Archives: reasons to be cheerful

Winter sun

It’s one of those winter mornings when the slanting sunlight is a treasure. Our morning schedule is thrown sideways by the end of school holidays colliding with the 5am World Cup final, so I drop my partner at work over the Victoria Bridge.

We are fortunate to spend a few traffic light changes waiting on the bridge in cross-river traffic. Fortunate because, looking up, we catch miraculous smoke above the Treasury Building. The sun’s rays, angled from the north, grab hold of steam rising from the old building’s vents. The steam twists, throwing rainbow clouds of sunbeams. Refracted? Reflected? It’s like someone’s barbecuing unicorns in the casino below. The spectrum bends in two columns, rainbow clouds.

 

Back home fifteen minutes later, I take last night’s scraps down to the chickens. Turn on the hose. Our lawn is brown. It seems we’re heading back into drought; I’ll just hit the essentials. (Also, the necessity of a full day of work is muscling in on my desire to stand here and dreamily water the garden for an hour.)

The essentials: some seedlings planted on the weekend, the chickens’ water bowl, a transplanted lime, the bird baths. There mustn’t be much water around, because I’ve already been visited this morning by some of the regulars. Common city birds. Timid wattle birds, a young magpie, crows all drink from my garden’s water bowls.

A noisy miner lands on the ancient rose beside the largest bird bath. It’s cool (for our subtropics), but he dives in, rolling around and splashing. He’s bathing with what I imagine as anthropomorphized delight.  Sunlight streams from the north behind him. As the bird moves, drops of water splay, catching beams. Throwing the sun back out over the roses’ bare limbs. Again he dives, rolls, splashes, and returns to his branch. Then back to the water, flapping and shaking, broadcasting gold spray.

It’s too gorgeous.

For the reading list

A visit to the local secondhand bookstore over the holidays wasn’t enough (bagging Malouf, Lessing, Armanno, Lewycka, Modjeska, Murakami, Astley); we fell into the Lifeline Bookfest on the weekend.

Some goodies

Some goodies

I think we came home with about 100 books. The joy was in stumbling into titles that have always been on the “to-read” list: Silent Spring. Cry, The Beloved Country. Slaughterhouse 5. Rabbit, Run. Tender is the Night. My Brother Jack. Gathering some more of latest lit-obsession, Doris Lessing. And Atwood, Steinbeck, Proulx, Scott Fitzgerald, Frame, Waugh, Somerset Maugham, Irving. Replacing my lost copy of Bonjour Tristesse.

Now, for some time to read, perhaps?

The Esplanade

 

Oh, there are no photographs, as we were enjoying the moment far too much to bother recording. As usual.

But here’s a recipe for a cocktail we created last weekend.

Get invited to two of your dearest mates’ place for a kind of housewarming on a Saturday night. Go to the Yandina farmers’ markets in the morning (or, as we like to call them, the Good Markets) and buy a lovely pineapple and a bag of limes. Ask your dad if you can have a handful of mint from the garden (which, sadly, you forget. Mint would have made this drink even more awesome.)

Grab a bottle of Stoli, for old times’ sake, and hope that your friends have coconut cream in the cupboard after you forget to pick some up at the IGA. Throw in some mixers.

Deposit the lot on the kitchen counter and have a few glasses of Champagne. Hug old friends. Share some jokes.

Later, grab some accomplices. Gather ice. Chop half the pineapple into chunks. Add these to the bowlful of ice in Lindy’s big thermo thing that presides over the kitchen bench. Ask Justin how much alcohol. He’ll add about ¼ bottle of vodka and 1/3 bottle bacardi to the ice. That sounds about right. While Justin and Lou are trying to talk over the noise of the ice-and-pineapple-smashing machine, muddle a few massive teaspoons of sugar and limes (3? 4? Something like that) with a mortar and pestle. Wish you’d remembered the mint. Steal a can of coconut cream from the cupboard. Grab the ginger beer from the fridge.

When it’s smooth, pour the mashed ice/pine/vodka/bacardi into 2 jugs (it won’t fit in one). Into each, add: 1/2 can coconut cream, half the juice from the muddled sugared limes, and a good slosh of ginger beer. Stir.

Roll the rim of whatever glass you choose in the lime and pineapple juices which are probably still drenching your chopping board, then dump into leftover sugar for super sugarrimmed glamour.

Gently lower a chunk of pineapple to the bottom of the glass. Try to balance a slice of lime on the rim, fail, and drop that into the bottom as well. Fill with the blended goodness of pineapple, ice, vodka, white rum, lime, sugar, ginger beer, and coconut cream.

While glasses are being filled, take a baking tray and fill to about 2cm deep with the Esplanade mix. Secrete it into the freezer. In a few hours, you’ll remember that you did this, and you’ll be delighted to find you’ve got the beginnings of a delightful vodka granita. Or you’ll forget, but it will be perfect for tomorrow’s hangover.

That is how you create the Esplanade.

Pineapple

 

Road trip to Fraser Island

In the middle of this wet, wet, day, when I was meant to be writing, I finally got around to downloading some pics from my phone.

 

Here are a couple from a quick road trip we took to Fraser Island at the end of last year. They’re a mix of Hipstamatic, Instagram, and plain old iPhone.

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