17 December 2016

Blu di Caravaggio

To begin with the mouth is assualted by the
full flower of the dankness of gorgonzola
Which is immediately chased by an incredible
lush sweetness at the centre of the wheel
Which gets more pungent as you move to the edge
And is finished with a mild nutty, like walnut, exterior.

Buffalo Milk from Lombardy

11 December 2016

The vigour of the sun
Has turned the grass
All into tenacious seed.

10 December 2016

Little Birds

To the Peace
of all
the universe,
I bow.

*

The past
is
the seed
of
the tree
of
today.

*

In life,
everything depends
on one's vision.

*

Maybe you can fool
the world,
But you can not fool
The Self.
Only more fool you!

08 December 2016

Boosey Blue


Boosey Blue is mild yet very fecund in the mouth
It has good notes of ripe healthy cow paddock
You can see the odour there on the edge of the cheese


Boosey Creek Cheese

Available at EPIC Farmer's Market sometimes

04 December 2016

Another type of tea, good for summer

Ishikawa Kanazawa
2-12, Hashibacho
Japan

The whole neighbourhood of Hasibacho in Kanazawa is somewhat renowned for sweets


I can not tell you what this place is called
-though the address is above-
but it was delicious, delightful and delicate


I thought the set included a very weak coffee
-later I learnt it was roasted barley tea-
which has a real note of caramel sweetness too

The tea is called in Japanese:
Rokujyo Ohmugi Mugicha

Here in Canberra it can be bought
in particpating Asian Grocery Stores


It's super easy to make
and very soothing to drink in the heat





Fromager d'Affinois Bleu


This cheese is ridiculously creamy tasty with a super smooth blue note, like the better Norman Granz Jam Sessions.

And you can tell it is not even trying.

It was just born that way.

Producer: Fromagerie GUILLOTEAU

Wikipedia: Fromager d'Affinois


Blessed indeed are the cheese makers.

#expensivecheeseunlessyouareinSaintÉtienne

01 December 2016

In Canberra Today

Here is a picture of the conscience of Australia:


It's the best we've got right now and I'm proud of it.

Picture credit and story tells us the AFP threatened to cut down the brave abseilers which is why the banner didn't last very long!

It's tempting to be amused by the AFP's whole Keystone Cops performance, given yesterday there were protests inside by the same fine citizens, but who knows, now the noddies in both houses will probably give them permission to install rocket launchers on the roof of APH.

Moreover, it's really no laughing matter, when you won't be surprised if that turns out to be right and our country's treatment of refugees continues to be so thoroughly unconscionable.

At a time when I am prone to spend idle minutes
in satisfying reveries involving fantasies
where I finally get the chance to
address our elected officials with the
scarifying invective they deserve

At a time when the Department of Border Protection
is dedicated to ensuring refugees die of avoidable unnatural violent causes


At a time like that, can you believe
the most important cause of our parliament
is the amount of tax paid by backpackers?

And so, my dear Prime Minister, to seal some deal
$100 million is a cheap price for you,
as if public money was meant as
insurance against your stupidity!

As sayeth one of the protesters,
the majority of our parliamentarians
remain complicit in the rape,
abuse and torture of refugees.

18 October 2016

Awaji

If you like incense, on Awaji you can visit Kunjudo.

From Sannomiya Station you can catch a JR train to the bridge and then a bus to the island, but it's easier and probably as quick to take the bus all the way from out the back of Sannomiya station.

The shop only takes cash.

This turtle I met at the bus stop is probably a native species, but I do not know anything else about it.





I was inspired to buy these pottery turtles in Okayama a few days later.





Bojack





Mr Peanut Butter's review of JJ Abrahms' Star Trek reboot.


Personally, I choose not to watch the new Star Wars.

12 October 2016

Nobody knows 
the sound
a new bird 
will make,
not even God. 

22 May 2016

If Peace
Thy Will
Then Peace
I am. 

*

Between the moon
And city lights
The path is bright. 

*

Peace. 
Impossible to measure,
And yet, its absence undeniable. 

*

My heart is
no stranger 
to delight. 

*

Ecstasy always. 
This is the motto 
of my love. 

*

When the mind shrinks,
The heart expands. 


06 May 2016

Wordless,
My song. 

Soundless,
My cry. 

Endless,
My smile. 

*

Love has no complaints,
Only man is so unfortunate. 

*

Silence is
my unique
discovery. 

*

Happiness never asks
Ecstasy why it is. 


03 May 2016

Sunset Boulevard

Wow.

What an amazing film noir this is.

Stark, taut and perfectly paced.

William Holden is absolutely mesmerising in it. I am not sure why, I tried a few other films he was in, but none of them really grabbed me.

This is practically the first shot in the film so it is not giving anything away.


Made in 1950.

24 April 2016

Some of my work framed.

Canberra City Framing is the best.

The last one is A2, colour-wise it is my favourite, although I am happy with them all. On occasion I write out just the first line of a poem really big. Actually, it would be good to do a whole poem like that, but totally unfeasible for display upon my modest walls. I am nearly out of room as it is. Then again, writing directly on a large wall would be fun!



21 April 2016

Joy is like a wave
that washes away everything. 
Even the ever-dry mind
can learn to drown in it. 

*

Everything comes and goes
The great silence remains
Dancing on my forehead. 

*

Why do you need to separate 
The company of joy
And the joy of company?

20 April 2016

How my garden grows

There was a time, quite a few years ago, when I posted so many pictures of my plants here. I was definitely obsessed with succulents. My balcony is probably only six square metres, but at one point I counted over 200 pots on it. Ever since I created my verdant heaven it has been a constant battle to find standing room out there.

Last weekend I tidied it all up again. I think it took four hours to discover order within the chaos and now it is looking the best ever. I really miss having a private garden, but I have taken what I have to the limit.

Here is just one corner to enjoy. It is a nice harmony of forms.


17 April 2016

More food

Really good broccoli has such a complex, nutty flavour profile.

Do you know what I mean?

If you don't, then perhaps it is time you considered your choice of vegetables more carefully.

Now that I make an effort to eat greens regularly -although still not so much the leafy ones I confess- I feel much healthier. Good call mum.

For instance, making Brussels sprouts tasty requires hardly any skill and they are so delicious.

Grab a fry pan and get some garlic going in a mixture of butter and olive oil with some salt and pepper. You don't even have to chop the garlic, just smash a few cloves and break it up if you want. Then lay the dry, cleaned, halved sprouts down flat in the pan. As you see them take on colour, briefly cover with a lid to finish so they steam themselves through. You need a fairly high heat, so just make sure they keep firm and they will taste great. It's that easy.


A hint for quick and easy cooking. Green beans and broccolini can be cooked by just cleaning/chopping and then pouring boiling water over them to sit.

My conclusion is: if you want to be a good cook, learn to enjoy washing dishes. You can not have one without the other, the universe would be out of balance. Actually, I do have a dishwasher, but I have never turned it on. It just seems dumb and lazy to try and fill it for one person.

If you want miracles, then look at potatoes. Could there be any more perfect food?


That is my favourite stall at EPIC Farmer's Market. Perhaps because they specialise in potatoes which I love and the experience is the antithesis of choosing between white or red potatoes all year round at the supermarket. Also, the baby potatoes are half price and a baking dish full of heirloom baby potato varieties is quite a treat. Then, of course, this stall just disappears when potato season is over.

Roasted root vegetables is a meal I can return to again and again without complaint.


Occasionally I get flowers at the EPIC market and today I bought a bunch of dahlias. When I got home I found one had a broken stem, so I made a most basic ikebana in a chawan I bought in Japan. I have not yet made matcha in this tea bowl though I have everything I need to try.


I am really happy with how this looks given it took 12 seconds to make.


16 April 2016

Brisbane

A few weeks ago I did an overnight trip to Brisbane for work.

So I can tell you Noosa Chocolate Factory makes really fine stuff and there are two stores right on Adelaide Street in the Brisbane CBD. Their panning is pretty extraordinary, particularly the rolled pecans. This is not to say I don't still love Haighs but these are entirely different styles of chocolate. The stuff from Noosa is less staid, lighter, more contemporary. Their dark chocolate is even vegan, but you do not notice, in fact, it is much less cloying.

Also, Taro's Ramen & Cafe on Edward Street makes brilliant ramen. Here is a bowl with "extras", or you could say the super-sized version. The tonkotsu was so creamy.


I had lunch and dinner there on the same day it was so good. No regrets.

I recommend reading Super noodles: the rise and rise of ramen if you want to learn more about ramen. Also, watching Tampopo can do no harm either.



Now I am dubious I will find a better ramen in Australia. If the shop is not at least dedicated solely to this one subject it seems unlikely a superior product will eventuate.

Japan is suffering now with earthquakes.

03 April 2016

Sounds

Morning meditation
is like a gong

If you truly sound
the note of your being

It will reverberate 
all the day true. 

Since I wrote this I have been thinking about getting a gong. It would be lovely to sound each morning, although my neighbours may not agree. For a long time I wanted to live in the country on a few acres but eventually decided the idea was impractical. Now I am thinking if I did I could play a massive gong at dawn. I would build a pavilion for it called the Pavillion of the Golden Life. Actually, I was surprised to learn that massive gongs are expensive, like $40,000 expensive! 

Nearly every day I look forward to returning home and playing flute for an hour or two. Again, I stop by 8pm for the neighbour's sakes. On the weekends I sometimes have to wait a few hours to start playing so it's not too early, but close to sunset and dusk is my favourite time to play anyway. Generally I improvise with my favourite songs, although just playing with the silence I enjoy too. That is why sunset is the best, the birds like to sing then. Sometimes they play in the yard a lot at dusk; usually Pied Currawongs. Of course, the end of daylight savings means it will be dark when I get home until spring returns. 

I decided my dream job would let me play flute, as an aid to thinking and improved communication, whenever I felt the urge. I thought of this because I am watching Better Call Saul. The main character gets a job in a law firm and one of the partners has a guitar he likes to strum a little in his office to, "...blow off steam." When Jimmy wants to get fired -because he will have to repay his bonus if he quits- he decides to copy his colleague, but with bagpipes! (A successful strategy need I add?) I did really like this show, even though I haven't watched Breaking Bad, but halfway through season two it is starting to maunder, so we'll see. 

My shakuhachi is getting less use than I like because I am following the care instructions to the letter. This means a plastic bag and case when not in use to prevent the the bamboo from cracking. Perhaps I am paranoid because it was so expensive, but without it being easy access, I'm not playing it much at all. In contrast, I never put my flute away unless I'm taking it somewhere. However, it's clearly time to focus on enjoying it rather than worrying about it. The embouchure between flute and shakuhachi is quite different so it's a fun challenge switching between them. 



30 March 2016

Inside my desire
I see Your sorrow
And Your love
Dancing together
So perfectly.

*

Light I need,
Light I am,
No other truth.


I have to say, this is kind of my ideal poem.

Only nine words, plus it has the egg, the chicken and the omelette.

*

Autumn leaves
Soon
How did I forget winter?



10 March 2016

The poetry-bird comes to visit when I most need company, solace and guidance. In that sense, it is a reliable friend, but it is not be tamed; it does not stop for flattery's sake. I had a kind of rough summer and wrote so many poems. It is easy to say ecstasy is the remedy for suffering, but it can only treat the symptom at times. The real medicine, the cure, is willpower. Currently, my life is mainly rhythm, routine, and glorious rigmarole, with hardly a poem in sight.

*

The battle must be fought
Again and again and again
In one form or another.

This is the nature of victory and defeat.

*

My life does not
give me satisfaction.

Satisfaction
gives me life.

Satisfaction lives
in the Heart of Being.

*

Love is
the question,
And also,
the answer.

04 March 2016

Major Tom

This is quite a contrast to my last post, but I am ridiculously fond of this song. The chorus is just so addictive. I only know this song after watching Deutschland 83 a few months ago, as this is the opening theme. In this case, I think the English version is better than the original German.



Speaking of the 80's, last weekend I got to sit in a Delorean.

Tomar Halo Shuru

This poem/song by Rabindranath Tagore is super famous (in India). It is notoriously difficult to translate although I think somebody named Samragi has done a good job below. This clip of an old recording is the best I could find on youtube. The original Bengali lyrics show what a simple and repetitive form this poem takes. It is about the beauty of eternal longing and the dance of life you could say. Even with the poor quality recording I hope you can get a sense of how sweet it is. I deeply admire Tagore's writing, but I won't sit here pointing at the moon.





Tomar holo shuru – For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end
Tomar holo shuru – For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end
Tomay amay mile – In me when you dissolve
Emni bahe dhara – That is how it flows
Tomar holo shuru – For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end
Tomar jale bati – For you the lights sparkle
Tomar ghare sathi – For you friends abound at home
Amar tare rati – For me ’tis but the night
Amar tare tara – For me ’tis but the stars
Tomar holo shuru - For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end
Tomar ache danga – You have the barge
Amar ache jal – I am left with the waters
Tomar bose thaka – You stay still
Amar chalachol – I am to wander ever
Tomar ache danga – You have the barge
Amar ache jal – I am left with the waters
Tomar bose thaka – You stay still
Amar chalachol – I am to wander ever
Tomar hate rong – Your hands adorned with colours
Amar hate kar – Mine adorned with emptiness
Tomar mone bhay – Your heart that fears
Amar bhayahara – My fears are no more
Tomar holo shuru – For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end
Tomay amay mile – In me when you dissolve
Emni bahe dhara – That is how it flows
Tomar holo shuru – For you it begins
Amar holo sara – For me it is to end


I like to read Tagore every now and again. Luckily he translated some of his own work to English. Here is a pick from Stray Birds to finish:


I shall die again and again to know that life is inexhaustible.

27 February 2016

from The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom: Fudochishinmyoroku

Except from a letter by Takuan Sōhō
The mind that becomes fixed and stops in one place does not function freely. Similarly, the wheels of a cart go around because they are not rigidly in place. If they were to stick tight, they would not go around. The mind is also something that does not function if it becomes attached to a single situation.

If there is some thought within the mind, though you listen to the words spoken by another, you will not really be able to hear him. This is because your mind has stopped with your own thoughts.

If your mind leans in the direction of these thoughts, though you listen, you will not hear; and though you look, you will not see. This is because there is something in your mind. What is there is thought. If you are able to remove this thing that is there, your mind will become No-Mind, it will function when needed, and it will be appropriate to its use.

The mind that thinks about removing what is within it will by the very act be occupied. If one will not think about it, the mind will remove these thoughts by itself and of itself become No-Mind.

If one always approaches his mind in this way, at a later date it will suddenly come to this condition by itself. If one tries to achieve this suddenly, it will never get there.

This translation is by William Scott Wilson. If you read Musashi then you will meet Takuan Sōhō. In the same letter Takuan talks about the Right Mind being like water and the Confused Mind being like ice.

20 February 2016

Duck Soup

Serving suggestion only

This movie is a kind of comedy genius.

The whole thing is a bit dated, maybe that's why I found listening to it funnier than watching it.

Here are a few lines I remember, not necessarily verbatim.

Groucho is sweet talking a lady and telling her his vision of domestic bliss: "We could get married. I can see you right now in the kitchen, bending over a hot stove, but I can't see the stove."

I think it is Chico who says to someone: "You got a nose like a bloodhound and the rest of your face ain't that great either."

Groucho: "Three men and one woman are trapped in a building. Send help at once, if you can't send help, send two more women."

True, inside every human 
mind is a monster,
but, inside every human 
heart is an angel. 

*

Opportunity, 
where are you?

"Feel that
 My Forgiveness 
 is your all."

*

Happiness asks us
to really forget
the past. 

Happiness reminds us 
to really surrender
to the present. 

Happiness tells us
it will take care
of the future. 

*

The prayer-hands
Of My Lord
Are Infinity. 

*

Love this moment. 
It is all

*

You can try to 
change yourself,
but God is eager
to do it all for you. 

*

Don't be a fool. 
Tomorrow will not change you. 
That is the job of Today. 

*

My best friend is God. 
God's best friend
is this very feeling. 

*

Mountains rise,
but rarely fall. 

*

Plenty of people 
will misunderstand me,
Even I play this role 
quite well. 

*

Marry your 
life to Peace -
All will be well. 

*

To swear allegiance
to the mind
Is to make
firm friends
with catastrophe. 

*

Peace-worship 
completes me. 

*

With You,
I need
nothing more. 

19 February 2016

Night thoughts while travelling by Du Fu

A light breeze rustles the reeds
Along the river banks. The
Mast of my lonely boat soars
Into the night. Stars blossom 
Over the vast desert of
Waters. Moonlight flows on the
Surging river. My poems have
Made me famous but I grow
Old, ill and tired, blown hither
And yon; I am like a gull
Lost between heaven and earth. 

New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

It's funny, the book provides a different translation of the same poem and they are poles apart. I feel this one has all the feeling of the original which a more faithful rendering of the actual words can only hint at. 

You can read about Du Fu at Wikipedia. At one point, being a poet and the public service went together in China, which probably reflects the primary nature of the study required to become an official: philosophy, history and poetry. He also won the moniker Saint of Poetry and was/is very popular in Japan apparently. 

I love that one of his poems includes: "I am about to scream madly in the office / Especially when they bring more papers to pile higher on my desk." These days it is email instead. 

A poem he wrote for a friend commences:

"It is almost as hard for friends to meet
As for the morning and evening stars."

True. 




17 February 2016



Famous deer of Nara, Japan. They really are free to wander most places. You can buy crackers for them and they get pretty intense once they start eating and decide they want the rest of the packet. Accounting for this, the packaging itself was edible. The cute kids being cute are in the grounds of the famous Tōdai-ji in Nara. They are looking for tourists to do their surveys in English.



*

To pray for things
Is to forget love.
To pray for love
Is to win everything.

*

A rather sullen looking statue in Kamakura.


*

Devastating is the animal in me.
Forgetful is the human in me.
Illumining is the divine in me.

*

Alas,
How weak
is my hunger
for surrender.

*

Twice I cared for humanity.
Once when I forgot my self.
Once when I remembered My Lord.

*

Never.
Never is a difficult word.
Never to make a mistake.
Never to always succeed.

*

Small temple, Ueno, Tokyo.


*

Who fortune favours
So often forgets
They are fortunate.

*

In God's Room
I am always perfect.
In man's room
I do not know
Where I am.

*

Many times I have failed.
Many times I have succeeded.

*

This spectacular piece of topiary is in an old cemetery just behind Ueno Park. The amazing grounds were worth a good wander.


*

The coin of life has two sides
And a thin edge.

*

Two truths

Many are my enemies,
Few are my friends.

Few are my enemies,
Many are my friends.

*

No-one reaches
The frontier of the self
Without passing
Through a mind-field.

*


Somewhere in the back streets of Kyoto. Kimonos and mobile phones. Then a statue in a small temple nearby who seems to be wearing a matching bib. I never found the hand-made paper shop I was looking for.


*

The immortality of my words
Is the one true pleasure of ink.

*

The watchword
Of a happy life:
Silence.

*

It is not easy to take a good photo of a big tree -and of a tall tree it is an impossibility- so I am not saying this is that, but this mighty specimen is in the grounds of Hongan-ji in Kyoto. I love how they have placed stilts everywhere so it can just keep spreading.


*

The small hours
Have taught me everything.

*

The church of midnight
Is my house of worship.

*

Upon the walls of night are written
The mysteries of the universe.
Light the candle of the heart
To read them.

*

How do you like them apples? Nishiki Market, Kyoto.

10 February 2016

Pieces of Kyoto

Here is the Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, which no surpirse, translates as Temple of the Golden Pavillion.





These are also in Kyoto, but I'm not sure where exactly.





I still have thousands of photos from my trip, but only a few unpublished pieces of writing.

*

The journey back to Kyoto is a shock after temple-life. Leaving the island of Kyushu, the rustic friendliness seems to disappear and other tourists begin to appear on the train from Hiroshima onwards.

Even though they barely speak twenty words between them, when a small, completely innocuous group of middle-aged Spaniards enters my carriage, I find them unbearably loud and abrasive.

This feeling only lasts a few moments.

Finally arriving at Kyoto Station, burdened with a suitcase, a backpack full of electronic toys, another bag full of a teapot collection and my shakuhachi, I opt for a taxi to the guest house.

The driver does not seem the least displeased that the meter hasn't even moved from the flagfall when we stop, so I give him 1000 yen for his trouble.

It's Saturday night in Kyoto and all the popular restaurants in walking distance, and presumably good ones, have lines out the door. I choose a modest looking place which is nearly empty.

My serving of chūtoro seems meager, not so fatty, hideously over-priced and a little too cold, but the presentation is delightful, so I do my best to savour it. The vegetable tempura is excellent and the miso soup is perfect.

After I pay -for the most expensive meal I have had on my entire holiday- the owner follows me out the door and performs a deep bow in the street, for which I am totally unprepared.

Walking away, I do my best to return thanks as my heart melts.

You win Japan.

*

That was written on my final night in Japan. I really am not the sushi expert I so confidently pass myself off as.

I miss green tea chocolate being available everywhere. I tried to make my own even before my holiday, but it didn't go very well. I bought lots of it in Melbourne at Christmas, but the Asian gorcery stores are not as well stocked in Canberra.