Long weekends.

After all my complaining about car culture, when the new bf came over for the long weekend we sat up to watch Top Gear together ROFLMFAO.

It was a wonderful relaxing few days. I had a cold, which was a great excuse to accept a bit of pampering, watch DVD’s and generally not do a whole lot at all. The only thing I got up for really was to play mud pies on occasion in the veggie patch. For those of you who aren’t organic gardeners, 90% of gardening IMHO is mud pies. Particularly when there’s been a dry spell and you need to run the grey water onto the patch. The other half (who is in no way a green thumb) suggested we widen one of the irrigation ditches between rows in order to have little boat races.
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In other news, all the household cats are now fixed. The new black kitten is growing as fast as he can into a lovely big black tom cat and is very smoochy. The little ginger tyke who showed up at our back door, starving and covered in fleas, meowing piteously and batting her big golden eyes, is putting on weight and likewise very happy. So I now have four cats. Can you say “crazy cat lady”?

That’s Batfink’s map of Tassie btw. :D
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The cats enjoy chasing anything that flies, including flies, and are happy to assist in keeping those rotten cabbage white butterflies away from my new seedlings. They’re the ones who have those great big soft green squishy caterpillars that can denude a broccoli crop overnight.

It’s interesting to wonder about what life would have been like in an early civilisation where you’d really need to pay attention to irrigation canals and pests. Perhaps childrens’ fascination with little things might have come from tired parents telling them for generations to “go out and collect some caterpillars/chase some butterflies”? Doesn’t really explain those of us who can’t abide the damned things or people who are scared of spiders… but every time I’m out there with the cultivator clearing up silting in the ditches the image springs to mind of someone who would have had to do this daily on a farm in the middle east three thousand years ago…
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The long weekend in question was of course easter. It’s always a bit odd here, since we’re on the other side of the planet so it’s the autumn equinox and not the vernal… entering into the bottom half of the year not the warm half. It was by virtue of the early Roman ecclesiastic calendar also about three weeks after the equinox in question. Hence it becomes for me/us a lovely long weekend of indulgence and random debauchery and a bit of gardening. It’s a harvest festival if anything. Though the season is now for planting winter crops, broccoli, cauliflower, wom bok and spinach, so if you really want to make the connection with “life”, there is that. Oh and beans. You need broad beans to make a really filling winter soup ;-)
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One good thing about the Pagan calendar, there’s only Samhain now and Yule (midwinter) before things start to look up again. Although in this part of the world it can stay cold until November :( At least it’s a good reason to rug up and sit by the fire with a loved one.

I can only say that using the Craft to make beneficial changes to my life has been a fscking brilliant idea. :D

The only issue is that it generates a degree of anxiety at times. When you’ve grown up accustomed to chaos and self-sabotage, having things run well and smoothly can feel quite uncomfortable. I guess it’s one more of those curious things about human psychology and the depth to which we are affected by those around us, particularly when we are growing up. My therapist was telling me that children who grow up in unpredictable and particularly violent environments produce more than usual levels of cortisol in their bodies and this remains a physical issue throughout their lives. She recommended that I keep up with the meditation and Reiki to manage the background anxiety. I’m wondering if it’s my next step to tackle with Craft ritual and practice. Obviously I don’t want to blow it now that life is finally worth living. Having your body begin producing less stress hormones and more happy hormones is good, but it might be a long term prospect to have both body and mind learn to be at home with that after 40 odd years. If your most primary and deep level brain wiring was done in childhood in traumatic circumstances it’s going to be quite a job to reshape or otherwise ‘manage’ that.

Oh well. While I’m about changing my life beyond recognition I may as well make a good go of it. :D Relaxation and learning to live in peaceful well being. Pink and white candles, I’m thinking. Lavendar oil, rose oil and petals and a bit of Ingvaz, Berkana, Gebo and Elhaz. Sowilo energy is always helpful too.

I am grateful. I appreciate the beneficial changes in my life. I am content.

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The trouble with saving the world.

Well after a busy (and dry) few months I’ve finally fixed up the garden for winter veggies and taken the time to return to my blog. In this post the two are connected… ;-)

My son likes those little tins of flavoured tuna, okay, I confess I like them too. I only buy them when they’re marked down, partially because they’re way over priced and partially because it’s such a consumerist hay maker. Not that I don’t sympathise with people who work such long hours they have no time to make their own salsa… but like Australian wool spun in China and then shipped back to Aus, like little plastic disposable toys for kids’ takeaway “meals”, shipping thousands of tiny tins of tuna and onion around the place is decidedly unfriendly. Those little tins, like the one inch high dollies you step on in the middle of the night on the way to the loo, are symbols of everything that’s wrong with our current thinking.

We can eat well out of the veggie garden when it’s producing summer salads or winter soups. It’s local, no pollution involved in trucking stuff anywhere, no pesticides or toxins and no by-catch or antibiotics or animal cruelty (apart from throwing stones at the cats). Eating what you grow yourself is “friendly” in many ways.

But tinned fish is not primarily unfriendly to the environment. That’s one of two points I’d like to make here. This anti-greenhouse “thing” is not about saving the planet. The earth has geological ages to recover from the predations of humans. What we’re talking about is saving our own hides from poisoning and starvation. Yes it’s a crying shame that we’re taking so many species with us in our greed and stupidity, but let’s be honest. Evolution will step in again when we’re gone. Life of some sort will continue quite happily without us.

We need some deep and fundamental changes to the way global business and trade are conducted. The real problem with the climate change debate is not the computer modelling or voting for the right politician. It’s that the media are controlling it. While ever vested interests are trying to maintain their own advertising budgets at the same time as whipping up anger and hysteria, while backing their own horse for political races… you get the picture. Topics which are fundamental to the necessary change in thinking are being deliberately obscured in favour of blatant hypocrisy and continued advertising. Buying new light globes will save the world… kind of thing.

Back to the tin cans, car culture is a perfect example of this point. The internal combustion engine is essentially 17th century technology. Take a bit of fuel, take a cylinder… The result is one of the most inefficient and polluting modes of transport ever devised. So what do we do? Give one to everyone. Allow me to explain. Most of what has happened in the last couple of hundred years with private transport is advertising. A culture has grown up around the psychology embedded in images of freedom, independence, power and wealth, not to mention the pussy magnet, that fill pages and pages of newspapers and magazines. We are taught to think in terms of having access to these vehicles and requiring square miles of tarmac upon which to drive them. Traffic jams, air pollution and rusted out old car bodies are part of the landscape.

Yet everyone is pretty well aware of the amount of pollution produced not only in the emissions of cars but in their production and destruction. You can drive a well maintained old car for 25 years and not create the same amount of pollution that is generated rolling one new car off the production line. Internal combustion is so inefficient that in a car only about 1% of the energy produced is actually reaching the wheels and pushing you forward. For some reason we’re still buying thousands of the things every year. Why? Advertising. Status. Insecurity. Who makes money from these things? The media and car manufacturers. This is why “greenfleet” is so much bullshit. It’s disguising the problem, not solving it.

In order to reverse some of the destruction that is occurring around us, the human race needs to make some really smart moves like ditching cars in favour of bicycles or public transport and changing the way we think of movement and plan cities. There are plenty of other options for transport but they’re yet to be developed properly. Motorcycles and the Carver are two, though they’re still internal combustion engines. How about two or three wheeled bikes with electric motors that can be charged from your home solar panels? (How about home solar panels while we’re at it!)

French Empire furniture

French Empire furniture


But it’s all about consumerism. Consumerism and growth. Growth is another problematic concept. The idea of economic growth is essentially 18th century colonialism. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries the world was a big place and rich white boys from all over Europe could take off in ships around the globe, meeting new people, enslaving them, raping and pillaging and making a fortune from the profits. Just like the Romans, Hittites and everyone else but with puritan christendom, tall ships and guns.

These days the world is not a big place. There are somewhere around 6 billion people on the planet and we’re building houses on the arable land that could otherwise support us. We’re using technology and ideas that are hundreds of years old and in the process wrecking the place for ourselves.

The changes that need to occur in the way we think, the way we do business and the way we live our lives are broad and profound. It will be enormously productive for those who have the ingenuity and bravery to take the necessary steps. The problem is that there are too many snouts in the trough. The ethical and psychological shift that needs to happen in the next few years is immense, but those in control of the discussion are turning it into a useless debate on the thin surface of social norms. Rather than addressing the real underlying issues, this is merely perpetuating the thinking of old fashioned growth and consumerism. And it’s for the benefit of board members at the expense of the rest of us.

Using the example of car culture, here’s why. Buying and selling of cars, manufacture of car related by products and passing of car related laws are all deeply embedded in Western culture. We elect governments based on promises of new roads or road laws. We buy papers on the basis of looking for a new car or a fantastic car crash that killed a dozen teenagers. We think in deeply entrenched stereotypes about people who oppose construction of roads. We think in different but equally entrenched ways about people who drive nice cars and update them regularly. These things occur on a day to day basis without us even being consciously aware of them. Our identities, politics and attitudes are wound up in the image that manufacturers and advertisers have constructed about cars.

Further, changing to hybrid, hydrogen or other energy forms doesn’t improve the situation. There’s more pollution generated by construction of hybrid cars than the current oil guzzlers. There’s still way too much asphalt on the earth and far too much consumerism on the periphery. Making another car isn’t going to help. What we need is an alternative to a car… An alternative to the kind of thinking that drives us to want a nicer car, pass a better law, put new seat covers in or vote for someone to build a bypass.

So you see what I mean. To change all that is a seriously *big* effort and yet if we are to avoid self-destruction this is what needs changing. How can the media, who are the vehicle of all this destructive behaviour, possibly conduct or contribute to a discussion about fixing it? That would be biting the hand that feeds them. It would be shooting themselves in the feet. How can the politicians, who are hand in hand with the media voices who elected them, legislate to ban car advertising, fund serious research into useful alternatives or promote the sociological shift that could help?

You know what? If you really want to save the world, stop buying papers and magazines and stop watching private media tellie. Like the culture jammers say… “Don’t buy it”. Drive a well maintained old car. Buy locally made. You know all this, yes? The catch is, what are you thinking? Does consumerism have a grip on how you see yourself and how you present yourself to others? How deeply affected are you by society’s standards and stereotypes?

Well, it’s a little trite but that’s part of the point I’m trying to make. We’re on the wrong track trying to solve this hassle if we’re getting our information from the tv news or unable to criticise advertising influences. Filtering your social context and adding some helpful voices in your inner dialogue is a good move. So is interaction with smart people. University faculties are full of them. The Internet likewise is a medium for discussion and ideas.

The point I’m making is that we need open minds about where we’re going. It’s like any dysfunction. It might take years to resolve, but the moment you say to yourself, “you know what? I do want to change this.” Then things can begin to happen.

Most of us no longer think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution or the ‘purpose’ of god’s creation. Many of us realise that humans are an animal species. We’re simply one more part of life on earth. We’re beginning to get the idea that we need to participate respectfully and intelligently in the life of the planet. The cosmos is not a pyramid hierarchy with rich white aristocrats at the top, which was the kind of thinking that gave us colonialism by the way. Life is a web. An interactive matrix. We understand that we’re connected and that this is the only planet we have. *That* is the solution. Make it a mantra. Make it an affirmation. Write it in lipstick on the bathroom mirror if you like. I’m an animal and I live on the earth with all the other animals. It’s about living, breathing and enjoying your life. It’s about your life in connection with the lives of others, human or otherwise, not what colour your steering wheel cover is.

Map of the British Empire

Map of the British Empire

Friday rain on the garden

We haven’t had any rain out here for weeks. Maybe months. The whole place was looking so very, very dry. Then last night great gusting winds blew up and brought us a bit of a downpour. It had been so warm, Summer weather already, so there felt like that electric sensation of wild power in the wind.

The veggie patch looks like a disaster area at the moment. After last year went *so* well I had dreams of planting up the same salad veggies and putting in capsicum and eggplants and other mediterranean things… The available ground was enlarged by about 12 square metres, which was pretty back breaking, and now it’s all buried under self-sown parsley and coriander. It’s been so dry and carting water is *heavy* work! We had salad with dinner the last couple of nights and it seemed very odd to have to go to a shop and buy lettuce. Unnatural! The kids were reminiscing about last Summer’s big bowls of salad… Well, when you have teenagers impressed by green stuff, you’re doing something right.

Out the front of the house the flower garden is surviving. Things are slowly growing and flowering… most of the herbs are doing pretty well. The sage flowered, which was stunning.

I probably shouldn’t digress on the tangent of housing development in the area, it will only make me angry. But this is what we get when we build, build, build with no thought whatsoever for the natural situation of the land we’re building on. It’s a dry place. We need water. Why are we packing in more and more people in a place where there’s so much problem with resources? This is terminal stupidity. At the very least all the new homes ought to have grey water systems and tanks… but while our utilities are privately owned the profit agenda gets in the way of sensible management. Like John Brumby wanting Melbourne Water to build a pipeline to take water from the Murray-Darling, a river that is virtually dead in the (lack of) water. At the same time he’s still allowing logging in old growth forest and catchment areas, a practise which is well known to reduce water catchment. And since 90% of the Earth’s oxygen is produced by the oceans, the next step of course is to begin messing up that whole eco-system for desalination. *sigh* The guy must be nuts, or so hamstrung by corporate interests that his two faces can’t bear to look at one another.

Anyways, enough of the politics. People will simply have to learn the hard way. What’s sad is that the land is harmed so badly in the process. Moreso since we’ve been aware of land management issues like these for more than forty years. Changing light bulbs is one thing, but when are we going to make some seriously constructive changes? And what’s with that baby bonus?! There’s six billion people on the planet, idiots!

Ahem. Yes. Where was I?

Back to my original tangent, what’s been happening around here lately. Well, yeah, the garden finally got some rain and I’m reconsidering now whether to make the effort and put in some more seedlings. Tell you what, it’s given me an awful lot more sympathy for subsistence farmers. Imagine having to grow everything you eat? Whew.

Other than a bit of garden maintenance, most of my time has been spent in discussion with my Shaman friend and exploring more runes and Heathen texts. Recently I’ve had a soul-retrieval and Reiki attunement… so I’m feeling a little beaten up in an odd way. Probably settling in to more balanced energy flow. This week in the tai chi class I was all over the place and couldn’t remember anything, which has never happened before. Still, it’s all building on the experience of connection I felt in plugging myself into this “new” ancient worldview.

Last Monday I went to see my psychologist, and was somewhat circumspect about describing all these new experiences, but she was very positive about it. The biggest hurdle I’ve faced in the last couple of years is the whole issue of meaning. Humans can’t live without meaning. And it needs to be personal. After a long battle with depression and everything else, things have clicked on that basic level and now everything else can shape itself constructively around that centre. Heh, and I am rather clinging to this in hope! ;-)

What were her words? A person needs to centre their lives on themselves and their own perception of meaning, not merely be subject to outside controls and influences… We’re talking about resolving the great psycho-spiritual crisis here. The “spiritual emergency” it’s also been termed. Heh, one other person who’s worked his way through it said “I don’t recommend it!” LOL Certainly it’s a tough thing to go through. A lot of people don’t survive.

It’s no wonder then that there’s a few symptoms of stress still floating around. At night I still can’t sleep, though any time I sit down in the day to meditate I drop off like a stone. And there’s a funny looking rash all over my hands. The usual apres stress stuff, like getting a cold after your exams…

On a more positve note, the runes work is simply stunning. I hadn’t been going to pick them up, since I already have magic, divination, symbolism etc. Then Odin said to me “You’d be good at it.” Anyways, simply reading about the things started something off. They do have a reputation for having a life of their own. I’m happy to agree with that now. Hmm. Let me try to decide how much detail to write here LOL. Let’s say I’ve had a few experiences with trance and rune magic and it’s pretty bloody impressive! The things take root in you somehow and it becomes something organic. Not to mention that they kind of intuit themselves when you’re meditating or um, what’s the word? I keep thinking casting like spell casting, but with runes people say casting when they mean divination. I think it’s runegaldr. Using the energy and symbolism of the runes to effect magic. With drumming :D I’ve never felt power like it. Wow!

Heh. Well, it has been a pretty busy week. I’m looking foward to the weekend to put my feet up a little and drift in the currents. We’ll see how long that lasts. : )

Edit: While reading a Reiki manual I came across the following that is something of a clarification. Often people talk about killing off the ego in an effort for self-development. A point was made some years back during Tarot studies, of all things, that annihalating the ego might be counter-productive, since, according to Jung, it is the seed of the self. If you kill off your self, who are you? Such destruction works well in a system like mainstream christendom, where people are supposed to submit to an overwhelming other… in general it fails to happen and people end up with all sorts of hang ups and emotional damage, but back to the subject. The author of the Reiki manual made the point that when Buddhists speak of “ego” they mean the “conditioning” you’ve been exposed to that is often not helpful and gets in the way of you living your own, more evolved life.

Now *this* seems like a much more intelligent way to look at spiritual growth. We examine our emotional attachments, our memories and the various ways in which we’ve been conditioned by parents, society, perhaps trauma… We learn where these things create or maintain “buttons” in us that are easily pushed, and we recalibrate in order to move forward. Sounds so simple!

Anyways, I was going to have the weekend off. Have a good one.

The end of Summer in the garden.

Summer’s tomatoes.
What a gorgeous night. The rain came down heavily, lit by flashes of lightning. The smell in the air was exquisite.

Down in this area of Australia we’ve been in drought for quite some time, so most of the veggies are growing on grey water from the washing and shower. It doesn’t seem to do them any harm. There’s only two days a week we’re legally allowed to water the garden. Seems a bit draconic, considering that new houses are being built as quickly as possible without any requirement for grey water or rain water tanks.

But you don’t want to go questioning the validity of the water restrictions. That would be too pointed.

Suffice it to say that this little patch is providing quite well. And the reduction in meat and dairy, as well as bought green grocerys means our household water usage is reduced much more than if we’d refrained from watering our own veggies.

Being a mediterranean kind of climate, the stuff that grows here well is pretty much mediterranean. This means that now Summer’s over there’s plenty of home grown dried tomatoes to bake in with fetta cheese and spinach and stuff.

There is, however, a complaint. My expanding waistline! Never mind. I’m on my own anyway. May as well enjoy it!

Pesticide links in cancer cases.

Remember that ABC site where all those women were getting breast cancer? It’s being investigated as people were suspicious that it might have been linked to radio waves or other electromagnetic radiation.

Turns out it looks like being linked to contamination by Dieldrin. Naturally this is being disputed, because we can’t go worrying about every little chemical we pump into the environment, can we?

Though its links to cancer in humans are disputed by some, there’s plenty of evidence that it’s highly toxic to many species.

Which is probably why it used to be used in so many insect repellents… not to mention dust for the veggie patch.

How does your garden grow?

Bee on a carrot flower

This is the flower of a carrot… The end was sprouting after the carrot went into dinner, so for its efforts it went into the garden in the hope of providing lots of little carrot seeds. The bees think it’s fantastic.

So many things around here are growing with similar enthusiasm. They love the grey water from the washing, and all the manure and so on. Everything’s coming up green. Some of the tomatoes are so large they need little hammocks to hang in while they ripen.

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The onion was sprouting in the cupboard, so into the ground it went and the seeds are almost ready for planting.

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The lettuce did particularly well this season. They were very tasty to eat too.

This afternoon I’ve finished digging the second large veggie patch behind the garage, and it’s looking good. Broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are already growing well with onions, carrots and beans soon to be planted. This Winter we should be eating well!