Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gorgeous WWOOFer turns up, poor scorched ferns are retired

Tim the Tall. He is a WWOOFer I declined, as I already had a full house of guests. I asked him over for dinner anyway, and he ended up staying the night. I remember being a young world traveler, new to a city and friendless, and just how lonely it was to even think about sleeping in the park.
The next morning, clever, hardworking Tim offered to transplant my poor scorched ferns to the shady back garden, making way for the edible Japanese doorstep garden I am planning.

WWOOFers are wonderful. No matter how small your 'organic farm', even if just a balcony, even if you only have a couch for them to stay on, being a WWOOF host can make life like a box of chocolates, for everybody

Lavender and buttercup on the Victorian Veranda

The neighbor's angel's trumpet tree is now blooming, greeting visitors to his unique entranceway with its delicate, evocative fragrance.
The lavender-colored flowers on the creeper beside are an exact match for the paint on the door, which just sings out to me, as if it said 'we are in love here', we reflect each other'.

I'm so grateful to this man for rebelling against the prescribed heritage colors expected of us in this street, making me believe life can be colorful.
I'm now planning an edible Japanese garden to plant in my entranceway. Getting 'Japanese' to co-ordinate with my colorful front door is the creative challenge. Which plants to choose for love and connection, fragrance and deliciousness?

Balcony Garden cuisine of Autumn

Hot air balloon over Cecilia's balcony
This mornings balcony garden tasks, completed under the watchful eye of the hot-air balloonists, were these:
* Planting rocket seeds. Its at its sweetest when grown in winter, and needs to be sown every week, because it gets EATEN so quickly.
* Finished painting my irrigation pipes from black to pink
*Added liquid kelp fertilizer to everything. My regular supply of liquid fertilizer from the wormfarm has been suspended since the hot day in February, when all the worms mysteriously dissapeared. The Kelp is an innocent organic alternative, to tide us over till the new worms hit their stride.
On that topic, here is balcony Cuisine of the week, created by my beautiful housemate Hiromi, who works as a cook at Nobu:
The dish is titled 'Kombu beef with Japanese shiso-herbed vegetables, and a mushroom sauce".
We decided the Aussie word for kombu is rather less appetizing. Don't worry - ingredients from the balcony were only the chives, figs, and a couple of lettuce leaves.

Disclaimer: No Liquid Kelp fertilizer was used in the creation of this dish.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Millet cuisine for a Peaceful World: Interview with the Millet Sisters of Melbourne

I had my introduction to delicious Millet cuisine when the Guru, Otani-san, came from Japan to hold a workshop at the Melbourne Friends of the Earth Co-op. She travels the world, cooking and speaking about how eating less meat and wheat can create a peaceful world. Who would have thought?
For a start, Millet grows well in poor, dry soil, so requires fewer resources, less fighting over water and good soil.
Some people say eating less meat makes you more gentle. Just think about the eating and fighting habits of people you know, cultures in history. (No, I'm not vegetarian. Yes, I'm extremely attracted to gentle people, for balance).
As for wheat, it is usually eaten in a highly refined form, nothing like the grains our ancestors' bodies evolved on. All that sticky gluten - our bodies don't really know what to do with it. Some of us have obvious ill-effects. The rest of us...we don't know. But scientists say something to the effect that it coats our cells and makes us old before our time. I'm too inefficiant to get old before my time!

Interview With Maki,
Melbourne's Millet Sisters

Here is an interview with Maki, one of the most talented and active of my Permaculture students. Maki is holding Millet creation workshops at CERES, East Brunswick, April 26

Cecilia: Can you grow useful cereals on balconies or courtyards?

Maki: Yes!
Here is my own first Indian millet growing in my tiny veggie patch. I planted three seeds and they're all shooting up with very little water. They seem to have the same strength and vitality as sturdy herbs.

Maki's urban Melbourne Millet
C:Whats so great about millet?

Maki: They're delicious and versatile. They have high nutritional values and low Earth impact. They've always been a major part of our diet in many different cultures throughout the World.

Once people know how easy it is to cook with millet, they will never turn away. I must admit that I myself had been a helpless cook in the kitchen for a long time, but with millet cooking, not like any other cooking, it's quite difficult to spoil a meal. It's simple yet there is a variety of ways to cook. Most importantly it can be turned into something else even when the unexpected happens.

Cecilia: If millet is good, why isn't it more popular?

Maki: I guess, people think millet is too boring for them. They aren't aware of how good it is and also how easily it can be prepared at home. Well, I was one of those people until my friend Miwa showed me this style of millet cooking three years ago. She learned it from Ms. Otani, the founder of Tsubutsubu cooking in Japan.
Cecilia: So, of all the good causes you could devote your energies to, why did
you choose food?

Maki: Well, I love nature and nature loves me (^^).
When I heard that the amount of energy we consume for everyday life, number one is for growing, packaging and delivering the food we eat, secondary for a shelter, and thirdly for transportation, I thought eating habits could be changed simply by knowing better alternatives which are available right here right now.

Cecilia: What is your favorite recipe for when you come home tired and hungry?
Maki: If I have left-over millet or any grains already cooked in my fridge,
I often make millet burgers using some seasonings and chopped onions.
Pan-fry and rap them up with fresh leafy vegetables.
Otherwise, a bowl of soup can be a full meal with some grains
such as sticky millet, oats or quinoa together with some vegetables.

Cecilia: What are the three top things about Japanese culture you would like to
share with Aussies?

1. the magic of developing extra senses to appreciate gentle tastes.
2. the importance of feeling content when you're 80% full(hara hachibu).
3. the belief of everything has a spirit, even a grain of millet.

Cecilia: So, what's your most ambitious dream for your millet work?

Maki: the moment we, the millet sisters, are taking baby steps, but one day if we could meet Jamie Oliver we'd be happy. Just kidding(^^).
Well we believe good food can heal people's bodies and souls, and ultimately, along with all the other great deeds around the World, it may help the Earth heal.
Maki endevors to use local ingredients wherever possible
(photo by Cecilia, Sustainable Living Festival)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blog Creation Workshop for Creative People

Good blogs can change the world, and do a fair bit to make their creators life interesting and connected - most of my workshop and design commissions come through this humble site.
Since I'm getting good at blogging, and since its a skill creative people need, and since I've found a gifted Search Engine Optimizer, Matthew, I decided to run blog creation workshops. Last Sunday we guided 4 creative people as they put their good work out into the world using Blogger.
Here is what one participant said:
"A charming experience, with lovely, humble, earthy people. Cecilia has such an enticing, feminine exhuburance, inspiring you with her own excitement, and Matthew was both Gracious and informative, giving much needed and appreciated attention on a one-to-one basis. The afternoon tea was delightful".

Elen David, dancer
Course participants, from right: Elen David - performance artist and dance director, Katie de Araujo -Yoga and wellbeing teacher, Lynn Beaton- Writer, Sandy Gorskey - mosiac artist and teacher. The tall fellow is Matthew, web creation master.

If you would like to get better at blogging, or spend a stimulating sunday with interesting, out-there people, our next workshop is April 5th. Contact Cecilia (me) 0412 474 282 or email, or comment.

What will you learn and do at a Blog Creation Workshop? Well, You will get your own free and stylish Blogger website, where you can share your pictures and stories, trials and triumphs with the world. You will learn how to become visible to your target audience, and come out looking just as you want when someone does a Google search of your or your specialty. Read about it on this new blog.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My dove is dead. Presuming, delaying, mis-communicating

My dove is dead.
The hearbreaking part is that two days passed between first noticing her injured wing, and finally to taking her to the Vet.

I had tried to work out the problem myself. This is what I observed.
Nothing had broken in to my cage. They didn't seem nervous or worried, even when the neighbours cats came to 'keep them company' sitting under their cage. There were no pointy dangerous things in the cage. Except maybe the beak of the other bird
I worked out it was probably a 'lovers quarrel', with the under-bird (slightly disabled, very cute) finally pecking back at the dominant perfect one. Since the injury they had traded places, with the wonky bird now eating first, getting the good sitting spot.

The vet knew differently. She was in fact an attack by an intruder. Her wing was broken, she was in "excruciating"pain, and would never fly again.
The vet thought my distress was in loosing her, and kindly offered to let me hold her when we put her down, but that wasn't it.
Its the distress at how much damage lazy thinking can inflict.
"She'll be right" is what I thought of the small gap in the cage I designed.
Its what I thought about the cats lurking ("nice kitty")
Its what I thought about her recovery,without me having to bother with a vet visit.
Convenience thinking, cheap thinking. Awful results.
Doves are a prey animal, the vet explained, and the reason they look so relaxed with the cat around is that they are pretending. Predators choose the weakest of a flock, the one that looks the most nervous, so without claws or fangs, all they can do is act breezy, while their little hearts are beating like mad.

Saying goodbye, she looked perfect, not a reproach. Pretty black eyes, snowy-white feathers with a warm, wonderful smell.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day WWOOFing - work experiance on a Melbourne balcony garden

A lovey Rose Came over on Thursday to help tend and beautify my garden.
Rose plays violin.This led me to expect excellence, sensitivity to beauty,
and attention to detail.Yes, that's what I got.

It was so enjoyable and helpful for me, and a chance to learn lots for her, so I've now planned 'Day-WWOOFing' days, once a week, for people who want to come and have Permaculture fun with me. New gardeners can learn from my gardening mistakes, rather than their own.

Here is what Rose did.
She tended the balcony garden. She chased away spiders, examined the plants for health. The Roses, Loganberries and Peach had some fungal troubles, so we mixed up a batch of Eco-Rose and Eco-oil, and gave them a squirt. If you don't know what to do when things look crook(we don't), if you don't anticipate, have a remedy at hand, you will use magical thinking. 'It will get better" you will say. But it won't.
Grown from seed, a Silvery and frilly-leaved broccoli, center, Sept 2008.

We talked about how I usually have pairs of plants, one in the big back garden, and one on the balcony so I can compare their progress. For example, in the limited balocny sunlight, the broccoli only produced a 1cm edible flower, yet I would plant it again, for its silvery-frilled beauty.

She Revitalized a shabby wheelbarrow garden with left over paint from my Front door
And like all good compositions, the day included lots of rests.
("Cecilia!", she is saying. "I'm working hard down here")

We tried to make cupcakes:
Tricked you. That's the compost Heap.

She turned the compost, with the idea of getting the 'made' compost to make another wheelbarrow garden for sowing rocket, my number-one favorite urban edible.
We discovered the heap was rather barren - someone had filled it with exhausted potting mix, a filler which just doesn't contribute to the fermenting process. Now we know, just put the old potting mix in the garden..
She removed the sunburnt Ferns from my back courtyard, ready to replace with something more useful on the next Day-WWOOFing day, Monday March 16 2009 (coming?)
Lucky for me, Rose was still here for a dinner in the huge, shared back garden - Soba salad with wasabi dressing AND Yuzu dressing (I'm indecisive).

Thank-you for coming, you were a blessing!