Wednesday, September 30

wow. women rock

Thanks for the link Laura Jane. Wow. Hows that moment in the waterbirth! What an incredible snapshot of a natural birth. This has to be my pet peeve in life. The complete hijacking of birth by modern ...everything.

Tuesday, September 29

wise woman deodorant

Just like angry chickens, only...different.
Im an alpha male woman. I can pong when the going gets tough. its not nice. I used to hate 'natural' deodorants; no aluminium, tea tree, crystal, rock, organic yaddah yaddah yaddah. None of them worked like the nasty ones did. So i used the nasty ones. Until about a year ago when i saw angry chickens post on her home made pong purger and her declaration that she too was an alpha male kinda woman, who also ponged. Sister! "If it works for her maybe it will work for me too?". So I started making my own and its brilliant. No pong. No sweat. B2 declares it the best ever, I didnt even suggest she use it, she just started and declared in a kinda surprised way that it really works. It does. Its so simple and i get to put to good use the lovely little huon pine box my step dad made for me when i was a teenager from mill scraps collected on holiday in Tasmania(lid missing in pic). I just run the deodorant down to its last scrapings and then whip up a new batch. It takes, oh, about one minute.

Angry's recipe
3 tablespoons shea butter
2 tablespoons cocoa butter
3 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons cornflour
essential oil, I used Jurliques' Wise Woman blend
2 vitamin E oil caplets, squeezed ( i dont do this)

Put ingredients together in a glass pot/jug/bowl, except the essential oil, and zap in a microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or melt in a double boiler. Add essential oil. Stir until mixed and lumps removed. Pot up into container. Thats it. The longest part will probably be sourcing the butters.I sourced some organic, fair trade shea butter and cocoa butter from RAW Organique, an organic online store based in Melbourne.

The deodorant sets firm into a moist chalky texture and its used by pinching up a small piece and rolling it around under your pit until its all worked in. Give it a shot. No plastic. No fuss. No smell!

Sunday, September 27

duck 'proscuitto'

Another cured meat post. Cant help myself really, it just feels a bit too good being able to make your own cured meats. Its a bit like lion taming or home birthing (haha, obscure). Its also ridiculously cheap and you can choose happy meat. This is my latest curing atempt;duck proscuttio
From everything i have read, curing a whole muscle like this is pretty fail proof. The meat cut required for a proscuito style cure has been minimally damaged, only a few cut edges, unlike salami where the meat is minced and is therefore more likely to be open to spoilage from bacterias you dont want. The salt does all the work. And the air. There are no fermentation and humidiy issues to worry about. Its just straight up uber salted meat drying.
I'd kept aside a duck breast from my last ducky adventure just for this purpose, if Id had a pig i would have started with that!
So i buried my duck breast in a kilo of non-iodised salt (kosher salt apparently! i never knew what the big fuss was with kosher salt, i mean its not cheese and its not ham and its definitely not both, so whats the bother? Kosher salt is a brand i have since discovered). Apparently the iodine in salt changes the cure flavour a little poorly. So folowing Mr Charcuteries' instructions, i headed into the five minute world of preparing a meat for proscuitto cure. Dead easy. Buried it for 24 hours in the salt an dpopped it in the fridge. After the 24 hours were up, i rinsed it, patted dry and wrapped it in cheesecloth and hung it in the pantry which stays a pretty stable temperature of between 11-14 C. Mr Charcuterie reports that the breast should be ready in a week from cure, but having squeezed and poked and sniffed(definitely smells like proscuitto!) its not quite ready me thinks its still too soft, so i will leave it another week but the colour has certainly changed from a lightish pink to a deeper more translucent maroon. Hoping it will be ready for the Gnomes visit next weekend when we undertake some joint wine making adventures.

And, for all you foodies out there, this food blog search is a gem.

Saturday, September 26

cunning cloches *with update

we've had some pretty foul weather these last few days and yesterday heavy rain, hail and frost were all expected. I'd even heard rumours of overnight snow and its raining heavily and hailing again. Great for the reservoirs and the water tanks but not such good news for all the tender seedlings that I had moved out into the vege beds in great faith this early in the season. Hail is definitely a new tomato killer, all that ice on the ground forms a lovely layer of frozen air and kills them off, just like frost. Panic! Bugger. Damn. Fowlers no.31 preserving jars to the rescue! These makeshift emergency cloches kept the seedlings toasty warm overnight and i slept through the hail and storm and sit here listening to the lovely sound of water rushing everywhere secure in the knowledge that these early outers were safe. Hoping the peas and beans survived the night.

* Im so so glad i did this. More hail came bucketing down a few hours after i posted. It was pretty decent stuff.

Friday, September 25

be inspired

On 21 September 2009, at more than 2600 events in 135 countries across the globe joined together to issue a deafening wake-up call to world leaders on climate change.
Check out Avaaz, the organisers, Avaaz is a 'new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want..'

Haiku Friday

loves' many faces.
manifestations unfold.
thank you. I love you.

Thursday, September 24

the computer says 'no'

A discussion on the way home from the terms 'learning conversation', a student led interaction between parent child and teacher in lieu of the traditional parent/teacher night, turned into a night from my worst nightmare. My nearly 15 yo bean informs me that she has a boyfriend. Nice. Then she tells me the 'boy' is not really a 'boy'. Hes a 20 something man! Holy fuck. I hung onto all my instincts to just lose it, ban her from seeing him etc etc. But i didnt. Is the guy a complete moron or just a plain sicko? Jesus. Trust factor is being given a MAJOR workout here. I told her i did disprove, strongly, that rules applied in extra force, we had a talk about sex, about men and expectations, about power, misuse of it, whose got it, about control and autonomy and feeling all grown up and love and desire and feeling beautiful and good about yourself and sex and sex. Oh boy! Ive told her i want to meet him, but actually the thought of that is making me feel ill. I just want to tel him to 'fuck off'. She has told me that if i dont want her to see him that she wont because i take precendence, but she was so angry with me for not approving that the consequences to our trust relationship will obviously be affected.Im seriously working on the theory that if i squash it she wont tell me these things in the future "I wish i didnt tell you mum" was ringing in my ears and sending me a major call. I really want her to talk to me about these things and me outright banning her from seeing him i figured would either push it underground and she would start lieing to me to see him or just not tell me about anything 'undesirable' next time. I really want her to safely learn her own terms. Is this pie in the sky thinking? Doesnt she know i have a PhD to finish!

This delightful news topped off what was already a really bad day. And i thought B2 feeling devestated about me not approving of her and her friends posting a soon to be made and much organised vidoeo on YouTube earlier that day was a difficult moment. Its such a fine line. Parenting really sucks sometimes. Where's the rulebook for best outcomes? I dated a 19 yo when i was 14 for a few months and i know i handled that situation well and never felt compromised nor unsafe.

I was a naughty kid, pushed boundaries and never told my mother very much about my actions and behaviours but never got into any serious trouble, just the odd close situation. I lived in Bangkok without my parents at 15 and was generally pretty streetwise. I got kicked out of home at 17 for having a sexual relationship which my mother just couldnt handle( I was in university by then!). Pot.Kettle.Black is coming home to roost. Does anyone else have any experience of this? Some pearls of wisdom to help out one freaked out mother?

Wednesday, September 23



From climate change, salinity, and the peaking of world oil
production, to issues of trade, urban planning and public health,
securing sustainable and just food systems in South Australia is
facing growing challenges.

In February 2010, “From Plains to Plate: the Future of Food in South
Australia” will be held in Adelaide. “From Plains to Plate” will seek
to build networks between active communities, government and industry
to strengthen South Australia’s food system in the face in these
intensifying environmental, social and economic challenges.

We are currently seeking expressions of interest from farmers,
gardeners, planners,
activists, permaculturalists, cooks, community
workers, health professionals, teachers, policy makers and others to
participate by offering workshops in your field of interest.

If you:
- are involved with projects that aim strengthen local food systems,
(including community gardens, co-operatives, cow-shares, fruit and
vegetable exchanges, guerrilla gardening, community-supported
agriculture or more); or
- have practical skills to share, (including on gardening, design,
composting, livestock, preserving, roof gardens, community building or
more); or
- have a food-security concept that you would like to initiate or
share; or
- can offer a professional or community perspective on food issues and
We want to hear from you!

For more information, or to register your interest in presenting,
please forward your name, organisation, contact details and a short
summary of your proposed topic

While “From Plains to Plate” has been initiated by community
environment group Friends of the Earth, it is growing into a broad
coalition committed to developing local responses to food production
and security. We are currently seeking organisational support and
partnerships, please contact us for more information.
For more information on “FROM PLAINS TO PLATE”, visit Friends of the Earth

Tuesday, September 22

duck and porcini ragu with papardelle

To celebrate the coming for dinner of a Perth based blog comrade, laurajane from Loving the Question a life from a midwifes perspective and our first face to face meeting, someting delicious was a definite. I had two ducks in the freezer so i knew it was time to get creative with one of them. Both purchased for a song at $5 each, free ranged and in need of a new home. Mine. Im detecting a very strong theme in my culinary choices these days; whole small wild and game animals are making their way to our table and into our pantry with increasing frequency. Im starting to dream of shotguns and wide open spaces and a pig or two! Its worrying my husband.

So, never having jointed a whole duck before, i loaded up the trusty laptop, pulled up a Youtube clip and away i went, rewinding every so often to get it right. Easy peasy was the ducky. le viola! two legs, two wings, two breasts, one neck, lots of extra skin and an empty carcass. Not difficult at all, you just have to have a sharp knife and keep it close to the bone and cartilage. Usually the pluck is packaged up inside, but this ducky was pluck empty!

Jen from found in translation had suggested this recipe and the blog post was so funny and tickled my fancy that i had to have 'a bit of that'. The recipe called for duck breast but a ragu is always so nice, tender and rich that i chose to use the legs and one breast for this dish as confit duck legs arent really an option as theyre not my thing. But duck stock, rendered duck fat for treaty potatoes and a proscuitto style cured duck breast used up all that remained. Duck breast is happily hanging with the salami, stock in freezer and fat in glass in the fridge. More on that in another post. I opted to ditch the gnocci for a silkier lighter parpadelle and after trying a reconstituted saffron milk cap from my stash, porcini was definitely the way to go. My saffron milk caps dried well and have great flavour but reconstitute into inner sole so do only for flavour, not food. Any ideas why?
I picked up laurajane from the airport, foul weather had kept her in the plane on the tarmac for an hour after landing, poor thing. Welcome to Adelaide! When released, we headed straight for the Central market as my ducky morning didnt leave me any time for home made papardelle. Its weird how guilty i feel about buying things like pasta now. Pasta in bag, we headed home for an evening of conversation and some kid chaos.

The pasta was really really good and relatively simple. The ragu was rich, and sweet and surprisingly not too fatty. Expatriate kitchen was right. "Nothing with duck fat, red wine, porcini and butter could be too bad!" We followed up with a Jamie Oliver baked pear recipe in an orange walnut vanilla syrup served with toasted walnut marscapone. I took this pic mid prep in the afternoon, by desert time all camera activities were long forgotten. Not surprisingly i was totally cactus by half eleven after a full and interesting day. Blog meet ups are always so fun and laura jane was exactly as i had imagined her. Full of life and light and a very generous soul. This is the very special wild woman brooch she made for me, 'Marina'. Hand made and hand dyed felt in my favourite colours, beading and stitching. Isn't she a stunner? Dinner pales in comparison.

Sunday, September 20

oh my

isnt the internet interesting? Can someone please explain how one gets from a post on a yoga massage in a Bali to being referenced on this site?

5 years ago, today

I sent The Bloke an email. Four weeks later we actually met (i was in Fiji for work and he was still living in California)He still has the piece of coral I found on the beach and brought back. I still have the memory of his reply email, he was beside himself excited as a fortune teller had declared the 20th September 2004 as his most auspicious day for HIS LIFETIME!!! Im hoping he wasn't just spinning me a great pick up line. The bestest bit about anniversary thingies is you get to go out without the kiddlets and they cant complain, well they do but they dont complain so loudly.

Saturday, September 19

dry cured, wild meat chorizo and salami/cingaliere

It took me all afternoon, not bad for four hours work with a small bean hanging around being very interested and wanting unreasonable things like food and drink with me all up to my elbows in minced pig fat with some aromatherapy herbs and spices to cut the stink of the hog casing! that stuff is pretty rank! phew-eee! But I managed and its worked, so far. 'Scuse the crappy pics throughout; various issues with kids taking some, fat smeared on lens, no light in the pantry and computer issue so no editing available.
I have made sausages many times beforebut never salami. Im not sure why as when watching some River Cottage it looked so damn easy, and i thought 'what they hey? charcuterie adventure here i come'. I have the requisite mincer and sausage/salami nozzle and Im always up for learning and trying something new. And when it means you can actually EAT SOME SALAMI, Im all in. I dont eat salami anymore as i havent found any free range or organic stuff and Im sure if i did it would cost me an arm and then two legs. I do buy a local free range chorizo occasionally but i treat it like gold as its pretty expensive; $11.50 for two 10cm lengths. So, i forked out the cash for some wild boar and venison and some back fat and i reckon i might just be about two hundred and fifty ahead if this stuff proves edible. If you can get over the obvious similarities with some rather adult activities and body parts this is something you can try with the kids. The teen beans found this whole process highly snortable and in betwen trying to elevate the process out of the gutter, I resorted to a few, 'hey check THIS out' myself.
No nitrites (saltpetre) in this salami, so i hope the natural fermentation process steps up tot he mark! Its all about the salt and the ambient temperature.

Wild boar and venison salami and chorizo.
The primary mix is the same for both so i combined all meats and seperated them into two lots when it came time to add seasonings specific to each type of cured sausage.

2.5 kg diced wild boar meat (cinghiale)
1.5 kg diced venison
1.5 kg boar/pork backfat (you can use 'salami fat' but its floor scraps)
hog casings (about 6 metres)
20 cloves garlic minced with meat
salt (to equal a minimum 2.5% total weight of meats) I used murray river salt flakes.
meat string

The pork backfat came with skin so first task was to remove the fatty strip so it could be minced, my knives are terribly blunt knife and I hacked away after doing my two knife sharpening trick that seems to work but really just makes a great sound.
It was strangely satisfying. Then i minced all the meat using the coarse mincer attachment, with the garlic, then the fat and mixed them together with salt. I did this all by hand as you need to really get in there to mix without mashing the fat completely and used a big plastic box to do the mixing as it makes it much easier.

I split this 5kgs in half to make half salami and half chorizo.

Salami seasonings for half the meat mix.
2 tsablespoons lightly smashed black peppercorns.
2 tablespoons lightly smashed fennel seeds.
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed.
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons coriander seed.
1 tablespoon cumin seed.
3-400ml red wine (i used elderberry)

Chorizo seasonings for the other half
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
4 tablespoons smoked sweet ground paprika
1-2 tablespoons ground hot paprika
3-400 ml white wine (i used quince)

Mix seasonings well into the meat paste using your hands. Now begins the fun stuff!
Slide washed casing length over the stuffing nozzle and tie at end. Turn on machine and begin to stuff! Being rather impatient, i must admit that i had begun the session without really checking some good tying off techniques so i ended up with soe pretty random and not very professionally tied salamis. Next time i will brush up on knotting and finishing technique before I start as having this knowledge would certainly would have made the flipping and contorting process easier. I pricked any air pockets i could see with a pin sterilised in the flame of a match.
2.5 kgs of wild boar and venison salami and chorizo now hang in the pantry, 2.5kgs of each. It smells ..interesting.

One thing to definitely ensure before you begin the process of salami making is to nail down and prepare your hanging place;it needs to be airy and cool. We hung ours in a walk in pantry and lined its drip line with a sheet of newspaper and despite the room being made of mostly rock it still was alrady stinking out the house, so much so that i got concerned that something funky had already happenned to my lovely looking specimens which were dripping a little and Googled 'what should homemade salami smell like'. Gives you some idea of the pong. I was glad to read the following...

The smell of rot — the ripe funk you breathe in Italian pork stores and French charcuteries — has always been part of the craft of curing... the raw meat is stuffed into natural casings and left exposed to each stage of a salami's life: gocciolamento, dripping; asciugamento, drying; stagionatura, ripening in the air, picking up wild yeasts and cultures that start fermentation.
"When I was a kid, the salamis used to drip on the customers' heads, and the smell was fantastic," said Louis Faicco, an owner of Faicco's Pork Store in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. "Now they are all locked away upstairs where no one can see them or smell them." I felt much better after reading this.

No one tells you this when you start.

'smell of rot'...'dripping'...reassuring words to this novice! Doesnt sound very appetising does it? just gota keep you nose on the prize, that lovely rounded, sweet, rich full flavoured and aromatic air dried salami taste. So the pantry is now smelling delightfully of rot (we opened the ceiling window and this has helped with ventilation no end) so i really wouldnt recommend drying it in your clothes closet in the bedroom (unless you're into the exotic, rather feety smell of fermenting pig) If the pong doesnt become more manageable we will move them to the garage and shroud them in a loose cage of wire to stave off the hungry hoardes of wild urban animals.

Most salami sold is apparently cooked, this reduces cost, time and potential litigation due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of dried, fermented meat product. This risk reduction strategy has also reduced the flavour. When i think about it , this explains why they dont have the traditional white, chalked look! no mould as no fermentation occourred and hence no bacteria growth! The white mould on the outside is all good. It's when it's green there's a problem.

They'll be ready in 4-6 weeks, in time for the good weather and wood fired pizza. Next time i make salami i wont forget to do it traditional style; with coretto (coffee with grappa) that might just make it extra interesting, oh and some extra hands on deck might be a good idea too!

Click here for updates on the salami

Friday, September 18

Haiku Friday

mindful reflection;
allow yourself the freedom.
take some time to see.

Thursday, September 17

eco colour - botanical dyes

Its a stunner of a book. Written by India Flint, this book details the hundreds of useful local and european foliage, flora (and some fauna) available to use in the the dyeing process and the colours achieved and a very interesting history of dyeing. Its a great reference text and a very useful guide to eco dyes, the mordants required (mineral or 'naturally occouring' chmicals eg: ash, urine, plant and animal proteins) which are used to make the colours set or fast and patterning techniques It covers many simple techniques for transferring dyes from nature to your cloth, some so simple as the japanese technique for literally just bashing colour onto the fabric; a smashed pansy never looked so good! I particularly wanted this book as it covers the many Australian eucalypts and wattles used for dye and vegetables as well. Everything thats required for some great results i can find in my own garden and the colours achieved from some of the natives are just simply sublime. Im very much looking forward to attending her workshop in November and meeting this amazing woman and doing some witchy pot stirring and creating some interesting fabric. Camera definitley required, with loaded batteries.

Wednesday, September 16

blasts from the past

are all well and good but what if you cant remember them? Im in a bind and in need of advice. I recieved an email today courtesy of Friends Reunited ( who uses them anymore anyway? everyones on Facebook!) 'Hi Kel, hows things... think of you and your family often...signed X. Nice, love tracking people down myself and love being 'found'. Problem is, in this case i have absoloutely no idea who this person X is. Its embarrasing and a little worrying. Was i really as good a friend with this person as the tone of their mail implied? or just how fickle was I as a teen? Or, is it possible that they found more in me than I of them at the time and so remembered me more? I dunno. Its all a bit trippy. My problem is now, I have no idea of the best way to respond. Do i tell them straight up that I have absoloutely no remote idea who they are? that seems so cruel. So brutal. So, not me. But to send back a benign mail in the hope of garnering more information and therefore jog my memory, without referencing my dilemma seems dishonest. Anyone else had this problem? How would you handle it? Sheesh. This is such a farking new age, social networking, techie problem.

Tuesday, September 15

a rampant foodie fantasy

Ive been suffering it for days and am so enamoured with it that Ive even shared it with the Bloke. Generally in the big scheme, its not something i tend to do with fantasies, i tend to keep them to myself lest someone call me on them to make them a reality! In my book, thats not really how fantasies are supposed to end; dying a sordid death in the light of a real day.

So, i shared it (must mean its a dream and not a fantasy, huh?). Its a dream inspired by a post on Family Styles; a S.O.L.E food blog written by Chinese-American sisters, one living in London the other in New York. The blog name belies its witty, youthful, international and contemporary foodie nature and the latest post made me go spinning off into all sorts of excited co.nip.shuns. The Rambling Restaurant. Not enough time in my days to pull it off but its such a great idea for building community, sharing food, having fun and spreading appreciation about the provenance of food. I might have to work out how to do it on a smaller scale. Im really loving this underground sneaky supper club idea. What do you think?

Monday, September 14

funk gardening

you know the feeling when you want to write but youre all 'blocked up'? Theres too many things going on and not enoug clarity about any of them. Its all too fresh. Thats where Im at. Befuddled and a bit overwhelmed with all of lifes 'stuff'. Theres B1s first real heartache with unrequited feelings and her complete inability to manage them meaning of course that EVERYTHING is my fault. Theres my good friend handing up her PhD and jetting off to New York for a month whci has plunged me into the depths of the 'im never going to finish' despair. Actually i have been feeling so funky that not even a good Spring session in the garden pulled me out of. Must be hormonal. Im hoping its hormaonal coz Im feeling way out of control. Despite the funk, i did have a great weekend in the garden in between ferrying kids arounds for what seemed like hours and hours. Inner city living with teens is looking like a great idea! Heres what my Sunday looked like. Proud glimpses of a recovering patch of rhubarb ( netting obviously did the trick! must have been possums or rats!)

The Bloke finishing of the vege patch extension, especially for a bumper crop of tomatoes.
The cabbage patch (!) weeded of wild rocket, more cabbage seedlings and some cauliflowers as well planted up and the potato patch topped up wth turned in green manure (rocket waste after removing all the good bits which made 3 more litre jars of pesto!) and 35 more potatoes planted.
The rasberries are sprouting away on the right of the pic here just next to a new bean structure which is sporting no beans yet but some purple ones are in and in went some early capsicums which im hoping wont get frost bite!
The tub was purchased ready to catch the grey water run off from the studio sink. This is intended as frog bog and will get planted down in that green space just infront of the walkway.
My tomoates and lettuce are doing well if not looking a little light stretched!
That pizza oven rain hats gotta go before the house and garden get opened to paying customers! and to the left is not a neglected dead old vine, its last years hops plant left to provide structure for this years growth.

And this is a sight to soothe my grumpy arse. One of my anticipated spring garden events is the oranges in full colour contrasted with one of my favourite bulbs, the grape hyacinth. they make a fantastic foil for each other.

I made some totally fantastic pita breads, Katrines broadbean felafels, a yoghurt, cucumber and feta tatzaki, hommous and a tomato parsley salad for a fantastic felafel pita meal but we were so hungry after a day in the garden that i couldnt be bothered searching for the camera. All i can say is that it was well worth the effort of home made pita( so bloody easy and soo bloody good) and felafel. 3 litres of limoncello got finished up for the first stage and I couldnt find any happy pork up here in the hills, so its on my list for tomorrows market day. Stay tuned for a salami making session.

Saturday, September 12


Saturday morning is my morning for a lie in. Sunday is the Blokes turn. I love Saturday, we've got it all worked out. The Bloke [insert me on Sundays] takes the bean downstairs after an hours play with us both and returns with coffee and a laptop. He's even gone so far to make a sign for the door to keep the bigger beans' potentially endless 'start of the weekend' questions at bay. It works a treat. Now they go to him with the questions. Also brilliant. Its nice to dual parent again!

So i sit propped up, slurp my coffee, read the news, check my mail and do blog stuff all with the aim of 'some morning relax'. But im finding that difficult this morning as i sit amongst, well...the filth. The bloke calls it 'our lovely nest'!
Crumbled leaves sit just inside the sliding door of the balcony, blown in through the rip in the flywire that the bean made yesterday, whales, orca and dolphins strewn around the floor, a huge book of animals of the world open and abandoned, my purse, removed earlier from my handbag hanging on the mirror open, coins spread, cards too. Dust on every surface (damn that Spring light), books piled high with their own layer of dust, cameras, photo frames with no photos, coffee rings on the side table and two days of work clothes and matching shoes left where i walked out of them, not to mention the gear on The Blokes side of the bed. Im finding it hard to relax in 'our lovely nest'. But Im definitely gunning for a day in the garden and not cleaning inside. Its perfect spring weather out there. So Im hoping for a complete and finished preparation of all the vege patches ready for planting out and great afternoon of creating in the kitchen. Im thinking homemade salami or sausages from some happy house or wild pork. Better get out of bed.

Friday, September 11

Haiku Friday

bare arms, bill posters.
cafes spilling, warm breezes.
springtime is in town.

Thursday, September 10

A Splendid Torch

My heart sang when I first met the Bloke, he had this pinned in the bathroom on the wall, one of my favourite pieces of writing of all times. I knew immediately i really was onto a good thing.

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, September 8

quite agricultural

We did the royal show yesterday. It wasnt too bad. I was going to do a bumper of a post with some fab pics ... i remembered the camera...but the batteries were flat! What an idiot. All i could squeeze out of it was these plates of award winning eggs. Couldnt even get a pic of the boybeans first 'barnyard' experience, comprised mainly of a chubby pointed finger poked up many wet domesticated nostrils.

I used to love going the Sydney Royal Easter Agricultural show every year when i was a kid, it was my once a year chance to get some junk food. Not lunch, we always took our own sandwiches but the heart stopping excitement of the 'show bag'. I would spend ages deliberating which ones to buy, but invariably came home with the same two every year. The Darrel Lea bag- to satisfy my chocolate needs and the Sunny Boy bag to satisfy my iceblock and chip cravings for the year. I loved coming home and spreading my loot around and admiring my sugar bounty, replete with the monos and saturateds that would have to do me until the following year.

The show piece i used to wait for with great anticipation was the fruit, veg and grain display. A huge mural made entirely of produce. In hindsight, Im not sure just how big it really was ( my childhood street and home are not as grand as my memories suggested either). It was usually a rural scene made from seasonal produce. I loved it. When i moved to SA, I was pretty peeved to find the Adelaide show didnt have such an agricultural centrepiece or a super dooper giant slide that you rode on an old hessian sack.

My favourite two things about the show here are the cattle sheds and the public entries for 'best of'. Love em. The cattle I love not because Im enamoured with cattle, beautiful though the specimens on show are , but i just really love the microcosm of home that the moleskin wearing, akubra sporting cattle families construct within these sheds to house themselves comfortably for the duration of the event. 1950's formica tables and odd chairs, worn plush couches, rugs, mugs, toasters, side dressers full with crockery, cups and the odd kambrook electric fryer, commercial size tins of instant coffee and bowls of fruit on doileys all in a 2x2m space and all nestled amonst the farting, chewing, defecating and peeing cattle. Its just brilliant.

The 'best ofs', well they speak for themselves. Where else do you get a space provided to get serious about the difference between an egg, and ginger sponge, a florentine and a fruit cake (the biggest entry field i have noticed, obviously a VERY serious and hotly contested item)? I love how by the end of a week the custards' hardened, the berries mouldy, the choux pastry has sunk and the jams have stained. There's always a fly or two in the cabinet but the goods inside still proudly sport id cards, some with ribbons, all for our viewing and not tasting pleasure. The kids always run happily around in chase of their most favourite piece, the most amazing creation, the 'oh my god can you believe a 12 year old made that' moment. Thats what i love about the show, the creativity and connection with making and growing stuff that it affords and the celebration of human endeavours. Watching your child emerge breathless and bright eyed and grinning from an exhiliarating, thrilling ride is kinda special too!

Sunday, September 6


Fathers Day. On the outside its a straight forward idea. Have dad, will travel. I dont remember my real Dad, he left for war and came back a broken man, left us and died before i could track him down. Poor bugger, he was my age when he died. Apparently i have two half sisters out there Ive never met.

I grew up with my great uncle, he was my 'Dad' but he passed away at 90 a few years back. My ex step-dad (?!)is still around, we see each other a few times a year but a close relationship its not. Fathers Day is a complicated wrangle of memories, not sures, ex hubands, kids and 'who does what' and now with the bean its a fine balance between making a fuss of 'his' Dad and the girls Dad being so far away. Im usually glad when the day has passed. I found this pic of my Dad on the Australin War Memorial website a few months back. I was pretty pleased to find three as i had previously only 1 photo of him. I love this one coz its so cheesy. He's on the right. The Blokes had breakfast in bed and is now finishing some building work. Normal? Happy Fathers Day to all the Fathers out there, whatever form you may take! Im spending Fathers Day doing some online searching for my Dads story and some possible clues to finding some more family members.

Saturday, September 5

the frugal widower

lying in bed this morning, sore throat and body aching, my mind was bouncing around its interior walls and slamming into all sorts of two bit memories, ideas, emotions. One of them was momentarily epiphaneous (is that a word? it is now), not life altering in any way but a small triumph of recognition, organisation and management.
I just need to reorganise the stuff under the kitchen sink and the laundry
This triumph in processing was in response to me wondering why cleaning here, in this house, is such an effort for me and requires a minor degree in logistics.

Im embarrassed to say its only taken 3 years to get to this point, but i just prefer to believe that Im a chilled, relaxed and easy going person and Im not really that thick. So the idea that Im very thick went bouncing around my head for a while and I ended up settling on the notion that it wasnt thickness on my behalf so much as gentle accomodation to living in a widowers home, accomodation to someone elses systems, that had just got stuck there. Hadnt evolved. No. New. System. Also, im not that enamoured with cleaning so dealing with the occasional frustration that is organising the cleaning gear wasnt rating highly on my radar.

Shacking up with a widower is not an easy gig and shacking up with a frugal widower at their place is an exercise in patience, love and a lot of introspection. When the Bloke and I decided to live together we went through the process of deciding where to live. my place? your place? sell both and buy somewhere completely new? My two bedroom unrenovated 1920 bungalow with a trashed backyard readied for an unrealised extension on a quarter acre block or his five bedroom masterpiece on two acres of landscaped heaven? Not surprisingly, we ended up at his place. To his credit, he was prepared to give it all up and come live at mine if thats what i really wanted (that fabulous idea was me having a hard time letting go of my independence and control).

Where is this heading? To the point that when i moved in here, there was still a lot of stuff around of the Blokes late wife. And i tiptoed around it for a while until i almost imploded.

Being green and frugal means using stuff up, not throwing useful things away, keeping things that you dont use for a rainy day. Throw widower with new girlfriend into that sentence and you've got a problem. While we were dating I hung on for a while, thinking that over time he would get around to dealing with the 'small stuff'...time passed and passed and so I had to initiated that conversation. Sounds easy enough but its realy hard to do "excuse me i have an issue with all this stuff around thats nither mine nor yours and is contributing to me not feeling very at home here and would you please just go around the house and throw away all the last reamining bits and memories that you have of your late wife coz I dont like them" Thats how it felt to me, like i was asking him to finish his memories with a toss-out bag of her personal pieces. So i did wait a long time to ask him but theres only so many times you can open the bathroom cupboard and not get confronted by the very pesonal feminine things one finds in womens' bathroom cupboards. I felt pretty strange at the idea of just tossing them myself coz they werent mine but they were in my cupboard, or is it really her cupboard? It was a confusing time. Actually, in all honesty I didnt really initiate a converstion and ask him in an adult way. I just lost it!

But we did talk about it. The dear Bloke had left them there coz he's a green frugal bloke who thought that I might like to use them up, why throw away a perfectly good almost new hairbrush? perfume that was just purchased? boxes of henna, clips, belts, hats, earrings, pads, face creams? He was pretty embarrassed in reflection that he hadnt really thought it through from my perspective and was very remorseful about putting me in such a situation. To cut a very long story short, he dealt with all the obvious personal bits. What is still left to do is to reclaim the space under the kitchen sink and the laundry cupboard. Spaces and bits that dont 'belong' to anyone but were fundamentally hers in choice, use and placement of stuff (the Bloke didnt clean or cook before I arrived). I need to confront the bottle of fabric softener, the dried up Gumption with the old fabric scrap and the dilly bits of doily that soften their blows and organise stuff in a way that makes sense to me (i do do more cleaning than him - he'd debate that but i reckon wiping down sinks with your hand doesnt count as cleaning the sink!) When a relationship ends wth death and not divorce, no one comes with a trailer to take all their own stuff away.. Moving into another womans physical space, shacking up with a widower, doesnt come with a manual.

Friday, September 4

Thursday, September 3

a different kind of clean and tidy

A few days ago The bloke tells me that in early Novemeber some people from the Greens party will be coming over and am I fine with that?
Im writing that paper so Im not really 100% listening or focusing on the details. "Sure, no problem" I love having people over.

So, last night Im organising my life and check the date again with him that people are coming around and to please tell me again why they are coming. "Its a fundraiser for the Greens" Great. Nice. Interesting.
People are actually coming over on an RSVP basis and PAYING TO COME AND CHECK OUT MY HOUSE AND GARDEN! Any idea of the tiny little bit of pressure in that?

So after picking myself up, groaning, I tell the Bloke that we've got some work to do before then, in the garden and the house. His response. "Nah, it'll be fine Kell"

Wednesday, September 2


Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.

John W. Gardner 1993

Tuesday, September 1


Ive had long hair for 20 years, really long for the last 10.
Here's the first chop. I feel mighty fabulous.
Weightless(i wish)
A fantastic start to Spring.

The only problem is its not long enough to donate! Well the longest bit is the required 12 inches but its a layered pony. What to do with it?