Perfect Match

On this grey, chill winter's Friday, a little suggestion for a weekend culinary adventure - grape schiacciata. It's rustic, it's comfort food, and it's not that hard.

Maggie Beer and the LOML teamed up in our kitchen to produce this one, and it was completely scrumptious. True, Maggie was only here in spirit in the form of a recipe (you can't have everything!), but it was a match made in epicurean heaven. We didn't have the right size pan, the right kind of grapes, or even quite as many as the recipe recommended, but we winged it, and it was still scrumptious.

Turns out that when you put the gorgeous Maggie Beer and the delectable LOML in the kitchen you get something close to perfection - at least when you're aiming for bread. :)

Now, if only we could remember where we put the recipe, so we could do it again! 

Here's to a very warm and comforting weekend to you and yours, wherever and however you'll be spending it. If you have time between Olympic events, you might even like to try making a grape schiacciata. It may actually be easier to make than pronounce. An excellent accompaniment to a good glass of red, or anything suitable convivial! 


I love my dog, but like a lot of animals, he's a little camera-shy. In fact, every time I get the camera out, he moves in the completely opposite direction. Worse, he'll move around as fast as possible, so there's no hope of a sharply focussed image. However, just this once, he fixated on a bird behind me, as I fixated on him. In a medium length shot, you miss the detail of his white and black fur. Close up, I think you get a good idea. I love the clarity of his eye, the growing pattern of his furry brow. Those white eyelashes - what a dag!

Catch and Release

Sometimes, things fall into your lap - literally!

This shot is a photo of a temporary housemate of ours, rather unimaginatively dubbed "Skinky", just before he was released back out into 'the wild'. Skinky, funnily enough, is a skink(!). And, he literally fell into my short-term care. I was out for a walk with our dog, next to a creek, and while I was watching a bird flying low, across our path, Skinky fell from the bird's mouth just a metre or so in front of us. I couldn't believe it!

While I was still standing there, amazed (probably with my mouth unattractively wide open!), Neo (the dog) lurched forward, and made a beeline for what had dropped. Holding onto him, I ineveitably lurched too, and almost stepped on it. It took an angst-filled moment or two to get Neo away from this quarry, which he was also keen on as a potential protein (yuck!), and see what exactly the bird had 'lost'. After a little hooplah, there in the long grass, rolled into a ball, with a bloody nubbin where his tail had been moments earlier, was a very sick looking skink. I think we were both in shock, and for a moment, neither of us was moving!

Years of growing up with wildlife doco's, suddenly flooded back to me. The childhood trauma of watching the 'reality' of nature, gripped me (enter images of 'lion versus baby wilderbeast'!). David Attenborough's potential disapproval tsk-tsked in my head, but in this case - I could not let nature fend for itelf. I knew I may be tempting fate, and had no idea what the result would be... but, something lead me to wrestle home a very grumpy, and unco-operative dog, while carefully carrying a bloody and cold skink in a very unglamorous (but empty!) canine faecel receptacle (i.e. empty dog poo bag). At any rate, Skinky was a fine example of an animal that really wanted to live, despite the odds. He survived bird attack, loss of quite a bit of his tail, near dog attack, potential plastic bag suffocation, a heaping dose of shock, as well as a bit of a wait, while I rustled around in a panic, trying to find him suitable convalescent housing.

Enter, unused fish bowl, and assorted garden flora and fauna! Which, to make a long story short, worked very well. It took a few days, and I worried incessantly that David Attenborough would be right all along, but Skinky didn't die. In fact, I knew it was time for him to be released back home, when he started looking for a way out of the bowl. It was great to see him back to being a vigorous, wriggly skink. All up, he was kept just long enough for his bloody stump to callous over, and to regain a little more wriggle than when he 'strayed' across our path. I'd like to think that our meeting was mutually advantageous. My favourite part of watching him recuperate, was when he would crawl into a saucer of water that I had in the bowl and cool down. Watching him move around, eat and drink was awesome, and not something you get to see every day, unless you're watching a documentary. I feel very privileged to have experienced it at such close quarters. I just hope that he kept well away from would-be attackers back down at the creek!

I have to admit to a real love of skinks, not least the amazing details and patterns of their skin. Here he paused for a minute to sun himself, and I could get a shot. Look at those little toes. Although it's blurred, you can even see how his tail is now blunt at the end, rather than the usual slender taper. That bird got a good mouthful of tail, that's for sure!

Early Morning Webs

I haven't met the spider who's awesome work this is - but, I think it deserves a medal. Especially when this is just a small section of the entire work. All in all, this series of webs were strung from paling to paling along the three metre length of our front gate. Quite a feat in one night, and not bad workmanship, considering that they had been subjected to an hour or so of hard winter rain at dawn!

Sitting just below eye-level, they had my attention straight away, shining in the cool morning light. Having just finished a run, I thought twice about going for the camera - moments earlier, I'd been thinking about heading to a good, hot shower. But, something about this small scene caught my full attention. The amount of work was incredible, not to mention the intricacies. The rain had moved on, and the wind was picking up. I knew that in spite of the spider's best efforts, this small world wouldn't last forever. The rain was already an evaporating memory on the concrete driveway, the sun was climbing higher.

I grabbed the camera. The webs were swept away by the day, but I have a little memory of that moment. Whenever I look back, I'll remember that I was tired, and sweaty, and found it hard to keep the camera steady - I was breathing hard after the run, and my hands shook. I held my breath for each shot, scared that if I didn't, I'd puff away these delicate strands. Delicate, yet strong enough to support the heavy raindrops suspended from them. I''ll remember the chill of the sweat in my hair, the goosebumps on my bare legs as I cooled down. I'll remember the thoughts I had while I stood there, thinking about the quality of the light - so different in winter. The way the solidity of the raindrops served to enhance the seemingly tenuous, and fragile appearance of the webs; strength and fragility bound up in one tiny scene. The way that the tree in the garden behind the gate was silhouetted. Even realising that I really need to clean the fence of that mildew at some stage, makes me smile.

Perhaps one of the best things about capturing a small part of that moment, was being able to share it that night after work, with others who otherwise would've missed it.

There are always great and varied reasons for capturing images, and sharing them - even if it means putting off a shower for a moment or two.