Thursday, December 15, 2011

OK, so lately I've been doing that thing that I always do i.e. spending my time doing the one-woman internal debate routine. I swear if there was ever a medal awarded for the most internally undecided, it would go to me.

No one or nothing I know of can beat me in... well, beating myself up.

I have insides the consistency of jelly. I quiver and shake and fall into a gelatinous mess debating with myself about the pros and cons of anything I decide to do.

So you can see that the decision I've made to return to school has given me a major case of internal debating Olympics. Complete with Greek wrestling and ego archery.

One minute I'm 'out there' doing something brave, taking on school subjects that I would never in my right mind have ever contemplated doing back when I was actually at school,  mainly because I'd considered them totally light-weight.

Art? C'mon. Music? Pfft. Give me a break.

I was all about history and science and solid things.. factual things. Not rhythm and blues and weary looking boots..

All this internal too-ing and fro-ing is, of course, a field day for my inner naysayer. "How will you ever get a proper ATAR with those subjects?" She moans.. "You can't even play a musical instrument more complex than a comb and paper kazoo.. and as for art... dot -to dot ain't gonna cut it."

So I sat down and politely asked the nay-sayer to shut up for a minute while I quizzed myself about what the hell I was doing, because I never met anyone that could tell themselves how much they apparently can't do, as I can.

So what if I chose badly? I like music. I like listening to it. I respond to it. I can't play an instrument, but I can sing - quite well too for someone who's never had a lesson and was never encouraged to use a natural gift. I like art. I see things in paintings, I like how the artist transfers thoughts and feelings to another medium. I can't paint, or draw, or do anything arty. But I can appreciate it like mad.


And if I've made a huge mistake, I'll swap subjects. 

This line of logic shuts Ms Naysayer up for a bit. I can see her raise an eyebrow before she slinks off to think up another line of attack. 


Following my heart instead of my head has never been easy for me, and yet I think that my heart feels a wisdom that my head can never connect to. My mind is too busy thinking whilst my heart just knows what it knows.

And all the times I've followed my heart, I've been happy. Even if I stuffed up. Even if it led me to ruin. I sang all the way there and afterwards I called the disaster a lesson in life. Head talk always got me to a different place. I might have been secure. I might have been sensible, but I was restless and forever thinking about what could have been...

So I'll stick to music and art... and Ms Naysayer can just stick her kazoo where the sun don't shine.

That'll get us both singing.


















































Thursday, December 8, 2011

Schooling

I'm returning to studies.

That doesn't sound that bad, does it? But I'm wary, leery and feeling nervous when I think about it all. The essays, the paying attention, the writing notes, the studying for all those different subjects...

BUT

I'm only doing a limited ATAR. I'm smart. I've got life experience. I'm mature (oh, how that hurt to type) and I have wisdom.

I'm up to this.

Plus, my back's to the wall. Which is usually incentive enough for anyone.

On the positive side, I'm actually old enough now that I don't care about doing well; life's kind of beaten out the competitive thing in me. I just want to pass and that's as high as my goal post is currently set.

It's been YEARS since I last did the formal schooling thing.  28 of them to be precise. It'll be 29 by the time I roll up on my first day.

That's a bit daunting... But...

What's life without risk? What good comes of living by the things you think you can't do?

Not much good at all... and total stagnation.

So I signed up. I chose electives - English, Family and Community Studies, Visual Arts, Music and... more English.

Now I have a timetable just like the one I burnt back in 1983.

But maybe this time I'll not give it all up so easily.












Tuesday, December 6, 2011

things I'd rather not think about.

It's hard for me to think about my parents ever having sex. Seriously. I mean I know I'm here.. and I have a sister, so theoretically they must've had sex maybe twice.

But.. in my mind they kept their clothes on during the act. And their glasses too. In fact the whole procreation thing probably went much like those two pigeons I saw going at it on my back fence last Spring. A quick hello, a whole lot of fumbling awkwardness, some lost feathers and... three seconds later - a baby bird!

I mean, a baby me.

Please. Don't spoil it for me. That's exactly how it happened.





Friday, November 18, 2011

The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love... A mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everybody wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being loved is intolerable to many.

Carson McCullers
'The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Word Energy

It's my  personal philosophy that words have a vibration - not only because they physically vibrate the air which they are spoken into, but because very single word has its own unique vibrational being and energetic substance. Each word spoken gathers intent and meaning with every utterance by every being, every single time it's used.

Next time you say you 'hate' something or someone, think of the resonance behind the word, the power it has gathered down through the centuries, the concentrated intent behind every single letter. Think how poisonous and powerful it is.

Words have life; they have an ability to influence far beyond mere consonants and vowels. Once they are formed and spoken, they vibrate; they reverberate and take on a life of their own. Once said, you can't take them back - like a stone thrown into a lake, each ripple echoes out and touches everything else. On its reverse journey back to you, that ripple in the verbal lake might become a huge wave of words that sweeps you away.

So choose your words carefully and use them wisely. They have the power to impact upon everything around you.




Saturday, October 15, 2011

different strokes..

I always feel like cooking - especially baking. It's therapy for me. I love to see basic ingredients come together and turn into something entirely deliciously different. Eating and cooking gluten free has been a challenge for me and a huge learning curve - but I love it.

I made blueberry muffins a few days ago, and I tweaked my GF flour recipe and added some tapioca flour (it comes from the root of the cassava plant), it added a lightness and really helped the overall texture of the baked muffins. Proof positive? I baked my blueberry muffins and they were just about all gone that same afternoon!

When I first started out eating gluten free, most people had no idea what that term meant. I had to constantly explain what the word gluten meant and why I had to be free of it. Lately that's happening a lot less. Even being vegetarian and gluten free barely raises an eyebrow at most places - but I'd seriously like to see something other than a salad offered to me as a meal.. unless it's a roasted vegetable quinoa salad!

I think we've come a long way in accepting that people have, or choose to follow different diets, which I hope is a sign that people are becoming more open and tolerant. After all, how does it hurt anyone else if I don't eat wheat or animals? Why would anyone be affronted by that choice? If my partner chooses to eat beef, I don't feel personally insulted. Why should I? As long as she's an adult and she has a full understanding about her food and is knowledgeable about her dietary choices, then what she eats is up to her and is her own karma..

Now if I can just get people to see that same reasoning when it comes to legalising same-sex marriage, things would be perfect. I'd be a vegetarian-gluten-free-happily-married-same-sex attracted woman.

I think I'll try ordering that off the menu more often!







Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, bless me!

I got called "pushy" this week. I think of it as a kind of compliment in a way, because for so many years I'd not speak up.. or push, or ask what the hell was going on.. I'd just put up with another's unclear, rather muddy boundaries and hope things would improve.

They rarely ever did.

I looked up "pushy" in the dictionary and it says, 'excessively or unpleasantly self-assertive or ambitious.'

Hmm, I wasn't any of that. Maybe one person's persistent is another's pushy, depending on the circumstances? Or maybe people like assertiveness in themselves, but not in others?

But at least I know where I stand now.














Monday, October 10, 2011

No Capes

Feeling down, Sam? Lets play with Photo Booth on my iPad! I can do my "Syndrome" from "The Incredibles" impression for you...






















See? THAT made me smile. Now you know why I love Debra so much!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Gluten Free Banana Bread


Banana bread is yum. I’ve not had it in years because I’ve not seen a gluten free one in cafes. I decided to modify a recipe I’ve used for other things and see how it went with banana bread…
Basically I use my own SR flour recipe. That’s 1 cup brown rice flour combined with 1 cup of almond meal. To that I add 1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum (praise the deities for Xanthan gum!) 2 teaspoons of baking powder (GF, of course) and 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda.
I mashed up two expensive (curse Cyclone Yasi) and very ripe bananas and slurped in 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of sugar mixing them through. I also added a dash of Maple syrup (just because), 2 beaten eggs and just under a 1/3 of a cup of rice bran oil. 
I added the wet mix to the dry and tasted it, pronouncing it yummo! But for some reason I went a bit mad.. I decided to add some coconut milk powder that I had left over (I love this stuff:). It added a bit of creaminess but wasn’t too full-on with the coconut flavour. You could also add nuts (walnuts, pecans..whatever) if you wanted to at this stage..
I scooped the bananary mixture into a loaf tin and baked it at 170C for about 50 mins. I watched it though because sometimes the top can brown up fiercely because of the honey content.
So, here ‘tis.
(sorry ‘bout the fuzzy photo. I’m no food photographer, I just cook things.)



Monday, September 19, 2011

Pooh.

We have termites, or had termites. Our back deck was falling apart because those little suckers chewed their way through it. We found out the hard way - when the deck collapsed under foot (or in this case under palm tree removal)

We've gotten the whole lot pulled up and taken away.. but we had to replace it with something, because what was left behind was a stretch of boggy mud patch, (BTW I'm beginning to think that the whole block the house sits on is a boggy mud patch) peppered with beer bottles left over from some previous owner's party that we weren't invited to.

Not wanting to give another generation of termites a free meal, I vetoed more timber decking and called in a guy to do some extreme concrete paving for us. Now, after loads of de-construction and re-construction using tonnes of roadbase landfill, sand and concrete pavers, the former mud patch is looking pretty good and non-edible.

I've given out plenty of compliments ("oh, it's a work of art!") to our landscaper and his construction crew; which consists of two apprentices who look about 13 years old, but of course our paver saviour isn't going to agree to me paying him solely by way of flattery, and so we've had to dip into our savings yet again.

I'm really bummed about this because our 'savings' consists of our travel fund - the one we were going to use to go back to America and visit Deb's lot over there this year. And of course this would happen the first time in four years that Deb's ever told me she's homesick wants to visit her mother, who's not been doing very well.

Seriously sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of this giant cyclone. Around me I can see all these issues and problems spinning round and round.. and somehow I have to make sense of it all and fix things. I have no idea why I'm in the hub, standing right smack dab in the middle of the the eye of the cyclone and why I'm the designated fixer-upper, but there you go. I must've asked for it in the cosmic pre-reincarnation meeting.

Today is just one of those real bad rotten days where I'm sure that as soon as I show my face there's going to be audible boos and hisses from everyone because I've been cast as life's chief party-pooper and person in charge of bringing in a large dose of reality to life's situations. I guess that's why I always felt sorry for Rabbit in the Winnie the pooh stories. I sympathised with him having to be the one to say, "ahh guys, I know that we had all these travel plans but put down your suitcases because the Pooh-deck has just collapsed and it's going to need fixing..."

So I think I'll go and join Rabbit in his burrow in the boggy mud patch and find a dry beer bottle to suck on until I feel better..






Thursday, September 15, 2011

Migraines and other fun times.

So, I finally went for that CT scan. Yet more radiation. I swear I'm going to glow in the dark soon.. or that my head will, it's the place that's had all the X-Rays.

I often idly wonder how many X-Rays you can have before you start turning into a mouldering zombie look-a-like and what the warning signs of X-ray induced zombification might be. Maybe I'll wake up one morning and leave my top jaw and teeth behind on the pillow - now that would be a big clue, for sure.

But I digress.

The CT scan turned out normal. Which is a relief. I had wondered many times if all the stress on my old noggin' because of these headaches might've done some damage, but apparently everything in my brain is where it's supposed to be and the colour/size/shape it should be. Mind you CT scans can't diagnose migraine, they can only let the doctor know what you HAVEN'T got. So that means I don't have any aneurysms or growths or other nasties inside my head... thank goodness.

The headaches though, still continue unabated. The pain in my head is down to a dull roar right now and I've not gotten any work done on my Tarot "leaflet" (that's the codeword for my book) for a few days now because it's hard to concentrate when it feels like someone is sticking a screwdriver through the back of your eyeball and extracting it through the back of your head, temple, neck or jaw - Just pick a spot - they alternate to keep the fun times rolling!!

I also just learned why the pain medications I swallow don't work either. Apparently in some  people migraines shut down the sympathetic nervous system, which means my stomach stops digesting and the pain meds never get to where they can be used before the nausea caused by the migraine induced vertigo has them right back out again. Yay!! Go sympathetic nervous system!! You don't even notice it, until it stops working. Ugh.

For now I'll just keep on going and hope I wake up headache-free. That would be bliss. So would a good night's sleep, as people are starting to ask if I feel ok and they're commenting on how "tired" I look, which I know is code for, "you look like crap." At least next week Debra, my dear sweet hersband, has organised an aromatherapy massage at the Spa for me..  I may have chronic migraine right now, but I also have lots of love in my life - and I know that in the end love's going to win out and kick the shit out of the migraines - but very gently and armed with lavender oil.

Yes, I'm still an optimist. That's one thing that being sick has taught me, even if I have to wire my own zombified jaw back on with string.






































Friday, July 22, 2011

Winter

Rainy, cold, bleary, cloudy weather.  One of those days where the sky seems very leaden, grey and impossibly low. Driving along it was like buckets of water were being thrown over my windscreen. My wipers were pretty ineffectual against the combination of wind and water and the car's speed.. not that I was going very fast - I slow down when I can't see as I don't seem to have that magical radar other drivers have that allows them to still travel at light speed on wet slippery roads (although I do think this 'radar" might be more aligned with sheer recklessness than anything extrasensory)

I slow down in winter and I yawn a lot. I want to stay in bed and I feel like my world shrinks. I know that's just a response to the weather, the cold and the inevitable bouts of illness that winter brings but it makes me feel shut off from the flow and that makes me feel like I'm missing one of my senses.

Winter has it's good points - making warm food, reading books, staying in and talking more to my family and getting to know myself better - it just seems to drag on about a month too long. I miss the blue sky and the warmth and the openness of the warmer weather.

I suppose all this dreariness means I will appreciate and give thanks for the sun when I finally see it. When the Earth's axis finally tilts our way so that we have summer here, I will not complain when I sweat profusely and get sunburnt in 5 minutes flat. Promise. Ok, I promise I won't whine the first time it happens.

The rain's back now and I swear the drizzling sky is so low I could stand on tippy toes and touch it...

Monday, May 16, 2011

When I cut my finger open on that same damn tile in the bathroom doing the housework for the second time, what do I do?

Put a band-aid on of course!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I give up trying. I give up investing in an emotional black hole. I give up crying over spilt milk. I let go of wanting things that can't be. I refuse to continue to participate in my own invalidation.


I'm never, ever again going to sit through another bout of bigoted, hate-filled, racist, hypocritical, cringe-inducing talk and be belittled because I don't agree. They don't respect me and the incident before they left proves that to me without a doubt. 


If you have to bend yourself into a knot to try and handle things, surely that's not really a relationship at all, is it? It's more of a slow and steady decimation of your self worth.


I'm making this contract with myself today after our lunch with my parents. We are from two different planets - no, actually make that two different universes. I know that now with crystal clear clarity. There's no middle ground between us and this afternoon I finally realised that my poor soul is pretzel shaped from being the only one in this tortured triangle that was actually willing to try.

































Weird dreams...

another very weird dream last night about carpet samples that I took home and wore like peasant skirts (because I was too polite to say no to the sales lady) and extra fluffy carpet decorated with clouds and flowers that shed fluff so that your pets and kids could play with the shed off fur balls (what family fun!)…This is the day after I dreamt that I was looking after two gold fish that were swimming around in the bottom of a giant plastic chick feeder when a really nasty guy came along and scooped one out (my favourite of course) and threw it down, leaving it high and dry and flapping around on the pavement for me to rescue. Then my dad drove my car into a huge ditch on the side of the road that left us all stuck at least six feet under…
Issues anyone?
*sigh*

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slow Cooked Sweet Potato Soup



Sweet, zingy, hearty and filling. I started this up in the crock pot at 10am and it was ready by 6pm. It served all 5 of us piggies with seconds.

I peeled and diced into small pieces 1 large sweet potato, one half butternut pumpkin, one small carrot and two medium onions. I grated about four tablespoons of fresh ginger and chopped up four cloves of garlic. I then rinsed two cups of red lentils and picked out all the debris. I went through the spice rack and found the cumin seeds and the turmeric, salt and pepper.

I placed the sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot into the slow cooker with two cups (500ml) of vegetable stock (I use Campbell's, but you can make your own or use your fav brand) and set it to high. I then heated a good splash of vegetable oil in a frypan and added the onion, garlic, ginger and about half a teaspoon of cumin seeds and fried them gently over a low heat for a few minutes until the onions looked sweaty and the cumin and ginger smelled spicy, lastly I stirred through a tablespoon of turmeric before I added the fried onion mix to the crock pot with the vegetables.

Next I put in the rinsed red lentils and made sure they were all distributed evenly around the slow cooker, then put the lid on and went about my day. About 3 hours before serving (that would be about 3pm), I splashed in a bit of boiling water as all those lentils absorbing the stock had thickened up the soup up bit too much. Then gently with a fork I mashed up any remaining large bits of pumpkin, carrot and sweet potato. About an hour before serving I adjusted the seasonings by adding the salt and pepper to taste.

We served the soup up with crusty sourdough bread (gluten free for me) and Deb topped her soup with cheese (of course!)

Rated by the family: Most excellent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life’s Numbers



11. Justice. Adjustment, bringing things back into balance. Looking at your worlds and then yourself and bringing/taking enough into each to balance the scales. Respecting ethics, assuming responsibility. Understanding cause and effect (and here’s the hard part for me) accepting results, recognising karma and understanding how and why I choose all those sticky situations I get myself into. 
Justice is my birth card. The card of my life’s lessons this time around. Don’t even get me started on the fact that you can take Justice as number 11 and break it down even further to arrive at the 2. The High Priestess. What a combo! My perfect Tarot setup to drive me crazy if I need to make any decisions at all. Facts argue with my gut instincts. The outside clinical stuff battles with my inner feelings. Ethereal touchy feely “don’t ask me why I just know it” gets weighed on the scales against cold hard observation. Sometimes I think the only thing these two tarot women have in common for me is that they are both sitting down! Combined they perfectly represent my monthly battle with PMS - where one minute I’m serenely seated considering some spark of inner wisdom and the next I want to slice your head off and consider it perfect Justice done.
It’s no wonder I’m exhausted.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Migraines

I've suffered (and suffered is the correct term, believe me) from migraines for a very long time. I remember getting them from very early on in my teens. Back then, I labelled them my "sick headaches" to differentiate them from more normal pains in the head, because these "sick headaches" were so painful that I could do nothing more than crawl into bed, huddle into a foetal ball and cry in between bouts of vomiting.

To try and function was impossible. I had to darken the room because any chink of light hurt my eyes and made me feel nauseous. The smell of food made me gag and retch. Any sound was unbearable and the pain in my head was so agonising that I would sob. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that the pain would eventually end (thinking back, I note that was a very Buddhist attitude) and after the agony was gone, I'd be flooded with a sense of euphoria that lasted for hours.

One day on the train into work, I was reading a magazine and I stumbled upon an article that caught my eye. There was a picture of a woman (women migraine sufferers outnumber men 3 to 1) clutching the side of her head and a headline that mentioned something about Migraines. It was the first time I'd ever heard the word.

I read the article avidly and found myself identifying with what was being said. Could it be that I got Migraines? There was a checklist at the bottom of the page and I looked at the questions, ticking each box as I went down the list. At the end I had a perfect score. Go me. How typical.

But it explained a lot. The one sided headache, the funny visual disturbances, the way my words wouldn't come out right, the "Alice in Wonderland" feeling and the intense craving for chocolate I got before each migraine.

Each of those was a part of the prodrome and the aura stage of my migraines. These were the warning signs that my migraine was imminent. My poor body was wanting a fix of chocolate in a desperate attempt to get some caffeine into my system to constrict the dilated blood vessels in my head that were about to cause the pounding headache to come.

Even the word "headache" isn't the right term. Migraines are not headaches. They are a neurological disease, of which the headache is just a symptom. The big mistake people make is to assume that they only have the condition when they experience the headache, when in fact if you have migraine disorder, you have it ALL the time. It's misleading and incorrect to call it a migraine headache. When you experience the headache you are having a migraine episode or flare up, which is all a part of the recurrent neurological disorder.

It's been 25 years since I read that article and I'm still not migraine free. I've learnt a lot about my "sick headaches" in all that time. Due to imaging technology scientists have actually been able to see a migraineur's overly excitable neurons firing in waves across the brain, starting a cascade of events that even involve the brain stem as a migraine episode takes place.

I've learned that my only migraine trigger appears to be my hormones. Twice a month, regular as clockwork, ovulation and menstruation will set off the chain of events that cause my migraine flare-ups. Without preventers, my life is seriously crap and I spent at least two weeks out of each month in migraine-land. Which isn't fun at all.

The migraine preventers I've been on are pretty heavy duty too, and I'd love to live life without them, but I know from experience that would be as reckless as an epileptic living without medication to control their disorder. In the grip of the aura of a migraine I can hardly function as my poor brain goes into its "Alice in Wonderland" mode. I've even had Deb ask me if I'm having a stroke! I blurt out the wrong words, I can't understand what people are saying, my vision gets blurry...

And then the pain...

Believe me, I have experienced no pain greater than that of a migraine. I have given birth to four children, so I am qualified to say that. When I have a migraine flare-up, pain killers don't work. I've taken enough codeine to kill a largish elephant with absolutely no effect at all. The referred nerve pain from the episode gives me an earache, a toothache and an intense boring pain behind my eye.. and that's all separate to the throbbing pickaxe pain that's exploding in my temple. I have contemplated ending it all with suicide in those moments - but I was too damn sick from the vertigo caused by the room spinning to even sit up.

A migraine isn't like any headache a non-migraineur has ever experienced and the only way to overcome the, "it's just a headache, get over it" stigma out there is to educate people.

A migraine isn't a just a headache, it's a neurological disorder. So consider yourself educated and spread the word.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

the devil inside







"We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell." ~Oscar Wilde


I can think of no better quote to sum up the Tarot card called The Devil.  Along with The Tower and Death - The Devil is one of those cards that no one likes to see come up in a reading. 


When you look at the card, one thing you should be aware of is that the devil featured is far removed from the Pagan god he is based on. The christian devil is in fact a bastardised version of the Greek god Pan - who for many people has become the personification of the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle. Pan is also the god of fields, groves, wooded glens and sensual music  - but it's the fact that he's often depicted with, and also using, his quite sizable phallus that got him in so much trouble with the church later on. Pan, with his associated connotations of sexuality and free and easy  ways has earned him a new name in christian folklore and he's suffered quite the damaged image because of that.


So what does it mean when The Devil turns up in a reading? Of course, more than a little depends on just where this major arcana card lies in the Tarot spread and the other cards surrounding it, but there is also a universal meaning behind the Devil as well.


The people depicted in the card look like naked slaves chained to the Devil's throne by some stout looking hardware - strangely however, they don't resist; they aren't in motion, nor are they trying to free themselves. The devil behind them squats, looking out pretty ferociously; the inverted pentacle over his third eye speaking loudly of the triumph of the base animalistic self over our spiritual self. The chained couple even have animal tails, which is symbolic of them having followed their baser instincts. We can also see the card as a perverted progression onwards from The Lovers card; after having fallen from Eden, the man and the woman now find themselves chained to the altar of addictive destruction, the benevolent angel behind them now replaced by the winged devil.


The situation looks restrictive and hopelessly black and dark - until we take a closer look....


Take another peek at those heavy chains. Can you see how loose they actually are around the couples' necks? They could both lift those chains off with not too much effort at all and be free of them if they wanted to - and really, that's what this card is all about. 


The couple have created their own hell and their own confinement. They stay chained to their beast out of a lack of self empowerment.  When I see this card I ask myself, why have they chained themselves up? How has everything gotten so grim and why are they just standing there? 


The Devil crouched over them is ultimately a bogey man of their own making. When you think about it, no one else but ourselves could pinpoint our personal weaknesses and home in on our own vulnerabilities and temptations better than we can ourselves. We are our very own Devil and our personal inner Devil's face is mirrored in our addictions, our inactions, the way we treat others and the choices we make in life. 


I firmly believe that all of us, no matter what our path, will come to a point in life where we will have to decide if want to keep wearing our own personal chains of self flagellation around our necks. If we choose to remove them, then we will have to risk meeting the Devil inside and face what exactly it is that chains us to our self imposed hell. To lift off those restrictions and free ourselves, we need to ask some very pertinent questions about our false illusions, frustrations, blockages and losses. Most importantly, we need look our fears in the face and ask how we'll cope when we finally give up the temptations, addictions and obsessions that keep us chained.


The Devil is the only card in the tarot with a completely black background, and I'm sure that's to illustrate the fact that the darkest times of our soul always occur before we finally see the light.  I feel The Devil card speaks of the potential of restrictions finally being recognised and acknowledged before the powerful cleansing changes of the next card in the tarot, The Tower, can take place. 


But as always - it's our free will that decides where we end up. The Devil is not necessarily a card of hopelessness - it's more like a promise reminding us that what's broken inside us always has the potential to be mended.



























Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Chinese New Year isn't strictly speaking a Buddhist holiday, but it does give Buddhists the opportunity to do a bit of navel gazing and meditating.

The Buddhist slant to the Chinese New Year gives Buddhists a chance to thank Buddha for looking after us last year. When I say that, I don't mean that Buddha is actually watching over people from some lofty heavenly perch, I simply mean that we can be thankful for the fact that Buddha left us guidelines to help us learn from the potential that comes from inside of us, even though that potential is covered up by layers of desire, aggression and plain old ignorance.

With Buddhism, dealing with what is happening in the here and now, and how we face the world is a far more useful tool as a guide for living than anything else. It's talking the talk, walking the walk, and actually living the belief. And what that belief comes down to, in its purest form, is our own self growth and self improvement by practicing loving and compassionate ways.

To me Buddhism is a way of inner enlightenment, without being side tracked by outside deity worship. One of Gautama Buddha's messages was that we cannot look outside of ourselves for our answers. Even his own teachings, in my opinion, were to be taken as a road map for others on the path, not some divine bible.. and those that pray to him as an actual deity have lost the message entirely.

It's up to each and every one of us to change and evolve and become aware of the Buddha within.

When when learn about the Buddha's teachings we learn about the very nature of ourselves. Our life drama becomes our personal dharma, so to speak. Chinese new year is a time to meditate on our truths and the way things are in our world. It's a time to wonder how much of our true potential is covered up by how we negotiate the world. We can ask, how much energy do I put into anger and aggression? How many mistakes do I made due to ignorance? How can I practice compassion in situations where it's most hardest for me to do so?

One thing I do know is that it takes a long time to peel back the layers to find the innate refuge within, but as Robert Browning put it, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

In my heaven, I am free to feel, to think and to express. That way I learn to listen to the divine within myself and put my faith in the things that really count.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gluten Free Caramel Cake (or hallelujah my oven is fixed at last!)

I got my oven fixed today - hallelujah! I never thought I could mourn so deeply over an appliance, but goodness I missed my oven. The repairman showed me the damaged part he replaced for me and shook his head at how it had just melted right at the fuse; taking out the whole selector with it. I blame the electrical surge/brownout we had on Boxing Day that took out our whole neighbourhood power supply.



After a month of not being able to bake at all I was getting very twitchy and so as soon as I could after the repairman had left and I'd picked up the kids from school (yes, I do get my priorities right!) I baked a cake - A blissful heavy, gooey caramel cake. *blessed orgasmic sigh*

Here's how I released my tension:

I combined 2 cups of Almond meal with 1 cup of Gluten Free SR flour and 1 cup of lightly packed brown sugar. To that I added 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/3 cup of honey. I then stirred them together into a thick goo.

I melted 150g of butter in the microwave and added that to the cake batter, stirring it in with a wooden spoon until everything was just nice and combined.

I poured the mix into a small spring-form cake tin that I greased liberally with butter and baked the cake on the centre shelf of my now wonderfully working fan-forced oven at 160C for about 35 mins.

I made sure to turn the cake tin every 10 minutes or so, just to stop the cake browning too fast and risk it burning..

After it cooled, I released the cake from its spring-form pan confinement and then dusted the top with pure icing sugar..

...and here it is in all its perfectly baked glory.



the only thing to add now is a dollop or two of double thick cream...

Oh yeah, I feel better now.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

why I'm a bad mother

Living with Deb has taught me many things, one of which is how to imitate a killer American accent. Even my kids are impressed when I use it..which led to a conversation about how they too could learn to speak American.

I told them that the main problem is that as Australians we seem to have very lazy pronunciation. We don't sound our letters very well.. so a word like - water - becomes "war-ta". If you want to do a good generic American accent you need to sound out every single letter.

I told my 19 year old son to start off with an easy word, such as blacker - then move on to try such words as harder, wider, faster, longer.. so he could get the "r" sound right..

As he was repeating those words, it struck me that what I had him saying sounded like the script from a very bad 70's porn movie and what's worse, as soon as the thought had entered my head, the words bypassed my mind's safety switch and went straight out of my mouth.

*blush*

Luckily he has a great (or is it warped?) sense of humour and started to laugh - but I think I'm definitely in line for the bad mother of the year award and 2011 has barely even started...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Pie

I wanted to try and make an American style Chocolate Cream Pie and as it's Australia Day today, making an American style dessert after our BBQ at lunch seemed like just the right fusion of Aussie and Texan.

To start with, I made my usual crumb base from GF biscuits, but to enhance it and give it a more chocolatey touch, I decided to add a tablespoon of cocoa to the crushed crumbs before I added the melted butter. I then made a gloriously rich chocolate custard pie filling and topped the whole thing with my version of Chantilly cream.

As we here all own a full set of sweet teeth, the pie went down a treat. "Chocolate Pie? This is more like Billionaire's Pie," was actually what Deb said between bites.



Here's how I did it.

I got one packet of Freedom's Coconut Crunch Biscuits which I crushed with a pestle in a nice big bowl. I added one tablespoon of cocoa and then poured over 1/4 cup of melted butter.

I mixed the crumbs with the butter until they were well saturated and then pressed them into a 30cm pie tin. I personally use a non-stick pie flan with a push up bottom to make getting the pie out easier, but you could just as easily use a spring-form pan.

I chilled the pie crust in the fridge whilst I made the chocolate custard filling.

To make the filling I mixed 1/2 cup of corn flour (make sure it's CORN flour not "wheaten" corn flour) with 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cocoa in a saucepan. I slowly added 3 cups of low fat milk and a slurp of sweetened condensed milk (I'd say that slurp was about 1/4 cup worth).

Using a whisk, I mixed and mixed until the milk and corn flour mixture was smooth with no lumps. (using real corn flour helps enormously here). Still whisking like mad, I heated the custard mix over a low heat.

In between stirring I broke up a 200g block of Cadbury dark cooking chocolate and buzzed it in a microwave safe container until it was melted. I'd stop to check it every 20 seconds or so and give it a good stir it as I went along.

When the custard started to get nice and warm, I poured in the melted dark chocolate and whisked it altogether. Don't panic if it separates a bit because as the custard warms the chocolate will melt right into it - just keep stirring. When the custard starts to boil, it will thicken up considerably and quickly - keep mixing until the custard boils briefly, then remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl I whisked up 3 egg yolks with a fork and then I poured half of the hot chocolate custard into the eggs, remembering to keep mixing like mad. When it was all combined, I poured the egg mixture back into the rest of the chocolate custard mix that was left in the saucepan and stirred it over a low heat for about a minute, after adding a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Pour and scrape the chocolate filling over the pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours until cold and set.



To make the Chantilly cream topping, whip 600ml of thickened cream with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar. Top the cold pie with the whipped Chantilly cream and sprinkle with some cocoa or better still - chocolate shavings.

The pie serves at least 10 people with one decadent slice each.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

excuse me, your flag is showing..

Deb and I were driving home the other day when we passed a car that was literally covered with the Australian flag. They had somehow managed to run the flag down from under the rear window, over the boot and down to freely fly over the bumper bar. They'd cut out a nice rectangle sized hole to pop the licence plate through and there was a white Southern Cross decal over the back window. Over each door flew a little Aussie flag, four in all.. making it, without a doubt, the most patriotic car I've seen so far as the Australia Day holiday approaches.

The only trouble is, that that kind of patriotism makes me get a little buzz of something akin to fear in the pit of my stomach.

Whenever I see our flag plastered over a car or a house, or indeed a person's body I get kind of wary about the sort of person I'm interacting with.  Do they fly the flag out of the love of our diversity as a country, or a deep fear of that very same thing? I often wonder about the whole "Australia - Love it or leave it!" sentiment. That worries me too. I think one of the things that makes a better country is the right to be able to criticise it and even to dislike certain facets of it. That ensures you don't blindly exist in a cultural vacuum and can see where things need to be improved or changed.

I guess I'm leery because I'm not quite sure when the flag fliers' national pride crosses the line and becomes something for me to personally fear.  Do they recognise my right to be who and what I am, or will they angrily pigeonhole everything that they don't agree with as being un-Australian? As an out lesbian, does my gayness offend them to the brink of violence? Would they sit and they scoff at my vegetarian tofu skewers sizzling on their BBQ? Would they run my Buddhist arse down with that flag bedecked car if they had the chance? Does that Southern Cross tattooed on their shoulder speak of a universal cosmic kind of tolerance, or a fear that the country's going to be overtaken by dykes and fags and Greens supporters?

This Australia Day as we fire up our own BBQ under the rainbow pride flag bought as a souvenir from Mardi Gras, I find I want more than to be just tolerated as a minority around here; I want us to be accepted totally for the unique and diverse slice of Australian life that we are.

So in our neighbourhood, the rainbow flag will proudly be flying - even if it's against the wind.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our pond Lotus



"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
      ~Oscar Wilde.


The first lotus bloom of Summer has opened and it's just so gorgeous that I had to take a picture and post it. It's sights like this that make me forget the troubles I've had lately and I can see that out of the mud, with seemingly no effort at all, something beautiful has bloomed - I might take that for an allegory on life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

one of my little foibles..



Oh gosh I love airplanes.. I get excited by the takeoff rumble of the triple tailed four engined Lockheed Super Constellation -
**"Connie" was found in Arizona and was rescued by HARS engineers and lovingly restored to her "Queen of the skies" glory over four years and is now hangered at our local regional airport.** 

I'm dazzled by the sleek silver of a Lockheed Electra (Amelia Earhart owned an E10)




and the curve of a beautiful gull winged F4U Corsair.

and oh god, the roar of a PBY Catalina (also a local and restored by HARS)



I'm hooked and so totally retro, it hurts.








Monday, January 17, 2011

gardening and other forms of therapy..

I've had some hostility thrown at me lately, but in keeping with Gautama Buddha's example, I realised that the person throwing the not-so-nice attitude at me has their own personality problems to work out and they were perpetuating their own suffering by tying their worth to the situation.

How I reacted to what was thrown at me was entirely my own karma.. so I chose to disengage, be silent and let the facts speak for themselves.


When I have problems and issues that need sorting, I get out in the garden. I'm lucky I live in a place where you can garden all year; no snow here.. no frost either.. I let my agro out on the weeds I as pulled them and I got my hands in the soil and did some planting, which is the best recipe for grounding yourself that I know of - bringing new life into the garden and letting go of what has gone to seed.

Friendships can be like that too. Starting as seeds, growing with care and blossoming with mutual respect and appreciation. A good friend can bring out your beauty, a bad one will cause you to wither inside.

..So I let go of what has gone to seed. I wish this person no ill and I hope that they finally "get" why they're in the position they are in.


This is a picture of the lotus in our fish pond, last year there was only one blossom, this year there will be two.


Buddha sits serenely on the deck; a good example for me to follow. Siddhārtha Gautama once said, "I don't accept your ugly words, your dirty words - If I don't accept them, what can you do? All this garbage you have come with? You will have to take it back to your wives, to your children, to your neighbours. You will have to distribute it because I refuse to take it. You cannot make me angry unless I accept your humiliation, your insult." He went on further, "Ten years ago I was not conscious; if someone had insulted me he would have lost his life. I had no idea that insulting me was his problem and that I have nothing to do with it. I can simply listen and then go on my way."


My nan's prized cycad is doing well in its new location. It must be upwards of 70 years old and still going strong. I call it my dinosaur plant!

















Saturday, January 15, 2011

I got the reading in me



I got a KINDLE!

Sorry, yes I shouted that.

I have to admit I was all anti e-readers not that long ago. You might have called me a book snob. I'd be the one sitting scoffing at those people with their slim little readers. I proudly carried my books around with me in a small sack wherever I went; I was addicted to the rustle of a turned page, the smell of ink, the smooth caress of the dust jacket. I said loud and often - you'd have to buy A LOT of books to make that e-reader worthwhile

and then my beloved bought me a Kindle for Christmas...

Oh wow. Let me say I'm impressed. Yes it's different and nope it's definitely not the same, but by goodness it's wonderful! Debra even bought me a cute little red leather case to keep it in.

The e-ink is smooth and easy to read.. the whole screen setup looks just like, dare I say it, a printed page. There's these little buttons on both sides of the Kindle that lets you 'flip' your page over and a keyboard down the bottom for browsing the internets and doing searches and such. It also connects to facebook and twitter so you can send quotes and favourite chapter passages to those social networks.. Ahh wow, yet another way to bore my friends!

I have a few quibbles such as the thing is set up for the right handers amongst us, but then so is just about every appliance out there *sigh* The Kindle also has teeny weeny buttons that would be hard to use if your fingers are large or if you have a touch of arthritis (as I do)

But the pros very much out-weight the cons. Mine is the Kindle 3 with 3G and wifi.  Inside it has it's own SIM card with whispernet. Basically Amazon is coughing up for the cost of the network so the downloads don't cost you a cent. All you pay for is the e-books. The Kindle downloads books anywhere in the blink of an eye, which can be a bad thing if you're like me and tend to buy things on impulse. I'm going to have to watch the book budget tightly. The e-books are cheaper, but I'm buying more of them, so that tends to cancel that bonus out

But oh goodness to feel the wonder inspired by the potential of having over 3,500 books at your fingertips...

The kindle can also play your MP3s whilst you read too. There is a store for newspapers and magazines (sadly none of them local) and you can download samples of any book you like the look of for free.

pretty whizz bang, huh?

The one thing I am really happy about is the fact that since I've been reading on my Kindle my thumb isn't playing up. I have pretty bad arthritis in the base of my right thumb and holding a book open used to give me some intense aching pain after about 10 minutes or so; with the Kindle I've not had that trouble at all. I think because it's so light and thin and it's just naturally held at a different angle.

It's absolutely the best present I've been given in ages.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"tea's up!"



When I was small I was fascinated by my nan's tea ceremony. It wasn't strict and formal like the Japanese kind - it was far more familiar and comforting to watch her brew her cuppa.

First she'd boil water in the kettle and get her old dented metal teapot with the hinged lid out. Then she'd pour a little boiling water into the pot to "warm" it, swirling it around and then pouring it out. Into the pot would go the tea leaves that were stored like a treasured resource in an air-tight avocado green canister (this was the 70's, after all). There was a formula to the tea leaves too; one heaped teaspoon for each person who was going to partake and then one extra - for the pot.

In would go the boiling water and on would go the tea cosy which kept the pot warm whilst the tea was brewing away inside. My nan used to crochet her own tea cosies with left over knitting wool. I thought they looked just like Joseph's amazing technicolour dream coat; only in miniature and with a decorative pom pom on the top!

Knitting or crochetting a tea cosy is quite the art form. You have to remember to leave a slit on either side of it to allow the pot's spout and handle to poke through, whilst the rest of it covers the pot and keeps the tea hot while its steeping.

The brew would sit and steep for at least five minutes and then out of the top drawer would come the strainer to sit beside the teapot on the tea tray, while nan got the teacups out. She'd die all over again if she saw me using a coffee cup to drink tea out of, as I occasionally do today and I understand why. A teacup holds the perfectly proportioned amount of tea and milk, a coffee cup always knocks those proportions way out and your tea ends up watery and sad. There's nothing like a proper teacup if you want a real cup of tea.

Nan's tea tray was always stocked with sugar in a china sugar bowl, complete with its own spoon and a small milk jug that Nan would freshly fill for every tea break. The tray always sat on the kitchen bench and was covered with a tea towel to stop the flies getting into the sugar.

Once everything was ready she'd pick up the tray and take it to the table. Arnott's Milk Arrowroot biscuits would be put on a plate and a small amount of milk would be dashed into each cup. She'd then hook the strainer over the teacup and pour out the the blessed brew. Her friends would kick their shoes off under the table and relax - it was only after that the most important part of the tea ceremony would begin - the conversation; which was the whole reason for taking a tea break in the first place. Local gossip, neighbour's news, scandal and rumour, world events and politics - they were all dissected and commented on in between noisy slurps of tea.

To this day, I've still never tasted tea that good - or heard gossip that juicy.

Afterwards, my cousin, my sister and I would fight over who would get to, "water the lemon tree" which meant taking the tea leaf dregs, still in the pot out to the garden; filling the pot with water from the tap and pouring the whole lot over the lemon tree's roots. Nan assured us the used tea leaves helped the tree grow and sure enough it seemed that way to us. Because of the tea leaf dreg fertiliser we poured so carefully over those roots of that tree every single day of our Summer holiday, huge yellow lemons would spring forth.

I guess armed with a dented teapot, Nan taught us recycling and a love of nuturing all at the same time - well, that plus the lesson that little pitchers have very big ears.. something I remembered when I had my own children and went to get the teapot out to have an excuse to gossip.

I miss my Nan and her tea ceremony.. I never realised back then how precious those moments would be, or I would've savoured every single one. Nan's been gone many years now, but she's left a keen legacy behind. I know how to brew an exceedingly good cup of tea from scratch and it's only my tea cosy crochetting skills that ever let me down.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"it's complicated"

I wish that real life came with one of those relationship selector things that I see on facebook and myspace. You know the one where you can select your current significant relationship status? Single, married, looking? Just select one word and everyone knows how the land lies. Only it's not my partner I'd use it for.  It would be for my relationship with my parents, and most of the time it would be set to - "it's complicated."

You see they are a weird two. Weirder even than me. At times I have seriously doubted my parentage - I remember being a child and hearing about storks delivering babies and pumpkin patches where grown-ups just picked up babies from under leaves and I often wondered why my parents picked me and if they knew they'd make a huge mistake as soon as they unwrapped the blanket. Surely I was somebody else's?    Why didn't they just put me back?

It was mum's birthday yesterday. It was impossible to buy her anything. She's so fussy and has "allergies" which include just about all food (this is code for she has an eating disorder), anything with perfume in it, anything that you can put in a bath (in fact anything that touches her skin at all). I did think about gifting her a relaxation day at the local spa but ruled that out straight away (see "allergies"). There is NOTHING you can buy her.  In the end we gave her a Myers gift card, in the hopes that she might be able to find something, anything for herself. I scoured the birthday card section for what I call a no-nonsense type card. One that just says "To Mum, Happy Birthday," and just states the facts. That is my one tell it as it is protest.

Last week my dad had heart issues that put him in hospital, and could have killed him. My mother refuses to drive their car, not because she can't, she's had her license a long time - but because she won't. She didn't visit him after his life-saving surgery because she was "too tired" after catching the bus in to visit him at lunch time. She asked me to give him her best and assured me the nurse would ring her if he died.

Umm, ok.

Debra was sort of puzzled by mum's rejection of our offer to drive her in there and back (about a 40 minute round trip, no sweat) to see him after he came back down from the surgical ward after having his pacemaker put in. Apparently, "I'm too tired" didn't quite cut the mustard with Debra and she was shocked. For me it was a case of, 'that's how they've always been.'

I guess 'not actively caring' is their default setting and I'm just used to it.

My father's brush with death contrition lasted all of one night before he was back to his grumpy self and complaining about everything - from the hospital food to the other patients. I mean dad, they're in Cardiac Intensive Care - maybe they're actually dying of heart failure and not just trying to spoil your good night's sleep by coughing too much.

I guess using an "it's complicated" parental status would actually be code for, "you drive me up the wall and I want to throttle some sense into you both."

I really don't see how two people who live their lives in a world the size of a postage stamp think they can give sage advice to me, but they do it all the time. And if I disagree, then I'm at fault. It's as black and white as that. They don't respect the fact that I live outside their tidy hedge trimmed world, indeed I think it threatens them enormously. They can't understand how they raised me to be a lesbian, but after seeing their marriage I'm surprised they ever thought I'd be heterosexual!

Parenting to me, is supposed to be about giving the gift of life to another unique human being. Parental love should be given often and freely and without obligation. When you pile on obligation you starve love. It's that simple.

My advice to them? Life is short; far too short to spend it complaining about how hot/cold it is and how nobody else knows how to drive and "when I was younger people had more respect." For god's sake you're only 65! that's NOT old. Repeat after me THAT IS NOT OLD.

I guess they missed the whole hippie counter-culture thing whilst they had their head down in a bucket of soapy water while they were washing their car and trimming their hedge.

Primal Scream - Loaded


"The band were first introduced to the acid house scene by McGee in 1988. They were at first skeptical; Gillespie said: "I always remember being quite fascinated by it but not quite getting it." The band did, however, quickly develop a taste for it and began attending raves..."


I love to put on the headphones (earphones just don't do it for me) and listen to "Loaded" from the album Screamadelica..



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dorky? I think so...

video

What do you do when you find out that photo booth has added a movie option? You let everyone know just how dorky you are! Sorry 'bout the volume issues..  video


Oh no, another one!

Somebody stop us! 
I promise there won't be any more.

video


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rumi




Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you've broken your vow
a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come.

-Rumi