Tuesday, 29 September 2009

picking up litter on memory lane

rummaging for something else entirely this morning i found an old photograph
that i had taken 33 years ago
on September 29th, 1976

it had survived the 83 bushfire in someone else's keeping

i shot it with a Canon FTb...an honest SLR camera that doesn't do anything unless you ask it.
you set the exposure and the aperture and press the button. it has a light meter but if the battery on that goes flat you can still take a picture with a lovely real clunking sound.
i still have it.

i still go back to that view, too. it's from the top of Russian Hill in San Francisco. and hey, those are eucalyptus leaves dangling in the foreground.

that famous bridge is in the far distance, a little bleached with time.

we'd come to San Francisco having driven a Jeep across Canada and then down the west coast of the US. that the Jeep [known fondly as the Heap and acquired for the princely sum of $200] got so far is testament to the mechanical nursing skills of my Papa. He's [still] more than just a pretty face and a PhD in Glaciology [mind you, i do sometimes question his judgement, such as when he let my unlicensed 14 year old brother take the wheel across Alberta]

it was the end of a long wandering that had seen us living next to the hayloft of a farmhouse in Tirol, swinging into Easter Sunday Mass at San Marco [Venezia] and nearly being arrested for insanely laughing on the train while it was waiting at a station in the Basque region [that story is too hard to explain, you had to be there]

in our luggage we were nursing a kefir fungus, reputedly smuggled out of the Caucasus by a Benedictine monk. and if it wasn't, well it's a good story. i'm not sure i want to know where he hid it, though.

kefir is a fermented milk drink. legend has it that drinking it will extend your longevity and that if you're a consistent consumer you may aspire to become a Sesquicentenarian.

33 years ago we were drinking kefir in San Francisco. 33 years ago i had a 22 inch waist, long hair, an aversion to shoes and wanted to be an architect.

some things have changed.

i didn't make it through architecture school [foolishly stormed out after a huge row during a crit session], the waist has sadly become rather sturdier and i've developed an affinity for steel capped boots [especially when drafting cattle]

but i still have long hair
i'm still drinking kefir.

today with the added luxury of a swirl of maple syrup.


  1. momentarily transported by your image and story and the synchronicity of the unearthing of a single photo that has generated so many fun life moments

  2. really fun post. thanks for the memories.....i sure enjoyed your's....

  3. wow! what wonderful memories. have never tasted Kefir. Can you make it at home? must get educated about it.

  4. Hello india, thanks for this post, it sent me back to 76 and 83, and that kefir culture that went wild on top of my fridge... must say that the waist and feet part is similar. Is todays kefir a descendant of that much travelled one? have you used it for premordanting cotton or linen?

  5. making patterns with syrop.... if we can be like childs life will be good. xD

  6. OK,

    I HAVE to know what kefir is...

  7. Manya...the original kefir was found vitrified in the fridge after the 83 bushfire. very Pompei. so i'm drinking a commercially produced variety at present [but still very good]
    haven't tried it as a mordant but have no doubts it would be fine

    gRRRL & Dog...Kefir is a wee fungus that is fed pasteurised [but preferably not homogenised] milk...makes the milk thick and bubbly

    my son refers to it as fermented yakspunk, but then he does tend to describe things with the over-graphic enthusiasm of Youth

    and yes Dorie, we should always take time to play with syrup...and to smell the roses

  8. Thanks for a good story India. I have to say your son's comments added unexpected flavor. Gotta love the breezy irreverence of youth!

  9. Great post and with great memories and photo...interesting family!
    I was introduced to kefir a couple of years ago and like it...didn't know about the longevity!

  10. maple syrup is a staple of my diet, though i add it to yogurt. some sunflower seeds and walnuts makes it heavenly. (your son's words are fabulous).

  11. I have never had kefir but it sounds intriguing-- and 33 years ago I also had long hair and weighed 100 pounds--but had 3 sons and they are all grown and so am I.

  12. India, there's something about being an architecture dropout that qualifies one for a very rich life. Thank you for another wonderful post.

  13. you take us traveling through time and over distance. Life. It's a joy.

  14. What a wonderful slice of yesterday and today... -J

  15. Now I understand that travelling is in your blood India. The family trip in the jeep sounds like it was a real adventure. I have never had Kefir, but will try and find some, so I can try it.....thanks


  16. Dear "Beagle",

    it is hard for me to imagine you landing. Actually, I rather like you fluid like that, part of everything, a lot of your Papa in you. Free spirits.

    What rich memories, adventures, and life you have. Who needs a 22 inch waist any way ;)

  17. What kind of kefir fungus did you have

  18. who knows? it was fried in the 83 bushfires in any event...the kefir i drink these days comes from the supermarket
    not half as much fun.