Saturday, May 30, 2009

Warm activities for a cold Saturday afternoon

The weather has been becoming much colder here of late, which is fair enough since winter officially starts on Monday. And what better way to spend a brisk Saturday afternoon than to get baking? This is just a plain cake I made from a recipe off the Internet but it came up pretty well I think (though I haven't eaten any yet...) For dinner, I'm thinking of making a beef pie. I'll let you know how that one goes. Enjoy your weekend :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

I know it's not fashionable but...part III

I love the tv show Inspector Rex. Never seen it? Perhaps you know it as Kommissar Rex. I've been watching it for quite a few years now on our multicultural TV station here, SBS. It's filmed in Vienna and tells the story of an unusually clever police dog called Rex. Some amazing things have happened on Rex - too amazing to relate here, you've gotta watch it! - but it all always works out in the end and that's more that half the reason I love it so. Maybe I'm a big softie, maybe I'm a bit of a dork but I love a neat, all-strings-tied-up, heartwarming ending to a story and Rex does this very, very well every week. I also watch it because it's filmed in Vienna and this is a city I love, love, love. I've been there twice over the last ten years and hopefully I'll be going back there soon. If you're wondering why I love Vienna, check out this site and if you want a very good and detailed low-down on all things Rex, go here

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I know it's not fashionable but...part II

I love postcards. Especially old postcards. Perhaps it gets back to perspectives again but the older the postcard, the more unusual and interesting the angle, it seems to me. Whenever you receive a postcard now, it seems to be of the biggest landmark, the most notable thing. And, of course, you don't really receive postcards very often anymore, do you, because it seems that when people go on holidays now, they tend to send you an email, or a text, or a photo freshly snapped with their digital camera or sometimes, they even keep a blog of their travels, describing their journey to you day by day (ahem). But old postcards, yes. Sure, there's the kitsch appeal. I get that and I love it. But there's also the endearing obscurity about some of the views presented: "This is the little corner of our world which we like the best, and so we are passing it on to you to take away and remember."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I know it's not fashionable but...

Of late - and perhaps it is simply a matter of getting older - I have been increasingly unconcerned by what is fashionable. This is not to say that I have reached an age at which I don't care what I look like (does anyone really ever reach that age?), rather I am feeling more certain of what I like, less concerned about where that fits into the big scheme of popular culture and more content with how I look - in fact, who I am - in general.

One thing I do like which is definitely not fashionable is folk costume. I know, but hear me out. First, I should point out, I don't like folk costume for any peculiar or off-colour nationalistic reasons. Given my studies (see the pic in yesterday's post to give you a clue), I am more than well aware of what a disastrous and ugly path that is. No. I like folk costume for the intricate and original patterns formed in the embroidery, the careful hand-stitching which holds it all together and the eye for detail with which the garment has obviously been made. It wasn't something that popped off a production line. Someone made it. It has a history. It symbolises something of its environment, its culture. It means something. It's not disposable. It's like my love of travel, by looking at an item of folk costume, you can enjoy something that is different to who you are and what surrounds you. You'll see what I mean when you have a look at the Norwegian jacket above.

What do you like (or even love!) that's not fashionable?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One door closes...

Perceptions are a funny thing. And if I had a dollar for every time I'd been distrustful of my own reading of a situation, I'd be...well, I'd have a bit of money. But today I am firm in my opinion. It's a pretty significant day for me. I taught my last tutorials. I am no longer teaching and, in many ways, this signifies the end of my almost-decade-long pursuit of an academic career. I won't bore you with the whys and why-nots of this pursuit or with my view on the current state of academia. But, this year, I just realised that enough was enough. It wasn't going to happen and it was time to look at the whole career/job/profession/what-am-I-doing question from a new perspective. It is sad in a sense that things haven't panned out as I thought they would. But I also feel just a little bit excited. Out on my own. Gotta work it out. No more grand plan to plod along with. If it's going to be, it's up to me, as they say.

A colleague accused me today of having a 'defeatist' attitude, of being negative for 'letting go of my dream'. I was suprised how two such different perspectives could be read into the same situation. Am I being defeatist? From my perspective, I gave it damn good shot. But now, a new perspective is in order. Wish me luck :)

Above some impressions as I 'left the building' for the last time. Like all universities, stairs, stairs, nothing but stairs...but look closely: an exit! And a shelf from a section of the library I got to know very well (and very happily) while writing my thesis.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blue Bird of Happiness

One of my favourite pastimes for many, many years has been to go to opportunity shops (charity shops, thrift stores). I think I may've mentioned this in my previous blog on quilting. I am currently in the process of trying to turn this hobby into a business, but I'll tell you a little more about that when it's a little more on its feet. For now, simply behold the joy of op-shopping! I just happened to be walking past one of my local op-shops and saw this little fella in the front window. And only $3! The op-shop didn't open for another hour so I went home, had lunch and then came back and quequed up (yeah, I know - but other people were queueing too), waiting for the doors to open. When they did, in I dashed and snapped him up. All their very best goodies were obviously in the front window, because by the time I left five minutes later, it was empty. He is made of Granna Glass, from Norway, for those of you who like to know these things (like me!) and he certainly cheered up a rather grey and damp Monday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Sometimes routines can be nice. Many a Sunday my fellow traveler in the Yellow Wood and I have gone into the City, had lunch at our favourite Malaysian restaurant, looked through our favourite bookshop for a good hour, had a coffee and a doughnut for afternoon tea and driven home again. We don't do it every weekend, we couldn't do it every weekend but we do it often enough for it to be a nice, comforting way to spend some time together, reconnect and re-energise before the week begins again. We did it again today and the trees above are some that we see on our way from the car to the restaurant. I found a lovely book of Norwegian recipes in the bookshop too, so be prepared for some offerings from that soon...

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Little Oases

As I've said in a previous post, I love to travel. And while I have liked almost everywhere I've been to, some places I really, really love. Germany is one of those places, and so is Austria. But most recently, one of those places has been Japan. How I love Japan! And one of the things I love most of all about it is the attention to detail. This appeals both to my own love of detail (I take everything in) and a perhaps slightly less positive trait - a hankering for order. The giant waterlilly pads in a park in Ueno, Tokyo, pictured above are an example of the former. Even amongst the thriving (and I do mean thriving) metropolis of Tokyo, there was this nurturing oasis of green calm. And even in less organised ways, on street corners throughout the city, people had thought to arrange pot plants just so that there were some greenery amongst the concrete jungle.
I watched "Around the World in 80 Gardens" on TV the other night and the host's visit to a Zen garden in Japan and to a Japanese teahouse brought it all back to me. Although I realise it has far more cultural and historical significance than anything I, as a non-Japanese person, could perhaps hope to understand, I have to love a country that devotes a ceremony to drinking tea! The teahouse above - again in Tokyo - was apparently a favourite of the Emperor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


We are in the midst of autumn here in the South (Hemisphere, that is) and autumn is always especially lovely around our way. In fact, it's my favourite season. Today, for example, it was delightfully foggy in the morning and then a sort of misty haze hung over the city for most of the day. A lot of people don't like fog, I'm sure, but being the overly thoughtful type that I am, I love it for a couple of kinda wishy-washy reasons. Or, at least, I love it in the safe confines of our urban environment. I probably wouldn't be too mad on it if I was driving on a dangerous, winding road or being pursued by Jack-the-Ripper through 19th century London. But since I was doing neither of those things this morning as I stood on the doorstep, it made me smile. It envelops otherwise familiar (and sometimes dreary) scenes in an air of mystery, indeed, of mysticism. Above is a photo I took on my phone as I walked up from the train station this afternoon. It captures just what I like about autumn; the stark loveliness of the trees and the clear, almost brittle, blue skies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hello from Feronia

Some of you may have noticed that I have had an ID change since last you checked in here in the Yellow Wood. I am now going by the Nom du Net of Feronia and I'll tell you why. Feronia, I have very recently discovered, was an Ancient Etruscan goddess of travelers and freedom and this seems very appropriate to me right now. So there you are, all is explained. Well, all on that small matter anyway.

On another note, I have also very recently discovered the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. A bit shameful, I know, for someone who claims to have a major in English Lit but there it is. And hey, he wasn't English! (yes, I know that doesn't get me off the hook) But, anyway, I have been doing some research for a chapter I'm writing on Neofolk music (and that will be another story for another day) and Mr Poe has oft been cited. So, like a good researcher, I duly checked him out, and for deliciously gothic imagery and beautiful, alliterative language, look no further, my friends. I especially recommend "Annabel Lee".

Monday, May 18, 2009


Who watched Eurovision? Go on, admit it. Eurovision has this slightly shameful, pathetic image (at least around these parts) and this year I very nearly bought into that, despite having watched and enjoyed it in previous years. Pah!, I said cynically, Eurovision. Load of commercialised rot, sub-standard music, ridiculous costumes etc., etc. And the two nights of semi-finals screened on tv here seemed to confirm that. But the finals were really something else. The winning song from Norway, "Fairytale", is just great ( A wonderful pop song, in the truest sense of the term, but a great Eurovision song too in that it did have that bit of dagginess, that bit of sentimentalism (folk violin!) and so, that bit of heart. And it's got a bit of Abba too, and a bit of "Those Were the Days" for those who remember back that far, so really a very good song in a couple of respects. Another terrific one in my view was the entry from Portugal, "Todas As Ruas Do Amor" ( Gentle, folksy, little bit of the Sundays. Lovely. Hooray for a bit of the daggy! Douze pointe!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Western Skies

Well, here I am, back again after quite a break. These have been difficult times for me in many ways and I am quite sure I am not out of the woods yet. Difficult but perhaps also ultimately important and rewarding times of transition. Who knows? I guess I'll just have to wait and see. What I had thought I would be doing with my life professionally has fairly definitively ground to a halt and proved to be something of a dead end, rather than the highway to glory and satisfaction! This is distressing, unsettling, challenging and liberating news for someone in (as it was described to me) "early middle age" (!!) So I have been going through (and continue to go through) a slow process of rebuilding: how can I adapt the skills I have? Do I need to start all over again? What really interests me?, as well as encountering a few of the recognised stages of denial about it all: anger, hurt, blame, jealousy etc. Perhaps these are not the official recognised stages of denial, but they're the ones I've been feeling.

What prompted me especially to post is a post I've just read from a blogging friend of mine at Another Beautiful Day ( In her latest entry, she ponders the nature of youth and this is what I have been thinking about lately too. How full of promise life seems when you're young! Everything seems possible, time and opportunity stretch out before you. What I now think is really amazing is to recapture at least some of that feeling later, when you've taken a few knocks, while also balancing it out with a useful dash of 30-something reality. Can it be done? I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I think Roddy Frame (he of 80s indie-pop group Aztec Camera, ironically part of the soundtrack of my youth) says it best in "Western Skies":

The road you chose to follow
Slowly turned into a cul-de-sac.
There's no shame in turning back
And trying something new.