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Mr Bunny's first tea partyI’m bubbling over with posts and thoughts at the moment (I’ve drafted another one, which I’ll polish up for later this week, plus the weekly update). This one was going to be part of the Postcards post but that one went in a different direction and I decided to do two.

The idea for the post was originally in response to my friend Molly’s recently created blog which I am really enjoying reading. She has previously been a nanny and is reflecting on how children interact with the world, and how we can frequently misunderstand why they ask specific questions. Molly is over at Mollybailasola

The specific article I am thinking of for this post has the following story in it:

When we were drinking pretend tea, she looked at me and she suddenly said, “what if I dropped the tea set and it broke?”

It’s the sort of question kids ask which is not really about what they say on the surface. It’s about, “what if I mess up, are you going to be angry?” My response was, “I would not be angry, but I would prefer if it didn’t happen.” She smiled and it made me think of Eve as well.

Molly is very wise. So often, it seems to me, the question that is being asked is “Do you love me? Am I OK and safe?”

L did this once, a month or two after I arrived. We were sitting on the floor, doing something together. She stopped and asked in a babyish and plaintive tone: “Do you like me?” I instinctively paused, looked at her for a couple of moments, smiled and quietly answered “Of course I do”. She smiled and we went back to what we were doing.

She was actually asking a much deeper question about whether she had a place in the life Jed and I are creating and whether she was going to be safe spending time with us. Considering I was anxious about the same thing, but from the opposite perspective, and I do happen to like her quite a bit, it was easier to give a heart-felt assurance.

I’ll probably always remember that moment. The connection between two humans who mean something to each other. It’s now in my head with the memory of the first time my Thai host-mother held my hand, letting me know she cared.

————

Two other articles I came across today also fit into this overall theme of communicating with children. The end of Jen’s post, which was led to Postcards, reflects on how she’d like to instill the joy of writing in her children and how she might facilitate this.

The other is a post by Jen aka The Blogess, about a home-made zombie survival kit. While the concept is really amusing and has wide-spread applicability for my friends, the underlying theme of the post is about actually connecting with what children are interested in and providing a way to let them express themselves within a specific framework. Even if that framework is a potential zombie invasion.

BTW, the image has nothing specific to do with the post. It’s inclusion was inspired by the tea party story. And this blog has been devoid of images of late.

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About 2 years ago I wrote frequent postcards to friends overseas. Generally they were free postcards found in Newtown cafes, or postcards that I’d drawn myself on these fantastic blank watercolour postcard packs I’d found in an art supply shop. I always had my address book, and appropriate stamps with me, so I could scribble one off very quickly and stick into the next postbox I walked past.

I’ve stopped doing this. Well before I moved here. I suppose I got nervous, thinking the postcards might come across as stalkerish, rather than a gift from a friend. It was partially a symptom of the burn-out associated with constantly projecting myself through activities associated with being an internet DJ, and some of the drama surrounding that. I also moved inwards, preparing for this move. Whichever way I stopped writing them.

Occasionally I feel guilty about this, feel I should reach and then wonder if I have anything to say. It seems to be tied in with the way  I’ve been unwilling to communicate with many people through any medium recently. Why would postcards be any different. Some days it takes a special effort to remember to respond to a text message.

Juliana-Bec and I spoke about this the other week. About being scared of communicating with people. The crippling guilt because you’ve been lax in keeping in contact with people you love and respect because of life circumstances and the subsequent fear that people have stopped caring, or will make a big deal of your lack of communication when you do reach out to them, such that it’s easier to not communicate. It helps to know it’s not just me.

This is starting to shift. I’ve added a signature to my personal email which says this:

Disclaimer: despite my best intentions I don’t respond to emails as often as I like.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on in my life then I recommend the following:
Blog: http://www.verdarun.wordpress.com
Twitter: misskrin
Also on Facebook

Which removes some of the fear and guilt. I’m trying to shift the way I phrase things in my head from an “I should send xxxxx a text about next week” or “I should respond to that email” into an “I’d LIKE to send xxxx a text about next week as it would be fun to catch up” and “I’d LIKE to respond to that email as then I get to go to an exhibition” (which reminds me, I need to respond to Flick’s email… see, there I go again, it’s hard to break the cycle).

Then, today I read Jen’s recent post about writing letters. How she enjoys the act of writing them, and more importantly the joy of receiving letters, much better than bills. The imagery of her poor neglected mailbox was especially poignant. A good reminder that one of the things I used to love about writing postcards was imagining the surprise when people opened their otherwise empty mailbox to see the short message from me. Thanks Jen!

I remembered that Dee has pinned one of my postcards to her wall. That poki has posted his delight at receiving a postcard from me on his FB wall. That Lars always expressed how much he enjoyed getting random coffee-related postcards and has sent one back to me. That there are people I miss so much in Australia, and what I miss is simple communication, the small gestures to remind someone that you like them. Postcards can facilitate this feeling much more than online communication.

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Happy faceOne of my favourite subjects!
(The photo at left is not something I ate this week, it’s an old photo, but, there were no photos this week as my camera is not working. Hopefully only needs new batteries)

There were lots of food experiences this week. Nom!

Monday was a bank holiday. I’ve just finished reading a series about an English woman who ends up living in Liguria, Italy, which was peppered with tasty food descriptions. So I couldn’t resist cooking up a meal of antipasti, and inviting some friends over to share.  Crumbed sardines, roasted marinated baby eggplants, cherry tomatoes filled with pesto, roasted zucchini/courgettes in tomato jus (which I made up from the scopped out cherry tomatoes centres), chorizo, pork pate, baby spinach leaf salad.

All accompanied with some griddle bread, which was suprisingly easy and very tasty. I made the dough up at 6 pm and let it sit while I finished the other dishes, then pulled off hunks of dough, flattened them by hand on the bread board and did two at a time in the fry pan. we ate at 7.30. They were still a bit moist and chewy in the middle, but cooked. I’d highly recommend this if you need something to accompany dipping type foods and don’t have any biscuits or breads to hand. (Note I put in much less salt than this recipe calls for. Salt is good in bread if you need to store it for some time, otherwise you can use much less).

Last night I did a roast chicken with veges and salads for another couple of friends, including home-made gravy. I’m now officially confident in my ability to make a really yummy roast dinner and will stop asking Jed if it’s tasty. I’ve always been really confident at cooking East Asian foods, thanks to the year in Thailand, and Italian foods, thanks to growing up in Sydney, but traditional English/French style foods were a bit of mystery to me. I used to call up my sister whenever I needed to do a lamb roast to ask her how long it needed to cook. However, as I now own a copy of The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander, having watched how a trained chef friend and her husband used to throw together a Saturday afternoon lunch this gap has mostly been filled, and cooked many roasts in this country, I am happy that I can turn out a very good roast and gravy.

Jed made (under my direction) a simple apple tart from apples that a colleague picked from her allotment tree. Not surprisingly they were really, really crisp and fresh. Also, not surprisingly there were a couple of worms inside the apples. Truly fresh and natural apples.  The planned tart turned into an upside down crumble as I forgot to defrost the shortcrust pastry and so we made a biscuit base instead. Still, really tasty.

There’s lots of apples left over, so I’m thinking baked pork with juniper berries and apples later in the week, as I found a recipe for that in the foraging book that Jed bought me. we have a cabbage to use up as well, to might try to become proficient at braised apple, cabbage and cider vinegar.

Otherwise, we tried out the other local Italian place on Thursday night and were happily impressed. Had supper with Scruffy and Bec in a hippy organic pub in Brighton on Saturday. (and had Domino’s pizza on Friday night, but don’t tell anyone. shhhh!)

While on the subject of food, here’s a list of food blogs that I regularly read, which you might find interesting, or a good source for recipes:

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One: I just discovered the coolest thing. I can touch type well enough to type an email with my eyes closed. Resting and working at the same time!!

Two: This article is quite useful for my potential future lifestyle. Also, I’d like to do a study on articles with the keywords: environment, packaging and climate and see which of the two has a greater hit rate. It would be climate, but not by much I expect. Apparently you can save the world by only addressing packaging since it’s the bad child in this equation (and not, say massive over-consumption of everything. Wait, this is supposed to be a short post, not a long rant)

Three: As a short distraction from my very busy day, which follows on from a very busy week in a very busy month (all at work, socially, it’s dead, but that’s because of study) I took time out to read Mystic Medusa’s astrology blog, as she’s always amusing. Had to laugh at this. And at this description of one of her publications:

Saturn is now in Virgo, a much better place for the planet of fabulous results via non-stop slog than Leo. Mystic Medusa & Kim Falconer once again join forces to bring you 10,000 words of sign-by-sign usable, jargon-free info for turning Saturn through Virgo into an astute and supportive astro-influence. Saturn responds to WORK. Where it is in your chart is where you have to be super-straight and work like a banshee. It is also where you will shine.
Saturnalia will be relevant until October 2009. Yes folks, that is how long Saturn remains in Virgo.

Maybe that explains the overwork in ALL areas of my life, being a Virgo and all. It also explains the need to close my eyes at my desk. See point 2. Bring on November!

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I love it when you get the same message from different sources, albeit each with a different part of the puzzle. This has happened quite nicely in the last 48 hours.

A lot of the study and research I’ve been doing recently focuses on sustainability and how we affect change. Some would argue that there are two types of environmentalists, the greens and the browns, where the browns are the people concerned with sustainability in urban environments, rather than the nature conservation focus of the greens. I’d put myself firmly in the first camp, as that is where my interest lies. Not that the other camp isn’t just as valid.

In pondering the problems of urban sustainability I keep returning to consumption as being at the root of the problem, and that there is work and change to be done in this area. The issue is finding out which end of the stick to grasp hold of.

The last 48 hours has landed a bunch of articles in my lap that re-iterate this theme and has given me cause for thought.

The first was the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Consumption Atlas that charts greenhouse emissions, water usage and eco-footprint for each postcode in Australia and charts it against various averages. Burwood area is disturbing. we use 940, 000 L of water per person, per year. The state average is 740, 000 L. If you look at some of the other figures on the site food is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases, consumer of water, and one of the top contributors to our footprint. This got me thinking about my personal food practices, especially as I was in Harris Farm markets, and it was “no meat Thursday”.

The next few pieces in the puzzle came from the following two articles:

Both address the “avoid” and “reduce” part of the avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle waste hierarchy. They question how it is good for the planet to continue to consume masses of stuff, even if it is a “green” product. The compact’s article is a personal story, George Monbiot’s article is a more reflective look at affluence and society and the creation of a new class difference based on eco-consumption. They also explain why I get uncomfortable about the way that eco-shopping is used a sort of feel-good spack filler over the problems we are facing and could address if we didn’t stick our head in the sand so much.

The final one was from No Impact Man on “Why I sometimes drone on about wacky spiritual questions…“. He takes the questions raised by the previous two articles a few steps further and asks about the way that consumption can hide the fact that we are not doing what makes us happy. It’s a challenge, of sorts, to the affluent parts of the world, i.e. us, to work out what would really make us happy, rather than just consuming and irreparably polluting the planet in the process.

None of this is particularly new. It’s just nice to be reminded in a different way, and odd to have so many of these messages hit in 48 hours.

So.

What makes you happy? Is it a shiny new toy? Really? Or is it time spent with friends? Is it walking around your local neighbourhood admiring people’s gardens? Is it the enjoyment of music and dance? Is it the pursuit of knowledge, or curling up on the couch with a good book?Is it the contemplation of the divine (however you define it) and the knowledge that you are loved?

Side stepping these questions slightly is my need to analyse how I am spending money and why, and to examine my food choices. This might have to be the first post in a long time over at the “betterer” blog.

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I gave myself a week to come back to reality after the holiday. A week of sleeping in if I needed it. A week of purchasing breakfast rather than cooking it myself. A week of slowly remembering the details of my job. A week of thinking about cleaning my house. A week of considering where I go from here as the plan to July had now finished.

I came across two articles today that I need to ponder some more, which should kickstart the thoughts for the last part, the where to from here:

1. The wonderful Amanda Kovattana has written an article on the “7 Habits of Highly Subversive People” which is incredibly thought provoking. The habits are quite sensible, but it’s good to have them catalogued and reflected upon. They are, in order:

  • Habit #1. Thinking
  • Habit #2 Understand the big picture, the global supply chain of everything that you touch and then some, the interconnectedness of all things and i don’t mean just the cosmic good stuff between you and the divine. In the beginning there will be no solution to the depressing reality of it all. Get used to it. Between despair and hope lies the motivation to change.
  • Habit #3: Fix, make or bake stuff yourself, because it strengthens your independence of thought from the soul robbing, imagination sucking, corporate production of stuff. Cut off or cover the logos on your bag, shoes, clothes. Repurpose a product and name it after yourself.
  • Habit #4: Know your porn so that you can understand how you are being told what to desire.
  • Habit #5: Seek context. Don’t settle for the easy short answer. Stand for something risky. Make a statement that embodies complete sociopolitical narrations.
  • Habit #6: Start where your audience is
  • Habit #7: Imagine. Disrupt. Disturb. Destabilize. Bite the hand that feeds you.

She also discusses the “paper bags” of thought that need to be fought that stop us being aware and questioning what is happening. That stop us being proactive. These are The New Age, the Techno-Fix, the Freedom of Individual Choice and the Democracy papers bags.

It’s a very well written, well thought out article that should stick some needles under your skin and get you thinking. I’d highly recommend reading it.

2. The other article “A Sustainable Footprint” was written in 2004 and republished on Online Opinion in 2006. It lists a number of broad areas that need to be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable society. Nothing that surprising in it, but it is written in an approachable style, and it’s always good to be reminded about WHY you are doing what you are doing.

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Stretching


it’s all about the boots
Originally uploaded by deepwarren.
An early example of office stretches on desk.
Sort of.
Actually it was about the shiny boots,
but you get the idea.

My back is a bit screwed up, mostly as a result of using computers for long periods of time since I was 7. I am aware that one of the best ways of fixing it is through regular stretches and movement, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Hence I do them at work.

People from FOLT will remember the little animated man that used to pop up on my desktop and instruct us in stretches for office workers (if you need an RSI blocker program, it’s the best one I’ve found, and it’s freeware). I’ve now been in my new job long enough that it’s becoming de rigeur to see the product stewardship and data teams stand up at 11.00 and follow me through a series of movements. The favourite being “stop in the name of love” and just swinging your arms around. It’s not quite office yoga on the floor at 4pm, but it’s a good thing

This morning I realised I could add another stretch to the list. Simply placing my feet on the desk and attempting to gently straighten my legs. My hamstrings are so tight that this is painful. it’s nice, easy and low impact enough that I just might do it frequently and start to fix that other issue.

So for all you other office type people, do you move often enough??


In other news related to a difference version of stretching I want to go to this exhibition “Design for the other 90%” (from this post by No Impact Man). Definitely not this one from the Museum of Creationism (from Larvatus Prodeo).

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