• Say Hello!

  • Email Subscription

  • Post Tags

  • Archives

  • Blogjune 2016 condensation

    1st July, 2016

    Merry blogjune for another year! What did I do this month? A little bit of blogjune, a trip to Adelaide, healthcare appointments, read 2 books, watched 1 movie, played some shape games, training at work, and went to restaurants.

    I’m self-assessing as a polkadot C+ for blogjune 2016 (I like John’s description of blogjune as “spotty”).

    Enticements in Adelaide

    Blogjune – the enticement or distraction?

    Cath’s points really resonated with me – about participating in blogjune through discovery, rather than post-post-post. What should be at the centre: balance, understanding, and self-care. Reading, sharing, commenting – like Gallifrey Forest Farm’s thoughts about feeding bees with your garden.

    As an aside, whenever I read the word centre/center, I think of Margaret Atwood’s Variation on the Word Sleep. And during a library evening shift this week, I received a phone query about her novel, The Handmaid’s tale. This one, I haven’t read, but it was exciting as I felt it was a Sign From The Universe As To What I Should Read Next (SFTUATWISRN, obviously).

    In my first post of the month, I was considering eating a vegan burger for every day of June so I could have a consistent theme. But I decided it would take too much cash and time. I am sure you were wondering about my burger intake, even without a definite aim towards a certain consumption level. Well, wait no longer – there were six! I figure that I shouldn’t include reheated frozen patties at home in the count, because that’s too sad desk lunch.

    Blogjune output level, 2013 to current:

    my blogjune posts

    Team Red!

    For blogjune 2016, I did around the same amount of posts as blogjune 2015 (when I was aiming to relax and not do too many things). Last year was such a laidback approach that I didn’t reflect on this until that August…!

    My blogjune word counts

    Red again… Team 2014!

    Sidenote, I always want to write “Blugjone”. Just me?

    See you for blogjune 2017, to infinity burgers and beyond!

    In the altogether

    30th June, 2016

    We holidayed in Adelaide earlier this month (despite it not making an appearance in my sparse blogjune posts), and while there, I discovered that my mother-in-law knew some corkers of sayings.

    It began when we were watching a renovation show (I hate renovating in real life, so I don’t know why we watch these things), and she mused that outdoor showers allowed people to “…see you in the altogether”. I had never heard this saying for nudity before, so she had to explain that she didn’t like to say the word “naked” as it was vulgar! She was shocked that her sayings aren’t well-known, but then reasoned that many were handed down from her father, born in 1889 (seriously).

    Hallett's Cove, SA (June 2016)

    Just enough blue… (Hallett’s Cove SA)

    She regretted explaining the terms, because then I pressured her for “more fun sayings”. One from her English background is: “She thinks she’s the white hen’s chicken” (it means someone who is up themselves). Or someone looking like “The wreck of the Hesperus”. Or “It’s a wigwam for a goose’s bridle” (like “Seeing a man about a dog”).

    General ones such as “Working like a drover’s dog” or “He’s as crooked as a two-bob watch” or “Pig’s whiskers” or “Lower than a snake’s belly”.

    These sayings reminded me of the diamond in the rough song in the Disney Aladdin movie: “She’s a petunia in an onion patch”/”She’s a lily on a dunghill”.

    And a source pleading for modest anonymity also suggested “As cunning as a shit-house rat”.

    My favourite, which was from EJ, about a cloudy sky: “Not/just enough blue to knit mittens for a cat”. As you can see, there was only a small amount of blue at Hallett’s Cove when we visited. Apparently the “s” in Hallett’s was dropped off some time ago. It may surprise you to learn that my mother-in-law sticks with the previous term!

    I could only contribute “Things are crook in Tallarook” – as we didn’t really have any sayings when I was growing up. K’s saying was about a good ability to reach things: “a bigger reach on them than a sick dog”!

    It was also interesting to hear context about growing up in SA – the rag n bone man would collect rubbish “You know, bits and bobs”, someone would collect from the grate of the fire, and there was also the night soil man. One of those moments that really crystallises the value of social history, and the need to better capture experiences that seem so far away, but were really only quite recent.

    …and I have realised I did a brummy post on a similar topic for blogjune 3 years ago! Nothing like a classic, you know?

    Winnie the Pooh Corner or a cave in Australia

    28th June, 2016

    Winnie the Pooh burrowed all the way down to Australia for some quiet time at his holiday house, the Pooh Bear Corner. This grotto has been described as “…a particularly treacherous bend where lives Pooh with reflector eyes.” (Shanahan) – but really this is just people falling for his security system. A bear needs his privacy, hence the bear multiplicity, mimicking the Santa-everywhere phenomenon.

    Winnie appreciates the cave’s views of the Clyde Mountain, easy access to major roads, and rainforest vista of ferns and mossy steep cliffs. Sometimes he dreams of a time before he was reduced to a commercialised set of lines, remembering that he was somehow, a little rougher around the edges.

    Rainforest and Pooh Bear Corner, Australia

    A rainforest vista

    We drove down the hill past Pooh Bear Corner many times for childhood holidays, but it was deemed “too unsafe” to pull over and see the cave. It had a wooden sign, and I’m not even sure if there were very many Winnies residing there in the 80s and 90s.

    Was it this version of the welcome sign? Now my recollections wobble as to which iteration marked the hideaway – that strange incorporation of photos as memories.

    Protesting against our parents not being able to pull over at the Corner:

    “But how did Winnie the Pooh get there, if not in a car?”

    “Burrowing through the world to reach a cave means you don’t need a vehicle.”

    Sulking, we watched as the Corner blurred past on the way to our coastal holidays.

    Pooh Bear Corner sign, Australia (May 2016)

    Sign as at May 2016

    I stopped at the Corner last month, fulfilling a childhood dream, but also shattering it a little in the process. It wasn’t as far along the mountain as I thought – the distance had reduced even though the space between the years had expanded.

    “Revisiting Winnie the Pooh made me realise not only that adulthood is a baleful hellscape, but also that my childhood memories were a fantasy.”Ioan Marc Jones

    Stepping over vines and tanbark, I held aloft the bubbled ideal of the cave, hovering over an imagined and real pedestal of the mountain. The bubble drifted, caught on an overhanging tree branch, one hundred crystal glasses exploded and my love for the cave decayed into a carpet of glinting shards on the ground.

    “And at that moment my love for you was both tender, and sad.” – Alice in Eyes Wide Shut

    The sign was faded and fractured, an antique crackle effect over the text, children’s scribbles at the edges. The silhouettes of the famous bear devouring honey seemed melted, perhaps still from last year’s car accident.

    Pooh Bear Corner cave, Australia (May 2016)

    Winnie family

    Winnie’s clan had grown beneath the mantle of the cave (but without wombats), rocks spraypainted luminous silver, names and tags growing outwards from the hollow like a wreath, like tears emanating from a quiet room, as though rippling and spilling across a river that carried a game of Pooh-sticks.

    The cave is reigned over by a Pirate Winnie, eyepatch stopping him from quite seeing all his brethren in the rainforest hollow, but retaining enough sight to watch the traffic and guard his post. I wonder if, despite his interminable watch (a la Fry’s dog waiting),  he might transition to being whole-bodied, astral travelling back to walk in the Hundred Acre Wood, near Ashdown Forest.

    There is a theory that Winnie is linked with the bears clinging to trees on the Kings Highway:

    “… they’re hitching their way to the teddy bears’ picnic at Pooh Corner on Clyde Mountain…” – Matt Bennett.

    Pooh Bear Corner cave (landscape), Australia (May 2016)

    Family photos

    I told my friend J, who lives below the mountain, about the gap between my expectations of the cave, and the reality of the Pooh Bear Corner. She suggested it had become a “Pooh ghetto”, which is painful, but that’s what it is. There was a clean up of some graffiti 6 years ago by a local radio station, but maybe the Eurobodalla Shire Council will refresh the area?

    I can still remember when Pooh Bear Corner felt like a secret punctuation in a journey, a chance to see a story come to life. For families who now travel past it without stopping (even if they wish otherwise), there is still time for the Corner to regain that mystery-filled state of fairytale joy and magic on the mountainside.


    Further reading: (see also, links throughout)

    Al-Othman, H. (6 June 2016). Hundreds compete to become world Pooh Sticks champion. London Evening Standard Online.

    Bennett, M. in  Column 8 (8 January 2009). The Sydney Morning Herald, 14. Accessed via Factiva on 27 June 2016.

    Bunbury, S. (12 December 2014). Bonneville having to grin and bear it. The Southland Times, 8. Accessed via Factiva on 27 June 2016.

    Pierpont (27 October 1995). In which Eeyore is told where to invest. The Australian Financial Review.

    Shanahan, A. (16 December 2000). Byzantium on Burley Griffin. The Australian. 21. Accessed via Factiva on 27 June 2016.

    Increasing energy levels at work

    27th June, 2016

    What energises you at work? Hopping on board Ruth’s topic (also explored by Kate, Abigail, Cherie) on how to have higher energy levels at work (although I am lacking a puppy assistant…). Maybe it’s not just the energising activity itself, but knowing that it’s on the way within a daily routine – a bit like the anticipation of planning a holiday can be as beneficial as the holiday itself.

    1. Crossing off To Do Lists

    I love crossing things off my To Do List – which is re-energising in itself, and I also like changing the category colours for tasks. …because changing the colour (mental signposts for categories) is my version of marking something as “complete” – I have active colours for tasks I’m working on, and passive colours (like blue or grey) for those that need more information from other people, rather than my own immediate actions.

    I know this is incredibly dorky and similar to when Rimmer spent all his study time just creating a colour-coded calendar schedule. But it works for me, and it’s a quick system of seeing where everything’s at – I think I first read about this approach in GTD theory?

    The To Do Lists go in and out of focus: macro to micro, like an overriding one for my job, and then those for each project, which are encouraging and energising because I see the numbers change like a living, breathing entity.

    Australian Government pencil on UDC book

    Govcil on UDC

    1. Stationery

    I’m not as hardcore as some, but I do like a good stationery fix. I agree with Abigail, it feels a lot more fun to write work things on paper. I use a fancy pencil because I’m pretty exciting! My favourite pencil is one with a green gem on the end (no guessing as to which database it promotes).

    I had a weird rush of nostalgia recently, seeing a silver-painted pencil at work, engraved and emblazoned with the words, AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. Of course, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” – I wouldn’t say it was that beautiful, but for sure, characteristic of its time (it’s a retro pencil). How do I know? I was given a bundle of them over 20 years ago from my very first penpal – still dubious about their origins!

    1. Drinking tea

    I have tea on-the-go most of the time, normally refilling after changing a colour code. I need a teapot, but I remember seeing a USB-powered tea-warmer but maybe it would be deemed as taking the chance, workplace safety dance.

    1. Checking work Yammer, alerts, conference hashtags

    A bit like Kate’s Shiny things – Yammer, keyword alerts and dipping in and out of a conference hashtag can give ideas, connections and help to see what’s happening, what people are saying. It feels like a brain-break to switch over to the feeds and then I’m more likely think of new things, after this different focus.

    1. Indoor plants

    Our office has greenery everywhere, which I love. I’m not good at watering the plants, luckily there are other green thumbs in residence, but sometimes I snip off bits (plants, not thumbs), or tell the plants that I appreciate them.

    1. – 10. Bits n pieces

    Cheezy jokes, learning/training and sharing with others, window views, and hunting down wayward books (and of course, the ever-more re-energising, tantalising goal, and sometimes outcome, of catching them). Also bouts of ASMR! (although, that can happen anywhere).


    26th June, 2016

    What I did today! Thanks to other blogjuners for the idea (Rachel, Rachel W and Constance).

    Today was pretty low-key, I guess I needed some recovery time from sitting next to a close-talker last night. It has been an illuminating lesson for me about boundaries, body language, and my tolerance levels for being incidentally spat on while people talk loudly.

    • Slept in! Sleeping during the day is one of my many “talents”. I’d like to say this skill is highly-sought after in today’s job market, but it’s probably restricted to NASA testing of muscle wastage.
    • So much clothes washing! (agreeing with Rachel W, it’s awfully tedious and then somehow more involved during Winter – I use the dryer during the day so it’s powered by solar panels, but it still feels guilt-laden)
    • Dishwasher loading, unloading.
    Rainbow bath bomb

    Rainbow swamp

    • Bath with a rainbow bomb. It is tricky to take a photo of this that doesn’t look like someone just chucked a rainbow paddlepop in a swamp (like, rainbow colours just an incidental thing in a gross bog). But maybe that could be the next Lush bath bomb meme. I wish there was a vegan version of the rainbow paddlepop. But they did always taste of caramel, anyway. Because I am gross, I do things like eat garlic bread in the bathtub (but then that was a footnote to the 2013 pre-elopement stress time). Predictably, I also talked about baths in blogjune 2014 and blogjune 2015. Maybe I have a secret foot fetish, it certainly seems to be a theme. I just wish there was a way to photograph rainbow bath bombs without them looking dank.
    • Cleansing facial with the absolute dregs of my clay mask that my beautiful and elegant friend J brought back from Paris. I have this weird thing about using absolutely 100% of a product so I autopsied the package to extract all the tiny clay lumps.
    • Lots of cat patting. The cats are very needy when it’s cold, and also fight each other (Mr Sonja says that I sound like a total bogan parent when I yell at them, but it’s effective for temporary discipline).
    • I ate turmeric curry, fauxages, mashed potato, raw cake mix, hot chocolate with oat milk, tea and tablets. Mostly while watching home reno shows (which I hate, but Mr S is drawn them like a moth to a candle) and reading online articles.
    • A little bit of Norwegian on duolingo, I am struggling to get the answers right with my regular phone keyboard because of the special letters?
    • Reorganised part of the wardrobe, got disgruntled when Mr S disagreed about getting rid of some clothes (he has a never-worn, I  hope never-wearing “Sorry ranga” top from a Summer Heights High showbag from over 7 years ago).
    • Talked to some friends on the phone.
    • Tonight I’ll probably watch a movie, continue to fill the tea-shaped hole inside me, and fingers crossed, finish a drawing…

    (things I should do: ironing, sorting more stuff in line with being less cluttered, make a cake for my neighbour, catch up on my secret so-neglected shame that is 23 RD things…)

    Favourite and less-favourite things

    26th June, 2016

    “When I’m feeling sad / I simply remember my favourite things…”

    Favourite things

    Despite the hype: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, warm vegan mittens (especially with a baked potato in each pocket to keep hands warm, then, potato breakfast), brown paper packages with non-work books, cream coloured ponies and animals in fields, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, pussywillow, bunny rabbits, chocolate icing, no school, pillow fights, and presents…

    Bits and bobs: Lots of personal space! (conversely, high-quality massages) …cute decorations on food or anything else, patterned socks, flannel flowers, clothing with good textures or thumbholes or French seams, cleaning ears, watching pimple-popping videos, list-making, pruning daisy bushes, seeing butterflies, good-quality green tea, lifting heavy things, Dawson’s Creek, Barbie & the Rockers, Amy Sedaris, Sophie Calle’s art, and the best book on libraries: Bob Usherwood’s Equity and excellence in the public library: why ignorance is not our heritage (2007).

    Time: The 90s! But only for nostalgia, I wouldn’t want to be back there.

    “In many ways I am possibly still too close to see the 1990s clearly. It felt like a distant cousin.” (Rochelle Robshaw).

    Remember, the 90s was the decade of a lollipop advising kids how to respond to bullies! (don’t push me, push a push pop!)

    Paper flamingo, young coconut jelly and fruit

    Favourite and less-favourite

    To read: Margaret Atwood, YA, and more.

    To watch: Bad, cheesy or critically-panned movies. Troll II is my top pick (number 7 in the esteemed eonline’s 20 worst movies of the 90s). From that list – I’ve only seen Troll II, The Blair Witch Project, Anaconda, Spice World, and Super Mario Brothers (so there is some catching up to be had!).

    I enjoy most trashy TV shows, Gogglebox is an efficient way to catch up. I wish there was a way to summarise dating and tattoo shows, Adam zkt Eva, Dinner Dates and Come Dine With Me.

    To play: Shape games like Tetris, Pokemon Shuffle, and especially Hexic. And the classic Bloodsuckers.

    I’d like to pay more attention to Read Watch Play each month to more easily adhere to the themes!


    Less-favourite things

    Too much hype: Bright copper kettles, crisp apple strudels, doorbells, sleigh bells, animal schnitzel with noodles, wild geese flying at night (till I’ve actually witnessed this one day), girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, silver white Winters that melt into Springs (no melting! Spring all the time! No Winter), dog bites, bee stings…

    Food: Jelly, flummery, pumpkin, goji berries, persimmon, pistachios, licorice, tiramisu, Florentines, marshmallows, tapioca…

    Hair binding

    24th June, 2016

    Sometimes I contemplate a dramatic haircut, but I worry because of not having an un-hair-do option. Maybe I shouldn’t worry, as my first hairdressing experience was when I cut my own hair.

    But my most recent haircut was last year, and it went too, too far to go back. It’s hard to tell someone to stop when they say “Oh I’m having so much fun!”. Cue looking down at the floor to see all my hair shed like a fur coat you didn’t know you wanted to keep – till it was ripped off.

    Recently we went to a costume party, and because of my laziness around organising a costume (reluctance manifested?), I thought I would just shave my hair into a mohawk. I didn’t end up doing it as we had no clippers. I cobbled together the kind of homemade costume where you find an outfit, then attempt to link it to a random character. I had evening gloves and a dress, so I pretended that I’d aimed to dress as Betty Blight (grandmother of Captain Planet character, Dr Blight). Yeah, it was a stretch.

    Multiple sized journals co-bound

    Co-bound haircut

    To make this library-relevant (I guess it’s a bit like pretending I purposefully dressed as Betty Blight?), I think that a haircut can look a bit like the binding of this serial title. All different formats co-bound, especially at the regrowth stage.

    Apparently in The Guinea Pigs feature (Captain Planet 3rd series, 7th episode) about animal testing, a monkey shaves off some of Dr Blight’s hair. I haven’t seen this episode, but ironically, Dr Blight’s revenge haircut is sort of what I’m seeking! You can scroll down on the gallery section of the Captain Planet wiki page to see the result! (last photos at the base)

    Thinking about Captain Planet, I was always into Wheeler (the Fire Ring guy). Now I wonder if Captain Planet was meant to be the one?

    Foot glove trio

    23rd June, 2016

    Oh, blogjune! I have neglected you as both a lover and friend, but I have caught up on your 684 (!?) posts . I wonder if I could squeeze 16 days of posts into a single one – a good idea that’s already been done (for 3 days) by Thomas and Blake.

    Anyway, I spent some of my non-blogjune time on holiday in Adelaide with not much internet access.

    Sometimes being quiet is good, and powerful – something else is making the words, or perhaps using up the allocation. If you search for “Sorry we’ve been quiet lately!” – there are so many results! It’s okay not to add to it, there’s enough. Brings to mind artist Danielle Freakley’s The Quote Generator where she only spoke in stolen quotes for years (which reminds me I’d like to see a movie on a similar theme: And Now a Word From Our Sponsor). If you see her performance on Enough Rope – the lesson could be the importance of life dates in serials?

    My favourite post from my mega reading cramming was Margaret’s post seeking book donations, and the story behind reinvigorating the library at Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy (California):

     “Will you donate a book? A real book. Something literary or fun – something that speaks to your truth, their truths. …help us to build a library we can be proud of. Just one book.”

    I wonder if the blogjuners (junebloggers?) in Australia could work together to organise a parcel – or am I making this overcomplex, would it be better to purchase online and just use their shipping address? Hmm. Considering which books to send!

    Mr Cat with handknitted socks

    A cat paw, a human sock

    Apart from my blogjune guilt, I was trying to conjure up a post about gloves (it’s cold here! I guess that counts enough for inspiration – or desperation?). I couldn’t find any matching ones in the wardrobe – which probably says something about my clothing information management?

    Bereft of gloves, I rediscovered this trio of socks which were handknitted by my Grandma. It’s a weird thing to be given 3 specially-made socks, but she reasoned to me that:

    1. I wear odd socks

    2. I am likely to lose socks (I’m not sure where that came from – after all, I still have all these ones).

    3. There was just the right amount of wool left to make a third sock, and what else could she have made? (perhaps some undies, but I didn’t feel it was worthwhile to argue).

    I miss her very much, and I love the fact that she wanted to risk-manage my sock habits.

    As you can see, our Mr Cat rather likes them (or just wants to be a blogjune feature cat like ‘Scuse me and Purrkins, Maggie, Shadow Norton and mysterious). And yes, it’s another cat photo, continuing just the same as where I began this year’s blogjune!

    A sock fancier – sounds like a wonderful and outdated career choice?


    Reference: George, E. (9 January 2007). Artist happy to talk up witty project. Mx (News section), 2, accessed via EBSCOhost.

    Confessions of the great unread

    6th June, 2016

    Reading pressure! My Mum quails at the thought that I am a Librarian Who Hasn’t Read the Classics (yes, that’s me! – in stark contrast to Ceridwyn’s love of Austen).

    I’m following the lead of Fiona, Rachel and Kate in considering the topic of #iconfessineverread

    …I guess I feel that I don’t always read the right things, which could also be why I try to restrict watching my movie consumption, to span only those that are critically panned. I guess I am trying to be “better”! (more healthy? More wholesome?) At the same time, I share Connie and Hannah’s feelings around not engaging in reading as much as is possible – but I also want to read for pleasure, not just reading something that is good for me?

    Books on my shelf

    A portion of my books

    This is a tiny section of our (also small) bookshelves at home – I don’t actually own many books (multiple reasons, including working in interlibrary loans for a long time, having expensive books damaged in a flood, etc.).

    Like Maya, I have some books just for the tactility and memories they offer – touchstones to a different time.

    In blogjune 2014, my collection was in a different cabinet – since that time, I’ve bought a few YA series I’ve kept, some books I’ve forwarded on, and received some lovely vegan cookbooks. There are some long-held Christian Boltanski ones that I love dearly, but try not to read/manhandle because I have that hangup of not destroying the pages. I used to work with a curator who purchased photography books as an investment, it seems rewarding – but I think she now buys in multiples (too hard to part with them).

    Some of the books you see are Norwegian ones – many years ago I thought I would read things in Norsk and at some point my brain would suddenly “click” and just get it. Obvious naivety there. So I really enjoy looking at ideas for becoming bilingual, such as a vocabulary wall. I did a Wiradjuri course last year, which really helped me to understand the mechanics of how I learn, as well as wishing that local languages and culture were embedded in school (but this is changing for the better now). Other books shown are about gardening, art and cooking. I feel like it’s a good topic overview shelf, but it also has other people’s books, so I feel like it also speaks to the work I need to do around boundaries.

    Achievement unlocked!

    Refresh, refresh.

    To balance concerns about not reading, I’ve included a screenshot of a mini-accomplishment – catching up on all the posts in my feedly blogjune category. Yay!

    Confession time:

    I would rather re-read Margaret Atwood’s novels and poetry, than try something super-new. Mr Sonja would say that this also reflects my attitude to “known” foods.

    There was a well-read books list in blogjune 2014 – I’m afraid I haven’t augmented my score much (read this as: at all) in the intervening 2 years.

    #iconfessineverread (classics, and then some non-classics so that I might actually remedy the situation!)

    • Same as Rachel and some of Kate’s: The Catcher in the Rye, War and peace, Catch-22, Lord of the Rings, Wuthering Heights, Huckleberry Finn, Lolita, Anna Karenina, Ulysses, and Frankenstein (however, I have read To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Little Women, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
    • Before going through the list of 100 must-read books about books, I’m betting that I haven’t read any of them. Aim low! (3 minutes later: A feeling of success! I have read “The Eyre Affair” and loved it, even though I didn’t get the references in it given that I don’ t know the classics, i.e. this post, comment and reading experience is the ouroboros. Also Matilda, Possession, and 84 Charing Cross Road. A 4% success rate! Best navel-gazing librarian badge awarded to me!)
    • 96 books about books (see above for individual list)
    • I’m also excited by the 100 wonderful, strange and unusual novels (okay, yes, it includes an Atwood book I haven’t read yet)
    • 10 must-read books recommended by Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose (6-year-old post, but I like the way that the video starts with potplants – even though I can’t quite make out what they’re saying)

    At the same time of having a guilt trip about what I don’t read, there are some things that are going to be on my “to don’t” list forever. Like Dickens.

    Happy blogjune 2016

    4th June, 2016

    Starting blogjune a few days late (or perhaps very early for blogjune 2017) with a cat photo. Even though I feel like this is a cop out, akin to Mean Girls:

    “…and you can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week. So I guess you picked today.”

    I’m not super clear about my goals for this year’s blogjune, I think it’s my fourth round (you can see this year’s participants on Peta’s post). I know the aim is to post every day of the month, and to learn from everyone participating in the challenge. I hoped to have some sort of theme – I was thinking of posting a vegan burger a day, so I ate one a day for the first 3 days of June. Then my friend E highlighted that it was going to be a super expensive endeavour. From this, I think my posts will be unthemed, as the theme. Even though I reckon I could eat 30 burgers in a month, so that can be a future investment goal.

    When you match your bruise to your bra

    Cupping and Cat (no filter needed)

    If you aren’t wearing glasses and this is blurry, don’t worry, I have not posted a picture of my pink bits and turned my head backwards. I’m gearing up for the unofficial Gywneth Paltrow “who is more alternative” competition by trying cupping therapy, just like Kristen. Although I admit I might be not super punctual to this boss battle.

    The headlines in 2004 declared “Wacky Gwyneth Paltrow is in the spotlight …sporting bizarre circular marks on her back.” Weirdly, I can remember the media uproar. Just think, she was researching for goop all the way back then, on how to achieve a workplace that is “…casually ethereal…”. 

    I find the goop language really interesting, in terms of “positioning as expert”, something that we could learn from (just the marketing aspect!), to promote library expertise and resources. Although the sniffing at crowd-sourcing is pretty grating, but makes sense when they are pushing the “homespun riche” element:

    “…a fully-formed lifestyle site… …a place where readers can find suggestions… …from a trusted friend – not from an anonymous, crowd-sourced recommendation engine.”

    I showed my cupping marks to my friend, who said I had bad huang (wind), and unfortunately Mr. Sonja agreed. But in all seriousness, I’m excited to be following up on health treatments (including acupuncture) and start detoxing my life. I’ve found Ruby’s soul detox to be a good motivator and cause for contemplation, as a way to frame the beginning of positive habits and healing.

    The feeling of the first cup was like I didn’t have enough skin, or maybe it was a renegade sucker attachment from Species II. Is that the right movie? I went to the initial acupuncturist appointment just to ask about the impact of piercings on energy centres, but I felt like I should actually get some acupuncture done at the same time, so that it wasn’t just a costly random question (and to combat the possibility of seeming strange). Sometimes I find these things happen, because getting involved a bit more, is bound to be less awkward than having a pretend appointment? I guess it’s a health version of While you were sleeping. A red herring that becomes an actual fish dinner, if that makes sense.

    I am dreadful at pairing movie scenes with their titles (which is why I do a yearly read/watched roundup), I thought this one happened in She’s out of my league, but wherever it was from, it fits: A guy working in a fast food chain has a crush on an airline reservations agent. He tries to talk with her (at her counter desk) and ends up accidentally booking a plane trip to Poland. That’s me. I am the burger guy. In an awkwardness and obligation sense, but sometime I’ll be the eating-a-burger-every-day person too.


    Reference: Thomas Whitaker, S.R. (n.d., circa 2004). Shakespeare in love bites?. Sun, The. Retrieved from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, 4 June 2016.


    Vegan freakshakes in Canberra

    30th April, 2016

    Freakshakes! They originated from Canberra’s very own Pâtissez, and burst from Australia, onto the world stage, with great media hubbub in July 2015.

    …and now there’s a vegan-friendly version at both Canberra stores! It’s now going to be a permanent fixture on the menu but the flavour option might change every month or so.

    Currently, the Vegân Freak is:

    “Lychee coconut shake – raspberry coulis – coconut vanilla bean mousse – coconut chips – lychee, raspberry & coconut icecream pop (holy mother of vegans this thing does not taste vegan).”

    Vegan freakshake at Patissez Manuka, Canberra, Australia

    So sweet, so coconut

    I had a Vegân Freak yesterday (not quite as sexy as it sounds! But almost…) at the Canberra Manuka store.  I was a bit worried about the lychee element as I’ve tried to avoid eating them after seeing a particular scene in We need to talk about Kevin. But they were tricky to detect in the shake, so that was for the best.

    I had told the staff I found out about the Vegân Freak from Vegan ACT. I heard them saying to each other something like, “It was through a secret vegan society!”. I’m sworn to secrecy regarding whether I can confirm if SVS exists or not.

    Oh the shake was so overwhelming. So much sweetness, so much coconut (this has also been mentioned by others, too). I was determined! I was hardcore! But I failed (softcore). I had skipped lunch but it still didn’t work, and I was so hopeful that I’d do better than my last competitive eating foray. But I just couldn’t finish it, so very sad and I so hate food waste. My gameplan was based on the architecture, starting at the top. I ate the icecream pop, then 50% of the mousse, then super-sculled most of the liquid. And then I felt as overly sweet as Shirley Temple (the child actor, but I guess also her namesake beverage). The shakes are the smaller size compared to the “origin” freakshakes, but there’s still so much in a serving! The description describes it as “not tasting vegan” – I don’t know what to say about that, but it does have a really overt cream-fat kind of taste, so it’s kind of accurate?

    I appreciate that Pâtissez now offers a vegan freakshake option, and it’s also encouraging for there to be an something for those with dairy allergies. Apparently Pâtissez are developing a vegan chocolate freakshake for Winter – which is so good, we don’t need everything to be fruit-based! (there are some other great flavour suggestions on their facebook page). It would also be beneficial to have some vegan beta-testers. I volunteer as tribute!

    When I went to pay, they said, “1 vegan freak?”, and I said, yes, thinking of Bob and Jenna Torres’ book, Hello my name is vegan freak: being vegan in a non-vegan world.

    Vegan burger at Patissez, Civic, Canberra, Australia

    Best vegan burger ever! (sorry Mum)

    Today’s follow-up (quality assurance!) visit was to the Canberra City (Civic) store, I had the only vegan main option, the Veg Head burger with fries and Pâtissez special sauce:

    “Herby chickpea, corn & sweet potato patty, charred zucchini, roast capsicum, grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, vegan aioli, house marinated fetta cheese.”

    Damn, it was the best vegan burger I’ve had (in case my Mum’s reading, it’s not as good as your bean-patty one! But if you’re not reading, then it’s the best). Like, even better than the one at Red Lime Shack in Adelaide. It was so good. I did ask the Pâtissez staff a lot of questions, and confirmed that the chips were fried in cottonseed oil, and that the aioli is done on a soy base (not sure if this is a fortified type, though). Staff were obliging, but I think that there needs to be a quick FAQ or better team-briefing, given that many people with allergies will often opt for the vegan menu item and have questions.

    Vegan freakshake at Patissez Civic, Canberra, Australia

    The beast, legend & challenge.

    My friend E had the Vegân Freak, so we could compare it with my yesterday-version at Manuka. I sternly warned her that I couldn’t even complete it, but she said she was “born for this”.

    And annoyingly, she truly was! (but reassured me that it was due to my coaching). The evidence is as follows…

    Completed Vegan freakshake at Patissez, Civic, Canberra, Australia

    Damn, she did it

    Yesterday, I found that the trick after my shake-fail was to get some vegan chips from Grill’d to get a good savoury/salt balance (very soon after!).

    As a modified version of the ye olde technique of McDonald’s dipping chips in a sundae, E utilised some of my Pâtissez burger side-fries as freakshake dippers. I think we need to register this an innovative concept for the IDEAS BOOM. I hope Pâtissez will think it’s a good idea to start serving a tiny cup of chips with freakshakes! (you’re welcome!)

    Freakshake Google trends graph showing interest over time

    Freakshake Google trends graph

    It can be tricky to find out about freakshakes, as I think the term has now been copyrighted or trademarked by Pâtissez, and they recommend tagging with #Patissez and #FreakShakes

    When I was trying to get a trend graph from Factiva, I found it a bit complex (because of the terms) and experimented with advanced search commands like freak and shake* near each other, or dessert-topped shakes, but I didn’t really get anything satisfyingly representative, so the image above is from data source Google trends. You can see the clear peak in popularity in July last year, and then it all gets a bit muddied with the varying names, etc. …and it didn’t seem to allow truncation symbols, so I used both freakshake and freakshakes, in addition to Pâtissez. Even if the interest doesn’t continue over time, it looks as though the cafe is continuing with innovative food offerings – I’m hopeful that will result in more vegan options, too!

    The freakshake phenomenon is just part of the Frankenfood portmanteaus, and it could possibly be compared with the vegan Plant-based Disgrace in Sydney. I’m keen to try the Disgrace, but given my lack of success in finishing Vegân Freak, I might have to share it with a few other people.

    As always, this post isn’t sponsored and all food etc. is at my own cost. I’d love to know if you also thought the Vegân Freak was super intense! Or if you’ve been lucky enough to eat the Disgrace.

    Canberra underpass art walk from 5 years ago

    29th February, 2016

    *Begin crumbly old Canberra voice*

    Back in my day, there wasn’t much for the young folk to do. So it was easy to remember bad public art or silly wayfinders. At the old underpass near the Hyatt (leading to the National Library), there was a strange Noah mural which was partially obscured by a rambling travelling story. Apart from that, your Mum would say not to hang out in underpasses but never really explained why.

    Jesus mural (July 2011)

    Jesus mural (July 2011)

    Then in mid-2011, there was a magic burst of art treasure in this underground den. Majestic seers and creatures by Abyss, and heaps of other pieces all through the tunnel. I’m sorry to be unsure of the other people who made this in just one night, but maybe a good hunt through the screaming wall would garner results.

    Your time is limited but your imagination is not (July 2011)

    Your time is limited but your imagination is not (July 2011)

    It’s sentimental, but I still remember the feeling of walking through, the wonder at all these new shiny creations. I loved thinking of all the public servants (including me) that were going to see it all (on the way to their offices), and be inspired for the rest of the day.

    Create (July 2011)

    Create (July 2011)

    And then the crushing beige cover-ups afterwards. Reminds me of a legend of an art gallery director who would add a layer of brown paint in order to “antique” paintings, also called “gravying” (in rather poor taste).

    Rabbit detail (July 2011)

    Rabbit detail (July 2011)

    Even though these are from a long time ago, I hope that with the new Street Art Coordinator, there will be support for reinvigorating Canberra’s urban spaces. And so that questionable religious murals won’t stay up for more than 10 years and act as a navigational aid for hapless young Canberrans – rather, that they can work out where they are with engaging and beautiful changing art.

    Watched and read list of 2015

    31st January, 2016

    My annual book and movie list!

    My tally for the year was: 46 movies, 42 books, 1 play, 2 web series, 1 comedy show, and 1 short online movie (a big book-reading improvement on last year’s tally of 55 movies, 17 books and 2 TV series).

    As for games, I spent a lot of time playing Pokemon shuffle, but that’s about it (I usually only like games with shape-matching but no characters, so it’s a bit limiting – although I had a go at Trials fusion and new Tetris). I didn’t visit the library as often as I’d like, but I bought a lot more books than I would normally (i.e. more than zero), and made sure that at least one other person read my copies to make them a bit greener. I also forgot to note which art exhibitions I saw, but that’s a goal for another year.

    2015 was definitely my year of reading Richelle Mead’s series: Bloodlines, Georgina Kincaid, Age of X and Dark Swan (Eugenie Markham). But now I need to read Soundless (from late 2015), and The Glittering Court is coming – when all I want is to petulantly demand another Age of X or Dark Swan book (they are pending/unknown). It was really pleasing to read the concluding book of the Bloodlines series – a colleague once said I was a “completionist”, and for sure, I do like it when things are done, I hate waiting on book release dates.  I was delighted to read the next Jewel series instalmentThe White Rose, but now have to wait for the next one, The Black Key, to be released this fall (in America – autumn is in late September, so maybe 235 days?). Yuck. This is why I read things after the hype is over and there is no waiting, but I guess it is good to support art and culture in-process, but sometimes I can’t stand the anticipation.

    It was also a big year of reading Cassandra Clare’s series: The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices. And now to wait for The Dark Artifices. Life is just waiting for more books, it seems.

    I’ve continued my love of trashy movies, but made them a bit more educational with Norwegian subtitles, it would be so helpful if subtitle language availability was made clearer across library catalogues and other listings. And I read the very worst book in the world, Zelda’s cut, which was so frustrating and depressing. I made my mother-in-law read it so that we could bond through our mutual dislike of everything about the characters and storyline.

    Just browsing, thanks

    Arnold in library in Junior movie


    • Trolljegeren (Troll hunter, Norwegian movie with English subtitles)
    • Bloodlines series: 3, The indigo spell, 4, The fiery heart, 5, Silver shadows (books)
    • Jo Nesbo’s Jackpot (Norwegian movie with English subtitles)
    • Men in black (English movie with Norwegian subtitles)

    “Goddamn bugs.” = “Fordømte insekt.”

    • Ickle Pickle’s Cinderella (play)
    • Junior (English movie with Norwegian subtitles – DVD busted 40 minutes in)
    • Age of X series, 1, Gameboard of the gods (book)

    “Seeing the outside of her body was nothing compared to seeing the inside. Even now, he was probably analysing her outburst, and she already felt too raw and exposed. If she kept her back to him, maybe she could hide the hole in her that she felt he’d ripped open.” p. 300

    “She’d never heard of lingonberries but Nordics seemed to love them.” p. 358

    • Headhunters (Norwegian movie with English subtitles)
    • The boyfriend dilemma by Fiona Foden (book)
    • World class trains: the Polar Express (movie – I thought it’d be about Santa but it was about Sweden, this was probably due to my very general keyword search of Norway/Norsk/Oslo/Norwegian, which is why I also watched the DVD Sissel in concert: all good things)
    • Sweet land: a love story (movie)

    “Different kinds of happy”

    • Mortdecai (movie at the cinema)
    • Georgina Kincaid series, 1, Succubus blues (book)

    “The sweater and khakis combination looked both respectable and subdued, though the color scheme blended a bit too well with my light brown hair. It was a librarian sort of outfit. Did I want to look subdued? Maybe.” p. 43

    “I could still feel where his power had touched me, rather like a tactile version of the afterimage one sees with a camera flash.” p. 321.

    • Georgina Kincaid series, 2, Succubus nights (book)
    • Georgina Kincaid series, 3, Succubus dreams (book)

    “It twinkled like starlight, seeping into me.” p. 102

    • Georgina Kincaid series, 4, Succubus heat (book)

    “A flower of agony and euphoria burst open in my chest.” P. 356


    • Georgina Kincaid series, 5. Succubus shadows (book)

    “She was still using that librarian voice, but I had to admit she looked more like a succubus than the last time I’d seen her.” p. 80

    “Out here in the middle of nowhere, stars clustered the sky, and night insects rained down a symphony of chatter.” p. 177

    • Georgina Kincaid series, 6. Succubus revealed (book)

    “Our souls are like …oh, I don’t know. It’s like they’re encased in amber. They’re there, and I can see them inside us.” p. 253

    • The butcher’s wife (English movie with Norwegian subtitles)
    • Immortal: love stories with bite (book)
    • Pitch perfect (movie)
    • Bloodlines series, 6, The ruby circle (book)
    • Confidence (movie)

    “See this? That’s your love line, that’s your money line, and that’s looking very, very good. And that’s your life line going all the way down – uh-oh. See that little gap there. It means that at one point, you could have a little trouble. But it’s up to you to make it better.”

    • Asterix and the Picts (book)
    • Bleak: the web series
    • The Katering show episodes


    • Taffin (movie)
    • Age of X series, 2, The immortal crown (book)

    “You’re too entrenched in mortal thinking if you think this is a coincidence. Don’t you know I’m looking out for you?” p. 181

    • Norwegian wood (movie)

    “If I have left a wound inside you, it is not just your wound but mine as well.”

    • Eugenie Markham/Dark Swan series: 1, Storm born, 2, Thorn queen, 3, Iron crowned, 4, Shadow heir (books)
    • Little big man (English movie with Norwegian subtitles)

    “…it would’ve been deliciously wicked.”

    “Something snapped in my head. I decided life wasn’t fit to live, and the only thing to do was to mingle with the twinkling stars.”

    • Blue caprice (movie)
    • A somewhat gentle man [En Ganske snill mann] (Norwegian movie with English subtitles)
    • The Mortal Instruments series, 1, City of Bones (book)

    “…you’re an artist… That means you see the world in ways that other people don’t. It’s your gift, to see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things. It doesn’t make you crazy – just different. There’s nothing wrong with being different.” p. 29

    “The face of the angel was fierce and beautiful and sad.” p. 169

    • The world is a playground, comedy show by Chris Endrey
    • Zelda’s cut (book)

    “She had her hand clamped over her mouth as if to hold the kiss and the power of the kiss inside her. …Still she kept her hand over her mouth, still she felt, under the unconscious grip of her fingers, the heat and the power of his kiss.” p. 75

    “The messages became more and more of a ritual, a sacrifice to an unresponsive god…” p. 396

    • Worms in the night (book)

    “…if anyone saw me I’d look normal – not like a bogan or anything.” p. 1

    “…our sunroom: seagrass matting, cane furniture with lime-green cushions…” p. 14

    “He’s such a spunk, but he’s always distant.” p.17

    “The worms will come.” p. 22

    “The worms will get you,’ the voice said clearly. ‘The worms come in the night.’” p. 22

    “Look out for the worms. They’ll get you,’” p. 23


    • Before midnight (movie)

    “I don’t know where I’m from, but I’m very hairy.”

    “I just naturally feel bad about everything, and you give me that look, like it’s my fault.”

    • The Mortal Instruments series, 2, City of Ashes (book)
    • The tale of Desperaux (movie)
    • The Duff (movie at the cinema)
    • Leviathan (Russian movie with English subtitles at the cinema)
    • The Mortal Instruments series, 3, City of Glass , 4, City of Fallen Angels, 5, City of Lost Souls (books)
    • The Mortal Instruments series, 6, City of Heavenly Fire  (book)

    “Simon didn’t need a mirror to know he was wearing eye-liner. The knowledge was instant, and complete.” p. 133

    “And when I die and they burn my body and I become ashes that mix with the air, and part of the ground and the trees and the stars, everyone who breathes that air or sees the flowers that grow out 707 of the ground or looks up at the stars will remember you and love you, because I love you that much.” pp. 706-7.

    • Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray (movie, but unsure which version)
    • Cinderella (movie)
    • Maleficent (again! movie)
    • The Infernal Devices series, 1, Clockwork Angel (book)

    “One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” p. 93

    “He didn’t know what books 103 meant to her, that books were symbols of truth and meaning, that this one acknowledged that she existed and that there were others like her in the world.” pp. 103-104

    “…a lot of vampires were beautiful. Their beauty had always seemed to him like the beauty of pressed flowers – lovely, but dead.” p. 197

    “There was a clear picture in her head of the sea. It had drawn back entirely from the shore, and she could see the small creatures it had left gasping in its wake, flapping and dying on the bare sand.” p. 470

    • The Infernal Devices series, 2, Clockwork Prince (book)
    • The Infernal Devices series, 3, Clockwork Princess (book)

    “There were still flecks of dried blood around his collarbones, a sort of brutal necklace.” p. 78

    “…she had understood-oh, she had been told it before, had known it before, but that was not the same as understanding…” p. 159

    “Life was an uncertain thing, and there were some moments one wished to remember, to imprint upon one’s mind that the memory might be taken out later, like 372 a flower pressed between the pages of a book, and admired and recollected anew.” pp. 372-3.

    “She held his face between her hands as they kissed-he tasted slightly of tea leaves, and his lips were soft and the kiss entirely sweet. Sophie floated in it, in the prism of the moment, feeling safe from all the rest of the world.” p. 373

    “I feel like you can look inside me and see all the places I am odd or unusual and fit your heart around them, for you are odd and unusual in just the same way.” p. 412

    “’What you are, what you can do, it is like some great miracle of the earth, like fire or wildflowers or the breadth of the sea. You are unique in the world, just as you are unique in my heart, and there will never be a time when I do not love you.’” p. 537

    • Testament of Youth (movie at the cinema)


    • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, Notes by Robert Mighall (book)

    “If thought could exercise its influence upon a living organism, might not thought exercise an influence upon dead and inorganic things? Nay, without thought or conscious desire, might not things external to ourselves vibrate in unison with our moods and passions, atom calling to atom in secret love or strange affinity?” p. 103

    “He went towards the little pearl-coloured octagonal stand, that had always looked to him like the work of some strange Egyptian bees that wrought in silver…” p. 120

    “…getting the dainty Delhi muslins, finely wrought with gold-thread palmates, and stitched over with iridescent beetles’ wings…” p. 133

    • Not suitable for children (movie)
    • The unbecoming of Mara Dyer (book)

    “I was a goldfish without a castle to hide in.” p. 54

    “My shoulders sagged as if someone let all the air out of the smiley-face balloon that was my heart.” p. 274

    • The evolution of Mara Dyer (book)

    “I’ll walk forever with stories inside me that the people I love the most can never hear.” p. 258

    “The papers flutter when I open or close the door, like the walls are breathing.” p. 305

    • The retribution of Mara Dyer (book)

    “I love you. Today. Tonight. Tomorrow. Forever. If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If I were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.” p. 453

    “…it feels like we’re alone in a sea of beating hearts and breathing lungs.” p. 466

    • Kung fury (online movie)
    • Rabbit Hole (movie)

    “Oh! I like the way it cracks.” “Mmm-hmm. Of course you do.”


    “My anxiety mushrooms; this deal could all go to shit.” p. 90

    “I undo my bow tie. Perhaps it’s me that’s empty.” p. 292

    “Anxiety blooms in my chest.” p. 379

    • Orange is the new black (book)

    “…I understood that these stories held their own accuracy.” p. 141

    “Lack of empathy lies at the heart of every crime…” p. 298


    • Fanny och Alexander (Swedish movie with English subtitles, at the cinema)
    • The skin I live in (Spanish movie with English subtitles)

    “…there’s a place where you can take refuge, a place inside you, a place to which no one else has access, a place that no one can destroy.”

    “I breathe. I know I breathe.”

    • Summer Coda (movie)

    “…I don’t really know you. But I feel like I do.”

    “…and we all have stuff that we wanted to say that we could’ve said. …we never put a time-limit on these things. They’re just so easy to put off. But just because he didn’t say it, doesn’t mean that you didn’t feel it. It just means that you’re the only one that will ever know.”

    • Angel (movie)

    “What in tarnation would I be doing with toys?”

    • Homesick (Norwegian movie with English subtitles)
    • St Trinian’s 2 – The Legend of Fritton’s Gold

    “I’d rather cover myself in jam and sit on a wasps’ nest.”

    About a puppy: “I bet if he could talk, he’d be trying to tell me just how much he loves me.”

    • Remember Me (movie)

    “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.”


    • Ironman (movie)
    • Faberge (movie at the cinema)
    • Hansel and Gretel (movie)
    • Jackass 1 & 2 (movies)


    • Mazerunner: The Scorch Trials (movie at the cinema)

    “People in the mountains? Mountain-people? That’s your plan?”

    • The children’s Bach (book)

    “That’s what they should have on TV every night… Not that violent American rubbish. They should have the Sunset Report. Brought to you by the Federal Department of Nature Appreciation.” p. 35

    “There was no way he could have known that her heart, for the thousandth time, felt as if it had turned into a sharp splinter.” p. 77

    • The Bane Chronicles (book)

    “…her remembered face like the distant familiar beauty of stars, not to be touched but to shine in front of his eyes at night.” p. 17

    “Magnus had learned to be careful about giving his memories with his heart. When people died, it felt like all the pieces of yourself you had given to them went as well. It took so long, building yourself back up until you were whole again, ,and you were never entirely the same.” p. 34

    “This was what humans did: They left one another messages through time, pressed between pages or carved into rock. Like reaching out a hand through time, and trusting in a phantom hoped-for hand to catch yours. Humans did not live forever. They could only hope what they made would endure.” p. 42

    “Everything about this exchange was wrong. This was not how the reunion should have gone. It should have been coy, it should have had many strange pauses and moments of double meaning.” p. 283

    “The heart had its reasons, and they were seldom all that reasonable.” p. 331

    “…a trouble sundae with dark secret cherries on top.” p. 331

    “And silver, though few people knew it, was a rarer metal than gold.” p. 396

    • Heart of Darfur (book)

    “seeing the overwhelming needs and fears in the world we can all be excused for wanting to withdraw.” p. 106



    • The Dressmaker (movie at the cinema)
    • Sex and the City 2 (movie)
    • The White Rose (book)

    “I wish I could unzip my skin and show him the place inside me where Ash lives, tangled up in blood and bone and muscle, impossible to separate or remove.” p. 117

    “I rub my eyes. There’s too much in my head, and not enough space for it all.” p. 172

    • Mockingjay Part 2 (movie at the cinema)


    • The Good Dinosaur (movie at the cinema)
    • Murder by the book

    “…the big cabinets where rare old books and memorabilia grew silently older and rarer behind glass.” p. 70

    • The Eyre Affair (book)

    “The barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think: a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one evening a thin spot develops and someone falls through; the hole is frozen over by the following morning.” [didn’t write down the pagination!]

    • 50 shades of grey (movie)
    • Magic Mike II (movie)
    • Death of a Butterfly (a Detective Sigrid Harald mystery)

    “The backs of his hands were lightly sprinkled with brown age marks, but the hands were still capable – a craftsman’s hands, strong and square, yet with the promise of lyrical, gentle touch.” p. 10

    • Magpies, squirrels and thieves: how the Victorians collected the world (book)

    “His relationship with his employer was edgy and barbed, liable to erupt in furious explosions.” p. 22

    “…Robinson was suggesting that it was not only beautiful objects themselves that were important, but also the very ‘pursuit’ of collecting them. Tracking down objects, studying them, comparing and treasuring them…” p. 69

    “This portrait… …was showing off the part of him that mattered – his collection.” p. 189

    “He became a collector of stories.” p. 343

    • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (movie)

    Health food shops in Canberra

    31st December, 2015

    Just in time for healthy new year’s resolutions! Canberra has some wonderful (but not always easy to find/know about) health food shops and places to bulk-buy or bring your own containers. Make sure you check they’ve definitely re-opened after the holidays!

    I have a theory about the proximity of health food shops and art galleries – a good opportunity to improve your entire health and outlook…

    South Canberra

    Mountain Creek Wholefoods

    Dry goods at Mountain Creek

    Mountain Creek Wholefoods, Griffith: A classic favourite. Extensive, intense tea range and lots of health shop products, dry goods that can be measured out (hot tip: there are even barrels under the counter), and a separate area with lots of eco-gifts. Great range of frozen goods and a lovely café to boot.

    Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.

    Closest gallery: M16 artspace

    Let's be natural

    Just part of Let’s be natural

    Let’s be natural, Mawson: The giantest health-food shop! Their display of bring-your-own-container goods is overwhelming. Lovely vibe and they have the easiest discount club, it’s an automatic percentage off every visit, you don’t have to remember anything. I think there have been yoga classes in the past as it’s such a big space, and beauty treatments are also available.

    Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.

    Closest gallery: Mawson Gallery

    Greenway organic, Tuggeranong

    Front window of Greenway organic

    Greenway organic, Tuggeranong: Interesting ingredients, staples like nutritional yeast and dairy-free ice-cream. Lots of dry goods for dietary requirements e.g. celiacs, as well as frozen food and a wide range of chocolate bars. They get new products in a lot, but it can be worthwhile to phone to check that what you need is in stock.

    Parking: Free (Don’t park at Homeworld as it’s very expensive, usually Hyperdome is best as you can get a few hours free), relatively close. Or nearby on-street parking near the restaurant strip exit.

    Closest gallery: Tuggeranong Arts Centre

    North Canberra

    As Nature Intended, Belconnen

    Through the window of As Nature Intended

    As Nature Intended, Belconnen markets: Lots of what you’d expect in a health food shop plus fruit and vegetables and delicious cakes (see the cabinet). Really good vegan frozen food options, and lots of beauty products. Similar to Mountain Creek as it has a café component (very big) but many more meal options.

    Parking: Paid, nearby carpark.

    Closest gallery: Belconnen Arts Centre

    ANU Food Co-op

    Through the window at the Food Co-op

    ANU Food Co-op, Acton: Community-based, non-profit cooperative with bring-your-own-container options. Also sweets, vegan cheeses, unusual vegetables and fruit. Similar to As Nature Intended and Mountain Creek in that there’s an in-store café (the lunches are great value and generally vegan).

    It has been around for ages, I don’t remember when it was in the Union building, but before the current bricks-and-mortar, it was in a transportable building near the Law Courts, and prior to that, a different transportable near the current site.

    Parking: There is a loading zone out the front, but it’s more polite & good karma to park in the proper spots. There is a useful map on the Co-op’s website.

    Closest gallery: Drill Hall Gallery

    Naked foods, Braddon

    Peepshow at Naked foods

    Naked foods, Braddon: I must admit, I was surprised when this opened, given the long-standing ANU Food Coop isn’t too far away. This is on my “to visit” list, as I never seem to get there during opening hours – “The store is set out in the style of a lolly shop – but the wares for sale are anything but.” – …and I’m like a little kid leaning my head on the glass trying to open sesame the doors.

    Parking: Paid, nearby or up the road.

    Closest gallery: KIN Gallery (check out the Hamlet in general)

    and the best for last…

    Canberra Organic Food Collective, Dickson: Grass-roots, affordable organic dry foods. Bring your own container options, it’s easy to decide what you want to order from the price-list (kilogram quantities).  The only place I’ve found in Canberra that sells real, genuine, potent cinnamon. Worth it for that alone, but also other good spices, rice, nuts, beans and more.

    Parking: Free, on-street.

    Closest gallery: ANCA


    There are a few health food shop chain stores in Canberra (Go Vita, Healthy Life), but they are pretty easy to find so I haven’t listed them. You can also buy health foods in giant containers at Costco (dates etc.), but I didn’t visit there as I balk at paying a nightclub cover charge, let alone a discount shop admission fee. I have found that Supabarn have really well-stocked and unusual “health food” aisles, too. And some places I’ve missed are in this fulsome list from Vegan ACT.

    For fresh vegetables and groceries, there are lots of good independent places like Choku Bai Jo, the regular farmers’ markets (North and South), Fyshwick markets, Organic energy, markets at the Botanic Gardens, and more…

    As always, this post is not sponsored (my own time, money and opinions), but probably contains some South/North Canberra bias! All photos are from today apart from the Let’s Be Natural one (taken in April).

    Looking in on The Visit movie

    18th October, 2015

    A few weeks ago my parents saw The Visit film. They thought it would be just a nice movie about grandkid/grandparent visits. They got a surprise. I suppose the blood on the poster looks like something less sinister, strawberry jam, maybe. We went along to see it later, to understand just how much it would have varied from their expectations.

    Don’t continue reading this if you still want to watch it! (although, Mr Sonja says that everyone has seen it now and we are completely off trend). And what I have to say might put you off anyway.

    The Visit movie ticket with cross-stitch tree

    Embroidered woodlands

    Unfortunately The Visit was a little bit ruined for me as someone commented on the youtube trailer: “Those aren’t their grandparents, they killed the real ones and hid them in the basement. Spoiler alert.” (argh you put spoiler alert at the wrong end of the sentence and ruined my experience! I think if a movie is being so heavily promoted on youtube, that the front-up spoiler comments should at least be managed). Like Brent McKnight, I assumed that there would be some sort of body-swapping or possession – I guess body-swapping did happen in a sense, though. I also wondered if there was a cult in the mix, given the description on the official website“Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.”

    I missed quite a few parts of the movie as, like at Melissa King’s screening, there were some very disruptive movie-goers talking throughout the film with phrases such as “What the-!” and “Don’t go in there!”. I was really hoping they might walk out, and if I’d sat above them (rather than the row below), I would have touched their shoulders at a jump-moments to help them understand the impact you can have on someone’s viewing experience.

    Becca and Tyler’s visit to Nanna and Pop-pop was bound to be unpredictable as a week-long hazing of “getting to know each other”. At one point, Tyler says “I hope things don’t get any more awkward, because I’m at my limit.” That was my feeling throughout, even though I love critically panned movies. Glimpses of the driveway on the way to “Grandma’s  house in the woods” was reminiscent of the scenic twists and turns of Manderley’s driveway in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (very apt given they both feature characters with the same name). The foreboding underscore of the whole film – what lies beneath – was offset by the meant-to-be-comedic elements such as the expansive vocabulary of the children (eerily similar to the teenagers in Dawson’s Creek). The tension of the red chapter markers as a count-down to the finish mimicked Sophie Calle’s count-down of “days until unhappiness” in her work of art, Exquisite Pain.

    The Visit movie with the well

    Well, well

    Of M. Night’s films, the only other two I’ve seen are The Sixth Sense (another movie beginning with stopword -the) and Lady in the water. Perhaps because of my viewing of Lady in the water, I really thought that The Visit had a shared, consistent theme – water. Water featured as the rising damp that would have created the faux “toxic mould” in the basement (a Bluebeard-like forbidden room), the story of sleeping underwater, aliens spitting into a lake, Nanna’s fascination with the well, her history of drowning her children and the rainy weather in the final scenes. If there was a lake beneath the house, that could be why the bodies of the actual grandparents were placed in the basement, for a “deep, really beautiful sleep” (strong burial, ground hibernation themes consistent with alien incubation). Nanna could have been almost excavating down to the underground lake when they were playing hide-and-seek in the labyrinthine setting beneath the house.

    Could Nanna be from the Lady’s Blue World? She does have a mermaid-like habit of shedding her clothing, but that could also be the persistence of that traditional role of women being naked for art, as exposed in the Guerrilla Girls’ “weenie count” of male vs. female nudes.

    To balance the prominence of water, Nanna is also skilled in the use of fire – the fairytale elements (highlighted in Sheila O’Malley’s review) of Little Red Riding Hood’s surprise host, and fattening up children with biscuits and putting them in the oven. My friend K asked me if The Visit was the “fairy bread movie, you know the Hansel and Gretel one”:

    “The film unfolds like an urban myth, a variation on the Hansel and Gretel tale. Is there more to Nana’s fixation with baking cakes and cookies than meets the eye?” (Nick Dent’s review).

    Baked goods are a weapon throughout – as a beguiling introduction/welcome at the train station, but then as a burnt walnut lure for Becca to venture downstairs like a breadcrumb trail through a darkened forest, a trap to leave the room after bedtime. Even in a raw state, biscuit dough acts as a barrier on Becca’s computer, hampering communications with the outside world. Based on the movie poster, and the focus on Nanna as being skilled in stereotypical home-crafts, I wondered if her intricate (yet still managing to remain rustic) dishes were going to be poisoned (like the welcoming hospitality of Troll II). Even Nanna’s appearance was “cookie cutter” Grandma stereotype.

    Sean Roberts (Reel Time episode 73) has described the third act as “More of a revelation than a twist”, and that the grounded organic nature of it, rather than being shocking, unfolds with the chronic waiting throughout the movie, just like a visit with family.

    Paired with the build-up towards the ending, was an increasingly uncomfortable perspective on ageing, and the final blow, a treatise of fear towards mental illness. While Becca hunts for the elusive elixir (forgiveness for her mother to act as a salve for a fractured family), the entire movie warps the idea of treatment, salvation or rehabilitation for psychiatric patients. Brian Truitt has noted that the movie touches on themes of “…redemption, forgiveness and the passage of time”, but it seems that redemption is only available to absent fathers or a mother who didn’t share the whole story of a traumatic family rift.

    Much of what is happening is about clinical behaviours, but also playing on the idea of “elderly people are weird” and the director’s “…deep-seated fears and insecurities” about the elderly (Shyamalan has openly acknowledged this in Yeap, Sue. Shyamalan tale takes on primal fears. Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 September 2015, p. 38 via Factiva), also highlighted by David Chen.

    While The Visit is a horror-comedy, a lot of the “funny” bits are generally about a “demeaning senior-citizen freakshow”, as described by Tim Robey:

    …the movie’s fear of the elderly is pathological, and barely even satirical… Essentially it treats old people – not these grandparents in particular, but old people generally – as if they’re already dead: smelly nightmares looming up at you in their soiled nightclothes. The black-comic hysteria of the tone doesn’t let this kind of point-and-gawp callousness off the hook, when what we’re beholding is a prime candidate for the most gerontophobic film ever made.”

    The classic fairytale elements of visiting family-as-strangers in a remote location, “…edged with fable and nightmare” are not enough to overcome the demonisation of ageing and mental illness.

    As the action pepped up, Becca and Tyler were able to overcome their blocks from their father-abandonment issues. Becca’s fear and horror at her own reflection is subverted in her stabbing of Nanna with a mirror shard, and Tyler’s frozen terror at a sports game morphs into tackling and kicking Pop-pop to death (who, before anointing Tyler with his own scatalogical concoction to mitigate a spell, tells him how much he disliked him from the start). The power is given back to the victims (the children), and the [first set of] murdered grandparents are written off with the mother’s observation that they were caring, and nothing is made of the failure of the mental health system. Christopher Campbell has put it best:

    “They’re not robots or aliens or pod people or villainous masterminds or anything fantastical by any means. The twist is that they’re insane. So then it’s not just elder shame, which it is still, but it’s also mental illness shame.”

    I know someone who strongly believes that the conclusion of the movie was that Nanna and Pop-pop are genuinely aliens. Perhaps they were watching a different Visit movie, but to be honest, a supernatural twist would have sat more comfortably.

    blogjune time sundae

    2nd August, 2015

    Okay, we are in August. But I have been thinking about blogjune since June!

    I posted much less this year, and was dreadfully behind in keeping in touch with other people’s posts. I have only just caught up on hundreds of posts in my feed from people who did blogjune (so, some of June and everything since). I have missed lots of them too, but that’s okay (as is an August-timed reflection!).

    Low-key blogjune was because my priority for June (and beyond) was/is to relax. I started towards this in a small way during last blogjune, thinking about what I wanted to have more of in my daily life. Yesterday’s card on self-care, selected by Doreen Virtue couldn’t have been more accurate. I spend (invest?) a lot of time working and volunteering in the library sector, so I figured if I could have more relaxing baths, face masks, recreational print reading and seeing friends, it would be an achievement. These are the things that migrate to my “to don’t” list when everything else borrows my time and energy.

    Foot with bath bomb

    Foot bomb

    “The capacity to offer your own time to service is grounded in the privilege of having that time in the first place.” (Kate Bowles’ post via Kim’s retweet) (and which tasks end up eating the time privilege?). Task creep and expansion is like a sundae made of time allocation, all the melty bits drip down into the tiny spaces between the wafers. I really did end up spending more time on life balance activities which is a success. More books! More movies! More fun!

    My blogjune output for this year has been 8 posts, or maybe 9 including this one (I did 30 last year, and 23 in 2013). Each year, my desire to post more during that month means I reduce my cull rate and try to be a bit more open. This year I also helped facilitate the blogjune posts for a group blog (Canberra Library Tribe), which made me appreciate what an accomplishment regular posts are for other group blogs. I’m particularly thinking of ALIA Sydney, which hosts many guest posts every blogjune (I was very pleased and honoured to be able to contribute a post in 2012). I also helped to organise two Arlis/ANZ activities during June: an exhibition tour and a day roadtrip. This definitely made me realise that it’s easy to make time for volunteering when it’s enjoyable!

    From this self-development focus, I really enjoyed Janice’s blogjune post about her Aurora experience. I’ve always thought the Institute held a lot of mystery – almost like MLM companies or something a little bit cultish. Her point about personal reflective learning made so much sense, and her link to Mike Robbins’ “Bring your whole self to work” TedX talk really rang true for me:

    “…nothing changes until you do. So it’s an internal process.  And if you think about this for yourself, where are the places in your life, where are the places in your work, where are the situations, the circumstances, the conversations you that you want to have? The risks you want to take, and where do you find yourself holding yourself back in with compassion? Can you challenge yourself to step beyond what might be safe, what might be comfortable?”

    Another element that resonated with me from her post was about personality types and library work. Part of my desire for more personal time is about considering my next career path direction. When I began studying towards being a librarian and library technician, I had absolutely no idea about the niche specialisations and options available, and what would be the best fit. I really should have investigated more before diving in, but the beauty of doing information studies is an understanding of the value of research. There’s a good post about a study on the Myers-Briggs psychological types found within librarianship – i.e. what are the most common personalities in the library field and what type/who is drawn to work in our sector. If you don’t know your type, there is a free and easy test online (complete with cute illustrated explanations of each type). I feel like understanding this is going to help with my next direction, but it would also be good to find out more about this same data being sampled across library sectors (e.g. is there a personality type more suited to some libraries over others, like special, government…?).

    Steph talked about “Commando shopping” (I have always thought of this as “Surgical shopping”, slicing and dicing through the bargains), as a very direct way of finding what you need in a restricted timeframe. I think there is definitely a temptation for a “Commando career path”, which seems very desirable in hindsight. But everything feeds into everything else, and a direct route is not always the one that provides the most learning opportunities. My life/work balance is also being improved by a new business idea that includes art. As part of my self care, I really need to spend time making art, which I haven’t done for a long time.

    Internal shifts and learning can be hard to articulate, but I feel really positive about the way I managed my time for blogjune. As Constance said, this year’s blogjune may have been smaller numbers-wise, but the discussion involved more significant and impactful discourse.

    Vintage slice for copyright

    31st July, 2015

    Happy Cooking for Copyright! (I have accidentally been typing this as Cooing for Copyright, which I really hope happens but I’d prefer for the pigeon to survive, than die in a pie for copyright reform).

    Lick it good

    Beat it

    Why is it all happening? FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) have done a naughty thing and posted handwritten recipes to their website. Why would this make them “baddies”? It technically breaches copyright law:

    “FAIR claims copyright law reform is long overdue – and it’s focusing on the fact that in Australia copyright in published works lasts 70 years after the death of the creator, but for unpublished works, copyright lasts forever. This means old diaries, letters, even recipes are locked away.

    Sue McKerracher, spokesperson for FAIR, and CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association, said, ‘We’d like the same copyright terms for unpublished works as for published works. Then our libraries, museums and historical societies could put these treasures on the web for family historians, researchers, and everyone else who is fascinated by our social history.’”

    If you squint, it could also be Crooning for Copyright. That would be fun in quiet library reading rooms – barbershop flashbomb! They could sing from unpublished song lyrics. The combs in their back pockets would give them away, though. They’d be whisked out by the guards the instant they tried to see their preppy reflections in the silver embossing on book spines.

    My cooking was off to a good start except the caster sugar leaked all inside the shopping bag. Possibly this could be because of a self-serve checkout. Maybe the person that packed my bag just shoved it all in there and the vegan margarine box dented the sugar packet. I wish the food duopoly would just pay more staff so that I don’t throw everything into the bag in a rage because I’m paying them for me to be on the checkout. Mr Sonja said “no use crying over spilt sugar”.

    Up close crunchy ginger slice

    Crunchy ginger slice

    I baked Margaret’s vintage Crunchy ginger slice.  I’m not the best at following recipes, and was doing quite well till the topping. I started to worry that it wasn’t thick enough so I emptied the icing sugar bag into it. Then there were heaps of lumps (which are meant to be stirred out), it looked like the saccharine equivalent of swimming carnival when they fill the pool with corks and non-swimming kids have to grab them all. Like bobbing for apples except they are in a molten ginger lava and the apples are sugar lumps. I ignored the saucepan of topping for a few minutes because I was envisioning my slice being the equivalent of the skinny untanned guy at a competition for really swole golden body builders. How would it look compared to all the pretty #CookingforCopyright dishes? Then I turned back and all the lumps were gone! I’m sending thanks to my mysterious kitchen angels. I realised this meant maybe I had followed the instructions so I covered it in coconut.

    I licked the beaters and had my usual fear that even when they’re not in the machine, they’ll suddenly come to life and shred my tongue. Then I burnt my mouth on the topping spoon. But the slice looks good and I’m not embarrassed to take it to the library tomorrow! (which is almost as important as copyright reform)

    Homesick festival

    17th July, 2015

    The Scandinavian Film Festival is only running in Canberra for 9 more days (it opened on Tuesday), so it’s a short time to see all the Norwegian features. It has four Norwegian films: Beatles, Homesick, Out of Nature and Underdog. Apart from enjoying the movies, hearing the Norsk pronunciation really helps to get a sense of the language (and I need all the help I can get!).

    Tonight I saw Homesick (De nærmeste) (it screens again next week), you may have seen an intimate shot from it in the Festival’s promotions.

    Poster at Palace Electric

    Poster at Palace Electric

    Before I saw the movie, I was really thinking of the concept of homesickness, and how it relates to my heritage. The story was a lot more confronting than I expected – and I had planned to see it again as Norwegian practice, but I won’t be doing that and definitely not with family! I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just say that generally I thought that Charlotte had a unique vulnerability and an abandonment pattern. The motif of family jewellery was really powerful, with the circle of a necklace symbolising group membership. It was very challenging, I felt more awkwardness in it than a satisfying “Nordic melancholia”. I noticed a few different words though, so it wasn’t without benefit.

    SKI jumper

    SKI jumper

    One good thing about the movie was seeing another moviegoer in this wondrous and totally relevant home-knitted jumper. He said a friend made it 20 years ago. The front had SKI knitted in navy, little Vs picked out on the white woolly snow expanse. He didn’t understand why I was so enthralled with it, I can’t really explain it either.

    I’d like to have a proper immersion experience in Norwegian culture – I guess the point of this is that not every part of a country will be what you want to watch. It is odd to feel homesick for a place you don’t really know – a sort of hiraeth. My family is Norwegian, and having grown up in Australia, I’d like to have a better sense of Norway to help resolve my anaemic cultural identity. It’s existing in that interstitial space between, when your name means people regularly ask about your background but the answer never satisfies, it’s the pieces that don’t match up. When I worked in hospitality (15 years ago), an older colleague said he gained such a feeling of connection when he went back to the “mother country”, seeing behaviours in context which then increased his self-understanding. I didn’t grasp the significance at the time, but he said that one day I’d be overcome by a nostalgic longing for my heritage. He was right.

    Fiona Watson has said that homesickness can be triggered by anything: “You see an image and it immediately goes straight to your heart.” Mary Jaksch highlights the importance of visiting the landscape of your parents and grandparents: “I now know where I come from, and have reconnected with my roots.”

    City News' Canberra Confidential

    City News’ Canberra Confidential

    Recently the City News’ Canberra Confidential column chortled at Visit Canberra being a bit “excitable” for tweeting about resources for researching the wartime experiences of relatives (family history research and geneaology). They must never have felt the satisfaction of discovering how your ancestors met (on an overnight boat trip, and married the next day), gaining knowledge about future propensity for medical conditions (sitting at a table-full of people, all with intense party tricks due to hypermobile joints), the spookiness of seeing your features in an ancestor’s portrait or learning about your namesake. Perhaps documenting and preserving your family story isn’t what everyone would choose in a holiday, but for some it’s a definite drawcard for visiting Canberra (the AWM, NLA, AIATSIS, ACTHL, NGA and more). Increased traffic to these institutions shows that for many people, family history and genealogy IS exciting. Genealogists (tourists and locals) contribute to Canberra’s economy and have a deep appreciation for our cultural institutions, collections and their services.

    If  it’s not exciting to learn about the past, the success of Who do you think you are? as a television program must be an anomaly.

    I have a searing hope that I might visit Norway again soon. I like the idea of carrying places within us, “…keeping the old environment alive inside…” (this quote was in a very different context, but it’s from van Tilburg, M. & Vingerhoets, A., Psychological aspects of geographical moves: homesickness and acculturation stress, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 106). In the meantime, I’ll hope to enjoy the other movies in the festival and keep watching Desperate Housewives with Norwegian subtitles.

    Grey vanilla pod

    28th June, 2015

    I finished reading Grey, Christian’s perspective on the first of the 50 Shades trilogy. I had thought it was his summary of the whole three books, but it was just a blow-by-blow account of only the first book. Now I have to read two more books from the perspective of his brain and selected body parts (Mum says “you don’t HAVE to read them”, but damn, I am going to finish this thing).

    Grey bookface

    Grey bookface

    For all of his mixed feelings towards “vanilla”, really Christian Grey is actually vanilla extreme – the physicality of this perfumed seed. His body is the vanilla pod, a flesh farm, incubating something sweet which is periodically harvested. He identifies these growths as “anxiety mushrooms”, like a special chest fungi, reaching up from the darkness of his internal organs:

    “My anxiety mushrooms; this deal could all go to shit.” p. 90

    …and he also recognises when a harvest has been completed, perhaps the scrumping is during one of his nightmares?:

    “I undo my bow tie. Perhaps it’s me that’s empty.” p. 292

    …that’s right, that emptiness without your sweet, heady anxiety mushrooms. Back to the growth cycle, the crop regenerates as “anxiety blooms”:

    “Anxiety blooms in my chest.” p. 379

    You can see the cycle demonstrated in the progressive pagination of these quotes. People need to know.

    These human farms have been exposed in other stories, such as Georgina Kincaid in Succubus heat:

    “A flower of agony and euphoria burst open in my chest.” p. 356

    The next two books will reveal that Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc. actually deals in the pricey ingredients grown in human bone gaols – vanilla, saffron, truffles. Christian doesn’t know the real reason that Mrs Lincoln helped him escape his life of vanilla cultivation. Her beauty salons need these exotic ingredients, but the greedy food industry is hogging the bulk of them. She subjected people to extreme genetic manipulation to grow and nurture these most expensive products inside them, to support her business venture’s wildly luxurious facials. He thought she’d cured his vanilla-growing, without realising that she was only taking him from a cycle that she herself had initiated. Mrs Lincoln breaks into the penthouse on a weekly basis to reap her precious Christian-ambergris while he slumbers.

    Will Christian realise that he is invested in Mrs Lincoln’s business, not just financially, but with his body, nay, his very soul? Will Ana save him from himself?


    My golden superwhale

    25th June, 2015

    For a long time, superannuation has been the whale in the room for me. It’s a whale, and not an elephant, because it has a heavy, fluid sort of feeling. A creeping damp which I ignore, but is gradually staining the carpet and washing over my feet.  I think, “I’ll deal with it later”, as everything begins to float on the rising sea.

    Book cover of "Can you guess?"

    Can you?

    It took a while to realise, I wasn’t quite sure that she was a whale, but then she said: “What am I? Did you guess? I am a fish.” (Croser, Josephine. & Muirhead, David. (2013). Can you guess?.  Flinders Park, SA :  Era Publications)

    Superannuation is such a wet, deep thing that I can’t dive in, and yet I have an intense worry and fear, but I don’t want to think about it at all. My bed is a small ship, bobbing along on an ocean of financial unknowing. Or maybe I won’t have to ever think about it, I could be dead and not ever have to consider it:

    “I can’t help but pull the earth around me, to make my bed” (lyrics from Florence + the Machine’s “To Wreck”).

    …I’m so embedded in the dirt, grateful to the earth for cradling me. The moisture of this alien thing feels like a threat, making an earthquake in my cocooned stability, my head in the sand. I don’t want to be in the water below the hole dug along the coastline.

    We had an aquarium in our bedroom. All my feng shui books said how wrong this was (water affecting money where you sleep), and my energywork mentor said that our black ghost knife fish poorly impacted our money energy. I marvelled as he swam, but I worried that each undulating tremor of his rippling fin reshaped my money landscape like the tides on sand. We moved house and he died in the bathtub. I was sad but also relieved. I wanted to bury him in the garden, but took the coward’s way out with the rubbish. Then the idea of superannuation evolved into a much larger ghost knife fish, into a whale.

    I brought all this sea-money baggage to the Canberra Library Tribe’s #GLAMRtax event last Thursday. The presenters were a financial planner (Scott Malcolm from Money Mechanics) and an accountant (Jane Hadrill from Hadrill accounting). “Ugh, superannuation,” I said to Scott, demeaning his love for something that he really does find super. Maybe it’s just because I’m aware of my total depth of misunderstanding, I’m treading water and can’t see the edge of the pool. The superannuation whale is a deadness draped on my shoulders, a dragging albatross, the devastation of a wasted and rotting carcass on the beach.

    Scott and Jane helped me to realise that superannuation is actually mine (often, 9.5% of salary) – not an extraterrestrial force, but something that is kept for my future. Super can become lost too, like a seahorse following a different current (you can find it too or keep track of it). It’s providence, not punishment. I was so glad to hear good stories and perspectives about money, because I have been underwater about it for so long.

    I realised that my golden superwhale was terrible (and terrifying), because I’d trapped her sublime beauty in a SeaWorld globe. From her prism, she had tried to reach me with all the power of the ocean, a salt line on my arms, a flood in the courtyard. I had thought that she was just a weird policy beast, but now I know she’s feathering a nest for the future. I just need keep her healthy, in a nice environment. I’ve lifted the dark, foreboding liquid, and visualised lightness and freedom, an expansive body of water for her to swim freely, flecked with the gold of future funds, attracting abundance.

    When I’m an ancient elf living in a woodland cottage, she will dance in the nearby sea, spyhopping and lobtailing as we share our longtail money together. I am grateful to my guardian golden superwhale, for having been patient through all our dark water years and now into the lightness.

    Goulburn art road trip

    15th June, 2015

    This weekend I journeyed to Goulburn with Arlis/ANZ (Arts Libraries Society, ACT chapter) on an art road trip. There weren’t too many surprises as I’d planned the trip based on last month’s visit, but it was worthwhile to go there as a group and enjoy the sights on a slowly-emerging clear-sky Winter day.

    Green Penguin books at The Argyle Emporium, Goulburn

    A bibliolawn

    Travelling there, I went past the Canturf fields at Fyshwick, who always have fun signage (they are competing with church billboards, I guess). You often need to read the slogans aloud to make sense, this week’s was: “Mown and grown in Fyshwick”. I must admit that I didn’t get it for a few kilometres (for non-Canberrans, this alludes to an area which includes many sex shops). A previous slogan was, “Looks good mown, eh Lisa?” and Dale photographed a more political one. If you can think of a punny line, Canturf will give you $250! I just wish they had an archive of all the signs. Or is there one? I saw these aptly-themed books during our bookshop visit later in the day.

    As we made our way from Canberra to Goulburn, the car crawled through thick fog, like the misty landscapes in the new Mad Max movie. I didn’t see any creatures on stilts, though.

    Our pit stop at Grit Café yielded no vegan options (again) – but I did sneakily diversify my request by asking if any of the sweets were “dairy free”. The waitron said that they had “gluten free” but I just made a sad, lactose-intolerant face. It looks like they haven’t had the raw vegan cake since April so it must be seasonal veganism. There is a market for this! I wish we had menu equality for vegans and gluten-frees!

    I had a good #PatADay by honing in on a puppy as soon as I parked the car. My patient and delightful road trip partner K watched [in surprise?] as I bounded over to my new acquaintance. The dog’s companion said “You’ve made a friend for life”, but then they walked away! Obviously no lifetime guarantee, then. They didn’t know I’d be happy to rent a faux-pet for the day. It was lucky I had this pre-emptive pat as I had mistakenly thought that there were real alpacas at our next destination…

    Yarn at The House of Alpaca, Goulburn

    String & stones

    The House of Alpaca was a nice place to visit, but sadly no alpacas live there. In the shop, a measurement for some of the woven garments is 18 microns – I assumed this meant that 18 micro-alpacas (tiny, as in, desktop toy size) grew all the wool for it. I didn’t ask so I am hopeful that this is correct. After all, when the animal is bigger, it broadens the micron as the fibre stretches. That’s how important micro-animals are to the rural economy in making fine, fine fibre – and no doubt to The Borrowers as well.

    In the factory, I learnt that things which look like suspended pine cones are called pirns, the threads they release are a bit like the sight-string in Splatoon or whale baleen hair. There were just so many threads! Even more than you’d see in a crime movie’s thread-and-pushpin wall diagram. Some of the machinery reminded me a little of the inventions in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was quite inspiring to hear how the business has grown, and their use of the quote “Work on the business, not in the business”.

    Book spine poetry at the Argyle Emporium, Goulburn

    Violette girt by sea

    Visiting The Argyle Book Emporium again, still proved overwhelming. It was such fun to see the reactions of people new to the space, to witness their shock, awe and overwhelm. Basically, there are heaps and heaps of books. Many left with lots of purchases! (I suspect though, even if several books are sold, the stacks and piles are like quicksand, with no gap created from the recently plucked). I enjoyed leading people to my favourite section (through the main entrance, turn right, right again under the stairs, left around the stairs, through the small room, down one step, past the records and to the right – yes it’s a labyrinthine former police station!), which has high ceilings and a lounge area.

    Lion and Lambs at Wunderkammer, Goulburn

    Lion and lambs

    It was good to see Wunderkammer at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery again, this time with the benefit of Angela explaining the works and intention behind the exhibition. The show is only on for a few more days, and has a very environmental take on taxidermy and traditional curiosity cabinets.

    Horse 2 by Jenny Bell at Goulburn

    Horse 2 by artist Jenny Bell

    I loved this construction exhibited in the Gallery’s entrance, Horse 2, by Jenny Bell (on loan from the Peter Fay Collection). So evocative of the landscape – I’m sorry that I didn’t take a good photo but it is too lovely not to share in any case.

    Alpaca toy by Sherri Smith at Gallery on Track, Goulburn

    Hi! I’m cute

    We missed out on The Papillon Tea Room (their last Saturday sitting is at 2:30pm), but we did manage to find Gallery on track! Lots of local crafts on display, including this Alpaca wool cutie by Needle felting artisan, Sherri Smith. Sherri is also running a Needle felting workshop this Sunday through the Goulburn Handweavers and Spinners Inc. Uncannily, there is a similarly-named fibre artist, Sheri Smith in Oregon doing pine needle basketry (could be the same person just different elements of the multiverse!).

    Successfully finding Gallery on track was much more enjoyable that our attempt last time – ending up at wrong end of the street, under the scary bridge (no doubt houses many trolls).

    A note for the keen-eyed: even though this post was meant to be “Goulburn vegan mini-break III” …I only ate some fruit at the Alpaca morning tea and didn’t check out any food places, hence the different title! My other two Goulburn vegan mini-breaks can be read with the Goulburn tag. As such, vegan-recommended places I haven’t visited still include Ban Thai and Goulburn Workers Club, plus the Greengrocer café. Apparently Madison’s Restaurant has a good high tea, not sure about the veganics of this, though.

    We didn’t stop at Collector but I’d like to see if the Dreamer’s Gate is still there. It’s well summed-up by the Atlas Obscura, “One man’s artistic vision is a small town government’s legal battle”.

    Our trip was definitely a success, there is so much more to Goulburn than a big ram statue (but we still love you, Rambo). Perhaps one day there will be a Big Alpaca?

    Peak Canberra

    8th June, 2015

    I had a #PeakCanberra long weekend – Mad Max movie, lyra at circus class, OBD markets, Sweet Bones brunch, Urban Sketchers sketch-up, Ethiopian restaurant, vegan caramel slice from our charming guests, and the Medieval Fest at Old Parliament House. I even patted 2 cats today on a walk. I also got a 92 combo in Pokemon Shuffle.

    It was pretty good but of course that’s prettified to not include a fire evacuation, cooking, driving, gym and errands (returning library books etc.). I’ve just realised that prettified is so much like petrified. I don’t mind scaring or ossifying the beige tape of life into stone. The beige tape sculptures could be made into a Vigeland park for the damned.

    Horse from Canberra Beijing Garden


    For Sunday morning’s sketch-up (Canberra Sketchers Group – Urban Sketchers Australia), the weather was not the best. As Sharon said, “I think people will get the idea, as a group, we are as tough as old boots, but the next meeting place has an indoors option which I am sure will be warmer.” …even if the group is as tough as old boots, my toes were freezing! So I drew a little bit in the Canberra Beijing Garden, then piked and went inside the Hyatt, listened to the piano-man, drew a few roses and then left early. I have sternly told my feet to “think like boots, become boots”. Leonie had a bit more focus and anti-freeze!

    Lax as I was, I was pleased to attend because I came up against so many psychological barriers to actually going – it was cold, it was morning, I couldn’t find a proper bit of drawing paper, my pencils sucked, all my Winter clothes were in the wash, and I was late. However, I remembered advice from Alicia, Having Cake transformational coach, about the importance of imperfect action. She has written a bit about perfectionism on her site. So, I turned up and I coped, wearing Mr S’ heavy winter coat, unsuitable shoes, dreadful lined paper and the only pencils I could find (I pulverised the tip of my pastel pencil while I was trying to find the Chinese gardens).

    Despite all these things, I had a pleasant time, found the gardens themselves, met some nice people (including another new person – thank the goddess!), thought about my focus on “the perfect drawing materials”, saw some waterbirds, made up a murder story about a boat (it has a cover on it that looks mummified), focused on the sculptures and saw details that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and admired the Hyatt’s carpets (the patterns in the large rug areas look a lot like stylised tyre skid patterns). It was worth the imperfection.

    Family portraits at BAC

    6th June, 2015

    Recently we visited Echoes in Time, Vivien Lightfoot’s exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre, with Arlis/ANZ last week (this is the ACT chapter of the Arts Libraries Society Australia/New Zealand).

    James Shepherd and Ann Thorn by Vivien Lightfoot

    James and Ann by Vivien Lightfoot

    The family portraits are really the next step in genealogy, a visualised family tree based on photographs of Lightfoot’s forebears. There was no image of Ann Thorn, so her face is an enticing blank canvas. I was thinking about how much information we lose through death – the exhibition begins with family from 1800, it’s surprising that there’s only one person who has no remaining documented likeness.

    Making the ceramic forms and conducting the research, like all family history, was a labour of love, and would have grown the relationship between the artist and her ancestors, across time and space.

    It’s the last day of the exhibition tomorrow – it closes at 4pm. It’s well worth seeing just to appreciate the strength and depth of family connections.

    Face replacement needs

    3rd June, 2015

    Vintage face depot provides the service you never knew you needed. “Servicing all your face replacement needs with our specially selected range of vintage faces.” See the face replacement progress on @facedepot’s timeline and more information from their salon page.

    The bot has very specific needs and doesn’t really like non-human faces (so cats etc. don’t always work), but I was very pleased with the outcome of one of my photos:

    For all your nightmare needs

    Intense, no?

    It is just splendid. That’s my face superimposed with that of THE LATE SIR P. N. RUSSELL (Sir Peter Nicol Russell). You can find out more about him on the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I like the oil painting ADB mentions at the University of Sydney (no permalink, search for Orchardson and you’ll find it). For one thing, Russell is looking in the opposite direction to most of the pictures of him on Trove. Even in his medal, he’s facing to the left.

    The only scary element of the vintage face depot is whether we really know what it’s actually doing. Maybe the faces aren’t being superimposed, but that’s what lies beneath? The bot senses our inner moustache? I am lucky to have only just read The Picture of Dorian Gray, from much hassling by my better-read friend. At least I didn’t make any promises when I saw this photo of my sins.

    There was a book in the art school library, Scratch, by Christian Boltanski (Verlag der Buchhandlung, Köln, 2002), which is well-described by Grahame Galleries. It was both magnificent and dreadful, because you had to scrape the silver surface (a film like surface, reminiscent of a scratch-it ticket). Only then would you see the actual content of the book, a secret layer of forbidden images. We only ever scratched it a little bit. The art library staff members were actually very encouraging – I think they would have liked to scratch the book too, and probably did this in secret. I never saw a full page. Perhaps it’s now totally revealed. Like the fact that I could really be Sir P. N. Russell.

    My favourite shelf

    2nd June, 2015

    This is the best section out of all the shelves at my library.

    Breathe in, breathe out

    The warmth of books

    There are so many things I love:

    • that I walk past each day but still get a little tingle of “nipple surprise”;
    • how a portion of the title on the spine, “heart” is kind of close to the relevant (in an emotional and physical sense) area of the chest;
    • the gradation of high pink to pale skin to earth, couched by a guardian moat of blue-green spine guards; and
    • the visual fleshy conversation between two of the book spines, which is even better because they both reveal work by Patricia Piccinini, so the text bodies are close together.

    Even when the library is closed, the books press against each other to keep warm, sleeping until we wake them to leaf through their pages.

    Blogjune shoes

    1st June, 2015

    Merry #blogjune from the glitter shoe fairy! It’s my 3rd year doing the June blog thing. I don’t know if I’ll do every day. Like flexnib I’m in danger of missing the first day already, so I am going to write about my shoes so that I don’t start off talking about cats a lot. No doubt I’ll talk about cats when things get sparse. I like the idea of having a plan and prepared posts, but it just doesn’t happen.

    I received lots of comments on my ruby slippers today – that they were “party shoes”. The secret is that my shoes are anything they want to be. Let’s face it, shoes love to party, especially in the library. They had a troubled start in life, being pigeonholed as “kids wear” and then chucked in the super discount bin (because who wants sparkly toes? I would have thought, everyone, duh). Like a fairy godmother, I swept past and commandingly tapped my wand, plink noise, and they were mine. The cashier looked at me askance, no doubt they were jealous of my shiny wares.

    Glitter glitter

    Party or business?

    Anyway, every day should be a party at work! Which would make “party shoes” just “business shoes” …but then we’d normalise complimenting our colleagues on their outstanding corporate wear – “I really admire how that elfin aesthetic increases the shareholders’ respect”.

    One day when I’m a professional elf (this is my retirement plan), shoes like this will be a tax deduction. Speaking of which, the Canberra Library Tribe’s free workshop on tax for GLAMR people is only 17 days away. Tickets are on Eventbrite, and there are limited spots for venue capacity reasons. You should come along, if you wear “party shoes” there might even be a secret prize.

    Goulburn vegan mini-break II

    10th May, 2015

    We trekked up to Goulburn to research for an upcoming Arlis/ANZ (Arts Libraries Society, ACT chapter) roadtrip.

    Last year our chapter visited Braidwood. In the years to come perhaps we’ll go to Cooma, Gunning, Gundaroo, Murrambateman (nearby Crisp Galleries), Mittagong (antiques/crafts and I’m excited by veg*n places like nearby Berrima Health Vegetarian Café) or Crookwell (they have a Potato Festival! …need I say more?).

    Vegan breakfast at Grit Cafe, Goulburn NSW

    Vegan breakfast at Grit Cafe

    Our first stop was Grit café, which had been recommended for its vegan options. The food was nice (a modified big breakfast) but I’m sorry that I got a bit hangry with the lady at the counter, because she opened with the vegan options being salad. Regrettable.

    My modified big breakfast was still enjoyable and they are able to veganise smoothies with soy or almond milk. Next time it would be better to call ahead, to see if they had any raw vegan desserts like the scrumptious-looking ones in their facebook albums.

    I do feel bad about my poor manners, but it was also the disappointment of huge anticipation for their cakes and vegan-friendliness.

    Sex Bomb ad in Pub window, Goulburn NSW

    Sex Bomb ad in Pub window

    We enjoyed the toy shop in the main street which sells a projector painting set which claims “The children have it, with a color of the sky.” I remember having the sky when I was a kid. Less on the sliding scale of family-friendly was a painted sign in the pub’s window but sadly we weren’t there on a Wednesday.

    Detail of Marilyn Psuchake’s 3 Poles, Goulburn NSW

    Detail of Marilyn Psuchake’s 3 Poles

    Marilyn Psuchake’s 3 Poles were stunning, Here+Now was my favourite one, with the mosaics providing a preview of the local buildings. There is a great shot of them (as a group) by creakingbones. I should have been more organised and looked at the Art in public places brochure.

    The Lilac City Markets were just wrapping up and were high on the chutney index, and it was intensely windy so all the petals were flying off the nearby rose garden. I can see why it’s called the City of Roses (but the next festival isn’t till March). Apparently the “go-to” markets are 3rd-Sunday-of-a-month at Riversdale Homestead and the 4th-Saturday-of-a-month Goulburn Brewery Craft Markets.

    Detail of Amanda Stuart’s mongrel country (nil tenure), Goulburn NSW

    Detail of Amanda Stuart’s mongrel country (nil tenure)

    The Library was closed which was disappointing, but it helped us to find the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery. These dogs (Amanda Stuart’s mongrel country (nil tenure), 2013) were guarding the outside. This image of another iteration of the sculptures out in the “wild”, which gives such a joyous and free feeling of bounding across open country.

    Inside, the Gallery’s gift shop had some inlaid coloured clay plates by Sugden/Hamilton (I recognised them from last month’s visit to Braidwood).

    The current exhibition is Rod McRae’s Wunderkammer, filling the gallery with installations focused on taxidermied animals (all ethically sourced), addressing environmental topics. It was confronting, but that’s what made it work – and I saw a sad connection with all the roadkill on the way back home.

    Hydrangeas growing in Goulburn, NSW

    Hydrangeas and a pretty window

    We had a few misses with antique shops, because Glenholme Antiques and Collectables is now closed (the owner has retired). I consoled myself by looking at the hydrangeas. These were one of my childhood flowers and the colours are an interesting indicator of soil condition.

    Café Book is also closed on weekends which was disappointing as I’d like to see their book stock. Other places that we should try next are Shaw’s Antiques, Michael’s Old Wares and Collectables, Accolade Antiques and Yarra Glen Pottery.

    We tried to find Gallery on track but must have taken a wrong turn, in any case we were treated to a small informal graffiti show under the bridge.

    The Argyle Book Emporium, Goulburn, NSW

    Just a small part of The Argyle Book Emporium

    We initially went to the old street address for The Argyle Book Emporium (don’t go to 176 Sloane Street, it’s now at 260 Sloane Street). We found them on the second go, and my goddess, it was astounding. Amazing. The building was previously the police station, and the strong holds are just full of books covering every surface, as though they’re melting Dali clocks draped everywhere. It was the highlight of our visit. They sell records too.

    Vegetarian option at 98 Chairs, Goulburn NSW

    Vegan option at 98 Chairs

    I had a great vegan dinner in June last year at 98 chairs, and they again made some custom menu options for us. The veganised roasted mushroom, garlic & Dutch cream potato soup was my favourite, then we had the vegetarian (for me, without cheese) combo dish (vegetable assiette, fresh spring rolls, kimchee, corn grain and miso salad, red cabbage, mushroom and leek pie). I liked the different elements on the dish but discovered I’m not evolved enough for kimchee. Mr Sonja loved the zucchini fritters too.

    I have yet to try the other vegan-recommended places (Ban Thai and Gouburn Workers Club).

    Mandelson’s luxury guesthouse foyer, Goulburn NSW

    Mandelson’s foyer, Goulburn

    We stayed at Mandelson’s, an 1846 historic guesthouse. It was very beautiful, and had the feeling of Professor Xavier’s mansion. There are lots of sitting rooms, they used to have high teas which I can vividly imagine.

    There is also an expansive quilting room which has lots of imported batik fabric (for sale!) and sewing detritus, which was why Claire (one of the owners) was keeping the door closed. The entryway has the original marble black-and-white checkerboard floor which would be suited to dramatic entrances (I wonder if the early Masonic presence in the town contributed to the choice of pattern? Pure speculation but could be an interesting theory!).

    Wataru the puppy

    Wataru the puppy

    No roadtrip is complete without some #PatADay action. We met another visitor, the owners’ grandpuppy, Wataru, who was just cuteness overload and so soft. He is bilingual so he can woof in Japanese (wan-wan).

    Goodman in Advertising. (1847, February 11). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW 1842 - 1954), p. 1.

    Goodman’s ad (1847, February 11).

    Previous guests (back in the day) include photographer George Barron Goodman, who advertised for people to sit for portraits at Mandelson’s, when he was visiting in FebruaryMarch 1847 (Advertising. (1847, February 11). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW), p. 1.) and (Advertising. (1847, March 22). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW), p. 1.). He was making daguerrotypes, a precursor to the modern photograph.

    Goodman in Advertising. (1847, March 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW 1842 - 1954), p. 1.

    Goodman’s ad (1847, March 22).

    Goodman also promoted his collection of views of Australia’s interior landscapes, which he employed as excellent embellished scenery for portrait backgrounds (Advertising. (1847, January 2). The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 1.). Perhaps Goulburn was added to this collection once he visited?

    Someone on Tripadvisor said Mandelson’s was “a bit like Cluedo” and I can see why – it would be a fantastic setting for a Murder Mystery party or lots of other events.

    The Big Merino's back view, Goulburn NSW

    The Big Merino’s butt, Goulburn

    On the way back, we didn’t visit the Big Merino (again) but here is a Merino butt pic.


    I was sorely tempted by Collector and the new café on the way past, but we ran out of time. I used to really enjoy Lynwood Café, and I agree with theyellowhouseintheU, it is a big loss, but she says that Some Café is really worth a visit – see yellow’s post. You can still buy Lynwood jam, though. I fell asleep for most of the way home.

    Braidwood gallery crawl III

    30th April, 2015

    On Sunday, my dear friend Lani and I enjoyed a relaxing Braidwood/Bungendore roadtrip. The itinerary is quite similar to two previous Braidwood roadtrips (May 2014 and June 2014). I guess I enjoy it as a destination, given that I had an undocumented journey there since then with the lovely Ms C too.

    Dojo bakery had run out of bagels (which are vegan!) so I had bread rolls instead (not very exciting but I appreciate that they have an ingredient chart to say what’s dairy-free).

    Exhibition poster for Franki Sparke's show, Pictographices

    Exhibition poster

    Our main motivation for this trip was to see Franki Sparke’s Pictographics show at The Left Hand. It alone was so, so worth the trip. It’s on for one more weekend (2 & 3 May). Sometimes I forget how uplifting it can be to see an exhibition, that it puts the joy back into art.

    Cut stencil used to make works in Franki Sparke's show

    Sparke’s landscape stencil

    We loved seeing the carved erasers which are gorgeous objects in themselves and reveal “behind the scenes” (as owner Julian explains, all their shows aim to give an insight into process and making). Even the tinted stencils curled up on each other on a plinth like layers of skin pulled off a healed wound, different depths of the paint outlined the teeth of building windows and spattered at road edges.

    The FyreGallery was in-between shows, but had some nice stock of Karyn Steel’s Braidwood postcards.

    Poppies and bunting at String

    Lots of handmade poppies

    It was just after Anzac day, so String still had a display of poppies and banners, it’s my favourite shop not just for their wares but because it keeps the same scent as my Grandma’s house (this was the exact reason I used to love Benedict House). In the adjacent Altenburg and Co, there was an interesting show on the environment of the south coast by Mirabel FitzGerald.  “Among the trees the light permeates and displaces everything, a continuum of spaces, solids and fractured forms.”

    We walked up the road to Longbarn, they have a wonderfully violent-looking wheat thresher thing with embedded shells. I like to touch it when I visit, it’s like a grown-up version of daring yourself to stick a finger in a lit candle. It hasn’t cut me yet.

    Cute dog on the main street of Braidwood

    Braidwood’s cutest dog

    There were lots of adorable dogs on main street as usual, a French bulldog and heaps of others, I hardly got to pat any. This cutie was outside the bakery. At the end of the day, Lea told Mr. Sonja that “She patted all the dogs in Braidwood”. I really wished I had. It was a very low #PatADay score.

    Miniatures in the window of Sugden-Hamilton shop/studio

    Tiny Sugden/Hamilton miniatures

    On the way back, we dropped in to the Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop, which I’d been meaning to visit for a while. The miniatures in the window are so charming, they also have some nice brooches, but the inlaid coloured clay bowls are my favourite (particularly the MP homages).

    Unfortunately the McLeod Gallery was closed and William Verdon jewellery had a mysterious carved stone display. Next time I’d like to try the vegan food options in Braidwood itself, as it was the wrong day for the market (so no pizza for me).

    We called it a day and headed back through Bungendore. It didn’t feel as engaging as Braidwood, perhaps it’s because no longer contains the sense of being “other” because it’s gradually becoming more of the shoreline of Canberra (in recent years a government department grew there). I do enjoy the mysterious teddy bears on the trees along the way, though.

    Japanese hand-painted cup at Village Antiques

    Fruit salad on or in a cup

    I patted the cat (dozing next to the fireplace, didn’t even wake up!) at Village Antiques and there was a really nice Japanese hand painted tea set, but I decided that I didn’t need a fruit salad decorated cup because people always try and make me eat salad, the rotten stuff. I don’t need a picture of it in my life too, no matter how pretty.

    Entertaining entry in gallery diary, oh dear

    Art Inspector strikes again

    We tried to find some of my brother’s work at the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery (his name is Rolf! He has recently started his own cabinetmaking business). He might have a something there but couldn’t see the shelf for the trees. We checked out the Ken Knight painting show upstairs and were most entertained by some of the mischievous entries in the gallery diary.

    Mercifully the Woodworks café’s soup of the day was unintentionally vegan so there was something I could eat. The waitress said I was the first vegan she had ever met there. I focused on looking normal.

    We then drove back to Canberra and I said goodbye to all the bears nailed to the trees.

    Worms and the Underground movement

    31st March, 2015

    It’s been an exciting month with lots of reading about composting, because our new garden beds have the most dreadful soil. Only one worm has made an appearance, which was just because of big rains (when there’s excessive water in the soil, worms escape to the surface, only to reach a terrible sunny purgatory). The lack is worrying because worms are like underground gas-chamber canaries, so the ground must be very tired. When I read worm books, I think of the data coursing through my brain like an information worm, reminiscent of those dreadful library posters showing the internet as a hypercolour tunnel.

    A very wormy compost

    Letter ‘S’ worm – apocalypse sign?

    Despite the worm drought, it’s been exciting to find some other bugs in the soil (sorry no pictures). M thought they were witchetty grubs (they are white with a red/brown head). However, my Mum thinks they are a root-eating grub – and back in the day, they were fed to pet dogs (I don’t want to think about that).

    Worms, music by Olive Clark

    Olive Clark’s Dance of the worms

    Composting is the only solution I can think of to fix the soil to make it a suitable venue for a wormy party – Peter Cundall calls them “…the underground movement.” (Murphy, 2005, p. xv). It could become The Place for dirty wormy raves, maybe I should play them the Worms song (Clark, 1953) to facilitate mad dancing.

    I just finished helping a neighbour empty their above-ground compost – which was unfortunately full of rubbish (non-bio plastic wrappers, dog toys, buckets… it covered a large area). It made me feel better about the state of my own dirt-patch. Sir Albert Howard (founder of the organic farming movement) says that “Every compost heap has its own history.” (2009). But I wish it wasn’t a rubbish dump history. Haven’t people read that book in the Babysitter’s Club series where they realise a biscuit packet can’t decompose?

    If a compost heap is a snapshot of history, it’s like an inverted family tree of earthworms. Van de Water wrote in a farm-nostalgia style about the origin of fishing bait, unearthing that first part of the catch: “The angler who purchases his lures from a languid sporting-goods clerk forgoes part of the adventure, misses the opening chapters of the romance, never hears the first movement of the symphony. The redolent manure heap behind the barn; the rusty potato fork plunged into the rich and quivering earth; the revelation of pink and brown, divinely ordained bait among the scattered clods; the ecstasy over the bluely glistening night crawler…” (1949, p. 66).

    I’m not yet invested enough to puree vegie scraps to “pamper my worms”, but I do like the idea of a food-like end product: “Your compost should look and feel like rich chocolate cake – dark brown, moist and crumbly.” (2009, p. 11). Peter Cundall did always say that good soil was “so good you could eat it”. At the other end of food, I was excited to read about the Bhawalkar Earthworm Research Institute (Pune, India) creating a low-cost, waterless, worm-driven toilet. I don’t know much about the topic, but there is a composting toilet at Canberra’s Sustainable House – surely if there can be one at one residence in the ACT, there could be more, especially in new developments?


    Worms in Thompson's Compost book

    Worms in Thompson’s Compost book

    In terms of aesthetics, my compost piles haven’t ever really scored highly – when I wanted to use a tyre (but they do have a lot of chemicals), Mr. Sonja decried our garden as looking “too industrial”. So I did the cheapie thing and bought lid-bins (meant for rubbish) and cut holes in the base (if you end up doing this, you can put some holes in the sides, or put a pipe down the middle, if you’re not inclined to turn/stir it). To make a “normal” heap (i.e. one that isn’t in a container) a bit prettier, you can grow zucchini, pumpkin, cucumbers or melons on top – plant seeds about 3cm deep at the edge of the compost and water regularly (Cullen et al, 1992, p. 68). Green mulching would be fun as well, but I would feel sad to cut the plants down. Thompson et al (2008) suggest building a compost bin from stacked hay bales, the top of the which can be used for planting vegetables or flowers.

    I aspire to growing comfrey (or borage) and making comfrey tea just for my compost, like we are just two girlfriends having a brew together (except one of us is rotting). But I enjoy this idea more than actually doing it, a bit like flossing – more about intention than practice. I could even become the sort of person that asks other Canberrans going to the coast, ‘could you bring me back some seaweed, for my garden?’. I’ve read different things about whether you need to rinse seaweed but Taylor et al (2010) say that the sea salt shouldn’t be concentrated or present because the nutrient elements are absorbed as separate entities. But you still might want to chop it into bits. For the impatient composter, Taylor et al has a recipe for “Fast-cooking 14-day compost”, which is tempting because the extreme heat means you can bake potatoes in the ground!

    Worms in the night book cover

    I love this cover!

    I’m also reading an awesome retro YA book (with a delightful cover), Worms in the night – I don’t know what kind of worms they are yet, but a character warns “Look out for the worms. They’ll get you,’” (Harewood, 1991, p. 23). I look forward to finishing it because the mystery of the worms is just so ominous. I would still like our garden to have more, though.


    Reading list:

    (2009).  Composting : a down-to earth, water-wise guide.  Camberwell, Vic :  Penguin

    Clark, Olive.  (1953).  Worms.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-vn2054441

    Cullen, Mark. & Johnson, Lorraine. & Aldous, David E. (1992).  Backyard and balcony composting : the complete guidebook.  Melbourne :  Bookman

    Harewood, Jocelyn.  (1991).  Worms in the night.  Sydney :  Pan Australia Horizons

    Horsfall, Mary.  (2011).  The mulch book.  Chatswood, N.S.W :  New Holland

    Murphy, David.  (2005).  Organic growing with worms : a handbook for a better environment.  Camberwell, Vic :  Penguin

    Taylor, David. & Allsop, Rob.  (2010).  The compost book.  Chatswood, N.S.W :  New Holland Publishers (Australia)

    Thompson, Ken. & Cosgrove, Laurie. & Gilbert, Alan.  (2008).  Compost.  Camberwell, Vic :  Dorling

    van de Water, Frederic Franklyn.  (1949).  In defence of worms and other angling heresies.  New York :  Duell, Sloan and Pearce

    Watched and read list of 2014

    1st February, 2015

    A bit late! Oh well. I only read two books and a trilogy in the first nine months, and then I caught up with twelve more books in the remaining 3 months. Which makes this really more of a movie list, with 55 movies and 2 TV series (I didn’t see many movies growing up, I’m catching up). I didn’t count non-fiction books, because they’re work-related (but in hindsight, perhaps not an optimal decision). In making this list, I’ve realised that I’ll watch and read basically anything that’s available. This isn’t a highly sought-after superpower, but if a book or DVD feels neglected in a 1 km radius, I will give it some attention. I am still recovering from watching all of Dawson’s Creek over several months in 2013 (I loved it).

    Kate has a good, measurable goal of a book a month (plus many other “real person” goals) and to note them on Goodreads. As a binge-reader/watcher, my goal is to visit the library at least once a fortnight so I always have a pile of books or DVDs at home, ready for when I get the craving.

    Credit for reading list tracking to E, who got the idea from another archivist, and of course Read Watch Play.

    My word of the year (milquetoast) was from the movie Extra Man. I didn’t really have a favourite from the list, but I find that the more I enjoy something, the more I want to remember quotes so that I can keep it close (like pinning a butterfly to remember the colours, even if it is still faded from the real experience). Maybe it was Maleficent as I watched it twice. Magic Mike was fun but I forgot I had the DVD in the computer drive, so I spent ages trying to work out which internet tab was playing an interminable melody until I realised it was the DVD intro auto-play.

    I’m excited to read the rest of the Bloodlines novels (last one out in February) and the sequel to Jewel (White Rose), but it isn’t out till 6 October! Ugh. At least it’s a little closer with each passing moment.


    • Little red riding hood (movie)


    • 50 shades of grey trilogy (books)
    • Rewatching seasons 1-3 Game of Thrones (TV series)
    • I saw the devil (Korean movie with English subtitles)


    • Orphan (movie)
    • Män som hatar kvinnor (Swedish movie with English subtitles)
    • March hares (book)

    [in the British Museum reading room] “It was as indeed as good as a play, this marvellous aggregation of human dramatic possibilities surging tirelessly before him. He wondered that he had never thought of seeing it before.” P. 4

    [various notations about Pale flaxen hair picked with lemon in its lights and a Dainty rose-leaf of a chin]

    “Placing her elbows on the table, and poising her chin between thumbs and forefingers, she bestowed a frank scrutiny upon his face, as intent and dispassionate as the gaze which a professor of palmistry fastens upon the lines of the client’s hand.” P. 30

    “David piled up in reverie the loathly epithets upon the over-large bald head of his friend with savage satisfaction. “You preposterous clown!” he snarled at the burly blond image of the absent nobleman in his mind’s eye. “You gratuitous and wanton ass! Oh, you unthinkable duffer!” p. 139

    “Who the deuce could it be?” p. 156

    • Doughnut by Tom Holt (book) (lots of fun quotes)
    • The Hunger Games: Catching fire (movie)
    • Filth (movie)
    • The people next door (movie)
    • The gods must be crazy II (movie)
    • Lego (movie)
    • The hunt (Danish movie with English subtitles)


    • The other woman (movie)
    • Now you see me (movie)
    • Miss congeniality 2 (movie)
    • Butter (movie)
    • Jackass 3 (movie)
    • Magic Mike (movie)


    • Maleficent x 2 (movie) The first movie I’ve ever enjoyed enough to see twice at the cinema! I wrote about it twice during blogjune, perhaps my double-consumption was symptomatic of having to write as a daily habit.
    • Bruce Almighty (movie – couldn’t get through it)
    • Horrible bosses (movie)
    • Beasts of the Southern Wild (movie)


    • How to train your dragon 2 (movie)
    • The day of the triffids (series, 1981)

    Ep1: “You’ve got eyes, use them goddamnit”

    Ep 5? “The trouble with triffids is what we don’t know” “All the knowledge is there, in books, if only we’d take the time to read them.”

    • Midnight in the garden of good and evil (movie)
    • Café de flore (movie)

    “Antoine radiates happiness from every pore.”

    “Everything you touch turns to gold.”

    “Dickwad! Quit busting my balls! I’ll rip out your eyes, scumbag! I’ll rip out your eyes… scumbag! And kick your teeth out your ass!” “I’m proud of you, tiger. Don’t smile. Let’s go home. Don’t smile. You did great.”

    “Never wake up the monster who leaves its lair to eat little children!”

    “Do you believe in soul mates?” “I’m not sure”. “I like it. I like the idea. That someone, somewhere is made for you, forever.”

    “I just want to know more about my dreams. …I often dream about a little monster.”

    “We can’t give in to setbacks or the opinions of so-called fat cat specialists.”

    “It develops from the inside. It’s a matter of love, faith. Everyone can develop their paranormal abilities. It’s a question of desire and will.”

    • Extra man (movie featuring Katie Holmes as a vegan!)

    “It’s at a magazine. An environmental journal.” “I’m sure it’s all just a front for po***graphy.”

    “Don’t be such a milquetoast.”

    “I’ve never told anyone this, but sometimes, in my head I actually imagine there’s somebody narrating my life as if I’m the protagonist in a classic novel.”

    “I need to put on my eyemask.”

    • Finding Amanda (movie)
    • Blue is the warmest colour (movie)

    “A worm crawls out of a plate of spaghetti and says: “That was some gangbang!””

    Art school truth

    Art school truth

    • Straight As (movie)

    “Katherine alluded to the fact that you’re unreliable, so you have to promise.”

    “Wow. Just so you know, you’re kinda being a c***.”


    • Lucy (movie)
    • Prometheus (movie)

    “Nah, I’m out of here.” “Hey, Fifield! Where are you going?” “What? Look, I’m just a geologist. I like rocks. I love rocks. Now, it’s clear you two don’t give a shit about rocks…”

    • My life in ruins (movie)
    • Her (movie)

    “The past is just a story we tell ourselves.”

    “You’re failing your children! Lose 2000 Mom points!”

    “The point is to get there first ‘cause then you get extra Perfect Mom points because the other Moms then know you’re a perfect Mom.”

    “You’re always going to disappoint somebody.” “Exactly. So fuck it. I feel good. Ish. For me, I feel good.”

     “You think I don’t know that I’m not a person? What are you doing?”

    • Bernie (movie)


    • The Woman in Black  (movie)

    [looking at drawing] “Why do I look so sad?” “That’s what your face looks like.”

    • Rainman (movie)

    “Of course, I don’t have my books and, cos there are no bookshelves, I’m definitely going to be bookless.”

    • Mr and Mrs Smith (movie)
    • The Hot Chick (movie)
    • The Labyrinth (movie)

    “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

    • Snow White and the Hunter (movie)
    • Season 4 Game of Thrones (TV series)


    • The door in the floor (movie)

    “…because of how it must feel against your skin.”

    “Don’t expect any mercy from me. I’m going to grind you into a fine powder.”

     “The whole rest of your life, whenever you need to feel brave, just look at your scar. Your hand will grow bigger, and your finger will grow bigger, but your scar will always stay the same size.”

    • Is anybody there? (movie)

    [on death:] “What happens is, you think the last thought you’re ever going to think.”

    “You accumulate regrets, and they stick to you like old bruises.”

    “You spend your life accumulating stuff, and then you can’t find anywhere to put it.”

    • The reckoning (movie)
    • The secret of Dorian Gray (1970) (only first 30 minutes as the DVD busted)

     “Ah, Mr Business and Miss Pleasure.”

    • Bliss (movie)

    “It’s got nothing to do with the doctor.” “He’s got sausage fingers.” “Yeah, I know.”

    “This was written in 1649.” “Yes.” “Well, it’s a bit out of date, isn’t it?” “We’re talking about eternity and you’re quibbling about 350 years! If it was true once, it must always be true.”

    “Didn’t I notice you lift your eyebrow in a disagreeable way?”

    “Only a crazy man would write a love letter that takes 8 years to arrive.”

    “…and the trees …were not too busy to take this sigh back through their leaves.”

    • Gone girl (movie)
    • The glovemaker by Stacia Brown (book)

    “Sometimes, when Walwyn was working on something, he would read a sentence or two out loud, and she could hear where her thoughts streaked across the horizon of his words, like old stars that light up the night sky as they are falling.” p. 238

    “The words were beautiful. They swam toward her; they slid up onto the bank. the words became flesh and then the flesh took on wings and 337 then the wings made a picture; she could see things in her mind as she was going along. The words tapped at her, a woodpecker drilling a trunk. Then the tapping became new words and the new words grew, and what was grown was love.” pp. 336-7


    • Bad neighbours (movie in English with Norwegian subtitles)
    • X-Men: days of future past (movie)
    • The internet’s own boy: the story of Aaron Swartz (movie)
    • Canterwood crest series, 15: Comeback, by Jessica Burkhart (book)

    “He was wearing one of my fave colors on him – a fire-engine-red tee. The color looked amaze against his pale skin.” p. 121

    • Deliver me from evil: a sadistic foster mother, a childhood torn apart, by Alloma Gilbert (book)
    • Pan’s whisper, by Sue Lawson (book)

    “Sorrow swoops in my chest like a swallow.” p. 135


    • Life after Beth (movie)
    • W.E. (movie)

    “Your majesty, you certainly know your way to a woman’s heart!” “I wasn’t aiming that high.”

    • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (movie)
    • Vampire Academy (movie)
    • A Little Help (movie)

    ‘You’re pretty sassy for a hygienist, aren’t ya?’

    • The Inbetweeners 2 (movie)
    • Sightseers (movie)

    “What were you like at school Chris?” “I wasn’t like anything, I was like, invisible.”

    “It’s a bloody heritage place! …They’ve not been preserved for hundreds of years so that wankers like that can use them like a bloody toilet!”

    “…That tree won’t involve itself in low-level bullying.”

    “Poor boy. Those cheap crisps are full of horrors.”

    “No, no, no, you don’t want clutter. You just want some plants and cushions and pictures and a tablecloth there…”

    • Cold hands, warm heart by Jill Wolfson (book)

    “What little social know-how I did possess came by analyzing characters on TV shows like reruns of Degrassi (both classic and Next Generation). I figured that if I 50 decided which character I most resembled, I’d have my social blueprint for knowing how to talk and act.” pp. 50-51

    “So did he think I was nice at least? Being nice wasn’t a bad thing to be. No, nice was awful. the worst. Nice was coddled eggs and applesauce. Nice was totally bland and forgettable.” p. 58

    “Everyone keeps talking about finding a heart for me, as though one were hidden behind the couch in a game of hide-and-seek, or it had been misplaced along with someone’s cell phone.” p. 60

    “…the exposed heart beat back and forth like a small animal that had been chased and was breathing hard, cornered in a cave of strange red rock.” p. 80

    • Bloodlines series, 1, Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (book)
    • Bloodlines series, 2, The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (book)

    “Was he supposed to kiss me? Was I supposed to let him? Had that been the real price of my salad?” p. 88

    • Ondine: the summer of shambles by Ebony McKenna (book – pleasant but with some clear anti-vegetarian rhetoric, p. 182 and a steak rant, p. 166)

    “Laundry duty washed away another layer of skin, so really, all she had were memories.” p. 82

    “He gave her a grin hot enough to melt her slippers.” p. 256

    • Maze runner (movie)
    • Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (book)
    • The memory keeper’s daughter by Kim Edwards (book)

    “A film closed over the past as she spoke, a barrier as brittle and fragile as ice forming. It would grow and strengthen. It would become impenetrable, opaque.” p. 88

    “…for an instant she stood again amid the sound of rushing water form the mill, happiness as full around her as the night.” p. 89

    “The geode was warm and damp. He gave it a sharp crack on the rock, splitting it open to reveal its crystalline purple heart. “So beautiful,” Norah murmured, turning it in her hand. “Ancient seas,” David said. “The water got trapped inside and crystallized, over centuries.” p. 111

    “And the distance between them, millimeters only, the space of a breath, opened up and deepened, became a cavern at whose edge he stood.” p. 115

    “…she was excluded from the conversation: object, not subject.” p. 181

    • Magic bunny series, Holiday dreams by Sue Bentley (book)
    • The year my voice broke (movie)
    • The Jewel by Amy Ewing (book)

    Dipped in iridescence

    31st December, 2014

    We holidayed in Adelaide this week, and enjoyed the glittering gems at Australian Minerals (Hahndorf) and the collection of twinkling treasures in South Australian Museum’s Iridescence exhibition. I could happily spend all day looking at the luminous stones, butterflies, shells and birds – but I do feel conflicted about looking at stuffed creatures. I thought about the museum context of mounted insects and how they would have informed Hirst’s capture of the seductive colours of butterflies in an exhibition I saw a few years ago.

    Minerals at Australian Minerals, Hahndorf, South Australia

    Australian Minerals

    As a child, I was enraptured to learn that the word “iridescence” could describe the elusive shine on bubbles and the flickering colours in oil spills on the road. I had only noticed oil colours after reading a version of The Colony of Cats, where a girl asked to be dipped in oil (rather than gold) in the hope of capturing a rainbow in her pocket. Similarly I was recently delighted to learn the word “petrichor”, even though a word can only hint at the corners of capturing an experience.

    Butterflies at Iridescence, South Australian Museum

    Iridescent butterflies

    Today I had my first acupuncture session, and I was saddened for the butterflies pinned to their boards. I hope they get to fly around the exhibition at night-time, feeding on iridescence to top up their own meters.

    Cat cafe playtime

    30th November, 2014

    Last week I visited Australia’s first Cat Cafe in Melbourne (or Meowlbourne, as artfully put by Aoife Boothroyd).

    The kitty residents are delightful – some very inquisitive and playful, balanced by more sedate “don’t touch me” cats. The new policy about restricting children should also be extended to those who are Cat person versus Cat person person.  What does this mean? It’s the difference between people that like cats, and people who understand how to interact with other people who also like cats. It’s having an apprecation of whether someone wants quiet time or wants to play (being considerate about animals’ needs as well as the other people there).

    The main rooms can be quite busy with people depending on whether they’ve been booked out for that time slot (you enter on the hour). I didn’t really want to hang out with other cat people, I came for the cats – so I slunk off into another room and sat with the cats who don’t like others (we had lots in common – Clara and Lynx were the best).

    Two kinds of cats at Cat Cafe, Melbourne

    Cat statues

    We were relaxing together, and then another lady came along with her fancy noisy feather toy, waved it at the cat in my lap, then they ran off together into the sunset. She totally cut my [cat]grass, like I was lying on the beach telling my life story to the man of my dreams and a distracting vapid bikini type walked past. Of course the cat ran away of their own enticed will, but that lady should have been sensitive enough to realise that we were already having a nice time without her prying.

    It’s okay, I won in the end because I found some cat toys behind the couch which were very exciting for all the residents. It occurred to me that perhaps I’m more of a cat than Cat person or Cat person person.

    Lynx at Cat Cafe, Melbourne

    Lynx and reflection

    Of course you visit for the cats more than for the drinks (‘more cat playroom than cafe…’), I understand that this will change with the menu expanding in the future. Hopeful that they’ll have something like the delicious-looking high teas at London’s Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium or the organic local fare at Paris’ Le Café des Chats.

    Pirate cat at Cat Cafe, Melbourne

    ARR, matey!

    Some of the cats are also getting wise to photo shoots and offering their preferred poses  – this photo from Rachel is very similar to mine above. If the cats had some glamour shoots, I think people would buy good-quality photos. Australia’s first vegan B&B, Bed & Broccoli, already does this by selling prints of some of their animal residents.

    It would also be great if you could buy drinks as 1 for the price of 2, with the price of the ‘suspended coffee’ going towards all the cats or a cat of your choice (their very own tip jars). This could be tracked with donation boxes featuring each of the cats (the boxes could be mounted on the wall so the cats could climb on them, similar to perches featured in this article). Each cat could sponsor another cat currently in a shelter.

    I’d recommend a visit to the Cat Cafe, I was lucky as a walk-in, but it’s best to book ahead.

    Onion October

    31st October, 2014

    October has been a layer-y month for me – I feel like things just keep stacking on top of other things. I always think of Wendy Orr’s Peeling the Onion when I hear the word “layers”. It’s a good term to describe my home method of organisation – piles or horizontal filing. Imagine a floordrobe made of paper. I very much admire Teresa’s posts which have a nice focus with by-the-month updates, and make me feel less angsty about only posting every 4 weeks. She describes hers as: “A monthly capture of my feelings and doings, in the raw”.

    Sculpture of Australian Venus by Rayner Hoff at Art Gallery of NSW

    Australian Venus

    I set myself a challenge at the start of the month to reduce my sugar intake – this is layer-themed as well, because I want to be super muscular and get rid of my sheath of fat. I’d like to achieve a flat stomach, like the Australian Venus by Rayner Hoff. I also thought that I was so sugar-infused that if I was stranded on a desert island (this scenario is posed to vegans daily), the cannibals would find that I’d probably taste like maple-infused meat (this was only a minor motivator).

    To modify my sugar habit, I’d hoped to go cold turkey, because I took Gretchen Rubin’s Moderator/Abstainer Quiz and I thought I was an abstainer (is it just me, or is that a really gross-sounding word?). It didn’t completely work. A friend who has achieved 0 sugar started taking magnesium and cinnamon. I eat a lot of cinnamon.

    Vegan carrot cake at Hari's Vegetarian restaurant Sydney

    Hari’s carrot cake

    Even though I’ve had sugary vegan treats once a week (carrot cake from Hari’s in Sydney, raw peanut cheesecake by E, chocolate slice made by my Mum, raw cake by B, and my botanical cuisine reward jar), they were all made by other people, and still much less than my usual amount. I also remember each one vividly!

    Another lady at art school tried to reduce her intake of desserts by making a rule that she could only eat things she had baked herself. I have tried this for a few years with less success. As a result, I would normally eat raw homemade cake mix every day. Mostly to console myself about our broken oven (so it’s not like cooked cake is an option). That provides some context for being pleased even with this level of sugar – because I really did used to eat a lot of cake mix. Plus hunny bunny chocolate every 3 days. And 1-2 botanical cuisine jars a week. As well as some cake from Sweet Bones or The Front Gallery. Writing this list gives me the same realisation as those gross TV shows where they put a week’s worth of food in a tube (so wasteful!) to shock people.

    Raw vegan chocolate cake

    Flying chocolate cake

    Despite the “moderator” approach, I still had a celebration botanical cuisine Melbourne nights dessert tonight. I pretended I was drilling into the earth through the stratum of cashew and chocolate like the geological coffee plunger in William Kentridge’s mine film. I felt the sugar rush (as exciting as the game in the lego movie) like pressing the recharge resonators button on an ingress portal.

    As it’s a Friday, NGAC was doing their usual BiblioDessert – a 3pm tweet about desserts for library people (you normally need a boost by then). So I was obliged to eat some sweets. I will continue to eat less sugar next month, but I did spend a lot more time thinking about sugar and was sorely tempted by my sugar lip scrub. Other things have happened since last month, but sugar and avoiding sugar have been my main obsessive activities.

    Stealing flowers

    29th September, 2014

    This weekend we caught a lady stealing flowers from our garden. I’d like to say red-handed, but they are purple irises so they don’t leave much residue. In primary school, when we had a spate of firebugs, the teachers would smell suspects’ hands to see if they had a smokey scent. Luckily I didn’t have to do any palm-sniffing for floral notes, as we saw her ruin an iris stem right in front of us. Snap! That’s the sound of a dream ending in the rush of slaughter.

    I ran up to her and said “You’re welcome”, as it was the least confrontational opener I could conjure in my rage. She reflexively replied with a gaily “Thank you!”, then turned and froze when she saw me (I wish I could attribute this fear to my massive biceps. Perhaps in a few months…). She started bargaining and saying that they were for a relative who was unwell, and that she could offer money, and after all “I only took 3!”. She didn’t understand that they weren’t for sale. If she had knocked on our door and said that her Mum was sick, and really loved flowers, I would have dug some up for her and put them in a nice pot. It was weird that she cheapened the whole ordeal by saying she could pay – they weren’t for sale anyway. It made me doubt the story, and wonder if she could have bought some other flowers. I just replied “okay” to every new excuse, and waved goodbye. It was just so odd and disrespectful, as she had been furtively driving past in slow-motion, and left her car running as she leapt towards the bulbs.

    Sonia orchids

    Sonia orchids (not irises)

    The experience reminded me of a scene in Tritten’s Heidi’s children, where they return from berry-picking, but instead of refreshing berries, they have only the coins received from selling them. As the Alm-Uncle said about the taste/money transaction, “What can it buy as sweet as the berries you have sold?”. I’m happy to share the sweetness of our flowers, but not with those who have poor manners and even more questionable motives. At the very least, if her Mum really is sick, I hope they provide some cheer.

    Margaret Olley would pick flowers on her walks (she called it pruning), to immortalise as paintings. But I’m sure she wouldn’t have taken all the flowers that were in one garden. I feel conflicted about my response, and wonder about the justification of my cynicism. The next morning, I realised that I haven’t enjoyed many of our flowers because they’re gone – leaving a scarred history on almost every plant. Cellular memories of a thieving (not thriving) history. It’s not a unique experience, as mentioned in Amy Stewart’s post, as well as in a thread on combative strategies.

    On a happier note, the Sonia orchids in the image (sorry no irises left for enjoyment or photography!) are celebrating today’s wedding anniversary. They were expensive, and from a florist. These are inside so they are definitely safe!

    Sea skull

    31st August, 2014

    I had a mini-farewell with a friend this week – I don’t know when she’ll be back, but she seemed surprised by over-dramatic goodbyes. Maybe it’s because distance is so fluid, friendships so often depend on physical proximity.

    Profile and shell

    By the seashore

    When we hugged, I felt my ear make a suction grasp on her cheek, and I thought about how we all have an ocean inside our heads if only we could hear it. Doreen Virtue shared a lovely shell photo which looks just like one that we dug up years ago at Lennox Head.

    Ears and shells and golden ratios.

    Braidwood gallery crawl II

    26th July, 2014

    Today we had a roadtrip from Canberra to Braidwood with the ARLIS/ANZ ACT Chapter (Arts Libraries Society Australia & New Zealand). I did a test run in May and it was lovely to see the change of season since, lots of jonquils, daphne and bergenia.

    Hand-y sign!

    The hand beckons

    Our first stop was The Left Hand Gallery, showing some works from the John Pratt Retrospective which finished recently. I missed that show so I was glad to see some of the prints inspired by the body in motion (some previously shown at Beaver Galleries) as well as sketch books. The Left Hand’s owner, Julian Davies, had a studio/gallery in Campbell, Canberra and is a writer, potter and painter. The Left Hand Gallery is about running an art gallery from the left hand point of view (non-commercial and with a focus on the artists), which also makes sense with a left-handed owner. It even has its own giant left hand sign. As a rough reading from my small experience of palm reading (I did some classes earlier this year), it’s surely not a coincidence that hand on the sign’s head line has a distinct downwards slope, showing creativity.

    The gallery also has books from non profit publisher Finlay Lloyd, including a collection of essays titled “When books die”. A scary title, but I hope to read it to at least find out if it self-destructs when it feels it has had a thorough reading.

    Beautiful hanging pot plants

    Pots and whimsy

    STUR Gallery inside fYREGALLERY had something quite unexpected “Fresh black truffles direct from the farm for sale all Winter”. They were waiting on a fresh batch today, but we got to sniff a truffle in the meantime – it was in a sealed bag surrounded by uncooked rice. The scent wasn’t what I expected, apparently if it had been freshly picked today (instead of yesterday), the smell would’ve filled the gallery.

    The current exhibition, Amy Schleif’s  A Place of Abundance, is on till 3 August and captures colours and emotion in glass window-pane structures.

    After my phone had been near the truffle, it ran out of battery. A coincidence? It was frustrating as I would’ve loved to take photos of our next stop, artist Kate Stevens’ studio. She has a beautiful work space overflowing with paintbrushes (at various life stages), paintings with icing-layers, fern fronds brushing through sash windows, lasagne-like piles of warm white Hahnemuhle paper with small watercolour pools, rickles of canvases waiting for thick coats, and a paint-stained eraser emblazoned with “Keep calm and carry on”.

    Kate told us about her working process and her attraction to our investment in/consumption of travel photography and how these images are shared online. I wondered if the travel theme is the reason behind the many Qantas maroon vintage bags used in her studio to store art materials. Her current series has smaller works focusing on Berlin, and in the background we saw her Acid Ballerina painting, which I remembered from a stop-motion video showing her painting the subject upside-down.

    Vegan bagels, hallelujah

    Dojo bakery treats

    We visited the Braidwood market in Ryrie Park – I was a bit confused as there are two markets – this one with jams and knick-knacks like avocado bowls (I wish I’d bought them, even though a more fancy colleague first had to explain to me what they were) – and the other market is the Braidwood Farmers’ Market at the National Theatre but wasn’t on this week. I had anticipated a manoush pizza from the farmers’ market so the only other vegan option I could think of quickly was another bagel from Dojo bakery (breakfast x 2).

    My favourite shop, String, is closed during July, but we visited Altenburg & Co again, plus the lolly shop of course. I showed everyone the Squill jar, but my favourite during this visit was “Spud candy”. They look like little sugar potatoes, as J said, “a combination of the two best things, sweets and spuds”.

    There was less progress on my #PatADay record this visit – I patted one dog called Bella, but apart from that I was trying to behave because I had organised the trip.

    Once again I have postponed my trip to Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop and The Old Cheese Factory. One day.



    30th June, 2014


    Happy last day of blogjune! Not much to say today, my arms are tired from yoga and not typing very quickly. See Mr Cat who is so hard to capture – he moves right after being in the perfect position.


    Mr Cat and friend

    You have spots


    Mr Cat is very sweet with his WWF friend – not the former wrestling organisation. If it had to be about wrestling, I would be talking about Sheamus because of the pale appropriateness of his movie role as a Celtic Warrior Zombie.


    However, because our small feline friend is from the World Wildlife Fund, it’s probably more appropriate to mention the WWF footprint calculator. It’s easy and interactive, and you can track your scores. I’m embarrassed to say that my footprint 3 years ago was 3.3 (that’s how many planets we need to support life, if everyone had the same lifestyle as me). I’ve reduced it down to 1.7ish, depending on how much processed food I eat. The difference has been in changing my transport options (daily and holiday), changing eating habits and becoming vegan, and buying less stuff. In terms of stuff, I don’t actually have many stuffed toys – this one was a gift – but I did receive another present this week, a plush turtle with a tag “Turtley awesome”. I keep it on my desk for the tag alone. Our pets would have more of a footprint than the toys, there is probably a market out there for “greening your cat”.


    You can also calculate your water footprint (Water Footprint Network). I don’t really understand my score, but the questions are revealing – I need to do the obvious things like upgrading plumbing/shower heads and get an efficient dishwasher.


    If you’re interested in greening libraries, watch ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group on facebook and twitter for more on this subject (also mentioned in my post on recycling book packaging).


    Congratulations everyone on reaching the end of June! I look forward to next year, particularly to see how everyone has progressed on their dreams and footprints.



    Rose mattress

    29th June, 2014


    Hello possums.


    In the Adelaide hills, rose plants are being put in large enclosures (cages) to protect them from the possums. My mother-in-law calls the possums “those furry bastards” because they savage all her plants (and thirst after roses) even though she planted some natives specifically for them. She blames the population explosion on the people that feed them bread and honey – if you don’t bring an offering, they bite your feet through the sandals. I guess toes can look pretty appetising, like human sausages with a little ridge cap nail on the end. A delicacy.


    Free range rose in Canberra

    Gaol-striped rose


    I love these striped Floribunda-type roses – they remind me of carnation experiments at Questacon. When I was little, a science fair had them all lined up, each stem sucking up different colours to change the petals. The best rose-lust blog is Rosomanes by Masha.


    There is something poetic and Magritte-like about keeping a rose in an aviary, like a songbird with clipped wings.


    There is a lot of development in the Adelaide Hills area, so this is removing one structure for possums (gum trees with delectable blossoms) and replacing it with a new structure for the plants (rosy gaol), all so that we can have a new structure for people (houses in an area where they can admire what’s left of the “natural” scenery). As Lindy Stacker (wildlife care volunteer) says, “People wouldn’t have noticed possums 50 years ago because they had a habitat,”.


    Foster possum in Canberra

    Possum snooze


    One of my friends fosters orphaned or injured possums. In Canberra this is through ACT Wildlife (go to their site to donate), but other Australian states/territories have different arrangements and organisations. There are some useful tips from RSPCA ACT and TAMS.


    I was surprised to see that possums even like the taste of Andrew Bolt’s garden:


    Having a curtain of flowers turned into a ghastly skeleton has broken my heart…”

    (Bolt, A. (2012, June 25). Cracking from paws and effect. Herald Sun, p. 13. Retrieved from Factiva.


    A life and death sentence for delicious roses (and possums).



    Cosy wintry markets

    28th June, 2014


    Warming and cosy, this was the promise from the Mid Winter Markets at Belconnen Arts Centre. The bad weather cooperated and made sure that after a rainy dash we were ready for hot mulled wine and in a scarf-buying mood. The only way to improve this rainy day outing would be to have an indoor fireplace, non-gelatine marshmallows and an expansive shag rug (next year, perhaps?).


    I bought a small dragon saucer from Paul Dumetz, it will be handy for earrings. Ms L bought some arm snuggies from one of the many knitters, plus a necklace from Barbara McGann of PaperArt and the Tiny Gallery.


    Hillgrove Pottery tiny houses

    Buy a new house


    Hillgrove Pottery’s tiny ceramic houses (some with metallic roofing) were adorable and very popular – how could you resist, at $2 each with the sign “Buy a New House mortgage free: now you can afford the whole street”.


    There are drunken houses on their facebook page, perhaps a less reliable housing option than the small ones. A shining beacon at the end of the grim tunnel of Canberra’s housing situation, at least if  you’re Arrietty.


    Macrame by Annette Boyd Art + Design

    Macrame sculptures


    I loved the handmade macramé sculptures and hanging pots by Annette Boyd Art + Design, there was quite a crowd of people enjoying reminiscing about “old macramé” and legwarmers. These ones are beautiful and there are much better pictures on her facebook page showing a previous macramé display at The Front.


    In my work library, I’d seen the catalogue for Unruly orchestrations exhibition which is at BAC till tomorrow, so I was pleased to have caught it during the market day. I was most looking forward to Sandra Burr’s artist book Unruly creatures, documenting street art with a focus on non-human animals. Her booklets on the table were divided into many categories, and I’d liked to have spent longer looking at them. I recognised a few walls which have since been covered over – as social history maybe the photos/artist books could be included in the ACT Heritage Library’s collection? You can see more Canberra graffiti photographs on Jack Crash’s The Screaming Wall.


    It was fun to get out of the usual market groove and see different local handmade products and enjoy the live music. I’m looking forward to next year’s markets, or maybe they could have an end-of-winter one too.



    Books across my desk

    27th June, 2014


    Today’s books, clockwise:


    Desk book grab


    Luminous world: Contemporary art from the Wesfarmers collection. (2012). Fremantle, W.A.: Fremantle Press.

    (catalogue and postcard): because the exhibition at the National Library ends this weekend. The page edges are silvered.


    Bawden, L., Paton, J., & Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2004). Lionel Bawden: the spring tune. Dunedin, N.Z.: Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

    “Every now and then someone with an ear for numbers and no eye for art brandishes statistical proof that the average gallery-goer spends no more than, say, 12.5 seconds with the average artwork. Bawden’s thingamajigs put a dent in those statistics, and remind us that there’s no such thing as an average viewer or artwork.” – Justin Paton


    Berg, C., Hay, P., & Carnegie Gallery (2010). Waterfront. Hobart: Carnegie Gallery.

    My favourite photographer, I once went to a Christl Berg exhibition at Helen Maxwell’s gallery in Braddon which was really moving. Cut-out photos of roses were backed with hot pink so that they reflected back on the wall near the edges.


    Davenport, J. (2006). Ladybird, ladybird: the secrets of a sophisticated lady. Byron Bay: Imaginality.

    One of my next career ideas is as an entomologist. “In and out of flowers fair in your spotted underwear, spreading pollen like magic dust…” p. 26


    Bowman, K., & Craft Victoria (2004). These are the things that hold me here (a house, a vessel, a shell, a ring) : Katherine Bowman, 29 January-6 March 2004. Melbourne: Craft Victoria.

    “Bowman knows a house and wishes to describe it and its purpose as vehicle or receptacle of keepsakes and tokens – guardians of personal memories.” – Robert Baines


    I have learnt that if I want to remember a book or artist, I need to note down the details or they will be forever lost in the book labyrinth.



    Cubicle zoo

    26th June, 2014


    This display on my work desk means I can play with my zoo friends during hold music, hold music, hold.


    If I go on leave, I try to position the tiger, dinosaur and giraffe in different (lewd?) ways to see if they’re the same when I return. It’s stressful when Dino and Tiggy aren’t near the rock slice, because then they’ll get too thirsty and steal my tea. Dino used to growl and light up his eyes, but I pressed the button too many times. The rose is a build-it-yourself invitation from a gallery overseas. I sometimes put things on the easel but it makes the display more vulnerable to wind gusts.


    Animal figurines on desk

    Corporate jungle


    Bunny’s heart cushion was made by Kate (thank you!) who also sent me a beanie today which is very exciting in Canberra’s weather. When I was little I would be saddened by “soft” parcels, because it meant that the gift was clothes. But now it excites me because a soft parcel doesn’t contain books and has some novelty value!


    The Bolaffi catalogue of Baj's complete work

    Baj’s cat rais


    Books that came across my desk today included catalogues for Guy Grey-Smith, Christl Berg, and Enrico Baj – the cover reminded me a little of Adventure Time?


    It’s important to have different books on my desk so that the toys have new reading materials overnight (don’t want them to get bored and cause mischief like purposeful misshelving). Thanks Peter for the post inspiration!



    Wheeled conundrum

    25th June, 2014


    Sometimes it takes a while for a word to be dredged up from memory, a creaky filing cabinet that says “I just made you look like a crossword, how annoying to know the definition but not the thing!”. This week it took me the longest time to remember “sacrum”. My brain’s clue was: something sacred-ish below the kidneys. No wonder I didn’t guess it.


    After seeing the collections of happy accidents in google book scans, I decided to never let a book go past if I wanted to remember something about it. So I take a quick picture because I’ve also realised that it will fade into the rest of the day, never to return. Faded book covers show memories, shelving and give a sense of how long the book has rested between being touched.


    Faded Manet book cover - front

    Manet approaches


    I like the faded Rothko-esque framing device – on both sides – of this Manet book. I imagine the books pressed their bodies together during a Yves Klein performance, they desperately tried to preserve the original colour of the cover before it altered like etching plates left out for a while (without proper cleaning).


    Faded Manet book cover

    Manet retreats


    The shadow makes it seem as though our covergirl is leaving, or that it’s a portrait in the round. I wish I’d checked the spine.


    Wheely thingys

    Wheely thingys


    It could be worse, though – what if you had to make a sign and could only think of “wheely thingys”? The picture is fuzzy because I was laughing, and trying to remember the proper term.



    Vegan cake in Canberra

    24th June, 2014


    Cupcake lust means that I often forget to take a picture of pretty cakes before desire takes over. Here are my unscientific findings – I was impressed by the six factors for tasting mayonnaise in Gladwell’s Blind: the power of thinking without thinking, but I haven’t worked out a cupcake scale. More testing required.


    Following, what I hope is an almost comprehensive list of vegan cake sources in Canberra:


    Sweet bones vegan cupcake

    Pretty patterns


    Sweet Bones (Braddon): Very high-profile vegan business in Canberra. Fancy swirly icing and a fair amount of cake in the patty pan.


    Raw vegan cake at The Front Cafe Lyneham

    Fruity passion


    The Front Gallery and Café (Lyneham): Fairly recent vegan caterer, with wonderful local raw cake made by Celeste of Raw Capers.


    Veganarchy (Bus Depot Markets, various): Gabby’s vegan cupcakes are wonderful, the best flavour is chocolate peanut butter.


    Crafted3 (Canberra Farmers Markets, various): Natalie’s vegan meringues are fantastic (I used to get them with fruit at Mornings in Paris, see below). Cupcakes are on my to-do list.


    Cake Cabinet (on order): Creative luxe cakes made by Nie-kiewa, check out the “In the Cabinet” galleries and prepare to be amazed.


    My Rainbow Dreams (Dickson): Not really a cake, but their walnut and choc chip biscuits have just the right mix of salty and sweet. Honorary cupcake.


    The Green Way Organic (Hyperdome in Tuggeranong): Not a café, but they stock Naked Treaties which include raw cake and imitation raw chocolate bars (“nickers”).


    I haven’t yet tried the cakes at Jazz Apple Café (Civic), or the sweets at V Spot Café (Civic – apparently they have Naked Treaties and maybe some Raw Capers products).


    …my very favourite veg* places tend to close down, so I keep my favourites close like a gastronomic spirit animal (they might be mentioned here but I haven’t given them the f-word). My last favourite place was Mornings in Paris (Nicholls), which closed earlier this year and had just the best homemade vegan icecream. Before that it was Bernadette’s Café (Ainslie) which I think closed in the 2000s, and prior to that, it was the Ridge Organic Restaurant (Farrer). Actually the last one hasn’t closed, but it was vegetarian and now it isn’t. If they have vegan options, I might go back there one day.




    23rd June, 2014


    Mr Cat and his new friend – Ms Measuring Mouse.


    The secret is in her tail, which pulls out to reveal a measuring tape which was tightly furled in her abdomen like an anaemic fern decorated with standard units (each line an intestinal villus), the golden ratio of ratios.


    Mr Cat and wooden mouse

    Hi friend!

    Ms Measuring Mouse has been in our family for a long time, I’m lucky to have her. Otherwise I take a “good enough google” MacGyver type approach to measurements for buying clothes online. This involves using headphone cords (or anything else vaguely stringy, measuring my waist, then comparing the length to that of the online ruler.

    There have been less regrets since Ms Mouse has taken up her role of Chief Cm ” Documentation Officer.

    Book collection in Candybar

    22nd June, 2014


    My book collection – the entire sum of my own private library. I used to buy books all the time, but when I started doing interlibrary loans, I had less of an ownership need (unless we had a deep soul connection). I’ve borrowed from Snail’s admirable shelf by shelf approach. I am actually very gentle and careful with books from libraries and other people, and I considered restacking things before I took the picture, but at least this is real!


    Book cupboard



    Above the cupboard (not shown): pieces of bark, Perspex dollhouse, box, painted canvas.


    First shelf: sketch books (empty and filled), art catalogues, cookbooks, VHS, aromatherapy books, fiction, travel and Footrot Flats books belonging to Mr. S. Plus a tin that I bought at Benedict House and an icon that was a gift.


    Middle shelf:  cookbooks, spirituality/sex books (I normally hide these if someone is staying in the room), business cards, gallstone jewellery, fiction, art books and golden books (we bought these at a fete, having the crazy idea that they would be huge money spinners).


    Lower shelf: cookbooks/history and aquarium books belonging to Mr. S, Norwegian language books/sets, art books, and at least one book that I need to return to a friend. Plus a heart-shaped leaf and some breadtags.


    Gangles does a brave deed

    Gangles dancing by N. Young


    My favourite fiction book is Gangles (top shelf in the messy bit), it is by Ronald McCuaig (illustrated by Noela Young) and I’ve had it since I was little. Fitting, as I grew up in its setting of Canberra (although it is called Candybar). Even the Canberra Times is the Candybar Times.


    “Candybar is a city with gardens growing out of it, and houses, among them two Houses of Parliament, a university and the Governor’s palace.

    Gangles used to live on one of the mountains surrounding the city. When they put a lake in the middle of the city and a fountain in the middle of the lake, Gangles went to live on top of the fountain.” p. 1.


    If you look carefully at Captain Cook fountain, sometimes Gangles is dancing there.


    “Not everyone who comes to Candybar sees Gangles. …the spurts of water that rise and fall at the very top of the fountain are Gangles’ hair. It is long and bleached in the sun. And when the wind blows the fountain in a mist across the lake and the sun shines through in all those rainbow colours – that is Gangles’ dress.” pp. 124-[125].


    You can see what looks like the National Gallery on the right hand side of the picture. I used to have many more books but they were destroyed in a flood, so perhaps my reluctance to purchase books is really from unresolved grief.



    McCuaig, R., & Young, N. (1972). Gangles. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.



    Solstice geraniums

    21st June, 2014


    Halfway through the year, reflecting on the rest of 2014 calendar year. In a Solstice article, Michelle Claire White noted the difference in Sydney’s winter – we haven’t experienced a proper frost in Canberra this year (that, or I’m sleeping in and missing it), and my geraniums are glad not to have an icy coat.


    Night geraniums

    Enticing perfume


    These geraniums were from my Grandma’s house, you can get lots of geraniums from “pruning” as Margaret Olley named the process of harvesting cuttings while out on a neighbourhood walk. I need to make gardening more of a priority, because I kind of forget about it during the day and it’s very cold at night. When I did a lot of housesitting, some  homeowners would leave a “house guide” (if you’re getting a housesitter, definitely do this!), one suggested “spending time in the garden, watering with a hose and drinking a glass of wine”. I watered the garden but I feel like I’m not the kind of person that just hangs around outside all the time, there needs to be comfy chairs, sunscreen… too many logistics.


    I’d like to spend more time with Mr. Sonja and the cats, finish a library course, learn to weave, find out about insects, eat more local food, improve at deadlifting, look at other volunteering opportunities and make progress towards an exhibition. And repot the geraniums.



    Books smothered in packaging

    20th June, 2014


    Library books – first they need to reach the library from the publishers, then they might switch to other branches, be posted to a distance student, or lent via interlibrary loan interstate or overseas. Books are frequent travellers with significant ecological footprints: fuel for transport, pollution, and packaging (or getting damaged in the process and creating more waste with replacement copies).


    If you work in a library, the most obvious side-effect from bibliographic voyaging is all the packaging. Mounds of bubblewrap, paper or plastic padded envelopes, tough bags, polystyrene, potato-starch bubbles, air bags, plastic satchels, and enough cardboard boxes to build a fire-hazard castle. Most libraries stockpile the padded bags to reuse, but it can be challenging not to send a lot of items to landfill.


    Leaking paper padded bag

    Leaking paper blood


    I prefer to use paper padded bags (over bubblewrap/plastic padded bags or plastic satchels), because at the end of the lifecycle (being used once or several times), they can easily go in the paper/cardboard recycling in most council areas. Usually you need less stickytape and other paraphernalia to keep them secure during reuse – but sticky labels also create a lot of waste (ink, label, adhesive paper). The downside of the bags is that they are full of recycled newspaper padding, so if a trusty paper padded bag knight gets a spear in the face, he leaks everywhere including between the pages of the book he carries (gruesome paper blood, obviously). Perhaps the bag wants to be a book and is assimilating. I only recently realised that the paper padded bags are slightly heavier than plastic padded ones so they can cost more in postage and over time add up to a lot of unnecessary weight. I haven’t resolved this yet. A point in their favour is that books are less likely to get caught inside (less plastic friction).


    Bubblewrap padded bags can have limited potential reuse because the bubbles will get squashed. If there is a paper outer, you can separate this from the bubbles so that the paper is recycled, and the bubbles in the landfill bin. If you do this a few times you will not like these bags as the recycling process is labour-intensive and soul-destroying. The plain bubblewrap plastic padded bags which have no paper outer go straight in the landfill bin.


    Bubblewrap by itself (not within a bag/envelope structure) can be reused by people moving, or to decorate desks of other library staff. It can be challenging to get rid of it. Polystyrene is also difficult, but if you check your local recycling guide, some commercial waste management places will accept it for a fee.


    Some brands of air-filled bags are made of a plastic that breaks down in the compost, so I pop (quietly if it’s a shhh kind of library) and take them home to compost, but it’s meant to take 5 years and these timeframes are often determined with industrial composting facilities. Non-biodegradable air-filled bags can be popped and placed in the REDcycle plastic recycling bins at some supermarkets.


    Coles postal satchel twitter REDcycle discussion

    Good to go!


    Plastic satchels (like express satchels, courier branded ones) have been confirmed as acceptable for the REDcycle plastic recycling bins. I wish that the REDcycle bins included this on their list of accepted items. If you keep your squashable plastics from home, it is an illuminating exercise about how much waste you create, even if it can be made into something else.


    I was also pleased to confirm that mylar packets can also go in REDcycle bins (note that this is rare, because mylar doesn’t normally require disposal, only if it breaks and cannot be heat resealed back together, like a mylar packet for ephemera). I do wonder about the processes involved in making this squashable plastic into furniture – fumes? But I need to learn more about this.


    Postal satchel waste from the library

    12 weeks of plastic


    Tough bags, paper envelopes and cardboard boxes are easy enough to go straight in the paper/cardboard recycling.


    Potato-starch bubbles or pellets can go straight in the compost, I haven’t tested the pH impact. Apparently some people feed them to birds but I try not to do this. If you’re unsure of the materials, the pellets shrink in water so you can test one in the sink, turn on the tap and see if it becomes small and slimy.


    As a side note to packaging – you can send CDs/DVDs and their plastic outers to Gram Destruction (just make sure to check your organisation’s policy about this type of disposal, or include it in the weeding policies). The process is free, but do factor in the cost of postage as well as the fact that materials are once again clocking up the kilometres.


    REDcycle bin at Coles

    REDcycle bin


    Recycling options may be different in your state/territory, this is just what I’ve found works in Canberra, ACT. Our Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) has an A-Z waste and recycling guide to help with responsible disposal. Check to see if your council has a guide, and if they will recycle the bubblewrap padded bags with plastic outer – sometimes they have a recycling symbol. If you’re interested in greening libraries, watch ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group on facebook and twitter for more on this subject.


    It can be frustrating to look at all the materials accumulated by book transport, but I try and focus on the benefits of getting the right book to the borrower, it could be for something crucial in their research or development that will change or green the world.



    Art lunch in Parliamentary Triangle

    19th June, 2014


    Vegan fare has made leaps and bounds since my last “Vegan in the Parliamentary Triangle” update (April 2014) on vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. I’ll do an actual, thorough update towards the end of the year, as I haven’t had time to go to lunch everywhere yet (plus it’s only been 2 months!).


    Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery) still has vegan quinoa salad on their everyday lunch menu. It’s great that this item has continued and I hope this is due to the statistical significance of the vegan dollar. Plus their across-the-road neighbours, National Gallery of Australia is now catering to vegans!


    Vegan curry of the day at NGA cafe, Canberra

    Curry of the day


    The exciting development since my April lunch-around (mentioned above) is that the NGA Café (National Gallery of Australia), now offers “vegan curry of the day” as an everyday $15 lunch menu item. I haven’t tried it that often to be aware of the different types available, but it’s been good 2 times, so signs point to positive.


    Custom vegan dessert at NGA cafe, Canberra

    Custom dessert


    If you’re organised and can phone ahead (preferably the day before), vegan dessert can also be arranged (I think it’s usually less than $10, might depend on the day).


    Today’s dessert had syruped strawberries, almonds and quinoa cream – sort of a healthy rice pudding.


    Previous custom vegan desserts have been similar quinoa cream based desserts with fruit and crunchy bits (delicious but unknown). Rumour has it that there may be a possibility of getting vegan mudcake sometime.


    I would rate the curry as meeting the requirements of 3 Canberra Beanies (convenience, health factor, cost). I would rate the dessert as an almost 3 (maybe 2.8?), because it would be more convenient if it didn’t require pre-order.


    Now that there is the achievement of vegan savoury items on the regular gallery menus, I hope that vegan desserts are the next frequent feature, not just for vegans but also our dairy-free friends.



    When Woden was Braddon

    18th June, 2014


    Having grown up in Canberra, I remember when Woden was trendy, and actually called Woden Plaza before the corporate W took over. There was a giant fountain area near Centrepoint Plaza (did it get removed because of the fish?), the mindbending Camel Train shop in the interchange, the Cosmopolitan Twin Cinemas and Snake Pit nearby plus the bowling alley.


    The Camel Train was my favourite place – slightly forbidden and just so full. There’s a wonderful photo in the Canberra Times (1992, May 5) that shows how crowded it was with jewellery, candles, clothes, everything. I think it opened around 1982 (before that it might’ve been Aladdin’s Cave, a rug shop), and I’m not sure of when it actually closed. Some of the more recent uses of the space have been as a Christian book shop and now a mini-mart.

     Sculptured Form by Margel Hinder, Woden, Canberra


    My focus was so much on the Camel Train and the fountain that I never really connected with Hinder’s sculpture (look closely in the picture in that link, you can see a maroon sign for the Camel Train on the right! The photo was taken from the fountain side, you can see the steps leading down). In the photo above, the fountain and steps used to be in the same location as the fancy paving.


    Now that the sculpture is under maintenance, I chastise myself that I didn’t love it more when it was free range. It is much easier to feel the pain of art that is a battery hen, a sense of loss. There is a sticker on it which says “Please don’t litter your mind”. I look forward to a cleaner and happier sculpture being free at the end of August.


    The artsACT site notes the benefits of keeping the sculpture healthy:

    “By polishing the aluminium surface to a soft patina, and allowing it to bulge around the middle, the sculpture resembles a large soft heart, appearing to be made of several chambers but actually one connected and vital whole.”


    Woden’s heart in a cage.


    Snake pit in progress, 1994, Woden, Canberra

    Koala ghost


    The Snake Pit was painted by community groups. This “in progress” shot dates from 1994, from a 2005 report on ACT Government public art.


    Snake Pit, Woden, Canberra

    A bit sad


    Here is the Snake Pit today – the entry is where you used to get into the movies. Capital Yarns even spun a tale of Snake Pit Armageddon, perhaps that’s what happened.


    I have fond memories of the bowling alley too – I wonder how the space is used now, it is in the weird island building in the middle of the interchange – as well as the cinema. It was a magical place, just like our beloved Electric shadows. It is easy to love the past when you’re no longer in it.


    We weren’t actually allowed to hang out in Woden very much, because of the horrifying missing person case of Megan Louise Mulquiney that is still unsolved. Her unknown story is really the only truly heartbreaking part of the place, I’m not really sure what else to say. Please click to see her profile on the Missing Persons website.



    Early minimal word day

    17th June, 2014


    Exciting news! Today I learnt that my legs are the same length as a library book cart (trolley).


    Book cart legs

    Carpet stockings


    Related fact: this is the same length as a standard bus seat (well the ones we use in my city). This means we could easily fit book displays into standard transport. Make every bus a library or bookshop cafe. Or have book cart drill team performances on the bus – donation on top of your standard fare. ACTION buses, we should talk.



    Furry aura

    16th June, 2014


    At today’s yoga class, our teacher spoke about layers of being, the perfectness of the self but with the potential to develop. My being and aura is layered with cat hair, even my gym clothes. Someone said, it’s more important to cuddle your pets than to have a tidy house and clothes.


    How can it be lonely people glitter when it’s a sign that you have animal friends? The fur is everywhere anyway. Probably a washing machine filter issue. I used to despair at the mounds and dust bunnies of cat hair – I could even make a third cat every time I empty our vacuum cleaner. The advances in household cleaning appliances were meant to save time, but they’ve made us more time poor as cleaning standards have heightened. C says it’s not just about “Better homes & gardens”, but “Better homes than yours”. We are all juggling a million cats (Webb in Rendle-Short’s talk).


    Ms Cat with Super star by Nightengale needles

    Ms Cat with Super Star


    Cat hair can be inspirational. Artist Marina Neilson made work with the couch her cats shredded but also used their fur to trace a house silhouette. You can see an installation shot on page 6 of the Trouble catalogue.


    And a Monday special, bonus spider!


    Mystery brown spider

    Spidey likes texture


    This little friend was in the hallway – to reduce the hazard of spider smashed on light switch, I put him outside. I hope he will be okay. Most likely now has a spider layer of cat hair (the tiniest fur coat ever) to scare the rest of the arachnid neighbourhood.



    Goulburn vegan mini-break

    15th June, 2014


    I had a mobile/computer free weekend retreat in Goulburn.


    The only photo I took was of my dinner from 98 Chairs. Their team was very accommodating (no vegan pre-warn, either!), and the chef even explained all the options (there were several! It’s weird when you have choices). Both soups were vegan (I had leek, broccoli and potato with toasted almonds) and they modified a main (Pressed puff pastry, pea risotto, roast pumpkin, mushroom, sundried capsicum, quinoa, & salsa verde = without the risotto). Everything was scrumptious, worth making the roadtrip from Canberra (thanks Liz P for the recommendation!). Apparently there’s a garden out the back, even during the cold weather maybe they could light up that space to make it a feature for diners.


    Vegan dinner at 98 Chairs, Goulburn NSW Australia



    I didn’t even get to see the Big Merino (even though I don’t wear wool. When I was little there was a giftshop in the underbelly), let alone eat at other vegan-friendly places.


    Next time I’d like to try the juices and raw vegan desserts at Grit Café, check out the options offered by the Goulburn Workers Club (recommended by Peanuts Funny Farm) and dishes at Ban Thai. I’d also like to see the castle, or if it’s not a castle, the reason for having a castle sign near Goulburn. A lair for batmerino?



    Shunned titbits

    14th June, 2014


    Allergy diets were big in the 70s and 80s, like this hilarious and alarming title – even if it profiles something serious (very Current Affair style!).


    They must shun... article



    Even more serious, are those allergic to other people.


    “Some dishes for people with allergies are so gristly, even the dogs won’t eat them.” So chimes a reader in Susan Parson’s recipe column, so Susan shares meal ideas from Belgian chef Daniel Collard. Leanne Grady has recipes for baked zucchini loaf, spicy tofu and lettuce rollups and scrumptious strawberry shortcake.


    I hope that at least some of those recipes suited children who were “different”. When I was growing up, we had an allergy party recipe book that had pictures of children looking longingly at “normal” food. Every dish was sprinkled with a helping of melancholy. It’s in the Brassicaceae family.



    Ye olde loldogs

    13th June, 2014


    Back in the day if you had a ravenous appetite for cute pictures, you were kind of stuck with joke books or terrible Anne Geddes baby photo albums. This was pre-lolcats, and I desperately wanted some squee in my life. I had lofty goals of a friendship with a cat or puppy, but I had to settle on having the Addams family equivalent: some dead grasshoppers in a matchbox (it was their little bed, pimped out with some comfy tissues). I used to pat them but they weren’t very interactive. True story.


    Now that I have 2 cats (don’t worry they are not the matchbox type), I sometimes borrow cat-related books in the hope that they might read them with me or be impressed that there are cats on the cover. I once knew a kitten who thought a large cat on a calendar was challenging his territory so he attacked it. The calendar fell over.


    Cat recipe book

    Lucifer liver


    This is a recent loan – I think the recipe titles give the impression that the person is cooking a cat to eat. Or is that just me?


    Dog reflections book

    Pocket dog!


    And for balance, ye olde loldogs! (there were overarching photographer credits in the frontispiece, I’m sorry I’m unsure who took these ones) This is a 1977 book on feeding pets, I like all the different words for animal-like human behaviour.



    Carter, Jean S. & Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Great Britain).  (1977).  Living with a gourmet pet : a most unusual bedside cookbook.  [Burwood, Vic.] :  Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


    Toshack, Marie.  (1997).  The kitty cafe : healthy, easy to prepare, homemade food for your cat.  Sydney :  Hodder Headline



    Bunny borrower

    12th June, 2014


    “Hey bro, do you wanna hear a secret?”


    Bunny wants to hear a secret



    “Umm, sure I guess?”


    What bunny



    “I’m the vegetable thief. Sucked in, man!” he yells, running away with the kale.


    These are my friend’s pets – they are even toilet-trained! But obviously lacking in table manners and etiquette.


    Burglar bunny would be a pretty cute name for a pet – we had a great cassette tape of Burglar Bill when I was growing up. But he wasn’t a bunny. And you can now get the audio book on a format other than a cassette tape!



    In the night

    11th June, 2014


    This week I felt rather frustrated with ISBN barcodes being placed right near the spot where we put library barcodes. During the book design process, maybe someone thought it was a good or handy spot if the book was being sold – easy to scan and get the cash! However, think of the library staff who need to add a barcode so the item is trackable for their collection. Every time you try and scan it with the barcode wand, it picks up the ISBN barcode. In the midst of being annoyed – and I know it sounds petty, it’s just tedious as it happens a lot – I found this lovely quote from Karol Hiller in the usual barcoding area.


    "In the night which surrounds us only human creation traces the way". - K. Hiller, 1933

    “In the night…”


    Karol Hiller was a Polish artist in the 30s who invented heliographs, or “picture writing”. A negative (heliographic plate, originally glass and then transparent celluloid) is prepared with chemicals, powders and other materials for different textural effects. The plate is then exposed to light, if this is then pressed to sensitive paper, it provides a source of almost endless prints of the image (see Nakov’s essay for further details).


    I’m glad of having a nice surprise at opening a book instead of having the wrong barcode disrupt my enjoyment.



    Collages and reliefs: 1910-1945, essay by Jane Beckett and Hiller-heliographs, essay by Andrei Nakov. London: Annely Juda Fine Art, 1982.



    I walked with you

    10th June, 2014


    Maleficent is the first movie I’ve ever seen twice in the cinema. Clearly I like it 1000. I saw it again last night (first time was on Saturday, noted in my previous Maleficent post).


    I was very taken by details such as the rustling forest sounds in stereo, different flowers in Aurora’s hairstyles (and in the Moors: lupins, foxgloves, hyacinths, agapanthus…), evolving outfits, Thistletwit giving her wish to baby Aurora while blowing dandelion seeds, and that the younger Maleficent even sports the same over-eyebrow mole as Jolie.


    “Don’t listen to him Balthazar, you are classically handsome.” – Maleficent to Balthazar after he is insulted by Stefan.


    “A king does not take orders from a winged elf!” – King Henry to Maleficent as they prepare for battle.


    “What have you done to my beautiful self?” – Diaval to Maleficent after she first works her magic on him.


    Ceiling sculpture at Palace Electric, Canberra

    Swedish ceiling work


    My friend (who has disdain for “popular” movies and rails against the sad and disappointing closing of the Arc Cinema) said his take on the movie was “A triumph for makeup”. He hadn’t seen Sleeping Beauty so I think that contributes to his response.


    We went to Palace Electric, which has lots to look at like this ceiling work (above), which sort of has a sky-ocean relationship with the honeycomb tiles underneath. Jen has captured a much nicer angle of the ceiling. It isn’t by an individual artist, but was sourced from a Swedish company.

    Other works in the area are listed by the Molonglo Group.


    Some Maleficent spoilers from here: I was left with the same questions that I had on my first viewing:

    • some confusion about the geography of the Castle/Moors and remote location of Aurora’s hiding “hovel”;
    • how did the parents of both Maleficent and Stefan die? (maybe they were the same!);
    • how was Stefan able to secret himself into the Moors, when other humans couldn’t (prior to thorniness);
    • why didn’t the forest protect Maleficent when Stefan was with her?;
    • why Maleficent’s wings couldn’t resist being taken from the Moors but could activate later on;
    • why was there an abandoned castle available for Maleficent, what was the story?;
    • why the three aunties didn’t morph into fairy form when they wanted during the “best years of their lives”?;
    • why the aunties were loyal/scared of the King when they could escape and owed him nothing (e.g. no gratitude for looking after Aurora, but they thought he’d take their heads and did indeed hit Flittle)?;
    • why did Maleficent ride Diaval horse when she could have used the earth dragon to get her to the castle more quickly?;
    • why Diaval and Aurora weren’t together (or Diaval and “mistress” Maleficent?)?;
    • why the carefully constructed iron tunnel was actually quite penetrable (I guess the ironworkers also had to make the net?);
    • …and other things I can’t recall.


     “That’s a lovely gift…” Queen Leila to Maleficent as she weaves her spell on Aurora.



    Flora tosh

    9th June, 2014


    A relaxed public holiday: walking, café drinks, Pictionary, tidying, bath and later on, a movie.

    It would’ve been appropriate to help with the lego mosaic at MoAD for the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, I quite liked City News’ Canberra Confidential suggestion that “They haven’t confirmed it, but CC imagines republicans will be invited to the break up session.”


    Bug net drawing in Nintendo Sketch program


    A garden theme for our Sketch/Pictionary game (and I actually mentioned this game in last year’s blogjune, too!).


    Turnip drawing in Nintendo sketch program


    After our garden drawings, we moved our neighbour’s dumped rubbish into the bin (they mustn’t realise that waste management is a thing). Mr. S has coined the “garbage water dance”, which is different to the famous Trash Dance (Allison’s comment in the trailer “There’s always a part in the process when I’m making something, when I’m terrified that it’s not going to work.” Ah, creative process!). When I hoisted some decayed carpet into the skip, chunks of grime splashed back at me and I shook my arms with an “urrrgh” noise and waggled my legs. I quite like bugs but when I’m being glittered with rotten green snails and carnivorous cockroaches (I’m almost certain!), it’s hard to love them without a recoil reflex. I’d rather admire their little ecosystem from a distance. I’m an avid dumpster diver but I somehow retain my aversion to germs.


    There is a dress-up blog celebrating rubbish collection day, but it looks a lot more wholesome than our disposal items, so easier to look fancy. This weekend the SBS screened Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience program on Bin Men, which was a very challenging job – BBC also have a post on “What is the worst job in the world?” – I would say that the bin men featured in the program definitely rate. But nothing seems a worse fate than the toshers featured in the Smithsonian mag.


    Purple iris flower


    I washed my hands a million times and felt much better after a bath and shower. Not a great water-use day, but I just felt so unclean! I’ve included the Iris from our garden because I’d rather think about flowers than rotten floor coverings. Now I might see a movie that hopefully doesn’t involve germs.



    Sunday session

    8th June, 2014


    A lovely Braddon/Kingston date with L, we devoured vegan choc peanut butter smothies from Sweet Bones and admired the charming upcycled furnishings from guerrilla gallery, The Lost & Found Office (above the Hive).


    Lamps at The Lost and Found Office, Braddon Canberra

    Lamps at Lost and Found


    My favourite things were the insect lampshade and the Alicia Kane ceramic muglets for succulents. Ben and Bobbie of Lost & Found said they’re going to do events like “Canberra on the Couch” conversations.


    Graffiti and ceramics at The Lost and Found Office, Braddon, Canberra

    Zap! at Lost and Found


    Our next stop was Old Bus Depot Markets, but we were sad because Veganarchy was away so we were deprived of the best vegan cupcakes in Canberra. One stallholder had a dazzling collection of gemstones including Australian amethyst, plus ammonite fossils that are millions of years old. As Mary E. White of the Canberra Lapidary Club says,


    “The stone you picked up and held in your hands was indeed a talisman. It had the power to open doors for you to enter a new and fascinating realm, and to tell you something about the ancient prehistoric world in which it had its genesis.”


    Stewie the dog



    I only reached a 2 on my #PatADay score, but they were both unbearably cute small dogs. Stewie in the picture got his name because “He’s a baby who wants to take over the world”. He was a sweet, but rather uncooperative model!



    I know you

    7th June, 2014


    Today I watched Maleficent. Just as The Australian Women’s Weekly rated Sleeping Beauty in 1960, I give it 3/3 stars for Excellent (article through Trove). The stories have the same haunting music of Tchaikovsky and green smoke clouds. Fauna, Flora and Merryweather are godmothers in the original movie, with a shift to being Aunties in the newer movie.


    New Films. (1960, May 4). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 82.

    “Evil Maleficent”


    Lana Del Rey’s version of “Once Upon a Dream” is childhood made decadent, do stay during the credits.




    New Films. (1960, May 4). The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933-1982), p. 82.



    Snip snip

    6th June, 2014


    A recent haircut for the grass near Questacon and Reconciliation Place (Parliamentary Triangle, Canberra). The stark contrast of the “before” and “after” sections reminds me of an exhibition (years ago) at ANU’s Photospace Gallery where the artist documented hair growth (I’m sorry, the details elude me).


    Before and after grass near Questacon and National Library

    Before and after


    I was standing between Questacon and the National Library – the area won a 2012 AILA National Landscape Architecture Award for design (click on the link, their picture has the same area on the right, 2 years has been a big growth spurt for the hedge!). The National Museum of Australia has a great recording (and transcript) of a conversation on the Layers of significance within Reconciliation Place.


    This week Canberra was featured in an article in The New York Times, which also mentioned Reconciliation Place and the National Carillon.  The National Capital Authority is a relevant information source, but their website is down, luckily Pandora has archived the site. The Canberra Guide also lists all the works of art. Creative Spirits also discusses the perceived purpose of Reconciliation Place.


    If you’re interested in conservation and native grassy ecosystems, the Friends of Grasslands conducts advocacy, monitoring and grasslands site visits. They are mentioned on the NCA site but I can’t see the context at the moment, it could be in terms of advice or site visits? The best part of their site is the name of their forum, “Grass half full or grass half empty? Valuing native grassy landscapes”. Oh my goodness! It is one of my deepest wants that their catering involves heaps of wheatgrass shots over the 3 day program. And that they don’t use random grass clippings. It could be a new boutique flavour sensation.



    Silver bowerbird

    5th June, 2014


    I am in a club – you might also be a member – it is the Guild of Cutlery Thieves. Not very exclusive, and it could be said that once you’ve used cutlery, it’s been in your body so there is some level of attachment and relationship. That actually provides incentive for a personal spoon set. Truly a tragedy of the work kitchen commons, with the silverware snugly safe in the drawer until they are taken home like so many stolen wildflowers. The flowers in the photo are Viola tricolor/tricolour, or heart’s ease. Well-designed cutlery eases my heart and tummy.


    Heart's ease with fork

    Wild silverware flowers


    My shame revealed – today I smuggled 5 teaspoons, 1 big spoon and a fork back into the work drawers. I’m sad to give up an Alex Liddy teaspoon, which had the perfect shape and weight. I loved that teaspoon more than anyone. However, I must resist this urge to acquire cutlery – which is largely out of laziness, because I don’t want to wash my container and cutlery till I get home, so they both go on a mini-break with me. My parents say that airlines used to encourage passengers to take the metal cutlery home “to increase brand awareness” (I think this is a bit sketchy). We have some SAS spoons from 10 or 20 years ago!


    An Australian artist, Perdita Phillips, did some work around humans as bowerbirds – which I feel is relevant – and there has also been an academic study on teaspoons disappearing in the workplace.


    One of my colleagues calls dessert/soup spoons “mother spoons” and teaspoons “babies”. Sometimes we have to hide the mothers in the baby compartment so that there is one available for lunchtime – kind of a band-aid solution, like when we couldn’t reserve library books in primary school, so we would hide our favourite ones in the wall bar-heaters. I remember this now and am impressed that the whole place didn’t burn down.



    Google manifestation

    4th June, 2014


    It’s the last week of the 19th Biennale of Sydney. I visited Cockatoo Island a few weeks ago, and regrettably I think I’ll miss the show at the other venues (it’s meant to be the best at Art Gallery of NSW).


    "You create what you will"

    Coley at Cockatoo Island


    I really enjoyed Nathan Coley’s theatrical text-based work, here is You create what you will, 2014 at Cockatoo Island. See his other works on the BoS website.


    "You create what you will Google"

    Coley and Morton at Cockatoo Island


    If you view it at the right angle, you can make it You create what you will Google (true?) – in combination with Callum Morton’s The Other Side, 2014 (I would’ve loved to ride the Google train but there were no tickets – apparently a lot of lights and smoke!).


    Make sure you see Zilla Leutenegger’s Zilla House, 2014 in an old house on the top cake icing layer of the island – it’s a wonderful and surprising experience.


    You imagine what you desire.



    Australiana in the Lodge

    3rd June, 2014


    A delightful article from Vogue’s guide to living (1967) has “an exclusive picture essay” and presents “the first photographs of the Prime Minister’s Canberra residence since it was recently redecorated” (p. 56).


    The Lodge article cover page

    The landing flag


    Mrs. Harold Holt [Zara] acted as her own decorator, infusing the house with Australiana including Australian pearl shells as ashtrays (admiring visitors had to order their own shells from the Dept. of Fisheries), cameo-carved emu eggs, paintings and drawings by Australian artists, and a giant draped flag on the staircase landing (spotlit at night).


    My favourite part is the bright pink bedroom which has beds that Mrs. Holt found discarded in the garage of a government building in Sydney. A sister dumpster diver!


    The article is worth hunting down for the fantastic retro photos, but sadly these older Vogue articles are either not digitised (or let me know otherwise!) or only available through the subscription-based Vogue Archive.




    The Lodge, Canberra: an exclusive picture essay. (1967, Summer). Vogue’s guide to living, 1, 56-63. Photographs by Kerry Dundas.



    Book checkers

    2nd June, 2014


    I often have overdue books. I like to think it’s because as a librarian, I spend a lot of time as a flesh equivalent of a due-date reminder for others about their own loans. At birth, we’re allocated a finite amount of brain power dedicated to returning books. Library professionals altruistically gift this allocation to their borrowers and in turn are constantly in the “recalcitrant borrower” shackles. Inspired by Hoi’s “Check in”.


    When I worked in a police library, it was a running joke to call librarians “book enforcement officers”. I am actually fairly relaxed, but borrowers with a guilty conscience see any library staff member, and gain an expression of melancholic despair (and sense of impending doom) as though they’ve suddenly noticed Jack Frost tapping on the windowpane. They back away slowly and whisper, “I was just about to return those…” I know of a library that has a lending policy date of several years, this alleviates their storage issues.


    Mr. Cat and library books

    Mr. Cat the voracious reader


    Here are some books we borrowed for a relative recovering for surgery – it’s luxurious being able to select lots of library books for someone as there isn’t the awkward burden of buying them the wrong book. However there is the need to return them! Shamefully overdue.



    Lorraine on looking great: my guide for real women by Lorraine Kelly

    I didn’t realise that Lorraine Kelly was famous, but I was lured in by the book cover which would be great to hold up to other passengers on the bus. Lots of exercise routines and a good suggestion of rolling a tennis ball under each foot (whilst sitting!) to soothe sore feet.


    The preserving book, editor-in-chief Lynda Brown with Carolyn Humphries and Heather Whinney

    I’d need to renew this to get the most out of it, I’ve only ever made jam in the bread maker and I was surprised at recipes like pickled walnuts – sounds dreadful!


    You are what you wear: what your clothes reveal about you by Jennifer J. Baumgartner

    The psychology of dress! Fun for understanding your own and others’ fashion choices. The thinking woman’s Colour me beautiful/confident. Lots of self-tests about overbuying and appearance anxiety, with chapters focused on lifestyle and not just clothing.


    Work your wardrobe... by Gok Wan, pp. [176-7].

    Handbag hoard


    Work your wardrobe: Gok’s gorgeous guide to style that lasts by Gok Wan

    An instance where you read the book in the author’s voice! There’s no way I could ever buy a white shirt despite it having “…such fabulous fashion potential!” p. [17]. I just don’t have it in me. A puzzling 2-page spread of a lady disrobed but for some handbags – a statement about leather? (pp. [176-7])


    Living normally: where life comes before style by Trevor Naylor; photographs by Niki Medlik

    “A show-home lifestyle is impossible for most of us. …Acres of paint, hours of TV and millions of pounds of advertising serve to idealize how our interiors should be.” – Naylor, pp. 6-7.


    A refreshing book that shows the importance of homes being welcoming and as working symbols of what is important, interior design programs do the same soul-crucifying work to houses as beauty magazines do to self-confidence.



    We did borrow books apart from ones focusing on appearance (which is a rather insensitive topic when someone’s been in hospital), but they have already been returned, so I guess these were the winners. Or as someone told me once “It took me longer to return this book because it was so boring, I needed more time to try and get through it.” At least both our patient and I enjoyed them, so that’s double value (like brewing tea several times – bargain! When you sacrifice your “return books” brain cells you need to save money somewhere to pay the overdue fines).



    Ten bashful mermaids

    1st June, 2014


    Happy first day of blogjune! You can see all the participants on Flexnib’s list, she has also put together this blogjune file for your RSS reader.



    I’m trying to keep better track my reading this year by following another librarian’s example …but I realise that I’ve already changed the list parameters. I wasn’t counting non-fiction books which would greatly expand my count, but it’d also mean I was including books I hadn’t read cover-to-cover. Brings to mind a Cathy cartoon where she started a new year’s resolution of keeping a diary, but used the wrong colour pen so it was ruined. I will continue and aim for a December 2014 list of my inhaled fiction books & movies.


    Of the well-read books list from K, I have only read 6% which is a poor result:


    63. Life of pi by Yann Martel

    64. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

    65. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    99. 1984 by George Orwell

    100. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James



    I could work through the list, but so far I’ve focused on fun books like Tom Holt’s Doughnut, which is like a sweetly salted cookie packed with beautiful descriptive chocolate chips. My favourite quotes:


    “She’d sort of ground to a halt, and was looking hopefully at him, like a dog that can see the biscuit in its owner’s hand.” p. 21


    “That drip-drip noise you can hear is my heart bleeding.” p. 176


    Giraffe toys and toes in the tub

    Pink mermaids



    “He lay back and stared at his little pink toes,

    which rose up out of the froth like ten bashful mermaids.” p. 328


    You can even take a quiz on Holt’s site to find out the perfect love-match book for you. Spoiler: it seems to only choose between 2 of his titles! Doughnut is the first I’ve read by I’m happy to try out some bibliographic polyandry.



    Braidwood gallery crawl I

    31st May, 2014


    Today’s roadtrip from Canberra to Braidwood was a test run for an upcoming day trip for ARLIS/ANZ ACT Chapter (Arts Libraries Society Australia & New Zealand). We really enjoyed the town (thank you Ms. E!) and it looks like there’s lots more to discover.


    It took under an hour to get there, but we needed to start with victuals! We went to the end of the main street and got drinks and pastry from Dojo bread, who also run bread-making courses through The Farm Dojo. I think all the pastries contained dairy, so I had secondary enjoyment by staring like a carbcreeper.


    Braidwood Farmers Markets had excellent vegan manoush pizza – delicious thin crust with za’atar, lemony sumac and sesame seeds. The markets are on the 4th Saturday of each month. Dojo have a stall at the markets too, so if you can’t see the bread you want at one place, try the other!


    Our first cultural stop was the fYREGallery and STUR gallery + store, who have some lovely gifts including baggies of vintage erasers and matchbox gardens. They’re showing FromAtoB: photographs & sculpture by Joteva & Ned Bott, till 29 June.


    Ducks at Braidwood

    Ducking for cover


    We meant to go to Left Hand gallery but I got confused and we walked to 18 Lascelles Street instead of 81 Lascelles Street. Oops. There isn’t much to see at 18, but we did see some nice ducks on the way. They ran away from us.


    The Pig & Whistle plaque, Tallaganda Heritage Trail Project

    Plaque at The Pig & Whistle


    My other gallery oops (at the other end of town) was the Pig & Whistle, which looked like it’d been closed for a little while but still has signs for the gallery and parking (I’ll update this if I find out more).


    Beautiful store display at String, Braidwood, NSW, Australia

    All the things! All the string!


    Walking into String was like being inside an oversized cabinet of curiosities. There are so many miniature things to find, that it’s best to visit and find see it in person. If you like Melbourne’s Wunderkammer then you’ll love String. String was my favourite place in Braidwood – note that both String and Longbarn are closed all of July.


    Yearly balance wall notes at Altenburg & Co, Braidwood, NSW, Australia

    Admirable penmanship, mostly


    In the same building as String, Altenburg & Co was showing some great desert paintings, there’s also a Perspex-covered part of the wall in the giftshop section with graffiti from 1913. Each year seems to record the household’s yearly balance.


    Chickens at Longbarn, Braidwood, NSW, Australia



    String’s other business Longbarn (a few blocks away, look for the old bicycle on the corner) is a house layered like a cake with a magical “storybook lovely” cottage garden, full of charming French furniture. They also have chickens! They ran towards us – sorry we didn’t have snacks!


    Rock candy at The Boiled Lolly, Braidwood, NSW, Australia

    Bugger rock


    The Boiled Lolly has the wonder of a retro lolly shop with rows of bottles lining the walls, and little packets of the sweets behind them. I found this really comforting, as I didn’t get to experience old-fashioned sweet shops so I only have Dahl’s description of Mrs Pratchett to go by (see The Great Mouse Plot chapter in Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood). There are lots of customised rock candies including “Braidwood rock” which would be a nice local gift, or the “Bugger rock” if you need a present for someone you dislike.


    Squill candy at The Boiled Lolly, Braidwood, NSW, Australia



    There were many unfamiliar lollies including a bottle of “Squill: herbal flavoured candy” (I have a new resolution of not using the terms candy or cookies, favouring lollies, sweets and biscuits, but this is a label quote). Squill! It sounds like the noise your brother makes if you are having a fight with him and land a stomach punch.


    There’s a squill candy recipe in The Australian Women’s Weekly (16 August 1972), reproduced on Trove (scroll to page 69), it has brown and white sugars, glucose, aniseed oil, squill tincture/essence, icing sugar and water. I am ashamed to say I wasn’t game to try it, and now that I’ve found out it has aniseed it is an unlikely scenario. According to urbandictionary, squill isn’t a kind word.


    Ringo the poodle

    Classic Ringo


    I patted 8 dogs, a #PatADay record! Here is Ringo who had two-toned hairspray and was very sweet. The 7 other dogs included a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, German Shepherd, and a 57kg Neapolitan Mastiff (3 kilos less than me!) and some other little dogs who weren’t that interested.


    Pink wood sorrel at St. Bede's Parish, Braidwood, NSW, Australia

    Roseate petals


    Flowers at St. Bede’s Parish – I think these are pink wood sorrel, which are very pretty as a groundcover even if they are invasive.



    Next time I’d like to see the church’s stained glass windows, and to go to Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop and McLeod Gallery and William Verdon jewellery. I’ve also heard that despite the name, The Old Cheese Factory apparently does some great vegan food if you call ahead.



    Vegan in the Parliamentary Triangle II

    30th April, 2014


    An update on finding vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. Previously tried and tested in my post of June 2013.


    With over nine months since last battling for vegan fare, you would be forgiven for thinking there was ample gestation time for a new veg*n establishment. Nay! So here’s a summary of what you can get from the existing non-veg*n places – not entirely comprehensive, but there are limits to being a vegie legend in a lunch break.


    Old Parliament House Terrace Café (prev. The Kitchen Cabinet with Ginger Catering, who are now at the Arboretum) is now under new management (Restaurant Associates), so they no longer sell farm vegetables or vegan chocolate (disappointing). There is a vegetable wrap but I’m not sure about the condiments.


    Pork Barrel still offer basic pizzas (but on a special occasion, a great beetroot tart), Coffers (Treasury Building) and Café Milieu (John Gorton building) still offer sandwiches and basic rice and vegetables).


    Salad at National Library's Bookplate

    Library leaves


    Bookplate (National Library) still have custom salads (pro tip: ask for hummus), but all the ready-made salads have meat (including the grazing plates). The less formal Paperplate downstairs (not open on weekends) has ready-made wombok noodle salad and couscous broccoli salad that are both vegan, but you’d best check the dressing ingredients on the day.


    Salads at National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Cafe

    Portrait greens


    Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery), like OPH, is now under new management. The previous people (Broadbean Catering formerly known as Portrait Catering, now at National Museum) offered custom salads, lentils and zucchini balls, but they preferred a phone call ahead. The good news with the new management is that they have something on their menu that is already vegan! I can’t overstate my excitement about this development. It is a jewelled quinoa salad with sultanas, toasted seeds, confit garlic, herbs and preserved lemon. Brian the friendly besuited manager even checked that the confit was vegan. The heirloom tomato salad can be made vegan sans feta, but it wasn’t as amazing as the quinoa. Be wary of the chai latte liquid mix, as it contained honey (at last check).


    NGA Café (National Gallery) no longer have their vegan cupcake, and continue to occasionally have vegan items (as surprises rather than standard). With some prompting they can make a custom vegan salad. On special catered occasions they’ve made wonderful veg*n things but they just aren’t on the everyday menu. Be wary of the chai latte powder mix as it may contain dried dairy products, but if the lovely Amanda is at the counter, she can make a delectable chai tea (make sure it’s the chai tea bags) with soy milk on the side or in the teapot.


    Galileo Café (Questacon) have sesame crackers and fruit cups, and are willing to make custom vegan wraps in quiet periods (i.e. not the school holidays). The manager Lianah was very accommodating and happy to check all ingredients.


    At the other end of the triangle, Hideout had no vegan options, I asked if they’d consider stocking Veganarchy cupcakes, which would be delicious and worth making the trek.


    Double drummer had lentil and pearl barley salads, as well as lots of ingredients for fresh juices. It was so busy that I didn’t get to ask about the options – make sure you check the salad dressing first.


    The café at National Archives has a vegetable wrap, be careful of the hot chocolate as it has milk products in the mix. Across the road, the café at Prime Minister and Cabinet building has sushi, salad and boiled vegetables.


    Vegan course at Waters Edge restaurant, Canberra

    Lakeside Lushness


    It doesn’t really abide by the rules, but I went to Waters Edge for Xmas dinner and they made some wonderful vegan dishes (modified versions of menu items). Waters Edge and the Hyatt (haven’t been back since the last post) are the most expensive on this list.


    Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and others. I haven’t included establishments that aren’t in reasonable lunchtime walking distance of the cultural institutions, I would like to go to Maple + Clove for their focus on handmade and nutritious food, but the person on the phone was quite firm about not catering to vegans.


    Please remember that it is safest to check that menu items are definitely vegan and allergy friendly, and that they haven’t changed since last check – and let me know of your experiences with vegan food in the Parliamentary Triangle.

    It’s encouraging to see the progress at the Portrait Café, and that their staff are happy to verify that menu items are genuinely free of animal products. I’m really thankful that they’ve actively responded to feedback. I’ll provide another update in the future, I’m hopeful that there may be more good news of permanent vegan menu items (not just salad!) to plant-power the Triangle masses.



    Gardening in the heat

    8th February, 2014


    I toiled away in the heat today, for a harvest of potatoes and some fetid compost. The plants could have kept going for a little while, but the hot spell had made them faint in their enclosure. I couldn’t contain my anticipation as I dismantled the “cat-proof” fence. Witness Ms. Cat’s squinty-eyed disapproval of the boundary line.


    Ms Cat hates the fence

    Ms Cat hates the fence


    The cats did work out how to get in through a gap, but the wire was still better protection than last year’s attempt to grow potatoes in a tractor tyre. Those plants lost the will to live after Mr. & Ms. Cat both thought it was a pleasantly private place to attend to their needs. After that we called it the “shittery” because it was a horrible wreath of awful. Understandably the plants preferred the great nursery in the sky. Later I read theories about tyre chemicals leaching into the ground, so I washed the tyre and gave it to a friend for her dog (not as a toilet, you attach hessian on the top to make a hammock).


    Potato crop 2014

    The monster mash


    It was quite exciting to discover all the potatoes hiding under the sugarcane mulch like savoury easter eggs. I scrabbled through the ground like a mole and continued the excavation, there were so many layers like dirt chocolate with crunchy bits (my favourite pre-veg*n chocolate was Bertie beetle which had similar textural surprises).


    I had been told that piling up the mulch near the potato plants would make it easier to harvest. Lies! Although this shouldn’t be considered a thorough scientific study as all our plants grew from potato scraps in the compost. It was sheer luck they were in roughly the same area to make for convenient fencing.


    Avocado crop 2014

    Avocado surprises


    I made a great find with four sprouted avocado seeds! I put them in a container for the windowsill. I just checked them – they haven’t grown anymore, but a worm had hidden inside one of them during the 8 hours since the relocation. Protip – leave the avocado seeds on the edge of your garden to give any earthworms the chance to crawl out. I’ll have to see if he’s vacated the premises in the morning. There are more instructions on growing avocado plants on Australian avocados site. I always feel tempted to write “avocadoes”, like a deer herd of green fruit.


    Tomato crop 2014

    Small & imperfect


    The reason we let the potatoes go was because we planted tomatoes two years in a row, and I freaked out about crop rotation. Some of the tomatoes didn’t know they were banned this year so they still woke up. Of course I didn’t realise that potatoes and tomatoes are family, so that was a bit of a waste of time. Anyway, we grew tomatoes in pots this year. Compared to our past bounties, this year’s crop has been quite disappointing. The heat is sort of an excuse, but there are a lot of other gardens in Canberra that have done better.


    Ms Cat with peglegs

    Ms Cat with peglegs


    Mr. & Ms. Cat have reached their own goals for the season, having killed 2 ½ cucumber plants (the third was mostly killed by the heat), 2 zucchini plants and at least several potato plants. How are they so nefarious? They like to dig, or just squash a plant by sitting on top: “It was in my spot”.


    You can see Ms. Cat likes to guard the stump near the black zucchini, “the last of his kind”. She’s a pirate cat with a pegleg on each front paw. Miaowyarr.



    Vegan in Adelaide

    31st January, 2014


    Back from our brief holiday in Adelaide, which I rate as a hot contender for vegan capital of Australia! When my Mum travels she sends postcards which only contain descriptions of food eaten, probably the source of my view of holidays-as-food (she now chronicles the weather so as not to be eating-centric).


    In Hahndorf I desperately wanted to go to The Fairy Garden, but we didn’t have time so just ate at The Seasonal Garden Café.


    Quinoa burger at The Seasonal Garden Cafe

    Mmm chips!


    I had the quinoa burger (vegetarian but made vegan, it was delicious but not as good as a burger I had later) and a nectarine cake (pretty tasty but needs coconut cream or something to go with it).


    Chocolate Bean, vegan cupcakes display

    So many cakes!


    I felt a bit weird from the heat and so much cake so we went to Chocolate Bean for more cake (logical!). I’m pretty sore that I didn’t realise there was a lavender cupcake (my favourite flavour), on one visit I had the vegan choc hazelnut praline cake and another time I had the vegan peanut butter cheesecake. The praline one was better but too much for one person. I’ve previously enjoyed their chocolate soup but unfortunately it’s dairy-based.


    Eggplant at pinehill bistro

    Halo of sauciness


    We met with family at pinehill bistro in Glenelg, I didn’t have high hopes and their menu didn’t list any vegan items. So it was exciting when they offered to make stuffed eggplant (although one of my friends would cite eggplant, mushrooms and onions as the vegetables-of-first-resort for veg*n options on the fly). It looked nothing like I expected but I was pleased to be able to eat something, and it was quite good.


    Quinoa patties at Grind it

    “Squeeze me and eat me” – orange


    Then we headed to Grind it (also Glenelg), they had a few vegan options on the menu so I got the quinoa patties. I had to refill the parking meter, on the way back, I saw another cafe had a sign with a cartoon orange saying “squeeze me and drink my blood!”. When I returned to my seat, the quinoa patties were waiting there interfiled with dead slices of orange. Awkward. The patties were a bit dry and the green sauce was super hot! They had also placed a spoon with nectarine and yoghurt on the plate which was surprising given it was advertised as a vegan dish, so I didn’t risk it.


    Eric Carle caterpillar stencil at Brighton

    Hello bug friend


    In Brighton there was a very familiar caterpillar (but not identifiable for everyone in our group! Previously documented by Helen) – on the way to the Brighton Jetty Classic Sculptures. My favourite sculpture was Monica Prichard’s Sand City.


    Unfortunately we missed out on the Brighton Jetty Bakery which has lots of vegan options. Next time.


    Black sticky rice sundae at Eggless

    Most delicious Adelaide dessert


    In Goodwood we lined up to get a table at Eggless Dessert Café, and it was so worth it. Their menu is on a different theme each month, and Ken at the counter said there was a family that came once a month and ordered every single item. Efficient! I had the spring rolls and then the black sticky rice sundae (rice, f-ice cream, coconut cream and toasted coconut). The waitress recommended the sundae over the plain rice with coconut cream. It was amazing. I could eat 5 of them. Both the spring rolls and the sundae are on the February menu, too.


    Angel totem in Goodwood

    Goodwood saints?


    It was also fun to walk up and down the street, the stobie poles are emblazoned with angels, there is a mosaic couch, teapots growing succulents hang from the pedestrian railing, corrugated iron magpies are pinned to the fence and finally a pink cat shop (nsfw).


    Burger at Red Lime Shack

    Most delicious Adelaide burger


    Our last stop was in Port Adelaide at the Red Lime Shack. I am so glad we went there, because it was the best vegan burger I have ever had on all counts – flavour, charm, price, romance, whether I would eat 100 of them, etc. I had the walnut, sage and roast carrot burger, which tasted “convincing” without being meaty. The tahini mayonnaise may also rekindle my mayo love affair, which had lost the spark when I’d tried other vegan mayos that had the taste and appearance of bodily fluids (not in a good way).


    Raw key lime pie at Red Lime Shack

    Pretty pie, pretty plate


    The raw key lime pie was delicious and reminded me of the raw vegan food made by Raw Capers here in Canberra – really good texture made with good quality sweeteners and a health focus. M thinks that the most tasty part of a cake is the little “V” at the centre (broken off in this photo). I think this is more the anticipation of first bite, but perhaps the theory requires some exploration.


    On our next visit, we’d like to get to Zen house, Two bit villains, Vegetarian delight, and Godzilla. There are heaps of restaurants listed on the Adelaide Vegans site – it’s my hope this will one day be the case for Canberra, see the current veg*n restaurant list on the ACT Vegan & Vegetarian Society site.


    Thanks Adelaide, I am very full.



    Queanbeyan gallery crawl I

    31st December, 2013


    It’s been a while between gallery crawls, so we went all the way over the border (Queanbeyan is actually right next to Canberra, but there is a mindset about the distance as it’s in the next state). My friend had never been there before and really enjoyed the different architecture and more organic street design.


    There was an open day and sale at Schwarzrock Curtis Glass, the workspace and small gallery area were light-filled and very laid back. It would be nice to work at the desk growing all those fragile tentacles.


    Curtis Glass workshop area

    Curtis Glass workshop


    Dangerous territory with all these lovely things for sale, like glass tumblers in a triangular shape which were just made to hold.


    Curtis Glass sale table

    Curtis Glass wares


    Then we traipsed to Benedict House but were too late for tea – a shame. The beads and products in the rooms had been moved about for Christmas lunches (yes, one of my 2014 resolutions is to do things in a more timely fashion, as evidenced and betrayed by the seasonal baubles below).


    Benedict House Christmas baubles

    Christmas at Benedict House


    There were some lovely glass beads from Italy and I wondered if getting beads from the Canberra Glassworks would have a better local focus. I adore Benedict House, but I noticed that it didn’t have the same musty smell that reminiscent (get it?) of my Grandma’s house – sad for me but maybe good for them.


    Benedict House Italian glass beads

    Italian glass beads


    Maxley and the other dog (who wouldn’t stay still for me to read their name tag) were pretty pleased to see us, but I don’t think that’s a unique trait – they were pretty excitable in general.


    Maxley at Benedict House

    Benedict House’s Maxley


    We headed over to Form Studio and Gallery, who are co-located with a plumbing shop as evidenced by the pipey sculpture out the front.


    Form Studio and Gallery

    Form Studio and Gallery


    I should have paid more attention to opening hours as unfortunately they were closed. A resolution for next year!



    Ampersand Duck studio visit

    9th December, 2013


    The ARLIS/ANZ ACT chapter were very lucky to visit the studio of Caren Florance: book maker/designer, artist and letterpress printer.  Caren collaborates with writers and artists to produce traditional printing adventures (fine press volumes, chapbooks and broadsheets) and the less conventional (zines, mail art, artist’s books and digital works). Florance’s personal practice is undertaken through Ampersand Duck, “a private press with a twist based in Canberra” (Ampersand Duck (April 2008). Snail Mail One, p. [1].).


    ARLIS/ANZ with Caren Florance

    ARLIS/ANZ ACT chapter members with Caren Florance


    Finding the stories and process behind Caren’s beautiful letterpress creations was a revelation and rekindled the joy of touching deckle-edged, feathery papers of her books. Poetry married page through traditional printing, from heavily embossed imposed words to letters gently kissing the surface of the paper leaving ink remnants and memories. We saw works at the zygote stage with setting the letters and proofing, through to completed bound books with poetry by Rosemary Dobson and a typeset artist book with linocuts by G.W. Bot and poems by Anne Kirker.

    Caren also supports emerging artists through the Ampersand Duck Broadside Residency, by providing graduating students an opportunity to work in the studio and produce an edition of prints using handset letterpress. The studio is filled with work in progress by the residents, as well as completed books and prints by established artists. Nicci Haynes, an artist friend, has condensed the whole of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake – you can see it in the poster behind the cat below. Sadly we didn’t get to meet the other cats on this occasion.


    Materials in the studio of Caren Florance

    Materials with Nikki Haynes’ Finnegans Wake print


    We are delighted that many posters, artist’s books, zines (and even more!) made by Ampersand Duck are held at the National Library – they are also in other public and private collections nationally and internationally. One of the zines even has a view of Studio Duck, compare it with the photo from our visit (at the top):


    A view of Studio Duck as documented in Snail no. 2, November 2011.  Behind the zine: an Ampersand Duck poster.

    A view of Studio Duck from Snail no. 2.


    Thank you Caren for welcoming us to your studio and providing an insight into your working process. We look forward to having more artist studio visits during our 2014 program.

    To find out more about Ampersand Duck’s letterpress universe, see her site and personal blog. Or explore the various print offerings!



    Drugs library please with a cherry on top

    6th December, 2013


    The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) has lost its funding, so their library is also out like the baby with the bathwater. ADCA provides a drug resource service (National Drugs Sector Information Service, NDSIS) to support those working to prevent or reduce the harm to individuals, families, communities and the nation caused by alcohol and other drugs. This includes non-government agencies (such as those addressing homelessness); government departments, police and prison services, health professionals, professional organisations and more.


    Identifying and disseminating this supporting evidence is a large task done by some of ADCA’s 15 staff members: librarians, library technicians and experienced library staff – it’s a small yet important organisation. This national information clearinghouse for the Australian alcohol and other drugs field was established in 1974, and the huge collection has made an invaluable contribution to our health legislation. In addition to assisting ADCA clients, another benefit (Shelling, 2006) arising from the continual task of collating and curating this information is the DRUG database through RMIT, Informit. Without monthly database updates, the reduced currency of the database will have detrimental impacts on the health professionals that rely on it to provide contemporary research outcomes, meaning that they cannot provide the best patient care.


    Jane Shelling (Manager NDSIS at ADCA), discusses the important role of the ADCA library:


    “Perhaps the biggest benefit of working for this NGO [ADCA], and the reason staff retention is so high, is that you truly belong to a special sector. The NRC [National Resource Centre, now NDSIS] is assisting people from all over Australia who are working in varying capacities to help those with alcohol and other drug problems. Many are not well paid and are themselves working for a non-government agency but are passionate about their work and grateful to library staff who help them with research and information gathering.” (Shelling, 2008, p. 11).


    In a presentient article, Shelling also observed the growing trend of library closures in the addiction field in the US, and how in Australia, “…librarians need to speak out, advocate within our own organisations and out in the real world for quality information, libraries, and LIS professionals… Infiltrate and promote at all opportunities: special libraries are worth the effort not just to LIS professionals or researchers but to everyone. Find your voice and make it heard.” (Shelling, 2012, p. 3).


    We all need to find our voice to stand up for ADCA library, as without their contribution, people working with those most at risk will be deprived of evidence-based research assistance. The ADCA library has such a diverse range of clients because “…alcohol and drugs can touch all parts of society.” (Shelling, 2012b), and it is to everyone’s benefit to maintain this service.


    The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is waging a campaign against the defunding, going directly to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s home town of Young, NSW tomorrow during the National Cherry Festival. It is hoped that this presence will highlight the damage caused by the decision to cease funding ADCA’s vital work. Please join ALIA in fighting for ADCA library! You can find out more about the campaign, visit the National Cherry Festival this Saturday 7 December (tomorrow!), tell others about the issue with the hashtag #saveADCA, and sign the petition, or text “save the books” to 0426 143 349.


    If this isn’t enticing enough, the National Cherry Festival itself has a wonderful program so you can display your ADCA library support at all the different activities. I can testify that the Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships are a highlight, registration is at 2pm on Saturday. Here is my less than successful attempt from 2009 – I have spared you the most graphic shots. I took my strategy from a portly young man competing before me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed him as a mentor, as he was a bit unwell after competing in several heats. It’s a long story!


    Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships 2009, Sonja

    Amy (Cherry Queen 2009) watches the carnage


    My thoughts and best wishes are with ADCA and their staff, I hope that the festival stall on Saturday will contribute to a revision of the funding decision. Remember to tear yourself away from the pies, and find out more about ADCA library at ALIA’s stall, then even visit Young’s own South-West Regional Library branch (open M-F 9-5 and Saturdays 9:30-2).





    Shelling, J. (2006). ADCA recommends… alcohol and other drugs resources for the health library. Incite. 27, 25.


    Shelling, J. (2008). Working for a Non-government Special Library. Incite. 29, 11.


    Shelling, J. (2012a). Collective amnesia – are we complicit in the closure of special libraries?. Incite. 33, 3.


    Shelling, J. (2012b). A push technology personal librarian project. Australian Academic & Research Libraries. 43, 135-145.



    Woodland zweiheit

    24th November, 2013


    During our Hawai’i ceremony, I felt breathless like the Cure’s Love Song, the sun shone through the leafy canopy and the forest so kindly bore witness.


    I walked towards him at the waterfall, the celebrant said the words, and my partner gave the most wonderful and thoughtful vows. We exchanged leis which were made with an orchid called “Sonia” (purely a coincidence!).


    Wedding shoes Hawai'i

    Pink podophilia


    Thank you to Frieda Gayle, such a wonderful and thoughtful celebrant, who even hiked to several areas to find the perfect place and really did organise everything!


    Many thanks to Shawna Lee for taking us to the rainforest and the beach, and for your heartfelt hula and beautiful photographs. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical ceremony, and we are so grateful for all your assistance.


    Wedding hair by Rhubarb & me, flowers by The Snail and Petal

    Mother Barfoed with roses


    Yesterday we had a family celebration at a rural property in a Canberra valley, with thanks to Leonie for letting us picnic and croquet on her lawns. It was lovely to share a quasi-wedding experience with my family, as our Hawai’i ceremony was really an announced elopement.


    My dodgy photos won’t do justice to the beautiful flowers and food, so I’ll link to Leonie’s professional photos when they’re available. I’m looking forward to seeing the family photos, but I’m a bit worried about the couple ones, as being photographed is one of our areas for improvement.


    Quiche by Veganarchy

    Quiche by Veganarchy


    It was a very relaxed affair, but I think that’s because everyone contributed towards the day – there was even a gift of a hand-built deck in our backyard, so we’ll always remember this moment in time when we play on it. We also had a nice moment opening cards from overseas family, who also sent a traditional Norwegian spoon for sharing porridge. I’m sad that I didn’t take a picture of the food before it started being demolished (a good testament for vegan catering!) and melting in the sun –it was also amazing that the layered cake survived the trip in the bouncy Terraplane.


    Mum organised all the details – making the cardboard table pad, stamping the cutlery napkins, finding tableware and furniture, even down to hand-quilting a hot pink rug. Intense! I think it stems from her project management expertise. I am so thankful for her caring and organised nature and to spend this special moment together.


    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet

    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet


    We forgot to bring our board games (carcassonne and dominion), but my father and brothers had set up a croquet lawn, so we enjoyed pretending to be in Wonderland. Somehow one of the brothers Barfoed managed to break one of the mallets, I didn’t realise it was such a violent sport.


    Sonja with croquet mallets

    Mallets with unknown collective noun


    It was nice to see all the furry cows and hear the kookaburras’ songs. There was a spot in the forest that reminded us of our ceremony spot in Hawai’i, a funny connection between such different landscapes.


    Sleeping groom with boutonniere by The Snail and Petal

    How to plant a flower


    You can see below, Mr. Cat on my veil (made by Effie Dee), and the largest earring contains one of my Grandma’s gallstones. She always said they should be made into earrings (my previous post provides context), so artists Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith have been transforming them with silver. When the series is complete I’ll share better pictures. It was really gratifying to fulfil my Grandma’s wishes and feel like she attended, in a way.


    Sonja with Effie Dee veil and gallstone earrings by Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith

    The gallstone wish


    We had a wonderful experience at the ceremony and the picnic, and I am so glad that we both decided to speed-date on that fateful night so many years ago.



    Our excellent (and of course highly recommended) facilitators:




    Celebrant: Frieda Gayle, first listing on Kauai directory

    Driver, photographer, hula dancer: Shawna Lee

    Hair & make-up: Chelle at Koloa Town Salon & Day Spa

    Marriage paperwork and local advice: Ellen at The Wine Shop Kauai

    Pizzas: Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers

    Post-ceremony art exhibition enjoyment: Galerie 103




    For both events:


    Dress: Claire at Nocturne Design

    Veil and brooch: Effie dee and her shop with custom made pet portrait brooches

    Tux t-shirt: Millie at T-Bar Canberra Centre

    Gloves: inherited from Grandma

    Shoes: second-hand online


    For Canberra picnic:


    Gallstone jewellery: Lan Nguyen-Hoan & Tarn Smith

    Hair & make-up: Jess and Anne at Rhubarb & me

    Flowers: Anna at The Snail & Petal

    Wedding cake: Nie-kiewa at The Cake Cabinet

    Vegan picnic catering: Gabby at Veganarchy

    Photography (beautiful pictures to come, the ones above are my dodgy ones) and venue: Leonie at Snowgum Studio



    Tusen takk! xxx

    Blooms on the Big Island

    24th September, 2013


    During our holiday on Hawai’i Island, seeing hibiscus in context has really improved my attitude towards tropical plants. I think I confuse them with frangipani flowers, whose dubious reputation stems from car stickers which tarnish all flowers’ “particular style of beauty” (this phrase used with thanks to author Zenda Vecchio, who uses it to describe clothes or accessories not suiting someone’s particular style of beauty).


    A few years ago the infestation of adhesive frangipani gave rise to the responding trend: “Frangipani stickers: Australia says no.”


    Onc. Sharry Baby "Sweet Fragrance"

    Sharry Baby orchid


    We visited the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens showroom (Volcano, Hawaii). It would be a lovely project to make a scented maze with all their plants, but I have a weird feeling that keeping flowers inside seems like a plant version of veal calves.


    My favourite orchid was Onc. Sharry Baby “Sweet Fragrance”. It has a wafting chocolate fragrance, it would be fun if it came with piped music like The Four Seasons’ Sherry playing on a loop, out where the bright moon shines. I have absolute immunity to that song because I used to hear it ten times a day when I worked as a seamstress undergoing aural torture. I have similar experience with Mariah Carey’s Christmas album.


    Naupaka flowers

    Naupaka flowers


    A wistful plant I’ve learnt about is the Naupaka, which grows on the coast and in the mountains. Both types appear as a half flower, but you can put two together to make a whole – an opposite of the floral rhyme: loves me, loves me not.


    There are different stories around the two types of the flower, one is that two lovers were forcibly separated and went to these different parts of the landscape. They either distributed the flowers in their respective areas, or the flowers bloomed from each person’s sadness. Putting the flowers together reunites the lovers, McDonald’s book mentions the naupaka kahakai ‘auwai completion ceremony (which I think is the same thing), but I haven’t yet found more information on this topic.


    The story has also been developed into an award-winning book by Nona Beamer, illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried, and the legend is in more detail on Hale Moana B&B’s post and within Hawai’i Volcanoes & Haleakala National Parks’ Nature Notes. It’s so beautiful, I wonder if it would have positive floriography for my bouquet, but today we chose the Sonia orchids for our wedding leis instead.


    Say yes to all the flowers, say no to flower stickers.



    Veiled kitty

    15th September, 2013


    I’m not sure, but I think our cats know of our Hawaii elopement plans. We are leaving today and they are treating us with suspicion and disdain. More than usual. I do hope they like our housesitter.


    I’m relieved that things are mostly organised for our Canberra wedding picnic, even though it’s a few months away. This is in contrast to our “plan when we get there” Hawaii ceremony in a couple of days. I have the dress, shoes, veil, jewellery and gloves. I inherited the gloves (as well as a jar of gallstones) from my Grandma a few years ago, it was quite emotional to go through the bag of gloves and think that we were holding hands through time. I miss her a lot.


    I found a hot pink remote controlled helicopter, but didn’t find a good spy camera (as an attachment) to undertake the wedding photography. So I might find a real life spy but this could be too derivative of Sophie Calles’ The Shadow (1981).


    Cats with veil by Effie Dee

    Cats with veil by Effie Dee


    Effie Dee, a splendid (and very patient) artist, made my wonderful veil with spare fabric from my dress, with a clay portrait of Mr Cat. I wanted to have a photo of one of my cats wearing the veil so they felt more included before we abandon them, but they were uncooperative. So impetuous. Im-PET-uous. Ms Cat is trying to charm for attention in the background, and Mr Cat is being unimpressed with me, or sniffing the netting? Or it is a two-headed cat.


    Pineapple drawing by Vicki

    Pineapple drawing by Vicki


    This week, my work team sent me off with a great surprise morning tea resplendent with inflatable palm tree. Vicki drew this pineapple on the whiteboard and everyone was wearing very kitsch grass skirts and leis, and the table was covered in vegan food (everywhere you looked, it was themed, even the printer wore a skirt. They would be great wedding planners). I had been told it was a “mandatory work meeting” so of course I was freaking out that it was something bad, and then I saw the team dancing in Hawaiian shirts. Quite unexpected!  My social awkwardness in being surprised (but of course, very grateful and touched!) reinforced to me that our plans for private ceremonies are the absolute best thing to do.



    I’ve been looking forward to the holiday, but it’s like a time lapse video of a plant growing, it’s mainly just shaky and I will feel happier when it blooms into the actual holiday. I hope to see the Bishop Museum’s Lego exhibition and the Hawaiian Hall, and to gaze at the stars at Mauna Kea. I will send the cats a postcard so they don’t feel excluded.



    Bridethulu progress

    18th August, 2013


    I had a busy weekend containing my bridethulu-ness, stemming the flow so it doesn’t ooze out as bridezilla interactions. We’re organising our Hawaii elopement, as well as a performance art reenactment when we return, as a scaled-back way for family to be involved. But this does create two tiers of tasks for the different events (like different tiers of a cake, perhaps).


    To prepare for the Canberra reenactment ceremony, we met Anna at her shop, The Snail + Petal (named after what you find in the garden). She showed us some amazing vines to use as a cake wreath, and grey leaves and pink roses for corsages. Trying to rearrange the flowers when I got back home reminded me that floristry is not one of my core strengths, as reflected by the image below.


    Rose and vine

    Rose and vine


    I went to Goldcreek to find the Extravagant Bra Solutions shop, hopeful of an extravagant bra for our modest do, but apparently the store closed 2 years ago, which was disappointing because I’d hoped to support a small business. The Darling Central Boutique is there instead, and a very kind lady with beautiful skin and perfect purple eyebrows gently and calmly let me know that I was searching for the invisible bra shop, it was like being a Discworld character. I was feeling borderline bridezilla because I had walked up and down the Gold Creek strip hunting for this nonexistent place. At least I found Darling Central! Here is a Gold Creek magpie looking as puzzled as I felt.


    Gold Creek magpie

    Gold Creek magpie


    I trudged over to the Canberra Centre which has had so many changes and finally had bra success, despite changerooms definitely not being the place to discuss asymmetry. Bra shops would also be an entrepreneurial place to have mole checking and pap smears because it feels quite intimate and invasive, better to get it all done in one go. This jewellery store sign caught my eye – I think they forgot the “You love him, he loves you” combo. There is a ring I would like for our ceremony, but I think we’ll be using lollipop rings so that we don’t have to travel with something so small and valuable. The main reason is that we haven’t bought them yet – we don’t have engagement rings either so the jewellers really are missing out.


    You love her

    Forever contract


    After all that fuss, I had to postpone my dressmaker appointment with Claire (Nocturne Design) because of not having the bra ready in time. It will be sewn into the dress like a secret supportive amulet, so I had needed it ready for the appointment. This image is from before, Claire had made a very tiny toile, it’s also a nice way to advertise dress options or have a Barbie commitment ceremony. Or practice ballet poses.


    Wedding dress toile

    Ballerina bride


    The corset is indicative only, the main focus was on the handkerchief skirt which has different panels for more movement in line with the fairy theme. I think it was also so that she wasn’t a topless bride, but I had also suggested to my Mum that pasties would be a good option for a warm environment. She was not receptive to this idea, but I might bring some as backup – what if I’m driven to lose so much weight (by WIC and comments like this) that the corset doesn’t fit? I’ll need to have something to act as camouflage, because my pink bits won’t match the hot pink of my shoes, and it might make the photographer uncomfortable.


    I’m glad to have made some progress towards both ceremonies – we have also gotten our shoes and started to arrange a little hat for me. We just need an outfit for Mr. S, decide cake fillings, and find a spy camera so that we can save money on wedding photography, and buy pink glitter mushrooms to scatter in the Hawaiian forest. I’m stopping listing our things to do because it’s making me feel like more of a bridethulu, so I will go and relax by eating home-made garlic bread in the bath. It might not get the bridal body that others have suggested, but it will prevent me from going over the edge and taking over a seaside town.



    Friday triangle perambulations

    17th August, 2013


    Yesterday was a great balance of work and play – but not much rest as I’ve been a couch sleeper for a few days. This is because Ms Cat is healing from nerve damage, so she is isolated in her bedroom with Mr S, so Mr Cat and I are banished to the couch. If it meant that Ms Cat was rehabilitated, I would be happy to be a sofa lady forever.


    So to wake up a bit, I walked around the Parliamentary Triangle, and as I reached the summit of the little hill near the Gallery of Australian Design, two birds (swallows?) flew circles around me like they were using ribbons as a lasso in a charming Disney special. I hope it wasn’t an elaborate form of swooping, which gives the experience an air of malice. I will imagine it was a flying hug. The sun was finally gleaming and all the Reconciliation Place sculptures near the Portrait Gallery and Questacon were glistening.


    When I reached the National Library there was a swarm of children getting excited about Children’s Book Week winners. The winner’s list makes a nice little poem: Sea Hearts, Children of the King, The Terrible Suitcase, The Coat, Tom the Outback Mailman & A Forest.


    I managed to avoid the crowd and enjoyed Jyll Bradley’s City of Trees exhibition, but I forgot to collect my free poster. The first works in the exhibition are my favourite, the branches shimmer and sway as you walk past, like the twinkling of a heatwave. Outside, I noticed this sweet (yet savage) bike!


    Bike outside National Library of Australia, Canberra

    Angry bike


    Continuing with happy experiences, it was great that the National Library’s Bookplate restaurant was able to create a vegan salad on the spot for the same price ($15.90) as their “regular” Caesar salad. It’s my hope that one day there will be more options for diverse dietary choices in the Parliamentary Triangle.


    Shadow of Diamonds

    Diamonds’ shadow


    I walked past the National Gallery and saw that the cast shadow of Neil Dawson’s Diamonds (2002, Sculpture, aluminium extrusion and mesh painted with synthetic polymer automotive paints, stainless steel fittings and cables) casts a shadow reminiscent of the silhouette of an icon in popular culture.



    Enjoy the weekend, see some art, and remember to “Read across the universe” as advised by Children’s Book Week, 2013. Or just keep things horizontal a la Ms Cat.



    Edible bride

    30th July, 2013


    The fantasy of a perfect wedding is infectious, a spindrift dream of puffy skirts, relaxed but efficient event management, and best of all, the bride’s perfect body – forever preserved as a replica cake-topper (see the image echoing Atwood’s Edible Woman) and of course, the photos and videos.



    Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 ? 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.

    Replica bride cake


    She can’t eat any of the cake, though! With all this pressure, it’s no wonder that feeding tube diets have become quite popular to help the crash diet bride (she probably crashes at the end, too). It’s very confusing that a ceremony about a beginning is viewed as the end point – crystallising your body at that moment in time, rather than maybe “We both decided to be healthy as an investment in ourselves and our future together”.


    Someone asked me recently, “So will you be losing weight for your wedding, then?”. I was too shocked to answer, but I spent the rest of the day spiralling into quick diet plans and fixating on how fat I looked, and trying to contradict myself by remembering that I can probably deadlift the commenter’s body weight. Not only is it rude to assume that someone is unhappy with their body (ahh, thanks for telling me I had a problem! I didn’t realise!), it is also dangerous to comment without context, given the high incidence of a history of eating disorders across a range of age groups. We are doing everything else outside of the norm, so it would be nice to skip these interactions as well.


    I comfort myself with the fact that I’m not marrying a contortionist and adopting their diet of coffee and a small meal a day (1940), or parting with someone because of stale bread (1908), or a weight cruelty contract (1930). Thank heavens for the anti-divorce diet (1938). The perfect wedding is one where people care about you beyond your body.


    Image from: Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.



    Working with words and puppies

    22nd July, 2013


    Recently, ANZSI ACT’s Denise Sutherland hosted a “Working with words” talk which gave us an insight into her crossword and puzzle creation process. ANZSI is the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers, and Denise is one of their fabulous members – she’s a multi-faceted author, indexer, editor, graphic designer, puzzler and knitter, see her work at her app-book-puzzle-indexing site. The next ANZSI ACT event is a tour of the National Gallery of Australia Research Library (2 August), they usually do things like talks by information type guests, tours and offer training courses.


    Denise created a crossword puzzle before our very eyes, it included Baked Alaska (5, 6 …I can’t recall the description – perhaps, Scandinavian egg dish as it’s also known as Norwegian omelette). Part of this involved wildcard searching for words to fill in the puzzle blanks, a creative use of Boolean search operators. It was interesting to see the black-out shapes change in the different puzzle templates, Denise has also invented Secret Shapes, so when you finish the crossword puzzle, the remaining letter squares can be coloured in to make a picture.


    Canberra Puzzle Books by Denise Sutherland

    Denise’s Canberra Puzzles


    Denise is being mentioned a book about the Centenary of the Crossword – in a section about crossword censorship! (the mind boggles…) She wrote The Canberra Puzzle Book: Our History & Heritage in 2005 – a nice book to have in the coincidental Centenary of Canberra & Crosswords.


    Before this talk, my main experience with crosswords was mostly peripheral – my grandparents were keen puzzlers and would work on  their crosswords every day. Their favourite crossword dictionary was used so religiously that there was a hole in the front cover (where you place your left thumb while flicking the pages). There was a whole setup of the dictionary, crossword clipboards and magnifying glass on their coffee table. Denise and Ralph have designed several puzzle apps, and I know that if my Grandpa was still around he’d be very keen to use them – his interest in technology was lifelong . Back in the day he introduced punch cards into the ABS, and was always learning – he progressed to writing books on his computer and towards the end of his earthly life, was downloading classical music. I am sure he is a heavy app user now, if they’ve fixed the internet options in Valhalla.


    Petal with Denise’s publications

    Petal loves crosswords


    Supporting Denise’s talk were doggies Petal and Griff – like her Mama, Petal is a keen knitter. Petal also features in Denise’s co-authored Guide for Adults with Hip Dysplasia, and she and brother Griff also star in her puzzling blog – check out Petal in a top hat, adorable!


    In related news, the Canberra Library Tribe is very lucky to have Denise as one of the guest speakers for our upcoming Library Career Soiree, 6pm Friday 30 August at A Bite to Eat, Chifley shops. It’s a very informal event, and our speakers will chat about library career experience, or provide a different view of information careers like Denise’s experience as a captive cruciverbalist. RSVP at the Canberra Library Tribe facebook page or eventbrite.


    Thanks Denise for regaling us with your tales of crossword creation and publishing, and we look forward to your talk at the Library Career Soiree.



    Quartz bodies

    30th June, 2013


    I spent a relaxing last day of blogjune at the Om Shanti Pamper Day doing pilates and getting massages.


    Quartz hand

    Quartz hand


    I mentioned AS Byatt’s “A Stone Woman” story to one of the massage therapists – it is about transformation of the body into stones and joining the ancestors (I said maybe that my body was full of stones). Sheila Variations has written a great review of the story.


    She then told me about an Aboriginal story of a medicine man transformed by a spirit, the organs in his body become quartz crystals (magic stones) to help him communicate with the ancestors (Spencer and Gillen in Torrance, The spiritual quest: transcendence in myth, religion and science, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994 p. 142).


    There are beautiful descriptions of quartz-like crystals as fallen stars (peoples of Bloomfield River in Queensland) or solidified light (the Arunta peoples) in this article on Meteors in Australian Aboriginal Dreamings.



    It is comforting to think of the stories linking up from different parts of the world and how we might talk to others with our shimmering stones on the inside and outside.



    Late night vegan chocolate cake mix snack

    30th June, 2013


    I started to make a cake earlier in the day, but the raw mixture/batter always tastes better than the cooked product (unless you use coconut oil or cocoa butter, then the cooked cake is perfection). So it didn’t reach the oven.


    It’s great as a late night pick-me-up, chocolate body paint (I guess?) or maybe even porridge topping.

    I wouldn’t say it’s 100%, but as Genevieve says, “What the world needs is not another recipe for cake but the perfection of edible dough!”. Surely a worthwhile mission. I’m a big fan of raw Anzac biscuit dough, which may make it closer to perfection next time.



    Vegan cake mix, no cooking required!

    (could be rebranded as “Vegan chocolate pudding”)


    Based on Mandy Stone’s Vegan Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart, but halved (approximately) to try and modify dough intake.



    Vegan cake mix snack

    Vegan cake mix snack




    1/3 cup hazelnut meal

    1 cup of white flour (or coconut flour)

    1/3 cup cocoa powder

    1 teaspoon bicarb soda

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 cup sugar

    2/3 cup melted vegan margarine

    good dash of vanilla essence

    2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

    1/3 cup desiccated coconut

    1/8 cup cacao nibs

    1/3 cup chopped walnuts





    Mix hazelnut meal, flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda, salt and sugar.


    Add melted vegan margarine, vanilla essence, and apple cider vinegar. Mix quickly.


    Add desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, chopped walnuts.


    Present a sundae glass (fancy!), or if we share slobbiness, eat out of the mixing bowl. I am normally against this, but you could double dip your spoon if you want to mark it as your private eating territory. Top with coconut cream if you need to wind back the sugary taste.



    Avoid the temptation to add coconut essence – it is often made of glycerine which can be derived from animal fat.


    My tummy hurts from eating too much cake mix – if I had cooked it I would have eaten less, but with 30% less enjoyment. Tummy and willpower need to talk.



    Lucky rabbit’s foot drawings

    29th June, 2013


    Lots of drawing today, with the Sketch (like pictionary) in Mr. S’ new Game & Wario.

    You can see my rabbit below, which was guessed quite quickly – sometimes things look better when they’re a little unfinished and not overdone.


    Rabbit by Sonja Barfoed in Game and Wario Sketch Pictionary

    Rabbit by Sonja Barfoed


    I’m rather pleased with it, considering it’s a drawing that took a few seconds without any reference material. Normally I use a lot of photographs and preliminary sketches.


    Roxanna Vizcarra’s feature in curvy is about knowing that artists do research: “As a teenager I was under this false impression that in order to draw really well you needed to be able to do so without any references. I wish someone had taught me differently earlier.” (Curvy 6, 2009, Paper Tiger Media Group, p. 6).

    Her drawing in Curvy is of Jack Rabbit in Year of the Rabbit, one of hordes of scrawny men dressed as bunnies working in an elderly lady’s mansion. Tighty whities!


    I also did some sketches of feet, hands and legs, here is a gratuitous podophilist drawing:


    Foot sketch by Sonja Barfoed

    Feet by Sonja Barfoed


    Interesting to compare the feeling of drawing on a screen and paper in the same day.

    …the pristine nature of the screen, sounds of the materials and the beautiful feathered deckle edge of the paper.



    Vegan in the parliamentary triangle

    27th June, 2013


    It’s difficult to get vegan food in many parts of Canberra, but especially so in the parliamentary triangle. I propose that the current amenities review of the parliamentary zone result in a vegan food truck or wandering cupcake seller, it could be called govsnack (copyright Cush, @cu5h).


    I’m providing this summary of my experience with cafés and restaurants in the parliamentary triangle in the hope that they’ll recognise the vegan/vegetarian market, without the requirement to phone ahead or make a special request. Look at the success of Sweet Bones in Braddon, only 4 kilometres away from the parliamentary triangle (but with a fair chunk of time trying to find a car park there and one on return).


    I went to The Kitchen Cabinet (Old Parliament House), I’d been to their 2012 Chocolate Maker talk (see if you can find me in the photos!) which was very accommodating to vegans (but then it is pre-booked so it’s a different thing altogether). Today I was incorrectly enthused by their roast vegetables with pine nuts listed on their menu, before their staff member kindly pointed out that it was a quiche filling. Clearly subheadings on chalkboards are not my forte. There was lots of blocks and gift packs of Lindsay & Edmunds organic chocolate for sale, but solely milk or white chocolate combinations. If there was dark chocolate I could have bought it, as Peter is very insistent about not putting milk solids in chocolate (he mentioned this at the Chocolate Maker talk).


    Pumpkins at The Kitchen Cabinet

    Coaches or pumpkins


    Lots of other produce including pumpkins, but I had already used up too much of my lunch break walking around so I didn’t have time to buy, chop, cook and eat vegetables from start to finish.


    Lovely roses outside Parliament House, maybe I could eat them – rose petal icecream and lavender truffles are my top favourite foods of all time.


    Roses at OPH

    Rosy deliciousness


    Here’s a list of other places to eat in the parliamentary triangle, if you want lunch on a weekday. Some of these places have excellent call-ahead vegan options but I hope that they become permanent menu items:



    Promenade Café at Hyatt Hotel (custom risotto if you turn up for lunch without a call-ahead), I have also attended the weekend high tea where I’ve had a separate special meal (everyone else accesses the buffet), there was a chargrilled vegetable sandwich (average) and dessert plate (excellent). Make sure you mention it when you book the high tea tickets.


    Pork Barrel (tomato or mushroom pizza with no cheese, depending on your view of veganism relating to yeast, no call-ahead),


    Coffers at the Treasury building (basic white rice and vegetables, no call-ahead),


    Bookplate at National Library (custom on-demand salads, call-ahead needed. They also do excellent vegan catering with lime-soaked coconut strawberries). Paperplate (LG1 level of the Library) has a noodle salad that could possibly be vegan,


    Portrait Café at National Portrait Gallery (custom on-demand salad, zucchini balls, call-ahead definitely needed, which sometimes goes to their voicemail which means they are very busy and probably won’t make it),


    Café Milieu at John Gorton building (sandwiches, basic rice with vegetables, no call-ahead), and


    NGA Café (National Gallery) inside on lower ground level has an apple blackberry cake (but there were none today, very sad) and occasional dairy free salad. The Turner Tea Room on level one offers cream tea, lunch and high tea – I’m unsure if there are vegan variations on the menu offerings. The outside café might sometimes have vegan soup and bread at the during winter (today was wombok soup, which was apparently vegetarian but not vegan).



    Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Galileo Café (Questacon), Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Waters Edge, Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and probably some others.



    Sometimes it takes a lot of phone calls, planning and walking just to get lunch. Perhaps instead of parking spaces in the parliamentary triangle, we should convert all the parking spaces into community gardens so there would always be something to eat.



    Sculpture hide seek and learn

    26th June, 2013


    It’s quite a surprise to see all the sculptures at Questacon uprooted – Ken Cato’s Olympic figures have been there for many years (refurbished in 2006), see them in situ on dominotic’s kencato photostream.



    Questacon Cato sculptures removed

    Something’s missing!


    They must be coming back, because a 2007 Referral of proposed action… said that they would be retained (Department of the Environment and Water Resources, “Sculpture”, p. 10).


    The sculptures have left debossed grave mounds, or giant footprints. It’s probably been a secret government science experiment all these years to see what kind of drawing you can make with tree roots.


    It’s a full circle starting with Magritte’s work, The Labors of Alexander (originally a painting of a tree clutching at an axe, later on he approved for it to be made in bronze, but passed away before full completion so there is still speculation about the works). Now the trees are missing their steel night protectors and gnash their bare roots in anguish.


    Questacon sculptures drawing

    Drawing by the sculpture


    Now for today’s “did you know?”! The name Questacon comes from queste (to seek) and con (study/learn/steering). “Quest-a-con means to seek and to learn.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). See the more recent guide below – astounding!


    Questacon: a guide to the exhibits

    Questacon guide


    It’s interesting to see how the science centre was called The QUESTACON (I think only tourists preface the name with “the” now) which was inspired by the success of the San Francisco’s EXPOLORATORIUM. Mark Oliphant’s forward also said that “…the QUESTACON has become an essential agent preparing people for survival in the age of technology.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). Besides inspiring interest in science careers and discoveries, it could also be an excellent apocalypse bunker. It would benefit from the protective ambience of Olympic sculptures, which send a message that we are fit and ready to defend ourselves. We can also wear awesome lab coats:


    “In particular the Questacon is most pleased to record its gratitute [sic] to: …King Gee: who have donated all the laboratory coats worn by the Questacon Explainers” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged).


    This was in the time before lab coats were worn in department stores so their authoritative air had been retained. I hope the Olympic sculptures (wherever they may be) are wearing lab coats or something to keep them warm.





    Department of the Environment and Water Resources (March 2007). Referral of proposed action: Humanities and Science Campus: Stage 1 and 2. http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/downloads/enhancing_and_maintaining/humanities_and_science/EPBCReferral.pdf


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University.  (1984).  Questacon : a guide to the exhibits.  [Canberra] :  Australian National University


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University. & Shell Australia Limited.  (2006).  The Shell Questacon Science Circus : taking science around Australia.  [Canberra :  Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre].


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australia. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.  (2011).  Questacon : outdoor exhibits.  [Canberra :  Questacon].


    Questacon : a guide to the exhibits, Australian National University  [Canberra : s.n., 198-]



    Incy wincy mystery

    23rd June, 2013


    Today I accidentally trapped a spider in the compost bin – I was putting a dead pumpkin vine in there and then the spider crawled up! I fished out poor wincy who is now somewhere in the nandina. You can see the compost bin in some of the pictures – not very glamorous as it’s just a regular bin with a hole cut out of the base.


    Unknown spider



    I’m not sure what kind it is – doesn’t seem distinctive enough for a St Andrew’s Cross, but the abdomen isn’t pointy enough for a Banded orb-weaving spider.


    Unknown spider



    I didn’t get to see the web, but it would have been close to the ground on the pumpkin vine. Canberra has also had a lot of rain recently so that might be something to do with spidey emerging.


    Unknown spider



    I looked at the Atlas of Living Australia but I couldn’t see any candidates. I might ask at the CSIRO’s Australian National Insect Collection.  Any ideas?



    Cosy vegan shepherd’s pie recipe

    22nd June, 2013


    Get on the cosy winter trend but off the soup train with the comfort of pie, pie, pie.


    I once saw a home decorating magazine cover that promoted a story, “How to be comfy”. People actually need cosifying instructions beyond recipes and pillows, like gentle lighting, rugs, texture and headboards (Welcome: How do you cosy-up a home?, 2011).

    I would add, large mugs for drinking and eating (multi-purpose, to warm the hands), lavender heat packs, good quality socks and scarves, and remembering to cover your car before Jack Frost does it on your behalf (in Canberra, anyway). Plus of course, eating pie! Here’s my recipe.



    Vegan shepherd's pie

    Vegan shepherd’s pie



    Vegan shepherd’s pie recipe


    Inspired by Sweet Potato and Lentil Pie by Amy and Andrew, via Uproar.




    Blind bake a pastry crust on 180 degrees C for about 10 minutes.




    Chop 2 onions, 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots and 1 stick of celery into small chunks. Boil or microwave until tender (if you like you can fry the onions with garlic). Drain. Cook 1 cup of brown rice and mix with the cooked vegetables. Add a tin of lentils in vegan gravy to the mixture. Mix in 2/3 cup of tomato pizza or pasta sauce or tomato paste. If it’s the last sauce in the jar, put some water in and shake it around to get it all out. Add 2 tablespoons of tamari. Sprinkle with vegan stock powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Put the filling in the blind baked pastry crust. Sometimes this will make enough filling for 2 pies, so just freeze the extra amount (in a pie dish), so that it’s the right shape for defrosting for another pie for ron.




    Chop 9 or so potatoes into small chunks, cook in a small amount of stock until tender. Don’t drain it, keep the water in, use an electric beater to mash the potatoes, creating a well in the centre. Put a tablespoon of vegan margarine or oil in the well of the potato mixture. Heat 1 cup of soy milk and pour it on top of the margarine, then beat the whole mixture again. Put the mixture on top of the filling. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian herb mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, then place under the grill for 5 minutes to brown.








    Welcome: How do you cosy-up a home? (2011). Real Living, (66), 9. Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost (accessed June 22, 2013).




    Ye olde futuristic library scanning

    21st June, 2013


    While it’s short-sighted to laugh at retro futuristic imaginings, I present this 1000 corded retail/library barcode scanner (at least 10 years old) because even short-sighted things can be funny. M describes the colour as sort of 80s beige, but I think it is probably from the 90s or later. It doesn’t have enough of a yellow tint, like when you compare white gold to platinum (you can still see some yellow tone compared to platinum’s blue base).


    Scanning the future wand and brochure

    Magic wand and brochure


    Did you see the logo clearly? SCANNING THE FUTURE! Say it in a robot voice. The rocket working through the zebra fingerprint of the barcode is a machine version of hiking through dense tea tree bushes (don’t try it), so it’s probably pretty painful. Rocket noises!


    Scanning the future brochure

    Scanning the future brochure


    H says that film companies find it difficult to fit out sets with equipment from the 80s and 90s because people couldn’t bear to keep these items around in their homes and workplaces. It’s understandable.


    Bar code devices explanation

    Bar code devices


    Looking back on Scanning the Future, it reminds me of Video 2000 (Australian video hire business established in 1982), in the 90s I remember thinking, wow, 2000, so far away and so robotic! Lots of businesses listed on ABR have 2000 in the name, including Car Wash 2000 and Bench Pro 2000. So it’s still in fashion. Rad!


    There was a bit of a ruckus in 1999 about whether businesses would change their names to 3000 (like André 3000). Perhaps they thought that 2000 had been far enough in the future, and they didn’t want to change the name in another 1000 years or that their business model might change.





    Edelhart, Courtenay. (30 December 1999). Businesses finding millennium-related names already outdated. Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News: The Indianapolis Star and News – Indiana. Retrieved from Factiva, 21 June 2013.



    Art signal message

    20th June, 2013


    Tonight I went to the opening of Oscar Capezio’s exhibition, The signal is the message at CCAS Manuka. It was destined to be an interesting show, as demonstrated by the invitation which Roman says was shot (but I queried the bullet holes). Exhibition invitations are often quirky and are collected by art institution libraries for artist ephemera files, as well as to provide a history of a gallery’s shows.


    Oscar Capezio's exhibition invitation

    The signal is the message invitation


    Price lists and other exhibition information is also included in artist/gallery ephemera files to provide context and assist with valuations. This price list has a handy map of the artworks. The map prescribed our movement path through the show, but I think that we were meant to look through “Exceed Your Vision” towards “That ‘X’ there”.  A kid accidentally walked on the blue tape of “Tracing Paper”, breaking it away from the wall, but it was quickly fixed and then re-cut to open the show.


    The signal is the message map

    The signal is the message map



    I most enjoyed “The Hunt for Love”, screen captures of poems from the internet pierced by a carved hunting knife, next to “Break Through” (five bullets embedded in a wall).



    If read in order, the list is quite poetic:


    Caught in the Act/ Trophies/ Exceed Your Vision/ That ‘X’ There/ Untitled/ Shot In The Dark/ Break Through/ The Hunt for Love/ Tracing Paper.



    The show is on till Sunday 30 June, opening hours 11-5 Wed-Sun.



    Investing in Animal Crossing art

    19th June, 2013


    Today my art background came in handy (for a short time, anyway) in Animal Crossing New Leaf, as Crazy Redd’s tent came into town. He foxily sells paintings and sculptures, sometimes they are of dubious provenance. This can cause issues if you want to donate the painting to the Museum in the game, or you can cut your losses and make your own fake painting gallery at home. In any case it’s a good way to familiarise yourself with famous artworks.


    Crazy Redd selling paintings from his tent in Animal Crossing: New Leaf

    Crazy Redd in New Leaf


    Apologies for the fuzzy image – I had challenges with our 3DS and I decided to fix it next time. You can see the Vermeer on the left and Seurat on the right.


    I could pick the hairband colour fault in Girl with a Pearl Earring straight away, but I was unsure about The Milkmaid or A Sunday on La Grand Jatte or The Night Watch (speaking of The Night Watch, did you see this wonderful dramatization of the painting?).

    I could identify the works, but I found the colours and shapes a bit tricky to discern, even with the camera zoom. The Thonky guide has a complete list which was really helpful, it has both the paintings and sculptures.


    The only genuine painting offered was Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grand Jatte, but another player had beaten me to the purchase. So I donated my bells to a fund campaigning for a campsite for the town and shook some trees, but a hive fell out and I got stung by a lot of bees. The Seurat had held a promise of a beautiful outdoor experience but it wasn’t to be had this evening.



    I think it looks lovely dear

    18th June, 2013


    “By the way, it is nice to have your ears pierced…” (Germanos, 1991, p. 10).


    One of my fondest memories of my Grandma is from when I was 15 and just started getting my ears pierced multiple times. Someone in my family was saying that more than one ear piercing gave a bad impression, and Grandma leaned over to me and said “I think it looks lovely, dear.” Imagine that in a slightly creaky, affectionate voice. It was so kind of her to stand up for me, even if it possibly wasn’t what she truly believed.



    Sonja's pierced ear. It's real.

    Sonja’s ear

    I get lots of questions about ear piercing (see photo for my credentials, sorry about the quality, it was tricky to take), so here’s my top tips, FAQ and a rant about piercing guns.



    Frequently asked questions and answers


    These are my top six frequently asked questions – even though they are all about my ear, I would say they are also my top six frequently asked questions about me at all, I guess when people feel awkward they will just ask about the thing that seems most apparent.


    Did it hurt?

    The most painful were the ones I did myself. I do not recommend this method, you should see a professional so that you don’t get crooked piercings. It is also quite painful if you are getting a piercing on top of scar tissue. The rook piercing is meant to hurt a lot, but it was about the same as the others. I normally tap along my meridians when I’m getting a piercing as a calming pain management technique. Ear piercing will never be as painful as other body piercings.


    How many are there?

    Twelve, the rook piercing is only one hole through the cartilage but not the back of the ear (usually creates confusion, so it’s better not to have this level of detail).


    Is it real, are they all individual?

    As real as real, all individuals. This has increased since ear cuffs were worn so widely at the Met Ball, so it’s assumed that everyone’s ears are covered in fakery.


    Did you get them done all at once?

    No. The swelling alone rules out this option.


    How do you sleep?

    Variably, but not because of piercings. If you had difficulty, you could use a save my face pillow to elevate the head.


    Do you set off the metal detectors?

    No. This might depend on the country, though – At NLS6, I was excited to see that Ruth Kneale had the same ear piercings as me, and she said that she sets off U.S. machines.



    In Greece in the 1940s, “If you didn’t have earrings, you put a little stick of oregano through your ear so that you would not get an infection. If you were in the bush and didn’t have spirit, you put your own saliva on your ears, every morning before you ate anything.” (Simopoulos, 1991, p. 11).

    I haven’t tried this but it certainly sounds interesting. In high school we used tiny bamboo shoots as cheap piercing camouflage – you put them in while they’re still green, and they will gradually turn to a pine bamboo colour.



    Top piercing tips



    Maintaining your health for at least a few months before getting a piercing (it should be a long-term plan). Get adequate rest, good nutrition and drink rosehip hibiscus tea to assist with vitamin C levels. Be prepared for the piercing not working – before I get anything done, I consider whether I’d be happy to have a scar on the site. Practice with pretend jewellery, take a photo and put it on the bathroom mirror (or high traffic area) to see if you like it.



    Make at least 2 blood donations over a few months before you get a piercing (as long as you’re not already in the “banned time period” or otherwise ineligible)– you’ll be ruled out for one year after it’s been done, so you should help while you can. This will assist others and think of it as good karma in case something happens after you get your piercing and you need a transfusion.



    Check that your piercing jewellery is hypoallergenic, stainless steel grade metal. Nickel allergies are common as well as painful and not optimal for a clean heal! Remember that allergies are different to infections.



    Find your preferred piercer, check that they are registered and ready to take the time to talk to you about possible areas for piercing or if they’d suggest different options. They should also provide aftercare advice. Ask if they will be using a hollow needle or a piercing gun. If they use a piercing gun, leave the premises. “…piercing guns are NEVER appropriate, and are often dangerous when used on anything – including earlobes.” (Llewellyn-Sare, 2008, p. 2). This is because piercing guns cause more scar tissue and swelling, the jewellery can get stuck in the middle of your ear (not going through to the other side), and creates an environment for poor healing. They cannot be autoclaved so they have high potential for transmitting communicable diseases (Llewellyn-Sare, 2008, p. 6).



    After the piercing has been done, clean it regularly with lavender oil – but it has to be pure lavender, without a carrier oil. This is fantastic for healing. If you’re in Canberra you can buy it from the Hierophant. For ear piercings, keep your hair away from the back of your ear, and clean the area behind the ear to prevent sebaceous cysts (irritated oil glands).



    Once the piercing has healed, you can clean your jewellery by putting it in a cup, sprinkle some bicarb soda on it and then cover it in hot water. Leave for an hour, drain, rinse, then leave on a paper towel to dry. Shiny!



    Whatever you choose, I think it looks lovely, dear.





    Germanos, Elizabeth. (1991). It is nice to have your ears pierced (p. 10).

    In Northcote Library. Adult Literacy and Basic Education Program.,It is nice to have your ears pierced.  [Northcote, Vic.] :  Northcote Library Adult Literacy and Basic Education Program


    Llewellyn-Sare, Angela.  (2008). Puncture kit.  West Lakes, S. Aust :  Seaview Press


    Simopoulos, Elizabeth. (1991). How we pierced our ears in the 1940s in Greece (p. 11).

    In Northcote Library. Adult Literacy and Basic Education Program.,It is nice to have your ears pierced.  [Northcote, Vic.] :  Northcote Library Adult Literacy and Basic Education Program



    Natural decoration from Trove

    17th June, 2013


    This is my favourite image (of all time) from the National Library’s search discovery experience, Trove. At first glance it’s natural to assume that the butterflies are a print on her dress, but the truth is so much more exciting. The photo is from a 1928 newspaper article.


    Article from Trove

    Natural decoration


    The caption states:



    – A girl visitor in the Butterfly House at the London Zoo, covered with butterflies, which were attracted by the white frock she was wearing.”



    The picture inspired me to visit the Butterfly House at the London Zoo, there are more pictures and words about this in my post from last year. Seeing butterflies in real life (rather than as representations) is a great reminder of why we strive to imitate them in art and design in the first place – it’s a lot like seeing a picture of coral, and really bridging the gap when you see it below the water’s surface. Having butterflies land on you is a wonderful experience, except when they try to eat your hair.



    Article details:


    NATURAL DECORATION. (1928, October 20). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved June 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3964087



    Wild strawberries this side of the rainbow

    16th June, 2013


    We weeded the garden yesterday, but saved this wild strawberry weedling. I think it grew from a composted strawberry from one of my smoothies.


    Wild strawberry plant in Canberra garden

    My strawberries


    I needed to use up some old homemade jam (I say homemade, but it was a bit of cheat breadmaker recipe), so I adapted O.D.’s Strawberry Jam Cake.  I wish I had read the reviews as it was certainly heavy, but then I did over-mix the flour. Normally I make chocolate cakes which are a lot more forgiving.


    Vegan strawberry cake

    Vegan strawberry cake


    Vegan strawberry jam cake



    No-egg equivalent of 2 eggs (or applesauce mixed with water)

    ¾ cup soy milk or almond milk

    1/3 cup vegan margarine

    ¾ cup white sugar

    Dash of vanilla

    2 cups plain flour

    1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

    ½ teaspoon salt

    3 tablespoons strawberry jam

    Rind and juice of one orange




    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a cake tin with baking paper.

    Mix the no-egg, soy milk, vegan margarine, sugar and vanilla.

    Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently mix in the strawberry jam and orange juice and rind.

    Bake for 35 minutes. Top with coconut and chopped strawberries. Best eaten with coconut yoghurt or almond cream.


    It could also taste better if you soaked the strawberries in sweetened lime juice and then covered them in coconut, or replaced the flour with hazelnut meal/coconut flour, or added some coconut, or replaced the margarine with coconut oil.


    I am more interested in the spirit, rather than the law of recipes, so I’ll probably make these changes next time. This Vegan Strawberry Cake by Josh of My Vegan Cookbook also looks a lot more promising.




    Beribboned pins

    15th June, 2013


    I adore this cartoon addressing emphasised femininity – it shows ‘hairy’ legs (“Not feminine enough”) being transformed, resplendent with pink bows (“Is this better?”). I tried to find the artist but the image wasn’t indexed in TinEye, but I will update this if I find out.



    Legs with bows


    Just think, if this takes off as a grooming/decorative practice, we could save the 24 minutes a week that is normally spent shaving (UK Escentual beauty poll in London, 2013).

    An actual valid, scientific study gave a result of 96% of a sample of 235 Australian women regularly remove their leg and underarm hair (Tiggemann, Hodgson, 2008), so it would be a lot of time saved if the Escentual poll was representative (and internationally transferable). However, we would actually spend more time bow-tying – it took me 10 minutes per leg, and I think that the bows might last a few days, perhaps 3 sessions a week at 20 minutes = 1 hour a week. Clearly more if you’re an octopus or spider.



    So it’s inefficient (how surprising for a beauty practice!) but think of the diversity of self-expression – different colours for days of the week (denim for Fridays, of course), “corporate” bows in a demure pinstripe or ripped metallic bows for the neighbourhood punks. Bows for everyone!

    Anyway, this was a DIY job, the process would be quicker in specialised hairbow salons.



    Hairy legs are encouraged by fashion designer Anthony Capon (Project Runway Australian winner, Season 2), who says that men “…still have to have hairy legs…” if they are going to wear skirts, because “…you don’t do it to look feminine…” (Cuthbertson, 2009).


    Professional male cyclists have also been asked about the reasons they shave: “’I ventured that perhaps it was because he thought his legs looked more attractive hairless and he had been influenced, like so many people, by the regrettable encroachment of the aesthetic values of porn films on mainstream grooming habits.’” (Worsley in Richard, 2012).



    Accessorise! I also adore these Hairy Legs Mary Janes patch by lemon-butt and Chloe Henderson’s shot of growly bear legs. Noises from the closet – argh, straw feminists!





    Beaton, Kate. (2006-2013). Hark, a vagrant: 341. 


    Cuthbertson, Kathleen. (2009, September 9). Designer Anthony Capon wants men to wear skirts. 


    Escentual. (2012, August 8). Survey –what is your biggest beauty chore?


    Henderson, Chloe. (2011, November 19). Fuck off, I’m a hairy woman.


    Idée Inc. (n.d.). TinEye Reverse Image Search.


    Richard, Kay. (2012, August 9). Lucy’s Olympic hair-raiser. Daily Mail.


    lemon-butt. (n.d.). Hairy Legs Mary Janes Patch.


    London, Bianca. (2013, April 5). Shaving legs is women’s least favourite beauty chore – shame they spend TWO MONTHS of their lives doing it. Daily Mail Online.


    Tiggemann, M. (2008). The Hairlessness Norm Extended: Reasons for and Predictors of Women’s Body Hair Removal at Different body Sites. Sex roles, 59(11/12), 889.


    VaginaPagina. (n.d.). Picture one: Hairy legs. Labelled ‘not feminine enough.’



    Car strine

    13th June, 2013


    Today I described a less-than-ideal car to a colleague, and she labelled it a “brumby”. I thought this was very unusual, so I have checked for the term in many Australian slang books and I can’t find it listed anywhere. I would have usually labelled such a mechanical battler as a lemon or a bomb.


    Australian slang books

    Australian slang books


    One could say it “Handles like a bag of shit tied with a piece of string in the middle” (Howey, 2012, p. 17).


    I couldn’t find brumby listed for “dud car”, only as a “wild horse, similar to a mustang” (Tuffley, 2012, p. 11), a “wild outlaw horse” (McCulloch, 2010, p. 8) “…especially one descended from runaway stock.” ( Lambert, 2004, p. 30).



    A great project about Australian words is the Ozwords blog, they recently featured the distinctly Canberra words “guvvie” and “ex-guvvie”, I hadn’t realised it was a regional term.



    Here are some Australian slang words/terms I wish I hadn’t learnt:



    Bondi cigar = Turd in the water (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 10)


    Rat coffin = A meat pie (Hunter, 2004, p. 87)


    Unit = Big muscle man (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 68)


    Mystery bags = Sausages, so named because offal is sometimes used as a bulking agent. (Tuffley p. 36)


    Bride’s nightie = A level of great speed. ‘He took off like a bride’s nightie.’ (“Blind Freddy” & Miller, 1988, unpaged)


    Yonnie = Skimming stone (Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 74)



    A friend said that brumbies were  imported cars with a questionable reputation, so perhaps it is just a localised term. After writing all this and feeling thoroughly confused, I think I may have misheard, as I’ve now found a listing for:


    Brummy = inexpensive; of poor or inferior quality (Australian slang, 2008 p. 41).


    I guess my hearing is a bit brummy, ay (a word used at the end of a sentence, Lumsden-Ablan & Ablan, 2011, p. 7).





    (2008).  Australian slang.  Camberwell, Vic :  Penguin books


    Blind Freddy. & Miller, Dennis.  (1988).  The Australian dictionary of insults and vulgarities.  Castle Hill, N.S.W :  Peter Antill-Rose and Associates


    Howey, Andrew.  (2010).  Aussie slang pictorial : what’s it like mate.  Melbourne, Vic :  Brolga Pub


    Hunter, Jenny.  (2004).  The true blue guide to Australian slang.  Frenchs Forest, NSW :  New Holland Publishers


    Lambert, James.  (2004).  Macquarie Australian slang dictionary : complete & unabridged.  Macquarie University, N.S.W :  Macquarie Library


    Laugesen, Amanda. (2013, May 22). Canberra word: guvvie (and ex-guvvie). Retrieved from http://ozwords.org/?p=4586


    Lumsden-Ablan, Melanie. & Ablan, Roque Bo.  (2011).  Oz’isms : a tourist’s guide & a giggle : Australian ‘fun’etic slangwich : it’s not wat ya say it’s ‘ow ya say it–.  Gordon, N.S.W :  Sagamore


    McCulloch, Marie.  (2010).  ‘Ripsnorter’ : book of Aussie words & sayings.  [La Trobe, Tas.] :  Marie. I. McCulloch


    Tuffley, David.  (2012).  Australian slang : a dictionary.  [Australia] :  Altiora Publications



    Love and Romance Library comic

    12th June, 2013


    I recently read the comic “Candid confessions: fool’s paradise”, no. 232 of the Love and Romance Library in the Australian romance comics collection. I was delighted to find this “Love and Romance Library”, I imagined it to be a confessional Tracey Emin style collection of labelled beating hearts (with their lending history) restrained on a tiny dollhouse scale set of library shelves with a miniature ladder. As you can see, it was a comic series – the “Love and Romance Library” notation is in the small yellow box on the front cover, drawn by Keith Chatto.


    Love and romance library comic no. 232

    “Fool’s Paradise” cover


    Margot Harker highlights that despite the name of Australian romance comics collection, most of the collections of stories were illegally imported and then embellished with Australian covers. Harker has written some very interesting articles on the collection, highlighting their conservative agenda in Preaching Purity: [How romance comics encouraged white women into marrying solid, respectable men of their own race and class] (National Library Magazine, v.1, no.2, June 2009: 18-20) and the history of the comics in Cultural pariahs: The National Library of Australia’s collection of Australian romance comics (National Library Magazine, v.1, no.1, Mar 2009: 28-30).


    Last page in first story in Candid confessions, "Fool's paradise"

    Story in “Fool’s paradise”


    An excerpt from the final page of the first story (“My Fiery Rival”) in no. 232 (also shown in the image):


    ‘“Will you be my house-keeper permanently… my wife?”

    “Oh, yes… yes, Clem.”

    A lifetime job by the side of the man I loved, what more could I ask for?’


    Wow. It’s interesting to find these historical narratives, especially given the recent political debate around gendered roles. As the “good guy” (Clem Watts) in the story says, who ever would have dreamed that things could work out for her (the house-keeper wife, Marion Lane) like this?




    Teeth and gallstones

    11th June, 2013


    My family has an usual hobby of collecting body parts. Mum kept the extra teeth she had removed and in an ill-advised move, gave them to me as playthings (I was 5).


    A bit tricky to see, but still beautiful!

    Gran’s gallstones

    I thought they were really unusual shells, I would plant them in the garden like creamy skyscrapers. Their jagged tops mimicked the stereotypical scalloped edges of clouds and were a perfect match for meeting with the sky and solving the puzzle. They have been lost to the soil (not sands) of time, because they are resting in peace with my shell collection, buried below the camellia leaves. I think that my shell garden was trying to live up to Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’s reputation.


    Grandma kept her gallstones in a jar, with a dream of making them into earrings. She never had pierced ears, so it made sense that she saw the clip-on earring aesthetic in calculi. They seem more like carved wooden beads than something that could come out of the body, it’s like Jenny Holzer’s shock at the range of colours in her mother’s dying body.


    I inherited Grandma’s gallstones a few years ago, as well as her glove collection, a hairbrush, nail kit, scarves and of course a huge sense of loss. I miss her a lot and I still surprise myself when I think of telling her something and then I remember. I had a wonderful conversation with Blaide today that I could make the gallstone earring project, and if I wore them then I could symbolically have my Grandma at my elopement (the “old” in something old, new, borrowed and blue).



    I am harvesting and collecting quite different body parts of my own, but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, ABC Open has an interesting project, “My Crazy Passion”. So far there are videos featuring people who collect/obsess about tractors, cacti and crochet. No body collectors yet.



    Terrarium Moon Day

    10th June, 2013


    I received a really fun gift from Iome, a DIY terrarium kit from Perth-based the little green project (amazingly survived in the mail!).


    Moss terrarium DIY kit from the little green project

    DIY kit from the little green project


    It was custom-made with a cat statue, even though the cat is stretching (relaxation?) I think the pose looks quite similar to my Mr. Cat’s pre-bathroom aerobics. At least the terrarium will be a great litter tray for Miniature Cat – and a small cat will only make snail-size turds.


    Completed terrarium from the little green project

    Completed terrarium!


    In contrast, the biggest terrarium I’ve ever seen was in the 1986 Troll movie with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (check out the trailer), when an apartment block is converted into troll land with lush greenery and a humidity only matched by butterfly rooms. Luckily our cats patrol the area to ward off nasty trolls, and to protect the nice Norwegian ones.




    Adelaide weekend catch up

    9th June, 2013


    Here’s a catch up for blogjune – or considering how I’m going, perhaps it should be dissected to blogju or blogne. A roundup of my very brief weekend trip to Adelaide for a friend’s farewell.



    I had some unexpected running practice at Canberra airport because I thought my flight had closed. It had not. I watched another Dawson’s Creek episode while I waited, which made me much calmer.


    On the plane, a man sitting in front of me reclined his chair and smashed into my head because I was leaning down to get my bag. I felt less calm. Why isn’t it common to have the courtesy to tell the person behind you that you’re planning on reclining your seat? I think I read this tip in The Penguin Book of Etiquette, or was it somewhere else, I’m unsure.


    I had a weird conversation with a flight attendant about whether vegans eat chocolate (yes, but only if it doesn’t contain animal products including dairy, gelatine, or sometimes honey).



    I arrived in Adelaide for the farewell party, and tried vegan cabbage rolls at Suzie Wong’s Room which were delectable. But then I haven’t tried regular cabbage rolls so I don’t really have a reference.


    I danced the nutbush outside a very noisy party at The Lady Daly Hotel. They didn’t see us through the window (the real dancers were inside through the glass doorway), which is lucky because we couldn’t really remember the moves.


    I met 2 chickens and patted 3 cats.


    Turner's "Venice, the Bridge of Sighs" - puzzle

    Turner is a puzzle


    I visited Zenda Vecchio (South Australian author), she is making steady (but painful) progress with her puzzle of Turner’s Venice, the Bridge of Sighs (exhibited 1840, oil paint on canvas (bought from Art Gallery of South Australia’s shop during the Turner from the Tate exhibition, which is now at National Gallery of Australia, but I’m not sure if they have the puzzles).


    We talked about Zenda’s upcoming book The Swan’s Egg, which is at the proofing stage – I’m designing the cover (I previously designed another of Zenda’s book covers – with the help of Wesley Hobday – see post on “Becoming Kirsty-Lee”, launched in May last year).


    Flowering Grevillea Mason's Hybrid in Adelaide.

    Grevillea Mason’s Hybrid, Adelaide


    I saw some beautiful plants, perhaps the loveliness of Grevillea ‘Mason’s Hybrid’ (previously sold as ‘Ned Kelly’ and ‘Kentlyn’) will rehabilitate my view of Grevilleas. If you’ve ever had to remove one, you’d understand my dislike of the genus. There was also an unwell honeyeater in our yard once that I tried to capture so that she could be seen by a vet or the ranger, and she was totally unreachable in the horrid Grevillea. The honeyeater died and I blamed the Grevillea. At least it provides a good spot for native animals and birds to hide from predators, even if the predator is trying to assist.



    It was nice to come home to Canberra Airport’s sculptures:


    ”People coming to Canberra ought to have their spirits lifted and be inspired on arrival in the national capital; this sculpture [Andrew Rogers’ “Perception and Reality 1”, 2012, bronze] will take their breath away. It’s a very, very powerful work.”

    (from Diana Streak’s article “Striking pose to alter perception of airport”, 3 April 2012, Canberra Times)


    …and I opened a gift from a friend, which is a terrarium kit! So now I know my plans for tomorrow.




    One of these things

    7th June, 2013


    One of these things is not like the others, did you guess which thing…? If you guessed the pink pulled sugar rose, then you’re absolutely …right! It was made by Eric Menard, the National Gallery’s Executive Pastry Chef.



    One of these things is not like the others...

    Eric’s sugar rose

    There is a much better photo of the pulled sugar rose from the National Gallery’s instagram. I read a story a long time ago about a boy finding the ideal gift for his sister, he had planted a sugar cube to grow a sugar tree. Perhaps the sugar cube that was planted was a rose variety, and that’s how this sugar rose really came to life.


    I’d like to eat the sugar rose (which I assume tastes like happiness, bursting love-hearts and sunshine), but it’s better to keep it forever at the top of the pantry (for stealing furtive, sugar-longing glances). This means I’m doing the same thing as when Mum kept my brother’s icing booties from his christening cake for at least five years, maybe longer if she still has them. The booties had very fine detail and I used to lick them when I felt sad. I wonder if she noticed the imitation stitching getting fuzzed over the years. I had been reduced to slowly ravishing the booties, because a lock was installed high up on the pantry so it cut my regular sugar cube supply line. My brother and I worked together to reach the lock, then we would drink Ice Magic to condition our teeth against sugar.



    The sugar rose has also been used by artist Liam Revell to comment on the transience of fashion. His sugar rose brooch that was gradually eaten by the wearer in Kate and Rose (2006). His wonderful photographs show the consumption of this impermanent decoration (Revell, Liam, A Decorative Effect (2012), scroll to page 19).


    Another sugary element at the Gallery is Duchamp’s Why not sneeze Rose Sélavy? (1921 reconstructed 1964) with trick sugar cubes. Delicious!


    It must be a rose day because I’m watching American Beauty while I’m writing about roses. A feedback loop…



    Barnacle trees and Guide Dog statues

    6th June, 2013


    Today I visited the Turner from the Tate exhibition (National Gallery of Australia) at lunch, seeing the beautiful, sometimes stormy vistas was recompense for our cold weather. The children’s room was fantastic, it was like walking into a seascape barnacled with iPads on easels. I decided to come back another time so I could devote more time to drawing on the electronic and physical watercolour paper and contemplate the different rooms.


    Statue of a Guide Dog at Tuggeranong Hyperdome

    Guide Dog statue


    My favourite story of the sea is that migrating wild geese (Branta bernicla) grew on goose-trees (barnacle-trees) north of Scotland. Ripe barnacle fruit would fall into the sea and transform into barnacle geese (the theory came about because barnacles looked like embryonic geese) (The barnacle tree in Lehner, 1960, p. 86). It makes sense that people saw such a world of possibility in a mysterious and powerful place like the sea. While I saw iPad barnacles at the Turner exhibition, there were no barnacle geese.


    There were no frilly knickers in the shop, but there were plenty of boxers for men and badger shoes for children. The tea-sets were lovely but unfortunately made of bone china, the paper plates decorated with roses were more geared towards my level of household upkeep.



    Outside, there were lots of camera-shy green rosellas playing and feeding in the yellow gum blossom (Eucalyptus stricklandii, Yellow-flowered blackbutt?) between the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. An Indian Myna was burrowing through the discarded blossoms on the tiles.


    Later in the day, I saw a lady at the shops bump into the Guide Dog statue and then apologise to him. I’m fairly certain the Guide Dog statue didn’t mind as he was thinking about marking his territory on barnacle trees. Then she was embarrassed and looked around furtively to see if anyone noticed. I pretended to be contemplating the mesh design of the trolley.



    …see more of the Barnacle tree in Lehner, Ernst. & Lehner, Johanna.  (1960).  Folklore and symbolism of flowers, plants and trees,.  New York :  Tudor Pub. Co.



    Floriography telephonics

    4th June, 2013


    Today I re-learnt how to use a cassette tape player, discovered the term “bridal brain” (thanks to a colleague!) and got some impromptu yoga tuition in the work hallway.


    I also started to organise a soiree for the Canberra Library Tribe (Save the date! It’s 6pm, Friday 30 August) which will remain mysterious until we release the invitation into the wild.


    Book, Language of Australian Flowers, 1891

    Floriography book, 1891


    Then I read about flower language for my bouquet “research”. I found a lovely little book from 1891, “The Language of Australian Flowers” in which the editor notes:


    “In the present edition it has been thought advisable to include a selection from the Flora of Australia and New Zealand, and it is confidently believed that the “LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS” will play no mean or unimportant part in promoting the federation of the Australian colonies.”


    Sounds like tall poppies! I was pleased to see that dandelions (our courtyard’s featured flower of choice) means “Permission to call.”


    I will be installing some little telephone boxes for the local flora and fauna to endlessly phone the beguiling and genuinely interested Podolepis acuminata.

    …they might put a hold on calls if they read Sandy Griswold’s ode to The Lowly Dandelion with its “lovely golden blossoms” and “pretty topaz diadem”. Permission to call!




    Snail start to blogjune

    3rd June, 2013


    blogjune – it’s the third of June so here is a three day wrap-up! Changing from monthly to daily posts for this month was possibly a little ambitious, but maybe this will further focus my time management.


    I was unwell on Saturday so I was sad to miss the opening of Blaide Lallemand’s painting exhibition at CraftACT’s pod, Lonsdale Street Traders. Make sure you head along! If you’re not based in Canberra, there’s also a video of the interactive paintings.


    To console myself, I watched lots of episodes of Dawson’s Creek, I’m now up to Season 5, episode 4. There are only six seasons so there’s not long to go (then I’ll be beyond consolation). Perhaps I should frame this as a sociological study of the 90s, but my viewing is mostly for nostalgic reasons (and as background refamiliarisation before I watch Apartment 23). It also means that the cats get to hear their favourite sitcom intro song, in addition to increased lap time and being harassed by toy dinosaurs.


    The butterfly and rose were shocked to discover that neither seemed as they had appeared. Darn internet dating!

    Meadow Argus butterfly on John Maddock and sons “Old Rose” plate


    I spent Sunday cooking minestrone soup, chocolate coconut cake and spaghetti veganaise. The vegan chocolate coconut cake was very successful – I adapted a Taste recipe by replacing the butter with cocoa butter (expensive but the value is in the flavour) and milk with soy milk, and flour with hazelnut meal. I also added cocoa nibs. I guess I just can’t follow recipe instructions. Verdict from Mr. Sonja was “delicious”. It’s a lot better feedback than “What happened?” or “Very rustic” (hmm).


    I reduced my tyre changing rookie status, but the bolts were so tight that I had to stand on the wrench. It was like the fairytale where the princess wishes she was heavier (the princesses received their weight in gold as a reward, another variation was choosing between being dipped in oil or gold). It was unpleasant but not as bad as last week when I almost crashed because the tyre burst. Drama, excitement! The biggest reward in changing the tyre was finding a lovely butterfly on the ground, I was sad it had gone to the great nectar in the sky but I do secretly enjoy collecting them.


    Today (Monday) I planned lots of library tweets for the @aliangac account (ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee) and culled a swarm of emails (it’s good to know that cialis is still popular!). While I was at work today there were lots of lovely sunbeams coming in through the windows and I managed to catch all of them around the building with my feline hunting skills.




    I miss you Mr. Caterpillar

    31st May, 2013


    The caterpillar makes an ideal pet, this year I had the short-lived joy of being a caterpillar’s friend.


    At first I couldn’t work out what was diminishing my vase of mint cuttings. Gradually, Mr. Caterpillar betrayed his presence with fragrant faeces sprinkled on the bench like poppy seed confetti. It was a blissful honeymoon for us as I looted the garden for succulent mint and watched Mr. Caterpillar skeletise the vulnerable leaves. Some days Mr. Caterpillar would be crawling about like a hinge and I would make encouraging sound effects. I told him that when he grew up we could go for walks (I would be skipping, he would be flying with his new gossamer wings) and if the sky was too scary he could go on a lead like a biological kite so that we were safely attached by an umbilical cord.


    The coming changes were a bit scary for him though, he’d quote Martin Wesley-Smith’s score, “I’m a caterpillar of society (not a social butterfly).” He was reluctant to think about wings that might detract from his verdant chiselled abs: “See me flex all my splen-did pecs! – What con-di-tion! What de-fi-ni-tion!” (Wesley-Smith, 1999, p. 9). We even considered his celebrity endorsement for some premium abdominal workout machines.


    Mr. Caterpillar exploring the garden.

    Mr. Caterpillar says hello to Ms. Violet


    All too soon, it was over. I told a more thoughtful friend at work about My Ideal Pet, and he noted the cruelty involved, even if The Great Outside did possess a gang of wild young magpie hoodlums with a taste for the green worm.  So, I released Mr. Caterpillar to The Great Outside in The Mint Garden Bed. A few days later a caterpillar was perched on the wall right next to our doorway – I can’t work out how he got there as it’s quite a distance. I think it was Mr. Caterpillar coming to say goodbye. I guess this is why I wasn’t allowed pets as a child, even ideal ones like caterpillars.


    I miss you, Mr. Caterpillar. You were already a swan in my eyes.




    Canberra art exhibition opening crawl

    12th April, 2013


    Last night there were four art exhibition openings in Canberra, all starting at 6pm. Is that a record? I attended them all – briefly – just to confirm it was possible! It took just under 2 hours and only 22 kilometres of travel. The sheer volume of exhibition openings demonstrates that there is a lot happening in Canberra, but perhaps it could be better coordinated – a similar issue to some of the Centenary events’ scheduling proximity. To address this kind of calendar bulge, Genevieve has suggested that ACT-based galleries could plan their exhibition openings with staggered starting times, with a dedicated arty bus for assisted crowd control.


    While the arty bus would need to be a regular, possibly fortnightly, endeavour, it has already occurred as a one-off celebratory occasion. This  project occurred in September 2012 – Craft ACT’s “Capital of Culture” bus tour. I heard it gave a wonderful experience of either North or South cultural tours during Floriade (possibly too much of a time chunk, though), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. The Tour Guide is worth downloading just for the lovely design, but could also be reused as a fun gallery Bingo sheet. Last night’s openings could have had a Bingo sheet! I wonder if anyone else was able to attend all of them?


    Visual Arts Graduate Season 2013

    ANU School of Art Gallery, ACT (till 27 April 2013)


    Artworks by Christina Clarke at ANU SoFA Gallery

    Modern tools by Christina Clarke

    2 artists are exhibiting their Doctor of Philosophy works, with Christina Clarke’s Greek Bronze Age vessel contrasting with James Steele’s photographic works exploring place and identity. There is so much movement and information in the exhibition, with James’ projected images as well as videos of Christina’s process for painstakingly creating a hydria, that it has to be seen in person.


    You can see Christina’s final piece in the 1/2013 exhibition catalogueLM IIIA1 Hydria (2012) on pages 12 and 13 and James’ work on pages 28 and 29. The image on the left shows part of Christina’s process for creating Greek Bronze Age vessels.



    100% Books by Canberra Artists, curated by Ampersand Duck

    Watson Arts Centre, 1 Aspinall Street Watson ACT (till 28 April 2013)


    Signage and artworks in 100% Books by Canberra artists exhibition, Watson Arts Centre

    100% Books with Shells by Genevieve Swifte

    20 artists from Canberra take part in the region’s long history of book production. Each artist is exhibiting both old and new work to show their developing interest in the book form. The exhibition hopes to “…challenge notions of what a book can be in an art context. From fine press through to more sculptural pieces to street press and zines, this exhibition provides a mere sample of the breadth of contemporary book arts.” (Watson Arts Centre, Sales Catalogue, April 2013, p. [1]).


    In the image you can catch a glimpse of Genevieve Swifte’s Shells (2006): Hand sewn boat-like structures, paper, linen impregnated with salt. The salty threads have a rhythmic sense of the tide that simultaneously give movement to the vessels but also anchor them in white space, like the flow of words in a conversation that sometimes get moored in a speech bubble.




    pod, Shop 11, Lonsdale Street Traders, 24 Lonsdale Street,  Braddon ACT (till 21 April 2013)


    FIVEFOLD exhibition installation at pod, Lonsdale Street Traders

    Jewellery by FIVEFOLD artists

    5 contemporary Canberra jewellers have joined forces as FIVEFOLD, an artist-run design collective, and this was their first inaugural exhibition. In the pod space, plinths have emerged like stalagmites bearing glittering trophies as sacrifices to the Lonsdale Street Trader entities. Danyka Van Buuren’s hoops have mysteriously transformed sequins into elegant colour blocks and the other pieces were enticing but tricky to get up close as there were lots of people!


    The exhibition invitation is a very pretty DIY five-fold brooch – I made mine in the car so the crumpled state didn’t fully reach the attractiveness potential, I also didn’t have a pin so I just stuck it down my shirt. Other more organised people had very smooth brooches and one of them would have won a limited-edition handmade Shibuichi sterling silver brooch. There are detailed folding instructions for the invitation from FIVEFOLD’s Tumblr. As a librarian it’s exciting to see unusual invitations, as art libraries collect art ephemera as information on artists and exhibitions. This means that people can see the brooch invitation in the future as a resource to contextualise the artists’ work, and to see ephemera (invitations, posters, business cards) as art in their own right.



    THROWAWAY: exhibition by Holly Granville-Edge

    Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS), 19 Furneaux Street, Manuka ACT (till 21 April 2013)

    Artworks in Holly Granville-Edge's exhibition

    THROWAWAY exhibition installation view



    Holly Granville-Edge’s photos play with the idea of manufactured sentimentality and value in the captured image. The exhibition includes a collection of “dusty junk-shop picture frames scrounged from op shops”, which charmingly contain their own portraits with eerie self-awareness of their new-found meaning and artistic elevation. Escape down the rabbit hole.






    Liedekijn opens plus talks and roses

    30th March, 2013


    Liedekijn, the group exhibition, opened on Thursday with great fanfare and corsetry. Gavin the Thomson has taken some great photos and written a lively summary of the night on his Sketchbook Scribbles art blog.


    You have till 8 April to see the exhibition at The Front Gallery, and the art-books are available from Impact Comics Canberra and All Star Comics Melbourne until sold out. In the photo below you can see an installation shot, with Katie Winchester’s work on the left (with part of the liedekijn tale above) and my collaborative work (made with Wes Hobday) on the right.


    liedekijn exhibition art by Katie Winchester and Sonja Barfoed

    Left: Winchester,
    Right: Barfoed/Hobday

    In addition to the exhibition opening, there was a follow-on liedekijnish “comicky ziney dinner night” which featured wonderful talks by Katie WinchesterTim McEwen and Bruce Mutard, and the industrious Gavin has also written a summary of the talks and the reluctant star of the night, dramatic exploding beer.


    What I really took away from the talks was the link between commercial work or jobs for the cash dollars and personal projects. Katie spoke about the importance of having a passion or interest in client-directed work to make the process more enjoyable and productive, and it was interesting to see Tim’s searchlight intelligence approach in linking concepts (everything’s connected, like the commercial-personal dialogue), and Bruce’s painstaking approach to research really showed his passion for war narratives in comic format.


    This connection between commercial and personal work conjures a vague memory of reading (a long time ago!) that artist René Magritte had a job creating rose designs for wallpaper, and how this bled into his own work. I need to verify this in his catalogue raisonné as I am unsure if I have somehow created this fact by melding fact and fiction in my brain (so this paragraph might change!).


    Katie talked about having your heart in a work, and look, I have found an apt reflection on  Magritte’s work and hopefulness of the soul – “My heart fills the world like Magritte’s rose.” (Maso, 2000, p. 109). Maybe it’s appropriate that Magritte’s rose in works such as The Tomb of the Wrestlers (Le Tombeau des lutteurs) (1960) apparently responds to (but does not illustrate) Leon Cladel’s themes of unrequited love and stabbing one’s own heart with a dagger (Stotzfus, 2011, p. 174). Perhaps the stabbing occurs not only in instances of broken-hearted wrestlers (as in Cladel’s book), but when commercial artistic works don’t make the heart sing (or stabbing in the liedekijn tale, but this is less self-inflicted).


    Oh well. As Maso says, “Every rose pulses.” (Maso, 1995, p. 26). Remember to visit the liedekijn exhibition and make your pulsing heart sing.



    Artists and artworks:


    Magritte, René. The Tomb of the Wrestlers (Le Tombeau des lutteurs) (1960), Oil on canvas. Accessed via Bridgeman art: http://www.bridgemanart.com/asset/171571/Magritte-Rene-1898-1967/The-Tomb-of-the-Wrestlers-1960-oil-on-canvas/


    McEwen, Tim. Greener Pastures. http://greenerpasturescomic.blogspot.com.au/


    Murtard, Bruce. Bruce Mutard: graphic novelist & illustrator. http://brucemutard.com.au/


    Winchester, Katie. Katie Winchester: Animation-Illustration. http://kwanimation.net/ (it’s also her artwork on the left in the photo)



    Liedekijn book retailers:


    Impact Comics Canberra http://impactcomics.com.au/web/index.php or phone (02) 6248 7335


    All Star Comics Melbourne http://allstarcomics.com.au/ or phone (03) 9642 0071





    Maso, Carole. “An excerpt from “The Room lit by Roses””. Bomb, No. 73 (Fall, 2000), 108-111. Accessed via  JSTOR, 30 Mar. 2013.


    Maso, Carole. “Carole Maso: An Essay”. The American Poetry Review 24.2 (Mar/Apr 1995), 26. Accessed via  JSTOR, 30 Mar. 2013.


    Stoltzfus, Ben. “Magritte, Cladel, and the tomb of the wrestlers: roses, daggers, and love in interarts discourse.” symploke 19.1-2 (2011): 173-190. Accessed via Literature Resource Center, 30 Mar. 2013.


    Thomson, Gavin. “Liedekijn – Exhibition opening night!”. (29 Mar. 2013). Retrieved from http://sketchbookscribbles.com/liedekijn-exhibition-opening-night/ on 30 Mar. 2013.


    Thomson, Gavin. “Recap of the comicky ziney dinner night”. (30 Mar. 2013). Retrieved from http://sketchbookscribbles.com/recap-of-the-comicky-ziney-dinner-night/ on 30 Mar. 2013.



    Liedekijn art exhibition opening and book launch

    28th March, 2013


    What is liedekijn? It means “little song”, the title is from a medieval Dutch folktale, ‘The Song of Lord Halewijn’. Here’s the quote from a translation: “Halewijn zong een liedekijn” = “Lord Halewijn sang a ‘little song’.” Thanks to the wonderful Emma for clarifying the meaning, I have a silly (and incorrect) habit of defaulting to ‘little story’. If you like fantasy, gore, corsets and bravery, liedekijn will probably like you too – a group of Australian and international artists have created work in response to the folktale’s translation.


    liedekijn drawing (detail) by Sonja Barfoed and Wesley Hobday

    liedekijn (detail) by Sonja and Wesley

    So apart from a little song, liedekijn is a beautiful shiny book and real-life art exhibition. Once you have the book you can open it anytime, but the exhibition itself opens 7pm Thursday 28 March (today!) at The Front Gallery, Wattle Street, Lyneham shops, Canberra (near the lane next to Book Lore). We would love to see you at the opening, or during the exhibition (it runs till Monday 8 April). The detail you see on the left is from the drawing that Wesley and I submitted to the exhibition – come along to see it in full!


    You can buy the accompanying liedekijn art-book at the Front Gallery (opening night only!), Impact Comics, or other wholesome publication outlets. The book has all the works from the exhibition plus cover art by Melbourne illustrator Douglas Holgate. I am impatiently waiting the library catalogue record for the liedekijn art-book (this should be exciting for non-library people too – if it’s being catalogued in RDA then it will perhaps have all the names of the artists and the translator because the rule of 3 doesn’t matter! But I digress.).


    Remember to love liedekijn on Facebook and follow the official liedekijn twitter or liedekijn tumblr  if that’s more your flavour.


    Perhaps you’d like to see a picture of Miss Cat sitting on my liedekijn drawing or a 62 year old book on Halewijn (it has etchings! People always accept invitations to see etchings). Then you’ll enjoy clicking the liedekijn tag for other posts.


    See you at the opening, and remember to take care in the forest!


    Liedekijn variations

    28th February, 2013

    The nights are getting colder, so be careful that you’re not lured into the forest by a captivating song just like Machteld in the Song of Lord Halewijn. A group of artists (including my collaborative work with Wes Hobday) created works about this tale, the results will be exhibited in 27 days! It’s quite gruesome, here’s an easy-to-read version from Ansuharijaz on Reginheim (our version is slightly different). Some of the drawings will be a surprise, but you can see selected works in progress on the liedekijn tumblr.


    Herr Halewijn title page by de Coster with etching by Hermann Metzger

    Herr Halewijn title page etching by Hermann Metzger

    Halewijn’s story has inspired many variations and drawings. I recently saw Hermann Metzger’s prints in Charles de Coster’s Herr Halewijn (translated by Albert Wesselski). Metzger created 19 etchings (20 if you include the cover) that illustrate the story from Halewijn acquiring the spell, to murdering women and Machteld’s response.


    The beautiful etchings balance a warm background of plate tone against the pure white of the valiant horse, carrying the boldly outlined Machteld (and her dubious trophy) through the pages.

    The deckle edges of the paper echo a jagged dirt path through a forest that barely contains the energy of the drawings (all hand signed by Metzger, quite a feat as there were 500 of these limited editions). Halewijn’s body dances with the spell as he struggles to maintain his new-found beauty and ensuing thirst for maidens’ blood. I wish I had paid more attention in German class, as I can only understand the names of the characters Halewijn and Machteld.


    We’d love to see you at the liedekijn exhibition opening at the Front Gallery and Café, details at the Facebook event. If you can’t make it to the opening or the exhibition, the works have also been made into a wonderful art book which you can buy from the liedekijn big cartel site.


    Norwegian word a day

    31st January, 2013


    I’m cultivating a new habit to practice Norwegian every day, to make it easier when I visit there and make drawings amongst the fjords and mountains (plus it will help me communicate with my family!).


    After I spent a lot of money on “normal” language resources I realised it was more helpful to watch TV series with Norsk subtitles. Using different language subtitles with your favourite shows can also give you a better insight into the program’s subject matter. Desperate Housewives has such an intense focus on food – many repetitions of spise (eat) and middag (dinner), unsurprisingly another top hit was elsker (love). But if I had Will Powell’s realtime translation glasses then I wouldn’t have to do all that searching. In the meantime I’ll watch my backlog of Grey’s Anatomy first (in Norsk, naturally!).


    Norwegian sweater by my Farmor, gloves I bought from a Laplander, requisite Norsk dictionary and a little wolf (it had a nose but the cats ate it).

    Learn Norwegian kit!


    So how do you find which TV shows and movies have the subtitles you need? This is where extra information in library catalogue records comes in handy, if the subtitle information is included then of course it’s searchable. Here’s how to find DVDs with subtitles of your language of interest, keeping in mind that there will be display and menu variations between library catalogues:


    First, get a moment alone with your regular library’s catalogue, or for a bigger overview, use the general Trove site which is the library catalogue for the whole of Australia (I know! It’s mind-boggling).


    From the Advanced search option, use an “any keyword” or “general” field and type in your language, e.g. “Norwegian” and combine it with the word “subtitle*” (using an asterisk might be a help or a hindrance – at the moment you’re searching for subtitle/s, but if it doesn’t work just remove it).


    If you don’t get the results you seek, try using the name of the language itself, i.e. “Norsk”.

    Still no results? What about looking at the format menu (this tells you the materials being searched, so you can restrict your results to just one type), select limits of “All DVD” or video or video-captioned or AV materials. If these options aren’t available, another workaround is to include a general search term “videorecording”. Even if you want a DVD (not a VHS), this will still work for some items, as this word can be used in the title description. However, some libraries have changed this to state DVD.



    The results will really vary based on the Norwegian vs. Norsk search terms, “Norwegian” was certainly more successful in terms of results in this Trove example search. Notice how some results are in “Books” and after scrolling, some are in “Music, sound and video”. I’m sure someone has created a guided search to make getting these results in any library catalogue much easier!


    I’m tweeting my progress and will cluster the results to make a little vocabulary list so that my Dad can see that I’m doing my Norwegian homework! (or you might like to learn with me). #EttOrdOmDagen


    (note on the image: the orange jumper was knitted by my very talented Farmor, and the little wolf badge used to have a nose but the cats ate it.)


    Liedekijn cat

    31st December, 2012


    I’m excited to be part of the liedekijn group exhibition which will be held at the Front Gallery, Canberra, from 26 March – 8 April 2013. Each artwork will tell a different part of The Song of Heer Halewijn, so you’ll get to move around the gallery and read the story.


    Liedekijn cat

    Cat sitting on liedekijn drawing.

    The part of the story that I’m drawing is when Machteld first sees Halewijn in the forest, she has been lured by the music of Halewijn’s lute. Enchanted by the spell, she embraces him – despite being surrounded by hanging bodies in the trees, his previous hapless victims.


    As you can see, my Miss Cat is unimpressed by my efforts thus far, below her you can see a large lute which I’m thinking about floating somewhere in the air (as Machteld and Halewijn are embracing, it is tricky to incorporate this instrument). You can also see Halewijn’s muscular legs (surrounded by cape and resplendent with pointy cuffed shoes), it almost looks like Miss Cat has squashed him like in Lady Cottington’s pressed fairy book.


    The liedekijn artworks from the exhibition are also being made into a full colour artbook – the fairytale has been translated from the olde Dutch so this will accompany the artworks.

    You can preorder this limited edition book via the liedekijn bigcartel site. Today is the last day for discounted preorders!


    Some of the works in progress are on the bigcartel site, plus the images are being updated on the artists page of the liedekijn site. There’s additional information about the artbook and exhibition on the general liedekijn site.


    The story has a dark beauty but it might make you hesitant to venture into the woods!


    Artist as maker, representation or assumption

    30th November, 2012


    How are artists are represented in and through their work, do we make assumptions about makers? Robert Holden explored this concept at his book launch last year for “May Gibbs: More than a Fairytale”. The talk focused on May Gibbs’ journey to art plus new information about her illustrations for feminist journals (which relied on her keen understanding of contemporary issues). As a child I wondered if May Gibbs was a gumnut baby as she had such an insight into their world, and even now when I have a “Gibbs lens” when I see the beautiful colours of the Australian bush, and still feel a little distrustful of Banksias. Beyond this I’m not sure about my assumptions, but it’s a bit like trying to remember how you saw a Rorschach inkblot before you knew its label.

    Book by Robert Holden and Jane Brummitt.


    A particularly interesting quote (disparaged by Holden as it did not acknowledge Gibbs’ worldliness) likened Gibbs’ sensibility and physicality to that of her gumnut babies and other spritely folk. While a lot of art relies on or involves self-portraiture – from the necessity of model costs or an artist’s unconscious lifelong self-observation – it also means that any work is in danger of an extraneous self-portrait interpretation. I am in two minds about whether every work is a self-portrait, as artists and makers create items from their viewpoint/lens as a visual research project arising from consideration (almost meditation) on their chosen subject.


    You can find out more about May Gibbs in the biography by Holden and Brummitt, May Gibbs: more than a fairytale: an artistic life (Trove entry). It’s still on my “to read” list, but based on the talk, I think it would present a more well-rounded view of May Gibbs, beyond the fantastical elven creator which we conjure (and assume) through her engaging works.


    Mike Parr, the other end of the visual spectrum (and pop culture)

    Artist Mike Parr’s diverse practice has often been labelled as self-portraiture – although he has commented that traditional self-portraiture has become “just a territory or a carapace or a convention, which is worthless in my view.” (Parr to Fortescue in Clemens, 2006, p. 50).

    While Parr’s work has explored wide-ranging political issues and sparked debate, it has more often than not, been through the vehicle of a contemplation of his own physicality. The effort involved in looking at his work and its aesthetic density (Maria Zagala quoted in Clemens, 2006, p. 52) visually and psychologically disrupts the viewer. The depicted disturbance and the fearful possibility of that monstrousness emerging from us all almost makes this a collective self-portrait, and also reflects Parr’s consumption and contemplation of psychoanalytical texts. Thomas (2009 , p. 68) explains this phenomenon as:


    “[Parr’s] …work is less self-centred than it seems. It represents nothing; instead, it presents a reality which, offered to others, might tell them something about themselves. Let’s call it reality art.”

    The question of authenticity and substance in a work – does it accurately reflect the maker? – elicits widespread concern about “truth”, perhaps this is a contributing factor for confessional art and reality television. Some might even be dismayed to find that May Gibbs had a much more balanced “real life” rather than our lazy imaginings of a fae existence. More widescale controversies regarding self-representation have included James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” autobiography which focused more on the emotional truth and cathartic experience of memory, rather than the exact events (for background see Frey’s summary) or the more recent rumblings regarding Miranda Kerr as a brand and business persona (Gorman’s article on TheVine). Maybe all “self-portraits” or reflective work just need an “everyman” disclaimer.



    Further reading:

    Clemens, Justin. I advance masked: Volte Face: Mike Parr Prints and Pre-Prints 1970-2005 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2 March – 21 May). [online]. Monthly (Melbourne, Vic.), Apr 2006: (48)-53. From Informit. The Monthly site also has the full-text article (but this doesn’t include 4 pages of artwork).


    Holden, Robert. (2011) “May Gibbs: More than a Fairytale”. Talk at National Library of Australia, Canberra.


    Thomas, Daniel. Mind / body [Mike Parr’s Cartesian Corpse.] [online]. Monthly (Melbourne, Vic.), Feb 2009: 66-68. From Informit. The Monthly site also has the full-text article (but this doesn’t include a full-page performance image).



    Book collage, Pets of Red Riding Hood

    31st October, 2012


    Book spine poetry’s beauty lies in its simplicity and serendipity, a haiku writes itself on the shelving trolley or in wayward piles on a researcher’s desk. What is the next evolutionary step for book spine poetry? Perhaps movable type on books or automated book spine poems in the style of Philip Parker’s computer-generated books – see McManus’ article, “Dr Parker’s latent library and the death of the author: a philosophical inquiry”. Another possibility is a book collage, where monographs huddle together at night in schoolyard (classification) cliques behind the bicycle shed to create teeming undignified title clusters, a bibliographic laboratory of nonsensical petri dishes like this book collage:


    Collection of books showing animals, Red riding Hood, text and clouds.

    Book collage, Pets of Red Riding Hood


    Title links lead to Trove or National Library records:


    Pop-up stand-out dinosaurs

    Our jungle friends

    Red Riding Hood

    Light zine: dumb clouds and blowy guys

    Some things are impossible


    It just goes to show that Red Riding Hood could have faced a much worse challenge – dinosaurs, giraffes and hippopotamuses. The dinosaurs in the pop-up book are much more three dimensional than the impression given in this photograph of a paper Apatosaurus – presumably named as it’s an affection-loving sauropod. You can see only part of Our jungle friends, the giraffe’s story in the photo, so here’s an excerpt:


    Which jungle friend’s tall, slender, spotted?

    No doubt you’ll guess – Giraffe.

    He’s very fine and graceful,

    And yet he makes one laugh.

    I wonder what would happen,

    If he should go to buy

    A silken scarf

    or muffler.

    A collar

    or a tie?


    …I think what would happen is that the shopping talking giraffe would be rewarded with capture, for displaying such unique skills.

    Red Riding Hood is a facsimile of one of the first shape books published in America in 1863, you can see way the cover follows the shape of her silhouette. It’s also very tiny – 18 by 7 centimetres and kept in a little envelope. The Light zine: dumb clouds and blowy guys can also function as a lantern (it has lots of cut-out cellophane cloud bits) and is made by Poodle productions. The other zine, Some things are impossible is by Andrea Ryer and is a must-read.


    Even though book spine poems can be deeply insightful, sometimes they’re just a fancy version of the search engine BananaSlug –words smashing together to see what happens, a lovely creative bibliographic possibility (just like a library!).



    Melbourne Gallery Crawl I

    10th September, 2012


    Braving Melbourne’s variable weather, ARLIS/ANZ delegates iced the conference cake with a gallery crawl on Saturday.

    Here are some quick notes and photos which won’t do the spaces or the works justice, visit them soon as the shows finish on Saturday 15 September.


    "Tea Party" exhibition by Megan HerringHand Held Gallery & Palmistry, Suite 18 of Paramount Arcade, 108 Bourke Street

    Gallery owner Megan Herring is currently showing an exhibition of her works crafted from surprisingly expansive tea bag paper. The work reflects on the ephemeral nature of items that were once treasured, a bit like Schwenger’s book “The tears of things: melancholy and physical objects” which explores objects as custodians of our memories. Herring has created tea cups, elaborate doilies, remade teaspoons and beautiful lacy bunting and shelf paper edging. Hand Held Gallery is a charming space focused on the small/hand held and manages to fit lots of tiny zines, jewellery and knick knacks for sale. The gallery shares the space with a palm reader, and I really hope that they will one day offer arty high teas along with the palm readings.



    Westspace, Level 1, 225 Bourke Street

    Westspace was showing lots of work and was full of lots of people attending the Feminist Forum Day, linked to the show “A Dinner Party: setting the table” by Caroline Phillips and Victoria Duckett. The most telling feminist artwork was a graph from the C0untess showing art school enrolment and female representation in galleries. There are a few more feminist-related events – a talk on 13 September and films on 15 September listed on the Westspace calendar.

    There are lots of other works in the other parts of Westspace, my favourites were David Capra’s “I must tell you this” and Jeremy Bakker’s “Satellite” – a marble swallowed and passed through the body undigested (it was still very shiny).



    "You came out of me" exhibition by Nina MulhallKings ARI, Level 1, 171 King Street

    Kings ARI was showing work by Anna Fuata, Rachel Haynes, and Diego Ramirez. Nina Mulhall’s work was in Dudspace. We accidentally embraced the concept of Ann Fuata’s “Song for the Mountain” waiting room installation and sat on the chairs – very convincing! This was paired with screens showing a dog in desolate landscapes – imbued with what my mother-in-law describes as “quiet, pensive sadness”.


    Rachel Haynes’ “Muscleflex” had an amazing multicolour saturation of giant swathes of t-shirts, wall painting and beautifully mesmerising texta drawings. Diego Ramirez’s “Touch me Tiger” considered the role of gendered communication in media like music videos with a nightclub-like installation, and challenged our responses to the microphone in disruptive and surprising ways. Ramirez gave a fantastic talk which traversed music video innuendo, self-observation, perception of a person’s space in the world and the ways that the audience has interacted with his work.


    I especially enjoyed Nina Mulhall’s “You came out of me”, which was a video of people imitating their mothers. Her work is in Dudspace, finding it is almost a secret challenge – you might be able to see from this photo that you need to squeeze through an opening on the left to see the video work. It’s in a corridor past the kitchen and near the bathroom! Finding it was really exciting, like Heidi finding Edelweiss on top of a mountain, but with less hiking.



    Bus Projects, Basement level, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street

    Bus Project’s exhibition “TV Dinners” really lives up to its name and tests normal gallery behaviour by transforming the space into an intimate home environment:


    “Visitors are encouraged to sit back and relax on couches and even order and eat takeaway food. Within this setting, the artists’ and art collectives’ elaborations on the creative force of nostalgia and its influence on contemporary culture come to the fore.” – Alana Kushnir (2012) in TV Dinners exhibition catalogue, [p. 1].


    Even though the gallery space is like a cave under the building, it really does have a home-like atmosphere and I rate the couches. TV Dinners includes work by Eddie Peake, LuckyPDF, PsychoanalYSL and Soda_Jerk. Soda_Jerk’s “The Popular Front” juxtaposes internet memes with an iconic film clip, which was a fitting end to our tour – the questioning of our whimsical popular culture and a nostalgic yearning for the past which looped back to Herring’s tea bag paper works at Handheld Gallery.



    Thanks to the wonderful John Stevens for introducing us to some of Melbourne’s lovely artist run spaces! There are heaps of ARIs all over Australia, find out more from Crawl’s great ARI list.



    Adorable kitten rescue news flashback

    19th August, 2012

    Monday 20 August is RSPCA’s Cupcake Day – remember to pat a puppy, make a donation and eat some cake!

    Karen Roberts reunited with her pet kitten.


    The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in Victoria in 1871. The main goals were to reduce the ill treatment of horses, and since then the Society received the Royal Warrant. The RSPCA has helped lots of animals, here’s one rescue story of a kitten that was “treed” in Perth:


    On 17 December, 1949, a former miner climbed a tree to rescue a small black kitten. RSPCA inspector D.H. Roberts took the cat home but then she escaped the following day. Luckily the kitten found her way back home and was reunited with Roberts’ 3 year old daughter Karen. There is another article that assures us that the cat was affectionately cared for – just in case we were wondering why she kept running away. The unnamed cat had her own litter of kittens in 1950 (mentioned at the end of this article).


    Other animal adventures

    Perth-based RSPCA’s Inspector D. H. Roberts also played a part in rehoming “Nelson” (“Lady Hamilton”) a grey seal, relocating a swan, and helping “Creamy” – a dog trapped in a well.


    Adorable! Remember to support the RSPCA and be kind to all the animals in your life.

    All news stories are from Trove’s digitised newspapers.



    Swarms of Lepidoptera

    31st July, 2012


    Continental butterflies and more!

    I returned home this month from a delightful jaunt through England (and a little bit of Scotland).

    During the trip, butterflies emerged as a recurring theme.

    I’m collecting moths for a collage, but butterflies seem to market themselves more effectively.


    Damien Hirst’s butterfly room

    Damien Hirst’s show at the Tate Modern had a whole room dedicated to live butterflies. Plastic ribbons cordoned off the doorways, and special assistants removed errant butterflies from hair and clothing. Photography was forbidden, so all my butterfly photographs are from other venues.

    The butterflies hatch from pupae on canvases and fly around the room to feast on fruit and a few begonias.

    Patrick Barkham has written more about the emotional experience of the butterfly room here.


    I walked through the Hirst exhibition in a haphazard way to avoid the crowds.

    However, this meant that I saw the butterfly canvases (wings glued to canvases in the style of stained glass windows) prior to the live butterfly room. The butterfly collaged canvases changed and glittered in the light, the blue Morpho wings would briefly have a pearly lustre and change back to a bright blue.

    Changing my path through the exhibition meant that the butterfly room seemed unnatural, as though the butterfly paintings were reanimated.

    After regaining life, they escape capture only to be sentenced to stay in a very small room.


    Butterflies as drawing materials

    Closer to home, Genevieve Swifte’s art uses butterflies in a more subtle way, to mimic cloud patterns. Swifte creates her pigment by mixing butterfly wings with silver leaf and binder on paper.

    In “A Study of Clouds I-II”, the scales catch the light and simulate the shifting nature of clouds. The drawings make the connection between flight, air, weather and creatures that inhabit parts of the sky.

    The drawings are so delicate that the effect is best seen in person, otherwise they may be viewed on Swifte’s site here.


    Atlas moths

    I also saw a giant Atlas moth at the ZSL London Zoo – but the ones that Sloane Crosley found irresistible (mentioned in her book, I was told there’d be cake) were at the Museum of Natural History. There was also a great moth talk in the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden.


    Butterfly houses and the Morpho “surprise egg”

    I visited two butterfly houses – Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World (Edinburgh, Scotland), and Butterflies and more (Congresbury, UK).

    Butterflies and more is tricky to find, but is worth it for the established banana plants, eager turtles, and multitude of Morpho butterflies.


    The Morpho is my favourite butterfly, because their lustrous shimmering wings (as glued on Hirst’s canvases) are like a special surprise present. When closed, the wings mimic a brown owl, and when opened, expose a brilliant blue. It’s the nature equivalent of a surprise egg (bath bomb).

    The inner vivid blue is an easier beauty to appreciate than the brooding camouflage variations of the undersides of the wings.

    Perhaps a preference for either one could be a personality test!


    I think there’s a market for butterfly ecotourism…




    Lanterns and hot chocolate at the Botanic Gardens

    4th June, 2012


    Experience your own forest fairytale and enjoy hot chocolate and DIY lanterns at Australian Botanic Gardens, Canberra.


    I went on the weekend’s afterDARK Firefly tour, and it was great to experience the beauty and magic of the illuminated gardens.


    Handmade lantern with swamp daisies


    The rainy night was illuminated by our handmade lanterns (minimally), glass lanterns (a little more) and torches (not so good for ambience but more effective in lighting).


    We learnt about Bunya trees, rainforest ecosystems, and smelt lemon myrtle leaves and kangaroo droppings (luckily I wasn’t in the front row, but apparently they’re quite benign).


    The fog machine in the rainforest gives a sense of wonder similar to Nakaya’s Fog sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia. You can find out about the Fog sculpture here.


    afterDARK for couples?

    Firefly tours have been marketed to children and families, but another demographic could also be couples.


    Instead of hot chocolate, there could be fondue (with strawberries and coconut) while the couples undertake a craft activity like the lanterns.


    It would also enhance the experience to have a cooking demonstration with native ingredients, e.g. lemon myrtle, quandong, or wattleseed.

    This would be a great way to show the appeal of native Australian plants.


    Walking through the gardens could be the romantic finale!

    This would help the gardens to be considered as a future date (or wedding!) venue.



    The afterDARK Firefly tours run from 6pm and 7pm  Saturday 7 July and Saturday 4 August, there are more details here.





    “Becoming Kirsty-Lee” book launch this Saturday

    25th May, 2012



    Ginninderra Press have just published Zenda Vecchio’s second novel for adolescents, “Becoming Kirsty-Lee”.


    The book will be launched at Mount Barker Community Library (in the Adelaide Hills) at 1:30pm, this Saturday the 26th of May.



    "Becoming Kirsty-Lee" cover

    It tells the story of 13-year-old Kirsty-Lee coming to terms with her parents’ divorce and like all of Zenda’s writing, has lots of evocative and beautiful imagery:



    “It’s the end of autumn and all the leaves have changed colour.

    The liquidambars behind the house look like they’re on fire. They glow red and burgundy and copper-gold. Ash and I watch the leaves fall. They’re like butterflies dancing in the sun. They’re so brave. They’re dying and they know it but they go on with their dance anyway.

    Ash bends down and picks one up. He does it gently as if he knows it can still feel and the leaf, star-shaped in his hand, trembles as if it recognises him.” p. 32



    I designed the book cover, with patient help for the colours from Wesley Hobday.

    Find out all the details of the book launch from the Facebook event.


    “Becoming Kirsty-Lee” is now listed in Trove (library catalogue for all of Australia), and copies are for sale from Ginninderra Press.



    Zenda and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday!





    Roland Henderson – photographs of toy animals, plants & objects

    5th May, 2012


    Roland Henderson’s exhibition “Been” concludes at 5pm today, 5 May (CCAS – Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Manuka, Canberra).



    CCAS explain the work as a response to travelling, belonging and a sense of place.


    The photographs in the exhibition each focus on an object or small group of objects including the reverse side of photo frames, toy birds, cabbages, a dandelion in a cup and doll parts. It’s like a collection of memories.


    My favourite was an image of a toy Bactrian camel with a cabbage butterfly perched on each hump.

    It almost appears like a flying camel, but given the scale it’s more magical to think about giant butterflies.


    So now it’s at home with me – I even got 4 nails with my purchase! (plus a fantastic story about cabbage farming).


    As CCAS say, “[these]…exquisitely presented black and white photographs brilliantly nailed to the wall suggest that from the right angle – everything is interesting.”



    The next event at CCAS Manuka is Cue Funktion, opening at 6pm on Thursday May 10.

    This will transform the gallery space into a pop-up venue for live music – combining visual works and musical performances.







    Wine, camels & heritage in Canberra

    12th April, 2012


    There are so many things to do in Canberra this weekend!

    Here are my hot picks, compiled with thanks to 666 ABC Canberra’s event listings.



    Beer on Saturday (14 April)

    Canberra Craft Beer Festival promotes innovative breweries with both beer and cider.

    Best of all, the festival raises money for the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group.

    Held at Mercure (Civic) from 11am till 6pm.

    Tickets include beer tasting. There’s also food, table tennis and the major selling point – a jumping castle!



    Plant sales on Saturday (14 April)

    Both Marymead and the Australian National Botanic Gardens are hosting fundraising plant sales.



    Marymead’s Autumn plant sale (Narrabundah) is from 9am till 1pm.

    Marymead will be selling ground covers, herbs, perennials, shrubs and trees.


    The Native Plant Sale is at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Acton).

    The sale will run from 8:30am till 11am or sold out.

    It’s hosted by the Growing Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

    The native plant list is here.

    Remember to bring something to protect your car seats or boot.

    Plus some boxes and bags to carry all your new plants.



    Wine all weekend (14 – 15 April)

    Branch out from beer and visit the Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival.

    Visit local vineyards to enjoy wonderful wine and olive oil tastings.

    Plus gourmet platters, scones, cheesecake and mousse.

    Listen to jazz or guitar and smell the roses.

    Kids can make scarecrows and the whole family can stomp grapes or bottle wine.


    Get a wine passport stamped at 3 wineries, and enter the wine prize draw.

    See the full program and map here.

    Bizzy Lizzy’s fantastic festival summary is also resplendent with beautiful photographs.



    Heritage not just this weekend, but the whole of April

    The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival runs for the whole of April with an astronomical number of events.

    The very extensive program is here.


    …heritage highlights this weekend (14 – 15 April)

    You can attend talks on old Acton, history or guided walks, architecture tours, or visit the Tidbinbilla Extravaganza.

    Plus eat a reproduction Titanic meal, or make a dry stone wall at Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins.


    The guided walks are everywhere – Yarralumla, Bungendore, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Acton, and Braidwood.

    There’s even an archaeological walk near Burra Creek’s London Bridge (a limestone arch).


    Even Gorman House will hark back to the 20s and 30s with period dress and all things ye olde.

    See the whole program here (you can scroll to the selected dates for this weekend).


    During the National Carillon’s open day on Sunday they will even be playing the Star Wars theme.

    Brief program for the Carillon is here.


    St John’s Heritage Precinct has an open day with markets, maypole dancing and a chance to see Canberra’s first Schoolhouse.

    We visited when I was in primary school – I’m sure it’ll be much less daunting as an adult.

    We wrote on slate boards and there was a very stern faux headmistress.



    Jane Austen from Thursday to Sunday (12 – 15 April)

    The Jane Austen Festival coincides with the Heritage Festival, and starts on Thursday with a movie.

    Then over the weekend it has a full schedule of sewing workshops, dancing, classes, talks, a ball and a country fayre.


    Camels at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday (15 April)

    That’s right, camels.

    Plus bellydancing, sand art animation, printmaking and music.

    This is to celebrate the new exhibition, Travelling the Silk Road: ancient pathway to the modern world.

    The full program is here.



    Bonsai show all weekend (14 – 15 April)

    Be impressed by the green thumbs of the Weston Creek Bonsai Group Autumn Show.

    Sales, demonstrations, and advice for paler green thumbs.


    This is getting rather long – but there’s also theatre with naked men and John Cleese, and Titanic the musical.

    Plus the regular artmarketssport, and lots more to do this weekend and all year round!







    Ways to regain a sense of balance

    3rd April, 2012


    Relieve stress, feel more balanced and resolve creative blocks by being “in the moment”.

    Use all your senses to connect with the world.

    This lifestyle choice is ably explained by Fiona and Kaspa of the Small stones project.


    Here are some of my ideas for being present, relaxed and appreciative of the environment around us:


    Make a list – a useful strategy, except in powerpoint presentations.

    If you can’t sleep, write down all your thoughts on a notepad next to your bed.

    This also helps to improve concentration on a single task.

    Artist Hannah Bertram has even has a List Makers Project about how to make lists and the people that create lists.



    Take a walk and enjoy the flowers in your neighbourhood, and remember to leave some for others to admire.


    Flannel flowers growing in New South Wales.

    Appreciate native plants without picking them, particularly in national parks.

    If you desperately need to take a cutting from a geranium, remember to maintain the plant’s architectural poise.



    Find an art gallery in your local area, visit your cultural precinct or do some drawing.



    Read an old issue of National Geographic instead of a fashion magazine.

    Feel the quality of the paper and enjoy the beauty of the photographs.



    Update your keyboard. The new keys will have a luscious grippy texture and make typing feel exciting again.


    The impact of this may seem exaggerated, but it’s similar to music improving everyday activities.

    ABC Classic FM had an excellent “Ironing is wonderful” promotion which illustrated this concept.


    Duncan Macleod has written a lovely summary of the chores-music advertising.


    Remember to recycle your old keyboard, or give it to a friend in a bundle with some homemade biscuits.

    That way they won’t  feel too sad about having a non-grippy textured keyboard (or they can fill the key valleys with crumbs).



    Notice more birds in everyday life.

    Donald and Molly Trounson have written a comprehensive and fully illustrated guide for bird observation and education.


    Wrens from Trounson's Australian Birds (2nd ed., 1989, PR Books, Frenchs Forest N.S.W., p. 109).


    It is Australian birds: an index of 864 photographs simply classified for easy identification.

    The wrens’ brilliant blues really jumped off the page, but the colour seems less astounding in a reproduction of a reproduction.


    Check for a copy of Australian birds at a library near you.


    Or listen to the birdcalls from the Australian National Wildlife Collection.



    Use satin pillowcases and change your bedlinen for a more restful sleep.



    Make another list …if that will help.








    Canberra Gallery Crawl

    12th February, 2012


    Solstice Eyes (Lisa Twomey), CCAS Manuka

    "Eyes shut" painting by Lisa Twomey


    Today’s Canberra gallery crawl began with Lisa Twomey’s Solstice Eyes exhibition at CCAS (Manuka).


    The exhibition was a wonderful mix of fashion and painting – and some wonderful glitter elements.

    I think I still have glitter on my toes from walking around there.


    Sadly it was the last day, but you can see even more artworks at her blog.






    We were too early for M16 (Griffith) and PhotoAccess (Manuka), so we went to Beaver Galleries (Deakin) instead.





    Denese Oates, Olivia Bernardoff & other artists at Beaver Galleries, Deakin


    At Beaver Galleries, we saw lots of art including Denese Oates’ tree sculptures, Olivia Bernardoff’s paintings.


    "Mallee tree with birds" sculpture by Judy Holding


    Beaver Galleries’ Palette Café also has the best melting moments. In a perfect world, people would appreciate melting moments as much as cupcakes, cakes on a stick and macarons.


    Beaver Galleries is open Tuesday-Friday 10-5 and weekends 9-5.




    Bald Archy Prize at The Watson Arts Centre


    The Watson Arts Centre was quite busy – and then we realised that it was opening weekend of the Bald Archy Prize.


    We voted for number 5 – head along and add to the votes!


    The exhibition’s on until 12 March, open daily 10-4 and entry is $5 or $3 concession.





    Underwater Abstraction (onacloV) at ANCA Gallery, Dickson


    It was also the last day of onacloV’s Underwater Abstraction exhibition at ANCA Gallery (Dickson).

    There were beautiful underwater photographs on canvas and large abstract paintings.


    You can see more of her work here.

    ANCA Gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday 12-5.



    Benedict House, Queanbeyan


    Then we enjoyed the vintage style of Benedict House (Queanbeyan) – bowls of beads that look good enough to eat.


    Benedict House beads & view


    I think Benedict House is so comforting because of that classic old-house smell, which is hard to articulate but reminds me of those paper dollar plants and old plasterwork.

    Plus the vintage wares and delicious cake helps in making it such a welcoming space.


    Benedict House is open Wednesday-Sunday 10-5, call ahead for café bookings and their high teas.



    While Benedict House doesn’t technically qualify for our Canberra Gallery Crawl, I think this shows that there are things to do in the area.

    I need to learn to be quick to get in before exhibitions conclude. Oh well, there is always the next exhibition, and the next…







    Renaissance Exhibition: highlights & a challenge list

    16th December, 2011


    This week I visited the Renaissance exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra).

    The exhibition provides a rare glimpse of Renaissance works by many renowned artists, lent by Italy’s Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.


    The majority of the art is religious in focus – which is a given, considering the time period and the commissioning of the works – there’s even a whole room devoted to various depictions of Madonna col Bambino.



    Here are my exhibition highlights (visual rather than academic!):

    • seeing the gold leaf itself/ different styles of gilding and formats of works (diptych, triptych, polyptych),
    • portrayal of human bodies, and the contrast between the different styles of babies in the Madonna col Bambino section (in terms of life drawing, proportions and conventions regarding portraiture),
    • inclusion of fruit and animals, and
    • reflection of fashions and styles, particularly headdresses.


    I thought the most interesting works were Love Procession by Marco and Apollonio (perhaps it is depicting a ye olde flash mob) Saint Jerome praying by Mansueti (with the highest concentration of animals in any of the works) and Adoration of the Christ Child by Luini (beautiful imagery of a flying angel in a twinkling starlit sky).



    Can you spot any of these items or animals depicted within the artworks?

    Test yourself with this challenge list when you attend the exhibition:


    • A pair of eyes on a gold platter,
    • A brazen parrot,
    • A fish carried horizontally (like a carpetbag) with rope,
    • A fly (this will be easy as it’s mentioned in one of the captions),
    • Two rabbits feeding together in a domestic space,
    • A dog that really looks more like a sheep, and
    • Capigliara (at least two!).


    Let me know in the comments if you spot any of these items or animals throughout the exhibition, or if you’d like to add something to the Challenge-spot list!



    TEDxCanberra, sustainable living & food

    10th November, 2011


    Thanks for visiting! An art practice sits within general life experience, so sometimes I will write about things which may not be explicitly art-related but might be conjuring up a body of work or some new ways of thinking.


    TEDxCanberra 2011 was over a month ago, but it still continues to inspire me – idea digestion takes a while! I’ll also justify this by noting that these events are meant to be a wake up call, so a delay is inevitable as ideas are put into practice.

    I was lucky enough to attend TEDxCanberra 2011 through a complimentary ticket from my workplace.


    I really enjoyed Nick Ritar’s talk about living sustainably – and from this, I have embraced permaculture in a small way by answering nature’s call in our garden a few times, but I will need to find a more long-term solution.

    Especially as we have recently removed the privacy-enhancing Diosma shrub from our yard.


    Nick spoke about the importance of growing our own food, and there are lots of ways to learn more – naturally from your library, which supports your community and encourages sustainable resource-sharing.


    Blatant book name-dropping (book-dropping?)

    Clive Blazely says that:

    “Growing your own vegetables is the single most important step to a sustainable, healthy life. When vegetables are grown at home they are fresh and free of chemicals, eliminating food miles and cutting CO2 emissions by up to 30%. It takes a few hours of work a week. In just 40 square metres you can grow 472kg of vegetables which is enough for four people.”

    From Growing your own heirloom vegetables: bringing CO₂ down to earth, p. 24. You can find out more about the Diggers Club here.


    Feasting on Floriade’s “Tasteful Sensations”

    Recently Floriade – a festival of flowers – was held in Canberra, with a “Tasteful sensations” display showcasing the beauty of bush tucker, herbs and vegetables. In the Floriade picture below, my culinary ignorance asserts itself as I can only identify parsley and perhaps rhubarb. A beautiful garden and knowledge of plants are definitely only aspirations at this stage!


    Floriade's Tasteful Sensations - detail


    Australian bushfood cuisine

    As well as growing our own food, we can minimise the environmental impact of our food choices by looking at sustainable, local Australian cuisine.

    Vic Cherikoff’s book Uniquely Australian: a wild food cookbook: the beginnings of an Australian bushfood cuisine is very readable with lots of glossy, lust-worthy food pron pictures.

    In his book, Vic discusses the possibilities of using eucalypt, desert wattles and desert oak saps as natural sweeteners. These could really change the landscape of the sugar and artificial sweetener industry, as we have seen with xylitol and stevia.

    You can find out more about Vic and his Australian recipes here.


    You may also be interested to read The urban homestead: your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city which has very easy step-by-step instructions and down to earth advice about reducing your footprint. You can see Kelly and Eric’s blog here or follow them at @rootsimple


    Back to the source of inspiration – you can find out more about Nick Ritar’s Milkwood Permaculture here or follow him at @Milkwood_Nick




    Here is my burgeoning compost heap, resplendent with the TEDxCanberra catering floral decorations. The rest of our yard – for now – is a very successful dirt garden.


    Trove note:

    The book links above will lead you to Trove,   which is an Australia-wide discovery service – a catalogue for many libraries. To find a book in your local area, from the individual Trove book record, click on the “All libraries” tab and then the relevant state/territory tab. Click on the library name to go to that library’s catalogue. See the Trove help for more information.


    Happy reading and gardening!














    Welcome to the new website

    4th October, 2011

    Welcome to the new website, find out about Sonja’s art working process and follow Sonja on Twitter to hear about art, library and Canberra things.

    Work is underway for upcoming exhibitions exploring moles (both animal and epidermal), information retrieval (it’s that library flavour coming through) and hearts (in their medical and emotional contexts).