Heights, but played Hareton Earnshaw.

Oh, by the way, I just read another review on the web that said that Emma Thompson had a big part in buffing the movie screenplay up to scratch, but it was only acknowledged as a 'special thanks' right at the end of the credits. If that's true, thuumbs-down to the producers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Write now!

Popping in on Sorrow and following the hilarious book review links, I stumbled upon Defective Yeti's answer to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWiMo), a concept that nearly scared me out of blogging in my first tender months last year. Matthew (the Yeti) has invented WriAShorStorWe!. It's still an exhausting concept for my current schedule, but others may be interested... (Hem hem, Kate and Harry.)

Magpie's cunning stunt

One thing I don't like in Canberra is Magpie Nesting Season. Yesterday I nearly came off my bike on the bike road along the main thoroughfare through Canberra (Northbourne Avenue) because a fecking maggie swooped and gave me a stunning peck on the base of my skull behind my left ear. A very deliberate aim below my helmet and where I couldn't see it coming. It was sheer luck that I didn't fall off my bike and land under the bus cruising patiently behind me. And then, Dear Reader, I would have been road pizza.

Today I have a rotten bruise behind my ear, a sore shoulder blade and a hip that keeps falling out of place, causing me to hobble painfully.

The latter two are not magpie-related, but connected to the fact that by this afternoon I reached 300 sweeps of the letter press for my visiting artist's book project. 200 still to do by tomorrow afternoon. Saturday, I sleep in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stuffed-in cat

Between work commitments and big thunderstorms when I want to get on my computer, I haven't managed to get on and post. I'm printing a huge letterpress project this week, 8 editions of 10 pages which have to be printed at least 5 times each. I don't even want to add that up in case I feel faint.

So while I'm busy, have a look at stuff on my cat. It's got some good moments, whether you like cats or not!

This is Mr Pooter, by the way. He was helping me re-screen my front door on the weekend. He got a bit stuck in the roll. Mr Padge helpfully jumped on him while he was stuck, so now my new screen door has honorable cat-creases in it (well, that's the official excuse for the amateur job).

PS Cranky comment of the day, after hearing the morning news: seems to me that the only thing missing from the current bird 'flu scaremongering is a quotation from Nostradamus predicting it. Only a matter of time, I guess...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Remember to breathe

Curve, originally uploaded by Ampersand Duck.

Friday, October 21, 2005

That silly crush

Oh girls. I know this is an old Adam Hills column, but read it and weep.

I'd post a photo, but I've had to do a deal with the cants at Flickr who wouldn't let me have a little changing photo doobie in my sidebar (authentic techie-speak there) until I promised not to download public domain photos. Didn't think photos of Colin Firth and Shahruhk Khan were THAT sinful.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Teeth-gnash du Jour

My parents visited on the weekend and dropped off my quarterly plastic bag stuffed with cheap women's magazines, courtesy of my Nana. Fun for a while, but then I always get cranky.

I wish they'd be honest with women! There's only one remedy for cellulite, and it's called Photoshop. Women who star in popular shows starve themselves because they're terrified of being sacked by male bosses for having an extra inch of fat, not because it's a cool thing to do. They are not role models. And babies are not fashion accessories. Dogs in handbags probably poo in handbags. And no celebrity is going to take advice about their lovelife from the Readers' Letter Page.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The usual Tuesday boredom

I'm making lots of polymer plates today, ready to do some relief printing next week with a visiting artist. There's lots of waiting in-between stages (expose plate to UV, place in washer, dry, expose again to harden) so I'm cruising around, reading through your blogs and links. Yes, yours. Discovered cat and girl. I really like this particular cartoon. And this one. I love this woman's fundraising idea -- you send her money and she'll send you a cartoon about what she used the money to do!

Luckily this platemaking machine has a very loud and annoying timer buzzer so that I don't get lost while wandering...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fyodor's Meme

A special treat for all of you who crave more Fyodor:

7 things I want to do before I die:

1. Dive the wreck of the USS Saratoga at Bikini Atoll.
2. Heliski the snow-capped volcanoes of Kamchatka.
3. Write a good novel. Don't really care if it gets published or not, but I'd be terribly disappointed with myself if it was crap.
4. Read Harry's oeuvre. Or eat it. I'm not really sure what Harry's going to produce.
5. Acquire a Masamune katana.
6. Invent, acquire or steal a time machine.
7. Failing #6 above, live long enough for the boffins to get off their shiny arses and get that longevity treatment working.

7 things I cannot do:

1. Fly. Under my own power, that is.
2. Breathe water.
3. Read minds.
4. Tear a label off a beer bottle in one piece, buggrit.
5. Listen to Alan Jones without laughing.
6. Construct a scale model of the Serenity using only Lego.
7. Read sanskrit.

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

1. A nicely full, round arse.
2. A true appreciation for the absurd.
3. Long, billowy skirts. A bit odd, but there is an explanation that's not at all pervy.
4. Feistiness, defined as the ability to call me on the bullshit I'm constantly spouting.
5. Intelligence.
6. Deep and abiding love of a good fry. Must love bacon.
7. Passion.

7 things that I say most often:
Aside from „the‰, „hi‰ and its variants etc. these are some of the more interesting words, commonly said:

1. Goddamnit
2. Bugger
3. Feck
4. Really?
5. Yowzah
6. Dagnabit
7. Youwannawanga?

7 celebrity crushes:
This proved to be really, stupidly, extraordinarily difficult. Far too many choices.

Prima inter pares: Emmanuelle Béart[Une Femme Française]

The other six, in no order:
Charlotte Rampling [Zardoz]
Monica Bellucci [L'Appartement]
Jennifer Connelly [The Rocketeer]
Helen Mirren [Excalibur]
Carrie-Anne Moss [Memento]
Sean Young [Bladerunner]

Honourable mentions:
Audrey Tautou [Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain]
Gillian Anderson [The House of Mirth]
Kristin Scott-Thomas [Angels & Insects]
Rachel Weisz [Stealing Beauty]
Famke Janssen [Goldeneye]
The list goes on, goddangnabit.

7 people I want to do this (and apologies if you've already done it, or if someone else has tagged you, you know how memes are):

1. Miss Floppy
2. Underwhimsical Mel
3. Haiku Hoges
4. Hazbat
5. The Lovely Lucy Tartan
6. Kimberella, Queen of the Pyrates
7. Fuschianista, if she's still interested in this blogging caper.

Partying hard on a Sunday NIght

Ohhhh... my head hurts. I spent the whole day yesterday watching some friends entwining their futures, and that came hand in hand with a lot of rather nice wine.

These people are dear friends of my Best Beloved. They are Thai buddhists, and the groom had spent some time in the Canberra monastery here, as a part-time monk. Apparently you can do that, just spend 6 months in robes, fully participating in a monk's life, and then shed it all and go back to a 'normal' life. I'd say it would have an impact upon they way you conducted the rest of your life, if you took it seriously. I heard yesterday that a very common way for young men to behave when they first leave the monastery is to find a bottle of whiskey and some hot chicks.

It also seems that being born a buddhist is different to taking it on board later in life. I've met many westerners who have adopted buddhism and are very conscientious about shunning materialism etc. The bride in this couple loves expensive clothes, buys nothing but Crabtree and Evelyn home products, and has her home shrine to Buddha next to her handbag collection in the spare room. Mind you, she's an extremely sweet, kind, generous person, and takes her soul very seriously. She just likes pretty things.

Anyhoo, they had a blessing ceremony at the local Thai Buddhist temple in Lyneham (we got lost and wandered into the Vietnamese temple down the road -- it's a very religious street!) and because R. had been a monk there, the temple monks and community went all out. I found it wonderful -- kneeling in the dim room, watching them bow to the tall golden Buddha and light candles and incense, then bowing to the saffron/brown robed monks sitting in a row on a raised platform at the side. Buddha had a white cord tied around his thumb, which looped up to the ceiling rafters and across the room to the line of monks, who unravelled the cord across their laps and past the past one, and they held it in their hands while they chanted, so that by proxy they were all holding Buddha's golden hand.

As the ceremony was in Thai, we couldn't understand (BB knew some of it, being versed in a lot of religious cultures) but we joined into the periodic bowing, always in sets of three. Then we helped to feed the monks, each holding a bowl of hot rice and a spoon, placing some in each monk's large bowl as they passed. They sat back up on the platform and every person took a platter of food (brought in by the temple faithful) and offered it to the monks. Men could give their platter straight to the monks but we dirty women had to place our platters on a special piece of cloth, which the monks used to drag the food towards them. Then we got to feast, on wonderful food.

After the feasting came the watery blessing, where we had to kneel in front of the monks and they flicked blessed water at us with a straw broomy thing. Those monks are quite mischievous! They really enjoyed that part, and one in particular took great glee in flicking great gobs of water at the bride, whose hair was lacquered into an amazing shape for the secular ceremony to follow.

A few hours of peace followed where we all went home and changed into our fancy gear, then came the Great White Wedding. Ceremony at the Canberra Hyatt, reception at The Lobby, the posh restaurant in the parliamentary triangle which has been the scene of much political wheeling and dealing. Apparently both these venues are cheaper to hire on a sunday, so R & N got to have the fancy wedding of her dreams at a reasonable price. Still, it had ALL the trimmings, and would not have been very cheap!

So we partied hard, with four hours of an open bar, lashings of excellent food and a well-used dance floor. Many of you will know that BB does not dance. Ha. I managed to get him up for the 'all join into the bridal waltz' bit, and I was really proud of myself. But then I played my cards right. The disco music started, and BB's best friend asked me to dance. So we did. And we did. And we did. Finally BB couldn't stand it anymore, and he joined us. Readers, he boogied the night away. I can see why he doesn't like dancing, he doesn't have natural grace, but he was gorgeous, just because he was there. Hooray!

The last bit of fun was discovering that the bride had made an 'absolutely not' list for the DJ in case we decided to make requests. What a great idea! This was her list:

-- The Birdy Dance
-- Achy Breaky Heart
-- Come on Eileen

There was something else, but it was after my time and my brain couldn't retain it through the red wine haze. I think my list would be (on top of the first two above which are sheer common sense):

-- Tainted Love
-- Oh Mickey
-- My Sharona
-- anything by Buck's Fizz

Showing my age, I know. What would your list be?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dear Diary, today I...

I've given myself the time it takes for my purple-brown hair colour to develop to write up the fun I had yesterday with an ABC TV film crew, otherwise I'll be here all day.

Those of you who read regularly will know that one of my work-hats is helping out my very special Aged Poetess once a week with anything from shopping to editing. (I must work out what each of my work-hats looks like. This one might be a very nice 1920s felt number, in an ashes-of-roses hue.)

Yesterday the AP had a date with the ABC Sunday Arts crew, for a special feature to be aired later in the year or early next year. We expected a busy day, but I didn't really appreciate how much busy-ness!

A bit of context: AP's house is an oasis of peace and order. She doesn't like clutter and is such a dignified, gentle, mild person that everyone acts beautifully around her, including me. If she could read the list below of my most frequent ejaculations (hello Google searchers!), she would be utterly shocked and think it was a different person, because of course I am on Best Behaviour around her.

In fact, on that topic, here is what Barbara Hanrahan(one of my favorite artists, and I own a print of the top image on the right link) wrote in her diary about meeting her:

Very reserved. Proper people. When I sit there signing [prints] at the table with the rug on it I feel like giggling, saying something coarse. But we are ladies and gentlemen. They are classical. ... R. is a very beautiful woman -- that sounds queer written -- as set as a jelly. Hair piled up grey, a little girl smile, shy. Tall... A snag of white cotton on her leg.

It's a great description. AP is not tall any more, she's shrunk with age, but still smiles like a shy young girl. Anyway, I'm digressing, and in real time my hair is way done and I've been shopping and I've babysat Sage while Zoe went oot and aboot, and I'm still writing. So much for discipline.

Here is what a tv crew in a quiet oasis looks like:

They just take over. Mind you, they did a wonderful job, taking lots of time to make AP very comfortable, making the lighting just right, adjusting the sound to her nervous soft voice. My job for the day was poet-wrangling, making sure that she wasn't too stressed, keeping her fed and rested, and not tripping over wires.

Everyone was on best behaviour. They said to me that they were treating the occasion as if it were an interview with the Queen Mum, and that was exactly the right attitude. She is, after all, 85, and very old-world. I noticed that when the camera started stuffing up and making loud whirry noises, that the cameraman and sound dude were very careful not to swear. And when it happened for the third time, we all bit our tongues.

Then we moved outside. garden
Here we are waiting for a break between traffic so that AP could read poems amongst the birds and minor suburban noises. AP lives beside a mainish road through her suburb. It has a few stretches of quiet, but not many. Unfortunately it was around 3pm, so everyone in the world was rushing about trying to pick up their kids, and eventually we had to move around the back to a less picturesque but much quieter spot. AP was amazing. She read beautifully, never making a mistake, and all of us felt privileged to have such a wonderful private reading. (Well, you'll have the chance to see it on TV, but it won't be the same!)

The best bit of the experience was connecting with Shelley, the researcher/editor/general all-round hep chick, who was a lot of fun, and who used to have a blog called Shelley-on-the-Telly until her TV-industry-related posts ruffled a few feathers and she had to delete her blog earlier this year. I wish I'd read them! It's so nice to meet someone and mention blogging and not have their eyes glaze over or look at you funny. I'd just finished reading John Birmingham's The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, and noticed Shelley's name in the acknowledgements, so it was a fun coincidence to mention this to her when we met the day before filming. Then she happened to talk to JB that night and mentioned that I'd mentioned it, and ohmigod, my name was mentioned to JB! Oh, enough namedropping, but let's just say that I'm chuffed.

So hopefully Shelley and her excellent team got enough quality footage to make something special for the show. It'll be shown on either the last episode for this year's series or the first episode of next year's Sunday Arts. You won't see me, but you'll know I was there! I've got to start putting this sort of stuff down on paper, my grandkids will never believe me.

Postscript: I forgot to mention the bit where AP read a really moving poem about her late husband -- as always happens when I hear/read that particular poem, my eyes filled with tears. I glanced at Shelley, and she was having a soggy mascara moment too. Later on we laughed that such a hard, seasoned journo like her, who has been a crime reporter in Melbourne among other things, could be such a softie. But it was a bloody touching moment. I defy anyone to see that bit and not feel choked up. It'll be right at the end of the segment.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

7 ways to not do your work

This '7' meme was passed to me by the lovely lass at anyresemblance:

7 things I want to do before I die:

1. Walk into Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (not Constantinople)
2. Sustain a romantic relationship for more than 6 years
3. See my son into adulthood
4. Have my own private press, and
5. Print an entire shelf series of poetry by letterpress
6. See the bits of Australia I haven't seen yet
7. Learn to dance properly

7 things I cannot do:

1. Drink coffee
2. Eat cucumber
3. Read and speak other languages (and it breaks my heart)
4. Handstands
5. Look like a supermodel (not that it bothers me)
6. Hug my brother
7. Reconcile with my son's father

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

1. A sense of humour
2. A capacity for storytelling, but
3. A tendency towards truth-telling
4. A good voice
5. Someone unafraid of emotional responsibility
6. Generousity & kindness
7. A balance of dignity and utter silliness

7 things that I say most often:

1. Fuck
2. Fuck me Roman (Days hangover)
3. Hooray!
4. Shit
5. Bugger
6. Poo (usually in answer to 'what's for dinner', or 'what's that?')
7. Who loves mummy best? (to cats)

7 celebrity crushes:

1. Adam Hills (and do read the link)
2. Frances O'Connor
3. Shahrukh Khan
4. Colin Firth
5. Harrison Ford (shameful, but he got me with Han and I never escaped)
6. Helen Garner
7. Bill Plympton

7 people I want to do this (and apologies if you've already done it, you kow how memes are):

1. Crazybrave
2. Sorrow at sill's bend
3. Ladycracker
4. Naomi from WSACaucas/LP (when she comes out of the nunnery)
5. Moment to moment
6. anyone from Forbattle!
7. Fyodor if he can find somewhere to do it

Oooh, there's thunder outside, better get off the box.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Spring Growth: Girl-talk warning

Ahh, Spring! The season when everything just starts soaring out of the ground at the rate of knots, especially after the almost-drought-breaking amount of rain we've been having here in the Territory of the Free. Wednesday must be Mowing Day, because there were at least 5 mowers growling through the afternoon while I was trying to italicise the correct bits of a collection of essays on Blanchot (not speaking French gives me a distinct disadvantage in this task). Our lawn is remaining wild until this Saturday, which is the right and proper time to cut grass. One of my neighbours, I noticed as I strolled around the corner to crazybrave's house to rescue Bumblebee from homework procrastination, must have had a bad day, because a large part of their lawn is mown beautifully, while the other looks like they've shaved their legs without their glasses on. Maybe they did half each...

Speaking of which , Spring is also the time to decide whether to go sleek or hairy in the summer months. You ladies (and probably a number of men) will know what I mean.

I started shaving when I was about 14. I couldn't see hair on anyone else's arms, so I shaved not only under my arms, but on my arms. Then I noticed the hairs on other people's arms and felt utterly stupid. Anyhoo, my dad got cranky that I'd started shaving and had a big argument with my mother about it in front of me, the first time ever that they didn't disappear into a bedroom to have [barely muffled] 'words'. She defended me, like all good mothers do. She even went out and bought my first bra with me that day, just to prove a point. I guess he just had to cope with the onset of a rampant teenage daughter.

But he didn't cope when I went to uni and discovered proto-lipstick feminism. That is, I stopped shaving but I wore make-up. Dad railed at me about my hairy legs. I railed back: "First you wanted me to stop, then when I did stop, you want me to start! Is there anything else you'd like?" "Pay your own rent", he replied. Luckily he was joking, that time.

These days I do the continental thang -- well, my version of it, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Luxuriant leg growth in Winter, when I can wear as many layers as I want and camouflage is the name of the game. When thinner layers are needed (like now), I shed the fur -- but only on the legs. I like my little underarm pets, and refuse to see body hair as an evil that must be destroyed. I'm sorry to say my ex-military father still looks at me askance in Summer if I raise my arms near him, but since I'm happily married with one child and have fulfilled my womanly/daughterly duties, he's stopped giving me curry about it.

So I'm getting out the telephone number of the nice little waxing salon in Dickson; I'm prone to shaving my legs without my glasses on in the shower, and if I don't do it right with the first shedding of the season, my legs will look like the lawn down the road...

Please feel free to share your hair- /fat- /bastard- shedding stories here while I'm in a girlie mood (which isn't terribly often!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bloggers without borders

Over at LP there's been big discussions about the value of blogging, and of blogging etiquette, especially when commenting. How rude can one be? What if someone takes offence from afar? Why blog at all? I'm not going to answer any questions here, because I've just spent the day ghost-writing an awful paper on artist's books that makes me glad I'm not openly the author, and my brain is at the point of hari-kiri. Besides, if you want to get really serious about these things, there's other blogs that will happily accommodate your needs :)

But I will offer this link which I stumbled upon at said ghostee's house while I was trying to keep my thoughts straight. It's a downloadable publication called the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents. Here's the blurb:

Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they're tremendous tools of freedom of expression.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

I just downloaded it, and had a quick look. It's very good, gives simple explanations for blogging terminology, and talks about how to get your blog up, improved, noticed by search engines etc. It also talks about blogging ethics, which I'll read more about later. It's going to be published in hard copy, but you can download for free at the link, in either screen res or printer-friendly form.

I gave you the quick link; I originally found it at a site called Digital Souls, which has a varied selection of fun and freaky e-books and reviews, including a link offering 'mind-bending software' for kids. Have a read, it's bizarrely fun.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Oh, by the way...

Fun with Beetroot 2

Recently Mummy Crit and I were comparing notes on cooking with beetroot. It's an excellent vegetable, with so much more to it than being pickled in vinegar and whacked in a tin!

I haven't had a chance to do any decent home cooking lately; we've been cleaning out the freezer of leftovers and making hasty meals. Yesterday I managed to get to the local Farmer's Market and beetroot was $2 for 2 bunches. So today I made chocolate cake, and later in the week we'll have red rice. This cake recipe is terrific. I love the earthiness of the beetroot in amongst the choc hit.

beetroot choc mini-cakes cooling on the rack



75g cocoa powder
180g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot*
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
200 ml corn or sunflower oil
icing sugar, to dust

-- preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, lightly butter a 20 pan (or 2-3 mini-muffin tins)

-- sift cocoa, flour & powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and set aside.

-- puree beetroot then add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and oil and whiz until smooth.

-- make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add beet mix and stir to combine, thoroughly but lightly.


-- pour into pan (spoon in for mini-muffin tin) and bake for 50-60 minutes (35-40 for mini-muffins) or until a skewer comes out clean when you test it. The batter won’t rise a lot, and the top will crack.


-- remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then tip onto a wire cooling rack.
-- dust with icing and serve.


* I find this is four smallish ones, 3 medium, or 2 large. I top & tail the whole beetroot, then put on a plate or low bowl with a small bit of water, cover with clingwrap and cook in the microwave on high for 5-8 minutes (depending on the size), then cool. The skins will rub off easily with your fingers, then you can chop & puree.

Enjoy! The cake tin gives you a nice, moist choccy cake; the mini-muffin tins take a bit of watching so they don't dry out too much, but the result is terrific for lunchboxes and tea-parties (or scoffing during late-night-work-low-sugar-levels).

Friday, October 07, 2005

High Jinks for the Holidays

It's not often I get to see my own son in the school holidays. Between his father and his grandparents, I quite often only see him for a couple of days, which is really no better than a school-term weekend. Well, this holidays I got him for the whole week, and I thought we'd have a good time. Bugger it -- if Saturday dads can spoil their kids with lollies and outings, why can't the residential parents?

So, this week we:
-- went camping (see below)
-- saw a movie
-- went to the circus (hooray! clowns!)
-- went to Questacon and did cool sciencey things and missed out by a matter of minutes on being the 6-millionth visitor (who got a free hot-air balloon ride). Bummer!

and then we visited Floriade. Ahh, Floriade, you either love it or hate it. I go through a teeth-gnashing vascillation every year. I love the concept: springtime with flowers, flowers, and more flowers and fun activities in the park, free to the public. But they never quite get it right, in my book. There's a theme every year, and this year's was 'Rock & Roll'. It was a pretty Babyboomer kind of vision, with lots of 60s titles, and a few more recent songs thrown in to make you feel included. My favorite flowerbed was 'Paint it Black', with lots of black and dark purple tulips and pansies, with a touch of red here & there. Noice.

But what about this?
Go figure
Hello? Where's the blue? How can you have a title like that stuffed full of ... daffodils?! It did get a bit flabby that way.

I was pleased to see the possum still holding court over the women's toilets.
Floriade resident possum
It's there every year, in broad daylight, just sitting and watching, sometimes delighting the tourists more than the flowers. Bumblebee thought I was having him on, thought it was a stuffed possum, but no, it moved around to see him better, and he was most impressed, as were the other camera-clickers around me.

The best thing (for me) at Floriade is the decorated gnome contest. People just go all out to make their gnomes look really cool, or very odd. The theme was, of course, Rock'n'Roll, and there were lots of different categories, such as the 'Under-6' group, whose gnomes all looked as if their cake had been left out in the rain, all the sweet green icing flowing down... and the Group section, whose contestants were Scout groups and Old Folks Home residents, etc. There were hundreds of hand-painted gnomes. It's very funny. Here are my favorites:

Bread gnomes @ Floriade
Bread! Excellent group concept. Except none of the youngies knew who they were...

Kylie Mi-gnome @ Floriade
Kylie Mi-gnome, which is about the right height, anyway...

Britney gnome @ Floriade
Britney Spears, complete with 'Golden Ticket' t-shirt over her baby bump. This was in the teenage section

Marley gnome @ Floriade
Bob Marley and the Whalers {sic}, with plastic whale underneath.

Devo gnomes @ Floriade
Devo gnomes. I love the real flowerpot hats.

Alice or Trent?
This could be Alice Cooper, Trent Reznor or a handful of other dark dudes. Take your pick.

Kiss gnome
There were LOTS of Kiss gnomes. This was my favorite, because he just looks like he's partied too hard for too many years.

Hasselhoff gnome @ Floriade
This is for Zoe and Laura. I'd forgotten his short music career...

And these next two images are my favorites, mostly because deep down I have a lot of gen X grief in my heart for the way Michael Jackson has gone off the rails. I loved him when he and I were little and for me, his degeneration has always been a metaphor for that of society generally...
MJ gnomes @ floriade

I think this last one is a real classic...
MJ2 @ Floriade

The.. the.. That's all, fffolks! Or as we say in this house, have a beautiful sleep, and wake up as happy as a lark.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Riding the cat portal...

A fair while ago I put my cat Mr Padge into the Infinite Cat Project, and posted about it. There was a rather hilarious comments section on that post which I can't link to because I've gone to Haloscan and I'm too cheap to buy all my old comments back. Anyhoo, it involved Harry from For Battle! and a friend sitting in an internet cafe getting drunk (or already many drinks past thirsty) and flipping through the ICP until they almost made themselves sick. We fantasised about having it all automated, so that the various cats would flip through at speed making a pussy version of the Dr Who credits.

Well, I've since discovered that a portion of the ICP has been automated, and you can find it here, along with many other oddments of cat-related film.

I've also since tried to take a photo of both Padge and Pooter for the ICP, but it's too difficult. Firstly, they have problems sitting still together. Second, they're black and hard to photograph, and third they think computers are really boring. They do like mice, though. Better than keyboards.
Padge with mouse, no keyboard but.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Warning: contains contentment



Don't you just love the sound of a heavy rock hitting water? So does Bumblebee.

After a couple of hectic weeks, we spent the long weekend at our favorite spot, Depot Beach, on the far south coast of NSW. It's where we got married, less than a year ago (I say 'we' advisedly; we gave Bumblebee such a good role in the process that he thinks the wedding joined us all as a family rather than BB and I as a couple, and he always says 'this is where we got married'. Fair enough too).

It was my birthday on the weekend, and this was my birthday treat. I swam every day (gasping and screeching at the coldness of the water), we ate good food, went for long walks, and lots of holes were dug and sandcastles made. I would have a quick (!) dip, and lie in the sun with my book, while they did far more energetic things.
Digging at Pebbly Beach
I must say, strange as it sounds, that sitting on a beach in the sun is an excellent place to read Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward, because it is a curiously life-affirming book.

We also managed, on Sunday night, to purloin a fire tub and some wood to have a campfire, which made the weekend just perfect. We sat around the fire drinking wine (and juice) and toasting marshmallows, reading the latest Harry Potter aloud while the rest of the campsite exploded with cries of 'GO TIGERS!!', 'UP THE TIGERS!!!' and 'TIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRRRRSSSSSS....'. Not being sport fans, we found this very irritating, especially since it was accompanied by blaring commentaries from sundry radios. Ah well. I don't even know who the other team were, everyone at Depot seems to 'go the Tigers'.

When we got back home and unpacked the cats were miffed, having been left with a household of visiting aunties who doted upon them but weren't us. Poor loveys, how they must have suffered, having so many laps to sit on and hands to be stroked by. So we thought we'd show them what an empty house really felt like and went to see Howl's Moving Castle for a few hours. If you only take your kids to one movie these holidays, make it this one. I wish there were more around like it. I was given some birthday money, and I've just spent it it one hit, ordering Diana Wynne Jones books over the internet, on the strength of the movie, and fuschia's recommendation.

When we got back again, happy and glowing from a weekend of sun, sea and a fabulous imaginative movie, the cats were much happier to see us.