Birthdays, Books & Basil

Well, I’ve managed another trip around the sun. I had a lovely, relaxed day, read books, did some work in the greenhouse, hung out with friends, ate junk food for dinner and watched stuff. If I’d have played music and baked myself a cake, I would have covered all my favourite things 🙂

The perfect present for a film-nut like me!

After the unseasonably hot weather throughout November (it was Tasmania’s hottest spring on record) we’ve had a cold and very wet start to summer. I spent some time yesterday and today in the greenhouse, potting up basil seedlings and some replacements for the inundated early tomatoes. It’s currently about 10 C (50 F) and it’s been raining pretty well constantly since Friday.

This morning, there was water pooling in garden beds and I had to empty the overflowing rain gauge. The zucchinis and leafy greens are loving it but I seriously don’t want to think about the potatoes right now! Sadly, the beans, tomatoes and corn are all looking quite poorly and will likely need replacing. It looks like I’ll have late crops again! My heart goes out to folks in Victoria though, who are getting the worst of this wet spell.

I’m hoping it won’t do too much damage to the baby stone fruit and apples but the berries are looking very sad. I’ve braved the rain and picked what I could but they won’t be the tastiest this year. Hopefully, the rain will ease in the next few days and we’ll get some sunshine to help convert the starches to sugars in the remainder of the crop.

Because of Hobart’s unpredictable weather, I tend to grow chillies, eggplants and basil in my greenhouse in pots. I’m really pleased so far with the eggplant (above), which is sporting some beautiful purple flowers and the Habanero chilli (below) is setting fruit already 🙂

I managed to pot up 35 or so mixed basil seedlings, which is about half of what I’d like to have for oil and preserving but I’m going to plant more seed next week. There’s shiso/perilla still to go into pots and I have to see if I can salvage more chilli seedlings from the ravaging slugs – they decimated my early plantings and this wet weather is only going to encourage them!

On a positive note, I saved an aloe vera at the start of the year, (it was literally dying of overcrowding and neglect) bought it home, divided it put it into a good potting mix and fed them all. The main plant or “mother” is on a shelf in the bathroom and loving its new home, and I left the offshoots or “pups” in the greenhouse to see if they’d survive. When I was given the plant, the whole thing was a very sickly yellow/green. So I was thrilled to see this morning that the pups are setting out new pups of their own 🙂

Meanwhile, the cricket’s on the TV and that book about the Coen brothers is giving me “come hither” looks again. I’m off to snuggle under a blanket and read.

Maybe tomorrow it’ll be summer 🙂

Storms & Salads – Day 30 NaBloPoMo 2017

So, here it is – number thirty – the last post for this year’s NaBloPoMo.

Traditionally, it’s also a time of contemplation for me, a couple of days before my birthday and there’s only a few weeks left of work and indeed, this year.

It’s hot in Hobart again, and I went into the city today. Got almost all the xmas shopping done (thanks to Richard & Mike at Cracked & Spineless) and went to see my GP for blood test results. This time last year, I was trying to recover after my thyroid decided to simply switch off, and it left me devastated, constantly tired and barely functioning.

Above all things, this year has been about getting back to some semblance of normality. 12 months on, my doctor’s really pleased with my progress – I’m on the right dose of thyroxine, my diet and supplements have brought my notoriously low iron and vitamin D levels back to normal – I feel well again.

One of the major things my GP identified as a contributing factor is my diet. While I eat meat, I always say my favourite meal of the day (year round) is salad, and I have the ability to grow my own.

For that, I’m truly grateful.

Tonight’s salad feast from the garden included a few young silverbeet leaves, sharp and tangy endive, young tender kale, fresh celtuce and crisp perennial rocket. I added a little grated carrot, red onion, sliced mushrooms and a chopped hard boiled egg from the ladies who lay and dressed it with a little basil oil and vinegar from last summer.

And the first of the raspberries for dessert ❤

I’m taking a few days off but I’ll see you again soon. One of the things I want to try and do is write more regularly here apart from NaBloPoMo. Let’s see how much life gets in the way of my good intentions!

Meanwhile, there’s been some thunder and a little rain tonight but it’s still too hot. I hope it breaks soon, I’ve got more gardening to do!

Take care ❤

My stormy mountain

25 Get To Know Me Questions – Day 26 NaBloPoMo 2017

Because it’s NaBloPoMo, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs – even more than usual – including Needles & Wool. Lisa put these questions up, following on from Megan Has OCD.

It was an interesting experience, I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to keep it going, answer your own 25 questions and let me know so I can read your responses too 🙂

 

  1. What is your middle name? Kaye – and I have no idea where it came from or if it has any family significance!

 

  1. What was your favourite subject at school? When I was at high school (literally, back in the last millennium!) I really enjoyed English and History but since I’ve been back at university, I’d have to say all the Film Studies units – they’ve been wonderful!

 

  1. What is your favourite drink? At the moment, Grapefruit & Lemon syrup with plain soda and lots of ice or a fresh mango smoothie with lots of homemade yogurt. But I love a good single malt occasionally or a glass of wine.

 

  1. What is your favourite song at the moment? Good grief! As a professional musician and songwriter, this is a diabolically difficult question. Recently, I’ve been listening to PortisheadClutchEinsturzende Neubaten and Tori Amos’ new album, Native Invader. 

 

  1. What is your favourite food? I eat meat and really enjoy an old fashioned roast, but I think my favourite is probably fresh salad from the garden – green or fruit 🙂

 

  1. What is the last thing you bought? A present for a loved one – a book of course 🙂

 

  1. Favourite book of all time? Oh dear, there’s so many! At the moment (thanks to recent study) I’m re-reading a lot of Margaret Atwood and I’ve fallen in love again with the enigmatic Grace Marks in Alias Grace. And my tutor put me on to The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.

 

  1. Favourite colour? Purple always!

 

  1. Do you have any pets? Three lovely rabbits and six eccentric, elderly chickens – all very spoilt and treasured pets ❤

 

  1. Favourite perfume? I have a few I like to wear depending on my mood, but my “go to” for the last few years has been Crabtree & Evelyn’s Summer Hill.

 

  1. Favourite holiday? Probably Xmas/New Year because it’s mid-summer here in Australia

 

  1. Are you married? Have been but it didn’t take.

 

  1. Have you ever been out of the country? Yes, I’ve been to Singapore, France and England. I really want to go to Canada, Japan and see more of Europe, maybe the US at some stage.

 

  1. Do you speak any other languages? To quote Corbin Dallas from The Fifth Element “I only speak English and bad English”, a sad reflection of being a middle-aged white Anglo-Australian. Seriously, besides English I have retained a little French and less Latin from high school.

 

  1. How many siblings do you have? An older brother and sister, sadly both deceased and missed every day ❤

 

  1. What is your favourite shop? That’s easy – Cracked & Spineless New & Used Books

 

  1. Favourite restaurant? Again, it depends on my mood. Tokyo & Seoul for the best sushi in Sandy Bay and Dumpling Express https://www.dumplingexpress.com.au

 

  1. When was the last time you cried? A few weeks ago, when I saw the latest Aronofsky film, mother(Yes, movies can make me cry!)

 

  1. Favourite Blog? I read a lot of blogs about many different subjects, I don’t want to single out any one.

 

  1. Favourite movie? So. Very. Hard. There isn’t just one. Studio Ghibli favourites are Porco Rosso (1992) and the amazing Princess Mononoke (1997); westerns would be The Searchers (1956) and Andrew Dominik’s astonishing The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007); favourite science fiction is still Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009) and I still love The Exorcist (1973).

 

  1. Favourite TV shows? Another hard question. I don’t watch an awful lot of TV but this year I’ve really enjoyed Dark Matter and very recently watched Star Trek: Discovery. I still love Firefly, and the animes Ghost in the Shell and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

 

  1. PC or Mac? PC always

 

  1. What phone do you have? An old Android Nexus 5 – still hanging in there!

 

  1. How tall are you? A mere 164 cm (5’4”) – so short!

 

  1. Can you cook? Yes! I particularly love to cook the food I’ve raised or grown myself and living in Tasmania, I have access to some of the best produce on the planet.

 

All Charged & Ready – Day 17 NaBloPoMo 2017

So, after a good night’s sleep and a fabulous session this morning with The Superstars, I did all my enrollment stuff for next year’s online study. And (as always) I feel incredibly invigorated by having a study plan 🙂

As is usual with undergraduate degrees, I need to do 24 units of study. I’ve just finished the 18th and start Documentary Screenwriting next week. So at the end of next year, I’ll only have one unit left!

The last unit will be an independent project, so I need to start thinking very seriously about what I want to do. Because my degree will cover two major streams, I can do something writerly and creative – like a suite of short stories or poems – or a scholarly screen studies project – perhaps an analysis of a particular director or suite of films. Also, other students I’ve chatted with, managed to get placements in organisations or private businesses to do specific research, but I’m not sure if there’s anyone in Hobart I could do that with!?!

I am very undecided!

Time to contact my course convener I think, and have a serious talk about my project!

In the meantime dear reader, any suggestions you might have would be gratefully accepted ❤

Have a great Friday, I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Sage flowers – for wisdom!

Time to Sleep – Day 16 NaBloPoMo 2017

Well, that was a ride and a half!

I’ve just submitted an 1800 word short story and 500 word exegesis for my Speculative Fiction assignment and I feel like I could sleep for a week. Unfortunately, there isn’t time for that!

Tomorrow (Friday here in the southern hemisphere) is the day I get to play music with The Superstars at Oak Tasmania, and we’re deep into preparation for a private function we’re performing at next weekend. These men and women are simply fantastic and I’m truly blessed to be able to write and perform with them ❤

Maybe I’ll be able to post some photos next week of our performance – I always love action shots 🙂

Meanwhile, there’s lots of gardening that needs doing over the weekend, a jam session at a friend’s place to go to and lots of new movies to see. I’m particularly keen to check out the Kenneth Branagh Murder on the Orient Express, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Loving Vincent and Jungle. Let me know if you’ve seen any of these films, I always like to hear other people’s opinions 🙂

I’ll leave you with a wonderful discovery I made in the greenhouse yesterday – the first Rocoto chilli flower for the season ❤

Love is the Thing – Day 15 NaBloPoMo 2017

A very quick (but important) post to mark the midway point of this year’s NaBloPoMo.

This morning my Facebook and Twitter feed turned literally into images of rainbows and love hearts. The results of the national marriage equality survey were handed down by the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning, and it was quite a resounding cry of “yes” from the nation, 61.6% in fact.

It was glorious, wonderful, moved me to tears and was entirely expected.

Heartfelt congratulations to all my LGBTI friends – but it isn’t over yet! A bill was introduced in the Senate this afternoon but there are already grumbling from conservative members to strengthen religious exemptions.

After a quick break to celebrate, we have to follow through and make sure that the marriage act is formally changed by parliament.  Why? Because the ability for every Australian to choose how they life matters, because human rights matter, because love matters ❤

 

A Sunday Sidestep – Day 12 NaBloPoMo 2017

I’m coming down to the pointy end of another unit of online study, so this is going to be a brief blog post today.

This unit has concentrated on genre fiction, specifically Gothic and speculative fiction and despite being behind now with weekly work, I’ve really enjoyed it enormously. Starting with Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) we moved on to Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark (2001) for a taste of contemporary American Gothic. (I honestly found it an intensely disappointing experience.)

Leaving vampire fiction, we moved on to speculative works and Jean Rhys’ stunning post-colonial Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), one of my favourite novels. The thread of our study, looking at how Gothic fiction was melded into more speculative themes reminded me of that other retelling of the Jane Eyre story, Wild Island (2016) by Jennifer Livett, which was just as good to read the second time around.

Then, the course came to Margaret Atwood’s brilliant and disturbing The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and I confess I spent way too long re-reading it and watching the recent television series. But Atwood’s prose is wonderful and I find this book inspires me both as a writer and as a feminist.

Now, in the final weeks, as I’m writing my own piece of speculative fiction, we are reading and discussing Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story “Pump Six” from Pump Six and Other Stories (2008). The main threads of  Bacigalupi’s fiction are speculations on the future of humankind, based on many current and often divisive environmental and socio-political concerns. He paints a realistically grim picture of the future which I’ve found stays in my mind long after I’ve read it. I’ve started but never finished his novel The Windup Girl (2009) and I wonder if subconsciously found it too scary. But I plan to go back and read it as soon as I’m able.

So, the rest of today I’m playing catch up with academic readings and responses, trying to add a little more to my own fiction and scoping out an accompanying exegesis. For the most part it’s been a really wonderful few months living with these works and I’d recommend all of them to you – except for the Charlaine Harris – but at least I know and can articulate why I don’t like that kind of fiction.

What do you like to read? I love to hear your thoughts and recommendations so please leave me a comment below. Take care everyone and see you tomorrow 😀

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