Month: June 2010

A flashmob in Dunedin

I was away in Christchurch all weekend attending a meeting.  While I was being noble for the School Library Association, Dunedin was having a GOOD time.  The final rugby match ever at Carrisbrook took place, All Blacks against Wales, I would have gone had I been here – and I am no rugby fan believe me!  It was party hard time in Dunedin.  My mum and the team came through from Central Otago to watch it, Nick’s friend even came over from Australia for it.  It was a big deal.

In the meantime in town at the Meridian Mall there was this thing going on, a flashmob happened.  It becomes clear at the end of the video that it is being performed by or sponsored by the new Forsyth Barr Stadium which will be the ‘new Carisbrook’.  I am not a believer in this.  I am anti-stadium through and through, have a million reasons for it but I’m not going to air them here.  I do think it funny that the Dunedin attitude to the new stadium is quite negative in some pockets of the population, and they have to try and whip people up with some activities to get a good attitude going on.  So here is the YouTube clip of the Flashmob.

Changes in my wake up call

If you have looked at this blog from the way back when, you will know of my penchant for the lovely Sean Plunket.  He and Geoff Robinson are my morning chorus, the light that leads me into the day.  You will know how I hated people being unkind to his sensitive personage, and how I promoted ‘his’ blog Sean does craft.  The blog is not being updated but the last posting had me rolling in the aisles  of my lounge (I remain unconvinced that the blogger is actually Sean himself but I’m sure he would have approved).

Today the sad news that Sean is leaving Radio New Zealand.  I had to pull over and have a small moment of silence when I heard the news driving home from work.  Story here.  The Save Radio New Zealand Facebook page is full  of wailing and moaning about this terrible news.   I’ve even had to contribute my thoughts twice.  He leaves in September for places as yet unnamed and while I wish him every happiness in future endeavors I will miss him.  He and Geoff have been my regular mates of the morning.  They take on the forces of politics and grill them until well done with the truth extracted.  Oh yes he can be acerbic, he can keep be aggressive and I’ve heard that interview that got him stood down for a wee bit, but he makes me smile, his creative use of English is always entertaining and who am I to cast nasturtiums on that anyway.  I like his sharp wit and wicked tongue.

Sean in these months leading to the time of our separation I will try to come to terms with this impending doom and hope that you go somewhere I can find you without having to listen to advertising.  If you want to go and be with Marcus (Lush) that would be okay.

Theresa Anderson – n i c e music

Theresa Anderson is new to me, and she is just the kind of music I like.  Check out her website for some gorgeous cruisey music, the sort you play late at night when you are chillaxing or best of all when you are driving somewhere a fair distance away and you can sing really loud in the car (see also Natalie Merchant).  Anyway I really like this, have a wee listen and maybe you will too!

One thing I love is that on the website you get a lovely big chunk of song.  Off to iTunes to see if they have her there.  Listen to Innan Du Gar on the  website.  Here she is doing Oh Mary.

Dan Rhodes, you write great books!

When you have toddled off to the Pubic Library twice in a week to get the only two Dan Rhodes books they have, you know you are feeding a new obsession.  Not as fattening as my usual obsessions but just as distracting.

I read the fabulous book Gold by Dan Rhodes last weekend and totally fell for Miyuki the main character who is off on her annual holiday all on her lonesome as usual.  Visiting the same cottage, at the same time, doing the same things she always does.  This is a book about being alone and being part of something despite that aloofness, Miyuki walks for miles and then rewards herself with beers at the pub, and junk food for dinner, it’s a simple life until she makes an impulsive move one day.  Gold is funny and sad and very beautifully written with a light touch that draws you in and makes you read the thing almost in one hit – well that was my experience.

Then on to The Little White Car also by Dan Rhodes, writing as Danuta de Rhodes.  This is a groovy little story about a French girl who has borrowed her parents car, her crumbling relationship and her quest for happiness in the face of a terrible problem. How do you dispose of a car with which you must not be seen to be associated and without drawing anybody’s attention to the fact that you are getting rid of it.  It’s great.  Light and fluffy and romantic but with a razor sharp wit.

Quince Cup Cakes

I have a Quince Paste glut.  I made rather a lot at the beginning of Autumn and now I either have to find new ways to use it of have endless people around for cheese and quince paste parties – not a bad option really.  So, I trawled the internet and found a bunch of recipes that look quite good.  Today’s one was Quince Cup Cakes.  They are excellent.  Buttery, quincy syrupy goodness.

Preheat oven to 180C.  Cream 125g bugger and 1/2 a cup of caster sugar.  Beat in 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and the zest of 1 lemon.  Fold in 1 1/4 cups of sieved flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tblspns milk.  Divide half the mixture among 12 paper cases placed in a muffin tin.  To with little squares of quince paste and cover with more cake mixture.  Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.  Cool then ice with 1 tblsp of quince paste melted with the juice of a lemon and a tiny bit of butter and add enough icing sugar until it is a good spreadable consistency.

What really happened to the dinosaurs

This is the cutest little movie, show your kids, they’ll love it.  By Canadian Munro Fergusson it is called How Dinosaurs Learned To Fly.  It is one of quite a few available from the National Film Board of Canada, there are others that are really worth watching too.  Go check them out at http://www.nfb.ca/ the animated ones are here.  The one about the girl who hated books is really good too.

Sorry the embed code for this isn’t working.  Click here for the video.

Savoury Scones

I love Starfish Cafe at St Clair.  One of the owner’s is an ex King’s boy so when they started up there were always staff from school to be found there.  It has expanded and changed a bit over the years and has lots of competition out there these days, but I am still a fairly regular coffee drinker there, their cleaning standards are occasionally not quite up to par it must be said, but it is very busy and the line for coffee at the weekend is often out the door, and that is cos it is really great!

Savoury scones

My most favorite thing to have there is a savoury scone.  A few weeks ago someone posted the link to Ruth Pretty’s Savoury Scone recipe on our library listserv.  So, I decided to make them but with more of a nod to Starfish’s scones than Ruth’s.

Remember this is a guide not a firm recipe and Elfin scone mix works really well – or you can use self-raising flour but cut out some of the raising agents below.

  • 3 cups flour and some more for sprinkling on the bench when you are kneading
  • 4 level tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt and a good big grind of black pepper (go mad!)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese (edam just will not give a big enough kick)
  • 1/2 an onion (diced finely)
  • some spring onions (sliced)
  • some chopped tomatoes (tiny is best but whatever, sun-dried if you have are fine too – add both kinds if you want)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped  parsley and/or some salad mix from the fridge
  • some chives if you have them, left over spinach, whatever is available
  • 250ml  milk
  • 1 cup of  cream or some sour cream or a mix or plain yoghurt extra won’t hurt
  • Parmesan grate some in the mix but make sure you put some on top before baking.

Here is how:

  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Into a large bowl sift dry ingredients
  • On top put all the other dryish components like the cheese and vege bits etc.
  • Combine wet ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the  dry ingredients and slowly pour liquid into well. Using a knife to combine dry ingredients with liquid. Do not mix too much.
  • Tip dough onto a lightly floured bench.  Bring dough together, and then gently pat out to a rectangle.   Cut into about a dozen even-sized scones.  The size is up to you. I like big.
  • Brush tops with some milk and then sprinkle with Parmesan.
  • Place in preheated oven and bake golden brown on the outside.
  • Serve warm with butter and for extra decadence some cream cheese.  Do not serve with jam!  Really!

Compassion struggles on despite the odds

My poor neglected garden – buried under a coat of leaves collected from school.  The kindly groundsman delivered me two brim full to the top of the cage, trailer loads of already partly decomposing leaves.  They have been spread on to the garden beds, I’m hoping they will do the job of peastraw.  They must be breaking down as the lovely Raisin cat is making beds in them all over the place seeking warmth, as indeed here in Dunedin everyone is this weekend.  I haven’t quite gotten to the autumn clean up yet but I’m hoping the leaves will suppress some of the weeds until I get to getting it sorted.

In the meantime Compassion and a couple of other lovelies continue to bloom on despite the miserable weather.  this old rose is about the same age as my house.  She was probably planted when the house was built as her stems are old and gnarly.  Last year I was complaining to a professional gardener about her lack of good fresh growing stems and he suggested I take to her with a wire brush.  Well, it is amazing.  She has sprouted all new growth from her base and although the season for roses was terrible last summer she has started to look really healthy.  I don’t expect many more blooms on her but she is always surprising.  Her scent is just delicious.

Don’t say that around me please

I think I’m getting old.  I’m noticing the new trends in our language more and more.  In recent times, particularly when politicians and officials from any government department speak in public they insist on using the word ‘around’ to replace the words about and of.

Example: ” discussing issues around alcohol”  “issues around mobile banking” “issues around outsourcing”

I could find dozens of these examples.  They are in official, and wanting to sound official documents galore.

Is the word about going to disappear.  Is this new useage of the word around going to be around forever.  I thought it might just be a New Zealand phenomenon, but no, it is all over the place, a hunt around the interwebs (I know, but it is cold and I’m avoiding leaving the house.) leads me to believe it is becoming all pervasive.  I HATE it, it makes me cringe, it makes me want to hurt the speaker, and it makes me turn off the news.

Where did it come from?  Why is it here?  Who started this terrible trend?  Why do I find it so annoying?  Is it only me that finds it so?   Am I all alone in my hatred?  Should I start a Facebook Group and see if people join me?  Together we could stamp it out … or not.

A sign of changing times?

Every now and then a organisation that you don’t admire or respect, and whose product you detest, does something cool.  McDonald’s has done something of that kind in France.  France the home of fine cuisine, even that word is French for goodness sake is promoting their product with a gay friendly advert. Is this the beginning of gay going mainstream?  Well maybe a tiny first step.

This is how the ad is described on the GayNZ site:

“With the tagline “Come As You Are”, the ad shows a high school student sitting in a McDonald’s booth gazing at his boyfriend in his class picture, then calling him to tell him he misses him.

The teenager’s father then returns with a tray of food and says “Is this your class picture? You look just like me at your age.  Let me tell you I was quite the ladies’ man!  Too bad your class is all boys … you could get all the girls.”

The high school student responds with an ironic grin.

It finishes with the slogan “venez come vous etes,” meaning “come as you are.”

It is interesting that finally the whole area of being gay is becoming something that people don’t shy away from, that people are actually prepared to discuss and have attention drawn to.  One day, who knows the whole slang thing of using the word “gay” as in “That is so gay” will die a death that will fill me with joy.  As I say to the boys I work with every day, “so gay means stupid?”  causing them to backtrack when they realise they might have offended me.