Everything is going well.
You all know what we eat and what we do in the week so this week I’m going to shake things up and just ramble off some thoughts….
Ok. This may sound strange to city folk who would never dream of having a conversation about toilet systems. But, here in rural Northern Rivers, this is a topic of conversation more often than you would believe. Everyone in our area, for example, is on tank water for household use and has to treat their own sewage and waste water. The most environmentally friendly toilet system is therefore compost toilet. It requires o no water to operate and enables waste to be broken down and easily managed. Last week, a neighbour gave me a tour of her lovely house that she designed herself and built as an owner builder. The raised house consists of four separate areas/rooms linked by a rectangular corridor that surround an open garden in the centre. I poked my head in out of lovely, airy rooms with lots of glass doors and big windows, admiring the way she has used different building materials to give the house a textured feel. When we came to the toilet, she opened the door on a slightly larger than normal room with white walls and a dark wooden framed compost toilet. I oohhhed and aaahhhed at the finish on the wood, the lightness of the room and the complete lack of smell.
Compost toilets have improved immensely in the last twenty years. We bought a one thousand dollar, state-of-the-art compost toilet for our little shed (now mostly known as the granny flat) that we lived in whilst we were building our house. We were assured that the toilet was designed to accommodate a family of four and had the fabulous benefit of turning our waste into useful garden fertiliser. We were a family of three and a half (Ismerie had just turned two when we moved into the shed, and at the time, I would say we were all fairly petite (no offence Etienne!). The toilet came with two large buckets and the idea was that one bucket was used for four months and then it was swapped with the empty bucket. The full bucket had an aerating lid attached and sat in the garden to break down for four months at which time the resulting compost was used on the garden and the procedure was repeated. Unfortunately, we defied all calculations and filled the bucket in two months, which means either they lied, or we are full of shit! Anyway, the system was not good for our family and after endless problems we Etienne had to modify it.
Over the years we’ve seen so many compost toilets. Some of our neighbours constructed cheap and easy ‘wheelie-bin’ compost toilets, which are as effective as any store bought compost toilets! Others bought amazing systems that were incorporated into the design of their house. As the designs of these toilets have improved they have become more easy to manage, almost entirely smell free, and aesthetically pleasing to boot.
I’ve been here on the farm for seventeen years, but this year I’ve felt the most connected. In the past, I looked after my family, I worked hard in my role as a tutor, I cleaned, cooked, tried to stay healthy, tried to save money, took the dogs for their much loved walks, hurried here, hurried there. I felt so zonked at the end of the day that I just wanted to disconnect. Sometimes, I achieved that by having a glass of wine; other times, I just stared at the computer screen in a kind of stupor (we didn’t have a tv but we hired dvd’s and watched them on the computer). I worked a lot on autopilot. I even used to race from my gym dance class, which finished at 6.15pm, to my meditation group, which started at 6.30pm. The irony!
This year, I’m finally understand what the Buddhist concept of conscious awareness means. Conscious awareness just means avoiding doing things on autopilot. It means doing things with thought and it makes me feel good. I feel peaceful and content when I’m keeping my mind on what I’m doing instead of racing ahead trying to solve all the days problems (some are even imaginary and never eventuate anyway) every minute.
This week, I started to think about whether I would be able to find work at the end of the year. I started to doubt whether I should embark on a counselling course. Informal counselling was a part of my tutoring role when I was working with vulnerable people with whom I built trusting, caring relationships. I don’t know where the thoughts and feelings of doubt came from but one morning I woke up and they permeated everything. I think that being consciously aware of what I am doing, I didn’t allow those thoughts to sit in my head. I involved myself in the activities of the day and I felt content. The negative thoughts just drifted away.
So, now I’m back in the headspace that says the world is a good and friendly place, full of love and compassion. Maybe, it will be hard for me to find work. Who knows. But, maybe it won’t.
For many years, we didn’t have a TV so we just watched DVDs on our computer monitor and our girls grew up without being bombarded by advertising. Now, we have ABC iview, SBS On Demand and, most recently, Netflix and Stan (which we share with friends). Etienne and Izzy like the movies on Netflix and Stan. I scroll through them for hours and rarely find one I want to watch. I have a list of movies that I’d like to see but none of them are on Netflix, and if they are, it’s only Netflix in America (not the Australian Netflix range.) Anyway, recently, I randomly chose the movie Paterson (on Netflix). It’s a weird, cute, boring, and wonderful movie about a fairly ordinary, young bus driver who writes love poetry about his wife. There are no great twists and turns of plot, it’s just the story of a man who lives a mundane, repetitive existence who chooses to focus on the one amazing thing in his life: his adoring wife. The story documents a week of his life, his morning routine, the conversations he hears on the bus and the quiet moments he finds time to jot down poems about his experiences with his loving, supportive wife. He’s no Wordsworth, but his poems are heartfelt and his wife is his best audience. I enjoyed it.