Friday, 25 September 2009

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Family Album

Big thanks goes to Jenny from Dosfamily who has included us in her album of family portraits.

We took our photo to use as the header for The Artist as Family blog, which we are going to update with the daily happenings of our artist in residency in Newcastle.

We leave today, which is all very exciting. I'm not sure if I will be updating this blog or not whilst we are away, so be sure to pop into The Artist as Family to see what we are up to.

Thanks for looking after our house, garden and chooks, L and D.

See you in 18 days!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Infancy to Adulthood

In a recent article, Forbes columnist Peter Robinson describes the scene of driving with his wife to take their daughter to the airport to go to college. It's an OK article, but what has stayed with me since I read it last week is the list of accomplishments Robinson assigns his 18 year-old daughter:
This product, our daughter, could bake a remarkably satisfying peach crumble, speak intelligently about Hamlet and Macbeth, play a shrewd, persistent game of tennis, perform a Chopin nocturne with only half a dozen mistakes, make her friends laugh out loud and braid her little sister's hair three different ways. No election to high office, no commercial undertaking, no literary or artistic attainment – none could equal the deed of nurturing a human being from infancy to adulthood to produce a product like this.
What a list, hey? As an 18 year-old, I would have liked to have made my folks proud with any one of those achievements. But something about this list has not sat right with me and I haven't known why.

We are going away on Thursday and this morning, as I added to our list of what to take, it occurred to me that Robinson's list is merely an inventory of skills that his daughter has learned and perhaps even mastered. As a list of feats, it's rather impressive. But it reads like a report card of competencies, and to me, lacks any kind of meaning.

Is she thoughtful? Does she hold the door open for people behind her? Is she kind? Is she polite and respectful? Is she concerned about her peers and the planet?

Am I expecting an unreasonable intimacy from a writer I've never met? Am I expecting him to value the same qualities in a person that I esteem? Or at 18, is one still too unformed by the world to have any real connection to it?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Our Sister Chickens

PJ and I were in our local paper this week, talking about our solar panels. This is the photo they included, of me holding our chicken Bridezilla in one hand and a shovel in the other; photovoltaic panels above, a pile of mulch below.

Z calls my sister Kate's three daughters his sister cousins, and the hens they gave us from their brood, the sister chickens.

Hanging out in the garden with our chickens today, it suddenly dawned on me that by golly, our chickens really are our sisters. They are alive at the same time on Earth as us, they are living within the same environment as us, but much more significantly, didn't we all evolve from the same primordial soup?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A Pile of Shit

There's a horse riding ranch two minutes away, where I used to go riding as a kid, and where Z had his birthday party a few years back. PJ and I drove out there first thing this morning.

'Is it OK if we collect some of your poo?' I asked one of the owners when we arrived.

'You can't collect mine, but you can collect the horses',' he told me, straight-faced.

And so we got to shovellin'. It was cold out and the shit was hot and steaming, and filled with worms our chickens dined on each of the three times we returned home with a car-load.

I've never been a red roses kinda gal and I've never been one for posed photos in a nice frame up on the mantle from holidays gone by. But I would never have described shovelling shit as a romantic pastime until today either.

But boy was it! The cool air, the steaming dung, no-one in the field except my beloved and I, working hard side-by-side to move the fecund waste so it can turn our clay earth into rich soil to grow good food for our family.

Dinner and movie? Chocolates in the shape of a heart? Give me a shovel, my man and a pile of shit any day.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Honey

This is our honey jar. Every Sunday morning we take it to the local market and have it filled with a local Yellow Box honey.

This is Des. He sells us our honey every week. The honey is made by the bees he keeps.

Tonight we had some friends over for a Jewish New Year feast. For those of you who don't know, traditionally during Jewish New Year you are supposed to eat apple dipped in honey to symbolise a healthy and a sweet new year. That's what we did at the end of our meal tonight.

I hope you have a great new year too, whether you are celebrating a new beginning, a new ending, or a new bit in the middle that is sandwiched between what you know and what's still to be discovered.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Little Roman

Most of the local primary schools in this district teach their students Italian. To celebrate, yesterday was declared Roman Day; a whole day of activities dedicated to all the wonders of ancient Rome.

Here is Z, calling out buongiorno yesterday morning, in his homemade get-up.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rednesday: 3 Thank Yous

Kate, thank you for my handmade washer that was christened by Z in the bath after a day of outdoor play.

Eddy, thank you for my hand-sewn text message that I biked up to the post office to collect.

And thank you Clare, for this bread bin that we are going to sit out on the deck and plant with herbs.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bird Head

It's interesting to notice as we age, what we become desensitised to and what we don't.

I'm 35 and it still makes me laugh when I see a statue with a bird on its head. For some reason I keep waiting to outgrow this. I wonder if I will.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Fancy Nancies

This is my everyday, Knitting Nancy. She and I have been going steady since she was handmade by a friend's dad and given to me in 2003.

Then about two months ago I was kindly given these Fancy Nancies by another friend's sister. At first I had no idea what to do. I thought they all had to be used at the same time. I seriously had no idea how to even begin. It's true I could have googled or asked around some seasoned crafty types, but I never quite got around to it.

Then when my friend Vivienne very generously gave me her red case of knitting goodies, inspiration struck. Ta da!

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it. Maybe a snood, maybe a skirt. My knitting group is coming here tonight and I look forward to talking through my ideas with them. I'll let you know what they say.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Best Thing

This is our friend Jeff. I have blogged about him before and he has blogged for us before. One of the best part of our Sundays is seeing him at our local market and buying a loaf of Redbeard organic sourdough from him, as we did this morning. Buying bread is always a special occasion.

And so is eating it. Which is why, when something really terrific happens, PJ often says: "That's the best thing since the return to unsliced bread."

Friday, 11 September 2009

The World's Best Worst

Cricket, swimming, tennis, music, fashion, design. Whatever activity your country can do, Australia can do it better. I wouldn't call it nationalism, but the flexing of our toned competitive muscles.

And so it was really no surprise to read this morning that Australia has the world's highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions from energy use.

Go Aussies, go!

You think your country likes burning coal and filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide? Get in line!

On the CO2 Energy Emissions Index, Canada has come in third, while Australia has overtaken the US - responsible for 19.78 tonnes per head - as the worst per capita emitter.

The risk assessment company who conducted the study found Australia's overwhelmingly coal-based electricity supply meant the average person emitted 20.58 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

20.58 tonnes baby!!

Plastic bags? We love them! Water bottled in plastic and transported in big trucks around the country? Oh yeah! Solar panels and wind turbines? For losers!

A spokeswoman for our Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said:

"As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia will be among the hardest and fastest-hit by climate change if we don't act now."

But why would we bother to act at all? Global warming and peak oil? bring it on! Environmentalism and eco-consciousness is for sissies.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

I love bad blogs. The more inane and the more obscure, the more I like them. To me, bad blogs are the whole point of the Internet– a platform for the left of centre, a voice for the far right, a soapbox for the underdog and a visual megaphone for the otherwise marginalised.

But I love good blogs too. The ones that have something true to say. The ones that tickle all my fancies simultaneously. The ones that I thank all the computer nerds for inventing RSS for. Tap dancing at the top of that list for me is Maira Kalman's And the Pursuit of Happiness, which she updates on the last Friday of each month and which I look forward to with Ghostbuster's anticipation.

If you have the inclination, there's an interview with Ms Kalman over at The Bygone Bureau and a talk she gave at TED over here.

Well, that's it for today's post. Thanks for making the effort to come and share some time with me in the Land of Meg. I hope you found something to take away with you – you over there at your computer being alive.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Down and Dirty

I have an article in the current issue of Bicycle Victoria's Ride On magazine. It's for a section called Women's Spin, aimed at raising the profile of cycling among women.

This is the photo of our chook Louie that accompanies my words:

The gist of the article is that when I lived in Melbourne, I considered feminine to mean unruffled, neat and delicate. "If I could have sat side-saddle on my bike I would have."

But now that I live in the country where I grow vegies and keep chooks, you will often see me pedalling around in my dirty gardening clothes. "In the city I would check myself in the mirror before going out in public, but now I wear my soil-covered clothes and straw-filled hair like a flag I wave proudly to proclaim who I am."

I hadn't thought twice about it, until yesterday afternoon when Z and I were talking about the men and machines that have been working opposite our house for the last week. It has rained every day that they've been there and I commented to Z that I would much rather be warm and dry and working from home than drenched and cold and slipping around in the mud.

'But don't you like getting dirty?' Z asked me, stunned. And that’s when I realised that although I love the dirt and may even define myself by that love, I can't actually say that I like getting dirty. Not in the same way that a seven year-old boy can, anyway.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Hand Me Downs

This time last year, when PJ's grandmother died, I drove from the funeral to the wake in the car with PJ's parents. Next to me on the back passenger seat were some of his grandmother's possessions, including her sewing kit. It revealed much about the kind of woman she was: efficient, competent, frugal.

Not long after, PJ's sister wrote a beautiful blog post about inheriting this sewing kit. Of course the kit should have gone to her, but I must admit to feeling pangs of jealousy, even though she wasn't my grandmother.

There is something about a grandmother's possessions, for me anyway, that acts as a kind of direct line of communication to my female collective unconscious. It doesn't have to be my grandmother's things, I'm not that fussy.

Which is why I was so touched to receive the red case two days ago, a gift from our friends Ian and Vivienne. Inside it, Ian's mother's knitting needles and old patterns and Vivienne's balls of gorgeously soft alpaca wool.

Such a gift doesn't feel like it's merely been given, it feels as though it has been bequeathed – for me to use, enjoy, learn from, then pass on to the next person in line.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Which Reminds Me

Yesterday's post reminded me of a story my sister Emily once told me about a friend of hers. Several years ago, around Easter, he sent a large spanner and a broken Easter egg to a well-known commercial chocolatier, claiming that he had found the large spanner inside the much smaller egg.

Instead of laughing at the silliness of his practical joke, they sent him a card of apology and a basket full of eggs.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

It used to be that when people forwarded me humourous emails I would usually find them funny enough to forward on to other people. That's a rarity these days. But. The other day my friend The Dooch forwarded me these in an email that I think are worth sharing with all of you.

  • What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?
  • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realise you're wrong.
  • I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
  • Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
  • Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQs. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.
  • There is a great need for sarcasm font.
  • Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realise I had no idea what the fuck was going on when I first saw it.
  • How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I would rather try to carry 10 grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  • I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".
  • I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  • Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies".
  • I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.
  • I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
  • Bad decisions make good stories.
  • Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem …
  • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.
  • I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  • "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this. Ever.
  • I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  • I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  • I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.
  • I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...
  • I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  • My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?