Friday, 28 October 2011

Let's go fly a kite

In the excitement of apple pie and icecream making, and let's face it, eating, I completely forgot we flew a kite on the weekend. As with the new veggie patch, I took on more of a supervisory responsibility than actual flying per se. As in, stood there and provided motherly encouragement while Elly ran with the kite string, and Dave helped him get it off the ground. Still, I remembered to pack it in the car in the first place, fetched it from the car, removed the plastic wrap, and affixed the cross bar and string, so in my book that serves a fairly important facilitating role.

My list, my rules. I'm countin' it. Number 17 - with Elly, make or decorate a kite, then fly is done. Geez, is it the apple pie, icecream and wine, or is that grammar shocking? Now there's only left to say... (clears throat)... to infinity and beyond...

#30 - It’s raining, it’s pouring

It’s perfect weather for an apple pie. The Elly-monster spent this evening at his grandparents house. A perfect opportunity for me to flex some atrophied cooking muscles. Boy this one was fun, and totally worth the hours and mess it caused. I could almost hear my dad saying to me, as he was wont to do, “did you use every bloody dish in the kitchen?” Why yes, dad, I did!

#30 - bake an apple pie from scratch and make vanilla icecream to go with it is done.

I used Poh’s recipe with only a few minor changes. I peeled a lemon and added the rind to the apple mixture to increase the sour/sweet contrast. Used all butter instead of copha in the pastry. The apple seemed to be taking ages to cook and all the tasty caramel sauce kept clumping on the pan, so I added in some extra water then strained most of the sauce from the apple filling before putting it in the pastry. I’d ummed and erred about including the cheddar cheese in the pastry, but my it was lovely. I bought a vintage cheddar, and it adds something really different to this pie. It makes the pastry really savoury, but also seems to create an extra crispiness and flaky bite to the edges. And the savoury/sour/sweet pie combined perfectly with my obscenely rich vanilla icecream.

I used this recipe from David Lebovitz. I accepted his invitation to add an extra three egg yolks to make a total of eight yolks. Mmm, yolky goodness! I couldn’t find the instructions for my icecream maker, so had to wing it. It seemed to take about as long as I remembered, but the result was a little bit runnier than it should have been, although still very very tasty. Seriously, I could eat this icecream until the cows come home. Mooooo!

And on that note, the rest is best in pictures:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

greetings from caffeine central

We're not sleeping much at 40-things central, but we are planning and hoarding supplies. For pinata:

Huzzah! It's not for a party, but I shall endeavour to "pinata like mad" instead. And for item #36 - design and make some interesting (not stereotypically girly) clothes for Martha, this:

I’ve also been thinking some more about the meaning of item #36. Now I want to clarify, I don’t have a problem with pink and purple. I don’t care if Martha wants to wear dresses or flippy skirts all year round. In fact, right now she's wearing pink jammies with baby elmo that say she's 'naturally cute'. Any gifts in this vein are gratefully received. But as she gets older I’d like her to have a choice. What’s wrong with all the other colours? And what’s wrong with wanting it to be easy to find clothes that don’t constantly proclaim, after the age of six months, that she’s “cute” or “pretty” or a “princess in training”? Sure she can be a princess. But why is that all she should aspire to? I guess it’s more about my dislike of putting kids into boxes and the implication of limiting their choices. This applies equally to boys.

A few months ago Elliot and I went shopping for pants. I asked him what colour he’d like. He said orange. Well of course he did. And of course he was really disappointed when all we could see were grey, black, and blue. His little lip-dropping disappointment face is something to behold. Happily a few weeks later I did find a source of lurid orange tracky pants - thanks Target and your trusty fleece section! But more often than not, his clothing choices are limited, just as the girls are, to a bland palette. So I shall be amending this list item to say make some fun clothes for Martha and Elliot.

In my effort to clarify what I meant by non-stereotypical clothes I collected a suite of photos which are stored in two folders, “clothes I like” and “what we’re not”. Given you can see hundreds of examples of “what we’re not” at a glance in any clothing store, I’ll limit my examples to these:

which are fairly self-explanatory. Toddlers and tiaras, anyone? I've found, to my delight, that there are a bunch of good sources online for clothes more to my liking. Some, like this store, are explicitly unisex in approach. Their philosophy is one I applaud, that all kids should be free to wear colourful fun clothes regardless of gender. Here are some examples of things in my hurrah you get a tick folder:

So perhaps what I'm talking about is actually an issue of availability and price; the type of clothes that make me despair are cheap and they’re everywhere. This leads me to wonder whether I’m a niche market in this respect. Which I think is a nice way of saying “you're nuts and no-one else cares about the things you do”. Or is this a chicken and egg problem - do the shops stock predominantly girly crap because that’s what parents really want? Or do parents buy this because that’s all there is available at cheap prices? Another issue to explore is that of sustainable and ethical clothing, and what we’re trading off in terms of resources and other (unseen) people’s exploitation to be able to buy mass produced t-shirts for $5 a pop, but that’s a subject for another day.

I have also found some companies, usually small ones created by mothers, who print clothes for girls with empowering slogans. While I think we’re coming from the same place, and I love the advocacy of strong, brave girls, I’m a bit uncomfortable with feeling that I would be using Martha as a wee billboard to advertise my own political opinions. And while I naturally think my opinions are ok, how is this any better than the princess branding juggernaut? You may say though, if I care about this distinction, why bother at all? Am I not just projecting my own preferences onto her by not wanting her to be my principessa all the time? (Actually, that should be her daddy's principessa, according to the t-shirt slogans.) Or alternatively, why not just put Martha in boys clothes and be done with it? At this point I stopped analysing the issue for fear of my brain imploding.

Now because I’ve again made myself feel like a humourless feminist mother, and what’s worse, one who’s bleated on about what are aptly referred to as “first world problems”*, I’d also like to share a few other sites that are supporting the empowerment of girls around the world:
* (which is not to say they aren’t important or serious issues, particularly if we delve into the area of sexualisation of girls at ever younger ages, but I can’t seriously spend too much time worrying about pink ruffles and not feel like a pillock when there’s: sexual slavery, forced marriage at twelve, abandonment of girl babies, genital mutilation, rape routinely used as a weapon of war and suppression of dissent, girls being denied an education, gender-based violence in the home etc etc bloody etc)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

my little scientists

Very much enjoyed this week's TED talk, recommended by my sister Cath: What do babies think?

Am always fascinated by the different experiments they use to test at which age certain developments occur. The little kid testing out his hypotheses is lovely to watch.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Mixed bag of shopping

In case anyone was wondering why I want to highlight role models for Martha, here's a nice illustration. I don’t go out of my way to be a humourless feminist mother, honestly. Sometimes this stuff just comes to you, like when buying Martha a rattle. Now I have no problem with little girls wearing pink. I pop Martha in her wee pink bodysuits with a smile. Her room is fairly pink. Some of her clothes are even a bit on the frilly side. I also expect there’s going to be some of this in the future:

And maybe this:

When it happens, I'll deal. But really, this?

And this?

While the boys get this:

And this:

Toy companies, the concept you're pushing here is not my imagination. It is, as your packaging says, easy to grasp. Because girls accessorize, while boys do? I’d like Martha to be a little bit older before we start telling her to limit her aspirations. You'll be getting my cranky humourless feminist mother letter of complaint shortly.

On the happy side of the shops, there was this:

And because I’ve lost another 2kgs of preggie weight I get to celebrate with something frivolous. As the Lisa Hannigan CD I’m eying off hasn’t been released yet, you guessed it, there's this:

Whee! Now I don't have to return it I can be a real nerd and watch all the season one commentaries. And finally, something from Mr Postman to make us all smile:

Armchair activity

Those with wee bubs would know you can hold a squalling infant in one arm and and surf the ‘net with the other. Fortunately this means when I don’t have time to actually do things I can still research. As I mentioned in an early post, sometimes the planning is as much fun, if not more, than the doing. Also it keeps me away from the often insane world of internet forums and losing an hour of my life reading bizarre threads that explode with righteous anger over topics such as, “what do you tell the checkout chick when she asks your two year old if she’s started her Santa list yet, but your family doesn’t believe in Santa?” Seriously, I did not make that one up. The arguments that ensued, in all sorts of delightful directions, were astonishing. "How dare she address a young child directly", and "I'm tired of being oppressed by thoughtless well-wishing from adherents of the dominant religion's festivities" among them.

Here are some notes on my armchair progress:

#30 - bake an apple pie from scratch and make vanilla icecream to go with it

This week, instead of buying new food, I am eating my way through the contents of our freezer to make room for the bowl of the icecream maker, which needs to be chilled over night. I know, heroic sacrifice, isn’t it. We’ve been getting eggs each week from Aussie Farmers Direct and are building up somewhat of a stockpile. Seems a good time to make some rich custard, yes? That or go on an omelette binge. Was also inspired by a lovely looking apple pie on Poh’s Kitchen the other night. She was visiting King Island, the isle blessed by the gods of dairy, and made a pie crust with cheddar cheese in the pastry. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard. May replace the copha with butter though.

It occurred to me yesterday that this might be a nice excuse to invest in a spiffy new pie dish. Found something that fit the bill at the General Trader but I may wait and see if I can pick something up second hand instead. When I was eying it in the shop I had one of those anti-consumerist moments where I wavered between “ooh, pretty”, and dithering over whether it was right to spend $15 on a ceramic pie dish just because I liked the red and white polka dot pattern. Decided my decision making skills were impaired by lunch-time hunger so left the momentous choice for later. This is the kind of thing I’m coveting.

#12 - record some of the songs I’ve written

Looked into external microphones for my Macbook pro. Given I was indecisive about a $15 pie dish, and these shiny gems are naturally more alluring and expensive, am taking up kind offer from Matt to borrow his to experiment with and see if that’s the type I’m after. Have already done some tests with Garageband recording vocals alone and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

#29 - make Martha a book about inspiring women I have met or read about

Many ideas in the shower this morning about where to take this one. (Does anyone else like to think in the shower, or is it just me? No? Okay.) I’ve started a mental list of women I want to include. Thinking about the look and feel, have decided to use this program I have on the Mac Mini to mock up a comic book style layout, with two facing folios per woman. Hopefully will get a chance this coming week to get some more ideas down on paper. Am also planning to write to some of the still-living women to see if I can get some responses to specific questions to include. I figure this is always worth a try - during my PhD research I contacted a wide range of people for help and there was only one who sent a curt and unhelpful reply, which seemed to assume that somehow my research on the particular questions I’d asked her had been limited to that one letter. Marg would be amused to discover who she was... a school-time favourite, I believe? Needless to say, she is not in the book.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

cue lightbulb above head

OK. So that was actually pretty easy. Now I'm quite fond of Bernina foot no. 5.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

More skirtyness

Last night I worked my grey skirt up to the last step - hemming. Lest I got too excited about the approaching finishing line, while I was fossicking for my Bernina manual among the fabric stash, I pulled out a skirt started about a year ago. For wear during pregnancy, ‘twas all done, except for the hem. Hems and I are not friends. I suspect the enmity goes back to the days when I used to mend my school dress with a stapler. Or perhaps the skirt I made three years ago, where the lining keeps peeking out from under the hem and because I couldn't be bothered to fix this, I wear it anyway, as though it’s meant to look layered like that.

My trusty Bernina does actually have a blind hem foot and a blind hemming stitch. Alas I found the instructions incomprehensible last time I tried. Given I ask Mr Internet almost everything else, and learned most of my knitting techniques from kind videos by strangers, I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to look whether there was a Bernina you tube channel. There is. Sewing, like knitting, tying knots and other fun activities, is much easier to learn when you can watch someone else rather than trying to describe movements in words and pictures. I only had to view the clip four times to get the hang of it. A note to video makers - perhaps would be nice to not say how “simple” a technique is to the schmo who’s come looking for learning? Likely you do find it simple, because you know how. The person who keeps accidentally sewing the hem upside down could do with instructions minus the implication of stupidity. I’m just sayin’.

While Martha took an all-too-brief break from her feature role in CryingFest 2011, I had a go at pinning up the grey hem. Here I encountered another problem: having not followed a proper pattern the seam didn’t curve correctly and it took some finagling to fold it up. There’s probably a neat technique for dealing with this, but given I can’t find my Reader’s Digest sewing bible I improvised by putting small pleats/darts along the top. Possibly the Digest would have said, “Why don’t you use a proper pattern, you dolt?” anyway. In case you think an instruction manual would not be so forward, let me tell you I own a cookbook which lectures its readers thus: if you can’t take the effort to cook proper polenta, which requires the milk of an infant unicorn and three hours continuous stirring with the virtuosity of a violinist’s bow arm, you shouldn’t bother eating polenta. I suspect this lady has been omitted from many a dinner party invitation for fear of her being Ms Judgeypants about the food. Certainly would be in my house, where I cook polenta in a rice cooker in the microwave. The shame, the shame! Martha awoke before I had a chance to combine the pinned hem with the newly-learned technique, so I shall have to wait and see if this works. If not, we'll always have staples.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

item #38 - sew skirts from all the pretty cotton I’ve been collecting

My mother is an excellent sewer. It always seemed to me that there were people like her who could sew, and people like me who were all wonky seams and pins in fingers. It sounds obvious when said out loud but clearly it hadn’t occurred to me that no-one emerges from the womb with sewing skills in situ. My ineptness was, as Eliza Bennet would say, my fault because I never took the time to practice. It likely didn’t help matters that I first bought a dodgy machine and started with knit fabrics. Fast forward some years and slight progress has been made, as I found patterns I’d like to make (softies, and more softies), helpful online tutorials, and accumulated some nifty equipment. Mind you, Santa if you’re reading, I’d still fancy a good pair of pinking shears.

Last night I was ever so slightly grumpy with the final arrival of warm weather, and having spent last summer in maternity clothes but being all in-betweeny again, had the typical post-baby grouch about having no nice clothes that fit. Dave helpfully suggested I go shopping. Damn his sensibleness. I picked out a few things this morning, but generally the grouching continued as I surveyed the offerings. What is wrong with clothes designers? Even in the cheap chain stores there seems to be some kind of “let’s see how hideous we can make the clothes and still make the women buy them” competition underway. As though it’s not depressing enough to be a less-than-slim lady. Why are we not allowed to like the same colours or patterns as women who wear size 8, for gods sake? It’s like when you become pregnant and apparently all you want to wear is flouncy tents with flowers, and “perfect for work tops” that show off your cleavage. Ahem. Anyway, this reminded me that I should get on with my sewing and knock up a few more skirts for the summer.

Progress on the nice blue skirt I started last month has halted due to lack of time. In anticipation of Martha kicking off day 2 of her Scream Like a Banshee Festival (TM) I thought I’d have a go at a more rough and ready option - a yoga waisted skirt. I’d seen tutorials for these using knit fabrics online and fancied I could amend the idea for cotton by allowing more ease around the hips and fullness in the body. See, lookie at me using those terms like I know what they mean. I took out my trusty Planning Biro and sketched a pattern. Here is me mocking up a test sample using an old sheet:

This was most useful in allowing me to amend some figures while also momentarily making me feel like one of the Von Trapp children. (Please insert sew - a needle pulling thread joke here.) Progress halted again as I realised I had not pre-washed most of my cotton. Off to the laundry. Then I managed to whip up a poly-cotton inner skirt to use as lining before the Banshee the beautiful baby awoke. More anon, pending further Festival scheduling.

Monday, 17 October 2011

planning #26 - pinata

Have been planning for item #26, make a pinata. By planning of course I mean in depth activities such as: a dodgy biro sketch, mental assembling of materials, reading the pinata boy website, and penciling in christmas as the most appropriate time for pinata construction/destruction. Stay tuned.

Also a happy return to Merlin last night. ‘Tis the season for new haircuts. Morgana looks suitably Helena Bonham Carter-esque, which fits as she’s now proper evil with her own little squalid hut in the woods and everything. No more creeping about the castle smirking when people aren’t looking. Merlin and Arthur have both had a trim. I say - is that a kingly cut Bradley is sporting? I’d say so, given poor disheveled Medieval Giles looks like he’s not long for this world.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

He's always a Giles to me. Oh and some knitting.

I've been ill so not much listy progress. There has been a wee bit of knitting:

The red is 4ply Morris and Sons which I picked up either in Sydney or Melbourne last year. Lovely and soft, but haven't used because the strands tend to unravel and annoy me with its evil splitty evilness. For these gloves I'm knitting twisted rib quite tightly on 2.15 mm dpns which is producing a nice looking fabric. On reflection I wouldn't have chosen the long-tailed cast on, although it is suitably stretchy, I should have made the effort to work a tubular rib cast on instead, which would sit a bit more neatly on the wrist. However given I had that annoying perfectionist thought after finishing 4cm of tiny rib for the first glove, it was tough luck as there was no will to start again. Stay tuned for some funky colourwork, also known as a good excuse to buy some more luxury Bendy wool in the guise of practising my two-handed stranded technique. Ha, that rhymed!

I missed my TED talk last week. That's what happens when you're seduced by the shininess of cheesy telly instead of the serious business of learning. I tried to rectify that by watching what I thought would be an enlightening clip on music's effect on the brain, specifically on a schizophrenic violinist.  I didn't find it particularly inspiring. I zipped through to the end where the chap was playing a violin version of Yo Yo Ma Bach's most famous cello piece, but found this annoying too because I prefer the tone of the cello. I shant link to it because there seems little point in circulating things I'm a grump about. Perhaps I am not in the mood to be educated. And on that note, I shall share something else I clearly am in the mood for, some vintage Anthony Head. Although surely Young Giles would be more taken with a lass drinking a good pot of tea rather than some tatty instant coffee? But nevermind. And don't bother telling me that Anthony Head is a real person who plays different characters while Giles is not. For as Billy Joel might have sung in an alternative Buffy universe before being fanged by trampy vampire Willow, He's all-ways a Giiiiles to meeee.

Some random observations while I'm here. Because babies feet are clearly not cute enough, mankind invented the novelty sock:

And because toddlers cannot pull enough strange faces, the novelty glasses:

It's not exploitation for my own amusement if they enjoy it, right?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

no progress, just medieval shenanigans

Not much list-related going on this week. I have been busy with other important things like watching Medieval Giles, otherwise known as catching up on Merlin episodes before season 4 starts next week. Before this latest obsession I thought it would be really twee but it’s oddly addictive... mostly because Merlin is quite a sweetie, it’s usually funny, there’s manly knights ripping their linen shirts off at the drop of a helmet, smirking baddies in tight leather and whirly scarlet cloaks, and the actors are surprisingly good. As Anthony Head says in a behind-the-scenes clip on being King and swordfighting, “this is why I went to drama school”. Sometimes I wish the women had a bit more to do, but you can’t have everything.

It’s weird when you’ve been watching a lot of a show, even though you know none of it is real, it’s still odd to see behind-the-scenes shots of knights playing ping pong. Also things like:
And for some anachronistic funnies, this charity vid takes the cake. Uther answering the phone still cracks me up. Although it took me a few views to notice the guard with machine gun behind him.

Bring on season 4! When will Arthur figure out that Merlin has magic? Will Arthur beat his 5 second record for whipping his shirt off? Will there be more Gwaine (inquiring minds want to know?) Of course there will. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A tale of two parcels

Slightly fictionalised.

Company 1.

Me: Hi. I’m trying to arrange to redeliver a parcel. I was here all morning but your driver took it to my next door neighbour who wasn’t home.
Company: Well, clearly that was your fault for not being home. You need to go log it on our website to organise the redelivery. You’ll get it next week.
Me: It’s still business hours now. Is it possible to get something done sooner than that? Can we arrange something while I'm on the phone?
Company: No.
Me: Why not?
Company: It's standard practice when you’re not home. It takes two days to redeliver.
Me: But I was home. Your driver went to my neighbour’s house.
Company: The driver said you weren’t home.
Me: He was wrong. There were two of us here, and I waited specifically for that parcel. No one came.
Company: The card says you weren’t home.
Me: Look, I understand your driver made a mistake. He went to the wrong house. But I’m home now. Why can’t you redeliver?
Company: Our truck would be a long way away by now.
Me: I’m not very impressed with your customer service here. You didn’t actually try to deliver my parcel to my house at all. Your driver never set foot on my property. Can I make a complaint?
Company: Sure. You can complain to the company you bought the item from.
Me: But they did their part, straight away. They contract you to deliver for them.
Company: We did deliver it. You weren’t home.
Me: Actually you tried to give my quite expensive item to my next door neighbour. For all you know he might have taken it. Can I please speak with your supervisor?
Company: No. They’re not here.
Me: Are you saying there’s no one more senior than you who can do anything about this?
Company: Sure. Leave your number and I’ll give it to my supervisor and they’ll call you back, for sure.
Me: When would that be?
Company: Next week.
Me: You know it would be quicker for me to buy another one and have that one delivered the next day.
Company:  Uh huh.
Me: So what you’re telling me is that there’s nothing your company will do to fix a mistake that was yours in the first place?
Company: You can go to the website.
Me: OK, so you know there’s not actually any contact information on your website, don’t you? There’s no way to send an email, or make a query, or lodge a complaint?
Company: I’m about to go home soon.

Company 2

Me: Hi. I’m trying to arrange to redeliver a parcel.
Company: Do you have the consignment number?
Me: 813...
Company: hold on, that’s international. I’ll transfer you through.
Me: Ok. Hi. I’m trying to arrange to redeliver a parcel.
Company: I can see you’re in Adelaide.
Me: Yes.
Company: Sorry, you’ve been transferred through to Melbourne by mistake. Here’s a direct number you can call at the delivery warehouse in SA instead of going through our 13 number again. They’ll sort it out for you.
Me: Thanks.

Before I had a chance to call, company calls me.

Company: Hello. I think we tried to deliver a parcel to you yesterday?
Me: Yes
Company: Would you like us to redeliver that for you?
Me: Yes please.
Company: Is tomorrow ok?
Me: Yes.
Company: Alrighty then. We’ll do that.
Me: Well that was easy.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Knitting progress

Some progress on #21 finish knitting 10 things from my queue (not all hats). I’m very chuffed with my latest knitting project.

I started these before Martha was born and it has taken me ages to finish them off. I originally made the first mitt with a simple ribbed finish across the fingers. Then I decided I’d rather have them with part fingers, so frogged and reknitted the first one to match the second. There is one minor error that is the sort of thing no-one else on the planet except another mad knitter would notice, unless you put it under their face and say, “Hey look how I worked these incorrectly so they don’t actually match. See the onion shaped motif there...” and then even Dave, with zero interest in knitting, will patiently look and see what I’m talking about.

With these two motifs I’ve barely scratched the surface of the patterns in Maria Erlbacher’s wonderful book, Twisted stitch knitting. This is one of my favourite knitting reference books, along with Alice Starmore’s Book of fair isle knitting and Sharon Miller’s Heirloom knitting. And of course Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries... Anyway, I have been thinking of different projects I can use as samplers for more twist stitch patterns, and wondering whether it might be worth just knitting up some swatches instead. But knowing me, this is the kind of project I’d start and soon become bored with. At least with projects there’s incentive to finish as you can wear them. I had a slightly insane thought about a huge afghan made with sampler squares or columns, but think it more likely I might have a go at a hat instead. Something along the lines of Meg Swanson’s twisted stitch hat from Interweave knits, but with more motifs, perhaps?

In non-knitting news, I found some time yesterday to finally finish off the “non-listed” mobile for Martha I posted about earlier.

It is now hanging out on the patio, to keep it out of the way of the cats while I figure out how to attach it to the ceiling. Lest you think they are above such kittenish endeavours - Dodgy did attack it yesterday while I was reattaching the hooks. I booted him out of the room, but I have to admit there was a nano-second where I had to remind myself there was probably some form of animal cruelty involved in allowing a cat to super-glue himself to your mobile.

In case you were wondering what everyone else has been doing, today the boys were inspired by the ‘legs appearance in the prelim final. I should add this was early in the game. They made Elly his own little banner.

We then took it out to the garden for him to run through. Much cuteness ensued.

#25 is all done!

#25 replant my veggie patch, install a second one is now complete. Hurrah!

Much of the effort in the latter part of this item came from Dave, who put together the new raised bed, ordered the dirt, and shovelled it from the front yard into the bed out the back. I, meanwhile, did the also important task of standing and pointing. Today I’ve planted out six cherry tomatoes, some lettuce, and flowers for decoration and bee-attracting. I’m also continuing my ten-year-long futile effort to grow basil. Mum once gave me some great gardening advice, which was, “Some things will always die, so plant lots of things”. I’ve mostly had luck with this approach but for some reason I’m never able to keep basil alive no matter how much I plant. I used to have a theory that it tasted too good to all the bugs.

This of course reminds me of a conversation I had with friends in Canberra, some of scientific bent, about how all my basil and chillies were being eaten. I pondered why the bugs didn’t find them too hot to eat. One girl looked at me like I was a Complete Moron, and to her credit, very politely said, “You know they don’t have human taste buds, don’t you?” This is what happens when you think like me, not like a scientist.

I also went on holiday with this group once. It was quite entertaining... we were at the Tassie coast and I was admiring huge rocks I thought looked like giant’s feet torn off at the shins, and they’d be getting excited about tessellated pavement. Still, I highly recommend holidaying with a trained geologist. They have a completely different way of seeing the landscape, and you can learn all sorts of interesting facts without having to actually do the geology study yourself.

I am also reminded here of a character in a Tad Williams series called Otherland. He’s one of a group stuck in a series of virtual reality worlds. With his liberal arts training he’s able to recognize the origins of many, for example those based on Greek mythology. He is also completely useless at being able to survive, having no actual practical skills. At that point I suspected Tad was also of the “rocks look like giant feet” way of thinking. I'm quite aware I'm a useless person to get lost with, given the not very helpful combination of (a) terrible sense of direction and (b) extremely vivid imagination. Doom!

Also in the garden today I was admiring this, my first rose of the season.

I also saw a pigeon who was so terrified by our new scarecrow that he waddled a full four steps out of his way to go around it.