inspiration

In My Studio . . . aka the Backroom

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Ever since I read Anne Lawson’s inaugural In My Studio post I could hardly wait to shift furniture and unpack the contents of our new-old third bedroom at Taylors Arm so I could join in, and share my embryonic dreams of creative space. The reality is it was the last room to be sorted.

But in time for Anne’s January 2016 In My Studio post I can unveil… the Backroom.

It’s early days yet, and other than blogging & Instagram artistic creativity remains in chrysalis stage. But for now it’s enough that I created the Backroom. For 10 years I’ve been dreaming of occupying this room that opens onto the verandah where the G.O. and I could share space on our big old table made from floorboards and fence posts topped with pots of pens, photos, notebooks and… stuff. A room that fits our books and collected knickknacks, where the old night & day sofa that reminds me of one at my grandparents’ old house sits below paintings done by my Great-Aunt Emma in 1911. Tall drawers and a repurposed drinks trolley hold other stationery and creative bibs & bobs, some untouched for more than a decade since I last did art courses, and recent gifts of sketchbooks & pencils.

It’s a beginning and a space where inspired by Anne’s artistic life and Ardys’ creative life & mindfulness I can play with the seeds of possibilities and creativity that have so wonderfully come my way.

 

 

 

out on a limb

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branchFrom time to time I dabble in short story writing. For the past few years I’ve entered Country Style Magazine’s short story competition. The theme for 2015 is ‘branching out’, and I’m stumped!

Last year, inspiration came to me via a dream. But so far this year my dreams have been the crazy fare of perimenopause… no writing material!

Adjacent to our Sydney apartment balcony is a huge eucalypt. I gaze at its long pale branches in an attempt to invoke wisdom. The tree is a source of food & shelter for numerous birds and butterflies, but has yet to proffer creativity!

I know the muses are hanging around, not goofing off in Ibiza: they’ve been amusing me with blog post ideas but enigmatically silent on ‘branching out’, even during 3 am wakefulness when bright writing ideas usually coalesce necessitating employment of scribble-in-the-dark-decipher-later skills.

When I think of ‘branching out’ the only things humming through my brain are misheard Rick Springfield lyrics

“…Speak to the sky trees and tell you how I feel
and to know sometimes what I say ain’t right,
It’s all right
cause I speak to the sky trees every night…”

interspersed by lines from the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree…

…Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.”

Sigh.

If you are an Australian resident and so inclined, details are:
Country Style Magazine Short Story Competition. Concludes on May 29, 2015 at 23:59 (AEDT). Entries no longer than 1500 words and previously unpublished.

Otherwise for both Australian and non-Australian residents is the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Single-authored short story of between 2000 and 5000 words, written in English. Stories must not have been previously published or be on offer to other prizes or publications for the duration of the Jolley Prize. Entries close at midnight 1 May 2015

 

 

irons in the fire . . .

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Without giving it much thought I’ve always had a number of creative and/or personal projects on the go; attending to what grabs my interest in what spare time I have. In the past week quite a few flagged their presence.

As I read Ardys’ post do your work, then step back… vis-à-vis the genealogy scrapbook she created for her daughter, I thought of the wedding photo book I’d started, and decided to employ similar parameters.

Photo Book
Nothing exceeds like excess…

I’d gotten as far as importing the photos and placing about two-thirds. I placed the rest of the photos. It looked stark. I decided to flagrantly abandon the parameters. Forsaking restraint, I downloaded wedding theme embellishments, and an eclectic mix of others, splashing them across the pages. My inner Oscar Wilde “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” was pleased.

We’ve purchased an elegant formal album for the 40 printed photos taken by Loving Images Photography. That project, affixing the photos and congratulatory cards within the album belongs to the oh-so-neat-and-patient G.O. Not a task for slapdash EllaDee.

There’s method, rather than madness, behind my pick-it-up-put-it-put-it-down style. If I work continually on a project, I stop seeing detail and perspective. I put it aside, park it in the back of my mind and while it’s in hiatus jot down ideas, then return to it afresh.

That method also camouflages procrastination… as in the case of our “if you’re reading this, we’re no longer with you” letters. Upon marriage legal wills are revoked, so the day before our nuptials we signed new wills but the accompanying personal wishes + useful information missives could do with refreshing to make them current. Sigh.

Love Who You Are
Love Who You Are

Late in the week I stumbled across a tangible prompt: a Love Who You Are  banner, which complements a project along those lines I’ve been nurturing for too-many-years. My Saturday morning meditation affirmed it should be on my radar and provided insights of how I could develop it further.

The same meditation also yielded a suggestion to compile EllaDee’s Photo Library. I use only my own photos in my creative work. I’m pretty good at backing up (more so after the smartphone debacle resulting in the loss of photos of the G.O.’s grandmother’s old house…) particularly now I’m linked to OneDrive, and Google Photos is set to automatically back up my phone. Much like my email and tax filing, it’s all there but there is no order and I regularly search extensively the various repositories. Sigh.

Amongst Indie and book club reading and reviews, I read and reviewed Letters for my Little Sister.

“… I thought I would read it fast, eager to know all the information and experience it conveys. However, I’m savouring it; enjoying each essay and the personality of the woman who wrote it. When I’m weary or stressed, whether it’s due to peri-menopause or just life… reading it lifts me up, makes me smile and connects me with wonderful real, thoughtful community.”

Elements of Love Who You Are  also feed into Celi’s Second Fellowship Book: Letters for my Baby Girl, which I’ve signed up for, and begun composing a letter to contribute. Of course I’ve mislaid my writing- do’s-and-don’ts checklist. Sigh.

And there’s the family history, mine or anyone else’s, I explore. I’ve lost count of the strands I’m following. It’s difficult not to get side-tracked. I lose endless time clicking on sources leading to various snippets of information, saving links and excerpts within the labyrinth of my electronic filing for sometime-in-the-future reference. Sigh.

However, last weekend we lunched with the G.O.’s visiting aunt & uncle plus family I hadn’t met before who live on the far side of Sydney. We got to chatting about family stories and history, the G.O. enthusiastically sharing the information of their mutual convict ancestry. In a generous weak moment I offered to email the info I’d amassed. Which means locating and sorting it. Sigh.

Looking through the files reminded me of a blog post on the third convict ancestor I’d not finished, and old family photos I’d agreed to send to a newly discovered distant cousin from Dad’s mum’s Button family. As she is a prodigious online sharer, I want to watermark them first. Sigh.

Blog posts… Sigh. What on earth was I thinking in December 2011 when I created not a single but THREE WordPress blogs? Since sanity prevailed via my April 2014 blog consolidation exercise I’ve barely managed to keep up with one.

As well as Pinterest and Instagram, you can also find me on Goodreads and Etsy.

“The old proverb about having too many irons in the fire is an abominable old lie.
Have all in, shovel, tongs, and poker.”
―Adam Clarke

We did – it our way.

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The eve of our wedding day was a graced by a rainbow in the valley. One of us tried to rest. One of us baked a wedding cake: red velvet slab with white chocolate ganache. Neither pursuit was without its challenge: Soossie Cat tried to help with the nap; and the G.O.’s warning of an unsecured container meant just the edge of the [un-iced] cake hit the floor.

Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.
Rainbow in the valley. One of us baked a wedding cake. One of us tried to rest.

Our wedding day dawned drizzly, heavy rain escorted us from Taylors Arm to Coffs Harbour and the first glitch occurred; an amorous, distracted pigeon accidentally collided with the ute as we were driving en route.

Prior to the ceremony we needed breakfast, and flowers for the wedding bouquet. We took care of both at Pansabella Providores at Coffs Central, and the second glitch; a watch chain caught on a button was kindly & quickly repaired by a conveniently located jeweller. Sheltered from the rain in a covered car park I created a wedding bouquet from a bunch of freshly delivered ranunculus and anemones.

We created a wedding bouquet from a bunch ranunculus and anemones.
Wedding bouquet created from a bunch of ranunculus and anemones.

Due to a quiet word with the Lord by the G.O. (and possibly the inadvertent sacrifice of an unfortunate pigeon) the weather over Diggers Beach cleared to sunny in the half hour before 11 am. Our rainbow coloured umbrella that clearly horrified the photographer’s assistant-wife wasn’t required.

The ceremony was performed by celebrant Ken incorporating his words, our Kahlil Gibran poems and simple vows. Our chosen music melded with the sounds of the ocean in the background. Attired in favourite clothes (rather than our best) and much-loved hand-me-down jewellery, in the interests of photographic styling we adopted the suggestion we remove our glasses, making everything a blur, figuratively and literally, except each other.

Afterwards we cooperated with our photographer, Stephen and his assistant-wife Lisa (aka our witnesses) for a short session recording the special event for posterity. We also took a few informal happy snaps of our own. And, when the proceedings were concluded we celebrated by walking the length of Diggers Beach.

Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia
Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour NSW Australia

Then, with a thought to absent family we called by to place some wedding bouquet at grandparents May & Vince’s headstone, and went on to enjoy lunch in the sun, a celebratory glass of Boomerang Bay chardonnay and a XXXX beer at the Ocean View Hotel at Urunga. Before returning to Taylors Arm for our honeymoon we paused to place the remainder of the wedding bouquet at grandparents Roy & Muriel’s headstone, and visited the headstone of Ollie & Vin the original owners of our house. Our final stop was to snip wild roadside plum blossoms for wedding cake adornment.

At home the cake and Soossie Cat awaited. In the last light of the day, we set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake accompanied by well-earned cups of coffee.

We set the table with a pretty tablecloth & crockery, and finished with a ceremonial cutting & eating of wedding cake.
Pretty tablecloth, crockery, and wedding cake.

Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Kahlil Gibran

a breath of yesteryear

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Once again nose to the scent of a family history trail, I was looking for names, dates and places but what I found was so much better: the opportunity to spend some time, in a fashion, with the G.O.’s Pop Mac.

Apparently there’s been family history research done on the G.O.’s mother’s paternal family side but I’ve never seen the fruits of it. Possibly I haven’t asked the right questions of the right person at the right time. Regardless, I like doing my own snooping research. Curious, I Googled the G.O.’s grandfather’s name and got not what I was looking for but more than I’d bargained.

The G.O. and I were pleased, and a little surprised, to come across a published version of his grandfather Roy Mackaway’s (1912-1994) work “Nulla Nulla”. The G.O. tells me he sat with his Pop for many hours as he one-finger-typed poems and stories. Roy always wanted them to be formally published. We have a copy of an early version of this work, and now a hardcopy for the G.O. and e-book for me of Jan Hawkins’ “Around the Campfire” 2013 published version.

I could give Nulla Nulla nothing less than 5 stars in my Goodreads review. “A time capsule of entertaining, amusing… sometimes poignant and hilarious… stories and poems. The author has a lively turn of phrase and is a talented storyteller and poet.” Lively turn of phrase may be understating it. I made the mistake of reading “The Pickle Bottle Poultice” on a crowded train. It describes Roy’s wife treating a boil on his “goat”  in the manner prescribed by his Grandpa. “The [dreaded] pickle poultice is short for pickle poultice murder…”

“… My Grandpa, he’s dead and gone now,
may the angels bless his soul.
For he’s the only man this side of hell,
that’s got a Grandson with two bum holes”

Wikipedia describes a nulla nulla (aka waddy) as “an Australian Aboriginal war club… A waddy is a heavy club constructed of carved timber. Waddies have been used in hand to hand combat, and were capable of splitting a shield, and killing or stunning prey. In addition to this they could be employed as a projectile as well as used to make fire and make ochre.”

Pop Mac adopted this name for his writing. In his words “Nulla Nulla is a stick, with a great knob on one end. One of its uses is when a young aboriginal lad was beginning to feel a bit lonely and he reckoned he needed a wife, he would wait until the middle of the day when it was a bit hot and he would sneak up to the water hole where all the young girls from other tribes would be having a swim. He would pick the best and spring on her like a greyhound with a bull-ant under his tail and if she gave any trouble he gave her a slight tap on the noggin’ with his nulla, throw her over his shoulder and head back to his tribe. In this way they were married.”

As well as being published, Nulla Nulla : a collection of Australian prose & poems by Cecil Roy Mackaway is held in the National Library of Australia and State Library of Queensland collection.

I’ve been distracted from my intended family history research but I will get back to it. There’s a wealth of clues in the book.

Often dipping into Goodreads quotes looking for tried & true words in the form of quotes to supplement my own literary efforts, I was thrilled and a little bemused to read the following of Roy’s recorded by Goodreads for posterity.

“Just Fat and Cuddly
There’s Aunty, just out of bed, looking a little glum and gloomy,
but I tell you mate, she’s put on weight as her frocks ain’t nice and roomy.
I’ll send her west where there ain’t no pests, where frogs all croak for water,
and I tell you mate she’ll loose the weight and once again she’ll be a corker.
I’m now heading back to my mountain shack, this only if I get the time,
for things won’t go well, she’ll give me hell, when she reads this little rhyme.”
― Cecil Roy Mackaway, Nulla Nulla (Around the Campfire Book 7) Cecil R Mackaway (Author), Eric S Hawkins (Illustrator), Jan Hawkins (Photographer)

The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words "Nulla Nulla" signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.
The G.O. has long memorialized his Pop with the words “Nulla Nulla” signwritten on his ute. He is currently driving Nulla Nulla 2.

A glimpse into the book is available via Amazon, one of the options for purchasing it.

Nulla Nulla

a collection of Australian Prose and Poems

by Cecil Roy Mackaway

published by Jan Hawkins

As noted by the publisher, Jan Hawkins:

“Cecil Roy Mackaway grew up in the Hunter Valley* north of Sydney, touched by a time now passed. Fresh from the influenced of a family with a convict colonial history he witnessed a world, seen from a unique view. His stories and poems bring to life the Australian colonial era and life lived from the Bushman’s perspective. Not always politically correct in today’s society, he none the less brings a richness and variety to our history and the tale of life as it was lived in the bush in a era now gone.”

“The Author gave the copyright to this collection of prose and poems into my care some years ago, to be published in time. I found the writing so delightful and entertaining that I have published it now for the general public. I invite you to step back into colonial Australia, into a time now passed and see the world through the eyes of someone who enjoyed the adventure of life and the living of it.

These works have been presented as originally written with minimal editing, preserving the vernacular and prose of the era passed where possible, which may be seen in the use of italics. The terms used in the past may not be appropriate if used in the discourse of the present day. If these terms are likely to offend please so not read this book. Neither the Author or Publisher intends to offend.

In publishing these works I would like to introduce Cecil Roy Mackaway, a friend, a relative and an inspiring writer and poet.”

The anthology begins…

“A Breath of Yesteryear

From the Memoirs of

Cecil Roy Mackaway

I was born in 1912 and reared at Dyers Crossing on the Wallamba River in New South Wales, Australia. My Grandmother was the daughter of a young Englishman, he was sent out to the colonies by his family for colonial experience like so many young men from England. It is believed however that he was murdered on the gold field at Bendigo…”

And includes…

“Old Cobbers

I sit alone in my mountain home with a pencil in my hand,

tryin’ to think of a line or two, for my cobbers down on the Strand.

They’re rushing here and rushing there as life is just one way,

and they forget their mates up bush, that they knew in another day.

So life goes on and years pass by, where’s it getting you in the end?

A cripple from rush and strife, or slightly ’round the bend. So I’ll sit up here and write good cheer for them mates down in the Strand,

and tell them about the fish I caught and latest about the brand.

Perhaps they will think of me whilst strolling in the Strand.”

* Dyers Crossing is correctly located in the Wallamba Valley near Nabiac on the Mid North Coast.

where there’s a will there’s a way

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At our previous [much-loved & still missed after 3 years] apartment we had not a lot of space but conducive enough environment at least to grow a few pots of culinary herbs, and flowers.

Our current apartment features generous balcony space with sunny north-east aspect but overlooks a city train line, the ballast dust from which means nothing survives other than succulents, and hardy geraniums that have few flowers but which I maintain as it appears the leaves are a desirable food source for caterpillars… that the native Noisy Miner birds enjoy… every thing has to eat.

Hardy city apartment balcony potted garden… train line in the background

During last month’s necessities trip to the supermarket I spotted a Jamie’s Garden Mini Green House for kids on sale for $5.  The G.O. watched with amusement as I spent a fun Sunday morning hour assembling it, applying stickers and planting way too many seeds onto the coir matt. My logic was the roof of the greenhouse would keep out the nasty ballast. And sure enough, within days there were tiny sprouts of green.

It started with Jamie's Garden... and wouldn't have been right without stickers
It started with Jamie’s Garden… and wouldn’t have been right without stickers

Of course, this success this wasn’t sufficient so running with it I purchased one, then another, big clear plastic storage tub with lid that I employed the G.O. to cut flaps in… I’m banned from very sharp implements due to my cack-handedness. I assembled odd containers and potting mix, added seeds to finally create a modest, but oh so gratifying to a frustrated gardener, productive edible space.

Tubs planted with pots of watercress, basil, rocket, mixed herbs, spinach, parsley, cress and coriander

The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee

people power II – putting your name on it…

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Does putting your name and signature to a cause make a difference? I believe so…

My email in-box is evidence of my affection for causes, populated as it is with emails from change.org, care2 petition site and GetUp requesting my virtual signature.

It started at home and simply enough with the change.org petition to RailCorp NSW: Erect a noise barrier wall along the St Peters rail corridor. Initially my support was speculative, not envisaging my armchair warrior stance could accomplish much. But there have been tangible results, evidenced by the weekend track-work taking place within sight of our balcony and a resultant reduction in noise.

And then today change.org and the media announced what is to me a real and groundbreaking victory both for the issue (which has been ongoing) and online petition supporters.

People-power win after Sydney teacher Paula Orbea launches petition against ‘misogynistic and degrading slogans’ on Wicked Campers vans. In this instance: in every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once…

street art_Macdonaldtown Train Station, Sydney NSW Australia
Wicked Campers were otherwise but people power won

“WICKED Campers* have agreed to clean up sexist or misogynistic slogans from their fleet of vans after a public outcry this week…
The company has today issued an apology and committed to reviewing and removing offensive marketing from all of its campervans in the next six months.
Paula Orbea, the Sydney school teacher who started the 110,000-strong change.org petition against Wicked Campers, says it’s a stunning people-power victory against sexism, with the result coming just four days after she started the petition.
In an email from Wicked Campers received by Paula, she says the company has offered a personal apology and has now removed the sexist slogan Paula’s daughter saw.”

Work in progress:
Roseanne is facing a lifetime in prison because of her disability. Stop the neglect.
There’s been “incredible progress on freeing Roseanne. Locked up in prison indefinitely because of her disability, without being guilty of a crime – your signatures have helped convince the NT Government to start moving to free her.”

There are still good old paper petitions doing the rounds as well. Earlier this week a colleague sought my signature on a petition opposing “More than two dozen specialist women’s shelters could be forced to close in metropolitan Sydney as the New South Wales government finalises a major reform into homeless services funding.”

Good news:
In April 2013 I became a member of Lock the Nambucca Valley, created to oppose Precious Metal Resources Pty Ltd mining exploration for gold and antimony mining in the Nambucca Valley… just up the road from our house at Taylors Arm, detailed in the post dead waters.

In June 2014 came the good news
“Precious Metals Resources has relinquished its licence (EL8016) to explore for antimony and gold in the Nambucca Valley! The licence has now been cancelled. PMR claimed that exploration was not justified. Lock the Nambucca Valley is confident that our strong opposition to commencement of antimony mining activities in the Nambucca had a role to play in PMRs decision to pull out. They were well aware of our existence and the enormous community support for our campaign to prevent them starting. We have won.”

Lock the Nambucca Valley however remain realistic and vigilant as “another company could apply for a similar exploration to plunder and pollute”.

Wins:
People power saved Newtown Community Markets.

change.org
NSW introduces tougher penalties for drunken violence
Mum of five gets life-saving stomach cancer surgery

care2 petition site
Tasmanian Forests Won’t Be Open to Logging
The Shubie Spice Girls Can Stay At Their Home

GetUp
Helped save from destruction the oldest collection of rock art in the world on the Burrup Peninsula, WA.
Brought together senators from across party lines to win a conscience vote stopping ministerial veto of the RU486 non-surgical abortion medication.

… and more wins, detailed on their websites.

A final word to Wicked Campers
Artist Stef Burgon takes on Wicked Campers, paints her own slogan
If ya wouldn’t say it to ya Nan… don’t write it on ya van! 

*Wicked Campers is an Australian camper van rental company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The company also has outlets in other parts of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, North America, South Africa and South America. Wicked Campers market their product towards younger drivers and backpackers. Each van features a spray painted design, often featuring pop culture references and politically incorrect slogans.”

people power

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001aNewtown Community Market is successful enough that in 2012 it won a council-supported business achievement award. Popular enough that last year the organisers, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, lodged a development application to expand its ongoing operation, but eliciting objection to the effect “they stole customers from bricks-and-mortar retailers” and votes from a number of Marrickville councillors to actually cease operations. The response was almost 4000 people signed a petition fighting to keep the markets open. People power won. Personally, I believe the retailers benefit from the presence the markets attract.

Described as “small-but-hip” Newtown Markets are the lazy Saturday morning option for the G.O. and me. It’s a leisurely walk browsing the eclectic King Street shops en route. When we don’t need much in the way of groceries our produce necessities are simply & wonderfully catered for by Sariwa Fresh Foods. No need to fight for car parking or lug a laden granny trolley 2 kms home from Eveleigh Farmers’ Market.

And, with unspent grocery money burning a hole in our pockets there are my personal favourites: second-hand books and socks… [new socks, that is; I have cat socks, dog socks, fox socks, owl socks, pink flamingo socks and more, some remaining only singly which I mix and match]; and all manner of interesting things once encountered you could hardly live without.

Newtown Market offers low-risk business opportunities for local artists and craftspeople in a high profile location to promote and sell their unique creations. The Market is organised by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to raise funds for its community support programs. This community market has become the common ground, a place where people can interact, alive with social and economic activities. We believe our vibrant market strengthens the local identify and serves to amplify cherished aspects of Newtown’s local culture.

The Corner is a live music space located at the Newtown Community Market. The space provides local buskers with an opportunity to reach a new audience, promote their music while being encouraged to put out their cases and to sell their cd’s. The Corner has hosted a range of musical styles including Gypsy Jazz, solo artists, theatrical performances, blues, electronica, Newtown Primary’s Jazz Orchestra, soul, reggae and Latin. The Corner brings new life to the markets, entertaining market goers and stallholders with music to shop along to, or to sit and enjoy.”

The market is held in Newtown Square adjacent to The Hub, outside the community centre, opposite Newtown Railway Station on King Street, from 10 am to 4 pm every Saturday.

Newtown Neighbourhood Centre is also the organiser of Newtown Festival which on one Sunday each November attracts 80,000 people to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.

a simply gorgeous birthday

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As far as I’m concerned too many long weekends are never enough, so opportunistically as the G.O.’s birthday fell on a Monday I suggested he take the day off work. Possibly influenced by his daily 160 km commute the G.O. weakened from his it’s just another day  stance and agreed, but when I lobbed the idea of a weekend away into the air he let it bounce out of the court… The weather probably be won’t be any good and we’ve just been away for your sister’s wedding and at Taylors Arm…

I, being a good missus took the G.O.’s birthday off as well to keep him company. So it came to be that we had a self-proclaimed mid-winter long weekend in Sydney. In 9 years we’ve never spent a long weekend in Sydney, and otherwise a rare sequence of days greater than 2 in our apartment only due to illness or injury.

What to do? Well, nothing in a hurry – one of the benefits of having an in-house coffee machine. Eventually Saturday started out as usual with a walk through Sydney Park, on via the local Triumph motorcycle showroom as we were sort of heading in that direction to lunch at Velvet Garage then a detour to browse along King Street, stopping at a second-hand shop to pick up the kookaburras the G.O. had been thinking about, and a spur-of-the-moment frog.

pre-birthday shopping
pre-birthday shopping

Sunday morning didn’t look like we were going anywhere at all, as our lunch plans had fallen through, until the G.O. remembered he wanted to go to the movies. We couldn’t rouse ourselves further than the local Dendy Newtown, but The Rover (“featuring Guy Pearce – an Australian dystopian crime drama film… a futuristic western that takes place in the Australia outback, ten years after a global economic collapse”) was on at 2 convenient times so we got a wriggle-on and aimed for the earlier. Slightly confronting, we agreed however it had merit if not enjoyable in the usual sense of the word.

Monday even though it wasn’t my birthday was worth celebrating just because the alarm didn’t go off at 5 am. After the G.O.’s morning still-trying-to-give-up-cigarette (and being interrogated by the apartment building’s formidable lady-caretaker putting out the bins while he -apparently a stranger- appeared to be loitering out the front rolling it… “can I help you?”), coffee, porridge with stewed apples-pears & walnuts, gift unwrapping, and birthday phone calls, the G.O. decided to proceed with his only plan for the day, a short drive to Victory Motorcycles so he could inflict another round of exquisite should-I-shouldn’t-I torture on himself.

The G.O.’s lunch suggestions were boring so we went with my brain-wave to go back in time and across the city to our old stomping ground at the West Ryde Hotel aka Mary’s. Shock horror, the same-same exterior hid a surprise; the interior had been revamped… it appeared recent but given neither of us had set foot there for quite some time it could have been done well over a decade ago.

Lunch was excellent, the G.O.’s meaty as is his preference, and we dined in the less-changed grapevine covered beer garden. With time to kill we stopped in off in Balmain-Rozelle for a stroll and something sweet to take home before setting off to our post-4 pm collection point to pick up the Baron Star Bar handlebar for his motorcycle, which the G.O. used his previous birthday IOU to order from the U.S. just a week earlier. (Note to DHL couriers, not happy you couldn’t manage to press our buzzer to deliver it in person – we were at home).

four wheels good two wheels better
four wheels good two wheels better

Neither of us felt like much dinner, so it was birthday banana bread*, very appropriate for a Coffs Harbour raised boy.

* I’m not a particularly assured cook, and assumed café offerings such as madeleines, friands and banana bread weren’t the domain of ordinary cooks. I’ve now attempted all successfully, dispelling the mystique, but none more so than this simple banana bread I resorted to a couple of weeks ago because I had bananas in the freezer, and (unusually) milk in the fridge but no eggs.

Combine 3 mashed bananas, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, and 1 cup milk, bake in loaf tin in 180 C (356 F) oven for 40 minutes.

gorgeous birthday food
gorgeous birthday food

in good company

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Earlier this week I attended an inspiring forum addressed by Natalie Isaacs, CEO/Founder of 1 Million Women “a community of women determined to act on climate change”. The forum touted as being about climate change pleasantly surprised me by conveying ideas on the same page as I am about sustainability.

Natalie communicated a worthy message about collective power “As women we decide about 85% of household purchases. If 1 million women all make one better choice, however small, it leads to real change. We are a community of women determined to act on climate change. Together, our choices and how we live make us powerful! ”

If you would like find out more or be counted among the 1 Million Women, click on the link and join. It’s free and there’s much interesting information on the website, such as that outlined by Natalie describing 1 Million Women’s Six Ways to Live Simply. I’ve encountered via blogging the company of many people – women and men – on the journey making similar contributions to sustainable, ethical, good living. I’m not splitting hairs about labels. Whatever you call it, it makes sense.

Besides sharing a teabag, much to the bemusement of family & friends, here are our Six Ways…

Less is More81bedd4bf3b6148938033fb54cc20def
On the way home last night I detoured to Pitt St Mall “Australia’s busiest and most cosmopolitan shopping precinct” the closest stockist of Sodastream exchange gas cylinders which give fizz to the bubbly water we use to make wine spritzers. I dallied, enjoying the novelty of browsing the stores. The G.O. asked why I hadn’t indulged in some retail therapy. My reply, “Stuff I want but don’t need and can’t afford.” Read the rest of this entry »