Sunday, 31 May 2009

One Candle

My friend Crumbs and I have been friends since we were five. (That's 30 years!) Today her daughter celebrated her third birthday, so Z and I went down to Melbourne for her party. 

It was an afternoon of privileges – to have such lovely friends and to have known them all for so long, to have all this party food to eat, and to be able to travel by car, four trains and a tram in absolute safety without a hiccup.

Not so for so many. When we arrived in Melbourne we were met by 2,000 of Melbourne's Indian population who were protesting against the rising number of violent attacks against its community.

The protest began at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where an injured Indian student is battling for his life, and concluded at Parliament House with a candlelight vigil in support of the 500 Indian students who have been attacked over the past four years.

As we celebrated the wonder of Crumb's three year-old and sang Happy Birthday, I quietly dedicated one of the candles on her cake to the 500 students and their families.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Carport

In summer our house heats up like a kiln in the afternoons and in the colder months, we have to start each day with a pot of water thrown over the windows and mirrors of the car to defrost the ice.

To combat both these issues PJ is spending the day building a carport on the west side of our house.

This morning our friend Ivor came over for a chat.

When he left, his arms laden with fresh produce and baked goods, I returned to my work and to appreciating the view outside my window.

Friday, 29 May 2009

One Whole Year

Exactly a year ago when I started this blog, the first words I wrote were: "A few weeks ago I was employed to write a series of short bios of a dozen mid-century furniture designers." 

The woman who contracted me to write the bios for her website was a furniture manufacturer who gave me this couch in lieu of payment. We had not long before moved into our new house, so we were rapt with the trade – content for comfort.

A few years before, the Australian Federal police paid PJ a visit to question him about an artwork he had made, which they considered to be seditious. When our new couch arrived, he laughed that when the feds came to question him again, they would see this plush couch and walk away because there's no way an anarchist would own such a bourgeois couch.

This couch has changed the way we live. Its size means that the three of us can lie comfortably on it together, which we often do of an evening reading books.

"Welcome along on my experiment," is how I ended my very first post last year. 12 months on and I still feel as though I am experimenting, just with a bit more practice.

Thanks so much for your company.

Here's to another year together.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Rednesday: Earrings

These red can pull tabs have been a-hangin' from my ears since 2003. 

Kids I meet usually scream at me that I am wearing a can on the side of my face, while grown-ups ask me if I made them. I am never sure what this question means and usually answer: "If by 'make' you mean, was I drunk at a BBQ and did I pull them off some cans and stick them on my earrings, then yes, I did make them."

I like them because they are red, because I would much rather recycle up than recycle down, and because of the tinkly sound they make when I'm on my bike and coasting down a hill into the wind.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Time Machine

Someone left this time machine near our house yesterday. I found it this morning as I headed into the bush for my walk. All day I have been thinking about it and what year I am going to visit.

Am I going to go back to before I was born so I can meet my father's father, whom I never met?

Am I going to go back to the night Z was born so I can peer through the window and see what his mum's experience was like?

Am I going to go back to the year my mum cut her finger with a chainsaw so I can call her to say be extra careful that day?

Will I go forward to the next time I see my sister Abby, because I miss her like crazy?

Will I go forward ten years to see what state the world is in?

Or will I stay right where I am, because I'm happy?

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Elwood General Store

Last week, Eddy, who co-owns the Elwood General Store, described on her blog several encounters that took place within a single hour in her store. Today I sat at my laptop all day and because it rained, didn't leave the house. I have never met Eddy but today imagined myself dropping into her store for a packet of tea and to have an encounter just like one of these:
8:30am
The Milk delivery man comes in beaming about the
beautiful day, comments on the music I have playing
and together we sing along to the next line in the song..
"Will you bend or will you break..."
(both the shitest singers you ever did hear..)
and then he wishes me a not too busy and enjoyable rest of the day

We have never met before.

8:50am
Dspa comes in to buy tofu.
She and her Husband have just adopted two gorgeous girls
A who is 6 and C who is 8. They have 6 other siblings with other
carers. I ask her how the girls are doing and she laughs and says
taking a very tired breath," They teach me every day how much stuff I have buried and not wanted to face. Not one of us are perfect, not one of us on the planet, but you should see how wonderful my girls are.
I just love them. They're perfect."

9:00am
An old man, who is quite tall with hands like a cauliflower
and the most gentlest of eyes asks very softly if I have
a cream for tired feet. I give him a cream made of mixture of calendula, paw paw and shea butter, we both agree his feet will be as 'soft as a babies bottom' and he giggles like an 8 year old boy.

9:10am
A woman buys two bags of peppermint leaf and licorice leaves and leans over the counter and says, "gimee some thyme love" so I say, "well I got ten minutes, what is it you want to tell me!" and she laughs and laughs and laughs... then we talk tea blends for ten mins quite earnestly.

9:20am
S comes in, she has just put down
her cat and has been sad.
She has taken a day off work,
"my boss is a bit of a megalomaniac
but he is quite understanding with his
bipolar employees. You know actually
I'm so grateful I can express my
grief, I'm off the Valium, I just wanted to come
in and say thank you for listening and preying for J (her cat)
as he goes to the after life"

9:30am
and in comes D
partner to N, both actors ( who quite honestly
are, if we had favorites, the shop's favorite couple)
They are always smiling anyway, gush gush..
He has a weepy eye, its been a tough week..
I have eyebright in capsule form but
"the caps just seem like the long way round, if you know what i mean!"
So a herb mix of chamomile and eyebright for an eye bath
do the trick..

9:31
I take a sip of mexican coffee and
sing to myself " will you rize or will you
fall..........will you bend or will you break,
will you give or will you take.....
while you're sleeping cold tonight?"

and the day goes on...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Adrian's Garden

Adrian lives in the street next to ours. He has two sons who have grown up. He has a trampoline that he says we can play on any time.

While Z and his friend Kit jumped, I walked around the beautiful garden

where I took this photo of my Yayoi Kusama shoes and


where I found this seed pod. It looks like a rusty metal screw, don't you think?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Be Your Own Ian

Years ago PJ made a sign that read: Christ is the only Christian, be your own Ian. 

We have a dear friend Ian, whom PJ calls Ianian. Today I made a batch of my blog header cookies and made these for Ian, who came over for afternoon tea.

I am a big fan of these letter cookie cutters. With PJ and I being writers and Z just learning to write, they bring us hours of delicious joy.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Mysterious Letters

Mysterious Letters:
In April 2009, we sent a personal, handwritten letter to each of the 467 households in the small Irish village of Cushendall. We hoped these unsolicited letters would prompt neighbourly discussion, spreading across the town, promoting community curiosity.

The art work consists solely of the discussion between the recipients about what on Earth these letters are, who sent them and why, etc
– Lenka Clayton & Michael Crowe

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Dancing in the Right Direction

I started an exciting new contract today and spent all day writing like a champion. I feel so invigorated and inspired after yesterday. For the second year in a row I volunteered at the local primary school for Art Attack day; just like sports day but for art, my sister Kate who also volunteered described it.

Just as it was last year, it was a great day of making, playing, dancing and singing. It was a great day but it was just one day. But why? Why is it that we still teach our kids the same things we learned and we learned the same things our parents learned? You'd think somewhere along the line we'd stop and think: Now hang on a second. We have fucked up the planet good and proper thinking this way, maybe it's time to teach our kids to think for themselves and to value what's vital, not what's going to get them a job in an economy that's sucking the world dry.

The other night in bed, PJ read me this passage from Derrick Jensen's A Language Older Than Words:
A primary purpose of school – and this is true for our culture's science and religion as well – is to lead us away from our own experience. The process of schooling does not give birth to human beings – as education should but never will so long as it springs from the collective consciousness of our culture – but instead it teaches us to value abstract rewards at the expense of our autonomy, curiosity, interior lives, and time.
Art Attack day is a step in the right direction, but it's still one step forward in a straight line, when maybe what it needs to be is a dance.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Rednesday

This year marks a decade since I first became attracted to the colour red. 

In 1999 I returned home to Melbourne from travelling through Asia to settle down for a while; find a job and a home. Regular life seemed so colourless compared to the cities and villages I had travelled in.

I don't remember if I sought out these clogs or if I saw them in a store window and just knew I had to have them. All I remember is that I was home from travelling through countries where red is the colour of prosperity, and I bought these shoes.

In those days I wore them wherever I went, though these days they sit by the front door – easy to slip on when I go outside to empty the compost bucket, check on the chooks or pull the flying fox rope back up for Z.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pollan Count

A few days ago our friend Jason sent us a link to a great interview with author Michael Pollan. If you have a spare 20 minutes and you're interested in the ethics of food, I recommend you watch the clip.

One of his main points is about how sneaky the food industry is. In his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan writes that if a food has more than five ingredients, you should avoid it. As a result there are many companies coming forward and saying their products are simpler. Such as Haagen-Dazs who has released Haagen-Dazs 5, a five-ingredient Haagen-Dazs product. 

"You know, it’s still ice cream," Pollan says. "Ice cream is wonderful, but we shouldn’t treat it as health food because it now has only five ingredients."

Pollan is also an advocate for the local food movement, and says companies such as Frito-Lay are advertising that their potato chips are local.

"Now, you have to remember, any product is local somewhere. Right? This food doesn’t come from Mars. But to think that Frito-Lay as a local potato chip is really a stretch," he laughs.
He also writes extensively on the evils of high-fructose corn syrup and says companies such as Snapple and Coca-Cola are now making a virtue of the fact that some of their products contain real sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup.
What that is, is an implicit health claim for sugar. And that is an incredible achievement on the part of industry, to convince us that getting off of high-fructose corn syrup has made their products healthier. It has done no such thing. Biologically, there’s no difference between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar.
And so, Pollan has had to update his rules:
...if you want to avoid all this, simply don’t buy any food you’ve ever seen advertised. Ninety-four percent of ad budgets for food go to processed food. I mean, the broccoli growers don’t have money for ad budgets. So the real food is not being advertised. And that’s really all you need to know.

Monday, 18 May 2009

J-Dog

My sister Emily's boyfriend, J-Dog is 30 today.

Not only is he great for Emily, but he is great for our whole family and great for you too if you happen to meet him one day.

He is remarkably thoughtful and funny and oh so lovely. Last year he did an impromptu act for one of our nieces at her birthday party, he sent us a thank you card after he stayed with us, and he makes breakfast in bed for Emily most weekends.

Happy birthday, Jono!!

We think you're just tops.

xx

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Dear PJ's Parents,

Thank you so much for the dinner voucher you sent me for Stepmother's Day. I used it last night and shard a delicious meal with PJ. We felt so privileged to be eating so extravagantly and appreciated every mouthful.

As we were leaving the restaurant we chatted to a woman we know who works there. Knowing that I had a voucher she asked if it was my birthday. She looked stunned when I told her why I had received it and from whom.

She too is a stepmother, but unlike me, she was not recognised or acknowledged on Mother's Day. Not by her stepkids, because they don't want their mum to think they align themselves with her, not by her partner who takes for granted everything she does for his kids, and not by herself, because she didn't know she was entitled to.

Thank you for acknowledging my role. As the new partner, I have insecurities about Z's feelings towards me; that he, as well as everyone else will forever compare me to his birth mum, PJ's ex-wife, your ex-daughter-in-law.

All anyone wants is to be seen and accepted as themselves. The thoughtfulness of your gift made me realise that I am.

Much love to you both from me at the kitchen table,

Meg

Friday, 15 May 2009

Contrail

From Doobybrain:
Contrail is a concept bicycle device that attaches above the wheel of a bike and covers the bicycle wheel with a layer of chalk. The chalk then creates a trail or mark on the surface of the road, turning the bike into a sort of large drawing utensil. 
The concept, developed by Pepin Gelardi of Studio Gelardi focuses around the idea of safety in numbers. By using this device, bicyclists will have a clearer path on which to ride safely and out of the way of vehicular traffic. At the same time, as more bicyclists using the Contrail go over a line created by a cyclist before them, the line gets brighter allowing drivers to clearly see a marked bike path where there might be none. It’s sort of similar to what happens when a dirt path appears in a grassy field after lots of people have taken the same shortcut over a period of time.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Harmony Day

Yesterday mid-morning I went up to the local neighbourhood house for Harmony Day. Although the official day was on March 21, for logistical reasons, we celebrated it here yesterday.

One of the highlights of the festivities was chatting to the ten Togolese new immigrants over cups of tea and scones and finding out all kinds of things. For example, in Togo, babies are named according to which day of the week they are born. Incidentally, when I was in Thailand I learnt that babies are named after the position in their family, eg one or two etc.

As new Australians entering the workforce, it was thought that the Togolese should know a little about Aussie rules football, so they would be able to participate in conversations around the water cooler. This was another highlight of the day: Listening to O talk about the clubs and what kind of person generally barracks for each one, and why they have the mascots and colours that they do.

After our guests had selected which teams they were going to barrack for henceforth, we all participated in a handballing competition. Me, the little Aussie tomboy who went to my first and only ballet class as a kid in my football gear, came last.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Axis Mundi

I had a meeting in Melbourne on Monday morning and then spent the afternoon with my mum for a belated Mother's Day celebration. We started off by walking up to Craft Victoria, where my friend Tash is having an exhibition of her work.


I took an entire memory card of photos, but not a single one does the show justice. The work feels other-worldly but my photos all came out flat. The porcelain, the scrolled paper, the poetic codes, the charted maps and the shadows created by the towers. How do I capture both the scale and detail? The boldness of the ethereal?

In her artist statement, Tash says:
Ultimately, Babel evokes a spiral passage both outward and inward. To unravel the scrolls initiates a return to the spine – the axis mundi, the source of a universal native tongue – love.
And here, the axis mundi of another world, a Mother's Day gift from PJ, Z and I, left in the bush for Mother Nature.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Vegetable Victory

They did it!! 

Last night at the Vogue Entertaining + Travel Produce Awards, my sister Kate and brother-in-law Bren won the top award for their organic vegetables, and a gold medal for their freerange organic eggs.

We are a Certified Organic mixed family farm in Daylesford, Victoria. We focus on sustainability and biodiversity. We have orchards, market gardens and chickens. We work with the seasons and in any given year will produce up to 40 varieties of apples, hazelnuts, berries, free range eggs and up to 30 different vegetables, often with several varieties of each. 
We enjoy growing heirloom varieties with lots of different flavours and colours... We sell produce to local caf├ęs and restaurants and at farmer's markets in Daylesford, Castlemaine and Melbourne, at Collingwood Children's Farm and the Abbotsford Convent. 
Come and see us for some great tasting fresh organic food.
Oh we will! Mazel tov, mazel tov, mazel tov!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Daylesford Organics

Not only are these vegetables famous, but I am related to them.

My sister Kate and my brother-in-law Bren, who together run Daylesford Organics, are flying up to Sydney today for the 2009 Vogue Entertaining + Travel Produce Awards, for which their vegies and eggs have been nominated.

Good luck, you guys!!

You can see more delicious photos on their blog.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Mum Jeans

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers! But especially to my own. 

I love you Mum. xx

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Love Birds

The line next to the fridge is made up of Polaroid photos I have taken with my trusty old Joycam over the last few years. They are mostly of people I have befriended since I moved here, though some are of family members and some are of my dearest of dear old friends.

Falling into this latter category is Dr B and her boyfriend D, who recently announced that they have decided to get married. They live in London but as B is from Melbourne they will be coming back for the celebration later in the year. I can't wait!

Mazel tov love birds! 

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Half-Parent

Firstly, a big thank you to the lovely Julia for seeing this book in an op-shop and buying it for me. The fact that Julia is a close friend of Z's mum makes the gesture feel particularly thoughtful.

In my quest to read as much as I can about stepparenting I thought I would give this book a go, though my hopes were not too high. This book was first published in 1975, when I was just a year old. I thought it would be dated and boring and have cobwebs between the paragraphs.

Boy oh boy was I mistaken! Maddox was a journalist before she became a stepmother, so her research is empirical and her writing style is a perfect balance of objective editorial and engaged parental enquiry.

One of the many interesting things I learned (from page 35):
In English and American usage for about four hundred years, from 1440 until at least mid-nineteenth century, the term "mother-in-law" was often used to refer to a stepmother. Although such a meaning is now regarded as incorrect, it made literal sense. A stepmother was a mother "in law", that is, in canon law, by the fact of her marriage to a child's father.
Do I feel like I am half a parent to Z? No. Even though he lives with us for half the week, I still feel like his parent for all seven days, just as I'm sure his mum does.

Recently while we were in an op-shop, PJ found another copy of Maddox's book. I bought it to lend out to people, which I have already started doing, and so I could take this photo.

A half + a half = a whole, right?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I Dig

10 Meters of Extended German Coastline by Nikolaj Recke.

From here.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Elder

I have never understood posing for photographs. It seems so odd to me to interrupt the natural flow of a moment to face the camera to appear 'happy'. But here I am in this photo doing exactly that.

We had some friends over yesterday for afternoon tea and were joined by three generations of my family: my mum, my grandfather and my niece. Just before they left I asked my mum to take this photo.

I love my grandfather so much. He'll be 91 in July. He is doing OK since my grandmother died in January. His body is aging but my how sharp his mind is.

It's funny, I was happy to have this traditionally posed photo of us taken, but one of the things I struggle with is the traditions that he represents that I am not interested in. It would make him happy if I settled down, got married and had a baby. It would make him feel better if we had a mezuzah on the doorframe of our house. It would make him worry less if I found full-time work. 

Most of me wants him to respect my adult decisions, but there's still a part of me that doesn't want to upset him by rejecting his historical lore.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

16 Stitches

For the squeamish amongst you, I had you in mind when I selected this photo. The others I took showed in far greater detail just how far the chainsaw had chewed into PJ's leg.

I got the call yesterday morning. "Don't worry, everything's fine, but will you jump on your bike and meet me at the hospital as soon as you can? I've cut my leg with the chainsaw."

His voice was calm as he spoke. The only part that worried me was that he had said, "Don't worry," and "Everything's fine."

I felt fine as I got dressed and left the house but my legs were all wobbles as I pedalled up the hill. And when I couldn't see the road for my tears I decided to get some help. I flagged down a ute and asked the driver to please take my bike and I to the hospital, which he kindly did.

It was a long day of two hospitals, a doctor's clinic, sixteen sutures and lots of reading in waiting rooms.

Now when I say that I love PJ inside and out you'll know I'm serious, as now I've seen his interior.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Composting

Happy International Composting Awareness Week!

Although it's a global celebration, it makes sense for us that it's held during autumn because of the trees losing their leaves at this time of year to create their own compost at the bottom of their trunks. Trees are so clever!

We spent this afternoon gathering food for our compost monster who, by the end of the day, was satiated and happy with grass, leaves, weeds and other nutritious snacks she likes to munch on so she can digest it into rich and fertile soil.