My husband does most of the food shopping but occasionally, if he is not pressed for time, he lets me tag along. I slow things down because I am sidetracked by packaging, the patterns and shapes of a display, fresh flowers, the rows and rows of deli goods, and the novelty and multitude of the items that we neither need or want. There is a newish grocery store near us that recently provided a much-needed afternoon diversion. We bought broccoli, leeks, bread and strawberries, and along the way I stopped to check out the typography of seafood.

Christmas trees


Corrugated iron is one of those materials that lends itself to a multitude of uses. And like rust, so many people like it! My roof is made of corrugated iron (fortunately without any accompanying rust), and when it rains I can barely hear myself think, and I have a pet dog called Lulu made of corrugated iron (she not only has some rust, but some peeling off paint too!). On a recent visit to the south coast I came upon these corrugated iron christmas trees adorning the fence of a christmas tree farm.



My brother lives in a colder climate. A while back I was telling him we were in the grip of an unusually cold winter for Sydney and that, before we even had need of the heater or knew we were in for a chilly few months, we had taken advantage of a pre-season firewood bulk deal and was surprised that we might actually go through it all. He just laughed at the one tonne we had bought—already he had gone through seven! Lucky he didn’t have to get his supply from the servo, which sells these mini-packs at inflated (or should I say inflamed) prices. These bags were most appealing however, and who could not be warmed by the illustration.

’Tis the season


Walking past the local butcher’s window this morning, I see that the festive season is upon us, because we are now being invited to order our christmas ham’s and turkey’s! It’s reassuring to know that, in this chaotic world, some things come around like clockwork, and that the punctuation is so reliable.



It’s unseasonably hot, an October long weekend Indian summer. The beaches and pools are going to be crowded today, but I’m staying in the cool indoors, safe from the throngs. Days like today, the smell of chips emanates from every seaside kiosk, an unpleasant aroma unless you are the one eating the chips, in which case you are immune to the malodorous deep-frying fat. The chips on offer here are a little removed from the beach, though. I like the hand-drawn writing, outlined in gold, set within the bounds of those colourful lilac and yellow lines.



I can spend hours in Hawaiian grocery stores, walking along the aisles, checking out the huge array of goods—not for purchase, but for the visual feast on offer. You’ll find not just one flavour of something on the shelf, but a dozen, or two dozen, variations on a theme, the pattern of repeated colour-coded labels making a design impact. Even the fresh food looks good. Trays of ahi poke in the seafood section (ok, so now I’m getting hungry), and in the bakery, rows of cakes with icing in colours that are surely not real. I particularly like the myriad bottle shapes in the liquor section, although in this store it was the sign that drew me in, the letters indicating that perhaps it had sampled too much of its own kind. Hic.



I could use some amazing goop this week. I’m preparing for a small exhibition with my friend and artist colleague Sue Rawkins. I am busy printing prints, cutting mat board for frames, as well as glueing and pasting  and folding and all manner of things that need doing to finish my work in time. I’m pretty certain there will be a trip to the hardware store in the next day or so. I need a staple gun, some cord, some D-rings. And if I’m lucky I might find some amazing goop.

Rich fruit cake


The easter show would not be the easter show without cake. The arts and crafts pavilion features row upon row upon row of sultana cake, marble cake and various classes of fruit cake, all baked to exact—and exacting—standards. No use of ring tins, no rack marks, no packet mixtures, no icing. In fruit cakes, nuts must be cut to a size that doesn’t interfere with the cutting of the cake. Cakes can be round or square, but must be 20 cm. No trimming, smooth sides, evenly browned, fruit distributed evenly, moist but not heavy or doughy. More rules than you can poke a stick at! What intrigues me is the judging. Each of these cakes has a small wedge cut out of it for tasting—but after a few mouthfuls, how is a judge able to distinguish one bite of cake from another, especially when they are made using the same recipe!