Sunday, 31 August 2008

Counting Sheep

Z had a friend stay over last night for the first time. At one point after a vigorous bout of wrestling, Z stood up from their pillow arena and announced that he now has three wallaby teeth. It wasn't until he asked me if I wanted to feel with my finger that I understood he meant wobbly teeth.

The boys were wild for the first few hours, but I couldn't really blame them, they were so excited. I still often find myself over-excited that I get to have a slumber party with PJ every single night. Being a grown-up is the best!

This is also the best, a hotel that has a permanent bed jumping competition. (The best monthly photo wins a weekend package for two.)

Saturday, 30 August 2008

How to do Words with Things

It's not very often that I see a logo that I really like, but here is one:

(I'm sure some of the appeal has to do with being a writer and my name beginning with M.)

I am off to the Writer's Festival tomorrow and I am most excited. You see, my rather clever boyfriend has written a book with our rather talented friend, Mr O, and they are launching it tomorrow evening at 6pm.

If you're in or around Melbourne, please drop by the Festival Club at ACMI, in Federation Square to help us celebrate the release of this exciting new book into the wilds.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Our Water Tank

I was working in Melbourne when Dr Roberto Perez, the Cuban permaculturalist came to talk at our Town Hall. PJ went and frantically took notes of good ideas to implement on our own quarter acre. Of all his notes, I think the most simple and the most powerful statements are these:

Catch your own water. Grow your own food. Say hello to your neighbour.

Our water tank arriving this afternoon.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


PJ is about a quarter way through rebuilding an old shed and turning it into a dwelling for a friend. He was working on the roof today, so I was recruited to be the Occupational Health & Safety officer. I spent the afternoon standing on scaffolding and helping. 

The morning was springlike, dreamy and still. I sat on a rug nearby.

I read

 and took this photo of my hand.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Blazing Blazey

This is the book I bought PJ for his birthday. It's written and signed by our hero, Clive Blazey, founder of The Digger's Club, where we buy the majority of our seeds. 

Here is his introduction from the Digger's Winter Garden 2008 catalogue:
Dear Minister

We would like to see a government supported campaign to encourage the growing of fruit and vegetables in Australian back yards. When we grow our own food at home we cut our greenhouse emissions by 25-30% because we don't rely on commercial crops which:
  • Consume non-renewable oil to till the soil, plant the seed, weed the crop, harvest the crop and transport it to the silo or market.
  • Consume electricity to process the crop, package the crop, refrigerate the crop and finally to provide lighting at the supermarket.
  • Consume oil which is the main ingredient of nitrogen fertilisers, weedkillers and pesticides that grow the crop.
  • Consume electricity used to pump the water for irrigation.
  • Finally the consumer drives by car to the market to pick up the food and bring it back - using non-renewable oil.
When gardeners grow their own food at home they eliminate all these steps and from day one, meet half our 2050 Kyoto target of 60% reduction 42 years early!

Gardeners are the largest group of people bringing CO2 back to earth. A campaign encouraging food gardeners will reach 3-4 million households.
  • Growing lawns, trees and flowers brings CO2 back to earth. By composting and recycling green waste at home we are sequestering carbon in the soil. 
  • Gardening being a home based activity means gardeners drive less, buy less, and consume less than other groups. It is pedantic to say gardening is "green," but it is "greener" than any other activity.
30% of Diggers staff have cut their CO2 emissions by 60% today – 42 years ahead of target. They have done this by: 
  • Growing their own food – a 25-30% saving
  • Buying carbon offsets for their cars
  • Switching to renewable energy
  • Installing solar hot water, riding bikes etc.
  • Growing plants instead of laying concrete and paving
  • Composting and recycling
When we grow our own we use less land and less water to produce our food than commercial growers. Diggers research shows gardeners who grow their own food cut water use by 66%.

Not all gardening activity brings CO2 down to earth, particularly the modern fad for paving and flaxes which minimises bio mass and photosynthesis. For this reason we believe the campaign should be focused on growing food rather than just supporting gardening in general. 


Clive Blazey, The Diggers Club

Monday, 25 August 2008

Internal Anatomies

After my dog attack fiasco, Ian and Vivienne kindly brought me a gift of half a dozen perfectly ripe tamarilloes. I have had tamarilloes before, but still I was struck by the beauty of their internal anatomy.

When I open things to discover their insides, I inevitably think of an article I kept from the March 2000 New Yorker about The Simpsons' writer George Meyer. From the profile, called "Taking Humor Seriously," comes this:
He remembers being particularly struck by a parody of "Dennis the Menace." He told me, "It was a cartoon that showed Dennis coming into the house holding a skull, and the caption was something like 'Hey, Mom, look what I found in Mr. Wilson's head.' That absolutely put me away. The next day, my stomach muscles hurt from laughing. I felt like I'd been worked over by bullies."

Sunday, 24 August 2008


Yesterday in Melbourne, My sister E and her man, J-Dog spent the day at a bread making course where they made sourdough bread, pizza, calzone and scones.

Our brother-in-law B was nearby at a slow food farmers' market selling free range organic eggs and other homegrown and homemade wonders. After each baking, E and J-Dog went to share their baked booty with him.

For us today was a great day of pancakes, the local market, playing, bushwalks, cubby house building, naps on the couch and surprise bread deliveries of our own.

This is our good friend J, who coincidentally spent today at another sourdough bread making workshop.

Our dinner tonight: freshly made rye bread dunked in homemade pumpkin soup.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

I'm Sorry, David

I'm sorry David Rakoff, but I cannot finish your book.

I adore listening to you on This American Life, but whatever charm your words have on the radio is lost when they're in print.

On the back cover, it says this book is social satire, but for me it was too much social and not enough satire. I read the first 129 pages expecting something to happen and then realised that the sharp observations I thought were waiting in the wings, weren't.

Just as I wrote about Chuck Klosterman's book, I think your style is better left to the pages of the magazines for which you write, and not the medium of the paperback.

My mum agreed to look after Z tonight while PJ and I attended the opening party of the Melbourne Writer's Festival, but we decided not to go. The Palais, our local nightlife venue, is changing hands, and instead we are going to their end-of-an-era soirée.

When I was younger and we had to go to synagogue, I used to threaten my parents that if they made me go, I would stand up on my seat and scream out that I was the messiah. 

If we ended up going to the writer's festival shindig tonight, I imagined myself, not yelling out that I am the chosen one, but quietly handing David Rakoff, who's a guest of the festival, his book. 

In my fantasy, Rakoff opens the book, and looks at me, pen poised above the half title page.

"Oh no," I tell him, "I don't want you inscribe it. I'm giving your book back to you, as I no longer want it."

Friday, 22 August 2008



It's a been a long, emotional week - dog attacks, nieces with terrible eczema and tensions with Z's mum. I am tired after a day's work and cannot bear to sit in front of my computer for another minute, even to do something I love such as updating my blog.

Maybe I could look into outsourcing my blogging, on days like this.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Advocate Letter Project

When I first moved up here from the city I began The Advocate Letter Project, as a way to get to know, and participate in my new community.

Every week I read our local paper, The Advocate, from cover to cover and I send somebody I read about a handwritten letter.

Each letter is a tap on the shoulder of another human being. A small nod of recognition.

One week I wrote a letter to a couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, the next, to the winner of a jam making competition. Two weeks ago I wrote to a woman named Joy who was being celebrated as an integral member of the nearby township of Clunes.

I feel like I'm outing myself here, as I don't write any details about myself in the letters, I just sign off from Meg. Revealing who I am doesn't really seem the point.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Art Attack

After being preoccupied with my bum all day yesterday, it felt good to be thinking outside myself today. I volunteered at the local primary school for their annual Art Attack day, where the kids spend the whole day participating in creative activities. And where a few of us lucky parents went to help.

I'm probably not ready to blog about the day just yet, because I'm not sure how to articulate why I had such a great day. It has something to do with a safe, nurturing day after the dog attack yesterday, and also to do with spending a day alongside Z, as he learned and laughed and interacted with his peers. I loved seeing him so happy, especially after his experience at his old school. 

My niece Indigo and Z
It's funny, I'm 34 but I still feel more like a student than a teacher, which is why I was surprised when I was invited into the staff-room at recess and lunchtime. They had catered for the teachers and helping parents, and I was appalled at the poor quality of the food, but inspired by something else: in the middle of all the staff-room tables were half finished knitting projects, laminated instructions and notes inviting people who wouldn't normally take part in such an activity, to please feel free to join in.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


I won't bore you with the details of my bum. Just that it now features the teeth marks of a dog that bit into it this morning.

Just before the school run, Z and I went out with the scraps for our chooks, where we were met by three dogs, who attacked me when I tried to shoo them away.

It was a day of tears and calls to the police and our local council. PJ came home from work to take me to the doctor, my sister K made me lunch and I received dozens of phone calls to see how I was. 

My mum said that I should take some photos, in case I had to press charges. "Mum, I'm a blogger," I yelled, "Of course I've already taken photos."

But I am also rather bashful, and don't feel altogether comfortable posting images of my bitten bottom online. And so instead, here is a pair of friendly dogs that I have used on the poster I have put up around town to help advertise my blog course that starts next week.

ADDENDUM: This could have been a day of ugly clashes, but instead, blame and anger were tethered, so everybody's kind sides could run free. I was about to publish this post, when the young guy whose dog bit me came by to let us know that he has given the dog away to a hunting buddy of his who lives on acreage about an hour away. (He also asked us what beer we drink as he's coming over tomorrow with a slab.) 

Blue skies, big sighs.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Wabi Sabi

I was in a rush, I can't remember why. And I whacked my elbow on the clear plastic lid of the butter compartment on the inside of the fridge door, and it fell out. A small piece of the plastic broke off and now the lid won't stay on.

I tried again to fix it today, but to no avail. Small bit of plastic; high traffic.

This here is a photo of my everyday ring. You can see where it has broken a dozen or so times. PJ wanted to buy me a new one for my birthday, but I said no. I love that he presents it to me afresh each time he repairs it.

And here too, my everyday boots that a friend made me, worn through on the heels, now patched asymmetrically and more Meg.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


I am sore today, from shovelling shit at a nearby horse ranch for our compost, not from dancing last night.

Up here in these wintry hills, there has to be a damn good reason to go out, even on a Saturday night. Last night we had one: TZU playing nearby. We also had: a lesson in expectation.

It was raining but we left our jackets in the car, ordered drinks and chatted with the other locals who had left their cosy homes - we were all cocked, busting to dance.

The support act was good, but we wanted to pace ourselves.

TZU took to the stage and the dancefloor swarmed with locals shaking dust from their winter crooks, but for us, the music didn't get to where it needed to go. We left before they finished the set. 

My ears were ringing, but sleep found me, an easy target.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Of Everyday

I had a night in Melbourne then PJ came to meet me yesterday. I spent some great time with my family, but still it was so nice to come home last night, especially to this heart, that PJ had arranged on our bed out of socks:

Today we spent the day embracing the domestic, both inside the house and in the garden. It rained on and off. When it was on we went in, and when it was off, we went out. Our chooks pecked around us. At one point a currawong flew into the chook house to eat the remnants of our breakfast scraps and became disoriented, repeatedly flying into the chicken wire, until PJ shooed it out.

Not that other days feel unreal, but today felt especially real - a beautiful quiet day, living in the country. I was born and bred in Melbourne, but still I feel very unsettled each time I go and then come home. Today was a gentle day of resolutions.

Gustave Flaubert said,“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” My work is not necessarily violent or original, but I agree that there is much to be said for fashioning one's life from uncomplications.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Kidding Around

I am in between contracts and thinking about what projects I am going to work on next.

I wrote a story when I was in grade 5 that our class then made into a movie. (It was called Key to the Unknown Planet.) I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.

In 2000, Bruce Willis made a film called The Kid, in which he as an 8 year-old visits himself as an adult. In one scene, when the boy sees what his older self has, he exclaims, overjoyed, "We've got a dog!"

Sometimes I feel that I live my grown-up life as a salute to the dreams I had as a kid.

I look in the mirror and think, "We've got red hair!"

My sister K, (who wanted to be a ballerina when she was young) sent me a link to the folio of Yeondoo Jung, who, for one of his projects, honours childhood imaginings by bringing them to life.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Plotted Out

I love being an editor and writer, and I take the work I do very seriously. My decisions don't affect whole States or economies or greenhouse gas abatement targets, but I stand behind every one of my capitals, colons and commas.

Which is one of the many reasons I despise premier John Brumby; because his decisions have hugely negative ramifications; and because he is surprised when the people he affects want to hold him accountable.

One of these loathsome decisions has been not to disclose the location of the farms where genetically modified crops have been planted, (let alone ending the moratorium in the first place). If GM produce is so good for us, what have you got to hide, Mr Brumby?

Earlier this year, the Victorian government ended the 5-year ban on growing commercial GM canola. Soon the planted GM canola will flower and be harvested, which poses a huge contamination threat as GM seed and pollen can quickly transfer their genetically mutated traits to GM-free plants.

The 5-meter buffer zone between GM and non-GM crops is a joke. Many non-GM growers, apiarists, seed cleaners, harvesters, organic growers, food processors, local councils, the Municipal and Victorian Local Governance Associations, and many conscientious citizens asked Brumby for a public register of GM crop sites, but were told NO

As a public service, Executive Director of Gene Ethics, Bob Phelps, has printed a map on his website of the locations of GM canola in Victoria. The map shows farms where Monsanto's Roundup-tolerant GM canola is reportedly being grown or is intended for planting.

Mr Brumby, who once said he would have no problem growing GM crops, is now kicking up a fuss because his farm has also been listed on the map.

If you are happy to make decisions such as allowing untested GM crops to be planted in our soil, you need to stand your ground, Mr Brumby. You can bet that we'll be watching.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


Our favourite local café isn't open on Mondays or Tuesdays, so rather than risk a coffee elsewhere, I either make a stovetop coffee at home or a cup of tea. My tea of choice is Pu-erh.

It was sold to me as being tea that monks drink when they wake at dawn to meditate. It keeps them alert, but doesn't wire them up like coffee.

One of my favourite parts of the tea ritual is pouring in the milk. I was brought up in a house where the milk was poured into the cup before the tea, but I prefer to pour the milk second.

To me it looks like smoke under water.

Monday, 11 August 2008

People Like Us

Last August PJ and I went down to Tassie to stay with my folks. At the end of our trip, we were packing our things before heading to Launceston where we were going to hire a car for a few days. My dad called PJ into his office and showed him a piece of paper. It was a subscription to Dissent magazine, a gift from him and mum for PJ's birthday. (Later PJ joked that he thought my dad was giving him the bill for our stay.)

Today after work I headed to the post office where this latest issue arrived in our PO box. Oh the joy of seeing PJ's name, not just on the address label but on the table of contents and page 20, where his article Lalgambook: the Djadjawurrung and Coca-Cola Amatil is featured.

Also in this issue is an interesting article by the social policy researcher, Robert Salter called, Moving beyond the limits to solidarity: a social investment approach. In it he writes:
... new forms of communication make it easier for us to build communities of interest in place of the locality-based communities we once relied on. So we are more able to select with whom we associate, and more often that not these are people like us.
My whole adult life I have been scouring the globe for a community of like-minded people. I blog surf, read books, magazines and the paper, I meet people and watch movies in the hope of learning new things and finding kindred spirits. But what if I am wrong? Maybe to really learn new things I should be seeking people who are nothing like me, whose opinions are entirely different from my own.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Critical Animals

At the beginning of October, PJ and I and our wonderful friend O are heading up to Newcastle for This is Not Art. We have just booked our flights and I am very excited. 

One component of the festival is Critical Animals, a creative research symposium where we three Victorians will be presenting papers - PJ's is about how the corporatised State abuses our landbase, O is presenting a series of poems on the correlation between suffering and joy in the everyday, and mine is a paper on gender ethics and violence on YouTube. 

Our panel is called Pathologies of Civilisation, and for anyone who's going to be in that neck of the woods on Thursday, 2nd of October, come on down to the Hunter Room, Newcastle City Hall at 11.30am.

Yesterday the event organisers sent through this image for participants to include on their, "website, blog, myspace, facebook, email signature, t-shirt, full-sleeve tatt, etc, etc."

Friday, 8 August 2008


For two years in a row I volunteered at the Melbourne International Film Festival, where I got to see dozens and dozens of movies. Having good cinemas nearby is definitely one of the things I miss living in the country.

This year we have seen just one film from the festival - Derek, about the director Derek Jarman, a mostly great biopic.

Last night PJ and I settled in for the night on the couch to watch a three filmed festival of our own downloaded devising: Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, Our World: Billy Bragg and The Free Voice of Labour: The Jewish Anarchists. A great selection of films about independence and resilience. 

After all those movies and hours of transporting ourselves elsewhere, I was wired and slept poorly. It felt good to wake this morning as myself.

Ticket from when my sister E supported Billy Bragg earlier this year. 
(Thanks for the pic, mum!)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Creative Resistance

A few nights ago, to coincide with National Homeless Person's Week, the Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle went out armed with bags of finger knitted wool, seeds, painted banners, ribbons, cups, cameras and chocolate, to engage in some creative resistance against the rampant land speculation which is wreaking havoc in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

I take my hand-knitted hat off to them and to all the other craftivists making amazing things in the name of social justice.

Keep knitting the good knit!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Let Me Count the Ways

When new emissions regulations forced the village of Kamikatsu, in south-west Japan, to shut down its two incinerators, it had to change the way it managed its waste.

"We were no longer able to burn our rubbish, so we thought the best policy was not to produce any in the first place," said Sonoe Fujii of the village's Zero Waste Academy.

In 2003, the villagers made a declaration that their town would be Japan's first zero waste community.

In Kamikatsu, household waste must be separated into no fewer than 34 categories before being taken to a recycling centre where volunteers administer firm, but polite, reprimands to anyone who forgets to remove the lid from a plastic bottle or rinse out an empty beer can.

"We're still some way from reaching our zero waste goal, but the difference is amazing compared with a few years ago," said Yasuo Goto, a 75-year-old retired farmer who works part-time as a caretaker at the centre.

You can read more here, if you like. (Thanks for the link, Ian!)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

From Left to Right

Everybody, meet our chooks. Chooks, meet everybody.

Billy (Z's), Cuba (PJ's) and Dirt (mine).

We bought them on Saturday from the local Farmer's Market.

We have watched the price of free range organic eggs creep higher and higher. Last week we paid nearly $10 a dozen, a price we can't really justify paying.

If you too want some chickens but live in the city, you could always book a chook.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Big Talk

We just returned from Sydney, after a really lovely and loving trip. 

PJ is very different from his family. They and I didn't automatically bond, though each time I see them, we warm to and understand each other a little bit more. This time was really great. 

PJ said on the plane on the way up that he really likes funerals because they make us face death and talk about it. These last 2 days have done that indeed. There was little small talk and much big talk.

In my inbox when we got home, was a link to this site:, which seems like a nice metaphor to include here. Our destinations and how we find them.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sydney Siding

We flew up early this morning to spend some time with PJ's family, as his grandmother died. Tomorrow is her funeral. I wasn't going to come but PJ's folks insisted, and very generously paid for my ticket.

What I enjoyed most about the day was talking to everybody, not just catching up, and that it wasn't Christmas, which is the only other time we come up here.

Christmastime seems to be so stressful for families, and it means nothing to me, but today I liked what we celebrated - a whole life lived and then concluded.

I can't remember what movie it was, just that it had Nicholas Cage in it. He was standing at a tombstone looking at the birth and death dates engraved, and the line between them.

"There's a whole life in that dash," he said.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

World Dividers

One of the things I collect is World Dividers. You know when people say, the world can be divided into two categories; those who do such and such and those who don't. 

When people have their toilet separate from their bathroom, I think: the world is divided into two categories, those who decorate their toilets with art on the walls or flowers on the cistern or poems or postcards stuck up with Blu Tack, and those who don't.

Another one is: those who make lists, and those who don't.

My grandfather is a list maker. He wrote this list into the pages of his 1966 day planner and has been using it to pack with ever since.

He went overseas today for 10 days. We visited him last night after we saw my grandmother. He had his clothes laid out on the bed and his old diary open to this page.

Friday, 1 August 2008

While We Watched

This is the dinner my grandmother slept through tonight.