Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blown Away

...Or not quite, in our case.

This morning, as we wandered up and down our village and wondered at the varying degrees of destruction and damage, it dawned on me how incredible lucky we had all been.

Looking at the double-brick church, three of its four sides punched out as if by a giant fist, or the pancake-flat school building, or the roofing tin wrapped around tree trunks like contemporary sculpture, I had to marvel that no-one was injured or killed.

Yesterday afternoon at 4pm, as kids still ambled down the street from school, and parents waited in cars for the buses that usually arrived with the students who travelled to town for school, a mini-tornado tore through our village, Dunoon.

One minute, we were eyeing off an approaching thunderstorm. Another, and I began to sense something was wrong, shutting doors and windows frantically while taking the wee man and the pooch into the living room at the core of the house...and putting the wee feller under the (very sturdy) coffee table. Before I even had time to wonder at this instinct, the roaring fury of the storm took all thought. I looked towards the french doors that led onto the verandah, as almost gently the trees outside fell towards us, blocking much of the light and force. The rain was being driven under the doors, straight across the floor.

I realised our bedroom windows were still open, and struggled into the room to close them. The rain and wind were driving sideways through the room, soaking the bed in the minute or so the storm had been over us. The door latch stuck when I tried to go back out, and for a fraught moment I thought I might be trapped in the room - luckily another desperate tug, and I was back out to my boys who were bravely cuddling together and happy to have me back.

Minutes later, the worst was over, and we began to peek out. It was astounding how much damage was done in that short time, and how little of it we had heard or expected - the storm was just one great roar, and the thuds and thunder you'd expect with trees uprooted and flung were lost in its immensity.

We've had 24 hours of living in our own little Ground Zero. Emergency services, SES, and volunteers worked till about 10.30 last night clearing the roads, the downed lines, and the most dangerous of the debris. First thing this morning, we emerged to look at the new face of our world, reworked by nature.

(I would write more, but am more than a little tired...wonder why?!? Spent the day taking these photos and waiting for the electricity to come back so I could get on here and blog it...!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Let's Talk About Lunch

I've realised a few things about this blog, especially since I've been thinking about it in the context of other blogs I love, and with the shadow of NaBloPoMo looming over me (see here - actually I'm really looking forward to it, on a number of levels).

I haven't talked about food yet.

Since there are still a lot of things you don't know about me yet (there's a few more subjects for posts yet to come..!?), you can be forgiven for not knowing how much I love making and enjoying good food. Discovering the world of food blogs was one important aspect of my renewed love-affair with blogs and bloggers - if you look at my list of fave bloggers on the right there, you'll notice a certain bias towards people who are into talking about/writing/about/eating good food (though not exclusively - my magpie collection of a mind covets all sorts of fine and glittering objects).

But when I think back on the sort of content I'd envisioned for my blog when I started it, food, cooking and recipes were certainly high on the list.

Sorry it's taken me so long. That old devil Procrastination again, perhaps. I keep thinking of how certain things are going to look as a blog post, I take the photos, I read other bloggers and think "Yeah...I've got a great one you'd probably like..."...and it's taken me till now. Ah, well...

I made these for dinner last night, served them hot with creamy mashed potato and a green salad. Today, I ate them cold for lunch, with the mixed salad of fresh vegetables from our wonderful local markets, and the scrumptious Peri Peri Sweet Chilli Sauce with Lime.

The recipe is from the November edition of Super Food Ideas:

Vegetable Rolls
Serves 6
1 red onion, halved
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 small zucchinis, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 corn cob, kernels removed
3/4 cup cottage cheese (I didn't have any - substituted ricotta cheese)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 tsps dried mixed herbs ( I used za'atar, the yummy and versatile Middle Eastern herb blend)
3 tsps hot chilli sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed
1 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Using a food processor with a grater attached, coarsely grate onion, garlic, carrot and zucchini.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add grated vegetables and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until veges are just tender. Drain liquid and transfer to large bowl.
3. Add cheese, oats, herbs, chilli sauce and half the egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
4. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Cut each pastry sheet in half. Spoon on-sixth of the mixture down 1 long side of 1 pastry half. Brush opposite edge with witha little of the remaining egg. Roll up pastry to enclose filling. Cut roll into thirds. Place on prepared trays. Repeat with remaining mixture and pastry. brush tops of rolls with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with salad leaves and sweet chilli sauce.

Couldn't get the wee man to eat them last night (I think he had too much involvement in the preparation, and knew too well what was inside!), but the Big Feller liked them, and he's taken them cold for lunch, today, too.

I finally had broadband connected last week (actually, using dial-up is probably one of the reasons it's taken me so long to get my own blog-thang happening...I just don't have that kind of patience...!), and I'm loving the way it has increased my use of the internet as an everyday resource (I know, I know - I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted here...).

I have a sudden glut of over-ripe bananas and a new food processor, so I chucked those elements in a Google search and found this amazing, highly-commented-upon banana cake recipe - and a great new foodie blog for my collection. The cake is cooling on the bench at the moment, and I have yet to ice it. Smells fantastic...

Guess what I'm posting about next...?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Conspicuous consumption

I've just come from drooling over my new fridge. Actually, no, I wasn't actually drooling over it, since no drool is going to be allowed within 5 feet of it for the next few weeks (until the novelty wears off)! Let's just say I was looking at it lovingly...

I've been waiting for this fridge for a long time. In fact, it was promised to me as a birthday present last year, but, well, shit happens...and the fridge got put on the back burner.

You couldn't exactly call it a birthday present this year. Well, yes, you could - this is my birthday present to myself. My husband did initiate the enquiries, but in the end I decided to go for the rent-to-buy option from the very nice hire mob we use for our washing machine, to get exactly the fridge I want NOW for which I will have the privilege of paying too much money. In other words, I got tired of waiting. (There also a raft of reasons why we really needed a new fridge now...the old one was tiny, seals cracked and harbouring goodness-knows-what, chewing electricity, leaking all over the timber floor etc etc.)

I've actually done incredibly well this birthday. As an example of manifesting wishes, I'm a bit of a shining light at the moment.

I'd had the idea, a year or two ago, of having three little Wish List pages up on our kitchen cork board, one for each of us, to scribble down ideas (large and small) for birthdays and Christmases and so on...the sort of thing to refer to when the mother-in-law or the nana ask for gift ideas, more than as a manifestation tool. But, hey, it works...well, at least it seemed to work for the boys. Their lists kept getting crossed off. My list remained the same, or rather the only change was me adding a couple more things to it (hey, a girl can dream).

All of a sudden, as I'm gleefully crossing off "fridge" this morning, I noticed how incredibly blessed I've been this birthday. My mother and brothers bought me a half-day spa package in Byron Bay (no, I am not smirking), my husband paid off my food processor layby, my best friend bought me a subscription to one of my favourite magazines (Notebook), another close friend bought me a timber photo box frame and album...suddenly my list is almost all crossed off.

Yes, I know - it's all just "stuff", and "stuff" is not important in the big scheme of things...I know that compared to so many people in the world we are incredibly affluent, and that even though we feel we have been really struggling for a long time, compared to many others we live in luxury and comfort.

But allow me to indulge myself in the pleasure of all this wish-fulfillment for a little while, to wallow in conspicuous consumption. I'll be back to the consciousness of recycling, and budgeting, and making too little go too far again shortly.

Right now, I'm going to make an excuse to go look at my fridge again...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reflections on turning 40...

Not that I have been feeling particularly reflective or melancholic...far from it, actually, I've been having a ball this week...but the nature of the conversations I have had this week with friends, old and new, has been on what it means to turn 40.

To quote a very dear friend, from a wise funny email he sent me today:

" I think we’re at that age too when our perspective sharpens quite drastically. As my brother James says, at 40 you’re at the peak – you can see the other side and your fate. But you can also see and vividly remember where you’ve come from. There will be no other time in our lives quite like this one..."

And that very much seems to be the theme of this birthday week for me - the convergence of my past, my present, and the people and elements I imagine will play a major part in my future.

I have not seen my wise friend for many years, a dozen or more. He was my best male friend in high school. He teased me, tested me, tantalised and infuriated me in equal measure. He was very honest, articulate, a bit pompous and very honourable - he set such a high standard for my male friendships that it took years before I realised what a gift that friendship was, and what it had taught me.

He held a similar place in my best girlfriend's life, too, so you can imagine how strange and funny and exhilarating and refreshing it was to be sitting together on my deck eating and laughing and reminiscing with them, plus her partner and my husband, last weekend. Everything had changed - yet everything was exactly the same. The bond remains - "...there’s something special about a friend who got to know you at the same time that you got to know yourself. Don’t you think?" (My wise friend again).

Last night, recent friends joined us for a birthday dinner at my favourite local restaurant (Fire In the Belly - voted the best pizza in the country, and I'm happy to agree with that). My caring but normally undemonstrative girlfriend bought me a couple of things including a lovely photo box, but the gift that most touched me was a cheesy but cute fridge magnet with 2 baby monkeys shmoozing and the caption "Pals forever". I think she's right - she's part of my future, too.

So here I am, standing at the peak, looking forward and back. There's a lot to treasure, to appreciate, to savour, whichever way I look - sure, there's some crud, too, but you don't get to this point without being forged in the fire a few times and look what that does to steel.

This Sunday, friends old and new, family of birth and of love, are gathering here in my garden. "Help me celebrate my next 40 years", I said on the invite.

It's going to be great...

Monday, October 08, 2007

One of my love affairs... with this house we live in.

Unfortunately, we don't own it. Our landlady knows we want to be long-term tenants, and has instructed the agents to take care of us. I am conscious that she is a bit stretched and anxious about her finances, and I sooooo don't want to spend another summer sitting through open house inspections while we wait to see if the right person comes along (ie someone who wants tenants like us, not a family looking for a home)...we got lucky this time, but it would be heart-breaking to do it again.

It's cosy. It has character. It enfolds everyone who enters it with a gentle hug. Our furniture, both the old and husband-made, our "treasures" and our pictures were made for a house like this. My wee man adores the place - he says we should stay here "for all days". Ah, the wisdom of youth.

I had such a nomadic early life. Actually, when I mentally quantified that, I realised that I've had a nomadic life...full stop. There are many forces, emotions, biochemical triggers, and logical reasons why I feel so rooted here. Apart from the fact that I love it.

Maybe I should start one of those websites where I put it out into the world of web that I need this house and do swaps or collect donations or something...(*smiles*)

Anyway, here is my love, for you to see.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Well, that's done it...

Now I've done it. I've signed up for NaBloPoMo, and have to stop making excuses to myself as to why I haven't written the blogpost that has been floating around in my head. Procrastination is an old acquaintance of mine, and I thought I would put myself on notice, have a laugh and get stuck into this whole blogging/network thing.

So that's it now. I'm committed. A blogpost every single day for the month of November. I was thinking about signing up for NaNoWriMo (which I have signed on to 3 or 4 times over the last few years...and always been "too busy" for) - but I don't want to give myself any excuse for not posting!

Visit NaBloPoMo

Monday, October 01, 2007

BF activism - get 'em out, ladies!

As a proud breastfeeding mama, I have to say a big raspberry to Facebook for banning BF photos. I have a very tiny toe-hold there, mainly to keep in touch with a UK-living friend of mine, but think I'm just going to have to give it the old heave-ho.

I'm just about at the end of the breast-feeding thing now - no day-time feeds any more, just a micro-suck at bed-time, and the morning milkshake - but I always made conscious choices to feed the wee man where and when I felt it was appropriate ie. not in a toilet resembling a bus stop labelled "parent's room" to keep bf-ing mums out of the public eye. I didn't try to be in-your-face, just being a normal loving mama doing the completely natural and non-***ual.

So breastfeeding mamas, don't be embarrassed by other people's PC hangups and twisted morality - you know you're doing something right and special and wholesome. Get 'em out and give the bubba one for the home team...better yet, give 'em two!

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