Sunday, June 29, 2008

The End of an Age

How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you - you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your very life. ~Katherine Mansfield

This week saw the sale of the family farm.

It seems like the end of an age to me. It has been around with us, part of us for as long as I have known, of course, and for many years longer. It has been in my mother's ownership for over 30 years and her family purchased it over 50 years before that. Add that up and it's almost half of Australia's history as a country. It has been the place which was our section of our Australia. The place my ancestors pioneered in the region producing wool, wheat, barley, cotton and more. It was the place my mother grew up. The place she learned to cook, sew and garden, to ride horses. The place she took us back to with her Mum to enjoy lamingtons together on family picnics. Granny always made lamingtons for us to enjoy at Roydon. The place where I remember many fun moments with my family and friends: riding in the tractor, riding on the sulky, learning to drive the car when I was a young teenager, cooking pan-fried scones, camping out, picnics with my Granny, shearing in the shed and observing the many workers.

It was the place I found my little lamb, Bimbo, when I was about 10 years old. She was an orphan lamb whom I chased and chased and chased around the shearing shed, trying to catch her. Lucky for me, but possibly somewhat unlucky for her, she got caught in the fence. It was rather easy for me to "catch" her then. I pulled her out of the fence, showed Dad and we let her rest in the Landrover until we took her back to our home in town. I loved her, doted on her. Unfortunately she died after catching Tetanus after she was bitten by a dog while staying with a friend as we holidayed. This stayed with me for many years. I think I felt it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't left her. Maybe it gave me a very early sense of what responsibility for our loved ones means.

So now that place I am attached to has moved into new ownership. My Mum is pleased that the new owners are the old neighbours. They are happy for us to visit the old homestead whenever we like. I wonder how it will feel next time I do that. I imagine that sense of it being mine, of having been my place, of it being that part of the country my ancestors chose, will not be gone.

Photos courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law! Thankyou.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sewing for my Baby

The best thing about doing needlepoint for very small children is that they are so uncritical. They don't say things like, "I see you've missed some stitches over here on the leg, was that intentional?" or "Was this creature blinded in a fight?" They will clasp it in their little arms and love it besottedly, inseparably as the thing becomes more and more rancid.
~ Carole Berman and Jennifer Lazarus

I have a little sewing project on the go at the moment.

A mobile for my precious little Eee.

I was inspired by something I saw in a magazine and then found copious amounts of fabrics in my stocks to make something pretty for my precious girl. It incorporates fabric from my own wedding dress and flower girl dresses as well as silk I made into shell tops I wore to work when I was younger.

I love to sew and always imagined I would sew and create many things for my babies. Noone told me how time consuming it is to cook and clean for my little ones. So my passion to sew fits into the tiny spaces between essential tasks. I am glad that our house is big enough that I can hide away my bits and pieces in a corner that I can't see until next time I have time to sew.

So off I go with birds and hearts and an idea in my mind for a pretty little mobile for my darling girl to treasure as she grows older. And of course Ess wants one too now so I might be sewing for quite a while longer than originally anticipated.

The delight in this, however, is that Ess has taken up some stitching herself. She is amazingly incredibly adept at sewing. I taught her one afternoon to backstitch and she finished the stitching card the next day and had designed and made her own card as well! No errors, no frustrations, no tangles, just seemingly a particular penchant for sewing. She must be her mother's daughter. Learning, creating, designing, doing, completing. I admire those traits.

Watch those speedy fingers go!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greek Orange Semolina Cake

Our new season oranges have been put to good use.

This Greek Orange Semolina Cake is absolutely delicious and was enjoyed by all here yesterday both for afternoon tea and dessert.

Believe it or not, there is still some for dessert tomorrow night. Mummy has hidden it in the cupboard, otherwise I think it would be all gone. Actually, now that it is on my mind, maybe it won't last tonight...

If this is tempting you, it really is so simple. You can find the
recipe here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Going Grey

People in this country are starved for the truth
~ Harry G. Frankfurt,
author of On Bullshit and On Truth

Anne Kreamer

No, I am not going grey…not yet! But have you considered whether or not you will allow your hair to grey? I hadn’t. (After all, I am still only in my mid-thirties). At least I hadn’t until I heard an interview with Anne Kreamer. She was inspirational. Anne has embraced going grey and turned away from dying her hair, and she lives in the States where pressure to “colour” seems overwhelming. Is it similar in Australia? Do we experience the same pressure?

Personally, I have never dyed my hair. My 4yr old daughter has coloured her hair more than I have in my entire life. It’s not been something I considered – even in my teens. I guess I’ve always embraced the way I look. I love my natural blonde highlights, which were more prominent in my youth (I have to say). So I guess I am going to go grey. Colouring is not an option I’ve considered and I don’t want to present myself as anything that is not me. A different colour simply wouldn’t be me. It would cover me up. “Colouring hair” said Anne’s husband, “is to do with the difference between rebuilding and ‘upkeep and maintenance’". He goes on in the following vein, the beautiful essence is somehow lost when something is covered up. The beauty and the essence of something is how it looks as it ages, consider how we love old European cities such as Paris and Rome.

I like the idea of rebuilding ourselves. To me it speaks more creatively about who we are and how this changes and transforms yet is always positively challenging. Upkeep and maintenance to me is tiring and annoying, am I allowed to say even boring. It shows little value in what is becoming and holds in high esteem that which was; and in the case of dyeing hair, of valuing youth more greatly than age and experience. Somehow we have become colourers of our hair so that we (and others) can’t see that we are getting older. I must question, “why do we not want to get older?" Ann Richards concluded her conversation with friend Anne Kreamer saying, “wisdom and age have value. It’s really important and if all we do is continue this whole business of focusing on youth, we’ll miss that all ages can be wonderful, not only personally but the culture will miss that ingredient as well.” Can we afford to let that go? Do we want to let value in wisdom and age disappear?

I am proud to declare that all the ladies in my immediate family have gone grey – very gracefully I must say. Although let me clarify,…my Mum tried to colour her hair once and the three of us kids laughed voraciously and questioned her “What on earth have you done that for?” That was the only colour I ever saw in my Mum’s hair. She let it grey (starting very young, when she married, with her “Mrs Ghandi streak” as she called it) and it looks lovely.

Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters

Our image is important. We want to portray ourselves in a certain way and this clearly speaks reams about how people see us. When I first saw Anne’s book "Going Gray: what I learned about beauty, sex, work, motherhood, authenticity, and everything else that really matters” a friend and I noticed how much more presentable she was with her grey hair than she appeared before she experienced the whole “going grey” process. Even my own Ess agreed. She clearly chose the new and grey image of Anne Kreamer when asked to point to the ‘best lady’.

Anne was surprised when she visited three Image Consultants in New York as an experiment for her book. She expected them to tell her to dye her hair but all considered grey hair was a very distinctive and strong statement. It’s the clothes, not the hair they suggested. Do you have a wardrobe full of unnecessary emotionally-laden familiar baggage? I look forward to being able to discard mine. The sense of liberation will be profound when I can purge myself of these. I’ll feel nimble and light like having my hair cut, or indeed like having definitely decided that my hair will go grey. We are all constantly in need of changing. We need to make advancements and adjustments to the way we look and to our hair and clothes. What works once may not work again later.

Anne also tested responses to grey or non-grey hair online by presenting herself as each (using the wonders of Photoshop) on Interestingly she received more interested looks as a grey woman. I think she was seen as more authentic as a grey-haired woman.

So what are the pressures we experience which convince us we need to dye our hair? Is it to be able to further our career, or simply re-enter the workforce, to feel sexy for our men? Is it to maintain some semblance of youthfulness? Do we succumb to the pressure of marketeers who make a bucket-load out of hairdressing practices? Does it become habit to dye our hair and something which we simply do? Almost like my own habit to not dye my hair. Not quite so simply. This is a choice for me. It is a choice about living simply, presenting myself in truth and telling more of the plain truth hoping to encourage society to be truthful. My hair is a symbol of what I am trying to be. Anne says it beautifully for me, “The more we tell the truth in the way we look, maybe, the more we’re inclined to tell the truth in other ways and thus encourage other people to be honest with us”.

And what about men going grey? One man, a CNN anchor, once considered “give in to grey”. I think we can all do better than that – embrace the grey. It shows honesty, authenticity, maturity, confidence, self-control and a willingness to embrace the changes and challenges which life brings.

A French-born Manhattan hairstylist says “Grey makes a statement. It stands out.” He regards “showing your silver as a choice and one of the few truly exciting things a women can do with her hair. A way of breaking taboos.” That’s exciting. Maybe a few of us are changing the world a little and breaking taboos together. I think it will be wonderful when the world realises that experience and authenticity can be attractive. We are all experiencing an intensifying hunger for authenticity. I see this also in the way we are increasingly embracing ‘all things organic’.

Yet how we choose to grow older is deeply idiosyncratic and we are all individually responsible for finding our own comfortable place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Season Oranges

This weekend my generous gentleman brought home the first of this season of delicious oranges from Grandad’s tree. These are particularly long-awaited oranges. We watched the tree as it flowered, we saw the tiny green oranges begin to fruit, we watched them grow larger and finally saw them turn to orange. Now it is time to pick. Very long-awaited! You see, right at the end of last season, in the last bag of oranges (perhaps even the last orange) Ess decided she loved them. While she ate mandarins during that very fussy toddler eating period and even as a baby, oranges were never enjoyable... until Mum decided to describe them as “little bags of juice” inside each segment. “Ooh that sounds delicious” Ess proclaimed. Sure enough, she tried them and loved them and wanted more. Only there were no more!!

‘Mum’ is a stickler for eating fruit while it is in season. I simply can’t buy oranges when they are supplied so readily to us. I actually think our family eats the whole tree full (don’t tell Grandad). Shop bought, even market bought oranges, simply don’t have the same flavour, fragrance, sweetness – the whole “yumminess factor”. And the miles travelled to reach us – only 15 km or so. We can only really get better than that when we eat at Grandad’s, then it’s only 5m. Oh how we’d love to have our own tree in our own yard…one day.

Mmm new season oranges. I’m thinking…
Chocolate Orange Cake
Greek Orange Semolina Cake
· Orange, Fennel and Greens Salad
· Orange and Cinnamon Roasted Chicken
· Orange and Almond Cake
Orange and Almond Friands

My Warm Morning Muesli is also lovely with fresh orange pieces.

Let me know if you have any 'orange favourites' I should try!

Winter Delicious!

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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