Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Sunday, 2 December 2018


Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving, identity.  


For most of us food isn't just a way of getting energy. It is a form of pleasure. The consumption of food is so often a social occasion, either within or outside the family. In Australia Christmas dinner is the big meal of the year.

Food has fashions. Of course in Australia avocados are very fashionable at the moment, as is coffee drinking (I am actually an almond latte drinker). Scientific research tells us what we should and shouldn't eat, and this changes over time as medical science improves.

The way I eat now is very different from the way I ate as a child. I ate biscuits and cakes (which were home cooked) three times a day. I had some at recess, some at lunch time and then after school. There was always dessert at night - always home made. Meat was always the main item on the plate for dinner, accompanied by individual vegetables which had been boiled until they were soft and mushy. By the time I had my own children, cakes and sweets were much more limited and dinners more varied.

One of the results of post-war immigration has been the changing nature of our diets. It has widened to include Asian foods such as stir fries and European foods such as spaghetti bolognaise. Both these dishes are now 'everyday' dishes on our dinner tables. These days the sky's the limit, as the range of ingredients available increases.

I have tended to follow general healthy food fashions, always choosing whole grain over white bread; cutting my red meat consumption and eventually becoming pescaterian (the only flesh I ate was fish); choosing low fat where possible; and at one stage virtually eliminating eggs.

During most of this time I have battled with my weight - losing weight and putting it on. Losing weight and putting it on. Over and over again. I always maintained a reasonable weight (In fact when I look back I was quite thin) until I was 40, when I started taking anti-depressants.

One of the problems was that I now started eating breakfast. Before that time, since my teens, I had always been too anxious to eat breakfast in the mornings (although I didn't realise this was the problem until I stopped feeling anxious)  and now this was extra calories. And the other problem is that unless you are careful it can be easy to put on weight when on some types of anti-depressants.  Before I knew it my weight had increased majorly. I just didn't seem to be able to lose a significant amount. In fact as I grew older I found that the 1500 calories (6000 kilojoules) I used to lose weight on didn't work any more and that I needed to stay around 1500 calories just not to put on weight. I was tired of dieting all the time to stay overweight and just not put any more weight on.

A few years ago I tried the Paleo or Primal diet. I found this didn't work for me. I wanted to keep my diet as a pescetarian,
and I probably didn't look into it enough so my diet was just too limited.

Now 7 years later I am trying the Plant Paradox diet.

Photo source

So far I have been on it for 7 weeks and it seems to be successful. It is all to do with gut bacteria and something called lectins which are found in foods. I gave myself a few weeks to organise foods and then began by substituting one meal at a time. There is no calorie counting.

I began with breakfast. Breakfast is now a cup of frozen blueberries; 3 tablespoons of coconut yogurt (not coconut flavoured yogurt); 2 teaspoons of hemp seeds and 2 teaspoons of flax seeds for Omega 3; 4 teaspoons of psyllium husks for fibre; and 2 teaspoons of stevia to sweeten it.

This keeps me satisfied for quite a few hours.

Virginia Woolf wrote,  One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I have found this to be true. When you are hungry, it becomes all consuming. When I have dieted before, I just lived for my next meal and all I could think about was food. But on the Plant Paradox diet I don't find I am hungry and don't particularly miss the foods I can't eat. I have lost 5 kilos in 7 weeks and I don't count calories. Hurrah! I will write a little more about it next week.

The past week

Last Wednesday we went out on Lake Illawarra in Peter's boat. The water was very calm.

The pelicans were out in force.

It was a hazy day looking out across the lake to the mountains.

We motored down toward the lake's entrance.

Beautiful poem

In my reading I came across the poem below. It brought tears to my eyes. My father died when I was 10 years old - eleven years before I was married. This poem made me think of him and how wonderful it must be to have a father who felt like the father in this poem. It is a beautiful poem so I thought I would share it with you.

And I thought I would share a photo of my father as he is someone who deserves to be remembered.

“Heirloom of Love” (Poem from the Father Of The Bride) by Angie

There she sits before her mirror,
Primping in excitement, her face flushed.
Today is her day; she will never know
How much I hurt, how scared I am
Of the void she will leave behind.
Will she forget me? I’ll be replaced
By someone new, someone who makes her heart
Dance in her chest, a drumbeat.
Will he, can he protect her as I’ve done?
I have no choice but to trust…
I seethe with an almost-rage,
An unfounded, illogical jealousy, an anger
For what he is taking from me.
I am selfish. She is my joy, my life
I would die for her.

Today I will. A thousand times.
Then she turns to look at me.
In her beautiful face I see worry.
For me? She sees the unspilled tears
She knows. Of course, she knows.
She comes to me.
And with the smallest kiss, the subtle smile
All is well. She is still mine.
She will always be mine
In a different and wonderful way.

She is a part of me.
She will move on, she will give others joy,
And I am comforted knowing her goodness
Will be shared by everyone she touches,
And I am okay and proud, and I take her hand
To give her to her love, her new life.
I swell with almost unbearable pride
To have created something so perfect!
She was never mine to keep, this supreme being
Perfect to me. Shining, golden, priceless…

My heirloom of love.
And there he goes, that handsome, kind man
With his new bride, my daughter, my soul.
Does he know what has been passed to him?
He could not know, not yet,
But time will show him; he will realize.
Someday it will be his turn.
He will have to pass her essence on,
In his daughter, my granddaughter,

Our heirloom of love.
Will he weep? With loss, with anger?
Will he sit alone in his daughter’s room
Filled with love and happiness…sadness?
No, content. A deep breath will help him stand
As I do now, and I walk with trembling lips
And chin held high. I leave this room.
I close the door.

I read this poem and it makes me sad as I think of how much I missed not having my father over the years.

Interesting sits

1. 2018 Wildlife Photographs of the Year

Photo source
 Beautiful photos from 2018 Wildlife Photographs of the year. Click here to see them.

2. Helping children with spelling

Photo source

This is an interesting article suggesting that we should teach children the origin of words to help them with sprlling. Click here to read more.

3. Japanese man who saved thousands of Jews

Photo source
Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese man who saved 6,000 Jewsa dring the Holocaust through his handwriting. Click here to read more.

Sunday, 25 November 2018


Most people don’t lead their life, they accept their life
John Maxwell

John Maxwell  writes about business and life. As I was reading I came across the quote above and it made me stop and think. I decided that I am someone who tends to accept their life, rather than lead it, but I thought of 3 times in my life where I really had to step out of my comfort zone to change things - where I had to 'lead' my life.

 Of course there have been other changes such as getting married and having children, but these were all changes that came as a result of accepting things as they happened along the path of life. They weren't things that I had to work particularly hard to make happen. They just happened - one step at a time, without stepping outside my comfort zone. And I had other big changes thrust on me, such as being made redundant when I was living on my own with a single income. But these weren't changes I deliberately set out to make.

The first big change I had to make in my life was when I was 18. I had been a reasonably outgoing child and was school captain at my primary school. But towards the end of year 8 things began to go down hill. For various reasons, including a genetic predisposition, I began to suffer from a major bout of depression which would become worse the next year.

I knew I was becoming quiet and introverted but didn't seem to be able to do anything about it and I was mortified in year 10 when one of the comments from one of my teachers on my yearly report said that I was 'a quiet girl'. That was the last thing I wanted to be.

Two more years passed and it was time for university. I was going to a different university from most of my peers so I saw it as a chance to remake myself - and I did. I really moved out of my comfort zone. I did a lot of things on my own. I joined clubs and went to all the social events. I made myself talk in tutorials. University work came second to my social life. And it worked. I made lots of friends, had a great social life and married at the end of my third year. And I obtained my degree - but I often wonder what I could have done if I had really put my heart into my university work. That was the first time I really had to work to change the direction of my life. I no longer saw myself as 'quiet'.

The second time I really had to move out of my comfort zone was when I was 40. I had been happily married for 20 years and had 2 teenage daughters. I had been an English and History teacher. I battled depression but kept it under control. But unfortunately it reared its ugly head in my daughters. It became too difficult for me to work when they were not well. I had to home-school my daughters and I was very worried. A psychiatrist my daughter was seeing said I needed to do something for myself, and my whole family would be better off. So after some thought I decided to go  back to university and did a Master's Degree in psychology. It was hard work. This time I took the work a lot more seriously than my first time at University. Again I had to step outside my comfort zone, but my new studies led me into a new job. I began teaching at a small school for year 10 students with major behavioural problems. I could do this and home-school my daughter. I worked there for 16 years.

The third and hardest big change I had to make was when I was 51. After 30 years of what I thought had been a happy marriage my husband left me for somebody else. I fell into a dark abyss and knew I had to make a new life for the sake of my daughters, if not for myself. I became very involved in my church and decided to go online to look for romance. This was really going outside my comfort zone and surprised a lot of people, but I chose to view this as an adventure and had some interesting times along the way. Eventually I met Peter and we have now been together for 10 years.

I am quite proud of the way I made myself a new life but I don't think I have enough energy to remake my life again. I'm just taking it as it comes.
The past week

Last Friday, Peter and I went to see a musical, We Will Rock You at Wollongong Entertainment Centre. It was written by Ben Elton and is based on the music of Queen. We really enjoyed it.

We had coffee in the park at Helensburgh, where some cockatoos joined us.

On Monday we went for a walk on Towradgi Beach. 
We  had to be careful of the bluebottles near the water's edge.

There were a few yachts out on the water which was beautiful and clear.

The Plant Paradox

Kelly Clarkson (Photo source)

After seeing Kelly Clarkson talking about her dramatic weight loss on television, and her adherence to the Plant Paradox diet, I decided to give it a go. 

Photo source

I was especially interested since the eating regime was supposed to have a positive affect on auto immune diseases. I have brachial neuritis, also known as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, which is thought to be an auto immune disease.

Anyway, I bought the book and accompanying recipe book. Although I am not completely convinced yet, I have lost 5 kilos in 7 weeks without being excruciatingly hungry, as I usually have to be to lose weight. But it has meant a whole new way of cooking and eating.

More about this next week.

Interesting sites

1. Borneo cave art may be the oldest in the world

Photo source
Cave paintings in remote mountains in Borneo have been dated to at least 40,000 years ago - much older than first thought.Click here to read more.

2. Finland publishes its citizens' taxes.

Photo source
On November first each year Finland publishes its citizens' taxes'. Click here to read more.

3.Coffee may reduce risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Photo source
Evidence suggests coffee may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Click here to read more.

Monday, 12 November 2018


I came across this quote on Facebook. It was put there my my daughter's long term partner. He and I differ radically on many things especially religion. I am a Christian and he is an atheist but in the end we are looking for the same things in the world - social justice; a more people caring government; a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor.

I dream of a world where everyone is honest. Where I can leave my bike at any location not locked up and find it there when I return. Where so much packaging doesn't have to be tamper proof, and bags don't have to be searched as we leave shops because people don't steal things. Where we can leave our house doors opened and not locked. Where people take responsibility for their own actions and the grave problems we have with drugs and alcohol do not exist. A world where respect for one another as individuals is paramount.

Wishful thinking will not make all this happen, but we can do our part by acting with integrity and honesty. By being realistic but seeing the best in people, and assuming the best about people. By treating everyone with respect.

For quite a few years I worked with teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds, many with behaviour problems. They didn't want sympathy. They wanted empathy and respect, two qualities which would go a long way to radically changing the world.

Half a century ago Eleanor Roosevelt made the statement that, "when you adopt the standards and values of someone else... you surrender your own integrity {and} become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being." 

So it seems if you want to radically change the world you need to stick to your values no matter what, and live in hope that someday things will change.

The past week

Below is a praying mantis I spotted in my herb garden, on the oregano. The leaves are about half the size of your smallest fingernail, so you can see how tiny he really is.

We went for a walk on Towradgi beach and these tumbleweeds were covering the bank. They look like giant spiders massing down the hill.

It was very misty on the beach and very beautiful.

Peter's second eldest son turned 39 and we had a picnic under the trees at Engadine tennis courts.

Writing and posting my blog again is part of getting my life back on track after some health issues earlier in the year. I still have some doubts but am trying to make this one thing I do each week. I have been reading a book entitled The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan which has been very helpful.

Interesting sites

1. Beautiful cottage in Lithuania

Photo source
 Click here to checkout this beautiful little cottage in the countryside of Lithuania.

2. Scientists tapping algae and plant waste for energy

Photo source

Scientists are exploring the huge potential of single-cell organisms such as algae and bacteria in the production of energy. Click here to read more.

3. Five countries hold 70% of the world's last wilderness

Photo source
Just 5 countries hold 70% of the world's last untouched wilderness and  according to research urgent international action is needed to save them. Click here to read more.

Friday, 2 November 2018


Back again after quite a long break. This past year or so I dealt with some health problems and depression problems (not related) but now I am well and happy and looking forward to the run up to Christmas which is my favourite time of year.

I questioned starting up my blog again. Is it just self indulgent? Is it just plain stupid? But I love to write and a few people said they missed Piggywhistles so I decided to give it another go.

I started writing my blog for a couple of reasons. The main one is to help me look at the positive things in my life. Life events have made my life different to that of my friends. But I try not to focus on these differences and appreciate the small moments in my life. Sharing these moments on my blog makes me stop and take note of the good things in life.

I often write with my friends in Canada in mind, letting them know a little of my life here on the south coast of Australia.

And so to the quote above by Rosa Parks; 'I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.' This is so true for me. One of the mottoes I live by is,  'You have to have a plan.' I find if I don't have a plan, time just slips by and I don't get things done.

Now I am retired, days can just slip by without me doing anything much at all. I need to make a plan for the day; for the week; for the year. 

When my children were younger and had problems they needed help with we would always devise a plan to help solve the problem. I think this made them resilient and gave them some problem solving skills.

A few weeks ago I made a plan to restart my blog on the 2nd of November. I finished this post but on that day I got cold feet.

Then I came across this quote:
The enemy of a good plan is a perfect plan. 
 (Carl von Clauesewitz)

This quote spoke to me and so I clicked 'Publish'.

A walk in the Botanic Gardens

A few days ago Peter and I took a walk in the Wollongong Botanic gardens. Because it is spring, many of the flowers were out. Below are a few photos of the gardens.

I took a special interest in the red poppies. My mother has just knitted 30 of them to be worn on Remembrance Day, 11th November.

These red poppies bloomed between the lines of trenches and in 'no man's lands' on the Western Front in World War One. In the 20th Century wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day became established in English speaking Western countries. These poppies are also known as Flanders poppies.

John McCrae was a poet and a doctor from Ontario, Canada. At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Army following the outbreak of the First World War. He fought in the Second Battle of Ypres on the fields of Flanders in Belgium. Alex Helmer, McCrae's best friend was killed at this battle. McCrae performed the burial service himself and noticed how quickly the poppies grew on the graves of fallen soldiers. The next day he wrote the following  poignant poem.

         In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

Interesting sites

1. Chapel turned office

Photo source

This chapel in Belgium has been turned into an office and juxtaposes the old and modern in a really interesting way, Click here to read more.

2. Tiny octopus on floating trash

Photo source

This tiny octopus was found by researchers floating on a piece of plastic in the ocean. Click here to read more.

3. Australia - the successful rich economy

Photo source
We tend not to see our nation with the fresh eyes necessary to maintain perspective about where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we might be going. Click here to read more.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

A ROUGH SEA ( #3 September 2017)

Last Sunday morning I visited two of my favourite places - the beach and Bunnings.

Peter and I went for a walk along Towradgi Beach. The sea was rough and had come right up the beach at high tide.

The waves had completely swamped the local rock pool.

This sponge looked as if it had only recently been ripped from the rocks as it still had its
pinky colour.

I also came across these fish eggs. I wonder what type of fish they are from.

At Bunnings I bought some new guttering and downpipes for the front of my house to replace my old disintegrating stuff. Peter had it replaced in no time.

Now I need to repaint the pergola.

 I am tossing up between white, light grey like my door......

 or the same green as my garage door.

I fancy accessories of the blue colour featured below.


Meanwhile I have made a handful of polymer clay toadstools to use in some gardening projects.

You may be interested in knowing that my talented niece Amy and nephew Laurie are involved in setting up some of Wollongong's first break out rooms.

Photo source
 Click here if you would like to read more about it.


I am always on the look out for thrifty recipes. Here is  a standby I have developed for left over vegetables.

Cream of mixed vegetable soup

This is a recipe for creamy vegetable soup made from left over vegetables that have been frozen or of course you could use fresh if you prefer. The vegetables and proportions can be changed, depending on what you have available. This makes about 4 litres of soup. Two cans of chick peas add protein to make it a complete meal.

I began with 1.3 kg of precooked frozen vegetables that had been thawed out. These included broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and pumpkin.

1.3 kg of precooked vegetables
 I used a large saucepan and caramelised 4 Spanish onions.

Caramelised onions
 I added the vegetables and gave them a bit of a stir around for a few minutes.

I added 1 litre of water and 4 teaspoons of Vegeta and  2 cans of chick pease including liquid. This provides protein to make the soup a complete meal. Then I added 2 teaspoons of curry powder. This is optional.

I simmered the soup for 40 minutes until all the vegetables were quite soft.Then I blended the soup in my food processor with soy milk (which makes it vegan) but you could use dairy milk or any other substitute. I blended it at the rate of 2 cups at a time with 1 cup of soy bean milk. But you could vary this ratio to taste.

Cream of mixed vegetable soup.

Makes about 4 litres. Suitable to freeze.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 4 Spanish onions chopped
  • Around 1.3 kg of cooked mixed vegetables
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons Vegeta or other stock powder 
  • 2 425g tins of chick peas including liquid
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (optional) 
  • About 1 litre of milk or substitute


  1. Heat oil over medium heat in fry pan
  2. Add onions and cook until caramelised, adding water as necessary to deglaze the pan.
  3. Add vegetables and cook stirring for 3 minutes
  4. Add water and stock powder
  5. Add chick peas
  6. Add curry powder (optional)
  7. Simmer for 40 minutes 
  8. Blend in a food processor at the rate of 2 cups of soup to 1 cup of milk or substitute.
  9. Makes about 4 litres.


Thank you for reading my blog.I write it for myself first. It helps me look at the positive things in life even though they may only be small. Also if I say I plan to do something I have put it on record and this helps me to actually do it. Unforeseen life events have  led me to end up in a different position in life than I had planned. As a result I am unable to be involved in many of the activities of my friends. So I try to find joy in simple things and share some of these.

Thank you for those who have left comments and to those who have tried but been unable to. I am not sure what the problem is but will try to sort it out.


Interesting sites

Photo source
 Earthships - the ultimate in off-grid architecture. Click here to read more.

 Makeover bus stop
Photo source
For the residents of a small village in Dartmoor, England, the universally-dreaded morning commute to work is now very much something to look forward to. Last summer, the village of Walkhampton woke up to find their grim and graffiti-covered bus stop had been transformed into a welcoming living room, complete with an armchair, pillows, framed pictures, potted plants and various household ornaments. Not just a one-time make-over, the bus stop has been “re-decorated” several times since and the best part is– no one knows who’s doing it. Click here to read more. 

 Eerie music in Pyongyang

Click here to hear the eerie music played in Pyongyang, North Korea each morning to wake up the residents.