Cooking > snacking

Ok, that loving of the food thing? Like any relationship thats meant to be, it’s getting stronger. I absolutely love food. I love cooking.

Just now I was getting hungry and thinking of grabbing a snack. If you’re me though, a snack becomes an hour or two of mindless munching, after which the I’ve consumed nothing nutritious and am still unsatisfied. I’m on a recent kick to just start cooking instead of snacking and see where that takes me.

Thus far, I’ve created these cheap, nutritious, animal-friendly meals that are filling and delicious. I usually don’t even know what I’m doing until halfway through the thing.

For instance, today I started steaming broccoli, then decided what the heck, let’s steam some ‘shrooms too. Onions are for frying, and ooh, look at these chick peas! They’re good for protein. I like color, so some red peppers found their way into the pan as well. The fact that I didn’t have any rice on hand didn’t dismay me; I sprinkled this goodness with oats. Curry powder for some culture and viola! I am a deliciously cheap vegan.

I mean…

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Hosea 2:14

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Hello world!

Oh man, I do not feel like writing. I haven’t touched my journal in a week and a half. That is ages! It’s gotten to the point now where there’s too much back-story to start; I have too much to catch up on, I just can’t be bothered.

So, to keep from staying too overwhelmed, I’m going to make this short and sweet. I just want to tell you about Warriuka.

http://suwa.org.au/su-schools/warriuka/

Done!

Just kidding. :)

Alright, so remember way back when I told you how I’d unwittingly plopped smack center of this HUGE Christian community in Perth? Remember how my step-sister-in-law went to school with this Aussie, who lived in Perth and worked for Scripture Union? Did I tell you about how this Aussie got me connected with my first host (who I am staying with again…but I get ahead of myself), and how he and she picked me up from the airport and brought me to the Indian Ocean for my very first time? This is Josh, who works for Scripture Union.

Scripture Union runs adventure camps for schools, and they’re constantly needing volunteers. Enter traveling-without-a-plan ME and they’ve got a volunteer for two weeks!

Abseiling! White water rafting! Hiking! Canoeing! Playing Tonga! Being a vegan whilst camping!! I saw a wallaby and a quokka (apparently they do live in some areas on the mainland)!

There’s so much. So much I’d love to tell you about it. About Australia’s strict working with children checks, about feeling completely inadequate for ministry of any sort, about feeling unprepared for camping, etc. etc. What I’ll do though, for your attention spans and my own sanity, is recap my first Warriuka experience the way we had the kids do so at camp; good, bad, funnies.

Every evening after dinner we’d meet for “Warriuka time”, which is basically the leaders trying desperately to keep the attention spans of teenagers long enough to sneak in some meaningful insight. The last night we had them answer what was good, what was bad, and what was funny about their time at camp.

Here’s mine.

The bad.
I’m not projecting some false humility when I say I was unprepared for this camp. Ask Brooke. I was an anxious mess. I borrowed all her camping gear save for the one thing that actually mattered; a sleeping mat.

I exaggerate not; there are twin bruises on each hip from those nights trying to sleep. I would wake every few hours and turn myself like a hot dog to try to find a cushiony chunk of Self to rest on. No bueno. Next week, when I do this all again, I will have a freaking sleeping mat.

The funny.
Have you ever spent a week with high schoolers? Oh. Em. Gee. Do it. I was cracking up the entire time. These guys have so much energy, so much enthusiasm, so little experience, the whole thing was just hilarious. My absolute favorite was when we drew a timeline of Jesus’ life and had them mark certain events, such as, say, when he parted the red sea in his early twenties*.

My other favorite was during the rafting. The kids would take their rafts down a rapid where a leader, such as Josh, would be waiting to make sure they didn’t drown. The rest of us waited above for our turns. There was one section where we couldn’t quite see over the rocks to where to rapid spit the rafters out, but we could see Josh standing on the boulder above it. Without fail, every time a raft went through it we’d hear this from Josh;

“Good, good, keep paddling! Keep paddling!”

Pause, as they capsized.

“Ok feet up! Feet up! Feet up!!!

And I’d be up with the wide-eyed rest of the group cackling to myself.

The good.
I saved this one for last because…because its the good. Don’t you love ending on the good? I love ending on the good.
Friends, this whole trip was good. It was good because I did things I’d never tried before, that I was definitely not good at. It was good because Australian forests are beautiful. It was good because on the drive to and from camp we listened to great music in Josh’s car. It was good because I am continents away from home, abseiling off a cliff, playing Big Booty and hiding my food from wallabies and cookaburras. And who does that? Who gets to do that?

But more than anything, it was very good be because as the week wore on I started realizing how dearly loved I am by God.

I came to Australia defiant, on a whim, out of quiet desperation. I think I was bored and absolutely sick of my life. I was sick of work, sick of church, sick of bills, sick of school, sick of being too tired to hang out with friends. I was sick of not knowing what I was doing with my life, and I was terrified of what I was seeing around me; people just going through the motions of living without being aware of anything. And I was sick, because I saw that I was one of them.

Defiant too, because if you have $5,000 to take yourself on vacation, you have $5,000 to send to overseas missionaries. You have $5,000 to feed the homeless, to buy a car so as not to be a burden to anyone, to buy gifts for others, to pay off a friend’s debt, etc. etc.

I plugged my ears, shut my eyes, and bought a plane ticket. The Lyle Lovett lyric “kiss my ass, I bought a boat; I’m going out to sea” resonates.

And you know what? I arrived, selfish and stoked to take take take, and I was not met with condemnation from my heavenly daddy. I was met with grace. Grace exhibited by the Jesus Freaks who picked me up from the airport, who offered up their spare bedrooms, who took me out to dinner, who brought me to parties, who drove me all over the place on errands, who showed me tourist destinations, who invited me on all-expenses-paid adventure camps.

And I wonder…why the hell don’t I trust my Abba? Why do I live as if it’s me against Him, like I’ve gotta make sure I get mine before He does something cruel, like convict me and make me be a missionary or something? Why do I run? Why am I so determined to ignore Him?

Because clearly…he’s not mad at me. Clearly He treats me like any good father would treat his stubborn, selfish, whiny, messy, needy toddler. Clearly He protects me.

My tattoo claims I’m “Abba’s ragamuffin”. It’s on my foot, permanently etched into my body. How do I forget that as unworthy and defiant as I am, as much as I am scum in my disregard for my Creator…he loves me like I’m His baby. Abba means “daddy”. It is a term of endearment, reserved for the very young, the very needy, the very close and personal relationship a child has with her father.

It’s what Jesus called Him in those last few hours before he was killed. Its what Paul says we are in the position to refer to Him.

So yes. The good of Warriuka, personally, was this gentle reminder that there is no condemnation here, only love. I feel like Hosea’s adulterous wife must have felt, being wooed by the one she deserted so frequently.

Humbled. I feel humbled. And so indescribably grateful.

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Freedom in Fremantle.

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Today was a beautiful one, a good reminder as well of what this trip is all about. Or what I intended it to be about when I started.

Anyway, it was lovely because I slept in and took my time getting ready to go to Fremantle. (remember my Fremantle disaster? In retrospect it’s hilarious.) The weather was perfect, the buses on time, the train smooth and the Dutch girls I met getting into town happy to have me tag along to the Maritime Museum with them.

I found the markets and sampled everything, had my hair done and ate Thai food and a gluten-free vegan chocolate bliss ball. (Bliss ball!! Ha!) I found Kombucha. Finally. I bought ten postcards for two dollars and two mini boomerangs for $6; eight weeks down and I’ve bought my first souvenirs. I bought a book for $3. I sat outside in the park and watched three dreadlocked children playing and I thought about everybody I love.

And I wrote them postcards.

I might have gotten choked up a few times.

Then I just soaked up the solitude, the breeze, the sunlight, the kids’ voices, the beauty of Fremantle. I wasn’t lonely and I wasn’t bored. I sipped my Kombucha.

Today was awesomely simple and just wonderful. I don’t have a camera anymore and won’t until I return from the youth camp I’m leaving for on Monday. While I originally panicked at the thought of not having pictures of these things and places I’m loving, it’s also a bit freeing. I’m simply…experiencing things. No one will ever see what I saw today exactly as I saw it. I’m free to just be and do, and not have to show anything for it. My mom apologized (as if it were in her control at all) about the wait for my new camera, and I tried to explain that I’m needing to learn to enjoy and be in what I’m doing for its own sake, not because I want something to take from it.

I need to be ok with the memories. I need to be ok with having nothing external to validate my experience. I want to be able to have things and be ok not having them. Does that make sense? It’s like holding something in an open palm.

That’s how I want to experience the physical world.

Anyway, I’ve got nothing to show you, but I can tell you that the world is so beautiful, Fremantle is my favorite, and as the woman who did my hair today lamented, there is nothing in this world that will bring ultimate satisfaction.

Phoning home.

My mom is saving my life.

Ish.

I tried to buy a replacement camera online and got a message saying, “you want us to ship this thing where?!?” or something like that. No can do. This is when one stops being an Independent World-Traveling Adult and calls one’s mother. She got my text, bolted for the nearest phone booth, and came out in spandex and a mask, wielding a credit card. Express-sending today is my belated birthday gift (complete with water insurance!).

I’ll be able to document next week!!

Next week being that one time in Australia I volunteered at an adventure camp. I had the meeting for this camp and discovered I’m running the low ropes. And I have my own small group.

Em.

Did I ever confess how unprepared and unworthy I am for this little trip of mine? Did I ever tell you about that? Anyway, things just got magnified. I am not prepared for running the low ropes, for being a camp counselor, for white-water rafting, canoeing, abseiling, answering questions about God (I’m still asking them!!!!) or being the weird American with difficult dietary habits.

If you’re the praying type, please do so for me. If you’re not, please think real positively for me. And go ahead and thank my mother, because without her you would see nothin’ of the last four weeks of my trip.

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Nala’s a better woman than us.

More important than a travel update right now, I think, is why we should all agree that Nala is the best Disney Princess.

(um, yes, princess. Her father is Mufassa, and Mufassa is a king. If you have any objections to this [incest?!?] please consult the animal kingdom.)

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As fore mentioned, I spent Saturday night less than sober with four hostel friends watching The Lion King. There was laughter, there were tears, there was much singing, and miraculously no spillage. (I did, however, make a hot mess of my toe nail painting job.)
It was in this slurring state I started explaining the virtues of the lioness’s character to my SUPER interested hostel mates.

“You guys,” I pleaded. “She is the best role model!”

I’m being completely serious here. Put the fact that Nala is a fictional cartoon lion out of your mind and bear with me. The comparability between Nala’s character and that of the famed Proverbs 31 woman are everywhere. You just have to look for them.

For example…

Starting from childhood, Nala’s relationship with Simba is not only playful but encouraging. Remember when they get busted for checking out the elephant graveyard? Simba is quite clearly distraught over it. Nala whispers, “I thought you were very brave”.

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This sort of thing characterizes the two of them, and I can’t think of a more important job a woman can do for her husband. If a man can’t go home and feel safe and respected by his wife, where is he supposed to go to find rest? The world is cruel, harsh at best; a man’s home ought not be.

Proverbs 31:12
“She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”

Nala is loyal. When she meets Simba as an adult it is because she left her home and family in search of help. (Which is another cool thing about Nala; she has no false pride keeping her from asking for help. Being female in our culture is an interesting thing; we’re told we can be anything, but what is implied is that we must do everything, and you are weak if you need someone to help you along. But I digress…) Now, at this point, Nala could have chosen something very different than what she did. Think of it; she was young, had finally found the love of her life, and they were in paradise. She could easily have taken the easy way out and stayed with Simba and his oddball friends in this Eden-like country.

I like to think it was not only the loyalty to the pride that kept her from checking out; I like to think her affections for Simba’s mother, Sarabi, kept her head where it ought to be. The bible story of Ruth and Naomi depicts this sort of friendship between women. Ruth had married Naomi’s son, who then died very young. Naomi was a widow herself (as was Sarabi in The Lion King) and lost everything in the death of her sons. She urged their widows to leave her and find new husbands, but Ruth “clung” to her. Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law even though life with her would be impoverished and difficult. I love that! There’s a lyric in a song that talks about the love of God being “fiercer than the love between friends” and the line has always stuck with me. Good friends do truly love each other with a fierceness that is only matched (and raised) by the love of God.

:15 “She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.”
:17 “She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.”

Another similarity between the story of Ruth and the story of Nala is the…well, uniquely feminine ways they get the men in question to buck up and do something noble. If you’ve ever read the story of Ruth, you’ve probably scratched your head a bit when you get to the part where Ruth waits till Boaz is “in high spirits” from alcohol and creeps into his bed. Nbd. That’s in the bible. You’re reading it going, “is that a cultural thing? Did young unmarried women often sleep at the foot of drunk guys’ beds? Is that a thing?”

(The story stays clean. Boaz is startled, asks what Ruth is up to, and then promises to marry her. Success!)

This is not unlike the reunion of Simba and Nala. Can you feel the love? Cuz Simba could feel the love.

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I love this scene too because Nala is such a badass, and it’s refreshing to see she can be that and undeniably feminine. She’s beautiful! Simba is captivated by her.

Oh yes. Nala being a badass.
This girl can hold her own. From the very beginning Nala is not only game for every crazy thing Simba throws her way, but she can pin him in a wrestling match and is credited with the idea of how to lose Zazu. Brains and brawns. Fast-forward an adolescence in lion years and the girl is inches from killing a warthog! A warthog! With tusks! (I know, Pumba isn’t that intimidating in this particular scene, but remember, he wrecked those hyenas toward the end of the movie. Kid could mess you up.) Nala is then attacked by an adult male lion (Simba! Woot woot!) and is a BEAST. She almost claws his eyes out. And who knows where the fight would have gone if Simba hadn’t said her name at the crucial moment…that crucial moment being Nala’s pinning him underneath her. Yeah girl. Get it.

I don’t know a single girl who doesn’t entertain fantasies of kicking a deserving guy’s ass.

I don’t know a single guy who doesn’t find ass-kicking girls attractive.

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This has nothing to do with the bible, it’s just awesome.

Nala is tough as nails and not just physically. Simba left home guilt-wracked and mourning, and has lived a life of carefree leisure and bumming around. He isn’t about to take up responsibility on a whim. Why would he? He’d have to relive the day his father was murdered AND grow up. Enter Nala, who urges him; regardless of how he feels about it, that’s his duty. The bad guys have taken over the kingdom and his family is starving under the oppression. He is the only hope.

He refuses.
I love this scene, because Simba gets so frustrated and flighty and because Nala doesn’t let him off the hook. I love it too, because the whole time she is trying to get him to communicate with her and he just can’t be bothered to try. (Men!)

He pulls the whole “stop patronizing me, lighten up, you sound like my father” thing and she counters with “good. At least one of us does.”

At this point our hostel resounded with “ooh” and “ouch” and “Simba, would you like some ice for that wicked burn?!?”

This obviously distresses the responsibility-skirting king and he storms off. But he can’t get her words out of his head, can he? And do you think he would have gone back, ever, if it hadn’t been for Nala’s tough reminder?

:26 “She speaks with wisdom
And faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

The most poignant thing that sticks out to me is Nala’s belief in something bigger than herself, as opposed to, say, Ariel, who is bored.

Nala is dedicated to the good of her family and the kingdom. She cares about the whole circle of life, not just her immediate desires or needs. She is prepared to lose her life for the greater good.

And don’t lets forget, Nala is heaps of fun.

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I found out that Nala means “gift” in Swahili. I can’t think of a better description of what she is to Simba. Simba was a born adventurer and leader in his own right, but note that he didn’t want to adventure alone (he brings Nala with him to the elephant graveyard) and it doesn’t look like he would have taken his place as king without the inspiration of Nala. He loves her for it.

So there you go; here’s to women being fierce, loyal, selfless and feminine, and here’s to wives being a gift to their husbands.

Trees and elephant-shaped rocks

My last hosts were also awesome, because Diana brought me to the beach, because I saw a dugite on their property,

and because Roy brought me to the foot of the Gloucester tree in Pemberton.

I’ve wanted to climb that tree since I read about it in Phoenix. These massive trees in the Karri forest served as fire lookouts in the forties, but now they’re tourist destinations. I’m a tourist.

You climb up these wrought-iron posts sticking horizontally out of the tree. They spiral upwards, mostly an even distance apart, and you’re just climbing. No safety personnel watching, no net, save for the one above you (?) and no plan B if you decide halfway up you can’t finish. Or, if you’re me, that you can’t possibly climb down.

It is exhilarating!

There is something about accomplishing a goal like this, that puts everything else in perspective.

For example, I had eaten too much that morning and really just felt like sitting around moping about it. The opportunity would have passed me by, and chances are I wouldn’t have gotten around to climbing that thing ever again.

Opportunities don’t wait for you to be ready for them. They’re just there, whether you feel up to it or not, and they don’t care either way if you take them or not.

For another example, I felt invincible up there, like I really could do all those things I’m not worthy of doing. I am not owned. No one’s got my liberty, and no one is forcing me to do anything. (Work somewhere I hate, overeat, wear uncomfortable clothes, live in one state over another, etc.) Wanna feel empowered? Climb a tree.*

Also…I missed my little sister up there. I really wish she was with me and we were gasping for breath, grinning like fools, and ahhing and oohing at the scenery together.

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Oh, the Pentland Disaster is not really a disaster, although I did in fact lose sleep over it.

I committed to volunteering at two youth camps this trip, one end of March and one beginning of April. I also committed to work at a farm in Denmark (one that would probably be the greatest place to WWOOF; so many animals!! And it’s a tourist stop, so I could pick up a few souvenirs for my loves Colin and Ziggy back home) around the same time. Sadly, I couldn’t work the full two week minimum the farm required (communication, Jess!!) so it wasn’t really worth them training me for a six-day farming stint.

This is not a disaster, A) because their other wwoofer called and asked if she could bring a friend to help (serendipity!) and B) I get to go back to Perth!!!

To all those people I’m going to be heartbroken to leave! To goofing off, to sleeping in, to snorkeling, cafes, Jesus freaks, indoor plumbing!! Gah, so happy.

So now I’m just hanging out for the weekend in Denmark. I met three Canadians, two of whom are roadtripping around WA, one who is backpacking, and a girl from Holland, and the five of us piled into a car and oohed and ahhed at the Green Pools today. We then went wine-tasting, and the Dutch girl and I bought three bottles of Mad Fish; one to thank our driver and send the two on their way, one for the other Canadian’s birthday, and one to cry into while watching the Lion King tomorrow. (Its happening. Don’t doubt it. The Lion King is coming on at six pm tomorrow evening and this hostel is shutting down for it.)

It was a good day.

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What’s not awesome about my day, is that my camera is officially kaput. After all that trouble with the charge and everything! It keeps telling me there is a lens error and sighing, then going blank and retracting back into itself. Should I just be all zen and enjoy and experience all this stuff without photographic evidence?? Do I buy a new one out here? That I’ll then need to buy an adaptor for when I go home? Its not really possible to rely on iPad photos; how lame is that, carrying a big ole iPad around like a phone, holding up this plank-looking thing to snap a simple picture.
First World Problems. Oy

Today is also not awesome, because I received an email that Love Walks is no longer a thing. Love Walks is (was! Was was was) a non-profit organization who’s mission it was to equip college-aged believers as missionaries, wherever that lead them. They went to Mexico every month, did food distribution, construction stuff, kids’ camps, etc. They partnered with a rehab center and after distributing bags of food and talking with people all Saturday, they held a huge fiesta at the rehab. Dancing, hotdogs, soccer.

They also changed my life. I hesitate to say they saved it, because really, Jesus Christ did that part, but man, these Love Walks people were such a trip. They took the gospel serious and took me under their wing. They got me involved in their college ministry. They got me a home with a church staff member after my parents’ split up and peaced out for California. They became my roommates in my first apartment. They loved me, they accepted me, they brought me to Mexico and they urged me to further get to know the Jesus guy everyone had been telling me about since I was a kid.

I always figured I’d go to Mexico with them again, when I had more time. If I had more time, I would be more involved. I’d give back. I’d serve.

Really, I had this fantasy of going back to the states and kidnapping my little brother for a weekend to get the kid involved with Love Walk as well. I imagined the bonding we two would have, sweating in Mexico, getting our freak on at the fiesta, talking deeply about real life, spiritual life.

Friends, there’s never actually more time. Now more than ever I’m realizing that. I could have taken Chris to Mexico so many times! I could’ve gone so many times!! It’s so sad to see something you love and should have loved better go away.

As they said in their farewell email, there’s a season for everything. He has made everything beautiful in its time. I get that and agree; I’m just sad. I wish I could go back a year, or six months, and soak up the beautiful organization Love Walks was. Regret is a pain, yeah? But I guess you’re supposed to learn from it. I guess you’re supposed to do better about those things you regret.

Tomorrow is for fun in Denmark, and Sunday I’m going home (er, to Perth). March nineteenth until basically April 5th is for summer camps. The ten days after that are for soaking up Australia and preparing to see my dad (who will cry. Guarantee you he will cry) at the airport. My friend Joseph may have a car to sell me. My old roommate is getting married in April. I’m a bridesmaid.

See? Life just keeps on going.

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*I am not confused. I know I was bought with a price, and I belong (thank God!) to the one who made me. His will takes precedence over mine. The control I want to feel is only for things like, say, my eating habits and the purchases I make. I hold no illusions that I have control over anything else. It is by grace that I am alive and able to run around gasping at everything He’s made, and it is by grace that I’m allowed to become a missionary or something. I’m working out what all this means, but in the meantime I am tired of being so careful to make sure everything I say is religiously correct. (…religiously correct? Does that work? Is there a better way to say that?) I’m tired of refining everything I say until its so Super Christian-proof I don’t say what I mean.

The spice of life

Well everyone, I’m in Denmark.

It is my dream town.

Here’s some shots of my wait at the bus stop, where I fell about the place laughing alone with my iPad. The dog is the resident Labrador at Blue Wren Travelers’ Rest, who contributes to this hostel’s homey atmosphere.

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He is so lovely, plopping down at my feet and snuggling any time I want. Makes me miss my own pup back home. Which makes me feel guilty for leaving her for three months, and even guiltier for wanting to keep traveling. (Asia! South America! The other side of Australia!)
But that’s a different topic.

Ok, moving on. I had such a restful and contemplative time at the berry/veggie farm. We cooked the most amazing food for dinner, always vegan, always gluten-free. Honestly, my week with Roy and Diana felt a very healing week.

I don’t mean to oversimplify, but friends, I am a twenty-one-year old white American female. I haven’t eaten a single morsel of food without judging it and myself since I was fifteen. They made me see a psychologist, a nutritionist, and they let me have a pet rat, to try and get me healed, but disordered eating isn’t that simple. That’s what we’re calling it; disordered eating. Because I don’t fit the anorexic’s or the binger’s exact criteria anymore, but my thinking has been tainted. Food is comforting and terrifying and has been for years.

So eating every meal with health-conscious vegetarians who LOVE food…I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. No meal was scary. No meal was dangerous.

And everything was delicious, colorful, fun to cook (Diana let me help! Even though I’m such a newb) and my hosts clearly enjoyed their food. I don’t know how to explain it other than that; we enjoyed our food.

We made cookies with buckwheat, coconut, and millet flour, with chia seeds, soy milk, maca and cacao powder. And we enjoyed those cookies.

I’ll elaborate fuller, elsewhere, on the problems of living post-anorexia, but most important right now is I can honestly say I am learning to love food. It’s fun to cook! It’s interesting, what veggies go with what, which flours make better cookies, what coffee is really doing to your body, etc.

I think I’m drawn to veganism, not only because I love animals and think I’ll be held accountable for my treatment of them (they are the Lord’s. We were meant to do better by, and with, them.) but because it is so simple and so outwardly focused. Meaning, nothing I eat these days stresses me out, because so long as no animal was harmed in the making of it, I feel peace about eating it.

That’s a big deal for me. If you haven’t known self-loathing in lieu of food choices, not feeling in control, or your body’s shape, I’m sure it’s hard to understand. But please try. It’s a big deal to me to eat without anxiety (because ohmygod I can’t get fat, I can’t get fat, I can’t get fat) anger (at the world for ruining me),and hopelessness (because it’s been years and I’m sick of struggling with the same demon).

It’s a big deal to me.

Tonight at Blue Wren we cooked a makeshift vegan meal. (Um, I am a control freak. Now that I know a little something about cooking, like how to cut veggies, I am a tyrant in the kitchen.) It was nice to leave the safety of my veggie hosts and find it still so easy to eat something delicious, healthy, vegan, and gluten free. And cheap! I enjoyed my food; no guilt, no pride (as that’s even worse) just enjoyment.

Here’s some shots of food we made, and the group shot we tried to take. (Roy says my iPad camera is too sensitive. I say, “where did my front TOOTH go?!?” We rush to the bus I am late for) (the bus was late too) and of the novice hostel attempt.

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Hey, this post is already too long. The next one will be about the Pentland disaster, Love Walks, and adventures to date.
Mwah

Disaster!!

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From reading my blog (which…you are doing) one may conclude this trip o’ mine has been one happy-go-lucky, adventurous fairy tale, complete with instant best friends, quokka-kissing, and free farm-stays. I’ve even bottle-fed wallabies and walked dingos on a leash. And while I’ve certainly been too preoccupied to chronicle my day to day details (and my god, would you read that? I’d be bored to tears reading that.) it hasn’t been all fun and games.

At Uralla, I met an Italian girl named Marty who had two contradictory words you could count on her saying, depending on the situation. The first was “beautiful”, like, the salad is beautiful, the French boys in the vineyard were beautiful, your feelings for the kangaroos were beautiful. There we’re also “disasters”, which were situations ranging from the bumps in the road while we braced ourselves in the back of Ian’s truck, to the visa complications (eh, fraud) Marty was having with the Australian government.

Anyway, I’ve left Uralla but can’t stop declaring everything to be either beautiful or disastrous. (I do so with with Italian flare; don’t you doubt it.)

I’ve told you a lot about the beautiful here, but now that I’m over the halfway mark of my Australia trip, I’d like to take a break from all that oohing and ahhing. I want to tell you about the disasters.
I’d rather read somebody’s goofs than their vacation play by play, and I assume you’ve got at least similar sadistic tendencies as well.

So here goes. This is by no means conclusive, and if the rest of this trip resembles the first half, this will be frequently updated. Hope you enjoy my disasters as much as I hated them.

January 16th
Was awesome and got to the airport two hours early. Kissed my teary-eyed father goodbye and made friends with a photographer from New York.
And my flight was cancelled.
Disaster!
There were airplane complications, so they rebooked me for a flight the following night. I used my new friend’s phone to call the only people i knew in California, and couldn’t at first get a hold of my dad, my mom, my anyone, except my friend Ryan. He was planning on picking me up, and then my dad called back. He was going to send my poor Nona to pick me up. MUCH complication here’ trying to coordinate my pickup with both Ryan, my Nona and my father, when all the sudden they were calling my name in the airport speaker. There was a spot open on the next flight, and if I got p there now they would get me to San Francisco in time to catch another flight to Sydney.
I told my new buddy to tell my dad, and then I raced through Security and onto the plane. I didn’t find out until later the panic I caused everyone.i think they thought my photographer friend had ‘napped me.
Oy

January 18th
In the chaos of the aforementioned airport disaster, I’d had just enough time to post a cursed status on facebook that I’d be in Perth a day late. I was literally running through the airport in San Fran, and then customs in Sydney, and never really had time to contact people and tell them otherwise. There was a quick blurb I was able to post while I stood in the boarding line at one airport, but it only seemed to confuse my Australian friends more. Poor Brooke; she couldn’t tell if I would be there Wednesday or Thursday, and I was helpless on an airplane for fourteen hours, unable to put her mind at ease. I was able to get online in Perth and contact her, but it was hot mess. She and her two friends were amazing about it though.

January 19-21ish
Um, guess who’s debit card wasn’t working anywhere? Yes. Mine. I had to borrow money from my new best friend to get through a few days of trial and error. Some ATMs work, most do not, with Wells Fargo visa cards. This is one of those you need to discover before being alone on another continent. Foresight, Jess Moran, foresight. Also, I did in fact need a phone out here and had to buy a cheapo little thing in town. I spent more money that first few days than I did in the following two weeks. Not exaggerating.

January 20
Definitely thought I was a badass and decided to ride a rented bike from Perth city centre to Fremantle, where I was to meet friends for a concert. Definitely can’t read a map (I am American). What could have been an hour and a half cruise along the coast turned into an almost three hour, panicky, dehydrating excursion by bike through neighborhoods, yacht clubs, dirt paths, up stairs, to a pub…where I was not a badass and I asked for directions please fortheloveofgod. Oh, it was noon when I left Perth. Oh, it’s summer out here.

It gets better. Wait for it.

I finally made it to the fricking city of Freo and basically passed out into my smoothie at the only cafe with Internet. They were closing in an hour (disaster) and as I struggled to my bike to leave, I discovered I had no idea where I’d placed the bike lock key. The baristas and I searched all over the sidewalk, in the bathroom, under couches, through the fruit bowl, to no avail. I my heatstroked haze I’d somehow lost the key.

Enter new best friend, Josh, who was with Brooke when she picked me up from the airport. He showed up on a white horse with a sword (ish) and lifted my bike over the sign post it was locked to, and wheelied it to the brewery, where my sweaty mess of a Self met his family and drank all their water.

The concert friends? They saved me from the brewery by taking apart the bike and depositing it at the house we were having pre-concert dinner and drinks.

The concert itself? I’ve heard it was interesting. I wouldn’t know; I passed out for real In the back bedroom of the pre-concert house.

January general
I keep losing things. Like Kristen’s cooler, my nalgene, my camera charger, Kristen’s silverware, etc etc. So embarrassing! And inconvenient for everyone. I’m not ditsy, I’m just distracted. Right?

February 1st
The bus stop I was told to get off at by my first WWOOF host did not exist. At least not the way I understood it to. (Read; I misunderstood) And the driver was frazzled, as the bus had broken down for half and hour and he had to deal with this smartass teenager in the back. He basically threw up his hands in despair and brought me to the bus station in the kalamunda hills, where I was not meant to be. I had Kristen email my host the situation. She called, fuming, and we, you know, sorted out the confusion and I got onto a new bus with a more knowledgeable bus driver. (He took my haphazard description of where I was meant to be and deducted the exact location of my pick up.) That started off my first WWOOFing on shaky grounds, wouldn’t you think?

February 17
Em, that combative nature I was talking about? It is exasperated by my tendency to be…snarky. I think snarky is the word.

Confronted with racism like I’d never experienced, (was asked, genuinely, if i had noticed an intellectual difference between my black ex and my white ex, and did I understand that there was, in fact, a great divide in evolution between we civilized whites and the aboriginals…but they may catch up one day if we help them) I not only caused GREAT awkwardness at the dinner table by arguing back, but great offense to the racist. And then instead of relenting and allowing him the last word, I went all snarky on his ass and grinned; “you’re the boss, applesauce.”*

I was declared “quite rude”.

I took him outside and apologized, trying to explain that the use of the word “nigger” got me all bristly, and then went to my room and cried and wanted to go home. He brought me a glass of wine. All was well (ish) from then on out.

February 27
Felt cool checking into My First Hostel. Tripped up the stairs.
Still a dork, even in foreign countries.

Oh, that camera charger I lost? Can’t find a replacement, save for the SIXTY dollar universal charger in Albany. Defeated, I bought the damn thing, couldn’t figure out how to work it, cried, couldn’t return it, figured it out, ate cereal and went to bed.

February 29
Was really cool with my vegan, gluten-free box of muesli on the bus en route to Northcliffe. Was much cooler than those who are Under Law, the law being “don’t eat on the bus”. Was not too cool to spill half the contents of my cereal box on the floor beneath me. (Not. Exaggerating.)

No worries; I am quick-witted and covered that mess with my bag. What my driver can’t see, isn’t
disaster.

March 3
I’m WWOOFing at a berry/vegetable farm in Northcliffe, and we are also painting my hosts’ new house. (It’s been in the works for four years, as they’re doing virtually everything themselves.) the other day we got started and needed to dump the previous days’ buckets of paint-soaked water. I picked one up, but was distracted by something floating inside. I touched it, but got weirded out. Diana, my host, said, “heh, a rag” and grabbed the dead mouse full-on. She shrieked, and I became dramatically female and flung the bucket away from us.
Blue water all over Roy’s car, their ceiling, the lawn…frick frick frick.

I spent the rest of the afternoon up on a ladder, straining my neck like a brontosaurus, wiping the absolutely baked-on paint drops off the ceiling. Such a backtrack; there was no progress from me that day.

“Fucking mouse,” I lamented. “Who thinks its ok to drink that color blue water?!?”

To be continued. Hopefully not when I climb the bicentennial tree in Pemberton tomorrow…

*I’m not very original. That line is from the movie, Factory Girl, which portrays the rise and fall of Edie Sedgewick. At one point in the film, Andy Warhol humors something Edie has said by affirming that she is the boss (applesauce). I always found the line wonderfully, playfully cynical, and have never had the right opportunity to copy it until now. I should probably learn to grit my teeth instead, but that’s a topic for another day.

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Id rather be a forest than a street.

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I wish I’d read Walden, so I’d have adequate quotes for this.

I’m at a berry farm in Northcliffe, which is a teensy town thirty miles away from Pemberton. It’s Friday, and since Wednesday I’ve been walking around here as if in a dream, it’s that lovely. The simplicity, the openness..it’s just gorgeous. And the quiet here is the good kind, not the overwhelming and irrationally disarming kind. I could get lost here.

It is such a relief from the dramas of the last place…which was an equally dreamlike experience, just wrought with heaps of competing personalities. (It doesn’t help that all of us WWOOFers were female.)

Anyway, thus far I’ve mostly done some weeding, some planting, some feeding of the alpacas, chickens, and ducks. Today my host (who is also vegetarian and a wonderful cook) and I tagged along with her friend to the beach, where I wandered along the coast terribly introspective and they swam.

I’ll have to tell you about Uralla. I’ll have to tell you about loneliness. I’ll have so much to tell you by the end of this, I probably never will.

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