I love The Weekend Australian Magazine – when I can get to
it - and this week I managed to steal some time on Sunday morning and actually read the articles. One in particular,
“That’s the Spirit” by Miriam Cosic, a discussion about people’s sense of community, caught my
“We’re losing our sense of community, it’s often said. But is it
That made me think.
G and I moved up to the Hills 8 years ago. We based our
decision on financial limitations and a search for certain lifestyle options.
It meant a move away from my family and my main circle of friends. It meant we
would have to find new connections in our new suburb.
Our initial attempts to form friendships with neighbours
weren’t helped by the neighbour’s dogs’ incessant barking, nor the three cars
of police who turned up early one morning to have a chat with another
neighbour, not realising he had moved out weeks before. And just as well!
But it wasn’t until we had our first daughter, and I attended
the local Child Health parenting classes, when I met other women who felt
equally out of their depth as I did. I was naturally drawn to other mothers in
my age vicinity, all of whom had had careers before children, so we felt a
certain affinity and formed a Mothers’ group. One of these women in particular
has become an amazingly loyal and dependable friend – we babysit each other’s
children and help out each other when we can. I found community through having
In more recent times I have found an online community –
other craft bloggers who are also trying to find a way to document their creative
lives and have something that belongs to them. This is bringing me great
satisfaction as I can dip into this creative world while staying at home with
In the end, trying to find a connection with our immediate
neighbours hasn’t been a total failure. Our most recent neighbours, R and L,
moved in 18 months ago. Their children are the same ages as ours. We share life
similar values. We all have a meal together every couple of months. We fixed
the fence so the kids can talk and play without becoming impaled on the wire.
We discuss the laying habits of our respective chickens. We discuss the
imminent dispatching of roosters.
And on Sunday R helped us out when we really needed it.
G was collecting wood from the official Department of Conservation
site – the girls and I bought the permit for that on Friday. Unfortunately,
once ensconced in the bush, G’s ute decided not to start. He was stuck, but
after a 4 km walk in steel capped boots to get mobile coverage, and another 4 + 7 kms out to the road, he managed to
get hold of me, and I managed to get hold of R. And R graciously agreed to help
Not such a cheap firewood experience as expected but, for
the cost of the car trailer hire and fish and chips with R’s family, we all
arrived back home just after dark, firewood in tow.
Is our sense of community disappearing? I don’t believe so.
It just changes as our lives change. We find community where we make it and
where we find people who have similar life beliefs. And I’m extremely thankful that
some of them live just over our back fence!
Edited to add:: School P & C meetings are also a great way to develop community. Besides, you can find out some great .....information .....along the way!!
What do you think?
Do you agree that our sense of community is disappearing? To what communities do you belong and how did you come to be part of them?
Last night we managed to keep our fire going. And I'm glad about that - really glad because, this morning, it was really COLD!!!!
And, because it was Cold, and we have now almost run out of wood*, the girls and I dropped in to the Hills Forest Centre** to purchase a wood collection permit from the Department of Conservation.
Where we saw kangaroos.
And the girls were impressed! But I don't think the kangaroos were.........
* not, I might add, because of last night's fire alone! That would mean our fireplace is spectacularly inefficient!! ** It is now called the Perth Hills Centre. I think the original name is more......descriptive, and certainly a lot more evocative.
Another Olearia cardigan, that is! This time I am knitting it for Miss E - cardigan number three - in Madeleinetosh Tosh DK Oceana. Mmmmm, lovely! This photo gives a much more realistic representation of the colour, compared to the photo I included in this post.
I am determined to get it finished so I can start something new, and also because the weather has declared that it is, most definitely, winter. This morning was rather chilly; it was only 3°C when we left for school. Funnily enough, Miss J wasn't too keen to go to her swimming lesson but Miss E wasn't so shy. Did I mention that the pool is heated and indoors?
And I haven't forgotten the hexagon blanket! That will get a work out as soon as I get this project completed. It is waiting patiently in its basket, waiting, waiting.....
The twins and I have been baking raspberry muffins and pizza bread; the latter with some of the leftover flatbread dough that has been lurking in our fridge! Yummmmm.
And, in a quiet moment, there has also been a little bit of knitting taking place as I catch up on last night's Masterchef episode before I cook dinner, pick up Miss M from school and head down the hill to her ballet lesson.
It is a very short-lived quiet moment, I might add!
All this while I anxiously wait for the Computerfixit man to call regarding the Sam-inflicted computer illness.
My computer is on the blink and I am Very Frustrated! I must admit, it's not all the computer's fault. It's actually mine. So it is having a holiday with the Computerfixitman and will arrive home by the end of the week, I hope!
As a result I have to do battle with the rest of my family to get access to the other computer - the one that isn't mine - the one that belongs to G! And suddenly I understand his own Frustration when he can't get to his own computer. Oh. I'll be a bit more understanding next time, I promise!
Not having so much computer access is not all so bad. I have been doing some more painting instead, this time working on a Name Painting for a neighbour's new baby boy. It's a good feeling to have a paintbrush back in my hand. I keep sneaking away to my work table to check the painting out and have another play with it. I was a bit stuck on the pattern colours for the background but I think that's sorted, now. Just as well - the baby is already 5 months old!
Without really realising it, I have got to the point where I am baking almost all the bread that our family eats, which, for a gluten intolerant girl, is rather a feat!
I originally came to the process of kneading the dough from a potter's point of view - to mix the clay and to remove air bubbles. In more recent times I have used my beloved bright red Kitchenaid mixer to do the kneading as it helped to save time.
It's brilliant. And, after leaving the dough in the fridge for the night as well which helped to develop a more mature flavour (and also helps break down the gluten to make it easier to digest), I found the resulting texture of the flatbread to be far superior to the bread I have made in the past.
Ah, yes, flatbread. My family's new passion. It is definitely a more time intensive process but the resulting bread gets quickly gobbled up. And, even though my oven is now working again thanks to two new elements, I will be continuing the flatbread baking for some time to come.
Ah, yes! One of the "things-most-likely-to-happen-in-the-hills" happened on Sunday - our power went out.
We really are getting quite used to the power outage deal (not that we LIKE it). We live among the trees, therefore if there is a big wind, branches come down and the power goes out. It seems logical, except because we live towards the end of a particularly long line, we do get rather a lot more outages than would otherwise be expected.
Sunday's was caused by a nasty storm that also knocked out power to over 130,000 other homes in our city. It was going to take some time to get it all up and running again, and so we settled in to wait - a couple of days, perhaps. And it made me think that there are always positives and negatives in such situations:
- my phone always needs to be charged just before the power goes out
- the twins' daycare was closed so no "day off"
- the ovenfixit man is due to check my dead oven - how, I don't know, but I'm reluctant to cancel just in case the power goes back on
- rechargeable batteries - great if they're already charged!
- the food in the freezer starts defrosting and needs to beused or chucked out
- the girls find the glitter container and proceed to sprinkle it far and wide just when I can't use the vacuum cleaner
- the twins' nightlight doesn't work - we haven't enough torches so I am woken four times by scared children in the middle of the night
- losing track of the time because the clock on the oven isn't working
- having the wood fire means we don't go cold
- we have a gas hot water system
- the girls and I are playing more games and puzzles
- early nights - no telly to convince myself that I really must watch
- candlelight ambiance
- the fridge gets a sort and a clean
- hand kneading the bread dough for the stove top flatbread = upper body workout and trying a new kneading technique
- a tidier house - I don't want to trip over anything in the dark!
- no technologically inspired distractions
- not too much cooking required because we are eating leftovers out of the freezer (I'm checking for raw chicken drumsticks, I can assure you!)
- losing track of the time because the clock on the oven isn't working!
Kneading by Candlelight!
But best of all is the silence!! It's so quiet without all the appliances doing their thing.
And just as I thinking that, the power went back on. 27 hours. Not too bad. And it could have been for a lot longer. And, given that an even worse storm has been forecast for tonight, we may be going through this all over again.
I was feeling the need for a bit of salad yesterday, so I was delighted when I ventured out to the vegie patch to discover that our lettuce is booming..... that is, the lettuce that Miss M didn't rip out when she 'harvested' last week!
One of my favourite salads at the moment is one that I threw together myself when playing with the ingredients I had available one day last summer. This is its winter form, as in summer I include a luscious yellow peach or two. Nectarines also work well. But the winter form is yum, nevertheless, and this is the ingredient combination I always come back to.
mini Grape tomatoes (I think these taste so much better than cherry toms)
Ah, yes! Camping has its joys, for sure! And one of them is the preparation. Not to mention the packing.
"Have you got everything?", my husband asked me.
"Have you checked your list?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes I Am!!"
Or so I thought.
Until we had driven two or so hours into the Wheatbelt, climbed some rocks, had a picnic with lots of bush flies, found a campsite, lit a fire for our barbecue dinner, and set up the rest of the camping gear. Lovely spot!
Until I thought, "Right. Time to get dinner sorted."
Until I opened the esky to pull out the sausages for the night's dinner......only to discover that I had, in fact, pulled the chicken drumsticks out of the freezer at home that morning instead of the sausages. Oh oh.
G just looked at me.
I was not popular with the girls either!
But the egg and bacon rolls we had for dinner were rather yummy.
And the esky did stay extra cold for the duration of our trip, thanks to the defrosting chicken. Which made a yummy casserole the night after we got home.
On afternoon Friday I was super organised - fruity beef casserole prepared and in the oven, three lots of bread ingredients measured and ready to go, one already mixed, kneaded and rising, and the potatoes for the mash washed and ready to cook.
Right. It's just after 5, the casserole should be bubbling away nicely. Let's just check it to see how it's doing.......except, it's not. Doing anything. It's just sitting there and hasn't cooked!
Hmmmmm. Don't panic. Yet. Check the dials. No, they are set to the right positions. Has there been a power failure? Of course not - the clock is still working.
My oven is dead!
Okay. Decant casserole into slow cooker for dinner tomorrow night (it was yummo, by the way!). Rustle up carbonara for tonight. But what about the bread?
Wait a minute! Why not flatbread, a la River Cottage bread man? Remember that little book I referred to in this post? It's the River Cottage Bread Handbook which I have lovingly read. It's very thorough and I have been using some of his techniques but not yet his recipes. Time for more technique - flatbread technique!
And the technique, you can see, is rather simple. We set up a production line and, in the end, Miss M was running the show (with supervision on the side from me, of course. She is only 5, after all!).
We had hot flatbread for breakfast - with butter and honey. Yum! Flatbread for lunch - did you know it turns into pockets like pita bread? Ours did, anyway.
I'll be making more flatbread tomorrow morning, too, while I prepare for discussions with Mr Ovenfixitman. However, while we may have stove-top bread, it seems unlikely that there are any more buns for this oven! Ha!
P.S. I hope, if you are from WA, that you had a great Western Australia Day holiday today, and a fabulous long weekend. We went camping. More on that tomorrow. After I get some sleep!!
While the weather today is rather winterish - grey, cloudy and cool - my Miss J is a very happy and sunny girl because, last night, I finished her yellow Olearia cardigan!
Miss J has been waiting for this cardi; "I can't put a jumper on because my Mummy is knitting me a lellow* cardi". So you can see that I had a bit of pressure on to get it finished. And yet, I baulked. A couple of weeks ago it was close to being finished and I can't put my finger on why, but it then took me another 10 days or so to get my act together and complete it.
Oh well. It's finished now, and Miss J is very grateful. She got dressed this morning quick smart, choosing these other clothes to complete the outfit. She even put a flower pin in her hair! And then posed for photos at playgroup.
I enjoyed knitting this pattern for the second time. I'm not so sure I'm so happy about knitting it again so soon after completing this one, though, but Miss E is determined to get her cardi now that her sister already have theirs.
"Do you want the same pattern? Or do you want something that's completely different and all your own?"
"It is different, Mummy. It will be blue."
And I have another confession. You may have noticed that I have been playing with filters on these photos? Well, I now have an iphone (recycled from my mother's upgrade - thanks, Mum!) and I am in Serious Like with Instagram, not that I'm sharing photos there. I'm just using the filters for the photos I take on the phone to upload when I like. This portable editing feature is seriously addictive!
Have a great weekend. We are having a long weekend here; Monday is a public holiday for Western Australia's Foundation Day. Yippee!
* 'lellow' for 'yellow' is intentional spelling because that's how she says it right now!