Obsessions, Eggplant and Voting

What a title right?  I mean, how could you not read this?

Obsessions:

I can't stop taking pictures! I downloaded some photo apps for my phone and now I am snapping pictures of random park benches, wharfies or anything else that is in front of me...  I even did a self portrait of myself tonight. How Aussie am I with my messy "couldn't care less" hair?  I even had random unnecessary bobby pins stuck in it just to mess it up extra!

Really though, in all seriousness, I didn't prep for this shot - I just took it in five seconds as a lark; but it somehow managed to capture a lot more than just what my face looks like. It's a bit hard to describe; but I know the ones of you readers that know me the best and longest will know exactly what I am talking about.

Anyway, this is really a microcosm of what I am really talking about....  Obsessions...  Well, not really; but the things that you are semi good at and have always wanted to learn/improve/take classes on etc...  Being here in my specific situation is giving me some opportunities that I never would have imagined.  Opportunities in the shape of seemingly endless free time, a new country/city/culture to explore and most importantly, a new perspective on who I can be, who I want to be and what my life could be like.

I've always loved photography; but I've always written myself off about it - "I have a crap camera", "I don't know anything about photography" etc...  I've had some lucky moments and gotten some good shots.  I took a bunch of pictures on one of our vacations to Hocking Hills and they turned out so well that Joe and I had the whole series framed to hang in the house.  So many people commented on them - Honestly, it was always nice to correct them when they assumed that Joe (the artistic one of the two of us) took them.  I started to think that maybe I really could take good photos if I tried hard enough etc... 

A couple weeks ago Joe and I did some of the Eastern Coastal walk and I was so blown away by the intense beauty of what was around me that I resolved then and there to start taking pictures of everything and anything that caught my eye or looked beautiful to me.  I bought photo editing software.  I started paying just a bit more attention to what I was photographing.  I would say it's going well so far.  Maybe some die-hard photographers will disagree with me and tell me that it takes more than a mobile phone and a vignette to make a good picture.  Maybe they will tell me it takes a $3000 dollar Nikon, many classes and years of experience to produce a good picture.  I say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What I'm coming to realise is that it doesn't have to be about "trying hard" or having a top of the line camera...  It is about seeing beauty in simple things, in shadows - about seeing a picture in your head and then capturing it with whatever you have available to you.  Thankfully, I have a wealth of material.  The train stations here are much like the train stations everywhere - nothing special; but coming from a life without trains, I notice them now.  I ride them, I wait for them and I love their yellow doors. 

I am writing and writing about this and I still don't feel as though I've really made my point...  I suppose if I had to sum it up - I would be saying this:

I have given myself permission to take photos of everything and anything I find beautiful or interesting.  I have stopped mentally telling myself that I don't know enough to take good pictures. I am resolved to take advantage of the newness with which I see my surroundings and try to document that. 

Eggplant:

I do my grocery shopping on-line here and have it delivered.  It's much easier than dragging it home two miles from the store - even with my shame on wheels granny cart.  I mostly get all of my staples and heavy stuff (((mineral water, milk, canned goods, beer, wine) and yes, beer and wine are staples) don't judge) delivered and then do my meat and produce shopping throughout the week.  This past weekend, I was getting ready to host a book club, I had a full weekend planned and then rest of my week was already booked out....  I decided to order some produce on-line to get me though to when I could make it up to the shops.  Among other things, Eggplants were on special and I sprung for two of them. 

I was kind of expecting those skinny Asian eggplants when the groceries were delivered; but instead I got these impossibly fat, glossy specimens of what eggplants should always look like.

Maybe it's just me, maybe it's that I hadn't made anything Italian-ish in a while; but the first thing I thought of was Eggplant Parmesan.  I had also ordered a big hunk of mozzarella so I was set...  it was more a matter of timing than anything.  The weekend was out, Monday was the book club with nibbles for dinner; but tonight - Tuesday was the perfect time.  It was gloriously gray today - drizzly this morning; but clearing quickly into a blustery, too shy for Spring day.  It was Eggplant Parmesan weather!

I decided to forgo the salting and pressing that my mom always did with her eggplant - I never found it very helpful and I am of the opinion that, if an eggplant is full of bad bitter seeds, no amount of salt and squishing with a full gallon of milk ( my siblings should hopefully get this reference) will make it any more palatable.  All the produce I have gotten here has been completely beautiful so I forged ahead with the egging, breadcrumbing and frying.  I did the usual layering with sauce, eggplant pieces and mozzarella cheese.  I don't have a recipe; but I can tell you that the process of preparing this dish is best enhanced with a nice glass of champagne, the sound of your husband playing music in the office and four new pairs of shoes waiting to be introduced into your closet.  After I finished our dish, I had leftovers of everything - not enough for a whole other 8x10 casserole; but enough for a smaller cute, "one meal for two people with no leftovers" size casserole.  I figured I could freeze the smaller one and then inspiration struck!  Our neighbors across the hall are expecting a baby any day so I packaged it up and took it over for them to freeze and have after the baby comes.  After I got back from delivering it I had a moment of panic.... What if the eggplant was full of horrible bitter seeds?  What if it was inedible?  What had I delivered to them?

Sheesh - I really need to start trusting myself!  I took ours out of the oven when it was golden and bubbly on top.  I broke open a cleanskin bottle of Semillion Chardonnay and served it all up.  I am happy to say that there was not a single bitter seed to be found...  I am actually going to just be honest and say that it was by far the best Eggplant Parmesan I have ever had - better than Mom's and better than anything I have ever had in any restaurant...

It was so good that I actually had this crazy moment after a couple of bites where I blurted out to Joe, "Why don't I do this for a living?"  I've spent the evening thinking about that - about being good at something, about enjoying something, about the difference between a hobby, a passion, an obsession or just work.

Does working at something dull your passion?  Do you need to take classes to be good at something?  It's a lot to think about; but it's really good stuff to be thinking about right now....  Joe made it a point to show me a cooking school around the corner from work last week and I have been thinking about it ever since.  Why shouldn't I do what I love? 

This is just one of the many many reasons I am glad we moved here.  I am working so few hours that I finally have time to take classes if I want.  Plus, moving has gotten us out of our rut - it was a good rut; and I would have been happy in it for the rest of my life; but since I am out of it, I might as well look around and see if there isn't a rut that looks a bit better!

Oh Yes!

Voting:

Go here and vote for me - even though they have my blog listed as Gone "to" a Lucky Country instead of "on"... Sort-of ruins the whole meaning; but oh well, it would still be cool to win.  I'm only up against 9 other blogs so I think I actually have a decent shot...






7 Responses
  1. mandy Says:

    1. *voted*

    2. Your photography is beautiful to me - I suppose that I am like you - no swanky cameras ... simply seeing beauty in many ordinary things!

    3. Sorry, don't like eggplant, but it looks yum!

    And lastly ... keep at your photography!! Love this post and hope you win!

    Mandy

  2. hed. Says:

    Hi, sort of new follower :) Your pictures are gorgeous! I am in the same boat as you, wondering if I should get a nifty new camera...but I think I just need to up my creativity. It's funny, now that I live in Australia, I don't straighten my hair or pluck my eyebrows as much (I'm from SoCal). I also voted for you! Good luck! Hed hed down under

  3. Mimi and Joe Says:

    @ Mandy - Thanks! I'm quite a bit behind in the voting so I don't have my hopes up too high :) Thanks for all your lovely comments!

    @ Hed - Welcome! It is just such a realaxed way of looking at yourself. I wear way less make-up and mostly just toss my hair up in messy ponytails... I thought it was weird at first; but now I am loving it! It's so much more relaxing. Thanks for the link to your blog - I am going to go check it out :)

  4. c_mgreen Says:

    Voted Mimi...Hope you win :)

  5. Mimi and Joe Says:

    @ c_mgreen - thanks! I am very far behind though so I am letting it go :)

  6. Anonymous Says:

    You made me want to make my own famous eggplant parm, which I cannot do because it is like 54465487564 Weight Watcher's points. Going off to eat an apple and cry :(
    Meaghan

  7. Mimi and Joe Says:

    Oh Megs! The sadness!!

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