Saturday, July 15, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggety jig!


My goodness, a week away from a computer and my bloglines list is bursting at the seams! So many posts to read! And comments to respond to! Especially the nice person from Bulldust and Spangles who responded a few months late to my tepid review of their Woodford act last festival. Thanks for leaving a comment -- all good points raised, and I'm sorry I didn't give it more of a chance, but when the sun wakes me up at frigging 4.30am (come on Queenslanders, take on daylight savings! PLEASE!!!) and I work all day and there's masses of good stuff within a kilometre's radius, then truly, if a show doesn't grab me in the first 15 minutes, it's best to walk on. And it doesn't bother me if you're an all-women show or not -- in fact, all hail to you, cause that's what made me walk in the tent in the first place. But sex doesn't come into it when you go to a circus. Showmanship does (that's why I have major problems with the so-called Terry the Great, but that's another story). I've just been told that my visual arts gig at this year's festival is a goer, so I'll look forward to catching this year's effort -- best of luck!

Also -- I've had Thom Yorke's the eraser on very high rotation for the last couple of weeks, since a friend at art school gave me a copy of his downloaded version. I played it for ages before I googled it and realised that it was at that time unreleased. I know this sounds terribly innocent and naive, but I felt very naughty! Didn't stop me listening to it so hard that I'm almost over it. Lucky then, that someone like Arty Fufkin is able to freshen it up for me, in a lovely yet wry way. it was nice to come home to a finished version, after Arty had sent me a sneak preview of 30 seconds that wouldn't get out of my head.


What else? Oh yes, Boysenberry asked for the Hari Krishna Kheer recipe... here it is:

BENGALI KHEER (Rice Pudding)
From The Higher Taste: a Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet (Hong Kong: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1984), p. 105.

6 cups milk
3/4 cup rice (I use arborio or short-grain)
1/2 cup raisins (or sultanas, or currants)
1/4 teaspoon fresh cardamom powder
1/2 bay leaf (I use a whole one if it's a supermarket one)
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)

In a large saucepan combine milk, rice and bayleaf. Cook on high heat for 15 minutes, stirring very frequently. Bring to a rolling boil and then lower heat. Simmer for 40 more minutes until it thickens. Remove bay leaf and add sugar, raisins and cardamom. refrigerate until cold. Kheer thickens as it cools. Serve cool. Serves 4.

Ok -- a few notes on this recipe. Stir it a lot, even -- especially -- in the later stages. Treat it like a risotto. Wash the pot up as soon as you're finished. I find I don't need 40 minutes, especially if it's arborio rice. 25 usually does it, as long as the rice is cooked and the mix is slightly thickened. Don't let it cook until it's as thick as you think rice pudding should be. It should pour comfortably into the dish and then will congeal when cooling into a solid mass. Having said that, we only end up with half of it cooling because it's yummy when hot. But it is also fantastic when cold, so if you can be patient, it's worth it.


I'm absolutely touched that in my pile of crap mail collected by the housesitter was an envelope containing the payment for my Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser book. When I opened it, the purchaser had sent me almost double what she'd bid for the book, with a note saying that she felt that she'd got too good a bargain. All I can say just in case you're reading (and I'll be saying it in a note back as well), is YOU ROCK, and of course the whole sum will be joining the fundraising total made by the exhibition -- and I'll let you know what that was, as soon as I know myself. Hooray! What a lovely thing to do.


Firstly, I must say that it's really nice to be home in my own space, away from Beatrix Potter-covered Wedgewood china and bone-handled fish-knives* and dishes underneath the condiment bottles. I ate noodles straight from a cardboard box last night, swigging cider from the bottle and it was good.

Still, it's always nice to visit the Blue Mountains and catch up with Best Beloved's relatives. Mother BB has a grey chinchilla cat, the sort of wildly fluffy pedigree cat with large black eyeliner-rimmed eyes that every movie villain strokes whilst plotting world domination. This one has always suited that scenario -- disdainful, spoiled and spiteful, vicious around small children -- but since my last visit has had a stroke which seems to have left her with the kitty equivalent of a frontal lobotomy. She keeps following people around, maiowing and being sweet and cuddly. I found it disarming at first, and was quite mistrustful, thinking that she was plotting something scratchy, but it turns out that the bit of her brain which tells her she's eaten has been switched off (along with the nasty bit) and she's always thinking she's hungry. By the end of the week I was quite chummy with her. Of course, my black panther boys still have top place in my heart, but I can no longer say nasty things to them about their aunty.

Highlights of the week were: catching the train down to Sydney for a day and catching an iceberg's tip of the Biennale; going for a walk along the Charles Darwin track at Wentworth Falls; sitting through Superman Returns one more time in order to look sideways at Bumblebee's delighted face as he watched (priceless!); having my dad stay overnight with us as he was passing through on the way home from a conference; going to a Youth Theatre production of The Princess Bride at a local small theatre, and second-hand book and clothes shopping (great new little book shop at Wentworth Falls -- lambda books. Check it out if you're ever in the area).

I spent a lot of time lolling about, which is what a holiday should be full of. Lolling about and eating nice food, so I'm a bit rounder than I was a few weeks ago. (I had every good intention of going to fitball today, even told Zoe this when I delivered her some scrummy cakes this morning, but the rain and the sight of BB in bed with the papers when I returned from the markets just made me want to continue lolling. So I did.) I lolled with the first two of John Birmingham's Axis of Time trilogy, Weapons of Choice and Designated Targets. I must say, for anyone clicking those links, that I like the covers of my editions waaay better than those. Mine are a very cool black, white and red, with a nice interplay of varnish and matt. How much do I love these books? LOTS. I'm grumpy with myself for not reading them later, when the third one is out, because now I've been rudely jerked out of the headspace they placed me in and I have to wait and probably re-read to get into the third. And I will be re-reading. It's not the action, all the gumph about weapons and warfare, it's the ideas about our (future) society and the impact this has upon an older version of it. I love a bit of good speculative fiction, and reading something written by someone who *can* write was a real treat. And they also led me to JB's blog, which lists some fanfiction inspired by his books, so I guess there's a bit more reading to keep me going.

After JB I read Vernon God Little (I know, I know -- I really don't jump when things are new). Enjoyed that too -- I'd had mixed reports about it, but it was a nice way to segue back to real life after JB's high speed vortex of time and place. I'm just about to start Kate Grenville's latest, since I've got a childfree week ahead of me (Bumblebee's with his dad for the rest of his holiday) to concentrate on it.

The best thing about my week away was spending qwality time with my sister outlaw Naomi. It's one of those 'never rains but pours' times; she came over for the dinner party in the last post, then we caught up the next day at a jelly-filled tea party at Barbara Blackman's house the next day, and then we all went back to the Blue Mountains, where N lives. We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean together (follow the link for her review) and then met up a couple of days later for two hours of just the two of us, no kids or partners, in a local coffee shop. I've never drunk so much chai in my life, but hell, we covered a lot of girlie ground. I don't think we've ever had proper time alone (as opposed to sneaking it while the family talked around us or the kids played). It was ace. I'm very fortunate in my relatives by marriage -- having lost a sibling years ago, I'm very unpracticed in sibling matters. Suddenly I've been immersed in a large vibrant family, and the in/outlaws like Naomi and E (the other brother's wife) have been invaluable navigational tools. Hooray!

Sorry for the long post, but having relaxed my neck and shoulders for a week, I wouldn't feel like I was home without that familiar tightness and ache when I step away from the computer (my osteopath would kill me for saying that!).

* Pulled out to eat take-away fish & chips. I AM NOT KIDDING.


Anonymous said...


I'm very lucky to have you too Ducky. Not only do we enjoy each other's company mightily, but who else could understand just how odd our rellies and friends are?

Kirsty said...

"(come on Queenslanders, take on daylight savings! PLEASE!!!)"

I just want you to know that I braved flood waters at Tewantin to vote 'yes' in the daylight savings referendum. The caravan park was about to go under, but I was determined that nothing would stop the introduction of daylight savings. Alas, it seems the 'no' voters were a hardy bunch as well.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks, Galaxy. It's nice to know there are people of taste and sense up North. I'll add you to my list of exceptions when I curse Queenslanders at Christmas time.

Boysenberry said...

Welcome back &Duck.

Thank you for the Kheer recipe. Next time I whip up a curry, I'll add it to the dishes.

Congrats on the CF fundraiser, and big cheers to the purchaser. Always nice to see someone being active, rather than just passively taking part.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks Boysenberry, although I'd eat the kheer after the curries :)

Anonymous said...

Fitball as computer chair - it will fix your tight neck. - Well it did for mine anyway.

Boysenberry said...

pmsl - well pointed out, &D

Stylized Impact said...

hey hey sounds like a good time had by all. Might not get those books made, the house has sold and without a new lease else where im just bagging stuff up and hopeing. hoping.hope ing none of those look right.smiles leaves.byrd