Monday, August 30, 2004

Free Feed!

You heard it, fellow Lorikeets, Rosellas, King Parrots, Galahs and Cockatoos! If you like mixed seeds, chunks of apple and banana, honey, or sweet sticky meal powder, if you can balance comfortably in the lithe branches of a silk tree, if you do not mind the woofing and carryings-on of a Giant Sheltie below you while you eat, then this is the place for you!

Everyday those big dumb humans come out with all kinds of goodies for us and leave them in a big terracotta pot base or sprinkle them in a little swinging wooden tree house. Tasty morsels ready for devouring. For some reason, they put out the food, then sit around on chairs with mugs and newspapers watching, like creatures with nothing better to do (such as looking for dinner or picking out a nest ready for the upcoming season), ready to refill if necessary. It’s been months now and no attack, so we’re pretty sure it’s safe.

Unfortunately, those carnivorous freaks, the wimpy butcher birds and oafish magpies, hover around waiting for the little flying torpedos of raw mince that get hurled up at them but if you give them the evil eye, they keep to the peripheral branches and stay out of your way. Then there’s the afore-mentioned dog, a great yapping fool who likes to show off to his human staff. You can easily ignore his hollow threats- poor thing can’t fly! Plus, when the humans go inside, he usually just sits lazily below and watches us.

It’s been a tough season for us, with the drought and all, so, my dear friends, do as I do. There’s plenty to go around. You can even grab a drink and take a dip in the bird bath (but keep an eye out, it’s the right height for the dog to take a mouthful too!)

Hope to see you there!
Blue Knickers Malloy

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Edible Auburn Souvenirs: Sujuk

Weekend breakfasts are such a luxurious meal for me. When you wake up on Saturday or Sunday and have that dopey wonderful realisation that there is no need to rush off and get ready for work, it kicks your day off to a glorious start. From then, the whole process, so painful on weekdays, becomes a wonderful relaxed reflection of the leisure day expected to follow.

One major difference in my weekend morning process is my decision to stay in Pyjamas. Normally, in line with practicality and order, there are the showering and dressing chores to get out of the way first in the go-to-work ritual, but on Saturdays and Sundays, my slippers and pyjamas stay, perfectly representing my intentions of comfort and casual idling for the day.

So it follows that breakfast, enjoyed in pyjamas, should be a little more drawn out and lazy. It goes without saying that a cup of tea is involved. Always always always. The variable is what to wash down with it. I mean aside from eggs…

Aren’t eggs fab? They’re a truly versatile food. I love them fried, poached, scrambled, or soft boiled. Being such a cooperative little package, they also go brilliantly with other things- crusty buttered toast, mushrooms, baked beans, fried tomato, bacon, hash browns etc. So it is that eggs form the corner stone of at least one of my weekend breakfasts each week. Get the stove on, frying pans out and splash, stir, sizzle, always interested in improvements to egg cooking techniques, always looking for new accompaniments.

My latest little egg-buddy treat is to slice up bits of Sujuk (the smoky Turkish sausage we picked up from Auburn Halal meats), pop them into an unoiled fry pan for a few minutes to crisp the edges, then add an egg next to them to fry in the spicy orange coloured oil that seeps from the sausage (no, don’t fear for my arteries, if there is too much oil I it out with a bit of paper towel). Toast eaters would add a bit of the hot buttered stuff beneath the egg, but you could just do as I do and hook in as is, dabbing the yolks with the sausage pieces for a rich and tasty meal.

Hello Saturday!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tropfest 2004- for Two

Every year, on the last Sunday in February, six of Australia’s major cities settles down on a blanket with a picnic to watch the work of the top 16 finalists in the worlds largest short film festival, Tropfest.

As a vertically challenged member of society myself, I have a lot of time for short films. There is something clever about a film that can have a beginning, a middle and a satisfying conclusion all in the space of seven minutes. There is also something lazy about a movie that you only have to concentrate on for seven minutes before you get to approve of it or not. As for the whole Tropfest experience? Who wouldn’t want to spend a balmy summer night sprawled in the park, snacking on olives while young up-and-comings proudly display their wares before the titillating announcement of judges’ decisions?

Well this year, with rain looming and little energy for the bustling crowds and 20 minute toilet queues, not me. I had very good intentions of taking the Professor along to the domain to experience one of Sydney’s most popular annual events, allowing him to bask in the glory that is the domain at full capacity, giving him the opportunity to catch glimpses of Hollywood stars and national celebrities, but in the end… I didn’t.

So instead, I cut my coupon out of the Sydney Morning Herald, posted it off and sat back with a cup of tea to wait for Tropfest to come to me. And it did. Oddly it weighed very little and took up virtually no space on my desk as it lay waiting for me to activate it.

Last Saturday, all these months later, the time came for the Professor and I to enjoy our own Tropfest. I planned a surprise picnic to be held on our living room floor with all the trimmings and warmed the DVD player up for a night of short-attention-span fun.

It turned out to be quite the success. We enjoyed a perfect view of the screen, easy access around the facility, our own private bathroom and endured no rain. This year no one stepped in my olives (though the Professor did spill the water flask whilst wielding his long legs around) and there was no waiting with thousands of others for one of Sydney’s phantom trains to take us home afterward.

Maybe next year we'll try the real thing...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Out and About: Auburn

What looks like Turkey, tastes like Turkey and exists only 20mins from my place? Why, it’s the Sydney suburb of Auburn, that’s what! (By Turkey, I am not referring to the large intimidating bird but the fascinating, East meets West country up near Greece and all our Aussie gold.)

On Saturday, Ma and I had a brilliant day exploring some of the busy, friendly community of Auburn. With the help of Rodney and Suzie of Gourmet Safaris, we spent our morning acquainting ourselves with some of the culinary delights Turkey has to offer from the convenience of Sydney suburbia.

We congregated in the dimly lit Mado cafe for Turkish coffee or apple tea, then feeling very authentic and proud of ourselves, the whole excited group staggered off up the road.

Our first port of call as quasi-tourists was the Afghan Bakery, for some hot bread and a bit of gawking at the team of bakers, going about their daily routine of flattening dough onto large cushions, slapping the loafs onto the inside walls of brick ovens the peeling them out, perfectly toasted and risen.

At the Menzel Turkish bake house, we greedily emptied three platters of different sweet Turkish short breads and biscuits, some covered in pistachio or walnuts, some soaked in honey syrup, all popular with the ooh-ing ah-ing group. From there we stopped in at the Gima Emporium to browse the endless jam varieties, honeys, Turkish fairy floss, tinned vine leaves, pomegranate syrup, sour cherry juice and olive oil soap all crammed into the shelves of the Mum & Pop store, all dirt cheap and hard to resist!

At the recently occupied new premises of "Real Turkish delight", we met the son of the migrant, Bahattin Pektuzun, who arrived here in 1970, experimented with Turkish Delight recipes with a small copper pot for two years and has been delivering beautiful Turkish confectionary to the Australian public ever since. For our visit, a small brass dish carried two flavours of Turkish delight around the group, marking everyone with the tell-tail, white icing sugar dust. Then I just had to stand back from the throng of excited women surging around the counter with wallets waving and shopping lists growing by the minute.

At Auburn Halal meat, we got a quick lesson on the product (Halal meat) before sampling some interesting Bastourma (a bit like pastrami) and Sujuk sausage. Then we headed off to Arzum Market for super cheap dates, tiny white dried figs, yummy golden raisins, pistachio nuts and nougat. By the time we left the last bakery, Buket Cake shop, where we were treated to some hot pide with lemon juice, the prospect of lunch seemed to me to be a little daunting after so much sampling!

The Mado café put on a great spread for us, including water imported from a Turkish spring and the most amazing Anatolian chicken I have ever eaten (a dish I sampled a hundred different times while in Turkey two years ago). I also fell in love with their Imambayildi (eggplant stuffed with mixed vegetables) and vow to return for some more of that in the near future.

For dessert, the most important meal of the day, we were treated to a piece of pistachio baklava with 2 scoops of the bizzare dondurma (Turkish ice cream made from Salep, an orchid root). The sour cherry was pretty tart and refreshing while the other, name already forgotten by Franky sieve-head, had a subtle light taste that perfectly complemented the sweet nutty baklava.

Having gorged ourselves on all manner of sweet and savory offerings, we gathered up our crackling gaggle of shopping bags and waddled over to the Gallipoli Mosque built by Auburn’s Turkish community, an exotic temple nestled between fibro and weather-board cottages. Our friendly Muslim guide showed us around the grounds and lead us barefooted into the Mosque to gaze at the ornate ceiling and soak up the tranquility as he murmured explanations and points of interest. We shuffled up to the balcony area, reserved for women’s prayer, and sat for a while listening to our guide explain aspects of the Muslim faith and lifestyle, as the stirring call to prayer went out.

The quasi-tourists sat, smiling and nodding, fascinated by descriptions of prayer obligations, marriage conventions, family responsibilities, and Halah rules, full of self-satisfaction with their own open mindedness and tolerance. We sat quietly in the welcoming spacious haven of Islam and listened to beliefs about the perils of over indulgence with our arms resting happily on our bulging bellies.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Oops! New Shoes

My natural state, no matter the weather, is bare foot, with toes wiggling and soles to ground. The professor often catches me tip-toeing on icy floors in the middle of winter and has to march me off for socks and slippers. Year by year I gain more skill and polish to my renditions of the graceful "hot-concrete quick-trot," the spectacular wincing style of the "sharp-gravel light-step," not to mention the ever popular, "bindy-patch-discovery hold-that-pose".

This foolish dedication explains my appreciation for the ever lazy thong (footwear, not underwear), the clever combination of bare foot benefits with the comfort of rubber. All I need is a pair of thongs in every colour and there’s my summer footwear sorted!

As for the wintry cold? I generally opt for my faithful black Eccos, with all the style and sophistication you expect from a pair of "comfortable" women’s runners. Not much. But they are quick, light and, well you guessed it, comfortable!

So why my fascination with shoes and all their trappings? Why my slavery to laces, buckles, tongues? Why my weakness for high heels, fine leather, stylish design? What is it about these beautiful little fashion accessories that has me quickly recalculating my monthly budget? What does a thong loving, sneaker resorting, barefoot at heart like Franky NEED with all these shoes?

I love them!

And here is my latest accident with the credit card. Beautiful "Tootsie" in Sage and Cream by Mollini, in a size 36 that I searched 4 different stores to track down. I know you love them too…

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Package from Perth

There is a wonderful timeless phenomenon that occurs every weekday morning at my house, throughout the seasons, in drumming rain, scorching heat or blustering winds. All across this great country, and indeed, the world, this very phenomenon replicates it’s self at millions of homes.

For us, it happens sometime between 10am and noon when the day is still fresh with possibility, yet well enough underway to provide distractions. It is Buzz who is often the first to know and bark to share the news with anyone else that may be home. The mail has arrived!

I KNOW that I am not the only fully grown adult who, despite the endless parade of bills, fliers and catalogues through the letterbox, continues to hold a flicker of hope that the mail will bring some wonderful well travelled surprise. I am not the only one who eagerly peers into the dark belly of the letterbox or “casually” scans the mail table, maintaining the daily vigil for that elusive handwritten pastel envelope or chunky brown paper package tied up with string.

Well yesterday, my fellow post watchers, it paid off! Fingering through the oodles of catalogues and free breakfast cereal sample, I almost dismissed the unassuming tough bag as more of the promotional clutter shoved into the pitched roof of our mailbox. When I did realise what it was, with raised eyebrows and raised hopes, I fingered its corners and tried to imagine what lucky person was receiving a package. Then to my amazement and elation I saw that the name on the bag was mine! Mine, mine, mine. A quick double take then merely seconds until I was into the stiff folds of the battered little parcel.

My lovely Nanna, who lives in Perth, has knitted me a surprise scarf and without warning, popped it into the post for me to find one average, run of the mill morning. What a lucky Franky! I love surprises.

Monday, August 09, 2004


Here I shall be forced to brush upon a subject that is currently a bit of a sore spot for me. The memory of yesterday afternoon is not pleasant to dredge up. It conjures heartache and disappointment leaving me dry mouthed, a lump in my throat and an intolerable need to fidget. However, as it was the last occasion for the year upon which I will find myself playing hockey, a game that gives me great pleasure, I shall soldier on, brave soul, so that you may know of it's joys.

The frightful occasion I speak of was the playoff between my lovely, player-depleted little team, the GNS Strikers, and the droves of frightful, giggling, inane girlies who form the GNS Raiders, our in-club rivals and till this point, our whipping boys for the 2004 season. Whatever we faced, from whom ever we received floggings, we could always rest assured that the Raiders would crumble under our devastated numbers whenever we met out on the windy battlefield.

We encountered a new reality yesterday, as we took the field with only nine players, (two less than a full team) ran like rabid dogs around the field after a swarm of white socked blowflies and saw two searing shots whistle past us and thud deafeningly into the back of the goal. Bang bang. You're dead.

Good thing hockey is such an exhilarating, satisfying game! Regardless of jubilant victory or devastating defeat, a game is never regretted. I love the thud of the ball as it glides into your stick, the feeling of wind in your face as you charge up the field, the shocked look of an enemy soldier as you tackle the ball out from under them and leave them for dead. Even a blow to the shins from an enemy stick, an accidental crack in the toe from the ball, or a sandpaper dive across the turf on your tummy is gilt with glory. There is nothing that gives me the same thrill, the same vitality, the same satisfied glow as I drive home, flushed, sweaty and drop dead exhausted.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

New Tunes: Jolie Holland- Escondida

I first heard this album in the wee hours of a Saturday morning as I found myself sipping on gin & tonic and struggling to keep my tired mind on a game of 500’s. Nothing could have suited more the still shadowy night, the husky masculinity of the group, the thoughtful reserved nature of the game. This album combines a wry and delicate melancholy with a sexy carefree ease.

When I listen to it, in my mind’s eye I rather fancy that I am soaking in the over brimming bubbles of a claw-footed bathtub, lounging in the candle light by an old gramophone. Of course, in my mind’s eye, I am also much taller with wonderful chocolate brown curls piled up on my head and I believe I am smoking a cigar and sipping from a glass of whiskey. In my mind's eye, mind you.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Can I borrow this?

“It is dawn and the mauve sky hovers between night and day. The colonies of sparrows perched in the plane trees that line the square begin their chorus. The birdsong pierces the sky like a handful of thrown silver.”
–The Witch of Cologne, Tobsha Learner