Thursday, February 28, 2008

Borrowed Light

I went to see Borrowed Light last night, as part of the Perth Festival. Three things in life and the arts that I do adore are sacred choral music; challenging dance styes; and austere theology (no, seriously). Borrowed Light, by the Tero Saarinen Dance Company, fit all three. Borrowed Light was an exploration of the Shaker beliefs and lifestyle. An early music ensemble, the Boston Camerata provide live vocal accompaniment in the form of Shaker music some of which has never been heard outside the Shaker community and even then not for 150 years. Imagine something between Gregorian chants and middle-English folk music (I tried so hard to find an audio clip, but nothing forthcoming). And imagine that the singers are on stage, moving through and with the dancers sometimes.

Saarinen draws heavily on Kabuki for his choereographic language, which I think explains the awkward angles, flat feet and splayed hands. It was difficult to settle into, especially given that the first five minutes or so are performed completely in silence. The dancing was heavy and awkward. I only noticed two jumps in the entire performance - the dancers always had one foot on the ground, unless another dancer was lifting them, which was never done gracefully or easily. They barely walked when they could hobble, or limp. Once you got accustomed to it it was stunningly beautiful. I've never seen so much emphasis placed on the mere movement of individual fingers. I also loved that in a virtually abstract environment I could still discern stories and themes - loss of faith; the outsider; a struggle for grace.

Not only that, but the dancers themselves provide what percussive accompaniment there is, stamping, clapping, and, at one point, throwing their entire body on the floor. Breathing, too, was sometimes audible (and I was in the back row of the stalls). Apparently the floor is miked, which makes sense.

The costumes were dark and heavy. The men's coats were entirely made of felt, and they obscured the body for the most part. The women's skirts were part weighted-down felt, part what seemed to be pleated silk. Their shoes were heavy. The lighting was often stark and directional, like sun rays falling through meeting hall windows.

It was just beautiful.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The most pleasurable way to give yourself diabetes...

I have to make morning tea for a bunch of people next week, one of whom is gluten intolerant. Now when it comes to food choices, I'm a big fan of the masses catering to the minority (well, except maybe for this girl I went to high school with who was intolerant to pretty much everything except brown rice and pears). So I wanted to make some kind of gluten-free snack everyone would want to eat, but also didn't fancy shelling out for gluten-free flour (I find it just tastes yuck). In the end I mashed a couple of similar recipes together to get these Peanut Biscuits. They're insanely rich. One is satisfying, two is mad. They're also insanely easy. Easier than making a packet mix. Here's the recipe I ended up with:

1 egg
1 cup crunchy peanut butter*
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
2. Beat egg until combined.
3. Add peanut butter, caster sugar and bi-carb. Stir/ mix/ mash until combined.
4. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mix into balls, and place them on a baking sheet. They'll spread out as they cook, so leave them room. Flatten slightly with a fork/ fingertip.
5. Bake for 10min, or until you can slide a knife under a biscuit and sort of move it about a bit without it breaking up. If your oven doesn't heat from the bottom, like mine, they might go pale golden coloured.
6. Leave to cool on the tray.

(They puff up a lot in the oven, but flatten out when they cool).

* I normally have 100% peanuts peanut butter at home, but I was a bit worried that it'd be too gloopy for the mix. So I got Badly Coloured Boy to buy some conventional peanut-butter, with stabilisers in. Turned out to be reduced fat, added sugar and salt (blergh) Kraft crunchy. Worked just fine, but quite sweet. So sugar-free might be nice.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I had to use up a bunch of vouchers at Calico & Ivy (um, yeah, my old boss and my friends are the coolest) and I actually didn't want more yarn (I'm trying to cut down on the stash) or fabric (ditto). I looooved this quilt. It's all the Katie Jump Rope series, by Denyse Schmidt. One giant log cabin design, with panels of irregulat widths, plus some odds and sods of random quilting on the back (most of it is the brown floral, though). I ummed and ahhed over the price, thinking "but I could buy the fabric for a third of the price and make it myself!" Then I remembered that I can't quilt, don't have the time for it, and don't have the inclination for it.

Bought quilt it was. I heart it. It's an excellent curled-up-on-the-couch-watching-so-you-think-you-can-dance quilt.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

First heirloom 'failure'

Capsicums. Chocolate coloured capsicums. Another heirloom variety. Don't let the colour put you off - they're red when you cut into them (they have a sort of reddish undertone to the brown too, can you see?)
Yes, they're rivalling my tomatoes for the claim to the Lilliput-vegetable-crown. Apparently it's actually quite difficult to grow a decent sized capsicum, so I'm just pleased we got any at all.

At least I was, until we tried one. They're bitter! They're so, so bitter! They really were not something that you'd take a second bite of. So I cut them up very finely and hid them in the curry I was cooking.

I more exciting news, maybe six weeks after our first eggplant flower, there are signs of an actual eggplant. I have no idea why it took so long. Eggplants are supposed to be very quick-growing (but I'm learning my garden doesn't follow the regular rules of plants). Right now it's larger than a chicken egg. Very exciting.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Warning! Hippie post ahead!

Now that I no longer work Saturdays I and Badly Coloured Boy finally got to go to the organic markets for our fruit and veg. Ordinarily we go to the (very cheap) regular fruit & veg markets, but I've felt that their quality had been slipping a bit, especially on the fruit front. When I found myself buying fruit from Coles instead I knew Something Had to Be Done. Hence City Farm.

Most interesting, perhaps, were the bio-dynamic beef farmers there. They also sold small quantities of hogget. Hogget from merino sheep. "Merino?!" I exclaimed, "Didn't know they were worth eating! What do you do with the fleece?!"
The guy eyed me off.
"You from a sheep-farming background?"
"Uh... no... I, um, I knit."
*blank stare*
"What happens to the fleece?"
"Well, we usually just sell it to a bulk distributor and it gets spun with regular fleece, but if you want we can always get you raw fleeces. You'd have to scour them yourself. And you can't have any till we get over the lice problem we have right now."

Okay, aside from the amusement/ yuck value of sheep with lice, think about this. Here is a guy with bio-dynamic merino fleece, and it's just being sold into pools of regular fleece. I explained there was a market for organic, small-scale hand-knitting yarn, but he didn't seem terribly interested. I think it may also be difficult to find a mill in Australia that would be deemed organic.

I personally am not terribly interested in scouring, carding, whatevering and spinning the stuff. Bilby Yarns are aligned with the Melanian Sheep Breeders. They might, but I wouldn't be sure, be willing to take on non-coloured bio-dynamic fleece.

What can I tell this guy, where can I send him, would anyone be interested in his (lice-free) bio-dynamic merino fleece? I'd love to see something like an Australian version of Beaverslide up and about...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cables ahoy!

One Rogue, finished. Never mind that somehow one arm ended up narrower than the other to elbow, then manages a little, unnoticeable mutton-chop to get the right number of stitches for the sleeve cap. I ended up having to order more yarn, since I have eight repeats in the middle of the body instead of three.

To be honest, I'm still not convinced that it's very flattering. I'd rather have another Arwen anyday. But I'm rather in love with the yarn.

And here is my ready-to-be-cast-off Gretel. Which is now reduced to two balls of Jo Sharp Silk Road Tweed. Why? I was knitting at 18 stitches to four inches, not 16. It fit nicely, if I was going for a beanie rather than a beret... I'm going to try again soon, with extra stitches and making the slouchy size to make up for the smaller row gauge. Other than my sheer stupidity it is an entirely recommendable knit. Witty, if clever use of leaning decreases and predictable, Fibonacci-esque patterns are what you think constitutes witty.