Friday, 28 January 2011

Urtica dioica - where I live right now

I am at a loss as to what to write on my blog at present. I think this is because, quite simply, I am at a loss. I also think I am struggling with the fact that my blog is directly linked to my website and somehow I feel censored by this.

Am I allowed to be human here?

Can I express how it is I really feel or should I be wearing the proverbial ‘tie to the office’ and only talk of writing and syntax and how last night I dreamt I was bitten on the finger by a jade snake with a seventies haircut? (It even had its own Facebook page and photo.)

Actually I think I already know the answer to my struggle. I have to be me or else what is the point! Even if the me at present seems somewhat reduced and broken. The truth is right now I seem to have taken up camp in a big fat field of hurt. How I got into this field has its own special story but I am here now so that’s all that counts.

If I were to give this field a botanical name I would probably choose Urtica dioica because of

(a) the ‘urt’ - which is how the French pronounce it anyway and I do live rather near the border; and,
(b) the fact it means stinging nettle which I find rather apt.

It’s not much fun I must admit sitting alone in a field full of stinging nettles and I wouldn’t recommend it. Stinging nettles hurt! And they keep on hurting! They are relentless and mean (although they do cast a lovely shade of green under a heavy, grey sky.) Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any way out of the field for me right now: it just seems too large, too impenetrable, too hopeless to try - so I guess I am just going to have to lie here and wait until
(a) the nettles finally wilt
(b) I become immune or
(c) some handsome farmer with a truck load of weed kill comes into help.

(By the way I cast the role of handsome weed killer to Javier Bardem at this juncture. Ralph Fiennes is far too melancholy. Oh and also by the way let it be understood I am not expecting the weedkiller to rescue me per se - the Spice Girls would never approve! Just sit with me a while. Hold my hand and walk with me. Even let me do some of the spraying. Actually he might even have one of those bi-planes to dump the stuff from a height and I could take the controls and wear goggles and we could have a wild tryst in the hay bales when it is all done.)

Sadly I can’t see any of these solutions becoming apparent in the immediate future though.

Since Iam stuck here in my hurt field I have been doing a little research on stinging nettles so I can better understand my surroundings. They’re actually quite amazing little bastards. Not only can they burn, sting and kill but they can also treat arthritis, kidney problems, hair loss, benign prostate enlargements and bites from mad dogs. Chickens also like them which is nice because I like chickens. I have also been reading about what it is that give these nettles their sting and among other things it is serotonin!! Isn’t that the happy drug? Isn’t that the mood lifter? Am I supposed to be enjoying this pain? Maybe John Calvin was on to something when he wrote:

'You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy. '

Or perhaps he had just chugged down a vat of nettle beer - which you can also make from my green stinging friend!

None of this is really going to help me out of the hurt field right now but at least while I am in here I can think about how much hair I will have and the health of my prostate.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Sink me up

So right now I feel a bit like a rat that deserted the sinking ship. I left Brisbane late Sunday night only to discover on my arrival in Switzerland that my home town was flooding much like it had back in 1974. I got straight on the internet to see what was happening and was shocked to see pictures of the streets I had walked along just days before now turning into rivers. On a personal level my parents have been fortunate. Despite living in an area that had to be evacuated and in which many people's homes have been ruined, somehow their house has managed to survive. I have no memory of the 1974 flood but apparently I spent much of it staring at the rising flood waters while shouting 'Sink me up!Sink me up!' I don't doubt that there must be numerous Brisbane 2-year-olds echoing similar sentiments at this time.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

chocolate bears

Well, no wave-jumping-red-knicker-action yesterday as predicted. Instead a day trip to Chermside shopping centre ( which isn't quite as gun-bling as the ABC mall in Beirut) but still offers a vast choice of shops selling Caramello Koala Bears . I know I live in Switzerland but I much prefer Australian cadbury chocolate especially the above-mentioned koalas, freddo frogs, furry friends etc. and I feel I must stock up for the coming bitter months in Basel.

This morning my sister took me to Hedron Brook with the promise of a turtle feeding frenzy. Sadly not a single turtle was in sight (nor was the usual bike path or footbridge) thanks to the incessant, unceasing sky tears which are falling constantly from the clouds.

Below I have attached a picture of the Jean Galbraith rose currently blooming on my sister's deck. This rarver pretty flower is named after my great Aunt, who was a botanist and writer, and from whom I get my middle name.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

i can jump puddles

As you may (or may not) know I am currently holidaying in Queensland (the sunshine state) where large proportions of the State are currently under water. It really is a natural disaster as there is very little which can be done about it until the water recedes. I cannot imagine what it must be like to see your house slowly submerge beneath the water - it really is a reminder once again of how harsh and unforgiving the Australian continent really is. Floods, drought, bush fires, cyclones, locust plagues, deadly snakes, hungry crocodiles, hairy bed-sharing spiders, Tony Abbott, the very existence of AFL etc. I could keep on listing but instead I shall turn my thoughts to good and make a list of some of the positives: pavlova ( yes I know the Kiwis are trying to 'claim' that), kangaroos, koalas, platypus, Anthony from the Wiggles, violet crumble...

One thing I will miss about Australia when I leave is the random every day encounters with fellow Australians. Take yesterday for example. I had to go to the chemist for a recurring, somewhat unpleasant problem which I shall not name ( in the manner of Voldemort) in case I jinx myself again.

Hi, I need some cream for an X problem.
Is it for you?
Are you sure it is X?
Yes I think I know my body well enough.
Ok well then have you thought about why this may have happened?
Um not right now. I'd just really like the cream.
Uh huh but it's good to think about why.
Look I just know it happens when I travel and I don't eat properly.
Where have you travelled from?
Switzerland. I live there right now. I'm just visiting home for Christmas.
Isn't Roger Federer from Switzerland? He is like the most sexy guy in the world. I love him.
Actually I come from his home town Basel.
No way. Do you like see him everywhere. I bet his kids are cute.
I don't think he lives there anymore.
Sad face.
But I do know someone who played tennis with him when he was younger.
Happy face.
Really that's like so way cool. Do they think he's hot?
The person was a man and I believe he likes women.
Hmm fair enough. Well if he ever does visit home tell him I love him.
Yeah tell him Katie loves him, ok? I mean he won't know who I am but make sure you tell him anyway.
Will do.
Um could I get that cream now.
Yeah sure. What was the problem again? Man I love Roger Federer.

I would never have a conversation like that in my the apotheke in Basel - even if my Swiss German was remotely good enough.

Tomorrow I am supposed to be going to the sea with my sister as I promised Vi I would wear red knickers and jump over seven waves at the beginning of the new year. Given the current weather I think I'll just have to make do with jumping over seven puddles in my galoshes instead.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Last night while I was sleeping I became aware of a quiet plop plop on the carpet beside my bed. It was barely audible (a bit like a faerie stomping about after rarver too much morning dew) and being the bush savvy gal I am I instantly thought (after the stomping faerie) that it must be a frog. So I switched on the light and sure enough there was a tiny brown and green striped frog legging it across the carpet to the screen door. After a little coaxing my froggy friend was able to find the way out and I was able to find my bed. Then when I woke up this morning I heard another plop from out of my bed sheets! Eeek frog in the bed, frog in the bed...but no. It was actually a hairy brown spider the size of a three year old's hand. I suspect the work of the hairy goblin!
Anyway, after declaring my bedroom a satellite enclosure of Australia Zoo I decided to visit the real thing instead.
It was actually a very joyous experience and I even found myself getting a little misty-eyed when Bindi the jungle girl came out to sing her conservation animal songs. Not sure why - don't know whether it was the poignant absence of her father when the whole Irwin clan came out, the fact that I was experiencing a rare burst of national pride in Australian wildlife or the fact that I have been spending time with my friend, J, wise woman/water beast who can cry at the sight of a torn tissue . It might even have been the fact that I saw John Travolta there and my secret dream of realising a re-hash of the Pulp Fiction dance was fleetingly within grasp. Whatever the reason tis not important. What is important is that I had a lovely day with my parents which will easily replace the memory of watching my dad pour half a tub of salt on the lemon risotto I made him last night ( before he had even tasted it!)

So enjoy the pics oh and happy new year and all!!