Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Isn’t it amazing that we can remember how to do things? I hadn’t done any large scale catering for over ten years. I hadn’t been on a push bike for at least twelve months. In the last couple of weeks I have tackled both.
My Rottnest Island bike adventure deteriorated into a farcical comedy on the first day with me falling off within a few meters of the bike hire. Feeling like a fool, I looked down to see the handlebars sat at a 45 degree angle to the wheel. A minute and a man with a spanner fixed that. The second day saw me trying to ride with the handlebars rotated 180 degrees. I hadn’t the heart to tell the others why I was so far behind in case they laughed their way into an accident. I huffed and puffed my way up hills, feeling very unfit until...I noticed the brakes were locking on. Heaved them off the wheel and managed to make my way back to the bike shop on day three. I explained to the very nice man what was happening. His eyes scanned the bike, then me, then the bike again. “You do know why this is happening, don’t you?’ he asked. ‘Der,’ I thought, ‘well, no, that’s why I am here.’ He smirked at me ‘The front wheel has been rotated 360 degrees and is pulling the cable on, especially when you go around bends.’ Thanking him, I scuttled out quickly, wondering if I could get away with leaving the bike at the accommodation rather than having to return to the bike shop for further humiliation. Obviously, my remembered skills were directed towards the actual bike riding, nothing of mechanics remained in my middle aged brain.
The catering went very smoothly, a little panic driven over ordering and some extreme tiredness, but basically all the skills I needed were there, lying dormant in some deep recess of my brain and I flicked into automatic even having a flash of inspiration that lead to a new sugar free dessert recipe.
I guess we all learn in different ways. Certainly, my capacity for retention is greatest when I have been physically active in a task. Swimming, bike riding, knitting, Tai Chi, all need just a little prod to awaken the body memory. Names, computer programs, telephone and all other numbers, need constant use and repetition for them to be imprinted.
The newest grandee will soon be one, watching him, I can see learning in action. This new person is stretching mind and limbs, awake with curiosity and wonder. His learning is experiential, using all of his senses. He isn’t trying to remember anything. I wonder if this is where we return to as we get older, that the sensual memories are the last to leave? I hope that the appreciation of nature, music, food, comfort, touch and companionship will stay with me long after I forget how to figure out many lettuce 26 people can eat in a week.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
By the second morning out of their ‘safe’ pen AGAIN, they had knocked over pot plants, dug out some bromeliads, destroyed the ground covers and shat all over the verandah. Enough! In my nightie, sitting in the dirt, I sewed a piece of shade cloth to the fence and the gate to a height of about 60cm, chased them all in again and went off to work.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday I had spent the previous day moving all the winter clothes to the furthest corner of the wardrobe and inspecting my summer clothes. Spring brings new challenges to our self esteem in the realisation that our bodies are a year older. Where did those bingo arms come from? How did my mother’s cellulite suddenly appear on my thighs? To add to the mix, brilliant sunshine shows off the newest grey highlights kindly provided by nature and children that has been hidden under a beanie for months.
Tuesday is the day our writing group meets, also the third day in a row over 20 degrees C. As I placed my bag on the floor II caught a glimpse of my ‘lizard leg’s and scrabbled around for a tube of hand cream to rub on. While under the table I noticed two sets of toes flashed fresh nail polish and that everyone was wearing sandals.
Summer clothes create their own dilemmas. Nearly all my friends admit to owning black one piece bathers for public beach displays. What about Melbourne Cup Day? Can you get away with wearing your orthopaedic shoes with a new dress with spaghetti straps? In the clothes shops I find myself perusing safe flowery crimplene – I have to slap myself soundly and quickly move away before anyone I know sees me.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Life has accelerated, the spring sunshine must be activating the ‘busy’ molecules.
In the last ten days I have: been helping with house moving, had lunch with visiting friends at Cullen’s, a birthday dinner at the Tav, an afternoon tea at Voyager, received news of a new baby, attended the open day for the 20th anniversary of the Margaret River Community Centre, held the first pizza gathering of the year, attended the farmer’s market, dealt with Telstra (again), walked with the girls, visited a friend with the flu and, sadly, attended a funeral. I have also been at work, made 60 jars of various creams and driven hundreds of kilometres. They are the memorable events. Most were happy ones, some frustrating, and others unbearably sad.
The list of things to do gets longer every day. What has happened to time? Is it really moving faster or is it because the world has become a chaotic and complicated place in which to live? Looking over my list, I can see that I chose to spend time with people in my life I care about. Who cares if the cobwebs still dangle from the ceiling or the bags of sheep poo still haven’t been spread?
Watching the Chilean miners appear from underground after so long, seeing the joy on the faces of their family and friends has given me heart, faith in the way we can come together to support each other in times of need and respect for those valuable connections we share. When I saw the joy on that small boys face as he saw his father after an agonising wait, I remembered that in matters of the heart, time stands still.
Each day I am grateful to wake to the sound of chickens and birdsong.
The views from all the windows are green and at night I can see the stars.
Hide your ironing in the cupboard and enjoy the moment!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
This morning I stood and watched the bees busy in fragrant flowers and thought about the day to come.
The town gathered in a state of shock - the older to attend a familiar ritual with sad resignation, the young for an event not of of their time.
Your friends clung together to scatter petals as random as the emotions that flared in bursts of laughter, sobs and muted words of comfort. The silence between words thrummed with the feelings that brought us together in a tribute of flowers.
You were only nineteen, Grace Jasmine.
I will remember this day each time I smell that delicate scent of the white flowers with your name that grow on my fence.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
On the net, most of the research parrots a report published in May this year from the FDA (US) in Scientific American. The pros are outlined but basically, any good research on the down side is yet to be published even though the product has been around since 1979. I was concerned to see that the recommended maximum temperatures for use varied from 300 to 482 degrees Centigrade! Apparently this varies with each manufacturer and is marked on the packaging. But who keeps the paper wrappers for every item in their kitchen?
Monday, September 6, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Half the people I invited to dinner this week were recovering from the latest nasty recurring cold that has been around this winter. The other half were worried about catching it! Chicken soup has always been my ultimate comfort food for illness and as it made sense to feed everyone copious amounts of garlic and chilli, I made a huge pot of chicken laksa with extra hot crunchy blachan on the side.
I was really stuck about what to serve for dessert. Whatever I made had to be quick to prepare and no fuss. Pears have been a good buy lately and I bought a couple of kilos of not quite ripe Packhams. I still had no idea of what to cook. An e mail has been circulating on the health benefits of cinnamon and honey and I was sure the pantry would bring further inspiration.
Here's what I came up with:
Poached Pears in Ginger Wine
8 Pears, peeled but with stalks and cores left intact
1 C clear apple juice
1/2 C green ginger wine
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod split lengthwise
2 Tbsp honey
1 C clear apple juice
1/2 C green ginger wine
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod split lengthwise
2 Tbsp honey
Cut a slice from the base of each pear so it sits flat.
Place in a slow cooker or a deep baking dish.
Place cinnamon, juice and wine into the dish, pouring the liquids over the pears.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add seeds and pod to the dish.
Drizzle the honey over the pears.
Cover and cook on high for six hours in the slow cooker or covered in foil for an hour in 180˚C oven.
Baste occasionally with the juices.
The cinnamon will turn the juice a lovely pink.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My life has been taken over by a voracious beast. The more I tend to it, the more it demands. The tasks it sets are many and varied, each demanding a different skill, some of which I don’t have and never realised I needed. Just as I think I am maybe just starting to understand, the rules change and I despair that for every piece of learning I attempt there are twenty other things I need to know beforehand.
I know there is growth in challenge, in reaching beyond boundaries. A wise lecturer told us recently that the biggest hurdle to learning as an older (!) person was that of putting aside the ego. We wear our many life skills proudly as a badge of achievement. There is nothing wrong in that, we do have a lot of experience to draw on. It is arrogance that gets in our way. My personal challenge is to avoid letting my perceived stupidity erode my hard won self confidence.
I have known the beautiful young boy in the picture since he was born. He is about to leave school but for now each Friday he sits across from me in the Photoshop class. This is a world in which he is comfortable and familiar. The average age of the class members is probably fifty and all but two are women. The youngest, he generously answers our questions, silly and otherwise. His life challenges are different from mine. I hope that during his life there is someone to help him when he needs it.
Meanwhile, I’ll make the cake!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Going through the filing cabinet (another winter job) I came across some old craft articles I hadn’t seen for years and a reminder of the winter pot pourri.