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Archive for the ‘actuality’ Category

Advice for Past Jocelyn

I picked up this idea from something Sally blogged and was further encouraged by the vlogbrothers sending advice to teenaged each other. The following advice is for 16 year old me. I have put it into 3 categories and the advice is roughly in the order I might have needed it:

Boys:

When you break up with someone don’t immediately jump to a new person, especially a friend of the ex, you are only going to hurt everyone involved (including yourself).

Tell boys when you don’t like them. It isn’t that painful.

You don’t owe someone you flirt with anything. You are never required to go out with a boy just cos you flirted with him.

You deserve someone fabulous. Hold out.

Life:

Don’t go straight from High School to uni. Get a job or something before going to Theological College (bugger the arts degree).

Wear what you want when you get to uni. Don’t be scared to go into goth stores.

Actually don’t be scared to go into places. Apply for things, persist in finding the building you are looking for for those tryouts/lecture/whatever. Don’t just cry. Take a deep breath, if you are in the wrong place someone will redirect you.

Study:

You are actually really good at Italian, language learning is one of your skills.

I know you are in Tonga and it is hard to organise your semester 2 timetable but *don’t let* Mrs Lyons tell you you have to do Psych, hold out for year 10 Chem, it will make year 11 chem a lot more tolerable. Psych is totally unsuited to your study-style.

Talking about your study style, there is a great saying: “Just write crap, you can edit crap, you can’t edit a blank page”. Professors/teachers would much prefer you hand something, ANYTHING, in so they can attempt to pass you. That is preferable to them than you avoiding insulting them by not handing in something crap. Let someone know when all your assignments are due and get them to hold you accountable to handing in a rough draft to them. Don’t be ashamed of rough drafts. You will hand things in not much better than a rough draft and get a decent mark. (I don’t recommend it as a habit though!)

Ask Mr Mortan for help in Spesh maths. Actually, go to the coordinators at the start of the year and tell them they should split the class in two. 25 is too many people for a spesh class, get mum involved as well. This advice applies to all teachers, ASK QUESTIONS WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!

Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been on a massive Pride and Prejudice binge lately. I’ve been watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD) (and related blogs/tweets) as they come out, but that was moving too slowly for me so I watched the Keira Knightly movie (KK). That wasn’t detailed enough so I got a copy of the BBC version (BBC) and watched that. This got me to thinking about the different characters and who I liked better for their parts.

Jane:
LBD. This Jane is sweet and pretty, she has a shy nature and you can understand how she is reserved and that Bingley (or Bing Lee in her case) would be a little unsure that she was interested.
Actually I also like the KK Jane. What I don’t like is the BBC’s Jane. Seriously? I mean she does shy and not-giving-away-feelings well enough, but how can one argue that she is more beautiful than Elizabeth? The only one of her sisters (in her version) that she is arguably more beautiful than is Mary. This, I imagine, is partially due to the stupid haircut she wears. But Lizzie manages to pull off basically the same hairdo.

Bingley:
KK. I love the strawberry blonde hair and the happy bemused look on his face all the time. His look would go well with that of LBD’s jane and they could have cute little red-headed children.

Elizabeth:
BBC. It is a hard decision, but in the end Jennifer Ehle does a fantastic job, she is subtle but also a little sassy.

Darcy:
KK. It may be contriversal but I am going to go there. I actually like Matthew Macfadyen’s portrayal of Darcy, he is proud and is attractive more in the way that I would imagine Darcy to be. I know that Firth is the quintessential Darcy, but he is just a little too pretty I think.

Mr Collins:
KK. Collins in the BBC version is just tooooooo slimey and the LBD version is way too likeable even though he is a rude, pompous arse.

Lydia:
KK. The BBC version has cast Julia Sawalha who I have two problem’s with: 1) I can’t separate her from her role in Ab Fab and 2) she was 25 when she was playing the 15 year old and I find it hard to believe her as a teenager. The LBD’s Lydia is just TOOOOOOOOOOOO Anoying. Totes frustrating amirite? Jena Malone does a great job of playing flighty Lydia who only cares about officers and doesn’t realise that her marriage is not exactly on the up and up.

Wickham:
LBD. I will illustrate my choice with a choice of videos:
If you only have 20 seconds:
https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150991427417467
If you have 5 minutes:

I realise I have left a few characters out, however I am continuing my binge. The other night I watched Bride and Prejudice and am going to watch Lost in Austen with some of my spare time this week. This may influence my decisions. I will probably go back and watch bits of the three adaptions I’ve taken my list from so far so as to refresh my memory a little. I have a particular Charlotte in my head but can’t for the life of me remember which version she is from!

So stay tuned for more favourites!

Cecelia

I was sorting through my old things today so as to fit them in my teeny tiny apartment (more on that later), and I found some poetry and stories I had written as a teenager. So this continues the ‘things I found’ series:

Cecil is
my sis.
I love
her
beyond imagination.
Hugs
Vibrance
indifference
Nakidity.
My Favourite
10 year old.
Cecil is
my sis.

A New Reading Blog

My sisters and I have begun a project to read through as many of these books as we can by the end of 2012. You can read about our attempts at our new blog here!

Dreaming of Fairies

This is the first post in what may become a series depending on what I find. I found this word document when I was wandering through my computer. It is a fairly disconnected and unedited story that I wrote a year or two ago:

The boy at the fruit-stand suddenly looked terrified and wouldn’t give me any more information, he handed me a carrot with trembling hands and said carrot top. I could barely make out his words. We turned away knowing there was no more information to be had, but that our quarry must be close to have invoked such a reaction.
As we turned away a man, who managed to look both pudgy and weedy at the same time, caught my eye. Well, his hair caught my eye. It was the same colour as that of a Russian woman who is well past being a dyedushka, but hasn’t quite succumbed to babushka status. That is to say it was bright orange.
Not wanting to look like we were following him, I wandered over to a stand selling sparkly hair accessories. A market is a great place to follow someone, because you can get ahead of them in the rows, but then double back to take another look at something you like or your partner missed (this is especially effective when your partner is tall, hot, and quite clearly a lover). We continued on in this fashion until carrot-top entered a regular doorway in a large grey concrete shed.
After waiting an appropriate amount of time we entered the door cautiously and immediately started down a very wide set of concrete stairs. At the bottom of the stairs I stepped out into an open corridor and was immediately grabbed by carrot top. My partner was several steps behind me and had the presence of mind to flatten himself against the wall when I was grabbed; fortunately for him their excitement at getting me completely blinded them to his presence.
They took me straight out another entrance which turned out to exit onto the unseen lower side of the city. Far from the filthy, barren place one might expect, it was a beautiful jungle of lush plants, waterfalls and waterholes. All set in what might easily be called a cliff, it was certainly a hillside with a very sharp incline.

the queen and norman

smokey hair
stinging eyes
headache
it may have taken
a year of my life
but
i love it

Bunyips Don’t!

Lately we have had to pack up bits of our house – my parents have worked out the best way to move relatively stress free and it involves starting to pack a year in advance. So while my parents have not yet put their house on the market, we have already started to pack.
I started with my own books, then did a box of family picture books. As the box was almost full I came across Bunyip’s Don’t! which was one of my favourite picture story books as a teenager. I loved reading it aloud to anyone who would listen and a few people who wouldn’t.
I was, in fact, a library nerd/geek in high school and in my senior years I used to read this to some of the junior kids – we got in trouble for being too noisy sometimes. Yes, you read it here first: I got in trouble with the librarians, I am so hardcore.

Anyway, I wanted to read it today, but there was no one to read to so the pleasure is now all yours 🙂

Melliodora Permaculture Tour

I had a great weekend this past weekend. Mum and I went and stayed at her sister Sandra’s house near Daylesford, they have a great property and it was the first time I’ve seen it.
Yesterday we (mum, Sandra and Elizabeth) went on a tour of David Holmgren’s house and property in Hepburn Springs. I perhaps didn’t learn heaps of new stuff, but it was really good to see things in practice and to see how they take a fairly balanced approach to environmentalism, resilience and ease of living.

So my notes are mostly lists of plants and a few bits and pieces I wanted to remember, but I will record them here in a slightly edited format:

Cypress Macrocarpa – Good for building wood.
Legumes – good to grow in the orchard as nitrogen fixers and living haystacks for the goats
Fejoias – Good for eating and making jam out of.
White Sepodi – planted under a shadecloth – once again I’ve written this wrong because I can’t find it online anywhere.
Avocado – planted under a shadecloth and was their third attempt at an avocado and had only got really little ones off it.
Poppies – we had an orange and poppyseed cake which was great.
Parsnips
lettuce – self seeds
snow peas – don’t self seed
carrots – don’t self seed
daikon radish – can on collect the seed if there is nothing else from the canola family around, including the very common turnip weed (I think).
Comfrey – plant it where you want it (it will grown there forever)
– It won’t spread too far out of bounds (unlike raspberries)
– good for bees
– make liquid manure out of it
– healing plant
Gooseberry – Sandra has a few of these growing around her yard
Acacia Florabunda – interplanted in the orchard
Tagasaste – interplanted in the orchard.
Sheoaks – nitrogen fixing
Yellow Box – Melliodora (which the property is named for)
– Low oils
– deep roots
– strong tree
– doesn’t drop branches until it is about 150years old
– of the eucalypts, this is a good one to plant.

A passive solar house does not mean that people do nothing, they have to actively be monitoring the situation and can’t let it get out of hand. The whole system is like a big ship on the sea – it takes a long time to turn it around and so you have to keep on top of it. Su calls it “Passive Solar, Active Humans”.

Between the mudbrick floor and the regular ground they have an ‘air-gap’ of inch scoria and similar so that if the floor is 20deg and the ground is 14deg the floor is not losing heat by trying to heat the ground.

They have a cool cupboard which works by piping in air from outside via underground. The pipe should be 360mm diameter on the outside, 300mm diameter on the inside. Then it gets sucked up the top of the cupboard by natural methods, or you can put a small fan in.

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz was recommended by Su and David.

The permaculture lifestyle understandably requires persistence and patience.

You have to decide why you are making decisions – mum and I have talked about this before and after the tour – are your decisions monetary, because of the effect on the environment, the effect on people or to do with having a property/lifestyle that is resilient? This also needs to be taken into consideration when talking to others, because if they are coming from a different perspective you may have trouble communicating about the benefits of doing things a certain way.

In terms of bushfire prevention, there is a strong lean since Black Saturday (Feb ’09) towards having no trees or bushes around houses because they represent a fire risk, however apparently plants near the house can be beneficial if they have low essential oils (so not eucalypts), they hold lots of water and are mineral rich plants – such plants are not likely to burn easily in a bushfire. Chances are if it is so intense that they have dried out and burnt then your house had buckleys anyway.

In the beginning David said that he spend about 3 days a week working on the outdoors of the property, and Su spent 1-2 days a week (I didn’t quite remember which before I wrote it down). She mostly works with the animals and he mostly works with the garden/orchard. Recently David and Su do a day each per week which is barely enough to harvest and maintain everything. However they do have wwoofers doing work.
To keep the property going they really need the equivalent of a full-time person working outside – volunteers and wwoofers can be less useful because they don’t know how to do things the ‘right’ way or your way.

In 10 years of drought they never had a shortage of food for 6 goats, and they only have a little under a hectare.

They are thinking of keeping bees – but to do that you have to have flowers available to them all year around, some plants that they suggested to acheive that are:
Blackberry
Willow
Acacia
A plant called something like “Vertagastasti” – I can’t find it anywhere online, obviously I’ve written it incorrectly, if anyone knows what this is please let me know!!

They used to have raised garden beds, but with the drought they would dry out quickly and so they made one large, low bed with planks across it for access. I think I would do a sort of compromise, with low beds that are large, but accessible by leaning in all the way around, so I’m not compacting the soil with planks.

David reckoned that hand-watering can be most efficient use of water if you know what you are doing, it can also mean that you can water, weed and harvest all at once. However they do have drippers installed, using greywater hoses which cope better with the water from the dam.

There was a little mini-rant about how peak phosphate is a serious problem.

They had a garden that was all planted out in a fairly conventional way, and another that was almost all self-sown. The self-sown plants take up more space in the garden than planting them yourself, and they also take up more time, as you have to leave them to bolt and grow seeds etc. you can’t just pull them out when they are pretty well done. The basic breakdown for them is:
1/4 of the harvest from self-seeded plants
1/4 of the harvest from saved seeds
1/2 of the harvest from purchased seeds.

When pruning raspberries you should cut back all the brittle dead canes and leave the sappy canes. As for our raspberry bushes we will just have to whippersnip the stuff that has all overgrown. After we’ve eaten all the raspberries of course!

The worse a plant smells when it rots the more nutrients are in it, which is unfortunate for making really good liquid manure – his comfrey liquid manure smelt SO BAD and I have a pretty high tolerance for bad smells.

You can extend the life of your goats by continuing to milk them instead of kidding them every year – they had two goats that last dropped a kid 6 years ago and they are still milking them off that, although they aren’t getting much milk these days.

Their sheds were not particularly fire-proof but they had done a few things to combat that:
– they are structurally strong, so the roof isn’t going to fly off in a strong wind.
– there is a spray system that sprays a light mist.
– the pump that pumps water from the dam to the house tank can be diverted to a firehose.
– water flowing through the plastic pipes will stop them from melting in extreme heat – if they melt anyway the shed has prolly already burnt down.

The geese eat the grass and the chooks eat the insects, so swapping them through the orchard keeps everything in check.

Cutting the nitrogen-fixing trees in the orchard and putting the branches around the base of the fruit trees helps to protect the roots from the chooks scratching and exposing the roots.

Goats eat up high, because if they get sick they die, so they don’t eat close the the ground, unless there is no other option, otherwise they get worms.

Electric fences around fruit trees are really the only thing that will keep them out, regular structures are just a fun challenge for goats.

David doesn’t have any eucalypts or pines on the property, only around the edges, because they are a fire hazard and nothing grows under them.

Dock helps break up soil, rye grass indicates healthy soil.

Pasture will compete with fruit trees, blackberries would be a good thing to have under fruit trees, but they are very people-unfriendly.

Plants that have been planted and tended by humans don’t count as biodiversity. Biodiversity is the things that grow on their own.

I’ve heard a bit of this before when I went on a weeds walk through Ceres. We have this idea that native plants are so much better than anything introduced, but it isn’t necessarily true. David’s quote was that we have a “Toxic ideology of Nativism.”

So thanks very much to David and Su. It was a good experience 🙂

Changes

I feel like I am back in year 12, because I have recently discovered I am 10 assignments and one full subject away from graduating. Everyone I tell this to asks what I would like to do when I graduate.
It is a little harder to resist this line of questioning than when I was in year 12 and could cite a university degree that I was planning to attend. Actually, back then I knew I wanted to do Bible translation when I grew up.
Unfortunately, having studied translation I find myself unsuited to the task – perhaps I am selling myself short or perhaps God has other plans in mind for me. I have always been very critical of those who are called to missions but end up settled in a regular life in Australia and I don’t wish to end up on the receiving end of my own criticisms.
I also experienced a strong desire, whilst in the USA, to ‘fix the problems in my own backyard’ before trouping off overseas and telling others what to do.
I would like to work for an organisation that helps people – and I have a fairly broad definition of ‘helps people’.
I am now faced with the daunting task of getting a job with an (almost) bachelor of arts and experience only at McDonalds and a Pub.
Wish me luck.

Suburbia Take 2

Having lived in suburbia for the past year I have a few more things to add onto my original post. Plus a link-fest of relevant sites. I redid my house’s ‘walkability‘ and scored 46 compared to last year’s 55, even though I live in the exact same house (strange).

Anyone who has been to this site would know that I managed to start my own garden. It was only small, watered entirely with greywater from my showers, and it produced (is still producing) lots of booty. [disclosure: It did get watered occasionally on town water via a drip system that was turned on sometimes on watering days, but that only reached a couple of spots and the garden certainly did not rely on it.]
In doing this I did not use even close to all my shower-water, or even a quarter of it. I shower for less time than the save-water timers, however I guess my shower-head is probably putting out easily 15-20L/minute. What I am trying to say is that I could have watered a lot more veggies than what I did.

My resolve to do things that I believe in, like gardening, has recently extended to bike-riding. The station that previously I could walk to in 20 minutes is now a 5 minute bike-ride away. This also increases what I can take with me on a journey cos I have a fabulous bike-basket on the back. The other day I also connected lights which means I can ride home in the dark, this makes it a little safer for me to catch the train home late at night. I feel much safer speeding away from the station on my bike than walking away weighed down by stuff.
I’ve also found that church is within riding distance, as are some family member’s houses and many many shops. This is not only making me healthier but cutting down on my car use which not only saves money, but the earth.

Talking about saving the earth, I went to the Sustainable Living Festival (highly recommended), and Cecilia told me that to have a worm-farm is to save the world. After a little bit of thought I totally agree (although obviously not as the only thing one does). Worm farms can be made by anyone, anywhere – even if all one has is a balcony – and thus those in the suburbs have no excuse. However wormfarm costs seem to be generally in excess of $100 (after a quick google), the solution to this is to make your own. Most DIY worm-farms recommend using polystyrene, but I just can’t condone that, so I found one that also recycles old stuff. Now cynics (like young Joanne) claim that worm farms are so hard to maintain that even my Mum (aka gardensuperwoman) killed worms in her younger days, but she had younger kids in those days and rather than persevere she gave up. Cecilia says that everyone kills their worms every now and then, apparently they all die once they hit 30*C. Some tips for preventing that are to keep them in the shade on those killer hot days, and also to put a wet towel over the contraption. So, given the fragile vitality of a worm, my solution to not having to go out and buy worms everytime the weather hits 35*C in Melbourne (lots – here is a few tips on how to survive those days), is that people can share (a novel concept I know)! Worms take about 6 weeks to get to full capacity, so after that one can give half ones worms to someone who has lost theirs for whatever reason.
Related to worm-farms is composting. I recently made my mother’s sister a compost bin (a cardboard box weighed down with bricks after the first one blew away – whoops). I also wrote her up a list of what can and can’t go into the compost (for a good website – check this out). However I would say the basic rule is any raw chopped up veggies (bar onions – which apparently kill worms, or so I’ve heard… can anyone confirm or deny this?). Joanne and I disagree on a lot of compost points – I chop things up so they break down easier, Joanne doesn’t bother; I put seeds in (so they GROW without me doing anything), Joanne does not (she says they make stuff grow in the compost).
However look out! Some people are not very forward-thinking, and don’t think composting is necessary. Scary.

Talking about growing seeds, Corrente has a pretty intense series on growing seeds, this book by Nancy Bubel seems to come highly recommended from a number of sources. Still on the topic of seeds, leftover sunflower heads can be used as a cheap bird feeder.

Moving up from seeds, there is the food side of things. I have read a couple of things about urban foraging, and if anyone knows anything about what can be urbanly foraged in Melbourne I would be very interested. The Vic Market website has a great list of seasonal veggies (with pictures!), that I intend to make good use of, especially when I move out of home, and when you buy too many fresh veggies, you can read all about how to freeze them here. In my own life I made Nectarine Jam using about 10 Nectarines (and one peach) that were starting to go mouldy, I cut those parts off, and it turned out really well :).

Now, if one is to freeze all this excess produce that we have grown and bought, we are going to need electricity to power the freezer. At 15metres tall, these are probably not appropriate (or within the budget) for most people, however I know people (okay, my boyfriend) who can make a homemade windmill that works and everything. My father has suggested that the fact that batteries and the like still need to be used is problematic as that is not truly sustainable, but still, while we are doing the ‘use energy’ thing, wind power is so much better than coal (especially dirty coal).
Homegrown Evolution featured a bike-powered washing machine. Which takes away the need for a battery to store charges or a grid to feed into.

And of course, the wine cellar to end all wine cellars, one that doesn’t take up too much room as well. I would love one of those now, and I would have loved a cubby-hole like that as a kid! Something a little easier to create yourself is this handy little stool, this will help reach those high up jam-jars and other preserves that I have not yet worked out how to make.

This flowchart/brainstorm lists a bunch of good ideas that are worth researching and implementing.

And to finish up, if anyone is interested in reading more on the suburbs, this series by The Oil Drum is worth looking at.

Gah! I totally forgot to add the link that inspired me to write this post. Amazing to see good stuff come out of a tragic situation, it makes me want to move to the US and buy a $100 house.

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