Posts by :

The garden spam edition #blogvember

Graham Thomas, named after English horticulturalist  and garden designer

Graham Thomas, named after English horticulturalist and garden designer

Small and simple pleasures are one of the best things in life. This garden, like all of then has been hard work and is always under construction. It a joy that it finally, after a long four years starting to blossom and produce. We worked today to shore up the walled vegie garden. The rescued roses, dug up in the cold depths of winter from a garden that didn’t need them anymore, now flourish in a place where roses are treasured like precious jewels. The salad is so abundant that we can’t eat it all. Tomatoes are coming along, the brave early painting now bearing fruit. More than this, the garden is a place we can all help to create together. It is a shared space, with each of us taking special interest in a corner, or a special plant. It brings the best in each of us. The hewing and hefting, the delicate planting out, the serious pruning, the mud pies, we all have different skills, different strengths.

Salad green garden

Salad green garden

Fig with peas

Fig with peas

All the strengths need to come together to make the garden work. It is an expression of our world and our family.

Rescued rose - Pierre du Ronsard (probably)

Rescued rose – Pierre du Ronsard (probably)

Cécile Brunner

Cécile Brunner



Boundless Playground #blogvember

Boundless Project - siteplan

Boundless Project – siteplan

The Boundless Playground, an all abilities playground, to mark the centenary of  Canberra is a project which is gift to the children of the national capital, from the public servants of Canberra. An important place designed for all children, regardless of ability, the Boundless Playground will provide a place for all children to play, regardless of what they can do.

A lot of us, all our family actually, has been involved in large and small ways since the beginning of the project. We have rattled fund-raising tins, administered websites, assisted with events, sung in choirs and helped out at events. The effort involved in organising such a project takes hundreds of people, long-term commitment and ideas. Creative ideas to raise awareness and funds. One of the more creative ideas was a mass choir with a Boundless song, specifically written by talented Canberra duo, The Cashews. The best thing about the mass choir is that it was full of real people, of all abilities, young and old. And it featured children. Lots of children. Some of the children were interviewed about playgrounds and the kids, lots of whom we know, made into the video. Here is it. Where do playgrounds come from? by The Cashews and the massed choir in support of the Boundless Playground.

The video features one little boy, talking about slides at about the 33 second mark. You might recognise him.

You can make a donation to important work of the Boundless Playground here.

World Philosophy Day #blogvember

November 21 is World Philosophy Day 2013. This year’s theme is “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet”. Organised by UNESCO on the day after the General Conference, it is an international event.

Celebrated on 21 November 2013, the 11th edition of the World Philosophy Day will be an opportunity to organize, on all continents, various events under the general theme of the 2013 World Philosophy Day “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet”. They will enable their participants to share a multitude of views and experiences, fully respecting cultural diversity.

Suggested activities that could be organised by people around the world include public meetings and debates, philosophy cafés or a concert. The ideas to be discussed concepts of social justice, solidarity, exclusion and inclusion in different societies, as well as issues related to the vulnerability of various groups – including women, children, young people, people with disabilities, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, people living in poverty – and the interfaces between these issues and sustainable development. Ideas that could not be more pressing for the world, for Australia and for thinking people everywhere. What saddens me the most is that we are not having this debate. We are not talking about toleration. About peaceful coexistence, about compassion, about acceptance.

© UNESCO / Sandro Chia

© UNESCO / Sandro Chia

We are talking about stopping boats, about putting children in detention and about reducing funding for services to people who need them. In few places is there room to talk about innovation and big ideas to help us solve the issues we face as a nation and as a world. Only a few conversations are being had in a noisy, angry debate, are about what can be done, rather than what we cannot do.

One of the most interesting sessions on the program for the World Philosophy Day this year, is a masterclass on teaching philosophy to children. It is to be a demonstration. It will present techniques in teaching children to reason, to argue, to work through significant issues themselves and to listen to other points of view. I wish I could go. Children are invited, I wish Benedict could go. I wish philosophy was taught in every school, to every kid, for the good of the world. In the words of the organisers of this event

The introduction of children to logical and rational thought not only develops their philosophical spontaneity but helps them become enlightened citizens, capable of formulating their own critical judgment and clear and reflective views about life from a very early age.

Enlightened citizens are who we need. They will be the ones to make sense of all the mess we are creating right now. They are the ones who will have to clean up.

I am not here #blogvember

I am not here. My new nephew was born today.
I have been out to dinner. Mocan and Green Grout. I ate the most delicious steak tartare that Canberra has to offer. And many other delicious things.


There is too much real life today to fit in any writing. Cheers. Here is to new humans. Welcome Jack. Pleased that you are part of our family little boy.

Good bones – real estate blues #blogvember

Once we went to an open house. The house in question was a small, no, tiny, original condition 2 bedroom double brick cottage. There are a lot of them in old suburbs in Canberra. They are heritage listed. The block is directly behind our current house. It was a massive block with not a stick on it. Not a single tree. A tiny shed and a car port were the only other structures on the entire block. It was real estate gold. It is 3 kilometres from the centre of Canberra. Walk to the nearby excellent local shops. The block is level enough and in the shadow of a beautiful mountain. Read More

Ring the bells #blogvember

Near the childcare centre is a church. It is quite famous in Canberra. Often it is in the news. It has a bell tower. With trained musicians ringing the bells. On Mondays around 5pm you can hear the bell ringers practising. Benedict and I often hear them as we head to the car. Occasionally, we have parked the car and listened. Sitting quietly listening for a few minutes.

Today, we heard the bells as we walked back to the car. We drove around the corner. We sat and listened. Then a little voice. Mama can we go and see? It is such a pretty sound, he said. I hesitated. It was home time. It was time for the mad whirl of dinner, bath, stories and bed. And then I caught myself. Why not? It is a special, special sound. We got out of the car. Excitedly Benedict sought the entrance through the archway. He followed the path, through the churchyard which winds past graves of the people who lived here before Canberra was a city.

Bell tower

Bell tower

The bellringers were rehearsing. When we made it to the front door, we stood in the vestibule. To our right are the extremely steep stone steps leading up to the bell tower. We could hear the bellringers conversing, discussing the pattern of bells and the order of how they are to be rung. Benedict asked me to open the main door. The beautiful stained glass window amazed him. He’d never been inside a church before. It was interesting, he knew it was a place not to shout and be noisy. We looked in, then we walked all the way round the church yard. Many, many questions were invoked. What’s a church? What’s god? How is he everywhere? Why can’t I walk on the dead people?

What I loved most is that there are many places we have yet to go. The wonder is only just beginning


Sunday Confessional Three #blogvember

Someone please make me a cup of tea?

Someone please make me a cup of tea?

Last night I dreamt that I was walking around with my camera. I saw a man coming towards me. He bumped into me, hard, and later I noticed he had stolen my camera lens. I gave chase all over somewhere that reminded me of Sydney University. Soon into the chase I realised there were more sinister forces at play. While I pursued the camera lens through the underground parts of the university buildings, I noticed that I was being cornered. Entering rooms with no exits, blind alleys and rooms without windows, I was getting panicked in the dream. There were a series of utility rooms with enameled equipment coloured mint green, the same colour as a Metters Canberra fuel stove. The tension of this dream narrative was clearly building, and it woke me up. At 4am. This was not optimal. Shortly thereafter, Benedict woke up needing to wee, and then Robert got up and started watching rugby. I confess now to not being especially gruntled by any of this. Really? Rugby at 5am? Eventually I went back to sleep and so did Benedict. Which was a relief.

I checked my camera. Lens is still on.


Tomatoes before Christmas #blogvember

There is a story in Canberra about how you can, if you are boxing clever, sow seed and eat tomatoes before Christmas. About three people a year manage it. In a town where there is frost until November, often, and this year in particular, there was a frost in October where the temperature plummeted to minus 3.9, it is a challenge to get tomatoes into the ground and ripening fruit by December 25. Read More

Why I love being 40 – perfume #blogvember

The best thing about being 40 is knowing my own mind. More precisely, the best thing is knowing what I like. It was very plain today, while chatting with a charming and yet extremely young assistant in Mecca Cosmetica. In the first two minutes it was obvious that she was learning about perfume from chatting with me rather than selling me anything.  She did know her product range, but she couldn’t have made a suggestion for me based on any description of what I liked. As it turned out, I told her. I also told her that this was one of the good things about having worn perfume for 20 years, you learn a thing or two. Read More

Kids and reading #blogvember

Never too soon to start long form books

Never too soon to start long form books

My son can’t read … yet. He can recognise letters and his own name. He knows when you *cough* skip over sections or pages of familiar books. He has been read to since the day he was born. His bedroom hosts the philosophy, poetry and reference sections of our library. When he was tiny, he did delight in making me furious by pulling the ones on the bottom shelf off, one at a time. Mostly he understands that books need to be treated with respect. I have never told him he can’t read a book. I will read him any book, any time. I have made myself a rule, which is often exploited, that I would never refuse him a book or reading time. Read More

I’m at war with myself and I have just worked out why

10 December 2009

December 2009

For a long time, I have been suffering a general malaise. For the first two years of Benedict’s attendance at childcare, we suffered through weeks of sickness from Easter till August. We were all sick for months at a time. And we recovered eventually and 2013 has been better. Except I didn’t really recover. This feeling is not just a simple virus or head ache or pain in the leg. It is a deep seated unspecific feeling. I am not at all at peace within my own skin.

This feeling, right now is part of a life long feeling of dissatisfaction with my physical body. It’s a fine body in many ways. It contains me. It mostly works. It also has some deep limitations. Rubenesque and short waisted. Fair and freckly. Not especially tall. For a long time I had, at best an ambivalent relationship to it. At worst, I really hated it. I am not now at that worst. I have been doing more Pilates, yoga and the odd bit of other stuff. My opinion of myself has been much improved with effort on my part and the reformer which lives up to its name. Yet the malaise persists and is worse right now because I have been sick in bed for two days. Read More

My achievements today #blogvember

IMG_3109My achievements today including getting out of bed. I do get out of bed every day, eventually. Usually when I get out of bed, my throat does not feel like I have been gargling razor blades and gravel with a fine sandpaper jus. Today it did. Aches and pains do not come close to describing the feeling. Getting out of bed, that was a big achievement.

My next big achievement was getting dressed. Arguably more difficult than setting my feet on the floor, getting dressed involved lifting my arms. There is lymph in there you know. Nodes. Swollen nodes. Pains and suffering. But I did it.

After all this, a load of dirt is delivered. Vegie mix, I believe it is called. The truck driver helpfully delivered it across the footpath and half our driveway. My achievement was that I didn’t say a word. Not one.

My next achievement was almost, but not quite the ultimate achievement for today. I listened to bad, really bad commercial radio for just over an hour while at the doctors. By the third hit from 1982 I couldn’t see straight anymore. The second ad for tiles I was in a stupor. When they played What About Me, I almost lost the will to live. Luckily, the nice man next to me didn’t mind that I rested my head on his shoulder. He didn’t even mind when I drooled on him. Maybe that was the nice fantasy dream I was having at the time while I willed myself to just collapse to the floor.

My real achievement, the crowning glory of my day, was sitting impassively while I received the lecture entitled “when you turn 40 you have to stop taking the pill” from my extremely thorough and well intentioned GP. Really? We are having this conversation today? Really? I want to die and you want to talk about my reproductive health? At this minute I am never having sex again, so I am not sure why we need to continue with this. In fact, I am just going to go home, go to bed and stay there for the foreseeable future. Do we really need to talk about this now? I calmly outlined the previous issues and solutions that didn’t work, hence still being on the pill and yes, I do know about the increased risks. Can we just talk about time off work and codeine now please?