Friday, February 29, 2008

It's only natural.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about nature and how to get people to value it. Seems to me that a lot of people are harping on about “the challenges of climate change” but, when push comes to shove, it’s actually a depleting resource base that bothers them, not the well-being of the world.

I don’t mean that to sound as snipey as it might.

I completely understand that there is a need for a pragmatic approach to natural resource management. It goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs doesn’t it? We care first about physiological needs (do I have enough water to drink); then safety (will we have enough water to fight fires and prevent toxic algal bloom outbreaks); then love/belonging; esteem and self-actualization.

Where ecosystems fit into that I’m not quite sure. If caring about rivers, biota et all, fits into the ‘self-actualization’ part of Maslow’s hierarchy, then we’re fighting a losing battle in an environment of depleting water resources.

The bottom line, as I’m fond of saying at work, is that fish don’t vote.

I’ve been doing a lot of musing about this in Carlton Gardens, the World Heritage Listed park across the road from my office in Melbourne. I’ve been grabbing half an hour each day to down a sandwich and contemplate on why a few stolen moments of tranquillity among the plane trees and white poplars, is so important to the human psyche . I guess I’m looking for ways to elevate nature up the hierarchy.

You can’t talk about spiritual needs in a government environment without being guffaw-ed at. (So lets not). And the value placed on psychological well-being diminishes next to the needs of a desperate irrigator looking for a few megalitres of water to keep his food-producing farm hanging on through another year of drought.
So, what’s to be done? I keep musing. Answers on a

Knit news: Cast on today for a simple hat for Ben, seeing as the temp has dropped dramatically. Here's the yarn - Jet, Paton's Australia. I loved the colourway so I'm keeping it simple. Pics in Next blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Warm hugs

I mentioned in my last post that I'd been frantically knitting baby clothes, having read a post on the s'n'b forum about an orphanage (without heating) in south-east China, a country which is currently experiencing a devastating winter.

Snowstorms first hit the country on 10 January, and have so far affected nearly 80 million people across 14 provinces in the centre and south of the country.

In some areas, people are experiencing food shortages and more than a dozen provinces have also been hit by blackouts due to missed coal deliveries for power stations and rising demand amid the cold.

Well, I've managed two hats and a baby-jacket in a week and a half. Look, it's not great but it’s something - and hopefully it’s the beginning of a whole lot more.

I have to say, (while trying not to go overboard), that knitting these things has been a very different experience. I've been 'present' for every stitch - a bit like a meditation-in-action, or a knitted-prayer if you like. It's been a project full of urgency and, well, anxiety, frankly. It’s certainly put a lot of things into perspective – like the fact that Ben spent his first night last night in his big bed (which I’d been freaking out about). Big deal, really! (For the record, he loves it and slept safely, all night, in his warm bed).

The jacket (now known as "The Warm Hugs Jacket") was simple to make and I knocked it up using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentages system, which can be found nicely summarised here. The hat was put together using Yarn Harlot's simple hat recipe (from Knitting Rules). Both were done in stocking stitch with garter stitch hems and a knit row every ten rows.

Many thanks to Jeanette for giving us all the opportunity to contribute to this project. It’s nice to feel useful.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The cosmos in his eyes....

Had an amazing Friday: Had lunch in St Kilda with wonderful Yasmin Boland whom I have not seen in about 14 years. Yasmin is not only a friend but was my first boss in magazine land, so she has played a very large role in my life and continues to astound me with her ability to grab life by the nether regions and go,go,go for it.

Have to say that as soon as we sat to chat the years melted and I felt like I'd last had lunch with her only a month ago.

In the decade-plus in which I haven't seen her, Yasmin has 1) carved a niche for herself as one of the world's most revered astrologers, 2) Married Olivier, the most welcoming, marvellous, charming man who clearly adores her (I approve heartily) and 3) given birth to Louis who, at the age of one, has already developed a cockle-warming smile and carries his heart on his sleeve and the cosmos in his eyes.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera and my phone just didn't cut it, so I've nicked these photos from Yasmin's blog.

Knit news: Spent the weekend trying to knock-out baby hats for nenna'smum, who is on a mission to save lives in a freezing orphanage in South East china. If anyone wants to help, post me and I'll get you details.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who was Wilson anyway?

There are a couple of hard questions I've been asking myself lately, like "at what point did I become a nature nerd?" and "who the heck was Wilson anyway?"

On the first issue: I've never been into 'spotting'. 'Spotting' to me, is something done by sad men in thick spectacles and plastic anoraks, often involving trains or birds, usually to fill a void vacated by a love-life or..well...a life at all really.

And yet I found myself last week, standing on a beach at Wilson's Prom, with my trousers rolled up (exposing my knobbly knees) enraptured by a white tray full of water and broad-leaf sea grass, trying to 'spot' wee aquatic beasties. My mother would have been proud.

"Oh, it's a pipe fish It's a pipe fish! Look! etc" I yelped excitedly, every time a piece of sea grass moved. And then I caught myself and cringed. A wee bug spotter, I am.

I was at the prom for the State Waterwatch conference - Waterwatch being one of my responsibilities in my relatively new role at the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
It was the first time I'd met the state team (or at least thirty of 'em) but they're all amazingly passionate folk and genuinely interested in what I had to say (which is just as well, as I keep saying it repeatedly, so obsessed am I at the importance of educating voters on the importance of healthy waterways and the beasties (including us) who rely on them). I may extrapolate on this in a further posting... Be warned.

So who was Wilson and why is it his prom? Still haven't got an answer to that. But he made a good choice. Wish it was mine.

Other news:

Knitting: Ariann is coming on in leaps and bounds... well, more like little-hops actually, but I hope to have something to show you by next week's posting.

The Kids: Lachie has been walking around furniture fora couple of weeks. To top this off, he threw himself out of his cot this morning. I'm thinking of buying him a surfboard... :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not-so-creepy crawly

Well, he's off. Lachie's crawling. He made his first few commando-like moves a couple of weeks ago and now he's zooming around the floor like Speedy Gonzales. Lock up your daughters, etc.

I've gone mad in the Bendigo Woollen Mill sale, which ended today. I managed to get in one last order for alpaca ( in Merlin) before the shutters came down (metaphorically speaking. I don't think there are actually shutters at the mill, but I'm happy to be corrected ;-))
This means, of course, that the stash is becoming mildly uncontrollable again. And weirdly I have absolutely no projects in mind.

Clearly I'm sick or something.

Luckily, my Ravelry invite came through today, so I'm planning time to immerse myself in it to get some knitspiration. Have to say, Freckle Girl and Casey are doing an amazing job of getting through the invite list and it really is worth the wait. Will let you know how my first proper sourjourn into Ravelry-world turns out...

Sunday, October 21, 2007 which Lachie makes a spectacle of himself

Okay, so before you set child services onto me, yes, yes, yes, I know putting a baby in specs is a really bad idea but...oh, he looked cute, alright? And it was only for ten seconds, honestly.

Lachie turned five months old last week and, on the advice of our paediatrician, started solids. I'm glad to report that he's taken to it with gusto (better than he ever was on breast or bottle). He's also cutting his first tooth, poor kid. Who knows, one day we might have a whole month in which he isn't in some sort of pain!

Ben's been in his element this weekend. Its been warm (32 degrees c today) and he's spent a lot of time running around outside with his Dide (granda) in the garden. He's also completed his first work of art (see pic) which is a relief as, until now, crayons have only featured in his life as an integral part of his diet (alongside cat food and
Tonight we were flipping through his animal book and he pointed at an orangutan and said (I thought) 'O-chie' (which would have been hilarious as I've been telling him since he was eight months old that it's his dad). When he repeated the word, it was actually, clearly, 'monkey'. So there y'go.
Not as funny, but twice as satisfying.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rain rain, come again...

Its raining in Melbourne. I'm watching a downpour from my office overlooking parliament gardens. Ben was watching the raindrops through the front door this morning as I left for work. Its crazy to think that, since he was born, rain has been as rare as snow was to me when I was a pommie toddler.

I've been back at work for a few weeks now and things are quite okay. I still find it hard leaving the boys but when I get home at night I have more energy for them (despite the chronic insomnia and average four hours sleep).

Ben is talking lots, which is proving to be quite useful as I can tell, without looking at him, which dangerous feat he is attempting just by listening to what he says. "Sit down!" I've learned, is most used when he's teetering on tip-toes on the toilet lid. He's also singing lots at the moment, his current fave being the theme tune from the I.T. Crowd.

Knitwise, I'm working on a top down thing worked on 5mm addi turbos using harmony from Bendigo Woolen Mills. I'm making it up as I go alone (in a Barbara Walker kind of way). Anyway, will let you know how it goes.

Finally, just read that Yasmin's little boy turned one yesterday. That's an immense milestone and I hope she's revelling in what a great Mum she's turned out to be. Happy birthday Louis!!