Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lavender and Linen

It's spring in Australia and I start my annual spring holiday today. I cant remember when it all startedvfor me, but I have an inbuilt need to have time off in September. I don't do the same thing every year, last year I was in India. For the next 10 days I will be doing a couple of different things here in Australia (saving money for France next year) which include going with my man to see Cadel Evans racing for world championship (cycling) in Geelong, Victoria. Then I'm going to have some time on my own, volunteering through the Willing Workers on Organic Farms (wwoof) scheme at a yoga retreat in a gorgeous town in Victoria's Spa district. Then I am off to do a training course for my other volunteer life as a rescue worker. I'm really looking forward to it all. But I apologise now, I doubt there'll be much blogging in the next 2 weeks.

So a little book review before I forget - I read Henrietta Taylors Lavender and Linen. This is, at least, her second book about life as an Australian in France... how could I not read this? In her first book, which is called 'Verve Taylor' or 'Escaping' she describes the painful experience of losing her husband to cancer and deciding to move from the gorgeous northern suburbs of Sydney, to a small village in Provence. I loved that book then so could resist this one. It's about how she's established a successful B&B business in Provence and raising her 2 children in a foreign country. She's very funny at times with the decisions she's made, from dogs, house purchases and lovers... But essentially it's a fantasy - well for me anyway - to be able to find a new life in a new country with the romance of France, the french language and the ideals of living in Europe. It's a great 'escapist' read...... strongly encourage getting lost in Provence with Henrietta.

As for holiday reading I've got a sad confession - my Madam Bovary book didn't arive before I left on holidays - so I've packed an older version to start reading with the read-a-long. I've also packed Murakami's 'Dance Dance Dance', and Stphen Downes "Paris on a Plate: a gastronomic Diary'.

I'll blog more when/if I find internet somewhere....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday Fillins #192

South Indian Celebration Meal
1. Family can come to stay whenever, but they can only stay three days.
2. I wish it was easier to travel to France, and I could go back and forth as I please.
3. I love a champagne at dusk and at dawn!
4. Pleasant company makes a good meal.
5. I've got the idea that I'll do some more post grad study soon to prepare me for international humanitarian aid.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Dinner with a girlfriend whose finishing off her thesis this week, tomorrow my plans include gardening in my own yard, and Sunday, I want to join the permablitz - a working bee in a small suburban backyard to create a new permaculture food garden for a suburban family.

Wishing everyone a happy weekend. For more of these see Friday Fillins.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Cherry on Top!

Many Many thanks to Sabrina at Thinking About Loud for awarding me the Cherry on Top Award!

The rules that come with this award require me to:

1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you, and what would it be?

There are many many things I would change about my life with the benefit of hindsight. One thing that comes to mind at the moment is that I wish I played my piano more often, practiced harder when I had a teacher, and bought my piano sooner. I lived for nearly 15 years without a piano after I left my parents home. Piano's are so expensive, but I find playing (even just for myself) is relaxing and I believe it must help reduce my blood pressure.

2. The second thing I have to do is, pick 6 people and give them this award. Then I have to inform the person that they have gotten this award.

I would like to award the Cherry on Top award to
  1. Michelle at Michelle's Musings
  2. Jacqui at Life in the Dome
  3. Electra at Wishin I Knew How to Blog
  4. Jeanie at The Marmalade Gypsy
  5. Chat Noir at the Library of the Back Cat
  6. Joan at Flowers and Stripes
3. The third and final thing is: thank the person who gave me the award.
Many thanks Sabrina, as I said on your blog - sometimes (often) I wonder what I am doing when I blog. So it's times like this that I feel supported and encouraged. Thanks for taking the time to send me this award.

Sometimes when I get sent awards, I feel like 'just letting it go', or not responding to it. However sometimes when I get this type of acknowledgement I am affected - encouraged and uplifted. Perhaps there is something in my blog, my personal reflections on life, gardening, books and travel that helps others see more in life or think about something different. Then I feel I can keep going. It's so important to encourage each other - not just in the blogging world - but to encourage the people around us every day. My mum was really good at this when we were living at home - she used to write messages on the mirrors in the bathroom or our bedrooms saying "I love you" or 'You really are beautiful'..... With this award I am reminded, not only to encourage my blogging friends, but to encourage my friends here too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodbye Tsugumi

Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from Japanese by Michael Emmerich) was my third (official) book in the Japanese Literature Challenge 4. While the picture I've got here looks a little blurry, it's actually how the cover looks, and I think it's a good cover picture for this story.

It's a shortish story of cousins Maria and Tsugumi. Maria is the daughter of an unmarried women who's married lover eventually leaves his wife to live with Maria (now a young adult) and her mother. While waiting for her lover, her mother and Maria live with Tsugumi's family and help running a local inn. Tsugumi is an extremely frail and sick young girl, with a spirit that could move mountains. She was feisty, rude and at times bitter.

The story revolves around Maria's recollections of her childhood and youth in the village, at the inn, and with Tsugumi. She recalls events, or experiences from her life, and in particular her 'last' summer with Tsugumi in the village. I think she is in fact searching for some way to make meaning of her life, to put some clarity into what was a Tsugumi centred childhood. (therefore I think the blurry cover photo makes sense).

I really enjoyed the book for the storyline - which was simple yet meaningful. I also enjoyed the authors writing style - which felt to me like Maria was wriitng in her diary. Yoshimoto very ably depicted the emotions, experiences and recollections of a young woman, and captured the essence of the adventure of youth.

I wont fill my page here with quotes from the book because there were just too many to choose from, however check out Dolce Bellezza, A Good Stopping Point,and A Striped Armchair, for their thoughts and favourite quotes. For me, I thought I would reflect on the characters of significance for me.
  • Maria - the narrator. Could've been me as I am just like her in the way I reflect on things, and relate to my family.
  • Yoko - Tsugumi's older sister. She doesn't get a lot of airspace, cos Tsugumi takes it all. But what a patient, caring and supportive sister she is. Will she ever have a life of her own, or does she reflect the traditional role for Japanese women?
  • Pooch - he's the dog that seems to capture Tsugumi's heart and brings out her compassionate side. He seems to offer her the unconditional love and acceptance that Tsugumi might have desperately wanted but could get because she saw her illness as a barrier to relating to people.
  • Maria's Dad - he seems to represent the real world - he's the one who has 'other lives' - with his first wife, his job in the city, and his desire to have family with Maria and her mother.
All in all, another good read in the JLT4.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beeing Good for the Earth

It's not often I feel I can say this - but today - I'm so proud of myself. Today I am proud to say I followed my dream and found myself in tune with my philosophy.

I'm a greeny, the hippy daughter of my hippy baby boomer parents, and a keen advocate for healthy balance. I haven't blogged much about these ideals because I often don't feel I am doing it good enough to preach it. But today I wanted to share my activities because I think they will make a difference in the world now and into the future.

Today I wondered out into my garden and collected 1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 1 manderine and 2 lemons. I wont need to go to the shops for citrus fruit this week. Then I collected the last hand of banana's from the palm. Sadly these wont be edible fresh, but will go nicely in muffins I will make tomorrow. I also collected from the veggie patch spinach, radishes, a leek, a large bundle of broccoli, parsley, celery and carrots. No need to purchase green veggies from the shops this week either. This also means I wont be supporting the long haul trucking industry to burn fossil fuels in order to bring me fresh food (that is usually stored in cold rooms for up to 4-6 months before I get to eat it).

After collecting my loot, I diligently paid my respects to the garden by feeding it generously. I spread out blood and bone, and watered with fish fertiliser. I then sprinkled out a few handfuls of lupin seeds which I found in the cupboard - I had obviously collected the seeds last year because they were such pretty flowers. Flowers are an essential element of a fruit and veggie garden, because without bees we get no pollination.

After enjoying some time in the garden this morning, I treated myself with a trip to the local monthly markets were I purchase my organic tea blends, organic jam & marmalade's, and organic palm oil candles. All of which I love to have in my life, but don't grow or make myself. So by purchasing at the markets locally, I am once again, reducing the number of trucks on the road bringing me the things I want. I'm also supporting local people with local dreams to improve the world.

The markets are also a wonderful way to spend time with my neighbours and local community. I felt like my spirit was refreshed hanging out with crafty, like minded earth friendly people.

But that wasn't the end of the goodness of my day. I went to the local transition towns monthly 'idea's cafe' - were we throw around idea's and success stories, encouraging each other in being the change we want to see. Today's discussion was about bee keeping in the suburban backyard. I've long been convinced that I need to do this - and the day is coming soon. I need bee's in my yard to help my fruit grown, but bee's do some much more as well. They help bring a certain balance to the environment. They're truly amazing little creatures.

So, to end my day of beeing good - I've got friends coming round to share the good food that I have plenty of at the moment. To savour with my broccoli and pumpkin risotto I have an organically grown natures harvest Shiraz. Yumm...