Sunday, July 27, 2008


Well it happens to the best of us, it happens to the worst of us, and it has finally happened to my little girl. Her first tooth (teeth?) have emerged! Just peeking outta the surface of her bottom gum. She has been showing the symptoms of teething for a good three weeks now (her first fever three weeks ago, and her first dose of panadol, nappy rash, rubbing her ears, and a bit of general grumpiness from time to time), so we knew it was imminent. I wouldn't even have known if I hadn't have given her a drink from my glass of water (she has a sippy cup but I'm teaching her to drink from a glass as well), and after some blowing of bubbles, some dribbling, a few gulping sounds (at least *some* was getting in!) I heard a definite "chink!" sound! It took me a second to realise what it meant! How exciting! I don't quite know what I am so excited about to be honest, I mean, it happens to everyone as I mentioned before, and the thought of lots of little chompers near my already overworked nipples is not too delightful! But it is a definite milestone. She's growing up, my little girl.

She's also holding herself up on her hands and knees for longer and longer. Just this last week she has developed so much, and she clearly enjoys her new superpowers of stability! Until she gets a bit tired and faceplants for a few seconds. Now this crawling thing is not a milestone I am in a huge rush for her to accomplish. I am happy for her to take her sweet old time about it, as I have been told over and over by other mums that it just takes things to another, more frenetic level, as they scurry about the place wreaking havoc. But such cute little havoc!

Well to aid her in her scurrying, and mainly coz after three years of living in this house I was just bloody sick of the lounge room arrangement which I didn't like from the beginning, we did a big shift around in there and somehow we have managed to knit some more universe or something coz now we have so much more space! It's great! Mat and I, and Dr Chops, are all loving it! Chopsy has been just uber-cute, rolling around on his back with complete and frivolous abandon, playing with his favourite toy of all time which had become lost under the couch and which emerged during the shift around. He is so happy! And this toy, it is so funny, it is a shred of plastic bag, those thin clear ones you get near the vegies at the supermarket, which I had tied a knot into a few times, back when he was a kitten, like TWO and a HALF years ago. He loved it instantly! It is now like a plastic floppy anemone, some whisps of plastic joined by the knot in the middle, and there is nothing else on this sweet sweet earth that gives him the same unbridled joy as this bit of plastic. The first night it emerged, he woke me twice in the night coz he had jumped on to our bed with it in his mouth and played with it for ages. He never does this! He sleeps on our bed when he wants to but he never plays with things on his own like that, and never in the middle of the night! Despite it being 2am, and having just been woken after getting back to sleep post feeding Indi, I smiled in the darkness at my beautiful spirit-cat's joy. He is such a special one. I love him.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Living a Simple Life, and Living it Well!

I have just been reading this great blog on living simply and being as frugal and self sufficient as possible, and I must say I am inspired and invigorated! I have been reminded of many a thing of great importance to me, such as being gentle with the earth and having minimal impact on the environment, being close to nature and growing your own food, spending less and being satisfied with what you have, and being creative with fewer resources rather than constantly buying and consuming and disposing of. These are wonderful things to be reminded of!

I have always valued these things, but over the last few years I have become rather lazy in my commitment to them. I think as our household income grew over the years, and buying things became easier and easier, I became quite the capitalist consumer. I fell a little in love with this model of living that is thrust upon us by society at large, that of working and purchasing and throwing away, a life isolated from one's environment, isolated from nature, and isolated from the effects of one's actions on the planet and it's inhabitants, such as the huge amount of resources used, natural environments spoiled by contaminants, land degraded by commercial farming methods, air polluted by factories and cars and electricity generation, and animals suffering for our pleasure. Not to mention the millions of people over the world who are affected by slave labour or who are grossly underpaid, and have awful living and working conditions. All of this is the effect of the obese capitalist Western lifestyle. Over the last few months I've had a growing awareness of the distance that has developed between my morals and the reality of my life, and I have been slowly trying to bridge that gap. Reading the blog has inspired me to make more of an effort in this area, to speed things up, to go further than I have been going lately, or ever before, and to finally put things right.

This is a very good thing. It makes me feel good in the pit of my tummy, a sure sign I am on the right path. And where does this path lead me? It leads me towards a life that sees me growing into my full potential as a human being, living in the greatest harmony with my surroundings, and with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude for all that I have. It leads to what I would call a bloody good life.

OK, so growing your own food is a huge part of this living simply and sustainably thing. Ever since I was a wee one I was heavily into gardening, of all kinds. I have always had a particular fondness for combining my two great loves, gardening and food, so the vegie patch has always had a very special place in my heart. The photos in this blog are of things I from my garden. (The first two photos are of three different kinds of beetroot, and the last one is a punnet of rainbow chard just before planting.)

So until now, my vegie patch has been a place of indulgence, really. I have grown vegetables, often from seed, for the sheer pleasure of gardening itself. With the exception of the amazing tomato, my favourite food plant of all time, my crops have been intermittent and sporadic, and have been secondary in importance to the process of growing, the joy of planting seeds and watching them sprout (a very special time), helping them become seedlings, planting them out and caring for them into their old age. It has given me countless hours of untold pleasure, it really has, and I imagine it always will. But something has been gnawing at the pit of my stomach for a while, and I have been ignoring it for long enough. I have never even come near to growing a decent fraction of the vegetables that we consume on a day to day basis. Like I said, the tomato is the exception to this. Each year I grow kilos and kilos of wonderful tomatoes, often five or six different varieties, and from mid-summer into autumn we are self-sufficient tomato wise, with enough for sharing (another special thing). Other than the tomato, however, and the odd crop of lettuce, silverbeet and zucchini (anyone who has ever grown them knows the feeling of a glut of zucchinis, which seem to grow an inch every time you turn around) the things that I harvest are considered special treats, things to delight in and savour. I have never planted in the numbers required to really feed us, or staggered my plantings to ensure a long harvest period, or devoted the required space for a serious kitchen garden.

But I think I've had it with this type of middle-class indulgent gardening. It's been fun, lots of fun, but I think now it's time to turn my skills and my enthusiasm into something the whole family can really, truly, tangibly benefit from, in terms of nutrition and cost. I want to grow an organic vegie garden that I can really rely on to feed us well, for most of the year.

I'm a little daunted by this task to be honest. This will need some serious garden space, and some real time and effort. But to be honest, everything that's involved is stuff I love doing, it's just that I need to do more of it than I ever have. There are harder things to swallow in life than doing more of what you love than you have ever done before. I think I'll cope!

I'm really quite excited. Spring is just around the corner so this is the perfect time to start planning what I will need and order my seeds (yay!!). I've got a compost heap just bursting with goodness, thanks to the wonderful Mat who took over maintenance duties at some stage (much to my surprise and delight) and I've got a few garden beds in mind that have a couple of straggly flowering bushes on them, and that had better get ready for a good overhaul.

There are many other things discussed on the blog such as stockpiling, making your own cleaning products and not spending unnecessarily, all of which I want to incorporate into my life, but this is the bit I'm most excited about, to be honest.

And I can't help but think this is wonderful stuff for Indi to see and be involved with as she grows older. Having her around is a real incentive for me to be really authentic to my beliefs and my ideals, and to model the things I hold dear. I can see myself really evolving into the person I have wanted to be for so long. It feels like it's time to stop dipping my toes in the waters of life and really take the plunge. As with all big jumps into the deep end, it's a bit daunting and a bit scary and threatens to challenge me more than I've been challenged in the past, but if there's one thing that new motherhood has taught me already, it's that I have more strength, endurance, patience and drive within me than I have ever given myself credit for, and I reckon it's time to put it to good use!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crunchy and the Big Bad Foot!

Sounds like a children's story! But no, unfortunately it's Crunchy's reality. His foot's not much better than it was when he came back home, and after going to the vet today after thinking I could actually see bone (gross and disturbing!), it was confirmed that his toe is dislocated and might have to be amputated. Poor sweetie. He's moping around with a huge sticky bandage wrapped round and round his leg to help give the toe a chance to develop some skin over the bone, otherwise the toe is coming off. The bandage looks like a big club coming off his leg, and he's not happy about it one bit. Plus he has to stay inside at night. We have one grumpy pudda on our hands! He's such a beautiful person though, such a stoic really, he's currently curled up asleep. I'm sure if he could he'd be muttering under his breath.

So we are faced with the decision to neuter him and keep him indoors at night permanently, in an effort to curb his street-fighting ways, and help him live longer, and help our vet costs go down, goddammit!

Mat is not happy coz of all the reasons listed in the "My cat eats cake" post. He wants little Crunchy to remain the free citizen of the world that he is today. He doesn't want to be his "owner", but rather his housemate. Who doesn't steal his testicles. I am torn. As per usual, I can see both sides really well and am sitting squarely in the middle, wringing my hands, looking left and looking right and not really knowing which way is really best. Ahh the challenges of trying to live by one's morals! Not always an easy path to take, and the road isn't always clear ahead. Sometimes you gotta cut a new track through the forest... OK, enough with the dodgy metaphors already.

So maybe we can try keeping him in at night and put off the neutering once we see how that works?

But then if his toe does come off, they'll want to do it in one go, while he's under (so steal his testicles AND his toe.)

D'cisions, d'cisions...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dreaming of feasting on sleep

Ahhh, that wonderous space of dreamy rest, warm comfort, liminal delights - such a precious commodity to the parent of the very young, so taken for granted by those who have yet to procreate... sleep is one of those things which, like food, must be enjoyed in just the right quantity to have the greatest effect on the sleeper. Too much and one feels sluggish and 'overcooked', too little and the nerves start to tighten, the muscles to ache, the eyes to sting, and you can almost feel the brain kinda flexing itself to keep going, keep going.

Yes, it's finally getting to me, the lack of sleep. For the first few months of Indi's life, I can honestly say I was better rested than through the bulk of my pregnancy with her, during which I suffered from chronic insomnia and experienced the deepest tiredness I have ever felt - growing a person is not easy! Indi has always been a fairly good sleeper, sleeping most nights for 10-12 hours, not even really waking to feed, just stirring and being fed back to rest immediately as she sleeps right by me in our big bed. For the first few months she needed a feed every three hours, and during that time I felt really great, very energetic, not tired at all. The last few months have seen the gaps between feeds shrinking gradually, and for the last few weeks it seems I wake every hour or two. This has been taking it's toll. I seem to be unable to get a really restful sleep when waking with this frequency, and I can feel myself running out of steam. I feel tired during the day. I'm a bit more cranky than usual. I don't feel the elation and joy I used to during my long walks while Indi naps in the Ergo. I'm kinda going through the motions a little. Indi herself still makes my heart sing with her every action, she is still the most amazing thing ever, it's just that my spirit seems to be sagging a little as my physical body struggles with the load.

But I'm keeping it all in perspective, and recognising this as an intrinsic element of being a new mother. It's part and parcel of the job for most parents. This is part of the hard work of parenting. I know many others have it far harder than me - my partner works from home part time, and is very supportive, so I am most grateful really.

A couple of nights recently I have had three hour gaps between feeds, and I have woken feeling like I have been asleep for AGES! Wow, how different this is to pre-pregnancy times! Back then, waking after three hours would have seemed horrible, and I would have been complaining bitterly! Ahhh how things change when you become a parent! Youth is definitely wasted on the young!

We have recently acquired another queen size bed to sit alongside our current one (which Indi and I have been sleeping in as Mat camped out on the floor on a single futon), so we will experiment with having Indi sleep in one bed while Mum and Dad sleep in the other one, in case she is waking due to my snoring or shifting. Maybe it's just the teething, or a growth spurt, or who knows what.

In the meantime I dream of the wonderfully restful and uninterrupted eight hour sleeps I used to get, and the long luxurious sleep-ins Mat and I used to have so often, every day during uni days, and weekends after that, chatting in bed for hours , making love, being silly and laughing so much, only emerging when hunger forced us to. Such sweet sweet memories that I will treasure forever. And look forward to having again one day.

Note: The wonderful picture above, called Sleeping in the Garden, is a painting by Erika Hastings. She has a cool blog: where you can see more lovely paintings, and contact her.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Magic Red Hat

OK, so I said I would post a picture when it was done, and here it is! My first ever completed knitting project! I'm very proud. It's simply two rectangles (not even measured properly or the same size really) joined together, so the corners make these cute little ears.

Next project: one for me!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am woman!

Today, I felt good. No, actually, I felt awesome. I felt strong. I felt capable. I was impressed with myself. Is it OK to say that? Does it sound egotistical? It's a shame that in this world it is frowned upon to praise yourself, that it is often considered being "full of ones' self" or arrogant. Well, I don't care, today I will praise myself, coz I feel I deserve it. So should you, you probably did something awesome recently too. Go for it!

OK, so the praiseworthy moment of my day came when I was walking up the ramp to the train station at Preston Market, carrying Indi in the Ergo, feeding her while I walked, pulling my trolley full of organic fruit and vegies and nuts and smoked salmon and (OK, getting distracted by the food... Must... stay... on... track.... - I'm really hungry at the moment, can you tell...) yeah and catching the train and well I just felt like a pretty damned good mother to be out and about like that, doing our shopping to feed us good healthy food, bringing it home without using up any fossil fuels, carrying my baby and feeding her while I walked. It felt good. I felt proud of myself. I spent so many years being so critical of who I was and what I was doing, so many years, that now that I am in a place in my life where I am really *proud* of myself, am really happy with what I am doing and how I am doing it, I just felt it needed to be said. To be proclaimed.

So I did.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Crunchy Boy

Well we have had a big adventure these last three days. Not an external adventure, not overland, but an adventure of the heart, a feline adventure of the spirit.

This wonderful creature you see pictured here, the wonderful Mysterious Crunch as he is called, has been the main protagonist of this tale. A little background on him might set the scene nicely. Crunchy is called Crunchy because about a month after Indi was born, in the middle of the night, Mat and I would hear a definite crunching coming from the kitchen area where Dr Chops' food is kept. This was an unusual sound, since Dr Chops swallows his dry food whole. Another way we could tell that it wasn't Dr Chops is coz we could see Dr Chops sleeping at the foot of our bed. A couple of times I caught this new renegade out, and saw a white-ish cat from behind as he scooted out the back door at the sound of my footsteps (we keep the back door bolted a little ajar, to let Dr Chops satisfy his urge to romp about at night). So this continued for a while. Once to my utter surprise, I found Dr Chops and Crunchy (then unnamed) asleep together on the couch on our front porch when I got home! Crunchy ran away as soon as he saw me, still very shy. Then one day Mat found Crunchy asleep in his studio, the room right next to the back door, on the couch. I was secretly thrilled! I employed my very best cat etiquette and slowly, ever so slowly, inched my way inside the door to the studio. I made sure not to make direct eye contact, used lots of slow blinks and projected my energy just right, and soon enough I was patting my new white and tan friend, who was purring loudly! So friendly! Almost too friendly! Before I knew it he was climbing on to my lap, trying to almost suck the pats out of me... it was like he was starving for some love, poor poppet! What a sweetie. From that day on he has been living with us, sharing mealtimes with Dr Chops and winning us over with his big heart. He lets Indi pat him with her over-eager fat little hands, as she grasps and pulls at his fur, squealing with joy, and he just sits there, as though he understands that this is what kids are like. He seems to really love her actually.

So that's Crunchy. Eats like a horse. Big heart. Lovely person.

Three nights ago as Crunchy got off his usual couch right by the heater, where he sprawls for hours at a time, I noticed he was limping horribly, and basically couldn't put any weight on his left back leg. Upon closer examination I could see his toe was very swollen and misshapen. He was lurching around in a really upsetting way, and obviously distressed. He also wasn't eating, which for Crunchy is a BIG DEAL. He usually eats as much as I am prepared to put down in front of him. He has developed a lovely little paunch in the five months or so that he has been with us. So anyway, we decided to keep him inside til I could take him to the vet, despite Crunchy really really wanting to go outside. Unfortunately Mat accidently let him out while he was letting Dr Chops in, which he felt really bad about when our friend told him that cats usually gang up on weak sick cats, and that Crunchy would be in real danger out there. Poor Crunchy!!

I walked the streets calling his name, twice that night, but nothing. I kept getting up in the middle of the night to check, but no Crunchy. I actually felt ill I was so worried for him, and felt guilty that I hadn't bundled him up right away to the vets, that I could have prevented this. (In reality I was juggling a baby, a cat, visitors, a grumpy reluctant husband and a billion other things.) It wasn't very abnormal for him to be out all night, or even til late morning. It was when the sun was setting the next day and no sign of Crunchy that I really began to worry.

But it was weird. By the end of the day both Mat and I had this odd inner sense, a deep intuition, that things were OK. That things were as they should be. That if he had died fighting in the night, that Crunchy had died as he had lived, a free spirit, true to his inner nature, fighting til the end. He's a tough cat, and it was a fitting departure. It was weird for two people who love their animals truly and deeply to be acting so calm about the disappearance of one so dear and cherished. But we were.

By the second night, we had pretty much accepted his death as being certain. It had been a cold and rainy two days, the coldest of the winter yet, and there was no way he would have stayed out knowing there was a warm place with food for him to come, especially when he was in pain. So I went to bed with Indi, feeding her to sleep as per usual. After a few minutes Mat pokes his head in the door and whispers to me "Guess who just walked in the door?" and my eyes almost fell out of my head they opened so wide! I grinned, and poor Indi lay there blinking as I whisked my breast out of her mouth and ran to the kitchen, where dear little Crunchy was scoffing down as much food as he could. He glanced up at me, blinked me a smile, then kept eating hungrily. I almost cried with relief! I got him some more food and then crouched next to him, repeating his name with love and relief, over and over, and when he was done (the picture above was taken just after he finished eating) I picked him up and carried him to a spot right in front of our heater, on a soft futon. He purred for a while as I patted him with love, and fell right asleep, no washing of his face or anything. I was so amazed. It was like looking at a ghost. I had been sure he was dead! He slept in that spot til morning, when we took him to the lovely kind vet, who washed his sore abscessed foot, gave him a painkiller and some antibiotics.

He's still recovering, still sleeping a lot, and his foot still looks pretty bad, but he's back, with us, in a warm place where he is loved and cared for.