Sunday, July 31, 2011

tropical showers

It finally rained, short and sweet, but enough to wake me with its joyous sound.  The last rain was 78 days ago on the 11th May, so the dry season is certainly living up to its name.  The ground water was replenished with abundant rain through January, February and March, and our well is still providing us with fresh water for the garden and shower. 

Our outdoor shower is walled with a 6 foot dry stone fence, but I was concerned that the nearby coconut trees may provide a viewing platform for sneaky boys, and I didn't want to give the neighbours an eye full whenever I walked up the back steps into the pod.  So we put the rampant vine to work, and in two months it has created a privacy screen and secret garden.  It is a beautiful space by day or night.  Morning sunshine or a sky full of stars.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

nature's takeaway

After the previous post about donuts, I thought I better redeem myself with a banana promotion. What great love I have for the this perfectly packaged superfood.  Recently I had the joy of picking and eating my first ever banana straight off the tree. While bananas are still peaking at $15/kg in Australia, this organic beauty was free. 

We munch and blend our way through between 100 and 130 bananas each week. They are home delivered from nearby gardens, and we pay around 10c each.  The locals think we are totally insane. They believe you can only feel full if you eat rice. They have never drank a blender full of frozen banana and cacao smoothie.

My current favourite snack and tea accompaniment is sliced banana with lemon juice and a few dates.  Eating banana with a fork elevates it from banal to dainty.  Or so I like to tell myself. 

Banana enjoyed whilst flicking the inspiring pages of My Heart Wanders, by Pia Jane Bijkerk.
Thank you Linda. xx

Sunday, July 24, 2011

deep fried dough

Mmmmm, doooouuugghhh nuts. Unlike Homer, I don't want to wash myself with a sponge on a stick.  So with wise reflection I nibbled a donut with tea at a recent 60th birthday celebration. Still warm and sticky with palm syrup, this little ring of tasty poison is a wild deviation from raw fruit. Don't focus on the film of oil on the surface of your tea after dunking.  And don't tell me you don't want to dunk.

It was an intimate gathering on the host's front verandah; an elevated viewpoint to watch the fishermen convene and the sun set beyond the coconut grove. The birthday boy and his wife are fellow West Australians, and their visiting friends produced a bottle of Xanadu shiraz from Margaret River that was worth photographing simply for the rare sighting of such species.  It's a long way to the bottle shop if you want a glass of red.

Friday, July 22, 2011

tea with friends

Tom is out in the greenroom office, but that doesn't mean I am sitting at home lonely. I have our faithful four legged companions watching my every move as I sit with my cup of tea, banana and notebook.  They know they are not allowed in the house, but like to sneak their hooves up on the step for a better look.  Bo Peep is now one year old and growing into a strong lad with the help of our scraps. As his baby bleets are becoming deeper and his tiny horns longer, we have given him the manly name Tex. 

Their bond is remarkable, and while Tex is as big as his mum, he doesn't like to stray too far and will snuggle and groom her, and use her as a pillow for a midday nap. Being the rambunctious child, he also head butts  her when the banana skin doesn't go his way, which is only going to lead to tears when she shows him the gate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

morning calm

If your day has begun with a rush of expectation, of duties and lists and kid's lunchboxes; and your soul is crying out for a moment in the sun without busyness, I offer you a minute of calm. Step in.

Don’t believe that…

the opposite of overachieving is underachieving
the opposite of busy is lazy
the opposite of ambition is neglect


the opposite of overachieving is thoughtfully creating
the opposite of busy is solitude
the opposite of ambition is contentment

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

artist's walk

With Aquaman on dawn patrol and the Architect between projects, the Artist is free to emerge and take paintbrush in hand.  The latter can't find the space for expression if the surf is six foot or the desk is concerned with elevations and quantities.

My kit for the afternoon is a Canon EOS 5D with a 50mm prime lens, plus the Artist lets me have a sheet of watercolour paper, a pencil and a travel palette to make my tentative marks. I have a lot more confidence pushing a shutter than I do a paintbrush.

Monday, July 18, 2011

sculpture garden

My vision of a simple sculpture garden in the front yard is beginning to take shape, with vignettes of found objects and aloe, inspired by the Derek Jarman's scree garden and the environmental installations of Andy Goldsworthy.

I have vague ideas for some large scale driftwood pieces, but as yet, the form and structure evade me. 
To see what other creative outbursts we have been having, have a look here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

grow little garden

I'm really not much of a gardener.  I love the idea of gardening, I know a lot about the theory of gardening, but the actual practice of growing a flourishing vegetable patch is lost somewhere in the imagining.  I'm good at planting seeds, watering and growing things in miniature. Unfortunately I spend more time than I would like fighting couch grass and rampant vines.   The back yard is a great improvement on the jungle that greeted us in May, and I have managed to encourage a few rocket seeds and flowers to inhabit the keyhole gardens.  The bougainvillea is enjoying the rough life and lack of water (it hasn't rained for over nine weeks) and feels stressed enough to flower, and the lemongrass continues to power unaided. 


Each night this week the soundtrack of the village has been swept on the wind to our usually peaceful abode. Three nights of gong music, two nights of soppy Indonesian love songs with a deep distorted base, one night of gospel singing, then back to the gongs.

Despite being staunch Protestants, the traditions of past generations remain in times of crisis or death.  For (a minimum) three nights after a person dies, the gongs are played to ward off evil while the spirit travels to heaven.  A crude form of gamelan, the gongs are played with a clash of syncopated sound, loosely organised and continuous.  The rhythm varies from the tic-toc of a grandfather clock on speed to a crescendo of jazzy clanging. The village owns one set of gongs that are guarded by the kepala desa (chief). It is a sound that brings me to the present and reminds me that I am in Indonesia.

The two nights of base music from a nearby wedding also reminds me I am in Indonesia, the one that is embracing western culture with fervour, and blasting it too the heavens with the almighty power of speakers. There is no cut off time and no complaints.  The electricity is on all night, why not keep the music going?

full moon in capricorn


moonset...back to bed

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

morning has broken

There may not be any blackbirds or dewfall, but there is a unique symphony of sounds that announce the rising of each day.

3.00 am    first round of distant roosters
3.30 am    pig crunches on hermit crabs under the water tap 
4.30 am    percussion of leg rope against board as Aquaman exits the pod
4.45 am    dawn patrol paddle into the first wave of the day
5.00 am    second round of roosters
5.15 am    small birds in the coconuts chirp to a crescendo
5.40 am    bemo thumps base music on its southward search for passengers
6.00 am    bemo passes north with musical horn movement
6.05 am    whizz of the blender as we rush to make a green smoothie before the power goes off
6.15 am    single stationary motorbike revs with unnecessary fever
6.30 pm    second round of irritating motorbike revs (still stationary)

Having the koala as my totem enables me to sleep through some of the noise.  Although I aspire to get up with the chirping birds, if I have got a good sleep on and my nine hours aren’t accounted for, I can put in a gold medal effort until the provocation of the motorbike wakes me and I practise a moment of acceptance for my fellow man.

Less common alarm bells include being pissed on by the resident barking gecko, an early banana delivery, or the throaty call of the vegetable lady who left home at 5.00am and thinks 5.45am is a perfectly reasonable time to sell leafy greens.  Locals have a different concern for privacy or peace, and on low tide mornings, the gibbon-like vowels of their dialect call through our open bedroom walls before dawn. 

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning. Praise with elation.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

garden plots

Almost every house in the village has banana and papaya trees growing in the grey water zone. These are the source of the fruit that is pivotal in our diet.  Hand delivered, organic, zero food miles, and the price is right. Pumpkin vines ramble around the yards, and small plots are set aside for spring onions, chilli, soya beans and leafy greens.  The more enthusiastic gardeners have a second, larger plot that is shared with neighbors and other family members.  They tend to neat beds protected from the free range livestock with rocks, sticks and living posts. Soil varies between red loam and a black clay that hardens like a rock when dry.  There is no volcanic activity in this part of the archipelago; therefore none of the fertile earth that feeds the crops of Java and Bali.

The common practice is to burn manure on the surface and dig in the ash.  The addition of compost or mulch is not widespread.  Watering is by hand, hauled from a nearby well, except in the sizable sweet potato crops that are planted in swamps. Every time I visit the local gardeners, I return home with renewed vigor for my little keyhole plots.  The rocket and basil seeds germinated in 48 hours, and the seedlings I received from a friend are sprouting new leaves. Hopefully, by the time the in-laws arrive in August, I'll be picking fresh greens.

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