Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just Breathe ....

When you have a dream you've got to grab it and never let it go.

Carol Burnett

Image: "a dream has arrived" by m0thyyku

Some People Are Idiots

I was sitting at the doctors happily reading my Wuthering Heights when I began to listen to the conversation occurring behind me. Now the women were speaking in a voice designed to be overheard so I can't be accused of eavesdropping.

It was an interesting conversation about an email received by one of the women that was doing the rounds. In this email there was "evidence" that Muslims were out to take over Australia and that no other religious persuasions would be tolerated - we would all be in burqas. In addition, there was "evidence" that all Muslins (men and women) were paedophiles with young children "and even babies" (her voice got louder at this point so the entire surgery could hear) and this was not only tolerated but encouraged by the Koran as an essential part of the Muslim faith.

My blood pressure was rising and I could take no more. In my most polite and sweetest manner I turned around and in a voice that was firm pointed out that what she was talking about was complete an utter crap and it was very clear that she didn't have a clue what she was talking about. She insisted that because it was in a mass email it must be true. I pointed out that, even if some individuals of the faith believed what she was saying, it was not a commonly held one. Certain sects of any belief system could take off on a tangent and that was not representative of the whole. I mentioned George W and his war crimes while professing his faith, about fundamentalist Christians that blow up abortion clinics, as well as the ever popular Oklahoma bomber (another passionate Christian) that included a child care centre in his destruction. I mentioned that while these people may be purporting to represent the Christian faith their actions and ideals would not be supported by the whole. I continued on some more. I suggested that if she insisted on displaying her ignorance and circulating the email further she add a line at the top "this has been sent to me, I have no idea if it is true or not but I am sending on to perpetuate a myth in our community and further stereotype a section of the community that I know nothing about".

She laughed and said she was only joking and hoped I hadn't taken it personally.

I turned around and went back to my book.

I have no idea what she did with the email but if anyone does get it, bin it and then address the person who sent it to you. Ignorance is no defense when slanderous tripe like this is being perpetuated.

Image: "Nawal and Bator" by Susan Dirgham

Myths and Legends

For the first eight (ish) years of my life I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. The Bible was the be all and end all on everything. Creation was absolute, dinosaurs never existed and were never to be mentioned. There was Bible study over breakfast most mornings as well as weekly attendance at church, Sunday School and a mid-week youth group. Women were second class. The body and sex were the ultimate source of shame.

One of my neighbors was vaguely interested in Greek and Roman mythology but that was considered heresy and I was not allowed to investigate myself. Our other neighbors were Catholic and well, while they were great people and fabulous neighbors, we "knew" that was even worse.

I do recall reading about Tidilick as a child but it was presented as a "pretty story" as opposed to the legends of one of our indigenous peoples. Anything that had witches, fairies or the like, that weren't one of the traditional fairy tales, were definitely off limits.

It came as a shock when I was somewhat older to discover that some people considered this fundamentalist "truth" to be a myth and that there were other trains of thought out there in the big wide world.

Since then I have been trying to catch up on the myths and legends of the world. Not just creation stories, but the whole realm of literature that explain the world around us. I am not an expert, far from it - I still confuse my Greek and Roman gods, but I am loving the journey.

Image: "Creation" by PhunkBlazt

Monday, July 26, 2010

Passion and Purpose

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.

Sir Winston Churchill

Art: "Prosperity" by Keith Mallett

Sunday, July 25, 2010

$21 Challenge - Final Update

My last update was Monday 12 July and that was for Days 7 and 8 - I last through to the Thursday 15 July which means I completed 11 (and a half) days on spending less than $21 on food.

To be honest, if you look at the pantry and the freezer, I could have done another week but my craving for tomato and onion sandwiches were my undoing. And to be honest, with the exception of a cup of soup, that is all I have eaten for the past two weeks - sometimes with cheese, sometimes with chillis, sometimes with Ranch dressing but always with lots of tomato and Spanish onion. Don't ask me to explain, I can't. And yes I am brushing my teeth a whole lot :-)

So I will have to try again for the full 14 days another time :-)

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Starting Now ....

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

Image: "Salt Water Romance" by Mel Williams

Home Sweet Home

Some years ago I was looking at building a house. For a good nine months I searched the newspapers for the latest plans to get ideas for what I wanted. It didn't help - all I could find was things I didn't want. For a start the standard home consisted of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 3 living areas (family room, media room, activity room). Most had additional offices, studies and music rooms. And then there is the outdoor barbecue area, breakfast area and other such 'outside rooms'. There is only one of me and I don't want or need that much space. I can add that I am not sure the "average" family" needs that much space either - especially with the smaller block sizes available in cities.

Anyway, I ended up drawing up my own plans and life changed so they stay in a proverbial drawer. And yes it is made of straw bales.

So when I heard this week that Australian houses are bigger than everyone else in the world - including the Americans, well I wasn't surprised. Apparently our homes are close to three times the size of homes in the UK - although I am not sure if that is in total squares or just the land space (many of our homes are single storey).

So while our governments and communities and individuals struggle with the housing situation and search for a solution to very high prices, lack of land being released and general afford-ability, maybe we, as consumers, need to determine the difference between our wants and needs and stop trying to keep up with Jones, real or imagined. I mean how many of us grew up in homes with two bathrooms, or more than 1 lounge room. Yes there may have been periodic squabbles but was it really a problem?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bring Back The Yumbo

Way back in the days when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (or about 25 years ago) Hungry Jacks made the Yumbo - a delicious combination of shaved ham and plastic cheese that had been melted until it was gooey. All in a Bacon Deluxe bun.

Okay delicious might be taking it a bit too far, and it did come in a styrofoam container but it is funny how some things stick in your mind. And I do confess that for a day this week I was thinking it came with pineapple before I got the memory straight.

So it wasn't gourmet, but I would love to have a Yumbo again (and don't suggest I make my own - I want an original). Bring back the Yumbo :-)

It's All In The Attitude

I am not dying, not anymore than any of us are at any moment. We run, hopefully as fast as we can, and then everyone must stop. We can only choose how we handle the race.

Hugh Elliott

Image: "The Bright Side of Life" by Marinshe

By Way of Explanation

The last year has been a tough one. I live in chronic pain that is spreading. My mobility is compromised. I am socially isolated. I am living on a budget with no fat - and none of that is due to change any time soon. I am not complaining, I am just explaining my absence over the past couple of weeks.

Most days I can put a happy spin on it all but recently I have run out of energy to do so. I have been to see my doctor and we have a plan that is in the process of being implemented but I have been struggling.

I haven't wanted to complain so I haven't blogged - but I have been thinking, always thinking so I have a lot to catch up on.

Image: "Tulip VII" by WindyLife

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to Be Unpopular in One Easy Lesson

Another Australian soldier has died and the media is in overdrive about him being a sacrifice and and a hero fighting for his country. Bullshit!

Okay I say right up front that the death of anyone is sad and obviously affects their family and friends. My comments are not meant to take any of that away.

But in this country people in this country CHOOSE to join the military where they learn to KILL people. They are WELL AWARE of the risks that are involved. They are receive FINANCIAL REWARD to be in the danger zone. Their families certainly are well looked with things like free rent and FINANCIAL COMPENSATION they die at work.

That differs so much from the experience of the average Australian who is contributing at least as much to their future of their country. Their families are not compensated, they have to pay for their own funerals, their expense roll in regardless.

These are not sacrificial warriors - these are men who CHOSE a violent career. There are more people who die on building sites or farms or truck drivers than who die fulfilling their need for violence - are the soldiers more "important". Not to mention those who die of cancer or young people who suicide or children which. Where is the equal help for their families?

Stop martyring those who have made a choice.

Image: "Sacrifice" by grigjr

Day 7 and 8 Reports

Okay I have been buying stuff. I would like to say I had to, but no, I didn't need to, I just wanted to. I have been thinking about the expenditure - should I really be including the total bill or just to portion that I have used. Take the honey for example, there is no way I can use 1 kg of honey over the time of the challenge - or even over a few months, so to be accurate, the cost should be reflective of the amount I actually use. Is this a loophole or a reality, not really sure. In any case the full $10 is still included in the total expenditure.

Day 6 Brunch: Vegetarian Pastie (homemade) with extra vegetables

Dinner: Mushroom Pizza (homemade) (97c for the mushrooms)

Now I always insist that my pizza are the best ones I have ever tasted - and as I am dealing with my tastebuds I must be right. Actually I have never made one for someone else, so you will just have to take my word for it. It is based on a pizza bianca but there are obviously variations sometimes. Usually I make a really thin base (2 C flour mixed with 3/4 C warm water that has had a sachet of yeast activated with a  little sugar for food, and 1 T olive oil kneaded and allowed to prove before being kneaded again and rolled out) with a garlic and evoo base with cheese and maybe tomato. This time I left the bases a little thicker (about1/4"), topped with the usual evoo and garlic, cheese and then mushrooms. They were drool-worthy! Crispy bottom, fluffy inside with juicy galic-y mushrooms on top. Definitely going to be made again :-)

Day 8 Brunch: Pumpkin and Chickpea stew with bread roll ($1.70 for the bread roll)

Dinner: Massaman Beef Curry with green vegetables and rice ($1.84 for the coconut milk, $1.76 for the vegetables and $1.32 for the rice)

Total expenditure so far $18.87

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Act Your Show Size :-)

One of the most obvious facts about grownups to a child is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child.

Randall Jarell

Image: "Play with Me" by NobodyLoryo

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 6 Report

The Challenge is rolling on. Ho hum. Damn I have a lot of food in the house - I have barely made a dent in the freezer and the pantry still has a lot of options to play with. I didn't end up getting the vegetables I talked about yesterday - I had a pastie left over and needed to use up some lemons so I figure I will get them on the day I need them - and if it isn't beans and cauliflower, then I am sure there will be plenty of other options lol. And I am thinking about making a curry at some point in the next few days.

Brunch: Vegetarian Pastie (homemade)

Dinner: Tagliatelli with Lemon Sauce

Total expenditure so far: $11.08

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Ready To Go

Blue sky, check. Sunglasses, check. You, check. It is time to hit the road!

I have wanted to make this run since forever. Okay, something of an exaggeration but it has definitely been on my list of things to do. Do you want to know where we are going? Well, that is the fun of it, I have no idea. We have one week, a set amount of money and a spirit of adventure. The deal is that we start driving north and we stop about every two hours (safe driving and all of that) or whenever we get to something of a crossroads. We flip a coin to determine our next move - there are four choices - stay or go, and then north or east (being our two directions available at the moment - that bit will change as the journey develops). And we continue like that for a week.

Where will we sleep - well we have packed a camping kit just in case but I am sure we will find a pub or a hotel or caravan or something as we go along. None of that matters - this is all about adventure.

What shall we do - we shall explore and discover and talk and ... well, just be.

We have both agreed to keep daily journals - and in one year from the day of our return, to swap them so we can read each other's version of the trip.

Let the journey begin.

Writer's Prompts Daily

One Way

The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but only have one course of action.

Frank Herbert

Image: "Highway 548" by tfavretto

Friday, July 9, 2010

Straight From Stateline to You

Boambla Rotary and Community Choir

Okay I am having a problem getting it to display properly - the link is here

Celebrate This ....

Happy Birthday!
I Love You!
It's A Baby!
Happy New Year!

It is time.
It is time
to join together
      and cheer
      and dance
      and celebrate!

And it is all
Just for you ....

Writer's Prompts Daily

I Admit Defeat

It has been a year since I have had to give up work and while lots of fabulous things have happened, I admit that I am not really coping with it all. I have good days but they are getting further and further apart.

The depression is back and has been since December last year. I have tried to ignore it and I have tried to fake it but it just takes too much effort and I am tired.

I went and saw my doctor yesterday. He was great. We have a plan. With a little time I will be back to being my normal happy self. I thought about keeping it to myself but I don't know why I should be shame any more than I should be for my back pain or whatever else.

And it looks like my diagnosis of diabetes was wrong lol

Image: "Black Balloon" by eNZM

Day 5 Report

I may regret it but I bought honey - I had a choice out of $8.36 for 500 ml of generic honey or $10.08 for 1 litre of local (as in Bellingen)  honey. I spent the $10. A huge chunk from my budget especially as I will need vegetables sometime in the next 4 ish days - ah the choices we make. Mind you I did see cauliflowers for sale at the fruit and vege shop for $2 and beans were $2/kg ... the recipe books are out.

Brunch: Take Away (free with a voucher)

Dinner: Vegetarian pastie (homemade)

Drinks: Honey tea

Total expenditure so far: $11.08

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

It's All In The Attitude

Never regret. If it's good, its wonderful. If it's bad, its experience.

Victoria Holt

Image: "celebrate the difference" by 4dreamer

Day 4 Report

Whoops, I didn't get a chance to post yesterday but that didn't mean I had forgotten. Actually I have had to start thinking about what money to spend - the $1 for the beans was an easy decision but then I started considering pesto - for which I have a million uses - but it is $5 for the jar (my basil isn't ready for harvesting yet). And I am running out of honey (how I don't know I always seem to have pots of it around) so do I buy more, or do I find something else to drink? And is drink included in the "feed" part of the challenge .... yes I love a good loophole.

Breakfast: Beans with toast

Afternoon Snack: Toasted cheese and tomato sandwich

Dinner: Vegetable and couscous casserole with a lamb chop

Drinks: Honey tea

Total expenditure so far: $1

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pork Problems

Okay so I have now worked out how to buy Australian bacon (look for the pink square) not that I have found any of it yet but then I started to think about the living conditions of the pigs that will be in my bacon (or chops or whatever).

I don't want my food to have lived in a concrete cell with no experience of rutting and grass and sunshine. Yes I need to find free range pigs for the same reasons I need to find (real) free range chickens.

Back to google and the phone book lol - if I am having trouble finding a home for a chicken, I know that a pig is going to be impossible lol

Image: "Ferdinand the Pig" by sekundek

More Chicken Bits

It is all too hard! Well no it isn't, it is all just giving my brain a workout. I have a response back from Lilydale and they have assured me that their fertilizer and bedding are all recycled into fertilizer.

That is all good but somehow it isn't good enough. So I now have a two pronged plan - if I need to get some chicken for something (say the birthday dinner party) I will get Lilydale.

Part 2 of the plan is to find someone with a chook pen that I can chuck a couple in every now and then and raise them for me in exchange for a fee (I don't have the land or mobility to keep my own chickens). Then it will just be a matter of chopping their heads off (I can do that) and dressing them (I can do that too). I haven't found anyone with a pen yet, and I haven't found where to buy the birds so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I have discovered that the world keeps turning if I don't eat chicken.

Day 3 Report

Okay I am already getting itchy feet and I want to go to the store - just to get one or two little things you understand. Lol - so far I have resisted but I have used my onion and run out of dressing for my sandwiches and there isn't a lot of honey left so now I have choices to make. Not that there is a lack of food in the house - I have a full freezer and a well stocked pantry.

Anyway, yesterdays report:

Brunch: Tomato, onion and cheese sandwiches (x2)

Dinner: Pasta with mushroom sauce

Drinks: Honey tea

Total expenditure so far: $0

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Lewis Carroll

Image: "Vertical Vapor Trail and Cloud" by mountangirl (me)

Day 2 Report

Brunch: Tomato and onion sandwiches (x 2) - I just can't get enough of these at the moment.

Dinner: Steak, peas, corn and over-baked chips.

Drinks: Honey tea

Total expenditure so far: $0

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Travel Dreams

I have some obvious travel plans - to get back to Dallas asap (with a detour via Alabama).

I have some dream travel plans - to tour Italy and learn regional cooking for mammas (just like everyone else I know, sigh ....).

And now I have a travel-for-the-sake-of-travel plan - to Tanzania. I want to go to look and experience and take photos. Between Kilimanjaro and the landscape and the animals and the light and the people and the culture and the colors, I think I could amuse myself quite happily for a few weeks.

Top picks would include a visit to Zanzibar, sighting the mountain (although as I am dreaming I may as well plan on climbing it), checking out the rock art, maybe swinging by the Ngorongoro Crater to see an animal or two and a wander around the delightful Dar Es Salaam.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Believe I Can Fly

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain

Image: "Can you swallow this bubble?" by DWAZ4

Day 1 Report

Brunch: Tomato and white onion sandwich x 2 (can someone who is not pregnant have cravings because I have them bad for these).

Dinner: Mushroom Stroganoff Soup with crusty bread.

Chop an onion and sweat in a butter/oil mix with 1 - 2 teaspoons garlic. Add 600g  sliced mushrooms of whatever variety/ies you have to hand. As they begin to cook add about 1 C rice. Mix well. Add 4 C hot water/chicken stock/vegetable stock. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Blitz until smooth. Serve with a swirl of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley. As with all soups the measurements are very flexible - it is just roughly what I used, because that is what I had to hand :-)

Drinks: Lemon tea, peppermint tea

Total expenditure so far: $0

Image: "Coins" by lubroz

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Letter to a Friend

Dear you, I don't know if you will get this, or even know it is for you but here is hoping.

We haven't been friends for a lifetime but some days it feels that way. We are both smart, intelligent people who have shared a journey. We have laughed. we have struggled. We have both kept the lines of communication open, even when it seemed easier not to.

Now, we have entered a new phase and I don't know what it is. It could be the end, it could be confusion, it could be a break, it could be that I committed some mortal sin I am not even aware of ... it could be anything because those lines of communication are closed. I don't know whether to speak or stay silent. I don't know whether it is me or some other aspect of life.

Somehow the last couple of months have felt eggshells because the silence could mean so much.Which is ironic because we have both said to each other a hundred times "have you talked to them about it".

To be honest I am not really sure I even care what direction this new stage goes in, but the waiting is too hard. If you don't move then I will.

This is not an ultimatum, far from it. I am just laying myself out there.

Image: "Letter to Santa" by mickryan

Color Me In

I have worn black for years. I like black. I like not having to think about what to wear each morning - it all co-ordinates. I am not in morning, nor am I making any statement on the world. I just like black and it is functional.

Little Miss M does not agree with me. She wants to wear rainbows - all day, every day.

She notices the flowers and confirms that one color can really go with another no matter what else she is told. She looks at gardens and notices the abundance of shades and contrasts and the beauty that results. She walks the park and tries to count how many different kinds of green she can see, and how many shades there are. She watches and sunsets and again confirms that colors that others think clash, don't. She is happy to wear checks and dots and stripes together (she tells me she is not a "shapist" and there is room for all kinds).

Her favorite shoes are red. Her favorite wellingtons, purple with yellow daisies. her favorite socks come above her knees and are striped with the colors of the rainbow.

She has a beige sweater given to her by a well-meaning grandmother. She wears it covered in buttons or scarves or bows (now everyone will notice it she tells me confidently.

Yess, my Little Miss M is a walking rainbow, and if there is every any doubt, you can just look at her smile.

Writer's Prompts Daily

A Matter of Choice

Learning is not compulsory .... neither is survival.

W Edwards Deming

Image: "Learn How To Fly" by klakice

It's Back!

I have just been doing the dishes, contemplating the world as I do and I realize I haven't done the $21 Challenge for a while. Okay my first thought was that I need to do some shopping "just for a couple of things" before I started but that defeats the purpose. Then I contemplated my freezer and realized that to make this a real challenge (there is only one of me after all) I need to do this over a fortnight.

So, I will be heading down to the hole-in-the-wall shortly to get my $20, raiding the purse for an extra dollar and I am set. Yes, I know the supermarket has a minimum purchase of $10 for eftpos purchase which is the only way I shop ans as such I rarely carry any cash at all anymore so I am closing that loophole. I know me - at some point I will buy something "for next fortnight" just to round up the figure - and then I might just just it lol.

I will keep you posted :-)

Image: "Coins" by lubroz