Well, I hope that this post finds you well. It’s been over a week since Sarah (my younger sister) left for Canada and Tim got back from his trip to Alice Springs last Friday night. You might say that we’ve been busy trying to sort our lives back out this week since everything has been up in the air since Edie and I left for Canada at the beginning of August. As fun as all of the adventure has been, I guess I’m enjoying a little low-key routine again. I sure do miss Says though. And the rest of the family (cough cough).
Other than a good cleaning day last Saturday there really hasn’t been too much adventure to speak of. And when I suggest that Saturday’s cleaning was an adventure, I really mean that it wasn’t an adventure as much as a whole heck of a lot of work. We never did post about the dust storms that passed through southeast Queensland about two weeks ago but we should have...Never in my life did I ever envision living in a climate where dust would actually be in great enough quantities that it could become the precipitation part of a storm. There were reports that 16,000 tonnes of dust were being dumped over Sydney (hit the hardest) every hour of the storm, and of course, there hasn’t been a storm like it in over 30 years. The morning of the first storm the sky just seemed a little hazy but as the day went on it got hazier. In the sunshine state (Queensland), haze is pretty much unheard of, so it seemed unusual. I checked it out online and it seemed that the dust storm that had slammed Sydney that morning was being blown up the coast. At this time of year, winds can be quite strong coming across the interior (outback), and if they’re strong enough and long-lasting winds, they can carry the dusty topsoil/sand over hundreds of kilometers from the outback to the coast. So, all we could do (all anyone can do) is close up all of the windows and doors while crossing fingers for minimal damage. After the first storm blew through everything in our house was covered with red dirt. After the second one blew through three days later, our house was disgusting. You couldn’t walk across the floor without leaving a trail. Given that we hadn’t really given the house a proper clean since before Edie and I left for Canada, I declared last Saturday to be a cleaning day. And it was. We still haven’t got around to all of the dirt, but at least we’ve made a dent. The rest we can chip away at a little at a time. All a part of life in Australia, I gather.
So, back in August, I had the chance to speak with one of my favorite aunties who I hadn’t caught up with since well before Tim and I exchanged snow storms for dust storms in Feb of 2008. We got talking about Edie and the fact that she’s been suffering from chronic constipation, and Auntie Eve suggested I cut dairy out of my diet as her newest grandchild had suffered the same kind of symptoms that Edie does, and it turned out that dairy was the culprit. I had earlier tried to stop eating/drinking dairy for the same reasons, but made it only half a day before I gave into the cheese craving. I decided after talking to Auntie Eve that I should give it a real go since it really could have made things a lot easier for Edie if it really were the problem. Having grown up on a dairy farm I have all sorts of reasons why I think that cutting dairy out of a diet is not an idea that I’m comfortable with. Alas, I was trying to think of Edie and the potential benefits that she might have gained from my going dairy-free. So, gone was my nightly glass of milk with supper, any hint of cheese and pretty much all good baked goods. Dairy is such a huge part of food! I was sure that I would spend this whole period just miserable for lack of being able to consume any milk product. But you know, it really hasn’t been bad at all. Sure, there have been moments where I’ve wished that I could tackle a kid in the park to steal their ice cream, but for the most part, I’ve really, really been enjoying the non-dairy alternative…Well two of them at least. Big number 1: there is a lady at the west end market who sells homemade vegan cupcakes (also gluten free), they are absolutely the best cupcakes that I have ever tasted. I will continue to buy them and eat them whenever I can (unfortunately I can only get them on Saturdays when the market is running…I've already put in a request to the baker to change this). Also big number 2: We’ve discovered a dairy-free brownie recipe of which the resulting brownies smushed into chocolate soy-scream taste like a million buckazoids. The rest of our diet kind of looks like lots of fruit and veggies and no cheese. I took Miss E to a pediatrician appointment last week and was told that if I hadn’t seen any changes in Edie over the six weeks that I was dairy-free, that it probably wasn’t the problem. The doctor also mentioned that Edie and I should go back on dairy and earned a few points in my books for doing so. We’re back on the moo, though not likely to the extent that we were before. There are a lot of nice alternatives to dairy out there. Oh, and if you’re looking for that brownie recipe (it’s vegan too), just let me know and I’ll send it your way.
A few weeks ago I picked up a book at the Salvos (Sally Anne) for twenty cents. It’s called lasagna gardening and explains a form of sheet composting, using different layers of compost/mulch to create an above-ground garden bed. I spoke to my landlord about building this garden and he was all for it, especially because he’s got heaps of compost that he doesn’t know what to do with, and so do we for that matter. So, Tim and I without really stating the fact, decided that it would be a good challenge to build this garden with the materials that we had kicking around the house (i.e. no excessive purchases of commercial gardening mulches, kits, etc.). So over these past few weeks I’ve been collecting information and materials to get this garden going and one evening last week Tim and I put Edie to bed and the tackled putting this garden together under the cloak of darkness. It was really fun. We had all of our materials held in our garage and our compost was still in the bin in the yard next door. So, with shovels and buckets in hand, in complete darkness, we set on collecting compost from the bin…It’s a rotary composter so the really juicy stuff is on bottom…Our shovel was a bit too big, and did I mention it was dark? I got slimed on and Tim commented that he felt like a grave robber. Regardless, we got what we needed and went back to put the garden together. Problem number two; how to contain the garden. The book never really explained how the garden that you build actually stays together (i.e. in the event of a rainstorm…or duststorm…it’s just layers of dirt really). We didn’t have a solution to the problem until we started rooting through the garage and found a low and flat cardboard box. We cut the bottom out and voila, we had our garden-innards-stabilizer. We filled in the box with all of our layers and were finished. It looks like we have a big cardboard box full of dirt/compost/poo/grass clippings in our backyard, and we do. I covered it in plastic to retain heat and moisture throughout the days this week until we pick up some plants on Sunday at the market to get things started. We’re excited! If all goes well, we’ll have a few more of these gardens as the year goes on. I think the real fun was taking on an outdoor project together again, all while the Edester was fast asleep. She does like to dig around the cardboard box full of dirt and I’m excited for when she can help us out (free labour anyone?)
This Friday will be our first attempt at daycare for Miss Edie. We’ve found a Somalian lady who lives nearby that runs a program from out of her home. We visited with her last week to get an idea of how comfortable we were with leaving Edie there (only every Friday for 6 hours to start)…We’re quite sure that she will love it. In the meantime, I’ll be getting back into the research assistant job I held prior to Edie and also will be preparing to start a PhD (part-time for now) in January. I’ll tell more once I get into it, at the moment I’m hammering out a proposal with my new supervisor. Exciting days ahead.
And I should say that Miss Edie is changing so much so quickly! She’s taking much more confident steps on her own and I discovered this week (to my delight) that she would prefer walking alongside me rather than being carried in the backpack. On our nature walks she likes to hold on to my finger with one hand and leave the other hand available to pick stuff up with. The other day over the span of our walk she had a piece of bark, then a stick, then a dead butterfly, then another piece of bark and then a large rock which she liked to pretend was a telephone to talk on. She’s so funny. These days she’s keen on pointing to herself and saying ‘dee dee’, on calling herself a good girl and making many animal noises (most notably the snake, lion and best of all, the puppy complete with panting…and today she figured out the cow noise). She’s also figuring out ‘no’ and willful defiance…Funny right now, but we’ll see how long that lasts.