Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

The blue moon casting its gorgeous spell over southern Australia, 30/12/09, 11.30 p.m.

Wishing you a joyous and fulfilling 2010!

For his last birthday, I gave my DH a telescope. Not an enormous one - we thought we'd just start off small - but one that can be easily set up in the backyard for a little nighttime skywatching. So last night we positioned ourselves out there for the full moon - of which the telescope gave us a brilliant view - and I was quite awed to actually see the craters on the moon's surface. What made it extra special was that it was also a 'blue moon' - an 'extra' full moon that only happens very occassionally (the last one was in 2007).

A blue moon is apparently quite auspicious and so it seemed to me a very appropriate note to finish 2009 on. It's been a funny year (and I don't mean funny ha-ha). I have just done a quick round-up of all my favourite blogs and a lot of people have said that 2009 was not a great year for them. Well, I must count myself among them. A hard year, this one, in which I had to face up to the fact that the professional path on which I had set myself was probably either a) the wrong path or b) right or wrong, not the path that was going to succeed. I'm still working out how to solve that particular problem. But I think I have a few little ideas which I'll tell you a bit more about in January (I hope).

All this, of course, in the time honoured tradition of vicious circles, has caused my stress-o-meter to go through the roof and has brought all sorts of other long-standing issues (anxiety, depression) bubbling to the surface. But this has not necessarily been a bad thing. Now I'm addressing things. Looking them square in the eye and trying to sort them out. Not burying them in a pile of other stuff that simply has to be done first (...before I deal with that stuff).

So, as 2009 draws to a close, I would have to say that I feel pretty positive. It's been a lousy year in a lot of ways but in that lousiness, a lot of thinking has been done and, hopefully, a lot of learning. I've still got a long way to go, but 2010 seems like that year when it might all just start to come together. But don't just take my word for it. That lucky blue moon agrees with me.

I have so enjoyed getting the blog started this year - it really has been a highpoint for me. And it's been great to meet the lovely people that I've met here in cyberspace. Tell me about your year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I have always been a keen diary keeper. Not pages of personal purple prose mind you, but jottings of appointments and lists. I can look back at a diary from ten years ago and be as much reminded of what I was doing then by '10 a.m. - tutorial' as by any more lengthy description of my day. So, I always approach the purchasing of 'the diary' with great consideration each year. It's got to be just right - the right amount of space for notes, the right sort of cover, the right colour. Imagine my surprise then, when I came across this little cutie in the supermarket this morning. All of $2.99, with a nice, bright retro-style cover (there's even felt centres on the flowers) and...the cruncher for me...cherry blossoms on each page. Simple and cheerful, just like I hope 2010 will be for me. Aaah, the promise of the blank page, the promise of a new diary...the promise of a new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nothing succeeds like excess

Well, another Christmas has drawn to a close. I do hope you had a happy one, or, at least, a bearable one. Ours, I would say, came under the latter heading and given past Christmases, I am ok with that. I don't mean to sound like a curmudgeon on this, but I think perhaps the photo above sums up what I want to say. This is just a small portion of the edible stuff we received on Christmas Day. Chocolates, crackers, biscuits, cakes, wine, spirits. Too much, too much. Stuff we would never buy for ourselves and, in fact, may not end up consuming. And while generosity is truly lovely, for me it says something about the nature of Christmas. Excess. More and more, I look for simplicity. Quietness. Kindness. Not huge explosions of emotion - either good or bad - or emotions supplanted by things, as so often seems to be the case at Christmas. I don't want a box of chocolates/a DVD/a book. Let's just treat one another well during the year. But perhaps, as Lady Macbeth once said, I think too brainsickly on things. Perhaps this is just the nature of a modern Christmas. What do you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasons Greetings

Wishing you a wonderful festive season
filled with light, joy and, above all, peace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Summer Solstice

In the Southern Hemisphere, we are celebrating Summer Solstice, or Midsummer. Our weather has not been too overwhelmingly hot as yet, although 36 degrees celsius is predicted for tomorrow. Summer Solstice is a time of rejoicing, of celebrating life in all its fullness. 2009 hasn't been a great year for me, but it has been an important time of learning and reflection. A number of the issues which have troubled me this year (and, in some cases, for many years past) have come to something of a crisis point of late. So, while my own inclination is towards Winter Solstice - of still being in the dark, but waiting hopefully for the light - I am also grateful for Midsummer and all the bursting promise and fullness yet to come.
PS Apologies for the predominance of Net-sourced images of late - my camera is on strike.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'll awa hame tae ma tatties

I have recently become hooked on the tv crime series Rebus, taken from Ian Rankin's books (one of which I have also just started reading). Me being me, I didn't just accept this new found interest but began to think instead...why am I interested in watching this show, and, to a lesser degree, the similar Taggart? Why are we interested in watching crime shows at all, or reading true crime books? There is the classic whodunnit element of course, but is it also that characters like Rebus are living lives we would never want to actually lead - investigating horrible crimes, never seeming to sit down to a good, square meal or sleep peacefully in their beds - but which we are happy to vicariously lead through tv shows? Is it perhaps even the location? I have never been to Scotland - I would love to go - but the mean streets of Edinburgh that Rebus paces are not streets we actually have to (or want to) walk down. We can rest back on our sofas and watch him do it. Is there an essential 'Scottishness' to the show, just as I imagine there are certain unique aspects of Scandinavia in Denmark's The Eagle, which I mentioned a little while ago, and which I believe you can definitely see in Austria's Inspector Rex and Stockinger. Parts of the landscape that write themselves into the story.

Further to this I have also been enjoying A History of Scotland, hosted by one of those charismatic tv historians, Neil Oliver (and I mean no disrespect here - I spent 10 years trying to make history sound interesting to university students - anyone who can do it gets my vote!) Such a beautiful, beautiful place! Yet another one to add to my holiday wish-list. Has anyone been there? Are there any Scots out there reading this blog? My husband's surname suggests that long, long ago his forebears were from Scotland, but he has no real interest in it. My suggestion that he wear a kilt in his clan tartan to our wedding fell on deaf ears :)

So, as a stereotyped homage to all this, now that the weather here has cooled down here, I am going to bake some Christmas goodies from Ena Baxter's Scottish Cookbook this is the land of shortbread afterall. But, as with all cultural bower-birds, I pick and choose. There will be no haggis.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tree Hugger

image courtesy of
I have been thinking about trees of late, and their meaning. All a part of looking inside myself a lot at the moment, I think. And, having trained as an academic, I also love to think about symbolism and meaning, and to decode. So it is that I have got very interested in decoding the meaning of trees, or, more precisely, of what they are said to symbolise spiritually. A great site I have come across as a result is http://www.thegoddesstree/ Reading it while working through a set of cards I bought a long time ago called "The Green Man Tree Oracle", I have learnt a lot not only about different types of trees but I have also come to appreciate them much more. Like the Moon, they're not just a backdrop to human activity. As always, I am very Eurocentric in my tastes - I have to say give me an oak over a eucalypt any day - but I would still be interested to find a good, similar source on the trees of the Southern Hemisphere.
I remember the plum tree in my grandmother's backyard was wonderful - old and gnarled but still bringing forth the most beautiful fruit every year. I would climb it as a child, and pick a plum straight off the branch. It was horrible to see it die and eventually be cut down. Do you have a favourite tree? Were you told stories, myths or legends about trees when you were a child?

Monday, December 14, 2009

La Luna

Image courtesy

An interesting study has just come out here, confirming scientifically what many people have known intuitively for a very long time...the Moon is not just another light in the night's sky -

It's a bit of a shame that there was such a big emphasis in the article about the negative effects of a full moon because I believe the lunar phases can also have positive effects on our behaviour too - or, at least, have things to teach us about the bigger picture. Aboveall, I think it's a good message - there is more to the world around us (and beyond us) than we imagine. We are dependent on our natural surroundings, and they have much to tell us. As Shakespeare said it, so much more eloquently: "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Personally, I love to look up at a full moon - it seems to me a nurturing rather than an ominous symbol.

My mother worked at an airport in the 60s, and she said that she had a manager who would always behave differently on a full moon. How about you? Are you effected by the lunar cycles?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two good things on Friday

image courtesy of
1. Another great yoga session today. I am so enjoying it. During that one-and-a-half hours, there are just tiny, tiny, fleeting moments when I catch just a glimpse of the calm, together person I could be...I just have to keep practicing.

2. So enjoying too picking up little mid-century pieces to add to my slowly retroising house. One great declutter tip I picked up during the week - don't bring anything into your house before you know where you'll put it. And I did just that with these thrifted bits and pieces.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One good thing on Thursday

I must admit I've stolen this idea from Jane Brocket over at but it does fit quite well with other thoughts I've had of late of being grateful for and enjoying what is around me instead of looking to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing...and all the things that aren't here quite yet. Also, I'm thinking it might just build up to some ramshackle 12-days-of-Christmas type countdown (build up to a countdown...hmmm)

So today - one good thing on Thursday - is this beautiful, peaceful Buddha which I have just bought and which is taking pride of place on the sideboard in the living room, catching your eye as soon as you come in the door.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In the comfort zone

Close-up on my current favourite cardigan: minty-green goodness from the thrift store.

A Muesli Fruit Loaf patiently awaits its fate in the late afternoon sun.

Do you ever feel the need to be comfortable or to be comforted, even in the smallest of ways?...
I think that if a baked good has muesli in it, it can't be too bad for you. Can it? Anyway, here's some yummy, comfort food goodness from the weekend (now almost completely devoured). I give you -

Muesli Fruit Loaf


2 cups self-raising flour

1 cup muesli

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 medium apple, peeled and grated

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

75 g butter


Combine flour, muesli, sugar, cinnamon and apple in large bowl. Combine buttermilk, eggs and butter in separate bowl. Then combine dry and wet ingredients. Pour into baking tin. Add crumble topping, which comprises:

1 tablespoon self-raising flour

1/2 cup muesli

1 tablespoon raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

30 g butter

Bake at 180 degrees celsius until cooked through. Very nice warm and spread with butter.

And on the topic of comforty goodness, who's with me on cardigans? I know they've made a bit of a comeback with the current Mad Men craze, but I have always loved them. Somehow, they're more comfortable and snuggly than jumpers. Prior to the present fancy for all things retro, cardigans had a tendency to be seen as a bit daggy (sorry, this is an Australianism - perhaps 'lame' or just plain 'unfashionable' suggest the same thing?) but I have stuck with them through good times and bad...fashionable or no, for me, they're just like a woollen hug.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Image courtesy of Google

I went to a new yoga class today. This is the fourth that I have attended in the last fifteen years - that is, classes at four different schools of yoga. The first was great and I finished the course there but then didn't keep up the practice. The second was too big a class, pitched at too high a level for me. I got lost in the first class and didn't go back. The third was promising to start with but when I told the teacher about recurrent back pain I wanted to be mindful of when doing yoga, she told me 'to just work through it'. No. I don't think so. But this morning was really lovely. Slow, with every move explained, and everyone encouraged to go at their own pace and stop if it hurt. I really felt like I got a good, gentle workout, which I feel I am in dire need of at present since I seem to have just a few too many aches and pains for someone only in their (gulp) mid-thirties. As well as this though, some of the philosophy of yoga was also covered during meditation. Too often, I think, yoga is presented as just another form of exercise, without the mental aspect being covered too. So, hopefully, this is the beginning of an exercise plan I will stick to, as well as some much-needed nourishment for the soul.
Does anyone else do yoga?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Remember how everyone used to love James Dean? When I was growing up in the 80s, James Dean was a major crush. The jeans, the quiff, the rebellious thing. I don't think I even saw any of his films until the 90s. It was the look that was the thing, the look was enough to set the teenage pulse racing. But watching this clip from Rebel without a Cause just now, I was struck by how good an actor he actually was. This scene really drew me in. As a young person you tend to personify with JD's character - 'parents just don't understand!' - but watching it now (a little -ahem - older), you can also see that break between the idealism of youth and the loss (or tempering) of idealism that comes with age. But is it a loss of idealism? Or is it a growing wisdom and understanding of how the world works?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deck the halls with tinsel - lots and lots of tinsel

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

And on the subject of Christmas, I have recently decided that - taking both my current aesthetic obsessions into account as well as a desire to make of Christmas what I can - a vintage themed Christmas could be a lot of fun. Vintage decorations, vintage food. There's certainly lots of both to be found online, so I'm obviously not the only one to get this weird little idea into my head! I think, realistically though, that I can only apply it at home and then only moderately - the wider family group that we visit over the holidays may not quite get it - but it does have a promisingly amusing and appeallingly quirky quality to it nonetheless! So, here goes...a wonderfully fake silver Christmas tree and lots of bizarre recipes...but, a word to the wise, DH, I won't be happier with a Hoover on Christmas morning...
PS Not sure if a glittery 60s Christmas quite fits with yesterday's rail against Christmas be the judge! :)