Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Happy Jewish New Year!

As tradition dictates, we dipped pieces of apple into honey, symbolising a healthy and sweet year to come, (the year 5769 to be precise).

Good things are indeed on their way. This afternoon we received a call from the company installing our solar panels to let us know of their arrival date.

And tomorrow PJ and I are off to Newcastle for This is Not Art.

From T.S. Eliot's Little Gidding:
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Graffiti Games

Not long after I moved here, the bureaucrats at Melbourne City Council thought it would be a good idea to whitewash the graffiti from the streets in attempt to provide a homogenised version of the city for the tourists visiting for the Commonwealth Games.

As a protest, PJ came up with the idea of a roaming graffiti wall that he and some friends would walk through the city during the Games. Before he and I hooked up, I read the article about his graffiti wall in the paper. I cut the article out and asked him to sign it when I saw him next, but that story is for another post.

This post is about the graffiti wall panels that are being auctioned to support Kids Under Cover – a charity for homeless and at-risk youth.

The eBay auction starts in a couple of days.

Happy bidding!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Bring the Cow Out

When I first moved out of home I rented a room upstairs in a big house that had an adjoining room I used as an office. I bought a black and white cowhide to sit on the office floor in front of the fire place.

I got it cheap from a tannery because it hadn't been tanned properly. I couldn't see the problem, though when the afternoon sun came through my windows, boy oh boy could I smell it.

This is before 1998, so there was no Google to help me find out ways to get rid of the stench. So I researched it the old fashioned way – I asked my mum. Every morning before work I would take the cow over to my folks' place where Mum would embrace it, like a grandchild. And every afternoon, I would swing by to collect it. 

She tried powders and salts and fragrances and scrubs, but what she found was most effective was leaving it out in the sun. 

The cow became part of our family and the phrase, bring the cow in, bring the cow out, became part of our lexicon; to refer to the mundanity or repetitive nature of tasks.

Today the cow is still part of our family and lines the floor of our living room, when it isn't going camping or picnicking with us, or lunching with us out on the deck.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Crisis Opportunism

I am half way through reading Naomi Klein's 533 page tome, The Shock Doctrine, which seems an especially pertinent choice of books right now, given the current situation on Wall St.

The Shock Doctrine: The use of public disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters – to push through unpopular economic measures often called 'shock therapy.'

I will save my opinions until after I have finished reading it, but just wanted to recommend you watch this clip:

Friday, 26 September 2008

T-Shirt Weather

They say that once you have survived your first winter up here your body acclimatises, making each subsequent winter a little easier. This winter was my second, and it's true, it was much more bearable than the first.

This most certainly has a lot to do with us now living in a properly insulated house, and it also has a lot to do with the current epidemic of sunny days, that has all but melted the memory of the snow that appeared on our earth just 6 weeks prior.

After a day of open windows, we closed our laptops and headed up the street to a local wine bar, PJ on his skateboard, me on my bike.

There was live music, glasses toasting the sunset, and questions of where abouts and how abouts we have been since winter transpierced.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Meg's Eggs

Two of our chooks have started laying! 

I love having chickens so much. They are so fascinating to observe and it has been comforting to have some other females around.

I would like to dedicate these first eggs to all the pro-choicers in Victoria who are working hard on the State Government's abortion decriminalisation bill.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Porridge Picnic

Yesterday PJ and Z met me here, at the half way point of my morning walk, with pancakes and coffee on the open fire. This morning it was porridge that awaited me.

Just as we learnt a few days ago that coffee made with carbonated spring water doesn't work, so too this morning we discovered that porridge tastes much better made with water without bubbles.

Monday, 22 September 2008

500 Tablets (500 mg)

Five years ago I asked a naturopath: What one supplement do you recommend everyone should take? To which she replied, without even thinking, Spirulina. And thus began my love affair with the blue-green algae.

When I moved to the country, I was most pleased when I found out there was a guy selling it locally.

I know I bang on and on about all the reasons I love living in a small community, and I guess I do because I was born in the city where people operate with different, less personal motives. 

Here, business transactions aren't raced through because I have deadlines to meet or parking meters to feed or trams to catch. I used to live like this. But now my relationships are nurtured because there's time, and because in a town with a population of under 4,000 people, you are bound to see the people you have dealings with again and again and again.

When I buy my Spirulina, if I'm not home, J just drops my jar off on the deck. J is a photographer and one of my favourite parts of buying my spirulina from him is that he will email me through a recent photograph he's taken. Today it was of his son.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

To Market, to Market

Before I departed the city and moved to these hills I would often come up and stay with my sister K and her family. My favourite thing to do on a Sunday was walk around the market that even bustles in the winter months.

When I moved up here I would ride my bike there; my basket brimming with perishables for the week on the downhill home.

When PJ and I first got together he was working weekends and I would roam the market alone, pining to walk the aisles with him arm in arm, like so many of the touristing couples who visit.

This morning we three rode bikes and skateboards to the market. The journey homeward was a little more slow going as we had kites and new fishing rods to contend with.

We didn't have much luck catching fish at the lake, though I managed to catch up on some reading and to catch some ZZZZs in the quiet of the late afternoon.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Carbonated Capers

After a delicious home-cooked breakfast, PJ and I set off through the bush towards a mineral water spring about 45 minutes away. It was a beautiful spring day and we wore backpacks containing a small gas stove, coffee, cups and a stove-top coffee percolator. 

Something went wrong: the coffee rose to the top but it was cold. Maybe because we used carbonated water, we're not sure. We stood around the spring and drank cups and cups of the delicious water, then things soon deteriorated transpired to us taking lots of photos and video clips of each other spitting the water out again.

Friday, 19 September 2008


We spent the morning at Z's school with all the other parents for a working bee. The kids were excited it was the last day of term and that their parents were in their grounds.

We worked that ground. We dug, we found rocks at one end and lined them up in a row at the other. We mulched and composted and planted and swept and raked and pruned. Then we sat around with the kids and had a BBQ lunch. It was a day of considerate reclamation.

And so too in Melbourne, as in many other other cities around the globe that celebrated International Park(ing) Day, where people took to the streets to reclaim public space as public space.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Fighting For It

This morning on my walk I listened to a podcast interview with Emmanuel Jal, who at aged 8 was a child soldier carrying an AK-47 rifle in the Sudan People's Liberation Army. (He was later adopted by a British aid worker and is now a rising international music star.) 

The interviewer said that by 18, the usual age for conscription, people can determine right from wrong, but at aged 8, you haven't yet developed a conscience.

I heard this and thought nothing of it. Until Z saw this poster and asked what it was.

PJ and I explained to him that Fair Trade empowers farmers in developing countries, (though we left out that John Pilger has an argument against some Fair Trade agreements, saying they are constructed by the privileged).

In response Z said he wishes he were a policeman. If the greedy people are mean to the farmers, he would put them in jail for one day. If they do it again, he would jail them for two days. And if they do it again, in they go for three days...

I look at a lot of the injustices in the world and the generation of the perpetrators and I think: up until what age can our behavior escape scrutiny?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Blog Baton

I am a huge proponent of small business not corporatised business in the same way I am all for local and regional autonomy, because the dissemination of power means more diversity and more choice for more people.

Which is one of the reasons I love living in the country: the decentralisation of sovereignty, and why I love being a part of the blogosphere: the decentralisation of information.

Last night I taught the final class for this term's course on blogging. Just as I felt when I taught English in Thailand, I felt so proud when my students got the hang of what they were doing.

Here is a snapshot of what some of them are doing:

Monday, 15 September 2008


Since I received my pen license when I was 6, I have  been a fiction writer. But then I moved to the country and now I only read and write nonfiction. It happened about 18 months ago and it happened suddenly and surprisingly and absolutely. I went off movies that weren't docos and off books that weren't based in fact.

I greatly admire writers who have a foot in both camps, such as David Foster Wallace who suicided three days ago, aged 46. 

I have read a number of his short pieces and The Best American Essays 2007 that he edited. (His novel Infinite Jest, which Time Magazine included in its List of 100 Best English-language Novels, has over 100 pages of footnotes, a technique I find rather irritating, and the reason I never read the book.)

In his introduction to The Best American Essays 2007, he says some things about the difference between fiction and nonfiction, that still resonate with me:
Writing-wise, fiction is scarier, but nonfiction is harder — because nonfiction's based in reality, and today's felt reality is overwhelmingly, circuit-blowingly huge and complex. Whereas fiction comes out of nothing. Actually, so wait: the truth is that both genres are scary; both feel like they're executed on tightropes, over abysses — it's the abysses that are different. Fiction's abyss is silence, nada. Whereas nonfiction's abyss is Total Noise, the seething static of every particular thing and experience, and one's total freedom of infinite choice about what to choose to attend to and represent and connect, and how, and why, etc.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Neck Laced

Three days ago I wrote about the found necklace I was wearing. That same day, the plumbers who came to hook up our water tank left behind some clear plastic tubing that I cut up and threaded with some red string.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Golden Words

The other night at knitting group we talked about Alzheimer's because Mum is writing a book about her mum, who has the disease. C, who is knitting gorgeous red cushion covers, said that she read that people with Alzheimer's retain their emotional memory, even when their recall of words and memories of events have faded.

Maybe that's the same with all of us. I am too sensible to listen to dumb-ass pop music but I do and I love it. It takes me back to the days of my childhood when my sisters and I would make up dances and perform them in costume for guests.

One of the joys of being a parent for me is to experience anew so many of the great aspects of my own childhood with Z.

Mum and I spent the majority of the last few days reading and writing. I feel so lucky that I inherited her love of language and literature.

And I feel just as lucky when Z puts his hand over my mouth when we are reading because he wants to sound the words out for himself.

This afternoon we received this in an email from his teacher:
I just wanted to touch base to say that Z is really showing a keen interest in his reading and he is now working on level 2 books. His knowledge of the Golden Words is very good, which is also helping with his writing. We are seeing that he is looking for the sounds in words and is using high frequency words such as 'and' and 'the' etc. This is great to see!

Thursday, 11 September 2008


I rode my bike past this red grid the other day that I had to dismount to pick up. It's usually to fill my basket with gleaned fruit that I stop, not discarded bits of plastic.

I like red things. I like red things for lots and lots of reasons. And have done so for almost a decade. One of these reasons is as a means to filter because the world is just so big. Someone once called it a redar, like a radar, but only for red things.

My mum has come to stay for a couple of days. We walked through the bush first thing then read and wrote for the majority of the day. The plumbers came to hook up our water tank and we walked to a nearby trash, treasure and collectibles market, where I once again noticed how I notice.

I notice red. It doesn't matter what: sparkly shoes, capsicum, olive oil tins, tattoos and forsaken bits of rubbish I can wear around my neck.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Still Life: Ingredients

There are six of us in my knitting group, and when it's your turn to be the hostess you have to provide tea, coffee and something to eat. Tonight everybody is coming here.

My kitchen bench, 4pm:

My sister K, who is a fantastic baker, laughs at me because I do not own a single cookbook. She thinks it's funny that each time I want to make or bake, I go online then consult my open laptop for measurements and methods, careful not to whisk or grate or sift anything onto it.

She thought it even funnier when her eldest daughter asked if they could make my banana cake for her dad for father's day. She said it was the best cake she's ever eaten. With that kind of credential, I thought I would make it for my knitting group this eve.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Fate Skate

I finished reading In Cold Blood this afternoon at the skate park, where I had taken Z and a friend after school. The two boys skated and biked in the spring afternoon, while the two convicted men in the book sat in their cells and awaited their fates.

I always have a stack of books on my bedside table, though I never read more than one at once. If I am in the middle of reading a book and leave it somewhere, I will just start another book until the first one is returned. Not so with Capote.

This book held me captive like a killer. The day I left it at a friend's house, it consumed me even more. I called some second hand bookshops to see if I could track down a copy, but I couldn't.

I waited. I waited. Like a prisoner on death row. I knew what was ahead of me, but I was desperate to reach the end.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Robbin' the Rich

From Reuters:
Greek anarchists stormed a supermarket and handed out food for free in the latest of a wave of raids provoked by soaring consumer prices.

About 20 unarmed people, mostly wearing black hoods, carried out the midday robbery in the northern city of Thesaaloniki, police said.

Local media have labelled the raiders "Robin Hoods" following previous raids.

They take only packets of pasta, rice and cartons of milk which they drop in the middle of the street for people to collect, a police official said.

"They have never stolen money or hurt anyone. They ask people to remain calm but use ambush tactics, jumping over cash desks," he said.

"When they attack without hoods, people are surprised to see that they are mostly women."

The rising cost of living has replaced unemployment as Greeks' main concern. Inflation is officially running at a 10-year high of 4.9 percent although many items have risen in price more sharply.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

On Father's Day

A few days ago I wrote about how I chose to love PJ and I chose to love Z. I also chose to love PJ because of Z.

On our first date we went on a picnic. PJ and Z made delicious gyōza and after lunch I filmed this:

My dad is a wonderful man whose friendship and opinions I cherish. Growing up, like many men of his generation, his work came first and his children second. As we grew up, he grew up. And as we worked out our ways in the world, he worked out what he needed to do and be to be a better father. 

I love my relationship with him now but think that because of the father he wasn't, I could see more clearly the kind of father PJ was, and is, to Z.

Not long after our first picnic date, I was voicing my insecurities to my folks: I have never been a parent before, what happens if I'm crap at it? How will I know what to do?

And my dad said something to me that still continues to have a daily impact: If anyone can do this Meg, you can.

It was a gentle nudge in the right direction. A direction that I walked in, which led me to where I am.

Happy father's day, PJ. Happy father's day, Dad.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

In Bed with Murderers

After recently seeing the film Capote, I thought it was high time I read In Cold Blood. Before a late lunch and a bushwalk this afternoon, I lay curled up on the couch reading it.

Last year I read Tony Parker's fantastic book, Life After Life: Interviews with Twelve Murderers. It didn't take me long to finish; all I wanted to do was read it. "I'm going to bed with my murderers," I'd say to PJ before retiring with the book.

I am having a similar experience with In Cold Blood. I know what happens and how it ends, yet the writing is still so compelling. Oh the details! My favourite style of writing is Creative Nonfiction, and I can definitely see why Capote is called the grand daddy of the genre.

This is the rock that PJ and I sat on in the bush. We climbed a hill that overlooks the path I walk each morning and we sat in awe of where we live. We talked, among other things, about our writing in relation to the world, our output, our egos, our ideas. We talked about life during life and death during life and the ethics of Danish artist Marco Evaristti turning the body of a death row convict into fish food in the name of art.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Byrne, Bikers, Byrne

Keen bike rider and former Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne (pictured) has designed a series of nine bike racks that can now be found throughout various New York neighbourhoods.

My sister A, who's studying in NYC at the moment is also a bike rider. I wonder if she has locked her wheels to one yet.

She'll have to hurry, as the racks will only be around for eleven months, after which time they are being sold. The Department of Transportation is holding a competition to design the replacement racks. You can see the finalists here. And you can see images and find a map of the racks here.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

All About the Kids

I once had a fight with someone I had known for a long time that caused the demise of our friendship. She was considering applying for a job in the marketing department of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. I encouraged her, saying that when she gets in, the first thing she should do is get rid of the McDonald's that's attached to the building. She vehemently disagreed, saying the multinational donated a lot of money to medical research.

I have always been crap at maths. But I know what it means when I read that obesity rates in Australia have more than doubled over the past 20 years and that we have overtaken the US as the world's fattest nation.

In 2011, the Royal Children’s Hospital will be relocating, a date that also signals the end of the lease for the McDonald’s outlet there. Let's hope the hospital sees the figures – 26% of the Australian adult population are now obese (compared to an estimated 25% of Americans) – and doesn't renew the leasehold.

But but wait, there's definitely more! And I am not just talking about the centimeters around our waistlines. I am talking about the wondrous specimen of evolved humanity that is Premier John Brumby, who, we are told in today's paper, "...has not ruled out fast-food companies getting involved in school canteens or classroom programs in a revamp of the public education system."

Not only is Brumby deluded about the alleged benefits of GM crops, but he is also happy to turn a blind eye to the corporations who want to feed these so called foods to our children, denying companies would take advantage of their position to promote their commercial interests. 

"If you're asking if this is an opportunity for commercial promotion, it is not," he says. "This is where businesses and where industries want to do more for the children. It's not an opportunity for business to use this as an opportunity to lever their products."

Of course not, My Brumby. It's all about the kids.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I had planned to blog about our Riesentraube heirloom tomatoes that seem to be growing before our eyes. But that topic merely needs a couple of sentences, a photo and I'm done.

A much more blogworthy topic is the 6 year-old human seedling with whom I live. I picked him up from school today and we made a deal: I would buy him an ice-cream if he would climb a local wild tree overflowing with lemons. It was as they say, a win-win situation.

On our happy way home, his face white with the sweet treat and my bag overflowing with fruit, he asked me to tell him about Meg's Choice, a story he loves to hear. 

You see, most parents don't get to choose their kids - they make a baby and that baby grows up and that's that. You get what you get. But I had a choice. I could have loved any old dad with any old son, or any old daughter, but I didn't. I had a choice and I chose to love his dad and I chose to love him. Of all the kids in the whole wide world.

Monday, 1 September 2008


On the train to Melbourne yesterday I had the passengers in the seats near me turn around because of something I did.

What I did: I ate a mandarin I had bought that morning at the market.

I am usually more of a strumpet for summer fruit - the rich tangs and textures - but oh the simple startle of a mandarin just peeled.