Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hoot Hoot

Jill, over at Ruby St, has this morning spotted (and photographed) a boobook owl in Marrickville. This is really amazing as Marrickville is very polluted & noisy. We are close to the Cooks River though, so perhaps it has come from one of the parks there. Or perhaps it has left its habitat because of the drought? Seeing an owl, albeit on someone's blog, makes me both happy and anxious. Happy because I love owls, even more than I love hippos or dragonflies. If I had to get a tattoo, it would be of an owl. Anxious because I think, what the hell is an owl doing around here? Is it in some sort of distress? Perhaps there are birdy people out there in blogland who have a better idea of why it might have landed in Marrickville.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Empty Space

There's something very comforting about a spare room, don't you think? It's a place of possibility, a room unencumbered by the demands of lounging or sleeping, dining or cooking, washing, working, or even getting from one place to another, like the hallway. Since Hugh went back to live in the country I've reclaimed our spare room. I don't like to fill it up much - its appeal is in its emptiness. Teenagers crash there, my friend Zoe spends the occasional city-night, and I've set up a craft table. I've been going into the spare room lately to zone-out when there's too much going on in my brain. Like today, trying to write a piece about death & memory for Sarsaparilla, I wandered in and did this with the scissors & some glue. It's a card for Ruby, who's 17 tomorrow.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Glory, the grape

We noticed a tang of richness, bordering on decay, on our back deck on Saturday. It was the grapes from our vine, only planted two years ago, ripening a little too much (regular readers know that lately my garden has been neglected).

So, what to do with kilos and kilos of grapey fecundity? We ate as many as we could. Then I found a recipe for grape jelly. This wasn't something anyone was really happy about, except me, as I've been known to be an enthusiastic but haphazard cook and in fact I've never had jam set. Richard appeared dubious & hovered about. I promised to follow a recipe and not go my own way (a public service psychological exam once said I was neither a team player nor a leader).

First, boil the grapes (2 kilos) with three sliced lemons, until the grape peels start to come away from the flesh.

Then strain the mixture through some cheesecloth, overnight. Overnight! Outrageous. I like things to be instant. Oh well... now, I couldn't work out how to get the fruit-hammock dangling over a bowl, until I remembered this post from Ampersand Duck. The wonderful blogosphere to the rescue! So I inverted one of the kitchen stools, dusted its legs, & set up this contraption:

It dripped away all night and in the morning I boiled the 8 cups of liquid with 6 cups of sugar. Boiled it until "setting point" which I've always been hopeless at. So I kept boiling and boiling and testing and testing, by dripping liquid on a saucer to see how thick it was, until finally I lost interest, drifted away, and it boiled over rather dramatically. Ruby rescued it but set a tea towel on fire in the process (at that point I had to put the camera down so no photo).

Finally, after about 2 hours of cooking, it began to set, hooray hooray, it seemed like magic (how did white grapes produce red jelly?) & I felt like a domestic goddess. I'd even sterilised some jars... and guess what, it tastes as good as it looks, so Nigella move over.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Frocks that Talk

If you're not already acquainted with the Secret Lives of Dresses series, now is the time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Gone to Seed

Remember my vegie patch? It started off looking like someone's peggy hair transplant. It grew quickly, almost frighteningly so. Now, because of nothing but simple neglect, it is out of control.

You wouldn't know we're in the middle of a drought. This hasn't been watered in months. I've been dreading going out there to deal with it, but yesterday made a quick scan of the damage. I'm yet to actually pull a weed.

These tomatoes have sun-dried themselves.

There is a tiny rainbow silverbeet struggling for sun.

Phallic friends hiding...

A dead raspberry plant.

Mr Fawlty gone to seed. Perhaps I could make some of this.

A baby artichoke, hiding way up the back.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Shop of the week: The Bower

Pre-loved, unloved, discarded, broken or just plain unfashionable stuff finds its way to The Bower. It's a reuse and repair cooperative - that means they collect, fix up and re-sell things. They concentrate on household, building and office goods. It's brilliant going there. I've bought most of the blinds for my house there over the years, and various bits and pieces including a beautiful white cotton bedspread. Yesterday there were a few amazing pieces including this vintage Cyclops pram in pristine condition

and this 35mm film editing table, next to a hospital bed (just visible on the left).

They sell bikes, computers, kitchen sinks, baths & basins (often green or pink from the 1950s), car parts, wet suits, building materials and filing cabinets. If you live near Marrickville, dropping in occasionally is really worth it. You might also keep The Bower in mind for when you want to get rid of stuff - they take donations and will even collect from your house. They also deliver, and hire things out, for film shoots for example.

On a Sunday, you could combine a trip to The Bower with a rummage around Reverse Garbage, a visit to the peaceful Addison Rd Gallery, and a lunch of Chinese dumplings or Turkish gozreme from the Addison Rd Markets. They're all in the same complex (an ex military base!) and there's heaps of parking under the big old gum trees.

My favourite spot at The Bower? The wall of pink drawers, holding deadlocks, springs, cupboard hatches & locks, drill bits, handles, washers, bearings, etc.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Fedeterranean Furniture

I spotted this dear little cabinet languishing on the nature strip last week and brought it home immediately. I'm slightly ashamed to say I abandoned it again this evening. Like a very bad adoptive mother I put it back on the street, unable to actually countenance it in the house. It is a classic piece of Fedeterranean furniture: note the faux marble, the faux walnut veneer, the faux gold handle.

I'm not all bad. Here's another true story: today on King St Newtown I paid $5.00 for a big tub of strawberries. I was asked a few minutes later by a beggar for some money, and as I had none left I gave her the strawberries. She was pleased & I saw her sharing them with some of her colleagues a bit later at the bus stop outside the Bank Hotel.