I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I was talking with someone yesterday about how when you make choices that are not mainstream you are often labelled in terms of what you are NOT, rather than who you ARE.

anti-disposable nappies
anti-socialist state
anti-junk food

anti-working mums
and we've had people ask if we're anti-contraception ;-)

In reality we choose as natural as possible whenever we can, including organic gardening and cloth nappying...we’re into Spirit-led learning…actually Spirit-led life which for some families will include mum working outside the home…we try to limit our consumption of the world’s resources in the name of justice for others…..we believe in personal responsibility....

Sure we don't use disposable nappies - but that's because cloth ones are great! They won't fill the world's landfill with plastics and chemicals that won't break down for years and years, they are soft and natural and breathable and they work!
Sure, we don't want excessive-government-intervention....let the government maintain justice and defend our nation.
OK so maybe I am anti-junk food! Why put poisons into your body? Wouldn't you rather develop a taste for food that is nutritious and builds up your cells rather than makes you sick?
Our kids don't go to school......that's because of the wonderful option we have for them to live life with us here at home and in our community.
Pesticides...this one is a work-in-progress. I'm still learning alternatives.
I'm a consumer. But I want to be a thoughtful consumer. I want to consider how my choices impact on others. And I want to be a creative producer aswell.
Anti-working-mums? hahaha Show me a mum who doesn't work! It's just a matter of *where* she gets to do it!
And as for the last one......what do you think?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Satsifying Discovery

Many ideas and questions mulling around my mind come together in this post.

If we were ever without electricity for a prolonged period of time, how would we cope?

Is there a way to have rice when camping? (I’m a bit dependent on my rice cooker at home!)

If we go travelling is there a way we could cook without lugging a full kitchen with us? (or at least a crock pot which I use almost every day)

Could we reduce our energy consumption? (if I wannabe self-sufficient one day, relying on wind or solar power, I’d really need to address this one)

How could we travel if we couldn’t cook beans? We a) need to eat beans now to save money for travelling and b) would need to eat beans whilst travelling so that we could afford to go into Buckingham Palace BUT I don’t want to miss out on visiting the Statue of Liberty, because I’m watching our pot of beans simmering for seven hours.

So I’ve been pondering “low-cook” meals. A friend suggested hamburgers, but, to be honest, they don’t rate as an easy meal the way we do them….you see, just like the little red hen, we grind the wheat to make the flour to make the buns…..we grow the lettuce and carrots and radishes and tomatoes….we sprout our own seeds…..we pickle the cabbage and beetroot we’ve already grown…we make the relish and the mayonnaise and sometimes the cheese…..it is time-consuming to do these things, and how would we travel with our garden? ;-)

I was thinking more along the lines of salads and raw vege platters and stirfries….until Nikki (hi Nikki!!) suggested cooking baskets.

I’m not usually one to sit around for too long simply wondering (one of my weaknesses is definitely jumping in to things with both feet before engaging brain)….so I *made* one. Not as fancy as the ones in Kenya. Not even out of a basket. I used what I had (a large bag I knit and felted a couple of months ago)...

….and it worked! (BTW, do you like my authentic Nepali cooking pot above? Now, just look at that fluffy brown rice below...mmmmmm)

Once I’ve *started* acting, I tend to do a bit of thinking, refining, improving…and so here’s what HaveCookingPotWill Travel2 is going to be like (thanks K9 for even suggesting that I could knit one – you’re a legend!)
There will be one big huge gigantic enormous outer bag.
There will be an inner bag, which fits the pot snugly, and comes up higher than the pot so that the lid is less likely to be accidentally knocked off. This might even have a drawstring cord at the top!
Once you’ve put the pot into the smaller bag, you’d place it in the big one and then stuff all the clothes you’re not wearing at the time (if you’re travelling) in between the two layers. If you were at home you would be more likely to have a dedicated stuffing! This time I used three baby blankets, a beach towel and some leftover woollen quilt batting.

The cool thing about these bags (I think) is that you can use them to carry your beans and rice and veges home from market before you cook. They would be relatively small (well, smaller than taking a pressure cooker to Peru or Korea) and making them would be a much more creative process than going in to any superstore and buying one of seven hundred and sixty four identical items off the shelf!

I can hardly wait to finish my current projects and start on this one…I’ve got a great stash of cream wool just waiting to be dyed and turned into something funky!
I’ll have to start collecting recipes too. Here’s the first one:

1 ½ C brown rice
1 ½ C water
Put in pot and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes. Put the lid on and tuck up tightly in cooking bag for half an hour.

That’s it!
Definitely more *simplicity* than intricate!
(I guess the intricate bit comes in even wanting to try something different and not just sticking with crockpots and rice cookers)

One final thought - the blog address given above is big on global warming.....as yet I remain unconvinced that this is anything other than a political agenda. Maybe I'll discuss that another time! For now, I'm loving the cooking basket concept.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Production Line

Another afternoon....another pencil roll. This one for K9. He chose the leftover fabric from the backing of his quilt I made last year. That fabric he had seen and desperately loved - probably because it was the ONLY sporty-looking fabric in the store! As I unloved it just as desperately, I told him we'd use it for a quilt backing if it came down to $5 a metre (highly unlikely I thought!!!!). It was with some difficulty I stayed true to my word! I pretty much let him choose the fabrics for the front - though given totally free reign he'd have had a few more colours and even more soccer balls on red - YEEHA!

I didn't want to spend forever making this quilt so I did huge squares with just a little embroidery to make it special! With polarfleece backing and and unusual twist on a border (just down two sides), it is not a traditional quilt - I think that might end up the hallmark of my quilts! Nothing quite normal!

Another evening....yet another pencil roll.

M4 chose his favourite PJs, favourite sweatshirt and an old pair of dungarees. It is definitely more fiddly making things out of old clothes than just cutting into a nice new freshly laundered piece of cotton. But new fabric doesn't have the same memories!

Was that God talking to me?

Did you read about the streetlight that flickered off as I walked past it last week?

Well, this morning as I powered towards it I was not even thinking about it.
EXACTLY as I passed it, it went out AGAIN.
All the other lights were still on again.
I wondered to myself if God was actually talking to me!

Then a car came towards me with just its parking lights on.
It made me think of “a city set on a hill cannot be hid”…. men do not "light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house" ~ only today it was “a car coming down the road in darkness really needs its lights on”!
It made me think how we can sometimes live as if we just have parkers on and not on highbeam. Sometimes the culture around us seems more like early dawn than the blackest night and we switch our lights off, don’t stand out quite so much. We can become a bit complacent about the things we really want to be intentional about.

Well I do anyway.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


intricate simplicity

Without specifically saying so, Linda Woodrow discusses this in her book "THE permaculture home garden".

She puts forward a common-sense way to organically garden that appears totally achievable.

I dipped into her book, reading from the middle, then the end, then a bit more through the middle again, before going back to enjoy it from the beginning! Every page excited me.

One of my longstanding dreams has been to keep chickens. Well, actually, the real dream is to live self-sufficiently, and I've been working towards that aim wherever I am, however I can. But part of the big picture has been the desire to have chooks. Unfortunately, our local city council deems it unsanitary to have chickens within 10 metres of a dwelling (even though a cat or dog can sleep in bed with you!)...and the only part of our section that far away from the house is right where we put the vege garden! I have considered being a conscientious objector to this absurd by-law, but have never been quite convinced that it is something worth objecting about! But now Woodrow has paved the way for me to get excited about chickens - in her system they need to go right on the garden! YAY! Knowing I can do it lawfully, I am now entitled to dream of collecting eggs before breakfast. And more than that, she tells me they will do my weeding and composting and digging over for me aswell! It all sounds tooGOODtoBEtrue.
So I'm keen to try it on the small scale we can manage in our backyard.....before transferring the concept to a big block later.

It's not simple......but neither is it overly tricky.
It's not complicated....but there are intricate patterns.

intricate simplicity

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Morning Meditation

As I walked one morning this week, one of the streetlights flickered OFF.
It made me think.....

God knew that light was going to go off at that moment.
God was aware.
God keeps the plants growing in my garden, in other gardens, all over the world, even when I'm not thinking about it.
God keeps the tides in order, the waves crashing in to shore, the swell surging.
He knows each droplet of water.
He knows when the sun will rise, how the shadows will fall.

He knows everything.

God is so un-understandable.
I'm glad I can't get my head around God.
I'm glad He's bigger than me.

God is both Creator and Sustainer.
In Him we live and move and have our being.

We are called to be lights in the darkness.
We reflect God's light.
Jesus is the light of the world.

As I walked through the streets of suburbia, I connected with God.
May I radiate His goodness to those I meet.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Favourites #1

The Sound of Music is one of my favourite movies (I know, I know, give me a break, so it is!). I particularly love the song MY FAVOURITE THINGS because, even though I'm sure it was not the intention of the writer, it does remind me to be thankful for the many blessings in my life.

So beginneth *Friday Favourites*

This is our craft corner...all newly tidied. The desk was given to us by a neighbour, the sewing machine and wooden sewing box were my mil's, some of the baskets came back with us from Poland, others are from the Sally Army shop, the denim bag was my favourite skirt until it wore so thin it tore across the butt, the woolen bags and baskets I've knit and felted, other bags I've sewn, the button tin was a $1.50 thrift shop treasure....do you see the mending basket? (hint: it's on top of the sewing box) It's intentionally small, so it CANNOT get overwhelming!
I know my fat quarter stash *shouldn't* be sitting out getting dusty...but it's inspiring to see the beautiful fabrics. Small price to pay.

The pincushion is made of leftover fabrics from other projects, one of my first crazy quilt projects.

On the windowsill is a candle. While I sometimes wish for a minimalist house, I know I like little spots of beauty like this one. And I LOVE candles!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy Hubby Birthday

He was going to get a handmade with lots of love quilt for his birthday....but he mentioned earlier in the week that it was a bit like buying me a weedeater for *my* birthday, a really good weedeater, but a weedeater all the same. Later he complimented me on the beautiful quilt I was making for myself! I took the hint and on the spur of the moment yesterday went thrift shopping (no brand new pressies this year!)....he had been commenting a wee bit about an *old* uncomfortable couch in the family room, so I decided to make every effort to replace it. Now we have a homely inviting corner instead, even if the hidden chair needs *lots* of TLC. That's what you get for $2!!!

(The as-yet-unfinished-quilt still made it into the present, but was not the focal point! When I've finished it, I'll do more photos)

But that's not all. There had been rumours that I was going to make him a pair of undies.....he had threatened to burn them if I did.......but I found some brand new ones in an unopened packet in the secondhand shop! So he got undies too;-)

Happy birthday darling....hope you liked your impromptu-birthday-dinner-a-day-early last night....we could never have hidden this room from you for a whole evening;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

confessions of a thrifter

I'm not supposed to be buying any new fabric till I've used up what I've got.

When I do start buying again, I'll only buy with a particular project in mind.

They were my *fabric guidelines* until I saw this

It screamed BUY ME....actually, it wasn't even for sale - it was part of a display in a thrift store - so I asked the lady if I could buy it! It's a huge piece and she gave it to me for $2, so at least it was a bargain;-)

And I don't know what I'm going to do with it. Any ideas?

Then seeing as I'd already broken both my self-imposed rules, I brought this home too.....both rules broken again!

There were two lengths of it attached to a wooden ring????????? I've chopped one off and put it up on the wall - you'll have to wait til tomorrow to see that one. What should I do with the other? Isn't it gorgeous!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Successful System or one Step Closer to inSanity?

What is this?

A pair of Pumpkin Patch shorts? Yes.....but that's not all.....

It's the outside of a pencil roll! Inspired by my real life friend over at Oh My! I decided these were the answer to the disappearing rolls of sellotape and pens turning up in all sorts of places.

To be honest, I've tried lots of systems......individual pencil cases, one big free-for-all box, special little box with lots of compartments for different coloured bits and bobs, even a pencil ban....but nothing has worked. They all get messy. The pencil cases - oh you should have seen them, stuffed full of dolls' clothes, seashells and other miscellaneous items.....the big box was just as bad, and could you make a complete aeroplane out of the amount of lego that accumulated in it....the special box with comaprtments for everything - well that one appealed to my sense of order, but it was the biggest disaster around and most frustrating that noone would *ever* (so it seems) put anything in the right little drawer meaning you have to open seven drawers before you discover a blue pen....and the pencil ban - well just how do you say "No you're not allowed to write anything ever again"?!!!!!

So by the end of this week (I hope) all eight of my children will have a little roll like this one complete with their own pair of scissors, roll of sellotape, an eraser (there are two in the photo because I couldn't choose which colour to put in!) pencils, pens and paintbrush for watercolours. OK, so the 9 month old doesn't exactly *need* one just yet, but noone wants this prototype so it'll be hers. Everyone else will get to choose their fabrics from the three big boxes of recyclable clothes. And if I find a pair of scissors lying around.......

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rags to Bags

Over the summer holidays I had lots of time to *do* stuff that I don't always get around to because a) the children spent hours racing round outside and b) Dadda was around to watch them. So on one of those beautifully sunny days when I really should have been out in the garden or relaxing at the beach I went through all our boxes of clothes I'm hanging on to (you might as well when there are three more kids of the same sex coming through to wear them!).

Some of those clothes I just plain don't like and I've decided now, that we don't have to wear things just because they've been given to us! If noone likes it, we'll make it into something we do like or give it away! Pile number one. Another great pile was "if my kids wear that in public people will wonder why we have so many of them when we can't afford to keep them at least clean and tidy". And then there was one more pile: I could fix this but I really can't be bothered.

Those piles filled three BIG boxes. And until those boxes are empty, I'm not buying any new fabric (except to go with something from the box if there really is nothing else that works).

These shopping bags came from the boxes (BTW, can someone teach me how to link straight to that post?) Thanks for the blonde isntructions Katie - just perfect for me! Look at that - it worked!)

As did this ensemble:
I started with a sweatshirt that my boys might like but I'm not so fond of and T2's pants.....

First creation was a funky little handbag just right for a little girl to carry her treasures in.

The next bag may not be my favourite but it's just the right size for putting six cans of chopped tomatoes in at the supermarket, so it gets the thumbs up!

Then there was still the hood to do something with.
I know! Tic tac toe....I made the bag, collected sticks and stones and bark from the garden, and hey presto! A nice-n-natural game.

All that from a pair of pants with four holes in them and a donated sweatshirt.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

On your marks, get set......

My eldest three did their first triathlon this morning. A year ago they heard about it when their friends participated. They decided they'd be there this year...and they have faithfully trained all year long.

Time for Mama to learn a lesson from them.

Time for Mama to look back at something she wrote about EXERCISE over a year ago:

This is fairly simple: you just have to do it!

After having seven children in nine years I was carrying 15kg more than I was happy to. As my seventh approached 12 months of age, I no longer had the excuse that I had just had a baby……and for the first time, we got to a baby’s first birthday without me having the excuse “I’m pregnant again”.
I felt it was time to shed those kilos. I limited my food intake, eating only when I was hungry and only as much as I needed to be satisfied. And I started walking. Every morning except Sunday was the goal. I knew if I told myself four days a week, I’d wake up on Monday already calculating that I didn’t need to get up! Far better to expect to be up at the crack of dawn every day and occasionally need to miss one.

Robert Fritz in his book, “Your Life As Art” gave me the motivation I needed. He wrote something like this: Do you want to be healthy more than you want to stay in bed? I had to ask myself that many mornings! It wasn’t a question of whether I wanted to exercise or not – it was deciding whether slumber was more important! After a series of late nights, sleep sometimes was the greater need, but I then had to start asking myself if I wanted to stay up late more than I wanted good health…
There is no longterm way of getting around the fact that God designed our bodies to need exercise!

Robert Swenson has some excellent guidelines in his book “Margin”, which I read soon after Fritz’s book. In a nutshell his guidelines for physical health go as follows:
Take personal responsibility * Gain physical margin through emotional margin * Change your habits * Value sleep and develop healthy sleep patterns * Have a balanced diet of natural food * Avoid overeating * Drink a lot of water * McStay at home * Exercise for the Heart, Muscles, Flexibility, and Mind and Spirit * Choose what works for you * Stick with it…until the hearse arrives * Be realistic *

It's time to take my own advice. I have had another baby...and I put on weight horrifically while I breastfeed. Three months ago I was 24kg overweight, now I'm 14 - about what I was when I wrote that piece above! Even though I've lost 10kg, I haven't been exercising much to speak of, but I know when I set my mind to do something I can be awfully stubborn and DO IT! I've got the eating bit sorted.....just need to work on getting to bed early and getting up to walk before breakfast. Watch this space;-)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Does cardboard sintegrate Mama?

So M4 wondered aloud yesterday.

That's one of the things I love most about my kids learning at home.

What is?

That I get to hear their delightful language.
That I get to watch their development closely.
That I get to see them learning.
That I get asked the questions.
That I can guide their thinking.

What do you mean does cardboard sintegrate M?
Does it sintegrate if you put it in water?
What do you think?
Mmmm I think it would.
Shall we try it out and see?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

No matter how many children we have, they are each unique. One of the joys of parenthood is getting to know your kids, getting to understand how God made them tick, wondering where God is going to lead them, how they can best serve Him, today and in the future.

In our family we have

J12 who is thoughtful and serious (sometimes sullen). She loves to bake, read and create.
J11 is explosive. But at the same time, he's extremely generous and a real servant. He is fascinated by the wonders of creation and aspires to be Biggles.
K9 is a people person. Simultaneously sensitive and adventurous, he's interested in sport, sport, sport and money. Chores are of no interest to him whatsoever - one could call him lazy!
K8 is quiet and industrious (she's handy with crochet hooks and knitting needles – both straight and circular) and tends towards devious. Given the opportunity, she would bake and play with dolls all day long.
L6 is cheeky and cheery. He loves lego and keeping up with the big boys. But he's a master at skiving off at choretime and then thinking he's too little to help!
M4 is cute and sharp and always has full pockets. He loves bugs and books. Unfortunately, he often suffers from exhaustion and fevers, which knock him low for a few days at a time.
T2 is funny, fiercely independent, grizzly when tired or bossed around and adores playdough and books.
ER8mo is snuggly, content, smiley and above all, *is loved*

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where's Wilberforce?

Earlier today a friend alerted me to the fact that there is currently more slavery in the world than at any time prior to this.

I had already read "No Logo" last year, which devotes a chapter to discussing the sweatshops of Asia. When I read that I determined not to buy sweatshop goods again. It truly was compelling reading.

However, there are two problems with this. One is finding out where goods are made and under what conditions. By shopping at Trade Aid you can be confident you are buying goods that shout JUSTICE....so I bought my bright pink high top boots there soon after reading "No Logo".

The other problem is that one family not buying slavery-made goods is not going to make much of a difference to anyone. Who knows what other things we can do?

Part of my decision to buy only "ethically" has meant I've turned to *making* some things. Here are some bags I've recycled out of the children's worn-out clothes. One of them has a slightly political statement on it (not that all shops in China are sweatshops, but a LOT of them are)

So where IS a modern Wilberforce?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Purple People Eater

How else would you describe this delishio salad all from our garden?

Purple cabbage, purple thyme flowers, purple lavender.......Maybe "A Mouthful of Rainbow" would be better - after all, there are red and white radishes, yellow zuchinni, bright green chilli, light green cucumber....everything freshly picked and dressed with a mayonnaise made by J12. Tomatoes and basil with cracked black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar on the side.....mmmmmm. There's nothing like the smell of basil and tomato to welcome you to the vege patch!
(actually we ate all that last night at a BBQ with friends - tonight it's tomatoes, basil and olive oil drizzled over spaghetti noodles made with sprouted dehydrated buckwheat which I need to go and grind into flour)


A couple of years ago I spent a few babysitting evenings with a hymn book in my lap. I was so inspired by the words of many of the hymns and deep inside worshipped God through the words, even when I didn't know the music.

About the same time we attended the funeral at which a hymn was sung - although familiar, it was unfamiliar, and at the same time extra-familiar! You see it had been rewritten into modern language.

I decided to do the same for some of the songs I was reading. One that we have just learnt as a family is "O Jesus, I have promised". It really is my prayer...

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve You to the end;
Please stay forever near me,
My Master and my Friend:
I will not fear the battle
If You are by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway,
If You will be my Guide.

O let me draw close to You;
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But Jesus, please draw nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear You speaking
Each day so clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
O speak to reassure me,
To chasten or control;
O speak and make me listen,
You’re the Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, You have promised
To all who follow You,
That where You are in glory
Your servant will be too;
And, Jesus, I have promised
To serve You to the end:
O give me grace to follow,
My Master and My Friend.

John Ernest Bode, 1816-74
#526 The Methodist Hymn Book, 1933 ~ modernised June 2005

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sharp as Iron

An elderly much-respected gentleman (or “ancient out-of touch old buffer” by his own definition) has tried to “steer me in his (dubious) direction” (again I quote!)
He has raised some very good points which I shall address right now so he knows I’m listening to him;-)
What he suggested had never occurred to me – which reminds me another one of my soapboxes is “intergenerationalism” and I haven’t mentioned it in my profile, despite it being one I have been decidedly verbal about in the past – and I dare not add it now coz he said:
I guess my conservative nature makes me cringe at such an open disclosure of oneself. I would hesitate to list such a vast array of interests and passions, because although interested in many things, I really only play lip service to many of the subjects. These I would not list. An uncharitable mind would say that such listing is not far short of bragging "look at me, and my wide range of cultural/philosophical/environmental etc etc interests". I merely warn you how the critic may view such things.
Aha - I had never thought of it like that! That’s why I need older people in my life – they see things I don’t. I just listed all those things coz they’re issues I’ve been pondering on and off for as long as I can remember. One friend suggested I start a home education blog – but I couldn’t limit myself to that in the sense that we don’t do much formal academic stuff (what people think of as education), but we do live a very rich life. My kids learn how to learn in part by watching me tackle new ideas. K8 became interested in knitting when I took it up myself a year ago. In fact, I have done so much knitting in the last year that I could blog just about that! But restricting myself to just a craft blog would leave out so much of who I am.
Actually, one of my posts one day was going to be about how I feel like a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none....maybe now is the time!

My venerable friend then pointed out that the (quote) 'mission statement' "I simply want to worship God etc" is a most worthwhile objective but again open to mis-interpretation. (Just how holy does she think she is?)
I hadn’t thought of that either! But my friend’s criticism was constructive and he suggested:
I know this is your sincere aim, and one to which all believers would ascribe (even if they don't articulate it) but I think you could have made it a bit clearer that although this is your deep desire for you and your family, it will be a journey, full of highs and lows, successes and failures.
Ah yes – so true. This will not be an every-day-is-perfect blog. While I do want to remember the good times, I know I am changed through the trials and hardships. This blog is partly about who I am becoming and so you will find challenges and failures sitting alongside the delightful moments.

My dear friend knows me well and commented:Of course, you are an idealist and as such you will not be concerned about those who wish to pull you down.
He’s right in that I just want this to be a faithful record of the lessons I am learning. I want to be full of integrity. I want to provide a ray of hope and encouragement. I want to be real. I want to share my passions. I don’t expect everyone to be like me – but as the proverb says, as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Doing Time

For everything there is a season……half his life ago J11 spent a long time “playing around” with the concept of TIME. He was given a stopwatch for Christmas when he had just turned seven.

This stopwatch hung around his neck for two years straight – he used it all the time to work out how long it took us to do the shopping, how long car trips were, how long sermons lasted, even how long it took to fill a vial of blood at the doctor’s!!! It seemed he was always checking the time and by the time he was seven, he had a very thorough understanding. His older sister who had used a maths textbook for one year had a different experience. Firstly, she had no apparent interest in time…..so long as there was enough of it each day to play with her dolls and read her books! The textbook we had used devoted one week’s worth of lessons to the concept and when we were “up to that chapter” she dutifully filled out the pages and I considered we had “done” time. In fact, I thought we had done very well because I got a *real* clock out to use! But brother’s understanding at that stage was far deeper than hers…another year later and she became interested and with no apparent effort “got it” almost overnight. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, leap years, twenty-four hour clock, digital, analogue.

Real life is a great teacher. Waiting for the right time is a discipline.
Waiting is simple........letting learning happen is simple.......in fact it seems too simple when people ask if you've started school yet this year (we're learning all the time) or which maths book you use (we don't before age 11 or 12).
Intricate simplicity.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Organic Learning

We visited the library yesterday to borrow Linda Woodrow’s The Home Permaculture Garden.
I got to thinking about my gardening journey.
My very earliest gardening memory is of standing in my grandfather’s little kitchen garden behind his flat in Parnell where he taught me how to poke sticks in the little holes that were in the ground and watch an insect climb out. There were beans too.
But not liking getting dirt under my fingernails and being even less fond of itchy pollen eyes, my gardening interest was to be restricted to watching my father for many years, usually from behind an engaging book.

I’m all for learning things as you need to know them. I didn’t need to know anything for a long time….but then the interest was awakened one weekend in Poland when we took a trip out to a garden plot with an American family. Their enthusiasm inspired us to buy some little planters and grow tomatoes and red peppers on our balcony.
A few years later back in New Zealand we turned our clay patch into a native garden with plants gleaned from friends. We tried our hand at tomatoes again and a few herbs. Success breeds interest and we marvelled at how a tiny seed could turn into a plant that bears fruit – even when we sometimes forgot about them! Good thing God didn’t forget! Five years ago we moved into our current house and the first thing we did was plant veges wherever we could! Those tomatoes by our front door were a study in learning – Dad came by and told us we were supposed to thin them out and leave just one main stem….someone else pointed out powdery mildew and gave us a remedy….another friend explained stripping all the leaves off would burn the fruit – it did! By the following summer we had read up the Palmers Garden Guide and taken a serious interest in establishing a real vegetable patch…which grew a bit larger each year. One year an elderly-gentleman-ex-science-teacher-cum-wealth-of-knowledge who was staying next door gave us tips almost every week and even came and planted out potatoes with me.
For a while I tried keeping records of what we were planting so we could make sure we rotated crops carefully…..but that didn’t last long…and now I just go with what works for me and plant what I want to where there’s a free space! It seems to be working

What does a garden need?
A time to lie fallow.
Someone to be interested.
Old gardeners.
New gardeners.
Transfer of knowledge.
Trial….at first a little, then a lot.
To be listened to, observed.
A gardener who knows himself.
Books of inspiration, humour, facts and challenges.
Hard work.
Someone to reap the harvest and preserve it.
Time to smell the flowers and watch the bees buzzing around.
An acknowledgement of God, the Creator and Sustainer of life.

What does education need?
A time to lie fallow.
An interest to be discovered.
Enthusiasm to be shared.
A mentor to watch.
Asking for help.
Listening to advice.
Knowing how you best learn.
Reading….books full of information, books for inspiration, books with humour, books to make you think deeply.
Hard work.
Processing, thinking.
To be shared with others.
Time to smell the flowers and watch the bees buzzing around.
An acknowledgement of God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The garden makes you very aware of the changing of the seasons…and learning can be seasonal too. After a couple of years of following Mal Bartholomew’s hints in “Square Foot Gardening” I wanted to see what Woodrow had to suggest. But I didn’t come away from the library with just her book….look what happened (hers isn’t even I the pile coz it’s by my bed)

Another season of gardening learning is ready to ripen. No wonder I left the library with more than just one book.

How could I walk past “An Ear to the Ground: Garden Science for Ordinary Mortals” or “The Curious Gardener”? Could I do better than “Kitchen Gardens of France” with rich photographs for inspiration? And how about this one: they say not to judge a book by its cover, but surely this is an exception!

How does one leave “So Shall We Reap” on the shelf? On the back it says: “Anyone who understands that the politics of food production are at least as important for the future of the planet as the politics of war or of business will want to read this excellent book. And anyone who doesn’t understand that should be made to read it”!!!!!!!!!
But I didn’t need to read that far - the subtitle had grabbed my attention: (How everyone who is liable to be born in the next ten thousand years could eat very well indeed; and why, in practice, our immediate descendents are likely to be in serious trouble)

My mind is going to be as well-fed over the next four weeks as my stomach.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Simply Starting

For the past six months people have been saying to me "why don't you start a blog?" and I have resisted! But for some reason (impulse probably), this afternoon I decided to have a little look to see just how tricky it would be....and it was dead simple! A friend had already given me the name - and I'm sure I'll allude to it from time to time - there were lots of templates to choose from (and although they were all modern funky ones instead of the crafty old look I'd have chosen, at least there was one BLUE one!) - there were instructions to follow....and now all I have to do is add my opinions - *THAT* won't be hard!!!!!

I'm actually going to use this blog as a space to record my day-to-day journey, to jog my memory when I finally get round to putting our photos in albums, and to keep my out-of-town friends up-to-date. Because a big part of me is thinking and experimenting, there are bound to be ramblings and photos too. And hopefully - as one friend has asked for - encouragement along the way.

Take a squiz at my full profile if you like and you'll get a taste for some of what I might write about in the future:

JESUS * dreams * growing-up * community * permaculture * self-sufficiency * homemaking * cloth nappies * Spirit-led-learning * organic food * being intentional * anti-consumerism * simplicity * contentment * natural products * radical authentic faith * other cultures * other languages * camping * hiking * travelling * recycling * history * financial freedom * creating * justice * poverty * Sabbath rest * celebrations * earth stewardship * knitting * sewing * refashioning * embroidery * photo albums * journals * hymn rewriting * fair trade * micro-enterprise * exercise * living *