Friday, July 31

Thursday, July 30

buying organic

an article on abc online this morning about new research results from a group in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reminded me of the change in my own approach to organics over the years. The research was a systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, and their conclusion was that they found there was no significant benefit to human health from eating organic food when using nutrient content as their main outcome of interest. This Cochorane systematic review forms the pinnacle of reference in the scientific comunity.

Over time, the idea of eating organic food for my health has been superceed by my principle for purchasing organics when the garden isnt forthcoming, for more environmental health reasons. When i say organics/organic food Im not talking about processed organics but fresh fruit and vegetables. The study admits to only measuring limited outcome variables; not micro-nutrients and not flavoids, so certainly some room for protest! For me, organics certainly can taste better (i have to say I have had some pretty shitty-quality organics over the years, probably due to being too long in the store)and they tend to keep better for longer periods of time. But now, I certainly prioritise local over organic and buy both where I can.

If you do or dont buy organics, supplement your home growns with purchased organics, what are your reasons?

Monday, July 27

the wooden bowl

Besides my all consuming bag passion, I have a new and present love. One i have been meaning to indulge for a while but never found what i was looking for, at a price i was willing to pay, nor with wood i was willing to purchase. Since experiencing the pleasures of eating from wooden plates and dishes at my sister in laws house in the epi-centre of hippieville in Marin county, i have harboured my own secret desire to emulate this luscious and rather medieval experience, in the comfort of my own home. Something about curling up with a wooden bowl filled with organic fare really appeals to the earthy, primitive me. I like to couple my wooden bowl experience with a wooden handled we dont eat slabs of meat we rarely use knives, so a fork and bowl does fine for curry, pasta and rice. I didnt buy much in Bali, but i did come home with 10 of these coconut wood bowls filling my suitcase. Beautiful, organic, sustainable, emminently ethicurean. Its the small things that make me happy.

your favourite website

Im interested in knowing what your favourite websites look like. Why are they your favourite, what makes them great? What do you look for? What appeals? I really want to get mine right. Eco witout being twee, fun but not too light...
If you show me yours, i'll show you mine!

Saturday, July 25

Friday, July 24

and so we struggle

just like all normal people, we bumble along, tentatively, honestly, with our hearts on our sleeve and our head in our hands. We are dancing our way through a patch; a patch of uncertainty, of newness, of unchartered waters. Yes we had a great holiday, a wonderful relaxing holiday, but reality bites as soon as we returned. It had been there before we departed; a sore, an itch, an unresolved nip. How does a 53 year old (retired since he was 38 year old) man reconcile his past freedoms as a well-off entrepreneur and property owner with time to himself and money to burn, with his current reality as a stay home dad, homemaker to five and 'ships cook and concubine' to a working academic.
Well, apparently he doesnt. Well he does and he doesnt, and he does and he doesnt. As a life long feminist with feminist/marxist parents, grandparents and great grand parents and parents before them, I use all the empathy i have to manouver us through the ultimately feminist/patriarchial issues i now see my male beloved struggling with.

Issues he never thought he would face ( how could he as a priviledged male of the upper middle classes?) but issues i knew he ultimately would face through the sheer nature of the job, but thought it best he reconcile them for himself when the time came. Our time has come. We had a very beautiful conversation this evening where he opened himself right up, confronted his weaknesess, his foibles, his limitaions, his maleness. He struggled, cried, mourned and asked for comfort. He confronted for himself all the feminist issues of drudgery, boredom, repetition amd emotional exhaustion that women have traditionally faced. I cannot tell you how pleasurable it was (after a day or so of pissed-offness), exquisitely beautiful in all the right ways, to use all my knowledge and experience as a mother and a woman to comfort the man i love in dealing with his feelings of inadequacy, distress and insecurity about being the primary care giver to our beautiful boy. I do understand. To reassure him that he was doing a fine job despite his perceptions about being ill equipped to do it. To have him appreciate and need my warmth, reflection, humility and empathy was priceless. Its a struggle sometimes, we went through days of uncertainty, but the other side is glorious.

Haiku Friday

politics and birth.
whose rights we talkin' about?
Im mad to the bone.

Thursday, July 23

tempe bacem - sweet fried tempeh

Tempe Bacem Sweet fried tempe

300 gr tempe
2 salam leaves (indonesian bay leaf) can substitute european bay or curry leaf
1 sereh (lemongrass)
500 ml water or coconut water

2 cm laos (galangal)
1/2 tsp ketumbar (coriander seed)
1 shallot
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp palmsugar
1 tsp grated coconut
2 red lomboks (chilli)
2 teaspoon ketchap mani(optional)

Cara membuat:preparation/method:
Cut the tempe into small slices and slice again into 2-3 cm long pieces. Pound or grind the ingredients for the bumbu into a fine paste. Heat in a wok the water and add the bumbu, the tempe, the salam and the sereh and let it simmer slowly until the fluids have evaporated. Heat in a wok the oil and the the tempe golden brown and serve.

As dinner was obviously served at night, i gave up taking food pics due to crap lighting and we never had any leftover for lunch to be photographed in daylight!
This is great with rice and a dry or wet meat or veg curry.

While on holiday we ate this nearly every night, its a little like a sweet savoury version of peanut brittle, but not so sweet of course, and actually not so brittle, so not really alot like peanut brittle at all!!!! but its the closest i could come at a comparison. i hate tempe usually but this, i really dug!
What i did find really interesting about Indonesian cooking is that although they use coriander seed alot in recipes they never, ever use the grown leaves like the Thais and Vietnamese do. I wonder why?

Tuesday, July 21

a little help from my friends

Now we're home, Im back to banging on about the impending business venture. Im at a point where decisions about certain things need to be made and Im going to be shameless and ask all you readers out there for some help again. I need to understand how someone, other than me, would go about searching online for some produce bags to use at markets or to replace the plastic ones for fruit and veg you find in the supermarkets. If you were going to do a search online for some bags like this, what key search terms would you use?

Monday, July 20

a rude shock

We are home. Its going to take a while to adjust me thinks! Already i am missing the mad busyness, the beeping scooters that flock like insects, the teeming streets and crowded beaches. The smiles and bright 'hell-oo's'. The cleanliness, sterility and lack of colour and noise is dampening my spirits. As is the weather; grey, bleak, wintry cold. Shock has set in. I have forgotten how to plan for a meal, the thinking ahead.. planning has alluded me. We have no fruit or veg in the house and with no sleep behind us, certainly no inclination to think about lists. BoyBean... lunch? 'oops' yeah, right. OK. Shops. bread. cheese. milk. What else???
What im missing right now:
*statues wrapped in bright gilded fabric
*petrol stalls shelved with Absoloute vodka 'refills'
*the smell of frangipani incense everywhere
*scooters packed five high with family
*german army style fake Louis Vuitton bike helmets
*having to really 'look' where Im going else fall in a drain
*beep beep beeping
*feeling sticky with warmth and humidity
*the possibility of rice for breakfast
*a 6:1 ratio of boybean care to responsible adults
*outward chaos but communal slow
Not being responsible for maintaining life for a few weeks has taken its toll and will certainly take a few days to get back in the swing of looking after ourselves; a strange and novel experience. I look forward to getting back on my 'normal' feet again and getting the garden into some kind of order. The caterpillars have had a veritable field day in our absense, resulting in no beans left and some kale damage and the cat managed to rip its third eyelid (i had no idea they even had a third eyelid until the emerency trip to the vet in our jetlagged state) and is doing an overnighter in prep for surgery in the morning. Waking refreshed and normal is, right now, my kind of beautiful.

Saturday, July 18

all or nothing

that seems to be how food gardens grow here. Either you're subsistence farming or you buy from the market. In our travels i have seen nothing that looks like a home patch of any kind, but that could be due to lack of recognition of edible foodstuffs than the truth... It makes sense i suppose. A province with a small middle class, labour and food are are both cheap and many are subsistence farming. Where we are staying was once covered in rice paddies, now the villas are crowding out the paddys and only a few remain. Its a strange dichotomy; just a few streets back from the high end of Balinese fashion and the latest in architectural finishes, adult rice plants sit in handkerchief sized fields ready to be threshed, leathered old men walk around in sarongs with sickles in hand and woven conical hats. Papaya, banana and mangoes grow everywhere, so street grazing is very very doable. Its all juxtaposed with trendy glass and stone buildings...rice farming in Seminyak will probably be a thing of the past in five years time.

Like everywhere with tourists and the temptations of modern living, there is plastic rubbish everywhere. There are garbage trucks (guys sitting in the back of a big pick up collecting rubbish from big woven baskets on the side of the road) but not enough and Im not sure if they dump it in a designated out of town landfill or just down a back street somewhere! Our back laneway looks like a tip! But it does support a pack of local dogs, a whole scurry of squirrels and a herd of cattle who graze the laneway and whats left of a unused rice paddy every morning. The bean loves to watch them from his his vantage point of the upstairs balcony and listen to their cow bells going 'donk donk' and mooing, His imitation 'mooooo' has definitely improved in two weeks!

OK. I just asked about the rubbish. It costs to have it picked up, user pays no compulsory rates/taxes to pay for garbage collection. Only main street business get rubbish taken away by 'council'. Suburban dwellers have to pay. So if you want your rubbish taken you pay 100,00 rupiah (average monthly income is 700,000) sooo, if you don't have the money you take your rubbish and chuck it! Hence the piles in the back lanes which are full of non recyclables. I have come across many guys carrying wicker baskets on either end of a bamboo pole which is carried across one shoulder sorting through these piles- there are the plastic bottle guys, the cardboard guys and the cans and glass guys, so some of it does make it to second use. One use for all the plastic bags that i have seen in use everywhere is to tie them every metre or so on the lines which crisscross over the rice paddies, acting as flags blowing in the breeze to deter the birds. But there is a long way to go.

Wednesday, July 15

Bali beauty

Hindu daily offerings, Banten, are a major part of balinese life, offerred 3 times a day and i have developed a bit of an obsession with them. They are platters, plates, bowl woven from strips of banana leaf and used to hold various offerings of flowers and food. These tiny offerings are made to appease the gods and demons and to honour the cycle of daily life. Every Hindu house has a temple; a giant structure, sometimes a whole compound of its own with many components, erected to honour family gone. The banten are placed everywhere here; in front of doorways, tucked into wall spaces, at the temple, even on the unused hotplate on the gas stove top.
Its beautiful, symbolic and deep with meaning and tradition. The main symbol of balinese Hinduism is the swastika,
found on the front a many temple gates and its taken me a while to accept it in aother, less sinister manner. I cant imagine what it must be like to live life according to such strict, aesthetic routine. Everyone gets changed into sarong and sash for the ritual of placing banten. Its a romantic notion for me. The shredded pandanus, that seems to be a staple of these banten, whirls around its incredible aroma every evening when the breeze lights up, and sends me to paradise as pandanus is one of the high note scents from the gods. Another offering to the gods which i think is just simply brilliant are the kites.
Not for the tourists folks, these enourmous flying pieces of art are also gifts to the gods and are flown just as a matter of course. I have seen a few being made on our warung road by men sitting on the street side and then a few days later... bingo! they're up above and darting around, anchored to a great clump of grass on the roadside.

At any given time we have about 6 flying above 'our house'. It really is no wonder Bali is such a popular place. Despite the tourist strips, you dont have to travel far to see the real Bali and be included in it. Yesterday on our way home from the waves we came across a huge procession about 150 strong of people clad in white, walking along the beach with gamelan playing. A cremation procession and ceremony was underway.
Gilded yellow and white umbrellas with ornate tassels and elaborate tasselated poles with many ornaments were carried and placed in the sand. A huge mound of multi storied banten covered a raised platform which i assumed covered a body. It was very beautiful. I have always loathed the western modern funeral which doesnt serve to comfort but fills me with dread. I didnt take any photos.
I have spent the last few days seriously contemplating on the throne and am only starting to feel a little better. Its put a bit of a dampner on things, but drugs appear to helping!

Saturday, July 11

its a small, small world

Ive been meaning to do this cross post for a while. Its just a simple lovely story about how blogging can shrink the world and generate connections and enhance community where you never thought they'd exist. I 'found' Kale for Sale via One Green Generation last year sometime and loved her clarity of prose and her subtle humour, and of course her eco-interest and wonderful photos. I've been visiting ever since. So here's a lovely post written by her that brought tears to my eyes. The giveaway is over, Im sorry. Do read it, it speaks volumes about how blogging can potentially have a huge impact in our lives.

Friday, July 10

Haiku Friday

blades in my stomach.
cant sleep. my whole body aches.
small amusements help.

Thursday, July 9

breakfast, lunch and dinner

Life here in Seminyak does comprise a little more than food, not alot more, but the owner was not exaggerating when he said that the cook at the villa was incredible and created delights that were ten fold on the local restaurants. We are becoming so overwhelmed with quality that complacency is setting in (well not exactly but im sure you get the idea) its all good. So good we haven't eaten out yet. Breakfast: black sticky rice porridge cooked in coconut milk served with a side of shredded coconut. Lunch a fresh delight of Soto; a laksa style soup with shredded chicken served with 2 styles of noodle and lightly steamed greens, coriander and fried garlic and rice on the side. We have enjoyed fried tempeh ( i hate tempeh normally) with lemongrass and lime leaf and chilli that tastes like peanut brittle Asian savoury style, sweet sour tofu, steamed banana leaf wrapped fish cooked with lemongrass, lime leaf and ginger flower, it goes on and on and on.

Wednesday, July 8

Dancing Fingers at Jari Menari

Thats how the promo reads ,
dancing fingers, massage sessions by our all male team that offer strong, firm, consistent pressure.
We had booked a yoga massage session from Australia, my friend and I and really had no idea what to expect. Regular massage with a twist? We walked off the busy crazy street full of bikes and people into a calm white and wooden space. The obligatory piped music relaxed us and the fragrant oil for our session chosen from a selection of glass vials wafted under our noses. Amber. A nice start. We changed into the sarongs provided, quietly and with some discussion with each other as to what 'take your clothes off' meant...bra and undies or just bra? We opted for keeping the knickers on and in hindsight, Im glad we did.

We walked out into an open corridor paved in the Balinese way' stepping blocks amidst stones and made our way to the two smiling men who were each waiting at a different part of the garden. We followed the pathways that each led to 'our' man and our rooms. We entered clean simple spaces hidden behind shoji screens, a communal corridor of flowing water connecting all the rooms which were open to the skies; typical Bali "'Namaste' please lie down and remove your sarong". Thats not the impression i got from the website! They showed massage in sarongs! Okkk, no problem, as he was holding another sarong up with extended arms and proceeded to place it upon me as I lay face down.

I felt him pick up one leg, pull it sideways and lay it down on a soft firm pad, then the other. I'm now splayed face down , albeit covered in a thin filmy sarong, in front of man Ive never met. I can deal with this I think, it just feels a little exposing. Then he washes my feet. One long sweep of a textured pad on each foot. Surprisingly now i feel clean. Then he lays both hands on my lower back and I just know from this simple move that I'm in for a beauty. He radiated strength and knowledge. Wow!

I gave myself over to his very capable hands as he pulled and pushed and manipulated my back and shoulders and arms and legs and feet "Please turn over". No problem, I'm enjoying myself and feel quite comfortable. Then he starts to fold the top of the the sarong down, deftly replacing it with what feels like a bandaid over my breasts. Hmm OK, that could slip off at any moment but I'm sure that's quite common and nothing they haven't dealt with before, so again I tell myself to relax and enjoy it. He keeps folding the sarong , down and in, so I end up with a vertical strip of cloth between my legs. Double hmm, this could get interesting...breathe Kel, you've still got your knickers on. At this point am thankful Ive worn some respectable and sensible ones.

He starts to massage again. The tops of my feet, long sweeping strokes. I relax then he moves up my legs until hes sliding up and down their full length, using hands, elbows, wrists, up my thighs and under my knickers! Whoohoo. This is getting interesting. He whisps past my very inner thigh around to my bum and back again, and again. Boy, this is interesting and before my brain goes too far with the 'did he mean to do that?' he's back on my calves with depth and I'm feeling the professionalism again.

Im relaxing like never before, thinking that yoga massage contains all the elements of vigor that every other massage has lacked. Im loving it. Then he whips one leg over the other, twisting my torso to the side. He steps between my legs, standing in between my inner thighs and reaches over my body lying over me to reach up and around my back and neck' and begins a firm digging pressure at the base of my head. Im trying hard not to visualise the karma sutra at this point. Im also very avoiding opening my eyes; i dont think i could handle some eye contact at this point. I hear giggling from my friend in the next room. This is completely trippy. Water gurgles, roosters crow and i can hear the faint rumble of a jackhammer.

The masseuse starts to rotate my top leg holding my ankle and rotating my hip, holding my knee, opening out the muscles of my hip. At this point Im starting to freak out about farting, letting rip after all the stomach circling he has performed; my guts have been activated and now hes encouraging it in a dangerous fashion. Relaaaax Kel, dont tense your body. So im quietly doing pelvic floor clenches while relaxing, 'letting go', of my leg and butt muscles. I can multi task! Ive long forgotten my now minor concern about 'the bandaid' falling off the breasts, Ive got bigger things to worry about! Like, 'what is his view from there'? Still i refuse to open my eyes. i dont wanna know! He continues with the other leg. Im resigned to my fate by this stage and really do relax and enjoy it, only minor pelvic floor action required.

He ends the session with a gentle face massage and stroking of the scalp. I know the session is over when he waves a humming bell in circle over my limp body. 90 minutes of sheer heaven has just ended. I breathe out long and slow and smile to myself.
My body has been pushed, pulled, prodded and it feels great. My discarded sarong gets wound back around my body and I float back to the change room where i greet my friend .We exchange a myriad of laughs and mutterings of disbelief. Yoga massage Jari Menari style is not for the faint at heart, nor for anyone with the slightest hint of body selfconsciousness, but so worth the challenge!

Tuesday, July 7

blogging not allowed

brought the laptop down to write a post and was duly informed that I had a 100 word limit and to get off the laptop. Not sure how many words this is but Im being booted, so the curious dancing fingers massage will have to wait another day. They are tickling me, laughing, trying to put me off, pushing escape, threatening to throw mangosteens..byee

Monday, July 6

the things we do for blogs

My blogger pages have automatically been formatted into Indonesian. So you are now reading buat blog. This is the lazy bloggers post, which miraculously some of you are quite interested in.

Im not sure if there are vegetable gardens around here, there are markets and not many gardens seem to grow their own;actually i havent seen many gardens full stop. I think its urbanisation doing that. There are however a lot of mango, papaya and banana trees with fruit falling over the laneways. I will do a dedicated photo walk at some stage but with five kids in tow sometimes, i forget to take the camera.

Breakfast is just how we like it, fresh tropical fruit,sometimes with yoghurt and banana pancakes. Tomorrow i am hoping for rice porridge with garlic and chicken- i love that! Last night we had a an absolute feast. Prawns fried with a coriander and tumeric spiced rice flour batter , chicken pieces dry fried in a coconut chilli crumb, snake bean and roasted coconut and soy bean salad, mild tofu in lime leaf, galangal and lemongrass curry sauce with fried shallot and potato and tuna balls.
Talking to the manager of the villa yesterday she told us that the staff here liked us as we were very happy and friendly bunch and appreciated what everyone was doing for us; we seemed to enjoy the house and were very happy people! It shocks and surprises me that people could come to a place like this and be so spoilt with the food and the beauty of the place and not be happy! She said lots of people complain all the time about the food, the staff...HELL=O! People like that don't deserve to have good experiences and generosity in life. Anyway, its a good thing that the friends we are away with one half of blogs, so therefore forgive me for leaping in saying 'hang on, dont eat yet, let me take a pic'. Lunch today I'll post later. Heaven, Im in heaven...
Pics not good at night and im on a strange camera so im unsure of the settings. Will blog about my 'dancing fingers' male masseuse experience when i can! Trippy!

Saturday, July 4

relaxation and a good dose of...guilt

We have found ourselves in an unexpected heaven, paradise. We expected some heaven, but this is bliss. Three weeks of this? It may kill me.
We're camping out in a house found on Craigslist six months ago. Its a family compound of beautiful proportions, tropical gardens, resident mangy dog, a herd of cattle, roosters in bamboo huts, frogs, snails of mammoth proportions and two chefs! We were a little surprised to find upon arrival that the villa came equipped with an onsite manager, cooks, gardener, 3 cleaners and all the babysitting you can ask for (actually I have to be quite assertive to get the bean back, he gets whisked off quite frequently, i find him eating with strangers, out the front with the blokes and their motorbikes, on the cooks hip while shes grinding spice in the mortar and pestle- babies are hard currency in Bali. 'Just relax, just relax' we keep being told as we pack up after ourselves, try to do our own washing, look after my own kid. Its hard to relax when there are people wandering around cleaning up your own 'mess'. Colonial mistress I certainly fail at. The girls are finding it confronting too, wanting them to go home and be with their own families and let us do our night time dishes. So were struggling a bit. But its beautiful here, friendly and quiet. and were slowly relaxing. The chef, Nunga is a wonderful cook and lovely woman and she has agreed to show me some dishes in the kitchen and to go to the traditional market next time she goes; that's a motorbike ride Im looking forward too! So Im looking forward to learning some wonderful new dishes while we are here. The pic taken is a water spinach and mung bean cooked salad and Balinese chicken with cracked rice. Our first meal here and recalled in this post just for Veggie.

I love the tropics; the incense, the damp, the thickness of the air, the smells of spices wafting, the slightly cloying smell of waterways, the rapid fire language that you cant quite understand, the laughter, the flowers, the colour of the green. My favorite are the delicate plates of offerings made morning noon and night to please the Gods; flowers and fragrant pandanus leaves on flat woven banana-palm bowls topped with a stick of lit incense and a Ritz cracker. These gifts are placed in alcoves, on the grass, on a path, about 20 around the compound at any given time (i think the dog ate the cracker in the pic, else it was one of the kids). We are away from tourist town, located at the end of a long banana palm lined lane and amongst trees and families. Its beautiful, full of ancient culture, tradition and lots of flowering vines and mossy walls. I just have to manage the guilt.

Friday, July 3

Haiku Friday

A gift for you all.
Touched by your honesty, trust
and good will. Thank You.

Wednesday, July 1

my crowded hour[s]

Ive been mad crazy busy at work lately preparing to go on 3 weeks leave. Today is my last day at work and I have just crossed off the last project on my list. Jesus that felt good. Celebrated with a Kit Kat (shhh) and a cup off tea. Goin' craaaaaazy i know! I'm hours ahead of schedule and I can feel a stress release headache coming on. Mid-winter school holidays here I come! Not too sure about internet access where we are staying, i do recall something about wifi... will post if and when I can. Totally looking forward to weeks with the kids and the bloke, sun, a good book or five and some drafted webpage ideas. Any suggestions on that front?