Monday, 30 March 2009

The Embers of Two Fires

After a solid night's sleep in our own bed last night, I woke and went for my morning walk. We had a great time away but coming home is a sweet privilege.

Highlights from Two Fires:

Joining the Canberra Bushwalking Club on their walk through the lush Monga Forest,

being away with PJ and O, getting some great feedback on my paper, buying a handheld blender at a garage sale, going to hear some great panels, being a tourist, learning some more about ecofeminists Judith Wright and Val Plumwood, buying some fresh produce at the local market, sharing food at some great cafés, spending time with Ingeborg and Phil, proprietors of The Braidwood Book and Print Room, feeling entirely relaxed and entirely thankful for sponsored holidays, coming home last night to our lovely village and our sleeping feathered friends.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Coming Together

And we're off!

This morning PJ, O and I are heading to Braidwood for the Two Fires festival of art and activism. The theme for this year's festival is Coming Together, which ties in well with our panel's theme of Social Warming.

The title of our panel came from this drawing of PJ's that was published in Going Down Swinging last year.

Click for bigger.

Thanks for looking after our house and chooks, Jo! xx

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Pickled Tink

I recently read a personal essay by a woman who wrote that she felt the most feminine she ever felt when she was breast feeding her baby. This got me thinking about my own sense of femaleness and when I feel the most feminine I can feel.

My first thought was when I am with PJ and although I like this answer (and proximity), I am striking it from the record because I am looking for an answer that is just to do with myself and not in relation to another.

But maybe that's impossible, because a large part of my feelings about my femaleness feel constructed and composed; learnt and not innate.

I am Meg, and although I am obviously female, I don't live my every day cognisant of my gender. Or maybe I do but it's so ingrained in my self that I'm not conscious of it.

And so, I have started keeping a list of times when I feel conscious of my femaleness. On that list is when I was pickling our homegrown cucumbers two weeks ago. (And yes, I can see the irony of the phallic cucumbers.)

Readers of this blog will know I don't own a single cook book and that I like to roam google's hallways in search of a recipe to follow. But for my cucumbers it was different. My friend Jo lent me some cook books including Stephanie Alexander's book of her mum's recipes, which is where I found the one I based my pickling concoction on. 

I know men who pickle and preserve, but when I did it, I felt connected to a whole history of women, including my dad's mum, Nanna Jo-Jo, who was a fabulous pickler.

Also, because pickling was once, and still is in many parts of the world, an act of preserving produce for out-of-season months and long journeys, there is an element of vitality added to the recipe; the survival and preservation of a people, and along with them, their time-honoured ways.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Guest Blogger: ETG 2

Four months ago I had an email exchange with one of this blog's readers that resulted in her becoming the first guest blogger in the Land of Meg. Since then we have stayed in touch intermittently, which is lucky for me as ETG has written a second post, which I have the pleasure of sharing with you today:

My grandmother’s rose is in bloom again. I was astounded to notice this on the weekend, given the weather we have had over the last few months. There are few trees and what we have tried to plant has not really taken. I have managed to coax the lavender and salvia to ankle height, but sometimes, on very hot days, I can almost hear the plants emit sighs of resignation. We can’t be expected to grow in this, they seem to say to me as I walk past them to collect the mail.

When my grandmother moved into this house in 1948, she planted a magnolia tree and a rose bush, side by side. She was an avid gardener and in the long-past days of unlimited watering, this garden was exquisite, a cornucopia, a testimony to her skill.

To my dismay, after Black Saturday, the magnolia started to brown. It didn’t die and now that we have had a little rain, it is starting to perk up. But the rose, that rose, it didn’t miss a beat. It never browns, it is never defeated—irrespective of what the conditions throw at it. The most it conceded over those very hot weeks was that it would not flower. Perhaps there is a horticultural reason for this, but I have begun to see that there is something of my grandmother in that rose.

She was a woman defined by the Great Depression, by the Second World War. She knew how to do things, and to make do. She worked as a milliner and she worked as an ‘invisible mender’ at a knitting mill. So when I took a childish fancy to Lady Diana in the 1980s, she made me a pillbox hat to wear in honour of the Royal Wedding. Both the childhoods of my father and myself were outfitted with handmade jumpers, trousers, shirts, smocks and overalls.

She spent the last years of her life in a nursing home. One afternoon, she had joined in an activity making flowers from material, to then be fashioned into a brooch. She remarked to me afterwards that she could do such things with one arm tied behind her back, that such things were not a big deal. But they are a big deal now. Things that people once simply knew how to do are now specialised knowledge.

Like that rose, my grandmother just continued on. Not always happy, not always in the most comfortable of circumstances, but making the best of it. Doing, creating, and more often than not—as she gave to those around her—blooming.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Pedal Power

Photo by Diana

So far I have blogged four posts that mention Victorian premier John Brumby, and of those four all of them have been negative.

Today however I have something favourable to say about him. Why my change of heart? Because he has finally come to his senses and yesterday pledged to spend $115 million on a cycling strategy that declares VicRoads will now be required to consider bike lanes in every major road project.

Under the plan, 23 bike paths around Victoria will be completed in the next 18 months, and 33 bike cages built at train stations around Melbourne.

"For the first time in Australia, bike riding has been formally recognised as part of the core transport system," said Bicycle Victoria chief executive Harry Barber.

Pretty good stuff! But before I take out my quill to write Mr Brumby's name in my good book, he first has to do a little soul searching and weighing up of good and bad of his own.

The Australian Grand Prix is set to start on Thurdsay, which means there are still a couple of days to call it off. 

What's it going to be, Mr Brumby?

Monday, 23 March 2009

The First Lawn

From One Green Generation:
Have You Heard? There Will Be An Organic Food Garden At The White House.
Michelle Obama is tearing up part of the South Lawn and planting an organic food garden for her family. How cool is that!

Michelle Obama has never grown a vegetable garden. The White House hasn’t had a garden on the South Lawn since Elanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden during World War II.

So How Did This Happen?

The Obamas have been lobbied to create a garden since before they entered the White House - even before Obama was elected!

Roger Doiron and Kitchen Gardeners International led that cause with their Eat The View Campaign. Roger created a YouTube video that became viral, a Facebook campaign continued the charge, the cause was joined by Alice Waters and other famous chefs, and people like you and I joined the cause by signing the petition, forwarding the idea to our friends, and so on.

The Obamas’ pediatrician had a hand as well. You see, the chaotic life of politics led the Obamas to eat out a lot, to have fast food and packaged meals regularly. Then Malia and Sasha gained weight! So the pediatrician gave Michelle a lecture in nutrition, and the family began to change their eating habits.

The family’s Chicago chef, Sam Kass - who came with them to the White House as assistant White House chef - is an advocate of the local food movement. He’ll be overseeing the garden himself.

The White House Executive Chef, Cristeta Comerford, and the Pastry Chef Bill Yosses will both be arranging their menus around the garden.

One of the White House carpenters, Charlie Brandts, is a beekeeper and has offered to keep two hives to provide fresh honey.

And you and I - who have come together to create a movement of local, seasonal, fresh, organic, home-grown food - we have had a large hand in making this happen. We have helped make it popular, we have helped make it important, we have helped redefine normal. Together.

From here, the White House garden will inspire many, many others to grow their own food, to pay attention to nutrition, to support local food systems. And we will all continue to do our parts as well. Together, we are changing the world.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Free Birth

Our friend Jacinta, who gave birth to both her sons at home, organised this peaceful protest this morning.

Photo: The very talented John Mayger
Click for bigger image

As of July 2010, all midwives in Australia will require insurance in order to be registered. Hospital employed midwives are covered by their hospital’s insurance policy or by membership of the nurses’ union. Private midwives need to be insured too but no insurer is willing to cover them. The Government supports private obstetricians with insurance but now refuses to help private midwives. 

No insurance = no registration.

Private midwives will have to cease homebirth practice, move overseas to work or face prosecution. Homebirth will be driven underground. Some women will birth at home alone without skilled, professional support. 

Whether you would choose homebirth or private midwifery for yourself is not the issue. As of July 2010, women’s choices around birth will be even more restricted than they already are. If women lose this option now, they will never get it back.

Doesn't every woman deserves the right to choose where, how and with whom she wants to give birth?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Burnt Out Ends

I took this photo yesterday morning on my way home from drinking tea with my lovely friend Mika. 

My first thought was one of horror at how close the recent bushfires came to our town. 

My second thought was that fire is a part of life in the country and if I am to continue living here I must get used to the uneasy, dislocating feeling the threat of fire induces in the hotter months.

My third thought was about Wabi Sabi, and how the landscape was still beautiful, but at the other end of the spectrum to what we are used to.

And my final thought was about the bombed terrain of Laos. I taught English there many years ago and saw firsthand how much damage was done decades earlier during the Vietnam War. But because of the indents in the landscape, when it rains these craters catch the most water, and are greener and more fertile as a result. I like this as a metaphor.

Friday, 20 March 2009

E's for Eternity

Happy birthday to my sister Eddie!

Eddie's not her real name. Her real name's Emily. But somewhere in the early pages of our childhood, my three sisters and I all decided to call each other Eddie. It made sense at the time, despite the occasional confusion.

The Hot Club of Cowtown have a song called Emily. My favourite lines are:
E's for eternity, M that she's mine,
I love you Emily, that's I-L-Y.
Because of the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, March 21 is considered the first day of the Zodiac year, which means March 20, today, is the last. So those who celebrate their birthday today are supposed to have the oldest souls of all.

In her wisdom I have learnt so much from her, but my favourite thing ensues from her name. Her initials are EAU, which is how I still to this day remember how to spell beautiful.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


PJ might have played in punk bands growing up, but I am still taking credit for his relaunched music career.

Remember the Red Ecology film he made for my birthday? Not only did he film and edit it but he wrote that song especially for me.

Since then he has written and produced several songs, three of which are currently up on the Triple J Unearthed website.

(Michel Deguy Compost Tea is my favourite.)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Disruption of Apples

Yesterday morning before we took Z to school, we picked a whole lot of apples from the Poemscape trees next to the library. Afterwards PJ and I trained to Melbourne where he conducted and I filmed a workshop with some third and fourth year RMIT design students.

The workshop was about performing the city and disrupting space. After a brief presentation, PJ gave the students the apples we picked and we went out into the streets.

One group placed the apples on the ground in a busy lunchtime laneway, while we all stood back and watched how people responded.

The last group drew an apple on a brick wall and invited us to throw the remaining fruit at the chalk- drawn target. It felt like such a waste, the point made doubly clear next to the skip full of unwanted goods.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Display of Apples

We went out to the Garden of St Erth yesterday to pick up fruit trees and seeds that are suitable to plant in the autumn time.

This display of apple varieties was on a table inside their shop. 

Oh how I love apples! My idea of heaven would be to spend a day munching through these three rows. You could blindfold me and ask for my feedback, I wouldn't mind.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The First Draft

At a café in Tasmania, my mum recently finished working on the final chapter of her book.

On her way home she picked blackberries and a few apples from a public tree and went home to make this jam:

Congratulations Mum!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Ns and Zs

I miss Z today. I usually do on Saturdays. We pick him up from his mum on Sunday mornings so usually by Saturday we start to ache for him.

He made this card for us at the end of last year. It sits atop my bookshelves just across from where I'm sitting. I often think how hard it must be for him to have two homes. I guess I only think that because I grew up in one, but if I had had two, then I would have got used to having two and having to make a card for each of my homes, just as Z has.

Inside the card, he has drawn these Ns and Zs in a circle. It's him referencing PJ referencing him. Last year or maybe it was the year before when Z was learning the alphabet, he said to PJ, "Ns and Zs come from the sky, Daddy." His allusion to the way lightning looks when it flashes from the clouds.

And here's this, PJ's poem about Z's language discovery in the sky:

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Dance of Anger

A while back I remarked to a friend how I don't know anybody who deals well with anger. She said that's because you're not supposed to; that anger by its very nature clouds and distorts. 

Since then I have been a spy in the house of anger. When and how is it OK to express? What's appropriate? Why is it that an angry woman is looked upon as unladylike and troubled if she chooses not to suppress her emotions?

I never learned how to be angry. As I mature and open my eyes I see more clearly the injustices that I have accepted because being angry is something that good Jewish girls just don't do.

From page 1:
Women, however, have long been discouraged from the awareness and forthright expression of anger. Sugar and spice are the ingredients from which we are made. We are the nurturers, the soothers, the peacemakers, and the steadiers of rocked boats. It is our job to please, protect, and placate the world. We may hold relationships in place if our lives depended on it.
Despite its title, this book is not some hokey-pokey wishy-washy new age self-help book, and its author, Harriet Lerner is not some quack. Lerner writes beautifully and intuitively and from a position of wise common sense.

For me as a woman, I struggle with recognising that what I am feeling is anger, being responsible for my own emotions and not anybody else's, not blaming others when I disagree with them, and appropriately dealing with other people's anger towards me.

I might struggle with these issues for a long time, but at least now I have read this book I feel clearer in my mind about how I would like to interact with people and how I would like to respond when faced with their hostility or indignant disapproval of the choices I have made.

Sending a link to a book or telling someone about it just isn't the same as thrusting a well-thumbed book in their hands and saying Please read this book! If I owned a copy of this book I would lend it to every woman I know, but as I don't, the Dewey Decimal number is: 155.633 LER.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Gift Economy

An article I wrote about the first time I went to Burning Man is on Travel Generation today. In it, I talk about how the festival operates on a gift economy. The gifts I took that year were button badges. There were 18 designs in all, six of which are above.

I have been thinking a lot about gifting. I disagree with Derrida's claim that the gift is impossible since, from the moment you receive it, it becomes weighted with obligation and no longer qualifies as a pure present. But I agree with Marcel Mauss's argument that solidarity is achieved through the social bonds created by gift exchange.

On Monday I left the house on three different occasions and each time I came back someone had left a gift near the front door. 

I mentioned to my friend Jo that I was looking for a recipe for pickling cucumbers as all our plants have fruited at once. She left three cook books with pickling recipes bookmarked, O left a stack of gleaned pears and Chris gave me a betting ticket for a horse called Good Red.

It's like when people ask me what I do for a living, I ask them if they mean for money or not. I operate within a capitalist template – I have a mortgage and bills to pay – but I exist within a gift economy where I care more about the exchange than my change.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


I don't know how any of the events went, but from the mood in town, ChillOut was a huge success.

A few years ago during the festival I participated in a drag king workshop. Here's a photo I dug up from the day.

Pretty tough, huh? Want an arm wrestle?

Monday, 9 March 2009


A cricket cake for a cricket party. 
The weather just lovely. 
A long weekend. 
A boy turns seven and is joined by his friends who all wear white for the occasion.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


Happy International Women's Day!

From one of my favourite female writers, Catherine Deveny:
It's International Women's Day this week and I'm wearing camouflage after my seven-year-old son handed me a tampon and said, "Here's one of your vagina bullets".

It's still a battle of the sexes. Quilting conventions, goddess weekends, hens' nights, book groups, chick flicks, women's studies and scrag fights aside, the gender war is still raging. The rumoured truce is a myth. Who said we're waving a white flag? Listen closely and you'll hear many still screaming blue murder. It's a bit hard to hear them, though, because most are gagged, bound and kept in cellars.

The gloves are off but we're still wearing the matching belt. Although I'm not one of the missing in action, I have war wounds and battles to fight despite my thin veneer of shock and awe and my reputation as a shoecide bomber.
The rest here.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


I love living in a small community. It's like living in the heart of a city that doesn't have any suburbs.

I love this town's terrain and small population and I also love that it's a popular tourist destination that attracts weekenders in the thousands.

This weekend our lovely town is playing the hostess with the mostest to around 25,000 gay and lesbians who are here for the twelfth ChillOut festival, the largest gay and lesbian festival in regional Australia.

And today we played the hosts with the mosts to Sharon and Deb, who are visiting from their lovely home in Tasmania, next to my folks' place.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Happy 7th birthday to our dearest Z!

As Z is with his mum for the latter half of each week, PJ and I arranged to meet them at a local café on their way home from school. 

Here is the birthday boy with the guitar we had given him moments beforehand, putting on a show for passers by.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Heavens Above

Although our time in Melbourne was stressful, as we had no idea if we'd have a house or community to come home to, we were still able to have an enjoyable time.

I took this photo of Z yesterday morning in the apartment building where my grandfather lives. 

And I took this picture this afternoon at home – the heavenly rain falling on our deck.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Glorious Walks

We finished reading this to Z last night. It's the first chapter book we have read him in its entirety. It's also the first bedtime book that has caused him to request an early night.

Even though PJ and I are three and half years apart in age, we don't have as many childhood similarities – books, TV shows, films – as you'd expect. But we both read Roald Dahl books as kids, so it's so nice to share our memories with Z as he creates his own.

My friend The Dooch once told me about Roald Dahl's father. He wanted his children to have an appreciation of beauty so before they were born he spent hours taking his pregnant wife on what he called Glorious Walks in the countryside in the hope that the wonder of nature would be transmitted to their children.

Although I had no say in what Z's mum did or didn't do when she was pregnant, I feel pretty lucky that I have input into what kind of person Z develops into as he grows.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Environmental Refugees

Because of the forecast of high winds combined with the threat of fire, we decided not to take any chances. When Z got home from school, we packed the car and are staying the night with our dear friend Nick in Melbourne.

(For those fowl friends amongst you: Our new birds are locked in their coop with plenty of food and water.)

On our way through town we stopped by the town hall to register our departure with the Red Cross. In the main hall they were still set up from the fires last week with mattresses and blankets and hours worth of offline entertainment.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


In Melbourne the other night, my grandfather went to the ballet with one of his sisters. It made me feel uncomfortable to imagine that strangers might think they were husband and wife. The next day I heard that a woman had said to my great aunt how lovely it was for my grandfather that he was dating already, so soon after my grandmother passed away.

I would be shocked if my grandfather did meet somebody else so soon, but if he did, I would of course be happy for his happiness.

I am happy for our happiness today, though we are all still rather hesitant and detached. We need eggs and it makes no sense to buy them, so we went out to a guy named Neil's place and picked out three new hens. Z's is the small black 12-week old Australorp and mine and PJ's are the 16-week old Light Sussexes. As yet unnamed. As yet unknown to us. 

In an attempt to recognise our chickens' place in the local ecosystem, tonight we read to Z the first half of Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox.