Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Name this elegant cat - Couple's balcony garden brightens Balmain

A prize for whoever guesses the name of this cat of distinction.

This doorstep garden features two chairs, two standard roses, two black-and-white cats. 
It is all held together by a fine layer of AstroTurf. 
Even colors are limited to two:  red, white and blue. 

I pass this house more often than necessary. The door is often open, with music spilling out, and lovely art to be seen on the walls.

This couple are enjoying their life, and so am I. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time warp in the streets of Balmain - the Weekend Report

Scooter. The most charming, clever polite dog in the world

Scooter and I went for our morning walk. The destination this time was Lynn's house, two blocks away.
Lynn is Scooter's former neighbor, and firm friend.  Her laugh is lovely to hear, and her eyes smiley, both good reasons to visit.

There it was, a storybook stone house that was once the corner store, with dotted cotton net curtains. The door was open, the radio on.
'Yoo-hoo', I called out, because that cry seemed to fit the era of this house.
No reply.
Then from around the corner strode Lynn, with a jug in  hand - she had just popped out to the neighbors to borrow some milk.

I'm in a time warp here, in amongst the little houses of Balmain Peninsula.

The public sidewalk drinking bowl

People extend hospitality to strangers.

'Free to good home'. Just the door. Never the dog.

People share their surplus.
This door would make a beautiful cover for your balcony garden wall-tank, if you have one. 

Someone in this house will sign affidavits - just pop in, for free, anytime.
How lucky is this. I look at my 'to do' list for the weekend, and it says
'Get documents signed for Laura's Visa'.
And around the corner is where you can do it.

 They might be my gardening mates too. 

Now I'm inspired to go and ask for a cup of milk from one of My neighbours, just to activate the connections. 
Inspired in theory, but obviously timid, as I haven't done it yet.
Do you think I will do it?
A nook of Lynn's festive courtyard garden

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Permaculture Creativity Galore, Blue Mountains Style, with Jane and Tony

I came to visit Jane and Tony's wonderland, because my hero Professor Hill is retiring.

To be precise,  I had volunteered to be his WWOOFer, and assist him moving his office.

Here we were, delivering a stack of his old papers, decades of Social Ecology Wisdom, for his neighbor Jane Lennon to turn into her artworks.

Jane's husband Tony Lennon, Botanical Sculptor, is similarly industrious.

How is this array of his quirky pots?

They aren't the elegant style he is famous for, but they make a collection of whatever is planted look like a lively family, different, but connected and supporting each other.
Thats the kind of ecosystem I'd want on my balcony.
Or in the social ecology of my friendships.

Jane's colorful work is full of words, recycled paper words.
We will never ever know for sure what these words were.
'Joy' 'Usefulness' 'Diversity' and 'Play' are probably in there though.

Behind the studio are a larger 'family' of raised garden beds.

Tony says the tanks keep the herbs up close to where he can harvest, out of the way of small creatures, and its a good way to use up old tanks.
There are many generations of self-seeded onions, tomatoes and greens, evolving into stronger and stronger versions of their grandparents.

The 'families' in this garden get eerier and more interesting.
Towards the bush end of the yard is a flotilla of ghostly covered gardens.

They solved their kangaroo problem by swathing the gardens in a dashing, evocative fashion.
We don't have do disfigure our gardens with cages. The problem can be the solution.

Reduce useless diversity

Just make all the ragged, the disparate things pink, and they will all relate to each other again.

I do this too.

Disaster or compliment?

Jane was telling me that yesterday she got an email from a U.S. shop selling her work. One of her pieces was stolen.
I'd put that in my C.V. :
'Someone was willing to turn themselves into a criminal, out of desire for my work'

Here is my favourite. Fruit is turned into a kind of Cecil B. de Mille extraveganza.
Which is what fruit probably is to Jane, who is locally famous for her cooking, and a vegan.

If this home were in the WWOOF book, they would be the aristocracy of WWOOF hosts, crazily popular.  Good food and creative expertize attract the best working travelers, every time.

Botanical Art

He used to be a city lawyer.
Now he lives in a kind of fragrant paradise, and is following in the steps of his forbears, who for centuries have sculpted.

He works towards one extravagant exhibition a year, I have heard.

This kind of transition many city people dream of, but just don't know how to get started.

Maybe I should have asked how they did it?

Lots of love, I suppose.

Creative home lunch with Sydney Fashion Designer ladies - Millicent Darling

When I was little, I started making dresses for my dollies that looked like this.

Photo: Gavin O'Neill

If you squinted really hard, they looked like this lovely lady, anyway.
I had to use sticky tape to start with.
But I got better. I became able to sew anything.
Which makes you think you can do and be anything.
(Its quite persistant, that illusion of mine)

The other day on of my Permaculture students introduced me to the Lovely Creative Ladies of the Fashion Label, Millicent Darling. They made this dress, and much more.
Their daily life is lovely.
Here is a peep.

Mindy and Emma's day

Emma rides her bike each day, past the trendy cafes of Darlinghurst, to her long-time friend Mindy's where they have a Design and sewing studio for their label Millicent Darling.

 Lights on

 Lights off

These gloves are from Cyclette, their cycling gear collection.  
I find them permacultural in their multitude of functions - they keep your hands warm, young, entertained, and then in the dark, they flash back the energy of whoever is shining on you.

This sash bag too - It uses Minimum material for Maximum carrying capacity and unobtrusiveness. Your phone goes in the mesh pocket at the front, and can light things up - 'Right thing in the Right place'.
Real lights shine from the back mesh pocket, and your puncture kit is inside. Its reflectors are the accent tape that lights up passively, and the whole thing is poetically correct, with proper bike DNA in its shape, lightness and blackness.

Very old things, Very new things

Grandma's sewing machine in action

Being fully in the Present is said to be they key to a joyful life.
I agree.
Sewing demands full attention, presence. Its a favourite source of 'flow' for me, and maybe for Emma and Mindy too.
While the present is  good place for consciousness, for life's other good things, being in the Far Past and the Near Future have a lot of merit.
The vintage sewing machine, snippers, pins and other tools they use were built to last. They remind us we too can build things that will still be useful a century from now.
The clothes the ladies create are from the future, to be 'lived into' by culture-creating wearers. They also hint at the past, with Sherlock Holmes style patterns and lines, sexyed up and playful.

Assemble, don't cook

Lunch was a party of excellent hard goat cheese, harissa, delicatessen goodies that I don't come across here in Balmain.  They just lay it out, all this old-style unprocessed Slow Food, and eat like a Shepard-Queens, every day of the week.
I should explain. 
It is classy where I live, here on the Balmain Peninsula. But the road rage that my driving creates when I venture out to buy this stuff has me eating from Woolworths for now.
This will change.
A bike and a salad garden would change it....

The ladies showed me their sunny courtyard, with the beginnings of a delicious edible courtyard garden.  We've planted some ideas in each others minds for a beautiful edible garden at their daughters' school...good food brings people together, and then they get inspired to grow it again.

I like that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Invest for the future - creativity, and Cecilia by Norma

Norma, my artist-friend just sent me and email of her latest painting. 
Hey. That's me.

In every way.
My character is almost all air, I have come to realize.  You can feel that airiness in the breeze she has blown though my hair.  This is why I love stable, earthy people, and Permaculture. They stop me being blown away.

I'm always flying to and from things, migratory, even though I'm on the fragile side. Maybe that's how the butterflies and small bird got in there.

I like being surrounded by plants, and so I am, most hours of most days.
Even in this picture.

She even got the 'Cecilia' Simon and Garfunkel connection, but with a neighboring song about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

How I met Norma
It was her pretty, treasure-filled garden that 'introduced' us, when I was living across the road at my first Balmain house. The story is here.

Norma watching the harbor from her balcony 

Whats next?
I'm planning to visit her over the weekend, and plant a bit more parsley in her front garden, and a few other things. 
Actually,  I asked a friend to get me some as he would be going past the nursery on his way to visit me.
I should have been more specific - my friend turned up with a bunch of supermarket parsley. 
No worries. I'll just make parsley soup.

Now that Norma is 80, she doesn't get around as quickly as she used to. But when I sit on her balcony with her, there are a procession of people singing up 'Hello Norma', and bringing her titbits of news and other things. 

It confirms my thinking, that it could be good to have superannuation for your old age. 
It could also be good to have children for comfort and support.

But its definitly useful to be good at creative things that you enjoy doing, and can do, irresistably.
Things like painting, and gardening, or even just knowing about gardening, and getting a team to help with yours.

Talents like these can connect people, and make those who pass by your house feel deeply seen, and cared for.

Thank-you Norma!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flowers at Apple Store Sydney: why are we so sad? Missing Steve Jobs

I've loved Japan for 19 years, but I didn't cry for the Tsunami. I've only loved Apple for one year. Still, the minute I heard the news, tears sprinkled themselves all over everything, all the morning, missing Steve Jobs. 


Since I moved to Sydney, the Apple Store has been my cathedral.

Surprise and delight
I would get clarity and inspiration to do creative things for the rest of the week. 
Amazed at how Apple design principles mimic Permaculture Design principles, I dug up their designers manual.
Everything you need to know about making life simple, rich and interesing is here.
Google 'Apple Web Design Guide' 
PDF and I don't know how to link it in this blog

A kind of Paradise.


How can I thank Steve Jobs, for filling every day of my year with elegance, with simplicity and with power to get things done?

I could use my Mac to live an amazing life. 

There is nothing else to do.