29 April 2008

bingi things

I took these over the new year when I was relishing not going anywhere for three weeks. Discovered the potential within my little Ixus while it's big brother (the 350D) was in Collingwood for much-needed TLC.

Pretty explanatory - still (and still kicking) life around Bingi.

meet the neighbours / wall feather

road to bingi / people with paddocks make hay

119 in cat years

small argument for weeds

west boundary

twiggy doodad I made / beautiful laundry

k's lantern / stone by r

22 April 2008


With travels over and no work lined up til September, I’ve unwittingly winged into a new demographic: underemployed (I prefer ‘under’ to denote a temporary deficiency, as in ‘undernourished’, rather than ‘un’ to denote a complete absence, as in ‘unloved’, or a negative opposite, as in ‘unnatural’).

And so it is, I have no income and a negative cashflow. A rather tenuous situation, as previously noted, but one which became abundantly clear this week when I was completing an application for a ‘low income’ health care card. The questions covered every possible, legal source of income, from paid work to investments to welfare. After ticking ‘no’ to all these, there was a question along the lines of, ‘well, how have you been supporting yourself for the past eight weeks then, hmm?’ (eight weeks being the qualifying period for said card). To which I replied, ‘savings’, ignoring the fact that it’s been quite a bit longer than eight weeks and omitting my ingenuity in slivering my cost of living to a shadow of its former self. (For example, by not paying rent for eight months.)

The sway of the question (which I may have embellished above) was that it is impossible to forgo an income for eight weeks whilst continuing to exist as a valid human being. (When the Centrelink man asked me for a weekly average of my previous two months’ income, I was so unreasonably guilted that I dared not retort, despite my intense wishes, with a look of ‘how much white-bread-eating, TV-watching, four-wheel-driving and wage-slaving have you committed in the past eight weeks?’)

So despite this being a potentially depressing scenario – and despite my initial panics and Centrelink-induced guilts – I’m quite joyous at the realisation that I already have one foot outside The System. No income. Minimal consumption. Self-supporting. I’m over the wall, undetected. Now, if I can just find that unholy grail: to cover my living costs, and to enjoy doing so whilst contributing something good to the world. Argggghh, I’m a blaspheming, sorcerous wench!

I will exhaust my little acorn stash if I must. Otherwise, it’ll be hello suits-n-heels (and I think I’d rather stick a tarred knitting needle in my eye).

17 April 2008

baking and being

In his amusing yet highly-evolved ‘How to be Free’, Tom Hodgkinson suggests 'just being' is a good way to discover one’s true vocation – that which one is passionate about and can earn money from, outside the manacles of 'career'. A stint with no distractions, just free-flowing life.

As self-indulgent as this sounds, this is where I find myself now. Just being. For the first time since Life After Desk began roughly eight months ago.

And as conscientiously as I squirreled in preparation for this time to ‘be’, actually doing the ‘being’ is fraught with anxiety. For while I’m studiously ‘being’ I’ve got one eye on all that hard-earned, which is rapidly ‘going’. Which does not help me figure out how the hell I can 'be' in a way that is fulfilling, ongoing, self-supporting and contributes something remotely worthwhile to someone/something somewhere.

So here I am, trying to ‘be’ without money angst, when along comes an opportunity to boat-sit. For the next week I’m in a waterfront house on two hulls. In the centre of Melbourne. With the tram at my door. And the Vic Market a short walk away.


Delaying the invincible lure of bookshops and 'discovery wandering', I spend a morning trawling the market. Back on the boat, I unload my spoils. These include a small slab of salted Warrnambool butter to accompany my first ever batch of home-made sourdough – a rye. After five days of compliant stirring and waiting (in Gippsland) for my sourdough starter to ‘be’, I realise I have a showdown on my hands. The boat’s oven is notorious: it knows only one temperature – hell.

Despite my constant coddling, the loaf burns on one side. Given the oven situation and my cookbook’s caveats about expectations and learning curves, it’s a passable first try. Respectable crust, cakey texture and a proper sourdough taste with a definite rye-ness about it. Served warm and buttery with swiss browns and organic wilted baby spinach. Mmm! And I didn't spend anywhere near six bucks - the going price for a decent loaf - on it.

[Am also looking forward to dipping the bread into a bowl of soup nirvana - cauliflower, cayenne and coconut milk. Made this last week with an 80 cent cauli on the Yarram IGA throw-out table. It ranks as one of the year's meal highlights.]

Thus I will continue baking and being... and dreaming about the next meal… and trying not to worry where it’s coming from!

“Career is just posh slavery.” – Tom Hodgkinson

15 April 2008

things worth waiting for...

The new issue of dumbo feather
Fulfilling work
Proper catch ups with old friends
Rediscovering my home town (again)
Cold afternoons in bookshops...

07 April 2008

Joy to the world (and the pain of uninterrupted sitting)

I’m back!

After two months I’ve been reunited with laptop and 24-hour internet connection.

[Chorus of angels appears]

Have also been taking Vittoria intravenously.

Whilst idling over hilarious blogs.

And ingesting intestinally-threatening quantities of real cheese, olives, red meat and all kinds of not-white bread… and sushi from James Street markets… and field mushrooms on sourdough with mmm-gooey fetta and truffle oil from Cirque… but I digress…

So once the important business of essential-foods-I-haven’t-had-for-two-months had been fully rectified, I:

a) went back to bed and slept for a very long while

b) unpacked my things and pretended to be the Christmas angel, dispensing souvenirs like snowflakes to all within a five-mile radius

c) got in my car and drove from my former home (Brisbane) down the east coast (1,886km, if you’re wondering) to my almost-former home twice removed (parental home in Gippsland), somehow managing to stay on the left despite wanting to walk everywhere on the right, whilst throwing around credit cards to petrol station attendants and hoteliers like bloody Santa, as the business of uninterrupted sitting for two and a half days wreaked further trauma on my very-neglected lower back.

One hundred thousand dong for choosing C (since I'm at it anyway), obviously the least appealing option after travelling for two months straight, living out of a backpack for eight, being ‘homeless’ for a year, etc. (Speaking of milestones, kudos to me for staying off the dreaded cigs for over a year – a feat of increasing difficulty whilst on the backpacker circuit, as throngs of sleek twenty-something French/Dutch/German girls blew sexed-up smoke ringlets while I nursed my beer, reminding myself that my glory days of inconsequential bad behaviour are over.)

My reintegration with the western economic system is also proving a thorny beast. Almost swallowed my tongue when I had to fork out $64 for a three-star motel in Taree (ie, nowhere). This was after bargaining (a new learned reflex?) down a hotelier in Kempsey from $85 to $50 for a room, which I thought still too ridiculous for mortal consideration and drove on. Foolishly. If it wasn’t for still-fresh bruises from overnight buses in Vietnam, a complaining back and other things I need to remind myself of (see above), I would’ve unfurled a blanket in the back seat of the Hyundai.

Perhaps my problem is acclimitising to two-dollar bungalows with views like this:

A second chorus of angels appeared when I reached Gippsland, which is about three hundred degrees cooler than Vietnam. Yay. Two days ago I unpacked my things. And haven’t contemplated moving since.

PS Thanks to J and L for the bed, extended car-minding and exquisite anticipation of food needs. And to R (the cat) for putting up with a stranger in Her house during the day.

A note about photographs. Here are some. The rest are coming, along with a remedy for automated hyphenation and a classification system. Two months of travel = a shirtload of photos = a truckload of sorting, thumbnailing, uploading, uninterrupted sitting, etc.