Monday, November 19, 2012

The Joys of Blogging

About a month ago I finished the first draft of my novel. I'm taking some time off now. I plan to return and it's still in my head; I just need to detach from it so when I get back to it I can do some ruthless editing.

That being the case, I brought along one of these blog posts to share at my writers' group on Sunday. One of my fellow writers asked me what I wanted him to look for. It's something we do; is this believable, does the dialogue flow, is there too much/little description etc? My reply was that I write the blog purely for enjoyment and didn't want to think about it too much, I simply wanted to share. Writing the blog is fun; I love doing it and don't want to censor myself in the sense that I'm so hung up on how it reads that I lose the joy.

I've also realized, however, that when I don't post I feel guilty. The truth is there are some days when it's just the same old, same old and any post I wrote would be a repetition so I refrain. We continue to work on our garden, try to keep waste down, try to shop ethically on a daily basis; I just don't always write about it. I'm not getting pressure from anyone else to post everyday, just from me. I don't want to lose the joy. So, keep on checking this space on a daily basis, it's a joy to write and post for you. I just can't guarantee that I'll post everyday. Other times, I may have the ideas for multiple posts in my head. The lot of a writer, I guess.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Bad Companies are Good

It would be quite logical for me to write that I wouldn't shop at Dick Smith electronics but would still buy Dick Smith food products. Why???? I hear you ask, confused.

I shall tell you. Dick Smith electronics is no longer owned by the man himself. I'm not sure what he thinks about his name still being used. It is owned by the Woolworths group, one of the duopoly. If things continue as they are, most shops in Australia will be owned by one of the two groups. That's not good for small, independent businesses or our wallets.

Dick Smith - as far as I can gather - still owns his food label. He is a passionate believer in buying Australian produced foods owned by Australian companies. Of course, Dick Smith doesn't deal with the food directly, he owns the label which is used on jars and boxes of food made by Australian companies he's chosen. I know that Sanitarium Foods is one such company. If you want to know more about Dick Smith foods, as well as his philosophy, click here.

The other company is Cadbury. I've been writing for some time that, despite their Fair Trade and organic chocolate ranges, I try to avoid buying their products. I stand by that because, as I've written before, they're owned by Kraft which is considered one of the bad boys. I would, however, buy Cadbury ice cream which is made under license by Bulla Dairy Foods, a family owned Australian business. I'm not sure of the agreement but Cadbury ice cream is Bulla ice cream. I'd rather just avoid the confusion and buy Golden North or Maggie Beer instead. We rarely buy ice cream anyway because of the packaging and the unhealthiness so, why not indulge in one of the local but more costly ones as an occasional treat?

I'm now sure I've cleared up any confusion you may have had. NOT.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time To Be Thankful ... Again ...

Last year, in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, I wrote a blog about what I was thankful for. I'm not going to  do that this year. Been there, done that. It's not that I'm not grateful; it's that I'm grateful for the same things. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here but, in the lead-up, I see many of my American family members and friends posting about their gratitude on Facebook. They have every reason to be grateful; they're middle-class Americans. That, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for. The same goes for being a middle-class Australian.

Yesterday I heard an inspirational 50 minute interview with James R Doty. Here is the link. I'd never heard of him and never would have had I not chanced upon this interview. I'm grateful that I did. One of the things he said that resonated with me is that in America - and thus by extrapolation in Australia - people rarely look at those lower than themselves on the socio-economic scale and think how fortunate they are. Instead, they look at those higher and wish they had what they had and believe that would make them happy. Since beginning Footprints I've rarely thought about those higher on the socio-economic scale. I'm thankful every day to be exactly where I am, both socio-economically and geographically. Okay, I admit I'd LOVE to live in North Adelaide and be able to attend more theatre and travel more. But if that's all I want that I don't have I'd say that's a pretty good position to be in.

What are YOU thankful for?



Monday, November 5, 2012

Eating Seasonally

Husband and I have always been very organised about planning menus and shopping accordingly. Our menus rarely - if ever - used seasonal veggies. We just buy what we need without thinking too much about it.

Our veggie harvest last summer caught us on the hop. We didn't expect such an abundant crop and found it hard to get out of our mindset of planning a menu and then buying the veggies. We did well once we got into it, however.

We're hoping this summer will be even bigger and better but we really need practise at planning a menu around existing veggies rather than planning first and then buying. To that end, last week I purchased our first seasonal veggie box from our on-line greengrocer. We didn't know what was going to be in it. It was sort of like Christmas/Chanukah opening the box and seeing what wonders were there. The box was full to brimming with veggies around which we planned this week's menu.

On Friday evening we had the mother of all stir fries. We ate off of that for three days. Then we had a traditional meat and roast veggie meal. (The kids had lentil patties.) Last night we had a vegetarian chilli which will feed us for a couple of days. We've discovered that mashed sweet potato added to chilli is a filling and tasty way to add extra bulk, vitamins and minerals so we did that. Tomorrow night we're having a potato, cauliflower and leek soup using the cauliflower growing in our garden.

First Froots sent us an iceberg lettuce which Teenage Son will eat. The rest of us prefer salad greens. I began to lament the fact that we didn't have enough greens left for our lunches today when Husband - who is working from home today - dashed out to the veggie patch and grabbed a handful for us to put in our salad. From garden to bowl in under five minutes.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

To Trick or Treat or not to Trick or Treat

I've been thinking about Halloween since, well since Halloween. The reason that I've given it any thought at all is that a couple of friends had lively and passionate debates about it on their Facebook pages. I probably wouldn't have given it any thought at all otherwise, except to make sure I had treats for the occasional little trick or treater that comes to our door.

We don't celebrate Halloween in Australia. There are small pockets of children who trick or treat but that's all. The debate was whether they should do so or not. The main reason against it was that it was an American, not Australian thing to do. The other was that few of the children involved know anything about All Hallow's Eve or All Saints Day.

Several years ago we had our first lot of trick or treaters and I was taken by surprise. We had nothing to give them. Since then I've always made sure I have something. This year we had no trick or treaters so, while Husband and I were out, our children ate them. (The treats, not any visiting children, I can assure you.)

Initially, when I began thinking about it, I was against the celebration of Halloween since it's not part of our culture. When I moved here over forty years ago from the U.S. it was a country heavily influenced by England and English culture; we celebrated Guy Fawkes Day. Over the years our influence has come much more from the U.S. Do we need to begin to celebrate something we've never celebrated before because of this influence? I would give that a resounding no. Except it's only a handful of children that are actually trick or treating; it's by no means a phenomenon that has swept the nation. There are loads of minority groups celebrating different festivals all the time. As a Jew, I do. Furthermore, we should be allowed to do so; it's a free country. One major difference is that you don't see me celebrating Chanukah, for example. Trick or treating is pretty visual. Let's face it, St Patrick's Day, essentially an Irish celebration, makes people wear green and get pissed on green beer every year. We don't begrudge them that; in fact, we all rather like being Irish on that day. (I fully understand the ties between Ireland and the early settlement of Australia.)

As for the children not knowing why they're trick or treating, how many children from non-religious families know that both Easter and Christmas are so much more than just a bunny, chocolate eggs, a man in a red suit and presents? That doesn't mean I think it's right. I would prefer people, including little people, to know why they're doing something and understand the symbolism behind it.

Having written all that, however, I don't like Halloween. That dislike is growing, too. I have nothing against Halloween itself. Sadly, even here where it's not part of our culture retailers have taken it on-board. It's now another celebration - conveniently located between Fathers' Day and Christmas - to encourage us to spend money in their stores and feel guilty if we don't. They don't give a shit about Halloween but they want us to feel obliged to buy lollies for the trick or treaters and costumes for our little darlings. If there is a push to celebrate Halloween coming from anywhere it's from business. I guess you've got to make a living; I just have a problem with doing so by engendering guilt.

In case you were wondering, my children didn't trick or treat; I don't recall them asking. Would I have let them? This may sound like a cop-out but, to be honest, I don't know.