Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Two Dreams: Very Berry and the connection between two worlds

Very Berry

In this dream Em and I had just bought a farm, but at the start of the dream I am not entirely sure what the farm is like. We get the keys and drive to the farm, pulling up at the farmhouse in the late afternoon. The light is gentle and it’s not too hot (unlike recent times!)

The farmhouse is quite old – a greyish wooden house with a triangular roof, not unlike those rustic barns one sees in lifestyle magazines. Inside it is slightly musty but quite clean. We drop our bags on the counter and run out into the field.

What will we discover? I think as we run into the field.

Strawberries. We are surrounded by strawberries as far as the eye can see. Neat rows of strawberry vines stretch marvelously in all directions. The fruit they bear are an incredible hue of mature red, glistening in the low sun and inviting us to eat them. We pick one after the other, stuffing them into our mouths and relishing their sweetness. They have such an intense concentrated flavour like those supermaret strawberries could never have. Each berry bursts in the mouth filling us with ecstasy. Red juices run down our chins and stain our shirts, but we don’t care. In a moment we have eaten countless strawberries.

What a fantastic idea it is to buy a strawberry farm!

We return to the farmhouse on a high and congratulate ourselves on our excellent purchase. On the big wooden table is a stack of stationery, and we see that the stationery is for the farm. The name of the farm is Very Berry (what a great name for a farm! We marvel) but the spelling is quite different with varying numbers of Ys

Veryyy Berryyyy
Veryyyyy Berryyyyyyyy
Veryy Berryy

Any number of conflicting Ys are on all the stationery and we ponder which one is the real one. Then I wake up.

Between Two Worlds

This is a deep, dark and dense dream.

At the beginning, I am in a carpark with P. We have driven there in a car that neither of us own, and that I don’t recognise. We get out of the car and the air is eerily still. For a carpark, there seem to be no cars coming or going.

A thought flashes across my mind that we are here to look for the entrance to the other world. (Possibly I have been reading too much Murakami again)

We look for this entrance but neither of us have any idea what it looks like. We walk up and down the ramps, but other than a few cars parked here and there resting silently, there is no clue to the other world. Suddenly we hear a big group of people coming down the ramp from the level above us, and we crouch down behind a ute to observe them.

The leader calls out Everyone! Join hands and call out your numbers!

There are perhaps 30 people there, and they come from all corners of the carpark towards us. We step out from behind the ute and try to blend in as leisurely as we can manage. Paul is on my left and I join hands with him, and with another man on my right. Each person in the circle says out a random number, and we both make up numbers (I can’t remember what I said)

Then, as suddenly as they came, the group dispersed and it is just the two of us again in the carpark. The silence is still eerie but the density of the atmosphere has changed, and that is when I know we have already crossed into the other world.

We walk out of the carpark, keen to explore the world. There is a fence just in front so we jump it – I am surprised by my own strength as I would never be able to jump a fence in real life. I look back at the 2m-ish fence, wondering how I got to the other side. I jump several more fences and realise that we are in a highly suburban area, most of the houses having neat lawns and trampolines or playsets. Some of the fences have sharp edges but that doesn’t seem to bother me either.

I jump a dozen fences or so and realise that in the meantime I have lost P. In the distance I can hear a throng of people again, though I can’t see them or which direction they are coming from. I am filled with this sense of dread that they are the same people who have realised that we are invading their world.

I jump another fence and see a huge house with a single huge rectangular window at the rear of the house. It seems to be a huge glass window which has been concertinaed so that Em is sitting on the wooden ledge. The aperture the window leaves draws one to it. I get closer to it and can see that it is an ordinary house inside – a row of hooks with coats are by the front door.

She is sitting with her legs drawn up on the ledge, and she says to me with some sense of urgency: You must come back into this world, quick! This window is the way!

The wooden ledge is only chest height, and I would be able to reach it easily in real life. But no matter how hard I try and how much she tries to help me, I cannot get my feet off the ground more than a few seconds at a time. I try to run up to it, jump up to it, sidle up on my rear… no matter what I try, I cannot get onto the windowsill, the connection to the real world.

The voices come closer, and for a moment I wonder, which is the real world?
Then I wake up.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Dream: Beans and bean sprouts

I have had a lot of vivid dreams recently, and this is one of them.

The dream starts off in a small town. I don’t quite recognise the town, but it is very neat and orderly. At first I think we must be in Europe, with tidy streets and pockets of gardens. After a while I start to get this sense of déjà vu – there is another dream that I have had in the past which took place in this very town. Somehow the flowers and the statues are the same. I think that place was in Newfoundland or somewhere equally cold in Canadia.

The Doofus Trio are wandering the streets of this town together. We don’t have our instruments but we must be at some sort of musical meetup. We see a big church and decide to go inside.

It is dark and musty inside, the air bordering on damp. We can smell food being cooked over charcoal, that profound earthy smell that comes with that type of primitive grilling. All around there are central Asian appearing people, fanning their meat skewers perched on tiny grills.

I wonder why they don’t centralise the grilling process. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have one giant fire instead of so many small ones?

Doof draws our attention to a beautiful façade, the details of which are difficult to make out in the dim light. Amongst the gargoyles and angels, it feels like we are in Europe again – is there any building this old in Canadia?

He is trying to take a picture of the most beautiful arch in the church, positioning pengy underneath it. It’s hard to get the entire arch into the frame of his picture, and pengy keeps falling. When he finally takes the picture we realise that some of the ornamental detail actually comes from bean sprouts, meticulously laid out individually on the wall.

Why are there bean sprouts in a church?

We exit the church back into the light, but the light has faded dramatically since we entered the church and I wonder if we have lost time in some sort of time warp.

I am holding pengy and wondering why my hands are a bit sticky – it’s because pengy’s seams have somehow burst while we were inside the church, and I am covered in the beads that are inside pengy. Em says that she has a sewing kit and that she’s going to repair pengy.

Beans, and bean sprouts? What is the meaning of this? I wonder and wake up.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

In my kitchen: September 2018

It has been an utterly hectic few weeks for me with five back to back clinical weeks (way too much work!) and not enough time to relax or to eat.

It was such a nice mid-winter escape to Darwin. Though I had to work, I was really happy to catch up with friends and enjoy the warm weather.

I brought some of Barney up and made several loaves in the week. A nice one pound loaf of sourdough is just the perfect size for post handover sharing with the team. There is nothing like warm bread fresh out of the oven with good quality butter.

I also left several children of Barney in Darwin - I've lost count of how many children he has now, probably around 15!

My friend made this excellent bread & butter pudding with some brioche along the perfect wobble of  custard.

It was also wonderful to just catch the beginning of the mango season in Darwin. Most of the mangoes were small and green (and very pricey too!) but I really delighted in having the first taste. What a novelty it was to eat a mango in freezing Orange right after I left Darwin!

I delighted in looking for eggs by my friend's chickens Suppehuhn and Fliegehun (Soup chicken and flying chicken). They had amazing flavour with almost the entire egg filled with yolk and very little white.

I really love the Fresh Fodder brand which is made in Orange. The last time I had their smoky taramasalata, I was blown away! This variety was also quite good, here pictured with some whole wheat sourdough from the lovely Racine bakery.

Our string quartet enjoyed another roasted cauliflower which I decorated with glee at the last minute. Even if one is not young in age, being young at heart is still fun!

Pengy also made his way to his 6th country, accompanying me to visit my grandma in Shanghai. Here he is enjoying a traditional Shanghainese snack, lotus root slices filled with gingery pork and lightly panfried - utterly crunchy and moreish!

Traditional breakfast tofu (with shallot, dried prawns, seaweed and and pickles) and deep fried rice cakes.

Another traditional Shanghainese breakfast featuring the four stars - deep fried dough sticks, sesame sweet pancakes, sticky rice stuffed with dough sticks, and curdled salty soy milk. I know it all sounds strange but it is delicious! I really enjoy the breakfast with Pengy series.

I'm sending this to Sherry who hosts the In My Kitchen series.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Dream: a barbeque in the Himalayas

In this dream, my friend E and I are in the car. It is quite a small and old car, with a slightly musty smell as if it has some history.

At first I am driving, and the man sitting next to me is my husband that I do not recognise. E is in the back seat with her husband who is not actually her husband in real life. We are driving in the Himalayas along a mountain road, with a big snowy mountain range in the distance. We pull into a small village which has a handful of old boarded up shops on our left. On the right the cliff drops away and we can see a long way down into the precipice. Outside one of the shops, I swap with E's "husband" and he starts to drive. When I get out of the car I realise that it is ever so slightly snowing. The sky is completely grey and the atmosphere is gloomy. There are no people around so it's hard to tell which country we are in.

After a while, we stop again on the side of the road where there is a house. A big chimney from the house is spewing smoke. The sense of isolation as we get out of the car is distinct. Wordlessly E moves to the back of the car and opens the trunk.

Quick, we have to hurry if we can catch the end of the barbeque. She says to all of us.

There is a dead body in the boot, a naked woman whose head is twisted at an impossible angle. Her long hair is straggly and covers most of her face. There are no other markings on her body at all, it looks completely smooth as if she were a wax statue.

With each of us taking one limb, we carry her out of the boot. She is really heavy under my hand, and I struggle to think, if she were 60kg we are each carrying 15kg? Without speaking, we somehow co-ordinate carrying her up the driveway. At the front door, we pause and press the doorbell. The door opens and we try to get her inside - the boys are carrying the legs and they get inside, E has the right arm and she gets inside but the body's left arm just catches the doorframe and the rest of them go inside the house without me.

The door slams shut and I am standing there holding the left arm, ripped off neatly at the shoulder joint. It looks completely unreal, as if it were a mannequin's arm. There is no bleeding from the joint, and the cartilage of the shoulder looks manmade too.

The smell of barbeque drifts out of the house now and I know that they are cooking her. I stand dejectedly at the front door, not quite sure what to do with he left arm. The snowflakes fall onto my face and I feel physically and emotionally chilly.

All of a sudden, the three of them burst out of the house and start running towards the car. I follow them, with the left arm. The snow seems to be coming down harder now, and I can barely see where we are going. We get into the car and now my "husband" is driving and I am sitting in the front passenger seat, with the left arm on the ground.

After it is taken off from the body, do we know which one is the left and which one is the right arm? I wonder, then I wake up.  

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

In my kitchen: July 2018

Lots of delicious food this month!

I did a locum in Orange and managed to catch these incredible crispy juicy apples. I never want to eat another waxy tasteless supermarket apple ever again!

Another locum I did in Taree resulted in these utterly gorgeous lemons, the smell of a fresh lemon is like nothing else.

I felt like dumplings one night and made these pork & green capsicum dumplings from scratch, along with a Chinese cabbage tofu vermicelli stew. This is the perfect winter comfort food for me.

I also discovered aquafaba - with the leftover from raspberry meringues we made these little raspberry mousses. Another time I froze the aquafaba into a type of sorbet - it is surprisingly good!

We had a cauliflower party where I made all the dishes using cauliflower - we had cauli-mole, cauli brown rice arancini, a cauli-brocco-cake (really a cauliflower ricotta bake) and this spectacular whole roasted cauliflower with spicy chickpeas on a bed of walnut tahini sourdough paste. It was like taking an entire brain out of the oven.

Sourdough adventures with Barney continued. This was a spectacular loaf I made for our string quartet one week.

Hokkaido milk bread using a tangzhong method combined with sourdough- not quite as soft as the Japanese bakery stuff, but pretty good for a first attempt and kept soft for quite a few days. It also would help if I followed the recipe for sugar and oil, both of which I forgot.

Sourdough tortillas we ate at the cauli party, made with coconut oil these were the perfect texture.

A walnut sourdough loaf for Barney's first birthday. Happy birthday Barney!
Another beautiful loaf with Pengy wearing a tea cosy from Taree Craft centre - run by the sweetest volunteer ladies.

Last but not least, I inherited this kombucha from my friend's husband who is really into it. His name is Toby and he joins my favourite friends Barney (in the middle) and Pengy who is busy travelling around the world.

I'm sending this to Sherry's Pickings for the monthly In My Kitchen event. Can't believe it's halfway through 2018!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Two fruit related dreams

These two dreams occurred on sequential nights when I was staying at my dad's house.

Ice hockey match

In this dream there are huge fruit jellies playing an ice hockey match. They look like comical mascots but are distinctly recognisable as to which fruits they are. They have humanoid arms and legs and wear jerseys like normal ice hockey players.

I am the referee and feel rather amused by the sight of a giant lemon chasing the puck... I blow the whistle and at that moment feel a wave of dread wash over me. I look at the clock and it says 0.03 - three seconds left on the clock. The fruits also look up and see that they were robbed of 3 seconds. They start to argue with each other and soon they are in a giant brawl.

There is a live replay like those point contests in tennis matches. The camera zooms into a solitary brown figure at the edge of the rink, away from where the lemon was chasing the puck. He surreptitiously takes out a whistle and blows it... so I didn't blow the whistle at all?

I realise that it is a chestnut that has blown the whistle.. but chestnuts are not fruit?
Then I wake up.

An awful slice of watermelon

In this dream I am at a house I do not recognise and there are a bunch of teenagers inside having a party. The normal party vibe is there - loud awful music, lots of drinks and high pitched laughter drifting across the lawn. I see my mother there as a 15 year old and wonder how the roles could have changed.

Something goes wrong, but I'm not sure what it is. The police are called and they arrive in several police cars. I think to myself that they would never understand I was a parent - how could I be old enough to be a parent to a teenager? But obviously I am, and they don't bat an eyelid. The officers run inside to the house to interrogate the kids, and I retreat into a garage on the side.

I open the door and step into the cool abyss. It is totally dark until I switch on the light, and it looks exactly like my office in Hurtsville Private. There is an air conditioning unit on my left, a large desk taking up the far wall with a laptop, a document tray and a telephone - very nondescript, an armchair on the right and utterly nothing on the walls. It is as sanitary as a jail cell.

But there is one difference. On the table is a big white bowl, in which there is one single slice of watermelon. Upon closer inspection it looks deeply red, as if it has been injected with something. I take the piece of watermelon out and it feels heavy in my hand. I bite into it and it floods my mouth with the taste of something wrong.

Then I wake up

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Two recent dreams

Breakdown on Pennant Hills Road
(This is a very vivid dream I had in Budapest)

In this dream I am driving along Pennant Hills Rd with my dad in the little Polo. Shortly after we pass the Bunnings in Thornleigh, the car starts to slow down and I feel the weight under my foot is strange.

I see ------Batch------ flash up on the dashboard and wonder what it means.

The car sputters momentarily and comes to a silent stop. We are in the middle lane and the cars are zooming around us. I restart the car and it is silent but somehow it inches into the left lane and we manage to stop.

I get out of the car and call NRMA while my dad looks over the car. The lady asks me for the nearest cross street so I run down to the next street. I can't read the sign in the fading light so have to strain - Erknautz lane? The lady says she's never heard of the Batch problem but will send someone.

When I get back to the car my dad says he has looked all over and can see nothing wrong. Out of nowhere comes a man with a metal detector thing and he passed it over the car. We start to protest but he shows us a thumb tacks he got from the rear tyre.

Where did that come from? I wonder and wake up

Cello exercise and stretchy program

(This is the first vivid dream I had after returning to Australia)

In this dream I am at a concert with Em and we are at a venue I do not recognise. It is on the smaller side and circular in shape, around the stage in the centre. Dvorak's New World symphony is playing, and we are about halfway through the first movement. It sounds somewhat strange though, as if the orchestra is languid and needs a coffee to really wake up.

Suddenly one of the cellists stands up and shouts, Everybody out! She is so emphatic that everyone stands up and starts to shuffle out. We leave the hall and there is a large area outside where many people are milling around murmuring about the abrupt end of the concert.

From the hall, I hear a solo cello playing C.. E... F.. C.. C... on the C string. It sounds like an exercise for the C string, which of course is the most deep and resonant of all the cello strings. It winds its way up the string and back again, repeating the same major 3rd and 4th intervals. It is etched into my head.

I am still holding the program from the concert and in fiddling with it, realise it is actually pliable and soft as though it was a fruit rollup. I fold it in half and try to tear it, but it is yieldy and hard to control the edges. I stretch out one corner of the program until it is almost transparent. The words are no longer on the page and it seems like some sort of painting.

Em says we should busk in the foyer and I realise I am holding my dad's old violin case from the 1960s. When I open it, the violin is actually neither mine nor his, but some other violin I don't recognise. The hair has completely come off the bow and flops in every direction like a released bunch of flowers. I pluck the strings and they are completely out of tune. I turn the pegs and manage to break both the G and A strings whilst tuning. I am completely puzzled as these are not usually the strings that break.

Whilst contemplating what to do with this half broken violin, M comes over and I stop fiddling with the violin to introduce him to Em. He looks much younger and much thinner, with a whole head of curls. It is like an alternative version of him in his early 20s, a version that never existed. He is wearing a cream cable knit jumper and a dark gray blazer, so stylish that could never possibly exist in real life.

Then I wake up.