Commercial coffees I have enjoyed

Since I bought an Aeropress, I've really enjoyed sampling different blends of coffee. Here are a few of my current favourites.

Lavazza Caffe Torino has a nice dark cocoa taste. I've found it's great when brewed with water around 65-80C. There's less bitterness and a big rich chocolate-y body, which is a characteristic of all three Lavazza blends. The others have more of a roast-y flavour and they all go a long way. I find you can get away with using less, maybe three-quarters of what other brands require.

These two Vittoria blends aren't tied for second place. In fact, I find them a bit ordinary on their own. When you put them together though, there's a complementary flavour that emerges. The Mountain Grown brings body, while the pissweak Organic flavour fills in around it. I also like the regular Vittoria and find it benefits from hot, almost boiling water to bring out depth.

Caffe Aurora Italian Blend is really distinctive as it tastes burnt. When I share it with people their response is usually "Yuck!" but the charcoal flavour works for me. It softens the bitterness to the point of making it like a cup of milky Milo. I don't like the competition promoted on the bag though, as the stickers were blank when I turned them over so it annoyed me that I couldn't enter to win $10,000 since I've bought three bags now.

Robert Timms Italian Espresso Style has a dark body that's not very rich. It also has a bitterness that's more akin to the regular Vittoria but darker, even when brewed at lower temperatures. There's an acidity too that's quite distinct. The other thing I like is that it reminds me of when I first started drinking their coffee bags in the 1990s and discovered how much smoother brewed coffee was to instant.


My partner produced this interactive artwork for the Reconstructing exhibition that's currently at the HR Gallop Gallery at Charles Sturt University's Wagga Wagga Campus.

Visitors are invited to glue on lines from a famous feminist texts, using the cut-up method to create a manifesto.

Full moon over Leeton Rice Co-op

The Rice Co-op hums all-day almost all-year at the end of my street.

If you listen carefully you might hear the hum as part of my soundtrack for Reimagining The Murrumbidgee from a few years ago, but I also just recorded it for a Junto too.

It's lit-up at night and I enjoy photographing it, like this shot from last year when I was thinking how I'd interpret the WRA photo competition theme 'Living Leeton' that I couldn't enter as an employee.

The full moon this week prompted me to take more photos, like this one. As I was looking back over them I thought how much I like the red dot of the 'No Entry' sign in this one, since the design of that building in the background often prompts me to think on Japanese influence in the local rice industry. The first experimental rice crop here started with the arrival of grain from Isaburo Takasuka, which came via his nephew's motorcycle in the early 20th Century.

These days Leeton is home to the SunRice brand, who sponsor a festival every other year and I recently tried to add a multicultural event to their program as a way of raising the role of this grain in the diet of people all over the world. Funding was unsuccessful, so maybe another year.

And the 'No entry' sign also reminds me of Japan's isolationist history, which is mentioned in this beaut video by Bill Wurtz.

Young praying mantis on tansy

Originally posted one of these pics on my wildlife blog, then thought I'd go back and look over them again.



My 1000th blog post!

Dying a little

Last year I noticed a growing anxiety at this time of the year and, now that I've awoken from anxious dreams, I'm wondering if it isn't to do with the shortening days. Wondering if I'm that disconnected from the changing of the seasons that I've never recognised their effect before.

With spring it's an obvious sense of life unfurling, whereas autumn is a slower process of death and decay. The leaves gradually change colour -- and that's only the imported trees, those deciduous ones that are part of a human-built environment in Australia.

Last year I was very aware of death as I spent Easter thinking about a dead woman. It was the first time I'd really pondered death at that time of the year, which is another sign of my disconnectedness. Being an atheist means not thinking too much about the symbolism of Easter, yet here was an event that prompted me to think on it.

I started to wonder about the significance of Stephanie's death and saw a myriad of ways that people were reflecting on it, from putting yellow around the town or hanging out their wedding dresses. It suddenly brought a morbid focus to a lot of things.

Today it was explained to me why Easter changes date each year. I could see that anchoring it to the full moon after the equinox makes it a seasonal event. and that it is an ideal time for camping as the last glow of summer fades. Camping seems like a good idea too as it would take me away from the usual distractions like Facebook that generally only amplify whatever mood I share with friends.

Those studies that suggest that people feel depressed when they see friends feeling depressed suggest that I shouldn't start reflecting on my morbid mood on Facebook. Yet I'm aware that there is a gap in my life for something that reaffirms life at this time of the year.

Hairy panic

Hairy panic is an Australian tumbleweed and it's in the news at present for inundating Wangaratta.

The news story in the link above says it's not a fire risk but I've found it's great for starting fires because it burns like petrol.

Hairy panic seems like a funny name until you experience it caught in your pants. Then it feels like something crawling up your leg.

This photo was taken in 2008, when there was a massive build-up of the dried weed at the property where I was living outside Wagga. You can see it totally obscures me.

I wrote these lyrics for a song at that time and I think I should finally get to recording it because there were chords too.

I'm a tumbling weed
my life is floating on the breeze
no choice but let the wind blow
and determine where I go

Rolling on the ground
I creep without making a sound
shake a spindly arm
and catch my seed in your palm

With a breath on the breeze
I inhale and it frees

Caught pushed against a wall
I'll erupt and then I'll fall
taking opportunity
wherever the wind is moving me

You'll never know what I've faced
to reach this resting place
when the summer has come and gone
my kind will roll along

Accept the change, weather the rains
and live to roll another day
Wherever I go, the grass will grow
and I live to roll another day

Projection idea

The projection workshop in Wagga last weekend forced me to rethink my ideas. 

Previously I'd thought projection was just video made big but I've come to see it's a different medium.

One of the ideas I experimented with involved using the clear blue sky like a green screen to cut out bees and trees, which were then colourised for psychedelic effect.

The bees ended up in my Junto video this week, while the trees were tested on half the projection space along the length of Wagga's council building.

Tutor Yandell took this pic for me, which looks more impressive than the video -- which is a very rough sketch.

Kurrajong magic

Kurrajong trees seem kinda unusual in the Australian landscape.

Their glossy green leaves stand out against the dull blue-grey of gums and their wood seems somewhat porous. I'd guess it allows them to store enough water to survive summer, especially as they lose their leaves every other year -- unlike gums, which aren't deciduous.

They also have these seedpods that are itchy and the trees only seem to grow from granite, which they cover with a rich soil as their leaves fall and deteriorate. And they grow very slowly, so the very old ones predate European settlement.

This stand of kurrajongs outside Wagga always seems magic to me. I like to imagine that they form a portal of some sort, as it reminds me of a scene I saw from a film in an anthropology class about rites of passage. In the film a couple split a tree in half and passed their son through it to celebrate a birthday and mark a passage into a new stage of his life.

Projection workshop

Emergency, 2008. Beyond the Window, Bus Gallery. from Yandell Walton on Vimeo.

This week I've been attending a workshop with Yandell Walton organised by Wagga Wagga City Council.

It's been really inspiring to meet a diverse cohort interested in projection, as each bring their own aesthetic and experience. I've also been inspired by Walton's open and supportive approach to workshops, particularly the opportunity to read her masters thesis and be better informed about her work. Often visiting artists can be unwilling to share their skills but she has shown us many aspects of her practice, from the technical to the administrative.

I'm also really taken with the work above, Emergency (2008). It's a collaboration with photographer Clare Hassett that illustrates Walton's interest in death and also updates the style of William H. Mumler.

Eucalypt regrowth

Hard to kill Australian natives, like this Eucalyptus blakelyi, also known as the Blakely's Red Gum.

You find many in the Riverina that were ring-barked around 150 years ago, yet have regrown since.

In some ways I think the endurance of eucalypts in this way is a good metaphor for the resurgence of indigenous Australians.

Peckish no salt rice crackers

It's great to see that salt-free rice crackers are now available and, even better, they're from a brand who make nice biscuits too.

Rice crackers are a product that fascinate me. There are so many brands in the supermarket and, largely, they all vary in their texture as well as flavours. I don't know how these things are processed and cooked but it's clear that there are differences. At one end of the spectrum is the fluffy and somewhat sweet crackers made by Fantastic and, at the other end, is the brittle and sorta solid Vita-weat.

Peckish, who make the packet shown above, are closer to Sakata in their texture but additives like rice bran oil really distinguish them.

If Peckish are reading, let me reiterate how great I think it'd be to see a range of curry-flavoured crackers. I'm surprised no one has done this yet, given how excellent it would be to have a tomato-based vindaloo or madras with a hint of cardamon or coconut milk-infused korma or even a sweet butter chicken flavour. Or maybe actual fennel seeds in a rogan josh flavoured cracker. Or how about a papadum-style with chick peas? Or samosa flavour with tamarind like the dipping sauce?

There are soooo many options -- make it happen!

Sketchy sketch

Had a quiet chuckle when I saw this so-called sketch as it's clear someone has used the 'find edges' filter in Photoshop on the photo of the sculpture on the opposite page. Just look at the line that remains over the left shoulder.