Sunday, November 30

back on track

well the relief is palpable. After far too long, 'The Conversation' was embarked upon. SIL had returned east, babybean was in bed, and the other 2 beans were happily embedded at friends houses for the night. Chilled wine opened (could have been a bad idea, but it wasnt) and we sat end to end on the couch and waded in to the depths of our fears, hurts, anger and expectations. As anticipated, it was a very fruitful and respectful evening; we both have quite strong opinions about how such conversations need to be managed, self hung on to and dialogue held very much in the present. It just took us a week of acceptance of our sadness, 'innocence lost' (it was only the second big dispute we have ever had) and reflection as individuals to get there. We are both taureans (stubborn as hell) both with the experience of our last big relationship being to Scorpios, so we have pretty much identical patterns of expectations about who is responsible for what when it comes to sorting out disagreement! Laughter did occour.

Being a blended family comes with challenges. In our case B2 is a strong willed extrovert and empathy is not very present in her emotional vocabulary. She likes to argue and argue her point when asked to do something not to her liking. It appears to be her tool for tying you up in knots in order to get you to drop the request. I've been dealing with her since birth (obviously) and am sometimes quite unaware of this behaviour, certainly as a parent who encourages debate and negotiation, perspective on what is healthy posturing can get skewed. So thats B2. Simon brings to the table a very conflicted relationship with his late step daughter, who fell off the rails then into a negative crowd and behaviours, ending with her very tragic death in her teens. B2s apparent similar behaviour traits pushes all his panic buttons and he goes into a tailspin which i am yet to be able to pick. So he gets spooked, reacts innapropriately, B2 gets worse, i get freaked and we all head down into a very murky place for a while, culminating in an argument between them; she gets beligerent, he regresses and then gets beligerent and i blow up at both of them. Pretty. Not.

So this morning i find myself in a place that is a little battered and worn but feeling loved, loving, supported, understood, understanding and a little wiser with a mutual resolve to do it a little better next time, and bloody looking forward to an uncomplicated and hopefully hot week with the boy in Hawaii and Christmas with his family in San Francisco.

Saturday, November 29

pining for romantic transport


Greening of Gavins post on zero footprint week and transport reminded me of this article in the UKs Independent Weekly, last year. When i read it i fair swooned. call me naive, idelaistic, too romantic, commonsense-less, whatever, but i just fell in love with the idea.
More than 70 French towns have already gone back to the future by introducing horse-drawn carriages to replace petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles for local tasks such as collecting rubbish, street-cleaning and taking children to school. And at least 30 more are set to join the revolution next year.

The revival of horse-power is being pushed by the French National Stud – that's not David Ginola or even President Nicolas Sarkozy, but an organisation set up four centuries ago by "the Sun King", Louis XIV, to supply horses for his military campaigns.Last week, it told France's annual conference of mayors that gee-gees were "a serious alternative" to the gas-guzzler as municipalities seek to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.
Children in the flower-bedecked tourist town of St-Pierre-sur-Dives, in Normandy's Calvados country, are being ferried to school in picturesque carriages rather than school buses.

Thirty-five miles away, the seaside resort of Trouville is using horse-drawn carts to pick up glass bottles for recycling. And they have been used in the same way, as well as for carrying water tanks to clean the streets, around Beauvais airport, 55 miles north of Paris.The National Stud even brought along a sample carriage – called the hippoville – to show the mayors. It has disc brakes, signal lamps and removable seats and prices start at a remarkably precise €11,562 (that's around £8,270 or, as it points out, the cost of about 170 barrels of crude oil) for the most basic model.

Critics counter that the horse – which produces around 20 kilos of dung daily, enough to fill a suitcase – is hardly pollution-free. They point out that, before the advent of the car, environmentalists were seriously worried that a proliferation of horses would leave cities knee-deep in merde and that New York had grave difficulty in disposing of some 12,000 equine carcasses a year.

But Stephane de Veyrac of the National Stud was undaunted. "It's about sustainable development and bringing some humanity back to today's monotonous machine-driven jobs," he said.Oliver Linot of the Regional Horse Promotion Commission – which holds an annual convention in Trouville to advocate the use of horse-drawn carriages – agreed. He said that our four-legged friends can also reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. "It's great for workers and the community to have contact with a living thing," he said. He even thought the beasts could reduce the civil servant strikes currently crippling the nation. "If they had their hands on a horse, they'd be happier," he insists. "I've never seen a driver kiss his truck."

The context of cobbled streets in rural France filled with boulangerie and french native speakers may have helped somewhat, but its a great idea. Its SLOW, its sustainable, its everything you want it to be. I live in a village, i wonder if our mayor would agree? might get my very active council minded husband onto this one! ha! He got solar for our local library, maybe we could get a horse and cart for the school...? Im not sure if its just been a card carrying Francophile ( not sure if thats genetic or just pathetic)but french country life, even 'a piece' in Paris, really appeals and i think after our circumnavigation adventure we may just have to give that dream a go.

*picture was taken one morning in Rocheford En-Terre, France on our daily patisserie search. He was seriously impressive on that huge horse; tweed coat and cap, necktie, boots and beard.

Friday, November 28

Op Shopping

I dont know if its due to current circumstances or being reinspired by fellow bloggers' finds, but Ive been out trawling the second hand shops 3 days in a row, sometimes with the whole clan and sometimes alone. We've been bringing in the loot i have to say; never worn patent red flats for B1 ( shes got size 10 feet and is hard to buy for) and vintage Nina Ricci sunnies; B1s find of the century (she is a VERY pleased bunny) mint condition Custo tank top for my SIL (damn! she got to that rack before me!) baby tupperware (sad and suburban but great for travel) and more. Its been cheap, philanthropic and public service therapy and good practice of the 3 R's (she says hopefully, nothing like ignoring a problem to make it go a way). I was flicking through some really great scarves in one shop today wondering if i would wear some of the funky retro silk ones but feeling unadventurous i came home emptyhanded. Reading Vegan Yum Yum this afternoon, and her cross post on Etsy featured buyers, I found inspiration for using some of these great scarves! Reusable silk sacks for bulk purchases. weightless, washable, strong, durable and tieable and puts an end to my plastic bag reusing , washing, and waiting for them to bust! So, im going to keep my eyes peeled for silk scarves on our travel, and when we return im gonna run myself up some recycled silk scarf bulkfood sacks.

Haiku Friday


anticipation
of sticky, milky, figgy
summer fruit of love

Thursday, November 27

blogging blues

blogging when you're pissed off and totally angry is really friggin' hard. Im having a mega bad week, day 7 but who's counting, right? im soo miss grumpy pants and blowing off my own socks but i havent managed to resolve anything. we (me and the as yet unmentioned other half of miss grumpys problem) have made no space and no time. i hate that and totally when we have relatives over and really need to be in a good space for their pleasure and comfort but we have had no time or space to get into a better head space together so were going through the 'pretending everything is ok but everyone knows somethings off rigmarole' (maybe they cant but it feels that way). i cant remember the last time i was in a funk for this long - its totally stubborness related. i think im playing the 'im not gonna do all the emotional relationship work around here so im not gonna be the one to start the conversation, you have to start it' game. its killing me. im sleep deprived from baby, breastfeeding, parenting two others, menstruating and ships cook and i dont want to add 'emotional manager of the relationship' to my list. Fuck. I'd better do something about 'it' before we go on holidays! i just refuse to believe that men cannot start conversations of this kind and refuse to pretend that the catalytic blowup didnt happen. Im wanting a conversation but refusing to start it. just how juvenile is that ? ugh.

Wednesday, November 26

Shonky winners

Consumer lobby group Choice has unveiled its annual Shonky Awards for what it terms dodgy and deceitful goods and services. 3 personal standouts for the Shonky awards this year ...

The Australian Egg Corporation won its Shonky for its definition of free-range eggs.

"We've got some fantastic egg cartons here with happy looking chooks, it looks like they've got designer-built coops to live in," Mr Zinn said. "The fact of the matter is according to the Egg Corporation's standard for free-range, they're packed in at 14 to the square metre. Well battery hens are 18 to the square metre so there really isn't much difference.
"We believe there needs to be a much clearer, stricter definition of free-range and really people are buying free-range eggs under the misapprehension that the chooks live in anything like the conditions shown on the cartons."
Planet hurricane Green cleaner got shonkied for being a 'storm in a tea cup' and failing dismally at living up to its own hype.
Planet Hurricane Green Cleaner, it makes so many green claims about being biodegradable and recyclable and all the rest of it, those really don't add up, so we love people who blow their trumpets loud and clear in a way that is really very hollow." He says the cleaner is an example of a relatively new trend known as 'greenwashing'. It's really important that those companies that make genuine environmental advances are rewarded in the market and those who are really just pulling a fast one are really held up to shame and ridicule," he said.


And my favourite, the Airobe luxury body dryer.
Imagine a device that lets you dry yourself “in minutes” after a shower. But wait – you’re saying you already have one? No, we don’t mean a towel. We’re talking about the Airobe Luxury Body Dryer – a 9kW heater and fan installed in the bathroom ceiling (think really big hair dryer) that creates an “envelope of rapidly moving warm air” in which you can immerse your wet body. And don’t forget to take the remote control with you, so you can switch between full and half-blast.

This is no April Fool’s Day gag; it’s real, and it can be yours for $995, plus about $350 installation. But it gets better; according to the marketing material the Airobe is in fact a money-saving green product, because you won’t have to wash any more towels. The creative calculations used to prove this assume two washes of towels only per week (none if you have an Airobe), the use of a tumble dryer and include fixed water supply fees.

Even using those figures, the break-even time for an Airobe is about 10 years. Without deducting the water supply fee (after all, you may still want to use water for other purposes), it will take 20 years. And if you use a clothesline instead of a dryer, the Airobe uses a lot more energy than you do washing towels – part of which is about 10W of standby energy it draws all day, every day.

And the moral of the story is...educate yourself, as for all things in life! Be a disbeliever first and use your brain!. Know the definitions, know the standards ( or lack thereof) and read the labels.

Tuesday, November 25

today, happiness is...


... great smells wafting from the kitchen and you're not cooking it
... clean washing folded in the basket and you didnt fold it
... new sheets on the bed and you didnt ask for it
... the lavender hedge beginning to flower
... seedlings still intact the morning after you planted them out
... gummy grins and pealing squeals
... random mentions of 'i love you mummy' followed by a kiss
... a glass of red appearring at 6pm
... children engrossed in a book for hours
... a clean refridgerator vegetable bin
... a clean refridgerator vegetable bin packed with fresh vegetables
... a loving hand on the small of your back
... the thought of a month long holiday

Monday, November 24

weekend communal chaos


well, a failed pizza warming went down. the weather turned and the thought of 30 people wandering from outside to in, over the course of a cold, antartic fuelled, windy evening wasnt really turning me on and seemed a bit daunting to tackle for the first big evening do at our place with a small person. So, we cancelled the pizza party and instead invited everyone up to the local pub for a celebration drink. The real tragedy was, everyone ended up coming back to our place anyway and we finished the evening by ordering 10 take away pizzas and the boy slept throught the flamenco dancing on the floorboards and raucous laughter! So , we learnt that bad weather is never an excuse to not have a wood fired pizza party.

Sunday saw us at our mate Lauries place for a showing of his years work from his MA in Fine Art. Same crew from the night before traipsing around the house which he had set up gallery style showing his wooden sculptural and glass pieces, including a great uplit glass and wooden unicorns' alicorn in the bathroom. He gave us crowd the presentation he gave his tutors for his end of year work, which was a discursive and pictorial representation of the theories and influences which shaped all his pieces on show. It was really fascinating and having had 8 months away from abstract thinking i found it really exciting and i was so pleased when B2 told me afterwards that she found his presentation inspirational and was keen to try her hand at some abstract and post modern interpretive work! i was hoping they'd get something from his 'lecture' and certainly this was a wonderful outcome. I've had a lovely friend filled, communal weekend.

* thats my lovely SIL, Berry holding the boybean, who is over from her warm home in Bellingen and staying for the week! And thats Si talking to the artist in blue (and his lovely partner Maggie in profile
on the right).

Saturday, November 22

Everyone's a winner baby

would have posted a pic of the winning moment, but my camera batteries died on the scene. story of my life really. but yeah, i won. my mum could not be contacted. but we did have 3 bottles of fizz when i got home. i can stil type... i think

Friday, November 21

Haiku Friday


plate high with cupcakes
do i have to be polite?
one, two, three, maybe four

Thursday, November 20

Finally!



some pea action
flowers and pods
yippee!

i always plant 3:1 at a planting
3 edibles: 1 ornamental



i wish i could post the fragrance along with the picture
...next lifetime

Wednesday, November 19

reflections on pink spotty underwear

when i reflected further on todays shopping adventure in a big commercial centre in my search for something 'suitable' to wear to The Friday Function, it struck me that i'd overlooked a pretty extraordinary moment. Namely, while i had been popping in and out of my change booth seeking 'expert' advice, I had spent a good 20 minutes intermittently chatting to a sales woman who was also trying on clothes. Now this seems stange in and of itself... i mean arent they supposed to be working? What has really made me think twice is that she was doing all this with the change room door open and i was chatting to her whilst she stripped down to her very 'Betty Boop' pink, black and white spotty and very lacy knickers and bra whilst she tried on dress after dress, chatting to me and advising me on whatever i had tried on. is this normal???

a great 24!

its been a great 24 hours. 2 blogger awards kicked it off. Thanks so much Phil from Camp Quality Country Mile Tour and Gav from The Greening of Gavin for the grand thumbs up for this here wee little blog. Its very nice to be appreciated in this somewhat intimidating and big wide bloggy world, so thank you. I have to do something with them huh?? Yikes! id have to handball them right back! Let me get back to it.



The first firing of the pizza oven was not so much spectacular but fun and exciting in that innaugural home made way. We cracked a bottle of home made red and sat back and enjoyed the unfolding spectacle of the oven.

. The flue works brilliantly; its got a great draw and was puffing away ever so sweetly. *High five myself here* No cracking in the mortar to speak of yet.



While outside enjoying the fire we were honoured with the presence of this cheeky guy making his way up one of the garden gums letting all the girls know his whereabouts with that ever so guttural and quite frightening male koala mating call. Its so special to see them like this and its a bit of a surprise as we are close to town and not in what you would consider a rural setting. its a crappy shot taken at over 50 m, but its proof!



B1 headed off for her first transition day at the Australian Maths and Science School and i attended her first assembly which was inspiring and so full of talk of the love of learning, the importance of self motivation and the community they the kids and the parents make, that i felt like standing up and cheering. i wish everone could attend school like this. Its so inspirational and i feel really lucky that we have a chance to experience it.

Finally, after leaving B1 to enjoy a full day at her new school, i managed to haul myself off to the shops for what i had anticipated would be a painful search for something 'businessy' to wear to Fridays awards night. Its hard post partum and when you're lactating to feel excited about badly lit changerooms and clothes made for women who dont exist, but surprisingly it wasn't painful at all. just expensive! I had myself a bean free, clothes-horse, 'Pretty Woman' hour (minus the sugar daddy!) in a shop with a great sales assistant which is exactly what i needed, someone who was really into their job and doing it well. Thank you girl in Cue. I came out feeling great which rarely happens. Probably had something to do with the fact that i decided not to look at price tags and just cop it at the checkout, meaning i got what i actually liked! Cinders can now go to the ball!

Tuesday, November 18

The Wood Fired Pizza Oven



Yesterday was a busy day. i finished the oven. First up for the day was the vermiculite mortar, it went on first to act as an insulating layer, to maintain the thermal properties of the brick. Its an efficiency measure to maintain maximum heat inside and it hopefully means we wont have to burn so much fuel. Its a bit of an experiment as i havent read about incorporating it into the mortar, its mostly used as an insulating layer inside a box structure built around the dome, but i wanted to maintain the dome shape.

After all the hard work to get the dome just right, i didnt want to be hiding such a hard won, beautiful shape. You can see that i have added a flue and again, im hoping (lots of hope here) that the angle of the flue doesnt inhibit the draw. i know it will to some degree, but how much remains to be seen. Then a finishing mortar and oxide mix was used to render the insulating layer and was slightly buffed. All that remains is to clean the brickwork around the outside of the oven base and the floor inside and of course the first firing. Thats happenning tonight if the rain stops. Im really excited. Now to choose the first pizza to enter...margarita...anchovy...pumpkin...


Overall, Im pretty pleased with the final result and i never, ever want to build one again!

* its like a new baby, i find myself wandering outside periodically just to look at it, give it a bit of a rub on the curve...

Monday, November 17

A huge success

Yesterday was the second Hills Garden and Environmental Expo, B2s schools annual major fundraiser. It was a great day but really tiring; it was the earliest bedtime i've had for a while. We finished icing and wrapping the organic chocolate cupcakes to sell at B2s class' sustainability stall where they showcased their schools new recycling programme and sold local organic produce provided by parents; home grown eggs, vegetables, cakes and the like. I was pretty pleased with these as they were pretty eco; brown paper pans, fully organic/biodynamic with organic green tea icing, cellulose wrapped on recycled cardboard boxes for trays. B2s Montessori sustainability group then joined other school sustainibility groups to each do a powerpoint presentation in competition for the Mike and Claire Bossley Prize for achievement in the 2008 Hills Sustainability School Project.

It was fantastic to see the all the schools projects, developed solely by the kids and implemented by the schools under guidance from the class groups and evaluated by the kids themselves. It was inspiring to see them all working as teams, having brainstormed ideas, consolidated and followed through on a practical sustainability project.The future is in good hands.


The speakers invited in for the day were crowd pleasing. Sophie Thomson from Gardening Australia spoke on sustainable gardening, Ian Dolman spoke about 'life beyond the door snake' and retrofitting your home for energy and water efficiency and Liddy Dolman spoke on 'a beginners guide to eco living' and how to start and my fave was Tim marshalls talk on 'Organic gardening, Organic Food Production, Food Supply and Food Security'. It was a whizz bang talk, full of politicing and was very well attended. The atmosphere was very carnival like ( minus the noisy side show alley and fairy floss), very chilled, jazz and strikers playing all day and lots of interesting stalls showcasing all things sustainable and environmental; water wise products and information, native plants and vegetables for sale, regeneration and renovation ideas for your home and garden, home food production displays, wind turbines, solar displays and wandering fauna rescue teams. there was heaps of positive living going on! Thousands of people came through the gates so it was a rewarding end to a years planning and hard work by the Montessori Expo Committee. You shoulda' been there!

Saturday, November 15

Salma, breasts and sustainable living


Just finished a brilliant post by Hoyden about Town which illuminates all that is wrong in the world right now. As we talk about peak oil, sustainable practices, the 4 R's, ethical living, the press still, still print perspectives on breastfeeding refering to it as an alien practice. Hoyden tells it like it is; cant get my head around the reasons people view it as perverse and primitive, save the fact that people are just uptight and dont like women who refuse to conform to a particular mold. Now for everyone trying to promote sustainable and ethical living, get up in arms about breastfeeding rates, or lack thereof, and promote and support the healthiest sustainable infant feeding practice and the basic human right to give and recieve human milk without all the leery, mysogynist crap that goes with it. Yay Salma!

Friday, November 14

i *heart* pastry


ok, so i know i should* make my own and sometimes i do when dinner isnt a last minute decision or i have decided to boycot dinner making, just because i'm in a belligerent mood. I get that somedays. when i've been out digging or building and come in at the end of the day to find no one else had given it a passing thought either. expectations of me...gender issues rise up...i get cranky. Now, they'd all be happy with pasta and cheese and pepper and a carrot or cucumber on the side. Having taste buds that demand adventure is a curse sometimes. So i relent; stomp around the kitchen a bit, pull things out, grease, chop, organise. one of the kids fetches the herbs and salad and the other helps to chop and usually i'll 'send' the bloke down to the cellar with instructions to not come back until he's found something suitable; just to continue the gender sterotyping. then im happy.

So being rather impartial to the mass produced pastry stuff on offer in the supermarkets, mainly due to a) big company b) crap ingredients c)a passion for local foods, when i accidently 'discovered' (it looked so inviting just sitting on the shelf) this local product made with local ingredients, i felt that i could quite happily give up pastry making forever and keep a few of these in the freezer for emergency quiche nights. I tell you, it seriously put my homemade wholemeal pastry to shame; best pastry ive ever tasted. hence the post.

Im thinking there must be tonnes of other local products which fall into the 'can use in an emergency' genre and i may have to do a bit more serious searching around in the local shops to see what else i can find. Mind you, at $7.00 a packet (no plastic, just paper), im thinking that it'll have to be a pretty good emergency.

Emergency Quiche
roll out dough and blind bake in case whilst simultaneously lightly roasting all vegetable bin floppies. Cool (well, leave for a bit) and toss in with some milk, grated cheese and eggs (i never measure or know how many eggs to use with what proportion of milk so its always variable, ranging between blanchemange with vegetable bits or a solid frittata, in a tasty pastry home) toss in salt n pepper, fresh herbs or leaves of whatever you've got. pour into pre baked pastry case. Bake.

*used in full knowledge of should being a perjorative term and that for better mental health, 'one'would be better off if 'one' were to substitute such a value laden term with could, a more forgiving word.

Haiku Friday


morning breeze carries
sweet perfume through the window
nuturing my soul

Thursday, November 13

The Growing Challenge - post # ummmmm...??


Need some pressure to get you movin'? its not too late! Join the Growing Challenge hosted by Melinda and it may be the finger pulling ya need! Click this link for teleporting to Melindas host site.


What grows up, must get eaten... i've got minor cabbage issues- who doesnt? never grown a cabbage without holy(?!) leaves.


planting them amongst the 'decoy' rocket appears to have worked as only a few have sufferred from the perilous green grub so far. i read somewhere that the cabbage moth is attracted to the shape of the leaves, so hiding the leaves inadvertantly among the feral and flowering salad leaf was, retrospectively just brilliant! Despite the few grubs and holes, they're looking healthy and happy (but there is something that makes my skin crawl seeing that black spotty crap they leave in the budding heart). For the record, the grubs were removed and 'disposed' of.

The carrots are devloping stems that look like tree trunks and are fluffy and forest like, im pretty pleased with how they are growin. No problems with the carrots above ground except trying to keep the water up to their needs; who knows what they look like below ground.

The beetroot is booming and im using leaves from the bulls bloods almost every night in salads. Its never ending! Ive got tonnes of the stuff. Sadly the parsnips havent germinated as well as the carrots coz im a total nerd for a roasted/or fried parsnip and i read today that maybe soaking the parsnip seed overnight aides germination so next sowing i will give that a go. Cant remember whose blog i read it on, but Thank You!

My beans, like every other bloggers, are zipping up and away; its shamefully effortless with beans. The purple king climbers have wonderfully sticky tendrils and seem to know exactly what they are doing and find their supports with no problem. i wish climbing peas had the same sense! Im forever assisting the damn things early onwith their climbing drection as they wander in the breeze until they're well established.The bush beans look strong and healthy and have started getting flower buds. I planted the corn among the climbing beans so they would grow within the structure provided and make use of space. Most of the kernels germinated and after they sprouted i trenched lightly between the rows to make watering a bit easier.

Only a few parsley plants haven't gone to seed and im hoping that they last until we leave on holiday; I really like whole leaves of the stuff in my salad. Likewise, the rainbow chard has bolted and im salvaging small leaves. The boy bean is enjoying it in his pumpkin and sweet potato smoosh. I need to plant out some more. Im picking coriander which is heavenly. I bought some weeks back ,not from the asian grocer, from the white mob up the road and bloody hell, they're grown in perlite stuff which knots in with the roots and takes hours to remove! Im mean c'mon, i use the roots! Don't most people?

Finally, my tomatoes are in, pumpkins, zucchini and cucumbers too, although the damn cat, who tends to follow the newly turned earth for his defecating pleasure, has abandoned attempts in the coriander patch and promptly buried a few hard fought for pumpkin seedlings whilst on his daily rounds.

And finally, after months of meaning to do it, a Nellie Kelly passionfruit has found its obligatory home on the new rain water tank.

Wednesday, November 12

The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo


Here's a shameless plug for all Adelaide dwellers. The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo is on again.
The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo aims to become the premier annual event for those interested in environmental, gardening and “green” activities, products and services in the wider Adelaide Hills district. The event will be held at the Uraidla Showgrounds, and will consist of stalls and exhibits from organisations and businesses involved in environmentally friendly activities, sustainability, natural resources, gardening, renewable energy and associated areas. It is a condition of the expo that stallholders and exhibitors meet these criteria.

In addition, the showcase stage will feature a program of highlights from local and national high profile identities talking, displaying or demonstrating techniques and topics relevant to the theme of the event. (see the Timetable of Events).

The Hills Montessori School is creating and managing the event. The school operates from a site in Aldgate (formerly owned by the Field Naturalist Society) and has a significant area of the property still as natural bush, which is actively managed to maintain its integrity.

The School has a commitment to educating students and the wider school community in the preservation of the environment and working as a community to encourage practices that will enhance and sustain our environment for the future.

The cultural curriculum across the School is heavily focussed on environmental issues and sustainable practices. The School’s commitment to this approach has been the driving principle behind the creation of this event. It also reflects the School’s willingness to “put something back” and engage more deeply with the community.

Hopefully some of you locals can come along. B2, the boybean and I will be in her class' 'Sustainability Stall' selling 'worm wee' made by her class from school yard food waste and some lurid but 'green' cupcakes, home grown produce and other treats. Last years Expo was a huge success and this years is shaping up to be bigger and better.

Tuesday, November 11

and now for something completely different


Si came home today from a 4 day Greenpeace workshop in Sydney bearing these. They're my excess, my failing, my weakness all rolled into one yeasty chewy saccharine calorie bomb (or 6 as the case may be!), he wont touch them. Donuts are something i never eat. i loathe them in principle. They're mass produced, made by machines from life threatening ingredients and they represent high energy, low value, empty and lazy snacking. God i love them. i have very fond memories of a friend in Bangkok who belonged to a Dunkin Donut family; we got donut product for free and i ate my way though what was probably a tonne of sugar dusted chocolate donut holes in my time there. i know i shouldnt, i dont ask for them, but when they arrive, boy am i happy to see them.
Whats your vice?

he was only 19


to my Dad ...

Im so sorry we sent you away to fight a war that wasn't ours, to face the worst of human kind.

Im so sorry we sent you away to forge the man out of a boy, in a place so foreign you lost your mind.

Im so sorry we sent you away to look at fear right in the face and to meet your end in a lonely place.

Im so sorry we never had a chance to know each other, my sister, myself and our brother.

Despite the void and with memories few, my heart and soul cries. i miss you.

Lest We Forget
Pvt. Stanley Lawrence Jones
1st Batallion, Royal Australian Regiment

kale for sale

also has Haiku Friday!

Monday, November 10

being community


Conscious and active community participation is something i've grown into. years ago i came across a concept, cant remember whose, that referred to lifes stages in terms of 3 unconscious desires for lifes purpose; first in adult life comes the focus on friends and work, then family and nurturing becomes significant, and then when you have achieved these precursor life stages, volunteering and community becomes important; its a life cycle of process and it made sense to me.

Community building as a modern social concept has been around a while; the hippies made community consciousness popular and permaculture and bio-dynamic principles refer to connectivity and networks as a fundamental paradigm for health and diversity. and i read many blogs, especially green blogs, that significantly refer to community building and ways to enhace or participate in it. As a public health professional, community building has been a part of my vocabulary for a long time; it forms a significant philosophy underneath which the development and implementation of any program or action of public health is achieved. Structural and policy support for community is recognised as one of the most fundamental ways to achieve health for all. By ensuring that the organisations which exist in our communities work well together, are structured in ways which promote ease of movement and participation between and within community groups and organisations and the public that use them, social capital is built and strengthened and is one sign of a healthy society. Community exists on many levels but what is always difficult is getting people to take ownership of their communities, to really participate. Blog land has given me hope as i read about peoples growing interest in community building and its necessity in a uncertain world.

Building community means different things to different people; supporting local producers by purchasing their goods, volunteering at the co-op, participating and council working bees. We are all involved in our local community theatre. the kids belong to the local youth theatre, performing in many annual youth productions, Si is President and i do lighting for productions when Im needed and work the bar at intervals during show time. I get to meet heaps of local people and its actually way more fun than i would have imagined. Ive not always been very good at community participation, i've had to work at it. My mum was a bit of a loner and as a kid she didnt really encourage or foster my participation, certainly not in theatre; god forbid ...you might develop self esteem or worse, a healthy ego! The sense of community is something i only realised i'd missed, that sense of belonging, when i started doing it. Often our workplaces are so outcome focussed that the social becomes superficial or worse, obligatory.

The great thing about the theatre is its gives kids a place; its not all about acting, other outlets are possible, stage management, make-up and costume. What has surprised me is the quality of community productions and every time i go along to senior productions the strength of performance always shocks. The girls really love live theatre, especially musicals (the more tragic the better; they know every verse in Annie) Yesterday the kids happily took themselves of to the Hills Players latest production, a thriller, and came home raving. It made me so happy to see them wander off in anticipation to see a live, local production under their own steam. If you have a community theatre, next production, give it a go. You may enjoy it and you'll be supporting a local, creative enterprise and building strength and creativity in your community. Whats your favourite action that builds community? I'd love some ideas.

Sunday, November 9

taking some advice


you cannot see your reflection in running water, only still water.
-Zen proverb

Saturday, November 8

eat pray love

apparently its a no 1 best seller and everyone is talking about it - well,anyway that's what the jacket said. Im so yesterday. I love this style of writing; self deprecating, laconic, colloquial, ironic, and funny, very very funny. Its such an honest, naked piece of writing filled for me with moments of extreme identification as the writer takes us with her on her journey of clambering her way out of a messy and hard divorce through a process of self discovery of various means. She eats her way through Italy to find self acceptance, prays her way forward to self realisation in India and finds love in her consolidation journey in Indonesia. Dog eared pages fill my book where i have marked inspiring passages but there's just a few too many. Im going to have to read it again. Its one of those books where i nod my way through amidst the laughter. Not many books have me laughing out aloud but this ones irresistable, effortlessy swinging from the spiritual to the front bar. Not having any divorced friends, i found the book an affirming companion.
what i had waited for for so long was to have an actual conversation with my ex-husband, but this was obviously never going to happen What i had been craving was a resoloution, a peace summit, from which we could emerge with a united understanding of what had occourred in our marriage and a mutual forgiveness for the ugliness of our divorce. This obviously wasn't going to happen. How do survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business...you finish the business yourself. Its not only posible, its essential.

i swung that phantom limb of divorce around quite a bit after the amputation. It took a while to feel whole again.

Friday, November 7

A glamourous life


This is the boybean getting his passport photo taken. Thats me under the sheet. The bean's too small to stand in front of the pulldown white screen (obviously) so i had to be it. Its a good look at the post office dont you think? It drew a few comments from customers, obvious ones about hijab and travel and airport checks. An interesting anecdote came from a woman just back from a round the world trip who had been stopped 17 times at airports, having never been checked before. It wasnt until she got to Morocco and asked a friendly security staffer what might be going on. She found out they were 3 points short of being hauled in as major terrorist suspects having 1) paid cash for their tickets 2) purchased tickets 3 days before departure and 3) her husband had a beard. I might remove the sheet before travel.

Haiku Friday

voices raised, heart hurt
tumbling down the road of fear
sadness blocks the way

Thursday, November 6

do i even like pizza that much?


50 hours later... nearly done... *flat on my back at the oesteopath*
my husband informed me last week that a dome is the hardest structure to build. Well, bloody hell, thanks for telling me NOW! Had a cursing kind of day, the weather was hot and very unforgiving, my mortar was going off , brick halves weren't fitting and needed cutting, cutting wasn't working , kept ending up with shards (damn those inferior seconds!) and finally a brick dropped from the dome and landed on my foot. Im now sporting a large purple egg.

my mum has been coming up twice a week to look after the boy so we can both work, me on Thing 2 and Si on the studio and cleaning up the garden for summer before we leave. she's brought the washing in, bathed the boy, cooked dinner, played and talked and replenished me with tea and lemonade. Its funny, over the last 5 years i have been very short with my mother, finding her ways irritating; so vague, flighty self obsessed and uncertain. Not in a narcissistic way, just a bumbling way but i get angry at her apparent incompetence " what is it your thesis is about again?" but today she cried about her lack of relationship with 'her son', my brother and i really felt for her. he can be so nice to her and at other times so cruel. her tears were a catalyst to my empathic senses and reignited my compassion for her, which of late has been lacking. it's a tough gig being a mum and i resolved to cut her some more slack, drop the expectations and try and accept her for who she is, not who i want her to be. i think some more gratitude and some meaningful friendship might be in order.

what colour the render; ochre, sand or something outrageous?

*addendum* in answer to my own question - yes, definitely! the idea of sliding a two ft lamb, coriander and yoghurt pide pizza, or will it be pumpkin, feta, spinach and red onion, out for the first time is giving me co-nip-shuns!

Wednesday, November 5

Holy Shit!

Another Award invitation! I made the finals of the Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management. Ceremony in Canberra, December 6. I'll be in Hawaiiii!!!!! Bummer. Im pretty high at the moment. If Obama wins today, i might express and have a few glasses of fizz tonight and pass out in an elated stupor!

Tuesday, November 4

Wimmin @ the movies

the first tuesday of every month i go with a bunch of wonderful 'wimmins' to dinner and the movies. my invite to join this group took a while; its a select group. Their partners, all men, do their own movie night every second tuesday and Si has been going along to these nights for years. They're his bunch of blokes. So when i came along, i posed quite a dilemma to the group. Some wanted to invite me straight away but others felt confronted by my presence; its a pretty tight knit group who have been friends for twenty something years. I think they wanted to see just how long this relationship would last at the beginning. Possibly some felt like they were being disloyal by inviting me in so readily. I knew i was being excluded and many a hurt and angry tear had been shed on my part.

Its hard for everyone dealing with those who have been widowed when they repartner, especially if the time passed has not been long; its hard for the new partner and hard on the friends. There's no guide book either to help you all out. You just have to bumble along and do the bst you can. In coming along i would be taking the seat occupied for years by their dear friend who is no longer present. after 2 years i was invited along. I'd felt so deliberately left out, not accepted for being myself, not given a chance. My initial response was the revert to the child, to say 'no thanks, you took too long' but i figured that was not the most mature approach. So i said i'd love to and went along with my heart in my throat to that first movie night knowing we all had crossed a bridge, knowing that if it wasnt for the loss of their friend i wouldnt be sitting there. It was a hard night.

That was a year ago. its gotten easier, much easier. i have really grown to love these women. They're warm and funny and inspite of a generation gap,we actually have a whole heap in common. So we tracked of to see Brideshead Revisited last night and for two hours i sat and immersed myself in upper class English neurosis and alcoholism and remembered my very own decadent, delicious and very romantic Evelyn Waugh week in St Andrews, Scotland with a handome and mannered and very experienced lordy-schmordy- something-or-other and identified with the seduction of irresponsible priviledge.

in my inbox this morning

12 invoices for ebay auction wins.

It appears my husband has my ebay account details and has been up late at night ordering wine. Thats ummm, 144 bottles! A steal he tells me.
"Mclaren Vale cleanskins and export pallet ends. Bargain"
The cellar is apparently looking too empty for his liking and he feels the need to replenish before Christmas. Were not even going to be here for Christmas. Not alot of winemaking has been going on at Chez Pan in the last 12 months, what with the boybean and the studio in progress, so the cellar stock has been checking out with nothing going in. We're on the lookout for some shiraz grapes for a pressing and, no doubt if the beetroot continues its healthy growth, we'll have some home grown beetroot wine up and running in the new year, but I paid the bill. He owes me in shoes!

Monday, November 3

land of the free and home of the brave

...but by god, dont share it with anyone!

Setting: Republican Political Rally.
Speaker: John McCain
"...[Obama wants to] share the wealth around!"

Audience: "Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

Only in 'Mer'ca

Solar Library


My husband is a fantastic community member; he volunteers all over the place, is on loads of committees and works tirelessly for several local organisations. he's my conscience in action. i like to tell him we cant all be that fabulous so i let him own the volunteer spotlight. For the last 2 years he's served as a member of the local library fundraising committee to raise enough for a new library; hes amazingly great at getting people to hand over lots of money and i think he could sell ice to the Inuit. When that folded after the library was built he started a new one and he has been working for over a year to raise enough money, interest and sponsorship to get the new library outfitted with PV solar cells to generate and cover the complete energy needs of the library and the council offices. Today he recieved a call from the council engineers with the great news that council has approved the $60,000 investment. Nobody thought he would succeed. He is a walking example of giving it a go and definitely a 'glass half full' kind of guy, his enthusiasm is unlimited. Well done Si.

Sunday, November 2

Birthday bloom

It appears to be a day of birthdays... we're back from an afternoon BBQ at a favourite park for my friend Bruces' 55th birthday "happy birthday you fabulous, wonderful, loving, best friend you'. We have been doing the park for his birthday for years now and its a favourite tradition with the girls but an innaugural event for the boybean. I took my camera, i even changed the batteries before we left. I changed to some more batteries with no power. i hate that; organized, yet not. We loaded up what now appears to be a tanker: Pram, blankets, granny trolley full of food, nappy bag, esky, chairs, rugs. Good thing the BBQs are supplied. I refused to take utensils; someone's always bound to have some. I know thats very passive aggressive of me (i found that out during years of marital therapy) i thought i was just pragmatic, but apparently not. It's an effort, no wonder we dont go out more often. Im worn out, it's that feeling quite sick kind of worn out. Party's here next time. Well, actually...yeah it is! Nov 22. 'Fire Up the Pizza Oven Party' coz Aunty Berry's coming to town!
Everyones drifted off into their respective post party emotional spaces and B2s sitting in a small azalea and stone japanese garden just outside my study window plucking leaves and petals and tipping them on her head. with her mussed auburn top knot and shoulders just showing, she's reminding me somewhat of an orangutan in a mountain forest, should i be worried?

[She clumsily seguaes into flowers]... this spray of flowers has unfolded in the garden. its new. it blew in from somewhere. its the most beautiful 'set' of flowers i think ive seen, as its a very unusual shade. Happy Bloomin' Birthday to all you Scorpios.