Saturday, December 25, 2010

Desk top cooking

My new table/desktop oven is proving to be a blessing. Out with that Gaggenau nonsense (too complicated) and in with easy-cook 737. Both Buddha and Quan Yin are smiling upon the new addition though it is hard to figure out how to stir fry in an oven. So far Chicken limone is the star. Same as Chicken Camembert except you stuff lemons instead of Camembert cheese up the chicken. One pot cooking and you can watch how things progress. Loads of successes - salmon steaks in three minutes - so don't go too far away because I'll post some on the new site. Due about mid January.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Newer, brighter, lighter

Some changes are being made. A few of our favourite things have travelled with us to overlook the Brisbane River but loads had to go to make way for the new. The new site will be up and running in a few weeks.Newer, faster, easier, brighter. So if there are any pictures that please you for your personal use then download with my compliments. They may not be on the new site. The address does not change, but EVERYTHING else will. Wait and see and come back soon. Happy New 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

writers burning issue

Today's burning issue for writers and most other creative folk is to build visible 'platforms' to out their talent - thus creating auras of success. No more waiting in the wings in Schwab's Hollywood Drug Store. We are now expected to front a raft of seminars, consult with gurus, and curry our way into inner sanctums of editors, publishers, and publicists. 
Where do we find the time to write? What happened to the Aquarian dawning? And where did Andy Warhol's fifteen minute throwaway line get us? Not far. Like most media grabs it was - is - feel-good stuff and nonsense, falling far from the mark. 
Love something I say, and go write about it. Screw the rest. The past is ever ready to cosy-up the future, but the trick is to focus forward in the present. Be aware. No befores. No afters. Actions, not words. Light the bonfires and on to the pyre go heaps of faded magazine stories and loads of old tear sheets. Travel light! Observe use-by dates.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Way we were

The opening lines of my first magazine story popped out to bite me yesterday. 'I'm having a love affair with Asia. Maybe you are further in than I am.'  If I knew then ...

Things may have been easier back in the 80s. Sketch pads, camera, and a load of Yoken coloured felt pens paid my way around the Orient very nicely. Home again, home again, I'd work up travel and garden stories - mainly about orchid encounters. Nowadays, cell phones and laptops encourage writing on the run. Chasing hot hotel deals becomes the now and multi-tasking the norm. Information overload blocks the way to who we are, how we feel, and what we do best. Excessive amounts of higher education does not necessarily supply the answer and can cloud the issue when it comes to telling a good story. Numbed, we absorb newscasts and wallow in bureaucratic clap-trap that should scare the pants off us. Fascinated, we concentrate on the et ceteras. Where, oh where, did that love affair go? Beats me.      MaX

Bottoms UP! Blooming Stanhopea

Now here’s an orchid that could make a maiden blush! The zany subtropical Stanhopea dangles great clusters of blossom from its nether regions, down below the pseudo bulbs and large leafy foliage. What first seems like a goofy quirk of nature turns out to be one of the magnificent miracles of the plant world. Overwhelming, viewed from beneath. 

It must be marvellous to happen upon these dizzying apparitions in the jungles of South America – where jungle still remains. Reports of pillage and slash-and-burn operations set off alarm bells and many wild orchids now exist only through the good graces of botanic gardens and dedicated growers – hardly tribute to man’s passage through the kingdom of plants. It is important to keep a positive picture of these alluring plants swaying in tropical jungle atmosphere when you set about growing them.

Stanhopeas must never be housed in solid-sided pots (how would the flowers break through the terracotta?) and are best grown in wire baskets and viewed hanging high in your garden or fernhouse. Joy of joys, stanhopeas bloom late in the season after most else has given up the ghost. Late spring into early summer, the sturdy stanhopea keeps popping away. And I do mean ‘pop’.

Here are some varieties that grow easily in temperate outdoor conditions. Happy hunting!
 Stanhopea nigroviolacea, this fellow seems all-male to me. Big, robust, easy growing. Stanhopea inodora, my favourite, this ice green beauty is a hardy grower, but with a delicate countenance. Stanhopea reichenbachiana, porcelain white and spicy sweet perfumed, Stanhopeawardii, a sunny yellow deckled with tiny purplish flecks. Stanhopeagraveolens, cool growing (bush houses, glass houses, shaded patios, garden balconies protected from the wind), this golden beauty hails from Mexico and Honduras.  View my Stanhopea gallery