* bedside

2 08 2011

I can reach out and touch Hemingway’s Moveable Feast

A moss-green notebook

And a flowery pen, a birthday gift from my little girl when I had swine flu


Two black hair ties overlap

A red ribbon, a piece of blue frayed fabric

From a skirt I want to transform


4 wrinkled, handwritten letters from America– lined paper, blue ink.

(With no envelopes)

Layered, willy-nilly, on top of the bright orange book, ‘Philosophy through Film’


A lamp, not mine, white, metal and practical

A whiteboard marker – blue, juicy with ink

A generic brand of ibuprofen – all gone but one


Oval brass photo frame, glass broken

Faded snap-shot of a small Jewish American boy with socks up to his knees

Ironed collar and 1960’s vest


Far left, a small portable stereo – the red light usually shining

I take the opportunity to pile papers on top of one of the speakers

Outdated.  Forgotten


Beneath it all a Rimu Hope Chest crafted by my uncle

Filled with gifts and treasures by my mother

Discovered by me after her funeral


bonkers for garbanzos

29 06 2011
These tasty little nibbles could not be easier – I’m garbanzo mad at the moment and I’m sharing the insanity…
  1.  Drain, Rinse and blot dry 2 cans of chick peas
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix it well
  3. Season with salt, garlic or any favourite flavours
  4. Spread on a baking sheet
  5. Bake on high heat (230°C) for about 30 minutes or until chick peas are crunchy

It’s chilly down under.  I’m a master fire maker and that is a fine skill indeed. The kitty loves me for my fire wrangling prowess and we often sit together marveling at my talents – she a little closer to the heat than me, of course. She insists.
I’ve been reading like a fiend, playing games in the evening with Zuzu and M and cooking some hearty soups and curries. It is a wonderfully relaxing and heartwarming time of year and I am so grateful for the opportunity to stop being busy for a minute. I do believe one of the gifts in all the weeks and months of assignment overload is feeling the beauty and gratitude of this rest.

filling up

20 06 2011

oh boy.

for the first time in 7 months i have no assignment pending. i’m free to do whatever i please.

what to do – what to do?

first, i’m going to start tidying my long-suffering house. kitty will have to find a safe spot while i suck up everything that is loose on the floors (and walls for that matter).

then, i’m going to have a bath. a long bath with candles and chocolate and something bubbly.  someone may need to turn the pages of my book and feed me – it’s more elegant that way.

afterwards, well… i’m just going to roll around on the clean floor and laugh and sing – there may be dancing.

at some point i’ll start creating a fabulous meal and i’ll giggle and tell funny stories to kitty (and m who is injured and recovering at home with limited mobility).

zuzu will come home, soon after, and i’ll run to the door with my frilly red apron on, over my crisp and white ironed shirt and pretty, poppy skirt, and fling it open. we’ll embrace and i’ll feed her veggie crudités with home-made dip and warm-from-the-oven plump chocolate chip cookies with a glass of milk. we’ll sit at the round table and share highlights of our days.

ooh, a movie. a poignant, funny, dramatic, obscure, romantic movie – i guess it’ll have to be French. then, a book i’ve always meant to read, like – The Mill on the Floss or The Good Earth.

gracious me – there’s still so much left to do.  thankfully, i have a three WEEKS to fill with all this joy and abundance and gratitude…

he knows my name

23 05 2011

i sit in my spot on the far away chair – at the end table by the window – feeling divorced from the others. i suspect we all feel that way – except perhaps that confidant, curly-haired girl who talks loudly and ignores my annoyed telepathic attempts to shut her up. i am ready to do all that is asked of me. i am eager. i am primed. i am self-conscious – it has been so long for me.

he stands up and closes his eyes;  i watch him shed his big weight and all the stories connected to it – he shrugs it off, along with his reticence and his introversion and his silence. this is the moment i wait for. every time he does it, i breathe faster, like i know it’s significant. i might need it one day.

he stands, still big but also beautiful and knowledgeable and accomplished. i don’t want to miss his words and i seethe when the curly haired girl asks her neighbour if conner called her and if she’s going. i turn to her as if i might be disturbed by her rudeness but she is oblivious. her lack of awareness will make her a crappy writer – that helps me.

then he speaks – my cheeks fizz and my ears strain and i am under his spell. he moves me. i worship his memory and his experiences, his ease and talent. he throws away a picasso story – i pick it up for my reference. he shows us mechanics and lubrication and he pulls examples from thin air – i suck them in.

now to me. i follow his directions. i pour my guts onto the sunny page and sort through them with the pretty floral pen my girl gave me for my birthday, last year, when i had swine flu. it hurts and i am breathing raggedly. then it’s all over and he wants someone to be brave. i want to be brave for him. i go red in anticipation of my nerves and my dry mouth and my shaky voice and then, i raise my hand.

when i am finished, he looks at me for a bit longer than a beat and he asks me to go again. i go again. oh glory. he tells me about my green apple with dents and bruises and my one green converse hi-top with the scribbles, he holds me up and tells them to look at me. he asks my name again. sorry, what’s your name again?   he looks at me differently now and i must have him always look at me just like that.

it’s done and he sits down, his bulk heavier now, his grey ponytail a little less silver. he’s almost gone. i squeeze past the chairs in my row, feeling raw and tired. when i reach the bottleneck at the door, i turn slightly at the sound of my name. he looks up at me over the rim of glasses that i’ve just noticed he wears. excellent – he says.

he knows my name.

my voice

7 04 2011

I’m in the process of writing a piece that is jiggering with my stomach. It’s a good story and it has wonderful scope for nuance and interesting dialogue – I’m well into it and I have a great overall feeling about its potential.

However, my stomach is reacting to it.

I sit to write and my previously mellow little belly, which is not hungry, thirsty or in pain, begins to dance. It hops and pokes and aches and burns and wiggles and jiggles until I have to stop.  I love my tum-tum and I want to treat it well, but I’m forced to ignore it – studiously – so I can get on with the business at hand.

I think the story might be a little disturbing to my tummy. It is personal – not to me, exactly, but to my dad. And if I would write it accurately and un-writerly, all would be well. However, I have taken a sweet little snippet from my late daddy’s childhood story cache and turned it into a menacing dramatic piece with danger, fear and a healthy dose of pathos.

Do I have the right? It was a lovely story about a boy’s experience growing up in the outback of Australia … I’ve loved this story for my whole life. Now, I am telling it in my way. With my voice. The little boy is no longer my darling father, but a character who behaves independently of my memories and has experiences that I’ve never heard about – until I write them.

I believe I do have the right. I think my dad would be amused and proud that I had launched him into a sea of drama and a little intrigue. I like to think so, at least. My daddy was a strong, intelligent and witty man who loved literature and a good story – yes – he’d be fine with it.

Tummy, do your thing and I’ll write to your rhythm.


the whole shebang

16 03 2011

I am doing it all!

I’m having my cake and eating it. I have placed all my eggs  in one basket. I’m juggling. I have a bird in each hand and several others in the bush. I’ve added fuel to my fire. I’ve gone out on a limb. But there’s method in my madness – as long as I don’t run out of steam. OK, I am finished indulging myself with this idiom idiocy.

I am now underway in two post-graduate degree programmes. I know! What am I thinking? Less than 6 weeks ago I was thrilled to have discovered an opportunity to study Creative Writing at a graduate level and I was certain that a delicious new path was spreading tidily before me. A few days later, when I was offered a place in the coveted Graduate Teaching Diploma programme, I wondered if I could do both.

Here I am. I’m wriggling and jiggling in essays and tests, assignments and case studies. I’m challenged, exhausted, energised and dazed – all at the same time. I am loving it.



I knew the timing was perfect for a new endeavour, with Zuzu now commuting to High School in the city. Most days I am on the ferry with her and if I have late classes, then she meets M and heads home with him.  I am fine with the house being a little disorderly, I can handle the brain strain, I’m even reveling in the early morning ferry commute – I sit with M and Zuzu, coffee and some relevant article in front of me. It’s working beautifully.


But! I am desperately missing my days fiddling around in the kitchen. I yearn for that feeling of bliss when I am sparked by an idea and all the ingredients before me with the whole day to play. I long to throw myself into a cooking project while my sweet people hover on the perimeter of the kitchen, sniffing and anticipating. I dream of sprinkling spices and herbs at will, savouring the aroma and later, the flavour.  I periodically vow I will spend one of my weekend days in my little kitchen cocoon but, invariably, I am either working on an assignment, reading for a class or attempting to wrangle the house into some recognizable shape. The house issue wouldn’t be such a big deal but the week after I started back at school, I decided to dissect and redecorate Zuzu’s bedroom. I even made her a desk. Unfortunately, as I pulled everything – EVERYTHING – out of her bedroom, I found resting spots for the leftovers in the hallway and the bathroom, not to mention the lounge and my bedroom. I need to go through it and store portions of it then hard-heartedly throw some of it away. There’s the dilemma. When might this happen?

My spirits soar on these new adventures and while I eagerly anticipate my first study break of the year, to get my house in order and enjoy a cooking revival ,  I guess I’ll just have to come to terms with the old adage:

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

the bright side

14 02 2011

Luckily for me, I love mashed potatoes. However, after too many days of a  ‘low residue diet’, in preparation for an endoscopic procedure,  I was afraid that I would forever lose the taste for my ultimate comfort food.

I’m going to need a lengthy break from yogurt, eggs, broth and white rice but potato mash still fills me with delight.


Step 1: Cook 1 1/2 pounds of mashing potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt – so a fork easily passes through them.

Step 2: Warm 4 tbsp of heavy cream and 2 tbsp melted butter together in the microwave or a pot.

Step 3: Drain water from potatoes and put hot potatoes into a bowl.

Step 4: Add cream and melted butter mixture and mash the potatoes until perfectly smooshed.

Step 5: Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding milk to achieve the consistency you prefer – Don’t over-beat or your potatoes will get gluey.

Step 6: Salt and lots of pepper to taste.


Once off the diet, I have to admit I was craving something crunchy and woo hoo spicy. In fact, on the ferry coming home after the procedure, I felt manic and we desperately tried to find a number for the new Thai restaurant on the island. Thwarted, I settled for a mouth-watering Indian Palak Paneer and  indulged in Pad Thai Jay for dinner the following night.

This morning, however, as I was wandering through the usual dinner prep, in my head – I was caught up in a fancy for mashed potatoes. That’s true love for you.