Thursday, April 30

its all about autonomy

That was the bit that really got up my nose, the straw that broke the camels whatsit and where it started getting a bit crazy. This post descibes some of the dinner conversation had with GPs which i posted about a few days back.

Well, what also got up my nose early on was the fact that they were all just oozing such a sense of entitled and unchallenged priviledge. So when they started ordering expensive wine from the menu and then judging it with sniffs and swirls (i was paying and they not once asked me if i would like to choose the wine -what would i know about wine- they assumed that responsibility for themsleves and before i knew it...ordered!)and beginning to diss off at midwives and irresponsible homebirths i just waded in. All that priviledge and expectation of being unchallenged had to be resisted! Upon hearing what i percieve to be 'mistruth' and ignorance speaking, I felt like i really couldnt sit with my own integrity intact and not say a word. I felt/knew we were equals, different professions, but equals non the less and i had as much right to wade in on the discussion as they did and i wasnt just going to shut up when they came back with a counter claim. Give them the last word just bcause...they were doctors? Hell, i teach critical reading and thinking, epidemiology and public health and i have a very up to date knowledge of the literature around birthing statistics and the homebirth debate and im a woman with 3 births under my belt. Game on!

What was very obvious, very quickly, was their underlying paradigm that women shouldnt have a choice in birthing "the day that homebirths become approved is the day i give up obstetric practice" i mean what was that all about? Loss of control??? I nearly said 'well that might not be such a bad thing then' but i didnt. But when confronted with the truth of their position 'seems you believe that women shouldnt be free to choose where they birth and should be made to give birth in a hospital?' they weren't comfortable with that either. Conflicted paradigms and unresolved principles...i struggle to get students to recognise their contradictions in logic all the time when im teaching, not with a bunch of comfortable professionals...

We moved through maternal and neonatal death rates being higher for homebirths, then when i didnt concurr and cited some contemporary literature (i dont think they appreciated journal, author and date references in a social situation) they suggsted instead we should be looking at neonatal morbidity, i didnt concurr. We moved onto the 'no time to deal with an emergency' argument and women being selfish and midwives encouraging irresponsible behaviour, i didnt concurr, repeating often that homebirth midwives are professionals, just as they were, trained in birth (doh)know when to transfer and have more experience in deliveries than most community GPs. Kapow! To top it off i suggested that women essentially have a right to choose the birthing care they want!

I think the big silent moment came when i suggested that contrary to their opinion that it was the midwives fault that there was no seamless relationship with hospitals in times of transfer from home to hospital "they dont want consultant support, its just outrageous" but that the system made it very difficult to have such a relationship. I spoke of negative reactions towards women and her midwife under circumstances of home to hospital transfer and that it just might not be due to midwife attitudes of 'defiant and egocetric irresponsibility' but possibly due to the adversarial and judgemental behaviour of specialists and the system that discourages such a relationship. The system does not support independent midwives and its not the midwives fault that she is not supported , she wants it, yet she must bear the brunt of not having it!

It was an interesting night. I never shy away from a good debate but only when i feel i have a leg to stand on. I felt i had about five in this case. What was really interesting for me was that the deeper languages of love, privacy, intimacy and respect for the process of natural birth and motherhood had no place at the table.

Tuesday, April 28

how to win friends and influence people

what not to do when out for a work dinner supposedly discussing 1.3 million of dental assessment stuff with a bunch of local male GPs who begin lamenting the loss of opportunity for obstetric care for GPs with obstetric speciality to reckless, incompetent, ego driven midwives and who then start talking about homebirthing and 'those' women who do it, in a not very favourable fashion...

respond like i did.

damn, its beautiful

Im off to the Barossa Valley this morning for work and damn, the weather is beautiful. Clear blue skies and sun, looking forward to seeing all the grape vines in their autumn glory and consuming some fabulous Barossa produce. Last week in country Victoria it nearly killed me walking past the op-shops knowing i had no time to stop and browse, thinking of all the treasures that are really only findable and affordable in rural second hand shops AND I WAS WALKING BY! So my lovely colleague has actually factored in some op shop time this trip! What a treasure! Thats my kinda work trip and my kinda colleague!

Monday, April 27


Just coming in to flower if you got started early and beginning to make a show at the markets, is cauliflower. A winter vegetable of the brassica family which has a reputation as a one hit wonder of 'Cauliflower cheese' fame. Cauliflower plays a poor second to its green cousins in this household but this one was just so firm and heavy, tightly budded and pure white that i couldnt resist. But it sat on the counter top until a yellowing leaf really prompted me to use it before all those features that got it entry into the house, disappeared. Refusing to do cauliflower cheese, which everyone does love, and trying to do something a little less button busting, i decided on... pasta. This dish uses a whole cauliflower a provides a good serve of vegetable per person.

Pasta 'chi Vrocculi Arriiati' (Sicilian Cauliflower Sauce)

1 cauliflower
2 tsb olive oil
1 onion
1 tsp saffron
3 anchovy fillets
50g sultans/raisins
50g pine nuts/blanched almonds
50g grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
4 basil leaves

Cook whole cauliflower in salted boiling water. While still firm, remove from water and reserve water.
In a pan heat half the oil and add finely chopped onion.When it begins to turn coour dd saffron which has been softened i little warm water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Divide cauliflower into small florets and add to onion mixture with anchovie fillets, nuts and raisins/sultanas and cook until fillets have dissolved. cover remove from heat and leave. Cook pasta in reserved cauliflower water. When al dente, drain and add to cauliflower mixture with cheese and chopped basil. Serve.

This 'sauce' was surprisingly tasty and we had it served on organic Australian multicoloured penne. The sauce was sweet, full of complexity and just about perfect. It got the big thumbs up from everyone, especially the kids. I dropped the anchovy fillets back to jst 1 as b2 will eat 1 fillet as it adds saltiness without the fishyness. I have tried 3 or so in other dishes before and been rightly busted and she had plain pasta that night. We had no sultana/raisin so i 'foraged' a big handful out of our muesli bin and brushed off the oat dust! I also would use almonds next time as they grow locally but i found some pine nuts in the fridge so i used them up and we generally only buy local cheese so we had some chunky grated SA pecorino on top. Local salt instead of anchovy would suffice if you want to up your loca content (unless you can find local anchovies and let me know!) and retain its vegan status, without the cheese of course. This will definitely be on our menu again.

Sunday, April 26

Seasonal cooking

We're all pretty aware that we 'should' be eating seasonally but if youre anything like me you're not getting seasonal chow at a loca vore restaurant every day. You're doing it at home, pretty much everyday, working out how to make another piece of pumpkin or those greens interesting. Seasonal consumption assumes purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and therefore implicates doing something with the stuff. It also assumes you know what is seasonal; an art of discernment which i think is probably lost on everyone who doesnt grow their own food; most are pretty out of touch with what produce in the shops is actually in season. I think the farmers market phenomenon helps incredibly with seasonal eating- if its not in the market it aint being grown! but if you're stuck in the supermarkets...

Good food, interesting food and healthy food as well as using seasonal stuff is my general kitchen aim but when faced with a glut of a few staple foods it gets pretty tricky to do new and interesting things that are also easy. Not another baked veg!!So my challenge to myself this next week or two is to do a few new meals using seasonal vegetables -ones that home growers and farmers market goers will probably have too much of (or can easily get) and are in serious need of some new ideas on how to use them, and post them.

They will be vegetarian which means healthier due to lower fat content, higher in fibre and much much lower in energy expenditure as they will be based around a local seasonal veg. as the main ingredient. Aim: to use up your glut!

I have however been fantasising about a warming beef ragu served on homemade fettucine *sigh*, roast chicken stuffed with lemon and herbs (sheesh-possibly i will do something with a free range organic bird).

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 25

Liquid Gold

its pouring. sheeting down. not so unusual for some states but for here, this weather is more like that of the east coast. Thick heavy drops and tonnes of it. Hours of it, days of it. Im reckoning the tanks will be full. Too wet to do anything outside. What a great excuse for:

apple pancakes for brunch
a fire on early
baking bread
a game with the girls while the beans asleep
and a warm baked dinner

i love these days. Bunkered down in the warm with a beautiful view of outside where the trees are autumnal and the water is coursing down the creek. Well actually now its almost breaking the banks and the island is almost completely under and the bloke is out there making sure we dont lose a bridge.

hehe. excuse satisfied ear bursting exclamations of small person enjoying apple pancake and kitchen sounds!

Friday, April 24

tonight, one year ago

It almost hurts to look at myself now. Was i really that big? People used to tell me i was enourmous but i dont remember ever feeling as big as that! 'Yes, just one baby' . 4 days to my due date. No wonder i hated reading stories to b2; her room is on the third floor! trudge trudge trudge at half past 8, just let me get my breath back before i start... that was story time for her over. we never went back!

I think i have a rather crazy mad woman look in my eye...must have been the lack of carbs i was consuming to try and keep the beans weight down! Ha!
Huge, uncomfortable, sleepless, counting down and just salad. Cruel.
The things we do for love.

Haiku Friday

saline groundwater
crusts, freshwater doesnt flow.
billabongs dying.

Thursday, April 23

deep purple people

walking down the air bridge to board my plane this morning i notice the tall thin guy ahead, decked out in black , long black (dyed?) hair and expensive black sunglasses. I whack him in the back with my overnighter when i pull up too close, too quickly. "opps, Sorry. "sure. Its ok" I notice an english accent. we wait. i turn around to deal with my momentary boredom. More guys in black pull up, swarms of tall black with motley accents. I notice long frizzed out hair, and lots more expensive sunglasses, all still on face. Definitely ageing rockers...flying cattle class?? Gotta be ex famous dudes i decide. The confidence despite the ageing bodies and burnt out hair and the look of rock n roll fame rules...not aussies i decide. We board the plane and im dying to know who these guys are. Then i spot HIM. The short guy...toned, a pout and matching flared nostrils (just a whiff of Jagger) tight jeans (black..of course) and tight eyes, definitely a nip and tuck and his whole character just oozes 'the one'. God he looks familiar.... Im surrounded by the black pod and i dont ask. Damn.

Im so curious, but now im a seat ahead and a few aside from the lot so now i cant ask. The elderly woman sitting beside me asks "do you think they are in a band?" "Dressed like that, definitely" i say. She asks me who they are. I dont know and Im about to add theyre a bit too old for me to recognise but stop short realising that i will have to raise my voice for her to hear my response. As they are all within earshot i decide that response is, well, not cool! When we land I politely refuse help from 'HIM', the one ,to retrieve my bag from the overhead and try and appear noncholant and detatched ...what was that all about? Im such an idiot. But, it was definitely an interesting flight home to take my mind of the 30,000 ft crisis i always battle, watching primed rockers eat their plasticwrapped sandwiches and going to the loo.
'parently was a black sabbath/deep purple dude with his posse...definitely not an Ozzy.

ahhh chorizo

For this i do an extra half hour on my run. Its very very worth it, so bad its good. I cant even begin to think how to start calulting its caloric i dont. Clock it up to a 'naughty' meal for that week and eat healtier meals around it.

encouraged by annuskas introduction and fostered by the absence of the vego kids... we had this again. Its sooo good and perfect in this weather. I used completely loca ingredients except the paprika; flinders ranges wild boar, localfree range heritage pork chorizo, local organic pancetta, home made shiraz, tomatoes, bean and onions. Delish. I did as haalo suggested and made extra to freeze...but it didnt make the freezer; after a day picking figs with veggie at olive and popeyes we had the leftovers for dinner again.

Wednesday, April 22

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

so delicious, you forget to take a pic for the blog.

Now im not a huge fan of the strict recipe (yes it gets me into trouble when im baking cakey things) so here goes, an attempt at a recreation of a recipe. Looking back, this is pretty much what i think i did!. Try it. Be brave. Its fantastic

1 mushroom per person - hand sized portabello or field mushroom (remove stems to make underside surface flat)

2 tabs almond meal per mushroom (cut back to one if adding cheese for non vegan stuffing)
1 clove garlic per mushroom
1 tablespoon olive oil per mushroom
1 slice bread per mushroom
2 small handfulls basil/parsley/kale/chard/green stuff per mushroom
(for a non vegan stuffing 1 tab parmesan cheese per mushroom)
1 removed mushroom stem per mushroom

Whizz all in a food processor until it resembles crumbs
Drizzle mushrooms with extra olive oil
Place stuffing mix onto mushroom undersides to cover
Place mushroom rounded side down on oiled baking tray/dish
Bake about 40 min at 180


Tuesday, April 21

in the garden right now

in the 'bottom' vege patch...
kale kale kale. This shows just one small patch of red russian, russian red, whatever you want to call it. I have rows of tuscan black alongside the red and a whole newly sowed patch of tuscan black. When i realised just how much kale i didnt have, i realised i needed more. Its my favourite and its coming along nicely. the russian red has a very juicy fleshy stem, quite unlike the flatter tougher and very vegative stem of the nero. Im sneaking in a few pickings in very small amounts, to use as contributor to stuffings or flavour enhancers. Frying up a few leaves for the boy this evening for his omelette, the smell of crispy kale drew me back to the memory of kale chips experienced in California at christmas. I cant wait for an excess of kale!

The peas, massey gems and snow peas and some telegraph i think were sowed dilligently and yet are struggling. well, they're flowering and setting pods but the plants are so small and just look kind of hardy and not lush, so i have applied a good dose of garden lime to help with the high acid problem we have up here in the hills. Peas like a more alkaline soil and as you can see by the pine needles in the pic, acid conditions abound. As these look a little 'sad', i have planted a new lot in the 'top' garden using the old bean trellising. Im reckoning these one will streak ahead.

The bush beans are ploughing ahead and flowering and the damn horseradish which is the very large lush plant in amongst the beans,which i have tried to move and kill many times is loving the attention and is thriving like i have never seen it.

Im really loving not having to water so much and thinking about watering all the time! At work, panic..agghh, forgot to water, call home...can you squeeze it in...please?

right now

packing for a work trip

reducing marmalade that didnt set

simmering figs in vinegar n spice

washing soo many jars and dishes


booking a cab

pulling b2s tooth

stuffing mushrooms

hoping the bean stays asleep for an hour more

checking in - online and the day before...magic

looking at a pile of 'spoiled' apples knowing that i wont 'get to them' them before i leave

enjoying the girls being home

wondering what on earth to do with the remaining 10kg of crabapples

thinking that nights away without a laptop, and no kids, seems just cruel

watching the bloke cart barrows (and barrows and barrows) of wood he chopped yesterday, into the woodshed and feeling a rush of love

wishing i didnt have to go away

Saturday, April 18


The problem i find with an excess of 'orchard' fruits is that, not eaten fresh you are left with the choice of preserved, dried or stewed. Im not really a dried fruit muncher ( dried fruit is as bad for your teeth as chewing caramels, if not worse! due to concentrated fruit sugars and acid-sorry professional paradigm just too strong!) and i try and not eat baked sweets too often so a lot of apple cake and pudding and pies...bonk!

So we find ourself with kilos of apples and are getting a little sick of munching them, although these summer strawberries are incredibly tasty; sweet and very fragrant and full of floral, rose overtones! They are however not good keepers, wrinkling and getting rubbery quite early, despite being kept in the cellar. Its a pretty good end of crop picking for a backyard tree and not one of these lovelies has any evidence of any coddlers! Thats neglect (and possibly the parrots) for you! We have picked probably 40 kgs this season. See why were sick of them? Ive preserved (canned) and stewed and frozen kilos and kilos but im not making a dent! The oven gets fired up next weekend so i think im going to have to bite the bullet and do some drying.

So this afternoon its off to Veggie Gnomes then their neighbours, the neighbour gnomes, for some fig picking (veggies over figs)and an apple swap (and a wee bit o afternoon tea).

life changing viewing

I was spurred by memories, stirred by elburros post at team effort asking for recommendations of documentaries for her son, to write this post. I recommended the qatsi trilogy;
kowaanisqatsi -life out of balance,
powaqqatsi - life in transformation and
naqoyqatsi - life as war

powerful cinematography about issues of globalisation, urban life and technology versus the environment and all driven by incredible soundtracks by Phillip Glass. I was haunted by these 'movies' as a late teen and they definitely encouraged my passions for low impact living, cultural empathy and activism. They really are breathtaking; some of the most powerful imagery and sound you'll ever see. More than documentaries, these movies are a piece of art.

Friday, April 17

Thursday, April 16

Organic Urban Kitchen Gardens in Cuba

I got so freakin excited the other night watching 'the box' when i saw the tail end of a gardening program detailing urban agriculture in Cuba, it roots and development and its success. Its essentially a program about food production in 'peak oil' cuba and their organic gardening revoloution thats been quietly occouring for the last decade (well not so quietly to those interested in ecological farming). I had heard about this initiative of the government years ago had forgotten it and the thrill of seeing a visual foray in to the people and their gardens was fantastic.

Ive always loved the idea of Cuba, essentially as a representation of the 'anti-american' paradigm (an embodyment of anti-consumerism so please dont take offense), the last outpost of the resistors in the world (my radical self speaking) and the time warp it exists in. Despite many shortcomings, i respect what Cuba as a nation has achieved.

Organic kitchen gardening implemented by government decree.What an idea. What an amazing food revoloution. What a response to domestic food shortages created by economic embargo! radical.
The movement appears incredibly well supported by the government; organic gardening kiosks around the city where you can get advice, seeds and organic fertilisers. I found the Cuban part of the show on YouTube. Watch the video and be inspired. Very inspired.

Ive included a few links to one page editorials about the 'revoloution' but if youre interested in reading more, google 'cuba organic farming' and you'll find pages of interesting articles. Guaranteed to make you want to visit and get something akin to it happenning in your neighbourhood and push for change.

Wednesday, April 15

and now for something completely different

for the person who has everything...except... a beard!. The feedback comments were fascinating.

the borderline parent

i read years ago that if you think that trying to make a relationship you want to be in is difficult, then try having an effective relationship with someone you dont want to have any relationship with but have to because you are co-parenting children. Now thats hard work. So true.

Having the house to myself over the last few days has been so wonderful; relaxing, peaceful and very replenishing. I needed it, its why my posts have been so indulgent. I have been looking to the aesthetic in my environment to bring happiness. It worked, warmth and light are very beneficial in generating a happier disposition. So, if co-parenting after seperation is difficult, co-parenting even from a distance, with someone with a personality disorder is something i wouldn't wish on anyone. I found out on the weekend that i had sent my girls up to a father who had changed not only his place of residence without telling me but also all of his telephone numbers. Apparently its beeen this way for months. The sheer irresponsibility of this behaviour is staggering, not to mention disrespectful, arrogant and just plain stupid. What was he thinking? maybe not much... does he do this just to piss me off or can he really be that careless? So what do i do? I say nothing. Experience has taught me to wait until the children are home before i confront him about issues. He takes it out on them, ranting about their terrible mother who is single handedly responsible for his current miserable state.

To top it off, the huge promises of fun he'd made the girls these holidays (yet again) but backed up with the 'facts'..'yes were going, great huh? so exciting, we have bought tickets already...' poof!

It breaks my heart to see the girls time and time again believe in their father and then have his actions and words strip that misplaced trust right back to nothing, well, back to the raw truth of his condition.

Watching your children experience having their faith and love twisted and broken over and over again it so difficult and then they protect him, taking the full brunt of the experience on themselves. He consistently makes them empty promises and for me its become a very fine line between preparing them for dissapointment and potentially generating negative feelings towards him and making him out always to be the bad guy, incompetent. I tend to just make a brief comment about preparing themselves for something going 'wrong' and then move the conversation on.

So, its happened yet again. They've gone to visit and their hopes and dreams about this time with him, which were fed by his promises, have now become yet again, conditional and his outright lies to them have been exposed. Its breaking my heart (hmm, i think Ive said that before). Im hoping that a miracle will occour and he will get his act together before their time is up and make it happen. For them. Show them that he can make a mistake and correct it.
I think Im dreaming...

Tuesday, April 14

sun catcher

The studio is nearly done. Cornicing, skirting, a coat of paint, flooring finished and a wall of cabinets/cupboards/kitchen/storage to house all the art/craft/gardening stuff is all thats left to do. I cant wait. Ive been living up there in the sun in the last few days with the bean, drawing, cutting, painting, mooching. The building sits considerably higher up the hillside than the main house, so it gets the seasonal sun for longer, hence the pv solar on this roofspace. Yes, Im chasing the sun as winter approaches. Ive been dreaming of this space for years; a light bright place to paint, draw, write, think, sit, watch; purpose built space with great storage. Somewhere where dreams can get started. Laura Jane, Im done!

Monday, April 13

sticky walnut buns

I dont know what i was thinking when i gave in to some higher (lower?) consciousness calling for sticky sweet bun. Maybe it was the fact that i didnt bake any buns this easter (my mum made them) and was itching to 'do dough' and feeling all maternal bakey apple pie-ey the day before the girls left that got me all worked up about a sticky bun, having spotted several on a blog crawl, particularly this one. So sticky bun with walnuts was on the menu. The dough was the softest, silkiest stuff i have ever made. must have been the egg, butter and yeast combo, damn it felt beautiful in my hands. Turns out this was the best part about the buns... more about that later.

I pushed it out, not rolling it as the recipe said (too fluffy to put under a pin!) brushed with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar,

rolled, sliced into scrolls and placed in the pan on top of the caramel topping and nuts and left it to rise further.

The topping went under the rolls so that when you turn them out, viola, topped with nuts and sticky. That was a major ah-ha! baking moment for me as i dont do sweet cake-ey bun things very often.

We baked, we soaked in the smell coming from the oven. We had one. mmmmm, s'ok. verdict. too sweet for us. the bun was like brioche, very fine, but sweet sweet sweet. So we have worked out we're really not a sticky bun bunch and that years of deprivation havent really hurt us at all. Buns behind us, we headed off to a botanic garden for a glorious autumn walk together, just the kids and i which is quite rare, and had a lovely relaxing fun afternoon. Probably more my kind of apple pie.

I have to confess to composting the lot...

Sunday, April 12


This is my view.
I love bed. When i lived 'at home' it used to drive my non medicated, hyper-thyroid mother crazy. She was up rushing around washing and cleaning before dawn and Id stay in bed until noon, usually reading. Quite a bit of haggling went on back then. Nothing's changed in theory, there's just no more haggling. I still love bed, i just dont get to hang around in it very often. Its actually a good dose of bed i have been looking forward to this weekend (well day and a half) when im alone with just the bean.

So this morning i trundled all three kids into the car at 4.30 am, drove to the airport, signed two of them over (unacompanied minors, one with a bad case of hickies *snigger*, that's how that night went) returned with one, fed him and put him to bed, watered the garden and decided some rekindling time was due. Some peace. Some slow... bed and a book. The sun welcomed me when i walked in. It took my breath away, it was incredibly inviting. Autumn and winter are the sunniest seasons in our room. Needless to say the book didnt last long before the zzzz took over.

...easy to spot which side of the bed's mine!

Saturday, April 11

garden somethings

Autumn is so beautiful but theres not alot happenning in the garden besides leaves turning and falling and the vege patches look a tad cold and lost.

The quinces are fruiting, so too are the apples, well apple in the singular actually. The golden delicious had a small hole in the net and the bloody parrots got the lot!. The orange, the lemon, the grapefruit, a mandarin and the pistachio and walnuts are a cropping too.

A few autumn bulbs save the garden from looking too forlorn and expiring. The bella donna lilies, the crocus and the...

well Im not sure what the red ones are, but they all make me happy when im out checking on the vegetables.

This little skink caught my eye at the base of the black bamboo as it was sitting in a natural spotlight. Theyre so lovely.

Ive still got loads of tomatoes ready to ripen, the rocket as always just does its thing (i can never work outwhy it so expensive to buy as its really just a weed - because they can), cabbages are up, the bush beans are charging ahead and flowering already and the purple magic beans are on their second wind!. The kale is getting tempting and potatoes, purple dragon carrots and bulls blood beets are hitting their stride. Its all going somewhere, theres just not much to eat!

This monkey is the second last in a chain from one of the chains from the front of the house. Its part of a rain chain of about 15 monkeys, a japanese answer to down pipes; we have none. They're a little more aesthetic dont you think?

Friday, April 10

A new world order

certainly is for me. i find myself in a very new parenting space this evening , an interesting and challenging one which dares me to confront my morals, my assumptions, my values and expectations. B1 is having a friend sleep over. no biggie. happens all the time. kids crammed in her bedroom giggling and chatting and doing their hair. tonight jesse is sleeping over. jesse's a boy. a lovely sweet gentle, soft 6"3' Jamaican boy with dreads. She's 14. He's 16. what was i thinking when i said 'yes'?

They met months ago on my space/ msn/ some social networking chat site. They catch up in town every Friday after school and spend the evening together with their friends. B1's going to QLD this Sunday and he wanted to see her before she left and tonight was their only opportunity after the school week. They're not going out, not boyfriend and girlfriend. Yet. At this stage they're just mates who get along. she really likes him ( he's so hot Mum) but i think shes just not that interested in having a boyfriend, although most of her friends are boys. She finds girls 'too giggly and gossipy and game playing' and often tells me she just wants to grow up and be an adult so she can just leave all this teenage crap behind.

whaddaya do? In this new world order apparently its cool, ok, fine to be doing this ( according to them that is, the teens) B1 asked me like it was no biggie, nothing out of the ordinary to have him come stay, just another friend . when i umm'ed and ahh'ed she asked me what my issues were! lol and told me categorically that she'd never do anything in the house with a boy coz 'we were there', to which B2 piped up with 'they do it and youre here' lol. ohh tooo much! So i figured 'what they hey', trying to over control their 'growing up stuff' is just too problematic and I'd much rather have them here and safe, whatever the gig, than out partying, driving, drinking etc. So he's here for the night, we've all talked about bedding, hes on the floor in her room on a futon pad and surprisingly, im ok with it all.

I think its particularly difficult as B1 is a really mature 14; physically, emotionally and intellectually and finds herself 2 grades ahead in school, still excelling and with school peers who are 16. Keeping her back i feel is foolish, possibly opening myself up to losing her like my mum did me, so i give her a bit more rope/choice than i ever had. I just have to trust, keep trusting, that our communication and honesty will get us through. But it's such a fine line to balance upon...Im very aware. Too much...not enough...

So they're back from the video store, Ive got their sleeping sorted, we've chatted over dinner and on the outside Im all cool and sweet. Ive told her that if anything goes weird, feels wrong, just come see me. Eeeeeeeeeeeee. Its all so new.
Sooo, kids upstairs 'watching vids' and Im down here blogging about it. Thats pretty new world order.

man, i meant to do a gardening post today!

Haiku Friday

blue skies frame warm rust.
around me, lifes pleasures stir
and kiss me alive

Thursday, April 9

Mrs Who?

Reading my book last night i came across a passage which really struck me. As im at work i cant recall it verbatim (you know i cant even recall the author or the name of the damn book to lead you in the right direction) but it was along the lines of Ms Summer met a man caller Mr Winter, got married, changed her name due to the 'situation' of seasonal differences and upon being referred to as Mrs she reported a feeling of being struck with images of washing, banality and impending doom and aging. I laughed. How true. I hate the title myself. Have for as long as i can remember. Mrs was always someones mother, nondescript, like the furniture. As a kid i loved those mothers who asked me to call them by their actual name and i remember thinking it was a bit radical. Now both my children attend schools where their teachers ask the children to use their names, not titles , and it seems so much more human.

But late in my life, i have found I have become a 'Mrs', whereas in the past I have always been a Ms. Its really annoying. I feel like i have just dissappearred. Poof. I have had the fortune/misfortune to marry a man who has the same surname as me. Now people just assume and use the Mrs; 'take the name, take the title' it appears. I want to shout ' it was my name too'. In my last relationship where we had different surnames, i didnt get consumed into the Mr and Mrs thing, i remained me and he was him. Mr X and Ms Y. Now its Mr and Mrs Z. Im gonna have to have a word with my bank and the school. Sometimes im not even sure if its me or Si's late wife whom a letter may be addressed too (we've had that problem one too many times). We're generic. Whats your take on married titles? Passe? too 1970's to worry about? Not an issue? or totally outdated?

Wednesday, April 8

Right on the Mark - Seeds of Peace

This is my brother in law Mark, partner in The Good Earth Organic store in Marin County, California outside the store speaking about the politics of seeds. Mark comes from a family of organic farmers, vignerons and feminist writers. An enviable lineage. Its an interesting few minutes if you're interested in seeds, biodiversity and the role of multinationals in the food supply chain.


Tuesday, April 7

dulce de membrillo...

...a fancy name for Quince paste. Sounds better in Spanish dont ya think? In honour of the transformation of the last of the kitchen stash of quinces, i chose to break the pretty much standard loca food rule we have imposed in Chez Pan. It took at least a third passing of the Stinky Cheese shop in the market before my will weakend, and i relented and bought some imported Manchego cheese, a Spanish sheep milk cheese traditionally eaten with membrillo. Actually, i bought the cheese on Friday before I'd made the paste... in anticipation, as i knew it would be a great incentive to get the damn stuff done. The paste i made in between the 70 odd cupcakes i baked on saturday. Like i needed some more work?

Its slightly sweet which compliments the slighty salty and smooth; a little like a pecorino style hard cheese. This one i purchased young but at $78 per kilo for the 12yr old mature manchego, i figured id better cut my losses on the loca and just buy the 2 year old at half the kilo unit price.

The slightly gritty membrillo and the softly grainy manchego were the perfect foil for each other. The quince paste recipe i followed is this one. I cooked it both on the stove top and baked it in the oven for about twice as long for both before i was happy with the consistency and colour.

Cant afford a Hybrid vehicle?

Its OK. There are more effective ways to make an investment in the future. Planet Green suggests that the best way reduce your carbon footprint NOW is to switch to Green Energy. A Hybrid like the Prius can save you 5000 pounds of Co2 annually, but switching to Green Power (electricity generated by wind, solar) you can save nearly 3 times as much; 14,000 pounds of Co2 at only around a 20% increase in your bill (about $150-200 a year). Too Easy. Aternatively if youve already switched to green power and are thinking about the car but just cant manage the budget, then switching to a vegetarian diet will cover your carbon costs of driving for a vego diet will save you just a little more than the car AND if you make that a local vego diet, well, fantastic coz you just more than doubled the Prius savings at 8000 loca pounds of Co2. Now thats good news!
Alternatively, we can catch the bus!

Monday, April 6

weekend retrospective - part 2

Sunday was B2s 11th birthday. We have a pretty stock standard birthday ritual around here. Home parties always, friends and grandparents and a bit of a go-to-town kind of day. im such a tight @#!* throughout the year so on birthdays the kids can pretty much have whatever kind of party they like (well within reason, tight ass tendencies are hard to break). I had a limit of $150 for 17 people. B2 chose 8 school friends (small school, only 8 girls in her year so to leave anyone out is a bit of a school no-no) and a 'high tea' party.

So high tea it was. Saturday was spent getting last minute ingredients and baking and finding what i was hoping to God I'd find - a tea set at the local CFS fundraising stall! $3! and incredibly it matched a coffee set we already had, so 9 matching high tea cups! Nothing like leaving something till the last minute. Thank god i did coz on Sunday i started at 8 am and didnt stop until 6 when i abandoned ship with the boy and had a bath with lots of smelly stuff. When the kids were smaller i used to painstakingly do low sugar, natural colourings and still essentially believe in it, especially for growing bodies.

However, now they are older, Ive let go of the reins as we only really do this kind of food on birthdays, so i figure what the hey, blue food colouring today, LSD tomorrow. What do i prefer? We found white napkins and sparklers in the pantry and coloured sprinkles and cup cake pans too, leftovers from someone staying in the holidays...

All the kids had a great day and we had a fabulous treasure hunt around the garden where the kids had to work out clue after clue until they got to the end prize; the high tea set up in the studio (which isnt finished but served its purpose to keep the madness out of the house). They played the limbo, did the hokey-pokey, and weren't too old for pass the parcel. I love doing birthday parties and seeing them have a really really happy day.

Sunday Blogger Long Lunch

umm..short notice
Sunday. This week end. In Stirling. My place. The village is looking glorious with all its Autumn leaves. Bloke away camping and girls away with their dad. Its me 'n' the bean and a WHOLE DAY!!! and that just does not happen very often. hens teeth. Depending on interest, anyone up for a bloggy get together? That means everyone who's ever read Taurus Rising, those who comment or those who prefer to 'lurk'. terrible term isnt it? Heres a great opportunity to meet. Id love to catch up. Short notice I know, but its a window. So all you locals...come for a long lunch. Bring a plate (yes, with food on it). 12 or 1pm. Anyone interested and available? At least five of us would be GREAT!

Sunday, April 5

retrospective weekend

Its been manic, starting on Friday night. Got home avec mallard; breasts only, 'wild' (whatever that really means) from Wild and hit the ground running in the kitchen. I'd done two presentations at work that day which really drained me. Cooking really is my relaxation. My escape, my gourmand meditation. I'd found kale at the market that morning (my nero di toscana kale is ahead of the other, but its still only looking like that trick bunch of flowers the clown pulls from his bag) and knowing there was still a tonne of quince on the kitchen bench, not to mention the was duck breast with quince something-or-other, kale and potatoes to be roasted using the fat id rendered off and saved for this very notion from the last mallard breast Id rendered down. One of the things i really love about food blogging is how incredibly easy it is to cook seasonally. So many clever people with wonderful sites and recipes that make it so easy to use whats available. Just Google duck + quince.
By half eight the kids were off doing their thing (having been already palmed off with home made ricotta ravioli) and we sat down to dinner under low light for a Friday feast of pan roasted duck with caramelised quince ( i really really recommend this way of handling the quince; sweet sour and slightly chewy with a piquancy all its own) sauted kale with garlic and oven roasted duck fat potatoes (there has to be a fancy name for this that disgusies the awful truth, surely?) We topped it off with a bottle of home made quince champagne which was a little cloudy due to the probably highly illegal alcohol content and hence an inability to freeze the yeast out during the second fermentation and corking(another post maybe?).

It was a beautiful night, very connecting, ending with satisfied bellies and very sore butts around midnight. We can get quite stuck at the dining table once we start, especially when we're planning our big adventure. But Id satisfied my craving for some happy meat, duck in particular and to use up some quinces. So that was Friday...

Saturday, April 4

Haiku Friday

hiding below, damp,
warm and fed for many months.
Love is not enough.

Friday, April 3

Criminal behaviour

Ive been meaning to do a post on this for a while now. its ridiculous. outrageous. Medicalised birth as the only lawful option if you want support during labour? Thats what we're looking at if the new maternity 'reforms' come into play.

women have been birthing, well... forever. I know. its the bleeding obvious. But its like death, highly regulated and god forbid if anyone should step out of the square hole and be a round peg and do it without a doctor. Yes , you could have a midwife in attendance in hospital, but who 'controls' the midwife? So, at the end of the day it amounts to the same thing. Professionals who are highly trained to deal with problems in labour trying to maintain control over a normal process; birth. A point so very well put by a group of obstetricians themselves interviewed in The Business of Being Born who, when asked how many natural deliveries they had been present at, aka no interventions given, they replied ...none. ZIP. ZILCH.NAUGHT. Wouldn't know what a normal birth process looked like if they fell over it. Comforting thought huh?

Brave is not the woman who chooses to birth at home, brave is the woman who gallantly tries to have a natural birth in the presence of an obstetrician, and their handmaidens, the hospital midwives. Its the medical snowball effect. Happens all the time , over and over, womens choices about their bodies restricted and controlled. Nearly 50% of Australian babies are now surgically removed from their mothers and its not because these women '"arent very good at giving birth". The really stupid thing, like jaw dropping on the ground stupid, is that the evidence, the multi trial EVIDENCE shows that home birth is as safe as hospital birth for low risk women (of which most women are) and hospital birth is more dangerous than home if you include morbidity to the baby and mother from hospital interventions in your calculations. The research also shows that to obtain the best birthing outcomes, midwifery care is your best option.

At some level i equate this kind of control with the efforts of multinational companies trying to control seed stock or water ownership. Its one of lifes fundamentals that just shouldnt be 'owned' this way. Women have a right to birth where they need to and with the support they need. By making it illegal for a midwife to attend, to be with a woman, at a home birth unless she is insured but then making that insurance impossible to obtain. Well thats just pure skullduggery flying in the face of evidence.

Thursday, April 2

Adnyamathanha Decision

On Tuesday , the Federal Court of Australia handed down a decision on a lands title claim for the Adnyamathanha people in the affirmative. It's for traditional land measuring 46,000 sq. kilometres,

representing by far the biggest successful lands title claim by an indigenous people in South Australian history, encapsulating all of the Flinders Ranges and The Gammon Ranges.

I love this image below of the bench and presiding judge with all its institutional flavour and the justaposition with nature and the ochre ground.

Our friend has been working as legal counsel on this case for 7 years and is, according to him, his most rewarding legal outcome to date. He travelled to Adnyamathanha with his wife and buddy this week (who kindly shared the photos with me) to be present for the handing down of this historical decision and the handing over of native title.

I didnt see any press on it.

Wednesday, April 1

turned tables

i was kind of expecting it to happen. maybe not this early and maybe without such intensity. we had THAT conversation. The one from my past which is so intensely linked to mothering and meaning and self and now i see clearly is linked to parenting and meaning and self. Simon had been a bit mopey and a bit aloof for about a week and despite asking him about his withdrawn behaviour nothing of note was forthcoming, until 'the blow up' and out it came
words and emotions describing and evoking all the feelings which surround the hidden work of mothering, but they didnt come from me. They came from him.

cant get anything done
need you to do more around the house
feel like im doing it all
i'm just going around and around in circles
cant get anything done
i feel really isolated
you get to go to work and have stimulation and creativity
need you to do more around the house
cant get anything done
i feel frustrated and stuck

wow. It kind of threw me.

identical words and emotions to the ones i had for years, the downside to being a stay home parent. The thankless nature of it all ( the housework bit ). We both acknowledge the joys of it but the drudgery of another load of washing and the running around and cleaning up after everyone. What made this conversation really interesting for me was the unbridled reaction i had to first hearing his feelings. "Im doing all i can, jesus you want me to do more!" and "i felt like that for years, its just what its like, comes with the territory, tough, suck it up buddy, you get more from me than i ever got. I come home from work and take the boy, play with him, give him a bath, often cooking dinner after I have put him to bed! and YOU WANT ME TO DO MORE!!!"

Needless to say i said none of this. Coz underneath it all i really DO understand how isolating, draining, thankless it is and how you just need a little more support to keep doing it in a positive frame of mind; to be able to parent with love. So i was so pleased to be able to give him a hug and say "i know, i do understand and I will do more". It was really hard to do this without the defensive self justification coming out, telling him what i already do and how dare he ask for extra flesh.

But, i just knew for the sake of the relationship and basically, to just act like a grown up, i had to draw on my experiences, my empathy if i wanted a positive outcome. I had to do for him what i had always wanted done for me but never ever got when i was with my ex husband. So ive been working like a maniac for the last few days, steam cleaning rugs and couches, cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms and making sure i make the bed every morning before work.

Yesterday when i was leaving with the boy on a market adventure, he said he was lucky to have me. I felt the same. When its good, its so good but you really do have to work at it. Having had one relationship go arse up, im not about to let it happen to another.