Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sexiest permaculture ever: Marry your land, Christmas Eve Mass 2011

 Sydney was getting all festive, at St. Mary's Cathedral last night.

The building was in full regalia. 

With multiple costume changes.

The congregation was at full capacity.

The priest may have been overwhelmed. 
He didn't seem to have anything exciting to tell us.

Thats okay, because in a church you have 2,000 years + of human striving and aspiring, so there's bound to be something useful to hear or see, if you are patient. 

Here are the two gems I picked up from the long, long service. One is a poetic turn of phrase. The other a poetic vision. Both are rather motivating, and both are from Isaiah 62:1 - 5 

'Rejoice in your wife' 
as in "Come upstairs and rejoice in your wife'.
I could use that line one day. When I'm married.

'Marry' your land 
Get a vision for it, one that is irresistably lovely. Commit to it. Get sweaty and active. Call it 'Darling'.
Together you and this land are going to generate new life, and it will be glorious. 

You need to know the  background story to these five verses (below)
Its way before Jesus birth, centuries. 
The Jewish people are in 'Post Celebration Blues'. 
They are back from exile in Babylon, working on re-building their very own city. 
Its been years now, and its getting tedious. 
The spark has gone. 
Isaiah is giving the builders of the new Jerusalem a pep talk. 

Thats what sells, even back then.

Go for it, Isaiah: 

For Zion's sake I will not be silent, 
for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, 
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn 
and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication, 
and all the kings your glory; 
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.

No more shall people call you "Forsaken,"
or your land "Desolate,"
but you shall be called "My Delight,"
and your land "Espoused."
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Wishing everyone alive a flourishing 2012

A happy, sexy connected 2012

And most of all, a 2012 where the lost amongst us can feel we have a home and garden,  a place we can cherish, do good work in, and depend on.

Wish this for me too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chook sitting, yet again - Urban Permaculture for Annandale

Look whats making its way over our back fence - three burly men, and a chicken coop. 
This visitation comes complete with two red chickens,  and a hundreds and hundreds of eggs. Eggs-to-be.

Yes,  I've got another chicken-sitting gig at my brother's house here in Annandale. 

From my Rent-a-chook days, now  my 'Chicken sitter Available'  Classifides add photo

The 'Chicken Sitter Available' add I put on Gumtree has had 3,000 views. 
This means people need chicken-sitters. 
Put an add in yourself, and reap the rewards.
The chickens of Australia need you. 

Conversely, knowing there is a safety-net of willing chicken sitters out there makes it easier to become chook-owner, and still be free to go on holidays. Soon we will have a culture of A Chook in Every Garden.  

Thank-you Harriett, for these well-cared for chickens.

I took the clucking cardboard box, covered with a towel,  from its entourage of three strong men and two girls.
One of the men was very handsome, with a pristine complexion and soft redish-brown hair.

Off came the towel.

"Oh,  they are beautiful. And they look just like your brother" I said.
It just popped out.

Its not every day you get lovely men home-delivered.

Nadal and Pollo

Now Nadal and Pollo are roaming the Jungles of our back garden. 
They dig for grubs with the focus of a gambling addict, and letting out clucks of contentment and excitement every now and then. 
You just sit on the veranda, gaze, and thats how you feel too.

And while you sit and watch, you eat buttery-crunchy crepes made with eggs that were layed just as you started fixing breakfast.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cecilia photo

Beautiful 2012 Japanese Permaculture Calenders, with a Cecilia soil life illustration

This calender is beautiful, with cute, home-grown drawings by the permaculture practicioners of Japan, some of whom are my mates from way back, from our Bilingual PDC at Bill Mollisions, 2000.
They have grown so much since then!

Best of all,  it has one of my favourite drawings in it, drawn!

'Soil Life Literacy' is a picture I drew while WWOOFing at David Holmgren & Su's home, Melliodora.  It shows the world as David sees it. All the tiny creatures and elements in the soil are as visible and important to him as the chickens.

When you know what an amazing universe is under your feet, you feel very differently about wonderful things like composting, and feel passionate enough to do what you can to avoid poison and pressure, the enemies of life.

Rico's permacutlure Calender shows you just how people are doing that, and as a bonus, makes you want to learn Japanese.

My friend Rico said was going to give up making her annual Permaculture calender in this troubled year for Japan.
Then she realized that Japan needs permaculture's message more than ever, so made the effort. I hope these lovely calenders all sell far and wide. Well done Rico!

To buy one of these lovely calenders, and support Rico in her Permaculture work, please send me a message, and I will get you one. Around $30, and cheaper in sets, of course.

Permaculture Calender Japanese

Six Permaculture artists

See on facebook

And then,  buy the card or sticker from my online store for a dollar or so. 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mysterious Permaculture Graveyard, bridal tulle, and strange cake at St. Stephens

The craft of storytelling is an essential part of low-tech Permaculture future, wouldn't you say?

Both my parents were good storytellers, a useful skill for keeping seven little children hushed, when needed.

Even I have one or two tales I can tell on long car trips. 
But like gardening, you can't do it without practice, and its difficult to get from beginning to end smoothly. Good storytelling needs to be part of your culture, part of your surroundings. 

The true tale of Eliza Donnithorne

Here is a story I was told this morning, while chatting with a parishoner over tea and biscuts. The Man who told me the story, after much prompting, is the gravekeeper of St Stephen's Church, Newtown.  Well, he has a more modern title, but that will do for now. 
This is what he said:
The story starts with  Miss Eliza Donnythorne, daughter of an eminent man in the colonies. After an encounter with a young shipping clerk, and another encounter, maybe more, Eliza fell in love.

'Daddy, Im going to marry him" she said.
"No darling, he's not of our class"
Daddy, I um... I HAVE TO marry him.
'Oh.  I see'.
So the wedding was arranged, the table spread with a lavish wedding luncheon, the church brimming with Sydneys leading families.

The bride waited. She waited
The groom never, ever appeared.

The poor girl went mad with grief. She  didn't let anyone touch the plates of food, she kept her wedding gown close to her. When the baby came, it was given to the servant to be raised.
One of Eliza's very few visiors was a lady named Caroline Chishom, who kept a friendly correspondance with a London writer,  Charles Dickens.

Yet another Australian who makes it bigger overseas than at home.

The story may be a little wanting here and there.  This history site tells other versions of what really happened to Eliza, the model of Great Expectaions' Miss Havisham. 

Today's Great Expectations story at the church tea came complete with:

Strange Cake. 
Made by the children at Sunday School, the candy represents the heavy burdens of law the Pharisees heap upon the people.

Very pretty little girls.
They were very very quiet, during the sermon, while the cakes were being made.
Less so after they were eaten.

Strange creativity by kindly, working-class men

Here is the headstone for John Leys, a foreman-Engineer from the docks.
He must have been kind, like Great Expectations blacksmith Joe, as his men loved him enough to piece together this for him. I think from an old propellor.

Just because the men of 1883 didn't smile in their photos doesn't mean they were any less playful than we are today.

Its a truly beautiful Church, built with large donations from Eliza, who, like Miss Havisham, was heiress to a great fortune.

Community Garden

The sextons cottage, beside the church, is surrounded by a community garden.  There is a bunny called Kevin, there are chickens, and quite a few edibles.

Corn Wall

The corn looks happy.

Broccoli turned to lace by white cabbage butterflies

The brassica's less so.
That's why I'm not to hot about community gardens. They don't get the love, the observation and attention that an owned-garden can have.  Things get quite...cobwebby.

The Morton Bay Fig was planted in the time of Eliza. It now looks over girls who have quite different options for their lives. 


Including me. I'm almost ready to launch myself into the world, start some real work, start a real family.
Preparations nearly done. 
My, I'm slow though.  
Perilously close to being another Miss Havisham.

Uses for Cobwebby Bridal Tulle

Yesterday I bought some of the most useful stuff for a permaculture life: Bridal Tulle. 

Today I used it to keep the cabbage moths off My sister-in-law Laura's edible gardens. Prettily.

I also used it as the ballerina-style cover for sprouting the fenugreek seeds that I found lurking in the spice cupboard.

As I was buying the tulle, I explained to the shoplady.
"It looks like the most ornamental, airy and insubstantial fabric in the shop. In fact, the opposite is true".

Just like me.

If I may say so myself.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Edible landscapes outside, beautiful 'life-scapes' inside. Patrick and Dawn's inner Sydney House

Strolling around my new neighbourhood in Ananndale, Sydney, I got stopped in my tracks.
A blue-and-green edible garden, created with love and fun.
I had to meet the creators.

Dawn, with a new baby in her arms came to the door and let me in, with her blue eyes sparkling.

Front Garden

What did I see?
Shopping baskets that fill themselves with produce - you just have to wait for it to grow.

Table and Chair
No gorgeous edible garden happens, unless there is a table and chair, a hands-reach away.

A edible garden is part of you, your love and attention and spirit keep it in existence.
Its not like a room you furnish with plants, then leave.

Without you, its soon gone.

Every successful balcony garden has a broom a hands reach away.
Without it, the downward spiral of neglect sets in. 
In all my years of photos, a faithful little sweeper guards every beautiful balcony garden.
Beautiful Interior - families of things

Dawn and Patrick's kitchen, with guard-flowers.
Inside, the beauty and order continued.

I had just knocked on the door of a new mother of two, at dinner time, on a weekday. 
Yet the house was beautiful. 

I wish every harried mother could be taught this:

Don't force yourself into make things tidy. 
'Tidy' takes endless, hard work. its boring, and can't be sustained.
Willpower is a non-renewable resouce, you have to use it sparingly.

Instead, give yourself permission to make things beautiful.
Arranging things into color-coordinated "life-scapes' is actually playing, not 'tidying'.

Dawn and Patrick just filled their home with 'families' of objects, arranged like stilllifes, like landscapes.
You can tell there is no forced tidying.
They set up their life so that when they find a stray item, it gets irresistibly put back with its family, and everyone is happy.




Pre-dinner table-scapes

And even Nappy-scapes

Looking up, here is a colored paper-fall

Just paper and thread, but look how the colors grow out of each other, as they do in natural rainbows. 
Order and wildness, in just the right amounts, right places.

Back garden 

It turns out that Patrick once studied Landscape Architecture, and still does select little design jobs, community-style gardens, in his spare time.
So,what makes this garden lovely?

The rythym of circles dotted about, like dancing - squeezy buckets, round painted logs

The way living things and other objects speak the same language, colorwise. They commune.


The way even the produce, the edible borage flowers, match the squeezy buckets

The absence of unnecessary boarders or straight lines

The playful surprises, and how nothing is alone

Things are allowed to flock

And the way eager strangers are allowed in, to delight in it all.

Thank-you Dawn and Patrick, you guys are a blessing xx