Saturday, April 16, 2011

Goodbye haemangioblastoma

This time last year I was in hospital with a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball. The slightly mad and dramatic video above was made by my slightly mad and dramatic husband (all truly creative people are a bit mad don't you think?). Make sure you have the volume on if you watch it. David made the video by clipping together all my CT scan images. I have no idea who the music is by. The nasty dark area at the back of my head is the tumour (it appears black in some images and white in others). Happily, it is now gone and I don't plan on it coming back. All hail brilliant neurosurgeons! My surgeon was Andrew Parker, a truly wonderful man. If you ever get a brain tumour, get yourself down to Wellington Hospital, and ask for this man to take a look. Not only is he exceptionally good at surgery, but he's also a genuinely kind, friendly, and empathetic person. I imagine it's not that often that a surgeon's bedside manner can be described as such.

Glibness aside, I am so damn happy to be alive, to be healthy, living in a beautiful place, surrounded by wonderful people. Thank you Andrew, thank you my family, and thank you my friends.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Our neighbours have a quince tree. I've been looking forward to quince season ever since we moved to our house nine months ago. And now the quinces are ready. Ready and heady - their aroma is amazing, intoxicating, captivating! I am in love with the quince. We picked the quinces, and then they sat in our house, making the whole place smell like one giant quince. Then I poached them in the oven for four hours with cardamom. And then I made eight jars of quince conserve (which I think must be a bit like jam). David hates them. He says they're like vegetables masquerading as fruit. I think he thinks it's unfair, or unnatural, of them to need to be cooked before being eaten. I like them. We are friends.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A harrrrrr!

My boy turned four this week. He had a pirate party - this is him "walking the plank". Note his little sister watching with glee in the background - I think she really thought he was going to be gobbled up by sharks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Foods from Twenty Lands

 I love old books. Especially ones which have hand-written notes in the margins, and slightly dubious origins. I stumbled over this gorgeous old recipe book at a friend's house recently. I started madly copying out recipes, but there were too many gems, and the book itself is such a treasure, that I had to take it home to ogle at my leisure. Published in the USA in 1924, it's mainly a recipe book but there are all sorts of brilliant hints and suggestions included also.
 How's this for a Household Hint from Ireland: "A special recipe valuable in all homes. Take a gill of forbearance, a pint of submission, twelve ounces of patience, a handful of grace. Mix well with the milk of human kindness, and serve with a radiant smile." Hah! I really think it's wonderful, and hilarious, and perfect. Other Household Hints include instructions for dying faded silk ribbons, and a recipe for wallpaper cleaner.
And then there are some faded, handwritten, recipes pined or glued amongst the pages. This one is for Apple Cake. Other, more unusual, recipes in the book include Roast Raccoon, and American Legion Slum. I'm offering a surprise something in the post for anyone who can draw a picture of what American Legion Slum looks like - or might look like. The mind boggles.

Here's a curious suggestion from California - Nut and Olive sandwiches: Mix 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine, with 1/2 cup olives, chopped fine, with mayonnaise, and spread on buttered bread. I'm going to try that one the next time we have mayonnaise in the house.

The Candy recipes have wonderful names like Airy Kisses, Walnut Divinity Fudge, and Heavenly Hash Candy (!).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

postcard swap extravaganza

 I can't believe it but I actually made the deadline for the ihanna postcard swap. I ripped up an old book about Rodin. I felt very bad (the book was almost 100 years old), but something mad came over me and I did it anyway. Sometimes being bad can feel great. And then I collaged over the pictures.

This beauty (pictured with the envelope she flew in on, because it too was beautiful) arrived from Bea in Portugal the other day. I took a look at her blog and it's gorgeous. I love the letterpress work she has been doing. My father used to run a publishing company, and everything was printed using letterpress, but with the advent of computers and digitalisation, he got rid of all the letterpress equipment. He says it's one of his big regrets. I remember playing with the letters as a child. They're beautiful. This website is dedicated to the preservation of letterpress.

And this arrived from Hedy in Australia. You can find our more about her here on her blog. The photo isn't very good, but the postcard is gorgeous in person. In postcard. In ... actual fact. The thing I like about it the most is that, if I look really carefully, I can see Hedy's fingerprints on the card - where she stuck the little collage pieces on. I once asked an artist for a photo of himself in his studio (long story), and he responded, "But you already have a photo of my studio don't you?" and I said, "Yes, but I need a photo of you" (it was for work - I wasn't actually stalking the poor guy) and he said, "You already do." I love that idea, that you can see an artist wherever you see their work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

jam for japan

 One day, a giant basket of black-boy peaches (where do they get these names?) were dropped off at my door. I chopped them up, added sugar and lemon juice, boiled them up, threw them in some jars and wonder of wonders ... Jam for Japan was born! A friend was running a stall at the local market to raise money for Japanese tsunami and earthquake relief, so I dropped my jars off with her so she could sell them and make MILLIONS of dollars. Which she did, of course.

Monday, April 4, 2011

rock on

my kids rock

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the wilderness and I

A few weekends ago, three friends and I walked the Heaphy Track. It was 78km of breath-taking goodness. I fell in love with the myriad different moss and lichen; and the landscape which changed every day - from moss-hung goblin forest, to palm-fringed beaches, and wind-swept tussock mountain plateau all within a few days. The best part, though, was spending four whole days with good friends.