Hangovers and long shadows

Do you ever just feel the long fingers of your genetic heritage gripping at your viscera?

I never met my grandfather but I am so mad at him for the generational hangover of his actions.   And I am mad at people who think wars are a good idea.  They just stuff people up.  My parents were in UK during WW2 – in fact my dad was in the thick of the war in Europe.  He hated it.

My dad had a rough trot.  His mum died when he was 8 years old.  He left home and moved far away, looked after himself from the age of 14 years.  His dad (that bloke I am really mad at) then committed suicide, after drunkenly shooting and killing someone else, when my dad was 22 years old.  A few years later my dad gets drafted into a war that he doesn’t want to go to.  Imagine if you were someone who just wanted a peaceful life in the country and that is your lot.  Then after the war, he gets married and plans his dream life, only to have his wife die of a brain tumour 10 days before he sails for Oz!  Enough to make you mad, yeah?

The war kicked at my mum too.  Her first fiance (along with her girlhood dreams) died in Europe during the war, when my mum was in her early 20’s.

So, later, in Oz – my parents got together, both with loads of traumatic “baggage”.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, pastoral care wasn’t a thing.  No matter how traumatic your history, you just carried on – and stoically kept it all “in house”.   My parents were so caught up in their own grievings, that although they tried really hard to do the best for us kids – we grew up traumatised too.  And being “in the colonies” by this stage, neither my parents nor us as kids had any family or friends for support.  We were this isolated outpost of complete dysfunction masquerading as a “normal” 1960’s nuclear family.

I can hear you thinking – what has this got to do with soap?  It’s this…

I realised today, that the Shed is my sanctuary.  When those genetic fingers grip some black part of my innards, getting into the Shed with the essential oils, the process, the things that line up in an ordered fashion and create something lovely – that is my sanctuary.

Today I made a face lotion – it feels light and is super moisturising.  I looked up oils that suit rosacea-prone skin such as mine, and adapted this recipe:

https://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au/recipe-formulary/moisturiser-lotion-balm-recipes/camellia-and-olive-leaf-extract-moisture-lotion.html

– with the ingredients I had in the Shed – I used green tea, camellia oil, and chamomile in jojoba, tea-tree and lavender essential oils.   Calming, in the end.

 

I found a box of roma tomatoes for sale a week or so ago – now I am hoping this year’s passata tastes as good as it looks.

And in other news…

My little supervisor has been really unwell again.  Mid-March he had about 24 hours of seizures, after which he couldn’t walk for a few weeks, and again it was a day by day scenario for him.  He is now on a swag of anti-epileptic drugs, has had his arthritic joints injected, on human anti-clotting drugs, and is home and plodding round again.  He is quite blind, especially in one eye, so he bumps into things, but getting better at navigating.  He has an incredible spirit – so determined to do what he can – quite inspirational really!

So – we keep on, doing the best we can on any given day – my leisurely days are over again for a while – back to full time study and half time work.

I have some temporary work at one of our Universities – which causes me again to contemplate that genetic heritage.  Only about 3 generations ago, my relatives couldn’t even write – signed their names with a cross.  Maybe there’s hope yet for coming out of those long shadows…

Un-social Media Trolls and Online Angels

There is very much a cold war happening on our home front.  A combination of the “road to nowhere” and a looming state election – the results of which will determine the future of the road, as well as many aspects of our relatively sheltered lives in this evolving capitalist world.

Watching from the sidelines of social media, I am struggling with the nastiness of personal attacks made from invisible vantage points behind a keyboard, by otherwise apparently “normal” people.  Would these commenters actually walk up to someone they don’t know anything about and say such things to their face?  And if not – what gives them license to do so from a keyboard?   For a while it was making me question the very basics of human nature – are we all programmed “nasty” underneath, if you dig deep enough?

It was enough to make me not want to play any more.  So I focussed on soap.  The soaping community online is a very generous place to be.  It is international, supportive, non-judgemental, and caring.  A camaraderie of soapers.  From old hands with all the tricks of the trade up their sleeves, to those contemplating their first batch of “melt and pour”.  No question posed is too silly, no lump of soap is too ugly, and no process is too fancy to share.  No-one would dare to write a rude comment, and any that may sound even slightly judgemental are apologised for quick smart!

How refreshing!   Enough to make me venture back into the local “chats” – where I found someone buying a bulk load of shea butter who needed others to share the load – easy, I’m in – I use that in the soap all the time!!  The shea butter was different to my usual though:

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I posted this pic on Instagram (@eatgoodfood) and it lead me down a wormhole that ended at “African Black Soap” – which sounds amazing!! http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Black-Soap.  For about 5 minutes, I contemplated trying to make it, but decided better to support the communities who live by making it, so I have ordered some online from Ghana to try.  Very excited!  Will keep you posted : )

BTW – thanks to Vicki at https://thesoapmine.wordpress.com/ it seems my clear shea butter is either refined or filtered, and the brown one is raw.  That online soaping community comes to the party again : )

More super generous soapers sharing recipes, and sharing their expertise are Amanda & Benjamin Aaron at http://www.lovinsoap.com/ who have released a new e-book with stunning soap recipes and scent blends.  I will be heading into the Shed to experiment over the next week or two.

To go with my shampoo soap, I have now made some conditioner (another free recipe  from http://www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au/).   I am looking forward to testing this tonight – it contains oat extract, and argan oil, and scents of lemon myrtle and bergamot.  And then, because I could, I made some basil and lime lip balm!  Clearly test models for the nearest and dearest (no labels).  This little climbing monkey granddaughter would love to be soaping I am sure – she loves testing out the taps!

Today, my local online community has enabled me to swap some soap for figs. How good do these look?  I have been dreaming of fig jam – the pot will be bubbling soon : )

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So after an early  flat spot when the trolls got me down, I have felt the strength of goodness that’s all around when you look in the right place.  One thing about having so much negativity on various screens is that it forces you to be selective and not just eat what you’re fed.  As with all things – “eat good food” – whether it is edible food or soul food.

The weekend weather was almost tropical – humid and daytime temps of around 36 (C) – which is about 98(F).  And lovely warm evenings – it’s that time of year!

This is my grandson and his friend on an evening full of music and families down by the river last weekend.  We live in a beautiful place.  Happy thoughts and peace to y’all.

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Bad wind blowing – Frangipani free for all

Today the wind blew. One of those winds that blows hard and gusty, swirling round, and unsettling energies.

It blew asbestos dust into the air as the bulldozer schlurped in the Wetlands, killing those ancient trees with its unflinching metallic jaws.  Next to the road, a woman was manhandled by police and arrested for no reason.  Her arm was twisted backwards and she was handcuffed.  The woman was supporting a young man who the police were interrogating.  He was clutching a small fluffy dog – perhaps he was on the wrong side of the road.  But I think the police, in this instance, were on the wrong side of the law.  These are sad days for us.

Motivation was hard to find and the couch was getting uncomfortable.  It was time to get my herb on, and make soap.

Both the process and the herbs soothe my rattled senses when the wind blows like this.  In the Shed, the tin walls rattle and clank as the wind gusts slam.  Buckets of rain are forecast to fall in the next few days.  There’s a cyclone way up north again – hundreds of miles away – and our weather sits in the shadow.

My head has been itchy and allergic, so I have been brewing up some soothing herbs for a shampoo bar.  My base recipe was from the trusty “Nerdy Farm Wife’s” book again – Sunflower Shampoo Bar – with some tweaks.  I have had dried flowers of chamomile, calendula and sunflowers infusing in olive oil for the past few days – ideally this would have been for a few weeks, but the weather has been warm, and I am impatient, so a short infusion had to suffice!

And it was an odd photo day too – I have played with them all – here are the dregs of the soaked flower petals.

I found some nettles that I had dried from last time they grew in the garden, and thought to infuse them in the water for the soap – here are the hairy nettle stems after being “tea”d, and then a fiddled with pic of the edge of the nettle tea in my stainless steel lye pot:

These are calendula flowers soaking in apple cider vinegar – this will be the conditioner for after using the shampoo bar;

The little rose bush out the back just keeps on giving us a few flowers every week – I wish I could add smell to this post – imagine an apple / light rose / springtime scent – in fact their smell matches their colours!  Now I have such an amazing collection of dried rose petals, and shea butter arriving in the next week – more rose and shea butter soap on the way!

And – see the frangipani flower next to the rose petals?  My daughter heard someone chain-sawing early one morning – her neighbour was “pruning” his frangipani with the chain-saw and dumped a mountain of branches on the verge!  We all filled our cars with them – I love frangipanis – the house now smells divine, and I will see how many of these branches I can get to “strike”.  I am the world’s worst gardener, but have managed to keep about 6 frangipani trees alive thus far – most of them from cutoff branches stuck in a pot.

One of the upsides from the destruction in our Wetlands has been the strength of our community here – what an incredible collection of people I live amongst!

On the weekend, I had the absolute privilege of attending a silent walk through the Wetlands led by local Nyoongah women.  Hundreds of women walked in awe and respect – sometimes just metres from the road – and then down into the Wetlands to a traditional Aboriginal birthing place – a green grassy meadow ringed by soft paperbark trees, and then taller trees further out – tuarts and eucalypts and more, teaming with birds and bandicoots, quendas, lizards and so many species who have lived there for centuries.    We walked in the late afternoon and we sang together in the local language, arm in arm in solidarity, with respect for this beautiful country. We left, as is traditional law, before the sun set.

There is a lot to be learned from the original custodians of the land, if only we will listen.

This land is due to be bulldozed in the coming weeks for a road to nowhere.  A pox on our government, and those who do their bidding.  May one day they learn the meaning of the saying that you cannot eat money.

I would like the wind to stop blowing, or these winds of change to blow a different way…

 

 

Soaping the Salad Bowl & #savebeeliarwetlands

Well Hello!!

I dreamt the other night that I was setting up at a soap stall and I had no soap.  As it turned out, the dream was a message…

I have a soap stall upcoming and I have given away a fair amount of soap over the Christmas Season – the dream prompted me to check my box – only Patchouli and Cafe Latte soaps left!!  Oops!

In the shed, I have some fresh soap waiting to be wrapped – my favourite – Lemon tea-tree & Chamomile with Beeswax soap which smells like sunshine and soothes your skin,  the always popular – Lavender with Colloidal Oatmeal, and heavenly Rose Soap – made with my neighbour’s richly scented red rose petals.  The neighbours give me “the nod” across the driveway before pruning is due, and I collect the petals in return for some rose soap popped in their letterbox a week or two later.  You can’t beat good neighbours : )

I love it that all of these soaps have fresh local herbs in their making – somehow having the neighbour’s roses, a friend’s lavender, bergamot from the community garden, even the coffee grounds from our machine – all makes the soap feel connected to us.

Today I found some Cucumber & Mint in my fridge – they are now soap.  The  “Hot Process” on a hot day  was interesting.  After 15 minutes cooking in the crock pot, the soap was ready!  The cook can take up to 45 minutes in winter.  I got caught out with the Bergamot & Lemongrass first batch I made today – the timer was on for 20 minutes and there was one of the famous “soap volcanoes” happening by the time I checked the pot!  The second batch I caught at 15 minutes, just before it went over!

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The good thing about soap boiling over is – it’s soap!!  Easy to clean – just add water : )  My bench is now very clean.

I have been seeing amazing colourful, swirled and patterned soap on various facebook and instagram pages recently – they look stunning, and I am almost slightly envious.  But then I think – it’s soap  – and it’s properties matter more to me than aesthetics.  My  soaps could quote Leonard Cohen “We’re ugly but we’ve got the music“.

So, I will have a few soaps for the Mercatino next weekend! https://www.facebook.com/events/684482295045522/

And it’s now stonefruit season – which means more jam!!  I tried some new combinations – I added a few strawberries to a few kg of peaches making a wonderful sunset coloured jam, and I added one mango to a few kg of nectarines – these flavours merged delightfully!

 

Far more important than my soap supplies and jam, however, is what is happening in our local area.  A year ago, I posted this: https://sasokisoaps.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/out-of-the-shed-walking-the-freeway-path/  about some of the last remaining Wetlands left close to our city.

Over the past couple of weeks our government has sent in bulldozers. And police.  On horses.  Thousands of us have objected in whatever way was possible for us.  Our state government is into its last 2 months before an election, and they have authorised rampant and horrific destruction in the precious Wetlands.  For a road that goes nowhere, does not have a completion plan.  The government will not make public any information about the business case, despite having apparently signed contracts.

Wildlife (including quendas, bandicoots, tawny frogmouth owls, red-tailed black cockatoos) have run, scrambled and flown for their lives – often leaving their young behind to die.  You can imagine the grief – both human and animal.  Massive old tress have fallen.  And the air is thick with asbestos dust from asbestos illegally dumped years before.

Our city is apparently the most isolated capital city in the world.  An unfortunate result of this is that we are at the mercy of megalomaniac politicians, monopolised media, big egos in a little fishbowl.  The culture of bullying in high places contributed to me leaving my job mid-year.

Think of this as a message in a bottle – I want the rest of the world to see what is happening here – check out #savebeeliarwetlands  or #rethinkthelink or #noroe8

Please send your good wishes or prayers to the brave Wetland Defenders down here.

Finally a photo from a place that is not endangered – taken on my last day of Uni for the year.     PS – I passed all those assignments -procrastination / pressure worked.

Peace and happy days to you all – find strength in your community xx                                            (possibly despite our various “leaders” – has the whole world gone mad??)

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Mulberry season again

Well, true to form the “everyday in October” thing fizzled out!  October did turn out to be a very productive month though – largely due to the procrastination factor kicking in big-time.

There are a few new Imperfect Critters:

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The Sourdough jar has been relegated to the fridge in the Shed,  but still calls out for attention every few days.  We were getting buried under mountains of bread and my backup bread eaters have gone East for a couple of weeks.

I found an old recipe for a Coffee, Fig & Fennel bread – originally “Oxfam Fair Coffee Bread” by Simon Bryant, and made a few adaptations – using the sourdough for starters.  Of course, in the intro it says “makes 2 loaves”, but further along the recipe doesn’t mention that, so guess who made one GINORMOUS loaf?

It ended up being pretty delicious anyway.  I had bought some almost glacè figs, planning on making a Christmas Cake so used them – chopping them and soaking in a cup of black coffee (our machine grinds fresh beans for each cup – and our super smooth coffee beans from CH’NO in Brisbane added just the right flavour).  https://www.facebook.com/ChnoEspresso/ .

The drained coffee / fig liquid then goes into the bread mix, along with olive oil (another friend’s amazing Portuguese organic olive oil), and fennel seeds.  After the dough has risen, had its second kneading, and rested, the coffee-soaked figs are folded through before the loaf (should be loaves) is shaped, brushed over with olive oil and some more fennel seeds sprinkled on top.  You can imagine how good this is with a soft cheese…

And – it’s Mulberry Jam time – which is seriously a labour of love.  Picking the mulberries with a broken big toe (picture me teetering on the stepladder – or maybe don’t!!), then cutting all those little stems off – and then the inconsequential yield!!   1.5kg (a big bowl) of mulberries, yielded 3 x 500gm jars!!  The physics of it has me intrigued – how nearly 3kg of ingredients ends up being 1.5kg – a lot of water boils off I guess!

And then 2-3 days later, another couple of kg ripe – so hopefully over time, there will be a few jars of jam for the stall.

A few blueberries grew on my plants out the back.  Just before my little grandson ate the lot, some jumped into one batch of the mulberry jam.  I have recently found a local supplier of huge delicious Blueberries that put my little sour ones to shame, so breakfast time is now full of antioxidants, no need to scrimp : ).  What’s not to love about Berry season!!

Just before the last week of Uni (yep – assignments due and tests that week), there was a weekend full of Soap Stalls and a Poetry event.  We are down as a regular at the Randwick Stables “Mercatino” https://www.facebook.com/RandwickCommunityGarden/.  Such a delightful place to be!  As well as the soap, knitted critters and marmalade, I brought along – and sold out of – Mulberry Jam and Macadamia / Salted Caramel / Choc slice (need I say more…)

Oh – and because I have been distracted in a thousand directions except the one I was supposed to be in – I had my first soap boil-over!!  Luckily got there in time to mostly rescue it, and the soap is fine.

And luckily also – the assignments are in, and the test is done, and I’m now a lady of leisure!!

At some point I will certainly need to think about finding a job – but I’m having too much fun!!  Work was never so productive.

If you ever want a real version of a recipe, let me know – although I do a bit make it up as I go, happy to give you the bones and you can flesh it out as you like…

Happy days to you – we are still waiting for the sun to get serious!

Sarah & the Sleepy Supervisor x

Crumbs and Crunch Time!

It’s 07:49.  I have until 17:00 to complete a 2500 word essay.  Because of this, my week has been SO productive!!

I have made “Rose, Patchouli and Jasmine” soap, and a batch of “Nag Champa” flavoured soap for all the old hippies that, like me, allowed their senses to wander to such a tune for a while.

I have consumed coffee in ever increasing quantities, read a small mountain of books, almost disappeared under a tailings pile of journal articles.

I have made 9 little loaves of sourdough bread (and eaten about 2 of them – sent the rest off to family to save my waistline)…

And now I am writing words in the wrong place.

So this is it – it’s now 08:24, I have 500 words and a LOT of editing to do in the next few hours.  The Sourdough Starter has been banished to the fridge in the Shed to slow it down, the Sun has disappeared behind rain clouds for the day, the Supervisor is settling in for his morning nap at my feet, and I will see you on the light side!!

Wish me luck!!  …and if anyone knows how to get my Mac to format references with a “first line overhang”, as apparently per APA writing style, please let me know – and save me a lot of Google time!!

Sarah : )

Sunshine & Procrastination

Avoidant.  I think that’s what I’m being – of the assignments queuing up on my desk, and of the blogging in October.

But look at the sky!!

img_0333And my sourdough starter that was just rye flour and water a week ago is bubbling nicely and needs to be tested today…

I excavated my old favourite Bread Book, and have mixed up a dough that is sitting until tomorrow…

…and bottled up the next batch of nasturtium seeds…

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…and been entertained by the Supervisor and the Grandkids…

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…but now, before the sun goes down, I MUST start those assignments!

Oh, wait, I have to go to the shop and buy something to cook for dinner.  And then cook…

Study!  What was I thinking?

French Bread tomorrow …

Happy days to you,

Sarah & Pete (the Snoring Supervisor)

: )

 

Oops, slipping up in Blogtober

It was never going to happen.  Let’s face it – EVERY day in October?  I would bore myself!

But yesterday’s “no post” was not intentional.  It started with Kambarang, and bees in the Shed.

The traditional custodians of the land where I was born and still live have different names for our Seasons than those transposed by Northern Hemisphere migrants.  Previously, I have written of our missing “Spring”.  And then I checked the “Noongar calendar”…

@ noongarculture.org.au

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October.  Kambarang.  Flowers – both wild and cultivated in our yard.  Everywhere – right on time!

And with flowers – bees!   Up the back corner near the washing line, where the Grevilleas are flowered up to the max, pegging out the washing these days is accompanied by loud humming (not mine).

So – yesterday, the sun was shining, the day was warm.  I set up my table in the Shed to tackle those Uni assignments, opened the windows to soak up warmth of the day, and in flew bees.  I had to help them find their way out again.  And again.  And again.

When I packed up,a lone bee was lingering.  I left a window open as an escape hatch for him.  As I unpegged the washing off the line, I saw the bee leave the Shed.

I seized the moment to shut the Shed window.  Unfortunately, my plan of leaving obstacles in that garden patch to stop Pete the Supervisor from trampling the growing herbs,  backfired.  Admitted – it’s a bit of a mess…

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I have no idea exactly how, but…  end result… me planted on hands and knees in the dirt – we sat for 7 hours in the local hospital Emergency Department (until 3.45am!!) to be told I have broken my toe, and luckily have no breaks in my bruised shins and hand!   I have this funky shoe to wear for the next 6 weeks!  Or not…

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Well, that’s my excuse for yesterday, and my post for today.

I’m thinking sourdough for tomorrow but we’ll see how the wind blows…

Happy days to you, and love your bees : )

Sarah

 

36 minutes

… left in this day, and I might just get a few words on this slate.

I think there’s something wrong with the mulberries this year 😞.

They are late. And hairy. And shrivelled.

By this time last year I was picking bowlfuls of them, but this year, not one – but I’ve heard of other trees in the Valley dripping with fat fruit already.

We had loads of rain, so although they look dry, they can’t possibly be.  There are a lot of snails on the tree – possibly because for a while after a friend lent me the book “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” I struggled with snail control – got a little too ‘snail empathic’, but those days are gone.

I think a visit to the Wise Ones at the local Garden Centre might be in order tomorrow!

There was a super cute little nest clinging to a branch though…

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And now there’s only 11 minutes left of this day (night).

Buona notte (we just saw an Italian Film Festival film)

A domani,

sarah

BlOgtoba 5

Today the air, just for a moment, dropped it’s winter chill.

And the pomegranate thinks that summer might come…

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I had a long train ride and knitted this little guys last legs…

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When he is done he will attend a “Knitting Nannas against Gas Fracking” meeting with me.

Wearily goodnight,

Sarah