In Defence of the Defenceless or How I Lost a Weekend to a Rooster

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I rent a house on 25 acres in the country. Part of my country living, for about 8 months now, has been Doo, a strapping rooster that turned up one day from a neighbouring farm and decided, with all the lush food my garden had to offer him, that he’d make himself at home. Anyone who has ever lived in close quarters with a rooster will know two things: roosters have fantastic personalities, and they can make a lot of noise. They’re roosters! What do you expect?

My gripe at the moment is the lack of compassion of so many people for defenceless creatures great and small. An additional dwelling on my property serves as a holiday home rental for the landlords. Guests staying there last week, friends of the landlords, laid a complaint against our acquired rooster, saying that he crowed too much in the morning. The result? A call from the landlord telling us to get rid of it by whichever means necessary.

Needless to say I lost a weekend to the stress of this situation. He was not our rooster to “dispose” of, firstly, secondly neither my significant other nor I had any problem with Doo – in fact he had become part of our lives. I weaped, I ranted, I stayed up all night worrying about this poor defenceless creature whose personality I’d grown attached to.

I was enraged for a few reasons, and disheartened because I was reminded of the people who are what’s wrong with this world. I was enraged because this is the country – if you choose a holiday in the country, expect country noises, like roosters. I was enraged because do not use your power of connection to get what you want, that is not fair. I was enraged because we are the permanent residents on this property and our thoughts, feelings, desires at no point were considered by either vacationers or landlord. I was enraged because it was we, the soft-hearted, compassionate, respectful people who had no beef with the beautiful cockerel, who had to frighten him as we tried to catch him, and had to look into his eyes as he could not move in his cage, and had to listen to his frightened, confused mutterings as we transported him, and had to worry about whether or not he’d survive in his new home. I was enraged because nobody, except us, stopped to consider the real owners of the rooster and nobody stopped to consider the rooster. Finally, I am enraged because the landlord lied to us in order to “pull rank” on us, using his power against us, reliable, helpful, generous tenants.

Yes, he is a rooster, but who is to say that he is any less worthy than we? Who are we to decide whether he lives or dies just because he is making the noise that roosters make. I grow wild at this lack of consideration and compassion. There is a book that states we are meant to be looking after this planet, and all of its inhabitants. When did so many people forget?

We found Doo a delightfully lush new home, close to us so that we can visit, and in an area where he will enjoy the company (and titbits) of local visitors and campers. He seems happy and settled, and we rest easy knowing that we have handled the situation in the most humane way possible. We rest easy until we are, once again, called on to defend the defenceless.

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My Massive Marrows

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

This summer I’ve become a veggie grower. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a little bit of time, a little bit of space and a little bit of inclination. It has not come without its challenges, but finally after much frustration, learning, and letting go, I am now reaping the rewards of my efforts and enjoying marrows the size of my calf, patty pans the size of a grown man’s fist, and a crop of melons that will keep me feasting all summer.

This has not been a solo project but a joint effort between me and my significant other. He has helped me toil and sweat to prepare the beds, to keep the ground weed free (well, as weed free as possible), and to water… and water… and water. He has had the added task of consoling me when the first little growers were lost to some roaming sheep, and then when some lambs got through the fence and had another go. He has also had to bear the responsibility of dealing with our mighty infestation of cabbage aphids because the site of their clusters had my skin crawling. Good chap! Patient chap – Oh, boy! Lucky for him I am finally able to cook up a storm for him, utilising the fruits (well, veggies really) of our labours.

This was a trial. We’re living in a new part of the country with a very particular climate, a climate that has also been behaving outside of the norm. Having never grown more than a few basics, this was the first time we’d tried our hand at cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and guess what?! This family has its own special type of aphid. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, and they’re awful. The cabbage aphids, or mealy bugs have been eliminated with a little pest control and some (rather late) companion planting. We’ve inadvertently learned a lot about companion planting. Next time will be better. We’ve also learned about making our own pest control sprays and I’ve learned to become tougher!

The best lesson I have learned is how nature is amazing. The plants that have not been successful have only not been successful because they have had some poor luck and went to flower – they fought tooth and nail for their survival. If I’d been munched by sheep, aphids and suffered floods then drought I’d probably have tried to spread my seed too. All of our survivors, however, have shown us that with a little bit of preparation, regular weeding and watering, some patience, and of course a dash of love, nature will do her thing and grow, and grow and grow. Oh, and taste delicious! We need just wait, and watch, and enjoy.

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Ring-Ring… Ring-Ring… Ring-Ring

January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

Remember the “olden days”, the days of yore, the days when if we wanted to connect with someone via the telephone we had to ring their home number and if there was no answer we had to call back later. Ok, so this was actually not that long ago. In fact it was so recently that I can remember it quite clearly (and I’m not that old).

Then? Then came the cellular phone. To be fair originally I think they may have been bricks in cell-phone clothing, but nonetheless they arrived to make our lives easier, to enable people to connect more regularly and with greater efficiency. I can remember my first cell-phone: a gorgeous little Nokia, latest model at the time – one I had to save up money from my first job out of school for, after all, in those days people in school did not have cell-phones and instead spoke to each other.

Now, if it were not for the access my cell-phone gives me to my loved ones flung far across the country – the world – I would send it in for recycling and laugh all the way home. Why? Simply because other people expect us to be at the beck and call of the grand master cell-phone, and more and more I am aware of how annoyed people become when you choose not to answer their calls and either they have to leave a message, or they have to get back to you via email.

I am a grand believer in remaining the boss of my cell-phone, I believe that is healthy and that is my right. I do not have to answer every call, and I do not have to respond immediately if a message is left. If I am busy working, I will continue working; if I am busy exercising or doing yoga, I will continue to do so; if I am busy with someone else, I will get back to you; if I am just not in the mood for “that” conversation” or to talk to someone I don’t know, that is my prerogative. The flip side of that is, if you are exactly who I’d like to catch up with, or be distracted by, or “just because”, I can choose to answer.

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Like a see-saw constantly trying to re-centre itself, just as callers grow more impatient with my voicemail message, so I grow more determined to ignore the ringing in my ears. It is a determination to hold onto my time and decide how I spend it, and a determination to decide what the priority in my life is at any given moment. My sincerest apologies if this inconveniences you in any way, but please leave me a message (or better yet, send me an email) and I’ll endeavour to get back to you as soon as I can!

To sprog or not to sprog

December 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

When a childless woman reaches a certain age, her family and friends (particularly those that have begun to bear their own brood) begin a repetitive stream of, if you’re lucky only occasional, questioning. The topic of questioning, I hear you ask? Is the, so far, childless woman planning to remedy her current lack of offspring any time soon? Said childless woman will hear reminders that she’d better not delay too long, that her clock is ticking, and that nothing compares to the joy and wonder of having a child.

I am a woman that has reached a certain age, officially and contentedly sitting just on the other side of thirty, and the mutterings in my own ear are gradually growing louder. There was a time when “is there a man in your life?” was of everyone’s concern. Now there is a man, and the line of questioning has morphed into something I seem to have little comeback for. Let me explain. Although some say my time is dwindling (and I am not a fool – I know, biologically, I have an end to my optional years), however I also know that  have many a good child-bearing year ahead of me. Should I choose to go down that route, of course. I recognise that the older I get the more tests I will have to be put through during pregnancy, and that with certain things my age increases risks, but nowadays one hears of just as many complications with younger women caused by other factors that previously did not offer problems. Additionally, there are first world countries where the average age for first-time pregnancy is in the early thirties.

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I am not a white-picket-fence kind of a girl, never have been. My romantic ideals have always been a bit off-side in terms of what is traditional. I did not set out to get married, would find it impossible to truly “settle down”, and have never felt decisive about having kids. I am someone who enjoys living her life as she wants to, and making the most of the crazy adventure that our time on this planet is. (I am fortunate that I have merged paths with someone who shares my views and lifestyle choices.) So, never especially opposed to the idea, I have always expected that if any wee sprogs did come along, they would arrive by the oopsy-daisy method of conception. The reality is that I have so many personal interests and pursuits that it is unlikely I will ever reach that day in my life when I say “right, now’s the time to start a family.”

Just to be clear, in no way am I saying I don’t want little people. I’m very much on the fence with this one as I can appreciate the pros and cons to both options. On the one hand, I am told that to have a child is an experience like no other, one that can’t be missed out on. I agree. I believe children are the greatest privilege one can have. I also recognise that they are the greatest responsibility, one I believe should be taken so seriously it hurts, and therein lies the rub. Having recently had the privilege of hanging out with my 6 week old nephew, I can absolutely see the draw towards being the sole nurturer of a shoe sized human being, better yet, the fruit of your own loins. I have also seen the many ways that parenting changes people for the better.

I also see the flip-side of that coin. Having never had the experience of my own child, I do not feel I am missing out – I’ve never ad it, therefore can’t miss it. I do, however, look at the parents of young ones and at the bags under their eyes from lack of sleep, and I notice their inability to talk about anything other than the tiny creatures taking over their lives, and I see the endless stream of chores, lack of funds, and complete absence of “me” time. I watch these mature, full-grown adults tear their hair out as they try to get through the (seemingly endless) boundary-pushing phase, and observe the self-neglect increase.

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Then I go home to my quiet, ordered household, one in which I can sleep when and how much I want, where I can fill my hours with things I want to do, where I have every right to behave completely and indulgently selfishly, and I am pleased with the status quo. As I make whimsical plans to pack up and go traveling with my partner, work odd hours doing jobs that don’t pay much but pay enough for my simple lifestyle and make me happy, and work towards a degree because “it’s never too late”, I am content.

But then, every now and again, somewhere from the deep dark of my insides, I feel a yearning, a pull so primal it overwhelms me. In those intimate, quiet moments with the love of my life – the person I truly hope is my forever man – I feel a curiosity grip my subconscious asking “I wonder what our babies would like? I wonder what we’d be like as parents?” I cannot deny that the more I step forward into that certain age bracket, the more I find myself questioning whether children might just be the very thing that will finally give me the supreme purpose I have spent the greater part of my life searching for. I guess, as the old adage goes, only time will tell – but not too much time, after all, tick-tock.

How to take your Yoga off your mat

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

The lessons we learn on our yoga mats are far more than a routine set of physical postures and breathing techniques. These lessons teach us: about ourselves, how to treat ourselves, how to respond in new ways to that which confronts us, and how to be more present. In effect, these lessons teach us how to live our lives. All that we learn on the mat in yoga class can be infiltrated into every corner of our lives, thereby opening ourselves up to increased health and happiness on a day-to-day basis.

Here are a few ways to live your yoga off your mat:

  • Embrace self-acceptance
  • Just be – observe the beauty in all things
  • Stop struggling and practice acceptance – accept each moment as it is
  • Keep moving through it and remember it will pass
  • Wherever you go offer the gift of a smile, compliment, or encouraging word
  • Accept everything you receive with gratitude
  • Where possible be of service to others…
  • …but not at a disservice to yourself
  • Express your unique talents and share them with others
  • Practice responsible decision making, contemplating (and owning) the consequences of your choices
  • Eat consciously
  • Enjoy every moment that life has to offer (and let go of the outcome)
  • Let go of the need to control – become content with uncertainty, be open to possibilities, and cultivate curiosity
  • Be realistic about the time you have available and rather do less with more zest
  • Know that you’re allowed to say “no” – look after yourself first
  • Practice patience with yourself and others
  • Practice love and kindness to yourself and others
  • Say it with love
  • If you need it, ask for help
  • When you’re struggling to balance, put one foot down
  • Practice courage
  • Remember to breathe

Family

November 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Many years I have lived with family spread out across our global village. As anyone in that same position knows, while technology allows us to connect at the click of a button, it does not quell the need to see their face, to see them in the flesh, or to feel them as you give them a hug. Ironically, this can be the case whether our loved ones live in the next street or the next hemisphere.

Now, finding myself on the wiser side of thirty, I have started to become acutely aware of how fleeting our time is, and how vital it is that we make the most of whatever we have. I can see more and more clearly how nothing is more important – not work, not deadlines, not housework, not a single thing – than taking the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

I am off to spend a week with some of my family, and am incredibly excited about getting to “hang out” with my incredibly able eighty-year-old grandmother, absorbing her wisdom and giving her the respect and affection she deserves.

All families have “stuff”; all families have baggage. I believe this baggage is of the variety that should purposefully be lost at the airport. As we head into the season where we are likely to see more of our families (born into and chosen), I implore you to let bygones be bygones and instead of getting caught up in old wounds and being right, choose rather to delight in these wonderful people surrounding you. Be fully engaged with your tribe and savour each moment – they are, after all, all precious.Remember that family are the people we love unconditionally and, in turn, who do the same for us. What, possibly, could be worth celebrating more than that?

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Take the Time

October 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

As those of us in the Southern hemisphere creep closer towards summer and the days get longer, take the time to:

Stop and smell the spring blossoms • Watch birds wooing each other • Have a picnic • Curiously observe interesting creatures • Lie in the sun with a book • Spot cloud pictures • Get your hands dirty • Dance to your favourite music • Plant and edible garden • Try something new – you might even enjoy it • Savour every bite • Put a spring in your step • Be someone’s angel • Take in the new life all around you • Treat yourself and don’t justify it – you are reason enough • Drink more water • Give hugs • Phone someone you love • Send an email to stay in touch • Go for a walk – better yet, take company • Breathe deeply and mindfully • Listen to your gut and follow your heart • Put yourself first • Sing at the top of your lungs • Lick the bowl • Volunteer for a cause you believe in • Accept invitations • Send a “Thank you” note • Admire your body – it does a lot for you • Fill your tank • Soak • Take the scenic route • Support locals • Bake goodies from scratch • Ask people how they are – and really want to know • Say “I love you” • Show your love • Dream – make them big • Do the things on your bucket list – don’t have one, make one • Hang out with children and the elderly – they’ve much wisdom and wonderful stories • Give people your undivided attention • Clean out the clutter • Celebrate you • Have a good cry • Be ridiculous • Enjoy the little things in life • Fall in love – with people, things, pursuits, everything 

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