I’ve been flat out researching and writing assignments, seeing a couple of gigs, tending to my herbs and succulents and well, enjoying autumn and life in general. It may not be frequent, but I’ll pop up here every now and then.
It’s been a cracking summer weather-wise (although after a week of dry 30 something celsius heat, a little rain would be welcome) and my herbs are coming up nicely. The coriander showed up after 10 days, one sprout proudly bearing its seed as a helmet. The sage seedlings are proudly wearing their hearts on their err… heads.
So Christmas has come and gone. As , unbelievably, so has the first month of 2013. The garage has been emptied of fifteen years’ clutter. And the garden is getting a tidying it hasn’t seen in years; the sickly and unsightly plants (and weeds) have been removed and all manner of unruly denizens (the main offenders being the lavender and fuschia and ) have been mercilessly pruned back. I’ve started a compost heap, and begun to sow herbs.
Also enjoying Yo La Tengo’s new album Fade. The music video for Ohm seems to capture the thoughts of trees, and plants and all things garden-ey filling my head.
La primavera has been teasing us in this part of the world during the last few weeks – a twenty degree day here, a thirteen degree day the next; will she? won’t she? But now with September here, there is no denying that the unmistakeable ‘giddy-up’ of spring is in the air.
I even snuck in a bit of study al fresco today.
I am an indifferent gardener at best – due to lack of time, I like to claim. But, having inherited a number of plants (potted, on a balcony) from my landlord, I have been dutifully watering these every few days. A couple I have saved from the brink – especially after holidays such as Christmas and Easter when I was away. A couple of others have not been so lucky.
One plant in particular – green felt like leaves, spindly stalks; really nothing to look at – was close to expiring until I began watering it religiously, determined not to have another living thing die on me.
I went to water it yesterday morning and imagine my surprise when I found this unlovely thing had spawned a strawberry! Two actually (one was hiding in a shelf nook).
It’s summertime. And there’s nothing better than gadding about in the great urban outdoors, taking afternoon naps or putting up one’s feet and retiring with a book and the occasional snack.
Currently reading: Brideshead Revisited
Currently savouring: a home made pandan flavoured macaron
A new film from Studio Ghibli – preferably one in which director Hayao Miyazaki has a hand in (he did not direct Arietty but wrote the screenplay) – is always an event of significance for me.
Thanks to the Embassy of Japan and the Arc Cinema, the inhabitants of the Bush Capital were able to catch Arietty at the 2011 Japanese Film Festival, ahead of it 2012 commercial Australian release.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I popped along to the sold out screening, gleeful at the prospect of losing myself in another of Miyazaki’s lovely, whimsical tales.
Based loosely on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, Arietty is the story of a family of ‘little people’ who get by in this world by keeping out of the sight of ‘human beans’ and ‘borrowing’ things misplaced or lost by humans.
The eponymous heroine is a fourteen year old ‘borrower’ who lives with her parents in the foundations of a large, rambling Edwardian house. Things come unstuck when Sho, a sickly boy who comes to stay in the house, sees her and, in a great movie tradition, an unlikely friendship begins.
I adore Miyazaki’s films for his plucky, pacifist heroines (and heroes). I love his subtle portrayal of the grander emotions such as duty, honour, guilt, sadness, love and the more pedestrian ones such as boredom and frustration. Miyazaki favours characters which are grey, rather black or white, and is particularly adept in showing their spiritual and emotional development . Though his characters may negotiate war, natural disasters and people out to do them (and their friends and families) harm, they are not merely people of action. Miyazaki seems to delight in showing moments where the characters take time out to simply enjoy a quiet moment, or to reflect on things.
Arietty ticks all these boxes. If I do have a complaint, it is that this movie touches on grander themes such as environmental destruction and extinction of species, but doesn’t explore these issues any further. The film also feels like the first of a series, rather than a complete, self-contained story. As such, Arietty doesn’t have the grand sweeping scale of Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind or Princess Mononoke but it’s always a pleasure to disappear for an afternoon into one of Miyazaki’s worlds.
Oh, and the hand-drawn backgrounds are always beautiful.
(French movie poster taken from here)
(Stills taken from the official UK trailer from here)
Lovely Granada! City of delights! Who ever bore the favors of thy dames more proudly on their casques, or championed them more gallantly in the chivalrous tilts of the Vivarambla? Or who ever made thy moon-lit balconies, thy gardens of myrtles and roses, of oranges, citrons, and pomegranates, respond to more tender serenades?
-Washington Irving, Recollections of the Alhambra
On a chilly, alpine grey day in the Southern Hemisphere, this terracotta urn and these three floating roses, put me in mind of that beautiful, faraway castle on a hill.