As the year draws to a close, I note the last remnants of the stunning purple jacarandas that had heralded the start of summer in a glorious riot. This colour is in striking contrast to the vibrant leafy green tree that stands sentient through summer and autumn, and the devoid-of-colour stalwart that withstands winter and early spring. We, each of us, possess different mantles for various occasions, creating complex layered dimensions. Some more subtle that others; some rarely shared.
It was through wandering the local streets that I noticed the evening smells of summer. The gardenias and jasmine are especially powerful at dusk and early evening. They invoke the smell of muted colours for me. So have a wander, follow your nose and enjoy the soft beauty of your surroundings and reflect on which aspects of yourself will come to the fore in 2018, and what new facet you will share with others.
Some girlfriends and I went to the National Gallery of Victoria on a Friday night. Sounds like a boring option, doesn’t it! But the trip was actually well worth it. We saw The House of Dior exhibition. The historic fashion, the colours, the fabrics, the styles, there was a lot to take in. The elegance of the original Haute couture and the following 70 years of designs from 1947 to 2017. It was a visual feast of the beautiful and the practical, along side the weird and extreme. Some outfits were weighty – literally, others were delicate and simple. There were evening gowns, attire for all seasons, even wedding dresses.
The detail in this dress can easily be missed. Its simplicity has hidden grace. Look closely at the pattern of beading. The size of the repeating square pattern actually grows with the girth of the dress as it falls. Each row maintains the perfect symmetry of the square pattern. The number of columns does not change around the circumference of the dress. The meticulous attention to the intricate detail of this dress can be appreciated upon closer inspection. So pay attention to the elegant and simple things, as they have caught your eye for a reason. Look closer and see the perfection.
It’s good to be home. Sometimes we don’t see it, but home has so many everyday touchstones that we only miss when we are away.
To sleep in your own bed again is serenity. The pillows are just right, the sheets and doona are a known quantity, even the orientation provides a level of comfort. The sunlight in the house comes from the right quarter. The smells are identifiable. The freedom to relax and flop in your favourite armchair is bliss. Not only have I come back to a world which includes Vegemite and the metric system, but I have come home to accustomed flavours of drinks and dressings and recognisable food.
With fresh eyes, I notice the minute changes in the seasons as Spring takes hold. The bursting blossoms have given way to the feathers of emerging green. The overnight temperatures no longer require a nighttime beanie to keep my head warm (fashion victim!). The sun is up before I leave for work. The changes are subtle and distinct yet familiar, and promote thoughts of warmer days to come. We don’t see the routine things until they are not there. So open your eyes to your surroundings and enjoy the cosiness and sense of belonging they impart.
Devonshire Tea to be exact. Simple recipes are the best. Simple ingredients makes it even easier. In a bowl add four cups of self raising flour with a tub of cream and a can of lemonade. Mix with a knife. Flour a board and flatten the mixture (not too much) and cut out scones with the rim of a glass. Makes approximately 16 scones. Bake at 200ºC for 15 minutes. Done. Too easy.
The scones are best enjoyed straight out of the oven with jam and cream and friends. Something to try, something to taste, something to share. So give this simple recipe a go. It is a good excuse to have friends and family over. You don’t have to follow the traditional Devonshire tea with jam and cream, you can mix it up and add cheese (or anything else) and enjoy them with a spread of butter. Just use your imagination.
I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it again. It’s a bit of fun. It’s a splash of colour. It’s a piece of whimsical art. I saw this yarn-bombing down at my local shops. An ordinary tree trunk next to a bike rack in a dull and dreary streetscape was made to come to life with a simple addition of wool.
The relevance was to hark back to a memory where I first saw yarn-bombing and discovered the global effect of this uncomplicated act whether it was knitted or crocheted. I saw it first in Argentina and thought it was a local affectation, but upon visiting other countries it became clear that wool and colour was being used in the same way around the world, including here in Australia. This was reconfirmed on the weekend in my own neighborhood. Here is the original photo from Buenos Aires in 2013, which brings a slice of levity to this ordinary street. So adopt a splash of knitted colour to bring a window of frivolous fun into your life.
I had occasion to drive the Great Ocean Road along the Victorian coastline. I’ve done it many times, generally as the driver – I’m not so good on windy roads. The road is a challenge and requires all your focus and attention. I’ve normally tried to execute the arrival plan in the shortest time possible.
But sometimes road are not merely to get you from “A” to “B”, they can be enjoyed. There are many stopping spots on the Great Ocean Road, above is just one of them. It was a glorious winter’s day with only a slight breeze. The stop was only for 10 minutes but the vista enriched your eyes and the sun was warm on your face. Taking a deep breath, it was good to be alive, being able to appreciate the time and locale. It’s definitely worth it. So next time you’re on the road, pull over and experience the moment.
We all have tough days, but there is a mateship borne of Australia. We care about each other. We care about all the people in our lives. Sometimes “life” gets a bit too frantic, but there are always people who care. Friends, family or our special someone: people just need a simple question to know that someone cares for them or about them. It is good to be on the receiving end of the question, but it’s also good to do the asking, and just listen to the response. That’s all it takes. “R U OK?”
I’m okay! and I’m heartened to know that there is an organisation out there that cares about all of us. They care enough to create awareness and momentum, to provide tips and tools, and resources if needed. This simple question has begun to change lives for the better. Today is R U OK? Day. Make sure you share the good feeling and ask someone today if they are okay, then try it again tomorrow and the next day … You’ll be surprised at how rich your own life becomes.
We all have our Mr Snuffaluffagus. Remember Big Bird from Sesame St, who had a friend that nobody even saw. It was a wonderful sojourn into my childhood days remembering Sesame Street and the frustration of Big Bird. My Mr Snuffaluffagus was also real, but uncannily elusive. Ever vigilant with the phone camera, I eventually won out. I had seen a massive cat on my deck and only ever managed to scare him(?) off with my dash for the camera. I had remarked to many that this cat was huge having no idea of the breed. I started to feel the story was sounding implausible with every telling, compared to my norm of light weight 3kg pussy cats.
Then one day sitting on the couch watching television, having just answered a call, Mr Snuffaluffagus dared to walk by. I caught a snap and since the gig was up, he(?) hung around for a portrait shot as well. Mystery solved, Mr Snuffaluffagus does exist and I have photographic proof. I’m sure he’s asking if anyone wants to come out and play!
My university days are not over yet and I do enjoy the diversity of ages, peoples and minds. Listening to a group of writing friends, one declared the birth of a new word. The English language is a glorious beast with words for all occasions, double (sometimes triple) meanings and innuendo. Some words are self-evident; others take a bit of understanding to get the hang of. The beauty of a shared language is that you can use building blocks to convey your meaning or message. This new word is required in the advent of opening a packet of bickies in front of the TV and mistakenly devouring the contents without noticing. Other similar examples could involve big bags of chips or pizza, while in deep discussion on a vital topic. We’ve all done it and now there is a word to encapsulate it. A word to explain the foibles of mere mortals when eating and distracted by matters of great import. We can now claim to have fallen prey to a snackcident. Very aptly penned and appropriate. So I humbly cast into service (on behalf of a colleague) this newly birthed word of the English language.
Snackcident (noun): to be used to justify when the last Tim Tam has disappeared, or the last piece of chocolate has been devoured. You have fallen prey to a snackcident!
Our furry feline friends do bring joy and a softness to our hearts. They can be mad-cap and throw a crazy-appleton: bolting from one place to another for no apparent reason. Common sense and logic play no part in this mayhem. They can be indifferent and ignore all your advances regardless of treats or cuddles (what did you do?). They can play like kittens with the curiosity that a forgotten shopping bag can bring, or the dangling end of a belt that sees all your clothes pulled off their hangers, landing in an unceremonious pile at the bottom of your wardrobe. But they can also be affectionate and loyal. They sneak onto your lap while you’re watching TV, or rub against your legs when you’re in the kitchen (because your sole purpose at the bench is food preparation for them – or so they think). They absorb and reflect you mood, but mostly they simply hangout, happy just to be with you.