Everyday Heartbreaks

1. Losing your new summer shorts just before getting your legs waxed and finding them again 3 weeks later, thus missing the only period of the summer in which you could have walked around proudly  like ‘woman’ rather than ‘yeti’.

2. Folding and putting away the towering pile of laundry from the couch and admiring the stark, pristine beauty of that rarely-seen piece of furniture before bringing in a new load and starting the cycle all over again, like that moment never happened.

3. Having lunch with your family in the strong sunshine and feeling OK about your middle aged face when your daughter asks ‘Mum, are you growing a beard?’

Scattered amongst the myriad joys of life on the homestead come these nuggets of heartbreak, and from these nuggety nuggets we grow strong and resilient, hearty of character, and wise,  comrades!

Shine on, you hairy, shambolic, filthy diamonds.

 

Morning Routines, School Lunch Inspo and Memories of My First Starting School

It feels like a long time (but only three years)  since I wrote the following about my first little chickadee starting school:

Peanut has been counting down the sleeps until school starts for the last fortnight. We’ve been freezing lunches. Constructing charts for morning routines. And I have been trying to not pay too much attention to the little knot of panic that seems to have taken up residence somewhere between my chest and my throat.

These last few weeks, we’ve been living the final moments of the intimate bubble in which I’ve spent the last five years. A private little domestic world of babies and breastfeeding, toddlers and tantrums and toilet-training. Of wearing a track between the stove and the washing machine. Long days of baby illnesses and endless nights of broken sleep. My time spent almost entirely within these walls. This warm and wonderful and infuriating and precious place.

This nest.

Sweet firstborn Peanut is our first chick to flee. For five years, this little girl of mine has been my whole world. I have cooked for her, washed her clothes, nursed her flu’s and soothed her worries. All, I realise now, somehow preparing her for this next chapter. The part where she trots off into the yonder without me. Those beautiful little arms and legs that I have cuddled too many times to count have somehow, sneakily, grown so big that this morning they marched my little one into school. Marched her into kindy without a backwards glance at her teary, trembly mama, who stood clutching the next-biggest child just a little too tightly. All day I have been feeling ever-so-slightly sick.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, said Yeats. I love this. I’m so happy for Peanut to enter a learning environment, to light that fire, to start forging her own path. I am. I feel proud of this kind, funny, interesting and clever daughter of mine and I can’t wait to see what kind of mark she will make upon the world. But within me is a battle. I long to send Peanut forth to fight (and win! please, god) her battles, and at the same time I long to wrap her in my arms, pack her in my handbag and shield her from all the pain that life, and the schoolyard, can bring.

I guess the wrapping and the packing and the shielding will have to happen, from now on, outside the hours of nine and three, except for the love that I can somehow squirrel to Ivy through the medium of her lunchbox.

With slight shame, I think about the research I did on home-schooling. Three years into school, the summer holidays nearly drive me nuts, so I would never have coped with full-time education.

Do you have a child starting school tomorrow? I’ve got one going into Year 3, one into Year 1, and my littlest is going to be two days a week at day-care this year. I have lots of plans for the year ahead. It will be busy – I hope wonderfully so. My aim is to keep on top of my health, so that I can keep the show on the road with joy in my heart, like a Mormon wife (but without the magic underpants. Google it.

You’ll be glad you did.)

Karate, drama, Girl Guides, soccer, rugby, book-writing, coffee, yoga, family dinners, singing, books, baths, chocolate-making and  canoeing trips. It should be a great year.

If you have a little starting tomorrow, good luck! After the tears dried, we absolutely loved being part of a school community and it has been a huge source of joy and fun in our lives ever since.

For school morning inspo: morning routines from a couple of masters.

For lunchbox inspo: school lunches from around the world (all images from tripbase.com.)

Japan.

USA

Korea

France

Good luck, comrades! Deep breaths. May the games begin.

Honest School Notes #7

Dear Office,

I realise school is not back until next Wednesday, but this letter is to ask you a big favour: could you possibly begin the school term a few days early? I will pay you anything. Anything you ask.

You remember we took the last 5 weeks of term off to go to Tasmania, and so I’ve been with the kids for a few months now; all day, every day. It’s been wonderful, Office. Really fantastic. But I think we may have reached a limit and if you don’t take my children back to school I will likely require institutionalisation.

My eldest daughter has taken to sneaking up behind me when I’m on the phone complaining in coded language to my friends. I would sew little bells to her shoes except that the idea of doing craft right now makes me want to cry and if I start crying, Office, I just might not stop until the Community Mental Heath Team arrive.

I think my middle child has actually forgotten what pants are for and the smallest, usually so easygoing, is turning into a violent criminal. She needs almost no provocation to beat her siblings with a wooden spoon.

In general, the sibling battles have been pretty pitched the last few days. They’re tired of each other. Meanwhile, the house still needs managing -the endless laundry, the toy explosions – and the feeding and watering of the kids is ridiculous. Tapeworms are a real possibility. ‘Mum, I’m hungry. Mum, I’m hungry. Mum, I’m hungry.’

Yesterday one asked ‘What’s for dinner?’ while we were sitting at the table eating lunch. I would have cried except for, well, what I said before about being involuntarily scheduled. Although, a lovely long rest in some crisp, air-conditioned hospital does not sound all bad.

While I’m engaged with the housework and the cooking and the packing and unpacking of the beach bag, the children fight. The sweaty heat is turning the scene around here from Little House into a prison movie. The inmates get sweaty and irritable and start looking for a reason to get angry. Somebody gives somebody else the side-eye, the match is put to a flame and it’s on. One is shrieking, one is weeping and the little one is attacking wildly with the wooden spoon. ‘Hold on!’ I have to tell them. ‘Sorting out this argument is going to be super fun but I just have to clean the toilet first.’

I am tired, Office. My back is hurting.   The wide selection of tasty crudites that we began the holidays with have been replaced with the sandy box of Jatz crackers, and in terms of discipline, I am hovering between the pathetic, ironic stage of screaming ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ and  rocking in a cornering whimpering ‘you guys…please…’

The problem is that I have completely and utterly run out of patience, and I need those hours between 9 and 3 to restore, Office.

Please, Office.

Please.

Yours,

Ms. McIntosh

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5

Honest School Notes #6

 

 

Watching, Reading, Listening #1

A list of books, shows and podcasts that I have loved lately.

Reading: Not That Kind Of Girl, by Lena Dunham. Candid, unexpected, fresh and funny.

There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their storyis one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.

I also really loved Alan Hollinghursts The Line Of Beauty recently, and a wonderful female take on Madison Avenue in the 60′s, Mad Women by Jane Maas.

Lastly, I re-devoured Fun Home, an astonishingly moving and beautiful graphic novel about family life by comic artist Alison Bechdel (fun fact – she’s the creator of the once-learned-never-forgotten Bechdel Test).

Listening: The excellent Guardian podcast The Digested Read. I’m working my way back through the archives. Satirist John Grace distils the essence of a book into 600 words, and then joins a panel to review it. Grace’s take-offs are painfully, wickedly funny. The Stephen Fry episode – although desperately harsh to Fry, whom I adore – is a highlight.

I know what you’re thinking. What has silly old Stephen gone and done now? To you, my darlings, I can only put my hands up and admit that this third volume of autobiography is every bit as narcissistic and unrevealing as the previous two. If you want an interesting autobiography, in which you find out who did what to whom(I’m still very particular about that usage), then I suggest you read Rupert Everett’s absolutely marvellous humdinger of a book. I just don’t have it in me to be that honest about either my friends or myself. I’m far too needy of people’s approval. Besides, I genuinely find that everyone I meet is absolutely marvellous. I worry, too, that some of you sweethearts might find this unbearably smug – “There goes Stephen off on one again” – but the truth is I would rather have that than the thought I was being ignored.

Knowing where to start is always incredibly tricky. Should I plunge straight into the mephitic swamp of my cocaine years, or should I spend the first 100 pages rehashing the first two volumes of my autobiography? After a nano-second of indecision, I find that what I want, even if you don’t, is a little more of La Vie En Fry, because the more often I reread myself, the more interesting I find I become. I still chortle every time I get to the passage when the be-cardiganed library assistant ruffled my hair when I was 12. Such schoolboy larks!

Watching: I am thrilled to have discovered the latest season of the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills on iTunes. Much fine and witty  snark to be had from my favourite Housewife Lisa Vanderpump.

Lastly, Keith and I have just watched out way right through all seven seasons of Peep Show – very British, very hilarious and very silly. I think the hand signal for ‘Wank Bullet’ will be part of our language for many years. PLEASE tell me if you are a Peep Show fan. I am laughing thinking about it. On my own, late at night in bed with my sore back while Keith works on his algorithms, I absolutely loved the Maggie Gyllenhaal drama The Honourable Woman. With the kids, we’re starting to really get into the Gilmore Girls – I think it will become a favourite family show.

Happy leisure time,  my friends! Let me know if you are reading, watching or listening to anything good.

xx

 

Just A Boy and His Slime Bucket

Vintage bird graphic source

Ever since T-Bone found a frog at bedtime and named him Trevor, the kids have had a thing for tadpoles. There’s a big overflow container next to our rainwater tanks, and they have spent many happy hours fishing in it, collecting ‘Trevors’ in jars, and keeping a Trevor Health and Progress Chart (one memorable entry: ‘Looks like he’s looking for something’.)

But six year old T-Bone has developed a more specific interest in the small, disgusting container he calls his ‘slime bucket.’ I cannot paint a more vivid portrait than that – it is a bucket, and it is full of slime.

The dark, gritty liquid that lives in the bucket would be more than slimy enough for most people, but not my T-Pot. He’s on a mission to make his bucket full of the slimiest slime ever known to man. He has poured soap and milk in it, to feed the Trevors. He has added lettuce seeds to it, and he wees in it often (because that works on the lemon tree). T-Bone is sure that his slime bucket is going to grow the best lettuces ever.

I caught him yesterday with his hand in the slime bucket and I decided that enough was enough. ‘I’m tipping the slime bucket over the deck,’  I said, hoisting the disgusting concoction up high. ‘It’s a health hazard.’

‘Nooooooooooooooooooooo!’ cried T-Bone, as through I was proposing to throw away his first-born child. ‘Please Mummy! Not my sliiiiiiime buckeeetttt!” Real, anguished tears were shed.

I had to relent. I suppose I had not realised how very important his slime bucket was to him. I set some new guidelines: you can add stuff to it, you can stir it with a stick, and you can wee in it if that is so critical to your experiment, but you cannot touch it, ever.

I only hope that he has not, in fact, hit on some crazily accurate scientific frog-Frankenstein formula (soap plus small-boy-wee plus slime) and at some point, massive Trevors will start emerging from the bucket and hop onto my pillow in the middle of the night.

Three Small Children Walk Into A Restaurant

This post was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, December 2014

Teenage delinquents, 1930

We’ve got this saying in our family that we call ‘Pulling a Mamma Mia’. It dates from the year my mum thought that the flamboyant ABBA themed chick flick by the same name would be fun for the extended family to watch after Christmas lunch. The male side of the family gang included (with all respect) a rev-head, a scientist, a footy tragic and a grumpy septuagenarian. It did not go well. One by one, the men left in disgust, and ever since, a ‘Mamma Mia’ is the name we call any situation where your hopes and dreams are unlikely to be borne out in reality.

Road trips with small children, for instance? Mamma Mia. Fancy all-white outfit on a two- year-old?  Mamma Mia. Any event that keeps the kids up after bedtime? Mamma Mia. Classically, a Mamma Mia ends in tears (definitely the children’s, and likely the parents too.)

Sadly, taking my three kids under eight to a restaurant is a total Mama Mia for me. I love the idea of this so much. Unfortunately, there is a large gulf between how I imagine a family restaurant outing, and the noisy, weepy, shameful reality of the thing.

Recently we stopped at a little Japanese joint for dinner on the way home from a party in the city. It had already been a long day, we had an hour’s drive ahead, and the best idea would have been some sort of takeaway in the car.

But I don’t get out much, and when I spied this little Japanese restaurant, it seemed perfect. My husband Keith was skeptical, but when he saw the Mamma Mia fervour burning in my eyes, he conceded. In we trotted, the five of us; kids aged seven, five and three, hopped up on party sugar and skating on the emotional edge of impending bedtime and big-city excitement.

It went downhill fast. The kids lolled and dangled over their chairs like chimpanzees. They moaned and whinged. They insisted on using the chopsticks but wailed when every mouthful fell off en route to their faces. Sadly, nobody was giving our table admiring glances.  In fact, other customers seemed to avoiding eye contact altogether.

The three year old, who is obsessed with new toilets, insisted we visit the loo and kept me in there, standing by her throne, insisting ‘I not finiched,’ for ten minutes, as she sang ‘Everything is Awesome’ to herself and swung her legs. Everything was not awesome.

Back at the table, the tired and sensitive seven year old was trying to force green vegetables in her mouth. She could see that Mum and Dad were stressed out, and I could see that she was going to choke. It wasn’t ideal. Five year old T-Bone was creating peak mess, surrounded by a circle of rice and seaweed and trying to drink through three straws threaded together. At least little Pudding looks cute perched up at her chair, I thought, and turned to see her with her hands down her pants. ‘I touching my gina!’ she informed the room, with delight and pride, at the top of her voice.

It cost us fifty bucks and ten minutes down the road the whinging began from the back seat. ‘I’m hungry Mama. What’s for dinner?’ Oh, man. Mamma Mia.

Shirley Temple gif from Buzzfeed.

Bookshelf: Trying To Understand Terrorism

The Charlie Hebdo murders in France have me heartsick and worried. What is going on? I am moved by ‘Je Suis Charlie’, which, like #illridewithyou, is a communal rising up of so many  voices for moderation and tolerance. But what is happening? What is happening? How do we make sense  of the complex and terrifying nature of Islamic fundamentalism?

I am so far from an expert – I struggle to keep up – but I have read a couple of books recently that have helped me try and make sense of Al Qaeda and I thought I would share them with you here.

This week I have been reading Mariane Pearls book A Mighty Heart, the story of the kidnapping and murder of her husband, Washington Post journalist Daniel Pearl, by Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl is a remarkable woman and writer, pregnant with their only son at the time of Daniel’s murder, and her book is a heartbreaking read. Her tale of fighting for justice for Danny – a gifted musician as well as a journalist –  paints a vivid portrait of the massive Al Qaeda network. As she tries to understand what has happened, the team she works with cover a wall with a vast, unwieldy map of people, contacts and locations. The map, as a symbol, feels indescribably daunting.

‘My impression, ‘ Pearl says, ‘is that the terrorists know much more about America than America knows about them, which is why the West needs to embrace the world better.’

Secondly, I’d love to direct you towards The Looming Towers – Al Qaeda and The Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright, an investigative journalist from the New Yorker. Wright won the Pulitzer for this study on the origins and development of Al Qaeda, and in particular Bin Laden, and he does an incredible job of ordering the complex and messy history of modern Islamic fundamentalism into a coherent narrative. I feel the need to read this book again, after this week. Where Marianne Pearl’s story is an intensely personal story, the Looming Towers tries to locate this brand of fundamentalism in history. Both books are fantastic reads.

These two books are both published before the modern ISIS era, which has changed the landscape again, so dramatically, and they represent only what I myself have found helpful.  If any of you have read anything else that has shed some light on the topic, especially something more recent, I’d love to hear from you.

All we can do is try to understand why these things are happening, so they we might be some part of the solution. How, I don’t know. Only that knowledge holds power, in these days when forces of hatred would try and shut knowledge down.

Welcome to 2015: Tales From A Campfire

Theda Bara in Cleopatra, 1917, in both the costume and attitude I plan to embody for 2015, except for the left nipple, which looks painful.

Gais! HOW ARE YOU? It’s been AGES!

*squeals**jogs on spot* *flaps hands wildly*

I’ve been off the writing horse and it takes a little effort to jump back in the saddle, especially at my advanced age (emotional, 14, physical,  86). But I’ve put my bloggers boots on (vegan-friendly faux leather, Cuban heel) and I’m ready to emote. I am, I am!

*flaps hands again*

On New Years Eve, I was perched around a campfire in the driveway with my beloved K-Dog and another couple that we’ve known for half our lives. (Fun fact: K and I first pashed at their wedding, Berrima, 2001. Our eyes met. ) We have kids the same age and we aim to always spend New Years Eve together around a fire.

We had a vegetarian feast, and overdosed on pavlova, and we played games with the five kids like ‘Would You Rather’ and ‘Which Animal Are You?’ We sang campfire songs, chaperoned the sparkler dancing, allowed some late-night Tom and Jerry viewing, and then we packed the smalls  off to bed and rolled into the adult segment of the evening.

Pretty soon kids started appearing at the door complaining about each other. Somebody was giggling. Somebody was whispering too loud. Somebody was making funny noises.

Keith went in first to reiterate the rules. It’s been a big night, you’ve had a lot of fun, it’s sleeping time now. He was firm but kind, as is his wont. As he left, he said ‘Now, the next parent that has to come in here is going to be mad, so if I were you, I’d settle down.’

Back at the fire, he said ‘Right, Rach, you’re up next, and you need to be tough. I’ve sold you up.’

On with the festivities. I remembered how to play ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ on the guitar, employing the Christian strumming I first learned (and cannot unlearn) in the Sacred Heart church aged nine. (A) Father, in my life I (D) see, (A) you are God who walks with (G) me… (I will YouTube this on request.) Much laughing, eating,  singing. There was ‘Fernando’, a highlight. We began discussing plans for life and the year ahead, and I pulled the party ciggies out of my secret hiding place in a fake book on a high shelf.

And then a little face appeared again at the front door.

In I went, slightly wobbly navigating the top step, but steady overall, and started with some fairly assertive tucking in of sheets. ‘Now, these shenanigans have gone on long enough,’ I said. ‘ I am pretty mad right now. I’m not happy. In fact I must tell you that I am quite significantly annoyed. BUT,’ and here I paused and looked at the children one by one, ‘I am not as mad as the next parent who has to come in here. Oh, man, they are really going to be super mad. So if I were you, I would go to sleep.’

I was pretty pleased with this although I  may have undercut my message a little bit when I called ‘Sweet dreams!’ at the doorway before doing a little party kick. I was just having too good a time to sustain the fake anger. When I got  back to the fire I told Tam  that she was up next.

‘You have to be really really mad’, I said. ‘However that  manifests for you.’

We refreshed drinks, and debated  how to manage the next interruption. With a couple of scientists in the group, we thought perhaps we could apply a little rigour to the situation. What if one went in as an attachment parent, and breastfed them all? Then one as some sort of fundamentalist spare-the-rod parent who spanked them while reciting Romans 8:28? These suggestions went on for some time. I thought in all honesty we should employ the newest theory in the parenting arsenal, the CTFD or ‘Calm The Fuck Down’ approach, and just let them have the party of their lives until they fell asleep in a heap, but I was voted down.

Tam went in and unleashed her serious clinical psychologists stare, but even that did not shut down the party the children were having.

Eventually, after we had performed our traditional ‘conga line of suckholes’ around the fire (a dance that dates from the Mark Latham era of 2004), the familiar little face came back and Tristan went in, the final cog in our wheel of discipline, to end the shenanigans once and for all. He sat in the corner of the bedroom and to every indignant little voice that tried to argue their position or claim innocence of naughtiness, he answered ‘I’m not interested. I’m just going to sit here until you go to sleep.’

The Silent Presence of The Pissed-Off  Dad. A classic approach, and a successful one. Off they all went to sleepy bobos, that little bunch of funny kids, leaving their parents to enjoy the stars above, the sound of distant fireworks, the easy delight of being with old friends, and the changing over of another year.

I think it will be a wonderful one. I’m looking forward to it.

*flaps hands again* *can’t stop flapping* *calls the Radio Doctor for sedative*

x

The Agrarian Kitchen

Disclosure: I visited the Agrarian Kitchen as a guest of Rodney and Severine, but all opinions are my own.

Be prepared: visiting the  Agrarian Kitchen might involve a stabbing, painful case of the Life Envies. If you love kitchen gardens – this is the garden you would have in our dreams. If you love cookbooks – this is the cookbook collection you would have. And if you like to cook, this is the kitchen you would spend your days in.

Rodney Dunn and his wife Severine Demanet opened the Agrarian Kitchen eight years ago as a place for them to  create ‘paddock to plate’ cooking experiences. They found this farm (5 acres surrounding a 19th century schoolhouse) in the Lachlan Valley, 45 minutes outside Hobart in 2007. They then proceeded to renovate extensively (and acclimatise to the the biting Tasmanian winter) before forging ahead, newborn baby in tow, to open their cooking school in 2009.

‘During the first year of our operation, it was just the two of us’, says Rodney. ‘I would teach the class and Severine would wash up, in between caring for Tristan. She would put him down for a sleep in time to help serve the meal and pour the wine. If we were lucky he would sleep through until the end of class.’

That was then. Now, the Agrarian Kitchen is a bustling, beautiful garden paradise, and the cooking school has won international accolades.

When I visited recently, our day began with coffee and cake, chatting with our group of eight and admiring the cookbooks.

Oh my giddy aunts old donkey, the cookbooks. It’s an amazing collection. (Rivals my mothers, which is saying something.)

Next, we clambered into the house gumboots, gathered our baskets and went out for a roam around the garden, animal pens and smokehouse. Across their five acres, Rodney and Severine have created a vegetable and herb garden, berry patch, and orchard, all functioning around principles of sustainable practice. From the poly-tunnels to the smokehouse, it’s a living work of art.  Really beautiful.

We gathered ripe and seasonal provisions for our feast, and all the while, Rodney – charming, taking even our stupidest questions seriously –  explained their farming practice and pointed out interesting things in the garden. For instance, we stood chatting and tasting herbs for ages, while Rodney explained that purslane has the highest omega 3 of any herb – a great nutrition boost for salads – and chive plants made the loveliest (edible) purple dandelion-like flowers. Lemon balm mint has a lovely flavour ( and makes a nice tea) while lovage, an under-utilised garden hero can be used ‘like a stock cube’ according to Rodney.  Also, tomato plants love a tea made of beetroot leaves. From Rodney, to me, to you. You’re welcome!

We got up close and personal with Rodney’s goat. I was so excited to milk her, which felt, unexpectedly, like squeezing a hot, furry, water balloon, something I’ve had on my bucket list for quite some time. We collected enough milk to cook with, and to taste (fun fact:  fresh goats milk tastes like a very creamy cows milk. The ‘goatiness’ develops with age.)

Next, we headed into the kitchen, where a most glorious moment came for me (hallelujah! )when I found the stools tucked away under each perfectly stocked counter-space. I’d been stepping from foot to foot for a while like an high-strung pony and worrying about how to manage the next four hours on my feet. My back would never stand up to a commercial kitchen. Also, I’m pretty sure that Gordon Ramsey doesn’t bring you a coffee while you read through your cooking plan.

We all strapped on our aprons and grinned at each other across the long bench. Real life Masterchef! With coffee! And stools! I could not have been happier.

We split into pairs to work on each section of the menu, under Rodney’s guidance. Here’s our menu:

My team-buddy and I were put on the Wagyu beef dish, which featured the most glorious Cape Grim beef.

Pretty soon the kitchen was full of activity as we all chopped and diced and simmered. We made ricotta and ice-cream with our goats milk and learned to roll a pasta rotolo – sort of a roulade – in a clean tea-towel, rather than glad wrap. Rodney advised and taught. Tips from a chef! So much fun. Here’s one: little patty-pans make the perfect blind-baking-bean holders when making individual pies. Also, ‘never miss an opportunity to develop flavour, ‘ says Rodney. ‘Always cook your onions for ten or fifteen minutes to give them a chance to release the sugars. Have patience.’

After a couple of hours, our feast was ready to hit the table and we all sat down for a glass of wine and to taste our creations – which were delicious of course.  Ingredients fresh-collected from the garden and cooked by an enthusiastic team of eight. Plus, all that country air had worked us all up quite an appetite.

It’s so fun to be in the company of other food-lovers, learning a new skill and wandering through such an astonishing garden. Plus, it’s hard not be inspired spending time with somebody like Rodney, who, along with his wife, has imagined and executed his dream with such panache. If you are visiting Tasmania, the Agrarian Kitchen might well be the highlight of your trip.

More details of the Agrarian Kitchen

Buy Rodney’s (signed)  cookbook

Bon appetit!

Keep Calm and Show Compassion

On this awfully sad day, at the end of a sad week, it was perhaps not the best moment to finally read the last chapters of Seven Little Australians to my biggest Peanut. I cried so much when Judy died, I had to keep wiping my face on my dress, and I kept thinking about all the children – in Pakistan, in Queensland, the three left motherless in Sydney… I’m moved by the outpouring of love in Sydney expressed by that sea of flowers, I love #illridewithyou but I’m heartsick so this week, rocked by the fact  that so much suffering has been enacted on children.

It was a good day to come across a TED Radio Hour special on compassion, and particularly these words from Krista Tippet, host of the podcast ‘On Meaning’.

Compassion is a core virtue that has within it a lot of the other virtues. It’s a really central lens on what it looks like to lead a worthy life, with gracefulness and purpose and a sense of meaning. Compassion is kind, and kindness is a kind of everyday byproduct of all the great virtues. And it is a most edifying form of instant gratification.

Compassion is also curious. It cultivates and practices curiosity. Compassion can be synonymous with empathy. It can be joined with the harder work of forgiveness and reconciiation,m but it can also express itself oin the simple act of presence. It’s linked to practical virtues like generosity and hospitality too. And to just being there. Just showing up.

My best to you this week. May we all exercise our kindness muscles until they hurt.

Krista’s Ted talk is contained within the full TED podcast here.