Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

NATURE BRINGS SOLACE (Feb 2017)




I love nature. I love camping in it, walking in it and living in it.

Over the years I have camped in small tents in numerous national parks across 4 states. From the time my children were 3 months old they went camping. We never had electricity - it wasn't available in most national parks. We camped all weathers including snow at Barrington Tops.

Barrington Tops Photo Source

 The last time I did this sort of camping was 10 years ago with my daughter and son-in-law at Carrington Falls, not far away in the Southern Highlands. 

Peter and I own a caravan now, so I have graduated to a more 'civilised' type of camping.

I love the view from my backroom at home....





and my bedroom as seen below.

(The poor old blinds need replacing, but I have so many other things to do which visitors can see that I'm afraid these will be left for a while.)


 I live in the trees. There are times when I think I should move, as maintenance becomes more difficult as I grow older, but I just love it so much it is really hard to decide what to do. Some mornings a lyre bird comes to my back deck. My backyard is a rain forest - not to everybody's taste, but I love it.

Below is a Birds Nest Fern in my back yard.

 

Below is a view up my yard from the cubby house.








Food

On Friday night I tried cooking with Kataifi pastry for the first time.






I followed the recipe on the packet for prawns in Kataifi. I think the prawns I used were too small so there was a lot of Kataifi, which was very crunchy, but not much prawn. We dipped them in peppery mayonnaise but they just weren't tasty enough - just a big mouthful of crunchy nothing dipped in mayonnaise. 
Kataifi can be deep fried, which would probably be tastier. It can also be used for some Middle Eastern desserts , as pictured below, which I might try at some stage.  


Decorating

I spray painted an old cane mirror I found at the Salvo's for $8 about a year a go.I gave it a coat of Aluminium which I think makes a great base which you can read about in last week's post. 

Then it was sprayed gloss white and hung it in my back room above an old cane shelf I also sprayed white.

 

Craft

I cooked up another batch of toadstools, ready to be painted.

 




In The Garden

Peter constructed an above ground garden that I bought at Aldi on special for $10. There is a paved area at the back of my house where the paving is slipping and weeds dominate, so I am changing the nature of the area to above ground gardens.

Under the pavers was a thin layer of blue metal so we covered that with cardboard.


We began filling it with some mulch from an old Brush Turkey nest which you can read about here in a post from May 2016. 


It will take a while to fill as my back will only allow me to move a couple of buckets of mulch a day from the bottom of the garden to the top. But in a week or so I should be there and I will top it up with potting mix.

As I have mentioned before, I love fungus. I find it fascinating in that it is neither plant nor animal, and think it is often very beautiful decorating a forest or garden in various forms, my favourite of which are toadstools. (However, I am not so keen on fungus on bread or in my fridge. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about that!)

When we cleared an area for the garden we came across some interesting forms of  fungus as seen below.







Effective altruism

I watched an interview with Professor Peter Singer and was really impressed by what he said about the use of charity money to alleviate world poverty.
'Singer is an advocate of effective altruism. He argues that people should not only try to reduce suffering, but reduce it in the most effective manner possible.' (Wikipedia)


If you are interested in where your charity dollar can help most click on thelifeyoucansave.com. This doesn't mean I support all the views of Peter Singer, in fact I oppose quite a few of them, but I like the idea of charity dollars going where they can make the most difference. 

While Peter Singer is an Australian, he works in the USA and his web page is probably most suited to Americans. While I am a Christian, I also see myself as a critical thinker, and don't immediately dismiss the ideas of non-Chrisitans. To do so would be ridiculous as science and ideas have been the domain of both Christians and non-Christians for thousands of years.

Australia has 54,000 registered charities. It does seem that some type of consolidation could mean a sharing of resources. 

Duplication of services is seen as a growing problem and the ACNC(Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Comission.)plays an important role in addressing this. Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, (and every caring woman's poster boy) recently said, "Mergers and collaborations are not appropriate for many charities, but fewer charities in Australia might actually mean more and better services if we can build on our effectiveness and reduce duplication." (Huffington Post)

But on a world stage surely we should be able to at least make sure everyone has enough food to live. There is plenty to go around.Here in the West we waste so much food, while many of our brothers and sisters don't have enough Is it politics or just sheer selfishness which sees such inequity in our world?


Interesting sites

1.
Pods for the homeless in Los Angeles
Photo Source
 Click here to read about some pods for homeless people. They are designed by Los Angeles architecture students. 

2.
 Burn beautiful swirls into wood
Photo source
 Click here to watch an artist burn a beautiful pattern into a piece of wood. 

3.
 Strawberries in pots

Photo source
  To learn how to grow strawberries in pots click here.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

WHAT IF THE MIGHTIEST WORD IS LOVE? (Feb 2017)

 

 

 I have had 3 times in my life I have had to learn to 'dance' again. I don't think mine have been beautiful dances but more haphazard hopping around.

Everybody has traumatic experiences in their lives - they have 'weathered' all types of 'storms'.

I have 'weathered' the worst 'storm' I will ever have to survive, and I dance on...but sometimes I droop a bit, or maybe trip, but with God's help I stay on the dance floor.

This metaphor reminds me of the song Lord of The Dance. It is a beautiful song and tune. You can listen to it here, sung by John McDermott. 

 

 In the 1990's Michael Flatley, of Riverdance made the tune really popular with his Lord of the Dance tap routines. You can see one of his last performances here. 

 

Cute pig picture source

Wednesday already. My aim is to write a post to publish every Wednesday. Saturday was just not practical. It does take a bit of thought to write  about things when nothing much happens in your life, speaking of which it has been a non-eventful week - too hot to do anything much. We cancelled Jade's proposed birthday night on Saturday as I don't have air-conditioning and it was extremely hot. We are experiencing the hottest summer on record.

Craft

 The crocheted cardigan is coming on. (Click here to see the last post for details.)

 

Crocheting small flowers to decorate cards is the next project I have started.

For various reasons I am spending quite a lot of time at Peter's. I have offered to design and make Peter a low maintenance garden so he wouldn't have so much to mow, but as yet he has failed to take me up on the offer. So there is plenty of time to spend on craft projects, and I get bored doing the one thing so I have also made some polymer clay toadstools ready for some more projects.

 

Plants

Sunday was largely spent recovering from Saturday's heat. Peter and I popped around to Rhiannon and Bill's and Rhiannon had a new 'planter' on her fence.

 
This was a cows pelvis turned into a 'planter' for Spanish Moss.

Rhiannon has a collection of these bony 'planters' along her back fence with various succulents and Spanish Moss attached to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Jade and I potted up these succulents below, before Christmas and they have grown quite considerably. I prettied a couple of them up with dragonflies and toadstools, for gifts.

 

 
 Decorating

Bunnings is my favourite shop (followed closely by Officeworks and then Aldi). My last trip to Bunnings saw me purchasing a box full of Gloss White and Aluminium spray paint for about $25. This should last me for ages.

I am in the process of spraying the surrounds of a cane mirror from The Salvos.

 It was white but had yellowed over the years, so I began by giving it a coat of Aluminium. I find this seems to give objects a really good base for Gloss White.

The mirror itself is covered with glad wrap which was poked under the edge of the cane to keep it clear of paint. I hope it works. Now it just needs a few coats of white. I have just the place for it.

 

 

 

  Poems

 

 

When I came across this poem, "Praise Song for the Day" , by Elizabeth Alexander, I didn't realise it was written for President Obama's inauguration. I actually thought it was written in 1962 which turned out to be the poet's year of birth. It was actually written in 2009. So I think it is a poem that crosses the boundaries of time.

Praise Song for the Day

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues. 

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, 
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
 
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, 

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, 
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.
 
 

When I read a poem, and it makes me feel or see something, at first it may not be easy to put it into words. 

But I like this poem because it makes me feel positive. It talks about the day by day things, the sacrifices made in the past, and the possibilities of a bright future.

Our move into the future is a combined effort, with all of us involved, as we go around our day to day business. The poet asks the question, 'What if the mightiest word is love?'

While it is written for the people of the USA it seems relevant to us as we have a similar society and are linked so closely to USA. It is also a poem relevant to each individual reading it. We all want, 'something better down the road...where we are safe'. We all 'walk into that which we cannot see yet'. None of us knows the future.

But,'on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp' of something new, we hope we are all 'walking forward into the light.' 

Let's just hope that 'on the brink' of Trump era, we are indeed 'walking forward into the light' and not backwards into the darkness.

'What if the mightiest word is love?' 

 
Pigs in love picture source.

By way of finishing I would just like to tell you about Powershop. I changed 
to them from Origin where I was spending around $125 a month on 
electricity. By changing to Powershop it cost me $98 from 1st January to
13th February - around 6 weeks. It is a very different type of electricity
provider. You can purchase your electricity  before you use it if you wish. I 
changed over on line and was so pleased with my saving I just thought it was
worth mentioning.  
 
 Interesting sites
 
 
1.
 
 Americans move away from meat.
 
  
The way Americans think about food is changing.They are moving away from meat toward a more plant based diet. Click here.



2.
 Presidential butterfly
Photo source
Click here to read about a butterfly named after Donald Trump. 



3.
 Tiny DIY Trailer Home
Photo source
A young couple on the move build a small home that will go wherever life takes them. Click here to read about them.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

THE JOY IN MOTHERHOOD AND OTHER SNIPPETS(February 2017)


The joy in motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times, but amid the challenges there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.
M. Russell Ballard



I love quotes. Since I was a young teenager I have saved them and written them down. Now when I come across them in my reading, and I find they say something to me, I save them for my blog. I have a system of writing them up where I never know which quote I will come across on the next post I do, and now on my blogs, even though I consider it terribly self-indulgent, I have been commenting on them from a personal perspective.

This quote on motherhood made me really think about what it was like being the mother of two creative children, who just didn't fit comfortably into mainstream schooling or life.


While I love my children more than anything in the world, motherhood has not always been easy. It has been a long, long road. Dealing with childhood depression in both my daughters in their early years was very difficult. Seeking and fighting for professional psychiatric help for my children, in the early 1990's, when there was far less awareness, became a way of life. My husband and I home-schooled our younger daughter right through high-school. In year 9 my elder daughter was the only child in NSW to be enrolled in High School part time and home-schooled part time. We knew this because at the time my husband worked in head office for the Department of Education.

I don't remember ever falling out with my daughters, even in their teenage years, although we did have occasional disagreements. They are both artists and we fostered their creativity as much as we could. With depression raising its ugly head in both my daughters at an early age, I made the commitment never to give up on them.

Thanks to their genes, every day is a battle. I know because I share some of these genes.

Motherhood has held many moments of joy for me. There have been hard and frustrating times, and there still are. But now my daughters fight their own battles and I will always be their to support them.

For me, 'the shining moments of joy and satisfaction' come when I see the caring and compassionate individuals my daughters have become. I am very proud of them and I admire them greatly for not just giving up. I would like to think that their father and I have played at least some small part in them becoming such wonderful women.








Last Sunday Peter and I went to a 50th wedding anniversary. The beautiful cake below had a photo of the bride and groom 50 years ago. It was edible - made of icing.



Peter's elder sister and her husband have been married for 50 years and it was lovely to join other close family members and friends to help them celebrate.


A trip to Helensburgh on Wednesday to attend a medical appointment, saw us driving through quite a bit of fog on the top of the mountain.




January, in New South Wales,  Australia, has been a heat wave month, and it looks as if February is going to be the same. It is great to have some cooler weather for a few days.



On Friday morning I had coffee with my lovely friend J at Wollongong Harbour, or Belmore Basin as it is officially known.






Again, it was a grey day, but lovely sitting outside to sip coffee and catch up. We met at church a few years ago, and although J has moved on to a new church, we have a lot in common and keep in touch.

She brought me some resources for tutoring and some other bits and pieces which I really appreciated.

Tutoring has started again and I love working with my students. A year 11 student is beginning Ancient History and when I worked with him yesterday I was surprised how much I could remember from my teaching many years ago. I will enjoy studying this again to keep up with my student. 








Craft


I have begun crocheting this cardigan with some wool I have had for years.





The cardigan is growing slowly.

You can find the pattern for the cardigan here. 
It is an American pattern so double crochet actually means treble in English and Australian crochet.

In the Garden

Decorating and gardening have taken a back seat to some other things so far this year, but little by little things are taking shape.

Blue glass containers were ideal for some potted succulents at the front of my place. I plan a colour scheme of blue and grey out here.







My container gardening has been spurred on by an article I read here.


On Saturday night I plan to cook a vegan dinner for my family. It is to celebrate my daughter's birthday and she is vegan. Her birthday was actually about a month ago but she wanted to spread the family occasions out a bit, after Christmas and New Year.

I make sure there is plenty of vegan food at all our family get-togethers, but once a year, for Jade's birthday, I make the meal completely vegan. Jade has been vegan for over 20 years so I am quite skilled at vegan cooking, but this time I will try some new dishes - vegan lasagne, potato and rosemary pizza and Golden Rice Pudding with Turmeric, Ginger and Pink Peppercorns. I haven't quite decided on the rest except for a chocolate tart with an Oreo crust that is requested at every meal.

The plan is to have an evening playing a new version of Trivial Pursuit, but at the moment another heat wave is on the way and the forecast for Saturday is a maximum of 39 degrees and a minimum of 28 degrees, so I am not quite sure as to whether we will postpone the evening for another night when it is cooler, as I don't have air-conditioning.  We shall just have to wait and see.


Interesting sites



1.
How to choose plants for your home
 
 Click here to see a video with some useful information about how to choose plants for your home.


2.
 Ice in Northern Canada is breaking up
 One of Canada’s most northerly communities reinvents its relationship with a thawing landscape. The ice around Nain is breaking up. Click here to read more.

3.


Sailing through garbage
Photo source
I sailed from LA to Honolulu with Danish nonprofit Plastic Change to finish a global survey on ocean plastic. Short answer: The Pacific plastic problem is probably worse than you thought.

Read to the end of the article to read the scary information about microplastics.Click here to read more