Citified Exhibition

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Rosy Wilson’s debut exhibition was held at the niche Anvil Design Studio in the hipster hub of The Hamlet. Sadly this well-loved nook has been bookmarked for development ‘upgrades’ which will see Canberra’s alternative crowd yet again bumped…but don’t worry, it’s so good, it’s reincarnating.

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Rosy’s Citified focuses on the fashion capitals of the world, New York, London, Milan and Rome with Sydney, Venice and Wellington also getting a look in.

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As an architect Rosy’s interest in cities is natural but her paintings veer away from merely harsh, architectural lines by involving a human element through figures in the motions of daily life, softening the built environment and drawing the viewer into the action of city life at eye level. In her cities life is good, the sun shines and buildings are resplendent in the acrylic coating she has given them.

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Favourites are the glint of light reflected off a passing London cab, reflections in the glass of a New York office block, the azure of a Wellington sea with tiny figures enjoying a sunny day and the relaxed atmosphere of a Sydney waterfront.

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One can not help but feel somewhat cheery and optimistic after seeing cities beautified in her paintings. They are clean, friendly and assertive. It is refreshing to see an artist with such lack of pretension and obvious talent drawing our attention to what is positive in the world.

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You can see Rosy’s work here and connect with her on Facebook or Instagram to keep abreast of upcoming work and exhibitions.

 

The Wife Drought {Book Review}

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I have finally read the luminous Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought. Annabel Crabb is an utterly reassuring person. What she contributes to our collective, Australian psyche is hard, I think, to overestimate. The fact that she has also reproduced (both the paper kind and flesh-and-blood kind) gives me hope in our collective future. She is the new kind of Aussie Character, taking over from the “Aussie Battler”, smart, energetic, witty, well dressed and so, so nice with her self-effacing grin softening every probing question.

How could you not totally adore her.

I have long loved her via Kitchen Cabinet, that rare gem of good television (thank you, ABC, you little ripper), and this book firmly entrenches Annabel (let’s not defer to last names here) as my number three celebrity crush. (Adam and Hugh are alongside her in equal ranks. Adam because, like Annabel, he effuses a new kind of Australian: eloquent, engaging and erudite. Hugh because as much as I like to see upandcomers do well it’s also good to see a nice British toff get all environmentalist and reformist, though I’m sure he makes a bit of cash off the back of it. Nevermind. I like him.)

So, I guess you can see, I rate the book. I do. She offers stats, data and interesting little anecdotes supporting the need for more help for women wanting to get back into the workforce. She relates to our common humanity, my favourite line: “My definition of breaking point is when you communicate exclusively in shrieks and can only work while drunk.” Oh yes, you get us, don’t you, Annabel! You know what it is like to be totally and unshakeably human. She does not downplay the challenges in living a balanced, or even unbalanced, life in Australia. She knows the statistics tell personal stories. She knows these matters are complex, and often personal, so she gives them careful treatment in all their shades of grey.

Not least she skirts very close to something I have long held questions about. That is that, yes, people do need the fulfillment of meaningful work, people do need to invest in their super so that they can retire without having to go dumpster diving (though some might enjoy that…aging hipsters?) and yes, careers can be fun but…men too need lives…and so she flirts with the unstated question: Do women actually have it pretty good in being (culturally acceptably) able to take several years off work (notwithstanding what that does to one’s professional life), but are men, therefore, missing out? So, perhaps then the single thing keeping women out of boardrooms is not just inequality of opportunity (i.e. no wives). The opposite side of that coin is that, well…maybe women don’t want to be competing in the workplace, not because it’s too difficult, but actually because they’ve got it worked out: family life is the good life! (If only it paid Super)  It’s the unasked question that Annabel doesn’t utter. And in uttering it myself I can happily say that I gladly “took time off” to raise kids (eight years in fact) and didn’t doubt myself or utter curses at the universe in the process. I wanted to do it. I would do it over. It would be nice if someone had contributed some super while I was doing it but…it was worth it. Many of the other mums I’ve met on the giggle and wiggle circuit feel the same. When I’m still working at 70 I’m sure it will still be worth it, because I’d rather work then than then, if you know what I mean. In fact, now, spookily mirroring the words of this book, my husband wants a turn. Having Annabel’s words cheering me on and validating this new turn of events is giving me the confidence and empathy to, why not, let him have it! It’s time for me to move over and let a man have a go, to switch the terminology around.

Despite only fully unpacking one side of this coin, Annabel moves between stories like mine and national statistics (or lack thereof) taking us along on a rollickingly good ride with herself as the compere. She does a bloody good job of it and by the end she has us all convinced (not that we weren’t already) that yes, women do need wives! And also, yes, men need lives! I’m all for her advocacy of a little bit of switcheroo happening in the spirit of give-and-give so that we can all ride the merry-go-round together in a spirit of sharing the load, whether that’s domestic servitude or corporate slavery, power broking or block building.

Bus update

Once upon a time we thought this project would take us 3 months, no longer, and we would be on the road. Kind friends guesstimated 9 months, ‘what! Are you kidding!’ I cried in alarm. Time proved us all wrong and two years later we are still here. I can’t imagine this boat of a bus being finished at any stage, but looking back It would be safe to assume that we are over the half-way mark at least and while we have no immediate plans to leave this town which we are quite happily making a home in, it could yet happen…or we could at least be living in the bus while parked on some land, which is also a long term dream.

This building project has taught me a lot. Most importantly to let go of life a little. Ambition is a very temporal thing and the process of becoming is much more fun than the bore of achieving.

Here’s where we are up to so far. Some very kind and supportive and encouraging friends were up on the weekend (for the third time), helping us build. Doctor Carl (his actual title) will be deserving of a keg of the finest whisky when we finally celebrate the end of this bus-build! …that is going to be one hellavu party!!!

Bus Web (1 of 19)We stripped the apricot paint off the outside and the roof, painted the roof with a thermoshield paint for insulation (insulation has been a big consideration all round on this bus!) and matched the rest of the exterior with a similar colour. You can see the edges of our four solar panels on the front half of the roof….here are a couple of before pictures.

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Bus Web (3 of 19)This front area is still totally unfurnished. Still, there has been a lot done here. We stripped the interior, took off the old wall panels, pulled up the floor which has now been sanded and painted three times. Then we insulated (after removing old, itchy pink batts) and installed power cables under the roof panels. The walls are now clad with ‘Aluwell’ which is aluminium bonded to plastic, making it fairly flexible and also extremely durable. They are matt white walls, it’s hard to see it now in all it’s glory, but the walls are waiting to be unveiled under the plastic. We’ve kept as much window space as possible, but have had to build the walls up part of the way to make room for our kitchen benchtops. The red area at the back will become our pantry cupboard and also space for a water heater and plumbing into the shower. All the walls you see were put in ourselves.

Here’s a before pic from the day we bought the beast. We took out everything you see in this pic! The decaying and terribly itchy, yellow acrylic carpet on the roof, every single wall panel, the white ceiling, the lights, the grills, the walls, all the cupboards, the passenger seat, the table. We stripped it right back to an empty shell.

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The boys moved the stove into the bus on the weekend. Starting to feel more like a home! You can see here how we’ve built the wall up so that the bench is not sitting right up against the window, however, so that we didn’t lose that little bit of window above the bench, Henry custom made a panel which slides up out of that wall and covers the top window section. Like I said…bespoke everything!Bus Web (4 of 19)

This is the cupboard in our bedroom, which they started on this weekend. In another moment of designing genius Henry constructed part of the cupboard under the kids bed which will hold shoes etc. The rail for hanging clothes (currently sitting on the floor) sits just under the aluminum tube about halfway up the cupboard and there will be shelving above.

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This is our bedroom. Another thing which looks minor, but was major, is that back opening window. Initially this window was fixed, but we realised that in such a small space there really needed to be a way for the breeze to come through and so Henry designed and made this window you see here, using the same panel of glass but building the sill so that it was waterproof and also fit the newly clad window. These small things take the longest of time, but will be so necessary for when we are actually living in the thing. Not if…when! Also, you can’t see the ceiling here, but Henry took a very, very long time, panelling, bogging and sanding the ceiling so that it is actually seamless and ultra smooth. Many bus-homes keep the rivets or attach lights to the roof, but we wanted a seamless, vast feeling roof, as in actual fact it is really quite low.

The aluminum frame is the box for the drawers which will hold our clothes, the drawers are push to open, which means no handles to catch yourself on. These have all been made, but not installed yet. Bedhead and bed base are yet to come. The base will sit on the drawers and on top of the step you can see behind the drawers. Henry is making this room modular so that it can be turned into a man-cave once we’ve finished traveling. We will actually have quite a bit of floor space in this bedroom, enough for me to do yoga! All the doors (all three: bedroom, bathroom and the little corridor) all have sliding doors which push to latch and push to open and hide inside the walls which are as thin as we could possibly make them by using aluminum framing and ‘Aluwell’.

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Below is the other corner of our room, opposite to the cupboard corner, and a spare wall! This kind of thing is a miracle to find in a bus-home and it’s only because of Henry’s excellent design that we managed to do it!

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This next picture is from our bedroom looking out to the back of the bus. Between the large living/kitchen area and our bedroom is a bunk for the kids and a bathroom.

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Here’s the top bunk, again, thanks to Dr Carl for helping us with this one! We’d never have been able to do it without you!!! I wish you could see the lights on this thing. Strip lighting hides along the top, internal, wooden edge and glows beautiful along the slope of the ceiling. There are no shadows. It will be the perfect reading environment for Soph.Bus Web (9 of 19)

The bottom bunk here, which will be Gunther’s cave. He too has strip lighting along the top, internal edge of his bunk, but it doesn’t quite glow as beautifully as the top bunk. Below the bunks will be covered with a door and baskets for toys and clothes will be under the bed.

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From our bedroom now, looking in through the bathroom door. The sliding door is not yet attached for this one, but it’s very easily done and all ready to go, so no problems there. You can also see in the top middle section of the picture the corner edge of the hatch which leads up to the roof. We climb up the bunk bed ladder to get up there. The dream is too put a deck up there…but first things first!Bus Web (11 of 19)

A confusing photo, perhaps, but this is me standing in our bathroom, reflected in our mirror wall. The room is white with a mirror wall on one side (the toilet and sink side) and a red wall on the other (shower) side. Planning on a composting toilet which is currently half built, but not installed.Bus Web (12 of 19)

This red square will have a red back and become our shampoo/conditioner/soap holder. Taps have been installed for the shower.Bus Web (13 of 19)

We have sunk the shower floor down to give us some extra head space and also to allow for a bit of a bathing area for the kids. This is an earlier photo:

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Looking from the bathroom into the corridor:

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And here we are at the front of the bus again:Bus Web (15 of 19)

You can see here the Aluminum angle which separates the wall and ceiling. This runs on both sides along the length of the front of the bus (and is also in the main bedroom) and will have LED strip lighting as uplights and downlights, these will be dimmable.Bus Web (16 of 19)

Our most recent achievement (and when I say ‘our’ I mean Henry with a little bit of help from me…he is the real brains and brawn behind this. I often just feel like a cheerleader…but apparently I am absolutely crucial in that role! So he says. :)…anyhoo. Solar power. Solar power has long been a dream of ours as environmentally conscious human beings and so installing this on our bus has been a great feeling…now just to get on the thing and use it!

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Building a Chicken Coop

In order to manage a little procrastination on our bus we have filled our time with lovely home projects. One day Henry picked up the tools, found some wood and managed to build for less than $10 a chicken coop which is quite cosy, well insulated and ventilated, easy to clean and barely portable.

Our neighbour, who is very friendly (everyone seems to know eachother on this street, and there are some characters…including us perhaps…but they are all quite lovely), had a connection who had a few henpecked chickens which needed a new home and so we adopted these. They are a little flighty, but not aggressive, this could have something to do with their breed, the Anacona.

Our friends in Canberra also passed on two little bantams, who are just the sweetest and cutest and very friendly with the tiniest of “crawcks” and a Chinese Fighting Bird which sounded very exotic and dangerous to me, but turns out it’s just a tough little chook with great thighs, a meaty little thing (but not for meat just yet, we’ll see how we go with that one!).

I don’t really have an instructional post here, but our coop may give you some ideas.

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Blogging. Why Blog?

I’ve had a couple of people ask why blog, isnt it just like keeping a journal? And if it is like keeping a journal, surely it’s better to just keep a journal and have all this stuff private?

True and true.

I’m not sure why I started blogging. I just really wanted to blog. I really wanted to blog for years before I actually did blog. Now I have had 3 blogs all up and blogged for about four years. This has been my main one. I don’t make money. In the blogging world my blog is teeny tiny. I do it mostly for myself and I get a buzz when like minded people connect with me (there have been a few of those over the years).

I love the pressure to write well…or at least write a little better than my sloppy, emotional journal writing tends to be.

I love to share the things I am passionate about. I also find blogging about these things allows me to back off of my hobby horse in real life a little bit. It’s already out there so I don’t need to bark about it so much (I notice this when I haven’t been blogging for a little while!).

I am slightly concerned about anonymity etc. I’m not sure what to do about this. I’m backing off having the personal photos online, but at the same time there are some absolutely beautiful people online who share – guts and all – everything! Photos galore, they have huge followings and say the community is 99.9% fabulous.

There are lots of mummies online and I was/am one of those. I found that blogging absolutely saved me when I was in the middle of the baby brain blues. It was my outlet, my chance to have some adult thoughts. It may die off as life changes a little, and that’s okay.

The internet is a virtual neighbourhood. People come and go. And what a neighbourhood, hey! You might as well be in the defining feature of our age, the great WWW!

I’ve found my blogging change to focus on what I am actually passionate about, in fact I think I found what I was passionate about through blogging, things like the environment, beautiful photos, real life, philosophy, sustainability, backyard farming, health, healthy eating, naturopathy, the DIY movement (but with a sustainable edge – please!), repatching, rehashing, remaking and fixing.

Blogging has been a fantastic tool for sorting out my interests, it does take a little time, it has helped me be consistent with taking lots of photos all of the time of my family and our life, and we all know that if you don’t have a photo of it then it hasn’t really happened. And I love that I have recorded part of our lives through the years.

Blogging can be a great thing, there’s lots of positivity online and there are great movements (such as the slow food movement) which are gaining momentum and a sense of community through online platforms.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do this if even for a small section of my life. I love to find great, new blogs that are along similar lines to mine. Do share if you’re getting one going!

The bees, the business and the bus.

Hello! Hello!

I’m still here, just so you know.

Been busy as a bee buzzing, speaking of which I was getting very worried as I hadn’t seen their furry faces around our garden much all Spring and then suddenly last week the large acacia tree in our backyard sprung into a glory of pink blossoms and their comforting buzzing sound descended on our garden.

Do you know that they are in danger – worldwide? Three causes: 1) differences in climate: our climate is changing rapidly worldwide. Shifts are occurring everywhere. Wild weather increases. The drought really knocked our bees around in Australia over the last several years. 2) The Varroa Destructor Mite. Sounds ominous, like something Dark Vader would have come up with. Well, turns out he did. This thing is deadly to the bees. It has basically eradicated the European Honeybee from America. The only way to control it is through chemical means, I’m guessing the bees aren’t too happy about that. Finally 3) Neonicotinoid pesticides. I’ve only learned about this one recently, but all the bee fans are talking about it. Basically – watch what chemicals you put in your garden!)

Some people scoff at this kind of thing. I say to you: If you are living on this earth then you have a responsibility to look after it. That’s all.

So…lately we went to the Living Green Festival at Albert Hall in Canberra, raising questions of population and veganism. I’ll review that (loosely) soon.

Henry built a chicken coop and, yes, I did take some photos and I will go through these with you soon too.

We are gardening like crazy (and loving it even more crazy!). I’ll take some pics and run through these too. Henry is a bit of a gardening wiz, turns out (actually I already knew that), except that I have to defend all of my flowering (“useless”) plants.

I am loving life here in Young. I’ve landed on my feet, even though we’ve sunk a lot of time and money into our bus project and were getting a little burnt out, but all is well and if we are content and doing well then I am happy to take it as it comes.

In the Garden #2

A few shoots pushing up. This stuff is quite magical. There’s no other way to see it. Really, it is utterly incredible that a tiny seed contains the energy and dna and activators to create a whole other plant, fruits and thousands more seed.

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This is a good blog

A new favourite blog of mine, recently discovered and I never regret reading it, is the irrepressible Artist as Family. As far as I can gather they are bike riding around Australia and include a two year old and a Jack Russell (I think?). I mean. How awesome is that!!!

They seem to find a lot of free and often native food along the way (through trees on public land etc.) and photograph and record these.

I love what they are doing, their observations are well worth reading.

Find them here.

 

Building the Bus – July

So, just fyi, I have decided to keep the focus of this blog what I originally intended and that is: the bus (and also occasional family trips), but you won’t get too much ‘mummy blogging’ or ranting about my inner-life or my ideals anymore (unless it’s sustainability and ‘living small’ which is somewhat connected to our bus project), but hopefully the information will be practical rather than theoretical!

To that end, here are the latest series of bus photos, which are a little old, actually, maybe a month now (we are busy moving house). I will post more up-to-date ones very soon.

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Filling these walls with insulation has been tedious, but we are hoping it will be well worth it!Bedford bus insulation

Henry is here working on a bespoke window frame. Marine ply, glue, screws and bog. Getting it ready for the router. Once the Alucobond is glued into place, using Sikaflex 252, it will be carefully routed along the window edge, so that edge must be super smooth.Bedford Bus insulation Bus work Bedford bus interior

This photos is exciting to me because you can see a finishing touch! The wood frame around the hatch. This needs to go in before the last sheet of aluminium (from Ullrich Aluminium in Canberra, can’t remember the thickness – I’ll find out!) goes on the roof. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to tell, the aluminium panel in the middle, just in front of the door, ended up being a little wobbly. Henry is pretty disappointed about it, I can tell you! His vision is for a smooth roof, no joins or even rivets in sight, just smooth and white. We are hoping that a flat white paint will hide the ridges (which are minor, but the light does reflect off of them, making them seem more wavy than they are).

To fill you in on more of the vision, LED strip lighting will hide behind pelmets on either side of the bus, reflecting off of the white roof, but completely hidden from sight themselves. We’ve tested it out and it is (going to be) beautiful!

In the next set of photos you will see that right hand side wall on, shower taps installed and a bed well on its way to being built (maybe even finished, fingers crossed!)

We also installed the last of the solar panels, Henry ummed and ahhed about bolting them through the roof, but wanting to avoid any potential for water damage we simply glued (Marine grade Sikaflex) the supports (which he made) for the panels to the roof, which we then bolted the solar panels to. He also constructed a mechanism to adjust their angle so that we can catch as much sun as possible. The wiring is also going through.

Funny, but the wiring and plumbing is what makes me feel like this shell of a bus is actually turning into a livable, self-contained home!

How to make your own doors

Ooookay. So this post has been a long while coming and I guess the only reason why I am putting it down now is that I am seriously procrastinating on my uni studies!

I think this is pretty important for me to share. In terms of Our Bus this has been the story of every single little thing.

Here’s how it went. Early on in the building process, probably a week after we’d set to building, Henry went out and bought two doors, they were 50mm deep doors, much too high and (it turned out) just a few cms too narrow for our needs on the bus. The idea was that we could saw these down, which we did, only to find that we could actually make the door frames just that fraction wider, meaning these doors were too narrow. In the end Henry was pretty glad about that because it meant he could make his own doors and save 25mm in depth. In a bus every mm counts and if we can squeeze a few of these precious things out of a door or two then that is that.

Building the doors turned out to be pretty straightforward. The first was slightly less than perfect and the design was changed. The second was a pretty good rendition of the second design and the third was a perfect turn out of the perfect second design.

However, the doors have been in the bus for, oh, well over six months now, and they are actually getting a little marked (not too badly mind you, but it grates on the mind of the maker). Perfection never lasts long it seems.

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So we  managed to recycle the aluminum which had been used in the walls of the previous bus fit-out. We simply glued these in place onto a sheet of the ubiquitous (in this bus!) Alucobond (or Aluwell, which is the brand we are using – it is basically aluminum bonded to a plastic core). We then filled the space with a foam which we had managed to get from our local tip shop.Bus Doors Low Res004

It was most crucial to glue every join and bend – to add strength to these potential weak spots.Bus Doors Low Res005

We have mostly used Sikaflex 252 or 221 or marine grade glue throughout our bus.Bus Doors Low Res006

After scratching up the aluminum and cleaning it with Methylated spirits (and letting it dry – Metho is basically the only thing which can remove this glue), we sikaflexed the aluminum, ready to fold the door over.Bus Doors Low Res007

You can see above where Henry has routed in the grooves in order to bend the door over. We were a little unsure as to how the door would bend and whether it would bend square, but it did like a charm, it was surprisingly easy actually. Henry also cut grooves into the aluminum for the door runner to sit. This was entirely his department and I just had to look impressed once he’d finished…which I did – and I was!Bus Doors Low Res008

Glued over. We left the back end of the door uncovered. There was really no need to cover here. One door used one sheet of Aluwell perfectly and the tail end would be hidden in the wall anyway. Sometimes it’s not worth getting into a tizz about something that will never been seen or noticed at all.Bus Doors Low Res009

And done! How neat is that fold!

Installing the doors was another effort, particularly as our bus is sitting on a slope and sort of leaning sideways as well. It is all kinds of not square! I left that, again, to Henry’s genius. He has them now sitting inside our walls, entirely hidden as the mechanism to open is a push-to-lock/push-to-open, all of our doors and drawers use this mechanism – makes sense really. No one wants to be walking into handles, something which is made more likely when squeezing through tight spaces.

 

A story about a trip to the snow.

We intended to go to the snow. The goal was set. It was to be a 7am departure.

We left at 8am. Tried not to make too much noise, so we wouldn’t wake my parents, and managed to evacuate the house with a bag stuffed full of random clothes – hopefully a match would be made, a few snacks and my camera. Very important.

The drive down to Corin Forest is one of Canberra’s wonderful hidden treasures. The ‘mountains’ of Canberra. We could see snow in the distance. That was Mt Franklin, the mountain of bottled water fame.

Around corners we twisted with frantic instructions not to brake (from Henry to me), as deceleration is an anathema to Henry, and braking around corners is a sign of a novice driver. Generalising freely and with an absence of philosophical discussion, which is a sign that we are not on speaking terms (just a phase), we still managed to keep things amiable until we reached the Corin Forest encampment where we spotted distinct signs of snow, but only on the southern side of the hills.

The gate was closed so on we went to view the dam.

A dam is a wonderous thing. Is there anything more of a testament to mankind’s assumed dominance over the earth than such schemes as the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme and, say, Hoover dam? A dam is violating the natural order of things and stamping evidence of civilisation all over the landscape, though the end result can be spectacular in and of itself. All that concrete!

Henry took the kids on a little adventure, climbing down escarpments, while I, ever the reluctant rule-breaker (even if the lines are fuzzy), took a different path. One child got stuck.

“Stay there”, I called, “I’ll come and get you.”

I climb back around  and look down to where she was. There is no sign.

“Sophia. Where are you?!” I say again.

“I’m here!”

“I told you to stay where you were!”

“I didn’t hear you.”

“Okay. Stay there, I’m coming down!”

I step over the balancing rocks and when I am almost at the bottom I slip. I put my hand out and it grazes over gravel. Part of my skin has come off. The pain (it is more annoying than painful) runs up my arm and into my brain where it turns into the most frustrating of angers. I am annoyed.

“Argh. Henry! Can we please just go to the snow! Come on. We’re going! Sophia! Come up here!”

“Mum, c h i l l  o u t!” Gunther calls back though I barely hear his small voice.

“Okay I’m coming.” I spot movement in the bushes as Sophia inches her way back.

When she reaches me I take her hand and we walk back up to the car. It is slightly cold.

Sophia cries as I buckle her in. “I just wanted to be with dad!”

“Daddy shouldn’t have taken you down there. Don’t you want to see the snow?”

“Yes, but I wanted to see the water with Daddy.”

“Don’t worry about it. He is coming back now.”

I see them slowly coming back up the hill, clambering over rocks. Gunther looks happy. He has a stick.

Finally they reach the car. I have bandaged my hand.

“Gee Tul, can’t we just have an adventure?”

I’ve let go of the frustration. I don’t feel it any more. I can kind of tell that they’ve had a fun adventure and I’m glad about that, but I am always aware of the time and the plan, and climbing over rocks down a steep hill was not part of this morning’s plan. Sometimes I’ve gotta let the plan go, but this morning I’ve been put out and my hand hurts. I’m being a wuss, but I’m going to put it behind me now, because we still have to go see the snow and it’s going to be fun (dammit).

“Yes, okay Henry, but I just want to go see the snow. We don’t have much time.”

Gunther pipes up, “Mum, I just wanted to climb down rocks and then we saw some water and I found an exploring stick.”

“That’s great, babe. Mummy hurt her hand.”

“You just need an esploorin’ stick.”

“Yeah, Tuli, you just need an esploorin’ stick.” joins in Henry.

“Okay, okay. Next time I’ll get an esploorin’ stick then.”

We are back on the road and heading toward Corin while Henry tells me how much I sound like a parrot when I’m cross and screeching. Well. I can handle that. It’s probably fair.

At Corin there are people. Where have they come from? The free, natural snow is cordoned off. The man made snow costs money, but our lifestyle does not involve living for money at the moment and so we can’t just throw it around, especially when a free option is available.

So we drive down the road and park just out of the mud to find our own patch. And we do. This sub-alpine Australian bush is beautiful. Gunther wades through a stream and his feet get wet, but we keep going. We find snow to throw at each other. I dive right into one of Henry’s shots. We climb higher. Henry finds a ready made snowman, Gunther loves this and bashes it up. Henry throws snow at Sophia and that sets her off, the cold starts to get to her. She puts on a brave face and stands under Henry’s snow throws. Meanwhile Gunther is now past it. His feet are cold. He is cold. His legs are hurting. He cries in the background.

“Alright, time to go home.”

I have to carry Gunther back over the stream and up to the car. Sophia walks, but is in tears. Our entire foray from car to snow and back again has taken up 30 minutes. But we did it. We saw the snow. That may be all we see of it this Winter. Perhaps.

This is real life.

Thankfully the car ride back is fairly silent with kids munching bikkies and carrots, and we just cruise through this beautiful scenery.

“So, did you enjoy yourself?” Henry asks

“Yes, I did. I’m glad we did that.”

“And you took lots of photos. That’s good. You can blog about it.”

“Yes, I’ll make it look super ideal and pretty and cut all the bad ones out so that people will think we live the most charming life and will want to live our lives.”

“Great.”

Oh. The irony. Oh. Blogging. Oh. Internetland. You are a fanciful place.

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Blogs. This Blog

I saw a trailer for a movie about bloggers and…I’ve become a little blase about it all.

One thing the husband and I have been talking about (over the last several years – it’s been an ongoing and continually developing conversation) has been the quality of our lives on this earth. In a world where noise is everywhere, where the number of people currently making their lives here on this earth is growing, where addictive consumerism is everywhere, where mind numbing, brain dulling tools are numerous and at the tips of everyone’s fingertips (tv’s, phones, the internet, addictive computer games, food-food-food, fashion) what is it that we want our lives to count for?

The run through of most of these bloggers proved they were mostly women who blogged about ‘fashion, food, kids, craft’ and all of them, all of us I should say as…I blog…are contributing to the noise that exists on this wonderful world wide web, which is one of the final bastions of freedom, where, unlike the struggle of buying a house you can acquire a ‘page’, an online home, for free! Expression is relatively unfettered and it is a place where ideals seem real and attainable due mostly to the magic of photography, a medium which thrives within the four walls of a computer screen.

The thing is that I don’t know if I want to be contributing to this noise.

One reason I dropped craft oh so many moons ago is that I just couldn’t stand the thought of churning out thing after thing, maybe buying completely unnecessary bits and bobs from el cheapo craft stores in order to fulfill some fantastical ideal of being the mummy that makes things. How could I utilise junk to create more junk all for the sake of crafting for the sake of crafting. No. It’s not good enough. The days of sitting down to make a doily or paint dipped cutlery or adding ‘pops’ of colour to the back of a kitchen cabinet or sequining up a frock, these days are over for me simply because I am much more environmentally conscious than I was and I am sick of the treadmill of consumerism, which crafting can be a subtle cousin of.

Not that I am against making things, but my position is more: QUALITY

In a world where there are billions of people we need to forget about achieving simply many things in our small, short lives, need to stop rushing so much, need to back off the attainment of many things and instead seek to acquire very well made items which will last many many years. There needs to be fewer things of greater quality.

Working on our bus-home has been influencing me this way. I realise so strongly that I would rather our bus be completely beautiful and very strongly built and be a joy to live in for the next several years, even if it takes us a year or two longer to build than we thought. Later, I would rather build just one very good dwelling place (and a small one, not a waste-of-ground-space-mansion) instead of buy my way through several badly built excuses for houses. If I wrote books I would rather write just one worthwhile work than several money-spinners. If I were an artist I would rather paint (or insert medium) five masterpieces than churn out many works or unextraordinary forgettable nonsense. If I were in the business way I would want to build just one small, caring, high quality business without any thought for ‘taking over the world’ for fear the quality of it would be compromised. Think chain stores vs a local cafe.

You see where I’m going with this.

As a people we can’t afford to waste any more. The other 6 999 999 999 people deserve for my life to be one of quality not quantity, just adding to the noise, the chaos, the insipid waste of it all, this planet which is groaning under the weight of our garbage also deserves better.

And so, because I blog, instead of blogging up billions I have to stick by my values and refuse to contribute to the noise of all those mummy/fashion/food/craft/lifestyle blogs out there and instead stick to something which could be of more value. The idea is: less noise, more depth.

The 15 months we’ve spent in Young simply building are coming to an end. We are still going to be building, but we are just juggling things around a bit so that we can have a better quality of life while we (slowly) build. While this is happening and while I am beginning to invest in my photography business, and while I am studying, this blog is going to receive a bit of an overhaul as well. I’m not dropping it but I’m going to focus things so that they reflect some of these values which I’ve just mentioned.

I’m inspired by such blogs as Aurajoon and mnmlist, and my wish is to approach blogging without such a frenzy to post frequently or meaninglessly, to generate hits or cash or anything like that. When such things become the focus the things that really matter suffer.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Model Child

My sister Hannah is a Textile Artist in her final year of Art School. Her latest project was designing a range of children’s wear which she needed Sophia and my nephew, Zebulon, to model for her. On Sunday morning we were at the ANU Art School with the kids where they did a stellar effort and modeled about 15 outfits between them.

Hannah’s clothes were just amazing, absolutely designer children’s wear, not the kind of thing my kids wear every day. Sophia went from her usual scruffy self into glamour girl in minutes.

Here are a few behind the scenes shots.

 

May Morning

May Mornings blow the air off the snow around about and bring the first, promising, chill of Winter.

I am thrilled.

A day begun well enough, with porridge and foggy windows which revealed hidden handprints and sifted the light through our bamboo forest. The kids often paint in their books in the morning and this morning practiced their target practice with the bamboo bows and arrows I made them. They actually work, but they will not last long, still totally renewable and not a milligram of plastic in sight! That’s my kind of toy.  The later half of this day was spent in bed watching Pride and Prejudice as I’ve lately had the flu and was fading fast…so it actually ended pretty well too!

May Morning May Morning

A capsicum from our garden – did not get enough sun to bloom red.May Morning

This boy cuddles legs. He injects love and sunshine into our lives.May Morning

This little girl loves the industry of painting, the only problem – her paints do not last long.May Morning May Morning May Morning

The ‘burbs.May Morning May Morning

Mm, here’s a handiwork. I’ve been making planters with coconut shells, this one’s new and is an ‘upside down planter’. Very nifty. I’ll see how it goes. May MorningMay Morning May Morning May Morning May Morning May Morning May Morning

 

National Folk Festival 2014

I can not believe it is that time of year again, where we don our velvet rags, our tasseled tops and, upon entering the gates of Epic in Canberra, become engulfed in the other world of folk.

This year I fell in love with Morris Dancing (I never thought I’d every say that).

Found Jordie Lane.

And added certain folkie clothing staples to my wardrobe.

I think I’ve been to every Folk festival 7 years running now. Yikes.

 

Son National Folk Festival National Folk Festival Morris Dancers Morris Dancing National Folk Festival Morris Dancing National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival National Folk Festival Jordie Lane National Folk Festival

 

Soph Turns 5

I managed to pull together a small party for Sophia a couple of weekends ago. We always seem to be busy around her birthday. This past one we we traveled to Wagga and then Canberra in the weekend, so I deliberately kept the party size manageable.

I really love to cater a party all on my own. I like the food to all be complimentary and according to my tastes, I like to serve people new things that they might not have tried before, my version of food – and then I like the idea of getting the same when other’s hold parties.

However, reality intervenes and my ideal isn’t realised very often, so another great and equally good option is to ask people to bring something to share and few friends helped me out this time (thanks Julie, Keren & Fi – my homies!)

I think the kids loved it. It was themed ‘Magical Forest Party’ and they spent a lot of time running around in the trees.

Later in Young we had a small party with the other side of the family, which my beautiful SIL, Glenda, made so lovely, and Sophia’s thrown-together mushroom cake received a reincarnation as a Number 5 cake.

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Note on decorations: Not quite as many or exactly how I imagined these. They were supposed to be mushrooms, but Sophia had a hand in them and I don’t know what I’d call them now (‘Pretty, trippy, bally things’?). My favourite thing about these is that they are totally recyclable, in fact I’ve already recycled the felt balls into a necklace and the string into bracelets for some clay beads we made, only the paper tops had to go into the recycling bin, but I intend to get/make a paper making kit and then I can DIY it all!

Felt is a wonderful medium which can be almost endlessly reused/recycled and comes from a completely renewable source. I’m thinking of doing more around it (I get totally frustrated with all those craft projects out there which require buying plastic doovas which can only end up in the bin once you are sick of it. Anyway, watch this space, maybe during Uni break!!)Low Res Soph's 5th Party 004 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 005 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 007

Our hoard: When did this happen? (Absent: Hector, Dulcie, Michael & Emerald)Low Res Soph's 5th Party 009 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 011 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 013 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 014 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 015 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 019 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 023 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 025 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 026

Following face guaranteed when a Pinata is involved:Low Res Soph's 5th Party 028 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 029 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 032 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 033 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 035Low Res Soph's 5th Party 036 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 037 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 039 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 040 Low Res Soph's 5th Party 041

Photography

I caught sight of a photograph of myself dancing.

Now, I do find dancing rather ridiculous. Mostly I see people dance and I think: ‘why would you dance?’ And other times I just wanna DANCE!

Dancing is an ephemeral activity, it is being at one with the moment and its translation to photography totally changes its meaning and purpose.

For one, my memory of dancing is contained through my own eyes, and photographing it to ‘capture’ that memory is hardly possible while you are boogeying your behind. To see a photograph of the act is to accept another persons translation of your own activity, it changes the memory, it even changes the activity.

For me, dancing is completely in the moment. It is, primarily, an experience for the dancer. It is, secondarily, a spectacle for the spectator. I wish I had done dancing lessons as a child. The experience of using your body to engage with the present moment is one I just love. It is freedom and joy and life. It is cathartic.

Once it is over it becomes a fuzzy memory. Maybe something I will not participate in for a long while yet. Something that in many ways I am glad to forget about or reduce to a fuzzy memory, where I don’t think about what an idiot I looked like (as I am certain I do!) but I remember my feelings in that moment, my beingness, these can’t be captured on film, they just become a part of your whole being, a sum of who you are and who you have been.

Sometimes photography fails us.

Do we have to reduce everything to a 2D image? Can’t some things, many things, most things remain inside our souls. The visual is not all there is to life. Reducing something to a visual diminishes life in many ways I think.

Photography is valuable in many ways, but it can not replace memories and it definitely can not replace being in the present moment. We can not remember everything, though it seems, through our addiction to the medium (I wonder if we can blame our online lives for this), that we are trying to.

The Bus in Pictures

Bus etc001 Bus etc002 bus March 14003 bus March 14004 bus March 14005 bus March 14006 bus March 14007 bus March 14008 bus March 14009 bus March 14010 bus March 14012 bus March 14013 bus March 14014 bus March 14015 bus March 14016 bus March 14017 bus March 14018 bus March 14019 bus March 14020We have been working on getting the bus painted and sealed before Winter sets in, but it seems every time we go to do something we end up completely detoured and working on something else. We knew this side would be a problem and it has been. Henry has had to cut out a lot of the steel frame, which has been bent up and bashed a bit, he will have to weld in some new steel. Meanwhile, while we had the frame ripped out, he decided to refurb the fuel tank and retro fit the grey water tank and so we have been doing that all week. The fuel tank is red for speed…or danger.

The grey water tank is not finished yet. It was fitted out beautifully, but then we realised there was no drop between the inlet hole and the shower drain hole…and water doesn’t really flow uphill – according to the laws of physics…or so Henry tells me (not really, I’m not that dumb, promise!). So we will have to redo that.

Meanwhile, instead of getting depressed about it all, we installed the drain holes in the shower and basically one-third of all our plumbing. (When I say ‘we’ I mean Henry does about 85% of the work and I just pass him the drill.)

On the homefront (mostly only mornings and nights are spent at ‘home’) it’s funny learning more about your children as they change and grow over the days/months/years. Gunther has learnt that he really likes snuggling and so a few times Soph helps him bring his bed into the living area and he snuggles on the floor. Yes, I know, cute.

And Sophia is picking up photography, as no doubt all of her generation will, this was only the second attempt and, sure thing, I am in focus! However she asked me to do it one more time as my hand was ‘in the way’ (she’s already considering composition), but that third attempt – definitely not in focus.

Martin Buber showed me the light

Martin Buber showed me the light.

Martin Buber was a philosopher on education. Now, that sounds slightly dull but, truly, it is not. If we take the point of view that education occurs every day of our lives through nearly every relationship then really he educates on relationships.

He was declared an exceptional teacher by his students (and you’d think they ought to know):

(He was) the greatest teacher of our generation. He was an educator in the true sense of the word and within the limits of his own definition of it. He did not try to impose a self-evident formula upon his pupils, but posed questions which forced them to find their own answers. He did not want his pupils to follow him docilely, but to take their own individual paths

(http://infed.org/mobi/martin-buber-on-education/)

The right way to teach, he said, was ‘the personal example springing spontaneously and naturally from the whole man’. This meant that the teacher should constantly examine his conscience. Indeed, every man should do this; but a teacher most of all, as he could not teach others if his own example was flawed.

(http://infed.org/mobi/martin-buber-on-education/)

What struck me while reading through some of Buber’s philosophies was his extraction of the term ‘dialogue’. Dialogue is what occurs between people.

There are three types of dialogue:

Technical (based on the need to acquire an objective understanding)

Monologue (men talking to themselves really, while pretending to talk to another) (this happens most of the time)

Genuine (meeting of souls, ‘I-Thou can be spoken only with the whole being’ (Buber 1958, 24). It is turning towards the other, is not found by seeking, but by grace

Too often (most often) our interactions with each other revolve around monologue. I say my monologue while you barely listen and then you say your monologue while I barely listen. I might seem to agree but my thoughts are still my own and your thoughts hardly affect mine. This is not true conversation, but it is what people often call dialogue, this is how people usually relate.

Buber’s take on dialogue firstly involves the important step of inclusion, which is not empathy, it is the ability to extend oneself and experience an event from the point of view of oneself as well as of the other at the same point in time, he called it developing a ‘dual sensation’.

What Buber is essentially prescribing as true dialogue is a connection of souls. He talks much of the in-between, what is in-between our words, what is in-between two people, he talks of walking the path where ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ becomes ‘we’.

Towards the end of his life he valued highly the state of silence, attentive silence where there was space, space to feel and to know.

I have seen the light because I used to be quite good at finding the in-between and connecting with ‘the divine’, and also I felt I was better able to reach the hearts of other people, or perhaps it was that my heart was involved in the connection more than it is today.

Over the years I’ve lost a little of this. I’ve become a lot more concerned with my own opinion and so I’ve become too monologous for my liking. (Would it be accurate to say that I lost my heart behind all my head knowledge? Perhaps)

I’ve lost too much dialogue in life.

There is not enough silence.

Actually I found this occurring more and more after having kids. I had to talk more with children (give instruction etc) and I had less time to talk adult to adult, and even less time to find space. When I met with friends I just regurgitated information or blurted out everything I’d not been able to all week or month or however long.

Sometimes I stepped back from myself and asked: ‘is this me?’

It was a different me.

I have also stepped into a realm of head knowledge, both through discussing the things my husband likes to discuss and through university studies. I am glad about this, but it has made me a little opinionated….

now, I am pretty happy to be opinionated about some things. I am so passionate about human beings treatment of this planet and its other inhabitants (both human and other) that I find it hard to see any greys (though I am realising that there are differences of ways here). And there are a bunch of ethical issues that I am pretty black and white about. I am anti-corporation and I despise global markets and abuse of military power….etc etc. blah blah. You get the picture.

But in all this lambasting there are people.

There are the people involved.

There are the people listening to me.

There are still the people around me.

And while it’s good to take a moral standpoint, it’s even more important to create a silence for truth (of heart) to emerge, to create with words and with silence an atmosphere of love and acceptance and stillness.

I’m going to have to rediscover this stillness, I’m going to have to still myself and my busy mind to get there.

But I like this in-betweenness, I get it and I want it.

*This is personal, but I feel it’s an important truth/philosophy/understanding to share. Maybe you will relate? In the quest for a pared back, less consumerist life, one that does not buy into some of our unchallenged Western ideas of ‘a good life’, I feel it is important to raise this issue as, surely, it is relationship that lies at the heart of meaningful living and understanding of ourselves.

Kids without toys

So,

As you know we moved into a small house to stay out the remainder of our time in this town building our bus.

We had very little furniture and decided to keep it pretty simple with our things in general so that we wouldn’t be tied down with too much cleaning (which we don’t have time for) or moving back out again, which will be fairly soon after the move-in. (There is nothing like a move to get you fed up with your own stuff!)

Our kids have had to suffer with just a few toys.

Here they are:

Young House006

Now, we’ve been living here for six weeks and I thought I would take note on what I have observed over this time. They have played with these toys all but a handful of times.

Most of the time they pull out pencils and paper, scissors and glue and get crafty on the floor (no craft table required). They do this for hours, sometimes, this is with no direction from me, usually I am cooking while they are doing this.

For a week we had an origami binge, the pieces were enjoyed and then eventually ended up in the recycling bin.

The dolls house Soph has played with just a few times.

Beads in a box have ended up on the floor a couple of times, but been cleaned up pretty well.

The stuffed toys are only really played with around bed time, and the whale was enjoyed by the dog next door. Kids only need one or two stuffed toys really…and if we’re being truthful, they don’t really need any!

The books we read every night. (Not all at once, of course!)

What do they play with then???

Gunther juices oranges during the day (that’s his latest thing).

At Grandma’s place there is a trampoline and a sandpit that they often play in.

When Sophia comes home they fight and when the fighting is over they use their imaginations! Today they dressed up in their blankets (yes, no dress up box here, a blanket or scarf will do the trick), Gunther became a ‘drumming beetle’ with my large market basket over his back. And they ‘went to the beach’, ‘swimming’ all around the house.

Truthfully, for this one major reason, I would recommend getting rid of the toys, imaginations come out to play and I have seen huge developments in this over these past six weeks.

The other major reasons I would recommend seriously decluttering on toys is:

– less to clean up, less cleaning up means more free time to play for mothers and children.

– More nature play.

– kids play better without things. Sometimes I find that kids are playing happily, but once a thing is introduced the bickering starts, play takes a turn for the worse. Even if there is equal distribution kids start up with ‘mine’s smaller than his!’ or ‘I want that one instead!’ Never fails. I’ve observed this first hand – often.

We decluttered by accident (as in, our lifestyle demanded it), but I don’t think we will go back to a cluttered existence. Clutter creates noise in a noisy world. If we all decluttered and stopped buying *crap* just think how many social and environmental problems would be fixed!

By the river

A few pics that I’m working on at the moment…

Sadly (though I do love it), I am pretty caught up with my uni work…and I do really love it…but it does mean these little side projects do slide.

I am also waiting on some new (real) editing software as I’m just struggling along on some basic stuff for now, but my birthday is soon and it’s a promised present!

I really love where these photos are going. Keren is great to work with, she is just as committed to the photograph as I am and has a good sense of what looks good, and of course her and her family are so gorgeous. I couldn’t have it any easier.

KK Photoshoot001 KK Photoshoot002 KK Photoshoot003

Taking the time

Today I went to Gusollios in Young and received a luxurious facial. I won’t say I entirely needed it, but it was great to just lie there for 45mins and not have to think about anything. I have had an absolutely full-on week and so it came at a good time (it was a Christmas present).

Last week I was home alone (in our new home) in a new town (seeing as the last 10months I’ve been living on the outskirts of Young and not really engaging with the community at all) in a house in the middle of a rough street with a questionable history (not for divulging here, sorry). Henry was away for a week.

At first I was a little hesitant (I won’t say scared), but I felt fairly at home and I was keen to clean the house up a bit and sort through some stuff so I pushed the solitude out of my mind and pressed into work.

I decided to simply embrace the week I had alone. I feel like a little sail boat pushed out to shore onto a big, lonely ocean. Friends and family far away, stuck at home without a car, walking to school each day but not talking to anyone really. I could have moped. I could have felt sorry for myself and I nearly did, but I stopped myself. ‘Everyone goes through lonely times’ I said to myself. ‘It’s a season.’ ‘When times are busy I’ll wish for time alone.’ And so I embraced it, I decided that I did not know whether I would get alone time for a while and so I just absorbed it, I absorbed my feelings of loneliness and turned it into solitude, not wanting to feel sorry for myself I chose to think about other people and made sure to smile and chat to Sophias friends at school and even a parent on the last day (actually the local Presbyterian pastor). I even got some real alone time as Gunther was sick and slept for a couple of hours and so, for the first time in forever it was just me! I vegged in bed (something I love to do!), dug in the garden, wrote some letters and caught up on things I’ve been wanting to for a while.

And I’m glad I did.

Since this time…

I’ve discovered some beautiful neighbours who need a lot of love.

I’ve been working on the bus every day until 5pm.

I’ve started up my Uni studies again and have picked up an extra subject.

I’ve got three photography shoots lined up.

I’ve connected with a local church group.

And so the disconnection does not last forever and it can be appreciated for valuable s p a c e in a crowded world. It’s good to be comfortable with oneself.

It seems I haven’t stopped for a week. The mornings are busy getting lunches packed for all of us and making sure Soph has what she needs for school. We build and eat and I squeeze in lectures and readings when I can. When we get back from building at about 6pm it’s a rush to get dinner going, on the table dishes washed, clothes washed (which I am currently doing by hand!! I know, old school!) and hung to dry, kids washed/read to (we do that every night)/dressed and in bed and then if I’m not too pooped more studies again or if I’m a virtuous wife then some time with Henry.

So the moral of this is for me: take what is in front of me and just enjoy it, whatever it may be. If it can not be changed then absorb its lessons even if it makes me uncomfortable. Because it’s all about growth.

New Place

I thought I’d share some pics of our new house, mostly for the convenience of our nearest and dearest who are not near enough to visit anytime soon.

We are going for the minimalist feel, trying to get away with the least amount of furniture that we can (that is because we are anticipating moving on within the next 6-12 months and loathe packing stuff. Who hates stuff? I do! – def. stuff: that which clutters our lives rather than enhances it.

It took me a little while to get used to, I have always lived in houses with small rooms and even when I moved into a fairly large room in a group house many years ago I felt so uncomfortable I moved into the smallest room in the house! When it comes to houses I prioritise privacy/quietness and cosiness above all. But preferences can change and it does us an unfairness to assume we can not change. It’s been a week and a half now of living here. The neighbours are close, on one side four neighbours literally overlook our bare backyard and on the other side all the fences for several neighbours down are simply wire so provide fairly good visuals all the way down.  From the hours of 5-9 the melting pot which is this particular street in Young simply bubbles away with all sorts of abuse hurled anywhere from next door to the next block over – I can hardly tell. Lots of fwords simply flying around rather lightly and casually.

And actually, I’m coming to like this neighbourhood. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s open. It’s honest. It’s emotional sure, but I feel quite at peace here. This is an astonishment to me. Henry and I have had a bit of a laugh over some of the conversations we hear going on around here. Some are surprising, others totally relatable. We know what it’s like to have relationship issues, we know what it’s like to be a frustrated parent, so I feel no judgement, I am not shocked. Perhaps our expression of these things was different or more private, but I know the feeling. I sure do.

So privacy and quietness has gone out the window. As to cosiness I am also getting used to the vastness of this (only) 2 bedroom house and as we are not filling this house up with too much stuff (some stuff is necessary to make things feel homely), neither willing to allocate the time or the money towards doing so, I will have to live with this too.

Here are a few photos of our move. First, I have to show you to my shame the (too) many clothes I had amassed.

Young House2002

This here is the sum total of mine and Henrys clothes. All of them. Such a jumble of disorder. We sorted through them and got rid of yet another garbage bag full of stuff (so far we have purged 4 garbage bags full of things).

Young House2004

This is the hallway leading from our bedroom mid clean, everything needed a vacuum, a mop, a scrub and the walls needed bleaching – I have finally rid the house of the stale cigarette smoke odour it carried.

Young House2005

Here is our bedroom now, similar but slightly more orderly.

Young House001

Our clothes now stand pretty neatly. I am enjoying not having to rummage around in my suitcase to find something as I have been doing for the past 10 months. This cupboard and those two milkcrates are the sum total of Henry and my clothes now. I have emptied the red suitcase. Do you like our unique storage system!?

Young House003 Young House004

Okay, kids bedroom. As you can see, no beds. I haven’t realised a need for them yet. Why do we have beds? Please tell. I would like to be comfortable with getting down to floor level, helps maintain flexibility.Young House005

And this, friends, is the sum total of my childrens toys. Can you believe it? I just hate most kids toys. In my experience a child just does not know what to do with too many toys and I just end up endlessly cleaning them up. If that happens too often with one toy it goes in the bin. I like useful, learning toys, not the plastic rubbish that mega department stores insist our children need. I wouldn’t mind a larger duplo collection, or when they are older, lego, but I also like them to cook and clean and garden with me and playing in a sandpit provides them with building opportunities. So, meh.Young House006

And here is our only living space, basically just one large room with a kitchen against two half walls.Young House007 Young House008

This is my one and only crockery cupboard and this is all we have by way of this. 4 glasses, 6 mugs, 6 plates, 6 bowls, 8 extra plastic cups.  We have more stashed away, but this was what we were planning to take on our bus so it’s interesting living with this little to see how it goes and so far it has been absolutely fine. In many ways I am treating this house like our bus, there is just more walking space between each living area. That’s all.

You can also see my numerous teas which I am planning to drink up and consolidate further – I have three types of cocoa for example.

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On the other side of that rug there will exist (I hope) two more armchairs, apart from that his house is furnished in my opinion. The only thing I would consider getting more of (both inside and out) are plants. You can never plant too many plants, and you don’t have to move them on, just leave them to spread the plant love around.Young House009

The view into our backyard:Young House011

The view to the front:Young House012

It’ll do! :)

Odd Bod Phone Photos

I rescued some photos from my phone today. Here they are, all sorts of odd bods.

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Walking near the oval in Curtin, it is good to see clouds, it’s been so dry here lately.Phone Pics002 Phone Pics003 Phone Pics004 Phone Pics005

Covered in Paint Flakes.Phone Pics006

Our messy room (crammed with all our living things and bus things).Phone Pics007

Soph up a tree. Nothing unusual there.

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At my mums. Enjoying a cuppa.Phone Pics010 Phone Pics011

My dads guitars. He makes them.Phone Pics012

Swimming lessons in October.Phone Pics013

The Floriade Ferris Wheel. With mum & Nonna & the kids.Phone Pics014 Phone Pics015

A Burley Griffin Gig at the Phoenix Bar. Apparently they rocked out the other night and I missed it.Phone Pics016 Phone Pics017

In mums garden.Phone Pics018

A terrarium.Phone Pics019

A date on my own.Phone Pics020

Our 6th Anniversary date at Ellacure. Amazing food.Phone Pics021A bathing Sophia.Phone Pics022

A sitting Gun.Phone Pics023

Fireworks at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics024 Phone Pics025

Dodgem cars at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics026

Henry on our car on the way to the Coast in December last year.Phone Pics027 Phone Pics028 Phone Pics029

Waiting, waiting for Henry to finish work. I do spend a good deal of time waiting for him.Phone Pics030 Phone Pics031

Mine and Sophs local skate joint – the PCYC courts.Phone Pics032

A sleeping Gun.

Last day of infancy

Sophia’s launch into school means we enjoyed her last day of infancy (for lack of a better term – though I guess this is as correct as any). I thought it was important to do something special to mark this day and so we went along to Weston Park in Canberra. I am so glad this park remains, thriving well into the 21st century. It is a very solid park and has remained uniquely popular over many decades. I remember there used to be an old ‘mouse house’, a large cubby house with tunnels and nooks and windows in all sorts of places. I remember crawling through these along with hoards of other children, I was very sad to learn it had been torn down, but the decision to keep this water park was welcomed. I have a photo of me at my first birthday sitting in the central ‘bird bath’ and I took a photo of Gunther on his first birthday also in the bird bath. On this visit I noticed half of the bird bath had fallen (or been torn) off, the only significant damage done in all these years.

The wading pool has also been rejuvenated with a new path and sculptures and a slight redesign. When we were there we were the only ones (as ACT schools had gone back that day, we had one more day to go in NSW) and so explored the new features happily.

I only had my phone on me at the time (as it’s often welcome to have a break from lugging my big camera around), so phone pics are all I have today.

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Bus Ahead

Here are some promised photos of our progress on the bus. You would think that with our wildest child at school we would be charging ahead, but it doesn’t seem to be like that. I suppose it’s like when you’re a new mum and you finally get your kids off to sleep and you can finally sit down and do what you have been wanting to do for ages, but instead you take the chance to do the dishes, hang out the washing, clean the bathroom, sneak in a cup of tea and before you know it your darling baby is up and demanding your attention again.

It is sort of like that. I myself am adjusting to the routine, so I must just keep positive and not kick myself too hard and simply accept what I can and can’t do.

Still, here’s where we are up to with the bus so far.

Since these pictures were taken we have been running cables through the roof and attaching the roof panels to the front part of the bus. We’ve cut a new hole in the roof and covered over an old one (making room for solar panels) and we are almost up to putting the curtain pelmets on. Once these are all on and the roof is affixed and bogged smoothed it will be time to paint our bedroom walls and roof, the kitchen/dining/lounge walls and roof and the outside of the bus – we are hoping to do these all in one hit.

First, let me introduce you to our bunks. These are the star of the bus at the moment, one of our few completed pieces (almost – just a few more coats of Estapol and, voila!) Thanks so much to our friend Carl for helping us with this – I don’t think we’d have got so far without the boost he gave us!

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In a clever moment of design inspiration we have extended the bottom of our cupboard into the hall cupboard to act as a useful shoe storing area. There are a lot of clever little storage solutions like this all over our little bus-home.

 

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Here are the beds again in full profile, in front you can see one of the three Aluwell doors which we constructed ourselves (I have phone pics to prove it and might show you when I eventually get them off of my phone). More on this door in a minute.

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Here is some of the bed detail. I like plywood cross section and so we have used that on our bunk beds. These plywood strips are cleverly concealing the aluminum frame which supports the bed.

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So, back to the door/s. We needed some kind of catch to hold the door open (for when we are driving, and just because it’s handy). So Henry put to use a latch and a drawer catch on the door. It works a treat. Push to open.

 

 

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And here’s the roof pre-cabling while I was involved in replacing the fairly useless pink batts with foam for insulation.

 

 

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And the back half of the front of the bus which has been glued down:

You can also see the back of the shower wall and the long red strip on the RHS is the back of our pantry – yet to be installed. And that window into the shower will be covered up and become our shower shampoo holder.

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Here is the inside floor of the shower. Shower receptacle/tiny bath on the LHS, small patch of floor in the middle and on the RHS will be our composting toilet.

 

 

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Our bathroom windows – because I like natural light in the bathroom and windows yet to be silled up with ply. That’s a tricky job so we’re stalling on that one.

 

 

 

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The inside of the red shower wall, still covered for protection.

 

 

 

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Our bedroom, which has already undergone a few redos and still another to come. Henry was not happy with some of the use of ply and we have discovered a material V-Lite (by the Laminex company) for new drawers and are now using marine ply on the bed as the normal ply warped. The base has not yet been decided on.

Here you can see we have taken the back window out. We removed it to replace the seals and then once we experienced the effects of having a draught blow through the bus on some of the stinkiest hot days in the year we just had to make it openable and so Henry is working on that. It’s a good thing he is so handy and so clever.

 

 

 

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The other side of our room (a wall is now covering that door on the RHS).

 

 

 

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And a window frame we made ourselves, once bogged and painted you would not even know it’s a fake!

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Here’s Henrys handy work on the window. Welding, welding, lots of welding to be done.

 

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And much thanks to ‘Bobie’ for scratching his name on the window of his old school bus, it will now be appreciated on the windows of our little home.

 

 

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First Day of School

It took me a while to make the decision to send Sophia to school. I mulled over maturity issues and listening and obedience issues, I thought about her learning ability, about how clever she is, I decided yes then no then finally and definitively, yes again.  When she spelt out my brother-in-laws name all by herself and wrote it down for him E-L-E-I-T (Elliot) I knew I had to send her. She was ready. That other stuff would have to work itself out.

Since that time at Christmas the enrollment process was a breeze, the teachers and admin staff all delightful and we found the right school for us.  Funnily enough she is in the same classroom that Henry was in as a Kindergartener.  Twenty-four years ago to the day Sophia walked up the same steps Henry walked up as a 5 year old, on his birthday.

We got her dressed and I packed as nutritious and exciting a lunchbox as I could think of. Gluten-free school lunches are a bit tricky. She had salmon, cucumber, carrot and mayonnaise rice paper rolls, seeds and dried fruit, a peach, cheese cubes and for recess natural yoghurt and berries.

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Here she is, ready to take on the school.

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And up those steps to her classroom. Good luck my big girl!

Lilygrace Flowers

I met Alicea at my brother and sister-in-law’s engagement party five years ago. At that time my big, fat, red-headed girl was only months old and her big, fat, red-headed baby girl was also just months old.  Of course, we talked about our children and their development as all new parents do. Back then this business was perhaps just a glimmer in her eye and my own foray into photography was just beginning. Now I find she has launched her own growing floristry business.  If her flowers are anything to go by then is a hot success! Her arrangements are absolutely exquisite! I was just bowled over when I entered Chris and Allan’s place for our shoot late last year.

Thank you to Alicea of Lilygrace flowers for this collaboration. Thank you to The Plant Web and Chris and Allan for allowing us to use their grounds and great thanks to both Ellie of Love Affair With Hair and Kristie of Australia Designer Bridal and Formal for their own artistry. And of course much appreciation goes to the beautiful models, Emma and Sybilla.

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Tiny House People

I stumbled across this film a couple of months ago and then this film today. Both of these creative endeavours made me proud to be (almost) able to call myself a tiny house person.

My favourite person was the girl at around 13 minutes along in the second film by Kirsten Dirksen. I loved her adaptability, her approach to her lifestyle, her creative storage and her use of a chamber pot! I love that she built it herself, and sourced her material from the tip.

I am anticipating the onset of tiny house living for several reasons:

  • simplicity (not crowding our lives with stuff)
  • simplicity (not filling our time with sorting/cleaning large spaces or large amounts of stuff)
  • simplicity (not having to worry about or think about or chase after money)
  • Quality over quantity. We have fewer, but higher quality items and fittings around our home, this makes us feel good. We are able to support ethical & often local companies.
  • Adventure. We are not forced into a lifestyle of 9-5 work to pay off a mortgage or even have to save for an overpriced home (the honest truth is that housing and land these days is excessively, unnecessarily expensive – it’s not worth getting into debt over.)
  • Autonomy. We can move as we wish, live as we wish. There are expenses along the road, but they are far less than rent etc.
  • By far, though, the greatest benefit to living small is being able to be together, because of all the above reasons and also because the smallness of the space forces us together. It’s nice.

Currently we are struggling a little bit. We are just over half way through our bus build and while each step excites us there is still a lot of building to go. We are tossing up our living arrangements, unsure whether to move into a rental as there is uncertainty about how long this project will take. Sophia will/might be going to school this year and so plans are all ambiguous.

I am not someone unwelcome to changing plans, I am liable to toss a project in the air if it is ‘not working’, I guess it is harder for me to persist and while I am determined to persist with building our bus (there is no other option there) I am just investigating the different ways we could reach the end goal…all in one piece.

We will see what we will see.