Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eerie skies, Kangaroo salad and Re-wilding. Sydney in Bushfire

The bushfire-dragon appeared on the edge of Sydney today.
He hunched up and dug his claws firmly into the mountains. He peered at us from red eyes,  and darkened this sparkling city with hot sooty wind.

I get though my work, an the sunlight slants low into my back garden, thin and orange and eerie.
I have a moment of remembering the Fern Hill house of my childhood, a big love, lost in fire.
I just hope everyone will be okay today.
I live my day, I go out attend one last meeting.

The meeting is finishing, and I'm falling into that dim, seductive half-world of sleep.
Its more powerful than me.
I scan the big room for a likely napping spot,  a desk in the corner under which I could disappear for a few minutes.
But my Japanese self holds a discussion with my Wild self, and we decide 'Gambarimasu!', to go find a proper bed, and not risk frightening the staff with a woman on the floor. 

The snarl of rush hour is closing in, driving home to the Vaucluse House is certain defeat. I turn around, return to Annandale.
Two houses. For the first time, I get to experience a flash of joy about this.

Natalia will be there, all dimples and luxuriously long Russian syllables.
In a few minutes she will get hungry, open the fridge, and stare bewildered at the Kangaroo steak she has just bought.  An edible souvenir of her new country.
She will then put it in a frypan, turn it up to full dragon power. Turn it into hobnail boots. Because...well, she's the kind of girl who needs a wife, and the cooking of something as lean as kangaroo is a delicate matter.

As I drive I recall the recipe for Vietnamese Kangaroo salad. My newly-planted shady garden will be of no help tonight.
In this suburban street I'm driving down, under a red sun on an eerie day, I make a wish for corriander, lime and mint, and a miracle.

A little shop appears.

The Magical Milk Bar
Its a milk bar, with a once-handsome European guy behind the counter, scented in his most seductive cologne.  I ask him if there is any chance he has what I want. 
He says 'Yes'.  
I was wrong. I notice he IS handsome. 
From amongst the lollies and chips, he produces a bunch of corriander and some limes, and hollers a request to his grandma out the back. She ambles out to a garden patch, and comes back in a cloud of mint fragrance, with the perkiest bunch of soft green mint you can buy.   

Its scent fills the car, as I drive though smokey air. 

Unexpected Visitors
Back home I hear voices. 
Kim must be here still. 
What happened to the Re-wilding camp?

Well, the campsite is um... on fire. 
So I have the excellent Kim Hill for one more night, plus her re-wilding mates, who have just flown in from Melbourne.

Michelle's skills include tanning deerhide, the wild way. 

The wild way is, using, um,  another part of the animal to soften it. 
Ask Michelle, not me. I don't want to think about it. 
So maybe my wildness is only in the relm of sleeping under desks in offices.

The skin is velvety-soft, and wonderful to be wrapped up in.

Michelle is resourceful, and decides that a re-wilding camp can be held wherever you find yourself in life.    
She discovers I have a Yukka tree,  harvests some leaves, and shows us how to make twisty strong string. 
I could use that for tying back my hair. Or keeping the chicken-coop latched.

Since I have a kitchen full of capable people, and its still nap-time, I give instructions for Kangaroo salad, make the sauce, and retire till dinnertime. 

Vietnamese Kangaroo Salad Recipie

Tear mint, coriander and kale of their stems and into bits. 
Soften kale and coriander stems in hot water 
Cook Kangaroo hard and fast, just a minute on each side. 
Wrap in foil to rest. This slow-heats the center to a pink softness.   A luxurious mink-coat of foil. But to be wild and low tech, we grabbed leaves from the banana tree instead, for wrapping.
Fry raw almonds in butter till fragrant.  Sprinkle on last to preserve crunch. 
Blend fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, chilli and finely-chopped onion and garlic.  
Slice roo Sashimi-style, reducing any juices into gravy.  
Mingle everything wildly.  
Eat with delight 

Just an hour's drive away, people's homes are being turned into memories of home.
Fires brought these people into my evening, and me into theirs.
Like the opposite of collateral damage.
Collateral blessing.

For my next micro-disaster, I must remember to capture the collateral blessings, before they fade away unnoticed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday morning in beautiful Vaucluse, and I'm in Deep ****

Oh no! Its Sunday morning. 
I bound out of bed to do what an urban Permie has to do, and find....

My powerful  WWOOF workers bedroom is abandoned. 
As abandoned as a Japanese bubble-era theme park.
The steady glow of fairylights illuminating the desolate empty bed.

He got sunburnt on Bondi Beach yesterday, and that was the last I saw of him.
He worked like a Machine getting all that freebie sandstone for me on Friday, I thought straw would be a breeze for him.

Well, this epic dungheap of stable straw is a dearly-valued blessing. But if I don't get it off this public nature strip in the next few hours, my neighbors are going to call the police. 

Except the people who dumped this stuff are the police. 
Straight from the stables of the mounted unit. 

My fruit trees sit tight, in pots on sand, waiting.

My worms sit tight in the world's most glamourous wormfarm, waiting

The flowers brought by beautiful Ksenia Russian guest last night sit blinking in the new day, wondering whats in store for them.

And me?  
What is the absolute best next action I can do now?
Its not sit and wait. Its not have my little fairy self try to make a dent in it with my pitchfork. 
The solution to most problems is More People.

I will find my phone, search for phone numbers, and call likely suspects in east Sydney to come over for shovel and brunch. 

If you are a likely suspect and I don't call, its because I don't have your number. 
Send it too me for my next Cecilia Emergency, and put me on the list for yours. 

Because you don't get Awsome without a bit of Awful along the way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The police just called about my Permaculture Garden

The mounted police.

"We will be around on Saturday" announces the lady I had called a few weeks before.
 No horses though. The plan is a truck with a pile of horse-stable straw to tip gracefully all over my garden.

Horse Straw Painting by Ford Ruthling

How much straw? I can't count, so 'Three tons or so' doesn't mean much to me.

Using flour to estimate how much soil I l'd need for Asaba Garden, 2010. 

"Are there any low-hanging power lines we will need to consider?" asked the police lady

Mmm, thats going to be a lot of straw.

Hopefully I will have mates to help spread it.
Am I scared? Yes.
What if flies come? What if it doesn't compost? What if....
Just do it.
The problem will eventually get solved or go away, and what will remain is delicious soil.

The soil on the cliff-top peninsula of Vaucluse  pours though your hand like sand.  When I drizzle water over it, it rolls around as if I've wet talcum powder.
Underneath its all dry. No wonder. There is almost no biomass to absorb it. Its all micro-mineral, so little micro-animal or micro-vegetable here.
Worms, Im coming!
You will soon have full empoyment, plenty to eat, and can start planing a family.
Worms?  Where are you?

And its not just the soil that makes life difficult for my plants. Gusts of wind appear capriciously,  and buffet things terribly.

If Im going to plant a happy flourishing food forest, its going to need all the deliciousness it can get.

Inspector Paul Boundy does good soil

Who is this cute guy? Its the very clever Mr Paul Boundy, come to inspect the soil. 
To let me know what I'd know what I had to work with, he came around and did an analysis.

Ph Neutral, to slightly acid. No need to add lime to adjust. 

The ribbon and ball test: it doesn't totally disintegrate. 

Something between loamy Sand and Clayey sand

So what do we do?
Biomass. Losts of once-living stuff, with creatures to break it down.  I was lacking mates in the mounted police when I took these photos, but I had other friends: an endless source of the Salvinia Molestus growing in the backyard pond. Doubling in a sunny day. 

This will dry out pretty and frilly. Will it rot in? 

Paul Boundy getting things right.=

Paul helps pot up my fruit trees, purchased bare-rooted in the winter.
This way, we can see if they can cope with the wind, and move them around till we make them happy. 
A happy plant is a delicious plant. 
Just like a happy person.

Paul, you make me happy.

Invitation: If you are a culture-creating Sydney person, and want to participate in transforming this house, I would love to hear from you.

Must be awesome.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Perpetual Motion love-machine called WWOOFing: Coming to you soon

Its moving in week, getting my furniture into homes, in Annandale and Vaucluse.
Whats better than finally having a home to preen and fluff up?
Having WWOOFers: Willing Workers on the Organic Farm.
The farm that is coming into existence on my Sydney balcony and backyard. And front yard. And neighbors yard, if I get really skilful.

But for now there is just powdery Sydney sand and flowers, so here we are getting our vegetable supplies at the Bondi farmer's market:

Anya, yoga teacher from Tahiti, with Cecilia Macaulay

Nicholas, Eco-Architect from Tahiti, with Cecilia Macaulay

Bouganvilla and Adam, acupuncture point fertility god

Nicholas pruned the Bouganvilla, to make a sunny spot for the new vegetable garden. 
I did the ikebana. 
Anya augmented the flowers with a doll that took her fancy. "Adam", she said.

Saving up for a new compost bin.
 Its only 24 hours since we shopped. Generative!

These tahitan WWOOFers are resourceful. Nick doesn't want to pay $500 to get his car fixed, so he watches a you-tube video on how to do it himself. 
Then he does it, carefully, for almost no money.

Then they create that kind of value in the house, looking all happy and radiant a lot of of the time as they repair, re-arrange, and revitalise things. 

More than anything, WWOOFing will save the world.

It can become a kind of perpetual-motion love machine, where travelers and hosts start competing to surprise and delight each other on a grander scale daily. 
We just get so grateful for what we bring to each others house and life.

I will do a show and tell, seven days of wwoofing, just so you can see what they get up to. 
You might get ideas. 
Let me tell you now: Just jump in, and become a host or traveler. 
Then so much in life becomes suddenly possible.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My city made me. Surprise visit to Melbourne Part 1: Collingwood City Farm

I thought I was a self-made woman.
In this flash-visit to Melbourne the other day, I go and visit my two most-loved places, and discover that  they look exactly like me. 
All those obsessive visits were a re-set of my creative DNA.  I'm just a walking, japanese-speaking version of these muddy, lovely lively places. 
The Leunig meme got me.

Here is the first: Collingwood Children's farm. 
Look at my Permaculture work. Then look at this place.  
You can see the design principles I took on, and how they got into everything I do. 

The quality of the floor determines the quality of what's above. 
Really. Try having a good life on a lifeless neglected floor. You don't often see it.

Make families. Adapt to each other. Listen to each other. That creates beauty.
Look how everything waves. 
It looks like love.
This must be where I got all those ideas. I had forgotten.

What we need doesn't always feel natural. 
Why the aggi pipe? Its a mystery.

Reduce useless diversity: the map is beautiful because color is restricted.
Freehand forgives and includes, avoid ruled lines.

A ray of sunshine, at the dappled gate. Humble materials looking glorious.

To make beauty, make families. 

Cow Symphony. It includes the usuals: pailing fence, low sunshine, blossom, and washing on the line. 

The bustle and hustle of life in the big city. Kids, goats or pigs?

Whats special here? 
The logs for the seats are radially sawn. Nothing wasted of the tree. 
Look, they cut it like a pizza, into wedges. Ive never seen this before

Use subtraction, use natural materials. Plan to get more beautiful with time.

You can be low-cost, practical and beautiful, but you have to design it carefully. 
I'm not against the use of polystyrene, I just object to giving up too easily, and putting up with visuals you never actually chose  

Wedge Wood. Amazing!

Good dog. Quiet too. 




An Italian lady peeled the stalk of something she grew at her plot, and gave it to us to munch on. 
How you say in English? We don't know, but its peppery.

The 19th Century French convent behind the farm got saved. 
Its sister, the Good Shepard Convent beside Chadstone Shopping Center did not, which maybe is what started all this love, the trajectory of my life.
I went to school there, it was a paradise, a disneyland of beauty. 
It got pulled down and turned into a parking lot. 

Meet Richard, my manager. 
He is my decision-making Guru, and the owner of the Harborside Vauculuse household I'm creating. 
Who would have thought: there is a process to decisions. 
Nobody taught me that before. 
Which may be why my life has carried on for all these years with no decisions on my part.

The reason for this 24 hour trip to Melbourne? 
To get my furniture out of storage, after all these years. 
My new life begins. Again.