Friday, June 28, 2013

Beware of dinosaurs

Life in Australia is not all sun, surf and jollyhockeysticks.  This week saw the shameful culmination of something that for the past three years has made me wonder exactly what century we are living in. 

The sexist abuse hurled at Julia Gillard by not just the opposition but also by sections of the media and much of the general public while she was Prime Minister was way beyond disrespectful.  Robust political debate is fine and to be expected but this was not that.  Repeated personal attacks on a person because of their physical appearance, family situation or voice are not OK - ever.  Throwing sandwiches at someone is not OK - ever! In fact according to a flyer brought home from school recently that sort of behaviour is called bullying.  For the past three years much of Australia has participated in The Big Bully, much like a scary psychology experiment on a very grand scale. It was shocking.  Big sections of Australian society need to have a long hard look at their behaviour, their frighteningly outdated attitudes and their plain lack of manners if they think that this is an OK way to treat anyone, regardless of whether you agree with their views or think they are any good at their job.

As one commenter on an online news site wrote "In its disgracefully sexist treatment of its first female Prime Minister, Australia has proven yet again that it isn't quite ready yet for this thingy we in other parts of the world call life in the 21st century".  Sadly I agree. As my teenage daughter put it "Do we really want to live in a country thinks it is OK to treat women this way?"  I'll have to think about that one.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Repeating pattern

I love repeating patterns.  I love them in fabrics, wallpaper, carpets and I love spotting them in nature and photographing them.

Yesterday a repeating pattern happened in our lives; my partner's work contract was renewed.  Phew!  Like many New Zealanders living in Australia we will have to leave at some point.  In our case that is because we can never become Australian citizens and as such our children are not eligible for student loans in Australia.  Little Miss WinsEveryPrizeSheGoesNear is also not eligible for scholarships in Australia and given that most of her preferred career options will involve manymany years of university study, that simply won't be possible here.

But anyway we aren't quite ready to leave yet.  We hope to do a lot more exploring here before we leave. One place I've always wanted to investigate is Tasmania especially since a local artist friend came back raving about the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and insisting that I must go there, which sadly is a tad easier said than done. 

So today I made that repeating pattern above as my entry into a competition to win a trip there.  The somewhat debauched content of that pattern isn't my usual style but the prize is a visit to Tasmania, MONA and the fabulously Bacchanalian sounding Dark MOFO festival. My winter feast pic is called "My Darkest Night Is Repeating On Me".  I've probably broken the rules by repeating my photo but MONA and Dark MOFO seem to be all about breaking rules, which is a huge part of their appeal to me. (Instagram users can help me out by liking my pic - my handle surprisingly enough is pearlequeen and you can see all the entries by searching for #abcRNDarkMOFO . If any Australian-based folk fancy entering too the details are here but you'll have to be quick as it closes this Sunday.)

It was fun to do but obviously a long-shot so in the meantime I'll just keep on keeping on with our other plan to visit Tasmania and MONA which is also a repeating pattern: scrimping and saving, scrimping and saving.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm there. I've made it.

As any of you who know me will realise, the "Making it in Mandurah" words on the right of this blog are somewhat tongue in cheek.  For many people around these parts "Making it" seems to mean holidaying in Bali and owning a huge house, a huge vehicle, his 'n' hers jetskis plus and various other things I am not the slightest bit interested in. 

My version of "making it" is considerably more modest and involves having time to, well, make things including our vegetable garden and good meals.  I am happy to report that in gardening terms, we have recently met a couple of criteria I set myself and have officially made it.

Late autumn and early winter are great times in the garden here as the temperature stays in the twenties or below and it rains fairly frequently and heavily. This means that we have finally got to the point where our garden is providing most of the vegetables we eat. Given that we started with a sand dune this is no mean feat.  Every morning I head out into the garden with my colander to pick salad greens for our packed lunches.  Every evening I head back out there to harvest more food for our evening meal.

I have been repeating that pattern over
and over

and over again

for several weeks now.  The big winners have been kale, chinese stirfry greens, chillies, beans, rocket, mizuna, herbs and pumpkins.

But I set myself another criteria when it comes to "making it" in the garden. Our garden must also be a great and safe place for local wildlife to live in and visit. I've been on a couple of courses about creating wildlife-friendly gardens (thank you City of Mandurah) and read about how various chemicals can be problematic for wildlife so we've given them all a big swerve.

We have succeeded in attracting numerous birds to the garden and we now also have masses of lizards. There is one creature I am not too excited about.  Here is a calling card it left us in the shed.

Yes that is a (tiny) snake's shed skin.  Our planned frog pond is still just a concept but frogs have moved in anyway.  In the evenings we hear a chorus of burrowing frogs in the front garden (put put put) and here is a motorbike frog who has recently shifted into the back garden (vroom vroom vroom). 

I woke in the night with a raging temperature to hear a Boobook owl right outside the window (bookbook bookbook bookbook) and today I'm just admiring our garden from the great indoors (and mucking around creating repeating patterns) as I have woken up with a lurgy. I've swapped my work day for tomorrow and was still in bed reading when I heard a squeeeak in the driveway then the cheery hellooo of a friend who had popped by while out doing chores. She's never popped in unannounced before and was a little apologetic about doing so.  I however was delighted and would have loved to have said "coffee?" and welcomed her in despite the fact that my house is messy and I am wearing PJs and have bedhair like a crazy chicken, but we thought it best that I don't share my germs.  

It is three years today since we left New Zealand.  I still dearly miss my NZ friends especially my closest "swing-by" friends.  The fact that I finally have a swing-by friend here means that I really am making it, at least by my definition.