Week 17

What’s in the Garden?

This week I transplanted the seedlings into the garden beds in the green house: spring onion, onion, beans, peas, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage.

For our meals, we are harvesting avocado, pecans, lettuce, rocket, mizuna, squash, zucchini, beans, tomato, choko, carrots, silverbeet, eggplant, taro and arrowroot.

What’s on the menu?

I had some left over ratatouille so I blended it and made pizza sauce.  I made a bread dough and flattened it with a rolling pin to make a pizza base.  Pizza topping: pizza sauce with goat cheese, olives (our neighbour Donnie grew them and gave us a bottle which I flavoured with garlic and rosemary), and avocado.  I baked the pizza and a pecan pie in the oven.  We had pizza and salad for lunch, and saved the pecan pie for our dinner dessert because it was too hot to eat. The pizza was great, even though the dough was puffy and we all prefer thin and crispy.

The pecan pie was made with our own pecans, honey, eggs and goat cheese.  I used organis stone-ground wheat flour and some of Izzy’s nuttelex for the pastry. It was delicious and it set perfectly, despite using honey.

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Sunday dinner: Etienne’s amazing goat curry.  Ingredients: goat, beans, pumpkin, olives, and our neighbour’s home made spicy mango sauce.

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Monday dinner: I made a vegetable curry using a can of coconut cream that our neighbour Bec gave us.  Bec read my blog and decided that she needed to give me some coconut cream.   We invited her to join us for dinner: vegetable curry, home made wine and pecan pie.  She brought whipped cream to have with the pie.  It was sensational!  Izzy’s friend, Jess, was also there for dinner.

FYI, Izzy and I were exceptionally excited about the pecan pie.  Sometimes, during the afternoon, I lifted the tea towel that was covering the pie and just inhaled the aroma. Mmmmm…

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Tuesday lunch: salad (all from the garden) and fresh bread.

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Saturday 28th April, lunch: chick pea falafel on buckwheat pancake, salad, avocado, home made pickle and boiled choko.  I love adding choko to my meals but Izzy and Etienne won’t eat it unless it’s incorporated into the meal.  I bought the falafel mix months ago because Etienne makes great fish balls using freshly caught carp and falafel mix. He hasn’t been fishing lately so I decided it was time to cook up some falafels.  I added fresh herbs from the garden to the falafel mix.

Sunday dinner: Izzy’s friend, Bridie, stayed over and they let me take their picture!  We had goat curry with vegetables.  Etienne didn’t add any herbs or spices.  The meal was flavoured by the meat and the vegetables.  It was soupy and absolutely delicious.

Activities of the week

Working class man

Etienne has been offered a job picking fruit on a local farm, for one or two days a week.  We want to stick to our original budget to see if we can survive for twelve months on ten thousand dollars, so we’ve set up a separate bank account for Etienne’s wages.   Etienne is planning a trip to Mongolia soon, so the money can be used for his ticket. He worked his first day this week.

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Shopping

We bought one item: mustard powder, $1.50.  We need vinegar, buckwheat, flour and toilet paper but it will have to wait until next week.

ANZAC Day

On ANZAC day, I attended the fantastic Remembering and Healing ceremony in Lismore known as RAH.  RAH is organised by Lismore community members who saw a need for a multi-cultural, multi-faith commemorative event on ANAC day that was inclusive of all people affected by war, and was impelled by a strong commitment to peace. ON their website it says:

Remembering and Healing organises Anzac Day events that model how commemorations of wars can be inclusive, remembering all who have suffered through war, on all sides, civilian and military, without any glorification of war and at the same time committing to a peaceful future.

Speakers a the commemoration event included a Catholic Bishop, the President of the Muslim society, a Buddhist monk, and an author/academic. All the speakers were fabulous.  First, they recognised the fallen heroes and voiced their respect for the families who still celebrate ANZAC day.  But then, they brought a multitude of other perspectives to the table.  The most inspirational speaker was the Catholic Bishop who pointed out that we each need to find our own peace before we demand it of others.  It is easy for people to say “why did that person/country overreact? That issue could have been solved peacefully.”  But what we do in our own lives when we are faced with conflict?  Conflict in our jobs, in our communities, in our homes, in our own hearts?  Do we look for peaceful solutions?  Do we truly understand what peace is?

The academic was also brilliant.  She focused on the political issues surrounding the huge emphasis that Australia puts on Anzac day and the ANZAC legend.  She discussed issued such as the social implications of the huge emphasis that Australia puts on the ANZAC celebrations, the inappropriate influence of powerful companies selling military equipment (profiting from war and death), the incredible political power of the RSL, and two key political issues:  Firstly, the fact that the Prime Minister has the power to send troops to war without any consultation or discussion with anyone. We need to implement reforms that prevent Prime Ministers having this power.  Secondly, she detailed the amount of money that is spent on glorification of the ANZAC legend. For example, the war museum just asked for money to upgrade and they could receive $500 million (I had to fact check this because I heard conflicting amounts but here is the evidence – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-07/underground-war-memorial-expansion-tipped-to-top-500-million/9627910 ).

In between speakers, a choir sang beautiful songs of peace.  After the speeches, we were all invited to come to the front where a huge world map was raised.  We each marked on the map the countries where our ancestors originated.  The atmosphere was up-lifting. Afterwards, I chatted with folks from Jiggi, folks from Bentley and folks that I’d met around Lismore or at retreats.  It was one of those special occasions that fill your heart and make you feel connected to your community.

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Party time!

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My neighbour had a steampunk doof party so Saturday night a bunch of us dressed up and for a night of dancing.  It was awesome- nice people and pumping music.

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Two weeks ago I spent $24 on chlorine.  This week the pool split. Adios amigos.  Any one need any chlorine?

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Some Musings

It’s been a wet Autumn.  In fact, we’ve had so much rain in this area that everyone is sick of the rain!  Our tanks are overflowing, the ground is muddy and we can’t get anything dry.  With all this water, I treated myself to the first bath of the year.  I put a big spoon of honey in the water. It’s a natural humectant that promotes moisture retention and it makes my skin feel soft.

 

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Toilet paper

I’ve been using tobacco leaf as toilet paper since 2014, after attending a festival that provided only tobacco leaf for toilet paper.  The leaf of the wild tobacco tree (not the tobacco you smoke) is very soft but also strong and hairy so it removes moisture.  However, tobacco leaf is only good for a pee pee in the bushes.  It can’t be used in the toilet because it can’t be flushed.  Therefore, we still need a small amount of toilet paper.

Last year, when I first started telling work colleagues that I was planning to take a year off work to live self-sufficiently on a limited budget, there was one question that often seemed to crop up:  “what are you going to do for toilet paper?”  I would respond, “tobacco leaf!”   Some people would look look me in the eye, frowning with deep concern, and say “what about when you have visitors?”  I would say “tobacco leaf. It’s awesome!”

On my last day at RED Inc, I received lovely cards and heartfelt hugs and staff came to the pub with me after work to wish me well on my year off.  The next week, I attended the Christmas party and, in front of all the staff, my colleague, Mitch, made a speech and handed me a very large present.  It contained a huge 36 roll pack of toilet paper and a box of roses chocolates (everyone was also very concerned about the chocolate situation).

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Me holding the empty toilet roll packet

Those 36 rolls of toilet paper lasted us four months, we ran out this week!  Pictured above is me holding the empty packet.

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Movie review

This week, we watched the movie the Accountant, starring Ben Afflick as Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant who specialises in managing the books for the mafia and other criminals.   Wolff is portrayed as an incredible fighter, he is also Rain Man brilliant with all things mathmatical, he is kind to his neighbours, he defends the helpless female character who he cares about.  He is a likeable character, an hero with incredible abilities, yet comically, a complete lack of social skills.  I wish I could turn off my critical analysis and just enjoy a movie but I can’t.  This movie annoyed me.  It basically asks you to overlook the fact that this man is a murderer who works for the bad guys, helping them to get away with their criminal enterprises and selfishly making himself millions of dollars that ultimately come from people who were robbed by the mafia.  He even has a collection of stolen art in his possession.  In the movie, the FBI operative, a character who represents law and order, clearly admires Wolff, describing him as “having his own moral compass.”  As if that makes it ok for him to be a killer, working for the mob.  I can’t help worrying about the messages that these morally confused movies convey to our youth.

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What’s in the news?

1. The federal government is pressuring AGL to sell its Liddell coal power station to Alinta!  AGL wants to close the plant, but the government are pressuring them to sell it so that it can continue to operate. Why can’t they just invest in renewables!?!

2. The Murray Darling Basin is still in crisis!  The Government’s $13 billion plan is failing to restore the Basin to health.  Why is this river system so important?  The Murray Darling Basin  provides water to farms, residents and towns in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.  In fact, two out of every five farms in Australia get their water from the Basin. It also feeds sixteen internationally significant wetlands.  $8 Billion has been spent on the river system so far, but it has done little to protect these wetlands.  As part of the Basin Plan, water is purchased with tax payer money to be set aside for the environment.  Yet, below is a news article from June 2017:

Billions of litres of water purchased by taxpayers to save Australia’s inland rivers are instead being harvested by some irrigators to boost cotton-growing operations, in a policy failure that threatens to undermine the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The pumping of this environmental water means taxpayers have in some cases been effectively subsidising already wealthy agricultural interests, including those of Webster Limited, a publicly-traded company which holds a $300 million water portfolio — the largest Australian-owned private holding in the country.

The environmental effects of this issue are becoming clear.  For example, in the Coorong, a system of lakes and wetlands where different species of migratory birds rest and recuperate before their long journeys to countries such as Siberia, China, Korea and Japan.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds rested and refuelled in the wetlands at Coorong, until now.  So much water has been stripped from the basin that it doesn’t wash through the Coorong, and as a result, the salinity of the water has risen, killing plants that birds rely on for nutrition and causing irreversible damage to the river systems.  Despite the fact that Australia has signed international agreements protecting these birds, the problem is being ignored.  There is a record low in the numbers of birds migratory birds in the Coorong this year.  The scientist who counts the birds said he has observed many birds starve to death.  It’s heart-breaking!

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