This is a blog of the 31 things we will be doing in the month of January 2010 as part of our sustainable communities group. This post explains it all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Liquid bread

I was given a beer making starter kit for my birthday a few weeks ago so it seems as good a time as any to start planning. We have some recycled bottles, the kit and now all we need is a bit of cooler weather or my father's cellar. Beer needs to be kept at a constant temperature and it's easier to keep it warm in cool weather than cool on a hot day. It can easily be wrapped in a blanket to keep in the heat that the fermentation produces. Another tip is to use long neck bottles or short stubby bottles as they provide less surface area for the secondary fermentation of the yeast. I've been told that oil in additives such as chilli is the key to enhancing those flavors. Also water purity and general cleanliness is paramount, as the less other junk there is in there the nicer the beer is at the end.
We're looking forward to the experimental side of brewing. I have had some experience with preparing wine for bottling, on my uncle's vineyard, and in that situation too, cleanliness in all things is paramount. One year everyone forgot the metabisulphite, used to stabilize the fermentation in the bottles, and corks popped all over the place. The next year too much was added and the wine was undrinkable.
Here's some link love

Autumn is here and with it a whole new season of work in the garden. I think the weed tea is about done and it's going to rain this weekend. I'm hoping to bust open a bail of pea straw and get mulching.
Speaking of mulching I've been tearing up the cooch grass and turning it in on itself. It seems to be keeping it down to some extent but it's so dry and thirsty under it that it's like sawing through wooden skewers.
I've been trying to get my head around a philosophy that Cass found about weeds. They improve the soil and get it ready for the plants you want. Weeds are part of biodiversity and soil health. All monocultures are doomed to collapse. In short weeds are a good thing if managed properly.
I'm going to put up a "no spray zone" sign on the footpath and start encouraging some of the purslane growing in the cracks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!

Hey there,
It's state election time in March and the posters are going up. The conservative Liberal party, smelling a topical issue, have added a block of green colour to their posters. Nice try. The real Greens are out in force. In an interesting cultural aside, Labor (the centre-right party), have mainly Italian names in our neighbourhood.
What's prompted me to comment on the posters though is that there is a new independent candidate running on an anti-abortion platform. He's - at least I assume from his name he's a man (and will therefore never actually experience being a woman with an unplanned pregnancy) - got money enough behind him that he can afford to plaster the main arterial roads with posters. While his slogan is "Save the Unborn", the main, misleading poster is a picture of an obviously full-term baby. The other, just plain weird one, features someone holding the hand of a baby old enough to wear clothes! Just one of these nasty posters gives you a cold shiver, but to be beaten over the head with them 10 or 15 times in a row is distressing (not that I'm saying it would be preferable for him to use pictures of embryos or foetuses. No WAY. But at least it wouldn't suggest that abortions are performed on women carrying full-term babies.)
This here is a shout-out to the statistical 1/3 of all ladies who have made or are currently faced with the possibility of making, the deeply personal and always traumatic decision to have an abortion, especially those in Adelaide who have to see this stuff every time they leave the house. Not to mention the actual kids being driven past this shit every day on their way to and from school. Here is a link to a wonderful Facebook group for anyone who is experiencing grief or outrage about these posters (and there seem to be a lot of people who are).
I'm wondering if this visual assault has anything to do with my desire today to sit myself down under a tree, take some deep breaths and post this to you from a green hillside at the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens? Maybe - it's also just great to go out and have a little adventure. This weekend, and the last two gone, John is doing some filming. It's been strange being by myself with a relatively relaxed schedule after the intensity of the 31 Things month. John's continued on being super-busy into February, but now that the Ferris Wheels & Fairyfloss show is up and the 31 Things have wound down, I seem to have more time on my hands. I've been feeling a little housebound and housewifely, which no one wants to happen unless it's entirely voluntary. (Check out THIS amazing post on how to avoid heteronormative role playing in girl-guy cohabiting relationships). Anyway, we've borrowed John's parents' car this weekend and he pointed out that it was free today. He was right. I knew I wanted to do three things this Sunday - continue with a tidying mission I've started (in my mind), write a blog post, and bake a blackberry and apple pie from the fresh juicy blackberries and apples-off-the tree we picked last evening with our friends Rachael and Andrew in Basket Range.
I love gleaning and harvesting fruits and veggies, but they (and variables like the weather) decide when they're ready, and if you don't want to play down the freshness by freezing them, you have to be prepared to drop everything and cook (a viable alternative would simply be to cram handfuls of them into our mouths the way Andrew showed us last night - mmm - mmm!)
But back to breaking out of stereotypes - we're not going gently into those heteronormative roles/rules/routines around the 31 Things headquarters, so you can guess how we worked out today's plans. We're going to make the pie together tonight, I've taken myself off to the hills to blog and no one is going to tidy anything again today.
Meanwhile, I'm in the favourite picnic spot at Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, in a little parrot, butterfly, dragonfly, duck and frog populated glade. There's even a trickling water course/stream coming down through the lawn to the artificial lake, and its waters are GREEN. I haven't seen this much lushness in a long time. There's a blossoming tree, which is weird (but pretty) for this time of year, and enough humans around to make it not creepy.
I'm thinking that after this, I might climb up to the top level through the forest that's a mixture of native bush and Japanese and European trees. It really works in Autumn. I know it will be hideously gruelling, and it's quite warm today, but I want and need to honour the plan to get fit that the gym challenge of the 31 Things was attempting to kick start. (We have not been going to the gym 2-3 times a week!)
What have we been up to?
Our soil testing kit arrived in the mail (but we haven't used it yet).
We took dinner to Kelly from Sustainable Communities who punctured her artery in a nasty bike accident a few weeks ago.
We went to the FoE Food Convergence and came away inspired. Highlights were learning about Adelaide Food Connect (which I would provide a link to but which unfortunately seems to be suffering from having been hacked just now - next time), realising the importance and value of farmers, insights about community in our particular society (I'm planning to write an essay about this one and incorporate it into my Masters), learning about Venezuela and the government of Chavez and buying a compost screw from Chris Day (actually not yet delivered - Hey Chris!). A further insight was the importance of participating in government and planning if you want things done, and with this in mind I've started thinking about maybe working for one of the local councils in some capacity. A job has actually come up at our Council down the street on the Parade that I'm going to apply for, though it would mean deferring the Masters for a bit.
Speaking of jobs - John has got one at the Science Exchange! They'll be paying him to come in two days a week and continue doing what he began for his internship. The Science Exchange is excellent, such a fun place to work. It's really exciting.
Another big insight has been reading posts like this. Of course this further leads into ideas about community, which more and more seems to be the conclusion to various discussions about enviro topics and sustainability. It's exciting for me to think about ways community can manifest, and I love looking to other countries for examples of what works and what doesn't.
My Peak Oil freakout is settling as well. I think I'll soon be ready to write the post!
I'll stop soon, as I'm starting to feel as if I'm writing one of those Christmas letters.
But just a couple more newsworthy items.
John had a birthday and was given a beer brewing kit! We discovered last night that as well as Alison's partner Mike, we also know some other brewers. Rachael and Andrew brew not only beer but apple cider. They also have several bee hives. CAN we fit a beehive into the local sociology and ecology of our tiny Norwood backyard? Stay tuned.
Our exhibitions are going really well and we've sold a lot of work. Selling work - to anyone - is a first for me, and I made my first sale to someone I didn't know the other day. I also received a phone call at midnight last night from a drunk guy at the pub where our work is showing saying how much he loved my photos! (He didn't offer to buy one, but who cares!)
Lastly, my camera continues unfixed and while I've been loaned another, I can't quite get into it in the same way.
Tomorrow night we're going to another forum about our local community garden.
And on March 1st, we're hosting our next Sustainable Communities meeting, where we'll have about a 50% increase in members. Then my Melbourne pal Lisa Dempster is staying with us, so she can attend the Format Fest. Did I mention it's Fringe Time? The ferris wheel is back and we will continue to give it a workout every few days.
Til next time.
PS Ignorant hate campaigns like Trevor Grace's can have triggering effects for people who are experiencing trauma about the issues of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Lifeline's (as in nonjudgemental support, not pro-lifeline!) 24 Hour Counselling Service is 13 11 14 if you need someone to talk to. Remember, no insensitive loony should be allowed to make you feel bad for doing what's best for you.
Fuck off, Trevor Grace. Leave me and my sisters alone!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome Jessica

This is my new niece Jessica, born last Monday at 11:15 pm.
Congratulations to Anne and Andy.